[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, USA, PENN., N.MEX.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Sat Sep 3 12:36:02 CDT 2011
OHIO----impending execution stayed until 2013
3rd Ohio execution postponed in 2 months with lawsuit pending over death
Gov. John Kasich announced Friday he was postponing the Sept. 20 execution of a
man sentenced to die for the stabbing death of a Cleveland woman, while a
lawsuit over the state's death penalty procedure is pending in federal court.
The delay of Billy Slagle's execution until Aug. 7, 2013, marked the 3rd time
in the last 2 months a condemned Ohio inmate has received a temporary reprieve.
Kasich's office collaborated with the Ohio prisons department on the decision,
said Scott Milburn, Kasich's communications director.
Kasich's announcement came one day after the Ohio Parole Board recommended
against mercy for Slagle, who was convicted of stabbing neighbor Mari Anne Pope
17 times during a burglary in 1986.
"We appreciate that the Department of Corrections and Governor Kasich recognize
the serious problems with Ohio execution procedures cannot be easily or quickly
fixed," said Vicki Werneke, a federal public defender who represents Slagle.
U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost had planned a Sept. 13 hearing on
Slagle's request for a delay while Frost considers arguments that the state's
execution policies are haphazard and applied inconsistently.
Following Kasich's announcement, Slagle's attorneys withdrew their request for
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason criticized the governor's decision.
"This twisted psychopath should have been executed 15 years ago," Mason said.
"With all due respect to the governor, the biggest criticism of capital
punishment in Ohio is the unnecessary delays."
Slagle's attorneys say mercy is justified for Slagle because he was a chronic
alcoholic with a chaotic upbringing who was only 18 at the time of the slaying,
the minimum age to receive the death penalty in Ohio.
In July, Frost ripped the state's execution procedures, calling it nonsense and
embarrassing that Ohio fails to follow its own policies in carrying out
Last month, Ohio submitted updated policies that require strict adherence to
the rules and a post-execution review of procedures.
In explaining Friday's decision, Kasich's office said in a news release that
the prisons department continues to train its employees on revised execution
Frost's order delayed the execution of Kenneth Smith, who was scheduled to die
July 19 for the slayings of husband and wife Lewis and Ruth Ray in their
Hamilton home during a 1995 robbery. Smith's execution has not been
Following Frost's ruling, Kasich then delayed the scheduled Aug. 16 execution
of 37-year-old Brett Hartman until Nov. 13, 2012. Hartman was sentenced to
death for the death of 46-year-old Winda Snipes. She was stabbed more than 100
times, then had her hands cut off.
(source: Associated Press)
Gov. Kasich delays by nearly two years upcoming execution of Cleveland killer
Gov. John Kasich on Friday delayed the execution of Cleveland killer Billy
Slagle by nearly 2 years as the state continues efforts to tighten up its
capital punishment procedures.
Slagle's was the 3rd delayed execution since a July federal court ruling caused
the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to revise its execution
Slagle was scheduled to die on Sept. 20. His new execution date will be Aug. 7,
2013. The state is scheduled to execute 11 men before Slagle's new date.
His execution was delayed because the state is continuing its training under
the new rules, according to a statement from the governor's office.
The Ohio Parole Board on Thursday unanimously recommended that Kasich deny
Slagle's request for clemency due to the brutality of his crime.
Slagle was 18 when he broke into his neighbor Mari Anne Pope's house looking
for money to buy alcohol in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 1987.
He ended up stabbing her 17 times with a pair of sewing scissors he found in
the house. Two child witnesses heard Pope, 40, praying before the attack.
Police later found a broken rosary near her body.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, whose office argued against Slagle's
clemency request at a recent parole board meeting, said the delay is
"The victim's family has been waiting 24 years for this execution," Mason said
in a statement. "This twisted psychopath should have been executed 15 years
ago. With all due respect to the governor, the biggest criticism of capital
punishment in Ohio is the unnecessary delays."
U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost issued an injunction on July 8 halting the
execution of Kenneth Smith. Frost also criticized the state's execution
procedures, causing the corrections department to revise its practices.
Correction department spokesman Carlo LoParo said the state will resume its
execution schedule as soon as the new policies are fully implemented.
Of Mason's criticism, LoParo said: "I'm certain he'd agree this is not a
process we should rush."
Slagle also has an appeal before Frost. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13,
one week before his original execution date.
Smith, whose execution Frost halted in July, remains on death row. A new date
for his execution has not been set.
Brett Hartman is another death row inmate whose execution has been delayed.
Originally set for Aug. 16, Hartman is now scheduled to die on Nov. 13, 2012.
(source: The Plain Dealer)
Does America Execute Innocent Americans? - And Response
I received notice from Amnesty International that the state of Georgia is due
to set another execution date for a possible innocent man by the name of Troy
Davis. Over the years evidence has pretty much proven Mr. Davis is likely
innocent. After reading the notice from Amnesty International I decided to do
some research on states that carry out executions. All of them have carried out
questionable executions, even the state of Tennessee, where there's strong
evidence or outright proof the individual executed was likely innocent.
Cameron Todd Willingham and Reuben Cantu come to mind. Mr. Willingham was
executed on Feb. 17, 2004, for the death of his three daughters in 1991. These
are the last words of Mr. Willingham before his execution: “The only statement
I want to make is that I am an innocent man—convicted of a crime I did not
commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”
Mr. Cantu was convicted of murder at the age of 17. There was strong evidence
even before his execution as well that he was innocent. It's believed that
police out for revenge over an earlier incident where a case was dismissed
against Mr. Cantu set out to frame him. After Mr. Cantu's conviction this is
what he said in a letter: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years
old. I got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case."
The lone eyewitness and a survivor of the crime Mr. Cantu was charged later
stated he was sure that the person who shot him was not Cantu, but he felt
pressured by police to identify the boy as the killer.
State after state, where there's a death penalty in place and people have been
executed, there's also evidence that innocent lives have been taken. To appease
the living? It certainly does nothing to help the deceased.
For a society that believes strongly in an afterlife by executing a possibly
innocent person, which equates to actually committing another murder in honor,
memory and to avenge someone, it would seem you're actually condemning the soul
of that individual you wish to avenge to even more suffering in that afterlife?
Their spirit caught in limbo, unable to move on to that higher realm or plain.
Does America execute innocent Americans, even as it promotes itself as the
guardians of human rights around the world? It would seem so. Will Georgia
execute an innocent man? If only for the sake and peace of the soul that has
already gone, hopefully not.
* * *
Of course, America executes innocent people. They always have and most likely
always will. This is why I'm against the death penalty.
I do staunchly support life without parole. I've seen cases when DNA evidence
proves someone's innocence, yet the prosecutor and the investigators still
insist they are guilty. I guess it's easier to kill someone than to admit you
(source: Letters to the Editor, The Chattanoogan)
Defense fights possible death penalty in Pa. case
Attorneys for a man charged in a Christmas Eve shooting in eastern Pennsylvania
that killed a woman and left her nephew wounded say their client's low IQ would
bar his execution even if he is convicted of 1st-degree murder.
Authorities allege that 46-year-old John McGlinchey III shot 43-year-old Kimiko
Moon and her 17-year-old nephew on December 24 in Easton. Moon died from her
wounds 11 days later.
Defense attorneys told Northampton County Judge Michael Koury Jr. on Friday
that their client's IQ is below 75, so their client cannot be executed under a
2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that executing mentally disabled defendants
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The judge in July rejected defense
claims that authorities hadn't produced evidence of aggravating factors to
support seeking the death sentence. (source: Associated Press)
Slain Woman's Family Releases Statement On Warrant For Execution
The family of Ella Brown released a statement after Gov. Tom Corbett signed a
warrant for the man of killing her to be executed. The letter reads as follows:
"As you may or may not know, this is the first time that our family has opted
to address this in a public manner.
"It's time to say thank you to Govenor Corbett for doing the right thing and
signing the execution warrant for Daniel Crispell. You're giving us hope for
closure, healing, and justice.
"We all wish to elimate the constant hearings that tear open old wounds each
time causing you to re-live the same old hurts. It's time to say thank you to
all of the people who have been there to help and support our family through
such tragic circumstances.
"We have truly seen the best of humanity when we were forced to deal with the
"We do not view the death penalty as vengence, but as justice. We are not
looking to inflict suffering, just to find peace knowing this has ended.
"Regardless of how this unfolds, no one and nothing can make up for weddings
without your mother, the birth of a child without his or her grandmother, and
the day to day life without your wife.
"We wanted to take this opportunity to say to all of those who knew my mom,
remember her and all the wonderful things about her. That way, she is never
truly lost to us.
"We wanted to make sure to give special thanks to the Witness Victim Program.
Thank you to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, and the Clearfield
County District Attorney's office."
(source: WJAC TV News)
State Supreme Court: Astorga Death Penalty Case To Go On
A jury can consider the death penalty for an Albuquerque man convicted of
murdering a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy in 2006 despite the state’s 2009
repeal of capital punishment, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The state’s highest court issued the ruling after hearing arguments from a
defense attorney for Michael Astorga about whether the death penalty should
even be considered since state lawmakers voted to repeal it.
Sentencing for Astorga was scheduled to begin Sept. 12. Jurors will have to
decide whether to impose the death penalty or life in prison for Astorga, who
was convicted in the 2006 killing of Deputy James McGrane Jr.
The state’s death penalty repeal took effect on July 1, 2009, and applied to
crimes committed after that date. Astorga was convicted in the slaying nearly a
year after the repeal took effect.
The Supreme Court ruled that defense attorney Gary Mitchell cannot call in
experts or legislators to testify about the repeal during sentencing. But the
high court said it would allow the trial judge to give the jury instructions
and to be notified that lawmakers voted on the repeal.
“We are the only state that is facing this problem,” Mitchell told justices,
referring to confusion about whether Astorga could be sentenced to death. “When
the people change what the state can ask for, the state can no longer ask for
Prosecutors said the repeal was irrelevant in the Astorga case.
“At some point, we have to recognize that we have to have a final judgment,”
said Victoria Wilson, a prosecutor with Attorney General Gary King’s office. “A
jury has already found (Astorga) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
New Mexico Supreme Court justices did rule that defense attorneys could present
new evidence during sentencing but couldn’t change their theory concerning
Mitchell had told justices that he had planned on introducing new DNA evidence
and eyewitness testimony that would cast doubt on Astorga’s conviction.
“There’s no DNA evidence that puts him at the scene of the crime,” Mitchell
New Mexico has executed 1 person since 1960, child killer Terry Clark in 2001.
2 men remain on death row, and then-Gov. Bill Richardson declined to commute
their sentences after he signed the death penalty repeal.
(source: Albuquerque Journal)
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