[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GA., TENN., COLO., S.C., CALIF., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Dec 8 17:13:55 CST 2008
Prosecutors seek death for Brian Nichols Jury to begin deliberations
Life in prison is too good for Brian Nichols. He deserves to die for at
least 2 reasons. He killed 4 people on March 11, 2005 and showed no mercy
when he shot them. And: If he doesnt get death for that, then he may
escape and kill again. That was the message prosecuting attorney Clint
Rucker hammered home again and again to jurors and a packed courtroom in
the sentencing phase of the Brian Nichols' murder trial on Monday morning
as the drama of the more than 3 1/2 year case reached its penultimate
Nichols' lead defense attorney Henderson Hill will take the stage Monday
afternoon to argue for mercy for his client who was convicted Nov. 7 for
the murder of 4 people in what has become known as the Fulton County
Judge James Bodiford told the jury it would begin deliberations Tuesday
morning no matter how long the closing arguments ran today. Before the
jury came into the room, he good-naturedly urged the attorneys to keep
their arguments under 2 hours each.
"How many movies have you seen that last more than 2 hours?" said
Bodiford. "And neither one of you is Eddie Murphy."
Dressed in a black suit, black tie, and crisp white shirt, prosecutor
Rucker looked the part of pallbearer as he sought to convey Nichols to the
grave, with the help of the state recalling how Nichols, in letters to a
Connecticut woman from jail, said he couldnt endure a life sentence.
"He said it was not in his DNA to be basically stuck in his cell for the
rest of his life," said Rucker. He will always attempt to get out."
Nichols, said Rucker, told his Connecticut pen pal, again and again, "I
would rather die on my feet than die on my knees."
He reminded the jury that Nichols wrote that he "wouldn't let them put a
needle into my arm," a reference to Georgia's method of execution, lethal
injection. Nichols told the woman he'd rather "go out on my own terms."
Rucker, who was interrupted 3 times by objections from Henderson Hill,
reminded jurors that Nichols had once boasted that he could be found
innocent and be back on the street if he just got the right Fulton County
"I have one inescapable fact" after 12 weeks of trial, Rucker told the
jury. "We all share something. I came to realize that we are the right
people. We are just the right people, who are in the right place at the
right time to do the right thing."
Now that jurors have heard from more than 140 witnesses over 52 days of
trial, he said, the sentence should be a foregone conclusion.
"If you give this defendant life and not death, after all he had done, he
will have nothing to lose and everything to gain because the evidence has
proved to you all that he is not finished," said Rucker.
"He will do it again, and he will do it again, and again, and again, until
somebody stops him, until someone puts an end to it, and that someone is
Rucker told the jury that defense witnesses who have asked for mercy for
Nichols over the last 2 weeks have been manipulated the way that Nichols
has always manipulated people his entire life, most especially his
16-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who was abandoned by Nichols after birth.
"She was willing to come into this courtroom to help him, but we know from
evidence that he didn't do anything to help her," said Rucker. He reminded
the jury that, yes, Jasmine had asked them to spare her father's life.
"But this is a sad, and a pained truth that is associated with her coming
into this courtroom and asking you for mercy," said Rucker. "She was doing
fine without him. And if you impose a sentence of death, she will continue
to be fine, her momma will see to it. Because the reality is she will
never get what she wanted, because of what he did."
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Death penalty committee wants fairness authority
A legislative committee tasked with studying the death penalty in
Tennessee recommended the creation of an authority to help ensure cases
are handled fairly and efficiently.
The committee was created last year after the state Legislature recognized
that the death penalty system in Tennessee needed to be examined for
fairness and accuracy. It is required to report its findings to the
governor and General Assembly.
On Monday, the committee approved a resolution that asks lawmakers to
create a statewide authority whose duties would include identifying
experienced capital counsel, raising the standard pay for such attorneys,
and monitoring their caseloads.
Thomas Lee, a local attorney on the committee, says such an authority will
help ensure that "trials are done right the first time."
(source: Associated Press)
Colorado's death row population increases to 2
Sir Mario Owens' mug shot/CBS 4Sir Mario Owens, 23, was sentenced today to
die by lethal injection, convicted of ambushing and shooting to death a
young couple, just days before the man was scheduled to testify against
him in a homicide case in 2005.
The other inmate is Nathan Dunlap, convicted of spraying bullets at a
Chuck E. Cheese restaurant where he worked in 1994, killing 4 people.
The death penalty is something I really struggle with.
There are just so many questions.
Is there any punishment that can fit the crime of murder?
Is it truly morally correct to kill people who killed people to show that
killing people is wrong?
And does the potential of such a punishment really deter people from
Id argue that the answer to all of those questions is no.
Now Im not saying that Owens death might not bring peace to the families
of the young man and woman he murdered.
It likely could.
Just as possible, though, is the likelihood that these people will suffer
tremendous pain on the day this man is lethally injected if it indeed
happens not because the world has one less person, but because they will
suffer the painful realization while looking over this young man's
lifeless body, that nothing can take away the pain of their loss; even his
Therefore, is "you killed someone so we get to kill you," the right
message to send?
I know that the Bible says "An eye for an eye," but should religious
ideals be held over each man's head regardless of whether he or she
believes that idea of truth?
Don't read the last paragraph to mean I condone people taking one anothers
lives. I don't.
I'm just saying that I don't know what I think about the whole religion
thing, so I don't think holding a Bible or a Quran in front of someone's
face, for example, is justification for a legal ramification.
Just because you believe something doesn't make it true.
To get to the point, though, I oppose the death penalty for 2 reasons:
1. Because our system is too flawed for people to be paying the ultimate
price when there is strong likelihood in many cases that they could be
2. Because I don't believe the death penalty does any real good.
I'm not arguing that every death penalty case is flawed; I'm quite sure
there are many death row inmates who did commit the crimes they were
convicted of, and their cases progressed without legal flaw.
I'm arguing that there are enough cases that have shown such flaws that it
demonstrates our system needs some major retooling to ensure no truly
innocent people lose their lives to the gas chamber or lethal injection or
Secondly, I've come to believe that dying doesn't scare people or deter
people from committing horrendous crimes.
Everyone knows they're going to die someday. All that changes is that
these death row inmates have some idea albeit vague due to lengthy appeals
processes of which day will be their last.
And when it's over, I don't believe anyone actually feels fully better.
The victims are still dead and the pain for their families never goes
Yes, they can probably rest easier in some cases, but for the most part,
I'd bet that life for them will always be worse than it was before,
whether the alleged killer is living or dead.
(source: Miranda Bacon. Denver Crime Examiner)
Prosecutors Seeking Death Penalty For Man Accused Of Killing Cheerleader
Pernell Thompson pleaded not guilty Monday. Thompson and his wife Yolanda
are accused of luring Marisha Jeter, 16, to meet them behind the Union
YMCA. Prosecutors say Yolanda asked her husband to kill Jeter to prove his
love for her.
Jeter was stabbed more than 30 times. Jeter had revealed to her father
that she and Pernell Thompson had been involved in a relationship.
(source: WSPA News)
Judges to Decide Whether Crowded California Prisons Are Unconstitutional
Faced with chronically packed prisons and a federal mandate to improve
medical and living conditions, a three-judge panel is meeting here to
decide whether the overcrowding results in unconstitutional treatment of
Californias more than 150,000 inmates. If so, the judges could order the
state to release tens of thousands of prisoners.
"We have a motion today to exercise a very serious order which interferes
in a profound way with the states right to run its own affairs," one of
the judges on the panel, Lawrence Karlton of Federal District Court, said
in a hearing last week. "And on the other hand, we have a serious failure
of the state to provide adequate care.?
California's 33 adult prisons teem with nearly double the inmates they
were designed to hold. Lawyers for the inmates say the conditions lead to
violence, outbreaks of disease, inadequate mental and other health care
for prisoners, and even death.
"Overcrowding is dangerous for the prisoners, for the corrections officers
and for the public," said Michael Bien, a lawyer for the inmates, who
asked the judges to reduce the prison population by 52,000 inmates over 2
Lawyers for the state argued that reducing the prison population would
result in increased crime and burden counties already facing tight
"Releasing more than 50,000 inmates onto the streets is dangerous," said
Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation, who added that he had seen reports saying that Californias
inmates tended to have more felony offenses than inmates in other states.
"Our most serious problem is providing enough appropriate space for our
seriously mentally ill inmates," Mr. Cate said, "and releasing prisoners
is not going to fix that problem."
But lawyers for the inmates said that they were not seeking the release of
dangerous criminals and that much of the reduction in the number of
inmates could come from not sending people who have committed minor parole
violations back to prison.
The state's prison health system is currently under the control of a
federal receiver, who announced in August that the state would need to
spend $8 billion to fix its prisons and build facilities.
But the state is also facing a severe budget crisis. Last Monday, Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a financial emergency and requested the
State Legislature to address an $11.2 billion dollar deficit, saying that
without immediate action, "our state is headed for a fiscal disaster where
everyone will be hurt."
Another judge at the hearing, Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court
of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, said, "We should start from the premise
that there's not going to be any more money spent on this problem."
The panel is expected to rule early next year, but an order to release
prisoners would most likely face an appeal to the United States Supreme
(source: New York Times)
AG to judge: Deny DNA testing of Arthur evidence
Attorney General Troy King has asked a Jefferson County judge to deny DNA
testing of evidence for death row inmate Tommy Arthur.
The 66-year-old Arthur has been tried and convicted three times for the
Feb. 1, 1982 contract murder of Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals.
Prosecutors say DNA testing would not have changed the result of his
The judge asked for briefs on DNA testing after a state prisoner, Bobby
Ray Gilbert, earlier this year claimed he killed Wicker.
In his filing Monday, King described Gilbert's claim as "incredible on its
face" and says it's not a good cause to order DNA testing.
(source: Associated Press)
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