Day: September 21, 2012

Here are five cases of death row prisoners who have been judicially killed over the past year

september 21, 2012 

Each representing a different flaw in the application of capital punishment in America today:

Manuel Valle

Executed: 28 September 2011, aged 61

Flaw: Cruelty of prolonged stay on death row

The case: Valle, a Cuban national who was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1978, spent 33 years on death row. During that time he was held largely in solitary confinement – conditions that it has been argued amount to cruel and unusual punishment that should be banned under the eighth amendment of the US constitution.

The US supreme court judge, Justice Breyer, voted for a stay of execution for Valle but was outnumbered by his colleagues. Breyer wrote a minority judgment in which he said: “I have little doubt about the cruelty of so long a period of incarceration under sentence of death.”

Christopher Johnson

Executed: 20 October 2011, aged 38

Flaw: “Volunteer”

The case: Johnson was one of the few prisoners who are executed every year as “volunteers” – that is they choose to die and waive all rights to appeal or clemency. That may sound like their right to do so, but the problem is that academic studies have found that about 80% of the volunteers show signs of serious mental illness.

Johnson was no exception. His childhood was troubled with psychotic episodes and in prison he tried several times to kill himself. Yet his desire to be executed for having murdered in 2005 his six-month-old son was still taken by the justice system to be a sane expression of choice, and not as some experts decried a form of judicially approved suicide.

Edwin Turner

Executed: 8 February 2012, aged 38

Flaw: Mental illness

The case: You could tell that Turner had a history of mental illness just by looking at him – his face was terribly disfigured from a rifle bullet after he tried to shoot himself aged 18. His family also had a history of suicide attempts and hospitalisations for mental illness that ran through both his parents and his grandmother and great-grandmother.

There is no law in the US preventing executions for those who are mentally ill. Unless it can be proved they were insane at the moment they committed the crime, they are not exempt from the gurney.

Despite clear evidence that Turner was ill, he was put to death for fatally shooting a clerk in 1995 during a robbery.

Marvin Wilson

Executed: 7 August 2012, aged 54

Flaw: Mental “retardation”

The case: Wilson was diagnosed as having learning difficulties – a condition still referred to by the US courts as “retardation”. He was recorded with an IQ score of 61, putting him in the lowest percentile of the population.

The US supreme court banned executions for people with learning difficulties in 2002. None the less, Wilson was still put to death for the 1992 murder of a police drug informant because his state, Texas, applies its own definition of “retardation” based on the character of Lennie Small in John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men.

Daniel Cook

Execution: 8 August 2012, aged 51

Flaw: Childhood abuse

The case: Cook was executed for the horrendous strangulation murdersof two men, one aged 16, in 1987. Though there was no doubt about the heinousness of his crimes, his lawyers argued that Cook suffered such appalling abuse as a child that he should have been shown clemency in commuting his sentence to life in prison.

He was abused from infancy into his teenage years, including rape by his mother, step-father, foster parents, grandparents and the manager of a group home where he was resident. Expert witnesses testified at his appeal that he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse, leaving him prone to wild mood swings that could have been a factor behind the murders he committed.


Why It's Time to End the Death Penalty

All my prayers for his family . R.I.P Troy

Troy Davis’ Nephew : A year ago, on Sept. 21, the state of Georgia killed my uncle. BeforeTroy Davis‘ name buzzed all over the news and was known around the world, I called him “Uncle Troy.”

I was born in 1994, after he went on death row. I went regularly with my family to visit him in prison, before I could speak and before I could comprehend what prisons and executions meant. As I got older, I started asking my mother tough questions about her brother.

She wanted me to have a relationship with Troy; after all, he was my uncle. But she also wanted to protect me from the harsh reality of his situation. She explained why he was on death row and how the government wanted to put him to sleep, the way they do with dogs that can’t be adopted. I asked, “But Troy didn’t kill anybody, so why do they want to kill him?” She had a hard time explaining why, because she had the same question.

2011 was a very hard year for my family. I lost my grandmother just after Troy’s final appeal was lost and before his last execution date was set. The death penalty takes a toll on everyone within its reach.

My mother [Martina Correia] suffered a lot in her battle to save Troy’s life, but she didn’t let it show. She was battling for her own life, too. Around a decade ago, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and given six months to live. She asked God to let her live long enough to raise me and to clear my uncle’s name.

She made it another 10 years after that prayer. She did everything possible to proclaim the innocence of my uncle and stop his execution. And I was just about to finish high school when she passed.

People wonder why I didn’t crack after a year like that. There was nothing normal or easy about it, and my emotions have come at me at strange times like a ton of bricks. The best I can explain is that my mother raised me well, my family has stuck together and we have held firm in our faith in God.

My mother was always a fighter, and so was my uncle Troy. For many years my mother spoke out for Troy, to deaf ears. It was weird to see almost a thousand people in Atlanta stand with my family at the state Capitol, glued to her words, as we rallied to stop Troy’s execution. We were fortunate to have the help of organizations likeAmnesty International and theNAACP to pull together hundreds of thousands of people to support our cause, which was about Troy but was also about truth, justice and human rights.

People are asking me what my family wants these days. We still want to clear Troy’s name. He was innocent and his execution was wrong — this shouldn’t just fade away. We also want to help other families in similar situations. No one should ever go through what we did.

And we know that the only way to make sure the innocent aren’t executed is to replace the death penalty with better solutions. We don’t need to rely on the death penalty to ensure public safety. We know that it doesn’t deter violent crime. In fact, it costs a lot more even than life without parole. We are helping the campaign in California to encourage people to vote “yes” on Proposition 34, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole.

I hope that Californians will show my state, Georgia, what a better way looks like.

TEXAS – Court rejects death sentence appeal in 1998 road rage killings of two truckers – DOUGLAS FELDMAN

September 20, 2012


The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal to get Douglas Feldman, 54, off death row for the road rage slayings of two truck drivers in 1998 in Texas.

Feldman, a former financial analyst, was convicted in 1999 of murder in the shooting deaths of truckers Nicholas Velasquez, 62, of Irving, TX, and Robert Everett, 36, of Marshfield, MO.

In his 1999 trial, Feldman told jurors he was cruising on his Harley-Davidson on southbound Dallas Central Expressway in August 1998 when a truck “came out of nowhere, just flying.” He said he feared for his life and became angry, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.

Feldman testified that he fired at Everett’s truck “because I felt like I needed to try to stop that man.” When the truck continued on the highway, “I chased Mr. Everett down, and I shot him to death.”

Feldman said he then spotted Velasquez at a gas station and “exploded again in anger” and shot him, even though Velasquez had done nothing to him. He then shot another man in a restaurant parking lot, who survived.

“I felt emotionally compelled,” Feldman told jurors. “I was consumed by anger.”

In his trial, Feldman testified that he carried a 9mm handgun because he thought his life was in danger. His lawyers presented evidence showing that he had been treated earlier for substance abuse and paranoia.

The jury in the trial took only 24 minutes to convict Feldman of capital murder in the case. He was sentenced to death, but an execution date has yet to be set.

In his appeal, Feldman contended that he had deficient legal help at his trial, that the jury received improper instructions and that a prospective juror was improperly dismissed.

Feldman’s lawyer said he plans to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Phila. prosecutor calls death-penalty plea by Terrance Williams bogus. “Its a complete lie” Andrea Foulkes said..

Update september 24, 2012

An accomplice who feels he was shafted after cutting a deal with Philadelphia prosecutors nearly 30 years ago tried Monday to save the life of the man against whom he testified.

Terrance “Terry” Williams, 46, is set to be the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 50 years who has not given up his appeals. A divided state pardons board rejected his bid for clemency last week but may revisit his case before the scheduled Oct. 3 execution.

Williams is on death row for killing 56-year-old Amos Norwood three months after turning 18 — and five months after killing another older man.

Williams now says both victims had sexually abused him. And his lawyers say prosecutors knew that before trial, yet failed to disclose the information to Williams’ trial lawyer or the jury.

“The arbitrary and capricious nature of the death penalty is exemplified, to me, by this case,” said Marc Bookman, executive director of The Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a nonprofit death penalty resource center in Philadelphia. “No one would say that this guy should be the first guy executed (in recent years), that he’s the worst of the worst.”

In court Monday, accomplice Marc Draper, a policeman’s son, told Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that a detective coerced him into lying about the motive for Norwood’s death. He said he agreed to play up the robbery motive — he and Williams had stolen $20 and two credit cards after fatally beating Norwood at a cemetery — and avoid the sex angle.

“I was a sheep, to do anything that they wanted me to do. And I regret that. I’m almost embarrassed to say that, that I was so gullible,” Draper said.

Williams had sex with several older men for money or gifts, Draper said. The defense claims that Norwood, a church deacon, began having sex with Williams when the boy was 13. And they say prosecutors knew about the relationship and had at least one other molestation complaint about Norwood that was not disclosed.

Draper is serving life without parole after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He said he was promised a parole hearing after 15 years if he cooperated, only to learn that in Pennsylvania, a life sentence means life.

On cross-examination, Draper got tangled up at times explaining his changing story. But even without his testimony, Sarmina could stay the execution if she finds prosecutors withheld evidence.

District Attorney Seth Williams, in a weekend opinion column in The Philadelphia Inquirer, called Terrance Williams “a brutal, two-time murderer” and dismissed the new evidence claims.

“The most noticeable thing about this case is not the ‘new evidence.’ It’s the willingness of some people to believe every defense claim as if it were gospel truth,” Williams wrote.

The five-member state pardons board, which includes Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and state Attorney General Linda Kelly, plans to meet Thursday morning to decide whether to reconsider Williams’ clemency petition. If so, the hearing would be held Thursday afternoon.

Alternately, if Sarmina grants a stay, and the decision is not overturned, Williams’ death warrant would expire on Oct. 3. Gov. Tom Corbett would then have 30 days to issue a new death warrant, to be carried out within 60 days, if Williams is not pardoned or granted a life sentence.

There are 200 people on death row in Pennsylvania, but only three people have been executed since 1976.


Read more:

Septembre 24, 2012,

PHILADELPHIA — A hearing is set to continue Monday for a death-row inmate who could become the first person in Pennsylvania executed since 1999.

Forty-six-year-old Terrance “Terry” Williams now claims he was sexually abused for years by the man he admits beating to death in 1984 at the age of 18. He’s asked a Philadelphia judge to halt the scheduled Oct. 3 lethal injection based on new evidence about the victim and the key accuser.

The hearing was continued Thursday after nine hours of testimony. It’s scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Monday.

One of the issues at Thursday’s hearing was whether prosecutors and homicide detectives withheld from Williams’ lawyers a statement that the killing was motivated by rage over sexual abuse. The jury was told it was over a robbery.

September 21, 2012

The prosecutor who put Terrance Williams on death row denounced Williams’ admitted accomplice Thursday, rejecting as a lie the contention that Williams killed Amos Norwood in a sexual rage and that authorities ignored evidence of his motive.

“It’s a complete lie,” Andrea Foulkes said when asked about new statements by Marc Draper. Draper now says Foulkes and detectives ignored his information about a sexual motive behind the 1984 killing of Norwood, 56, in West Oak Lane.

Draper’s account of Williams’ alleged abuse by Norwood is the evidence being used by Williams’ lawyers to try to block his scheduled Oct. 3 execution.

Answering questions from Williams’ lawyer Billy Nolas, Foulkes said Draper “absolutely did not tell me this case was about Terry Williams having sex with Mr. Norwood.”

Draper, in affidavits provided this year in Williams’ defense, asserted that Foulkes and detectives told him to say Norwood was killed in a robbery.

Foulkes, now a federal prosecutor, testified for seven hours before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina on a motion by Williams’ lawyers to stay his execution.

Draper, 46, who like Williams was an 18-year-old Cheyney University freshman in 1984, testified briefly and is scheduled to return when the hearing resumes Monday.

Williams, 46, has exhausted state and federal appeals and will be executed unless his legal team can convince Sarmina that newly discovered evidence merits an emergency stay.

Williams’ lawyers say that in addition to Draper’s claim of a sexual motive, the jury that condemned Williams to death should have known about Foulkes‘ promise to write to state parole officials describing Draper’s cooperation.

Foulkes acknowledged that she wrote the letter in 1988 and gave it to Draper’s father, George, a city police officer, to use when Marc Draper decided to try to get his life term commuted.

Foulkes conceded to Sarmina that in retrospect, she should have told the jury about the letter when she questioned Draper about the terms of his guilty plea.

But the prosecutor also said she made clear to Draper that a commuted sentence was a long shot and that he would serve decades in prison before it would be considered.

Sarmina puzzled aloud why Draper pleaded guilty to a crime that guaranteed him life in prison.

Foulkes said Draper might have faced the death penalty had he gone to trial, although the case against him was not as strong as the case against Williams.

“Basically, he really didn’t get a very good deal,” Foulkes said.

On that, Draper agreed. Testifying Thursday, Draper told the judge: “I guess, looking at my prosecution, I feel like I was wronged. I didn’t deserve to get a second-degree life sentence. I don’t think so.”

But Draper said his recantation was not based on anger but his rebirth as a Christian.

“As a man of faith, a man of God, I don’t want to see anybody die in that manner,” Draper said, referring to Williams.

Foulkes maintained that in trial preparation, preliminary hearings and Williams‘ 1986 trial, Draper never wavered in his account: Norwood was killed in a robbery, and he was appalled when Williams started beating Norwood with a tire iron.

In court filings Thursday, the district attorney’s office urged Sarmina to dismiss the bid for a stay of execution, saying the claims of sexual abuse had been heard and rejected by state and federal appeals courts.

Draper raised Foulkes‘ promise of support for parole in 2000, prosecutors argued.

After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg repeated that “none of this is new.”

“The issue of his alleged new information is not new,” Eisenberg said. “This defendant has always had it with him and if he wanted to, he could have brought it up at trial.”

Eisenberg referred to Foulkes‘ testimony that Williams never raised the issue of sexual abuse by Norwood at his trial. Instead, Foulkes testified, Williams testified that he was not there and that Norwood was killed by Draper and another person.

Norwood, a volunteer at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Germantown, was found in Ivy Hill Cemetery, his body charred beyond recognition and his skull shattered by a tire iron.

The use of some of Norwood’s stolen credit cards eventually led police to Draper, who implicated Williams and agreed to testify at two murder trials in which Williams was the accused killer.

While Draper was being questioned in the Norwood case, he told detectives that Williams had told him about a murder six months earlier: the Jan. 26, 1984, stabbing of Herbert Hamilton, 50, of West Philadelphia.

The jury in the Hamilton case convicted Williams of third-degree murder, apparently believing Draper’s testimony that Williams killed Hamilton because the older man tried to force him to have sex.

FLORIDA – Oyola’s death sentence overturned by court

September 21, 2012

Miguel Oyala

Florida’s Supreme Court on Thursday sent convicted murderer Miguel Oyola back to circuit court for resentencing.

A majority of justices upheld his conviction for the 2007 murder of Michael Lee Gerrard, but said the lower court’s handling of the sentencing phase of Oyola’s case was in error.

In 2010, Oyola was found guilty of first-degree murder in the murder of his employer, Gerrard.

He was sentenced to death by a 9-3 jury vote and the case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy A. Quince, Jorge Labarga and James E.C. Perry concurred in the majority opinion while Justice Barbara J. Pariente concurred in the result.

According to the majority, the lower court did not properly account for mental health factors when Oyola was sentenced in October 2010.

A dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Ricky Polston, and joined by Justice Charles T. Canady, states that the errors of the trial court were harmless.

The pair supported the lower court’s opinion that the aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating factors.

Oyola’s defense argued that Oyola was raised in an abusive home as a child, suffered from mental illness, and had a family history of mental illness, according to court documents.

According to the majority opinion, a trial court must “expressly evaluate” mitigating circumstances and nonstatutory mitigators, like the mental health factors raised by the defense, when handing down sentences.

Court records say Oyola went on a spending spree at Tallahassee area Wal-Mart stores on December 3, 2007, with a debit card assigned to Gerrard’s outdoor landscaping business. Gerrard was alerted of the charges by his bank and confronted Oyola.

Oyola attacked him and struck him multiple times in the head with a shovel, along with stabbing him 10 times.

Gerrard’s body was found on Tram Road in Jefferson County on December 4, 2007.

ALABAMA – Henderson gets death penalty for killing deputy

September 20, 2012

Judge Jacob A. Walker III sentenced Gregory Lance Henderson to death Thursday for the 2009 murder of a Lee County sheriff’s deputy, overriding a jury’s recommendation in a capital case for the second time in as many years.

Henderson, a Bibb City native, was convicted last year of running over and killing Deputy James W. Anderson during an attempted traffic stop. Jurors, in a 9-3 vote, recommended Henderson be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Alabama judges have the final say in capital cases, and Walker had been urged by law enforcement officials to send Henderson to death row. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones had testified that Henderson deserved the “severest punishment” for his actions, and Attorney General Luther Strange had attended a hearing this summer in which Henderson was expected to be sentenced.

“Nothing can bring James back, but I believe there is a degree of closure provided to his loved ones and the law enforcement community in light of the court’s decision today,” Jones said Thursday. “We should never tolerate the deliberate killing of a law officer while performing their sworn duty. The punishment should fit the crime — this sentence does just that.”

Defense attorney Jeremy W. Armstrong of Phenix City cited a number of mitigating circumstances in Henderson’s background and said Walker had “ignored what the jurors thought was best for their community.”

“We had jurors here who were under enormous pressure by the law enforcement community to impose the death penalty, and they sat through all the testimony and chose that the best form of punishment was life without parole,” Armstrong said. “The death penalty, in my opinion, is for the worst of the worst. In this situation, I just think we had some pretty good mitigating things to support life without parole and not override.”

The sentence came nearly three years to the day after the fatal traffic stop off Lee Road 240. Anderson had been trying to pull Henderson over for a switched tag violation when he began evading him.

The deputy had stepped out of his vehicle and ordered Henderson to stop when he struck him with his Honda Civic. Witnesses said Henderson floored the accelerator, crushing Anderson, who was unable to breathe as he was pinned between the car and the ground.

“It is the state’s position that the only remorse by this defendant was remorse that he was caught and that he failed at his attempt to avoid apprehension on an outstanding warrant for parole violation,” Assistant District Attorney Kisha A. Abercrombie argued in court filings.

Henderson maintained he was high on methamphetamine and marijuana, and that Anderson’s death was an accident. Armstrong pointed to Henderson’s troubled upbringing and his borderline intellectual ability in asking Walker to affirm the jury’s recommendation.

In imposing the death sentence, Walker said Henderson sought to influence a witness from jail, and cited recordings of jailhouse telephone calls Henderson made that, according to prosecutors, pointed to a lack of remorse. Walker is expected to write a more detailed sentencing order explaining the reasons for the override.

Armstrong said he was disappointed in the outcome, but not surprised. Walker overrode a unanimous life without parole recommendation in March 2011 when he sentenced Courtney Lockhart to death for the murder of Auburn University student Lauren Burk.


WASHINGTON Supreme Court upholds death penalty in 1997 murder – CECIL DAVIS

September 20, 2012


The Washington Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for a man convicted of randomly killing and raping a 65-year-old woman while her disabled husband was in the house.

The court issued its decision Thursday on Cecil Davis’ appeal stemming from his conviction in the 1997 slaying of Yoshiko Couch.

Davis had appealed the death sentence because jurors saw him in shackles during his first trail. In 2004, the Supreme Court vacated his sentence and Davis was re-tried in 2007, when he again was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Justices Mary Fairhurst and Charles Wiggins dissented from the ruling Thursday, saying while Davis’ crime was brutal, similar crimes have been punished with life in prison without chance of parole and not the death sentence.

They say the sentence highlights “the random and arbitrary nature of the imposition of the death penalty in Washington,” Wiggins wrote.

Wiggins also said he dissented because he thinks there is a race factor in the sentencing.

“A review of the reports of prosecutions for aggravated first-degree murder quickly discloses that African-American defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty than Caucasian defendants,” he wrote.

Davis is African-American.

According to the court, Davis was partying with a friend outside his mother’s house in Tacoma when he told his friend he wanted to “rob somebody” and wanted to kill a person. Davis along with a friend crossed the street and kicked in Couch’s front door.

Davis proceeded to beat the woman and sexually assault her. At that point, his friend left, according to court documents.

Later on, friends found Couch dead in her bathtub, naked from the waist down. An autopsy found that Couch had been suffocated and died of exposure to chemicals.

Her husband, Richard Couch, had been downstairs in the home the entire time. Because a number of strokes, he wasn’t able to walk and a telephone that usually sat by his bed had been moved to a closet and he couldn’t reach it. Investigators found extensive evidence connecting the killing to Davis, including blood, hair and fingerprints. Davis had also taken Yoshiko Couch’s wedding ring and he attempted to sell it to his mother.

Prosecutors also said that after Davis was in jail, he told a cellmate he killed Couch, but not raped her.

Claim your innocence World – News about the death penalty in the world

Hi everyone,

Just a little reminder, I created a blog about the death penalty in the world, you can read the news in all countries practicing the death penalty.

You find the blog here,

Thanks so much for your support.