Day: April 11, 2012

Breaking news : Garry Allen execution stayed 30 days

april 11, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal judge in Oklahoma City has stayed the execution of an inmate who was diagnosed with schizophrenia but found sane by a jury that considered whether he was eligible for the death penalty.

Fifty-six-year-old Garry Allen is scheduled to die by injection on Thursday. Allen pleaded guilty to capital murder after being shot in the head during his November 1986 arrest. He killed 24-year-old Gail Titsworth, with whom he had children, outside a daycare where she had picked up her sons days after she moved away from Allen. An officer shot Allen after he tried to shoot the officer.

In 2005, the state Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to commute Allen’s sentence to life in prison, but Gov. Mary Fallin had decided to allow the execution to proceed.

Charges expected against George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin shooting death

zimmerman charged with second- degree murder and his in custody

april 11 source :

AP) – A law enforcement official says that charges are being filed in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The official with knowledge of the investigation says a prosecutor will announce charges against George Zimmerman on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

live on CBS news at 6.00 p.m ET watch here

Zimmerman’s arrest is also expected soon.

The official didn’t know the charge and spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.

Alabama – High cost of death penalty

april 11, 2012  source :

With states like Alabama having to slash services over monetary woes, it’s an appropriate time to reconsider the high costs of the death penalty.

Many TimesDaily readers have expressed the opinion that Sheffield native and death row inmate Tommy Arthur has been in the news much too often in recent months.

They are tired of the seemingly endless appeals process that has allowed a convicted killer to remain on death row for 29 years. Since Arthur was sentenced in 1983, the courts have upheld his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot involving Muscle Shoals resident Troy Wicker. But at the same time, Arthur has avoided execution five times through the appeals process, most recently in late March.

One reader asked how much the efforts to execute Arthur have cost compared to simply sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That’s a good question, considering the dire budget situation facing the state.

The answer is not simple, but by comparing Alabama to other states we can get a rough idea of the price.

The annual cost to house one state inmate in 2009 was about $15,118, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. If 70-year-old Arthur reached the lifespan of the average U.S. male, he would serve a total of 35 years for capital murder at a cost to the state of about $529,130. That does not include the cost of his initial trial.

A report from the Death Penalty Information Center offers what it says is a “very conservative” estimate of $30 million to reach a single execution. This amount factors in the millions wasted on cases where there is never an actual execution.

One specific example is Maryland, where a legislative commission recommended abolishing the death penalty after a study showed the state was paying $37 million per execution.

Much of the costs involved in executing an inmate revolves around exhausting every effort to ensure the person is guilty. As DNA evidence has proved in recent years, the state doesn’t always get it right. The fact that Alabama has no law ensuring access to DNA testing for people convicted of capital crimes and does not require that biological evidence be preserved throughout the capital inmate’s incarceration is among several moral concerns.

But beyond those moral issues remains the nagging thought that revoking the death penalty could make a substantial difference as the state faces a $330 million budget shortfall.

With Arthur and 198 other inmates on death row, the state Legislature should undertake an in-depth study of the cost specific to Alabama’s death penalty.


Time to end death penalty in Texas

april 10, source :

Two events last week — one in the Connecticut Senate chamber, the other in a Dallas courtroom — helped once again to focus attention on two of the nation’s most glaring flaws: wrongful convictions and capital punishment.

In Dallas, three more men were exonerated for crimes they did not commit, bringing to 30 the total number of exonerations in Dallas County since 2001. One of the men had been sentenced to 99 years in prison for a 1994 violent purse snatching involving a 79-year-old woman.

About 1,600 miles away in Hartford, the Connecticut Senate voted 20-16 to repeal the death penalty based partly on the growing evidence of wrongful convictions and the possibility that an innocent person could be executed. The state’s House of Representatives is likely to approve the measure soon, and the governor has vowed to sign it into law.

If the measure is enacted, Connecticut will join a growing number of states (the fifth in five years) to abolish capital punishment. California voters will weigh in on the subject in a ballot initiative in November.

After the Dallas defendants were officially cleared in court, both District Attorney Craig Watkins and District Judge Lena Levario declared that it was time to have a discussion about race and justice, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Actually we need a discussion about much more than that in America.

The latest Dallas case again revealed that prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense and that police, during their initial investigation, subjected the suspects to prejudicial identification tactics. These kinds of injustices cry out for discussion.

How many innocent people are behind bars based on overzealous police work, unethical prosecution or just honest mistakes? How many might be on Death Row?

When it comes to executions, there are signs that the nation’s thirst for blood is waning, bringing some hope to those of us who have been fighting against capital punishment for so long.

Even in Texas, which has the busiest death chamber in the country, the numbers are decreasing. Texas juries are sentencing fewer people to death, and the population on Death Row is declining.

Texas executed 13 people last year, the lowest number since 1996 when three people were killed by lethal injection. In 2000, a record 40 executions occurred in the state.

Four people have been put to death this year in Huntsville, bringing the total to 481 since 1982, when Texas resumed executions after the Supreme Court had declared capital punishment “cruel and unusual” in 1972.

Today 298 people are on Texas’ Death Row, including nine women. The ethnic breakdown is 29.2 percent Anglo, 40.6 percent black, 28.5 percent Hispanic and 1.7 percent other. At the end of fiscal 2001, the Death Row population was 446.

Those are all good signs, but not good enough.

If more states continue to lead the way, maybe the Lone Star State will eventually follow. New York, New Jersey, Illinois and New Mexico recently repealed capital punishment, and The Associated Press reports that Kansas and Kentucky are considering it.

Many people acknowledge that we have a flawed justice system, and that’s understandable with any structure that depends on human judgment and actions.

But it is because of the fallibility of humans that we mortals should not be charged with deciding to take a life — the one thing we can never give back in case of a mistake — in the name of the state.

The progress toward abolishment of the death penalty has been steady, but slow. It’s now time to pick up the momentum.

I’m ready to see the movement gather steam, wage an all-out legal assault and awareness campaign to change these barbaric laws one state legislature at a time.

We are a nation that should be better than this. Let’s vow to end capital punishment in this country, now and forever.