[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----ARK., NEV., CONN., USA, PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 11 17:22:26 CDT 2007
State Calls Inmate's Appeal of Execution 'Abusive'
Lawyers for the state argue that a U.S. Supreme Court review on whether
lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment should not stop
the scheduled execution of an Arkansas death-row inmate next week.
Death-row inmate Jack Harold Jones, Jr. appealed last month to the 8th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to stop next Tuesday's
execution. But the state attorney general's office says Jones waited too
late to make a filing.
Assistant attorney general Joseph Cordi Junior accused Jones of "abusive,
delaying litigation tactics."
In a response, Lawyers for Jones argue that the issue could not be
litigated before the case in Kentucky, which challenges how lethal
injection executions are conducted.
(source: Associated Press)
ACLU-Nevada Criticizes Plan To Move Ahead With Monday Execution
Nevada prison authorities are "wrongheaded" in scheduling an execution by
lethal injection Monday while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering
whether the injections are constitutional, the American Civil Liberties
Union of Nevada says.
The high court decided Sept. 25 to consider whether the injections amount
to cruel and unusual punishment, but prison officials have said there's no
reason to delay William Castillo's execution based on the high court's
move because Castillo wants to die.
Castillo, 34, who got a death sentence for beating a retired Las Vegas
teacher to death with a tire iron, has refused to file available appeals
that would halt his scheduled execution at the Nevada State Prison in
"Going ahead with executions in Nevada is wrongheaded and fundamentally at
odds with the rest of the country, which is taking very seriously the
claims that lethal injection is a cruel and unusual form of punishment,"
Lee Rowland, northern Nevada ACLU coordinator, said Tuesday.
The Supreme Court's review involves two death row inmates in Kentucky.
Rowland said many other states have stayed their executions pending the
court's final decision "and of course we are disappointed that Nevada has
not chosen to do the same."
Both the ACLU and the federal public defender's office are precluded from
going to court on Castillo's behalf without his consent absent a finding
that he's incompetent. However, Assistant Federal Defender Michael
Pescetta said Tuesday his office is ready to act immediately if Castillo
decides to appeal.
"All he has to do is say anything and it's off," Pescetta said.
Castillo met last week with a federal defender and repeated earlier
statements that he wouldn't appeal.
Castillo was sentenced to die for the 1995 killing of Isabelle Berndt, 86,
after working on a roofing job at her home and finding a hidden house key.
He and a woman companion returned, burglarized the home and murdered
Castillo set the home on fire to destroy evidence, but he later admitted
the murder to a co-worker and confessed to police.
His companion in the burglary and murder was Michelle Platou, now serving
a life term with the possibility of parole for 1st-degree murder.
If he's executed, Castillo will be the 13th man to get the death sentence
in Nevada since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for capital
punishment to resume in 1976.
All but one of the previous 12, Richard Moran, had refused to file appeals
that could have stopped their executions.
Moran, executed in 1996 for 2 killings in a Las Vegas bar while on a drug
and alcohol binge, didn't oppose legal efforts to keep him alive - but
said he was ready to die.
The last man to be executed in the state was Daryl Linnie Mack, who
received a lethal injection in April 2006.
Mack was convicted of the rape and murder of a Reno woman.
(source: KOLO News)
Jury begins deliberations in Peeler death penalty case
A jury in Bridgeport Superior Court has begun deliberating whether a
former drug dealer should be executed for ordering the killings of a woman
and her 8-year-old son in 1999.
Russell Peeler Junior was convicted in 2000 of ordering his younger
brother to kill Karen Clarke and her son, Leroy "B.J." Brown Junior, in
their Bridgeport duplex. The boy was expected to be the key witness
against Peeler in the fatal shooting of Clarke's boyfriend.
The 6 men and 6 women on the jury deliberated for about an hour on
Wednesday and were to continue talks on Thursday.
Peeler's brother, Adrian, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder,
despite being the accused shooter. Adrian Peeler was sentenced to 20 years
Keeping error away from death penalty
Though 117 nations have done away with the death penalty, the United
States continues to send prisoners convicted of the most serious crimes to
There was a brief period in the 1970s when a series of Supreme Court
decisions essentially did away with capital punishment nationwide on
constitutional grounds. But the individual states rushed to rewrite their
death penalty statutes and executions resumed.
A fairly strong constituency continues to press for an end to capital
punishment inside the U.S., but public sentiment remains narrowly in favor
Because the death penalty allows no room for error, the state has a duty
to make sure that innocent people are not executed. This is not as simple
as it sounds. Former Gov. George Ryan of Illinois declared a moratorium on
executions in the year 2000 following the widely publicized work of
Northwestern Universitys Center on Wrongful Convictions.
>From 1977, when Illinois capital punishment law was rewritten to comply
with Supreme Court precedent, to 2000, the state had executed 12
prisoners. In the same period, 13 death row inmates were exonerated.
The odds clearly need to be higher than 50-50 that a convicted felon is
deserving of execution.
So we are interested to hear that the American Bar Associations Death
Penalty Moratorium Project studied Pennsylvanias administration of the
death penalty and found that the issues here are similar to those in
Illinois, from disparities based on the race of defendants to simple
inequality in sentencing among similar cases.
There havent been as many opportunities for error in Pennsylvania,
however, when you consider there have been only 3 executions here since
the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. The Death Penalty Information
Center, however, notes that 6 inmates on Pennsylvanias death row have been
set free since 1986.
Though the ABA previously called for a nationwide death penalty moratorium
in 1997, its current study of Pennsylvanias administration of justice does
not recommend one. The report emphasizes fairness issues, such as better
jury instructions, tougher qualifications for attorneys arguing death
penalty cases and improved monitoring of capital case procedures.
We doubt there is strong public demand in Pennsylvania for a death penalty
moratorium, let alone an outright ban. But there is no question that the
process by which people are convicted and sent to death row must be as
fair as possible and the ABAs study shows that Pennsylvanias process
falls well short of any acceptable standard.
(source: Editorial, Carlisle Sentinel)
Death penalty on hold
So we have a national moratorium of sorts. An unofficial stay of
execution. All quiet in the death chambers.
In the days since the Supreme Court decided to take on another death
penalty case, 11 states - including Texas, the capital of capital
punishment - have suspended executions. In two more states, inmates slated
for death next week may be granted a reprieve.
But there isn't much hoopla among death penalty opponents or much anger
among proponents. The case that will be heard this session isn't about the
morality or constitutionality of the death penalty itself. It's about the
way execution is executed.
The case brought by 2 death row inmates in Kentucky doesn't ask whether
the death penalty constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment," but only
whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual. The justices will be asked
to rule on the method, not on the madness.
Is there something just a little chilling in this? A searing moral debate
reduced to an argument about the details of injections, syringes, dosages,
pain and the competence of executioners?
When the Eighth Amendment was written, the Founders looked to Europe for
examples of "cruel and unusual punishment," such as drawing and
quartering. For more than a century, most executions in America were by
noose or firing squad. But by 1890, we were enthralled by technology and
queasy about public executions. The electric chair and the gas chamber
became the "advanced" tools of the trade.
Each step toward a more humane standard of state-inflicted death seems to
have been followed by horror stories. By the late 1970s, the search for
better-dying-through-chemistry led states to adopt the needle as the gold
Forgive me for being graphic, but graphic is the issue. Lethal injection
is a cocktail of three drugs. The 1st is to put the prisoner to sleep. The
2nd is to paralyze him. The 3rd to stop his heart. That neat, medicinal
description doesn't say what happens when the procedure is botched. If the
first dose doesn't work, is administered improperly or wears off, the
inmate dies in a pain he is paralyzed to express.
There's no doubt that executions have been botched. There was the dyslexic
doctor from Missouri who admitted that he didn't always calculate the
dosages correctly. There was the Lancet study showing that almost half of
the inmates were conscious when they received the heart-stopping drug.
Then there was the inmate in California, who watched the executioners
repeatedly poke him with needles and asked, "You guys doing that right?"
Once again, what looks antiseptic is not. We have seen another failed
attempt to find the execution that fits what the court has defined as our
"evolving standard of decency." A case about competence may drive another
hole in the notion of a death penalty with decency.
Americans overwhelmingly support capital punishment, though not by the
margins of the past. When asked to choose between the death penalty and
life without parole, they are evenly divided. Twelve states had already
suspended death sentences before this case began and last year there were
only 53 executions among some 3,300 inmates on death row.
We have gradually become more wary of convicted criminals found innocent
and of racial bias in sentencing. Now lethal injection is also being
Ironically, we know how to end life painlessly. There are Web sites from
here to Holland with information on "death with dignity" and instructions
that involve sleeping pills and plastic bags. Surely there are better
"cocktails" than the one on trial.
The argument about the ways and means of execution reflects our great
ambivalence between the desire for punishment and the revulsion from
inflicting cruelty, pain, death. I have long shared that ambivalence.
But as the Supreme Court takes up this issue again, I remember what
Justice Harry Blackmun said after a 20-year struggle about just ways to
administer the death penalty: "From this day forward, I no longer shall
tinker with the machinery of death."
We are still tinkering. This time, we're tinkering with the dosage and the
training. Tinkering with competence and mistakes. We are tinkering,
tinkering, tinkering to avoid the possibility that we can't have our death
penalty and our humanity too.
(source: The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Brother of Unabomber tells ISU students that death penalty is unfair and
cruel----David Kaczynski took suspicions about his brother to FBI in 1995
The man who informed police in 1995 that his brother might be the
Unabomber told students and others at Indiana State University that
Theodore Kaczynski, who eventually admitted to being the Unabomber, was
never violent as a kid.
"I had never seen him violent," David Kaczynski told a gathering of around
60 students, faculty and others at ISU on Wednesday afternoon. The
Kaczynski family did have concerns about Ted Kaczynskis mental condition,
however, David Kaczynski said.
But, he said, "We always had a good relationship."
David Kaczynski and his wife Linda took their suspicions about Ted
Kaczynski to the FBI in 1995, shortly after the Unabomber's
anti-technology "manifesto" was published in the Washington Post.
Similarities between what was written in the manifesto and other writings
by Ted Kaczynski led first Linda and then David Kaczynski to suspect Ted
Kaczynski might be the Unabomber.
"It took about a month to get [the FBI's] attention," David Kaczynski
said. At first, some FBI agents thought Ted Kaczynski fit the
psychological profile of the Unabomber; however, other agents believed
some physical evidence did not make a strong enough case.
Later in 1995, the FBI told David Kaczynski his brother was at the top of
their list of suspects in the 17-year-old Unabomber investigation. The 1st
incident attributed to the Unabomber was in 1978 at Northwestern
University, in which a campus policeman suffered injuries to his hand.
David Kaczynski's wife Linda was the first to suspect a connection between
Ted Kaczynski and the Unabomber, David Kaczynski said. "[Linda Kaczynski]
is the unsung hero here," he said.
Only after about 3 weeks of studying the Unabombers manifesto did David
Kaczynski come to believe there was a "50/50 chance" Ted Kaczynski was
behind the bombings, he said. Reading parts of the manifesto, David
Kaczynski said, "it was almost like I could hear my brother's voice in
The Unabomber attacks, which consisted of mailing explosives to victims,
occurred between 1978 and 1995. The bombings resulted in 3 deaths and more
than a 20 injuries, some of which were serious.
The name "Unabomber" came about because the bomber's earliest victims were
at Universities and airlines, David Kaczynski said.
When FBI agents arrested Ted Kaczynski at his isolated cabin in Montana,
they found "a mountain of evidence," David Kaczynski said, including a
bomb wrapped in a package that appeared to be ready for shipping.
David Kaczynski, 58, is now executive director of New Yorkers Against the
Death Penalty and travels the country speaking out against the death
penalty, which he calls unfair and cruel.
Federal prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against Ted Kaczynski,
but, after a plea bargain, he was sentenced to life in prison. Ted
Kaczynski, 65, is serving his prison term at the federal Supermax prison
in Florence, Colo.
"There are powerful arguments against the death penalty," David Kaczynski
told the gathering at ISU. The death penalty is applied unequally for
racial and economic grounds, sometimes is imposed on innocent people and
costs taxpayers several times more than imprisoning someone for life, he
The death penalty provides an "illusion of justice," David Kaczynski said.
"We have a system that's really broken," he said.
David Kaczynski told his audience at Holmstedt Hall that he and his wife
were faced with a dilemma when they began to suspect Ted Kaczynski might
be the Unabomber. If they did not go to police and Kaczynski turned out to
be the Unabomber, another innocent person might be killed. If they did go
to the police, Ted Kaczynski might be put to death for murder, he said.
"Anything we did could lead to somebody's death," David Kaczynski said.
Soon, the fear that another innocent person might be killed tipped the
balance in favor of going to the FBI, David Kaczynski said. "For us, that
was just a thought that was too daunting," he said.
After his brothers arrest, the news media converged on David Kaczynski,
his wife and mother. The family was angry because FBI agents had assured
them they would be anonymous informants. Later, after being confronted by
David Kaczynski, FBI agents apologized, saying there had been a leak to
the news media.
Ted Kaczynski was brilliant, his brother said. Ted Kaczynskis IQ was once
measured at 165, he attended Harvard at age 16 and would eventually become
an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California at
But there were troubling signs as well, David Kaczynski said.
David Kaczynski remembers his brother often removed himself from others
when upset, stayed alone in his room for long periods of time, had no
known friends when in college and eventually showed signs of paranoia,
such as when he rejected David's invitation to be best man at his wedding
and warned David that his bride-to-be was a threat, despite having never
"Ted was living in complete isolation," David Kaczynski said.
David Kaczynski is working on a joint book effort with one of the
seriously injured survivors of the Unabombers attacks, Gary Wright. Wright
was a computer store employee when he was injured in an attack attributed
to the Unabomber.
(source: Tribune Star)
Report Calls for PA Death Penalty Reform
A report sharply critical of Pennsylvania's death penalty system calls for
serious reforms. An American Bar Association team spent 2 1/2 years
studying capital murder cases in Pennsylvania. WFMZ's Mike Lowe reports.
(Summary of ABA Report ) ( ABA's Death Penalty Problems & Recommendations
The American Bar Association has set forth 93 protocols to ensure capital
punishment is applied fairly ... The report says Pennsylvania only
complies with 7 of them.
Anne Bowen Poulin: "If you're going to have the death penalty, you have to
make sure the process is as good as it can be. There's no way you can say
that Pennsylvania's process is as good as it can be."
Villanova University law professor Anne Bowen Poulin headed the 5-member
team that studied capital punishment in the state. The group says the
following recommendations would help ensure fairness: - Videotape all
police interrogations - Preserve biological evidence until the defendant
is released or executed. - Create a statewide database that keeps track of
all death penalty cases - Provide better training for defense attorneys -
and -- the report says -- the state should Reform post- conviction
proceedings -- allowing more leeway for appeals.
"There should be minimum practice standards."
Bruce Castor is the president of the Pennsylvania District Attorney's
association. His group is writing an objection to the ABA Report.
"There's been no one executed in 45 years. I agree the system is broken,
but not in the way the ABA says it is. The system is broken because
victims of crime aren't seeing justice done." Castor says he's proud of
his county's record ... but the report criticized the state system because
funding for capital defense attorneys is not uniform.
Castor: "We have 67 counties and 67 DA's do it 67 ways."
"Some counties pay a defense attorney in a capital case so little, it
doesn't provide appropriate representation."
That and evidence of racial bias and overall inconsistency led
Pennsylvania state senator Jim Ferlo to draft a bill that would implement
a two year moratorium on executions.
"I think that's crazy. What we should do is judge each on a case by case
"The tragedy is victims of crimes and their families don't get justice."
"Just because the victims family wants to see execution in a cae, doesn't
necessarily mean its the right case for execution." The debate is
happening against the backdrop of a pending local execution. Raymond
Solano -- convicted of a 2001 murder is set to be executed tomorrow.
(source: WFMZ TV News)
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