[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLA., NEB., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed May 28 23:10:45 CDT 2008
Death-row inmate pins hope on Texas lab
In December, death-row inmate Samuel Jason Derrick won the right to have
evidence in his 1988 murder conviction tested for DNA.
The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic that has used DNA testing
to exonerate and free dozens from death row, hopes to do the same for
But first the clinic had to find someone to actually do the tests.
This month, the Innocence Project finally lined up a lab and got the
judge's blessing to ship the evidence from the 1987 stabbing of a Moon
Lake store owner.
Circuit Judge Stanley Mills agreed last year to DNA testing of evidence a
partly eaten hot dog, blood found under a picnic table and scrapings from
the victim's fingernails with one caveat:
"Initially the judge wanted a Florida lab," said Innocence Project
attorney Alba Morales.
That was 5 months ago. Morales told the St. Petersburg Times the Innocence
Project couldn't find a lab in Florida that could meet the defense's most
important criteria: be able to perform certain cutting-edge DNA tests and
enter the test results into the FBI database known as the Combined DNA
Index System, or CODIS.
But a lab in Dallas, Orchid Cellmark, can do all the things the judge and
defense want done, Morales said. At a May 13 hearing, all sides agreed to
ship the evidence to Texas.
The order is still being drafted, but once it's done, the evidence will be
sent via Federal Express from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. The
Innocence Project is footing the bill for the tests, which could cost
thousands of dollars.
Then the real wait will begin. It will take months before the test results
are known assuming there's anything left that can still be tested.
Derrick was 20 when he was arrested for the 1987 murder of 55-year-old
storekeeper Rama Sharma. The victim was found slashed and stabbed to death
in his blood-soaked Moon Lake store. Missing was $360.
Detectives said that Derrick broke down during an interview and confessed:
"All right, I did it."
But in 2007, Derrick recanted, saying a detective coerced him into a false
confession by threatening to put his infant son in foster care.
Derrick said he had been abused in foster care. Now 41, he has spent more
than half his life behind bars, on death row.
(source: St. Petersburg Times)
Brother of Nebraska death row inmate paroled
The 43-year-old brother of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore was paroled
Wednesday and warned not to fail again.
Donald Moore had originally been found guilty of second-degree murder for
his role in a 1979 slaying.
Donald was 14 at the time. He had agreed to help his brother, Carey Dean,
rob cabbie Reuel Van Ness.
Carey Dean Moore, now 50, fatally shot Van Ness and later killed Maynard
Helgeland during a robbery.
Donald Moore was given a sentence of 10 years to life and became eligible
for parole in 1987. State records say he has been paroled three previous
times, only to be returned to prison for violations that included drug
use. The previous paroles were granted in August 1994, March 1996 and
His last parole was revoked after he left the state without telling his
Moore was turned down for parole in November 2007.
He told the board then that he regretted his past and that he wanted
"I have been clean and sober five years now," he said.
According to a report by the Omaha World-Herald on Wednesday, the board
voted 4-0 to parole Moore, but he was warned:
"I will tell you on the record and to your face, if you come back (to
prison), I will not support you again," board chairwoman Esther Casmer
Moore's brother, Carey Dean, was scheduled to be executed in May of last
year, but the Nebraska Supreme Court halted it so the court could rule on
the electric chair.
It ruled against the chair in February, saying that electrocution inflicts
"intense pain and agonizing suffering."
That leaves Nebraska with a death penalty but with no legal means to
execute to carry it out.
On the Net: Nebraska Parole Board:
(source: Associated Press)
Press should monitor some discourse
Last Wednesday, Mississippi executed Earl Wesley Berry for brutally
murdering Mary Bounds 19 years ago.
Berry's execution marked the second instance of capital punishment being
carried out since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month affirming the
constitutionality of lethal injection.
With that ruling, several states now have picked up the pace to carry out
executions in coming months and, in doing so, have ensured passionate
debates surrounding the morality of capital punishment in America will
Capital punishment, like abortion, is one of those issues that by its
inherent nature often polarizes those on differing sides of the argument
to such a point that civil and even rational discourse can become
When moral certainty and perceived evil are 2 of the main starting points
of any debate, reaching common ground can quickly loose priority.
This being said, should media coverage of events such as executions and
especially the adjoining reader comment sections of stories be handled a
little bit differently than most news stories?
Would scrupulously editing some of the comments readers anonymously post
be warranted in a story such as the Berry execution?
The Clarion Ledger, our state's largest newspaper, either did not think so
or just had loose standards on what they should post.
A few snippets of the 40-odd pages of reader comments for just one story
on the execution are listed below in the exact form they appeared in the
Clarion Ledger online edition May 21:
"At 6:00 p.m. today, Satan will be there to usher him through the gates of
"I wish they would bring back ole' sparky and FRY people like this guy."
"T-minus 20 minutes and you get to meet the devil. Enjoy the nap!!"
"Epps said he was grinning in October; he must have thought something was
funny, should have put exlax in his last meal."
"Awe, Poor baby!!!!! The big bad killer is scared!! Does he need a hug and
a teddy bear?? Drip, drip, drip--Bye Bye sucker!!!!! Was he scared when he
killed the victim???? Too bad he is not gonna fry like bacon!!!"
While there were certainly less emotional and intense reactions from
readers of the story, many similarly impassioned sentiments persisted.
It is true that comment sections should not always be taken too seriously
and understood as an accurate portrayal (I hope) of a community's
sentiments, yet at what point should editors re-evaluate if certain events
necessitate the same extent of open feedback as others.
People die every day all around us, but it is not often we are given
notice of the exact minute they will breathe their last breath and have
the opportunity to curse them into their final moments in a live public
No matter what side of capital punishment one falls on, it is fairly
evident that state-sponsored executions reverberate loudly through the
communities in which they take place.
As citizens either support, condemn or remain neutral to such acts, it
seems the press would do well to fully acknowledge the role they now play
in conveying those sentiments, and take full responsibility for them.
(source: Clarksdale Press Register)
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