Executions – July 2008

July 1, 2008

1 – Mark Dean Schwab (FL)

10 – Carlton Turner (TX)

10 – Kent Jermaine Jackson (VA)

11 – Eric Hanson (IL – stayed)

14 – Tamir Hamilton (NV – stayed)

15 – Dale Leo Bishop (MS – stayed)

22 – Kevin Young (OK)

22 – Lester Bower (TX)

23 – Derrick Sonnier (TX)

24 – Edward Nathaniel Bell (VA – stayed)

24 – Christopher Scott Emmett (VA)

28 – George Decay (AR – stayed)

30 – John Middleton (MO)

31 – Larry Davis (TX)

31 – Tommy Arthur (AL)


Death Row Exoneree Bo Jones Speaks

May 6, 2008

News Update 05.06.08

North Carolina

Levon JonesLevon “Bo” Jones, recently released after serving over a decade for a murder he did not commit, held a press conference yesterday in Raleigh. Jones’ attorneys spoke first. Ernest “Buddy” Conner told those gathered how the police failed to dust for fingerprints at the scene and eventually lost what little physical evidence they gathered. He also spoke of the State’s star witness, Lovely Lorden, who unbeknownst to Jones’ trial attorneys was a paid, professional snitch who changed her story several times before trial. Conner noted that this injustice could have been corrected years earlier had North Carolina state courts bothered to consider Jones’ appeals.

Cassy Stubbs noted that Mr. Jones came within weeks of execution in 1997, his life saved only after attorneys Ken Rose and Mark Kleinschmidt intervened and rescued the case from counsel who missed a critical filing deadline. Jones is the third person exonerated in North Carolina in six months, Stubbs said, and in every case proof of innocence was withheld from the defense. Paid informants like Lovely Lorden are the leading cause of wrongful convictions.

Attorney Brian Stull added that Jones’ life was nearly ended because he lost the lottery of assigned counsel that often puts overworked, underfunded, and unprepared lawyers in charge of capital cases. Stull recognized that North Carolina has made great improvements in the last decade, but noted that many on death row – like Jones – were put there before the reforms were implemented. Studies show that a defendant is three times more likely to be sentenced to death if his victim was white. Where the defendant is black and the victim is white, as in Jones’ case, death is even more likely. The police could have investigated another suspect, George Overton, who owed the victim money, went to the victim’s house at least twice that night, lied to police about his activities, and fled the county the next day. But Overton was white. Stull suggested that cases like Jones’ illustrate the importance of passing the Racial Justice Act, which is before the state legislature this session.

Jones spoke only briefly, saying, “”From the day I was locked up, August 14, 1992, I said I was innocent, until this day…I’ve always been innocent. I hope you all believe the same.” In response to questions from the audience, Jones and his attorneys said that they hope there will be consequences for those responsible for putting him on death row, including the DA who prosecuted him despite evidence of his innocence, the attorneys who failed to seek out that evidence, and the lying witness on whose testimony his conviction was based. This befuddled District Attorney Dewey Hudson, who seeing nothing wrong with robbing a man of over a decade of his life responded, “I did my job…The guy’s won. What’s all this bashing Dewey Hudson about? I’ve done nothing wrong.”

(Photo source. See also reporting from The Progressive Pulse.)

Elsewhere

Cuban President Raul Castro commuted nearly all of that nation’s death sentences to terms of 30 years to life. He declared, “This decision was not undertaken because of pressure, but as a sovereign act in line with the humanitarian and ethical conduct that has characterized the Cuban revolution from the start.”

In Virginia, lawyers for Christopher Scott Emmett have appealed to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the Virginia lethal injection protocol is “unique and uniquely dangerous…far more dangerous” than the protocol approved in Baze. The State’s response is here.

Meanwhile in Georgia, a federal judge has found that state’s lethal injection protocol to be constitutional. After being denied clemency by the governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles, William Earl Lynd is scheduled to be executed at 7 PM tonight.

Execution dates have also been set for Mississippi’s Earl Wesley Berry, Texas’ Jose Medellin, and a number of other inmates.

In Missouri, a new study reveals that race and geography play a significant role in capital sentencing.

After a vicious hacking, DPIC (a wee little non-profit organization) is having to shell out big bucks to beef up security for their site. Pitch in a few duckets to help here.


Death Sentence in Moore County

October 18, 2007

News Update 10.18.07

North Carolina

A Moore County jury sentenced Mario Lynn Phillips to death yesterday. Phillips and two friends were charged with killing four people in 2003. There have been two other death sentences handed down in 2007, Eugene Johnny Williams of Cumberland County, and Byron Lamar Waring of Wake County.

The North Carolina Medical Board met this week in Raleigh to decide whether it would appeal a judge’s decision that the Board cannot discipline doctors who participate in executions. Many expressed concerns about letting people without medical training decide what is and isn’t a medical procedure. Meanwhile, Dr. John Faulkner of Raleigh likened the presence and participation of doctors in executions to the aid rendered by paramedics at Carolina Hurricanes hockey games.

BREAKING – The Medical Board has announced that it will appeal Judge Stephens’ decision. More here.

Elsewhere

The Supreme Court stayed the execution of Virginia‘s Christopher Scott Emmett. Order here. SCOTUSblog analysis here, Washington Post here.


Woman Faces Death in Cabarrus

October 16, 2007

News Update 10.16.07

North Carolina

In Cabarrus County, the capital trial of Lisa Greene is set to begin today. She stands accused of killing her children by setting the family home on fire. More information here.

Elsewhere

The execution of William Castillo has been stayed in Nevada. Castillo had been served his final meal, and was 90 minutes from execution when the court’s order came down. Meanwhile, the execution of Christopher Scott Emmett will go forward in Virginia tonight unless the governor steps in.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Smith v. Arizona, which asked whether spending a prolonged period of time on death row is, in and of itself, cruel and unusual punishment. Joe Clarence Smith has spent 30 years waiting to die, about three times the average stay on death row. Justice Breyer dissented. Read more about “death row syndrome” here and here. (c/o SCOTUSblog [scroll down a bit] and SLAP)

TCASK, StandDown and MVFHR have info on the first meeting of the Tennessee Death Penalty Study Commission. The group, comprised of prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims’ advocates, and lawmakers, is the first of its kind in any Southern state.


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