death penalty news----PENN., FLA., LA., COLO.
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Rick Halperin
2017-05-07 18:15:07 UTC
May 7


Death penalty to be sought in sword killing of pregnant wife----Officials said
the defendant told investigators he believed he was saving humanity from a
global conspiracy involving what he called "hybrid humans"

Prosecutors in central Pennsylvania say they will seek the death penalty in the
case of a man accused of having killed his pregnant wife with a sword.

31-year-old John Ziegler III is charged in York County with homicide in the
deaths of 25-year-old Diana Ziegler and her unborn child in January in Jackson
Township. Authorities said the victim was 6 months pregnant.

Officials said the defendant told investigators he believed he was saving
humanity from a global conspiracy involving what he called "hybrid humans."
Detectives said he expressed no anger toward his wife and said repeatedly that
she did not deserve it.

Defense attorney Jay Abom called the case "tragic" but said he was disappointed
by the decision considering what he called "the symptoms of very serious mental
health issues."

(source: Associated Press)


Families argue for voice in State Attorney Aramis Ayala-Gov. Rick Scott death
penalty case----Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala announces that her
office will no longer pursue the death penalty as a sentence.

A lawyer representing family members of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, Sade
Dixon, and families of homicide victims in unrelated capital cases expressed
support for Gov. Rick Scott's position in the legal battle over death penalty
cases between him and Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

Ayala announced in March that she would not seek the death penalty for Markeith
Loyd, who is accused of killing Clayton and Dixon, or anyone else.

In response, Scott signed a string of executive orders taking away 23 death
penalty cases from her and re-assigning them to Ocala-based State Attorney Brad

Ayala sued in April, and advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate
have been filing legal briefs with the Florida Supreme Court to make their
opinions formally known.

The families' brief, filed with the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, did not
express an opinion for or against the death penalty or say whether any
particular defendant should face capital punishment. Instead it presented a
case for consulting families of people killed rather than adopting a blanket
policy of never seeking the death penalty, as Ayala did.

"The secondary victims of homicide - those who must deal with the life-long,
agonizing terror of a loved one lost to violence - should have their points of
view meaningfully heard and substantially valued in the most critical
prosecutorial decisions," wrote Dan Gerber, an Orlando attorney. "The
Petitioner's preemptive strike against secondary victim input for capital
punishment silences those with a substantial right to be heard."

Gerber noted that Ayala has been willing to talk to some of the family members.

"But being allowed to speak is not the same as being heard," he wrote. "The
unfortunate alliance of surviving family members of homicide victims is
entitled to heightened attention and respect, not dismissed."

Reached by phone Friday, Gerber declined to say more about how he got involved
with the families, saying he does not normally talk about clients in ongoing

"I'll just let the brief speak for itself," he said.

The family members listed are Clayton's husband, Seth Clayton; Dixon???s
mother, Stephanie Dixon-Daniels; the mother of 5-year-old Darell Avant Jr., who
was allegedly killed by his father in 2013; and the aunt of Jasmine Samuel,
allegedly abducted and killed by her ex-boyfriend last year.

They also include the daughter of Elena Ortega, the 83-year-old woman whose
killer, Juan Rosario, was convicted last week; the mother of 16-year-old
Alexandria Chery, whose ex-boyfriend is accused of killing the teenager; and
the son of Teresa Green, whose neighbor allegedly killed her in 2003.

The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and members of the Florida House
of Representatives also filed briefs siding with Scott this week.

(source: Orlando Sentinel)


Here's one frightening reason Louisiana should keep death penalty

If Louisiana abolishes capital punishment, this would not only put at risk
innocent lives but also guilty ones.

Logically, the death penalty should deter murder, for increased potential costs
to individuals committing such an act discourages them from engaging in that
activity. Over the past half century, generally research on this issue confirms
that deterrent effect: to varying degrees depending upon a study???s data and
methodology, most reveal that every execution causes some decrease in the
number of homicides.

Opponents dispute this, adopting a strategy over the past decade that
criticizes the validity of such studies. By poking these methodological holes,
they have sought to remove statistical analysis from the debate and focus it
instead on other criteria, such as costs in dollars, in innocents executed, and
to society's moral fabric.

Taking into better account critics??? analytical complaints, a number of recent
studies continue to show deterrence works. However, these studies also agree
with earlier research that as executions become fewer relative to the death row
population, the weaker the impact becomes. In essence, opponents' success in
reducing the application of capital sentences, both by raising policy doubts as
to its wisdom and in discouraging states' ability to obtain drugs for this
purpose, has created a self-fulfilling prophecy reducing the lifesaving effects
of capital punishment.

Yet this strategy of deflection also undermines its own case because this makes
the death penalty a matter of procedural quality, not whether its costs exceed
its benefits. Changes in policy implementation and choices can overcome
objections based on these other criteria.

For example, the escalating cost of carrying out a capital sentence caused by
seemingly endless legal defense tactics that may delay an execution by decades
makes a life sentence appear more cost-effective, all things equal. But
introducing the deterrent effect alters the argument: should society really put
a price tag on innocent lives?

As a rejoinder, death sentences might cost innocent lives, from executing the
wrongly convicted. But this possibility can diminish to zero if prosecutors,
judges, and juries take responsibility to ensure they produce capital penalties
only when unambiguously clear evidence of heinous criminality occurs; if they
have the slightest doubt, they can choose lesser punishment (or a judge or jury
can acquit). Especially given the accuracy of modern forensics, there's no
excuse not to apply this standard.

Consider as well that even the religious doctrine known for its strong
commitment to life, Roman Catholicism, does not brand capital punishment as
inherently immoral. The latest word on this comes from St. John Paul II's
encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which instructs to balance "defending public order
and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an
incentive and help to change his or her behavior and be rehabilitated." Thus,
we "ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of
absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to
defend society," with such cases being "very rare."

Therefore, if capital punishment deters, executing those who commit truly evil
killings defends society. And, extending this logic, for those who acted so
evilly it even might save their lives - their eternal lives.

God so loves humanity that He will grant us forgiveness for terrible sins even
right at the end of earthly life. A known date with death does wonders to
concentrate someone's mind on genuine repentance necessary to gain eternal
life. For the very wicked, only this path may bring them salvation.

If applied responsibly and cognizant of the humanity involved, capital
punishment saves more than the earthly lives it takes. Louisiana should retain
it.>{? (source: Opinion; Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political
science at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana
government----The Advocate)


The death penalty is appropriate but impractical to carry out

Re: "Hickenlooper should commute Nathan Dunlap's sentence and lead on death
penalty debate," April 28 editorial.

I, like the majority of the public, believe in the death penalty because people
like Nathan Dunlap deserve the ultimate punishment for their crimes. But I
believe the death penalty should be taken off the books for reasons your
editorial alluded to but failed to specifically state.

The 1st reason is the enormous amount of taxpayer dollars wasted to reach a
death sentence, with the extended trials and the appeals and the lobbying, and
on and on, just to have a person, namely the governor, grant a stay or commute
that sentence. That's not right. No one should be able to override the decision
of a jury. Next, the cost of the execution must also be monumental. Not to
mention the fiasco over the lethal drugs used for the execution. What a joke!

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what a jury or the majority of the
people want. In the end it probably won't happen anyway; but for certain, it
will cost millions of additional dollars to commute a death penalty to a life
sentence. Life without parole would accomplish the same thing with a lot less

Ralph Shepherd, Lakewood

(source: Letter to the Editor, Denver Post)

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