[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GA., S.DAK., US MIL., WASH., USA
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Jan 31 22:53:20 CST 2012
GEORGIA----stay of execution
Georgia inmate's scheduled execution is stayed
A superior court judge has stayed the execution of a man who had been scheduled
to be executed Tuesday evening for the 2001 killings of a woman and her
Butts County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson said Tuesday evening that the
planned execution of Nicholas Cody Tate has been stayed until further order of
Tate had originally been scheduled to be put to death by injection at 7 p.m.
for the murders of Chrissie Williams and her daughter Katelyn. He was convicted
of their deaths after a court heard he led a violent robbery at their Paulding
County home culminating in their slayings.
Lauren Kane, a Georgia Attorney General's office spokeswoman, said earlier that
the execution was delayed by plans for new appeals.
Nicholas Tate's execution now postponed
The execution of a Georgia prison inmate who has refused to challenge his death
sentence was delayed on Tuesday, hours before he was set to be put to death for
leading a violent robbery that left a woman and her 3-year-old daughter slain
at their Paulding County home.
The lethal injection of Nicholas Cody Tate was postponed because he was
planning to file a new round of appeals, said Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for
the Georgia Attorney General's office. He hadn't filed those yet and Kane said
she was uncertain how long the execution would be pushed back.
Prison officials did not immediately comment at the state prison in Jackson
Tate was set to be put to death by injection at 7 p.m. for the murders of
Chrissie Williams and her daughter Katelyn.
His case presents a host of challenges to Georgia's legal system because it has
moved rapidly through the death penalty process. That's because Tate has
refused to challenge his conviction and death sentence through habeas corpus
appeals, a process that could postpone his execution for years.
Tate's attorneys last week abandoned an attempt to have the condemned man's
brother file an appeal on his behalf, and the pardons board on Monday rejected
his request for clemency.
The likeliest route for Tate to halt his execution would be to file the habeas
appeal, and his attorneys wouldn't immediately say whether he has done so. They
have also declined to comment on why the 31-year-old won't let them file the
appeals, but Tate's remarks at a 2009 hearing reveal his some of his thoughts.
"You caught me red-handed," he said during the hearing, when he waived his
motion for a new trial. "None of my rights were violated ... I choose to waive
any and all future appeals."
Friends and family of the victims said they were disappointed by the news.
Kellie Young, Chrissie's older sister, said state attorneys contacted her late
Tuesday with news that Tate was going to file an appeal.
"We're going to go through the courts again," she said. "I'm still in shock. I
wanted closure. We just have to hope things turn out the way they should."
Court records detail how Nicholas Tate and two of his younger brothers, Dustin
and Chad, purchased ammunition, duct tape and knives at a sporting goods store
in December 2001 and then sought out Chrissie Williams' home because they
believed she had a stash of drugs and cash.
The men knocked on the door and when Katelyn answered, chaos ensued. Tate
ordered his brother Chad to silence the girl. Chad Tate unsuccessfully tried to
strangle her with a telephone cord, and he then used Nicholas' knife to slit
her throat. His other brother, Dustin, fled the house in fear. Before leaving,
Nicholas Tate put a seat cushion over Chrissie's head and fired one shot
through the pillow to kill her.
The brothers fled to Mississippi, kidnapping a 23-year-old woman from a gas
station. They released her but kept the car as they sped toward Oklahoma.
There, the brothers contacted their parents in Dallas, Ga. and soon negotiated
their surrender to police.
Tate's 2 brothers were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the
violence. But Nicholas Tate, who prosecutors said was the ringleader, was
sentenced to death after pleading guilty to murder charges in November 2005.
He filed a motion for a new trial a year later, but in 2009 had a change of
heart. That's when he said he wanted to waive all future appeals, and the judge
accepted his request, finding him to be coherent and articulate. Even so, his
attorneys went ahead with a direct appeal, and the Georgia Supreme Court
rejected their arguments.
Young said Tate deserved to die for his crimes.
"What they done was cruel. They went into her house, where she thought she was
safe, and took her and her child," she said. "Only animals do that. What they
did was devastating to her family."
(source for both: Associated Press)
Judge Weighing Death Penalty In SD Guard Killing
The widow of a South Dakota prison guard killed during a failed escape attempt
says her husband's death was a needless act.
Lynette Johnson testified Tuesday at the pre-sentencing hearing of 49-year-old
inmate Rodney Berget, who has pleaded guilty to attacking 63-year-old Ronald
Johnson with fellow inmate Eric Robert.
Judge Bradley Zell is weighing whether Berget should be sentenced to death for
the April 12 killing.
Zell earlier sentenced Robert to death for his part in the crime after he
pleaded guilty. A third inmate has been charged with providing the materials
used to kill Johnson.
Lynette Johnson says there was no reason for her husband to be killed.
Her 2 kids earlier testified about the role their father's death has played in
(source: Keloland TV)
Alleged bomber's lawyer wants to question Yemeni
The motion to depose Ali Abdullah Saleh was under seal at the Pentagon Tuesday;
the Yemeni president is in the United States recovering from burns suffered in
an ‘Arab Spring’ explosion at his presidential compound in Sana’a.
Guantánamo defense lawyers for an alleged al Qaida bomber asked an Army judge
on Tuesday to order Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to undergo war court
questioning at a New York hospital.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes wouldn’t say what he wants to ask the former
Yemeni strongman on behalf of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who faces a death
penalty trial at Guantánamo next year. He did said he believed the chief
military commissions judge could issue a subpoena that “would compel the Yemeni
president to be deposed” — despite a U.S. State Department declaration that the
69-year-old Yemeni would receive diplomatic immunity as head of state.
Saleh arrived in the United States this weekend for treatment of burns he
suffered in June during a bomb attack at his palace mosque amid a popular
uprising to oust him from power. Elections for his replacement are slated for
Pentagon prosecutors alleged that Nashiri, a self-described former millionaire
from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, orchestrated al Qaeda’s bombing of the USS Cole off
Yemen in October 2000 when Saleh was firmly in charge of his homeland. Suicide
bombers blew up the $1 billion U.S. warship in Aden harbor, killing 17 U.S.
It was also during Saleh’s tenure that some other accused Cole bombers were
captured, convicted and escaped from a Sana’a prison.
The filing was under seal Tuesday to give U.S. intelligence agencies time to
Pentagon prosecutors have yet to respond, and a spokesman for the Yemeni
Embassy in Washington had no comment.
The prosecution seeks the execution of Nashiri as Osama bin Laden’s alleged
chief of Arabian Sea operations against both U.S. ships as well as the French
oil tanker the Limburg. A crew member died in the October 2002 attack.
Defense lawyers argue that Nashiri’s case is tainted by torture because CIA
agents waterboarded him and interrogated him with a revving drill and a handgun
cocked near his head before his transfer to the U.S. Navy base in Cuba in
September 2006 for trial.
(source: Miami Herald)
Judge: Death penalty notice to stay in Carnation murder case ---- Trial is set
to begin May 4
A judge has decided to let the prosecutor's death penalty notice stand in the
case of Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, accused of killing 6 members of
Anderson's family in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007, the court announced
The defense had asked Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell to dismiss the King County
prosecutor's death penalty notice on the grounds the death penalty is
The notice means the jury, if it convicts the defendants, can consider the
death penalty as punishment. The murder trial is scheduled to begin May 4.
Ramsdell held a status hearing on the defense request to dismiss the death
penalty notice last Wednesday; the court announced his decision Monday.
Anderson and her ex-boyfriend, McEnroe, are charged with killing Anderson's
parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and
his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple's two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan,
3, inside the elder Andersons' Carnation home.
Detectives said Michele Anderson told them she helped kill them because her
brother owed her money and she was upset because her parents did not take her
She told reporters in 2010 that she was guilty and that she deserved to die,
but her lawer said later she no longer wants to be executed.
Her lawyer, Stephan Illa, said that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is
making a costly mistake in deciding to seek the death penalty against Anderson
and McEnroe if they are convicted of aggravated murder.
Satterberg said the magnitude of the crime requires that a jury have the option
As of Monday, there are 8 men on death row in Washington state. The last
execution in the state, by lethal injection, was in September 2010.
Defense lawyer fights racism in death row cases
There’s a steadfast cheeriness to Christina Swarns as she talks rapid fire
about the contours of her day. There are the rigors of her end-to-end Manhattan
commute, how rarely she dresses like a grown-up and the usual challenges of the
professional working mom.
But that changes when the conversation turns to the role of race in the
criminal justice system. Then the Howard University grad becomes all authority
and passion. She cites case law, death-penalty statistics and the history of
Southern lynchings.She talks without pause, punctuating her words with hand
gestures, even as her favorite portobello sandwich goes untouched in front of
As director of the criminal justice unit at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund,
Swarns, 43, is one of the most prominent capital-defense lawyers in the country
— the rare black woman in a community whose public face is most often white and
male. Over the course of her career, she’s gotten seven convicted murderers off
death row; one was exonerated, three had their convictions overturned and three
had their death sentences vacated. But it is her most recent victory that is by
far the most high-profile.
In December prosecutors in Philadelphia declined to seek another death sentence
against Mumia Abu-Jamal, a decision that took him off death row for the first
time in 30 years and rewarded years of effort Swarns — and many others — had
put into the case. In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia
police officer and his decades-long court battles gained him a national and
international following. There have been hip-hop tributes, “Free Mumia”
T-shirts and a street named for him in France. When it was announced that he
would no longer face the death penalty, famed writer Alice Walker wrote him a
poem, activist and Princeton University professor Cornel West led a rally at
the Philadelphia Constitution Center and the former South African archbishop
Desmond Tutu called for his immediate release.
Abu-Jamal is Swarns’s biggest case, and she’s thrilled for the renewed
attention it has received. But what she really wants is more scrutiny on an
entire system she says is unfair and unjust.
Finding her passion
“Welcome to death row,” Swarns jokes outside her office. Behind her desk, a
Halloween picture of her 3-year-old daughter, Amina, whom Swarns adopted as an
infant from Ethiopia, shares space with a 1970s picture of a Ku Klux Klansman
in full regalia holding a handwritten sign: “We support the Death Penalty.”
Growing up on Staten Island, Swarns never imagined she’d be in this place.
Swarns is the middle of three girls (her younger sister, Jessica, is an
elementary school teacher in Woodbridge, and her older sister, Rachel, a New
York Times reporter). Her father is a real estate broker, her mother an
educator who retired as a superintendent for the New York City Department of
Education. At her mother’s insistence, during breaks from Howard, Swarns
interned at the office of a neighbor who was a prosecutor and decided she hated
“I was the only black person in a nonclerical capacity and all the people being
prosecuted were black,” she says. It was a mill. “Nobody talked about how on
Earth is this happening?”
But the law remained compelling, and at the University of Pennsylvania law
school, she dabbled in public service law, worked on an AIDS project and taught
at-risk kids at a community center. Nothing stuck. For 6 months after
graduating, she grilled other lawyers about their jobs but remained
“overwhelmingly confused.” One day she simply called the Legal Defense Fund to
ask if she could volunteer. Absolutely, she was told, and she was immediately
sent to the capital-crimes division.
She started on a Monday. A fellow lawyer had a client scheduled to die that
week. He got a last-minute stay. Swarns says it was “the first time I felt I
saw criminal law in its full capacity and power.” The first time she saw a
place for herself.
Swarns gained courtroom experience at the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan and
began doing full-time death-penalty work with the capital unit of the
Philadelphia Federal Community Defender’s Office in the mid-1990s. In 2003 she
was offered the position with the Legal Defense Fund. One of the first things
she did was meet with Abu-Jamal. In late 2010, Jamal asked her and the LDF to
take his case.
Swarns didn’t know if they could. Her daughter was 2. Her schedule was tight.
As a single mom, she had to leave the office by 4:30 and already sometimes felt
like a part-timer, rushing back and forth daily from her Washington Heights
home to her office in TriBeCa. Dating was nonexistent. She came to terms with
all that, then talked to her boss.
“This is that Mumia,” she told him, “with all the followers.”
Abu-Jamal was a former Black Panther, and his 1982 conviction for killing
patrolman Daniel Faulkner came during a time of deep racial unrest. The U.S.
Department of Justice had just sued the Philadelphia Police Department for
federal civil rights violations. In 1978, a police officer had been killed
during a raid on the black liberation sect MOVE. During and after the trial,
Abu-Jamal supporters alleged the prosecution was corrupt. Prosecutors and
Faulkner’s family called him a cop killer.
By the time Swarns took over Abu-Jamal’s case, it was decades old and still
politically explosive. But Swarns believed Abu-Jamal was innocent — and
moreover that the death penalty is racist. It’s a belief that animates her life
and makes it impossible for her to have casual conversations about capital
punishment. At the same time, she gets that victims’ families and death-penalty
proponents believe just as strongly that the punishment must fit the crime,
that convicted killers deserve to be killed.
“I don’t support murder. I don’t want people to be killed; that’s horrible. To
a case, a family has lost someone for no good reason in an unnatural way,” she
says. “My point is whether this person got what the American justice system
guarantees. Is this the right person, and was justice done?”
The LDF took Abu-Jamal’s case. Last spring the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled Abu-Jamal’s jury received flawed instructions and his death
sentence was unconstitutional. The Philadelphia prosecutor’s office appealed to
the Supreme Court, which refused to take the case. That led to the December
decision to not seek another death sentence for Abu-Jamal.
In the hallway outside of Swarns’s office hang pencil drawings and a thank you
from Abu-Jamal that reads, “splendid work on the amicus brief! Alla best,
‘Descendant of lynching’
A study released last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the
Press found that 62 % of Americans favor the death penalty for those convicted
of murder — a number that’s held relatively steady for the past few years, but
far lower than the mid-1990s when it neared 80 %. The study found an equal
number of Americans troubled about wrongful convictions and the morality of
executions. Less than 5 %, however, cited concerns about racial disparities.
For Swarns and “everybody in the [capital-defense] community,” she says the
connection between the death penalty and race is irrefutable. “The death
penalty is a direct descendant of lynching,” she says. “The states with the
highest number of lynchings also have the highest numbers of death-penalty
Swarns used to be 1 of 5 or 6 black capital-defense lawyers at national
training conferences. “You’d see all white men,” she says, “certainly onstage,
but also in the crowd.” Now she says there are maybe 20, not just black, but
also Hispanic and Asian. Still not enough, she says.
Terrica Redfield Ganzy represents clients on death row in Georgia and Alabama
as an attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights. She was shocked at how
few blacks worked in capital defense. The jobs don’t pay well she says. And few
black lawyers can afford to come out making $30,000 a year. There’s often no
one who looks like you to help guide your path. For Ganzy, Swarns has been her
most important role model.
David R. Dow, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center runs a
capital-punishment clinic, and his students work on cases involving death-row
inmates in Texas. It’s exactly the kind of visual — a white law school
professor and his students — the public most often sees when capital-defense
cases garner media attention.
“There’s a broad range of experiences that are useful in capital-defense work
and race and gender are parts of it,” says Dow, though he notes there are very
few lawyers of color in the field. When he worked with Swarns on a Texas
death-row case seven years ago, it was his first time working with a black
female attorney in 25 years of capital-defense work. Swarns, Dow says, “is the
model for a lawyer who, when she’s representing somebody, at the end of that
process, there’s not going to be a drop of gas left in that tank. There aren’t
going to be any fumes left because she will have burned every bit of it
representing her client.”
Now that Abu-Jamal is off death row, they’re figuring out their next steps,
Swarns says. Meanwhile, her daughter is getting older. She decided to adopt
because she wasn’t married and wanted a child. But this year, she says with her
customary cheeriness, she might be able to start dating again. Of course the
dating pool is a bit limited by that core belief that carries between her
personal and professional life.
Potential suitors “can’t really support the death penalty,” she says. “I’m
trying to think if there’s another way to put it, but there isn’t.”
(source: Washington Post)
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