[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----MICH., GA., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 6 11:13:45 CDT 2008
Child's death won't stop Detroit's violence
Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers got it right last week when
she roundly decried the murder of a 4-month-old child hit by a bullet as
he slept in an apartment on the city's northwest side. "We go about our
business in Detroit as if we are immune to the killing of our children,"
Conyers said. "2 teenagers were gunned down last week, now a 4-month-old
baby is murdered while asleep. If we are not mad as hell about this we
have lost our humanity."
But typical of Conyers' volatility and penchant for speaking before
thinking, she went too far with her call for a crusade against violence.
"I believe we need the death penalty for anyone that kills a child in
Michigan," Conyers sputtered.
The death penalty? Not only is that a wholly ineffective cure for what
ails Detroit (states that execute prisoners are no less violent, and are
in many cases even more violent, than states that don't) but it's also
indulgence of a morally repugnant act the State of Michigan has resisted
for more than a century.
It's not an answer anyone else ought even to consider.
Conyers' outburst about executions reflects a stunning lack of
understanding of the practical implications of capital punishment, and the
trend away from eye-for-an-eye justice that is sweeping other states.
The pace of executions nationally has been slowed in recent years by the
confounding legal problems raised by capital punishment. It's terribly
expensive to carry out. Doing it with any conscience requires a level of
certainty -- about guilt, fairness of application, the quality of legal
counsel, freedom from racial bias, lack of cruelty in execution
procedures, and a host of other factors -- that most states are finding
more and more cumbersome.
Most recently, the district attorney in Dallas, Texas, the jurisdiction
with the most death row inmates whose cases have been overturned by DNA
evidence, called for a halt to executions until he can review all the
cases from his office.
Meanwhile, violence in places like Texas -- or Florida, Alabama, Virginia
or other states prolific at execution -- is at least as harrowing as it is
in Detroit or Michigan. Kids get killed. So do other innocents. And a
sense of hopelessness about what to do about it grips many communities.
Those troubles have roots deep in other aspects of society, ones that
require long-term solutions rather than quick fixes. Murders will end when
killers don't want to solve their problems that way. They'll end when a
life is more valuable than a bag of crack rocks, a car, gun or some
imagined element of "disrespect."
The death penalty won't accomplish any of that.
The problem in Detroit is that life is cheap. But the death penalty would
only reinforce that message.
Conyers should have known better.
(source: Opinion, Detroit Free Press)
US Supreme Court denies death row inmate new hearing
The US Supreme Court refused Monday to hear arguments in the case of an
African-American granted an 11th hour stay of execution for the murder of
a white police officer.
The execution of Troy Davis, 39, who has spent 17 years on death row in
Georgia, was dramatically halted 2 hours before he was due to die late
last month amid growing doubts about his conviction.
Defense lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to rule on the
constitutionality of executing a person when there is new, substantial
evidence to show he was not guilty of the crime.
Seven out of nine witnesses who gave evidence at Davis' trial have
recanted or changed their testimony that he murdered policeman, Mark
The witnesses said statements implicating Davis had been coerced by
strongarm police tactics, challenging the backbone of the prosecution's
case in the absence of any weapon, fingerprints and DNA linking him to the
Davis had originally been sentenced to die in July last year, but he was
granted a last-minute stay of execution then by the Georgia Board of
Pardons and Parole.
Earlier in September, however, the parole board issued a decision denying
Davis clemency which was confirmed by the Georgia supreme court.
International figures including former US president Jimmy Carter, Nobel
Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Pope Benedict XVI have
spoken out against Davis' execution.
In a statement Carter said last month: "Executing Troy Davis without a
real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life
of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice."
The case has also been taken up by Amnesty International and a group known
as Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP).
The group's chairwoman Sarah Totonchi said on September 23: "Certainly we
know that across the spectrum in the death penalty when the defendant is
black and the victim is white, the likelihood of the death penalty being
imposed is much greater.
"When the person is a white cop, the defendant has almost no chance."
But the mother of the policeman slain in a car park in Savannah, Georgia
in 1989 told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal in late September that she
was "disgusted" by the outpouring of support for Davis.
"I hope this is over Tuesday and I can have some peace," 74-year-old
Anneliese MacPhail told the paper, adding she had no doubt Davis was
(source: Agence France-Presse)
Federal agent talked about Nichols 90 minutes before being
killed----Friend said Wilhelm was armed, only concerned if Nichols 'got
the drop' on him
About an hour and a half before he was shot and killed by Brian Nichols,
U.S. Customs agent David Wilhelm talked on the phone with another federal
agent about the killer fugitive on the loose in Atlanta and told the agent
he had his gun with him and wasn't worried unless Nichols "got the drop"
It was shortly before 9 p.m. and Agent Ryan Spradlin was calling from New
Orleans. Wilhelm had taken that Friday off to work on a home in Buckhead
he and wife Candee Wilhelm were building near Lenox Square.
Candee Wilhelm had been at the house earlier in the day, helping her
husband tile a bathroom floor. She had gone home around 7:30 with the
assurance from her husband that he would finish up in a while and then
theyd have dinner together that night.
Spradlin testified Friday that in the phone conversation with Wilhelm he
talked about Nichols, who that morning had killed 3 people at the Fulton
County courthouse - Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes; court reporter
Julie Brandau, and Fulton County Sheriff's deputy Hoyt Teasley - and was
the object of a citywide manhunt.
In the phone conversation with Wilhelm, Spradlin said he asked Wilhelm if
he had his "piece" - his pistol - that he carried as a federal agent.
"You know I got that baby," Spradlin said Wilhelm responded. "You know I
have that with me."
Spradlin then said that he joked that he was not worried about his friend
Wilhelm even if Wilhelm didnt have a gun. He had worked out in the gym
with Wilhelm, and Wilhelm was so "incredibly strong" Spradlin said he
called Wilhelm "Super Dave."
He said he told Wilhelm on the phone that if he didn't have a gun, "It
wouldn't matter anyway, because nobody could hurt Super Dave."
Spradlin said Super Dave wasnt quite that cocky.
"He said 'I can't really say that," Spratlin testified. "'If he got the
drop on me, then I'd have a problem. But if I got the drop on him, then
he's got a problem.'"
He told Spradlin he was tired and hungry and getting ready to pack his
tools and go home and eat dinner with Candee, who testified Thursday about
their last day together, and sat stoically in the courtroom Friday
listening to details of her husbands death.
Prosecutors have yet to establish for the jury, however, what exactly
happened that night when Nichols encountered Wilhelm at the Canter Road
home, probably around 10:30 p.m. A neighbor testified Friday she heard
what might have been a gunshot but thought was a car backfire.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
SUPREME COURT CONVENES MONDAY: Where the big decisions get made
OYEZ! OYEZ! OYEZ! The first Monday in October is two things: a not-bad
1981 movie starring Jill Clayburgh and Walter Matthau, and, by law, the
opening of the Supreme Courts new term. At 10 a.m. the justices will file
into their ornate court amid this most traditional of proclamations: "The
Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business
before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are
admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now
sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!" (Oyez is
the Middle English equivalent of "hear ye!")
KEY CASES THIS SESSION
TROY DAVIS DECISION
The court is expected to rule Monday on whether condemned cop killer Troy
Anthony Davis of Savannah should b granted a hearing on his murder
conviction. Since the 1991 trial, 7 of 9 key witnesses have recanted, and
Davis' supporters say he is innocent. The court stayed Davis' execution
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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