[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----ORE., FLA., GA., KY.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 12 16:28:11 CST 2007
Filmmaker applies real-life experience to fictional film about death
penalty----The film documents the last 7 days in the life of a death row
inmate, played by the director
What if you only had 7 days to live; how would you spend your last hours?
What if you were confined to a seven-foot by 10-foot cell with nothing to
do but count the cracks in the gray walls - How would you spend those
"Everyone dies," said internationally acclaimed director Steven Scaffidi,
"but we don't want to know ahead of time how, when and where it's going to
The Knight Law Center presented the new docudrama "Execution" on Thursday
Nov. 8, which followed with a discussion featuring former Georgia death
row inmate William Neal "Billy" Moore and Scaffidi. The movie documents
the last seven days of a death row inmate's life. "Execution" is not an
ordinary drama film, however; the main character is actually played by
Moore, who spent 16 years on death row and now through film portrays the
death he nearly faced.
Scaffidi, who has collaborated with the filmmakers of Tim Robbins' "Dead
Man Walking," was denied the right to film a real execution, so he decided
to make his own realistic account.
"This film takes the viewer closer to the execution process than any other
film," Scaffidi said, expressing his deep fascination with the issue. "My
goal is to put you on the front row and let you decide for yourself.
"Very few people know anything about it. I don't know how many here have
witnessed an execution, but you're about to tonight."
"There's more to it than just strapping somebody to the chair and flipping
the switch," said Donald Cabana, the former director of Mississippi State
Penitentiary, who appears in the film as a prison warden.
In the film he explains the process of shaving the inmate's head and
placing a plug into the inmate's rectum. "Without that diaper, it can be
one hell of a mess," Cabana said, continuing "at 11:30 p.m., we walk the
mileuntil then, they aren't alive or dead."
After being led from one creaking door to the next, the prisoner is
tightly fastened to the electric chair and is allowed a brief last word.
At 12:01 a.m., a hood is placed over the convict's head, and you can smell
"cooked meat" as the condemned's flesh burns. "The liver is too hot to be
touched by a human hand during the autopsy," explained Cabana.
In some sense, Moore's real life was more like a movie than the film
itself. During the last 7 hours before his execution, the courts decided
to commute his sentence to life, making him one of the only Americans to
escape death row. The night the film aired at the University, marked the
16th anniversary of Moore's release.
"It is strange in the sense that here I am looking at myself on my
anniversary, watching what could have happened," he said.
One year after his prison sentence was commuted, Moore was released. Now,
his life and freedom are both owed completely to the family of the victim
he murdered. Moore said that the Christian family, who lobbied rigorously
for his release and influenced Moore's religious conversion, told the
court, "He is our brother, and you can't kill him."
Critics consider "Execution" unprecedented for its tough realism,
refraining from a direct apology or convenient ending.
Cree Ingles, a community member, said being in the same room with Moore
"I was very angry when I first saw him because I kept it in my heart that
he had killed someone," she said. "I think they could feel the glares I
was shooting up there. I was wondering whether I could do this without
blurting out something rude.
"I am actually very happy I came, though," she said. "There is more than
one side to the issue and I want to be able to see what's inside."
(source: Oregon Daily Emerald)
Florida lags in ensuring fair executions
After reading various articles and related wire service accounts of Gov.
Charlie Crist's first death warrant, I was struck by the fact that the
American Bar Association's recent and relatively comprehensive report on
Florida's death penalty process was not mentioned, notwithstanding that
direct reference was made to the Commission on Administration of Lethal
Injection report and recommendations.
Given that Florida has the dubious distinction of being the state with
more death penalty exonerations than any other, the ABA report's main
objective is to identify issues and problems that undermine the fairness
and accuracy of Florida's death penalty process.
The ABA report neither supports nor opposes capital punishment.
Simply put, such issues and problems must be addressed by the state to
ensure that innocent people are not executed.
Each of Florida's 3 branches of government has significant roles to play.
Unfortunately, it appears as though relatively little action has been
taken by state officials to address these concerns since the ABA report
was released last fall.
Recognizing that questions of innocence may not be at issue in the Mark
Dean Schwab case, and readily acknowledging that the ABA report does not
address method of execution protocols, it nevertheless is important to
make reference to the ABA report in such instances in order to avoid the
false impression that once concerns relating to lethal injection protocols
are addressed, the issues and problems that are identified in the ABA
report somehow may be irrelevant. (According to the Florida Department of
Corrections, Schwab is scheduled for execution Thursday for the 1992
kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez.)
Beyond method of execution protocols and, in particular, the Schwab case,
it is in the best interests of every Floridian for the state to take
long-overdue steps to ensure that the death penalty process is
The ABA report can be accessed through the following link:
(source: Mark Schlakman is program director for the Center for the
Advancement of Human Rights at FLorida State University. He is a member of
the ABA/Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team and board chair for
Innocence Project of Florida; Pensacola News)
Death row inmate gets rare chance to press for new trial
Death row inmate Troy Davis will get a rare chance Tuesday to press for a
new trial in a case that has drawn fierce protest from death penalty
opponents who say the state of Georgia could execute the wrong man.
Defense attorneys will ask the state Supreme Court to grant Davis a new
trial in light of testimony his lawyers say will prove his innocence and
implicate another man. Prosecutors, meanwhile, will argue the case is
closed and new evidence can't be considered.
The arguments will test a Georgia law - the only one of its kind in the
U.S., experts say - that allows inmates to seek a new trial after
exhausting other appeals. And it could force the court to stake a position
in a long-standing debate over adopting statewide eyewitness
The case began in 1989 when 27-year-old Savannah police officer Mark
MacPhail rushed to help a homeless man who had been pistol-whipped at a
Burger King parking lot next to a bus station where the officer worked
off-duty as a security guard.
Moments after MacPhail approached Davis and 2 other men in the parking
lot, he was shot in the face and the chest and fell to the ground,
Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter. A jury convicted him in 1991
and sentenced him to death. At the trial, prosecutors said he wore a
"smirk on his face" as he fired the gun, according to records.
But Davis' lawyers say new evidence could exonerate their client and prove
him a victim of mistaken identity. Several witnesses who initially
testified against Davis have since recanted or contradicted their
testimony. And three others who did not testify have said another man,
Sylvester "Red" Coles - who testified against Davis at trial - confessed
to the killing.
Coles refused to talk about the case when contacted by The Associated
Press during a recent Chatham County court appearance on an unrelated
traffic charge, and he has no listed phone number.
Prosecutors call the witness statements "suspect," and say Davis'
attorneys have failed to prove why he should be granted a new trial. They
also say some of the witness affidavits simply repeat what a trial jury
has already heard, while others are irrelevant because they come from
witnesses who never testified.
The case puts Georgia's high court, which voted 4-3 to consider Davis'
appeal, on unfamiliar footing. Any decision would likely rely on a 1980
ruling that suggested a new trial may be necessary if new evidence "would
probably produce a different verdict."
Donald E. Wilkes Jr., a University of Georgia law professor who
specializes in the death penalty, said Georgia is the only state that
permits defense attorneys to ask a judge to grant an extraordinary motion
for a new trial even after they've exhausted all other appeals.
Even then, the evidence must meet strict standards, and the court has
proven reluctant to grant new trials. Wilkes said the only death row
inmate exonerated using such an appeal was Jerry Banks, who was convicted
of a double murder in 1974 and spent 6 years on death row before the
Supreme Court unanimously overturned his sentence and released him.
But Davis' attorneys will likely face a skeptical audience, particularly
because 3 of the court's 7 justices voted against hearing an appeal. "3 of
these justices didn't think this case was worth hearing to begin with,"
Wilkes said. "It seems it would be very hard to persuade them."
The outcome will be closely watched in the Georgia Capitol, where Davis'
case is frequently cited by advocates of new statewide standards to govern
eyewitness identification. Death penalty critics, meanwhile, present Davis
as an example of the uncertainties of capital punishment.
Tuesday's hearing is expected to draw dozens of protesters from Amnesty
International, which has championed Davis' case. The group organized a
rally in support of Davis on Monday night and has on its Web site a
recording in which Davis professes his innocence.
"I would never take another human being's life," Davis says in the
recording. "My family is in mourning, the victim's family is in mourning
and the truth is still locked in because I didn't get justice."
The case has also attracted legal heavyweights such as Harvard Law
School's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, which
filed a brief contending that the new evidence "overwhelmingly favors a
"It is precisely the sort of evidence for which the extraordinary motion
statute was created, and to disregard it would be to perpetuate the most
grievous injustice known to our legal system - the execution of a truly
(soource: Associated Press)
POWELL COUNTY----Judge: Man Can Face Death Penalty----Man Accused In Death
Of Police Chief Appears In Court
The judge in the case of a man accused of killing Clay City Police Chief
Randy Lacy Monday refused a request to drop the death penalty as a
possible punishment if there is a conviction.
Lawyers for Jamie Barnett, 37, cited the current debate going on in the
U.S. Supreme Court over the legality of lethal injection, currently the
method used by Kentucky in executions.
On Monday, the judge ruled that dropping the possibility of the death
penalty was premature, citing the lengthy time it takes for death penalty
convictions to go through appeals.
Police say Barnett shot and killed Lacy the morning of June 13 after he
was arrested by Lacy for suspicion of driving drunk.
Barnett has expressed remorse for the shooting. In a jailhouse interview
after his arrest with LEX 18, Barnett said he was too high on drugs to
recall any of the events that led up to the killing.
"I couldn't tell you what happened," said a tearful Barnett. All I know is
I'm in here, and Randy's gone."
Barnett said soon after the killing that a combination of cocaine, Xanax
and methadone left him unable to remember the incident, but that he was
sorry for what happened. "Well, he's gone and I can't bring him back. I
could care less what they do to me," he said. "They can take me back there
and hang me right now."
Lacy, 55, had served 22 years in law enforcement and was the only active
member of the police force in Clay City, a rural town of 1,300 people
about 40 miles east of Lexington.
Barnett has an arrest record dating back to 1993, including multiple drug
possession charges. He said he has been high on a variety of drugs,
including cocaine, for at least 6 months but never intended to harm
"It wouldn't even cross my mind, no matter how messed up I got," he said.
His most recent arrest prior to the shooting took place April 9, when
Barnett was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident,
driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without insurance,
DUI and disorderly conduct.
Barnett is being held without bond in the Montgomery County jail.
(source: Lex 18)
More information about the DeathPenalty