[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TENN., ALA., ILL., KY.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Sep 26 20:20:30 CDT 2007
Tennessee may delay 3 executions----Decision to review lethal injection
could affect many across the nation
Tuesday's decision by the United States Supreme Court to consider the
cases of two Kentucky death row inmates is likely to halt lethal injection
executions in Tennessee and across the nation for months, legal experts
Condemned prisoners nationwide have been challenging lethal injection,
claiming it violates a prisoner's right not to suffer cruel and inhuman
punishment. But this is the first time the nation's highest court will
decide the constitutionality of the 3-drug cocktail used in Kentucky,
Tennessee and most of the other 35 states that use lethal injection.
The Supreme Court will not look at the broader issue of whether the death
penalty is constitutional. And the nation's highest court is unlikely to
strike down the use of lethal injection because it is looking at the
narrow issue of whether the three drugs used can cause suffering that
would be tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.
"The question is whether or not this combination of drugs creates
unnecessary infliction of pain," said Nita Farahany, an assistant
professor of law and philosophy at Vanderbilt University. "That's the real
question for the court.
"And the other question for the court is, is there any other less painful
alternative that's available for the states because the court has already
decided that the death penalty itself is constitutional ."
Farahany believes executions by lethal injection are likely to remain on
hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue. Three Tennessee
executions could be delayed, including that of Paul Dennis Reid, convicted
of killing seven people in robberies of fast-food restaurants in Nashville
and Clarksville. Reid is scheduled to die in January.
Death-penalty foes claim that the 3 drugs used by most states can cause an
inmate to feel excruciating pain but be unable to show it.
Tennessee, Kentucky and most other lethal injection states use a variation
of the three-drug method, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the
Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.
The 1st drug is supposed to render the condemned prisoner unconscious. The
2nd drug is a paralyzing agent that keeps the prisoner from being able to
speak or move. The 3rd drug stops the heart.
Wait for justice is cruel
One victims-rights advocate says she believes the lethal injection method
is humane, and the endless litigation and delays are the real injustice.
"I just think for families who are waiting for justice, this is cruel and
unusual," said Verna Wyatt, of Nashville-based You Have the Power.
A federal judge last week ruled Tennessee's lethal injection procedure
unconstitutional. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger pushed
the state to ask for a new execution date for Edward Jerome Harbison, who
was supposed to be put to death this morning.
Harbison was to be executed for beating an elderly woman to death during a
1983 burglary. On Tuesday the Tennessee Supreme Court reset Harbison's
execution date for Jan. 9.
The setting of the new execution date was not without dissent. State
Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. said Harbison could be put to
death in the electric chair because state law says that if lethal
injection is found to be unconstitutional, the condemned will die by
It's unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court will have ruled on lethal
injections by January, one legal scholar said. It will take several months
for the court to decide the case; a ruling may not come until June.
"I would think winter at the earliest," said Barbara Kritchevsky,
associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Memphis law
school. "They can always do what they want, but that would be my
The other Tennessee execution likely to be affected is that of Pervis
Payne, convicted of 2 slayings in Shelby County. He is scheduled to die in
Justice: Harbinson could get the chair----Execution date reset; decision
not without dissent
The Tennnessee Supreme Court today reset the execution date for Edward
Jerome Harbison for Jan. 9.
But the decision was not without dissent. Justice William C. Koch Jr. said
Harbison could be put to death in the electric chair Wednesday.
Lawyers for the state Attorney General's office asked that Harbison's
execution date be moved after a federal judge ruled Tennessee's lethal
injection procedure to be unconstitutional.
But citing Tennessee law, Koch wrote that "If execution by lethal
injection is declared unconstitutional, the execution may proceed by
Harbison was set to die by lethal injection early Wednesday for the 1983
beating death of an elderly woman.
U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger last week ruled that Tennessee's lethal
injection procedure violates an inmate's right to be free of cruel and
The state is still considering whether to appeal the judge's decision.
(source for both: The Tennessean)
Time running out for Arthur
Alabamas lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility in
Death Row Facts
There are 198 inmates on Alabama's death row.
Since 1927, 191 inmates have been executed in Alabama.
Of those 191, 160 executions have been for murder-related convictions.
Most of the other death punishments involved convicted rapists, but that
hasn't happened since 1959.
So far, 13 inmates have been executed under Gov. Bob Riley's term,
including 3 this year.
The most recent execution was convicted murderer Luther Williams, of
Tuscaloosa, who was put to death Aug. 23 for the 1989 execution-style
shooting of a Gordo man near West Blockton.
Tommy Arthur was placed on death row on March 22, 1983.
Arthur is the eighth longest current inmate on death row.
Currently, there are eight area men on death row convicted of capital
murder dating back to 1989.
1989 - Harvey Lee Windsor
1989 - John Forrest Parker
1998 - Michael Craig Maxwell
1998 - Thomas Dale Ferguson
2002 - Wilson Billy Robitaille
2007 - Kim VanPelt
2007 - David Dewayne Riley
2007 - Anthony Lee Stanley
Barring a last-minute stay of execution, convicted murderer Tommy Arthur's
final hours will follow standard procedure.
Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections, said
Arthur, who also is identified as Holman Prison inmate Z-427, was moved
Tuesday from death row, where he has been for the past 24 years, to an
isolated cell adjacent to the execution chamber.
He is scheduled for execution at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Arthur, 65, was sentenced to die Feb. 19, 1983, for the 1982 shooting
death of Troy Wicker, of Muscle Shoals. His conviction was overturned
twice, but both times a jury found him guilty of capital murder, the final
time in 1991.
New York attorney Suhana Han said Tuesday she had filed a supplemental
brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Arthur's request for a
stay based on recent action by the court.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider the
constitutionality of lethal injection from a Kentucky death penalty case.
According to published reports, the type of lethal injection in question
is the same type used by all states that utilize lethal injections,
The Kentucky case involves 2 death-row inmates who claim lethal injection
is cruel and unusual punishment. The inmates claim a condemned prisoner
who is not given enough anesthetic could suffer pain without being able to
let anyone know because of paralyses caused by a drug that is administered
before the lethal injection.
Han believes a decision on the appeal could come before Thursday.
Clay Crenshaw, of the Alabama Attorney General's Office, said he is unsure
whether the Kentucky case would affect Arthur's case.
While the appeals await review, Arthur's daughter, Sherrie Stone,
continues to hope her father's executed will be stopped.
"We still think there is a chance," she said recently from her home in
Meanwhile, Arthur will remain under 24-hour surveillance in his new cell.
Corbett said Arthur will be allowed to visit with approved family and
friends today and until 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Inmates with little or no family often receive visits from volunteers with
Kairos Prison Ministry or other clergy, department of corrections
Corbett said an inmate can request a last meal from the cafeteria, and the
cooks can try to meet the request.
Corbett said some inmates have requested a last meal from a catfish
restaurant down the street from Holman, but most last meals come from a
vending machine in the prison's visiting area, which have selections such
as chicken and barbecue sandwiches.
Arthur will be taken to the death chamber about 5:30 p.m. Thursday and
receive the medical procedures in preparation for the execution, Corbett
He said certified emergency medical technicians will insert an intravenous
line into Arthur's arm, and at 6 p.m., the prison warden will administer
the death procedure, which consists of seven syringes.
After execution, Arthur's body will be claimed by the Alabama Department
of Forensic Sciences, which either returns the body to the state or
releases it to family members for burial.
Arthur would be the first inmate in Lauderdale, Colbert or Franklin
counties to be executed, according to an Alabama Department of Corrections
list of executions.
Arthur's attorneys have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court asking
for the DNA collected in the case to be tested to "prove if (Arthur) was
there or not."
Wicker's widow, Judy Wicker, originally said a black man broke into her
home, raped and beat her and that when she came to, her husband was dead.
Wicker later testified she hired Arthur to kill her husband.
DNA evidence was collected during the investigation but DNA testing did
not exist at that time.
Stone said her father has been trying to get the DNA tested for years.
A spokesman for Gov. Bob Riley said last week that the governor and his
legal staff had thoroughly reviewed the case and have no plans to
intercede in the execution.
Stone said Tuesday in an e-mail that she was traveling to Montgomery on
Wednesday in hopes of meeting with Riley face-to-face.
(source: Times Daily)
Aldermen: End Burge saga ---- TORTURE LAWSUITS | 6 urge Daley to finally
Aldermen demanded Tuesday that Mayor Daley "stop the bleeding" of tax
dollars -- and "end the nightmare" of torture by former Chicago Police Lt.
Jon Burge -- by honoring a settlement with three alleged victims and
reaching agreement with 2 others.
Last fall, the city reached a tentative $14.8 million settlement with
Leroy Orange, Stanley Howard and Madison Hobley. All three men were
allegedly coerced into murder confessions by Burge and his cohorts, only
to be pardoned and released from Death Row by now-convicted Gov. George
For reasons that have never been adequately explained, the settlement was
never forwarded to the City Council for approval. Mayor Daley has denied
there ever was a deal, telling reporters, "You have to get an agreement
On Tuesday, Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Pat Dowell (3rd), Toni
Preckwinkle (4th), Howard Brookins (21st), Ed Smith (28th) and Joe Moore
(49th) again demanded that the Burge cases be settled.
They were armed with a study, disclosed Sunday by the Chicago Sun-Times,
that shows taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $195 million if the
city insists on defending Burge in civil suits filed by Orange, Howard,
Hobley and 2 others alleging torture -- Aaron Patterson and Darrell
To the aldermen, it's not simply a matter of saving money when Chicago is
struggling to close a $217 million budget gap. It's about justice and
healing for African Americans.
"I think about this as a moral obligation. ... This is one of the most
disgraceful episodes in Chicago's history," Preckwinkle said.
Corporation Counsel Mara Georges could not be reached for comment.
Mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard urged reporters, "Stay tuned ...
Mara will have something interesting to say" at today's Finance Committee
meeting, where the settlement demand is expected to be discussed.
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Death penalty weighed in slaying---Tucker convicted in tot's death
A jury in Mount Vernon, Ill., this week found a Madisonville, Ky., man
guilty in the 2005 shotgun slaying of a rural Lawrenceville toddler and
the wounding of her grandparents and the couple's daughter.
The jury on Tuesday decided 48-year-old Aubrey D. "Buster" Tucker was
eligible for the death penalty, and it will now consider whether he should
receive that penalty during the next phase of the trial, which continues
Lawrence County Circuit Judge Robert Hopkins ultimately will decide the
Tucker, 48, was convicted Monday in the Feb. 8, 2005, slaying of Gertrude
Caitlyn Jewel Bilskie Crump, the 34-month-old daughter of Charles and
Heidi Crump. (The age of the child was incorrect in previous reports.)
In addition to being found guilty of first-degree murder for the toddler's
slaying, Tucker was convicted of home invasion and attempted first-degree
murder for shooting the girl's mother, Heidi Crump, and her grandparents,
Michael and Rebecca J. Allen.
On Tuesday, the case entered the death penalty phase. Jurors will first
decide if Tucker is eligible for the death penalty. If they determine he
is eligible, the trial will enter its 3rd phase, in which jurors will
decide whether to recommend the death penalty.
In Illinois, the death penalty is carried out by lethal injection.
Lawrence County State's Attorney Pat Hahn said he is seeking the death
penalty for Tucker, based on the age of the victim, the number of people
he shot, and the fact that Tucker has already spent more than eight years
in a Kentucky penitentiary for the shooting death of his father, Aubrey J.
Tucker, 78, of Webster County, Ky. He was released from custody in that
case in 2002.
Testimony presented during the weeklong trial revealed Tucker went to the
Allens' residence near the small Lawrence County community of Westport,
Ill., on the evening of Feb. 8, 2005, to see his former girlfriend,
Rebecca J. Allen. Family members said Rebecca Allen was never married to
Tucker, though the 2 lived together for 2 years and had been in an
At some point, investigators said, Tucker left the Allen residence, then
came back with a shotgun and shot the toddler who was being held by Heidi
Crump, then turned the gun on Rebecca and Michael Allen.
Tucker fled the scene and was captured a short time later following a
police pursuit in Vincennes, Ind., and has been held in the Lawrence
County jail at Lawrenceville under $5 million bond, pending the completion
of his trial.
(source: Courier & Press)
Ky. case may settle issue of execution ---- Lethal-injection drug combo
The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to hear a Kentucky case that challenges
the constitutionality of the mix of drugs used in lethal injections.
This will be the first time the high court will consider whether such
injections violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution prohibiting
cruel and unusual punishment.
The decision to hear the case is likely to have an immediate impact beyond
Kentucky, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty
Information Center, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.
"Virtually all executions are by lethal injection," Dieter said. "It will
at least hold up all executions in the country for a time and may require
broad revisions in the law."
The justices will hear arguments Jan. 7 involving two death-row inmates in
Kentucky, Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr.
Baze was convicted of fatally shooting Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett
and Deputy Arthur Briscoe in 1992 when the officers were trying to arrest
Bowling was convicted of the killings of Edward and Tina Earley of
Lexington and wounding their 2-year-old son in 1990.
Attorneys for Baze and Bowling sued Kentucky three years ago, saying the
use of 3 drugs in lethal injections involves unnecessary pain.
They lost that challenge in the Kentucky Supreme Court in November and
then petitioned the nation's highest court for a review.
David Barron, a Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy attorney for Baze
and Bowling, said his clients "are both extremely excited and pleased"
with the high court's decision to hear their case. Kentucky's lethal
injections use a three-drug procedure to 1st anesthetize, then paralyze
and finally stop the heart of the inmate.
Opponents argue that the short-acting anesthetic used in the first step
might not be adequate and, once paralyzed, the inmate could begin to
suffocate and feel agonizing pain as the final, caustic drug is
administered to stop the heart.
"We're arguing that when there is a known alternative that lessens the
risk of pain and suffering, the Eighth Amendment requires that known
alternative to be used," Barron said, adding that alternatives could
involve fewer drugs or different drugs.
Prosecutors have dismissed such claims, arguing evidence shows that the
initial dose of anesthetic is sufficient to keep the inmate unconscious
Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson, who prosecuted Bowling, said
the Supreme Court case amounts to another delaying tactic by a convicted
"It's pretty offensive to me and to most of the public," he said.
David Fleenor, general counsel to Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, said: "We
are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the fact that
our form of execution is not cruel and unusual punishment."
Forty inmates are on Kentucky's death row.
Baze had been scheduled for execution last night, under a warrant Fletcher
signed Aug. 22, but the Kentucky Supreme Court stopped it earlier this
month, ruling that the court needs to determine whether his initial trial
was moved improperly.
Baze and Bowling have several other legal challenges pending in state and
federal courts, Barron said.
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who asked Fletcher to sign the
execution warrant for Baze, declined comment.
"The attorney general's office does not comment on capital litigation
cases," spokesman Corey Bellamy said.
Rev. Patrick Delahanty, chairman of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, was pleased with the Supreme Court's decision to hear
arguments on lethal injections.
"It makes those of us who question the death penalty pretty happy to see
that, yet another time, there's some serious questions about whether you
can ever kill anybody humanely," he said.
Lethal injections were first adopted for executions in Oklahoma in 1977,
but Texas was the first state to use the procedure in 1982, according to
Dieter. Kentucky adopted the procedure in 1998.
Kentucky and 36 other states that execute by lethal injection use the same
3-drug mix. But at least 10 states have suspended the procedure after
challenges alleged that the injections were cruel and did not always work
Dieter said states that want to continue lethal injections but change the
procedure face major hurdles.
"It is something that's not that easy to fix," he said. "A remedy that
clearly would make executions less painful and more reliable would be to
have doctors involved. That's not going to happen."
Kentucky law bars physicians from participating in executions, and the
other states with death penalties have ethics guidelines that bar
participation by doctors.
(source: The Courier-Journal)
More information about the DeathPenalty