[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, CONN., MD., N.C.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Jan 17 23:04:58 CST 2012
14 Arrested In Death Penalty Protest at Supreme Court
Inside, the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in a dusty federal tax case.
Outside, police were arresting 14 death penalty protesters who unfurled a
30-foot wide banner with the message "STOP EXECUTIONS!" on the Court's marble
plaza. One by one this morning, the demonstrators were escorted or dragged away
for violating the federal law (40 U.S.C. 6135) that forbids "processions or
assemblages" on Supreme Court grounds.
The protest marked the 35th anniversary of the Utah execution by firing squad
of Gary Gilmore, the first execution since the high court's reinstatement of
the death penalty in 1976. It was a repeat of a similar demonstration five
years ago, and in between, numerous others -- from Princeton philosopher Cornel
West to demonstrators dressed like Guantanamo detainees -- have been arrested
in the same location.
The demonstrators assembled beforehand at the nearby United Methodist Building
where they discussed what to expect when arrested, and held hands in prayer.
Bethesda, Maryland solo practitioner Mark Goldstone, longtime lawyer for Court
protesters, briefed the group on the legalities, and told them, as he put it
later, "It's too bad you aren't corporations, because then you would have more
First Amendment protections."
Shortly after 10 a.m., the protesters ambled over to the Court to begin a
process that they knew would end in arrest. In a 1983 decision United States v.
Grace, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a no-protest zone on
Court property. It allowed demonstrations on the public sidewalk in front of
the Court, so the protesters today probably knew they were breaking the law as
soon as they walked onto the Court's marble plaza.
Court police were out in force in anticipation of the protest, but they allowed
the demonstrators to enter the plaza and begin climbing the majestic steps,
even though the steps are no longer used as an entrance. Suddenly, one of the
group took the rolled-up banner out from under his coat and the demonstrators,
now facing the street, unfurled the banner for all to see. Encouraged nearly
100 demonstrators on the sidewalk, they chanted "Abolition now!" and "They say
death row, we say hell no!"
Court police watched intently, but did nothing to stop the protest or to
confiscate the banner. After a few minutes, Court police chief Ross Swope came
out from the Court building with a bullhorn to warn those holding the banner
that they were in violation of the law and "will be arrested." After 10 more
minutes of chants, the police started to move in with plastic handcuffs. The
arrests came one at a time at one end of the banner. As each protester was
taken away, those remaining spread out to keep the banner aloft. When only 2
protesters were left, they dropped it. As they were taken away, Court police
folded up the banner neatly. After processing inside the Court building, the
arrestees were expected to be detained overnight by D.C. police and arraigned
Goldstone, a veteran observer of these demonstrations, said he was generally
pleased with the conduct of the Court police. "They seemed very relaxed, and
didn't prevent the demonstration from happening," Goldstone said, adding that
he was impressed by their respectful handling of the banner. "They didn't just
grab it away or treat it like an incendiary device."
see photo at:
Citing Martin Luther King, activists call for repeal of death penalty in
Using the anti-violence legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a
historical backdrop, elected officials, clergy and others Monday called for a
repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty.
Rabbi Herbert Brockman of Congregation Mishkan Israel welcomed advocates to the
press conference on behalf of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death
Penalty, whose members were seated in the audience along with other social
Speakers also referred to a recently released study by Stanford University law
professor John Donahue that showed that racial disparities have marred the
death penalty’s application in Connecticut.
Donahue wrote, “The Connecticut death penalty regime does not select from the
class of death-eligible defendants those most deserving of execution. At best,
the Connecticut system haphazardly singles out a handful for execution from a
substantial array of horrible murders.”
Donahue evaluated the 4,686 murders in Connecticut from 1973 to 2007, noting
that there were nine sustained death sentences, and one execution in 2005.
“Overall, the state’s record of handling death-eligible cases represents a
chaotic and unsound criminal justice policy that serves neither deterrence nor
retribution ... arbitrariness and discrimination are defining features of the
state’s capital punishment regime,” Donahue wrote.
He also noted that minority defendants who commit capital-eligible murders of
white victims are 6 times as likely to receive a death sentence as minority
defendants who commit capital-eligible murders of minority victims.
“Minority defendants who murder white victims are three times as likely to
receive a death sentence as white defendants who murder white victims,”
according to Donahue.
State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Martin
Looney, D-New Haven, gave their reasons for opposing the death penalty, as did
New Haven resident Victoria Coward, whose son was killed June 12, 2007, in New
She said the money that the state spends to keep people on death row — $4
million to $7 million a year — would be better spent to provide more services
for victims’ families whose lives were uprooted as a result of the murders. She
added that there is “never closure” when a member of the family is murdered.
Holder-Winfield said it’s clear that there is bias with the death penalty and
that it’s “not right to have bias anywhere when you’re dealing with people’s
Looney said that he believes that “no fallible system should have the absolute
authority to take a life.”
He pointed out that in Connecticut, DNA evidence has exonerated James Tillman,
Miguel Roman and Kenneth Ireland for crimes of rape, murder, or both, and that
the men spent more than 55 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
In 2009, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the repeal of the death penalty. Looney
expects a bill to repeal the death penalty should come up this year through the
legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign
the repeal bill if it passes.
Looney said that any bill that is approved would have to be prospective,
meaning that it wouldn’t deal with those who have already received death
However, he believes lawyers for those people would suggest their sentences be
reconsidered. During the last session, a bill to repeal the death penalty was
not brought to a vote in the Senate because two legislators didn’t want to take
action that would potentially affect the outcome of the Petit Cheshire triple
homicide case, Looney said. Both men convicted in that case, Stephen Hayes and
Joshua Komisarjevsky, are on death row.
Brockman noted that it was “appropriate” to meet at the temple Monday, on
King’s day, because “exactly 50 years ago,” King dedicated the synagogue’s new
King repeated the common themes of justice and righteousness, Brockman said.
“The execution of the death penalty is a response to these very human needs,”
Hamden Mayor Scott D. Jackson said he felt is was important for him to speak
against the death penalty law, enacted in 1973.
“To do this on (King’s) holiday is deliberate and appropriate. King
consistently asked to look for the good in ourselves and let that be our
guiding principle,” Jackson said.
The Most Rev. Peter Rosazza, retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of
Hartford, said that the late Pope John Paul II and later Pope Benedict have
said the dignity of human life must be upheld.
The death penalty should be abandoned, Rosazza said, because “you can’t teach
respect for life when you’re taking a life.”
Nicole Murphy, president of the local graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha
Sorority Inc., said that as long as the death penalty remains, there is the
possibility of taking an innocent life. Since 1973, 139 individuals have been
exonerated on death row in the U.S., she said. StoryReader CommentMonday called
for a repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty.
(source: Connecticut Post-Chronicle)
Witness in death penalty trial demonstrates cell-door tampering----2 inmates
left cells to attack officer, another witness testifies
A prosecution witness in a prisoner's death penalty trial demonstrated Tuesday
how a cell door from the now-closed Maryland House of Correction could be
tampered with, and a fellow inmate called by the state said he watched a fatal
attack on a correctional officer by a pair of prisoners who left their cells.
The jury stood and watched an expert in jail cell locks manipulate the locking
system on a door brought into the Anne Arundel County courtroom to show how he
believes the locks on the cell doors of two state prisoners were jimmied, and
testifying that nearly half of the cell door locks he checked barely
The testimony came during the third day of the death penalty trial of Lee
Edward "Shy" Stephens, a 32-year-old prisoner serving a sentence of life plus
15 years. Stephens is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing
July 25, 2006, of Cpl. David McGuinn, and has maintained his innocence.
Also Tuesday, a prisoner on the House of Correction tier where McGuinn was
stabbed while conducting the 10 p.m. head count testified that a number of
prisoners knew the attack was coming and watched as Stephens and Lamarr (also
spelled Lamar) Cornelius "Junebug" Harris assaulted McGuinn.
Prisoner Edward Jason "Free" Freed told jurors that another prisoner alerted
him earlier on the day of the homicide to the coming event. So, he said, from
his bunk, he poked a mirror out between cell bars to watch at the appointed
hour and saw a lineup of mirrors similarly positioned on the 49-cell tier to
"Towards the end of the tier, after he's passed Junebug's cell, Junie lifted up
the door," said Freed, who was serving time for robbery with a deadly weapon.
"He started stabbing him from the back," he testified, later adding that "as
soon as Junie started stabbing him, Shy started stabbing, too." He said the men
had trapped McGuinn and appeared to stab him repeatedly before McGuinn ran off
The defense has maintained that Freed is testifying in exchange for leniency on
pending federal gun charges.
With jurors out of the courtroom, Stephens' defense team lambasted prosecutors
and unsuccessfully asked Judge Paul A. Hackner to declare a mistrial.
Prosecutors had McGuinn's sister, Crystal, talk to prisoner Rasiast McDonald,
last Thursday in their offices, and she testified that he told her he wouldn't
testify against Stephens out of fear. Hackner had previously barred witnesses
from speaking about their testimony.
While Hackner did not find that prosecutors had engaged in "undue influence,"
he chided them for telling him there was a transportation problem last week
with McDonald when the problem was that McDonald had to be pried out of his
cell to be brought to the courthouse. Prosecutors expect to try to call him
The prosecution is expected to continue into next week in a trial expected to
last 7 weeks.
(source: Baltimore Sun)
Man may face death penalty in killing----Accused also faces rape, murder
charges in Craven County
Latricia Ana Scott's family filled the front row of the courtroom on Tuesday as
the convicted sex offender accused of killing her learned that he may face the
death penalty in Scott's death and that a county 90 miles northeast of
Wilmington is also charging him with rape and murder in an unrelated case.
"There are one or more aggravating factors present (for the death penalty),"
said New Hanover District Attorney Ben David, who briefly introduced himself
to Scott's emotional family just before a shackled Andrew Bernard Adams, 55,
was brought under heavy guard into the courtroom.
Adams, paroled from prison in 2007 after serving 33 years on rape charges out
of both New Hanover and Craven counties, is accused of killing Scott, a mother
of two young children, and burying her battered body in the yard of his Cowan
In the search for Scott, 24, reported missing Jan. 10, police went to Adams'
home Thursday night and Adams, described alternately as a friend and love
interest, appeared to cooperate with officers by allowing them to look inside
When officers returned in the light of day Friday, disturbed dirt in the
backyard sparked their interest, and investigators discovered Scott's remains.
Adams wasn't home at the time and after a five-hour standoff at a boarding
house on North 6th Street, he was arrested.
In New Hanover District Court on Tuesday where Adams made his first appearance,
Judge Chad Hogston told Adams he would remain in jail without bail. He was also
appointed a capital attorney able to handle Adams defense should the state seek
the death penalty.
David said he would impanel a team to review whether to seek the death penalty
Under North Carolina law, first-degree murder, with which Adams is charged in
Scott's killing, is punishable by the death penalty.
In order for a jury to sentence someone to death, a case must meet certain
Those 11 aggravating factors include: if the defendant had been previously
convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence; the killing was
committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing arrest; the killing was
committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of any homicide,
robbery, rape or a sex offense and if the killing was especially heinous,
atrocious or cruel.
The district attorney has to file a notice of intent to seek death within 45
days of the date of a pretrial conference in Superior Court, according to the
N.C. General Rules of Practice for Superior and District courts.
According to a Craven County warrant dated Jan. 14, Adams also is charged with
murder and first-degree rape in connection with the 1977 killing of Gwendolyn
Antoinette Nelson in New Bern. Further details of that case were not
immediately available Tuesday.
If convicted, Adams' long and violent criminal history would play into the
court's decision-making process during sentencing, and is likely to influence
whether the state imposes the death penalty.
Adams has spent a majority of his life in a cell. He got his first taste of
prison in 1973, when he was admitted to Polk Correctional Institution on a
conviction for assault with intent to commit rape in a case that originated out
of New Hanover County, according to the N.C. Department of Correction.
The state paroled him in April 1977. 2 years later, he returned to prison, this
time after convictions for several rape and attempted rape charges, as well as
a count of escaping jail.
The crimes kept him locked away for the next three decades, until the state set
him free in January 2007.
Adams served about half his prescribed prison term, which was not uncommon for
inmates convicted under former sentencing laws, said DOC spokesman Keith Acree.
Prisoners shaved a day off their sentence for each day they lived without an
infraction. The state also reduced bids if, say, the inmate worked a job or got
his high school diploma.
Since then, the laws have changed so that judges hand down minimum and maximum
sentences, and whether criminals serve one or the other essentially hinges on
their behavior, but the laws have generally resulted in longer terms for
violent offenders. Parole has been abolished for most cases.
It was not immediately clear whether Adams tried to work or better himself
while incarcerated. But his prison record contains numerous blemishes,
including about 31 infractions ranging from threats and disobeying orders to
gambling, fighting and assaulting staff with a weapon.
While serving time in August 1999, he cut a fellow inmate's face with a razor
blade. The resulting injuries were severe enough that the inmate was
hospitalized at Central Prison in Raleigh, according to court records. The
assault prompted a judge to tack an additional 75 days onto Adams' sentence.
Some of Adams' associates said they were unaware of the severity of his
criminal past. They are now.
"If it would have been broadcasted – serial rapist – we never would have been
around him," said Shanita Bullock, Scott's stepsister.
(source: Wilmington Star)
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