[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLA., VA., GA., LA., USA, COLO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon May 19 16:53:17 CDT 2008
FLORIDA----new execution date
Crist wants Schwab execution on July 1
Executions in Florida will begin July 1 after the U.S. Supreme Court today
lifted a stay on the execution of convicted child rapist and murderer Mark
Gov. Charlie Crist said this afternoon he wants the execution rescheduled
for July 1.
"It's a time that makes sense," Crist said today.
A federal judge halted Schwab's scheduled November execution while the
high court considered the constitutionality of the triple-drug cocktail in
a Kentucky case. Last month, justices ruled in that case that lethal
injection does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, thereby
lifting a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty.
Schwab, 39, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and strangling 11-year-old
Junny Rios-Martinez Jr. in 1991 after winning his parents' confidence by
posing as a newspaper reporter.
(source: Palm Beach Post)
Florida Execution Moving Forward
Florida can go forward with the execution of child killer Mark Dean
The state plans to execute Schwab on July 1st following a decision by the
U.S. Supreme Court that the state may resume with lethal injections.
The court lifted the stay of execution for Schwab, who was given a
reprieve while the justices considered the constitutionality of lethal
The court a month ago upheld the use of lethal injection in a Kentucky
Crist declined to comment extensively on the new death warrant when
speaking to reporters Monday afternoon.
Schwab was supposed to be executed in November for raping and murdering
11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez in 1991.
(source: Associated Press)
Court removes roadblock to Va. inmate's execution
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for officials to set an
execution date for Virginia death row inmate Christopher Scott Emmett, who
is challenging the state's lethal injection method in a federal appeals
Emmett, 36, is sentenced to die for the 2001 bludgeoning death of a
co-worker in Danville.
The Supreme Court halted Emmett's execution in October while it considered
the constitutionality of lethal injection. The court upheld Kentucky's
lethal injection procedure last month, but Emmett claims Virginia's method
is unconstitutional because it does not ensure sufficient anesthesia
before the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs are administered.
Emmett still has other legal options to halt the execution.
A 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral
arguments in Emmett's case last week, and attorneys expect a decision
within 60 days. Emmett's attorney, Matthew Hellman, said he would seek
another delay of the execution if the date is scheduled before the appeals
"The court was very active and engaged in asking questions," Hellman said
of last week's hearing. "I expect they're going to be on top of it."
Some of the 35 states that use lethal injection have moved swiftly to
schedule executions put on hold for 7 months while the Supreme Court
considered the Kentucky case, in which 2 inmates claimed lethal injection
amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Georgia became the 1st to kill
an inmate May 7. Virginia's next scheduled execution is May 27, when Kevin
Green is scheduled to die for killing a Brunswick County convenience store
owner during a robbery in 1998.
Emmett was convicted of beating John Fenton Langley to death with the base
of a brass lamp in a motel room. Langley and Emmett were friends and had
been working together in Danville as part of an out-of-town roofing crew.
On the night of the murder, Emmett joined Langley and their co-workers for
dinner and a game of cards at their motel.
Later, as Langley slept, Emmett picked up the lamp and hit the 43-year-old
several times in the head. He then took a wallet out of Langley's pocket
and used the money to buy crack cocaine.
(source: Associated Press)
High Court Lifts Stay of Execution for Virginia Death Row Inmate
The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted a stay of execution for Virginia inmate
Christopher Scott Emmett.
Emmett was sentenced to death for murdering a co-worker in Danville in
2001. The court stayed Emmett's execution in October while it considered
the constitutionality of lethal injection.
Although the court upheld lethal injection in the Kentucky case, Emmett is
challenging Virginia's procedure in federal appeals court.
A 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral
arguments in the case last week.
(source: News 8)
State lifts 2 men's stays of execution
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday lifted the stays of execution it put
in place last October for condemned killers Jack Alderman and Curtis
The court had delayed the scheduled executions of the 2 men while the U.S.
Supreme Court considered a challenge to lethal injection procedures in
In April, the high court upheld the constitutionality of that execution
procedure. The day the decision was issued, state Attorney General
Thurbert Baker filed motions asking the state Supreme Court to lift the
stays against Alderman and Osborne.
Also since that decision, Georgia became the 1st state in the country to
carry out an execution. On May 6, William Earl Lynd was put to death by
lethal injection for the 1988 slaying of his live-in girlfriend, Ginger
The state also has set another execution this Thursday for Samuel David
Crowe, sentenced to death for the 1988 killing of 39-year-old Joseph V.
Pala, the retail manager at Wickes Lumber Co. in Douglasville.
With the stays lifted against Alderman and Osborne, their executions are
expected to be scheduled soon as well.
Alderman was sentenced to die for the 1974 murder of his wife in Chatham
County. Osborne was condemned to death for a 1990 double murder in
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Ga. court lifts stays of executions
In Atlanta, the Georgia Supreme Court has lifted stays of execution for
two convicted murderers.
The court had halted the executions of Jack Alderman and Curtis Osborne in
the fall as it awaited the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality
of lethal injections.
It dissolved the stays on Monday without comment.
Alderman is sentenced to die in the 1974 slaying of his 20-year-old wife,
Barbara, in Chatham County. Osborne is facing execution for the 1990
killings of 2 people in Spalding County.
(source: Associated Press)
Evangeline man could face death penalty
An Evangeline Parish grand jury indicted Aaron Wayne Mitchell, who is 44
and lives at 2829 Old Highway 13 in Mamou, on charges of aggravated rape,
oral sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile.
If convicted, Mitchell could face the death penalty.
Mitchell is alleged to have committed the crimes between March 1, 2007 and
Nov. 30 on a victim under the age of 13.
Bond was set at $500,000. Mitchell is currently in the Evangeline Parish
jail. Arraignment is set for June 5.
Evangeline Parish District Attorney Brent Coreil is seeking to try the
aggravated rape charge as a capital case, meaning Mitchell could face the
death penalty or life in prison at hard labor with no chance of parole.
Coreil said the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether the
death penalty for aggravated rape is constitutional in Mitchell's case.
(source: Alexandria Town Talk)
Death Penalty Injects Injustice
The Supreme Court upheld Kentuckys right to use lethal injection for
capital punishment this past month, despite the fact that most of the
Western world abandoned capital punishment long ago. This ruling shows
that in at least 1 respect, America is failing to cross the threshold into
becoming a sensible society.
As a whole, capital punishment is more damaging than helpful. Although
countless politicians, activists and everyday citizens have come up with
arguments against capital punishment, perhaps the best condensed reasoning
against capital punishment came in the form of an editorial published in
the New York Times on May 7, 2008.
Many defendants lack adequate legal representation at their trials, race
distorts who is sentenced to death for what crimes and juries are 'death
qualified'jurors with moral objections to the death penalty are removed,
read the editorial.
Capital punishment is faulty because of how imbalanced the American
justice system can be. For instance, poverty and crime often go hand in
hand. Consequently, poverty-ridden areas often have high levels of
offenses, and the death penalty is often chosen as an appropriate
According to the U.S. Census, nearly one-fifth of residents in Oakland,
California live below the poverty line, largely living in close quarters
and highly condensed areas. Not surprisingly, Oakland consistently ranks
among the cities with the top 10 worst crime rates in the nation,
including the sixth-highest murder rate in 2007.
As the death penalty is still practiced in California, those found guilty
of murder in Oakland are potential subjects for execution. Yet in areas
that yield virtually no economic or social influence, investigations can
get thrown together and rushed through. Subsequently, the death penalty
can fall on someone who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In regards to race, sentencing statistics point to unfair biases that have
yet to be completely weeded out of the American justice system. In
addition to Oakland, Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana have some
of the highest crime rates in the nation. Both states also have a
disproportionate number of African-Americans who commit violent crimes and
are sentenced to death. Consequently, it is easy for some members of white
society to target African-Americans based on these high-profile examples.
Similarly, disqualifying jurors for stating that they are morally opposed
to the death penalty increases the probability of pro-death penalty jurors
serving at a given trial. Subsequently, the punishment suggested by the
jury may not fit the crime as well as one selected by a more balanced
Regardless of the crime a person commits, he or she is human and should be
treated as such. However, according to Nina Totenberg for National Public
Radio, those given lethal injections are treated not only as less than
humans, but less than animals.
"Death penalty opponents note that the cocktail used for executions today
was long ago abandoned by an American veterinary association for use in
killing animals because it was deemed unnecessarily cruel," Totenberg
Totenberg went on to mention three drugs used in lethal injectionssodium
thiopental, pancuronium and potassium chloride. Prisoners are given sodium
thiopental to numb their senses, rendering them unconscious. Next,
pancuronium is injected to stop the twitching. Lastly, potassium chloride
is administered to stop the flow of blood from the heart.
The problem is that because the pancuronium is administered immediately
after the sodium thiopental, it is unclear whether the appropriate dosage
of sodium thiopental was used, as the pancuronium essentially paralyzes
the prisoners. When a less than appropriate amount of sodium thiopental is
administered, it can leave the prisoners with their senses of touch
intact, allowing them to feel the slow and painful process of their bodies
shutting down over the course of roughly 10 minutes.
Capital punishment has proven to be a flawed system because of how those
sentenced to death are chosen. Furthermore, the fact that a form of
capital punishment exists in the United States that is arguably both cruel
and unusual shows that in addition to being insufficient in its selection
process, it is also inadequate in practice.
(source: Daniel Johnson is a 3rd-year literary journalism and film and
media studies double-major; New University Online)
John McCain and Barack Obama: 2 visions of the Supreme Court
McCain wants to end 'judicial activism.' Obama favors justices with
'empathy' for ordinary people.
John McCain and Barack Obama, the two leading presidential candidates,
have set out sharply contrasting views on the role of the Supreme Court
and the kind of justices they would appoint.
Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.), in a speech two weeks ago, echoed the views of
conservatives who say "judicial activism" is the central problem facing
the judiciary. He called it the "common and systematic abuse . . . by an
elite group . . . we entrust with judicial power." On Thursday, he
criticized the California Supreme Court for giving gays and lesbians the
right to marry, saying he doesn't "believe judges should be making these
Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) said he was most concerned about a conservative court
that tilted to the side of "the powerful against the powerless," and to
corporations and the government against individuals. "What's truly elitist
is to appoint judges who will protect the powerful and leave ordinary
Americans to fend for themselves," he said in response to McCain.
During one campaign stop, Obama spoke admiringly of Chief Justice Earl
Warren, the former California governor who led the court in the 1950s and
'60s, when it struck down racial segregation and championed the cause of
Obama has also praised current Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader
Ginsburg and David H. Souter. "I want people on the bench who have enough
empathy, enough feeling, for what ordinary people are going through,"
It is not just a theoretical policy debate.
Whoever is elected in November will probably have the chance to appoint at
least one justice in the next presidential term. The court's 2 most
liberal justices are its oldest: John Paul Stevens turned 88 last month,
and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75.
McCain promised that, if elected, he would follow President Bush's model
in choosing Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito
That could establish a large conservative majority on the court for years.
With conservatives in full control, the court would probably overturn Roe
vs. Wade and the national right to have an abortion. The justices also
could give religion a greater role in government and the schools, and
block the move toward same-sex marriage.
If elected, Obama would be hard-pressed to create a truly liberal court.
But by replacing the aging liberal justices with liberals, he could
preserve abortion rights and maintain a strict separation of church and
(Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, like her party rival for the
presidential nomination, voted against confirming Roberts and Alito to the
Supreme Court. Both men, she said, threatened Roe vs. Wade and the
constitutional right to abortion. But she has had less to say during the
campaign about the role of the courts.)
The McCain-Obama comments reflect a long-standing divide between
conservatives and liberals on the role of the courts. Reduced to the
simplest terms, conservatives say judges should follow the law, and
liberals say they should ensure that justice is done.
Since Warren's retirement in 1969, conservatives have been ascendant in
the high court, thanks to Republican domination of the White House. For
the last 3 decades, Republican appointees have held at least 7 of the
Supreme Court's 9 seats.
Nonetheless, McCain said he thought that "abuse of judicial authority" had
continued unchecked. "The result, over many years, has been a series of
judicial opinions and edicts wandering farther and farther from the clear
meanings of the Constitution," McCain said recently at Wake Forest
University in North Carolina.
As an example, he pointed to the Supreme Court ruling 3 years ago that
struck down the death penalty as "cruel and unusual punishment" for
murderers who were under 18 at the time of their crimes. He said the 5-4
decision in the case of Roper vs. Simmons was based on "airy constructs"
such as "the evolving standards of decency."
"The result was to reduce the penalty, disregard our Constitution and
brush off the standards of the people themselves and their elected
representatives," McCain said.
Obama has thrown the charge of judicial activism back at Republicans.
"The nation has just witnessed how quickly settled law can change when
activists judges are confirmed," he said last year. "In decisions covering
employment discrimination to school integration, the Roberts-Alito Supreme
Court has turned back the clock on decades of hard-fought civil rights
He referred to the 5-4 decision that struck down the voluntary integration
guidelines that were adopted by school boards in Seattle and Louisville,
Ky. The same 5-4 majority also rejected a jury's discrimination verdict in
favor of Lilly Ledbetter, a longtime manager for Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Co. She showed she had been paid far less than men in the same job over
many years. The court's opinion, written by Alito, said her lawsuit was
flawed because she had not filed her claim within the time frame required
The Ledbetter case illustrates the difference between Obama and McCain
when it comes to judges. Obama sharply criticized the decision, saying the
conservative justices ignored new discrimination she suffered with each
unfairly low paycheck. McCain defended the decision and called it a defeat
for trial lawyers who sought to sue companies.
When Obama voted against Alito's confirmation, he predicted the New Jersey
judge would rule on the side of corporations. "If there is a case
involving an employer and an employee, and the Supreme Court has not given
clear direction, he'll rule in favor of the employer," Obama said a year
before the court took up the Ledbetter case.
(The House passed a bill to overturn the Ledbetter decision, but it
stalled in the Senate last month: Supporters fell just short of the 60
votes needed to halt a threatened Republican filibuster. Obama and Clinton
voted to amend the law; McCain said he was opposed.)
Before his election to the Senate, Obama taught constitutional law at the
University of Chicago. He said most cases, even those at the high court,
could be decided by looking at the law and precedents.
"Both a [conservative Justice Antonin] Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive
at the same place most of the time," he said during the Roberts
confirmation hearings. "What matters at the Supreme Court is those 5% of
cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and
rules of construction will only get you through 25 miles of the marathon.
That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest
values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world
works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.
"In those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is
in the judge's heart."
In a speech this month, McCain derisively quoted Obama's reference to a
judge's "deepest values" and "empathy." "These vague words attempt to
justify judicial activism. Come to think, they sound like an activist
judge wrote them," McCain said.
Many conservatives praised McCain's focus on a limited role for the
"Much as I like and respect Barack, I think his vision of judging couldn't
be more wrong," said Bradford Berenson, a Washington lawyer who worked in
the current Bush White House and knew Obama at Harvard Law School.
"Whereas McCain wants our judges and Supreme Court justices to be faithful
to the Constitution . . . and decide cases according to law, Barack seems
to think judges should systematically favor certain parties or groups and
decide cases according to their personal sympathies or feelings about how
who needs or deserves help."
Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, who is an advisor to
Obama, said McCain's speech "relied on simplistic and misleading slogans
about judicial activism."
"Sen. Obama certainly doesn't share Sen. McCain's remarkable view that the
greatest threat to American values and traditions comes from our
independent federal judiciary," Tribe said. "On the contrary, Sen. Obama
would find it crucial to preserve judicial independence in part to hold in
check the excesses of unilateral executive power that have threatened our
democracy under the Bush-Cheney administration."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Colo. Inmate In Death Penalty Trial Has MySpace Page----Sir Mario Owens
Wants People To Write To Him In Prison
The death penalty phase of the Sir Mario Owens trial was set to begin
Monday as news emerged that the man convicted of killing two people has
his own MySpace page where he says he is "pretty harmless" and asks for
"someone to write to."
Owens, 23, an inmate of the Colorado Department of Corrections for a 2004
murder, was convicted May 14 of murder and conspiracy in connection with
the 2005 slayings of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe.
Marshall-Fields was scheduled to testify against Owens when he was on
trial for the 2004 slaying of Gregory Vann at July 4th celebration at an
Aurora park. Owens is serving a life sentence for the Vann slaying.
Arapahoe County prosecutors are asking for the death penalty for 2005
Owens' MySpace page, titled "Sir Mario The Great," is maintained by his
cousin, because Colorado prison inmates are not allowed to access to the
In the "About Me" section of his page, Owens writes,"I was recently caught
up in some b/s, so ya boy on lockdown in Canon City, Colorado. I don't get
to the computer much, so I'll have my cousin update me on this myspace
joint when I'm not able to get to it. I'm really just here to find new
friends. I have a lot of time on my hands, as you can tell, so I just want
someone to write to back and forth. Ya know what I mean? It really doesn't
matter what it's about, I just need something to take time off from here
sometimes. You could think of it as being Pen Pals and what not. I'm
He doesn't mention he is serving a life sentence for murder or that he was
recently found guilty of killing 2 other people and could get the death
penalty in that case.
(source: The DenverChannel)
More information about the DeathPenalty