News Update 03.11.08
In Forsyth County, Denny Carson Booth entered a plea to three consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 13 to 16 years. In 2004, Booth killed three people and seriously wounded one, including two law enforcement officers, in a rampage that still defies explanation. Prosecutors agreed to the deal after multiple doctors found that Booth’s depression and psychosis impaired his ability to control his actions on the day of the shootings. The victims’ families expressed satisfaction with the resolution of the case, “We are all glad it’s over and we didn’t have to relive all of this in a trial,” said one victim’s mother.
In Rockingham County, Brian Timothy Wilson has accepted a plea to life without the possibility of parole for killing his grandmother in 2006. Wilson beat 71-year-old Rebecca Isley with a tire iron and slit her throat in an attempt to steal her medication. He then called police and told them someone else had broken in and committed the crime. Still, said Isley’s family, she would have wanted to spare his life. “Leave him be,” one relative told the court Isley would have said, “Let him live. He is my baby.”
CDW asks whether China is more open to hearing capital appeals than the Fourth Circuit (which includes North Carolina). China’s appellate courts grant relief in about one in seven cases. The 4th Circuit is more likely to take away relief given by a lower court than to find for a capital defendant.
A recent study shows that over the last 20 years, Maryland has spent $189 million more chasing the needle than it would have if it hadn’t sought the death penalty. Capital cases cost more at every step along the way, from trial to appeals, including the extra $316,000 it costs to keep an inmate on death row as opposed to in general population. In related news, the state legislature is considering abolishing the death penalty. There are five people on Maryland’s death row.
Similarly, some in Illinois are calling for an end to that state’s wasteful capital punishment system. More defendants in capital trials have been found not guilty in the last five years than have been sentenced to death. The state spent over $70 million on capital cases in that period of time.
The judge in the Atlanta courthouse shooting case plans to run the trial 9 1/2 hours a day, six days a week. That ought to make jurors happy. Just the kind of folks I’d want deciding whether to sentence me to death. Brian Nichols’ trial is scheduled to start July 10th.