Connecticut

Executions Scheduled for 2018


Executions Scheduled for 2018


Month State Prisoner
January
2 PA Sheldon Hannibal — STAYED
3 OH John Stumpf — RESCHEDULED
3 OH William Montgomery — RESCHEDULED
18 TX Anthony Shore
25 AL Vernon Madison
30 TX William Rayford
February
1 TX John Battaglia
13 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Robert Van Hook — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Raymond Tibbetts
22 TX Thomas Whitaker
March
14 OH Douglas Coley — RESCHEDULED
14 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
20 MO Russell Bucklew
27 TX Rosendo Rodriguez
April
11 OH Melvin Bonnell — RESCHEDULED
11 OH William Montgomery
May
30 OH Stanley Fitzpatrick — RESCHEDULED
June
27 OH Angelo Fears — RESCHEDULED
July
18 OH Robert Van Hook
August
1 OH David A. Sneed — RESCHEDULED
September
13 OH Cleveland R. Jackson
October
10 OH James Derrick O’Neal — RESCHEDULED
November
14 OH John David Stumpf — RESCHEDULED

William Petit, Dad of Murdered Family, Reacts to Connecticut Death Penalty Ruling


It was a crime of epic cruelty, and the culprits were sentenced to pay the ultimate price.
Steven Hayes (Left) and Joshua Komisarjevsky  AP PHOTO/CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE
But a decision by Connecticut’s highest court means the 2 men who carried out the chilling Petit family murders will be spared execution, along with 9 other death-row inmates.
Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky now get life sentences for a 2007 home invasion robbery in which they raped and strangled Jennifer Petit, tied her daughters Hayley and Michaela to their beds, and set the home ablaze.
Petit’s sister, Cynthia Hawke Renn, told NBC News that she is “disheartened” by the Connecticut Supreme Court’s finding that a 2012 legislative repeal of the death penalty should also apply to those who committed their crimes earlier.
“I really do think that cruel and unusual crimes really do deserve cruel and unusual punishment,” she said.
“For people who commit such heinous and horrific crimes – when you torture and rape them and their children, douse them with gasoline and burn them alive – is there not something that should be worse?
“Shouldn’t there be a worse punishment out there for someone who takes a life in such a cruel and unusual way?”
Jennifer Petit’s husband, Dr. William Petit, who was beaten during the siege but escaped to call for help, had fought against the 2012 repeal of the death penalty. He noted in a statement Thursday that the court was divided in its ruling.
“The dissenting justices clearly state how the 4 members of the majority have disregarded keystones of our government structure such as the separation of powers and the role of judicial precedent to reach the decision they hand down yesterday.
“The death penalty and its application is a highly charged topic with profound emotional impact, particularly on their victims and their loved ones.”
Connecticut’s death row includes killers who have been there since 1989. The latest addition is Richard Roszkowski, who was sentenced last year, after legislative repeal, but was still eligible because the crime occurred in 2006.
He was convicted of killing a former neighbor, Holly Flannery, her 9-year-old daughter Kylie and a landscaper, Thomas Gaudet.
Kylie’s grandmother, Flo Tipke, said the court ruling was a blow.
“We went through two trials and now it kind of feels like it was a huge waste of time and money,” she said. “We’re very sad. We feel that the way he murdered our grandchild and our daughter-in-law was cruel and heinous and I don’t feel any punishment they could have given him would be too cruel or heinous.”
Mary Jo Gellenbeck – whose sister Diana was kidnapped and killed by another death-row prisoner, Daniel Webb – said she favors Thursday’s ruling.
“I don’t support the death penalty so I’m happy to see that Connecticut is moving in the direction of eliminating that,” she said.
Gellenbeck said her opposition to capital punishment stems in part from the danger that someone innocent could be put to death, though she is certain Webb murdered her sister.
“I think David Webb is a danger to society,” she said. “But if he is behind bars without parole, it’s what everybody wants.”
Source: NBC news, August 14, 2015

Connecticut’s Top Court Overturns Death Penalty in State


Three years after Connecticut abolished the death penalty for any future crimes, the state’s highest court on Thursday spared the lives of all 11 men who were already on death row when the law took effect, saying it would be unconstitutional to execute them.
The ruling comes in an appeal from Eduardo Santiago, whose attorneys had argued that any execution carried out after repeal would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Santiago faced the possibility of lethal injection for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford.
The Connecticut Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, agreed with his position.
“Upon careful consideration of the defendant’s claims in light of the governing constitutional principles and Connecticut’s unique historical and legal landscape, we are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority.
“For these reasons, execution of those offenders who committed capital felonies prior to April 25, 2012, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”
The ruling means the 11 men on the state’s death row will no longer be subject to execution orders. Those inmates include Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were sentenced to die for killing a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire.
The repeal had eliminated the death penalty while setting life in prison without the possibility of release as the punishment for crimes formerly considered capital offenses.
Santiago was sentenced to lethal injection in 2005 for the murder-for-hire killing of 45-year-old Joseph Niwinski. But the state Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and ordered a new penalty phase in 2012, saying the trial judge wrongly withheld key evidence from the jury regarding the severe abuse Santiago suffered while growing up.
The ruling came just weeks after lawmakers passed the death penalty repeal.
Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher argued any new death sentence would violate Santiago’s constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. He said it would be wrong for some people to face the death penalty while others face life in prison for similar murders.
He told the court that Connecticut had declared its opposition to the death penalty and it wouldn’t make sense to execute anybody now.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Harry Weller had argued there were no constitutional problems with the new law, and death-row inmates simply face a penalty under the statute that was in effect when they were convicted. He also argued that the court could not repeal just part of the new law.
Connecticut has had just one execution since 1960. Serial killer Michael Ross was put to death 2005 after winning a legal fight to end his appeals.
Source: Associated Press, August 13, 2015

CONNECTICUT – Killer sought sympathy Death row inmate complained of ‘psychological torture’ – Steven Hayes


March 14, 2014
NEW HAVEN — One of two convicts sentenced to death in a Connecticut home invasion sent suicidal letters before he was found unresponsive in his cell Monday, his attorney said Thursday.Steven Hayes remained in stable condition Thursday at a hospital, a correction department spokesman said. Hayes implied in the letters he would be dead by the time they were received, said his attorney, Tom Ullmann.”I don’t think there’s any question that it was an attempted suicide,” Ullmann said.Asked why Hayes tried to kill himself, Ullmann said, “The conditions of confinement are oppressive.” He accused rogue correctional officers of harassing Hayes, declining to discuss details except to cite the removal of items from Hayes’ cell such as an extra blanket.

Hayes, who has a history of suicide attempts, also sent a suicide note to The Hartford Courant in which he called Northern a “psychological torture chamber,” the newspaper reported.

The Courant, citing a state official familiar with the incident, reported Hayes had saved up prescribed medication, including antidepressants, and took it all at once.

Hayes, 50, is on death row for the 2007 killings of a woman and her two daughters after a night of torment inside their home in Cheshire. Another man, Joshua Komisarjevsky, also was convicted and sentenced to death for the home invasion killings.

A federal judge in November denied Hayes’ lawsuit seeking to change his conditions at Northern Correctional Institution, ruling that he did not provide any evidence that his mental health treatment was inadequate or to back up his request for changes to his diet.

Hayes also said his legal papers were confiscated as a form of harassment or retaliation. The judge said the failure of prison staff to provide a full response to that claim “gives the court pause,” but he said Hayes had not shown irreparable harm.

Hayes more recently filed an emergency motion seeking relief, saying his prison cell was too cold and that he was misdiagnosed by staff who claimed his suicidal tendencies, depression and other issues stemmed from his crime rather than his conditions.

“I would rather die than endure these conditions any longer,” Hayes wrote last month.

Hayes did acknowledge that he should be in prison.

I do not deserve to be psychologically tormented or refused proper treatment,” Hayes wrote. “To date I still suffer from deep emotional periods when I reflect on the pain I caused due to my crime and past actions.”

In court papers, prison staff members deny harassing Hayes or violating his rights. Hayes was subject to discipline after he violated rules by sitting on the floor in protest of a search of his cell and refusing to return his handcuffs upon returning to his cell, officials said.

A Department of Correction spokesman declined to comment.

The attorney general’s office, representing prison staff, said Hayes’ cell is kept at 74 degrees, not 55 degrees as he claimed, and that mental health treatment was available to Hayes but he refused it.

The Courant reported in 2012 that Hayes, who is deathly allergic to oysters, had concocted an elaborate suicide plan while on death row. He had promised to give information about unsolved killings that he lied about committing in exchange for being served oysters, hoping to die from an allergic reaction.

CONNECTICUT – Supreme Court takes up death penalty appeal – Eduardo Santiago


September 14, 2012 http://www.sfgate.com

HARTFORD, The state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the recent repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty applies only to future defendants.

The state’s highest court granted a request on Thursday by Eduardo Santiago to challenge the repeal’s impact on those who committed capital crimes before the law was passed. He was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot that promised him a broken snowmobile.

The death penalty was repealed in April, but it was preserved for 11 inmates on death row and for pending cases.

The Supreme Court overturned Santiago’s death sentence in June, saying the trial judge wrongly withheld key evidence from the jury.

Santiago’s lawyers have until Nov. 13 to file legal papers. The state will have 60 days to respond and a hearing could be scheduled early next year.

Five of the 11 inmates on Connecticut’s death are fighting their death sentences in a trial at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, the site of death row. The inmates say prosecutors’ decision-making process in death penalty cases has been arbitrary and were biased on the basis of race and geography.

Of the 11 men on death row, six are black, four are white and one is Hispanic. Of their 15 victims, 10 were white, four were black and one was Hispanic.

Santiago and two other men were convicted in the fatal shooting of Joseph Niwinski, 45, in West Hartford in 2000. Police said Santiago was promised a pink-striped snowmobile with a broken clutch in exchange for the killing.

Santiago, 32, has denied allegations that he agreed to kill Niwinski in exchange for the broken snowmobile. He was sentenced to lethal injection in 2005 after a jury convicted him, despite no clear evidence that he was the one who pulled the rifle trigger.

Connecticut was the 17th state to repeal capital punishment and the fifth in five years. In the past five decades, the state has executed only one person, serial killer Michael Ross in 2005, who pushed for his death sentence to be carried out.

CONNECTICUT – AP Interview: Death row inmate says new law unfair – Daniel Webb


July 17, 2012 The associed Press : AJC 

SOMERS, Conn. — Daniel Webb is awaiting execution for the 1989 kidnapping and murder of a Connecticut bank executive, but he believes he is also paying a price for another, unrelated crime that has heavily influenced the state’s debate on capital punishment.

Webb told The Associated Press in a death row interview that he thinks there would be no capital punishment in the state if not for the public’s desire to execute the men responsible for the 2007 home-invasion slayings of a mother and her two daughters in suburban Cheshire. The only survivor of that crime, Dr. William Petit, lobbied to keep the death penalty for the men who killed his family, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky.

Dr. Petit is angry with them and with his anger he wants to kill all of us,” said Webb, who spoke by telephone from behind a glass window. “Now you are trying to increase my suffering and take away the little that I had because you want to make Komisarjevsky suffer. That’s not right.

Webb was sentenced to die for the slaying in Hartford of Diane Gellenbeck, a 37-year-old Connecticut National Bank vice president, who was taken from a downtown parking garage and shot to death near a local golf course as she ran from an attempted sexual assault.

The state legislature in April abolished capital punishment, but only for future crimes. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and key state lawmakers had insisted on that as a condition of their support for repeal in a long-running debate that focused on the Petit case.

“If you are going to abolish the death penalty, abolish the death penalty,” said Webb. “I don’t think you can have a law that has double standards. Abolish means abolish, doesn’t it?”

A spokesman for Malloy declined to comment on Webb’s assertion.

William Petit’s sister, Hanna Petit Chapman, said she does not care what Webb thinks. She compared him to her relatives’ killers for laying blame with others.

“His condemnation is a direct result of his choices and actions. His finger pointing and blaming others sounds very familiar to what we heard from Komisarjevsky and Hayes. He could have let her go, yet, chose to shoot her five times when she escaped. I am not sure how that translates to being my family’s fault,” she said.

The balding, bearded Webb also complained during the hour-long interview Friday that the conditions of his confinement are unbearable and amount to torture.

Death-row inmates at Northern Correctional Institution are kept isolated in 8-by-12 foot cells with almost no human contact, even with other death-row inmates. They are given an hour of recreation a day, alone in cell-sized cages in the prison yard.

Webb, 49, says he has no friends on death row. He can only communicate by shouting through his steel door or into an air vent, something he says makes conversations with other inmates almost impossible.

Correction Department spokesman Brian Garnett described the conditions as humane and constitutional.

The mother of Webb’s victim is not sympathetic. Dorothy Gellenbeck, 86, said Webb deserves to live in the harshest conditions and to die for killing her daughter.

“I have had a lot of years to miss my girl,” Gellenbeck said from her home in Pennington, N.J. “I don’t care what the new Connecticut law is. He is guilty of murder and at the time of the murder the death penalty was in effect. And why should he live, when he killed someone?”

Connecticut’s only execution since 1960 came in 2005, after serial killer Michael Ross voluntarily gave up his appeals.

“I can now see what can push a man to that point,” said Webb. “I’d rather be dead than live like this.”

Webb said he attempted to hang himself in January, and later wrote a letter to court officials asking to give up his appeals and be executed. He has since rescinded that decision, saying lawyers and mental health professionals convinced him to wait and see how legal challenges to the death penalty are received.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane testified during public hearings this spring that he expects inmates to challenge the constitutionality of keeping them on death row by arguing the sentence is now unfairly applied based on the date of the crime.

Webb said he also has evolved and matured since 1989. Nobody, he said, should be held in isolation, just waiting to die.

“I’m still human,” he said. “People grow. Even people as despised as Joshua or Hayes, they can change over time.”

US – Death Penalty Support Is Declining


April, 25  sourcehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com

The campaign to abolish the death penalty has been freshly invigorated this month in a series of actions that supporters say represents increasing evidence that America may be losing its taste for capital punishment.

As early as this week, Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, is poised to sign a bill repealing the death penalty in Connecticut. A separate proposal has qualified for the November ballot in California that would shut down the largest death row in the country and convert inmates’ sentences to life without parole.

Academics, too, have recently taken indirect aim: The National Research Council concluded last week that there have been no reliable studies to show that capital punishment is a deterrent to homicide.

That study, which does not take a position on capital punishment, follows a Gallup Poll last fall that found support for the death penalty had slipped to 61 percent nationally, the lowest level in 39 years.

Even in Texas, which has long projected the harshest face of the U.S. criminal justice system, there has been a marked shift. Last year, the state’s 13 executions marked the lowest number in 15 years. And this year, the state — the perennial national leader in executions — is scheduled to carry out just 10.

Capital punishment proponents say the general decline in death sentences and executions in recent years is merely a reflection of the sustained drop in violent crime, but some lawmakers and legal analysts say the numbers underscore a growing wariness of wrongful convictions.

In Texas, Dallas County alone has uncovered 30 wrongful convictions since 2001, the most of any county in the country. Former Texas Gov. Mark White, a Democrat, said he continues to support the death penalty “only in a select number of cases,” yet he says he believes that a “national reassessment” is now warranted given the stream of recent exonerations.

“I have been a proponent of the death penalty, but convicting people who didn’t commit the crime has to stop,” White said.

There is an inherent unfairness in the system,” said former Los Angeles County district attorney Gil Garcetti, a Democrat. He added that he was “especially troubled” by mounting numbers of wrongful convictions.

A recent convert to the California anti-death-penalty campaign, Garcetti said the current system has become “obscenely expensive” and forces victims to often wait years for death row appeals to run their course. In the past 34 years in California, just 13 people have been executed as part of a system that costs $184 million per year to maintain.

“Replacing capital punishment will give victims legal finality,” Garcetti said.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, said California’s referendum marks a potentially “historic” moment in the anti-death-penalty movement in a state that houses 22 percent of the nation’s death row prisoners.

“Repeal in California would be a huge development,” Dieter said. “Just getting it on the ballot is big.”

Nationally, Dieter said, fading arguments for capital punishment as a deterrent to homicide and mounting numbers of wrongful convictions are “turning a corner” in the debate.

Democratic state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, a sponsor of the bill to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty, said capital punishment’s “promise to victims and taxpayers is hollow.” In Connecticut, only one person has been executed in the past 52 years.

Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, said the country’s system of capital punishment is in need of change, but not elimination. He said there is “strong motivation,” though, to fix a system that can take 20 years for offenders to reach the death chamber following conviction.

The vast majority of states (33, not counting Connecticut) still have the possibility of the death penalty,” Burns said.

“I don’t see a blowing wind that will dramatically change that,” he added.

 

More Evidence Against the Death Penalty


april 12, 2012 source : http://www.nytimes.com

Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state without the death penalty and the fifth in five years to abolish it. Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to sign the repeal bill approved by the Legislature in recent days.

Connecticut is part of a growing movement against capital punishment, with repeal measures now proposed in California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and Washington. Other states like Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania are reviewing their death penalty laws.

This shift comes at a time when new analyses of capital punishment show gross injustice in its application and enormous costs in continuing to impose it. In Connecticut, a powerful, comprehensive study provided evidence that state death sentences are haphazardly meted out, with virtually no connection to the heinousness of the crime.

In California, two former death penalty proponents — a prosecutor who drafted the 1978 ballot initiative that expanded the state’s death penalty and a leading supporter of the 1978 law — are now championing a new ballot measure to repeal the penalty. They point to a study showing that, since 1978, California has spent roughly $4 billion on the death penalty to carry out 13 executions. “The cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that could be obtained from it — and I now think there’s very little or zero benefit — is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose,” Donald Heller, the drafter of the 1978 measure, said recently.

Decades of research show that racial bias pervades death penalty cases. Minority defendants with white victims are much more likely to be sentenced to death than others;35 percent of those executed nationally since 1976 were black, though blacks currently make up 12.6 percent of the population. The problem of inadequate counsel permeates the system, with many indigent defendants sentenced to death after major blunders by court-assigned lawyers. And a horrific number of innocent people have ended up on death row: 17 convicts with death sentences have been exonerated with DNA evidence since 1993, 123 with other evidence since 1973.

Any careful evaluation leads to what the American Law Institute concluded after a reviewof decades of executions: the system cannot be fixed. It is practically impossible to rid the legal process of biases driven by race, class and politics. The growing number of states reconsidering this barbaric system is a welcome sign. Capital punishment, by overwhelming evidence, should be abolished throughout the United States.

Related News

Time to end death penalty in Texas


april 10, source : http://www.star-telegram.com

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.

 

10 years after DNA cleared York County man, death penalty still debated


april 8, 2012 source : http://www.ydr.com

Some believe that Pennsylvania will eventually abolish the death penalty.

Ten years ago today, Ray Krone walked out of an Arizona prison after DNA tests showed he did not murder a Phoenix bartender in 1991.

He became the 100th death row exonoree, and his case came at a time when federal legislators were considering death penalty reform, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

What shook many was that Krone had been convicted twice in the murder, he said.

Krone was a military veteran, a Bible reader, and one of the top graduates in his Dover Area High School class. He had maintained his innocence during the 10 years he spent in prison, two of those years on death row.

“It was a revelation that so many mistakes could have been made,” Dieter said.

In the past 10 years, several states, such as Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey, have abolished the death penalty, Dieter said. Others, such as Maryland, Connecticut and California, are seriously considering it.

The number of executions nationwide has dropped in the last 10 years, and the public is more aware of the errors that can occur.

Pennsylvania to study the death penalty

The last execution in Pennsylvania took place in 1999.

It marked only the third execution in the state since 1976, and in all three cases, the defendants gave up their appeal efforts.

Yet, today, more than 200 remain on death row in the state. Eleven are from York County cases.

A death penalty without executions is not a death penalty, Dieter said.

The state Senate passed a resolution in December authorizing a study of the death penalty.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery/Bucks counties, who sponsored the resolution, said he thinks the review is appropriate, given the studies done by other states. Questions about the cost, deterrence and appropriateness of the death penalty need to be answered, according to a news release.

The study will involve The Justice Center for Research at Penn State,

the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, and the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission.

The task force will study more than a dozen areas, including whether the selection of defendants for capital trials is arbitrary, unfair or discriminatory, and whether adequate procedural protections exist to prevent an innocent person from being sentenced to death and executed.

It will have two years to do the work.

Problems with the death penalty

Some, such as Kathleen Lucas of Springettsbury Township, believe it is only a matter of time until Pennsylvania repeals capital punishment.

Since the 1970s, 140 exonerations now have been reported nationwide, said Lucas, executive director for

Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Six have been in Pennsylvania.

In addition to Krone’s exoneration, the Sept. 21 execution of Troy Davis in Georgia has left a bad taste in people’s mouths, she said.

Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a police officer, but he maintained his innocence until the end. His defense team had argued that some of the witnesses had recanted their statements that implicated him.

Pennsylvania has been singled out for problems with the death penalty, Lucas said. The American Bar Association cited numerous areas for reform in a 2007 report.

Studies have revealed, for example, that 98.6 percent of jurors in capital cases in Pennsylvania failed to understand “at least some” portion of the jury instructions, the report states.

Of those questioned, 82.8 percent of the jurors did not believe “that a life sentence really meant life in prison,” according to the report.

Racial and geographical disparities also exist, according to the report. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court committee found that one third of black death-row inmates in Philadelphia County would have received sentences of life in prison if they had not been black.

Death penalty cases are costly

Lucas questions why the state keeps the death penalty when it isn’t executing anyway. She argues the money spent on capital cases costs three times or more than sentencing a defendant to life.

The average death penalty case in Maryland costs about $3 million, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (citing the Urban Institute, 2008). It’s anticipated the state will pay $186 million for cases pursued between 1978 and 1999. The state has had five executions since 1976.

Death penalty cases demand more work because of what’s at stake, Dieter said. Typically, two defense lawyers and two prosecutors are assigned to the case. They must prepare for two phases — the trial and the sentencing — which require different investigations.

“We’re just throwing money down a big, black hole,” said Marc Bookman, executive director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation.

It also costs more money to incarcerate death-row inmates, Bookman said.

In these tough economic times, Lucas said, the money could be used elsewhere, such as education. Police also could pursue cold cases.

Support of the death penalty

The state District Attorneys Association doesn’t think the death penalty should be abolished, executive director Richard Long said.

It helps to bring a measure of closure to the victim’s family, and it has a deterrent effect as well.

“We think Pennsylvania has decided it’s an appropriate penalty in the most egregious type of murder cases,” he said.

It is the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that is slowing down the cases, Long said. The appeals are not moving through the process and being addressed in a timely manner — no matter what the outcome.

Many cases are being overturned because of problems, such as ineffective counsel, Lucas said.

Some, who started with the death penalty, end up with a life sentence, Dieter said. Pennsylvania has done studies and made efforts to fix problems, but “at this point, I think it’s still not working.”

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said he has taken an oath to uphold the will of the people.

“When we seek the penalty, it is for the worst of the worst, and that is what we’re charged with doing,” he said.

His office takes great pains to consult with the victims, looking at the statute and reviewing the case to determine if the death penalty is a realistic option.

He pointed to the Michael and Nanette Craver case as an example. His office withdrew the death penalty against the couple in the death of their 7-year-old adopted Russian son.

That’s because after talking with experts, it appeared the mitigating circumstances would outweigh the aggravating circumstances. It would have meant a life in prison without parole.

The couple later was convicted at trial of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and conspiracy.

“The taking of a life is a serious business,” Kearney said. “This is not something we do on the fly.”

Kearney said he thinks it’s healthy for the community to discuss the death penalty and whether they believe legislators should change the law.

Local defense attorney Gerald Lord said he has handled numerous death penalty cases in which the defendants are found not guilty of first-degree murder. Some are convicted of lesser charges.

Lord cited the 2003 shooting death of 25-year-old Anthony Lloyd as an example.

A jury acquitted his client, Dorian Eady of Erie, of first- and third-degree murder, attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the case. At one point, he faced a death penalty notice.

Witnesses testified Eady was in Buffalo the day before the shooting and in Erie when the shooting occurred. Eady had always maintained his innocence.

“It’s the ultimate penalty, and if you make a mistake, you can’t take it back,” Lord said.

Ten years later

As for Ray Krone, he moved back to York County and has made attempts to resume a normal life.

He has been thankful for the support of his friends, family and the residents of York County, he said. It has helped him as he has traveled across the country trying to make a difference.

Krone has been an outspoken proponent of abolishing the death penalty. He has spoken with legislators, students and others about his case, wrongful convictions, DNA testing and judicial reform.

Krone serves as director for communications and training for Witness to Innocence, an organization that consists of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones who are fighting to end the death penalty.

Krone said he traveled to Connecticut last year to testify along with Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project for the repeal of the death penalty.

Legislators did not approve the repeal last year, but it is moving through the legislature this year.

“If they could do it to me, they could do it to anybody,” Krone said.

 

Who is on death row

Eleven people from York County cases are on death row in Pennsylvania.

They are:

— Kevin Dowling, 53, convicted in the October 1997 murder of Spring Grove shop owner Jennifer Myers. The York County District Attorney’s Office maintained Dowling killed Myers to prevent her from testifying against him in an attempted rape and robbery case.

— Daniel Jacobs, 41, convicted in the February 1992 stabbing death of his girlfriend, Tammy Lee Mock of York, and the drowning of their 7-month old daughter, Holly Danielle Jacobs.

— Harve Johnson, 30, convicted in the April 2008 beating death of 2-year-old Darisabel Baez.

— Kevin Mattison, 35, for the December 2008 shooting death of Christian Agosto during a robbery and burglary. Mattison of Baltimore had a previous murder conviction for killing a man in a street fight in Maryland in 1995.

— Hubert Lester Michael Jr., 55, pleaded guilty to the July 1993 kidnapping and shooting death of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng in the Dillsburg area.

— Milton Montalvo, 49, and Noel Montalvo, 48, convicted of the April 1998, stabbing deaths of Miriam Asencio-Cruz and Manuel Ramirez Santana, also known as Nelson Lugo. Asencio-Cruz was Milton Montalvo’s estranged common-law wife, and Santana was her friend.

— Hector Morales, 29, convicted of the July 2009 murder and burglary of Ronald Simmons Jr. Simmons was shot about 12 hours before he was to testify against Morales in a drug case.

— John Small, 52, convicted of the 1981 murder and attempted rape of 17-year-old Cheryl Smith, whose body was found in West Manheim Township.

— Mark Newton Spotz, 41, convicted of the February 1995 shooting death of Penny Gunnet, 41, of New Salem, his third victim in a four-day crime spree through central and eastern Pennsylvania.

— Paul Gamboa-Taylor, 51, pleaded guilty to the May 1991, hammer slayings of four family members: his wife, Valeria L. Gamboa-Taylor; their two children, Paul, 4, and Jasmine, 2; and another child, Lance Barshinger, 2. He received a life sentence for killing his mother-in-law, Donna M. Barshinger.

About the Krone case

Ray Krone was convicted twice and later exonerated in the 1991 murder of a Phoenix bartender.

Kim Ancona, 36, was found stabbed to death Dec. 29, 1991, in the CBS Restaurant Lounge in Arizona.

Police began their investigation, including questioning Krone. Police arrested him on New Year’s Eve.

Krone believed that police, in their investigation, would realize they had the wrong man. But he went to trial in the summer of 1992. An expert presented a videotape showing that a bite sample from Krone matched a bite mark on the victim’s breast.

A jury found Krone guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death.

In 1995, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned Krone’s conviction, granting him a new trial.

At his second trial in 1996, the prosecution argued that the bite marks on the victim’s body matched Krone’s “unique dentition.” Krone’s attorney, Christopher Plourd of San Diego, countered that the bite marks were not Krone’s, and the saliva found on the victim provided a DNA pattern that excluded Krone.

A jury convicted him again.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James McDougall said he had doubts about Krone’s guilt and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 2002, testing of DNA on the victim’s clothes proved Krone wasn’t the killer and instead implicated Kenneth Phillips Jr.

Krone was freed that year after 10 years in prison.

Krone sued Maricopa County in Arizona, and the city of Phoenix over his wrongful conviction. He received settlements totaling $4.4 million.

Krone now lives in Conewago Township.

 

Life in prison

Is there a difference between how death row inmates versus those sentenced to life without parole live in prison?

The answer is yes, said Sue McNaughton, press secretary for the state Department of Corrections.

Death row inmates are locked in their cells 22 hours a day. They are allowed outside to exercise, to shower or to research their appeals in a mini law library, she said.

When they do leave their cells, they are shackled and escorted by several staff members, McNaughton said.

Inmates who are in for life live in regular housing. In general population, two inmates can live in a cell, but those with lifetime sentences might be offered a single cell.

Inmates serving a life sentence can work prison jobs, she said. They can go to the library to read a book. They are not as restricted.