[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----GA., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Oct 3 21:55:20 CDT 2008
Errors debase death penalty
THE FIRST TIME, Troy Davis came within 24 hours of death. The 2nd time, he
came within 2.
Last year, it was a Georgia clemency board that stepped in to block his
execution. Last month, it was the Supreme Court. Davis, the 39-year-old
convicted killer of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah, Ga., police officer, was
granted a stay to allow the court to consider whether to hear his appeal
for a new trial.
When news of Davis' latest reprieve broke, MacPhail's family reacted as
you would expect. His mother, Anneliese, 74, told the Associated Press,
"I'm furious, disgusted and disappointed. I want this over with. This has
been hanging over us for 19 years." She said her son will not have justice
until Davis dies.
Your instinct, faced with such a rawness of agony, is to defer. To have a
loved one ripped away as MacPhail's family did is to enter into a
confederation of suffering any one of us could join in the time it takes
to thrust a knife or pull a trigger. Grief of such magnitude confers moral
authority that trumps other considerations, and your heart, if you have
one, will require you to yield to it as surely as subcompacts do to
This is human; this is compassionate, and it is also a mistake, at least
where capital punishment is concerned.
The case against Davis is not airtight. No murder weapon, DNA or other
forensic evidence implicated him. He was convicted solely on the testimony
of 9 witnesses, 7 of whom have since recanted. Two say police bullied and
intimidated them into fingering Davis. Of the 2 witnesses who are sticking
to their stories, one is a man named Sylvester Coles. Some of the
witnesses now say he's the one who shot MacPhail.
This all means nothing to the MacPhail family, and that's understandable.
But should it mean something to us? I submit that it must.
Last year, Brandon Garrett, a professor of law at the University of
Virginia, studied 200 cases in which people were freed from prison after
DNA evidence proved them innocent. He found that erroneous eyewitness
identifications were the leading cause of wrongful convictions, occurring
in 79 % of the cases he studied.
Not that you need a study to prove the unreliability of eyewitnesses. Just
try to remember and describe the UPS guy who made a delivery to your home.
Now imagine doing it with someone dead and your blood pounding and police
Yet on this flimsy basis we make decisions about someone's life or death?
It is evidence of moral cowardice that we countenance the ridiculous and
the obscene, never daring to look too closely at what is happening because
we might accidentally "see," and then, by God, we might be compelled to
act, to admit that capital punishment is incompatible with justice and to
gather the courage to say to families like the MacPhails: We feel your
grief and our hearts break for you, but what you're demanding is wrong, if
for no other reason than that we just may, conceivably, make mistakes.
Yes, we owe the MacPhail family our compassion and understanding. But you
know what? We owe Troy Davis' family something, too.
(source: Editorial, Contra Costa (Calif.) Times)
Relatives Of Slain Bellacino's Employees Seek Death Penalty
Family members of employees killed at a Nashville pizzeria are calling for
the death penalty in the case.
In October 2007, Bellacino's manager Chris Caris and employee Josh Cle
were killed during a robbery.
"We're hurt because he was irreplaceable. He was the love of our life,"
said Tina Cole about her son, Josh Cole.
Relatives attended a court appearance for the 4 people charged in the
"My whole life is ruined because of these people," she said.
For the first time Friday, family members saw the newest suspect in court.
Tarina Simmons is accused of planning and taking money from the robbery.
She pleaded not guilty.
Jason Bobo, Ravaughn Harris and Crystle Rutherford were also in court on
various legal motions and the victims families watched.
Caris' fiance' wants the death penalty. She said she has toured death row
at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.
"We never get to see our loved one again so death row is definitely the
quality of life that they deserve," said Mari-Anne Purcell, who advocates
for tougher sentencing laws.
"We want justice," Cole said.
The next step is taking their case from court to lawmakers at the state
Capitol. The judge set a trial date for the 4 defendants for April 20,
(source: News Channel 5)
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