[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KY., ALA., N.J., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Nov 30 17:07:02 CST 2007
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for men on trial for killing mother,
severely wounding 2-year-old----Murder suspects learn they're eligible for
There are major developments in a high profile murder case we've been
following. 2 Louisville men accused of murdering a woman and shooting her
then 2 year old daughter, could be put to death if convicted. WAVE 3
Investigator Scott Harvey has the latest.
22-year-old Kenneth Williams and 26-year-old James Quisenberry were
arrested in August, following a 15-month investigation.
Prosecutors want the jury to consider the ultimate punishment if the men
are convicted. Neither of the suspects had any reaction in court Thursday
when they learned the death penalty could be considered in this case.
Both men are accused of killing Earon Harper and shooting her daughter
Erica Hughes 3 times and leaving her for dead. Police rushed her to the
hospital in the back of a cruiser, and she survived, although she lost
sight in 1 eye.
Prosecutors say they have filed a capital murder charge because Williams
and Quisenberry killed Harper during a robbery, and that the murder was
"It just allows the jury to consider the possibility of 1 of the capital
penalties," said Commonwealth's Attorney John Heck. "Obviously, the death
penalty, life without parole, life without parole for 25 years, now become
Harper's mother, Judith, was in court to face the men accused of killing
her daughter. "Erica is going to have to pay for the rest of her whole
life and they need to pay for the rest of their lives."
Harper also told us Erica continues to ask for her mother, who she calls
"Honey" and that at some point she probably will lose her right eye, from
the injuries she received during the shooting. But right now she is doing
well and going to school.
(source: WAVE TV News)
Georgia pastor William Neal Moore to speak at Midfield retreat on
William Neal Moore is a preacher with a story to tell -- a story of death,
life and hope.
Yeah, big deal, you say. What preacher doesn't?
But Moore's is different. Moore, see, is a killer -- someone who at a low
point in his life set out to rob a 77-year-old man of his money and
instead robbed him of his life.
He was 22 at the time, an Army soldier in Georgia, hard up for cash. A
drinking buddy told him about his uncle, Fred Stapton, who kept lots of
cash around his house. In Moore's altered state of mind, Stapton's cash
looked like the solution.
It didn't go well. Stapton heard Moore in his home and fired at the
intruder. Moore shot back in the darkness and heard someone fall to the
floor. One light switch later, a horrified Moore saw what he had done.
"When I found out that I had actually killed somebody, I couldn't believe
it," Moore once told BET.com. "I felt sick ... as if a part of me had
Moore quickly pleaded guilty, he said, because he was guilty. He was
sentenced to death in July 1974, just 3 months after the crime.
But a strange thing happened on the way to his execution: Moore found a
He learned he wasn't so low as to be out of the reach of God's mercy. Or
even the mercy of Stapton's family, which ultimately forgave Moore and
advocated that his life be spared.
The Georgia parole board, which can commute death sentences, did so for
Moore at the urging of Stapton's family and a number of other advocates,
including Mother Teresa.
In 1991, he was paroled from prison, after more than 17 years behind bars,
16 of them on death row.
Some, no doubt, will dismiss Moore's experience as a phony jailhouse
conversion. But, if so, he's kept up the act a long, long time.
Today, at 57, he is a Pentecostal minister who lives in Rome, Ga., and
travels the country, speaking to young people, old people, churches,
temples and anyone who will listen to his story about truly amazing grace.
He'll tell his story Friday night at the Walnut Grove United Methodist
Church conference center in Midfield, as part of a weekend Advent retreat
sponsored by Mary's House Catholic Worker.
The retreat's fitting theme: "no one beyond redemption."
Although many profess this to be true, Moore actually believes it.
"Everybody needs to experience forgiveness," Moore said.
And by experience, Moore means being on the giving end as well as the
receiving end. But even in the Bible Belt, his message is sometimes a hard
sell. "Our society doesn't teach forgiveness," he said. "We teach if
someone harms you, you harm them back."
Some even equate forgiveness with weakness, a notion that suggests they
haven't tried lately to actually do it.
And, he said, among his fellow believers, forgiveness is not an option, if
they expect to be forgiven by God. "For those who profess to be
Christians, we're actually commanded by the Bible to forgive one another,"
Besides, forgiveness is freeing; refusing to forgive is a form of prison,
Even Moore could be bitter if he chose. While he was guilty, it doesn't
take a legal scholar to figure out he didn't have a top-dollar defense. He
got the death penalty even though he pleaded guilty, even though he killed
in the course of a bungled burglary that most wouldn't include in a lineup
of the most heinous of crimes.
But Moore's freedom today is a miracle. Often, our nation's judicial
machinery seems to resist freeing even those who are exonerated by new
evidence or new trials. In Moore's case, there was no new evidence. Just a
Moore doesn't suggest forgiveness translates to a get-out-of-jail card for
every inmate. But he does believe there must be room for redemption.
In Moore's case, there was redemption and forgiveness, and there is hope
and new life.
What a message for Advent. After all, what are we celebrating this holiday
season if not that?
Editor's note: Moore speaks Friday at 7 p.m. at Walnut Grove United
Methodist Church. The event is free. For information or directions, call
(source: Robin DeMonia is an editorial writer for The (Birmingham) News)
Alabama asks Supreme Court to deny stay of execution----State to Supreme
Court: Deny Thomas Arthur stay of execution
The Alabama attorney general's office on Thursday urged the U.S. Supreme
Court to deny a stay of execution for convicted murderer Thomas Arthur,
who faces lethal injection next week.
Arthur has waited too late to challenge Alabama's method of execution and
the high court should not block his execution scheduled for next Thursday,
Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said in a court filing.
Crenshaw responded to a petition for a stay filed earlier this week by New
York attorney Suhana S. Han, who represents Arthur. She asked the high
court to block the execution while the court considers constitutional
issues in a Kentucky lethal injection case.
Those issues include "the proper standard for determining whether a method
of execution violates the Eighth Amendment" protection against cruel and
A ruling in the Kentucky case isn't expected until next year. In the
meantime, many lethal injection cases, including Arthur's, remain in
Arthur, 65, was sentenced to death for the 1982 killing of Troy Wicker,
35, of Muscle Shoals.
Arthur came within hours of execution at Holman prison on Sept. 27, when
Gov. Bob Riley granted a 45-day reprieve so the state could make minor
changes in its execution procedure. Riley acted after the U.S. Supreme
Court agreed to hear the Kentucky challenge to lethal injection.
In his filing Thursday, Crenshaw said Arthur could have challenged the
method of execution when the state of Alabama in 2002 adopted use of
lethal injection. He also argued that Arthur hasn't met any of the court's
requirements for a stay.
Crenshaw said the state filed its motion for Arthur's execution date at
the appropriate time.
"It was Arthur who failed to bring his civil rights lawsuit at a time that
would have allowed full consideration of his claims," Crenshaw wrote in
Citing a ruling in a separate death penalty case, he reminded the high
court that federal courts considering a stay request must be "sensitive of
the state's strong interest in enforcing its criminal judgments without
undue interference from the federal courts."
He also said granting a stay of execution is not necessary before the high
court decides whether to even hear Arthur's appeal. That decision may not
come until next week. Depending on the court's ruling, a stay request
apparently could then be considered.
Crenshaw said Arthur also hasn't shown the court that he's likely to
succeed with his appeal - another requirement for granting a stay.
Noting the Kentucky case, Arthur's attorneys allege there is "a grave and
substantial risk" that Arthur will be "conscious of suffocation" during
the execution and will suffer "excruciating pain."
In earlier court filings, Crenshaw said Arthur has not produced evidence
of any execution mishap in an Alabama lethal injection execution or any
"cruel or unusual pain" suffered by an inmate during a lethal injection.
Arthur has been on death row about 16 years after being convicted for
capital murder and sentenced to death in 1992 at his 3rd trial. His first
2 convictions and death sentences in the Wicker murder were overturned on
(source: Associated Press)
Ending Capital Punishment----Close death row
New Jersey leaders are poised to make history by becoming the first state
to eliminate the death penalty since the 1970s.
They should do it.
With staunch support from Gov. Corzine, Democratic legislators are pushing
for a vote in the coming weeks on a plan to replace the death penalty with
life in prison without parole.
The time is right. The cause, unquestionably, is just.
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. (D., Camden) and Senate President
Richard J. Codey (D., Essex) should be celebrated nationally as
trailblazers if their reform succeeds. Their unease over capital
punishment is widely shared by millions of Americans.
There's the real fear that an innocent person might be executed, given
dozens of documented cases in which death-row inmates have been
exonerated. Before the availability of the DNA evidence crucial to many of
these reversals, it's anyone's guess how many death-row inmates failed to
prove legitimate pleas of innocence.
While government executions court the horror of killing an innocent
person, the system otherwise is unjust. Studies show that accused
murderers who are poor and black or brown face a far greater risk of being
sent to death row due to inadequate legal defenses.
The fact that states without capital punishment have fewer homicides also
calls into question whether executions have any deterrent effect.
Even if you accept a recent, hotly contested study that says capital
punishment deters other killers, there should be no dispute that the death
penalty wastes vast government resources.
Running prison death rows is hugely expensive, as is dealing with the many
legitimate death-penalty appeals. That time and public funds could be
devoted instead to crime prevention and compensating victims of crime.
The U.S. Supreme Court has helped set the stage for states to take the
step that New Jersey anticipates. The court's ban on the execution of
juveniles and the mentally ill acknowledged the growing global consensus
that such executions are wrong.
Now the high court effectively has halted all executions while it reviews
whether lethal injection represents cruel and unusual punishment
prohibited by the Constitution.
New Jersey might be positioned uniquely to scrap its death-penalty law. In
all but name, the state years ago abolished capital punishment: The last
execution was in 1963 and Jersey's death row population has dwindled to
just 8 inmates.
It's almost a formality for the state to shutter its death row.
Not only that, Trenton policymakers should be emboldened by a New Jersey
study commission's forceful call to end all executions. The panel's
near-unanimous recommendation in January to switch to life without parole
noted that executions go against "evolving standards of decency."
Pennsylvania's capital punishment system is fatally flawed as well.
Indeed, the American Bar Association recently gave Pennsylvania a dismal
rating due to injustices found in death penalty cases. So Harrisburg
lawmakers need to follow Trenton's in taking the same hard look at closing
down death row.
New Jersey lawmakers can strike the first blow for justice by outlawing
(source: Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Axe U.S. death penalty
When comparing the American stance on capital punishment to other
Westernized nations, a stark contrast is visible. In fact, an entrance
requirement to the European Union is that the death penalty be outlawed in
the joining country. While nations such as Great Britain, France and
Germany all banned capital punishment decades ago, there are nations in
the Eastern bloc that are trying to gain admittance to the E.U. and are
now revising their penal codes. The European Union and their committees on
human rights have become world leaders for global abolition of the death
penalty and it is time for the U.S.to heed their advice. A large
contingent of Americans not only believes that capital punishment should
continue to be implemented but that it is sound policy. This group fails
to recognize that capital punishment is an unnecessarily costly policy
that is based on flawed reasoning.
First, it a commonly held belief that life imprisonment is more expensive
because the government body must pay for the lengthy prison term, as
opposed to simply paying the killing of the prisoner. This stance,
however, fails to consider the entire judicial process involved with the
previously mentioned 2 alternatives. It is impossible for a prosecutor to
obtain either a life or death sentence without first bringing the accused
to court. Thus, it would be completely irresponsible to disregard those
judicial expenses when comparing the cost of that prosecutor seeking
either sentence when doing a cost analysis. In other words, one cannot
simply compare the costs of the last step of 2 alternatives and make a
definitive decision on which is more financially beneficial. When taking
into account the entire judicial process (from arrest through death by
execution or life imprisonment), it is almost always more expensive for a
prosecutor to seek the death penalty. Effectively, the second alternative
is always a more cost-effective means of seeking punishment for a crime.
Thus, our government officials continue to implement a publicly funded,
inefficient policy. This type of data is generally irrefutable and readily
available, but the American public either is unaware or unwilling to
recognize the truth behind the research.
Secondly, preventative arguments are equally unsound and often based on
similarly fallacious reasoning. The contingency of pro capital punishment
thinkers also believes that the fear of death acts as a deterrent for many
hardened criminals not to commit heinous crimes such as rape and murder,
when in fact this is not the case. The U.S. has for decades been one of
the world leaders in the number of murders per year, while law enforcement
officers in other Westernized nations don't even have to carry a firearm
because there is so little crime. For proponents of capital punishment to
think that the fear of death row is so much more substantial than the fear
of life imprisonment that it actually prevents numerous murders a year is
absurd considering the outrageous number of homicides that happen on
American soil each year.
Lastly, the death penalty is the only form of punishment that disallows
for mistake correction. If an individual is convicted of a crime and given
any other sentence in our penal codes he would have the opportunity to be
exonerated if new evidence arises. Indeed, people are often found innocent
in appeals court and the influx of people being taken off of death row
based on DNA or other forms of evidence should remind everyone that
mistakes are inevitable in our judicial system. If one assumes that those
mistakes are inevitable, how can he also justify sentencing an individual
to a place where those mistakes can not be corrected? Proponents would
argue that there are certain crimes that necessitate such a punishment
based on the historic "eye-for-an-eye" mindset.
The U.S. should reconsider the use of capital punishment based on both
empirical and value-based evidence. If justice is truly blind, and the
legal system we champion as the best in the world in the U.S. is built on
the foundation of fairness and equality, it is imperative and necessary to
analyze the benefit of our capital punishment system and form a new
approach to punishing the most heinous of crimes for the betterment of
society as a whole.
(source: Dante Marinucci is the president of the Undergraduate Political
Science Organization; The Lantern)
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