[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----N.J., GA., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Nov 10 10:45:36 CST 2007
DEATH ROW HAS 8 MEN-----Nun: Abolish death penalty; "Dead Man Walking"
author says she's seen its damage
A renowned capital punishment opponent a nun who walks death-row inmates
to their ends urged New Jersey lawmakers Friday to abandon executions,
vowing the state would become a "beacon" to mankind.
"I've seen the death penalty close up," said Sister Helen Prejean, whose
autobiography, "Dead Man Walking," chronicles the damage done to all
involved in the ultimate penalty.
Prejean said at a Statehouse news conference, "New Jersey is going to be a
beacon on the hill" if it becomes the first state among 38 to vacate its
Eight men now reside on death row here. The state, having last
electrocuted an inmate in 1963, could become the 1st state to scotch its
death writ since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in
New Jersey's most spectacular execution came on April 3, 1936, when guards
strapped German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann to an electric chair for the
still-debated kidnapping of the baby of hero aviator Charles Lindbergh
the first person to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.
The state Legislature is expected during its lame-duck session to discuss
abolishing capital punishment, which is now allowed by lethal injection.
"The law has become an absolute exercise in futility," said Assembly
Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden, saying an Assembly bill may be
debated Dec. 6 and then voted on by Dec. 13. A companion bill awaits
action in the Senate budget committee.
Gov. Corzine opposes the death penalty, which has been on the books in New
Jersey since 1982. And Jennifer Sciortino, speaking for state Senate
President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, "We are definitely committed to
taking up the issue."
Prejean is famous as a vicar to villains, walking them to the chamber and
even watching some die, and counsels victims of violence.
Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, said a report is due out later this month
that debunks an 11-month-old New Jersey study that concluded New Jersey's
death-penalty law costs more money than life sentences and does not deter
Cardinale supports the death penalty.
(source: Asbury Park Press)
Filmmaker sparks to grim execution story
Filmmakers in southern Georgia are unearthing a forgotten chapter in black
history and revitalizing their local economy with an independent feature
about the first woman in the state sent to the electric chair. "The Lena
Baker Story" tells the true story of a woman who became a virtual sex
slave to her white employer and killed him, claiming self-defense. She was
pardoned by the state two years ago, about 60 years after her execution.
Tichina Arnold ("Wild Hogs") plays Baker, and Peter Coyote her victim.
Michael Rooker co-stars as the sheriff who arrested her, and Beverly Todd
as her mother.
Writer-director Ralph Wilcox's film marks an important step toward
revitalizing one of the poorest districts in the United States. The $2.5
million project is the first filmed in the new 22,000-square-foot
Jokara-Micheaux production facility in Colquitt, Ga. As director of the
Southwest Georgia Film Commission, Wilcox obtained about $1 million from
government grants to build the studio.
"The film is a cradle-to-grave story that offers a real perspective on
Lena as opposed to just one incident," Wilcox said. "Race does play a
part, but this story is really about a woman born between a rock and a
Wilcox adapted the screenplay from a book of the same name by Bond
Philips, and is in discussions with indie distributors for a theatrical
(sources: Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)
Schwab asks U.S. Supreme Court to delay execution
Lawyers for child killer Mark Dean Schwab filed a flurry of motions in
state and federal courts Friday as they accelerated efforts to postpone
Schwab, convicted of the 1991 rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny
Rios-Martinez of Cocoa, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday.
A request for a stay of execution was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The country's highest court has postponed three executions in Texas,
Mississippi and Virginia since agreeing to consider a challenge to lethal
injection on behalf of a condemned inmate from Kentucky.
The justices will consider whether the way Kentucky and other states
administer the 3-drug cocktail to death-row prisoners is constitutional.
An opinion is expected next year. Schwab's legal team filed a motion
Friday in the 18th Circuit Court in Brevard County. The lawyers raise
several issues, including the Department of Corrections logs of a mock
execution in July that showed possible flaws in training. Also, the
clinical psychologist who initially testified for the state at Schwab's
sentencing in 1992 has changed part of his diagnosis. Dr. William Samek
now says Schwab, 38, does not have antisocial personality disorder but has
neurotic emotional problems, including shame brought about by being raped
as a child, according to the court documents.
Samek was the only mental-health expert presented by the state, according
to the documents. He was a crucial witness. The new evidence presented by
Samek "would probably yield a less severe sentence," according to the
A status hearing is set for Tuesday in Brevard County.
Friday's motions don't surprise prosecutors.
"This is all part of the process," said Wayne Holmes, a Seminole-Brevard
County state attorney chief of operations and prosecutor on the initial
Schwab case. "A lot is done at the last minute."
Earlier this week, the Florida Supreme Court denied Schwab's motion to
stay his execution. Justice Barbara J. Pariente wrote in an opinion that
it should be up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(source: Orlando Sentinel)
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