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death penalty news----PENN., DEL., FLA., OHIO, IND., LA.
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Rick Halperin
2017-04-29 13:13:00 UTC
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April 29




PENNSYLVANIA:

Death penalty sought in 'horrific' killing of 4-year-old boy


Prosecutors in western Pennsylvania confirmed they will seek the death penalty
against the man accused of raping and killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.

Keith Lambing, 20, is facing several felony charges in the March 21 death of
Bentley Miller.

Lambing's mother, Kristen Herold, picked up Bentley that morning from a motel
in Butler Township where Lambing and the child's mother were staying. Herold
pulled over and called 911 after the child stopped breathing, court records
show. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital less than an hour later.

Herold was charged with endangerment and hindering apprehension after helping
her son hide from police. Officers found Lambing and the child's mother,
Mackenzie Peters, hiding in an abandoned house the day after Bentley's death.

District Attorney Richard Goldinger called the case "horrific" and said "it
asks for the death penalty." Cases involving aggravated circumstances, such as
the death of a child, can be tried as death penalty cases under Pennsylvania
law.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2ppknsP ) reports Lambing's attorney
believes his client is being assumed guilty before the trial.

(source: Associated Press)

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

Enforcing death penalty for Frein challenging


Pike County prosecutors got the death sentence they sought for convicted cop
killer Eric Matthew Frein. Now comes the challenge of enforcing the penalty.

Under Pennsylvania law, the state Supreme Court automatically reviews all death
sentences. Should the high court uphold the sentence, Frein has multiple
options available in state and federal court that likely will take a decade or
longer to resolve before a death warrant can be signed.

Pennsylvania also has a moratorium on executions imposed by Gov. Tom Wolf in
February 2015. Wolf said he is awaiting a report from a state senate committee
tasked with reviewing the state's imposition of the death penalty before he
will decide on whether to lift it.

The Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment was
formed in 2011. It is reviewing more than a dozen variables, including cost,
the potential for racial bias and the adequacy of the appeals process. The
committee was expected to release its report in 2013, but it has been delayed
repeatedly.

Frein, 33, of Canadensis, was convicted last week of 1st-degree murder and 11
other offenses for fatally shooting Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, 38, of Dunmore,
and severely wounding Trooper Alex T. Douglass, 34, of Olyphant, in a sniper
attack at the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, 2014. A Chester
County jury voted Wednesday to sentence him to death by lethal injection.

Frein joins 171 defendants on Pennsylvania's death row as of this month. They
include 2 men from Lackawanna County - David Chmiel, who was sentenced in 2002,
following a third retrial, for the 1983 murders of 3 elderly siblings from
Throop; and Steven Duffey, who was sentenced in 1986, for fatally stabbing a
co-worker at Genetti Manor in Dickson City.

The delay in the senate committee's capital punishment report is largely
because of difficulty in collecting data needed to conduct the analysis, said
Steve Hoenstine, a spokesman for state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, King of
Prussia, who is a member of the task force and ardent death penalty opponent.

Hoenstine said the data collection is an arduous process. Researchers must
travel to courthouses throughout the state and dig through paper files.

"People need to realize, you can't just Google this data," Hoenstine said. "It
takes a lot of time because it's all in different formats, in different
physical locations, and isn't complete."

The Joint State Government Commission, a branch of the state legislature that
researches various issues, and the Justice Center for Research at Penn State
University, are aiding the committee.

Glenn Pasewicz, executive director of the Joint State Government Commission,
said significant process has been made recently.

"From what I understand it's finished or nearly finished on Penn State's end,"
he said. "When we get that we will have it wrapped up within 2 to 3 months."

The joint commission will turn the information over to the committee, which
will evaluate everything issued its report. Pasewicz said he is hopeful that
will occur some time this year.

"We'd like to get it finished and off our plate as much as anybody," he said.

(source: Standard Speaker)






DELAWARE:

Millsboro man on death row re-sentenced to life in prison


A Millsboro man who was convicted of murdering his fiancee days before their
wedding has been re-sentenced, Delaware Department of Justice officials said.

Emmett Taylor was originally sentenced to death row for beating Stephanie
Mumford to death in 2007. His death sentence was vacated and today he was
re-sentenced to life in prison, officials said.

Delaware's death penalty was overturned last year by the Delaware Supreme Court
over claims that it was unconstitutional and allowed judges too much
discretion.

At the time of the crime, police say friends and family became concerned after
neither Mumford or Taylor showed up to their wedding rehearsal dinner. Mumford
was later found dead with evidence of a struggle throughout their home.

(source: WMDT news)






FLORIDA:

Is Hillsborough's new top prosecutor anti-death penalty? The answer might
surprise you


The death penalty, and how we use it, is changing. Hey, it can happen, even in
Florida.

Until recently, it was perfectly okay if only most people on a jury agreed that
a killer should die. We have since come around to the idea that well, yes,
perhaps unanimous is wiser given we're talking about taking a human life.

Meanwhile, a dramatic legal face-off is playing out between new Orlando-area
state attorney Aramis Ayala - who refused to seek death for an accused cop
killer, or anyone else for that matter - and Gov. Rick Scott, who promptly
grabbed 23 death penalty cases away from her.

And here at home, newly elected Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has
made clear that he believes the death penalty should be used for only "the most
egregious cases, the worst of the worst." And that he believes this has not
always been so.

So is Warren - if not another Ayala - at least a kindred spirit?

He is a former federal prosecutor who surprised a lot of people by ousting
longtime State Attorney Mark Ober. Now courthouse lawyers, judges and cops are
watching to see what kind of state attorney he turns out to be. And in the
current climate, death cases are of keen interest.

After Ayala's stand, Warren and the rest of Florida's top prosecutors affirmed
they would continue to seek death when appropriate. But he has also talked
about the importance of an elected prosecutor's discretion.

Also interesting: Warren dropped the death penalty in the murder case against
Carlos Rivas, citing his history of mental illness. Last week, Rivas was
convicted and sentenced to life in prison for beating a homeless man to death
in 2012.

This week, Warren confirmed the office will no longer seek death for Lawrence
Robert Bongiovanni III, accused of hiding in a 7-Eleven bathroom before
ambushing and repeatedly stabbing clerk Kenneth Lee Redding to death in 2013.

Bongiovanni's history of mental illness - reportedly in and out of hospitals
since age 6 - and that he was 20 at the time of the slaying were factors,
Warren told me this week.

Also worth noting: He says his office will not be using the threat of capital
punishment to get a defendant to plead to life, a person's life not being "a
bargaining chip."

So again: Is Warren's philosophy akin to Ayala's, except with a subtler, more
defensible, slow drip method for avoiding death sentences?

The short answer: No.

The longer one is more considered.

Warren says his office is reviewing "from scratch" about 20 death penalty cases
he inherited to make a fresh decision in each one. He calls a death sentence
"the most serious and sobering component of our criminal justice system. The
most important thing to me is that, as a society, we get it right."

In fact, he has already decided that death is appropriate for Steven Lorenzo,
implicated in the horrific slayings of 2 men used as sex slaves. His office
will also seek death for Keith Earl Davis, charged with murder in the death of
nurse William Leslie McGoff.

Warren is still the new guy in a courthouse where lawyers and judges grew up
together and police hold sway. But he seems more comfortable in the chair every
day.

(source: tampabay.com)






OHIO:

Springfield church hosting death penalty discussion


A Springfield church is 1 of 3 stops in a statewide lecture series for a group
seeking to stop executions.

Ohioans to Stop Executions will present An Evening with Shane Claiborne: Voices
of Experience on the Death Penalty at Central Christian Church, 1504 Villa Road
beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, May 1.

The event will examine the arguments for and against capital punishment under a
Christian faith based lens.

Representatives of Central Christian said the church has not taken an official
position on capital punishment, but is hosting the event to give their
congregation an opportunity to learn about some of the challenges regarding the
death penalty.

"As Christians, we need to let our faith shape how we approach complicated
issues like capital punishment," Senior Pastor Carl Ruby said. "We need to
balance a concern for justice with our commitment to the sanctity of life."

Ruby said the timing of the lecture series was appropriate as the U.S. Supreme
Court weighed in on executions carried out in Arkansas over the last week.

Claiborne, an author and Christian activist will lead the discussion. His books
include "The Irresistible Revolution", "Jesus for President", and "Executing
Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It???s Killing Us".

Derrick Jamison, a Hamilton County resident who spent 20 years on death row
before being exonerated will talk about his experiences and the consequences
that capital punishment has on everyone involved.

The evening will also include Pastor Jack Sullivan Jr., former executive
director of Murder Victim's Families for Reconciliation, a group opposed to the
death sentence. Sullivan, of Findlay, will speak about the murder of his sister
and the act of forgiveness.

Ohioans to Stop Executions said executions are down and are continuing to fall.

"We see lots of contributing factors to that, things like the wrongful
convictions that have happened," said Kevin Werner, executive director of
Ohioans to Stop Executions. "We got 12 guys in Ohio who faced the death penalty
for crimes that they had nothing to do with."

Central Christian representatives said this discussion is not limited to
Christians, but is open to all members of the community.

(source: springfieldnewssun.com)






INDIANA:

Vann death penalty trial planned for 2018


A Gary man facing the death penalty and charged with killing 7 women won't go
to trial this year.

Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court turned down Darren Deon Vann's appeal to
look at the constitutionality of the state's death penalty statute, allowing
the 46-year-old's Lake County cases to move forward.

At a status hearing Friday morning, which Vann did not attend after submitting
a waiver through his lawyers, Judge Samuel Cappas set jury selection to begin
the week of Feb. 12, with the actual jury trial beginning around March 12,
possibly lasting until the week of April 2.

Vann previously was scheduled to go trial in January 2016 and then July of that
year, and through a series of motions and his death penalty statute appeal, his
cases have continued through the Lake County court system.

Vann hasn't appeared in court himself since early on, filing waivers each time
to have his attorneys appear on his behalf, because he "does not want to come
to court unless he has to," one of his lawyers, Gojko Kasich, previously told
the court.

But Friday morning, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter suggested that Vann
should attend one of his upcoming hearings to be told in person about his trial
date and to be aware that "if he doesn't show up, we intend to proceed to
trial."

Cappas said that "it has to be done" to make sure Vann can't raise an appeal
later claiming that he wasn't formally told when his trial was, but the judge
didn't set an exact date of when Vann needed to be in court.

Vann's appeal about the death penalty statute delayed his cases for months
after prosecutors requested the death penalty for him in connection with the
deaths of Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville; Afrikka Hardy, 19, of Chicago;
Teaira Batey, 28, of Gary; Tracy Martin, 41, of Gary; Kristine Williams, 36, of
Gary; Sonya Billingsley, 52, of Gary; and Tanya Gatlin, 27, of Highland. Most
of the women's bodies were found in abandoned Gary homes, one at a motel in
Hammond.

Vann argued the state's death penalty statute was constitutional, focusing on a
few key points: how a jury is supposed to weigh factors that could influence a
death sentence, allowing a judge to determine a defendant's death sentence when
the jury can't and that the statute possibly violates the 8th Amendment
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

While disagreeing with Vann's argument, the state also countered that Vann's
appeal request "has already delayed this case going to trial" and "if this
Court grants the request, the trial will be delayed many more months to years,"
according to an appeals document.

Cappas originally turned down Vann's request to look at the statute but allowed
him to appeal the decision to a higher court. In an April 20 order, the Indiana
Supreme Court turned down Vann's appeal.

In addition to the murder charges, Vann faces additional charges in connection
with the February 2014 rape of an Illinois woman and from allegedly throwing
his urine and feces at an officer when he was brought lunch to his cell in
February 2016.

At the Friday hearing, the court again addressed the state's request for Vann
to provide a handwriting sample. Vann allegedly wrote a letter, which hasn't
been made public, to Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter that "makes
statements pertaining to the state's case," according to a court filing, and
the state wants a handwriting sample to compare to the letter. Cappas ordered
Thursday that Vann must provide the sample by May 10.

The defense also wants to bring in an expert witness about DNA analysis that's
being examined in the case, according to Kasich.

Cappas set Vann's next court hearing for June 2.

(source: Chicago Tribune)






LOUISIANA:

Death penalty makes strange bedfellows


There are any number of reasons to oppose the death penalty.

There are conservative reasons and liberal reasons, appeals to compassion and
appeals to common sense.

And, here lately, there are even appeals to the budget-minded lawmakers who
just hate to see us throw money away on one thing when we could just as well
throw it away on something else.

Actually, the folks who are taking this newfound track deserve some praise for
finding yet another reason to detest the hypocrisy that is the death penalty.

A state Senate committee voted this week to OK a bill ending executions in
Louisiana.

The proposal, from Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, sets a close of Aug. 1 for
the death penalty. Crimes committed after that date would no longer be
punishable by state-sanctioned killing.

Pylant is actually a supporter of the death penalty, but its enormous cost has
made even the most bloodthirsty lawmakers rethink their adherence to this
fundamentally flawed penalty.

Louisiana, after all, hasn't carried out an execution since 2002. In the past
15 years, of course, we have seen all manner of heinous crimes.

Those who would argue that the death penalty is a deterrent likely haven't read
or watched the news in some years.

More likely, they have spent their time longing for the satisfaction they get
when they see that some convict has met his or her maker.

Whatever drives these people, they should acknowledge a few central facts about
the death penalty as it now exists:

1) It is irreversible. That means that no matter how many after-the-fact DNA
tests exonerate the condemned, that death penalty was still administered, with
the rest of us left culpable for an innocent life lost.

2) It is enormously expensive. From the prosecution to the appeals to the
inevitable lawsuits, the legal costs alone should force cash-strapped states
like our own to take another look at the ultimate penalty.

(source: Editorial, The Daily Comet)

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