[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, LA., ARIZ., CONN.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Feb 24 11:49:22 CST 2012
Capital punishment creates ethical dilemma for legal system
Over the past few days, The Prindle Institute held events concerning ethics and
capital punishment. From a showing of "The Green Mile" to guest lectures, these
discussions showed what a prominent ethical issue capital punishment is in
Consider some quick background. Recorded statistics for civil executions (aka
nonmilitary) began in 1930 in the United States, although surely unrecorded
executions were occurring before this time. Today, 35 of our 50 states abide by
the death penalty, including Indiana.
The methods used for capital punishment in the U.S. are lethal injection (the
primary method), electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad. Although
firing squad seems pretty old school, Oklahoma still lists it as a method of
execution that can be used if injection and electrocution are found
The most popular arguments for the death penalty include the penalty as a
deterrent for murder, as an equal form of justice and that inmates on life
sentences are more likely to kill other inmates while incarcerated. Ernest van
den Haag, a well-known defender of the death penalty and former professor of
public policy at Fordham University, said that it is, "the most fitting
retribution for murder I can think of."
Overall, I just see too many weaknesses with these arguments supporting the
death penalty. First of all, does capital punishment actually deter murder? I
don't think a murderer is thinking about how he/she will be punished because
they don't think they'll be caught in the first place.
It's also more expensive to sentence and execute criminals to death. There is
also the interesting argument that jurors may be less likely to convict a
criminal if the death penalty is on the table.
For or against capital punishment, the system that decides the fate of these
criminals is flawed. Remember the case of Troy Davis? Why is it that he was
executed even though seven of the nine recorded witnesses recanted their former
Race and the death penalty is another important ethical issue that needs to be
explored. Take the case of death row inmate Duane Buck in Texas. Duane is an
African American who admittedly shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and a male
counterpart. His guilt is not the issue. His case is under review because at
his trial, a psychologist named Walter Quijano testified that black criminals
are more likely to be violent again in the future. In 2000, 6 other cases with
testimonies from Quijano went under review for racial discrimination.
More ethical questions can be addressed with the methods of execution. For
instance, what about the doctors who have to administer the lethal injection?
All doctors abide by the Hippocratic Oath that states that they must practice
medicine ethically. Does purposefully administering death go against this code
Both sides of the capital punishment argument raise important questions and
concerns about our justice system and what we see as fitting retribution for
(source: Opinion, The DePauw; Katie Aldrich is a senior from Lexington, Ken.,
majoring in environmental geoscience)
Death penalty sought in child’s slaying
The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office will seek the death
penalty against a man accused in the 2006 asphyxiation death of his 2-year-old
daughter, a prosecutor told a judge Thursday.
Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were indicted on 1st-degree murder charges in May
and are being held without bond.
Prosecutor Steve Danielson said the District Attorney’s Office has not decided
whether to seek the death penalty against Shelna Matamoros in the death of her
stepdaughter, Malyasia Chante’ Matamoros.
Cedric Matamoros was not in state District Judge Chip Moore’s courtroom when
Danielson announced he would seek the death penalty against him.
“We are aware of the state’s notice of intent (to seek the death penalty) and
we will respond accordingly,’’ said Nelvil Hollingsworth, chief of the homicide
unit at the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defenders Office.
So far, neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys have asked that the couple be
tried separately, Danielson said. Either side can make such a request.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has alleged that Malyasia Matamoros was
“killed for money.’’ The toddler was covered by five insurance policies
totaling $185,000 at the time of her death, and Cedric and Shelna Matamoros
were the beneficiaries, he noted.
The child was pronounced dead Aug. 31, 2006. Two of the insurance policies
totaling $110,000 were set to lapse Sept. 1, 2006, Moore said.
Cedric Matamoros has claimed someone broke into their unit at the Brandywine
Condominiums on Darryl Drive the night of Aug. 30, 2006, when his daughter was
attacked in her bedroom. He said he fired a gun at the intruder.
Cedric Matamoros pleaded no contest in September 2010 to simple arson,
insurance fraud and workers’ compensation fraud and served time in prison.
Shelna Matamoros pleaded guilty in March 2010 to simple arson, insurance fraud
and other charges in the same string of arsons and frauds and also served time
(source: The Advocate)
Arizona death-row inmate to get chance at clemency
Arizona's clemency board is set to consider a longtime death-row inmate's
request to reduce his sentence to life in prison or delay his execution
scheduled for Wednesday.
The 5-member board meets at a state prison in Florence on Friday to consider
the requests from Robert Henry Moormann, who has been on death row for 27
Moormann, 63, was serving nine years to life in prison in 1984 for kidnapping
an 8-year-old girl when the state let him out on 3-day "compassionate furlough"
to visit his 74-year-old adoptive mother Roberta at a nearby motel.
Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated the woman before meticulously
dismembering her body. He went to various businesses asking if he could dispose
of spoiled meat and animal guts before he threw most of her remains in various
trash bins and sewers. He was captured soon thereafter.
The killing prompted the state to change its policy on compassionate furloughs.
Moormann said Roberta had molested him as a child, but that was never
corroborated. Those who knew the pair said Roberta was "at most ... an overly
protective mother who had an odd relationship with her son," according to court
Moormann told conflicting stories of Roberta's death, saying he accidentally
suffocated her during sex and later that she had begun sexually abusing him
again, prompting him to kill her in a fit of rage.
Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual contact between Moormann and
Roberta. They also found that she had been alive when she received cuts and
bruises covering her body and that "the dismemberment showed no rage, but
rather a methodical, meticulous activity," court records say.
Of the 130 inmates on Arizona's death row, only 6 have been there longer than
Moormann, who has had a slew of health problems over the years and most
recently was hospitalized last week.
His hospitalizations have included surgeries to remove his appendix and to
perform a quintuple bypass on his heart.
His attorney and prison officials declined to say what was wrong with him most
recently, but Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said Moormann
was back in prison and expected to attend the clemency hearing.
On Thursday, a federal judge declined to delay Moormann's execution and that of
another death-row inmate , Robert Charles Towery, who is set to be executed
March 8. The ruling has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Francisco.
The men's attorneys argue that the Arizona Department of Corrections' new
execution protocol, released last month, violates the inmates' constitutional
protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that the new
protocol gives too much discretion to corrections Director Charles Ryan,
improperly loosens requirements for the people who inject the lethal drugs, and
prevents attorneys from meeting with the inmates the day of their execution.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake disagreed, saying that the new protocol does not
pose a substantial risk of subjecting either inmate to cruel and unusual
punishment, and that he has every reason to believe that the execution team has
been properly vetted and is properly trained in inserting intravenous lines.
Moormann's lawyers filed a motion Tuesday asking the Arizona Supreme Court to
delay his execution until a hearing can be held on his mental capacity.
The attorneys say Moormann was diagnosed in early childhood as being mentally
disabled, and the state cannot legally execute him. Arizona law prohibits the
mentally disabled from being put to death, and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court
decision found that executing mentally disabled inmates amounts to cruel and
State prosecutors argue in court documents that a doctor evaluating Moormann in
1998 found that he had an estimated IQ of between 70 and 90, and that Arizona
considers a person mentally disabled only if the IQ is 70 or less.
Prosecutors say that at trial, another doctor estimated Moormann's IQ to be at
94 and testified that he was not mentally disabled.
A jury convicted Moormann of first-degree murder after two hours of
deliberations, rejecting his insanity defense.
Although the trial judge did find that Moormann had an impaired ability to
understand right from wrong, he cited several reasons why Moormann deserved the
death penalty, including that the murder was especially heinous and cruel.
The last inmate to be executed in Arizona was Thomas Paul West, who was put to
death July 19 for the beating death of another man in a 1987 robbery.
(source: Associated Press)
Conn. murder victim families to call for repeal of death penalty
Some Connecticut families of murder victims are planning to publicly call on
state legislators to repeal the state's death penalty.
The family members of murder victims say they will gather at a press conference
at the state Capitol next week to urge lawmakers to end capital punishment in
Connecticut. The advocates say they plan on presenting the state legislators
with a letter signed by over 100 murder victim family members who support the
The Feb. 29 press conference comes a week after lawmakers agreed to take up
death penalty repeal legislation this session.
The legislature's Judiciary Committee recently voted 23-to15 to raise the bill
Last year, repeal legislation failed to gain enough support in the Senate to
come up for a vote.
(source: Associated Press)
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