[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., MO., USA
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Feb 21 15:24:08 CST 2012
Prosecutors urge death for cop-killer Buntion
Prosecutors told jurors Tuesday that "career criminal" Carl Wayne Buntion
should be sentenced to death for fatally shooting a Houston police officer more
than 20 years ago.
"He said, 'If the police ever pull me over, I'm going to kill the officer,'
because he wasn't going back to prison," Assistant District Attorney Lance Long
told jurors in Buntion's capital murder retrial.
Defense lawyers, meanwhile, urged the jury to spare Buntion's life, saying his
behavior in prison had been exemplary.
Long recited a litany of Buntion's convictions beginning in 1961 including
assaults, burglaries and a sexual assault. He calculated how much time Buntion,
68, had served in prison and the total duration of his sentences.
"All together, he was sentenced to 105 years in prison," Long said. "But he was
out and able to shoot Jim Irby."
Irby was a Houston police motorcycle officer who pulled over a car in which
Buntion was a passenger on June 27, 1990.
More than a dozen HPD officers and Irby's widow and children listened to Long's
opening arguments. He described Buntion slipping out of the car, slinking
alongside it and then pointing his weapon across the trunk at Irby, who was on
the other side of the vehicle.
He said Buntion shot the officer in the left temple, through his motorcycle
helmet. Irby had pulled his weapon, but did not get a shot off.
Long said Buntion, then a career criminal in his late 40's wearing a cap that
read, "Payback is a bitch," stood over the body and shot the officer in the
back twice more. Defense lawyers, however, said all the shots were fired from
the opposite side of the car.
Long said Buntion then went on a rampage, shooting into a car and striking a
woman who had witnessed the shooting in the shoulder.
Buntion shot at another car, then at a security officer responding on foot to
the sounds of shots. He fled to an office and was there alone when he was
arrested without a fight.
One bullet remained in the gun.
Buntion's attorneys disagreed little with the narrative, but said Buntion, who
has spent more than 20 years on death row, should be spared.
"He's 68 years old. He's been on death row for 22 years, and not one single bad
act," said attorney Philip Scardino.
Scardino argued there are many ways for prisoners, even on death row, to commit
violence against guards.
"Him?" the attorney said pointing to the pale man with long white hair combed
straight back. "Not one single bad act."
Prosecutors will have to prove several issues including that Buntion will
probably commit violent criminal acts and be a continuing threat to society.
Scardino said Buntion is no longer dangerous.
The capital murder retrial, in state District Judge David Mendoza's court, is
expected to take about three weeks.
Buntion was eligible for a new punishment phase after an appeals court reversed
the punishment because the original juries were not able to properly consider
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Death row inmate freed by DNA test plans to talk here
Kirk Bloodsworth spent nearly 9 years behind bars, including time on death row,
before DNA results exonerated him of rape and murder in 1993.
Kirk Bloodsworth, who in 1993 became the 1st death row inmate freed from prison
on DNA evidence, will speak about his experience and the danger of executions
in a flawed justice system at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist
Mr. Bloodsworth, a fisherman and former Marine, was sentenced to death in 1985,
when he was 24, for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Maryland. His
original conviction was overturned in 1986 because prosecutors had withheld
evidence that could have helped his case. He was then retried, convicted and
given two life sentences on the basis of mistaken witness testimony and what
his advocates described as "junk science."
In 1992, Centurion Ministries -- which assists those who may have been wrongly
convicted -- helped him obtain court-ordered DNA testing. It showed he couldn't
have committed the crime. He was released in 1993 and pardoned in 1994.
A decade after his release, a forensic biologist again used DNA evidence to
identify the real killer -- a convicted rapist who had served time alongside
Mr. Bloodsworth. Since his release Mr. Bloodsworth has been an activist against
the death penalty. More than 130 death row inmates have been freed by DNA
His visit is sponsored by Pittsburgh Faith in Action Against the Death Penalty,
a coalition of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish organizations working for a
death penalty moratorium in Pennsylvania.
"We've done a lot in the city of Pittsburgh, but this is the 1st time we've
broken into the suburbs," said Dorothy Miller, a Saint Paul Cathedral
representative to Pittsburgh Faith in Action. The group is an independent
offshoot of Amnesty International, having broken away in 2007 after Amnesty
began advocating for abortion rights.
Polls from Pew and Gallup indicate that opponents of the death penalty remain a
minority, but that their percentage has doubled to about one-third since 1985.
Other pollsters have found that a majority of respondents will oppose the death
penalty when presented with such clear alternatives as life in prison without
It's not an easy topic to address with churches, even though many of them
officially oppose capital punishment, but it's getting easier, Ms. Miller said.
"We find it hard going. A lot of people just ignore their own church's teaching
on it," she said. "But we find that we are making real headway slowly. Probably
the most important thing to people who change their mind is the danger of
executing an innocent person."
(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Wrongly Convicted Inmate Wants To Get Rid Of Death Penalty
A man who spent 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit was in St.
Louis Monday night. He says it`s time to get rid of the death penalty, and he
has a surprising ally in Missouri.
'17 years, 8 months and one day,' said Juan Roberto Melendez. He can rattle off
the dates and times without even thinking. 'Monday May 2, 1984 was the day I
November 2, 1984 was the day he was convicted.
Monday night he walked freely through the halls of the Millennium Student
Center on the University of Missouri St. Louis campus. For so many days, he
'I was innocent,' he said. 'It`s like a bad nightmare. And you can never wake
'I always tell God, `It took too long, God`. 17 years, 8 months and 1 day.'
After 18 years on Florida`s death row, for a murder he didn`t commit, he was
released in 2002. He said he doesn`t have anger at God. He is angry with the
system. And it`s a system that`s allowed Missouri to make mistakes, too.
St. Louis native Darryl Burton was released from prison in 2008, after serving
24 years of a life sentence for murder. He was innocent. So was Josh Kezer,
released in 2009 after 16 years. They were not on death row, but their wrongful
convictions are haunting enough for a republican lawmaker to make history. For
the 1st time in Missouri, a republican is the main sponsor of a bill that would
abolish the death penalty. Representative Mike McGhee of Odessa, Missouri is
sponsoring House bill 1520.
'If I`m really a pro-life guy, am I really a pro-life guy? Is that all life or
just what`s convenient? A baby`s life? Isn`t everybody`s life what I should be
caring about?' asked McGhee. 'And I think I should. I think I should be feeling
They`ve never met, but Melendez is a sudden fan of McGhee`s. 'To me this is
personal. We need more people that can think like that,' said Melendez.
He agrees with another of the lawmaker`s arguments, too: that the death penalty
doesn`t make financial sense, either.
'The state can`t afford to do this anymore,' said McGhee. 'It`s cheaper to keep
them locked up, throw away the key, than to end up trying to put them to
'And many times, we`ll spend 700 thousand dollars per inmate and still never
put them to death.'
'I struggle with someone who`s taken the life of somebody`s mother or child or
something like that, I truly struggle with what should be done with these
horrible people,' he said, 'but then some of them are found to be innocent and,
boy, I`d hate to think we`d put somebody to death that really hadn`t committed
one of these horrible crimes.'
Melendez has been free for 10 years. He now travels the country telling his
'We can never release an innocent man from the grave,' he said. 'God only knows
how many people didn`t have the luck I have had.'
Representative McGhee says his legislation probably doesn`t have much chance of
passing this year, but he hopes he`s planting a seed for the future.
Pro/Con: Should America use the death penalty?
Man kills your mother? Watch that punk fry! The death penalty should totally be
enforced in the fine state of Michigan. If those convicts continue their meager
existence, they may as well have gotten away with murder, rape, and the like.
Also, if we let them continue breathing, we have to use our hard-earned tax
money to support them. Major criminals also get to live a full, stable life in
prison for their crimes. Do you want them to live long, happy lives because
they killed/raped someone you know? I doubt it.
People go to prison for selling drugs and violating probation and are treated
as such, so why should murderers and rapists be allowed the same easy lifestyle
as these lesser criminals? Prison may not be the most fun place to be, but
someone who kills people or ruins lives should not be allowed to get the same
punishment as small-time crooks. A popular phrase for how I view this topic
would be, “an eye for an eye,” meaning that murderers should be killed in
return. They would still get off easy considering the death penalty is humane
and most murders are not. Don’t let these serious criminals get off easy.
Kill your wife? Set for life! When these guys continue living, they drain our
taxes. That money could be put into social programs or used to pay off war
debts, but instead it is supporting convicts who don’t even deserve to live. We
are indirectly buying these criminals 3 square meals per day, healthcare,
recreational activities, and a place to live. Many Americans don’t even have
these themselves, so why should they pay to give them to convicts? I don’t
believe they should. Why should a major criminal get everything handed to them
because they did something wrong? They shouldn’t and they wouldn’t if we put
them to death.
The death penalty does more good than harm and many places utilize it. They use
the death penalty in Texas, saying,” We have it and we use it. If you come to
Texas and kill somebody, we will kill you back.” We are proud of our death
penalty in the United States, but Michigan hasn’t utilized it yet. Worldwide,
the United States was ranked 5th for amount of executions in 2010. We had
killed 46 people that year. That seems like a lot of people until you realize
that is 1 person per 15 million. That many people being executed justifies the
fact that our violent crime rates are low compared to other parts of the world.
Why would people commit major crimes if they thought they would get killed for
The death penalty is definitely a positive idea. Morals should not defend
prisoners who should be dead. Their deaths would help our economy and give
victims and their families the justice they feel necessary. I wouldn’t want the
person who raped and killed my mother to be living a stable life in prison.
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the sentence of death
upon a person by the state as a punishment for a crime. Over 50 nations and
over 90 countries actively practice it but around the world. I believe if you
do the crime then you should do the time. But overall although criminals shall
do their time, the death penalty shouldn’t be allowed. No one should die,
taking someone’s life is too much for one person as well as their family, and
everyone deserves a second chance.
In the United States of America, it is our duty to protect our people and make
sure no one kills anyone. When someone gets killed, we should be encouraging
our people that violence isn’t the way and that we shouldn’t be trying to kill
the next person. It’s not worth killing our people when instead they should
serve time behind bars if they committed a crime to hopefully learn their
lesson, which most people end up doing when they spend time behind bars.
Putting death upon someone can hurt yourself as well as others. Imagine that
somebody murdered one of your family members in cold blood: would you want
revenge? Although many people would say yes, including student Jeankeva
Jackson, most people will say it’s best if the criminal be punished rather than
go out and get revenge with others because what will that solve? Nothing! Most
people already blame the world for most of their problems, so why add on to it?
Everybody makes mistakes and should at least deserve a second chance. Giving
second chances to someone can help better their life and others even if they
did happen to murder someone. Most people end up learning from their mistake
and sometimes even changing their whole life around, except if you are just a
cold hearted person, it can be different. It’s also not fair for someone such
as the president, a judge, or perhaps a student to determine whether or not if
a person should live or not, it’s only Gods decision.
So is giving the death penalty to someone a good idea? No because not only are
you hurting others, but it will just be a way of saying people can go out and
get revenge. The death penalty shouldn’t be used in America because in most
cases it’s not fair as well not right. And besides, the death penalty is like
torturing someone and last time I checked, torturing someone in our country was
(source: Diamon Doss and Dan Pauley, hsj.org)
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