[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., OHIO, OKLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 6 11:14:38 CDT 2008
Mayor Cook on guitar against Texas' death penalty
In a dark blue pin-striped suit, crisp white dress shirt, snug red tie and
shiny brown dress shoes, El Paso Mayor John Cook sure didn't look like any
But he slung one knee over the other, braced his guitar and belted out a
couple songs Wednesday night in Austin just as he has in five other cities
across the state, playing with a variety of musicians promoting abolition
of the death penalty in Texas.
"I don't think we, the state, should have the right to take a person's
life," Cook said in an interview before he took the outdoor stage at
Scholz Garten in Austin.
The mayor has been on a mission this year with the Music for Life Tour.
The tour, affiliated with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty, stopped in El Paso in April and organizers asked Cook if he'd
join them for a concert at Club 101.
"I said, 'Sure, sounds like a blast,'" Cook said.
He had such a blast that, despite his political advisers' recommendations,
he asked the organizers if he could join them on the rest of their stops.
Cook has taken his song stylings to concerts in Dallas, Arlington, Fort
Worth and Waco, appearing with musicians such as Sara Hickman and The
Austin Lounge Lizards. At Wednesday's show in Austin, humorist, author and
former gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman joined the show.
"For me, it's a moral and religious conviction," Cook said of his
opposition to the death penalty.
The chances, he said, are too great that an innocent person could be
executed. And God, he said, gives humans the right to seek punishment, not
But the death penalty has strong support in Texas, which has the most
active death chamber in the nation.
Cook, who last week announced he plans to run for re-election, knows his
position is not a politically popular one, and he said he even has lost
friends over it. But he said leaders shouldn't be phony about their
Plus, being in the shows has been fun for the mayor, who seems to relish
any opportunity to pick up his guitar and sing.
The concerts, he said, reminded him of his days in New York during the
1960s. He and his 3 brothers played all over Greenwich Village and at
The Music for Life concerts, though, had a more serious tone, and during
his turn on stage, Cook performed a song he composed about the Sept. 11
He encouraged the eclectic audience gathered under the trees outside the
German pub to ask questions about the death penalty and why Texas kills
more people than any other state.
"It's your tax dollars that put that person to death," he said, "so you're
responsible for that."
Ysleta resident Gloria Espinoza said she thought it was good that Cook
would take such a strong stand against the death penalty.
Espinoza's husband of 28 years, Guadalupe Espinoza, was killed by a
neighbor nearly 12 years ago.
"He killed him cold-bloodedly," she said.
His killer, 73-year-old retired police captain Margarito Mendez, was
sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Though she still mourns for her husband, Gloria Espinoza said she wouldn't
want Mendez to be executed.
Her husband, a religious man, she said, wouldn't have wanted that either.
"It wouldn't do us any good, because my husband can't come back," Gloria
She was among the speakers when the Music for Life Tour stopped in El Paso
at Club 101.
That's where tour organizer and Austin musician Sara Hickman met Cook. The
El Paso stop, she said, was a memorable one not only because of the
singing city leader, but because of the mixed crowd that came out for the
"There was these punkers walking around and nuns co-mingling, and, to me,
well (that is) as diverse as you can get," Hickman said.
Hickman said Cook was the only one of several mayors she contacted who
agreed to get involved. Only one other mayor, she said, even responded to
"It's not a popular subject," she said.
Having Cook on the tour, she said brought the stature of an elected
official and he brought spirituality to the shows that other Christians
could relate to.
"He's very humble, and his humility shines through," Hickman said.
The tour ended Wednesday in Austin, but Hickman said she hopes the shows
started a dialog in Texas communities.
And, she said she hoped Cook would inspire other politicians to speak out,
even if they are for the death penalty.
"It's not just a dialogue about the death penalty," she said. "It's a
dialogue about having dialogue. Why can't we talk about racism? Why can't
we talk about abortion? Why can't we talk about economics, especially
(source: El Paso Times)
Man fights death penalty 3rd time----3rd sentencing hearing set in death
The only question facing jurors when Freeman May's sentencing hearing
begins today is whether he should be put to death for killing a waitress
It's the 3rd time prosecutors are being forced to argue that May deserves
After May was convicted in 1991 of killing Kathy Lynne Fair, 22, of
Lancaster, and sentenced to death, the state Supreme Court ordered another
In his 2nd penalty hearing, in 1995, May again received the death penalty
-- which again was set aside by the high court in May 2006.
If this latest jury should decide not to recommend the death penalty, then
May, 50, would be sentenced to life in prison.
The case illustrates how time-consuming and costly death penalty cases can
Pennsylvania has not conducted a study on how much capital punishment
cases cost, but other states have found that they are far more expensive
than imposing a life sentence, said Richard Dieter, executive director of
the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C.
Not only does it cost more for attorney fees and numerous appeals, but to
house death row inmates, Dieter said.
"The most expensive system is one that combines the costliest parts of
both punishments -- the lengthy and complicated death penalty trial,
followed by incarceration for life, since in most cases the executions are
hardly ever carried out," Dieter said.
Since 1976, when the U.S. reinstated capital punishment, Pennsylvania has
executed 3 people, all of whom had waived further appeals. The last
execution was in 1999.
As of Aug. 1, the state had 223 inmates on death row, some of them with
convictions dating to 1981, state Department of Corrections records show.
Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold and May's attorney, John
Kelsey, said they were asked by Judge John Tylwalk to say little about
May's sentencing hearing.
Kelsey previously had asked why the state would want to take on the
expense and difficulty of a death penalty trial, especially given the
rarity of executions. Arnold, after the high court's decision in 2006,
said he would press ahead because "Freeman May's earned it."
May was convicted of attacking two other women in 1982, leaving them for
dead. He raped one of them and stabbed her 15 times; he stabbed the other
woman 29 times, according to testimony.
Fair, a waitress and mother of a boy, disappeared from the Park City Mall
in 1982. Her remains were found in 1988 on state gamelands in South
Lebanon Twp., close to where May's other attacks had occurred. She also
had been stabbed.
When May's death sentenced was overturned in 2006, the high court said
jurors did not hear enough about May's severely abusive childhood. Defense
attorneys also have said that May had brain damage from an accident and
from sniffing glue as a child.
Arnold has argued that the aggravating circumstance -- the reason May
should receive the death penalty -- is his history of violent crime.
A North Carolina study determined it costs $2.16 million more to condemn
someone to death, including housing them in prison for years, compared to
a sentence of life in prison.
A Maryland study by the Urban Institute, published in March, concluded
that the cost of prosecuting death penalty cases in the state between 1978
and 1999 was $186 million. During that time, the state executed 5 people.
New York spent about $160 million on death penalty cases over seven years
without a single execution. New Jersey eliminated the death penalty in
December after spending more than $200 million on death penalty cases over
25 years with no executions.
"The public is not aware of the taxpayers' expense," Dieter said. "This is
money that could be spent on more police, more jail cells, more lighting
in high-crime areas."
Mary-Jo Mullen, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys
Association, had a quick response when asked why prosecutors keep taking
on death penalty cases despite the few executions: "Hope springs eternal."
Mullen said she supports the death penalty and that prosecutors try to
apply it only in the worst cases.
"When I was a prosecutor, I would sometimes have a trial where I knew the
judge would not give a defendant the sentence he deserved. I was tempted
to deal down, but I never could," she said. "That way I could go to sleep
at night and know that I did my job."
(source: The Patriot-News)
Ohio to reinstate death penalty
Unless something is done, on Oct. 14 Ohio will end its de facto moratorium
on executions and put Richard Cooey to death. The resumption of
government-authorized murder in our state forces us to reflect on the
righteousness of capital punishment and its use as public policy.
We are a nation obsessed with the idea and execution of justice. And
though I sympathize greatly with the families of Dawn McCreery and Wendy
Jo Offredo, the execution of Cooey will not bring any justice; instead we
gain only cheap revenge and another family victimized by violence.
The death penalty should be evaluated, as all public policy should, on
whether it betters society. Capital punishment does not protect society
any more than life without parole. In both cases the convicted murderer is
isolated from society and restricted from doing any more harm. In
addition, the idea that the state's execution of a murderer causes other
potential killers to stay their hand has never been proved. Indeed, an
overwhelming number of criminologists believe that no such deterrent
effect exists. Clear evidence seems to demonstrate the opposite of
deterrence. In 2006, states with the death penalty have had a 40% higher
murder rate than non-death penalty states and this gap has been widening
over the last 18 years.
In addition, the only region of the U.S. to see an increase in the murder
rate over the last 7 years is the South, the same region that hosts 86 %
of the nation's executions.
Just as the death penalty saves no lives, it also saves society no money.
Depending on the study, the death penalty costs taxpayers anywhere from
$100,000 to $2.16 million more per case than life imprisonment without
parole. New Jersey found that since 1983 capital punishment has cost
taxpayers $253 million.
If you believe that the inherent value and justice that the death penalty
gives is worth this price, I ask you to examine our broken system a little
Innocent people have been sentenced to death. Since 1973, 130 people have
been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die; five of them were from Ohio.
These numbers only include those who were lucky enough to be exonerated
before their execution (after execution, the state does not investigate
claims of innocence). How many innocent people we have executed is
unknown, and will never be known.
The death penalty is also not executed fairly or consistently. Factors
such as race, location and economic well-being often come into play. This
is especially clear in Ohio. According to the American Bar Association,
those who kill whites are 3.8 times more likely to receive the death
penalty than those who kill blacks. In addition, the chances of a murderer
receiving the death penalty in Hamilton County are 2.7 times higher than
the rest of the state and 6.2 times higher than in Franklin County.
Perhaps most important in deciding a murderer's chances in receiving the
death penalty is his or her ability to afford a good lawyer. Those who do
not have such resources are assigned defense attorneys who, according to
the ABA, are often under-qualified and under-paid.
Those who feel strongly about this misuse of justice should write to
Governor Strickland and ask him to stop the upcoming execution of Richard
Cooey. You can write to him at The Governor's Office, Riffe Center, 30th
Floor, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215, or call his office at
614-466-3555. Unless we do something, our state will murder again.
(source: Travis Schulze, Ohio State University; The Lantern)
Cooey's obesity claim dismissed ---- Condemned killer scheduled to be
executed Oct. 14
Options are dwindling for condemned killer Richard Wade Cooey, who argues
he's too fat to be executed humanely under the state's lethal-injection
Cooey's scheduled execution on Oct. 14 would be the 1st in Ohio in more
than a year.
He was convicted in the 1986 kidnapping, rapes and murders of University
of Akron sorority sisters Dawn McCreery and Wendy Offredo.
His final legal challenge is pending in Franklin County Common Pleas
Court, where he is seeking to have lethal injection declared
unconstitutional. Cooey also is awaiting a decision on clemency from Gov.
A federal judge on Tuesday rejected Cooey's contention that he can't be
executed humanely because he has poor veins, a problem exacerbated by his
U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost said Cooey missed a deadline for
filing a claim over his poor vein access.
Cooey, 41, had also argued a drug he takes for migraine headaches would
interfere with the injection chemicals.
Cooey was a 19-year-old Army private at home on leave in Akron and
partying with friends when he and a friend kidnapped, robbed, raped and
bludgeoned McCreery 20, and Offredo, 21. He has blamed co-defendant Clint
Dickens for bludgeoning the women. Dickens was 17 at the time of the
murders and was sentenced to life in prison.
(source: Ohio News Network)
Death sentence returned in slaying
An Oklahoma County judge has sentenced a man to death for the deaths of 2
people on Memorial Day 2005.
Gilbert Ray Postelle also was sentenced today to 2 terms of life in prison
plus 10 years for conspiracy in the slayings of 4 people at an Oklahoma
City trailer house.
Postelle, who said nothing during his sentencing hearing, showed no
emotion when the judge set a December execution date. That date is
essentially meaningless because all death penalty cases are appealed
Postelle was convicted by a jury on Sept. 9 of killing James "Donnie"
Swindle Jr., Amy Wright, Terry Smith and James Alderson. 2 days later, the
same jury decided Postelle should die for killing Wright and Alderson and
serve life in prison for killing Swindle and Smith.
(source: Associated Press)
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