[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, GA., DEL., VA., PENN., N.C.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Sep 20 09:54:33 CDT 2011
Texas execution on Tuesday will be 1st of 2 this week
Texas on Tuesday evening is scheduled to execute a man for the rape and murder
of a young woman he met in a bar in Fort Worth, 1 of 2 executions the state has
scheduled this week.
Cleve Foster, a 47-year-old former Army recruiter, is set to be put to death by
lethal injection after 6 p.m. local time. His would be the 11th execution in
Texas this year and the 34th in the United States in 2011.
Foster was convicted along with an accomplice, Shelton Ward, in 2003 after a
jury found him guilty of capital murder in the slaying of Nyanuer "Mary" Pal,
whose body was found nude in a ditch 8 hours after encountering them, according
to a report by the Texas Attorney General's office.
Ward died of brain cancer on death row in 2010. Foster maintained in his trial
that Ward acted alone, and that contact between him and the victim was
The 3 were regulars at Fat Albert's bar in Fort Worth when, the night before
Valentine's Day in 2002, bartenders said Pal walked out with them, according to
the report. Pal left in her car and the men followed closely behind in Foster's
truck, according to the report.
8 hours later, Pal's body was found with a gunshot wound to the head and
wadded-up duct tape nearby, according to the report. Her unlocked car was in
her apartment complex parking lot.
Investigators found bodily fluids from both men in Pal's body, the AG report
Texas has the country's most active death row, executing more than 4 times as
many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the
United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
A 2nd execution is scheduled in Texas for Wednesday. Lawrence Russell Brewer is
scheduled to die for the racially motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Jr.
in 1998, a case that touched off a national movement to increase the punishment
for hate crimes. (source: Reuters)
The Texas murder that shook America: James Byrd’s condemned killer speaks out
Beneath the guard towers and behind the razor wire of a Texas prison, Lawrence
Brewer lifts his arm to display his racist tattoos.
“Like a cross burning and an intertwined KKK,” he explains, showing off the
images cut into his flesh that turned his body into a billboard for hate.
His worldview of racial relations came from an earlier stint in prison.
“Watching the blacks and the Mexicans and other races literally beat people
near death. So I came out after four years of that, with that mentality,” he
What he did after he came out of prison made him one of the nation’s most
notorious killers. And on Wednesday night, he’s scheduled to die.
Along a lonely country road in East Texas, something horrible happened. And
yet, the man who’s facing execution for the crime still says he didn’t commit
murder, and that he was just going along with friends for a ride. He said that
he wouldn’t do anything differently.
“As far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets,” Brewer says. “No, I’d do it all
over again, to tell you the truth.”
The savage killing of James Byrd Jr shook the conscience of the nation,
reviving America’s nightmarish legacy of lynching and racially motivated
violence. One hot night in June 1998, a trio of young men driving along a
country road near Jasper offered Byrd a ride. Instead, they beat him, chained
his ankles to the back of their pick-up truck and dragged him for more than 2
Byrd tried to prop himself up by his elbows, but they were sheared to the bone.
As the driver swerved from side to side to bounce Byrd across the road, the
asphalt tore away parts of his body. His agony ended when he slammed into a
culvert and he was beheaded.
His killers left what was left of his torso alongside the road near a cemetery.
Then they drove home and went to bed.
Deputies quickly arrested Brewer, John William King and Shawn Berry and charged
them with capital murder. And the quiet town of Jasper suddenly was besieged by
everyone from FBI agents to news reporters to race-baiting protesters.
All 3 of the killers were convicted in separate trials. King, a belligerent
ex-con who wrote rambling essays about inciting racial warfare, was considered
the leader of the murderous pack; he was sentenced to die. So was Brewer,
another ex-con who covered his body with ghastly, racist tattoos. Berry, whom
even prosecutors admitted was not a racist, escaped the executioner’s needle
and was sentenced to life in prison.
Now, Brewer becomes the first to face execution on Wednesday evening. He still
asserts his innocence, repeating his story that he looked out of the pick-up
truck’s back window and watched Berry cut Byrd’s throat.
“That’s all I could see, whenever I looked out the sliding glass window in the
truck, was Sean bending over at a pair of ankles,” he said.
But his alibi falls apart when compared to the physical evidence, according to
Billy Rowles, the retired sheriff who investigated the murder.
“There was absolutely no throat cut,” Rowles said. “Wasn’t even scratches on
the throat where a knife had done it.”
Oddly enough, as his hours on death row tick to a close, Brewer says he
supports the death penalty. Even though he asserts his innocence, he claims
he’s ready for his case to finally come to a close.
“Some days I’m wishing for a date to come and some days I’m not wishing for a
date,” he says. “So now that it’s here, I’m willing to accept it, you know.
That’s my punishment.”
Byrd’s sister is willing to accept it, too. Betty Boatner speaks with a voice
bathed in peace and contentment. Her mother has died, her father has
Alzheimer’s disease, but she still talks about her family’s blessings. And she
bears no malice toward Brewer.
“If I saw him face to face, I’d tell him I forgive him for what he did,”
Boatner said. “Otherwise I’d be like him. I have already forgiven him.”
Still, the sheriff who led the investigation into the murder and helped keep
the peace in his southeast Texas town can’t help but wonder about Brewer’s
state of mind on death row.
“In all the time he sat in that cement cage, that he’s been in there, in all
the time that he’s had to think. I just cannot believe there’s not some kind of
remorse,” Rowles says.
(source: KHOU News)
Rick Perry Likes the Death Penalty----The Republican presidential candidate has
a record of killing kids, innocents, blacks (for being black), and the mentally
Rick Perry likes killing all kinds of people—kid people, innocent people, black
people, mentally ill people, and just plain people people. It really doesn’t
matter to him.
The Kids: Napoleon Beazley was a 17-year-old honor student, football star, and
senior class president with no criminal record. While trying to steal a car in
1994, he shot and killed a man. During his sentencing hearing in Smith County,
the district attorney from the youngster’s Houston County community asked the
jury for life instead of death. The trial judge later asked Rick Perry to
commute the death sentence. But his reply was hell no, kill ‘em all! Napoleon
was executed on May 28, 2002. Three years later, the conservative U.S. Supreme
Court in Roper v. Simmons banned the death penalty for juveniles as “cruel and
unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The Innocents: Cameron Todd Williams was convicted of the 1991 arson deaths of
his three young daughters. Dr. Gerald Hurst, a nationally renown arson expert,
submitted an official report to Perry’s Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP)—which
votes to approve or deny death sentence commutations—indicating that the
prosecutor’s fire investigation was woefully flawed and that there was no proof
of arson. Another expert, Louisiana Fire Chief Kendall Ryland, who also
reviewed the entire case file, agreed. In 2005, the Texas Forensic Science
Commission (FSC) was established to address this kind of tragic error. But just
two days before the FSC was to hold a 2009 hearing on Hurst’s scathing report,
Perry abruptly replaced three members and canceled the hearing. Finally, in
2011, the FSC recommended more education and more training for fire
investigators. A lot good that did for Williams. He was already dead, having
been executed on February 17, 2004.
The Blacks For Being Black: Duane Buck was sentenced to death in 1997 for the
1995 murder of his ex-girlfriend. When questioned by prosecutor Joan Huffman
during Buck’s sentencing hearing, Dr. Walter Quijano, who is the former chief
psychologist of the Texas Department of Corrections, responded “yes” to the
question whether “the race factor, black, increases … future dangerousness …”
Yep. He sure did. And he did so without even cracking a racist smile. The Texas
attorney general at the time, current Republican U.S. Senator and Perry ally
John Cornyn, stated in his 2000 report that 6 cases have been so racially
polluted by Quijano that Perry should schedule new sentencing hearings for
each. In fact, federal courts have done just that in five cases. Even one of
the trial prosecutors wants a new hearing because, in her words, “Race should
never be put in front of a jury in any case, particularly a death penalty
case.” But Buck will die very soon if Perry’s appointed BPP rejects the
The Mentally Ill: In June of 2002, Perry vetoed a ban on the execution of
mentally ill inmates, contending, “This legislation is not about whether to
execute mentally retarded murderers. It’s about who determines whether a
defendant is mentally retarded in the Texas justice system.” And because he,
like former Governor George W. Bush is “the Decider,” every inmate in Texas is
determined to be Albert Einstein—like Walter Bell who killed two persons in
1974 and who a six-member team of state-employed mental health professionals
along with a prison psychiatrist concluded was “mentally retarded.” Despite
prosecutors’ repeated arguments throughout the decades, Bell was released from
death row after a state judge in 2004, adhering to the U.S. Supreme Court’s
2002 Atkins v. Virginia decision declaring the death penalty for such persons
to be “cruel and unusual punishment,” ruled that Bell fit the guidelines for
“mental retardation.” But Perry and his gang of state-sanctioned killers, I
mean death penalty prosecutors, already knew that. It didn’t take about 30
years of Bell deteriorating on death row for them to realize that. They were
well aware that his I.Q. was in the mid-50s and that the threshold for “mental
retardation” is 70.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, approximately seven percent
of the Texas’s “Dead Men and Women Walking” have I.Q.s less than 70. What about
the severely mentally ill Kelsey Patterson? After murdering 2 women in 1992 for
no reason whatsoever, he wandered the streets dressed only in socks. A
diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, Patterson had been ruled mentally incompetent
to stand trial on other charges. Even the BPP had voted 5-1 to commute his
death sentence. But, alas, Perry once again replied hell no, kill ‘em all!
Patterson was executed on May 18, 2004.
During the September 7th Republican presidential debate, Perry was asked this
about the 234 executions he approved as Texas governor: “Have you struggled to
sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might be innocent?” He
answered “no”—because he had determined that the process is mistake-proof. Does
he expect us to believe that every single one of those 234 cases had perfect
investigations, perfect arrests, perfect hearings, perfect trials, perfect
sentencings, and perfect appeals regardless of income, race or gender? Is he
aware that 273 American citizens have been exonerated throughout the country
since DNA testing has been available (and that 166 of them are black)?
Perry kills people who have already been captured and who have already been
shackled in jail for life, but he claims to be an evangelical Christian. Yeah,
that makes sense. And I’m quite sure that Jesus would do the very same thing.
(source: Michael Coard, The Philly Post)
Presidential bid, new documentary put Texas execution record back on national
radar----Texas has executed 474 inmates, 10 in 2011
He has become the face of the anti-death penalty rally. Cameron Todd Willingham
was executed in Texas after being convicted for setting a fire that killed his
3 young girls near Corsicana in 2005.
A new "Incendiary" tells the story of Willingham and the debate surrounding his
guilt or innocence. The movie, set to be released this week, is again putting
the Texas execution chamber back in the national spotlight.
"This system has a lot of problems," SMU human rights activist, Rick Halperin
Halperin says Hollywood's focus on the death penalty is spotlighting the system
that he says is full of flaws.
"Texas cases just continually come before the US Supreme Court. It is the norm
and that should signal something."
The new movie highlights Governor Rick Perry's stance on the death penalty. In
his presidential quest, Perry has restated his position about presiding over
more than 230 executions, more than any other governor.
But, while Texas does have a reputation as being blood thirty, experts point
out the punishment is in decline.
"We started seeing fewer death cases when the option of life without parole
came about," former prosecutor, Toby Shook, said.
Shook has sent many convicted killers to death row. He says the practice is
waning, not because of critics, but the cost of a death penalty case.
"For instance in Dallas County, there are only about 4 death penalty cases each
year, even though there are about 80-90 capital murder cases each year."
Still, most agree the debate over the ultimate punishment isn't going away
anytime soon, not with movies in the making and Texan running for governor.
(source: KDAF TV News)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNS DECISION TO DENY TROY DAVIS CLEMENCY, CALLING IT
AN ‘OUTRAGEOUS AFFRONT TO JUSTICE'
Following the announcement that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied
clemency to death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, Larry Cox, executive director
of Amnesty International AIUSA (AIUSA), released the following statement:
"It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied
relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous
cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.
"In 2007 the Board vowed that no execution would go forward unless there was
‘no doubt’ about guilt, a vow that has now been rendered meaningless. To fail
to re-examine the facts, including allegations about an alternate suspect, and
allow this execution to go forward is an injustice to both the Davises and the
MacPhails. Amnesty International urges the Board to reconsider its decision
immediately, and for District Attorney Larry Chisolm to seek to vacate the
death warrant. Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an
innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system.
"The case against Davis unraveled long ago. 7 out of 9 original state witnesses
recanted or changed their original testimonies, some alleging police coercion.
10 people have pointed to one of the remaining witnesses as the actual killer.
There is no murder weapon that links Davis to the crime. Any notion of physical
evidence that demonstrates Davis’ guilt has been debunked."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist
organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in
more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The
organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public
and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.
For more information, please visit www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis
(source: Amnesty International USA)
Parole board denies clemency for Troy Davis
The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied clemency for Troy
Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis' family and calls for
his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer.
Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at
7 p.m. Brenda Forrest was a juror in the original murder trial, and Quiana
Glover was one of the witnesses. She says she heard Silvester "Redd" Coles,
another man at the scene, say he was the actual trigger man.
"I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at
all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice," Brian Kammer, one of Davis'
attorneys, said Tuesday after the decision was announced.
Davis' case has already taken more unexpected turns than just about any
death-penalty case in Georgia history and his innocence claims have attracted
international attention. Its resolution was postponed once again when the
parole board late Monday announced it would not be making an immediate decision
as to whether Davis should live or die.
Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at
7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. He was sentenced to death for the 1989
murder of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
On Monday, Davis' lawyers said they believed they'd made their case that there
is too much doubt in the case. But members of MacPhail's family expressed
confidence the board would deny clemency.
After Davis' lawyers made their three-hour presentation, attorney Stephen Marsh
emerged from the hearing and said, "We believe we have established substantial
doubt in this case."
Davis' nephew, DeJaun Davis-Correia, pleaded for mercy from the board, Davis'
Late Monday, Davis’ sister, Martina Correia, said her family is glad the parole
board is taking its time.
“I know they have a lot to consider,” she said. “We’re just praying for a good
As for her brother’s execution date being set on repeated occasions, “It’s been
like reliving a nightmare over and over. ... But we believe in our brother’s
The surviving relatives of the slain officer presented a decidedly different
front. They resolutely told the news media they believe Davis is a cop killer
who deserves to die for what he did.
“He’s guilty,” MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, said. “We need to go
ahead and execute him.”
MacPhail-Harris expressed confidence the board would deny clemency. "What a
travesty it would be if they don't uphold the death sentence. ... It's time for
justice today. My family needs justice. He was taken from us too soon, too
As for the case presented by Davis' legal team that Davis was wrongly
convicted, she said, "It's been a lie."
MacPhail-Harris was flanked by her 23-year-old daughter, Madison MacPhail, and
22-year-old son, Mark MacPhail Jr., who were a toddler and an infant when their
father was killed.
“A future was taken from me,” said Madison MacPhail, unable to hold back tears.
“The death penalty is the correct form of justice. … Troy Davis murdered my
father, no questions asked."
The officer's mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said the family "has been through
hell without Mark. He did his duty. He loved his country."
When asked about the possibility of Davis being granted clemency, she said, “I
don’t even want to think about it. Please.”
Officer MacPhail, a 27-year-old former Army Ranger, was moonlighting on a
security detail when he ran to help a homeless man, who had cried out because
he was being pistol whipped. MacPhail was shot three times before he could draw
The parole board has the sole authority in Georgia to grant or deny clemency.
Three years ago, the board denied clemency to Davis but it has 3 new members
since that decision. Davis' lawyers say there is also new evidence that
indicates another man at the scene was the actual trigger man.
Over the past decade, the board has commuted 3 death sentences -- Alexander
Williams in 2002, James Willie Hall in 2004 and Samuel Crowe in 2008. If the
5-member board grants Davis clemency, it would commute his death sentence to
life in prison with the possibility of parole or life without parole.
As the board considered the case Monday, dozens of protesters, many carrying “I
Am Troy Davis” and “Justice For Troy Davis” placards, held vigil outside the
Sloppy Floyd Building across the street from the Capitol. State troopers and
guards provided a robust security presence throughout the state office
Among witnesses to testify on Davis' behalf was Brenda Forrest, a juror who
voted to sentence Davis to death at the 1991 trial. She now says she has too
much doubt about her verdict and is asking the board to grant clemency. 2 other
jurors who voted to sentence Davis to death have signed affidavits asking the
board to spare Davis from execution.
Also testifying before the board was Quiana Glover, a Savannah woman who says
that she heard Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who was with Davis shortly before
MacPhail was killed, say he was the actual killer. Coles made the statement
during a party in June 2009 when he had been drinking heavily, Glover said in a
Coles, the 1st to implicate Davis to the police, testified at trial that he
left the scene before shots were fired.
Calls for Davis to be spared execution have been made by numerous dignitaries,
including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director
William Sessions, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher
and Larry Thompson, the former deputy U.S. attorney general. Davis' advocates,
including Amnesty International and the NAACP, have used social media to rally
worldwide support. Last week, Davis' supporters presented the parole board with
the names of more than 663,000 people asking that Davis be granted clemency.
This is the 4th time the state of Georgia has set an execution date for Davis.
On 3 prior occasions, he was granted stays -- twice just hours before his
execution was to be carried out.
On 1 occasion, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and ordered an extraordinary
hearing, giving Davis the chance to clearly establish he was an innocent man.
But a Savannah judge, after hearing 2 days of testimony, ultimately ruled that
while Davis’ new evidence “cast some additional, minimal doubt on his
conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors.”
His legal appeals are exhausted, so his latest last-ditch effort before the
parole board appears to be his last chance to be spared execution.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
DELAWARE----death row inmate dies
Convicted Killer Thomas Capano Dead
Thomas Capano, the prominent attorney convicted in a sensational murder trial,
has been found dead in a Delaware jail cell.
Delaware Online said Capano, 61, was found dead on Monday in a state prison
near Smyra, Del.
Officials at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna said Capano
was found dead at 12:34 p.m. in his cell by an officer performing a routine
Capano's body has been turned over to the State Medical Examiner's Office. Foul
play is not suspected.
Capano was doing a life sentence for the murder of gubernatorial secretary Anne
Marie Fahey in 1996. Fahey was the scheduling secretary for Delaware's
then-Governor Thomas Carper.
In 2006, Capano escaped the death penalty in the case and in 2008, his appeals
Gleason wants to see son before he dies on death row
Robert C. Gleason Jr. has one last wish before he dies on death row: “I want to
see my son.”
Initially, the three-way videoconference between jailhouse, courthouse and a
forensic psychologist Monday was held to determine if Gleason is sane enough to
waive automatic death-penalty appeals.
The 3-time convicted murderer, acting as his own lawyer, won the right by
pointing to the competency evaluations filed by a forensic psychologist.
“There is no question in my mind that you have made an informed decision,”
evaluator Leigh Hagan testified from one side of the split-screen courtroom
With that hurdle behind him, Gleason, 41, could be seen in the screen’s left
side leaning closer to the conference camera.
He said he had a question. It was about his 10-year-old son.
“They won’t let me see him,” he said.
Prison policy allows only immediate family to visit death-row inmates, Gleason
said. But he is not married to the child’s mother, and no other direct
relatives live in the state to bring the boy to the prison.
Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor confirmed the
immediate-relative clause, but said he could not talk about the arrangements of
“Any special requests would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” Traylor
wrote in an email reply Monday to the Bristol Herald Courier.
Gleason’s son, it turns out, lives within driving distance of Sussex I State
Prison, which houses Virginia’s death row in Waverly, near the state’s
Gleason has been enigmatic when explaining his death wish, often noting that he
no longer wishes to embarrass relatives.
Last year, Gleason legally changed his name to Charles Robert Flynn to shield
relatives from the publicity surrounding the family name.
During one court hearing, Gleason said that he wrote family members asking them
not to contact him anymore -- not out of anger, but to put some distance
He has seldom mentioned his son in court.
“Can you do something?” Gleason asked court officials Monday.
It was an unexpected question.
“I’ve never had that request before,” circuit court Judge John C. Kilgore said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins and members of Gleason’s standby counsel
said they would check into the visitation policy.
For more than a year, Gleason has threatened to kill again unless sent to death
Kilgore handed him 2 death sentences earlier this month for separately
strangling a pair of prison inmates.
On May 8, 2009, Gleason hogtied, beat and strangled cellmate Harvey Watson, 63,
at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap.
It was after pleading guilty to Watson’s murder that Gleason first threatened
more destruction unless sentenced to death.
He followed through in July 2010, at Red Onion, the maximum-security prison
built in Pound to house the state’s most dangerous criminals.
This time, Gleason strangled inmate Aaron Alexander Cooper, 26, in an adjacent
cage in the prison recreation yard, with a makeshift noose. He pleaded guilty
in that murder, too.
Initially, he received a sentence of life in prison for the May 8, 2007,
shooting death of Virginia trucker Michael Kent Jamerson, 53, in Amherst
County. Jamerson was shot to death with his own pistol in an attempt to cover
up any tracks in a methamphetamine dealing ring.
Kilgore handed down a pair of death sentences Sept. 6, at the end of a 4-day
hearing that spotlighted Gleason’s ability to strike at his enemies both inside
and beyond prison walls.
Jailors once discovered in Gleason’s cell a list of potential jurors for a Wise
County trial, according to testimony. Penciled in next to one woman’s name was
her address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
One officer testified that a list of addresses for corrections officers was
once found in Gleason’s possession, too.
Even though Gleason has waived his appeals, the case will automatically be sent
to the Virginia Supreme Court for review, a procedure carried out in every
Convicted killer changes mind on death penalty
3 months after telling a state prosecutor that he would give up his appeal and
face execution, child killer Michael Bardo declared that he had changed his
mind and no longer wanted to die.
Bardo, 42, revealed his decision at a short hearing ordered in Luzerne County
Court after a schism erupted in the summer between Bardo and his lawyers on the
direction of his defense. Bardo, appearing via video from a state prison in
Waynesburg, said he now would go forward with the appeal.
Bardo's stance Monday appeared to contrast sharply with the apathetic posture
he revealed in June in a hand-written letter to the state prosecutor handling
his appeal. In the letter, Bardo said he intended to withdraw a pending
post-conviction relief petition, waive his right to future appeals and resign
himself to a fate he had avoided for 17 years: death by lethal injection.
"I no longer wish to pursue with a situation that I believe is prolonging the
inevitable," Bardo wrote in his June 27 letter to the state prosecutor, Deputy
Attorney General Kelley L. Nelson.
Nelson cited the letter as she petitioned Senior Judge Patrick J. Toole Jr. to
remove the stay of execution that has kept Bardo alive since former Gov. Ed
Rendell signed a death warrant in January 2008.
DA: Death penalty cases held up by racial justice law
Death penalty opponents in Georgia spent the weekend urging a parole board to
spare the life of convicted killer Troy Davis.
While there has not been an execution in North Carolina for years due to a
moratorium, the controversy has raged on in that time.
One of the battles is over the Racial Justice Act, a bill designed to ensure
fairness, but prosecutors say it is often misused by death row inmates.
Despite the halt to execution, Mecklenburg County will try three death penalty
cases next year, and the District Attorney says the lethal punishment will
return to the state.
"It's solid and its something prosecutors should have in their tool belt. To be
able to use and so I don't see it changing in North Carolina anytime soon,"
said Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray.
The Racial Justice Act was signed into law in 2009 to determine whether race
was the deciding factor in seeking the death penalty. It allows capital offense
case defendants and death row inmates to challenge their charge or conviction
on the basis of race.
However, prosecutors said the law is being exploited. There are currently 158
inmates on death row. Of those, 152 have filed racial justice claims.
"When you're sitting on death row you're pretty much gonna use anything and
everything at your disposal in which to challenge your conviction and not get
the death penalty," said attorney Brad Smith.
One example is Henry Louis Wallace. In 1997, Wallace was convicted in
Mecklenburg County and sentenced to death for raping and killing nine women.
The Supreme Court denied Wallace's last appeal in 2010 and an execution date
was about to be set when Wallace filed a Racial Justice Act claim. Plans to
execute him immediately stopped and have not restarted.
"It's going to be quite the burden on my office and a drain on the resources,"
(source: WSOC TV News)
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