[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----UTAH, OKLA., N.C., MD., MONT.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Feb 10 15:30:55 CST 2012
UTAH----new execution date, by firing squad
State will accept firing squad request in Archuleta execution--Death warrant
signed for 1988 Archuleta murder, requests firing squad
Utah death row inmate Michael Archuleta has chosen the firing squad to carry
out his April 5 death sentence for a 1988 murder.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says the state won’t oppose it.
Archuleta was sentenced to death for the Nov. 22, 1988, murder of Southern Utah
University student Gordon Ray Church, 28.
At his original conviction he chose lethal injection, but changed his mind and
opted for the firing squad in 1994. Even though the state did away with the
firing squad in 2004, Shurtleff says Archuleta made his choice before the law
changed, so it will stand.
“The courts have held that the method of execution is the choice, if there is a
choice … of the condemned person,” Shurtleff said.
Archuleta can change his mind and say he no longer wants the firing squad, but
if he insists on the firing squad, Shurtleff says the state won’t oppose it and
that’s how he’d be executed.
There are 4 other death row inmates who opted for the firing squad before the
"The courts have held that the method of execution is the choice, if there is a
choice … of the condemned person." Attorney General Mark ShurtleffThe firing
squad is comprised of 5 volunteer, POST-certified officers. Each carries a
.30-caliber rifle. Four of the rifles are loaded with live rounds, the other
with a blank. It gives shooters a way to rationalize and cope with the
assignment. Their identities are kept anonymous — partly for their privacy, and
also for their protection.
Church offered Archuleta and Lance Conway Wood, who were both on a parole, a
ride after meeting the pair at a gas station.
After driving into a nearby canyon, the 2 men had Church exit the vehicle on
the premise of robbing him, but instead began to severely beat and torture him
before raping him with a tire iron and burying him in a shallow grave.
Wood told his parole officer and led investigators to the body the next day. He
was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person executed in Utah by
firing squad. Gardner had been on Utah's death row since October 1985 and was
executed on June 18, 2010. He was the 3rd person executed by firing squad in
Utah — or anywhere else in the U.S. — since the death penalty was reinstated in
(source: KSL News)
Michael Archuleta, Utah Death Row Inmate, Chooses Execution By Firing Squad
A Utah man has opted for execution by firing squad to carry out his death
sentence for a 1988 murder in which he stabbed a man in the liver with a tire
Michael Archuleta, 49, beat his victim with a jack handle before killing him,
according to CNN. He will become only the 4th U.S. prisoner to die by firing
squad since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976.
KSL.com reports that the state won't oppose the firing squad decision, even
though the state did away with that option in 2004.
In 1988, Archuleta and Lance Wood met victim Gordon Ray Church, 28, at a
convenience store to engage in sexual acts with him, CNN reported. At some
point, the trio stopped what they were doing, and Wood and Archuleta bound
Church, shoved him into a trunk, and drove him 80 miles away.
They attached battery jumper cables to Church's testicles and tried to
electrocute him. When they failed, they killed him with the tire iron.
Archuleta is now in line to be the 1st person to die by firing squad in Utah
since Ronnie Lee Gardner in June 2010.
Archuleta still has an appeal hearing before his execution date this spring.
Wood was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
(source: Huffington Post)
OKLAHOMA----stay of impending execution
Governor issues execution stay
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a 30-day stay of execution Thursday to a death row
inmate scheduled to die next week for the 1986 shooting death of the mother of
his 2 children. Fallin issued the stay for Garry Thomas Allen, 55, to give her
legal team more time to consider a 2005 Pardon and Parole Board recommendation
to commute the sentence to life in prison without parole. Allen’s attorneys
said he was mentally impaired at the time of the slaying and is now insane.
Allen’s attorney, Randy Bauman, declined to comment. The board voted 4-1 in
2005 to commute Allen’s sentence to life and a judge issued a stay of execution
before then-Gov. Brad Henry could act on the board’s recommendation.
(source: The Oklahoman)
N.C. House panel meets to review death penalty, race
A House committee examining whether North Carolina laws should change based on
evidence of racial bias in death penalty cases is holding its 1st meeting.
The meeting Friday comes a month after Republicans failed to override a veto by
Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue of a bill to essentially repeal the Racial
Justice Act. The 2009 law created a new legal method through which a judge who
determines race was a basis for a death sentence against someone can reduce it
to life in prison without parole.
The 1st evidentiary hearing involving the Racial Justice Act is going on in
Most local prosecutors oppose the law as too broad and say it's leading to more
delays in carrying out capital punishment.
The panel can make recommendations by May.
(source: Associated Press)
Inmate found guilty of murdering correctional officer----Faces death penalty
for 2006 killing
A man on trial for the stabbing death of a correctional officer was found
guilty of 1st-degree murder Thursday afternoon, making him eligible for the
But the jury found Lee Edward Stephens, 32, not guilty of conspiracy to commit
the 2006 murder of Cpl. David McGuinn at the former House of Correction in
The verdict was read at 3:15 p.m. in a packed court room before Judge Paul A.
Hackner in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in Annapolis.
Wearing black pants, a dark button down, and with his hair in long, thin
braids, Stephens looked forward and showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
His family, seated just rows behind Stephens, shook their heads.
McGuinn’s mother, daughter, sister and brother hugged prosecutors outside the
courtroom. They will not comment until sentencing.
The jury and 5 alternates will return to court at 9 a.m. on Monday. At that
time, Stephens will decide whether he wants the judge or jurors to determine
If Stephens is sentenced to death, it would be the 1st time since Maryland’s
law changed to reserve capital punishment for murders in which there is a
videotaped confession or biological evidence – in this case, McGuinn’s blood
found on Stephens’ clothes.
At trial, Stephens’ defense argued it was no surprise that blood was found on
Stephens’ boots, boxer shorts and undershirt, given blood was spread throughout
the prison tier after the attack.
Only Canadian on U.S. death row gets clemency hearing
A clemency hearing has been set for 2 days in early May for the only Canadian
on death row in the United States.
Ronald Smith, 54, originally from Red Deer, Alta., has been on death row for
the murders of Thomas Running Rabbit and Harvey Mad Man Jr. 30 years ago near
East Glacier, Mont.
The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole has set aside May 2-3 for the clemency
hearing in Deer Lodge, near the federal penitentiary where Smith has spent the
last three decades of his life.
"The hearing will be conducted as a parole hearing. Witness testimony will be
submitted but witnesses will not be subject to cross-examination," Smith's
lawyer, Greg Jackson, said in an email to The Canadian Press.
"The board may, however, question the witnesses."
Jackson said there will be initial arguments on the 1st day and the board will
take public comments on the 2nd. Each statement, similar to a victim impact
statement, will be limited to 3 minutes.
Victim's daughter in favour of clemency
Smith's daughter and sister are expected to make a plea for his life.
Jessica Crawford, Running Rabbit's daughter, told The Canadian Press before
Christmas that she will ask the board to recommend clemency."I think he should
just remain locked away. That's my feelings for it now," Crawford said.
"I just feel it is more of a punishment for him that he just sit out his
The Canadian government has also requested that Smith's life be spared on
humanitarian grounds, while at the same time condemning his actions.
The board will make a recommendation, but the final decision will fall to
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Smith requested death penality
Smith pleaded guilty to 2 charges of deliberate homicide and two charges of
aggravated kidnapping in February 1983 and requested the death penalty. He
rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors which would have given him life in
He later changed his mind and asked the District Court to reconsider the death
penalty. That has led to three decades of legal wrangling.
Smith was 24 and taking LSD and drinking when he and two friends met up with
Running Rabbit and Mad Man near East Glacier. Smith and Rodney Munro marched
the two men into the woods where Munro stabbed one of the victims and Smith
shot both of them.
Munro accepted a plea deal, was eventually transferred to a Canadian prison and
has completed his sentence.
Lawyer says Smith has a 'changed heart'
His clemency application says Smith is a changed man.
"In the face of the harsh circumstances of being locked down in virtual
isolation for 28 years, he has nonetheless made a genuine attempt to live a
life that exhibits remorse, rehabilitation, a changed heart and mind and a
potential for good," reads the document prepared by lawyers Jackson and Don
"We request that you consider and grant this application and commute Mr.
Smith's sentence from death to life without parole."
Smith's lawyers say his drug and alcohol use impaired his judgment. They also
say he received poor advice from his lawyer at the time.
"As a result of the combination of his guilt over the offences, his virtual
isolation in a foreign country without consular assistance and the deplorable
actions of his trial attorney, he instead chose to plead guilty and requested
the death penalty," argue Jackson and Vernay.
"Upon being placed in a less isolated environment, he immediately realized both
the foolishness and impulsiveness of his actions and sought ... the original
sentence offered by the state of Montana, but the state has adamantly refused
to consider his request."
(source: CBC News)
Canadian on death row has crucial hearing in May
The fate of the only Canadian on death row in the United States may come down
to two days in May, the time set aside by the Montana parole board to determine
whether Alberta-born Ronald Smith should be spared the death penalty or
executed for killing two young American men in 1982.
Smith, who has exhausted virtually all of his appeal options for avoiding a
lethal dose of drugs for committing the crime, will have his chance at the May
hearing to convince parole board members why he should be granted clemency and
a new sentence of life imprisonment.
But those opposed to clemency for Smith, 54, will also get their chance to
influence the board's recommendation, which will be sent to Montana Gov. Brian
Schweitzer for a final decision — probably later this year.
Smith's long-running battle to avoid execution has been a source of fierce
political debate in Canada. In October 2007, the Conservative government
abruptly ordered a halt to all lobbying on Smith's behalf by Canadian diplomats
in the U.S. after a Postmedia News story detailed the behind-the-scenes efforts
to persuade Schweitzer to spare the Canadian killer's life.
The Conservative suspension of clemency efforts created an uproar at the time,
with all opposition parties condemning the action as a betrayal of Canada's
historic opposition to capital punishment.
Smith, represented by a team of Canadian human-rights lawyers, challenged the
Conservative decision in the Federal Court of Canada and won a 2009 ruling in
which the judge ordered federal officials to restart the campaign for clemency.
In December, just weeks ahead of Smith's formal request for clemency was filed,
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird sent a letter to Montana's parole board
conveying Canada's official view that Smith's death sentence should be commuted
to life imprisonment.
But the brief letter — which drew criticism from opposition critics and Alex
Neve, the head of Amnesty International's Canadian arm — emphasized that the
Canadian government's support for clemency "should not be construed as
reflecting a judgment on Smith's conduct."
The federal NDP's justice critic, Jack Harris, called it a "deplorable"
indication of the Conservative government's ambiguous stance on capital
punishment, and Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc said the "weak" and "cynical''
letter could effectively "sink" Smith's bid to avoid execution.
Opponents of the death penalty are certain to be monitoring the upcoming
clemency hearing — to be held May 2-3 — to see whether Canadian officials
attend and how forcefully they make the argument for Smith to be spared death.
Smith's principal lawyer in Montana, Greg Jackson, told Postmedia News on
Thursday that Smith expects legal representatives to address the parole board
on May 2. Then, on May 3, members of the public would be permitted to make
presentations of no more than three minutes in support of or against clemency.
Smith has confessed to the August 1982 shooting deaths of Thomas Running Rabbit
and Harvey Mad Man, two young cousins from Montana's Blackfeet Indian nation.
At the time of the murders, Smith acknowledged that he killed the 2 men — who
had offered a ride to Smith and two hitchhiking friends from Canada — simply to
steal their car.
Smith initially requested the death penalty for the crime and a judge promptly
granted that wish, but the Canadian later launched a series of appeals that has
delayed his execution for almost 3 decades.
Last week, Smith's daughter and sister spoke publicly about the case for the
first time in interviews with Postmedia News.
They both described Smith as a "different person" today than the one who
carried out the grisly double-murder almost 30 years ago.
Smith's daughter, when asked what she would say to the families of his two
victims, said: "I would hope they would see it in their hearts to have
forgiveness for him. I would hope they would see he has changed and he's very,
The women's comments about Smith echoed the themes contained in his lawyers'
19-page application for clemency, delivered in January to state parole
officials and setting the stage for Schweitzer's life-or-death decision.
The clemency request, accompanied by 2 lengthy letters of support from a
Catholic priest and a retired prison educator, detailed Smith's record as a
model inmate, the abusive childhood Smith suffered growing up Alberta and his
"heartfelt remorse" over the killings of Mad Man and Running Rabbit.
(source: Vancouver Sun)
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