2017-05-11 13:52:22 UTC
Review of death penalty policy needed
In his News-Leader opinion piece on May 2, "Hard to change many minds on the
death penalty," Christopher Dixon states that the death penalty is a topic
dominated by "emotions" and "personal feelings." It is one of those "debatable
and highly personal topics" that it is "emotionally charged," as well as one of
a list of "certain subjects that are off limits."
Certainly, many emotions can be involved when the death penalty is discussed,
but capital punishment is currently public policy in the state of Missouri.
Reliable data, individual dignity and the common good are the appropriate
foundations of good public policy. Public policies are NOT "off limits,"
rather, they need to be reviewed in the public forum for their effectiveness
and contribution to the common good. Emotions are not the source of responsible
Missouri taxpayers have every right to question whether the death penalty is
the smartest way to deal with capital murder and its effects on all of us,
especially when credible information demonstrates that the arbitrary manner of
those receiving death sentences in Missouri is correlated with the following:
the financial resources of the county in which the crime was committed
the aggressiveness of the county prosecutor in seeking death rather than life
the race and gender of the perpetrator and the victim
the economic status of the accused perpetrator
the availability of quality (i.e. experienced in capital cases) public defense
the variability of factors involved in jury selection
the nature and content of the instructions provided to the jury in a capital
Mr. Dixon also wrote that many families received "closure" following the four
closely spaced executions in Arkansas in April, a conclusion of questionable
value because "closure" appears to be an elusive, subjectively defined word.
The family of Ozark resident Michael Greenwood, one of the murder victims of
Kenneth Williams (the 4th of the 4 Arkansas inmates executed), asked for
clemency in Williams' case but the others did not. Greenwood's family even
decided to fly Mr. Williams' daughter and granddaughter to Arkansas, picked
them up at the airport and drove them to the prison to visit Williams prior to
his execution. Williams had not seen his own daughter for 17 years, and this
was the 1st and only time he saw his granddaughter. It seems that no public
policy can legislate "closure" for victims' family members.
We, as Missouri residents, have the opportunity to engage in serious civil
discourse as we evaluate our public policies in the light of their
effectiveness in bringing about the type of society we want to live in and
raise our families. Serious, civil and respectful discourse on important
societal issues must continue, especially when life or death is the result of
(source: Opinion, Donna Walmsley----Springfield News-Leader)
Las Vegas 25-year-old sentenced to die in schoolgirl killing
A 25-year-old man who pleaded guilty and was found guilty by a jury in the 2011
rape, killing and mutilation of a 15-year-old Las Vegas schoolgirl has become
youngest person sent to Nevada's death row.
Javier Righetti was formally sentenced Monday for the killing of Alyssa
Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt also sentenced Righetti to
more than 100 years on other charges including kidnapping, battery, robbery and
sexual assault of a victim under 16 years old.
Righetti was 19 at the time of the slaying.
He pleaded guilty in February 2016, but the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a
retrial on the death penalty count. A jury returned that verdict March 22.
Righetti's death sentence will be automatically appealed.
The last execution in Nevada was in 2006.
(source: Associated Press)
DA May Offer Garcia Torres a Deal For Location of Sierra's Body----Prosecutors
could offer to take death penalty off the table
The same jury that convicted Antolin Garcia Torres of murdering Sierra LaMar
will decide whether he is sentenced to death or spends the rest of his life in
prison without the benefit of parole.
The penalty phase for Garcia Torres, 26, begins May 16 after he was found
guilty of 1st-degree murder, with a kidnapping enhancement. Sierra, 15,
disappeared in March 2012 on her way to a school bus stop in Morgan Hill. Her
body has never been found.
Dean Johnson, a defense attorney and former San Mateo County prosecutor, says
the DA may offer the killer the following deal:
"Show us you still have some decency left inside of you and give these parents
closure and tell us where Sierra LaMar is, and we'll take the death penalty off
the table," Johnson predicted the DA would say to Garcia Torres.
Johnson said Garcia Torres will be told death row inmates have it very rough in
prison, their movement and privileges greatly restricted.
"People who have life sentences are in the prison population with the prisoners
with whom they are compatible," he said.
Johnson said the state and federal appeals in the case could take decades, but
if the death penalty is imposed, the young convicted killer could live long
enough to be put to death.
22-year-old may get death penalty for killing police officer
A 22-year-old man could be eligible for the death penalty after being ordered
to stand trial on murder charges.
The East Bay Times reports Mark Estrada had been ordered Monday. His charges
include special circumstances of lying in wait and drive-by shooting.
He is accused of fatally shooting 48-year-old Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger.
Lunger had been shot in the head and thigh in July 2015 shortly after he
approached a vehicle he had stopped for swerving.
Estrada's attorney argued that he had no grudge against police, didn't know
Lunger, and described the action as in "the heat of passion." Prosecutor John
Brouhard, however, argued that whether or not Estrada had any grudges against
police was irrelevant, and the judge agreed.
A decision on the death penalty is expected in the next several weeks.
(source: Associated Press)
Judge Denies Dylann Roof's Motion for New Trial on Federal Charges
United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel on Wednesday denied Dylann
Roof's motion for a new trial or acquittal on federal charges related the
murder of nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.
Roof was convicted of over 33 federal charges back in December, and received
the death penalty in January.
In a motion filed on February 10, Roof argued no interstate commerce connection
was established because his offense was not related to commerce and he did not
travel in between states or purchase items from outside of South Carolina to
commit the crimes.
He also argued that charges of using a firearm during a "crime of violence"
were not valid as his crimes were not "crimes of violence" as defined by
In an order filed with the US District Court on Wednesday, Gergel cited Roof's
conviction on multiple violations of the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996,
which states that intentional obstruction, by force or threat of force, of any
person's enjoyment of free exercise of religious beliefs, falls within or
affects interstate commerce.
Gergel also cited Roof's use of the internet to research, the telephone to
contact Mother Emanuel, use of GPS navigation satellites for travel, and use of
a Russia-based service to host his online manifesto as use of interstate
commerce. Additionally, Gergel stated that Roof used numerous items, including
hollow-point bullets, magazines, a firearm and a tactical pouch, which had been
manufactured outside the state and/or traveled in interstate commerce, to kill
With respect to "crimes of violence," Gergel ruled "the Court concludes that
the intentional infliction of physical injury entails the use of the injurious
force, and deadly force used to cause death is violent force."
Roof is currently being held at the federal death row prison in Terre Haute,
(source: WLTX news)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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