[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----MISS., PENN., GA., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed May 21 18:31:13 CDT 2008
Death penalty: Justice should be finally served
When the U.S. Supreme Court last fall intervened at the last moment before
Earl Wesley Berry was to be given lethal injection, family members of the
victim were incensed.
Charles Bounds, whose wife Berry had brutally murdered nearly 20 years
ago, shook his finger at Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and asked him
if he thought justice was done.
Epps was the wrong person to receive the anger, as the person who was
standing ready, willing and able to carry out the death sentence. It was
the high court that pulled the plug on Berry's demise.
Today, Berry is again set for execution by lethal injection at the
Mississippi State Penitential at Parchman and this time, perhaps, some
measure of justice will be done.
No true justice can be done. How can it be justice for the family of Mrs.
Mary Bounds that Berry has remained alive on death row all these years
while they have awaited closure? How can it be justice to allow Berry to
go to "sleep" for his brutality?
Berry confessed to kidnapping Bounds from the parking lot of the First
Baptist Church in Houston on Nov. 29, 1987, as she was leaving choir
There is no question that he beat her to death then dumped her body in the
woods. His confession was used against him at trial, and he admitted
considering raping her, but in the words of one investigator chose to
"stomp" her to death, instead.
Did the U.S. Supreme Court grant "justice" in allowing Berry to live
another six months with free room and board at the taxpayers' expense as
he has for the past 2 decades? And as the family of Bounds whose life was
cut short awaited justice?
No. The system of American "justice" that gives more rights and
consideration to confessed and convicted murderers like Berry than to
victims' families is not just.
Nor can justice be found on Earth for such victims. The likes of Berry
await a higher judgment. But in the meantime, no earthly court should
again stay hastening that destiny. Berry is overdue for his final
judgment. Let no fallible human stand in the way!
(source: Clarion Ledger)
Berry's family suffers from his crime
Velma Berry's photos keep her husband and all their family close around
Real life is not so comforting. Her husband, William Berry, died in March,
having never recovered from cancer surgery. One son is in rehab, and a
couple of other grown children have little contact with the rest of the
Her son Earl is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. today at Parchman for the 1987
murder of Mary Bounds in Chickasaw County. William had gone with Velma to
the state penitentiary in October, when Earl's execution was stayed just
17 minutes before its time.
Velma Berry reflected, "My husband said, I hope I'm dead before it
happens,' so he got his wish."
Questioning the process
Some of the Berrys believe Earl didn't have a fair trial.
"They wouldn't move it out of Chickasaw County. He didn't have no chance
at all," Velma Berry said. She believes he was poorly represented and that
his confession was coerced.
"The doctor said he had the skill of a 7-year-old," she said. "A
7-year-old child, if you badger him, will finally say whatever you want
him to say."
James Berry, who first alerted authorities that his brother might be
connected to the crime, added, "They said if I told what I knew, they
wouldn't even ask for the death penalty. But they did."
According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, it was Earl
Berry's confession that provided most of the details about the crime -
including discovery of a towel used to clean blood stains from his
grandmother's car, which he had been driving.
Earl Berry "drank a lot," his mother said, and had been in frequent
trouble. He was convicted as a habitual offender in Bounds' murder and
kidnapping. Still, his mother remains unconvinced of his guilt.
"Don't nobody know Earl. He was a good person, and I do not know if he
done it or not," she said.
Chickasaw County Sheriff Jimmy Simmons was a deputy when he investigated
"If I had any doubt, I'd be one of the first jumping up and down," he
said. "I feel sorry for his mama and ... the family, but I also feel sorry
for Mrs. Bounds and her family. It goes back to drugs and alcohol."
One thing not in dispute is the hurt that has latched onto the Berrys.
"We used to be all close, and we ain't no more," Velma Berry said through
tears. "It went downhill. It's messed up us all." Two of her children have
little contact with the rest of the family, and all have experienced
perhaps inevitable perceptions of guilt by association.
Earl Berry also has suffered, his mother said, saying 4 or 5 times at
Parchman he tried to kill himself by swallowing razor blades, slashing his
wrists and drinking drain opener.
"He didn't want to be there," she said.
Mrs. Berry, two of her sons, a grandson and his wife and some family
friends will drive today to Parchman for what is supposed to be their last
visit in his holding cell.
They have declined to accompany him to the execution.
"None of us is going in the witness room," she said. "Ain't no way any of
us could, and I don't see how anybody else could."
Though she'd be thrilled if something happened to save Earl's life today,
Velma Berry said the countdown in October was horrendous, and she expects
it to be even more so today, without her husband's support.
"The wait is so hard," she said.
Velma Berry has made plans to have her son's body returned to Webster
County for burial near his father.
"He asked me before, That's all I ask of you, Mama,'" she said. "Just
bring me home.'"
(source: Daily Journal)
Man facing death-penalty trial linked to triple slaying
Days before his death-penalty trial on charges that he murdered his
girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter, a Montgomery County man is the focus of
a 2006 triple-slaying probe in Philadelphia, court records show.
Montgomery County prosecutors unsealed court documents today that
identified Mark Patrick O'Donnell, 48, of Plymouth Township, as a
"possible suspect" in the deaths of William Fowler, 53; his wife, Estella,
50; and their son, John, 20, who was quadriplegic.
The Fowlers were fatally shot in their home in the 3200 block of Tulip
Street in Port Richmond on May 21, 2006, at 1:04 a.m. Philadelphia police
attempted to contact O'Donnell, who worked as a nurse for the family. He
ignored a grand-jury subpoena, according to a search-warrant affidavit.
The affidavit says that Philadelphia detectives contacted Montgomery
County prosecutors after O'Donnell's arrest in the Dec. 7 rape and
strangulation-murder of Ebony Nicole Dorsey, a Wissahickon High honor
student. Police said the teen had been baby-sitting O'Donnell's 4-year-old
daughter at his home so that he could spend the night smoking
crack-cocaine with Dorsey's mother, Danielle Cattie, 34, of Whitpain
Philadelphia investigators wanted Montgomery County officials to execute a
search warrant to obtain a DNA sample from O'Donnell, who has been in
custody since his arrest in December. Montgomery County First Assistant
District Attorney Kevin R. Steele had the record sealed because it makes
reference to a secret grand-jury investigation in Philadelphia and because
its release could have hampered investigators in both cases, court records
Steele, who said he did not know whether O'Donnell's DNA matched evidence
in the Fowler case, said today that he had to unseal the documents because
O'Donnell's defense attorney, Thomas C. Egan 3d, is entitled to review
them before the murder trial, scheduled to begin Tuesday.
(source: Philadelphia Inquirer)
NAACP, Amnesty Hold Rally for Troy Davis, Death Row Inmate
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and
Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) held a rally Saturday, May 17, 2008, at
the State Capitol demanding justice for a Georgia man sitting on death row
they say is innocent.
Troy Anthony Davis has been on death row since 1991 after a Savannah jury
convicted him of the 1989 murder of police officer, Mark Allen MacPhail.
As previously covered in Atlanta Progressive News, 7 of 9 witnesses have
either changed or recanted their testimony in sworn affidavits, while 3
new witnesses allege another man confessed to MacPhails murder.
"It would be dismissive if we didnt express regret for the death of this
officer," State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said Saturday. "But his
death becomes more corrupted by sending an innocent man to death row."
The prosecution never produced a murder weapon or any physical evidence
linking Davis to the crime. Several of those who have recanted or changed
their story accuse Savannah police of coercion.
"Mr. Davis's case shows us all that is wrong with the death penalty,"
Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director for AIUSA, said Saturday. "With no
murder weapon and no witnesses [remaining], the State continues to refuse
to acknowledge its mistake."
Supporters of Davis argue these new developments should be cause enough to
open a new trial and possibly free him from prison altogether.
"We ask Troy Davis have a chance to have evidence reviewed by a court," Ed
DuBose of the NAACP said. "If we give up this fight, we give up the fight
in the name of innocence."
Davis would not be the first to be exonerated from death row. Since 1973,
129 men, many of whom were convicted on faulty eyewitness testimony, have
Daryl Hunt, who spent 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit,
spoke at Saturdays rally against a backdrop listing the names of those who
have been exonerated.
"Today its Troy Davis, tomorrow it could be you," Hunt said. "When a court
does not hear the evidence of innocence... thats the problem."
The Georgia Supreme Court denied Davis's extraordinary motion for a new
trial in March 2008 and then refused to reconsider their decision a month
later, as previously reported in APN.
"I have always believed in the justice system but the Georgia Supreme
Court has let me down," Virginia Davis, Troy's mother, said Saturday.
Virginia Davis visits her son frequently and his spirits remain high
despite these legal obstacles, Ms. Davis said Saturday.
Attorneys for Davis are currently preparing to appeal the case to the
Supreme Court of the US, but the chance of the Court hearing the case is
very slim, Laura Moye of AIUSA told Atlanta Progressive News.
"All Mr. Davis has ever asked is for a court to review the evidence,"
Feuer said Saturday. "This is not a big ask. This is a request for justice
and this is a request for the truth."
If the Court denies the appeal, it will be up to the Georgia Board of
Pardons and Paroles to make a decision. The Board granted a stay of
execution last summer 24 hours before Daviss previous execution date.
The GBPP had held off on its review of Davis's case when the Georgia
Supreme Court agreed to reconsider. The GBPP is expected to resume its
review, should all of Davis's court appeals be rejected, Wendy Gozan, in
Amnesty's New York office, told APN.
There had also previously been an 8-month moratorium on executions.
However, the Supreme Court of the US recently ruled that lethal injection
Now that executions in the United States have resumed, with the 1st
executions having occurred here in Georgia, AIUSA believes an execution
date could be set for Davis at anytime.
"We got a system that needs to change and the first change we need to make
is to stop killing innocent people, Hunt said. If you kill Troy Davis, you
can't come back in 20 years and say you're sorry."
AIUSA has so far collected 100,000 letters and signatures from around the
world demanding justice for Davis.
"This fight has been a fight that has been uphill... but it's not a fight
that can't be won," Martina Davis-Correia, Davis's sister, said Saturday.
"We are not going to be moved, she added. "My brother will be free."
(source: Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta
Fla. justices deny rehearing, clear way for Schwab execution
The Florida Supreme Court has cleared all state legal obstacles to the
execution of child killer Mark Dean Schwab.
The justices Wednesday unanimously denied a rehearing and disposed of all
other matters in Schwab's last appeal before the high court.
They had ruled against him in January, but the U.S. Supreme Court kept his
execution on hold pending a decision on lethal injection in a Kentucky
The federal justices upheld the procedure last month and Monday allowed
executions to resume in Florida. Gov. Charlie Crist set Schwab's execution
for July 1.
(source: Associated Press)
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