Day: April 18, 2012

GEORGIA – Daniel Greene’s Execution – COMMUTED

april 17, 2012 source

Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles stayed the execution of former Taylor County H.S. football star Daniel Greene up to 90 days “to allow for additional time to examine the substance of claims offered by Greene’s representatives” at a clemency hearing on Tuesday.

Greene was scheduled to be executed Thursday night.

A news release said the parole board may lift the stay at any time and grant clemency — commuting the death sentence to life or life without parole — or deny clemency.

Greene was convicted of fatally stabbing his former classmate Bernard Walker, 20, during a 1991 convenience-store robbery in Taylor County. A store clerk was also stabbed but survived.

Greene confessed to police, but later said he didn’t remember committing the crime. He said an acquaintance had given him a cigarette earlier that day that may have been laced with a mind-altering drug.

Greene was convicted of malice murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault at trial in December 1992.

NORTH CAROLINA – Guilty But Innocent – Henry Alford

april, 17, 2012 source :

The recent flurry of news stories involving inmates claiming innocence but accepting guilty pleas in exchange for release from prison warrants some discussion. The particular plea bargain is known as an “Alford plea” and originated in the United States Supreme Court case of North Carolina v. Alford in 1970. The Supreme Court upheld the plea agreement entered by the trial court, despite defendant’s protests of innocence, and determined that since defendant was adequately advised of the plea arrangement by his lawyer and entered the plea voluntary, the plea bargain would stand. The underlying facts of the case are relevant to this discussion.

Henry Alford had been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in 1963. Evidence in the case included testimony from witnesses that Alford had said after the death of the victim that he had killed the individual. Court testimony showed Alford and the victim argued at the victim’s house. Alford left the house, and afterwards the victim received a fatal gunshot woundwhen he opened the door responding to a knock.

Alford was faced with the possibility of capital punishment if convicted by a jury trial. The death penalty was required pursuant to North Carolinalaw at the time if two conditions in the case were satisfied. The defendant had to have pleaded not guilty, and the jury had to decide not to recommend a life sentence (this is not the law today). Had Alford pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, he would have avoided the death penalty and been sentenced to life in prison. The defendant did not want to admit guilt. Alford pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and said he was doing so to avoid a death sentence if he had been convicted of first-degree murder after attempting to contest that charge. Alford was sentenced to 30 years in prison, after the trial judge in the case accepted the plea bargain and ruled that the defendant had been adequately apprised by his lawyer.

Alford filed an appeal requesting a new trial arguing he was forced into a guilty plea because he was afraid of receiving a death sentence. The Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled that the defendant had voluntarily entered the guilty plea, with knowledge of what that meant. Following this ruling, Alford petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, which upheld the initial ruling, and subsequently to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which ruled that Alford’s plea was not voluntary, because it was made under fear of the death penalty. “I just pleaded guilty because they said if I didn’t, they would gas me for it,” wrote Alford in one of his appeals.

The defendant appealed to the US Supreme Court with Justice Byron White writing for the majority. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court held that for the plea agreement to be accepted, the defendant must have been advised by a competent lawyer who was able to inform the individual that his best decision in the case would be to enter a guilty plea. The Court ruled that the defendant can enter such a plea “when he concludes that his interests require a guilty plea and the record strongly indicates guilt.” The Court only allowed the guilty plea with a simultaneous protestation of innocence as there was enough evidence to show that the prosecution had a strong case for a conviction, and the defendant was entering such a plea to avoid this possible sentencing. The Court went on to note that even if the defendant could have shown that he would not have entered a guilty plea “but for” the rationale of receiving a lesser sentence, the plea itself would not have been ruled invalid. As a factual basis existed that could have supported Alford’s conviction, the Supreme Court held that his guilty plea was sustainable while the defendant himself still maintained that he was not guilty.

full article : click here 

OHIO – Mark Wiles – execution April 18 – last hours EXECUTED 10:42 a.m

6am. source :

Mark Wiles, 49, arrived at the Lucasville facility Tuesday morning, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

The execution scheduled for Wednesday would end an unofficial six-month moratorium on the death penalty while the state and a federal judge wrangled over Ohio’s lethal injection procedures.

Records show Wiles was caught during a burglary by Mark Klima, the straight-A son of the family for whom Wiles had been a farmhand. Wiles stabbed Klima repeatedly with a kitchen knife until he stopped moving, the knife left buried in his victim’s back.

For his special meal Tuesday night, Wiles requested a large pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese, hot sauce, a garden salad with ranch dressing, a large bag of Cheetos, a whole cheesecake, fresh strawberries, vanilla wafers and Sprite, Smith said.

 Mark Wiles spent his last night talking on the phone, listening to the radio and eating pizza and cheesecake in his cell at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

He was emotional at times in the hours before his scheduled execution, crying with his sister and brother-in-law during morning cell-front visits.

“Inmate Wiles has been respectful and compliant with staff,” said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “He did have a few brief moments where he became emotional upon his arrival, but his overall demeanor has been the same, which has been respectful, cooperative and compliant with our staff.”

Throughout the night, Wiles talked on the phone with a friend and a nephew.

“Throughout the course of the night, the inmate did not sleep,” Smith said.

Wiles showered, declined the standard prison-issue breakfast and began cell-front visits at around 7 a.m., including saying the rosary with his spiritual adviser.

Wiles , was executed at 10:42 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. It was Ohio’s first execution in five months because of a legal battle about the state’s lethal-injection procedures.

Wiles, who looked nervous and haggard after entering the death chamber, reportedly had spent a sleepless night.

As he lay on the gurney, a prison staff member removed his glasses at his request, so that he could read his last statement from a piece of paper held in front of his face.

“The love and support of my family has sustained and supported me throughout the years,” he said. “I love you all.”Since this needs to happen today, I hope my dying brings some solace and closure to the Klima family and their loved ones.”The state of Ohio should not be in the business of killing its citizens.”May God bless us all that fall short.”

FLORIDA – Zimmerman’s Attorney Wants Judge Out, Records Sealed

The attorney for George Zimmerman filed a motion late Monday asking the court to recuse the judge in the case over a possible conflict of interest.

Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, requested that Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler be removed after she revealed that her husband works with Mark NeJame, a CNN legal analyst. Last week, after O’Mara agreed to take Zimmerman as a client, NeJame revealed that he had been approached by Zimmerman—the 28-year-old neighbourhood watchman accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin—about representing him. NeJame declined, but suggested five lawyers, including O’Mara, to Zimmerman, reports The Cutline.

On Friday, Recksiedler said she would consider stepping aside.

Meanwhile, several news organizations—including CNN, USA Today and the Miami Herald—petitioned the court to reverse an order sealing records in the case.

O’Mara told CNN Monday he wants them sealed to prevent the steady flow of leaks that have already marred the case.

“It’s an overall philosophy of trying to keep the information flow concentrated within the court system,” O’Mara said. “It’s much better handled there. And, again, if information like this, even a police report with names on it, gets out, then my concern is that they’re going to be spoken to. They’re going to be questioned. There’s going to be four or five different statements from this one witness, let’s say, and then we have to sift through all of that to try and get to what is the truth.”

O’Mara said he’s also concerned about the safety of the witnesses.