Wake County Woman Gets Life

News Update 09.26.07

North Carolina

A Wake County woman avoided the death penalty today by pleading guilty to murder and accepting a sentence of life without parole. Monique Berkley faced death for her part in the 2005 murder of her husband, Paul Berkley.

In Raleigh, inmates facing execution have asked the Council of State to accept the recommendations issued by an Administrative Law Judge, and to reject the Department of Correction’s proposed lethal injection protocol. The State says that the Council’s only job is to sign off on what the DOC has proposed.

Statewide, newspapers are asking that executions remain on hold until the problems with lethal injection can be sorted out.

  • In Asheville, the Citizen-Times is calling for “a moratorium on executions and [] a full-scale inquiry into whether North Carolina‚Äôs practices and procedures lead to the death penalty being administered fairly and only in cases of incontrovertible guilt.”
  • In Charlotte, the Observer says, “the state continues resisting what it really needs: a careful examination of whether our justice system consistently can meet constitutional muster in its executions of convicted murderers.”
  • In Durham, the Herald-Sun takes particular note of the questions raised by the recent decision that the Medical Board cannot sanction doctors who participate in executions: “If the Medical Board can’t get involved in the most fundamental issues of life, death and a physician’s ethical expectations, then what good is it?”
  • In Raleigh, the News & Observer is urging the Medical Board to appeal the ruling against it. The N&O also urges the legislature to take a close look at “the wisdom of the state putting people to death, and of the procedures now used.”


The Innocence Project has raised questions about an upcoming Alabama execution. Governor Bob Riley is denying access to DNA testing that could prove the innocence of Thomas Arthur, who is scheduled to die on Thursday. (c/o Abolish!)

Georgia‘s Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been running a series on death penalty issues in that state. The fourth installment looks at an issue readers of this blog may be familiar with in the North Carolina context – the failure of the state supreme court to conduct adequate proportionality review. (c/o StandDown and DPIC)

Despite the United States Supreme Court’s decision yesterday morning to consider the constitutionality of a lethal injection cocktail, the Court allowed Texas to execute Michael Richards last night using that same cocktail. CDW notes the irony. StandDown notes that more Texecutions are pending.

On a related note, while Tennessee is considering putting capital punishment on hold until after the Supreme Court rules, Arizona has scheduled another execution.

Everybody has something to say about the cert grant in Baze. News roundups from CDW and StandDown Texas pretty much cover it. There’s also analysis from SCOTUSblog and general info from Sentencing Law and Policy.

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