[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----VA., OHIO, MD., MISS., UTAH, N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 3 10:56:56 CDT 2007
Death row inmate's appeal will not be heard in court
The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeal of Christopher
Scott Emmett, who is currently on Virginia's death row for beating a
co-worker to death with a brass lamp in a Danville hotel in 2001,
according to the Washington Post.
Emmett had claimed that his trial attorney failed to present to the jury
an accurate portrait of his abusive childhood.
Emmett is scheduled to be executed Oct. 17, although that is likely to be
postponed as the Supreme Court hears a Kentucky case challenging whether
lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.
The Washington Post also reports that Emmett's attorneys are pursuing 2
other avenues of keeping him alive: A clemency petition that is before
Gov. Timothy Kaine and a challenge to Virginia's method of lethal
injection that is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Kaine granted a stay of execution in June. At the time, Kaine said the
stay was needed to give the Supreme Court a chance to review Emmett's
The Supreme Court had rejected Emmett's request for a stay of execution,
but had not ruled on his request for a writ of certiorari.
Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Hackett
Souter and John Paul Stevens noted that they would have granted Emmett's
request for a reprieve, but that was still one justice shy of the 5
needed. So, Kaine intervened.
Emmett was convicted of the April 2001 murder and robbery of his friend
and co-worker John Fenton Langley. Langley was beaten to death in a motel
room at the Innkeeper on Riverside Drive in Danville.
(source: Danville Register Bee)
Death row inmate in Putnam Cty awaits new trial
Kenneth Richey claims he never murdered a little girl he was convicted 20
years ago of killing. On Tuesday, Richey was back in Common Pleas Court,
this time seeking release on bond while he awaits his new trial.
In August, a Federal Appeals Court ruled his lawyers mishandled the case
and expert testimony was flawed. The court ordered Richey be retried or
In 1986, Richey was convicted and sentenced to death for setting a fire in
Columbus Grove that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins. Prosecutors said he
set the blaze to punish a former girlfriend who lived in the same building
as Cynthia's family.
Richey has always proclaimed his innocence, and, on Tuesday, his legal
team of six lawyers asked a judge to release him on bond while they
prepare for a new trial. They were turned down by Judge Alan Travis.
This case is getting international attention, reports News 11's Dick
Berry. In fact, Richey grew up in Scotland and became a British citizen
while behind bars. Reporters from the UK attended his bond hearing in
Also on hand were his ex-wife, Wendy, and his son, Sean. His ex-wife is
there, she says, "Because I believe he's innocent."
Richey's been sitting on Ohio's death row since 1986, only recently
establishing a bond with the son he never knew.
"About three years ago is when we started talking again. and started
getting to know each other again. Now we're inseparable," Richey's son,
His trial is scheduled for Nov. 26. Bond is set at $10 million. Richey
remains behind bars but uses 2 words to describe his day in court: "Pretty
(source: WTOL News)
O'Malley asked to act quickly on death penalty
House Republican leaders are asking Gov. Martin O'Malley to draft
regulations immediately to reinstate the Maryland death penalty.
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, has said in the past months he would not draft
new lethal-injection guidelines required by the state's highest court
before allowing the state to proceed with executions effectively creating
a moratorium in Maryland.
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican,
and House Minority Whip Christopher B. Shank, Washington County
Republican, say Mr. O'Malley shirked his constitutional duty to enforce
"In refusing to act to enforce that law, we believe, you have engaged in a
de facto suspension of the law," Mr. O'Donnell and Mr. Shank wrote in a
letter to the governor this week. "We consider this inaction to be not
only an improper appropriation of legislative authority, but a deliberate
omission of your duty to the oath of office."
House Republicans sent a similar letter this week to House Speaker Michael
E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike
Miller Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat, asking them to reprimand Mr.
"I don't think I have anything to say about that today," Mr. O'Malley said
Mr. Busch and Mr. Miller were not available for comment.
Mr. O'Malley fought this year to repeal the state's death penalty and
recently said he would try again next year.
The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled in
December that Maryland could not carry out executions until it developed
new guidelines for administering lethal injections.
Attempts to repeal the death penalty failed in the General Assembly, along
with an attempt to force Mr. O'Malley to draft new guidelines.
6 inmates remain on Maryland's death row.
Republicans also asked Mr. O'Malley to rescind his two executive orders
that allow child care and home health care workers to unionize.
In both instances, Mr. O'Donnell and Mr. Shank argue, Mr. O'Malley
co-opted power from the General Assembly.
Lawmakers have defeated measures to allow unionization.
No Maryland governor has been prosecuted for violating the oath of office,
said Robert A. Zarnoch, counsel to the legislature. "It's a very tough
thing to do."
The lawmakers wrote to Mr. O'Malley: "You have elected to defy the
Legislature and act through executive order. We feel that you have chosen
to ignore the power of the people of Maryland and overstepped the boundary
of separation of powers."
A Cecil County judge last week issued a temporary restraining order
barring Mr. O'Malley from enforcing the order allowing child care workers
to unionize, but a Court of Appeals judge stayed the order at the attorney
A Circuit Court judge is expected to hold a hearing later this month.
(source: Washington Times)
State seeks new execution date for Chickasaw man
Earl Wesley Berry has reached the end of his appeals and should be
executed, the state attorney general's office says.
Attorney General Jim Hood filed legal pleadings Monday with the
Mississippi Supreme Court, asking it to allow Berry to be put to death
before the end of the month. Justice William Waller Jr. on Tuesday ordered
Berry to file a response to the pleading by 1 p.m. Friday.
Berry was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Mary Bounds of Houston in
November 1987. He was convicted of kidnapping Bounds as she left First
Baptist Church in Houston and of beating her and leaving her in the woods,
where she died.
The move by Hood's office came after the U.S. Supreme Court, without
comment, declined to hear Berry's recent appeal.
Berry has weathered a series of appeals and hearings in state court.
He was first convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die in 1988 in
Chickasaw County. The state Supreme Court overturned the death sentence
from the 1st trial but let the guilty verdict stand. The state Supreme
Court said the trial judge didn't tell the jury that Berry would receive
life in prison without parole if the jury decided against the death
Prosecutors held a 2nd sentencing hearing in 1992.
Berry appealed again to the state Supreme Court, saying the lower court
judge erred by not holding a hearing to determine why prosecutors excused
all but one black person from the pool of potential jurors. The
prosecution and defense can excuse a certain number of potential jurors
without giving a reason. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that
the potential jurors cannot be dismissed for racial reasons.
A majority of the state Supreme Court agreed and ordered the hearing. The
lower court found against Berry's claim, which in 2001, the state's high
(source: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)
So, how best to kill murderers & rapists?
The death penalty, like abortion and religion, is among those topics to
avoid if one wishes to keep the peace.
Say you're at a party and you hear the words "partial birth" or "those
godless devils" or "let's hang 'em all." You might just want to get out of
Dodge and live to party another night.
I've never been much on the death penalty on the theory that hard time is
probably worse on a guy and that a life sentence might be cheaper on the
budget than wading through the muck of endless appeals with herds of
lawyers on the clock.
But I've never been one to light candles and protest at the gates up at
Parchman. There are only so many tears one can shed, and I prefer saving
mine for those who've not raped and murdered.
Just call me sensitive.
The courts will soon readdress the issue of capital punishment and the
"cruel and unusual" principle as it may apply to lethal injections.
The irony of the lethal injection - the so-called death cocktail - is that
it was created because the gas chamber and electric chair were about as
subtle as a 2-by-4 across the forehead.
Guys flopped and wiggled and moaned and sometimes seemed to sizzle and
catch fire, which is pretty creepy.
I recall the case of Jimmy Lee Gray, a rapist-murderer who did not go
gently into that good Delta night.
He was the 1st guy Mississippi put to death after the courts had recleared
a path to capital punishment.
Jimmy Lee raped a little girl and threw her in the mud, where she
suffocated and died.
Even for the usual band of candlelighters and protesters, he was hard to
Anyway, we're sitting there in the old visitors center up at the prison
farm within eyeshot of the gate as midnight approached and then passed.
We sweated and waited and fought off mosquitoes as big as Buicks when the
woman from The New York Times finally slammed her hand on the table and
said something to the effect that if they don't kill this SOB soon, I'm
going to miss my deadline.
Even in matters of law and philosophy and religion, one has to wrestle
with practical matters.
At long last, Jimmy Lee, in a wisp of smoke, gave in to the gas and we
made the paper.
If lethal injection doesn't pass the smell test, then what?
If you want painless, then Dr. J.I. Guillotin's contraption, the
guillotine, invented during the French Revolution for humanitarian and
efficiency reasons, would seem to be just the ticket. It separates noggin
from neck in, dare we say, a heartbeat, though, I expect, there is no
small amount of pre-chop terror involved.
In order to soften its complicity, the government could simply give the
murderous miscreant over to, say, Tony Soprano's real-life counterparts,
who, I understand, are impeccable at making nuisances disappear.
And, really, isn't that the point?
(source: Orley Hood, Clarion Ledger)
Slayer's lawyers want off his appeal, deny trying to delay death-row case
A Utah defense attorney told a judge Tuesday that he lacks the legal
training to represent death-row inmate Douglas Stewart Carter in his
appeal and asked to be allowed to withdraw from the case.
Mark Moffat cited the complexity of death-penalty law and his lack of
formal training in post-conviction work. He told 4th District Judge Lynn
Davis he fears making a legal mistake that could have deadly consequences
for his client.
"I am not competent to represent Mr. Carter," he said. "We're dealing with
a terribly complex, technical area of the law."
The other defense attorney helping with the inmate's state post-conviction
review, Leo Griffard, also is asking to be let off the case, but for
financial reasons. Griffard and Moffat want Davis to appoint new lawyers
to represent Carter, who killed a Provo woman in 1985.
Thomas Brunker, an assistant state attorney general, objected to the
requests to be taken off the case and to the appointment of new lawyers.
He said Carter, who never graduated from high school, could proceed with
his appeals on his own if Davis allows the two current lawyers to withdraw
and no new lawyer will take the case.
Gary Oleson, the son of victim Eva Oleson, also asked the judge to move
the case along. "For nearly 23 years, our family has been trying to put
this tragedy to rest," Oleson said. "These are simply delay tactics."
Both defense lawyers emphatically denied they are trying to drag out the
matter, but said they could end up in financial ruin. Neither has received
any payment for their work in the case since January 2006. Both say the
matter is losing them paying clients.
The state caps the attorneys' fee for death penalty appeals at $37,500 and
makes payments only after certain work is completed. Moffat said his law
firm has put in about 506 hours of work in the case and is owed $10,000
from the state. Splitting the fee with Griffard for his assistance would
give his firm $9.88 an hour, he said.
"Lawyers getting paid less than $20 an hour is crazy," Moffat said.
"Getting $9 an hour is insane."
Griffard said he's not "some rich fat cat lawyer" trying to make money off
the case and pointed out that he paid his own travel costs from Idaho to
be at Tuesday's hearing.
The Utah Division of Finance recently issued a $10,000 check for their
work, but Moffat and Griffard said they will forgo payment so the money
can be used for new lawyers.
Davis said he will make a decision within 60 days on the requests to
withdraw and to appoint new attorneys.
In an unrelated case, 3rd District Judge Stephen Roth will hold a hearing
today on whether he can force an unwilling attorney to represent death-row
inmate Ralph Leroy Menzies in his appeal. The Menzies case has stalled
because no qualified attorney has agreed to take the case.
(source: Salt Lake Tribune)
Our View: Judge's order should have led to formal review of execution
Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. wasn't the first to push
for death penalty prudence in North Carolina. For years lawyers and
advocates for inmates and some physicians have urged North Carolina to
reconsider its capital punishment process.
In August, Morrison ordered top elected officials to hear the death
penalty detractors out, a step that should have occurred years ago.
But the Council of State rejected Morrison's order Tuesday, and in doing
so missed an opportunity to ensure that the process is as fair and safe as
The Council of State - comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor and
other elected leaders of the state's executive branch of government - said
Morrison didn't have the jurisdiction to decide the issue.
That may or may not be true, but the logic behind Morrison's ruling is
sound. And the council is remiss for ignoring it.
The 3 drugs used for lethal injections are unreliable. The cocktail is
supposed to render death row inmates unconscious to prevent their pain and
suffering, then paralyze their muscles, and finally stop their hearts.
But the process can fail, leaving inmates paralyzed but not unconscious,
unable to cry out as they endure excruciating pain and, finally,
suffocation. When the procedure doesn't work, inmates suffer the kind of
cruel and unusual punishment that the Constitution bans.
There are other major problems.
Earlier this year lethal injections were put on hold as questions about
the role of doctors during executions were resolved.
In North Carolina, death row sentences are not meted out in a fair and
consistent manner. According to the Common Sense Foundation, poor
defendants with court-appointed lawyers are more likely to end up on death
row. And the odds of getting a death sentence are 3.5 times higher if the
victim is white.
This year the Council of State ignored two opportunities to review
execution protocol - first during the brief moratorium, and then later
following Morrison's decree.
It's no wonder that the public's support of the lethal-injection process
is waning. It will continue to drop until lawmakers are willing to find
and fix cracks in the system.
(source: The Fayetteville Observer)
BODIES WERE FOUND NEAR AIRPORT----Death penalty case goes to jury; Man
convicted in 1996 shooting deaths of wife and her daughter
12 jurors are expected to sit around a table this morning and talk for the
first time about whether they want to let Ricky Graham live or die.
Graham, convicted last week in the decade-old murders of his wife, Tracy
Coleman, and her 1-year-old daughter, Rishea, is facing the death penalty
or life in prison without parole.
Jurors heard final arguments in the sentencing phase of his trial Tuesday.
In his closing, Graham attorney Norman Butler pleaded with jurors to spare
his 43-year-old client.
"There is no justification for what he did. There is none," Butler told
the jurors. "I know you think about the baby. I do too. But will killing
Ricky Sylvester Graham bring Ms. Coleman back or Rishea back? We would do
it, if it would. I believe he would volunteer to do it. But it won't bring
Graham was convicted of shooting Rishea and 26-year-old Coleman in the
head in May 1996, a month before Graham was set to go on trial for
stabbing Coleman. The mother and daughter were found buried in shallow
graves near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
Prosecutors contend that Graham killed Coleman so she couldn't testify in
the stabbing case.
"The defendant tried to get Tracy to leave town, so she wouldn't be
available to testify against him," Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole
told the jury. "When she wouldn't agree, this defendant threatened her and
told her she would not make it to court. And, of course, she never did."
Graham was convicted in the knife attack and sentenced to at least nine
years in prison. He was still there when he was charged in 2001 with the
murders of Coleman and Rishea.
"Tracy will never be there to watch T'Keyah (another daughter) grow up.
She'll never be there to give her advice. She'll never know if she has
grandchildren. Her opportunities are gone," Cole said. "Rishea will never
know what it's like to run. She'll never learn to talk. She never had an
opportunity to grow up."
Family members sitting the courtroom wept as Cole spoke.
He told jurors the death penalty is reserved for the most extreme crimes
and that the murders of Coleman and Rishea fit that category.
But Butler argued otherwise.
He said death is appropriate in cases where a lot of people are killed and
when there is no "redeeming value in the accused."
He said Graham has changed. And he asked jurors to consider that Graham
has a well-below-average IQ, was raised without a male role model in his
life, and suffers from a personality disorder.
"You have the right and the power," he said, "to choose life."
(source: Charlotte Observer)
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