[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., MD., DEL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Oct 2 22:26:26 CDT 2007
Killer exhausts legal appeals, but execution not a done deal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away condemned Santa Clara County
killer David Allen Raley's last legal appeal, a development that
ordinarily would lead to a firm execution date within a few months.
But as is the case for more than 650 inmates on California's death row,
time remains on Raley's side, at least for now.
The Supreme Court's decision last week to review a challenge to lethal
injection procedures in a case out of Kentucky ensures that Raley's
possible execution will remain on hold until at least next summer. In
fact, with a challenge to California's lethal injection method also
pending in the federal courts, itcould be even longer before this state
can resume executing inmates who've exhausted their appeals, such as
"At this moment, we see no pressing need to immediately seek an execution
date in Raley," said Ronald Matthias, the senior assistant attorney
general who supervises death penalty cases in California.
Raley, on death row since 1988, is among just three or four inmates who
would confront imminent execution if California is permitted to restart
lethal injections at San Quentin prison. He would also be the 1st
condemned murderer from Santa Clara County executed since California
restored the death penalty in 1978.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Raley's death sentence last
year, and the Supreme Court refused to review that ruling in the 1-line
order issued Monday.
With his legal appeals exhausted, Raley's only chance for a reprieve is a
clemency petition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Robert Bacon, Raley's
lawyer, said he would seek clemency from the governor when the lethal
injection issue is resolved.
The 46-year-old Raley was sentenced to die for the 1985 kidnap and murder
of a Peninsula high school student and the attempted murder of her friend
at a deserted Hillsborough mansion. Raley, a security guard, turned a tour
of the mansion into a day of terror for the 2 girls, Laurie McKenna and
Janine Grinsell, who died from repeated stab wounds.
McKenna, now Laurie Vanlandingham, survived. The Mercury News last year
profiled her journey from a south San Jose ravine where Raley left her to
die to her current life with her husband and 2 children in Georgia.
Last summer, she said Raley deserved to die for his crimes and doesn't
really understand why he'd want to live after all these years in prison.
But she has no plans to attend Raley's execution whenever it is scheduled.
(source: San Jose Mercury News)
Supreme Court Turns Down Final Appeal Of Peninsula Killer
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned down the final appeal of condemned
killer David Raley, who was convicted two decades ago of the 1985
kidnapping and murder of a Peninsula girl from the Carolands Mansion in
The court action normally would have made Raley a dead man walking -- with
a scheduled execution date just months or even weeks away. However, all
executions in California have been halted since February 2006 because of
questions about the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection
The Supreme Court last month agreed to take up the question of lethal
injection's legality in a Kentucky death penalty appeal. All further
executions in California will remain on hold at least until the court
rules on the Kentucky case. That ruling is expected late in the spring of
"We're pleased . . . that his death sentence was affirmed," Santa Clara
County Assistant District Attorney David Tomkins said. "We hope that the
issue regarding lethal injection will be resolved soon."
According to court documents, Raley, 45, was working as a security guard
at the Carolands Mansion in Hillsborough on Feb. 5, 1985 when two local
high school girls asked for a tour.
He took them to the basement, handcuffed them, sexually assaulted one of
them and then beat and stabbed both of them. He then stuffed them in the
trunk of his car and drove them to a remote South San Jose location where
he threw them down a ravine.
The girl who was sexually assaulted managed to climb out of the ravine and
find help the next morning but the other girl died after being taken to
Raley would be the 1st killer convicted in Santa Clara County to be
executed since California re-instituted the death penalty in 1978.
(source: KTVU News)
Abolish death penalty, 'Dead Man Walking' nun urges state
Standing beneath a large crucifix in the sanctuary of a Baltimore church,
Sister Helen Prejean, internationally acclaimed death penalty
abolitionist, stretched out her arms and intently fixed her gaze on the
hundreds of people who filled the pews.
"The cross has become a symbol of the suffering caused by murderers and
capital punishment in America," the Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille told
the crowd at St. Pius X Church.
"On the one arm of the cross are the murderer and the murderer's family.
On the other ... are the victim and the victim's family," said Sister
Helen, whose book inspired the movie "Dead Man Walking."
Speaking with the nun at the church Sept. 20 were Chris Conover and Kirk
Bloodsworth, whose death-row convictions were overturned when DNA testing
exonerated them years after their murder conviction.
Sister Helen has firsthand experience "entering into the mystery" of the
cross, she said. She was the spiritual adviser to Patrick Sonnier in
Louisiana. She accompanied the convicted murderer to his execution by
electrocution, which she recounts in her book, and later accompanied five
more men to their deaths.
Sister Helen also founded Survive, a group that provides counseling and
support for the grieving families of murder victims.
The time has come to help bring healing by abolishing the death penalty in
America, Sister Helen said. Marylanders can take the lead by making their
state one of the first in the country to do away with capital punishment
since it was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, she said.
Last year, an effort to repeal the death penalty in Maryland and replace
it with a sentence of life without parole failed to reach the Senate floor
by just one vote. A similar measure, which has the backing of Maryland's
Catholic bishops, is expected to be introduced in the upcoming General
Calling the death penalty nothing more than "legalized vengeance," Sister
Helen said the gift of being a Catholic is embracing the "seamless garment
of life" respecting the dignity of life from conception until natural
"We don't cause life, so is it our job to take it away?" Sister Helen
asked. "Is it our right to trust a human, fallible system of capital
punishment to take it away?"
Sister Helen said she believed two of the men she accompanied to their
deaths were innocent.
Since 1973, more than 120 men and women have been freed from death row
after evidence demonstrated their innocence, according to Maryland
Citizens Against State Executions.
Conover, a former parishioner of St. Pius X who received his first
Communion there, stood in his hometown church and explained how he spent
18 years in prison for a double murder he didn't commit. He was freed on
the basis of DNA evidence.
Conover, who now lives in North Carolina, challenged those who support the
death penalty to ask themselves if they are willing to let innocent people
die in a flawed system.
Bloodsworth, an Eastern Shore native who was the first death-row inmate to
be released as a result of DNA testing, told the audience that he and
Conover are living reminders that innocent people will inevitably get
swept up in the capital punishment net.
"If it can happen to an honorably discharged Marine like me, with no
criminal record, it can happen to you," said Bloodsworth.
In an interview with The Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan
newspaper, Sister Helen said Catholic attitudes about the death penalty
are shifting. Recent polls showed that only 41 % of young Catholics under
age 30 support the death penalty, she said.
Sister Helen raised questions about how the death penalty is applied in
Maryland, noting that all the people the state has executed and the 5
people currently on death row killed white people.
"80 % of the homicide victims of the people in Maryland are people of
color," said Sister Helen, who had breakfast with several Maryland
lawmakers during her visit. "So why is it the death penalty is given only
for those who kill white people? People are waking up to racism."
Sister Helen said ending the death penalty isn't about letting murderers
off or making society unsafe. Quoting Pope John Paul II, she pointed out
that prisons in modern society can safely keep convicted murderers off the
"Even those who have committed terrible crimes have a dignity that must
not be taken from them," she said.
(source: Catholic News Service)
Jury begins to consider death penalty for Hankins
Jurors are preparing to begin hearing testimony this morning on whether
Ronald T. Hankins should live or die for the murders of Vincent and Kim
Coleman near New Castle in 2006.
In closing statements last week, Hankins' defense attorney Jerome Capone
admitted that his client was guilty of shooting the brother and sister,
but argued he did it in a fit of passion and he was guilty of something
less than 1st-degree murder.
Prosecutors James Kriner and Greg Strong, however, argued that Hankins was
guilty of intentional murder because he started the argument that ended
with him shooting 24-year-old Vincent Coleman. Hankins then chased down
and shot 20-year-old Kim Coleman 5 times, including firing the final,
fatal shot as she lay on the ground, Kriner said.
A New Castle County Superior Court jury found Hankins, 33, guilty on
Thursday of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder, 2 weapons counts and reckless
endangerment in the March 2006 daylight slayings.
Today marks the begining of the penalty phase where jurors will make a
recommendation to Superior Court Judge Charles H. Toliver IV on Hankins
fate. The juries recommendation does not have to be unanimous and Toliver
has the final say.
(source: The News Journal)
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