Day: October 3, 2012

PENNSYLVANIA- Inmate could still be executed even though death penalty was thrown out – Terrance Williams


Clock is still ticking on Terrance Williams’ execution

Although convicted murderer Terrance “Terry” Williams was granted a stay of execution last week by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge who ruled that recently unearthed evidence shows the prosecution coached its main witness and withheld relevant information at trial, the execution could still go forward if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns the stay.

terrance williams 2012 cropTerrance Williams

Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who was Philadelphia District Attorney at the time of the trial and who personally signed the death penalty certification for Williams, refused to recuse himself from considering the request from current Philly DA Seth Williams to overturn the stay.

One of Williams’ defense attorneys is in a car heading west out of Philadelphia toward Rockview, where the execution could take place — just in case.
The Department of Corrections has put previously approved witnesses to the execution on notice to be ready if the court overturns the stay.
A DOC spokeswoman would not comment on whether or not Williams has been transported from the prison in Greene County to Rockview, where the state’s execution chamber is housed, citing security concerns.
The Supreme Court has ordered an end to a flurry of last-minute filings and responses from the prosecution and the defense.
A ruling is expected soon.
Defense attorneys are double-checking an emergency filing to the US Supreme Court they plan to file if the stay is overturned.
Members of the Board of Pardons remain in the wings, having taken an application for clemency “under advisement.” They are the penultimate bulwark to the death chamber; a unanimous vote for clemency sends the decision to the governor, who would then have the final say whether or not the execution would proceed.

October 2, 2012 

Lawyers of a Pennsylvania inmate on death row still fear he could be executed even though his death sentence has been thrown out. 

Terrance Williams could still be executed if the State Supreme Court reverses the decision before midnight tomorrow. Williams is on death row for killing two men when he was a teenager. He claimed that both men had sexually abused him.

A judge found evidence to support the claims and halted Williams’ execution.

Prosecutors have appealed the judges decision to the State Supreme Court.

OKLAHOMA – Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of double murderer – Raymond Eugene Johnson.

October 2, 2012 http://www.kjrh.c

A Tulsa man sitting on death row for a brutal double murder is one step closer to execution.

The US Supreme Court says it will not hear the appeal of Raymond Eugene Johnson. 

Because he is on Oklahoma’s death row, it will probably take another few years before Johnson exhausts all his appeals and is scheduled to be executed. 

But for those who loved his victims — Brooke and Kya Whitaker — the court’s decision is major step toward justice.

Johnson was convicted in a brutal murder that shocked even the most seasoned homicide detectives. In June of 2007, Brooke Whitaker broke up with Johnson because he attacked her. She filed a protective order against him. 

After two weeks of staying with family because of her fear of Johnson, Brooke returned to her home where he was waiting for her.

Brooke was beaten with a hammer dozens of times. After hours of torturing her, Johnson set Brooke and her 7-month-old daughter on fire. 

Angie Short is Brooke’s aunt and Kya’s great aunt. 

He was just pure evil,Short said of seeing Johnson in court. “He smiled at us in the courtroom during the trial. We had to listen to his 40 minute confession about how he did and why he did. Why she deserved it. He has no remorse.” 

Johnson was sentenced to die for their murders. But that was only the beginning of a lengthy appeals process that all death row inmates are entitled too.

That process took a huge blow on Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Johnson’s appeal.

“It’s another step toward justice for Brooke and Kya,” Short said. “Maybe now it will be five years before he’s executed instead of 10 years. But they are still gone.” 

Angie says justice won’t truly be served until Johnson pays with his life. Because right now, Angie says she and everyone who loved Brooke and Kya are serving a life sentence without them. 

“We can’t talk to Brooke and Kya. We can’t see them or write them a letter,” Angie said. “I would love to hear their voices. But we can’t have that. And he can.”     

Short says she and her family members plan to witness Johnson’s execution.

NORTH CAROLINA – Unresolved challenges put death penalty on hold in N.C.- Cornell Haugabook Jr.

October 3, 2012

New Hanover County prosecutors decided last month to seek the death penalty against Cornell Haugabook Jr. for the June killing of a Chinese food delivery driver, despite doubts about whether such a sentence will ever be carried out.

North Carolina has not executed an inmate in six years because issues with the state medical board and unresolved litigation have led to a de facto moratorium. So while the state continues to pay for costly capital trials, no one is actually being put to death.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David, who is also president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, said the moratorium has become a point of concern among prosecutors. “Any decision to move forward (with the death penalty) has to include a frank discussion with the victim’s family about the realistic possibility of the punishment being carried out,” he said.

The issue is particularly timely for New Hanover County, which is preparing to try Haugabook for his alleged involvement in the robbery and fatal shooting of Zhen Bo Liu. The 60-year-old immigrant was attempting to bring a food order to an address on South 13th Street when he was robbed and shot in the foot and face. Haugabook, 20, is one of six men facing charges in connection to the crime, but he is the only one legally eligible for the death penalty.

The district attorney’s office is also seeking death for Andrew Adams, 56, who is accused of bludgeoning 24-year-old Latricia Scott with a hammer and then burying her body in his backyard. Adams was arrested in January.

Prosecutors face a litany of hurdles when seeking death. For one, jurors have shown a growing reluctance to impose the penalty, a shift that some scholars attribute to a string of highly publicized exonerations. Even after a death sentence is secured, ongoing appeals and litigation challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection, the state’s sole execution method, have tied up executions for the indefinite future.

Critics say pursuing capital punishment amid a moratorium is an expensive gamble. That argument has gained traction as shrinking budgets and the frustratingly slow growth of the economy prompt some states to re-examine their criminal justice policies.

Philip Cook, a professor at Duke University, authored a study two years ago that analyzed costs associated with North Carolina’s death penalty in 2005 and 2006. He concluded the state would save $11 million annually by abolishing capital punishment.

But supporters of the death penalty fear cost concerns might undermine what they view as an appropriate form of justice for especially heinous crimes.

“Justice should not have a price tag,” David said. “Ask a victim’s family whether it’s too costly.”

With 46 executions since 1976, North Carolina had been among the most active users of capital punishment, according to data from the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, based in Washington, D.C.

But recent years have seen a turnaround. Even before the state’s moratorium took hold, executions had grown exceedingly rare for several reasons. The number of death sentences handed out has trended downward since 2000, dropping from 18 that year to three in 2007, according to Isaac Unah, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The decline coincides with the state’s creation of the Office of Indigent Defense Services, which scholars say is the single biggest contributor to the drop.

The office has led to enhancements in the way poor defendants are represented.

“Prosecutors stop asking for death so easily knowing they’re going to be faced with much more substantial defense teams on the other side,” said Frank Baumgartner, another UNC Chapel Hill professor who has studied the death penalty.

In New Hanover County, the decision on whether to seek death is made by a committee of senior prosecutors, who analyze so-called “aggravating factors,” which include things like whether the crime was especially heinous or was committed for monetary gain. David said prosecutors have one month after the indictment is issued to declare if they are seeking the death penalty.

“This is not arbitrary or capricious,” David said. “This is a thorough review of the facts and the law that the legislature has set forth.”


Commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty October 10

World Day on October 10 marks the date when activists around the world rally to oppose the death penalty and commemorate the day with educational events, demonstrations, and other initiatives to voice their opposition to this human rights violation.

We were creating this poster at the request of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (, an international coalition that opposes the death penalty. The World Coalition spearheads World Day, along with many other campaigns, in its efforts to end the death penalty around the world. This October 10, 2012 is particularly special, because it marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of the World Coalition.

The poster would be a pivotal piece in the World Day campaign as the rallying symbol for hundreds of death penalty activists around the world. Our main challenge was that the World Coalition’s Steering Committee specifically requested a positivemessage in the poster. But how to convey a positive image about the execution of people and the end of human life? There’s nothing innately positive about the death penalty– images typically used to portray capital punishment are morbid: nooses, syringes, knives, stones, and execution chambers. Not exactly the ingredients for positive messaging.

Fortunately, the World Coalition suggested we focus on progress made over the past ten years—and there’s much to celebrate in this regard. The World Coalition has grown from a fledgling initiative to an independent organization composed of almost 140 members from around the world. Member organizations hail from numerous countries, such as Morocco, France, Iran, Lebanon, Taiwan, Japan, Puerto Rico, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, UK, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. As The Advocates’ representative on the World Coalition’s Steering Committee I have been privileged to meet and work with an inspiring group of individuals from all over the world.

The work of the World Coalition and other abolitionists has had a big impact. Today, 141 countries are abolitionist in law or in practice (97 countries have passed laws that have eliminate the death penalty, and 36 countries have not legally abolished the death penalty but have not used it in years). A glance at some of the countries that have abolished the death penalty in the past ten years shows the trend is global and reaches all corners of the world: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burundi, Cook Islands, Gabon, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Togo, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Some countries that have not abolished the Death Penalty have signified their strong disinterest in continuing the practice: Sierra Leone and Nigeria have declared a moratorium on executions and Tajikistan has had a moratorium on both death sentences and executions since 2004. Finally, eight countries have restricted the scope of their death penalty and abolished its use for ordinary crimes.

Even in the United States, where the use of the death penalty is one of the gravest human rights violations, we’ve seen a demonstrable shift by states toward rejection of the death penalty. In April 2012, Connecticut became the 17th State to abolish the death penalty, closely following Illinois in 2011, New Mexico in 2009, and New Jersey in 2007. California will be putting the vote to the people when the death penalty is up for referendum this November—a recognition that public support is waning.

Indeed, looking at these facts and figures, the progress is astonishing. It is clear: the global trend is countries moving away from using the death penalty.

Thinking about the death penalty in light of these developments was inspiring for Cuong and me as we sought to portray this message. W hile we still face dire problems with capital punishment here in the United States and elsewhere, the world overall is shifting toward abolition. It’s a positive sign and one that we can truly celebrate.

Given this insight, we decided on the simple image of the world atop a broken noose. We finished it with an inspiring message to capture our past progress and the brighter future we all face:  Abolish the death penalty. It’s a better world without it.

The worldwide trend towards abolition: progress of the past 10 years 
The last decade has seen a large increase in the number of countries that have officially abolished the death penalty or eliminated the use of the death penalty in practice:
•    141 countries are abolitionist in law or in practice;
•    97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes;
•    36 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice;
•    8 countries have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

According to Amnesty International, 21 countries recorded executions in 2011, compared to 31 countries 10 years ago. Even the USA, one of the worst offenders in the use of the death penalty, has shown progress as individual states have abolished or limited the death penalty.
Many other countries have also abolished the death penalty in the past decade, including: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burundi, Cook Islands, Gabon, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Togo, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Several countries that have not legally abolished the death penalty have at least ended it in practice, either by declaring an official moratorium or by not carrying out executions. For example, Sierra Leone and Nigeria have declared a moratorium on executions, and Tajikistan has had a moratorium on both death sentences and executions since 2004.

Many countries that have not yet abolished or imposed a moratorium have taken steps to narrow the scope of the death penalty. Kazakhstan has abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes. China recently eliminated the death penalty for certain economic crimes, and it has reintroduced mandatory review of all death penalty cases by the Supreme People’s Court.

Over the last decade, several retentionist countries have implemented many of the universal international safeguards on their application of the death penalty and have eliminated that punishment for certain categories of persons. For example:
•    Persons suffering from intellectual disabilities: in 2003, the US Supreme Court prohibited the execution of people with intellectual disabilities.
•    Persons suffering from mental illness: Thailand has ceased using the death penalty against persons suffering from mental disorders.
•    Juveniles: while a few countries, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, have sentenced juvenile offenders to death, Iran was the only country in 2010 and 2011 to still execute those under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed. In a promising move, in May 2011, Sudan accepted the UN Human Rights Council recommendations that it would not apply the death penalty against juvenile offenders.
•    Pregnant women: In 2003, Uganda stated a death sentence cannot be imposed on a pregnant woman, and she will receive a sentence of life imprisonment instead.

Focus forward: challenges ahead in the next 10 years

Some countries have expanded, or attempted to expand, the scope of the death penalty over the last decade to include:
•    Drugs: 32 countries or territories still have laws imposing the death penalty for drug offences. Drug offenders make up the majority of those condemned to die in many retentionist countries.
•    Homosexuality: some countries, including Liberia and Uganda, have launched efforts to impose the death penalty for acts of homosexuality.
•    Terrorism: some countries are adopting or amending laws for terrorist crimes or against those supporting terrorist acts – not necessarily lethal ones. Syria imposed the death penalty for those arming terrorists in December 2011. Bangladesh, India and Nigeria have also adopted laws expanding the scope of the death penalty by including terrorist acts among the offenses punishable by death.

Certain countries have resumed their use of the death penalty. Afghanistan, Taiwan, Equatorial Guinea, the United Arab Emirates and Japan have resumed executions after a hiatus, in stark contrast with the global trend of abolition.

Finally, countries such as China and Iran continue to carry out their executions in secrecy, contrary to fundamental notions that such information should be made available to the public. Moreover, transparency is critical to prevent errors or abuses and safeguard fairness.

Further work to eradicate the death penalty

On a global scale, further work needs to be done to build on the foundation of abolition thus far by focusing on the following goals:

•    Promote national legislation abolishing the death penalty.
•    Increase ratifications of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
•    Support international standards calling for the abolition or restricted use of the death penalty.
•    Support adoption of the 2012 UN General Assembly Resolution on a moratorium: in December 2012, the UN General Assembly will vote on a fourth resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

NU students investigating shaken-baby cases

October 3, 2012

CHICAGO — Students in a Northwestern University program that gained national fame for investigations that helped free wrongfully convicted prison inmates – including some who were on Death Row – have a new cause. They are now investigating cases in which caregivers were convicted in what are called shaken-baby syndrome cases.

In a news release, the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern says the students will look at two Chicago-area cases.

This is the first time the project has looked into shaken-baby syndrome cases. The project’s director,Alec Klein, says the decision to take a look was made because science has evolved and some assumptions about the cause of death in such cases are being challenged.

The project has also compiled a national data base and is reviewing about 1,400 other cases.


TEXAS – UPCOMING EXECUTION, Jonathan Marcus Green, 10/10/2012 – EXECUTED 10.45 P.M

Picture of Offender

Name Green, Jonathan Marcus
TDCJ Number 999421
Date of Birth 12/23/1967


Jonathan Marcus Green, is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on October 10, 2012. Green was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in Montgomery County.
On the evening of June 21, 2000, 12-year-old Christina Neal disappeared after leaving a friend’s home in the small community of Dobbin, TX.
The girl’s family began looking for her the next day, after determining that she had not stayed overnight at a friend’s house. Christina’s glasses were found along a road near the Neal home. The glasses were “smashed and broken.”

On June 23, the girl’s father, Victor Neal, asked his sister to look for Christina while he was at work. Christina had run away before, so Victor told his sister to report her as a runaway if she could not find her. Later that day, having failed to locate Christina, the sister reported her missing to a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy. Officers then joined the family in searching for Christina.

On June 26, the FBI joined in the search. Christina’s panties were found at the edge of the woods across from the Neal home, and Christina’s bracelet and necklace were found along a pathway in the woods.

On June 28, investigators spoke with Jonathan Green, who also lived in Dobbin, because his wallet was discovered in the vicinity of Christina’s disappearance. Green said he had no information concerning Christina’s disappearance, and that he was either at home or at his neighbor’s house on the night she disappeared. He gave investigators permission to search his home and property, with the condition that he be present. Investigators performed a cursory search of the house and property, but they noticed nothing significant.

On July 19, a man who lived on the property behind Green’s, told investigators that Green had an unusually large fire in his burn pile the day after Christina disappeared. A few days later, investigators went to Green’s home and asked if they could search his property again, including his burn pile. Green again consented, but insisted that he be present during the search. An FBI agent smelled a distinct odor emanating from a disturbed section of ground which he identified as “some sort of decaying body.” The investigation team then began to dig up the disturbed area. Green, who had been cooperative up to that point, became angry and told the officers to get off his property.
The investigative team returned to Green’s property later that night with a search warrant. They discovered that part of the burn pile had been excavated, leaving what appeared to be a shallow grave. They also smelled the “extremely foul, fetid odor” of a “dead body in a decaying state.”
An officer then arrived with a “cadaver dog,” trained to detect human remains. The dog repeatedly went to the side of a recliner in the house. An FBI agent looked behind the recliner and found human remains in a bag that were identified as Christina’s. An autopsy concluded that Christina was sexually assaulted and then strangled.
During the course of the autopsy, various materials were recovered from Christina’s body.
DNA testing on black hairs found on Christina’s body indicated a higher probability the hairs came from Green.
A Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab criminalist testified that many of the fibers recovered from Christina’s body matched fiber samples seized from Green’s property and residence. On the panties that were recovered near the Neal home five days after Christina had disappeared and nearly a month before her body was found, investigators found a fiber that had characteristics identical to carpet in Green’s residence.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Green’s conviction on Dec. 17, 2004.
On March 6, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review.
On March 23, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the findings and conclusions of the trial court and denied Green’s application for state habeas relief.
On Feb, 15, 2008, a U.S. district court denied Green’s federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
On February 27, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability.
On October 5, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review of this decision.
No litigation is currently pending.
Green had a misdemeanor conviction for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The State also presented evidence of Green’s history of violent behavior:
A woman testified that Green raped her about four years before he was tried for the capital murder of the 12-year-old girl.
Another woman testified that in July 1999, Green entered her home without permission, jumped on top of her, and demanded that she have sex with him. The woman said she tried to defend herself, but Green forced himself on her. The woman also testified about another time when Green tried to rape her. However, on that occasion, she was armed with a pocket knife and was able to fend him off.
Green was linked to the stabbing death of a pony that was stolen in January 2000 from a pasture in Dobbin. The pony was tied to a tree and stabbed to death. A bloody pair of shears and a bloody broken butcher knife were laying near the pony’s carcass. Green admitted that the shears were his but claimed that they had been stolen a few weeks earlier. However, the only print recovered from the shears matched Green’s left middle finger.
Green also displayed increasingly violent behavior while he was incarcerated in the Montgomery County Jail:
On the morning of September 9, 2000, Green threatened to assault an officer for taking a toothbrush and a bowl of food from him.
On February 5, 2001, Green threatened a fellow inmate asserting that he “would make his heart stop.”
On another occasion, Green threatened a deputy because he would not give him a second glass of juice.
On July 26, 2001, Green assaulted and robbed another inmate.
On March 13, 2002, Green assaulted an officer in the jail.