News Update 7.10.07
In Fayetteville, the officer overseeing the case against Timothy Hennis has recommended that the rape charge be dropped. At the time of the alleged incident, military law placed a three-year statute of limitations on rape. Hennis, who was acquitted on these same charges in civilian court, will still face three counts of first-degree murder.
Even though they found him to be mentally challenged and incapable of fully understanding his criminal conduct, a Wake County jury took less than two hours to sentence Byron Waring to death yesterday. Jurors also found that Waring acted under duress and was dominated by his co-defendant, who has yet to stand trial.
Click here to read a report produced from the Charlotte School of Law’s 2006 symposium on mental illness and the death penalty. Speakers included a range of attorneys, professors, and mental health experts. The report uses North Carolina cases to illustrate the ways in which the deck is stacked against the mentally ill in court, and particularly in death penalty cases.
Amnesty International has this interview with Martina Davis-Correia, the sister of Troy Anthony Davis, who is set to be executed by Georgia for a crime many believe he did not commit. Davis-Correia speaks frankly about the effect of her brother’s death sentence on her family: “I think the worst thing for me in this situation is my mother. My mother has not done anything to anybody, not even a parking ticket. And she’s walking around right now going into barber shops to get postcards signed to try save her child. Sometimes I walk into the garage and I hear her saying her prayers. She’s on her knees and she’s crying and she’s begging God to please help my brother. And I can’t stand it.”
After 22 years behind bars, New Jersey’s Brian Halsey was freed yesterday, the 205th person exonerated based on DNA evidence. All of the biological evidence in the brutal rapes and murders of two children in 1985 points to another man, who is already in prison for other sex crimes he committed after Halsey was wrongfully convicted. Halsey narrowly escaped the death penalty, and would likely have been dead by now if prosecutors had had their way.
In Ohio, judge asks for information about the death penalty, prosecutor threatens him with legal action. Prosecutors argue that the judge shouldn’t be allowed to conduct a pretrial hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty, rather the issue should be resolved after an inmate has been sentenced to death. That’s like saying you should only check to see if the milk is spoiled after you’ve poured it on your breakfast cereal.
In South Dakota, Elijah Page has volunteered to be executed, but there are still questions about the protocol that will be used to kill him. Vague, contradictory, and constitutionally questionable portions of the protocol create a great risk that South Dakota will botch what will be its first execution in 60 years.
In Texas, attorney asks why then-Governor Bush didn’t consider clemency for his client. Bush denied Carl Johnson’s clemency request, “as he denied the other 56 requests that were made of him by lawyers representing death row inmates. Some of these inmates were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles when they committed their crimes. Gov. Bush always gave the same explanation: that the inmates had had full access to the legal system.” Can the same thing not be said for Scooter Libby? Attorney David Dow cannot help but note that unlike Scooter Libby, Carl Johnson was sorry for what he had done.
Jerry B. Givens killed 64 people over the course of 17 years. Some he electrocuted, some he injected with lethal drugs. For all of them, he prayed. The Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch offers a rare glimpse into how executions effect the executioners. On steeling himself to conduct an execution, Givens said, “How can I be myself? I’m not a natural killer. These people haven’t done anything to me. I’m not doing it out of revenge.”
In China the former head of that nation’s equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration has been executed for accepting bribes and neglecting his official duties. The highly unusual sentence came in the wake of international scandal related to tainted Chinese medicines, toys, and other products. Another top official was also sentenced to death, his sentence has been suspended.