[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KY., N.H., VER., GA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Nov 9 13:03:03 CST 2008
KENTUCKY----impending volunteer execution
Judge says he'll find death row inmate competent
A judge says a Kentucky death row inmate is competent to fire his public
defenders and seek his own execution.
Special Judge Roger Crittenden presided over a hearing Friday in the case
of 36-year-old Marco Allen Chapman, who is scheduled to die by lethal
injection on Nov. 21. Crittenden has scheduled another hearing next week
hear from a doctor who examined Chapman, but says he will issue an order
declaring Chapman competent.
Public defender Heather McGregor says once such an order is issued,
defense attorneys will withdraw requests to stop the scheduled execution.
Chapman pleaded guilty in 2004 to killing 2 children and attacking their
mother and sister in the northern Kentucky town of Warsaw.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty can never be applied fairly
The death penalty degrades society and does little to deter murder and
other crimes. For those reasons and more, we are heartened that the New
Hampshire jury that convicted John Brooks of the capital crimes of murder
for hire and murder during a kidnapping declined to order him executed.
Instead, Brooks, the multi-millionaire former owner of Manchester's
PolyVac Inc., will serve life without parole.
To decide whether Brooks should be executed, jurors had to consider a host
of relevant factors that could bear on whether he should be shown mercy or
made to pay the ultimate penalty for his crimes.
Jurors rejected the most absurd of the defense team's arguments - that
Brooks deserved clemency because he played the trumpet, was a success in
business, and was known to be hard worker. They agreed that several had
merit. Chief among those was the knowledge that Brook's co-defendants,
including the men who actually committed the killing, received lesser
sentences in exchange for their cooperation. Surprisingly to us, they also
agreed to consider Brook's upbringing in a household with an alcoholic
father and the possibility that he could make a constructive contribution
in prison. The first factor is a circumstance shared by millions. As for
the second, though jurors may not have had all the facts, Brooks history
suggests that he is equally likely to be a destructive force in prison.
The jury found that all but one of the aggravating factors cited by the
prosecution to prove that Brooks deserved to die had merit. They
nonetheless decided to be merciful. Unless the jurors agree to talk, the
reasons for their decision may never be known.
2 statements in the news report on Brooks's sentencing Thursday leapt from
the page. One was prosecutor Kirsten Wilson's recognition that in the end,
the decision to inflict capital punishment is "an individual moral
judgment for each juror. The law is set up in a way that makes it
incredibly difficult to sentence someone to death, and it should be that
She's right, but even in a system with sufficient checks to make execution
highly unlikely, error and bias exist.
The other statement was made by Monica Foster, a member of Brooks's
defense team. She argued that the state wasted taxpayer money by seeking
the death penalty, since juries don't "kill" people like Brooks, a
successful businessman with no criminal record.
Foster's statement was obnoxious. It is an argument for abandoning the
premise that justice under the law should be equal. It is also, in too
many cases and too many states, a true statement.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, social status, wealth
and race, both of the killer and the victim, do much to determine whether
a convicted killer will live or die.
In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court found it "incontestable" that exacting the
death penalty was unconstitutionally cruel and unusual if the decision was
based in any way on a defendant's "race, religion, wealth, social position
or class." But the decision to kill in the name of the state or to spare
someone found guilty of a capital crime is made by human beings.
Prejudice, conscious or unconscious, will always be present.
The death penalty can never be administered equally, and thus should not
be administered at all.
(source: Editorial, The Concord Monitor)
VERMONT----possible federal death penalty trial
Death penalty issue an early point of contention in Jacques case
The U.S. attorney for Vermont and lawyers for the man charged in the
killing of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett of Braintree are feuding over the
process for deciding whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty in
Lawyers for Michael Jacques, 42, of Randolph want federal Judge William
Sessions to order prosecutors to adhere to a set of deadlines that would
give the defense until Oct. 5 to make arguments against having the jury
consider the death penalty in the case.
"Death penalty cases are not the same as other cases and cannot be treated
the same," Jacques' attorneys wrote in a court motion asking Sessions for
Jacques was indicted last month on six counts related to Brooke's slaying.
Police affidavits claim Jacques drugged and then raped Brooke, his niece,
on or about June 25 after driving her to his house on the pretense that
she was going to a pool party.
U.S. Attorney Tom Anderson, in papers filed at federal court in Burlington
last week, said the request by Jacques' lawyers amounted to an
"unwarranted and unnecessary delay" in bringing the case to trial.
Anderson's filing asked Sessions to set an April 8 deadline for a Justice
Department decision on the death penalty question. Under department rules,
the local federal prosecutor makes a recommendation on whether to seek the
death penalty but the final decision rests with the attorney general.
"Our process is an internal policy which does not create rights for the
defendant," Anderson said. "We're trying to follow protocols that allow
for a reasonable time for the defense to offer its mitigating evidence
while respecting the right of victims, the families and the public to see
that this case moves along."
Jean Barrett, a New Jersey death penalty defense expert and member of the
Jacques legal team, called Anderson's unwillingness to extend the time
period for deliberations on the death penalty issue an "outlier position"
for prosecutors handling such cases.
"We've done plenty of these cases," Barrett said. "We know how long it
takes. At this point it's really in the government's interest to get it
right the 1st time rather than hurrying up things."
Michael Mello, a Vermont Law School professor and an expert on death
penalty issues, called the dispute between the prosecutors and the defense
"This shot over the prosecutor's bow by the defense this early in the
process doesn't bode well for cooperation in the trial to come," Mello
said. "It looks like it's going to be a long, unpleasant process for
If the attorney general authorizes pursuit of the death penalty in the
Jacques case, it will be the second such case to be tried before Sessions
since 2005, when Donald Fell was convicted of abducting and later killing
Terry King, a 53-year-old grandmother from North Clarendon.
Jacques was arrested in late June, days after Brooke's disappearance
triggered a massive police search and the first-ever Amber Alert in
Vermont. Her body was found covered with dirt in the woods a mile from
Jacques, who has been held without bail since his arrest, was moved two
weeks ago from a Vermont state jail to the Metropolitan Correctional
Center in Manhattan in New York City.
Barrett had complained to Sessions last month about plans to move Jacques
to a different jail. She said Friday that having Jacques "locked down" at
the Manhattan facility will make it harder for the Vermont-based federal
investigator assigned to the federal public defender's office to meet with
(source: Burlington Free Press)
Savannah Chapter of NAACP defends Troy Davis
While the fate of convicted killer Troy Davis remains unclear, after years
of silence the Savannah branch of the NAACP is speaking out.
Today, local NAACP president Dr. Prince Jackson made his 1st public
comment on the Troy Davis situation.
He says recent developments helped him make up his mind on whether Davis
is guilty or innocent. As defense and the state prepare their paperwork
for the court of appeals, Dr. Jackson says he is looking for spiritual
help from area churches.
"It is is now clear, crystal clear, that the state's case against Troy
Davis is not clear," Jackson said. "It is not beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are a lot of doubts in this case."
It took 17 years for Jackson to say this.
"I, Prince Jackson, the PHD, do not believe Troy Anthony Davis is guilty,"
he told WTOC.
Jackson says back in 1991, when 9 witnesses testified and said Davis was
the man who shot and killed Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, he
believed them. Now, he says he believes they lied under oath and recent
events have led him to make a public stand.
"78 % of the state's case has disintegrated, 78 %. That's a mandate,"
Jackson said. "Maybe the state case is right. I don't know, but since
Troy's life is at stake, we believe Troy ought to be given every
opportunity to defend himself."
"He had to make up his own mind. I'm glad he made up his mind," Virginia
Davis, Troy Davis's mother, said of Jackson's decision.
She was by Jackson's side as he made his statement to the press. She says
she respected the local NAACP's position to hold off on joining the "I am
Troy Davis" movement. She says the NAACP's help is not too late, even
though as a mother, she knows this latest appeal could be her son's last
"He made his peace with God. Whatever happens, that's what happens," Davis
"I have no evidence one way or the other, but my gut feeling says he is
not guilty," Jackson said.
He claims the biggest weapon will be prayer, as he is faxing every church
in the region to take seven minutes this Sunday to pray for guidance for
the court in the Troy Davis appeal request.
As far as the appeal goes, Troy Davis's attorneys have until Monday to
file their paperwork with the court of appeals, and then the Attorney
General's office will have 10 days to respond.
Mrs. Davis says the paperwork is underway and lawyers assure her it will
be filed by Monday.
(source: WTOC News)
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