[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLA., USA, OHIO, IND.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Thu Oct 13 10:49:33 CDT 2011
Fla. lawmaker wants to bring back firing squads
Saying it's time to stop letting convicted killers "get off that easy," a
Florida state lawmaker wants to use firing squads or the electric chair for
those on death row.
Rep. Brad Drake filed a bill this week that would end the use of lethal
injection in Florida executions. Instead those with a death sentence could
choose between electrocution or a firing squad, under the proposal.
Drake, R-Eucheeanna, said the idea came to him after having a conversation with
a constituent at a DeFuniak Springs Waffle House over the legal battles
associated with the Sept. 28 execution of Manuel Valle.
Valle's lawyers tried to stop the execution by arguing that a new lethal drug
cocktail would cause him pain and therefore constitute cruel and unusual
punishment. Courts, however, rejected that argument and let the execution go
But Drake said a person at the restaurant questioned why Death Row inmates
should even be allowed to die by lethal injection. Drake said he agreed and
decided to sponsor the bill that would mandate a switch. The GOP-controlled
Florida Legislature will consider the bill during the 2012 session that starts
He said that government is spending too much time listening to advocacy groups
and instead should put in place a death sentence that forces convicted
murderers to contemplate their fates.
Drake said lethal injection just allows a person to die in their sleep while a
firing squad or electrocution would force Death Row inmates to think about
their punishment "every morning."
"I think if you ask a hundred people, not even talking to criminals, how would
you like to die, if you were drowned, if you were shot, and if you say you were
put to sleep, 90 % of some of the people would say I want to be put to sleep,"
Drake said. "Let's put our pants back on the right way."
Florida first began using the electric chair in 1924. Before then, most
executions were carried out by hanging.
But the state switched to lethal injection in 2000. Then Gov. Jeb Bush and the
Republican-controlled Florida Legislature pushed through the change after
several botched electrocutions raised concerns that the state's death penalty
would be declared unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed at the
time to hear a challenge to the use of the electric chair.
Since the state made the switch a total of 26 people have died by lethal
injection, including Valle and infamous serial killers Danny Rolling and Aileen
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of
Florida, said Drake's legislation would just cause "embarrassment" for Florida
if it were adopted.
"Just when you thought that public policy in Florida couldn't get worse, along
comes a state rep who develops proposed legislation from what he overhears at
the Waffle House," Simon said. "Given all that former members of the Florida
Supreme Court and the American Bar Association have said about Florida's broken
death penalty system, including the nation's highest number of exonerations,
this would be embarrassing -- if our legislature were capable of
But Drake said that those who caused suffering and grief for families should
get their day of reckoning.
"I just don't think they should be able to get off that easy," he said.
(source: Associated Press)
House Bills Aim to Change Florida's Death Penalty
2 bills have been filed in the state House proposing vastly different futures
for capital punishment in Florida.
One says the state shouldn’t kill convicted murders. The other reduces the
options for being put to death to either being strapped into 'Old Sparky' or
facing a firing squad.
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, has reintroduced her
legislation to put down the death penalty in Florida.
"I'm not in the business of dispensing vengeance,” she stated in a release. “As
a state representative, I am in the business of making decisions to help keep
Floridians safe from crime while spending taxpayer money prudently.”
Rehwinkel Vasilinda said her House Bill 4051, which hasn't gained traction in
past regular sessions, is aimed at growing concerns over the possible execution
of wrongfully convicted prisoners and to economics. She noted that in 2000, the
Palm Beach Post reported Florida spent $51 million a year to enforce the death
Meanwhile, Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, has filed HB 325 to amend Florida
Statutes removing the option for any individual being put to death to select
Drake says if you earn a death penalty, death should be by electrocution or
"Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion and debate regarding
the effectiveness of certain medicines used as preferred method for execution,”
Drake stated in a release. “So, I say let's end the debate. We still have Old
Sparky. And if that doesn't suit the criminal, then we will provide them a .45
caliber lead cocktail instead."
The Panhandle Republican was spurred to propose his bill after doctors and
legal experts petitioned Gov. Rick Scott to delay the Sept. 28 execution of
convicted cop killer Manuel Valle. The concern was the potential suffering that
could be caused by the use of pentobarbital as one of the 3 drugs mixed into
the lethal injection.
"I am sick and tired of this sensitivity movement for criminals,” Drake stated.
“Every time there is a warranted execution that is about to take place, some
man or woman is standing on a corner holding a sign, yelling and screaming for
humane treatment. However, I have no desire to humanely respect those that are
On Monday, Scott signed his second death warrant since taking office, this one
for Oba Chandler, convicted of murdering a woman and her two daughters who were
vacationing in Tampa from Ohio in 1989.
(source: Sunshine State News)
Paranoid schizophrenic man found guilty in cold-case murders
A jury deliberated about 2 hours Wednesday before finding a Wisconsin man
guilty of the mysterious murders of Margarita Ruiz and her daughter Esperanza
Wells, shot and stabbed to death 11 years ago.
Bill Marquardt, 35, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who insisted on
defending himself in the capital murder case in Sumter County, waived his right
to a penalty-phase hearing, but Circuit Judge William "Bud" Hallman did not
immediately impose a death sentence.
The judge will take up the issue Nov. 30.
Crime Victims Marquardt, who remains in custody in the Sumter County Jail,
insisted fellow drug dealers from Wisconsin committed the murders and framed
him, arguing he had no motive to kill Ruiz, 72, and her daughter, 42.
"The jury saw through his phantom killers," Sumter sheriff's Maj. Gary Brannen
said. "There are cemeteries full of people who were killed for no reason."
Brannen was involved in the frustrating murder investigation, which began March
15, 2000, when the women were found dead inside a cottage where they were
babysitting 2 toddlers. He said the families of the 2 Sumter County women were
grateful for the verdict.
Marquardt was linked to the murders by DNA at the crime scene in the tiny
community of Tarrytown, an hour's drive west of Orlando on State Road 50, and
by the blood of the victims found on a folding knife taken from his pocket when
he was arrested for the murder of his mother, Mary Jane. She was stabbed and
shot March 13, 2000.
He successfully used a similar drug-dealers-set-me-up defense when he was tried
for the killing of his 54-year-old mother — a Wisconsin jury acquitted him —
but was sentenced to a 75-year commitment in a psychiatric hospital for animal
cruelty for killing 3 dogs and three pet rabbits.
Lorna Barker, who serves as a public-information officer for the state courts
in Sumter, said Marquardt remained composed as the jury verdicts were read,
pronouncing him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and armed burglary.
Authorities from Chippewa County, Wis., who helped gather crucial evidence
against Marquardt, observed the trial and were in the courtroom when the
verdicts were announced.
(source: Orlando Sentinel)
Death penalty sought for domestic violence murder suspect
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a man accused of murdering his
ex-girlfriend at a DeBary Burger King last month.
Jesus Morales was arrested for the murder of Heidi Shelmire. He's accused of
shooting her inside the business while she worked.
Deputies say the 2 had broken up earlier this year. There was a history of
domestic violence. Shelmire filed a protection order in April, which Morales
allegedly violated several times. At one time he had been arrested for
aggravated stalking. He was on probation at the time of the shooting.
Morales is charged with 1st degree premeditated murder.
(source: Central Florida News)
State seeking death penalty in DeBary Burger King murder
Prosecutors said Wednesday they will seek the death penalty for a Deltona man
charged with shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend as she worked at a Burger
King in DeBary.
Jesus Morales, 41, arrested in the death of Heidi Shelmire on Sept.19, is being
held in the Volusia County Branch Jail without bail on charges of premeditated
first-degree murder and armed burglary. Last week, a grand jury indicted
Morales on a charge of first-degree murder, a capital felony.
"Earlier today, the state attorney of the Seventh Judicial Circuit filed a
notice of intent to seek the death penalty against defendant Jesus Morales,"
said that agency's spokeswoman, Klare Ly, in an email Wednesday.
Morales had been released 17 days before the shooting after serving four months
for violating an injunction based on a complaint filed by Shelmire in April.
For 6 months, Morales had been planning to kill Shelmire, Volusia County
sheriff's investigators said.
Neither Shelmire's mother, Mary Silva, nor her father, Robert Silva, could be
reached for comment Wednesday.
A manager at the Burger King at 305 Sunrise Blvd. in DeBary said employees are
not giving interviews. The fast-food business's regional manager did not return
a message left for him.
According to Volusia sheriff's investigators, Morales walked into the Burger
King Sept. 19 at 10:20 a.m. shortly after he had stolen his best friend's .40
caliber handgun and shot Shelmire.
Shelmire tried to run from Morales inside the Burger King as he pulled the gun
from underneath his clothes but he shot her in the leg and then jumped over the
counter and stood over Shelmire, firing several shots into the woman as she lay
on the floor, investigators said.
Morales ran from the restaurant into nearby woods and called someone he knew to
say he had just shot his ex-girlfriend and would not be taken alive,
Morales surrendered shortly after deputies pointed their weapons at him.
"He came running out of the woods, threw the gun on the ground to his side and
stuck his hands in the air," said Timothy White, one of several witnesses who
"It doesn't surprise me that the state would go for the death penalty," Jeff
Dowdy, Morales' attorney, said Wednesday. "Whatever little fact we know is that
Mr. Morales allegedly told several inmates about his intentions."
Dowdy said he will plan for a defense that includes a death penalty phase,
which requires looking at mitigating factors in case Morales is found guilty.
(source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Gallup Poll: 35% oppose death penalty
More than 1/3 of Americans now oppose the death penalty — the highest level in
nearly 40 years — according to a Gallup Poll out Thursday.
The poll was conducted shortly after 2 controversial cases drew strong
attention: the September execution of Troy Davis and last week's Supreme Court
hearing involving Alabama death row inmate Cory R. Maples.
Moreover, those who believe the death penalty is being applied fairly, and
those who say it isn't used often enough, are at the lowest levels in a decade,
underscoring significant changes in attitudes.
Gallup found that 35% of those polled oppose the death penalty — the highest
opposition since March 1972. That year, the Supreme Court effectively ruled
that the death penalty was constitutional unless it was applied unfairly. By
1976, several states had reinstituted capital punishment.
Just 40% of those polled last week believe the death penalty isn't imposed
often enough, the lowest level since May 2001.
The poll was conducted shortly after 2 controversial cases drew attention: the
September execution of Troy Davis and last week's Supreme Court hearing
involving Alabama death row inmate Cory Maples.
Davis was executed despite evidence that he may have been wrongly convicted in
the 1989 murder of Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail.
Maples was convicted of murdering 2 companions, but his death sentence is being
appealed because his court-appointed lawyers failed to present key evidence
about his background during the penalty phase of his trial.
Such highly publicized cases are altering public opinion, says Diann
Rust-Tierney, head of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
"The numbers are consistent with what we've been seeing. People see cases like
these where they just can't square the executions with a common sense of
fairness," Rust-Tierney says. "There's been a steady erosion in confidence in
the system as more and more people sentenced to death have had their cases
Nearly 140 death row inmates have been exonerated or had their cases overturned
on appeals, Rust-Tierney says.
Increasingly, death penalty cases are also viewed as being costly and providing
little deterrent against serious crimes, says Barry Scheck, a law professor and
co-director of the Innocence Project, which, like the American Bar Association,
is seeking a moratorium on executions.
"There are 700 inmates on death row in California alone, and the amount of time
and expense to handle those cases is mind-boggling," says Scheck, noting that
capital punishment cases in that state take an average of 25 years to work
through trials and appeals and have cost the state hundreds of millions of
"The general public doesn't believe that the death penalty is a deterrent or is
making anyone safer," Scheck says. He says the Gallup Poll may underestimate
opposition to capital punishment because it doesn't ask a key question: whether
those polled view life imprisonment as a better alternative.
(soure: USA Today)
Grotesque, Immoral and Profoundly Anti-Democratic: The Death Penalty Should Be
"The death penalty is grotesque and immoral and should be repealed." So says a
New York Times editorial opposing capital punishment in the wake of Troy Davis'
execution in Georgia late last month. Those are strong words from the Grey
Lady, and I couldn't agree more. Many have demonstrated convincingly that Troy
Davis' trial and prosecution were riddled with racism, error and possibly even
prosecutorial misconduct. The American justice system failed Mr. Davis with
tragic, irreparable results - and the Supreme Court wouldn't step in to remedy
the injustice, in part because he had been granted full due process under the
law. In the eyes of at least two justices, that's all he or anyone else is
guaranteed - not necessarily justice, just due process.
The US government recently executed another American, however, without any due
process whatsoever. Both the Bush and Obama administrations accused him of
terrorism, but no evidence to support those claims has ever been produced for
the public. He was not tried; in fact, he was denied a trial. He was not
offered an opportunity to present a defense. A defense would be hard to muster,
indeed, for, unlike Davis, he wasn't ever formally charged with a crime.
So far, more than five days later, the Times has not written an editorial
condemning the killing of this other American, Anwar al-Awlaki. The last time
the Times editorial board addressed the issue was a full year ago, in October
2010, when it wrote: "Assassination should in every case be a last resort." Not
exactly the stirring rhetoric invoked to oppose the Davis execution and capital
The Times' silence, however, may be better than what The Boston Globe's editors
offered readers in the wake of the extrajudicial killing. The Globe parroted
the evidence-less "proof" offered by the Obama administration, and, in true
stenographic form, the paper asserts as fact a number of accusations Bush and
then Obama made about al-Awlaki's role in planning attacks on Americans. Has
the Globe seen some evidence it is hiding from the public? After declaring the
assassination "right and lawful," the Globe writes that assassination of
American citizens away from the battlefield "is an act that must - and will -
remain exceptionally rare."
But how does The Boston Globe know that this act will remain exceptionally
rare? How can the paper, or anyone, justify this most extreme form of
government lawlessness and executive power overreach? The Globe itself
denounced far lesser crimes - warrantless wiretapping, torture, indefinite
detention sans due process.
A Democratic president has opened a Pandora's box that no future executive will
likely close. It is a sign of the declining value of democratic ideals in our
society that a historically liberal newspaper like the Globe would defend the
ultimate assertion of executive power, simply because they trust the executive
presently holding it.
Much more than warrantless spying or torture, murder without due process is the
government act that fundamentally separates free societies from authoritarian
regimes. Like capital punishment, it has no place in a free society.
Thankfully, the editorial board at The Los Angeles Times knows that the "war on
terror is not a free-for-all in which the United States may behave as it wishes
without accountability or adherence to principle." We can only hope that the
other major bearers of public information and shapers of public opinion like
the Times, the Post and the Globe come around to this realization before it is
(source: Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts, Op-Ed; Truthout.org)
Death penalty needs sharper teeth
I read the opinion letters Monday, and the one that piqued my interest was
written by William Eller. I couldn’t have agreed more.
It stated that prisoners on “death row” seem to have more rights than their
These convicted killers are fed, housed, clothed and receive medical care on
the taxpayers’ dime. Some for as long as 20-plus years. What did their victims
Maybe if the death penalty was actually enforced in a timely manner, like it is
in other countries, there would be fewer violent crimes.
Pat Scranton, North Las Vegas
(source: Letter to the Editor, Las Vegas Sun)
Poll: Death penalty support lowest ever----Americans feel less confident that
the death penalty is applied fairly than in recent years.
Support for the death penalty in the United States has fallen to a 39-year low,
a Gallup poll shows.
The survey found that 61 % of Americans back the death penalty, down from 64 %
last year, the lowest since 1972 when the Supreme Court ruled on Furman v.
Georgia, which lead to a moratorium on capital punishment for several years.
Of those polled, 40 % said the death penalty is not imposed “often enough,” the
lowest level since Gallup first asked the question in May 2001. Meanwhile, 25 %
said the death penalty is used “too often,” and 27 % said it is used “about the
The survey also indicates that Americans feel less confident that the death
penalty is applied fairly than they have in recent years, with 52 % saying they
think the punishment is used fairly, down from 58 % last year.
Republicans and independents who lean Republican are far more likely to approve
of the death penalty — 73 % of them said they approve, compared with 46 % of
Democrats and independents who lean Democrat. More men also expressed stronger
support for capital punishment, with 64 % of men saying they approve of the
method while 57 of females said the same.
Support for the death penalty was highest in the mid-1980s through the
mid-1990s, with an all-time high of 80 % expressing support for it in 1994.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 6-9 among 1,005 adults via telephone
interviews. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 % points.
Lakewood State Rep Speaking Out Against Ohio Death Penalty ---- Nickie Antonio
co-sponsors measure to eliminate executions in the state; asks Gov. Kasich for
an immediate moratorium.
State Rep. Nickie Antonio, who represents Lakewood, is vehemently against the
Now, she’s speaking up about it in Columbus.
Antonio, along with state representative Ted Celeste, sent a letter to Gov.
John Kasich this week requesting a moratorium on executions until the Supreme
Court Joint Task Force finishes its review on capital punishment in the state.
That’s after the pair also sponsored House Bill 160 – known as the Execute
Justice Bill – aimed at eliminating capital punishment in Ohio.
The bill seeks to replace the death penalty with life without parole.
“We have to make sure that the person who’s been accused and convicted of
committing a crime is truly the person the person who committed the crime,”
said Antonio, who was one of several member of the Ohio House Criminal Justice
Committee who toured Death Row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown
“We have 5 cases so far, through DNA evidence, that have exonerated people.
That’s very chilling. We really need to be very sure.”
Antonio also told Lakewood Patch about the agonizing — and automatic — appeals
process for victims’ families who often must endure years of the legal
“They may never be able to have closure,” she said. “But when someone is given
the death penalty, the family of the victim goes through the process over and
Antonio said that even the European pharmaceutical company that manufactures
the drug used in Ohio executions has asked the state that its drug not to be
used for capital punishment.
“Maybe that’s the universe’s intervention,” she said.
In addition, Antonio pointed out that studies show that execution is not
actually a deterrent for violent crimes — which is the stated legal intent of
“People have raised the moral question,” she said. “If we truly value life, how
can we come to grips that the state of Ohio is using taxpayer dollars to pay to
end the life of someone?”
Antonio’s letter to the governor asks to grant a temporary stay to inmates
scheduled to be executed until the task force review is completed.
“Now more than ever, we believe there are flaws in Ohio’s death sentence that
must be addressed,” Antonio and Celeste wrote in their letter to the Governor.
Here’s the letter to Gov. Kasich in its entirety:
Dear Governor Kasich,
As you know, the Joint Task Force to study the death penalty law and related
procedures administered in Ohio is forming and will soon hold its first
meeting. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice, Maureen O’Conner has called on an
extensive group of judges, prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense counsel,
legislative leaders and academics to consider changes to the criteria, laws and
or procedures regarding the imposition of the death penalty in Ohio.
People realize the need to review and discuss the disparities of those facing a
death sentence along with the mental health issues of those involved. Ohio also
faces a new challenge of how Ohio will carry out executions due to lack of the
supply of the anesthetic pentobarbital to execute inmates. We visited the Ohio
State Penitentiary this past week with both Chairman Slaby and Ranking Minority
Member Winburn of the House Criminal Justice Committee. We were also joined by
Senator Edna Brown.
Now more than ever, we believe there are flaws in Ohio’s death sentence that
must be addressed. Ohio has exonerated five inmates that together have spent
over 81 years on death row. We applaud your leadership in commuting two death
row inmates to life without parole. We respectfully request a moratorium on the
execution of any death row inmates while the Joint Task Force is deliberating
and contemplating the policies of the death penalty.
Our Criminal Justice System must uphold justice and respect for all Ohioans.
Your executive power will ensure that those who are scheduled to be executed
are treated equally to those who are on death row after the Joint Task Force
implements possible changes to the death penalty. We are calling on you to
issue an executive order to commute those scheduled to die a temporary stay
while the Joint Task Force carries out their duties and recommends policies and
implements new procedures within its own branch of government.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.
-Nickie Antonio (D-13) and Ted Celeste (D-24)
(source: Lakewood Patch)
Laurel 5: Death penalty 'under consideration'
An assistant prosecutor in Franklin County tells 24-Hour News 8 the death
penalty is 'under consideration' in the case against David Ison.
A rumpled, unshaven Ison was escorted by guards up the courthouse steps in the
Brookville town square.
"Not guilty, your honor. Not guilty, your honor. Not guilty, your honor," Ison
said a total of 5 times.
Ison, 46, is now charged with five counts of murder.
Roy Napier, 50, Angela Napier, 47, Melissa Napier, 23, Jacob Napier, 18, and
Henry Smith, 43, were murdered Sunday, Sept. 25 on Laurel's Stipps Hill Road.
Court documents show it was a drug deal gone awry, in part because Ison wasn't
getting the number of pain pills he wanted from Roy Napier and paying $2 more a
"That's what I really wanted to see," said resident Don Johnson.
Johnson was part of a small group that gathered around the town square
anticipating Ison's arrival from Ripley County, where he was held on a $5
million bond on an unrelated crime.
"I was hoping to just get to look into his eyes, that would have told me a
lot," said Johnson.
(source: WISH TV News)
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