News Update 5.14.07
As soon as this week, the Army could release information about why it has decided to try Tim Hennis for the 1985 murders of an airman’s wife and daughters. Hennis was originally convicted and sentenced to death for the killings in 1986, but his conviction was reversed and Hennis was found not guilty at a second trial. After his acquittal, Hennis went on to serve in the Gulf and retired from the Army in 2004. He was recalled to active duty in 2006 solely for the purpose of facing renewed murder charges. Double jeopardy does not apply between military and civilian courts. See also.
The heavily armed assault on a Wilmington apartment complex last week resulted in no arrests. Suspects were apprehended later, elsewhere, and without incident.
Some press on House Bill 533/Senate Bill 1075 which would prohibit the execution of the severely mentally ill and severely mentally disabled. Defendants could still be sentenced to life in prison, but would not be eligible for the death penalty if their condition made them unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct, to use rational judgment, or to conform their conduct to the law.
Excerpts from the new lethal injection protocol established by Florida in the wake of the botched execution of Angel Diaz.
An AP interview with five men on Missouri’s death row. Each has his own view of his crime and his fate – interesting reading.
Last week, an Oklahoma judge ordered the release of Curtis E. McCarty, who was convicted and sentenced to death twice for a murder he did not commit. DNA evidence exonerated McCarty nearly 22 years after a police lab analyst falsified test results and hid or destroyed evidence to ensure his conviction. The prosecutor in the case, who has sent more people to death row than anyone else in America, has said that he believes it is worth executing an innocent person to maintain the institution of capital punishment. More here.
There will be a hearing this week for Pennsylvania’s Mumia Abu-Jamal, arguably America’s most famous death row inmate. The Third Circuit will consider whether to reverse a lower court’s decision to vacate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, and will examine issues including whether the jury properly considered mitigating circumstances, unconstitutional racial discrimination in the selection of the jury, and possible judge bias.
In Wyoming, a federal judge heard the case of James Harlow, who was sentenced to death for the murder of a prison guard in 1997. The State refused to hand over the records of inmates who testified against Harlow, one of whom prison records showed suffered from “a grave mental illness” and communicated with an imaginary friend. “The trouble I have with all of this is that I have always believed that in this kind of trial, you play the cards face up, not face down,” U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer said. “And it looks like they did the opposite.”