News Update 07.14.08
After deliberating for over a dozen hours about whether to convict him of first-degree murder, it took a Wake County jury less than an hour to decide that life without parole is the most appropriate punishment for Jakiem Wilson. The jury voted unanimously for life after finding none of the aggravating factors required by law to elevate the possible punishment to death.
This week marks the General Assembly’s last chance to pass the Racial Justice Act this session. The bill would allow capital defendants to challenge the prosecutor’s decision to seek death in their case if that decision was based on racial bias. Republicans are attempting to amend the bill to include a provision that would bar the N.C. Medical Board from disciplining doctors who participate in executions.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as released Death Row U.S.A. 2008, their annual accounting of changes in death penalty law and death row populations. According to the report, the total number of inmates on death row in the United States is 3,309, down from 3,350 the previous year. As the data was compiled several months ago, the report lists several inmates who are no longer on North Carolina’s death row due to exoneration, re-sentencing, or death from natural causes. These include Carlos Canady, Glen Chapman, Levon Jones, and Gary Greene.
In victims’ rights news, a California judge threatened to throw a widow in jail if she told the jury she did not support the death penalty. Carlton Akee Turner was executed in Texas for the murders of his parents, despite pleas from many family members asking that he be spared.
In Oklahoma, the Pardon and Parole Board voted to grant clemency to Kevin Young, who is scheduled to die later this month. The Board’s decision is only advisory; the final say lies with Governor Brad Henry. Learn more about the case and how to take action here.