No Death Penalty for Howell

July 18, 2008

News Update 07.18.08

North Carolina

Mecklenburg County prosecutors have announced that they will not seek the death penalty against Michael Arthur Howell, who is accused of killing a state insurance examiner who was auditing his Charlotte business. Sallie Rohrbach disappeared during her investigation of Howell; her body was found in South Carolina days later. Howell still faces a penalty of life without the possibility of parole if convicted.

In developing news, the Racial Justice Act has stalled, but death penalty supporters managed to sneak a new capital aggravating factor through the Senate at the last minute. The new agg is now in the House rules committee. More on this if it passes, but the bill would make some domestic killings automatically death-eligible. It does nothing to address the larger problem of violence against women.

Elsewhere

Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced his intention to go forward with the executions of five Mexican nationals, despite pleas from Washington and abroad. Earlier this week, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ordered the United States to stop the executions of persons who had been denied their rights under the Vienna Convention. Among those Texas has decided to execute anyway is Jose Medellin.

It has been learned that former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich wasted some 300 hours of police time when he ordered surveillance of local peace activists and death penalty opponents. No illegal activity was observed, and the operation was eventually terminated when the officers assigned to the detail complained that perhaps their time was better spent pursuing actual criminals.


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