[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----TEXAS, ARIZ., CALIF., N.C.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Apr 24 10:34:12 CDT 2012
Texas Death Row Inmate Wins Reprieve Days Before Execution
Death row inmate Beunka Adams, 29, who was scheduled to receive a lethal
injection this week for killing an East Texas man after robbing a convenience
store, won a reprieve Monday from a federal judge.
Adams was scheduled to die just after 6 p.m. Thursday in Huntsville for the
September 2002 slaying of Kenneth Vandever, 37, outside of Rusk.
Vandever and 2 women who worked at the store were abducted during the robbery.
1 of the women was raped, and then all 3 were shot.
The women survived, but Vandever died.
Adams’ lawyers convinced U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider in Texarkana
that the execution should be delayed until the courts review allegations that
Adams had poor legal help in the early stages of his appeals.
It's unclear if the Texas Attorney General's office would or could appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Adams in October 2011.
The robbery happened on Sept. 2, 2002.
Authorities say Adams and his co-defendant Richard Cobb, who’s also on death
row, entered the store wearing masks and demanded money.
Cobb, authorities say, was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Vandever was the only customer in the store at the time.
Adams ordered him and the 2 women, who both worked at the business, to the
front of the store and then demanded cash from the register. After getting the
money, he demanded keys to a car that was parked in front of the business and
one of the women, who borrowed the vehicle to get the work, complied.
The 3 victims were forced into the car and Adams drove toward Alto, eventually
pulling into a field, authorities said.
Adams, Cobb and the 3 victims got out and Adams ordered one of the women and
Vandever to get into the trunk.
Then he led the other woman away and raped her, authorities said.
Later Adams and Cobb ordered the 3 victims to kneel on the ground.
A short time later the women heard 1 shot, and then a 2nd, authorities said.
A few moments later, the women said they heard Vandever cry out, “They shot
A 3rd shot struck one of the women in the shoulder and the other, who tried to
play dead, was injured when the shotgun was fired net to her face.
The 2 women ran after Adams and Cobb left.
Officers found Vandever dead of a shotgun wound to the chest.
(source: KWTX News)
Arizona execution nears for Tom Kemp in 1992 killing
Tom Kemp, who faces execution Wednesday, went to death row for kidnapping and
murdering a college student near Marana in 1992.
He was, and remains, a hard case. At his sentencing, he said his only regret
was not killing an accomplice who turned him in. Kemp did admit to "a deep and
abiding sense of remorse," he said, that his friendship kept him from killing
But he had no remorse for killing Hector Juarez, whose naked body he left in
the desert near Marana.
At his sentencing, Kemp noted that Juarez was not an American citizen and he
offered up a diatribe against Mexican immigrants that made it clear he had no
intention of seeking mercy for the killing, telling the court, "I spit on the
law and all those who serve it."
Kemp's attorney at the time argued that Kemp had a personality disorder that
made him perceive everyone else as dishonest and opportunistic, and therefore
moved him to do anything he could to get something for himself.
He still refuses to ask for mercy. He chose not to appear before the Arizona
Board of Executive Clemency earlier this month.
In a handwritten note, he said, "I, Thomas Kemp, state that I decline to seek
executive clemency due to the futility of that process. In light of the board's
history of consistently denying requests for commutations, my impression is
that a hearing in my case would be nothing short of a dog and pony show."
There's very little in the record about Kemp, 63. He was born in California in
1948, lived near Chico and was the youngest of five children. He deserted from
the U.S. Army in 1968 and served time in prison for robbery. He worked as a
maintenance man in a trailer park near Tucson, where he lived with his mother.
In July 1992, Kemp and a friend named Jeffrey Logan bought a gun. Logan and
Kemp had met in a California prison, from which Logan recently had escaped.
Juarez was a 25-year-old community-college student. On July 11, 1992, he waited
for his girlfriend to come home to their apartment from her job at a local
shopping mall, and then he took her car at 11:15 p.m. to pick up something to
eat. When he didn't return by midnight, the girlfriend went to the
apartment-complex parking lot and found the car unlocked. It still smelled like
fast food, but Juarez was gone. His body was found July 25, 1992, near the
Silver Bell Mine northwest of Tucson. He had 2 bullets in his head and was
wearing nothing but his shoes and socks.
Kemp and Logan were already gone. They'd apparently forced Juarez to withdraw
$200 from his bank account, and after they killed him, they tried
unsuccessfully to withdraw more. They drove to Flagstaff, where they repainted
Kemp's truck and sold it for $650 on July 15.
But they needed another vehicle for their getaway, so they carjacked a couple
and forced them to drive to Durango, Colo. There, in a hotel room, Kemp forced
the man to disrobe and sexually assaulted him. The couple escaped and contacted
police in Kansas. Logan was arrested in Denver and led Tucson police to
Juarez's body in the desert. Kemp was arrested in a homeless shelter in Tucson.
While in jail in Pima County, Kemp effectively confessed to killing Juarez when
he told 2 corrections officers that he was afraid of being housed with Mexican
prisoners because he had killed a Mexican.
Logan received a sentence of life in prison, which he is serving in Arizona
under a different name.
Kemp was convicted of 1st-degree murder, armed robbery and kidnapping in June
1993. He was sentenced to death a month later. That sentence will be carried
(source: Arizona Republic)
Californians to vote on abolishing death penalty
California voters will soon get a chance to decide whether to replace the death
penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A measure to abolish capital punishment in California qualified for the
November ballot on Monday, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said.
If it passes, the 725 California inmates now on Death Row will have their
sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It
would also make life without parole the harshest penalty prosecutors can seek.
Backers of the measure say abolishing the death penalty will save the state
millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense attorneys who
handle death penalty cases, as well as savings from not having to maintain the
nation's largest death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Those savings, supporters argue, can be used to help unsolved crimes. If the
measure passes, $100 million in purported savings from abolishing the death
penalty would be used over three years to investigate unsolved murders and
The measure is dubbed the "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for
California Act," also known as the SAFE California Act. It's the fifth measure
to qualify for the November ballot, the secretary of state announced Monday.
Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the
measure on the ballot.
"Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a
mistake," said Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin who is now an
anti-death penalty advocate and an official supporter of the measure.
The measure will also require most inmates sentenced to life without parole to
find jobs within prisons. Most death row inmates do not hold prison jobs for
Though California is one of 35 states that authorize the death penalty, the
state hasn't put anyone to death since 2006. A federal judge that year halted
executions until prison officials built a new death chamber at San Quentin,
developed new lethal injection protocols and made other improvements to
delivering the lethal 3-drug combination.
A separate state lawsuit is challenging the way the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation developed the new protocols. A judge in Marin
County earlier this year ordered the CDCR to redraft its lethal injection
protocols, further delaying executions.
Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state has executed
13 inmates. A 2009 study conducted by a senior federal judge and law school
professor concluded that the state was spending about $184 million a year to
maintain Death Row and the death penalty system.
Supporters of the proposition, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, are
portraying it as a cost-savings measure in a time of political austerity. They
count several prominent conservatives and prosecutors — including the author of
the 1978 measure adopting the death penalty — as supporters and argue that too
few executions have been carried out at too great a cost.
"My conclusion is that he law is totally ineffective," said Gil Garcetti, a
former Los Angeles County district attorney. "Most inmates are going to die of
natural causes, not executions."
Garcetti, who served as district attorney from 1992 to 2000, said he changed
his mind after publication of the 2009 study, which was published by Judge
Arthur Alarcon of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and law professor Paula
Opponents of the measure, such as former Sacramento U.S Attorney McGregor
Scott, argue that lawyers filing "frivolous appeals" are the problem, not the
death penalty law.
"On behalf of crime victims and their loved ones who have suffered at the hands
of California's most violent criminals, we are disappointed that the ACLU and
their allies would seek to score political points in their continued efforts to
override the will of the people and repeal the death penalty," said Scott, who
is chairman of the Californians for Justice and Public Safety, a coalition of
law enforcement officials, crime victims and others formed to oppose the
The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, meanwhile, remains one the biggest
backers of the death penalty in the state and opposes the latest attempt to
abolish it in California. The foundation and its supports argue that federal
judges are gumming up the process with endless delays and reversals of state
Supreme Court rulings upholding individual death sentences.
The foundation on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking the immediate resumption of
executions in California. The foundation's lawsuit, filed directly with the
state Court of Appeal, argues that since the three-drug method has been the
subject of so much litigation — and the source of the execution delays — a
one-drug method of lethal injection like Ohio uses can be substituted
(source: Fox News)
N.C. Ruling Is a Step Toward Honesty About Death Penalty’s Racism ---- A N.C.
judge ordered that a death-row inmate’s sentence be reduced to life in prison.
David R. Dow says it's about time we talked about capital punishment's history
A quarter century after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racism in the
application of the death penalty doesn’t matter, we’re finally beginning to
have an honest discussion about how we justify legally killing people.
On Apr. 20, a judge in North Carolina relied on a new state law to order that a
death-row inmate’s sentence be reduced to life in prison, after finding that
his trial had been so irreversibly tainted by racism that executing him would
violate the Constitution.
I want to pause here to recognize the momentousness of this ruling: A judge in
an Southern active death-penalty state just upheld the rule of law, even though
it meant sparing the life of a convicted murderer.
To be clear, there was no question about the man’s guilt.
21 years ago, Marcus Robinson shot and killed 17-year-old Erik Tornblom. He
stole Tornblom’s car and took $27 from his wallet. But Superior Court Judge
Gregory Weeks concluded that despite Robinson’s horrendous crime, there was no
doubt that racism infected the state’s criminal-justice system—specifically,
that prosecutors intentionally kept blacks off of capital juries—and that this
same racism presumptively infected Robinson’s trial too. He ruled that even
abhorrent crimes do not nullify the Constitution’s guarantee of racial
Weeks’s ruling—the 1st invocation of the new Racial Justice Act—was the 1st
step in repairing the damage done by one of the Supreme Court’s most notorious
holdings: McCleskey v. Kemp, decided 25 years ago this month.
In that case, lawyers for Warren McCleskey—who had been sentenced to death for
killing Atlanta police officer Frank Schlatt—proved that black defendants are
statistically more likely than whites to face the death penalty, and that
murderers whose victims are white are more likely to face death than killers
whose victims are black. In numerous contexts—for instance, allegations of
employment discrimination, charges of bias in university admissions, and claims
of police misconduct—parties can use general statistics to prevail, even in the
absence of specific wrongdoing in their case. But in a 5-4 vote, the justices
in McCleskey swatted it all away, carving out an exception for death-penalty
Even overwhelming statistical evidence, they said, does not prove racism
infected a particular trial. The court might as well have said that just
because the KKK is a racist organization doesn’t prove that the murder of
Emmett Till was racially motivated. The ruling was the legal equivalent of
sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, “I can’t hear you!”
There were a few honest reactions one might have to the fact that the
death-penalty system in America is deeply racist. You could say that we should
punish whites more harshly, rather than blacks less severely. Or you could say
people who commit murder forfeit their right to invoke legal niceties. The
McCleskey court chose neither of these routes; instead it effectively said, So
what? Racism doesn’t matter.
This was all the more galling since, to those of us in the death-penalty-
defense business, none of what the McCleskey case brought to light was news.
Study after study has shown that race often plays a role in death-penalty
trials, in multiple ways: prosecutors are more inclined to seek a death
sentence where the defendant is black, or where the victim is white. And, as
Judge Weeks found in North Carolina, prosecutors routinely remove people of
color from juries, leaving black defendants to be judged by juries that are
overwhelmingly white. (In Texas, which carries out the overwhelming majority of
executions in the country, the Dallas district attorney’s office was still
using a manual in the 1980s instructing prosecutors to eliminate certain jurors
based on their race.)
By holding that statistical evidence couldn’t establish the presence of racism,
the McCleskey court effectively insulated racist practices, since prosecutors
rarely send emails announcing their racist motivations (although sometimes,
astonishingly, they do
North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act serves as a corrective to McCleskey by
permitting death-row inmates to prevail even in the absence of a smoking gun.
They can use statistical evidence to show the pervasive influence of race, and
that demonstration carries with it a presumption that race infected their trial
as well. In Robinson’s case, lawyers relied on a new study that examined 173
death-penalty trials in North Carolina (PDF
) and concluded that prosecutors strike blacks jurors at twice the rate they
(Remarkably, the only 2 states to have taken steps to overturn the deplorable
decision in McCleskey, Kentucky and North Carolina, are members of the old
An optimistic take is that this could be the start of a new conversation about
race and the death penalty in America.
Ever since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the
practice’s supporters and opponents have engaged in what amounts to a
three-decade therapy session, where all the scaffolding of rationalization has
been stripped away, and what is left is human emotion.
You want to argue the death penalty deters crime? The day before Weeks’s ruling
in North Carolina, the prestigious National Research Council issued a report
concluding that after countless academic studies, there remains no evidence one
way or the other for the death penalty’s deterrent effect.
The McCleskey ruling was the legal equivalent of sticking your fingers in your
ears and saying, “I can’t hear you!”
You want to argue the death penalty is a good way to spend our money? In
California 4 billion dollars has been spent on capital punishment
(http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/california-cost-study-2011) … to execute 13
people. The cost of keeping those 13 in prison for the rest of their lives
would have added up to around one half of one percent of that amount. (This is
assuming a cost of $50,000 per inmate, which is on the high side, for 50 years,
which is also on the high side (http://www.cjpc.org/doc_doc_stats.htm) .)
There are still politicians who remain willing to break the bank to execute a
few murderers, but it’s getting harder and harder to be fiscally irresponsible,
and when California gives up on lethal injection because its costs are
extravagant, the impact will be cataclysmic. The same California politicians
who pushed for reinstatement of the death penalty 30 years ago have now changed
Now that we have indisputable proof, once again, of embedded racism, capital
punishment can no longer be dressed up in intellectual garb. Death- penalty
supporters and opponents are therefore divided by a single fault line: the
so-called retributive rationale, the simple belief that someone who kills
should be killed.
So how will this debate turn out? We don’t yet know, but it won’t end anytime
soon: At least 150 people are waiting to have their cases reviewed under the
new law. But we do know that, thanks to one North Carolina court, we’ll at
least begin talking more honestly.
(source: David Dow, The Daily Beast)
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