[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------CALIF., CONN., GA., TENN., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jul 26 12:51:24 CDT 2007
Death Penalty Lawyers Go to 'College' at SCU ---- Death Penalty College
Prepares Lawyers for Capital Cases
Defense lawyers with pending capital cases will come to college at Santa
Clara Law on Aug. 4 for a 6-day intensive training program with some of
the nation's leading death penalty attorneys.
The 17th annual Death Penalty College offers intensive training where
defense lawyers discuss their cases in small-group workshops. The Death
Penalty College is presented by Santa Clara University, the California
Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and the California Public Defenders
Association and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association's Death
Penalty Representation Project.
The workshop sessions, which begin Aug. 4 and continue through Aug. 9, are
not open to the public because of lawyer-client privilege.
"The college fosters a feeling of cooperation and community among
participants and faculty who are united in the common goal of saving
lives," said Ellen Kreitzberg, director of the Death Penalty College and
professor of criminal law at Santa Clara University School of Law. Every
criminal defense attorney faces his or her greatest challenge in the
representation of a person charged in a capital case," said Kreitzberg,
who directs the program. This program is unique in that lawyers work on
their actual cases and not on a casebook hypothetical.
The SCU law school program has consistently attracted leading death
penalty attorneys from across the country.
The Death Penalty College has been approved for 36 hours of minimum
continuing legal education credit by the State Bar of California.
Participants pay tuition to attend the program, and death penalty
attorneys volunteer as faculty. The college focuses on helping attorneys
learn how to prepare and present the penalty phase of a death penalty
case, which is held after a guilty verdict has been reached in a criminal
trial. During the penalty phase, a jury considers factors that shape a
Participants in the death penalty college are taught new skills, such as
how to collect information and investigate a person's background. "You're
not looking at the same kind of facts as in a no-death murder case. A
lawyer must be prepared to extensively and meticulously investigate a
client's background, education, work and social history and be able to
tell the clients story to the jury, Kreitzberg says.
(source: Business Wire)
Death Penalty Talk Heats Up When Crimes Hit Home ---- Public Calls For
Suspects' Heads Following Horrific Triple Slaying In Cheshire
State Officials Say 2 Suspects Had Shown No Prior Signs Of Violence
If postings on newspaper Web sites are any gauge of public sentiment,
state residents are almost unanimous in their belief that the two men
accused of killing a woman and her 2 daughters in Cheshire Monday deserve
Not only that, but Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, of Cheshire and Steven Hayes,
44, of Winsted are "pure EVIL," "human garbage," "lunatic monsters" and
"animals" who should die "the same type of horrid brutal deaths" as their
Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and
11-year-old Michaela, died horrendous deaths. Dr. William Petit Jr., 50,
the girls' father, is hospitalized. Their house was set on fire.
At least part of the horror lies in the fact the Petits were not walking
the streets of a city at night but were sleeping in their presumably safe
Pollsters see swings in public opinion about the death penalty whenever
things get "personal," said Maurice "Mickey" Carroll, the director of the
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Looking back at a poll done by the institute shortly before the execution
of serial killer Michael Ross two years ago, Carroll was reminded that 49
% of state voters favored life without parole over the 37 % who favored
the death penalty.
But when they were asked about Ross, convicted of the rape and murder of 8
young women and girls, 70 % of those who had favored life in prison said
Ross should die.
"Whenever there's a big, horrendous anything, the capital-punishment
numbers go up," Carroll said. "I work mostly in New York, and when a cop
gets shot, it goes up, and when a cop shoots somebody else, it goes down.
In that sense, polls swing on the news."
Robert Nave, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the
Death Penalty, noted Wednesday that no one said anything about the death
penalty earlier this month.
2 weeks ago today, Hartford police found the bodies of two teenage boys
who had been murdered "execution style" in the Parkville section of the
city, one of them right outside Nave's offices on Arbor Street.
Obliterated by shotgun blasts to the head, the boys' faces were
Police identified them as Xion Davidson, 17, a popular student and star
running back at Conard High School in West Hartford, and a friend, Kent
McLaurin, 19, who had been living the "thug life" in Hartford.
Public postings on The Hartford Courant Web site included the laments of
friends and a few comments to the effect that the boys, being black and in
the city at night, got what they deserved.
But "there was no outpouring for the death penalty for the people who
killed these 2 young men," Nave said. And that, he said, is because the
death penalty "is a status symbol ... a class and race-based institution."
The murders in Cheshire were "barbaric, incomprehensible, but so was the
murder of these 2 young men in Hartford," Nave said. "The fact of the
matter is, people don't get upset and demand revenge unless they can
relate it to their own life."
And clearly, "white middle-class America was struck at" by the murders in
Cheshire, he said, adding, "This invaded middle-class America at its
"It's a visceral issue," Nave said. "I am furious about these crimes in
Cheshire. My former in-laws lived a couple houses down. I know the
Nave, too, remembered Ross, whose execution took the state 20 years to
consummate. The families of the victims suffered again and again as the
story of Ross's court appeals dragged on. Each story in the paper forced
them to "revisit the crime," he said.
Their suffering would have lasted even longer had not Ross decided to drop
any further appeals, Nave said. Nor did Ross's death bring them the
closure they sought.
"I spent an hour and a half on the phone last night with the only
surviving victim of Michael Ross," Nave said. "Her life is in shambles.
... What do we do for our victims? We spend $20 million to kill Michael
Ross and do nothing for the victims."
(source: The Day)
Prosecutor says more time needed to review possible death penalty case
New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington understands the public
outrage after the wife and 2 daughters of a prominent Connecticut
physician were killed in a home invasion and arson this week.
But Dearington, who will prosecute the case, said he will do a thorough
investigation to determine whether it is appropriate to charge the 2
suspects, Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, and Steven Hayes, 44, with a capital
"I know the public consensus is they should be fried tomorrow," Dearington
Murder committed in the course of committing first-degree sexual assault,
murder of a kidnapped person, murder of two or more people at the same
time, and murder of someone under age 16 each carry the death penalty in
Komisarjevsky, 26, of Cheshire, and Hayes, of Winsted, were charged with
assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson, larceny and
risk of injury to children. Bond was set at $15 million each. Police said
more charges are pending.
Authorities say the men broke into the home of Dr. William Petit Jr. early
Monday morning and held the family hostage for several hours. One of them
forced Petit's wife to make a withdrawal at a local bank later that
morning, an incident that triggered suspicion among bank employees. Police
were notified and rushed the Petit's home where they encountered the
fleeing suspects and the family's home ablaze. Dr. Petit had been beaten
and bound in the basement but managed to escape the fire. The bodies of
his family were found inside.
His wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and daughters
17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela died of smoke inhalation,
according to the state medical examiner.
The suspects were apprehended after they crashed their getaway vehicle -
the Petit's car - into 3 police cruisers.
Komisarjevsky and Hayes, convicted burglars with lengthy criminal records,
were out on parole when the attack occurred. They had been roommates for a
time at a drug treatment center and halfway house in Hartford last year.
Komisarjevsky, the grandson of a renowned Russian theater director, lived
a couple miles from the Petits. Police have released few details on the
case, including how the family was targeted.
The crime has prompted the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole to
review its policies. Robert Farr, the board's chairman, acknowledged it
will be a difficult task because neither suspect had any history of
violent crimes when they were paroled this spring. Farr has acknowledged
that board didn't have as much information as it should have had about the
men's records, such as the transcript from a 2002 sentencing where a
Bristol Superior Court judge called Komisarjevsky "a cold, calculating
Komisarjevsky was sentenced to nine years in prison with six years of
special parole for a string of burglaries where he wore military night
vision goggles and burglarized homes while the occupants slept, police
said. A member of a prominent family in the stage arts, he is the grandson
of Theodore Komisarjevsky, a Russian theater director and designer and
Ernestine Stodelle, a former dancer, dance critic, author and studio
Two days after the attack on the Petit family, friends and strangers
continued placing flowers bouquets near the boarded-up home and town
officials searched for ways to comfort the still shaken community in this
quiet suburb. Town Manager Michael Milone said he's hoping to bring in
counselors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"The only thing we're trying to do is get the neighborhood back to some
degree of normalcy," Cheshire Town Manager Michael Milone said Wednesday.
"I don't know the response, you're not trained for something like this."
The family of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who was from Pennsylvania, flew to
Connecticut and began sifting through the charred house Wednesday.
"We tried to gather up some things that may be of some value to us ... but
most of it's pretty well destroyed," Richard Hawke, the father and
grandfather of the victims, told WTNH-TV.
Hawke, a Methodist minister, wondered how such a "tragic, evil thing"
could be done.
"I think God is crying with us today," he said.
(source: Stamford Advocates)
Hearing scheduled for man facing execution in officer's death
A man who is facing the death penalty in the killing of police officer
will be able to make another bid for clemency next month.
The state Board of Pardons and Paroles will hold a hearing Aug. 9 in the
case of Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted of killing a Savannah police
During the hearing, the board will hear from witnesses in the case - some
of whom have recanted testimony used to convict Davis - and from others
who have come forward with information about another possible shooter.
Jason Ewart, one of Davis' lawyers, said the Aug. 9 date is "a little
quick," but that his legal team is trying to get as many witnesses as it
"It's a tall order without subpoena power," Ewart said Wednesday. "But
we're going to do all we can to get them there. We're looking forward to
presenting the rest of our case on Aug. 9."
Davis, 38, was convicted of killing Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail,
who was shot twice after he rushed to help a homeless man who had been
assaulted. The 1989 shooting happened in a Burger King parking lot next to
a bus station where MacPhail, 27, worked off-duty as a security guard.
Davis' lawyers say seven witnesses have recanted or contradicted their
testimony that they saw Davis shoot the officer, saw him assault the
homeless man or heard Davis confess to the killing.
Davis was scheduled to be executed last week. But the day before the
scheduled execution, he was granted a stay of execution of up to 90 days.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty opponent Wray dies
Harmon Wray, one of Tennessee's leading death penalty opponents for many
years, died Tuesday afternoon. He was 60.
Mr. Wray dedicated his life to the poor, especially those who were in
jail. As an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and
a founder of the Restorative Justice Coalition of Tennessee, he sought to
transform the criminal justice system.
"He treated (the inmates) with respect, he listened, he encouraged," said
Stacy Rector, executive director of Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State
Killings. "People knew what he believed, and what he believed, he lived.
He was consistent and genuine."
As a part of his work at Vanderbilt, Mr. Wray created and coordinated a
class at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution that included Vanderbilt
students and inmates.
"He really changed people's perspectives about men locked up out there at
Riverbend," Rector said. "He really believed that we are better than the
worst things we have done, and he gave people the chance to see that."
A theoretical leader
M. Douglass Meeks, who worked with Mr. Wray at Vanderbilt, said he was one
of the greatest theoretical leaders in his impetration of the gospel for
the poor and incarcerated.
"He really understood himself as the disciple of Christ and dedicated
himself to prisoners and the reform of prisoners," Meeks said.
"What made his witness so strong was he lived with these people, he shared
their lives. I think everyone was deeply impressed by the witness he
Mr. Wray had a minor stroke Monday morning and was taken to Saint Thomas
Hospital, where he had a more massive stroke Monday afternoon.
Mr. Wray is survived by his partner of 35 years, Judy Parks of Nashville,
and mother, Celeste Wray of Memphis.
A memorial service for Mr. Wray, who donated his organs for transplant,
will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the sanctuary of Belmont United Methodist
Church in Nashville, with former Tennessee Bishop Kenneth Carder and
several Nashville UMC ministers presiding.
Visitation for family and friends will be 6-8 p.m. Friday at Edgehill
United Methodist Church, 15th and Edgehill avenues.
The family requests that contributions be sent to Edgehill UMC, Box
128258, Nashville 37212, designated to a fund for the continuation of Mr.
(source: The Tennessean)
Death penalty opponents protest Grayson execution
Lisa Thomas had on brown and tan sneakers when she ended her 5-day protest
trek from Selma to Montgomery, but she said each step was covered with
more than just a rubber sole.
"I really walked on faith that we're going to get a miracle," said Thomas,
one of more than 50 death penalty opponents who gathered at the Capitol on
Wednesday. "I've done 3 walks and this is by far the most energizing walk
I've ever had."
Activists begged Gov. Bob Riley to intervene in the execution of
46-year-old Darrell Grayson, who is scheduled to die Thursday for the 1980
slaying of Annie Laura Orr, an 86-year-old widow who was robbed and raped
before she was killed in her Montevallo home.
Stay of execution
The opponents want Riley to stay the execution for 30 days while a DNA
test is done. They say the test, which was not available at the time of
Grayson's 1981 trial, would erase lingering doubts about his guilt.
Grayson was not charged with raping Orr, but prosecutors used the rape as
aggravating circumstances to get the death penalty.
"Stop this execution just do the DNA," Judy Collins Cumbee said, setting
off chants of "Just do the DNA!" from the crowd.
Attorney General Troy King, who has asked the Alabama and U.S. Supreme
Courts not to delay the execution, said a DNA test won't exonerate Grayson
of the murder, which he has confessed to several times.
"I'm not going to be a party to allowing justice to expire. That's what's
being requested in this case," he said. "A victim's family has been
waiting as justice has been delayed, and delayed and delayed and delayed."
Grayson is one of the longest serving men on Alabama's death row, where he
has been since his conviction in 1982. Of the 195 men on death row in
Alabama, only 5 have been there longer than Grayson, according to the
state Department of Corrections.
Esther Brown, who is executive director of Project Hope to Abolish the
Death Penalty where Grayson is chairman, said the defense case for her
"dear friend" was marred by inexperience and underfunding.
(source: Associated Press)
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