[Deathpenalty] [POSSIBLE SPAM] death penalty news----TEXAS, VA., ARIZ., US MIL., N.C., PENN., NEB.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Feb 17 16:58:04 CST 2012
Texas Running out of a Drug for Death Penalty
Last year Texas administered the death penalty to 13 inmates, which was double
the amount of any other state. The state has been well known for its fondness
of the death penalty, and now it seems, according to The Guardian, that it only
has enough of one of the deathly drugs for six more proceedings, which will
last it until June of this year.
Pentobarbital is the drug in question. It is injected along with 2 other drugs,
and the maker of this drug, Lundbeck, has long disapproved of this drug’s usage
in the death penalty. As of July 1, 2011, the company announced that it would
no longer be outsourcing the drug to U.S. states that use it as capitol
punishment. This decision not only affects Texas, but 34 other states in the
U.S. that allow the death penalty.
The company’s statement at the time was, “Lundbeck is dedicated to saving
people’s lives. Use of our products to end lives contradicts everything we are
in business to do. Lundbeck is opposed to the use of its product for the
purpose of capital punishment.”
While the drug has been approved to treat seizures and act as a sedative, it
also has a much darker history. This drug has long been used in connection with
euthanasia and is legally used to do so in countries such as Switzerland and
the Netherlands. It is very noble for Lundbeck to stand up for its values, but
that does not mean this drug is not being used for death in other places.
Texas is not the only state running low; Georgia only has enough of the drug to
cover 4 more deaths. This begs the question of what these states will look to
when they are out of their supplies. Will they stop administering lethal
injections, like so many other states who have had to deal with controversial
cases, or will they seek different options?
Texas has had 476 executions since 1976, and 238 of those have occurred since
1998 when Governor Rick Perry took office. This has been something Perry is
said to be very proud of. Texas has already executed one prisoner this year,
and the next execution is set to happen on February 28.
12 states held executions last year. Texas was followed by Alabama with 6
cases. Ohio had 5 cases last year, but now has put their death penalty on hold
due to inconsistencies. Arizona executed 4 prisoners last year; Oklahoma,
Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi each had 2; and Virginia, Missouri, South
Carolina, and Delaware each had 1 apiece.
TDCJ has enough drugs to carry out executions in 2012
Despite continuing shortages of the drug used in lethal injection executions in
Texas, the Texas prison system has enough to carry out scheduled executions.
According to a recent report in The Guardian, the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice is running low in one of these drugs.
The British newspaper reports that TDCJ only has enough pentobarbital, a
sedative that is 1 of the 3 drugs used in the mixture for lethal injections,
left to carry out 6 more executions before the supply runs out thus delaying
future death sentences from being carried out.
The supply is low because Lundbeck, a Danish company that manufactures
pentobarbital, blocked the sale of the drug to U.S. prisons on July 1, 2011,
rather than see it used to carry out capital punishment.
The Guardian reports that Maya Foa, an investigator with the human rights group
Reprieve, has calculated that Texas has 27 vials of pentobarbital in stock and
that the state needs 2 vials per execution and 2 more in reserve in case it is
needed. According to Foa’s calculations, that is enough to carry out around 6
TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said the agency could not disclose more information
on the subject because of a ruling in the case the Texas Department of Public
Safety vs. Cox Texas Newspapers, which protects public disclosure of highly
intimate facts, but he did issue a statement on The Guardian’s report.
“There are several inaccuracies in the Guardian article; however, consistent
with past practice, the agency will only confirm that we have enough drugs on
hand to carry out all scheduled executions,” Clark said.
There are 6 executions on the schedule to be carried out this year in Texas.
The next offender set to die is Anthony Bartee on Feb. 28. Bartee, a convicted
rapist, was found guilty and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of a
37-year-old man in San Antonio.
(source: Huntsville Item)
Va. legislature considers expanding death penalty
The Virginia House of Delegates has advanced a bill that would make a broader
range of criminals eligible for the death penalty.
House Bill 389, proposed by Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, would redefine
the “triggerman” rule in murder cases. The term “triggerman” refers strictly to
the direct perpetrators of homicide, according to the current state law.
Delegate Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, said the goal of the bill is to make
accomplices to the “triggerman” just as eligible for the capital punishment.
“We believe that in some circumstances, someone other than the triggerman is
every bit as culpable for the murder as the person who pulled the trigger, and
therefore, it should be an option for juries,” Bell said.
He had introduced an identical measure, HB 954. It was incorporated into HB
On Tuesday, the House voted 72-28 for the bill. Eight Democrats, 63 Republicans
and one independent voted for the legislation; four Republicans and 24
Democrats voted against it.
The group Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty questions the need
for legislation like HB 389. Steve Northup, executive director of VADP, said
the state law is already broad enough to incorporate those who assist the
“triggerman” in a murder.
“The word ‘triggerman’ is actually a misnomer,” Northup said. “For example, if
there are 2 guys, and one guy holds the victim down while the other guy shoots
the victim, they can both be prosecuted for capital murder.
“If you believe in capital punishment, then you believe it ought to be
available for the worst of the crimes committed by the most dangerous people.
It’s already broad enough to handle that.”
' Since the resumption of capital punishment in 1976, Virginia has had more
executions than any state except Texas.
Northup said his main concern is that the bill could increase the use of an
irreversible punishment for a crime.
“Everybody knows that the criminal justice system makes mistakes,” Northup
said. “We, from time-to-time, convict innocent people - If you convict an
innocent person, sentence him to death and execute him, you can’t go back later
and say, ‘Oh sorry we made a mistake.’”
Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, also offered a proposal to redefine the
“triggerman” rule – Senate Bill 58. However, it was killed last week in the
Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
The committee voted 7-7 along party lines, with Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin
As HB 389 now moves to the Senate, Northup hopes it will suffer the same fate
there as SB 58.
But Bell remains optimistic about the bill’s passage in the Senate.
“We are hopeful that with the changes in the Senate and governor’s mansion, we
can get this passed this year,” he said.
Modifying the “triggerman” rule, he said, would allow courts to determine
“whether individual defendants on a case-by-case basis deserve the ultimate
punishment for their actions.”
(source: Staunton News Leader)
Death Penalty Sought In Arizona Prison Murder
Arizona prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 2 Hawaii prison inmates
charged with murdering another prisoner from Hawaii while all 3 were
incarcerated in a privately-run prison in Arizona.
Family members of the murdered man, Bronson Nunuha, yesterday sued Hawaii
officials and the Corrections Corp. of America, operator of the Arizona prison,
Saguaro Correction Center, alleging that their negligence contributed to
Court records filed here and in Arizona show that the 2 men charged with
murdering Nunuha, Miti Maugaotega Jr., 26, and Micah Kanahele, 31, are facing
execution if convicted in Pinal County Superior Court.
Pinal County Attorney James Walsh said in court papers that the crime was
committed “in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.”
According to the lawsuit filed yesterday, Nunuha was stabbed 140 times and the
initials of his assailants’ prison gang were carved into his chest.
Other factors which Walsh said justify the death penalty include:
--The murder was committed inside a prison.
--The murder was connected to a “criminal syndicate.”
--The murder was “committed in a cold, calculated manner without pretense of
moral or legal justification.”
Nunuha, 26, had served more than 4 years of a 5-year sentence for burglary and
Maugaotega and Kanahale were serving life sentences for murder and other
violent crimes. Hawaii, which has no death penalty, pays Corrections Corp. of
America some $10 million annually to house up to 1,800 inmates at its Arizona
Corrections Corp. of America and Hawaii state officials have denied liability
for Nunuha's death.
Several months after Nunuha was murdered in February 2010, another Hawaii
inmate, Clifford Medina, 23, was strangled to death in his Saguaro cell.
The assailant was his cellmate, Mahina Silva, now 23, also from Hawaii.
Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for Silva, who pleaded guilty in the
case last year, according to Arizona records.
(source: Hawaii Reporter)
Study: Military death sentence more likely for minorities
Skin color plays a role in deciding whether to execute military criminals,
according to a new study by a Michigan State University law professor who found
minorities in the military are twice as likely as whites to be sentenced to
Catherine Grosso, associate professor at the MSU College of Law, and the late
David Baldus, the Joseph B. Tye Professor at the University of Iowa College of
Law, studied military prosecutions in all potentially death-eligible murders
from 1984 to 2005.
The researchers identified 105 death-eligible murder cases and found
unprecedented racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty
in the United States military. Death-eligible offenses under military law
include premeditated and felony murders, which are the focus of Grosso’s study.
Findings are published in this month’s peer-reviewed portion of the Journal of
Criminal Law and Criminology.
The racial disparity of minority defendants “sharply distinguishes the military
system from the typical civilian system” at a “magnitude that is rarely seen in
court systems,” the researchers found.
In state court systems, most racial discrimination occurs when a victim is
white, and is worse if the offender is a minority. Such discrimination also
occurs in the military, but unlike state court systems, the race of the
defendant – regardless of the race of the victim – remains prominent.
Case in point: Of the 16 men the military has sentenced to death in the last 27
years, 10 were minorities, Grosso said. And in multiple-victim murders, the
disparity was even worse.
By executive order, the military began efforts to reform its capital punishment
system in 1984, but this study could mean efforts haven’t worked, Grosso said.
It’s possible the military justice system isn’t as transparent as civilian
systems, the researchers said. Whereas decisions of capital punishment fall
under close scrutiny in state systems, the decisions of commanders and
courts-martial members don’t.
“There are people in the military who care deeply about this issue. But hearing
findings like those presented here is never easy,” Grosso said. “I am
optimistic that the military will seek to respond.”
The researchers argue limiting military capital punishment to the most
aggravated and heinous crimes would reduce racial prejudice. Those crimes:
murder of a commissioned officer and a premeditated attack on U.S. troops
resulting in death.
The reform would require an executive order or act of Congress, Grosso said.
“If race is on the table, if it puts a thumb on the scale, that’s injustice,”
Grosso said. “These findings speak for themselves. They reflect how the
military criminal justice system is operating, and it can do better.”
(source: Michigan State University News)
Death penalty doesn't undercut justice; coddling killers does----The man who
killed my wife served 17 years of a life-plus sentence.
Ned Flemming of Cornelius, in response to "It's past time to abolish the death
penalty in North Carolina" (Feb. 15 For the Record):
As John Moore states in his For the Record column, "Those who do wrong must be
punished, but this system is flawed."
I could not agree more.
The young man who murdered my wife in 1989 accepted a plea agreement to avoid
the death penalty. His sentence - Life plus 28 years. He confessed to this
crime when presented with overwhelming evidence. There was absolutely no doubt
that he killed her. She left a widower, two teenage children, her mother, her
brother and countless friends and family.
The murderer served 17 years, the last 3 years in minimum security with weekend
passes. He has been a free man for the past 5 years. His early release was
based on a "mistake" admitted to by the Parole Board. Yet, there was never an
apology nor an explanation. Yes, the system is seriously flawed.
Mr. Moore states that respect for justice is lost when the state sponsors
violence. I contend that respect for justice is lost when the state does not
enforce the laws we have. The system is flawed when we spend so much more
defending criminals than we do prosecuting them and when Demeatrius Montgomery
seeks a new trial after being convicted of murdering police officers Jeff
Shelton and Sean Clark in 2007 and when lawyers work the system with no regard
for the guilt of their clients. The court system is clogged by the endless
appeals and legal maneuvering orchestrated by those very attorneys whose
mission seems to be to get their clients off at any cost. Isn't it ironic that
in most cases, we taxpayers are the ones footing the bill? Yes, the system is
flawed. Very flawed.
I am an active member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Homicide
Support Group and, aside from my personal experience, see first hand the
devastating effect that the act of murder has on those left behind. Mr. Moore
says that he can only imagine the anguish they (we) have suffered. No, Mr.
Moore, I don't think you can.
We survivors of homicide are frankly a bit offended when someone says they know
what we feel, or what we are going through. Not until you have been through the
horror of losing a loved one through homicide will you know. And I pray to God
that you never will.
I seriously doubt Mr. Moore's statement that in North Carolina, the abolition
of the death penalty is the will of the electorate. He may convince some
lawmakers, but I'm not buying it.
(source: Charlotte Observer)
Death Penalty Law Tested in N.C
The fate of one death-row inmate in North Carolina—and possibly dozens more—is
now in the hands of a judge following a 2½-week hearing that for the 1st time
tests a law that would let an inmate off death row if race is found to have
been a "significant factor" in the sentence.
The question is whether race played an improper role in jury selection at the
time of Marcus Reymond Robinson's trial.
In a crowded courtroom here, Cumberland County Judge Gregory A. Weeks heard
closing arguments Wednesday on a case involving the death sentence of Marcus
Reymond Robinson, a black man convicted in 1994 of murdering a 17-year-old
white man during a robbery.
Judge Weeks's challenge: to answer the nebulous question of whether race likely
played an improper role in jury selection on capital cases around the time of
Mr. Robinson's trial.
The decision, which should come in the next few weeks, will likely set a
precedent for what happens with the state's other death-row inmates. Nearly all
of North Carolina's 157 death-row inmates, including roughly 60 white inmates,
have challenged their death sentences on racial-bias grounds.
Criticisms of the death penalty have mounted nationwide in recent years
alongside the rise of DNA testing, which has freed some death-row inmates. New
Mexico, New Jersey and Illinois in recent years abolished their death
penalties, while others have put executions on hiatus while they reviewed
various aspects of their procedures, like whether lethal injection causes undue
But North Carolina's Racial Justice Act, passed and signed into law in 2009 by
a Democratic legislature and governor over strong Republican objection, took an
entirely different approach. It forces a judge to change a penalty of death to
life without parole if race played a key role in the death sentence. The law
came about after a number of high-profile convictions of black men, all of whom
were on death row, were overturned after errors in their cases were brought to
On its face, the law doesn't require a defendant to prove that bias took place
in his case specifically. An inmate need only prove, with statistics, that race
weighed heavily in prosecutors' and jurors' decisions concerning the death
penalty "in the county, the prosecutorial district, the judicial division, or
the State at the time the death sentence was sought or imposed."
The only other state with a similar law is Kentucky, but defense lawyers there
haven't used it much because they must show strong evidence of discrimination
in an individual case and are barred from basing claims solely on statistics.
Neither Mr. Robinson's trial nor the composition of his jury—9 whites, 2 blacks
and 1 Native American—came up often in the Fayetteville hearing, which at times
was more reminiscent of an introductory college statistics course than a John
Grisham page-turner. Mr. Robinson's lawyers, in arguing that race played a
factor in jury selection, relied on a 2010 study from 2 law professors at
Michigan State University that concluded that prosecutors struck prospective
black jurors fromjuries at more than twice the rate of white jurors in North
Carolina's 173 death-penalty cases from 1990 to 2010. On Tuesday, Jonathan
Perry, a lawyer for the state, criticized the Michigan State study's "logistic
regression approach" and referred repeatedly to errors in "sampling."
The state presented affidavits from a variety of prosecutors stating that their
dismissals of prospective black jurors could almost always be explained by
Wednesday morning, a lawyer for Mr. Robinson, Malcolm "Tye" Hunter, argued that
such firsthand evidence was irrelevant. "Overt, explicit expressions of racial
bias are rare," he said, because race remains an uncomfortable topic that many
people are loath to address squarely. Nevertheless, added Mr. Hunter: "There is
a wide body of research that race has a huge effect on how we make decisions."
An attorney for the state, Rob Thompson, was critical of that argument.
"They've brought you numbers, conjecture and speculation," he told Judge Weeks.
"But they do not have evidence of discrimination or evidence of some secret
society of prosecutors plotting to exclude black jurors."
Throughout the arguments, Judge Weeks, who is black, sat quietly and
attentively, interrupting the lawyers only to ask brief questions. The judge,
who is retiring later this year, was most recently elected in 2006. Judicial
elections in North Carolina are nonpartisan.
The judge, who has 23 years on the bench, has his work cut out for him,
according to capital-punishment experts and lawyers involved in the case. The
law doesn't define exactly how "significant" race had to have been in a
decision in order to justify overturning a sentence.
"It's hard to read the tea leaves in a case like this," said Neil Vidmar, a law
professor at Duke University. "But the case could set quite a precedent in
North Carolina—and make a lot of others around the country sit up and take
(source: Wall Street Journal)
Prosecutors want death penalty for McAndrew
Montgomery County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a 24-year-old
Upper Merion man accused of killing his parents and twin brother with a sword,
though the defense hopes the district attorney’s office will reverse the
Joseph C. McAndrew Jr., who is being held at Norristown State Hospital and
undergoing psychiatric treatment, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon for his
McAndrew is charged with 1st- and 3rd-degree murder: the stabbing deaths of
70-year-old Joseph C. McAndrew, 64-year-old Susan C. McAndrew and his brother,
After each of the 6 homicide charges were read, defense attorney Stephen G.
Heckman said aloud, “Not guilty.”
On March 5, 2011, the 3 victims were found on the kitchen floor of the family’s
Holstein Road home soon after McAndrew was seen standing outside near the
garage door. His pants and shoes were saturated with blood. Investigators
discovered a bloodstained sword with an 18-inch blade in the living room,
according to court papers.
Prosecutors alleged the fatal attack involved a “very significant struggle” and
a chase through the house.
“We’re seeking the death penalty in this case because this horrific crime
showed clear evidence of planning, and the viciousness and brutality with which
he annihilated his own family is precisely the type of violent homicidal
conduct for which we reserve our most extreme and final punishment,” Assistant
District Attorney Tracey Potere said after the arraignment.
After the defendant was found competent to stand trial last year, Potere filed
a petition seeking to have him transferred from the state hospital to the
county prison. Potere argued that McAndrew should be returned to jail because
he no longer needed intensive psychiatric treatment.
However, Judge Gary S. Silow signed an order in December that kept the
24-year-old in the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center Hospital in Norristown
for 60 days. And recently the judge signed another similar order. After 60 more
days, the defendant would be re-evaluated.
After the killings, McAndrew communicated little with investigators and his
defense attorney. Even now, Heckman questions whether his client really
understands the gravity of that horrible night.
“I think he’s just stunned. He looks at me with a blank expression, and I don’t
think he can comprehend it, especially since one of the persons was his twin
brother,” he said. “I don’t know if he fully understands it, and I worry about
when that moment finally hits him.”
Heckman hopes to convince prosecutors to withdraw the death penalty, he said.
McAndrew is on medication and communicating more, Heckman said, and
transferring him from psychiatric care to prison would be detrimental to his
“Prison would have been a disastrous environment for him, and we appreciate the
fact that he’s able to get treatment at the state hospital,” he said.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 for the Oct. 5 trial.
(source: Mainline Media News)
Judge to consider lifting Ryan's death penalty
The fate of convicted killer Michael Ryan is in the hands of Richardson County
District Judge Daniel Bryan Jr.
Bryan heard arguments in Beatrice on Thursday from Ryan's defense attorney,
Jerry Soucie of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, and from John
Freudenberg, a prosecutor from the state attorney general's Office. The two
addressed Soucie's motion to have Ryan's death sentence reduced to life without
Freudenberg argued Soucie is merely trying to stall Ryan's execution, set for
March 6. Soucie dismissed that notion.
If the date holds, Ryan would be the first person executed in Nebraska since
1997 and the 1st by lethal injection.
Bryan said he would consider the arguments and try to make a timely decision.
Ryan was convicted in the cult-related 1985 killings of 26-year-old James Thimm
and 5-year-old Luke Stice near Rulo. He was sentenced to death for Thimm's
(source: Lincoln Journal Star)
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