News Update 02.05.08
Yesterday a dozen friends and family members testified on behalf of Lisa Greene, urging the jury to spare her life. Some said they didn’t believe Greene was guilty, others said that the death penalty would only bring more pain to a family that has already endured the loss of two children. Greene’s attorneys have not ruled out the possibility that Greene herself might take the stand today.
At a pretrial hearing yesterday, lawyers for Army Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis argued that the military does not have jurisdiction to try him for the 23-year-old triple murder of which Hennis was acquitted in civilian court. The lawyers argued that (1) there was a break in Hennis’s service, which severs the military’s ability to prosecute incidents occurring during the first term of service; (2) the incident occurred off-base and did not involve military personnel, and so did not have the requisite connection to the military; and (3) that the military did not follow proper procedure in pulling Hennis out of retirement back into active duty. The judge did not issue a decision. Hennis’s next pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 8th. Background on the Tim Hennis case is here.
Nebraska will be the next state to abolish the death penalty, if State Senator Ernie Chambers has anything to say about it. Among those speaking in favor of Chambers’ bill: a man who spent 19 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, and a woman whose brother was murdered 23 years ago. Among those speaking against the bill: no one. More on former death row inmate Curtis McCarty here. There are nine people on Nebraska’s death row. Three Nebraskans have been executed since 1976. (c/o SLAP)
The Birmingham News on how a prosecutor’s decision to push for the execution of James Callahan despite the near certainty of a stay of execution brought needless suffering to the families of the defendant and the victim:
By the time the U.S. Supreme Court intervened to block the execution, Callahan was just a little more than an hour away from being put to death. He had visited with his family to say his goodbyes, and the prison system had gone through the necessary motions to prepare for the execution. Even worse, the mother and sister of his victim, Rebecca Suzanne Howell, had already traveled to Atmore to witness the execution. One of them came from Tennessee. The family called the ordeal “cruel and unusual.” They are right, and [Alabama Attorney General Troy] King should be ashamed.