[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.J., ALA., OKLA., ARIZ., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 29 16:12:46 CDT 2007
Life without parole is harsh enough
When New Jerseyan Byron Halsey was exonerated recently after serving 22
years in prison for a crime he did not commit, I shuddered at how close we
came to executing an innocent man. Halsey had faced a potential death
penalty but received a life sentence. 2 decades later, DNA testing
revealed the real killer to be a witness who testified against Halsey at
the original trial.
DNA is only available in a small percentage of murder cases, but it
nonetheless provides valuable insight into the fallibility of our human
criminal justice system. Its lessons -- and the close calls it has
revealed -- have led even long-time supporters of capital punishment to
conclude that the death penalty should be replaced with life without
The risk of an irreversible mistake is not the only reason to reject
capital punishment. The death penalty has failed New Jersey on every
count. It diverts time, money and attention away from public safety and
forces surviving families of murder victims to endure decades of appeals.
The New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission, which included four members
of law enforcement and five murder victims' family members, shed light on
these and other problems. After months of study and five public hearings,
the commission recommended replacing the death penalty with life without
parole. The New Jersey Prosecutors Association endorsed the
The hearings exposed the truth about a policy that protects no one and
harms many. Police and prosecutors testified that the death penalty is an
ineffective tool that makes their work harder. Victims' family members
urged an end to the death penalty because it hurts and divides surviving
loved ones. And, the high reversal rate for death sentences erodes
everyone's confidence in the criminal justice system.
Our efforts to try and make the death penalty work have cost us dearly. A
study by New Jersey Policy Perspective found that New Jersey's death
penalty has burdened taxpayers by more than $250 million since 1982. Those
funds could have hired more police officers, improved education or been
used for tax relief for New Jersey families.
Even if one believes in theory that the death penalty is an appropriate
response to murder, it is clear that we gain nothing -- and lose much --
from this failed public policy.
It is time to replace the death penalty with life without parole -- a
strong punishment that provides greater certainty and protects the public,
without the costs, risks and painful delays that are the legacy of capital
(source: Opinion. Courier Post)
Courts could end long delays in capital cases
On the day last week when Farron Barksdale pleaded guilty to killing 2
Athens police officers, the state executed Darrell Grayson for a 1980
The family of 86-year-old Annie Laura Orr of Montevallo continued to
relive the case for 27 years because of endless appeals and a last-minute
campaign for DNA testing.
Mr. Barksdale's guilty plea in return for a life sentence without parole
spares the families of Sgt. Larry Russell and officer Tony Mims of a
He shot the officers Jan. 2, 2004, when they responded to his 911 call to
his mother's Athens home. Determining his mental competency to stand trial
delayed the proceedings.
A competency trial was to begin Monday and could have delayed his possible
trial for murder.
The families didn't look forward to reliving the tragedy in court. The
agreement allows the state to put the basic facts of the case into
evidence in a shortened trial next month. Mr. Barksdale will be formally
sentenced afterwards and wont be back in court to continue tormenting the
The families' plight is one of the dilemmas of capital punishment.
Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely pointed out one of them. Im always a
staunch supporter of the death penalty, but the problem with it is that
its not swiftly applied, he said, in supporting the plea agreement.
There also are the cases of convicts walking out of prison after many
years because of DNA testing. Mr. Grayson didnt benefit from this new
evidentiary tool, but those who do make a compelling argument for not
rushing the process.
State and federal court systems can find a way to speed up the appeals
without denying adequate opportunity to appeal cases.
27 years is a ridiculous amount of time for Ms. Orrs family to relive
(source: Editorial, The Decatur Daily)
Appeals court upholds Eizember death penalty
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals today upheld the murder convictions
and death sentence of Scott James Eizember.
Eizember was found guilty in the October 2003 deaths of an elderly Depew,
Oklahoma, couple that launched a multi-state crime spree.
He was later captured near Lufkin, Texas.
Eizember was convicted in 2005 of murdering A.J. Cantrell and Patsy
He was sentenced to 150 years in prison for the killing of Patsy Cantrell
and given a death sentence for the murder of her husband.
Eisember was also convicted of shooting the son of his ex-girlfriend and
assaulting her mother.
(source: Associated Press)
Murder suspect may face ultimate penalty----County will seek death penalty
in double homicide
The Mohave County Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty against a
Bullhead City man charged with the double homicide of his wife and
mother-in-law in April.
Ari Benjamin Feinner, 44, faces 2 counts of 1st-degree murder. He is being
held in county jail on a $2 million bond.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Derek Carlisle said Friday he would seek the
death penalty against Feinner, who is charged with allegedly stabbing his
27-year-old wife, Veronica Feinner, and her wheelchair-bound mother, Marie
Zavala, at their mobilehome in the 3000 block of Larkwood Avenue.
Feinner's attorney, Carlene Lacy, said since no one from the public
defender's office is qualified to defend a death penalty case, a private
attorney, who is qualified in capital cases, will be assigned the case,
possibly by the next hearing set for Aug. 17. Lacy will assist the primary
attorney in the case before Superior Court Judge James Chavez.
On April 3, Feinner allegedly grabbed a hunting knife and stabbed his wife
multiple times after an argument over a pending divorce. The couple was
married in December 2005.
When his 67-year-old mother-in-law, who is an amputee, tried to intervene,
Feinner allegedly stabbed her several times, as well as the 2 family dogs.
He then telephoned his sister while she was at work and told her what he
had done. She in turn informed officials at her place of employment who
Feinner was arrested and charged with aggravated assault in December 2002
for running another man over with his 1986 Chevrolet Nova near Oak Place
and Oak Avenue. The victim suffered serious injuries to his ankle and
He pleaded guilty to endangerment in March 2003 and was sentenced a month
later to 75 days in jail and three years probation.
He was also ordered to pay more than $26,900 in restitution to the victim,
according to court records.
He was also arrested in 2004 for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend
but no charges were filed.
(source: Mohave Daily News)
[2, including female, to face death penalty]
Suspected cop killers facing death penalty
Prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for a couple suspected
of fatally shooting a Phoenix police officer last week, it was reported
The Arizona Republic said 20-year-old Edward James Rose and his
19-year-old girlfriend, Norma Lisa Lopez, were arrested last week in the
slaying of Officer George Cortez Jr.
The couple allegedly shot Cortez repeatedly after he confronted them about
their attempt to write a bad check at a check-cashing facility Friday,
police said. <>P> Rose and Lopez were officially charged Saturday in
Cortez' death, the 1st time a Phoenix police officer has died in the line
of duty sine late 2005.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon offered his sympathies Friday night to the
family of the slain 23-year-old officer.
"My colleagues and I are here tonight to mourn over the loss of a hero,"
Gordon said. "Officers go out every day to protect us; we offer our
condolences to the father and the mother and the family."
(source: United Press International)
Inmate pleads guilty in prisoner death
A state prison inmate pleaded guilty to murdering a fellow inmate and will
spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Shannon Phillips, 38, made the plea as part of a deal to spare him the
death penalty, Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said. Judge Kevin
Crane sentenced Phillips to life in prison.
Phillips and fellow inmates Chris Sims and Toby Viles planned to escape
from the Missouri State Penitentiary, but Phillips and Sims decided that
Viles needed to be killed because he would be too dangerous after they
were out. Sims has not been charged with any crimes connected to the
killing or escape attempt.
(source: Kansas City Star)
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