[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----VA., FLA., CALIF., ARK., IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 13 00:04:58 CDT 2007
Attorneys for condemned man claim Virginia botched its last execution
Attorneys representing a killer scheduled to be executed next week claim
that Virginia botched its last execution by delivering a 2nd dose of
lethal drugs and allowed the condemned man to linger for minutes before
Christopher Scott Emmett is scheduled to die Wednesday for the 2001
bludgeoning murder of his co-worker, John Fenton Langley.
His attorneys have asked afederal appeals court and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine
to stop his execution as the U.S. Supreme Court reviews whether the lethal
injection method most U.S. states use is cruel and unusual, based on a
challenge from 2 inmates on death row in Kentucky.
The U.S. Constituion bans cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. high
court is not expected to hear that case until early next year.
Emmett's attorneys said that the attending physician at John Yancey
Schmitt's November execution testified during a deposition that while he
did not know why a second dose of chemicals had to be administered to
Schmitt, "they could have made an error," Emmett's attorneys said.
The state maintains the execution was not botched.
Schmitt took 13 minutes to die, which Emmett's attorneys said is longer
than any other inmate who has received a lethal injection since Virginia's
1st in 1995. The attorneys are trying to block Emmett's execution by
arguing that the lethal injection procedure Virginia uses constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment.
Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections,
said he did not have records available that would indicate the average
time it takes Virginia inmates to die by injection. But Matthew Engle, one
of Emmett's attorneys, said his review of the 70 lethal injections
conducted in Virginia indicate it takes an average of four and a half
minutes for inmates to die.
"Clearly something went wrong," Engle said.
In an opposition to Emmett's request for a stay filed Friday in the 4th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the state attorney general's office
confirmed that a 2nd dose of chemicals was administered to Schmitt, but
disputed Emmett's claims that the execution was botched.
"His characterization of that execution as something that 'went wrong' is
insupportable," the attorney general's office wrote.
Traylor refused to respond to the allegations.
In their filing before the 4th Circuit, the attorney general's office
wrote that Schmitt's heart monitor "clearly proved that the first set of
drugs had gone into his system and were taking effect and thus there was
no faulty line or dislodged needle."
The second set of drugs was administered when Schmitt had not "flat-lined"
within three minutes, the attorney general's office wrote. In the Richmond
federal court filing, they wrote that the 2nd set of chemicals was ordered
"to expedite Schmitt's death and avoid a lingering death."
Virginia, America's second busiest death penalty state next to Texas, uses
the same 3-drug lethal injection cocktail as Kentucky. Sodium pentothal is
given first to induce a state of unconsciousness, followed by pancuronium
bromide, which paralyzes the inmate's muscles. The final injection is
potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Those who oppose capital punishment argue that inmates who are not
properly anesthetized could feel excruciating pain without being able to
Soon after the lethal chemicals flowed down the primary line into
Schmitt's right arm, he tried to lift his head to look at witnesses. His
eyes were opened wide, and he gasped loudly for air. Inmates often do gasp
audibly after the drugs begin to flow, and some do attempt to move against
their restraints before they are paralyzed.
The attending physician testified during the July 13 deposition that
execution personnel exchanged "strange looks" and "maybe some hand waving"
during Schmitt's execution, Emmett's attorneys said.
An attorney who represented Schmitt did not immediately return a call
(source: Associated Press)
State Looks Higher in Execution Case
Florida Supreme Court justices will have to decide whether to put future
state executions on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the use of
In hearing two state cases that challenged the use of lethal injection as
unconstitutionally cruel Thursday, several justices said they had concerns
with allowing more state executions while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up
a Kentucky case, where two inmates are arguing that the drug "cocktail"
used to execute prisoners causes needless pain. The nation's highest court
is expected to decide that case sometime next year.
"Why in the world would we move forward and approve an execution when
there is some possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will give specific
guidance on this very issue?" said Justice Harry Lee Anstead. "I'm having
difficulty seeing what the urgency is in going forward with an execution
when we're about to get the law from the horse's mouth."
At immediate issue is the scheduled Nov. 15 execution of Mark Schwab,
convicted of raping and killing 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez in Brevard
County in 1991. But the state court is also facing a more direct challenge
of the lethal injection method from Ian Lightbourne, convicted of killing
Nancy O'Farrell in Marion County in 1981.
Lightbourne, who has yet to be scheduled for his execution, challenged the
use of lethal injection after the controversial execution of Angel Diaz
last December, when the inmate took some 34 minutes to die and officials
later determined his protracted death was the result of a botched IV
No Florida prisoner has been executed since Diaz. But Gov. Charlie Crist
ended the moratorium when he signed Schwab's death warrant in July.
On Thursday, Crist seemed to indicate he wanted the execution carried out.
"There are a lot of families that are waiting for justice to be done for
the loss of a loved one and my heart bleeds for them," Crist said.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley told the state Supreme Court
that the state should resume using lethal injections, arguing that the
recent revision of the Department of Corrections' execution protocol would
withstand any ruling from the federal courts.
"Florida's procedures will meet any standards that they might choose to
apply," Nunnelley said.
He also told the state justices that they should leave the decision of
blocking executions to the federal court rather than deciding that
themselves. "No one knows exactly what is going to happen," he said. "No
one knows how they will decide the case."
But in challenging Florida's continued use of lethal injections, Suzanne
Keffer, a lawyer for Lightbourne, argued that although the state has
changed its execution procedures, there are no assurances that problems
won't happen again.
"We can no longer rely on the DOC to do what they say they're going to
do," she said. "The Diaz execution was the best evidence of that."
Keffer also argued that because of secrecy provisions little is known
about the "medically trained" personnel who carry out all the execution
procedures short of the final administration of the fatal drugs.
"We don't know what any of their backgrounds are," she said.
Nunnelley said all the personnel were medical technicians familiar with
procedures like inserting IV lines.
Florida prisoners are executed using 3 drugs.
First the inmates are given sodium pentothal, a sedative that is used to
make the prisoner unconscious. It is followed by 2 other drugs designed to
paralyze the prisoner and then stop the heart.
Keffer said Florida's procedure was flawed and prisoners may face a
painful death because the state is not using more highly trained medical
personnel or even a doctor to determine whether the sodium pentothal has
Nunnelley said the prisoners receive 5,000 milligrams of the drug, more
than ten times the amount used in a typical surgery procedure.
"We are using far, far, far more of the anesthetic drug than is necessary
to anesthetize the defendant," he said.
After the Diaz execution, Nunnelley said the state added the requirement
that the procedure come to a halt after the sodium pentothal is injected
to make sure it is working.
He also said the prisoner is more closely monitored during the execution,
including the use of three television monitors that focus on the
prisoner's arms and face.
Mark Gruber, a lawyer representing Schwab, said he thinks the state court
should halt Florida executions until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the
The state Supreme Court will issue its ruling the Lightbourne and Schwab
cases at a later date.
(source: The Ledger)
Florida high court weighs fairness, secrecy of death penalty
The state Supreme Court is considering the fairness of both the lethal
injection process and of keeping secret the identities of officials who
carry out the process.
In the windowless death chamber of stone-faced wardens, hidden
executioners and moon-suited medical officials, no sun shines in when
gurney-strapped convicted killers are lethally injected.
It will likely remain that way, judging by the questions asked by
Florida's Supreme Court justices during oral arguments Thursday. They
indicated they'll likely uphold Florida's death penalty and rules that
shield the identities and records of those doing the injections.
However, the justices suggested that the state would not be executing any
inmates anytime soon, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a Kentucky case
over whether the three-drug lethal-injection cocktail used there, in
Florida and in 35 other states violates the Eighth Amendment's safeguards
against cruel and unusual punishment.
That means killer-pedophile Mark Dean Schwab, scheduled for a Nov. 15
execution, and Ian Deco Lightbourne will wait longer on death row,
regardless of the Florida justices' decisions in the cases, both of which
were argued Thursday.
Florida's leading death penalty case, Lightbourne, didn't focus on the
lethal cocktail he would be injected with, but on records and abilities of
those giving the injections -- an issue that came to the forefront with
the botched execution of Miami killer Angel Diaz, who took 34 minutes to
die Dec. 13.
Lightbourne's attorney, Susan Myers Keffer, said other states have less
secrecy and that Florida should be more open about who's sticking needles
''We don't know these people's personnel records and their employment. We
don't know if they are making mistakes in their employment, if they've
been cited for problems in their work file,'' she said. ''We don't know
what any of their background is, if they've ever had any complaints filed
against them.'' But Justice Harry Lee Anstead repeatedly said he had
trouble understanding the thrust of her arguments. He said he was ''having
a lot of difficulty'' with the idea that the court could ''impose that
kind of supervision,'' or order that Keffer could take depositions and
inspect the files of the injectors, because it could intrude on the powers
of the executive branch.
CHANGES TO PROCESS
The justices seemed content that the state Department of Corrections had
changed its procedures for lethal injections after the needles were
improperly inserted in Diaz's arms. And though Florida shoots enough
anesthetic to knock an inmate out -- and perhaps kill him -- it still took
the grimacing Diaz twice as long to die than any other condemned prisoner.
In the wake of that execution, DOC announced changes.
The 1st part of the procedure remains the same: The injector -- called a
''sticker'' by Justice Charlie T. Wells -- puts the needles in, and the
executioner then injects the 1st drug, sodium pentothal, to knock the
Now, however, the executioner must pause as a warden then approaches the
condemned, brushes his eyelids for a reaction, jostles him and yells his
name -- a period called the ``shake and shout.''
If the inmate is determined to be knocked out, the paralytic drug
pancuronium bromide is then injected, followed by potassium chloride to
stop his heart.
''My only concern, and I don't know if it's a constitutional concern . . .
is the process of assessing consciousness has not been formalized in any
document,'' said Justice Barbara Pariente. ``How do we ensure that that
process is going to be competently performed?''
The state's lawyer, Kenneth S. Nunnelly, said the warden is trained in CPR
and that the ''shake and shout'' can competently "be performed by a
Nunnelly added that ''Florida's procedures will meet any standards [the
U.S. Supreme Court] may possibly choose to apply.'' Asked Anstead: "What
is the urgency in having an execution when we know the U.S. Supreme Court
is going to shed light on this and there is at least some possibility that
we may be out of kilter?''
Nunnelly pushed for executions to proceed, noting Florida was ''in front
of other states'' on proper death-sentence procedures.
Said Anstead: "We're in front of other states apparently after what has
been termed a botched execution."
(source: Miami Herald)
Court has lethal-injection fears----State justices express doubts about
the scheduled execution of a Brevard killer.
Florida Supreme Court justices said Thursday that they are wary of
proceeding with next month's scheduled execution of convicted Brevard
County child-killer Mark Dean Schwab with the legality of lethal injection
now in question.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month agreed to consider the constitutionality
of lethal injection after two condemned Kentucky inmates said that state's
procedure -- identical to what's used in Florida -- represents cruel and
Since then, at least 13 states have halted executions, pending the high
"I can't see any urgency in going ahead and having an execution -- which
is irreparable, obviously -- should the Supreme Court say we've got it
wrong," Justice Harry Lee Anstead said.
Justice Barbara Pariente conceded that "it would look pretty bad for the
administration of justice in this state if Schwab was executed and two
weeks later" lethal injection was overturned.
The justices heard challenges to Florida's use of lethal injection by
attorneys for Schwab and Ian Deco Lightbourne, who is facing the death
penalty for an Ocala murder.
Schwab is scheduled to die Nov. 15 for the 1991 rape and murder of
11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa. A death warrant has not yet been
signed for Lightbourne.
Issues in both the state and federal cases center on whether the lethal
3-drug cocktail used by Florida and 36 other states causes pain, and if
officials are trained properly to conduct the procedure.
"There is a whole history of problems with lethal injection," Schwab's
attorney, Mark Gruber, told the court.
In December, convicted killer Angel Nieves Diaz took 34 minutes to die --
twice as long as usual -- when executioners at Florida State Prison failed
to properly insert intravenous needles, forcing the lethal chemicals into
the condemned man's tissue rather than his veins.
Executions in Florida were halted, and state corrections officials
required more staff training and better monitoring of proceedings in the
prison's death chamber. Schwab is the first inmate scheduled to die since
Assistant Attorney General Ken Nunnelley said Florida's procedures were
sound before the Diaz execution and have improved since then. He said
justices should not delay Schwab's execution.
"There is no basis for a stay," Nunnelley said.
(source: Orlando Sentinel)
Death penalty may go on hold----With U.S. court action pending, the state
high court considers whether to proceed.
Gov. Charlie Crist may have lifted the state's moratorium on the death
penalty, but the execution of a pedophile and murderer next month may be
postponed as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on lethal injection.
The federal case - which may not be resolved until June - hung over the
state Supreme Court Thursday as justices heard challenges to Florida's
lethal injection procedures, and the convergence of the 2 underscored
growing nationwide attention to the issue.
"I'm having difficulty seeing what the urgency is in going forward with an
execution when we're about to get the law from the horse's mouth," Justice
Harry Lee Anstead said.
"Wouldn't the better part of valor to wait and stay the execution?" asked
Justice Barbara Pariente.
Florida has not had an execution since December, when it took twice as
long as normal for Angel Diaz to die because toxic chemicals were injected
into his soft tissue, not his vein. Witnesses said Diaz appeared to wrench
in pain during the process.
The Department of Corrections revised its procedures, and in July Crist
signed a death warrant for Mark Dean Schwab, 38, who raped and murdered an
11-year-old boy from Cocoa. The execution is scheduled for Nov. 15.
Given the nearness of that date, the Florida court is expected to rule
Attorneys for death row inmates say that the new procedures are flawed and
that qualifications for the people who oversee executions remain unknown.
Lawyers for Schwab and Ian Deco Lightbourne, another inmate who is facing
the death penalty but for whom no death warrant has been signed, argued
various technical points before the state Supreme Court Thursday morning.
Despite their reticence to rush forward, justices seemed satisfied with
the new procedures. Pariente called one of the protocol changes - a
mandatory pause after an anesthetic is administered to ensure the inmate
is unconscious - very significant.
"How much can this branch interfere with the training that goes on?"
The nation's top court agreed last month to hear a challenge from 2
inmates in Kentucky - Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. - that
lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the
Eighth Amendment. Arguments are not expected until January, and a decision
might not come until May or June, when the court recesses.
At stake is not the constitutionality of the death penalty itself (the
court upheld the practice in 1976). Rather, the court will weigh in on
lethal injection as a means of execution and even then, some experts say,
it will focus on the drugs being used and how they are administered.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center
in Washington, D.C., thinks the scope of the Supreme Court decision will
be fairly narrow. "It could be that states have to make modest changes or
Florida Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley urged the court
Thursday not to postpone the Schwab execution.
He argued that the federal case deals specifically with the three-drug mix
used to kill a person, while the Florida case centers more on the
administration of that lethal cocktail. He expressed confidence that the
state would withstand scrutiny.
"Florida's procedures will meet any standard they may possibly choose to
apply," said Nunnelley, who later called the state a leader in lethal
Lightbourne's attorney, Suzanne Keffer, disagreed. "The fact of the matter
is other states have far more information about the execution process than
While her arguments deal mainly with the procedures, Keffer said if the
1st drug is not administered correctly, then the inmate will feel pain,
violating the constitutional prohibition.
The 1st chemical injected is sodium pentothal, an anesthetic, followed by
pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and then potassium chloride,
which stops the heart.
Death from potassium chloride can be painful if the anesthetic wears off
or is not properly administered, but the paralyzing agent prevents inmates
from showing any sign of that pain, lawyers said.
Schwab's lawyer, Mark Gruber, urged the justices to order a trial court
hearing where he could present evidence, showing that use of the paralytic
drug results in an unconstitutional risk of pain.
He said the biggest potential problem, which occurred in the Diaz case, is
the placement of the intravenous needles.
"There will be errors," Gruber said. "It's inevitable."
Nunnelley argued that procedural changes made since the Diaz execution
ensure that won't happen. Besides more training, there's a delay after the
sodium pentothal is administered.
A warden then is required to make sure the inmate is unconscious by
procedures that include shaking, brushing the eyelids and calling his name
before the other 2 chemicals are injected.
Crist, who signed the death warrant in May, was asked by reporters about
the concern the justices displayed with moving forward.
"A lot of people are waiting for justice to be done for the loss of a
loved one," he said. "My heart is with them."
By the numbers
64 Florida inmates executed since 1976
20 Killed by lethal injection
385 Inmates on death row
(source: St. Petersburg Times)
Marching against state's death penalty ---- Pair stops in county on way
2 anti-death penalty activists walked through Ventura on Thursday on an
800-mile trek to air their convictions and deliver a message to the
district attorney: "Stop seeking death sentences."
Jeff Ghelardi of San Diego and Richard Carlburg of Fountain Valley made
their way to Ventura on foot from their most recent event in Los Angeles
on Oct. 5. At the Ventura County Government Center, where District
Attorney Greg Totten's office is located, they were joined Thursday by
about 15 local supporters, and the group continued on to Ventura College.
They carried signs reading, "Don't kill for me" and "Execute justice, not
It was part of the Walk to Stop Executions, whose sponsors include Amnesty
International, Death Penalty Focus and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The men began walking in San Diego on Sept. 15 and will finish Nov. 30 in
The 2 contend that seeking the death penalty is more costly than pursing
life in prison without parole, and prolongs the suffering of victims'
California halted executions in 2006, while the state waits for a U.S.
district judge to rule on the legality of its lethal injection protocols.
Among local walkers was Vera Ramirez-Crutcher of Oxnard, whose 22-year-old
son, Donald Crutcher, was murdered 29 years ago. His killer was sentenced
to seven years in prison.
Ramirez-Crutcher has since been active in speaking out against the death
penalty. "A life is a life," she said. "I know how my family felt the
hurt and I can imagine a mother and father going through the same thing
More killing via the death penalty is not the answer, Ramirez-Crutcher
said. "It doesn't bring anybody back. It doesn't solve anything. It
doesn't give you closure."
Ghelardi said Totten was invited to hear the group's arguments, but like
all of the other district attorneys invited to events along the walk's
route, he declined.
James Ellison, chief assistant to the district attorney, said the group
has a right to express its point of view, but his office would not be
swayed. "The laws have been set up by the Legislature and the people who
vote for the Legislature, and it's the DA's job to enforce the laws that
have been set up," he said.
Carlburg, of Amnesty International, cries foul at that line of reasoning.
"He has discretion. There's nothing that says he has to go for the death
David Howard of Ojai, who spoke on behalf of Citizens for Peaceful
Resolutions, said more than 100 death row inmates have been exonerated
since the early 1970s. He compared the death penalty to war and murder,
saying the debate about capital punishment "is about violence in general."
The next stop on the walk will be in Santa Barbara on Oct. 19.
(source: Ventura County Star)
State defies high court over sex offenders----Hundreds will be sent back
to prison for violating Jessica's Law.
Vowing to fight an order from the state's highest court, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger and corrections officials Thursday defiantly began sending
hundreds of freed sex offenders back to prison for violating strict
residency requirements imposed by voters last year.
The California Supreme Court late Wednesday temporarily blocked the state
from arresting four sex offenders who went to court in an effort to avert
arrest under what is commonly known as Jessica's Law, which decrees that
they must live more than 2,000 feet from schools, parks and other areas
where children gather.
Though the justices indicated that they would decide the case within
weeks, Schwarzenegger said the order would not halt the arrests of 850
other convicted sex offenders who have not complied with the residency
"My administration will vigorously defend against challenges to Jessica's
Law and protect the will of the people. I am disappointed with the court's
order, but remain committed to the full implementation of Jessica's Law,"
the governor said in a statement. "I have directed my administration [to]
put every available resource into enforcement."
Officials said they expect the arrests to take about 2 weeks.
Those facing arrest represent 17% of the more than 5,000 offenders who
state officials say are subject to the 2,000-foot requirement because they
have been on parole -- either for a recent sex crime or an old one coupled
with a new non-sex crime -- since Proposition 83 was approved
overwhelmingly last November.
Lawyers for the 4 petitioners, who were identified in court papers only by
their initials, said that in light of the governor's decision, they would
return to court as early as today to seek a broader order applying to
everyone threatened with arrest.
"I think the governor should respect the court's process," said attorney
Ernest Galvan of San Francisco. "It's not about public safety. It's about
Corrections officials Thursday night said they had not yet tallied the
number of offenders arrested on the 1st day.
One man was arrested while taking a class at the Sacramento North-Natomas
Parole Office. Another offender in the area was handcuffed while visiting
a friend and sent to jail; he had been living in an orange car on blocks
inside a carport, 300 feet from a school field.
Opponents of the law say it is too restrictive and sweeping, snaring
people like one of the men in the Supreme Court case who was convicted 22
years ago of indecent exposure for urinating beneath a railroad trestle in
Texas and was recently released from prison after serving time for a
Another petitioner was convicted in 1998, when he was 16, of a crime
involving sexual contact with a 15-year-old. He came under Proposition 83
because of a traffic citation that had violated his parole.
The 4 men -- 2 from San Diego County, 1 from Santa Clara County and 1 from
San Francisco -- contend that the law is unconstitutional, will drive them
from their longtime homes, impose an unreasonable condition of parole and
levy new punishment for old crimes.
Diane Marie Amann, a law professor at UC Davis, said the state is within
its legal right to enforce the residency law against sex offenders not
connected to the case.
But a decision in favor of the 4 men could invalidate the law completely,
"It would surely provide for more orderly enforcement if the process of
arresting people was postponed until it was certain that that was a legal
procedure," Amann said.
States in similar circumstances often wait until legal questions are
resolved before taking action. Since the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a
death penalty case from Kentucky involving lethal injection, for example,
many states have barred executions using that method.
In California, officials spent nine months deliberating how to interpret
Proposition 83 and 7 weeks warning some offenders that they must move.
On Thursday, corrections chief James Tilton ordered parole agents around
the state to begin calling sex offenders into parole offices and asking
them to prove they were living outside the restricted zones -- and
arresting them if they could not.
"We can second-guess all kinds of court issues," Tilton said. "Right now I
have a specific ruling that applies to 4 people. It doesn't apply to the
rest. Do I not enforce Jessica's Law for the rest, waiting for some other
Those arrested will have to face the state parole board, which can decide
how long they must stay in prison once they return.
Since its passage, about 2,100 sex offenders have complied with the law,
while 1,900 are back in custody for other reasons, 100 have unknown
whereabouts and 61 have died, prison officials said. The 400 to 500 sex
offenders who will be going on parole each month will now have to find
residences or face arrest.
Civil rights activists have said that in some densely developed cities,
such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, it is nearly impossible
for sex offenders to comply with the law because so few locations meet its
requirements. State officials Thursday could not provide the addresses or
a geographical accounting of offenders who are out of compliance.
However, Tilton did say that many offenders had succeeded in complying
with the law by becoming homeless.
Homeless sex offenders must report to parole offices daily, where they can
also charge up their battery-powered monitoring devices that are also
required under the law.
"There is no exemption for me to say, 'Well, by the way, because there is
no place or you can't find a place, therefore you can live in a location
near a school,' " Tilton added.
The husband-and-wife legislators who wrote Proposition 83, state Sen.
George Runner and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, both Republicans from
Lancaster, have shown little interest in sex offenders' circumstances.
"It's outrageous that we would allow sex offenders -- even one -- to live
across the street from a school or park," they said in a joint response to
the court's ruling.
"In interpreting this law, the presumption should favor the safety of
California's children, not the inconvenience of sex offenders."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Death Row Inmate Receives Stay As Supreme Court Case Looms
A federal appeals panel granted a stay Thursday to an Arkansas death row
inmate scheduled to die next week by lethal injection, a method the U.S.
Supreme Court will examine in a coming case.
A split panel of three judges from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
at St. Louis granted the stay to death row inmate Jack Harold Jones Jr.
Jones appealed to the court last month, arguing his scheduled Oct. 16
execution should be delayed as the Supreme Court hears the case of two
Kentucky inmates over lethal injection.
A filing by state assistant attorney general Joseph Cordi Jr. argued Jones
should be put to death, saying the inmate "did nothing" legally for the
years to stop his coming execution.
"Intervening in a lawsuit, letting it sit in the corner for 8 months, and
then asking for an 11th-hour stay of execution is a prime example of the
type of abusive, delaying litigation tactics that the courts have
repeatedly condemned," Cordi wrote in a filing to the court Tuesday.
In his dissent, Judge Raymond W. Gruender said no legal precedent required
courts to stay executions involving similar issues before the Supreme
"The Supreme Court has not issued a nationwide stay of lethal injection
executions until it hands down a decision," the judge wrote. "If the
Supreme Court intends to stay all lethal injection executions, there is
yet sufficient time for Jones to seek relief."
Jones, 43, acknowledged to the state Parole Board that he did "own" the
1991 rape and slaying of Bald Knob bookkeeper Mary Phillips and an attack
on her 11-year-old daughter. His appeal cited the Kentucky case, which
claims the mix of drugs in a lethal injection, used in Arkansas and 36
other states performing lethal injections, violates the ban on cruel and
unusual punishment in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Jones joined a lawsuit filed by fellow Arkansas death row inmate Terrick
Nooner. Nooner's lawsuit involves the three drugs used in Arkansas -- an
anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart. The suit
claims that if a condemned prisoner is not given enough anesthetic, he can
suffer "excruciating pain" without being able to cry out.
In July, the state Department of Correction changed its execution
procedure, increasing the amount of anesthetic given to a condemned inmate
from 2 grams to 3 grams. An expert hired by the state claims that dose
would cause death eventually by itself.
"Arkansas modified its protocol to make it even less likely than before
that a condemned inmate would experience any pain during his execution,"
Cordi wrote. "Such a favorable modification in no way diminishes Jones'
unreasonable delay in pursuing an Eighth Amendment claim that he could
have filed and prosecuted a decade ago."
Cordi's filing also notes the state Department of Correction again
modified its execution procedures this month, adding "activation of the
audio feed so the witnesses can hear the coroner pronounce the inmate's
death." The new procedure also allows certain participants to arrive 30
minutes earlier and documenting the time of when personnel verify an
inmate is unconscious.
Currently, public witnesses and reporters cannot watch as intravenous
tubes are inserted into and removed from the inmates. Curtains to the
execution chamber open to witnesses after the condemned prisoner is
already strapped to the gurney, and closed once the inmate is dead.
The Arkansas Times weekly newspaper and others filed a lawsuit in July,
saying witnesses and journalists should see the entire execution process.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed the suit on behalf of
the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists,
the Arkansas Times Inc., and Arkansas Times Editor Max Brantley.
Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Correction, said the
changes came from the typical review of procedures officials do before a
scheduled execution. Tyler said witnesses in the past could watch the
"Even though they could see it, they couldn't hear it," Tyler said. "We're
just going to keep the microphone on longer."
(source: The Morning News)
Death penalty topic of Unabomber's brother's speech
David Kaczynski, brother of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, spoke to the ISU
community Wednesday about how he is strictly against the death penalty.
He relived and spoke of the horror of realizing his brother was the most
wanted man in America. He also told how before then, and even now, he is
against the death penalty.
"I have always been opposed to the death penalty," David Kaczynski said "I
believe that we should only kill others by utter necessity. I tell my
story because it's a story of one family's journey through capital
punishment." After realizing his brother was the Unabomber, David
Kaczynski turned him in.
"It was a matter of saving a life, my brother's, or the innocent victims
he might have in sight next," David Kaczynski said.
However, Ted Kaczynski did not receive the death penalty. He was sentenced
to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This decision came
about with the revelation that he was mentally ill.
Throughout Ted Kaczynski's childhood, his mother, Wanda Kaczynski had
always worried about his mental health, David Kaczynski said. It was never
a serious family issue until sometime in the 1980s. Ted Kaczynski wrote
his family letters, each stating how much he resented and hated each and
every one of them.
Concerned for this out-of-character action, the family took the letters to
a local psychologist, David Kaczynski said. The report was that Ted might
have a form of schizophrenia. The family wanted Ted to get help, but he
refused. Unable to force him, the family went about things as normally as
David Kaczynski said his wife, Linda, confronted him in the late 1990s
with the news that she suspected his brother of being the Unabomber. She
had noticed many similarities in the background of the Unabomber's letters
and his brother.
David Kaczynski said he was in denial at first, but his wife convinced him
to at least read the manifesto written by the Unabomber. After much
comparison and debating, he became convinced that his brother was indeed
the most wanted man in America, he said. He then gave what information he
could to the FBI.
Struggling with himself, hoping he made the right choice, David Kaczynski
then had to tell his mother that Ted was the FBI's No. 1 suspect in the
most expensive investigation known at that time. As a family, they decided
to be strong and to cooperate as much as they could. Ted Kaczynski was
arrested a week and a half later.
When the trial came, Ted Kaczynski asked for the ability to dismiss his
lawyers and represent himself. He was denied the ability on the grounds
that it was a capital punishment case, and punishment case, and it could
not be allowed in such serious circumstances. After that, he tried to
commit suicide in his own prison cell. This led to the hire of a
The report was that he had paranoid schizophrenia. After working with the
attorneys a plea bargain was reached. Ted Kaczynski pled guilty and
received life in prison without the possibility of parole. With all of
that going on, David Kaczynski began to blame himself, he said.
"I would have been responsible for my own brother's death," he said. "Me,
one of the most anti-death penalty people you will ever find, and I almost
gave my brother what I hated most. What's more is, he was my brother. He
was a human, I couldn't see him as the Unabomber. He was Theodore
Kaczynski. That is what first made me want to speak out against the death
After the speech, John Kearns, of Terre Haute, said, "He presented himself
very strongly and professionally. He even has me considering that maybe
all of those monsters in prison for such horrendous crimes are human. What
about their families? What about the friends they once had? Maybe the
death penalty isn't such a good idea after all."
Paul Rains, a junior criminology major, said he originally came to the
speech simply because it is a famous criminal case. "I really enjoyed it.
I admire the guy for his strength and views. It takes a lot of guts to do
what he's doing," he said.
David Kaczynski is now executive director of the group New Yorkers Against
the Death Penalty. He said, " Every criminal has a family. They already
have to suffer knowing the damage their loved one has caused. Killing that
loved one will make them suffer even more. Especially, when the loved one
is mentally ill. Why make them suffer unnecessary pain?"
(source: Indiana Statesman)
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