[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., NEB., OKLA., UTAH, FLA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Feb 21 15:26:07 CST 2012
Occupy Wall Street Takes On U.S. Prison Conditions
Hundreds of anti-Wall Street demonstrators and prison reform activists joined
forces outside San Quentin State Prison in California on Monday to protest high
incarceration rates and living conditions for inmates.
Speakers said the state's sentencing laws were too strict. They called for an
end to solitary confinement and the death penalty and said children should not
be tried as adults.
"I myself experienced more than 14 months of solitary confinement," said Sarah
Shourd, 33, an American imprisoned in Iran after being arrested while hiking
near the Iraq border in 2009. "After only two months, my mind began to slip."
She was joined at the protest by Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who spent more
than two years in prison in Iran after being arrested with Shourd, and by
former members of the Black Panthers African-American activist group who spoke
of a history of problems at the San Quentin prison.
The prison is California's oldest correctional facility and houses the state's
only gas chamber.
Activist Barbara Becnel said prisoners were drawing inspiration from the Occupy
movement, which spread across the country last autumn with calls for greater
economic equality. The movement has lost ground as many U.S. cities evicted
protesters from their tent camps.
"We have merged the prison rights movement with the Occupy movement," Becnel
said, quoting a message she said came from San Quentin death row prisoner Kevin
Cooper. "The 99 % has to be concerned about the bottom 1 %."
Marin County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Keith Boyd estimated the crowd numbered
600 to 700 people at its height.
Demonstrators held a moment of silence for Christian Alexander Gomez, 27, who
died on Feb. 2 while on a hunger strike in California's Corcoran State Prison.
Gomez was among thousands of California prisoners who have staged hunger
strikes in waves since July, starting with protests against isolation units at
Pelican Bay State Prison.
The strikes began after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that California
prison overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death" and ordered the
state to reduce the number of prisoners to 110,000, still well over the maximum
capacity, from 140,000.
In an interview with Reuters, California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton contradicted speakers who said they
had been held in isolation while in prison in the state.
"Inmates held in segregated units are not isolated," she said. "Some inmates
are single-celled. But they converse with other inmates. They can get visits
and they interact with staff."
(source: Huffington Post)
Arraignment delayed for death row inmate charged in Long Beach girl's murder
---- Arrest of suspect for 1989 strangulation of Wilson student made possible
by DNA analysis.
Arraignment was delayed for the 2nd time Tuesday in the case of a death row
inmate charged with capital murder in the 1989 strangulation of a 15-year-old
Wilson High School sophomore.
Royal Clark Jr., 49, was tied to the 22-year-old murder of Danielle Marie
Haddon through DNA analysis.
Without that analysis, funded by a federal grant in 2008, the already-convicted
killer of a 14-year-old Fresno girl might have never been suspected in the Long
Beach case, officials said earlier this year.
Clark - who was 27 at the time of the Oct. 30, 1989, killing - allegedly used
an electric cord to strangle the local teen, who was home alone while her
grandmother was at work, Deputy District Attorney Carol Rose said.
Clark appeared briefly at the Long Beach Superior Court Tuesday morning to
enter a plea in the case, but his arraignment was postponed until March 5.
He is being held without bail since his transfer from San Quentin Prison, where
he has been awaiting execution on death row since his 1995 conviction for
1st-degree murder for the strangulation and attempted rape of a 14-year-old
Fresno girl and the attempted murder of a 15-year-old girl.
Prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek the death penalty in the
(source: Contra Costa Times)
Sister Of Condemned Man's Victim Fights Death Penalty----Miriam Thimm's Brother
Tortured, Killed By Michael Ryan
Barring a successful appeal, the state of Nebraska will execute Michael Ryan on
March 6, but the sister of one of Ryan's victims is doing all she can to keep
that from happening.
It's been 30 years since Miriam Thimm lost her younger brother James Thimm. He
was beaten, tortured and killed at a cult compound just outside of Rule, Neb.
Ryan was the cult's leader and was convicted of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder
in 1985 for the deaths of Thimm and 5-year-old Luke Stice. Ryan was later
sentenced to death.
Despite the graphic details surrounding her brother's death, Miriam Thimm said
she forgives Ryan and said he's a sick man.
"When we talk about funding for the death penalty, when we slash mental health
funding, we're making a big mistake," she said. "Was Ryan mentally ill? He's
never had an MRI scan. He acts a lot like a paranoid-schizophrenic."
Richard Goos was Ryan's attorney during his trial. He said he made that
argument all along.
"I'm very sad, because Mr. Ryan is a very sick man," Goos said.
Thimm said the state chooses to ignore Ryan's illness and she's fighting back.
"All the lawyers, all the fighting -- life without parole frees up all that
money for good," she said. "How can you not fight the death penalty?"
Thimm already has one victory under her belt. She helped the man who tortured
Timothy Haverkamp was named "high priest" in Ryan's cult. Thimm wrote to the
Nebraska Parole Board and was instrumental in getting him released from prison.
She maintains a relationship with Haverkamp and invited him to a peaceful
protest scheduled for the day of Ryan's execution. That gathering will be at
the First Mennonite Church in Lincoln.
"I want to set up an open forum for people of both sides -- pro and con -- to
come and just kind of remember James," said Thimm.
Thimm said if the state hopes to bring her family closure by putting Ryan to
death -- it won't.
"Closure is when it's not in the newspaper anymore, not on the news anymore,
and it's done," she said.
Ryan's current attorney, Jerry Soucie, continues to fight for his client. If
his appeals fail, Ryan will be the first person to be executed by lethal
injection in Nebraska.
(source: KETV News)
Oklahoma death row inmate moves step closer to execution more than 36 years
after killing ---- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeal from Michael
B. Selsor, an Oklahoma man twice given the death penalty for killing a Tulsa
convenience store clerk in 1975.
An Oklahoma killer who was first given the death penalty 36 years ago moved a
step closer Monday to execution.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment to hear an appeal from Michael
B. Selsor, who was convicted of killing a Tulsa convenience store clerk in
Selsor was given the death penalty for killing Clayton Chandler in January
1976, but Oklahoma's death penalty law was ruled unconstitutional a year later.
Selsor, 57, was tried again in 1998 and received the death penalty under the
revised capital punishment statute. His state and federal appeals have been
(source: The Oklahoman)
Utah death row inmate seeks stay of execution
A death row inmate is asking a Utah judge for a stay of an April 5 execution by
firing squad while he pursues a review of his state conviction and sentence in
the federal courts.
Attorneys for Michael Anthony Archuleta filed a notice of his intention to file
a habeas corpus petition on Feb. 10 in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court.
Such requests consider whether a person's conviction and sentence are
Court papers say Archuleta, 49, is entitled to a stay while federal courts
review the case.
Archuleta has not previously appealed his 1989 capital conviction in the
federal system. 5 state court appeals have been rejected, however _ the last in
A state judge signed a death warrant on Feb. 8 for Archuleta's execution. A
federal judge has not yet set a date for a hearing. The case had been filed
under seal until last week.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Brunker on Tuesday told The Associated Press the
state does not oppose a stay of Archuleta's execution.
Court papers filed to date by Archuleta's attorneys do not indicate what
arguments they will mount in asking the federal court to consider the case.
Archuleta and co-defendant Lance Conway Wood were convicted in separate trials
in 1989 of the murder of Southern Utah University student Gordon Church.
The 3 men met in a Cedar City convenience store on Nov. 22, 1988, and then went
to nearby Cedar Canyon where Church was raped and beaten. Archuleta and Wood
then drove Church, 28, to a remote location about 80 miles north of Cedar City,
where Church was tortured and beaten to death and his body abandoned.
Archuleta was sentenced to die for the crime and Wood was sentenced to life in
In Archuleta's last state appeal, attorney James Slavens argued the convicted
man deserved a new trial because Wood had taken primary responsibility for the
crime in a 2009 court affidavit. Slavens said the confession could have swayed
a jury to impose a life sentence in Archuleta's case, rather than the death
penalty, Slavens said.
Justices sided with state prosecutors who said Wood's 2009 statement was part
of a changing explanation, not a confession.
Archuleta is 1 of 9 men on Utah's death row.
The state last held an execution in June 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was
executed by firing squad for the 1985 shooting death of a Salt Lake City
attorney during a botched escape attempt at a courthouse.
(source: Associated Press)
Prison or death for Wharen in double homicide?----Jury debating punishment for
man who killed wife, her friend
The trial phase that will determine if Patrick Wharen Sr. will spend his life
in prison or face a death sentence in a 2008 double homicide continues today.
A jury unanimously found Wharen, 41, guilty of 2 counts of 1st-degree
premeditated murder Thursday. The same jury, which convened Monday, will
determine Wharen’s fate. The state finished calling witnesses Monday afternoon,
and the defense began with its witnesses. Proceedings are expected to conclude
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the Frontenac man.
Wharen killed his estranged wife, Kelly Wharen, 34, and a 19-year-old man with
whom Kelly Wharen lived, Jonathon Vuick, 19.
The night of April 4, 2008, Wharen went to the Frontenac home his wife shared
with Vuick. A confrontation involving his daughter and his wife ensued. Defense
attorneys said the confrontation pushed Wharen over the edge, though
prosecutors argued he went there to kill Kelly Wharen and Vuick.
Wharen shot his wife once before his son, Patrick Wharen Jr., 15 at the time,
tried to stop him. They struggled, and the 45-caliber gun fired, wounding both
father and son.
Wharen continued on toward the home, where he fired 7 shots through the front
door, hitting Vuick 6 times. He pursued his wife, who had fled into the home,
and shot her again several times, killing her.
(source: Florida Today)
More information about the DeathPenalty