[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, MD., GA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jul 10 14:46:09 CDT 2008
Sanders: Another troubling Dallas case
The case of Carlton Akee Turner, who is scheduled for the Texas death
chamber Thursday evening, presents the state and its noble citizens a
whole set of conundrums:
What really should be done with troubled youths who commit horrible
Do we truly care about the feelings of the victims' families and how they
How should our highest criminal court deal with cases from Dallas County
particularly, with its history of racism, terribly flawed investigations
and what some see as true "criminal" prosecution tactics of the recent
At what point do the people of Texas say "enough is enough" when it comes
to capital punishment, even for those who committed a crime, as Turner
most certainly did?
Many of you will remember the case of the Irving teenager arrested and
charged with murdering his own parents, 2 revered people in the community
who had adopted him as an 11-month-old baby.
The news shocked North Texas, and many people were asking at the time,
"How could he have done that?" That question still haunts Turner family
members, many of whom want to see the young man's life spared.
Turner, called "Akee" by family members, was born on an Indian reservation
in Utah on Independence Day, 1979, according to a clemency petition filed
with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by representatives of the
University of Texas School of Law Capital Punishment Clinic.
"As a child of a Native American woman and a black man, he was not
accepted by his mother's tribe," the petition said.
Carlton Turner Sr. and his wife, Tonya, and the child moved around the
country because of the elder Turner's military career. And they often
visited family in Pennsylvania together.
Other family members saw a happy couple with a delightfully "cute" child
a stable household with no problems.
But, according to the petition, "While Tonya and Carlton presented the
picture of a happy well adjusted family, troubles started at an early age.
Akee exhibited learning and behavioral problems as early as elementary
school. These continued throughout his school years. His problems were
only exacerbated by his father's strict and abusive punishments. He
suffered broken fingers, cuts, bruises and a broken leg (after his father
threw him to the ground when he was seven years old), and endured many
trips to the hospital as a result of his father's punishment."
Turner, 19 at the time he shot his parents, testified about the abuse and
said he killed his father in self-defense. He said he didn't know why he
killed his mother.
After the shooting, he dragged their bodies to the garage, where police
found them three days later after obtaining a search warrant.
The facts about the crime were presented in court and don't really play a
part in the requests for clemency, something rarely granted in Texas under
Maurie Levin, an attorney with the UT law school's Capital Punishment
Clinic, argues in the petition and a supplement that Turner's sentence
should be commuted to life on two grounds: Dallas County's history
(including in this case) of excluding black people from juries in capital
cases, and the fact that relatives of his dead parents also members of
his family don't want him executed.
Turner was convicted by an all-white jury, and anecdotal evidence suggests
that no black people even made it to the voir dire (or questioning) part
of jury selection. Jurors who expressed reservations about capital
punishment on their questionnaires, a disproportionate number being
African-American, were rejected "despite the fact that they may have been
legally qualified to serve," the attorney said in her supplement to the
Because of the practice of excluding blacks from capital cases in Dallas
County, both prosecutors and defense lawyers were complicit in this
tainted procedure, the petition says. "The capital prosecution of an
African American man by an all white jury from a jurisdiction with such an
extensive record of discrimination in exactly that arena should cause
doubts in the first instance," the petition said. "Where ... there is
evidence of a deeper level of discrimination that is, by its nature, well
camouflaged, a call for a halt to Mr. Turner's scheduled execution is
compelled, at least until further investigation can be conducted."
Noting a quote from Gov. Rick Perry that we "never forget the impact felt
by crime victims," the attorney points out that the "vast majority" of
Tony and Carlton Turner Sr.'s family members do not want to see the
couple's son executed.
"Executions are held out as a talisman that will provide the victim with
closure," said the petition. "This belief serves in part as a rationale
for executions. But, in Mr. Turner's case, an 'eye for an eye' truly does
leave a family blind, twice robbed of their own."
Affidavits from 3 family members were submitted with the petition.
Kelly Johnson of Philadelphia, Tonya's brother, wrote: "I do not wish to
see my sister's only child executed. I believe in my heart that my sister
would only have wanted Akee to receive the help that he needed to restore
his mind to a sound state."
Tonya Turner's first cousin and close friend, Krishell Coleman of
Lawrenceville, Ga., said, "I don't think Carlton should be executed. I
don't want him to be executed. Now that I know more of the details that
led to the murders, I realize that he needs help. Killing him is just
another murder. Nothing is going to bring my cousin back. Killing him will
just hurt our family again, the way Tonya and Carlton's murders did."
The Board of Pardons and Paroles should recommend that the governor
commute the sentence, and Perry should heed that advice.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Bob Ray Sanders' column appears Sundays
Former US AG to chair Md. death penalty commission
A former U.S. Attorney General will be chairman of the Maryland Commission
on Capital Punishment.
Benjamin Civiletti was attorney general from 1979 to 1981 under former
President Jimmy Carter.
The commission was established in the last legislative session. It has
been tasked with studying racial, jurisdictional and socio-economic
It will also examine the risk of innocent people being executed.
The commission will submit a report on its findings and recommendations to
the General Assembly by Dec. 15.
There are 22 other members of the commission. They have been chosen to
represent diverse views on the death penalty.
(source: Associated Press)
Civiletti to head Capital Punishment Commission
2 months after the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment was signed
into law, Gov. Martin OMalley appointed former U.S. Attorney General
Benjamin Civiletti as chairman of the commission, along with 22 other
"I come in with views, but they are not fixed views," Civiletti said when
asked if he is for or against the death penalty.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, who announced the commission members in front of a
small gathering in the Legislative Services Building, said he was
"confident" that Civiletti and the other commission members "will make
fair and unbiased recommendations to the members of the Maryland General
Assembly on this important issue."
"General Civiletti's integrity and long history of public service will be
assets to the commission," O'Malley said.
The commission which was created by an act of the General Assembly in the
2008 legislative session is tasked with studying all aspects of capital
punishment as currently and historically administered in the state.
A final report on its findings and recommendations will be submitted to
the legislature on or before Dec. 15.
Civiletti was selected by the governor, Senate President Thomas V. Mike
Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
The rest of the group is comprised of 13 gubernatorial and 9
The governor's selections are:
Chief Bernadette DiPino, representing the Maryland Chiefs of Police
Percel Odel Alston Jr., representing the Maryland Fraternal Order of
Noel Lewis Godfrey, Correctional Officer Representative
Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, former state prisoner who was exonerated
Reverend Alan M. Gould, Sr., representing the religious community
Reverend Denis J. Madden, Archdiocese of Baltimore, representing the
Rabbi Mark G. Loeb, Beth El Congregation, representing the religious
Rick N. Prothero, brother of victim, representing family members of murder
Vicki A. Schieber, mother of victim, representing family member of murder
Oliver Smith, father of victim, representing family member of murder
Matthew Campbell, representing member of the public
David Kendall, Partner, Williams and Connolly LLP, representing meber of
Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, District 41, Baltimore City, representing member
of the public
Appointments by Senate President Miller:
Senator Jamie Raskin
Senator James N. Robey
Appointments by Speaker of the House Busch:
Delegate Adrienne A. Jones
Delegate William Frank
Other appointments as required by the law establishing the Commission:
Shannetta Paskel, representing Attorney General Douglas Gansler
The Honorable William Spellbring
Secretary Gary Maynard, Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional
Katy O'Donnell, representative of the Office of the Public Defender
Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County State's Attorney, who has prosecuted
a death penalty case
(source: The Daily Record)
The death penalty and the case of Troy Davis
Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Troy Davis, who has been
convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Georgia, USA, to be granted
a retrial in view of evidence which strongly indicates his innocence.
Troy Davis was sentenced to death by the Georgia State Court in 1991 for
the murder of a policeman and scheduled to be executed at the end of July
2008. According to Mr Davis' lawyers, there is abundant proof of his
innocence, material evidence against him has never been found and seven
witnesses against him have retracted their testimony.
On 4 August 2007 the Supreme Court of Georgia had agreed to reconsider the
new elements casting doubt on Mr Davis' culpability but on 17 March 2008
the same court decided to deny him a new trial.
Retrial of Troy Davis merited on the basis of evidence
The EP resolution "asks, in view of abundant evidence which might reverse
his sentence, for the relevant courts to grant Troy Davis a retrial, and
for the death sentence therefore to be commuted". It also "appeals
urgently to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the
MEPs call on the Presidency of the Council and the Delegation of the
European Commission to the USA to raise the issue with the US authorities
as a matter of urgency.
EP opposed to death penalty on principle
More broadly, today's resolution calls upon those countries where the
death penalty is carried out to take steps towards abolition. This is in
line with Parliament's general stance on capital punishment: in the past
it has devoted much effort to seeking abolition of the death penalty and
warmly welcomed UN General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007
calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.
Innocent death row prisoners have been reprieved in USA too
Lastly, to underline the flaw in the use of the death penalty, today's
resolution points out that more than 120 people have been released from
death row in the USA since 1975 on the grounds of innocence.
(source: European Parliament)
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