[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, IND., NEV., KY., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Sep 5 17:53:02 CDT 2007
Destruction in black America is self-inflicted
DEBATING capital punishment at an Ivy League university a few years ago, I
was confronted with the claim that since death sentences are more often
meted out in cases where the victim is white, the death penalty must be
racially biased. It's a spurious argument, I replied. Whites commit fewer
than half of all murders in the United States, yet more whites than blacks
are sentenced to death and more whites than blacks are executed each year.
If there is racial bias in the system, it clearly isn't in favor of
But if you choose to focus on the race of victims, I added, remember that
nearly all black homicide is intraracial - more than 9 out of 10 black
murder victims in the United States are killed by black murderers. So
applying the death penalty in more cases where the victim is black would
mean sending more black men to death row.
After the debate, a young black woman accosted me indignantly. 90-plus %
of black blood is shed by black hands? What about all the victims of white
supremacists? Hadn't I heard of lynching? Hadn't I heard of James Byrd,
who died so horribly in Jasper, Texas? When I assured her that Byrd's
murder by whites was utterly untypical of most black homicide, she was
dubious. I thought of that young woman when I read recently about James
Ford Seale, the former Mississippi Klansman sentenced last month to 3 life
terms in prison for his role in murdering two black teenagers 43 years
ago. The killing of Charles Moore and Henry Dee in 1964 was one of several
unsolved civil-rights-era crimes that prosecutors in the South have
reopened in recent years. Seale's trial was a vivid reminder of the days
when racial contempt was a deadly fact of life in much of the country. His
sentence proclaims even more vividly the transformation of America since
then. White racism, once such a murderous force, is now associated mostly
with feeble has-beens.
Yet many Americans, like the woman at my debate, still seem to view racial
questions through an antediluvian haze. To them, white bigotry remains a
clear and present danger, and the reason so many black Americans die
before their time.
But the data aren't in dispute. Though outrage over "racism" is ever
fashionable, African-Americans have long had far less to fear from the
violence of racist whites than from the mayhem of the black underclass.
"Do you realize that the leading killer of young black males is young
black males?" asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan
16 years ago. "As a black man and a father of three, this really shakes me
to the core of my being."
>From Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights
movement, came a similar cry of anguish. "Nothing in the long history of
blacks in America," he lamented in 1994, "suggests the terrible
destruction blacks are visiting upon each other today."
Happily, crime rates have declined from their 1990s peak. But it remains
that the worst destruction in black America is self-inflicted.
In a new study, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics
confirms once again that almost half the people murdered in the United
States each year are black, and 93 % of black homicide victims are killed
by someone of their own race. (For white homicide victims, the figure is
85 %.) In other words, of the estimated 8,000 African-Americans murdered
in 2005, more than 7,400 were cut down by other African-Americans.
Though blacks account for just 1/8 of the US population, the BJS reports,
they are six times more likely than whites to be victimized by homicide -
and 7 times more likely to commit homicide.
Such huge disproportions don't just happen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan
famously warned 40 years ago that the collapse of black family life would
mean rising chaos and crime in the black community. Today, as many as 70 %
of black children are raised in fatherless households. And as reams of
research confirm, children raised without married parents and intact,
stable families are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior.
High rates of black violent crime are a national tragedy, but it is the
law-abiding black majority that suffers from them most. "There is nothing
more painful to me at this stage in my life," Jesse Jackson said in 1993,
"than to walk down the street and hear footsteps . . . then turn around
and see somebody white and feel relieved."
It isn't an insoluble problem. Americans overcame white racism; they can
overcome black crime. But the first step, as always, is to face the facts.
(source: Opinion, Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)
Mother Pleads Guilty to Killing her Four Children
An Indiana woman has pleaded guilty to killing her 4 young children.
In court Tuesday, Angelica Alvarez described how she took them to the
basement and gave them sleeping pills before strangling them with her bare
The children ranged in age from 8 to 2.
The 27-year-old told the judge she then tried to hang herself with a lamp
cord, and when that didn't work, took some sleeping pills.
She was near death when her husband came home and found her next to the
bodies of the children.
Her lawyer says Alvarez left a note on the computer saying the children
would be better off in heaven.
In a plea deal, she accepts a life sentence without the possibility of
parole in each of the killings. And the prosecutor agrees not to seek the
The Elkhart, Indiana, mother is to be formally sentenced later this month.
(source: WMAZ News)
Nevada high court hears appeal in 1984 double-murder case
An attorney for condemned Nevada inmate Randy Moore told the state Supreme
Court on Tuesday that Moore was unfairly convicted in a 1984 double-murder
case that prosecutors labeled the work of teenage devil-worshipers.
Attorney JoNell Thomas argued that Randolph Moore faced "a huge amount of
prosecutorial misconduct" and was represented by an attorney with hearing
problems who heard "killer bees" during courtroom discussion about "killer
weed" smoked by defendants in the Las Vegas case.
By mistakenly referring during the trial to a pretrial hearing on the
teens' devil-worshiping - a hearing that trial jurors hadn't been aware of
- Moore's lawyer effectively helped the prosecution, Thomas added.
Thomas also said Moore faced four aggravating circumstances that resulted
in his sentence, and 2 of those "aggravators" must be erased under terms
of the state high court's previous decisions to limit the criteria that
prosecutors can use to seek the death penalty.
Steven Owens, chief deputy Clark County district attorney, argued that
Moore already has had 3 penalty hearings, and there's no need for a 4th
penalty hearing or a new trial.
"It's been 22 years," he added. "I don't know how long we can keep these
cases kicking around."
Owens also said the hearing loss problem brought up by Thomas wasn't that
bad, adding that the trial lawyer had requested clarification when he
missed something. He said the "killer bee" incident could have happened
even to a lawyer with good hearing.
Regarding the argument about prosecutorial misconduct, Owens said
statements by prosecutors during the trial wouldn't have made any
difference and that Moore still would have been convicted.
Moore and Dale Flanagan both got death sentences for the murders of
Flanagan's grandparents, Colleen and Carl Gordon. 2 other defendants got
life terms and another man received probation.
Flanagan lived in a trailer behind the Gordons' house. Police
investigators determined that he plotted with the others to kill the
Gordons so he could collect insurance money and get a big inheritance.
The case has dragged through the court system for years. Appeals from both
Moore and Flanagan were rejected by the state Supreme Court in 1988, but
their death sentences were reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct.
A second jury returned a verdict of death for the men, but the state
Supreme Court granted them another hearing in 1993 after ruling that
prosecutors should not have been allowed to admit evidence about Satan
worship. They were again sentenced to death, and the high court upheld
those sentences in 1996.
(source: Associated Press)
Kentucky lacks detailed plan for execution gone awry
When Kentucky carries out its 1st execution in 8 years, the anonymous
execution team will be well-rehearsed.
Each monthly, a 12-member team practices everything from strapping the
inmate to the table to pushing the lethal 3-drug cocktail through IV lines
in a new execution chamber that has never been used except for drills.
That is expected to change in September, with the execution of cop-killer
Ralph Baze. Unless a judge stops it, Baze is scheduled to be executed late
in the month.
What the monthly practices don't include, however, is a protocol for what
to do if something goes awry, according to interviews and court documents.
That gives pause to some death penalty foes, who see the potential for a
long, excruciating execution that borders on unconstitutional. They cite
examples in other states, such as Ohio where it took more than an hour to
put IV lines in an inmate, and Florida, where an inmate took more than 30
minutes to die. They note that in Kentucky's last execution, in 1999, the
execution team needed two tries to find a vein in Eddie Lee Harper's arms.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a death warrant for Baze, 52, and set a Sept.
25 execution date. Baze was condemned to death for the 1992 slayings of
Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe. The lawmen
were serving warrants on Baze when he ambushed them.
Kentucky's execution protocol is kept secret by the Department of
Corrections, which cited security concerns in denying multiple Open
Records requests from The Associated Press. Other states, including
Tennessee, Florida and California, make their protocols public, including
details about what and how much of each chemical is given.
But some details of Kentucky's protocol were revealed in multiple
interviews and court records in a case challenging the constitutionality
of lethal injection.
Former Warden Glen Haeberlin said in a 2004 deposition that the prison
attorney would call the Kentucky Attorney General's Office if a suitable
vein couldn't be found or if something went wrong, but was unsure what
would happen next.
"That's a good question, I, I, I, don't know the answer to that,"
Haeberlin said. "I mean, at that point in time it would be uh, a decision
that would be made by an entity above me."
Haeberlin's comments are a startling admission, said Deborah Denno, a
Fordham University law professor who has studied executions and execution
"It's a troubling answer, but its the most honest," Denno said.
David Barron, a public defender who represents Baze and several other
death row inmates, said there appears to be no plan about what to do if a
medical problem arises and the governor refuses to reschedule the
"I guess they could try for hours upon hours," Barron said. "It could get
In an internal complaint in the prison in 2004, Baze complained about the
makeup of the execution team.
"Many inmates who have poor vains (sic) which will not accept needles
well, the use of nonmedical staff to cut into vains or who push through
vains causing the drugs not to work the way they are supposed too," Baze
wrote in a complaint signed by 23 other death row inmates.
Jeff Middendorf, general counsel for the Kentucky Department of
Corrections, said the execution team has an hour to find a vein and start
the execution. At that point, the governor is called and asked whether to
keep going or reschedule the execution, Middendorf said.
A phlebotomist, who inserts the IV needles, and an EMT, who operates a
crash cart and defibrillator, are part of the execution team, according to
2 depositions filed in a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of
American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part,
directly or indirectly, in executions, and Kentucky requires doctors to
follow AMA ethical guidelines.
Fletcher is a doctor, but the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure ruled in
2005 that signing a death warrant doesn't violate ethical guidelines.
During the regular execution rehearsals at the Kentucky State Penitentiary
in Eddyville, a member of the execution team plays the role of the
condemned inmate. The same drugs used during an actual execution flow from
IVs behind a wall into a pitcher on the floor of the execution chamber,
according to depositions of Haeberlin and Deputy Warden Richard Pershing.
Those practices should ensure that Kentucky won't have a repeat of what
happened in Ohio and Florida, Middendorf said.
"It won't happen here," Middendorf said.
Prosecutors have 60 days to locate missing evidence
A judge on Tuesday gave prosecutors 60 days to search for 2 pieces of
evidence wanted for DNA testing in a 1979 murder case.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge James Shake ordered prosecutors to file an
affidavit detailing their efforts to find a pair of black pants and shoes
used to place Brian Keith Moore at the scene of the murder of Virgil
Harris in Louisville.
Prosecutors have 10 days after completing the search to tell Shake what
was done to locate the items.
In ordering a more extensive search, Shake said there is an "enhanced
duty" to search for the evidence because Moore faces execution. Requiring
the search is in keeping with what other courts and states require when
evidence cannot initially be found, Shake said.
"Having conducted an exhaustive survey of post-conviction DNA legislation
and precedent, this Court finds that, at a minimum, additional searches
should be conducted," Shake wrote in a 6-page order.
Moore, 49, was condemned to death for kidnapping and killing Harris, who
was on his way to his 77th birthday party.
Moore's attorneys asked Shake to order a more extensive search for the
missing evidence or vacate his death sentence and possibly his conviction.
Shake said he will consider the request to drop the sentence or conviction
once prosecutors have reported back on the search.
Moore's attorney, David Barron, said Shake made the correct decision in
ordering a further search.
"It's quite appropriate to keep looking," Barron said.
Corey Bellamy, a spokesman for the Kentucky attorney general's office,
declined to comment.
Moore became the first Kentucky death row inmate to win DNA testing when
Shake ordered an examination of multiple pieces of clothing. Prosecutors
initially said all the evidence had been found but backtracked when the
shirt and shoes weren't sent to the crime lab.
Jefferson County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeanne Anderson told
Shake last month that the inventory of evidence submitted to the court was
based on an old inventory list, not an actual examination of available
Dirt on the pants and shoes was used at Moore's trial to place him at the
scene of Harris' murder. Barron said Moore was set up by another man and
if Moore's DNA doesn't show up on those clothes, it could exonerate him.
Moore is the 1st Kentucky death row inmate to win DNA testing on evidence
stemming from a crime predating such tests. At least 3 other death row
inmates have petitioned for testing.
Barron said 2 other pieces of evidence in the case, a shirt and jacket,
are at the Kentucky State Crime lab and will be tested for DNA, once the
search for the shoes and pants is complete.
Moore has claimed another suspect in the killing set him up and turned him
in to reduce a pending sentence in another case. That person has since
(source for both: Associated Press)
Final arguments on executions due today----Judge to decide whether new
policies make lethal injection more humane.
Attorneys involved in the lethal injection hearings for a Marion County
man sentenced to be executed have until 5 p.m. today to give Circuit Judge
Carven Angel their last arguments involving Department of Corrections
The deadline for the written, closing arguments marks the end of a
months-long look at Florida's execution manual and the newest policies
implemented since the December 2006 execution of Angel Diaz.
DOC officials and attorneys with the Attorney General's Office said the
new protocols, revised in August, ensure mistake-free executions.
Attorneys representing Ocala convicted murderer Ian Lightbourne are
arguing new policies cannot ensure an execution like Diaz's will not
In December, it took Diaz 34 minutes to die after an atypical second dose
of chemicals. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all Florida executions until a
full review of execution policies was done.
The same day the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel filed petitions on
behalf of dozens of death row inmates. The Florida Supreme Court picked
the Lightbourne case to litigate the lethal injection issue.
Angel is scheduled to rule on whether executions are "cruel and unusual"
based on the state's execution procedure. His ruling is expected by Sept.
Last month, Angel ordered DOC to rewrite portions of their execution
protocol to include more detailed information about execution team members
and their roles in administering the lethal injection. The department has
updated its manual, but CCR argues the changes aren't enough to prevent
another Diaz-like incident.
The Florida Supreme Court will review Ocala court hearing transcripts and
hold its own hearing in October, a month shy of the scheduled Mark Schwab
Schwab, 38, was sentenced to death in 1992 for the kidnapping, rape and
murder of an 11-year-old Orlando boy.
Lightbourne, 47, was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Marion
County horse breeder Nancy O'Farrell, the daughter of a prominent
(source: Ocala Star-Banner)
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