Discussion:
death penalty news----FLA., MO.
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Rick Halperin
2017-08-22 20:22:26 UTC
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August 22



FLORIDA----impending execution

Catholic bishops call on Gov. Scott to halt scheduled execution----It has been
20 months since an inmate has been executed in Florida, and the state's
Catholic bishops are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to halt Thursday's scheduled
execution of Mark James Asay.



In a letter delivered to Scott Monday, Michael Sheedy, executive director of
the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote: "Indeed, Mr. Asay's violent
acts call out for justice and should be condemned. However, life without parole
is an alternative and severe sentence. We hold that if non-lethal means are
available to keep society safe from an aggressor, then authority must limit
itself to such means."

After a lengthy suspension of Florida's troubled death penalty system due to
legal challenges and actions by the Legislature,, Asay, 53, is scheduled to die
at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison in Starke for the murders of 2 men,
Robert Booker and Robert McDowell, in Jacksonville in 1987. Booker, who was
African-American, was shot in the abdomen after he and Asay had a
racially-charged confrontation outside a bar. In a summary of the case, the
state Supreme Court quoted Asay as having used the N-word 3 times.

Asay has been on death row since 1988, and his lawyers have repeatedly tried
without success to prevent his execution. The lawyers unsuccessfully petitioned
the Florida Supreme Court for access to the bullets that killed Asay's 2
victims, and they sought a rehearing based on the court's acknowledgement that
it incorrectly identified McDowell as black, when he was white or Hispanic.

Asay will be the 1st white inmate to be executed for the killing of an
African-American in Florida history.

His sister, Gloria Dean, tells a Jacksonville TV station that her brother
joined a white supremacist prison gang in Texas for his own protection, but
that he is not a racist and that the killings were not racially motivated.

Bishops in Florida have consistently opposed the death penalty for decades,
without success. Prior to Asay's execution, the bishops said, prayer vigils
will be held at locations around the state, including Miami, Miami Shores,
Pompano Beach, Inverness and on Tampa radio station WBVM 90.5.

Asay is one of 362 inmates on Florida's death row. Scott has signed more death
warrants than any other governor since the state reinstituted the death penalty
in the 1970s.

(source: Tampa Bay Times)

***************

Florida execution machine ready to kill again



It is a tale of 2 states.

1 is modern and internationally connected, linked to the rest of the world
through trade and tourism and known for its health, software and space
technology industries.

The other is an outlier state stuck in the past, connected to a punishment
which in the 21st century sets it apart from much of the world.

Both are the US State of Florida, which is on the brink of conducting its first
judicial killing in a year and a half, even as much of the country has turned
against this cruel policy.

'Bold, positive change'?

4 years ago, Governor Rick Scott promised 'bold, positive change' for Florida.
However, not when it comes to the death penalty apparently.

In March 2017, State Attorney Aramis Ayala - the 1st African American to be
elected to this position in Florida - decided not to pursue the death penalty
because of its clear flaws. In response, Governor Scott ordered her to be
replaced with a prosecutor willing to see executions carried out.

Since then the governor has transferred 27 capital murder cases to Ayala's
replacement. 2 of these cases have already resulted in juries voting for death
sentences.

Ready to kill again

From Thursday 24 August, the Florida execution machine will be ready to kill
again. The prisoner who will be first in line for lethal injection is Mark
Asay, sent to death row in 1988.

Alaya and her successor have taken very different stands in Florida. She has
acted to drop the death penalty, which is a waste of resources, prone to
discrimination, arbitrariness and error, and makes promises to murder victims'
families it cannot keep. But her successor wants to crank up the machinery of
death.

We know which side we're on: ending the death penalty for good is the only
approach consistent with international human rights principles. The alternative
is not.

(source: amnesty.org.uk)








MISSOURI----stay of impending execution

Missouri governor issues say of execution for Marcellus Williams



Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Tuesday issued a stay of execution for Marcellus
Williams.

In a release early Tuesday afternoon, Greitens said new information prompted
him to issue the stay and appoint a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry for
Williams.

"A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the
death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of
guilt," Greitens said in the release.

The board will include 5 people - all appointed by the governor - that will be
able to look further into Williams' case. The board would then make a
recommendation to the governor on if Williams should be executed.

Williams was scheduled to be executed Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Supporters of Williams cited a lack of DNA evidence in 2016 as reasons to
review the case.

Williams was sentenced to death in the 1998 fatal stabbing of Lisha Gayle, a
former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who left journalism for social work.
Authorities say she surprised Williams while he was robbing her home in the St.
Louis suburb of University City.

The ACLU of Missouri issued a statement Tuesday praising the governor for the
decision.

"We are relieved that Governor Eric Greitens stayed the execution of Marcellus
Williams to allow for a board of inquiry to review Mr. Williams' case in light
of new evidence," ACLU of Missouri executive director Jeffrey Mittman said in a
release.

(soruce: KSHB news)

****************

Greitens stops execution after questions about DNA evidence



Gov. Eric Greitens has granted a stay of execution to Marcellus Williams, who
was facing death by injection at 6 p.m.

He said he was appointing a board of inquiry to investigate the case.

"A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment," he said in a
statement. "To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have
confidence in the judgment of guilt. In light of new information, I am
appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case."

Williams, 48, was sentenced to death in 2001 for the fatal stabbing of former
Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle, 42, at her home in University City on Aug.
11, 1998. The prosecution said Williams was burglarizing the home when Gayle,
who had been taking a shower, surprised him. She fought for her life as she was
stabbed repeatedly.

Williams' attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution.
They are seeking a new hearing or the commutation of his sentence to life in
prison. And they are asking Gov. Eric Greitens to grant clemency.

The attorneys claim recent DNA tests could prove Williams' innocence. Using
technology that was not available at the time of the killing, those tests show
that DNA found on the knife matched an unknown male, according to an analysis
by Greg Hampikian, a biologist with Boise State University.

The Missouri Supreme Court in 2015 postponed Williams' execution to allow time
for the DNA tests, but last week after results of those tests were made
available, the same court denied his petition to stop the execution and either
appoint a special master to hear his innocence claim or vacate the death
sentence and order his sentence commuted to life in prison.

Now the attorneys have taken the argument to Supreme Court Justice Neil
Gorsuch, circuit justice for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which
includes Missouri and 6 other Midwestern states.

In its response to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state said it had a wealth of
non-DNA evidence to convict Williams. The state could prove Williams had sold
Gayle's laptop to a 3rd party after the killing, and had 2 witnesses who
independently said he confessed to them. And, the state said, the lack of DNA
evidence did not mean he was innocent.

The case has attracted national attention because no forensic evidence has ever
pointed to Williams, and now what has been tested points away from him.

"As a matter of fairness, what do you do when you've said somebody should get
DNA testing, and they get the DNA testing, and the DNA testing suggests they
didn't commit the murder?" asked Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death
Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit clearinghouse for studies and reports
related to capital punishment. "Missouri is trying to execute him without
giving him an evidentiary hearing on what that DNA evidence means."

He said DNA exonerations in the last 2 decades have "shown us that all the
other evidence the jury relied on in those cases was wrong. And in case after
case after case, prosecutors and judges had said it doesn't matter because
there is overwhelming evidence of guilt."

Gayle was a Post-Dispatch reporter from 1981 to 1992. She left the paper to do
volunteer social work with children and the poor. The 47 men Missouri has
executed since 2000

(source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

**************************

Prosecutor says no chance condemned is innocent



St. Louis County's prosecutor says there is "zero possibility" that an inmate
who is scheduled to die is innocent of the fatal stabbing that put him on death
row.

Marcellus Williams is due to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday for fatally stabbing
former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle during a 1998 robbery at
her home in University City, a St. Louis suburb.

Williams' attorneys cite DNA evidence on the murder weapon that matches another
unknown man, but not Williams. But St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch
says the DNA tests were simply inconclusive.

McCulloch says there is ample other evidence that Williams committed the crime.

Williams would be the 2nd man executed in Missouri this year.

(source: therepublic.com)

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