[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, USA, N.C., ARK., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri May 2 10:47:06 CDT 2008
Supreme Court ignores fatal flaws, OKs executions
Starting in May executions in the United States will resume after a
7-month de facto moratorium that began last September, when the Supreme
Court agreed to hear a Kentucky challenge to the constitutionality of
lethal injection procedures.
On April 16 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a splintered opinion, ruled 7-2 in
Baze v. Rees that the three-drug protocol used in the state of Kentucky
did not violate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution's prohibition of
cruel and unusual punishment.
Responding to the ruling, Harvey "Tee" Earvin wrote from Texas death row:
"The Court's determination to kill us must be met by our determination to
end the killing. Death row prisoners must commit today to organizing
ourselves, our families and our friends. We need them in the streets with
the activists who are fighting the death penalty.
"The mood on the row has changed drastically since the ruling. The men
here become friends, we are a community. When something bad happens to one
it affects us all. And when there's good news, we are all happy. But this
court ruling negatively affects every single one of us," he continues.
Earvin is a founder of the Texas prisoner organization, Panthers United
for Revolutionary Education (PURE).
7 out of 9 justices wrote separate opinions in the case, which indicates
that the court is far from a consensus about how to resolve additional
challenges that are likely to arise, both around lethal injection protocol
and the death penalty itself.
But the court totally ignored the fundamental facts of the death penalty
(DP) itselfthat it is racially biased, meted out only to the poor, and
that innocent people are often convicted and likely to be executed.
Garcia White writes from Texas death row: "How is it that everything
concerning the DP is a hurried-up and rushed thing? What's the rush when
we see and know that there are all kinds of flaws in the whole system?"
The American Veterinary Association forbids putting down animals with the
three drugs now used in lethal injections. Prisoner Quinton Jones told
Workers World: "It's a damn shame when animals are put down with a higher
standard of care and decency or the handlers must answer to the highest
court. Now the Supreme Court has approved a lower standard for human
During the 7 months that no person in the U.S. was executed, several
significant events occurred:
New Jersey abolished the death penalty.
The Supreme Court ruled that the use of the electric chair is
unconstitutional, which left the state of Nebraska with no effective death
penalty since electrocution was the only method used there. The American
Bar Association called for a national moratorium on executions and the
United Nations voted for an international moratorium, reflecting a
worldwide trend limiting executions.
Also during the last seven months, hearings in California and Tennessee
have studied their respective death penalty systems, and New Mexico and
New Hampshire have raised constitutional questions regarding application
of the death penalty in those states. Wrongful convictions have led to
releases in Dallas. Ongoing crime-lab woes and district attorney scandals
in Houston continue to make headlines in Texas.
The last person executed in the U.S. was Michael Richard in Texas last
Sept. 25. Texas highest court had decided to close at 5 o'clock that day
instead of waiting 20 minutes for an appeal for Richard based on the
Supreme Courts acceptance of the Kentucky case just hours before Richards
As of April 29, there are 11 executions scheduled in the U.S. with dozens
more likely in the coming months. It is no accident that 10 of these 11
scheduled are in Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana and Texas, all former
Confederate states where capital punishment has historically been a legal
alternative to lynching.
While the Supreme Court responded to one states question about its lethal
injection method, many more questions about capital punishment remain
Justice John Paul Stevens, the courts most senior member, took aim at the
entire system of capital punishment, writing in an opinion that it was a
"pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal
contributions to any discernible social or public purposes."
It is the first time 87-year-old Stevens has called on states to stop
Many on death row in Texas have communicated with Workers World:
Ronnie Neal says: "This ruling affects us all, not just those given
immediate dates. The fact is the door is open. The death chamber is once
again operational. Any number at any time can be called. Yours or mine."
Juan Reynoso proclaims: "I will fight to the death. What else is there
left? I'll never give in, until my last damn breath."
Milton Mathis, whose family in Houston is concerned about the issues of
his limited mental abilities, said: "This ruling affects me because I have
had a date once already and at any time my number can be called. As I
brace myself for the fear of the unknown, my only hope is that there will
be someday justice for the poor and the have-nots."
Activist Howard Guidry, also with PURE, wrote from his death row cell in
Livingston, Texas: "With the recent ruling comes a wave of urgency and
desperation for most of the men on Texas death row. It is difficult to
interpret the tension here. Executions are being scheduled. Men are
grasping desperately for relief from the appeals courts. Some men have
resigned to planning their funerals. We are going to be herded into the
slaughter pen. 4 brothers here in Texas are already in the so-called death
watch cells. Men are talking about raising money for their own funeral.
They are talking about the law. They are desperate. Its fight or die and
fight we must!"
(source: Gloria Rubac; The writer is a Houston organizer of the Texas
Death Penalty Abolition Movement)
Letter: Death penalty process too lengthy
In a time when life seems to be of little concern, we wake up every day to
read of another killing. This is not only in Louisiana but nationwide.
I think the flaw in the death penalty is in the fact that it takes too
long to carry out. Those who choose to commit capital crimes know that,
even if convicted, it will take up to 20 years or more, living at
taxpayers expense, before they are executed.
My suggestion is that a special death-penalty court be appointed to hear
nothing but death-penalty cases. Then if a person is convicted and
sentenced to death, the appeals process should not take more than one
year, at which time the sentence would be carried out.
The knowledge that if you kill someone, within a year you also will be
dead, might serve as a better deterrent than the present system.
In an Old West tale of Judge Roy Bean, "he hanging judge"administered
swift justice in his court by placing the defendant on a barrel with a
rope around his neck.
If the defendant was found not guilty, they removed the rope. If he was
found guilty, they removed the barrel.
Richard Guidry, major (retired)----Baton Rouge Police Department, Zachary
(source: Letter to the Editor, Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate)
Death row inmate to go free----Levon 'Bo' Jones won't be retried in the
1987 slaying of a Duplin County bootlegger
Another North Carolina man once condemned for murder will walk free today.
Levon "Bo" Jones of Duplin County spent 13 years on death row, convicted
of robbing and shooting a well-liked bootlegger. In 2006, a federal judge
ordered Jones off death row and overturned his conviction, declaring his
attorney's performance so poor that his constitutional rights had been
Today, Jones will become the 8th North Carolina man spared execution after
charges against him were dropped. Judges turned the inmates loose after
discovering a variety of problems in their cases, ranging from hidden
evidence to inadequate defense attorneys.
The latest release comes as the legal system is re-examining the use of
capital punishment in North Carolina. The death penalty has been on hold
in the state since 2007. It has faced several legal attacks, including a
case that challenges doctors' participation in executions.
Jones was sentenced to die for the death of Leamon Grady, who was robbed
and shot in his home in February 1987. After the federal judge took him
off death row in 2006, Jones remained in prison awaiting a prosecutor's
2nd try at a conviction.
On Thursday, Duplin County District Attorney Dewey Hudson decided to give
up. He said he'll ask a judge this afternoon to drop all charges against
Jones and let him go. A new trial for Jones had been set to begin May 12.
Hudson, who also prosecuted Jones in 1993, had planned to ask a jury later
this month to send Jones back to prison for life. Then, his case crumbled.
Lovely Lorden, the state's star witness and Jones' former lover, recanted
her claims that Jones killed Grady.
In an affidavit that Jones' attorneys filed in April, Lorden said, "Much
of what I testified to was simply not true." She said a detective coached
her on what to say at Jones' trial and that of co-defendant Larry Lamb.
She collected $4,000 from the governor's office as a reward for offering
the clues that led to arrests.
Lorden's new testimony also casts doubt on the conviction of Lamb, who is
serving a life sentence for Grady's murder. Another co-defendant, Ernest
Matthews, pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and was released in 2001.
Hudson doesn't believe Lorden's change of heart.
"She's lied one time or another, then or now," Hudson said. Still, he said
he won't risk taking Lorden before another jury.
Hudson still thinks Jones had a hand in Grady's death.
Jones' attorneys swear he is innocent.
"Any investigation in this case shows Bo didn't do it," Ernest "Buddy"
Conner said. "She gave at least 5 different stories. She's been recanting
to people for a while."
A judge's wrath
2 years ago, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle had stern words for
Jones' previous defense attorneys when he took Jones off death row. Boyle
granted the relief after state courts failed to do so.
Boyle lambasted defense attorneys Graham Phillips Jr. and Charles C.
Henderson for performance he deemed "constitutionally deficient." He
criticized the lawyers for failing to research Lorden's history well
enough to try to discredit her before jurors. He also said they had
inadequately prepared to investigate Jones' mental health problems and
troubled childhood in attempts to ask the jury to spare Jones the death
"Given the weakness of the prosecution's case and its heavy reliance on
the testimony of Lovely Lorden, there is a reasonable probability that,
but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding
would have been different."
Jones spent Thursday night back in his native Duplin County, in the county
jail. Conner drove there to share the good news.
Conner said Jones smiled, saying simply, "I knew this day was coming."
(source: News & Observer)
Man removed from North Carolina's death row set to go free
A man who spent 13 years on North Carolina's death row is set to become
the state's 8th man to be spared execution after charges against him were
Prosecutor Dewey Hudson told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he will
ask a judge on Friday to drop all charges against Levon "Bo" Jones and let
Jones had been sentenced to die for the death of Leamon Grady, who was
robbed and shot in his home in 1987.
In 2006, a federal judge overturned the conviction after declaring Jones'
rights had been violated because of poor attorney performance.
Jones has been in prison awaiting a new trial, set to begin May 12.
North Carolina's death penalty has been on hold while capital punishment
(source: Associated Press)
Arkansas to proceed with executions
The state will resume executing death-row inmates by lethal injection
after making protocol changes to better conform with a recent U. S.
Supreme Court decision that upheld the procedure.
Gov. Mike Beebe made the decision Thursday after conferring with Attorney
General Dustin McDaniel, said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Beebe.
This morning he authorized the [Arkansas Department of Correction ], at
the recommendation of the attorney general, to make a few changes in the
protocol, and then the attorney general, at his discretion, will begin
sending letters on inmates who are basically cleared of legal action, and
the executions can proceed, DeCample said.
Beebes decision comes a little more than 2 weeks after the nations high
court upheld the lethal-injection method used to administer the death
penalty. The high courts ruling cleared the way for dissolving a
sevenmonth moratorium on executions nationwide.
By 7-2, the court rejected challenges to the Kentucky execution procedure
brought by two death-row inmates, holding that they had failed to show
that the risks of pain from mistakes in an otherwise "humane lethal
execution protocol" amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, which is
banned by Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
Beebe has set execution dates for three inmates since he became governor
in January 2007, but their cases were stayed pending the decision in the
"It's one of the most solemn duties you have as governor, and it's not
something he or any other governor looks forward to doing, but its the law
of the land and needs to be carried out," De-Cample said.
Dina Tyler, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, said
the changes in the protocol are minor.
"It's just putting our practice on paper," she said. "It will say in the
policy that the members of the IV team will have at least 2 years of
medical experience. The members do have 2 years, but we didnt have that
written down. It also will say the drugs will be mixed according to the
manufacturer's directions. They already are, but this will just say it on
paper." Justin Allen, the chief deputy attorney general, declined to
discuss the specifics of the protocol until they are final but said they
represented a couple of small suggestions" McDaniel recommended "based on
our reading of the Supreme Court case." "The Supreme Court has blessed
that method of execution," Allen said. "Our protocol is substantially the
same as Kentucky. There are no changes to the 3 drugs that are given, the
order in which they are given and the amount in which they are given."
Jeff Rosenzweig of Little Rock, an attorney who represents death-row
inmate Jack Harold Jones Jr., said he wanted to see the final policy
"I'm not surprised that they are proceeding," he said. "We'll have to see
what changes in the protocol they are making. If they photocopy the
Kentucky protocol, the courts will have to uphold. We'll just have to wait
and see and react accordingly." Beebe set dates for the executions of
Jones, Don Davis and Terrick Nooner.
All 3 won stays of execution in a lawsuit that was similar to the Kentucky
litigation the Supreme Court decided. McDaniel's office will seek to
dissolve the stays for Jones and Davis, Allen said. Nooner has a separate
federal case challenging his conviction that must be resolved before the
state can execute him, Allen added.
Frank Williams, 41, may be the 1st inmate to have an execution date set.
He was convicted of killing a farmer who had fired him in Lafayette County
in 1993. He has exhausted his appeals and had no stay of execution in
place, Allen said.
"Once we get the protocol in final form, it is likely the attorney general
will notify the governor that he has exhausted his appeals and is eligible
to have a date set for execution," he said.
A spokesman for a group formed to abolish the death penalty in Arkansas
said Beebes decision doesnt alter the groups plans.
The decision "was to be expected," said Bob Sells, a spokesman for the
Arkansas Death Penalty Moratorium Campaign. The governor and attorney
general must "follow the law of the land and that is what they are doing.
The point is what were going to do in the future with the death penalty,
and thats what we're concerned about." The campaign hopes to gather
signatures from 100, 000 Arkansans for a symbolic petition to present to
the governor. It wants a blue-ribbon commission created to study
death-penalty matters that could include whether some jurisdictions pursue
the death penalty more often than others, whether the state is executing
innocent people and whether sentences are imposed unfairly on defendants
who are members of minority groups.
Davis, 45, was convicted in 1992 of the slaying of Jane Daniel, a
62-year-old Rogers woman, two years earlier.
Nooner, 37, was convicted of capital murder in the March 1993 shooting
death of Scot Stobaugh, a 22-year-old University of Arkansas at Little
Rock student, at the Fun Wash on West Markham Street in Little Rock.
Jones, 43, was convicted of the capital murder of Mary Phillips, 35, in
Bald Knob in 1995. He later pleaded guilty to the 1991 murder of Lorraine
Barrett, 32, in Florida. That state gave Jones a life sentence for
Arkansas hasn't executed anyone since November 2005, when Eric Nance was
put to death for the murder of Julie Heath, an 18-year-old Malvern woman.
40 inmates are on Arkansas' death row.
(source: Arkansas Democrat & Gazette)
Death penalty sought for alleged killer----Ill. truck driver charged with
Prosecutors in Nashville, Tenn., will seek the death penalty for an Albion
truck driver accused of fatally shooting a Nashville woman.
Bruce D. Mendenhall, 56, is charged with 1st-degree murder in Davidson
County, Tenn., in connection with the shooting death of Sarah Nicole
Hulbert, 25. Her body was found stuffed in a trash bin near a fast food
restaurant south of Interstate 465 in June.
In filing the notice to seek the death penalty, Tom Thurman, the assistant
district attorney general for Davidson County, wrote: "The defendant
committed mass murder, which is defined as the murder of three or more
persons, whether committed during a single criminal episode or at
different times within a 48-month period. The defendant knowingly
mutilated the body of the victim after death."
He did not elaborate on how any of the victims' bodies may have been
Mendenhall currently faces murder charges in the deaths of 4 women.
Besides Hulbert, he is accused of fatally shooting Karma Purpura, 31, of
Indianapolis. Purpura disappeared July 11.
While her body never has been found, so much of her blood was found inside
the cab of Mendenhall's truck that a medical examiner concluded she could
not be alive.
He also has been charged with killing Lucille "Greta" Carter, 44, of
Birmingham, Ala., and Samantha Winter, 48, of Lebanon, Tenn.
Police also say Mendenhall is linked to at least 2 other killings,
including the death of Deborah Ann Glover of Suwanee, Ga., and Sherry
Drinkard of Lake Station, Ind., though he has not been charged in either
Mendenhall was arrested on July 12 at a Nashville truck stop. Tennessee
crime scene investigators recovered a blood-soaked bag of clothing from
his truck. The blood of 10 people was found on the clothing, and most of
them remain unidentified.
FBI officials continue to develop a timeline of Mendenhall's movements
over the years as an over-the-road trucker, concerned he could be linked
to more slayings.
Mendenhall remains in the Davidson County Jail in Nashville, pending
His next scheduled court appearance is Oct. 29 in Wilson County, Tenn., in
connection with the Samantha Winter slaying.
(source: Evansville Courier and Press)
Executions should be carried out swiftly
To the Editor:
Wally Kirby is right: "Death sentences should be carried out, April 27. I
used my Ph.D. skills to research both religion and government documents to
determine the appropriate sentence for a man or woman convicted of a
murder. The following are the primary results of my research:
The Holy Bible (Exodus 21:12) states: "Anyone who strikes a man and kills
him shall surely be put to death."
The United States Constitution (Amendment V) states: "No person shall be
... deprived of life ... without due process of law."
The Tennessee Constitution (& 8) states: "No man shall be ... deprived of
his life ... but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land."
Those miscreants convicted of murder should be executed within one year
following their jury trial. The speedy execution of a man or woman
convicted of murder would discourage future murders.
Grover Porter, Hendersonville 37075
(source: Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean)
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