[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KY., ARK., TENN., ALA., CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Oct 5 11:30:18 CDT 2007
Man changes plea; avoids possible death penalty
A man accused of killing 3 women and raping another has avoided a possible
death penalty by changing his plea to guilty. Robert Smallwood was sent to
prison yesterday without the possibility of parole.
The 33-year-old Lexington man pleaded guilty in Fayette Circuit Court to
all charges related to the attacks. He initially pleaded not guilty in
December. He was expected to be tried later this month for the rape of an
83-year-old woman in 1993. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the victim
has since died of natural causes.
Smallwood was also charged with the strangling deaths of 48-year-old Doris
Roberts, 29-year-old Sonora Allen and 33-year-old Erica Butler between
December 1999 and April 2006. Smallwood was connected to all the attacks
through DNA testing.
The death penalty still would have been an option if Smallwood was
convicted of both the murder and rape of Butler, but prosecutors were
skeptical of that happening.
(source: Associated Press)
ARKANSAS----new execution date
Nov. 8 execution date set for Benton County death-row inmate
Gov. Mike Beebe on Thursday set a Nov. 8 execution date for death-row
inmate Don William Davis, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision
to consider a Kentucky case challenging lethal injection, the same method
used in Arkansas.
Davis was sentenced to death for the 1990 slaying of Jane Daniel of
Beebe said this week he planned to continue to set execution dates and
would let the courts decide whether a stay should be issued.
The governor has already set an Oct. 16 execution date for Jack Harold
Jones Jr., sentenced to death in the 1991 rape and strangulation of a Bald
Knob bookkeeper whose daughter also was severely beaten in the attack.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright has denied Jones' request for a
stay and he has appealed her decision to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in St. Louis.
Earlier this year, the governor set a Sept. 18 execution date for Terrick
Nooner, sentenced to death in the 1993 shooting death of a 22-year-old
college student, but a federal appeals court issued a stay.
The legal challenge by two Kentucky death-row inmates is similar to a
legal challenge in Arkansas federal court filed by Jones and joined by
Nooner, Davis and death-row inmate Frank Williams Jr.
Williams was sentenced to death in the 1992 slaying of a Bradley man while
he was on a work-release program for the Department of Correction.
Jones' attorney Jeff Rosenzweig said the lawsuit argues that the fatal
3-drug cocktail used in Arkansas is unconstitutional because the person is
paralyzed "and put in extreme pain" before the drugs take effect and end
the person's life.
(source: Arkansas News)
GOP Leaders Ask Governor To Join Fight For Lethal Injection
House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) and House Republican
Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin) on Thursday asked Gov. Phil
Bredesen to request the state attorney general to join as a "friend of the
court" with the state of Kentucky in fighting to uphold lethal injection
as a method to carry out the states death penalty law.
The House Republican leaders also asked Gov. Bredesen to "vigorously
pursue" an appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals U.S. District Judge
Aleta Traugers decision that the current method of lethal injection used
in Tennessee qualifies as "cruel and unusual punishment" and is
The action came after the United States Supreme Court agreed to consider
the constitutionality of lethal injection in the Kentucky case of Ralph
Baze and Thom Bowling. Lethal injection is used to carry out the death
sentence in 37 states, many of which are now on hold due to the court
action. Similarly, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case interrupted plans
to carry out the death sentence of Edward Jerome Harbison based on Judge
Traugers decision that lethal injection could "result in a terrifying,
"Those on death row have committed the the worst of the worst crimes in
Tennessee," said Rep. Mumpower. "Return to a system that endlessly denies
justice to victims of heinous crimes is 'cruel and unusual' to victims,
their families, and their friends who suffer much pain and psychological
trauma due to the nature of these heinous crimes."
Tennessee, like other states that perform lethal injections, uses a 3-drug
cocktail: thiopental, an anesthetic; pancuronium bromide, a nerve blocker
and muscle paralyzer; and potassium chloride, a drug to stop the heart.
Despite new procedures adopted by the Department of Corrections earlier
this year, Trauger maintained the state must adopt a different method of
execution. However, Reps. Mumpower and Casada called on the governor to
continue scheduled executions since the law allows for other means of
"This is just wrong," Rep. Casada contended. "While we support due process
and the rule of law in Tennessee, we must also defend those who are
defenseless, the victims whose lives have been ended by terrible and
violent acts. We owe it to these victims to utilize Tennessees full
resources to join efforts to uphold our capital punishment law.
"Our legislature has worked to have a death penalty method that would pass
court scrutiny when we passed lethal injection, replacing electrocution.
The action by the courts appears to demonstrate that possibly no method of
capital punishment would be allowed by the courts, although we hope the
U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the lethal injection method."
(source: The Chattanoogan)
Let the Juice Flow, GOPers Say
What took them so long? House Republican leaders waited 2 weeks to
grandstand on the death penalty after federal District Judge Aleta Trauger
ruled the state's method of lethal injection is unconstitutional. In a
letter to Gov. Phil Bredesen, House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower and Caucus
Chairman Glen Casada are...
What took them so long? House Republican leaders waited 2 weeks to
grandstand on the death penalty after federal District Judge Aleta Trauger
ruled the state's method of lethal injection is unconstitutional.
In a letter to Gov. Phil Bredesen, House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower and
Caucus Chairman Glen Casada are urging the state to appeal Trauger's
decision and also to file a brief supporting the state of Kentucky in a
similar case now before the Supreme Court. They say the state should
electrocute any prisoners whose dates with death come up in the meantime.
Under state law, they tell Bredesen, "you are authorized to carry out an
execution by any constitutional method."
"Those on death row have committed 'the worst of the worst' crimes in
Tennessee. Return to a system that endlessly denies justice to victims of
heinous crimes is 'cruel and unusual' to victims, their families, and
friends who suffer much pain and psychological trauma."
Maybe so, but shouldn't our legislators also be concerned with whether the
state is executing prisoners humanely? In her ruling, Trauger found
there's a substantial risk of prisoners suffering excruciating pain with
the 3-drug cocktail now used in lethal injections. But nowhere in their
letter do the GOP leaders urge the governor to try to develop a better
method of lethal injection so that the state can carry out its obligations
under the Constitution. (They also don't mention anything about how the
Correction commissioner tried to mislead Trauger or about how the
governor's review of the lethal injection protocol was a PR trick. But who
cares about any of that?)
Instead, they want to plug in Old Sparky. We might even shoot flames out
of inmates' heads like they used to do in Florida. Somehow, that doesn't
seem like the best way to overcome Eighth Amendment challenges to capital
(source: Letter, Jeff Woods, Nashville Scene)
Panel delves into death penalty----Looks at 'drug cocktail,' defense
A legislative committee will begin studying the state's death penalty
system this month and there will be no shortage of topics to discuss, the
senior lawmaker on the committee said.
The meeting on Oct. 15 and 16 will bring together representatives from the
state Attorney General's Office, local district attorneys, public
defenders, the Tennessee Bar Association, criminal defense lawyers and
victims' rights organizations.
The committee was created by the General Assembly last session and is
expected to report back in January.
State Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, said Thursday the first meeting will
address a federal judge's recent ruling that the state's lethal injection
is unconstitutional. The state has not yet decided whether to appeal.
U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that the state's lethal injection
procedure amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because of the
"substantial risk of unnecessary pain" to the inmate.
"The issues she raised in the 50-page opinion will be heavily discussed
and debated," Jackson said. "Trauger's ruling is not unique. Federal
judges across the country are coming to the same conclusions."
The committee will look at a number of state and federal reports about the
3-drug lethal injection procedure that Tennessee and most other states
use, including revisions to the state's execution manual made earlier this
Trauger ruled that Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner George
Little did not give enough consideration to a recommendation to discard
the standard 3-drug lethal injection cocktail in favor of a single drug
method. Current training and medical expertise are not sufficient to
ensure a painless execution, she said.
"If a single-drug injection procedure resolves the 8th Amendment issues, I
think we should move forward with that procedure," Jackson said, adding he
is concerned that states have closed the door on other methods that may be
more effective and humane.
Jackson said the judge's ruling has effectively put a moratorium on state
In 1998, Jackson helped sponsor a law that allows Tennessee death row
inmates to choose between lethal injection or by electrocution if their
crimes were committed before 1999.
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. dissented in an
opinion that reset a scheduled execution because of Trauger's ruling and
said the state could proceed with executions by electrocution.
"I think death by electrocution is medieval and archaic," Jackson said.
"Overwhelmingly Tennesseans prefer lethal injection."
The committee will also look at the criminal justice system that handles
death penalty cases, Jackson said.
"Effective assistance of counsel is the main problem in our death penalty
process," Jackson said. "There's so many systemic problems with how it
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty poor deterrent
In Alabama there are more than 180 death row inmates. Many have been there
for years. Few are executed within 5 years of their sentence, therefore,
making the death penalty the least effective deterrent to crime, contrary
to the words of Troy King.
I can't, in all moral sanctity, support the death penalty in a system that
has freed 5 inmates due to their innocence since 1993. 5 people lost much
of their lives and 5 people escaped justice and their victims were denied
it as well. Not exactly an acceptable percentage of being wrong.
Mr. King was correct, however, when he stated crime has soared in this
state and consequences are slow in coming, if they come at all. His office
has sent several to death row, yet how many have been executed? Slow
consequence, yes? So, how does that stand as the strongest deterrent to
crime? The system is inconsistent with using it as a form of punishment
and it is rarely enforced.
Murder is barbaric; legal murder is equally so. Troy King, you don't stand
for me when you stand for the death penalty, you are on your own agenda
(source: Letter to the Editor, Montgomery Advertiser)
King's action was payback
The thirst for revenge, retaliation, payback, getting even and retributive
punishment is everywhere. These vindictive terms are the natural responses
whenever people feel unpleasant hurt from others.
Revenge is as the plant in the seed waiting to be deposited in the soil of
one life's experience which is watered with malice and hatred resulting in
a unfruitful harvest. In Alabama politics, revenge is non-partisan.
Revenge raised its ugly head when a Democratic lawmaker appearing before
the Alabama Board of Education (banning double-dipping in the 2-year
college system) promised to enact legislation prohibiting the hiring of
relatives of school board members in the educational system. Far better
would it be for legislators to practice honest work under false accusation
than to desire a law of retaliation against state school board members.
Revenge also was on display when Attorney General Troy King removed Shelby
County District Attorney Robby Owens from a death penalty case. Owens
testified that the 18-year-old male accomplice who was not the shooter in
the double homicide should get life imprisonment without parole; the
16-year-old male did the shooting. Owens' position stems from the U.S.
Supreme Court decision banning the execution of juveniles.
Since King and Owens both are Republicans, Owens sees payback for
supporting Democratic Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. over
King in the last attorney general election.
Revenge is a cruel taskmaster.
ISAIAH J. ASHE
(source: Letter to the Editor, Press-Register)
Conspiracy, Lies Reported by the New Yorker Magazine in Execution of
Stanley Tookie Williams. High-Level California State Officials
Collaborated in Secret Media Campaign
The New Yorker magazine, July 30th issue, features an article, "Dean of
Death Row," about former San Quentin State Prison spokesperson Vernell
Crittendon and his abuse of institutional power:
The New Yorker shows that Crittendon misrepresented statements to the
media about children's book author, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and
condemned prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams in the months and days leading
up to Williams's controversial execution on December 13, 2005.
The article also reports that Crittendon's untrue allegations about
Williams were made with full approval of authorities at the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California
State Attorney General's Office. The article implies that the Office of
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger knew about the intended media campaign to
turn the public against clemency for Williams. These institutions have a
legal responsibility to verify as accurate all information released to the
public and the media.
The article further asserts that Crittendon and these institutions of law
enforcement conspired with each other as early as 2004 to implement
attacks against Williams with false information to build widespread public
support for killing the anti-gang author.
The article, by long-time New Yorker features writer Tad Friend, disproves
the following allegations that were made by Crittendon against Williams
and were widely reported in the media prior to his being killed:
1.Williams was orchestrating unspecified "gangland crimes" in the very
recent past and was not the redeemed man that his work -- to deflect young
men from the gang life he had led -- indicated. " he [Crittendon] also
eventually acknowledged that Williams hadn't actually been orchestrating
2. Williams did not counsel his youngest son, Stanley Tookie Williams IV,
by writing letters to him. But when pressed by Mr. Friend, the New Yorker
writer, Crittendon admitted, ". . . I can't say for sure he (Williams)
wasn't writing his son." Williams, in fact, did regularly write and send
pictures to Young Stan.
3. Williams had a "suspiciously large" prison bank account. In an
Associated Press article (November 17, 2005) Crittendon used that
accusation as one of several examples to support, according to Crittendon,
that Williams was "a con." Crittendon stated: "A con always will say one
thing to you while the whole time he has another agenda . . . I'm
concerned that possibly this marketing [of Williams] that's going on . . .
leads the public to hear the words but not to see that sleight of hand."
Ironically, these are statements we now know describe Crittendon himself
and his behavior, not Williams. Only $1,682 was in Williams account, based
on prison records.
Barbara Becnel, executor of Williams's estate, responds to these
revelations: "Now we know that the State Attorney General's Office and the
CDCR approved Crittendon's public lies about Stan's remarkable
rehabilitation. Now we know that San Quentin Prison, the CDCR and the
State Attorney General's Office conspired to develop a media campaign
intended to destroy Stan's credibility, undermine his fight for clemency,
and pave the way to make his execution more acceptable' to the public.
These are the same institutions that maintained throughout that Stan was
guilty despite evidence to the contrary. What else have the
representatives of these institutions hidden from the public? What else
have they lied about? Was the Governor complicit as well?"
Read the New Yorker Article on http://www.stwlegacy.net/
Please visit the new Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy site at
http://www.stwlegacy.net/ for more information and to get all the latest
on the fallen souljah Tookie.
Justice must be served quicker
I think that many welcomed the news that the district attorney's office is
seeking the death penalty in the case of the alleged murderers of Rafi
Ibrahim, the liquor store clerk slain here in Temecula.
However, at a 2nd glance, it almost seems like a waste of time, money,
effort and emotion. Should Dale Dante Thomas and Marcus Fletcher be
convicted and sentenced to death they'll be joining some 600 others on
death row and would not likely be executed for decades, if at all. And as
has been said, justice delayed is justice denied.
Delays are due to the fact that the resulting appeals are always an
attorney intensive process, and of course, we have the overly liberal
Ninth Circuit Court that seems to consistently overrule the will of the
people, legislating by judicial fiat.
To that we owe presidential favors bestowed by the bumbling presidency of
Jimmy Carter, and of course Bill Clinton was not shy about extending
political payback. Federal judges are appointed for life, so even many of
those appointed by Carter are going to be with us for years.
In this sense our legal system seems corrupt, not just flawed.
The question of expediting the execution of condemned prisoners is hard,
as many of the 600 awaiting execution in San Quentin were convicted before
the advent of DNA testing and surveillance cameras.
There is no state guideline for instituting the special circumstances
involved in a capital murder case. Here in conservative Riverside County,
our politicians want to be recognized as "tough on crime," while a death
sentence is rarely handed down in the Peoples' Republic of San Francisco
or nearby Alameda County. And, as we've seen in the cases of O.J. Simpson,
Robert Blake, Phil Spector and others,justice ---- particularly "celebrity
justice" ---- is for sale in L.A. County. He with the best lawyer wins.
Another flaw in our legal system is in its adversarial nature, where
winning a case seems far more important than finding justice. This is
shown in Riverside County D.A. Rod Pacheco's decision to have 9 "top guns"
selected for prosecuting death penalty cases.
One, Assistant District Attorney John Davis, talked about the fact that in
death-penalty cases "you have the most high-profile, most dangerous
defendants we prosecute. ... It is of primary importance those cases get
convictions whenever possible."
Granted, if they are guilty, they indeed need to be convicted, but is the
public defenders office going to have "top guns" too?
Comedian Ron White talks about Texas' answer to capital punishment. "We
have the death penalty, and we use it. If you kill someone in Texas, we
will kill you back! If three or more credible witnesses see you commit a
murder, you don't get years of appeals; we put you to the front of the
line. While other states are abandoning the death penalty, ours is putting
in an express lane!" Not a bad idea.
My own bloodlust arises in cases like Ibrahim's, and with the 3 other
murders that took place here in 2005, and the fact that murderers are not
dealt justice in a timely manner perpetuates the crime against the
victims' families. Yet, in that process, we must recognize the fundamental
flaws of our judicial system.
(source: The Californian -- Greg Scharf of Temecula is a regular columnist
for The Californian)
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