[Deathpenalty] [POSSIBLE SPAM] death penalty news-----MD., PENN., GA., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 9 18:02:33 CDT 2008
Maryland State Police Put Nonviolent Activists on Terror Lists
The Washington Post reports that the Maryland State Police had "classified
53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal
information into state and federal databases that track terrorism
The Post goes on to specify that the surveillance operation had targeted
opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war. In other words, people
who fight for life and for peace. These were the "terrorists" that
Maryland was spending its time on. These were the "threats" that
distracted law enforcement personnel from the real terrorists who might
actually do us harm. If you live in Maryland, this is where your state tax
dollars were going. God bless you.
Fortunately, it appears that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
raised hell when they learned about it, so now the affected activists are
being contacted and given the opportunity to review their files before
they are purged from the databases.
If I were one of those 53, I would definitely want to review my file. Who
But the admission and the file sharing and the purging do not undo the
If this had happened in Pennsylvania (and who's to say that it hasn't?), I
might well be on that list, as I am a highly vocal opponent to the death
penalty and the Iraq War. And I write almost daily about the sins of the
Bush administration, Congress, and all the other powers that be.
But, you see, the point is, I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I merely
routinely practice my Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom
of the press, and freedom of association and assembly to protest the bad
and proclaim the good in this country.
And, in the past eight years of the Bush administration, there has been
much to protest.
This is America, where we once believed that only in a dictatorship or a
police state would our right to dissent be stifled.
After all, as the great (Republican) president Teddy Roosevelt once said:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public
servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is
warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or
inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the
Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should
be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it
is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when
he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and
servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or
that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American
public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.
But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant,
about him than about any one else.
There you go.
But apparently the Maryland State Police disagree.
(source: Op-Ed News; Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and
activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She
is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning
human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly
in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas
expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she
may be associated----Washington Post)
High Drama At Maryland's Death Penalty Commission
A commission examining capital punishment in Maryland produced some high
drama yesterday, as an exonerated death row inmate tangled with the
state's attorney from the jurisdiction that sentenced him to death.
Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Schellenberger, a member of the
commission, told his colleagues that he believes in Maryland there is
virually no chance today of prosecutors falsely convicting and executing
an innocent person.
Furthermore, Schellenberger said he was not troubled by the disparity
among counties in how often prosecutors seek the death penalty.
"I believe jurisdictional disparity is really local rule," said
Schellenberger, whose office was found in a study to be 13 times more
likely to seek a death sentence than prosecutors in the city of Baltimore.
His comments invited a pointed response from another commission member,
Kirk Bloodsworth, who was twice convicted of the 1984 murder of a
9-year-old girl before being freed in 1993 based on DNA evidence.
"I think it's a little cavalier for you or anybody in the state to say
that they couldn't make an error of that magnitude, and I think my case
proves it," Bloodsworth said.
Schellenberger said he was not yet state's attorney at the time and was
not directly involved in Bloodworth's case.
The commission is expected to make recommendations to Gov. Martin O'Malley
(D) later this year about whether to continue executions in Maryland.
The state has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment since
December 2006, when its highest court ruled that regulations for lethal
injection had not been properly adopted. The administration of O'Malley, a
death penalty opponent, has yet to issue new regulations.
Bills to repeal the death penalty outright have failed in recent years in
the legislature, despite high-profile support from O'Malley.
(source: Washington Post)
SUPREME COURT REJECTS NEW ABU-JAMAL TRIAL: Having escaped Death Row,
lawyer vows to fight life sentence before new jury.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear arguments for a new trial
for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the ex-Black Panther accused of killing a police
Abu-Jamal's death sentence was overturned in March by a federal court in
Philadelphia, which found that the jury in the case had been incorrectly
instructed. The judges voted two-to-one to uphold his conviction, however.
AFP reports that Abu-Jamal's lawyer, Robert Bryan, has already said he
will seek to bring a 2nd Supreme Court appeal -- on the grounds of racism
-- for the 54-year-old former radio journalist accused of the 1981 murder
of Daniel Faulkner.
As part of his defense, Abu-Jamal has argued he was denied a fair trial in
1982 because the prosecution barred 10 qualified African-Americans from
sitting on the jury, which in the end consisted of 10 whites and 2 blacks.
The Philadelphia appeals court had rejected his arguments on lack of
evidence of any racist intent on the part of the prosecution.
Bryan has said he will not rest until he wins freedom for his client, who
has become an icon for anti-capital punishment campaigners.
"Even though the federal court granted a new trial on the question of the
death penalty, we want a complete reversal of the conviction," Bryan said
Give death penalty the lethal rejection
"Troy Anthony Davis is making a statement about human rights, and people
are listening." This is how Martina Correia, sister of death row inmate
Troy Davis, closed a letter of thanks for the international attention and
expressions of solidarity Davis and his family have received over the 16
years of their struggle.
On Sept. 23, the United States Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of
execution for Davis, which will remain in effect until the court has
considered the mountain of evidence pointing to his innocence. As of this
moment, the court has yet to make a decision.
According to Amnesty International, Davis' case "is one in a long line of
cases in the USA that should give even ardent supporters of the death
penalty pause for thought."
In 1989, at the age of 22, Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of
Savanna, Ga., police officer Mark McPhail. All along, Davis has maintained
that he had arrived on the scene of the shooting to help a homeless man
who was being beaten behind a Burger King restaurant. Since then, seven of
nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, nearly all of them reporting
coercion at the hands of the police. In one affidavit, witness Monty
Holmes recounts, "I was real young at that time, and here they were
questioning me about the murder of a police officer, like I was in trouble
or something. I was scared. It seemed like they wouldn't stop questioning
me until I told them what they wanted to hear. So I did."
Even at the time of the trial, there was no physical evidence connecting
Davis to the murder no fingerprints or gun powder residue on Davis'
hands. One of the remaining 2 witnesses, Sylvester Coles, was himself a
suspect until his testimony. 3 others who were never called to testify
claim to have heard Coles bragging about the killing.
No jury has ever heard this evidence, partially because appealing Davis'
case has met with a phalanx of legal obstacles. The Georgia Supreme Court
dismissed the appeal. However, its refusal was based on absurd legal
precedent and "tough-guy" legislation. The 1993 Supreme Court ruling
Herrera v. Collins stated that, even if evidence of innocence is found, if
it is proved that the convicted received a fair trial, the evidence is
rendered inconsequential. The immediate question jumps to mind: How can
one receive a fair trial if all the evidence is not considered?
Further frustrating efforts to free potentially innocent people from death
row is the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which was
signed into law by President Clinton and laid the political groundwork for
the current presidents Patriot Act. The legislation limits the time in
which appeals can be made and new evidence raised, and weakens the ability
of the Federal Courts to overturn the decisions of state courts.
The law itself limits the ability of people to seek justice once inside a
system that has been proven to be deeply flawed and overtly racist. A 2000
study conducted by Columbia Law School states bluntly, "The answer
provided by our study of 5,760 capital sentences and 4,578 appeals is that
serious error has reached epidemic proportions throughout our death
penalty system. More than 2 out of every 3 capital judgments reviewed by
the courts during the 23-year study period were found to be seriously
flawed." Now compound that with the regular discrimination against black
Americans who, while only comprising 12 % of the population, make up
nearly half the prison population. Considered together, one begins to
appreciate the words of exonerated death row inmate Stanley Howard when he
says, "The legal lynching's going on in concentration camps across this
The struggle to save Troy Davis continues. The Campaign to End the Death
Penalty will be holding its eighth annual conference in Chicago Nov. 8-9.
Activists on the front line of the struggle will also be speaking the
following weekend in Chicago at the Midwest Socialist Conference. Please
spread the word about Davis case, visit his website and those of his
supporters, learn more about the injustice of the death penalty, and lend
a hand where you can.
(source: Opinion;Ben Ratliffe is a member of the International Socialist
Organization and a UW alumnus; The (Univ. Wisconsin) Badger)
Man on death row dies of natural causes
A man on North Carolina's death row who was convicted of taking $1 from a
woman after shooting her in the head has died in prison.
The state Department of Correction said Leroy McNeil, 68, died Wednesday
of natural causes.
McNeil was convicted in Wake County for the April 1983 slayings of Deborah
Jean Fore and Elizabeth Faye Stallings. McNeil won a new trial after the
U.S. Supreme Court found problems with North Carolina's instructions to
He pleaded guilty to killing the 2 women, and a jury in 1996 recommended
that he get the death penalty for each slaying. Testimony at his trial
indicated McNeil killed the 2 women while looking for victims he could
rob. According to the testimony, McNeil got $1 after killing Fore.
McNeil and his wife were charged with killing 3 young woman in separate
incidents. McNeil was tried and sentenced to death in 2 of the killings
after his wife, Pennie Faye Pharr McNeil, pleaded guilty to lesser charges
and testified against him.
(source: News & Observer)
Death penalty sought in murder of 15-year-old ---- Five Points Park murder
suspect could face death
The state says it plans to pursue the death penalty against a Charlotte
man charged with committing 2 murders on the same day.
Police say Reginald Johnson gunned down 15-year-old William Adams in Five
Points Park and then gunned down 42-year-old Angela Davis on Keswick
Avenue for refusing to give up her purse.
The crimes prompted citizen outrage over why Johnson was on the streets
after numerous arrests.
Now the state says Johnson deserves the death penalty.
"When you take somebody's life for no reason, what do you expect to happen
to you?" said Adams' father, William Adams, Sr.
Adams, Sr., says he'll be there every step of the way.
"The more you have to come to court, the more you have to deal with it,
the more you have to look at his face every day," he said.
This time, there were tears, shakes and stares from family members.
"I stared at him the whole time and let him know I'm there," Adams, Sr.,
The 1st time Johnson was in court, Adams, Sr., ended up in jail for
swearing at Johnson.
>From now on, he says he won't let Johnson see him upset.
"Misery loves company. I'm hurt but I'm not miserable," he said.
Adams says it's time for senseless killings to stop.
"We have to come together as a community," he said.
He also says it's time for revolving jail doors to stop. In this case, if
Johnson is convicted, it could stop on death row.
"It's a shame I have to pay for somewhere for you to stay and eat," Adams,
Sr., said of Johnson.
On Thursday, the state also decided to pursue the death penalty against
Christopher Hicks and Alfonzo Caballero.
Police say Hicks killed his neighbor during a robbery and Caballero killed
an auto shop owner.
The state did not pursue the death penalty against Vanessa Hines. She is
charged with murdering a 14-year-old girl.
(source: WCNC News)
More information about the DeathPenalty