- “The Green Mile” 1999. This is a fine movie about a prison guard and an inmate with the gift to heal. A friendship seems to brew between the two as death lingers over head. Tom Hanks plays an exceptional role as the prison guard in this classic movie.
- “Dead Man Walking” 1999. Based on a true story of a nun who becomes a spiritual advisor to death row. Never wavering from her Christian beliefs, she struggles to console those who have killed and one in particular who shows no remorse or regret for what he has done.
- “Identity” 2003. A movie about a wrongly accused killer on death row. While others struggle to clear his name he has come to grips with his destiny. Will the phone ring at the last minute to save the innocent?
- “Monster’s Ball” 2001. Being in the family business isn’t Ledger’s cup of tea. After witnessing an execution he looses his lunch and his father looses his mind. Sent away to reexamine his life, ledger falls for Leticia (the wife of the one whose execution he witnessed).
- “Black Angel” 1946. is a dark noir film very cleverly scripted. Just another innocent man on death row and the race to clear his name. This is still a wonderful and well directed dark film that even today it is one to review.
- “The Thin Blue Line” 1998. A true docudrama about an innocent man on death row for the killing o Dallas policemen. A riveting story about the hardship and pain one man would go through for the sake of proving another’s innocence.
- “Dead Man Out” 1989. What would happen if a convicted killer were to go insane while on death row. That is exactly the question this movie asks and sets out to answer it. This is a riveting and entertaining movie.
- “Live! From Death Row” 1992. Yes, you read it right. This is a tabloid based movie about a live interview of a killer before his execution. Things don’t always go as planned however, even in television.
- “Angels with Dirty Faces” 1938. Chronicles the lives of two friends, one chose the priesthood and the other a life of crime. One is set to pay for his crimes while the other the last rites.
- “Beyond the Call” 1996. This movie centers on a housewife who finds herself in the midst of an inmate on death row. She feels compelled to help him based on his haunted past. This is a movie about the Vietnam era veterans and post traumatic syndrome.
The FACTS from court documents.
On October 14, 1995, shortly before 5:00 p.m., Mrs. Rhonda Hatten Griffis, age 28, was found lying in a large pool of blood next to the couch in the living room of her home on 198Sunrise Road, Petal, Mississippi. Mrs. Griffis was found wearing a t-shirt, and the only clothing on the lower part of her body was around her left foot. She had several gashes on the back of her head. There were other injuries to Mrs. Griffis’ head, back, and chest, including a deep laceration and three to four hesitation marks to the neck. She was also bleeding from her vagina. She had several defensive wounds on her hands, arms, and elbows. Mrs. Griffis died as a result of the injuries; the cause of death was cranial cerebral trauma, secondary to blunt force trauma. A wooden stick or club covered with blood was recovered outside the residence.
Rhonda’s mother, Nancy Hatten, lived next door, roughly 150-175 feet from the Griffis’ trailer. On the day of the murder, Mrs. Hatten helped Rhonda’s boys, Justin, age 7, and Jeffrey, age 5, put up Halloween decorations in the yard. Rhonda was not feeling well that day, suffering from a headache and bad sinus problems. Later that afternoon, Mrs. Hattenwas in her front yard when she heard a “scream and a thud” come from the Griffis’ trailer. Mrs. Hatten then ran home and telephoned the trailer. The phone rang four or five times, but there was no answer. Mrs. Hatten hung up and dialed again, but there was still no answer. She then immediately went to the trailer.
As Mrs. Hatten neared the trailer, she saw David Griffis, Rhonda’s husband, and their two boys driving up to the trailer. David had been hauling pine straw all day and was returning with his last load. A blue truck was parked in the vacant lot beside the residence. Nancy entered the trailer door at the kitchen/dining room area and called for Rhonda but there was no answer. Puckett came from the hallway into the kitchen/dining area and raised a club back and started towards Nancy. As Nancy backed away from Puckett, Jeffrey entered the house followed closely by David. Justin was still outside. Nancy then took the children, ran to her house, locked the boys in the bathroom, and called 911. This 911 call was received by the 911 system at 5:01:15 p.m. and answered by the 911 operator at 5:01:20 p.m. At 5:01:41 p.m., Nancy was placed on hold, as 911 received a call from the Griffis’ trailer. Mrs. Hatten identified State’s Exhibit Number 3 as the club that Puckett had in his hand in the trailer.by The Griffis family knew Puckett because he was once employed While Puckett was employed by David, the employees would gather at the Griffis’ house before leaving for work.
Jeffrey Griffis testified that when he entered the home, he saw Puckett with a club in his hand and holding on to Mrs. Hatten’s shirt. David Griffis testified that when he entered the home, he saw Mrs. Hatten with Puckett standing in front of her with the club in his hand raised over his head. David indicated that Puckett was wearing army-type coveralls. The club had blood and a white substance on it. David asked Puckett what he was doing in his house and Puckett said he had hit a deer on the road and came to get David’s help and to 4 use the telephone. David called out for Rhonda but no one answered. However, Puckett told David that Rhonda was down at her mother’s house. David asked Puckett about the blood on the club and Puckett indicated that it was blood from the deer. David then dialed 911 from a portable phone that was laying on the counter beside him. This 911 call was received by the 911 system at 5:01:27 p.m. and answered by the 911 operator at 5:01:41 p.m. This (David’s) call was terminated at 5:04:42 p.m. At some point, David and Puckett struggled and David got the club from Puckett. David tried to keep Puckett in the trailer until the police arrived. However, Puckett took off running towards the door. As Puckett was running for the door, David swung the club and hit Puckett on the shoulder. Then, as Puckett ran out the door, David threw the club at him. Dr. Michael West testified at trial that the club, State’s Exhibit 3, was consistent with the wound pattern found on Puckett’s back.
Once Puckett exited the trailer, David entered the living room and reached for his pistol that was usually on a gun cabinet just to the left of the living room door. However, the pistol was not there. David did not see Rhonda’s body lying in the living room at this time. David then ran into the bedroom to retrieve a rifle from the bedroom closet. The bedroomdoor is straight ahead as you turn towards the cabinet. As David exited the bedroom and re-entered the living room, he then saw Rhonda laying on the floor. He saw that Rhonda was injured and dialed 911 again to inform the police. David’s second 911 call wasreceived by the 911 system at 5:05:01 p.m. and was answered by the 911 operator at 5:05:07 p.m. This call was terminated at 5:11:45 p.m. The time between the end of David’s first 911 call and the beginning of his second 911 call was 18 seconds. Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics arrived within minutes.
Before David fired Puckett, David considered him to be a decent employee and even wrote a letter of recommendation for Puckett to become an Eagle Scout. Another former employer of Puckett’s, Ray Watkins, testified that shortly before Rhonda’s murder, a maul handle was broken at his work site. Watkins had the maul handle for several years,between seven (7) and ten (10) years, and believed the maul handle to be State’s Exhibit No. 3. Watkins also testified that he had seen the handle in Puckett’s truck on several occasions.
Puckett was seen around 3:30 p.m. the afternoon of the murder at the same house from which David Griffis was collecting pine straw. Puckett’s blue 4-wheel drive truck was alsoseen passing the Griffis’ residence at approximately 4:41 p.m.
Puckett’s truck was recovered the next night in a wooded area in Perry County. On October 16, 1995, Puckett was apprehended near his mother’s home in Perry County. At the time of his arrest, Puckett nervously commented to his mother that “[t]his is a lot of law enforcement for somebody who just committed a burglary.” A duffle bag containing various items including a pair of coveralls was recovered from Puckett at the time of his arrest.
5.Puckett did not deny being in the trailer at the time of the murder, but testified that he witnessed David Griffis murder his wife. He indicated that he had originally planned only to burglarize the house in order to find money to pay his truck note. He stated that the idea to burglarize the house just popped into his head at the time he went by the Griffis’ house. Puckett testified that he parked his truck in a vacant lot beside the Griffis’ trailer and put his coveralls on. Puckett saw Rhonda’s car at the trailer, but proceeded to the door anyway and knocked. Puckett said that Rhonda let him in and they began to talk. Puckett said that he saw the stick (State’s Exhibit No. 3) lying on the living room floor. He stated that he and Rhonda began kissing and he then began acting out his sexual fantasy of undressing a woman while he remained fully clothed. He said that Rhonda then saw her mother approaching the trailer, grabbed her clothes and ran into the bedroom, and told Puckett to get rid of her mother. Puckett said heran into the dining room area and had picked up the stick and decided to scare Mrs. Hatten away with the club. Puckett further stated that after Mrs. Hatten fled with the children, David accused Rhonda of sleeping with Puckett and began hitting her with the stick that David took from Puckett. After beating his wife, David struggled to keep Puckett in the trailer, but Puckett was able to escape while David was calling 911. At trial, Puckett indicated the whole incident took four or five minutes. Puckett said he hid in the woods for two days because he was afraid of David.
Update : march 20, source :http://www.wlbt.com
Advocacy group calls for clemency in Puckett execution
watch the video click here
Update : march 19,2012 source : http://www.wtok.com
Thousands of people have signed an online petition seeking to block the execution of death row inmate, Larry Matthew Puckett.
He is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Puckett was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing his former boss’ wife when he was 18 years old.
His lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court last week to block the execution.
A group opposed to capital punishment spoke out Monday at the state capitol.
Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice want Gov. Phil Bryant to grant clemency to Puckett, as well as condemned killer, William Mitchell, who is also scheduled for execution this week.
“Neither of these men, William Mitchell or Matt Puckett, have had a fair trial,” said attorney Jim Craig. “Neither of them have had a real appeal. It’s time to quit hiding behind this fraud and accept the fact that our system is deeply flawed. And these two cases prove it.”
As of Monday, there were nearly 4500 electronic signatures on a petition called ‘Save Matt Puckett: stop an innocent man from being executed.’
Update : march, 15, 2012 source : http://www.sunherald.com
JACKSON — A Mississippi prison inmate has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution Tuesday based on the argument that his lawyers didn’t do a good job and prosecutors discriminated against blacks during jury selection.
Larry Matthew Puckett is scheduled to receive a lethal injection for the 1995 sexual assault and beating death of Rhonda Hatten Griffis of Forrest County. His lawyers filed the request Wednesday to block the execution.
March, 16,2012 : Jamie Arpin-Ricci Author & pastor, Little Flowers Community talks about matthew’s innocence
[…]In less than a week another friend of mine, Matt, is going to be dead — killed as surely and finally as the other two. I will not see his death, but because the setting of his death is determined (and by some, celebrated) I am already haunted by the images of him dying. It has not happened yet, but I feel as powerless to prevent his death as I am with the others.
You see, my friend Matthew Puckett is being executed by the state of Mississippi on Tuesday, March 20. Matthew has been tried and convicted of a brutal murder. Doubtless there are those who believe that deserves this end and will take great joy when his sentence is carried out. I am not one of those people.
While I know many of my fellow Christians do not agree with me on this point, my faith makes it impossible to condone capital punishment. I will not attempt to argue that position here, for there isn’t the space nor is it the primary point. Whether you believe in the death penalty or not, what I hope we can agree on is that, should we use this form of punishment, we had better be damn sure there is no question of their guilt. As I look at Matt’s case, there are simply far too many uncertainties to make such a sentence acceptable.
I believe that Matthew Puckett is innocent. For those not convinced, I hope that you will examine his case and recognize that he was not given the kind of justice our society boasts as being the right of every person. Given that reality, I ask that you consider signing this petition to save Matt’s life and/or contacting Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, and ask for a stay. Allow Matt at least the chance to live his life, even if behind bars.
Supreme Court of United States
|Attorneys for Petitioner:|
|Keir Michael Weyble||Cornell Law School||(607) 255-3805|
|Counsel of Record||103 Myron Taylor Hall|
|Ithaca, NY 14853|
|Party name: Larry Matthew Puckett|
|Sheryl Bey||4268 I-55 North||(601) 351-2400|
|Meadowbrook Office Park (39211)|
|P. O. Box 14167|
|Jackson, MS 39236|
|Party name: Larry Matthew Puckett|
|Attorneys for Respondent:|
|Marvin L. White Jr.||Assistant Attorney General||(601) 359-3680|
|Counsel of Record||450 High Street|
|P.O. Box 220|
|Jackson, MS 39205|
|Party name: Christopher B. Epps, Commissioner, Mississippi Department of Corrections|
On November 5, 2009, Puckett filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit over the denial of his habeas petition in Federal District Court.
On May 19, 2011, the Fifth Circuit affirmed Puckett’s death sentence.
Viewpoint: Los Angeles Times
The machinery of death is ripping itself to chunks in North Carolina. Would that this would happen in more places — like, say, California.
Conservatives and prosecutors in the Tarheel State are up in arms over a 2009 law that allows death row inmates to reduce their sentences to life without parole if they can prove racial bias in sentencing or jury selection — even if the bias wasn’t directed at them but at others. In other words, if convicts can show a statistical pattern of racial bias statewide, they can use it as evidence that their own trial may have been skewed. And they don’t have to be minorities to appeal; a white inmate who can show excessive dismissal of black potential jurors might be able to dodge the executioner.
Opponents of the law are calling it a backdoor way to end the death penalty, and they’re probably not wrong. That’s because it’s not going to be very hard for inmates to demonstrate racial bias. A Michigan State University study found that, between 1990 and 2010, North Carolina prosecutors dismissed black potential jurors at twice the rate of nonblacks in death penalty cases.
But it’s not an ideal solution. The approach is laden with complications and, moreover, North Carolina has a potential nightmare brewing: Because the sentence of life without parole didn’t exist there before 1994, it’s possible that inmates sentenced before then who successfully overturn their death sentences could be set free.
The better way? Borrow a page from Illinois, New Mexico and other states that have done away with the death penalty and replaced it with life without parole.
Capital punishment imposes ruinous costs on states, it can’t be reversed if an inmate is later exonerated, it’s highly questionable whether it can be carried out in a humane manner, and it protects society from killers no better than putting them away for life. As for the possibility of racial bias in sentencing, there probably isn’t a reliable way to eliminate it. North Carolina is going through the back door when, with more honesty and fewer complications, it could go through the front.
Jury recommends death for McCloud in home invasion
Robert “Bam” McCloud sat down in a chair.
He shook his head slightly as 12 jurors revealed Friday that a majority, 8-4, thought he should die. He wiped away a tear then let out a deep breath.
At trial, McCloud testified that he didn’t go along with the robbery crew and was later pressured by investigators to say he was present.
She mentioned that three accomplices took plea deals for punishments ranging from 10 years to 15 years in prison.
Meeks suggested one of the other men was the killer.
“The state wants you to recommend the death penalty for Bob McCloud,” she said. “That’s not justice. That’s not fair and impartial justice.”
Jurors spent about 2 1/2 hours deliberating before reaching a decision.
Earlier this week, the 30-year-old Apopka man was found guilty of participating in a 2009 home invasion robbery in Poinciana where two bystanders were fatally shot, execution-style, in the back of the head.
The same jury was asked to recommend an appropriate punishment: life imprisonment or execution.
Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen must give their recommendation great weight.
The judge will review additional evidence and listen to more arguments at another hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Outside the courtroom, McCloud’s wife, Shawana, and his mother-in-law, Dora Norman, didn’t wish to comment and left the courthouse in tears.
Read more : News chief
Author Thomas Cahill has written a new book, “A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green,” about his encounter and gradual understanding of the life of a Texas death row inmate named Dominique Green. Green, who was only 18 at the time of his arrest, was executed in 2004. Cahill’s story of Green’s life highlights issues of race, poverty, and abuse, tracing details of his childhood through his years on death row. Thomas Cahill is probably best known for his New York Times bestseller “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” This newest book will be published by Doubleday and will be released in March 2009.
“A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green,” Doubleday Publishing, 2009)
Lethal Rejection: Stories on Crime and Punishment, edited and written in part by American University criminologist Robert Johnson and student Sonia Tabriz, features an array of fiction and poetry on crime and punishment written by prisoners, academics, and students of criminology. The book includes a number of stories about capital punishment. Jocelyn Pollock, Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas State University, writes in the preface, “[H]umans have always used fiction to instruct, enlighten and communicate. Stories take us to places we haven’t been; they help us to understand people who are not like us. In this book, the authors use fiction to convey the reality of prison.” She describes the book’s poetry, prose and plays as methods to “take the reader into the ‘reality’ of prison and the justice system–not through facts and figures, but through the tears and screams, blood and pain of the people chewed up by it.” Todd Clear, a Professor of Criminal Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, writes, “The book makes us encounter the lives of the confined in a way I have not experienced in any other book about prison life.”
“That Bird Has My Wings” is a new book by Jarvis Jay Masters, an inmate on San Quentin’s death row in California. In this memoir, Masters tells his story from an early life with his heron-addicted mother to an abusive foster home. He describes his escape to the illusory freedom of the streets and through lonely nights spent in bus stations and juvenile homes, and finally to life inside the walls of San Quentin Prison. Using the nub and filler from a ballpoint pen (the only writing instrument allowed him in solitary confinement), Masters chronicles the story of a bright boy who turned to a life of crime, and of a penitent man who embraces Buddhism to find hope. Masters has written this story as a cautionary tale for anyone who might be tempted to follow in his footsteps, and as a plea for understanding about the forgotten members of society. (From publisher’s description).
Renowned death penalty defense attorney Andrea Lyon‘s forthcoming book, Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer, chronicles her 30 years of experience representing clients in capital murder cases. In all of the 19 cases where she represented defendants who were found guilty of capital murder, jurors spared her clients’ lives. Lyon, who was featured in the PBS documentary Race to Execution and was called the “angel of death row” by the Chicago Tribune, gives readers an inside look at what motivates her during these difficult cases and offers behind-the-scene glimpses into many dramatic courtroom battles. Lyon is the founder of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases based in Illinois and a professor of law at DePaul University College of Law. The book includes a foreword by Alan Dershowitz, who calls Lyon “a storyteller par excellence.”
I Shall Not Die by Billy Neal Moore
In his memoir, former death row inmate Billy Neal Moore describes his time on death row, leading up to the 7 hours before his scheduled execution. Admittedly guilty of murder, Moore spent over 16 years on death row before his death sentence was overturned. He was subsequently freed because of his exemplary behavior. Moore’s account details how he asked for and received forgiveness from the victim’s family. His story is also described in the film “Execution.
Last Words from Death Row: The Wall Unit by Norma Herrera
In Last Words From Death Row: The Walls Unit, Norma Herrera recounts the tribulations she and her family suffered as they worked to free her brother, Leonel, from death row in Texas. The book documents court events and press coverage of the case and captures the family’s efforts to assist Leonel prior to his execution in 1993, four months after the U.S. Supreme Court held in Herrera v. Collins that, in the absence of other constitutional violations, new evidence of innocence is no reason for federal courts to order a new trial. Last Words from Death Row reveals that Leonel was a decorated war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder when he was sentenced to death for the murder of two police officers. He was nearly beaten to death after his arrest for the crime. He was quickly sentenced to death by a jury that largely consisted of local police department employees or those closely associated with them. As they fought to prove their client’s innocence, Leonel’s appellate attorneys introduced eyewitness evidence that Leonel’s brother had actually committed the crime and that local police officials were part of an effort to hide the truth. One of Leonel’s attorneys, Robert McGlasson, noted, “Indeed, never in my almost ten years of death penalty practice had I seen such extraordinary evidence demonstrating not just my client’s innocence, but the extreme degree of government involvement in deceit and criminal involvement.” In her book, Norma Herrera fulfills her brother’s final wish before his execution. He asked her to tell his story. He later proclaimed to the witnesses at his execution: “I am innocent, innocent, innocent. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight.” (Nightengale Press, 2007).
Charles D. Flores details his personal experience as an inmate on Texas’ death row. The book, Warrior Within: Inside Report on Texas Death Row, provides a first-hand account of Flores’ death penalty trial and his experiences awaiting execution. It explores his quest to learn more about the law as he fights to prove his innocence and win his freedom. In the book, Flores writes, “I started to comprehend what it meant to be on death row. I was beginning to understand it was a race against the clock, the most important race, I’d ever run. That understanding came at a terrible price, a price I pay daily. It’s paid in the form of the anxiety attacks that come from nowhere that I have today. It’s paid in nightmares that wake me up in a cold sweat, shaking my head trying to knock the haunting images out of it, nightmares of living my last day on death row, being taken to Huntsville and being put in the holding cell next to the death chamber, drowning on fear, choking on terror, as I wait for them to execute me.”
Blue Rage, Black Redemption: A Memoir by Stanley Tookie Williams
A first-hand account of Williams’ personal journey from co-founding the notorious Crips gang to becoming a reformed prisoner and activist for youth from behind bars on California’s death row. The book, which has an epilogue by Barbara Becnel and a foreward by Tavis Smiley, details how Williams became a powerful anti-gang activist during the two decades he spent on death row prior to his December 2005 execution. Williams’ book openly discusses the life of drugs and violence that led to the formation of the Crips, and then offers an inside look into his personal transformation: “Black Redemption depicts the stages of my redemptive awakening during my more than twenty-three years of imprisonment. . . . I hope it will connect the reader to a deeper awareness of a social epidemic,” Williams wrote after finishing the book. (Touchstone Books, 2007).
by American University Criminology Professor Robert Johnson, including one book of satire and a second book of short stories co-authored with prisoner Victor Hassine and criminologist Ania Dobrzanska, address life in prison and on death row in the United States. Johnson’s first book of satire,Justice Follies, offers a collection of parodies that seek to highlight a host of problems within the American prison system. “This book made me laugh out loud. It is outrageous… and the most outrageous thing about it is its ring of truth,” notes Todd Clear, a Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University in New York. (Willo Trees Press, 2005). The Crying Wall, a work by Johnson, Hassine and Dobrzanska, is a collection of short stories that offer readers a look inside the workings of correctional facilities and the realities of day-to-day living in prison. The book’s fifteen fictional pieces capture the emotions of those who are incarcerated.
more coming.. thx
Werner Herzog’s ‘On Death Row,’ an Investigation Discovery companion series to his film ‘Into the Abyss,’ is thought-provoking.
Unlike many a modern filmmaker, compelled to excavate the intimate and even mundane for life’s meaning, German director Werner Herzog believes in extremes. During his impressively prolific career, he has consistently sought out the outcasts and the heroes, the misfits and prophets, the dreamers of fevered and spectacular dreams. The subjects of his 25 feature-length documentaries include a deaf and blind woman, a freestyle mountain climber, the lone survivor of an airplane crash and a man who lived with grizzlies. Indeed, within Herzog’s remarkable canon, a multi-platform documentary about death row inmates seems almost mainstream.
During the interviews, Barnes is well-spoken yet strangely detached, acknowledging his actions and his subsequent remorse in tones that suggest they were the experiences of another person. Even the news that Herzog has managed to contact Barnes’ long-estranged father is greeted with a disturbingly placid mien.
When: 7 and 10 p.m. Friday
Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)
source : Los Angeles Times