[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------N.C., COLO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 9 23:09:24 CST 2008
Inconsistency taints death penalty
To say that Kenneth Hartley is a monster is like describing Joseph Stalin
as Russia's former head of state. Like the cruel Russian dictator, Hartley
took innocent lives and showed not one ounce of humanity in the process.
He killed his own mother, murdered his 11-year-old half brother and raped
and sodomized his 13-year-old half sister while on a senseless, violent
Dewey Hudson, who serves as district attorney for the Fourth Judicial
District, which also includes Onslow County, recently prosecuted the
Sampson County man.
In the course of that prosecution, defense attorneys later revealed,
Hartley had offered to strike a plea deal with the state, taking 3
consecutive life sentences in return for Hudson's dropping of the death
penalty. Hudson refused the offer, saying if any case deserved the death
penalty, this one did, and adding that if he had taken a plea arrangement
in the Hartley case, it would weaken his position in future cases.
Certainly Hudson is correct about the terribleness of this crime:
Hartley's 2004 killing spree was one of the worst in the county's history.
And the district attorney is also correct about his assessment of this
case as one that, under the current law, would qualify for the death
penalty. Hartley's actions were heinous and cruel, but the jury chose
instead to grant him exactly what his lawyers originally bargained for - 3
In Hudson's case, the district attorney was simply doing his job in the
way he believed best served the people who elected him. In the case of
Hartley's attorneys, they were doing what they believed was best for their
client. In both cases, the motives of the attorneys are without question.
What should raise a question in Hartley's case and the cases of many other
North Carolina defendants is that the death penalty even exists as an
The United States is one of the few supposedly enlightened countries still
allowing execution as criminal punishment. As a result, extraditions are
often hampered by diplomatic tussling, and America stands as a country
scorned for its mixing of a fair trial with the possibility of an
The one simple best way to end this argument is to modify North Carolina
law to eliminate the death penalty. To even out the punishment, lawmakers
could bring sentencing more in line with the punishments handed down in
federal courts, where defendants must serve a much larger portion of their
sentences before eligible for parole.
And, for offenders like Hartley, life without parole should really be life
It's time for North Carolina to decide that the death penalty does not
What better way to prove we are the direct opposite of animals like
Kenneth Hartley than by allowing him to live - but making sure that he
never again walks among us?
(source: Jacksonville Daily News)
'Aggravator' key for death penalty What's required? A case that 'shocks'
Seeking the death penalty is not a decision prosecutors make lightly, in
part because the cases are usually so complicated and difficult to win.
District attorneys point to criteria that Colorado statutes require them
to meet before they can seek a death sentence after a first-degree murder
"Well, I think a lot of people think, 'Wow, it's a murder case, so it's a
death penalty case,' but that's not the case," Denver District Attorney
Mitch Morrissey said. "You have to have statutory aggravators to even be
able to seek the death penalty in Colorado."
A statutory aggravator in Sir Mario Owens' case was the slaying of a
witness. Others include factors such as if the murder was "especially
heinous, cruel or depraved" or if the murder victim was a police officer.
"It has to be the right kind of case, a kind of case - not that homicides
don't outrage the community - but it's the kind of case that is so
egregious that it just shocks the conscience of the community," Jefferson
County District Attorney Scott Storey said.
"That kind of case, in my opinion, guilt has to be clear, and then you go
through all the aggravators and mitigators and see if you have a
reasonable probability of getting it. And if all those things fall in
line, go for it."
Even if they pursue a capital murder case, a jury still has to be
convinced. For instance, Storey recalled, Albert Petrosky was facing the
death penalty for the triple murder of his estranged wife, a Jefferson
County sheriff's deputy and a Albertson's grocery store manager while
lying in wait in 1995. Yet, the jury decided he should get life in prison
instead of the death penalty. Petrosky later committed suicide in jail.
"Getting a verdict that is death, that's very difficult," Storey said.
"Albert Petrosky, that was a death penalty case, but it was a mass murder
case. We didn't get the death penalty in that case."
Morrissey and Storey said they give defense lawyers who are representing
potential capital murder defendants the opportunity to argue why
prosecutors shouldn't seek the death penalty. Perhaps the accused murderer
had a troubled upbringing of abuse and mental illness that prosecutors
weren't aware of, they said.
"And then, of course, there's the discussion with the (victim's) family,"
Morrissey said. "I've been in meetings where numerous members of a family
. . . some want the death penalty sought, some don't. All those things
play a large role in going forward on a death penalty case."
More on capital murder
Among the aggravating factors that prosecutors can seek in a capital
murder case, according to the statutes:
* The intentional killing of a witness to a criminal offense.
* The murder was committed in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved
* The accused previously was convicted of a class 1 or class 2 felony
* The intentional killing of a peace officer, a firefighter, or a judicial
officer such as a judge, referee or former judge and referee in the state
and federal levels.
* The intentional killing of person who was kidnapped or held hostage by
* The accused murdered someone by lying in wait or ambush, or by an
explosive or incendiary device.
(source: Rocky Mountain News)
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