death penalty news----ARK., OKLA., COLO., WYO., ARIZ., CALIF., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-05-09 13:24:00 UTC
May 9


Arkansas executions a prime example of how death penalty targets the poor

This Easter season started in a deeply disturbing way: Arkansas scheduled 8
executions in 10 days, starting on Easter Monday.

Ultimately, 4 of these condemned men had their executions stayed, while the
other 5 were put to death between April 20 and April 27, including 2 on 1 day.

You might think these men were sentenced to death and slated for execution
simply because of the gravity of their crimes. You'd be wrong.

There is something beyond the terrible crimes that determined their fates even
more so: poverty. The death penalty preys on poor and vulnerable populations.

All 8 men grew up in poverty. Sometimes, the conditions were shocking.

Marcel Williams, at certain times, did not have shoes to wear and lived in
houses where the utilities were regularly turned off.

Kenneth Williams shuffled among 6 foster homes that were often infested with
rats and roaches. Both men also experienced periods of extreme hunger.

Even more sinister than these poor conditions is the poor counsel these men
received. None of these 8 individuals was able to afford his own lawyer, and
the results were catastrophic.

Ledell Lee's 1st post-conviction attorney showed up to court so intoxicated,
the prosecution asked that he receive new counsel.

The trial attorneys for Jack Jones spent only $6,641.95 on his entire trial,
significantly less than is required for a constitutionally effective defense.

Williams' death sentence was even overturned by a federal judge because of
ineffective assistance by his lawyers. A federal appellate court later
reinstated the death sentence because of a procedural error - not because it
disagreed that he had had poor counsel.

Several of these 8 men's lawyers missed filing deadlines, never visited their
clients, or continued representing them despite a likely conflict of interest.
This poor lawyering was the difference between life and death.

But Arkansas is not unique.

Death rows across the country are filled with men and women who were too poor
to afford an attorney. You'd be hard-pressed to find a rich person who received
the death penalty.

The saying holds true, "Those without the capital get the punishment."

The death penalty must end because it disproportionately impacts people who are
poor and vulnerable. These individuals are the same ones whom Jesus so loved -
and whom we are asked to love also. This was vibrantly clear in Lee's choice of
Holy Communion for his final meal.

We would do well to remember the words of Jesus when we consider who receives
the death penalty: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of
these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

(source: Karen Clifton is executive director of the national organization
Catholic Mobilizing Network, which is working to end the death penalty and
promote restorative justice----Religion News)


Meet the Arkansas Judge Who Faces Impeachment for Protesting Against the Death


Wendell Griffen----judge of the 6th Circuit, for Pulaski County in Arkansas. He
is also the pastor of New Millennium Church. Griffen was barred from
considering death penalty cases after participating in a Good Friday prayer
vigil. He now faces calls for his impeachment.

Mike Laux----civil rights attorney. He is one of the attorneys representing
Judge Wendell Griffen.

We go now to Arkansas, where the state executed 4 men in April, marking the 1st
executions in Arkansas since 2005. Arkansas had initially planned to execute 8
men over 11 days during the month of April, but several of the executions were
blocked by the courts. One of the judges who blocked the state's efforts is now
facing calls to be impeached. On April 14, state Judge Wendell Griffen issued a
temporary restraining order that effectively halted 6 of the executions over
concerns the state used false pretenses to obtain a key drug slated to be used
in the executions. Following his ruling, Judge Griffen took part in an
anti-death penalty protest outside the Governor's Mansion organized by his
church to mark Good Friday. In addition to being a judge, Griffen is an
ordained Baptist minister. Calls for Wendell Griffen's impeachment began soon
after photographs from the vigil appeared in the press showing him lying down
on a cot with his hands bound together as though he were a condemned man on a
gurney. In his 1st national television interview, Wendell Griffen speaks to
Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZALEZ: We're going now to Arkansas, where the state executed 4 men in
April, marking the 1st executions there since 2005. Arkansas had initially
planned to execute 11 men during the month of April, but several of those
executions were blocked by the courts. One of the judges who blocked the
state's efforts is now facing calls to be impeached. On April 14th, state Judge
Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order halting 6 of the
executions over concerns that the state used false pretenses to obtain a key
drug slated to be used in the executions. Following his ruling, Judge Wendell
Griffen took part in an anti-death penalty protest outside the Governor's
Mansion organized by his church to mark Good Friday. In addition to being a
judge, Griffen is an ordained Baptist minister.

AMY GOODMAN: Calls for Judge Wendell Griffen's impeachment began soon after
photographs from the vigil appeared in the press showing him lying down on a
cot with his hands bound together as though he were a condemned man on a
gurney. The state's high court soon barred Judge Griffen from hearing cases
involving executions, capital punishment and the state's lethal injection
protocol. Then, last week, lawmakers set the stage to impeach Judge Griffen. If
they succeed, Griffen would become the 1st judge ever impeached in the state of
Arkansas. While Wendell Griffen's future as a judge is in question, he has
opted not to stay silent. Today he joins us in his 1st national television

Judge Wendell Griffen, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about your
actions - your ruling in a death penalty case and then going outside to protest
outside the Arkansas Governor's Mansion? Welcome to Democracy Now!

JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Juan.

First of all, let me correct the narrative. The case in which I ruled was not a
death penalty case. The case involved a complaint by a distributor of a
pharmaceutical product, a drug, that had - that drug obtained by the Arkansas
Department of Corrections under false pretenses. The drug was obtained, and the
distributor sought to get the drug back. The distributor filed a motion for a
temporary restraining order on Good Friday, the afternoon of Good Friday,
shortly before I was going to attend a prayer vigil that our congregation had
scheduled in front of the Governor's Mansion. Based on the law that governs
contracts and property - basically, property law - I found that the distributor
had a case and that the distributor's chance of having its property returned
was likely to be destroyed, unless I entered temporary restraining order. I
entered the temporary restraining order, went to the prayer vigil, and the
ruling was incorrectly reported as a ruling as blocking executions. Actually,
the effect of the temporary restraining order was to simply hold the status
quo, to simply say to everybody, "Listen, do not dispose of this drug until we
can get all of the parties before me and we can sort this out, whether or not
the Department of Corrections correctly has the right to hold this drug, or
whether or not this drug in fact was wrongly obtained." The evidence before me
showed it was wrongly obtained. And so I did what I was supposed to do.

Now, I also went to the - I also went to the prayer vigil. That's what I'm
supposed to do. I'm a pastor. Good Friday is the religious holiday before
Easter when followers of Jesus commemorate the death of Jesus. Our congregation
had planned to have our Good Friday observance in front of the Governor's
Mansion before this motion was submitted to me. And so, as a pastor, as a
follower of Jesus, I went to the Good Friday prayer vigil. And as a follower of
Jesus, in solidarity with the religion of Jesus, I lay on a cot to show my
solidarity with Jesus, who was a condemned man, condemned by the Roman Empire
to death. And so that's what happened.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Judge Griffen, were you surprised by the firestorm that followed
your participation in that vigil, and the calls for your impeachment?

JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN: I was surprised that there was such a refusal to even
ask about the facts. The case, as I mentioned earlier, was not a death penalty
case. It was a case about the return of wrongfully obtained property. I was
surprised that people did not understand that no matter what my views are on
the death penalty, the law on the right to get your property back is the law on
getting your property back. And no matter who the judge is, that law has to be
followed. As a matter of fact, after the Arkansas Supreme Court removed me from
the case, the judge who took that case after me heard the same case, heard the
same facts and ruled the same way. So, the issue is not what one's view is or
what people want one's view to be about capital punishment. The issue is
whether or not a judge will follow the law regardless of how he or she feels
about an issue. I did that. Now, what surprised me is that people who claim to
believe in the integrity of judiciary and judicial independence now somehow
believe that judicial independence is a threat, so that they believe that
judges who follow the law should be impeached. That surprises me. And really,
it disappoints me.

AMY GOODMAN: Judge Griffen, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told KTHV
it was inappropriate for you to participate in the Good Friday protest against
the death penalty. She suggested it impacted your decision to grant a temporary
restraining order on the use of the execution drug. This is what she said.

ATTORNEY GENERAL LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Those actions are inappropriate, and that's
why we have asked the Supreme Court to vacate Judge Griffen's temporary
restraining order, and that it is inappropriate for Judge Griffen to be on this

AMY GOODMAN: And, Judge Griffen, state Senator Trent Garner questioned whether
your views on the death penalty threaten your ability to be fair and impartial
as a judge. This is Garner speaking to Fox 16.

SEN. TRENT GARNER: Making a public statement, a protest, in front of the
Governor's Mansion is unacceptable. It's a disgrace to the judiciary system.

AMY GOODMAN: So I wanted to get your response to both of these people, Judge
Griffen, and also if you can describe the scene outside the Arkansas Governor's
Mansion when you did lay down on that cot.

JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN: Let's talk about the scene. First of all, members of our
congregation were present at the Governor's Mansion. There were also other
persons present, other persons who were protesting the death penalty. They all
had a right to be there. Our congregation had no right to chase off other
people. And other people had no right to expect that our congregation would not
be present. And, in fact, our congregation led the protesters in singing "This
Little Light of Mine" and "Amazing Grace." Those are songs of our faith. And
so, we did, as the followers of Jesus' congregation, what we had a right to do.
And as a judge, I did what I had a right to do as a citizen, by practicing my
faith. That's not disgraceful. That's American. That's democratic. We believe,
because of the First Amendment, that every person has the right to live out his
or her conscience. As a judge, I have an obligation to follow the law. That
means that when a case comes before me, I have an obligation, as a judge, to
apply the law that applies to that state, no matter what my personal views may
be on an issue. It is not disgraceful for a judge to have views one way or the
other way about capital punishment or anything else. It is not disgraceful for
a judge who holds views to hold those views and decide cases involving those
issues. What is inappropriate is for people to believe that when a judge
decides a case according to the law, he or she should somehow be suspected as
not being faithful to the law simply because he or she is faithful to their
faith. "Faithful to faith" and "faithful to law" are not mutually exclusive
terms. We can be faithful to our faith and faithful to the law, and the law can
be followed even when we, as a people of faith, find questions about the law.
And I think that's something that we have to understand.

Now, let me speak about Attorney General Rutledge. Attorney General Rutledge
represented the Department of Corrections, the governor of Arkansas and the
director of the Department of Corrections in the lawsuit in which the
distributor was trying to get its drug back. If Attorney General Rutledge
believed that I was not qualified to decide the case, she had an obligation, as
a lawyer, to bring that issue up before me. She didn't do so. She did not tell
me she was bringing the issue before the Supreme Court when she did that. The
Supreme Court did not tell me that it was considering Attorney General
Rutledge's motion to disqualify me when it did so. The Supreme Court did not
give me an opportunity to tell the Supreme Court what the facts were, before it
removed me from the case and disqualified me from hearing all death penalty
cases in Arkansas or any case involving the death penalty. That's unfair,
because no matter how thinly you pour it, every pancake's got at least 2 sides.
And part of what a judge is supposed to do is hear all the sides. It's
unethical for judges to refuse to hear the sides simply because 1 side doesn't
want the other side heard. And it's unethical for a lawyer who's supposed to be
representing the judges - the attorney general of Arkansas represents judges -
to basically go behind a judge's back and try to have a judge removed, without
even telling the judge that she's doing so and giving the judge opportunity - a
chance to hire their own lawyer and set the record straight on what the facts
are. So, I am not concerned about my conduct. I'm very concerned about the
conduct of the attorney general and the conduct of our Supreme Court, because,
ethically, our justice system depends upon people trusting that our officials
will follow the law. And when the attorney general of Arkansas doesn't follow
the law, when the Supreme Court doesn't follow the rules that say that every
dispute must be heard by all sides, people are going to have questions. If they
will not follow the procedures when it affects a judge, how can they expect the
procedure to be followed when it affects people who are ordinary citizens? So
I'm concerned about that. And I think we should all be concerned about that.

Now, as to Senator Garner, I think that we should all be concerned about the
notion that a legislator believes that it's something somehow undemocratic for
people to think about issues affecting public policy. What's undemocratic about
practicing your faith? What's disgraceful about living according to your faith?
And what's disgraceful about following the law even when you have to follow the
law and have questions about an issue involving the law? By point of fact, I
followed the law in another case involving the death penalty where I refused to
allow an amended complaint to challenge the Arkansas death penalty case,
because the Arkansas Supreme Court had said the death penalty inmates could no
longer challenge the constitutionality of the death penalty. I followed the law
in that case, even though I oppose the death penalty. So, when Trent Garner
says to me, and to the world, "Judge Griffen is disgraceful," I don't
understand how he defines "disgrace," because, quite frankly, by following the
Supreme Court's ruling, I disprove his claim of disgrace. By following the
Supreme Court's ruling, I disprove Attorney General Rutledge's notion that I
can't follow the law. And by not allowing me to tell the Supreme Court that,
the Supreme Court basically has prevented me from letting the record be made

JUAN GONZALEZ: Judge Griffen, this is not the 1st time you've been involved,
obviously, in controversy over your personal views. You've been - you're a
native of Little Rock, Arkansas. You've openly voiced support for raising the
minimum wage, for opposition to the war in Iraq and opposition to demonizing of
immigrants and LGBT people. Have you - could you talk about the reactions
you've gotten in the past to your personal views?

JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN: Thank you, Juan. I think, really, that is what we're
really talking about here. The issue is not whether or not I followed the law
on Good Friday. The issue really is - and I think Trent Garner has made this
very clear. Senator Trent Garner has made it clear. He has a long-standing
objection to the fact that Wendell Griffen, as a person, and Wendell Griffen,
as a judge, holds views about public policy and life that he finds
objectionable. I believe that people should earn a living wage, and I'm not
afraid to say so. I believe that it is wrong for us to demonize immigrants, for
us to pick on our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, for us to marginalize people
because they are different. I supported marriage equality. I am glad that we
have finally in Arkansas embraced the notion that all persons are entitled to
live out their love openly and honestly without being demonized for it and
having to be forced to live in the shadows. There are people who find my
perspective on life and on faith abhorrent. They have a right to do that. But
they don't have a right as public officials to punish me or to try to punish
anybody else simply because they disagree with what I view life should be.

I think that we, as public officials, have a responsibility to honor the
freedom in this society to disagree. That's a wonderful thing. And it is
something very dishonorable - we have a word for it, "tyranny" - something very
dishonorable when we use power to punish people with whom we disagree. And so,
this issue involving impeachment is nothing that I need to think about, other
than simply the latest effort to punish a judge, a black judge - I will say it,
a black judge - with whom the white power structure in Arkansas disagrees. And
I am a black judge and a black preacher. And just like the power structure
disagreed with Martin King and found him objectionable, the power structure in
Arkansas disagrees with Wendell Griffen and finds me objectionable. But I think
that the important thing for me to remember is, if I am to be faithful to the
law, I've got to follow the law, no matter whether the people agree with me or
not, or whether people approve of me or not. If I'm going to be faithful to my
faith, I've got to live true to my faith, even if people find my faith
objectionable and even if they're willing to punish me for it. And I've got to
be willing to say, "If you want to punish me for my faith, I'm going to live
out my faith. You can decide whether to punish me."

AMY GOODMAN: Judge Griffen, we want to thank you so much for being with us.
Judge Wendell Griffen, judge of the 6th Circuit for Pulaski County in Arkansas.
This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace
Report. I'm Amy Goodman in Chicago. Juan Gonzalez is in New York.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We're joined now by Mike Laux, civil rights attorney. He's one
of the attorneys representing Judge Wendell Griffen, the Arkansas judge who is
facing calls to be impeached for participating in an anti-death penalty
protest. Can you talk about how unusual it is for a judge in Arkansas to face

MIKE LAUX: Sure. Let me just say, first, thank you very much for having me. And
I am just 1 of the attorneys that represents Judge Wendell Griffen. Also on our
legal team is Mike Matthews of Foley & Lardner of Tampa, Florida, and Austin
Porter of Little Rock, 2 great attorneys.

How rare is it? It's extremely rare. The latest version of the Arkansas
Constitution was adopted in 1874. So, in almost 150 years, there has never been
an effort to impeach a sitting judge the way that they're doing here with Judge

And I think that, you know, you've really got to like kind of put this in
context here. A lawyer smarter than myself recently said to me, "You know,
normally when there is some type of a race against time involving an execution,
that race against time is to save a life." Well, not here. This was a race
against time to kill people before drugs expired. So I think it's important to
always kind of see this entire kind of situation through that prism.

You know, going on after Judge Griffen is always kind of a challenge, because
he's so eloquent, and he covers the bases so well. But let me just recap a bit
here. Judge Griffen followed the law. On Good Friday, that TRO, or temporary
restraining order, petition came before him. And it sought to maintain the
status quo, so that these property issues could be settled. Again, McKesson
claimed that the false pretenses were used to get the drug. This was the
conservative thing to do. And the judge heard the petition. The elements were
satisfied. The complaint was verified. Affidavits were attached. The movant
alleged imminent risk of irreparable harm. When you check those boxes, you're
supposed to grant the temporary restraining order. And that's what he did. The
fact that it involved a paralytic in this kind of breakneck-paced execution
schedule by the state of Arkansas is really immaterial to his decision.

So, you know, this is a witch hunt of the first order. Judge Griffen has been
singled out because of his history of outspokenness, his history of advocacy on
social issues. And this is just another attempt at trying to take him down,
like so many attempts before.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happens now? The significance, if he is impeached,
the 1st time a judge in Arkansas would be impeached, Mike Laux?

MIKE LAUX: Yeah, I mean, the possibilities are frightening and staggering. This
is such an extraordinary measure that they're taking here, and it really speaks
to the naked political motivation behind these maneuvers. You know, this
happened on Good Friday. The TRO was entered on the 14th. Later that evening,
literally hours after that, hours after the prayer vigil and the rally there at
the Governor's Mansion, moments after that, you heard state senators and state
representatives taking to the airwaves and making statements impugning Judge
Griffen and threatening impeachment, a mere hour after this protest. And, you
know, that really speaks, I think, to the zeal and the rabidness with which
they are kind of approaching this matter. It's clear that they're trying to
take Judge Griffen down. They saw an opportunity to do so, and they wasted no
time in doing that. The problem is, is that this -

AMY GOODMAN: I want to - I want to thank you very much, Mike Laux, for joining
us, one of the lawyers for Judge Wendell Griffen.

(source: democracynow.org)


Governor Fallin signs "Blue Lives Matter" law

It has been a hard year for law enforcement in Oklahoma.

"In the state of Oklahoma this year alone we've had 4 officers die in the line
of duty, 2 of which have been murdered by suspects in the last 90 days. 2 of
them have been murdered in less than two months," said Jerad Lindsey, chairman
of the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police.

Governor Mary Fallin has now signed into law the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma
Act of 2017, which now ensures that it is a capital crime to kill a police
officer. Not always the case before.

"That's a big part of the punishment is people have to understand what the
outcomes are. Right now, it's a bit ambiguous in the law. Sometimes it is a
capital offense to kill an officer in the line of duty, sometimes it's not,"
said Lindsey.

The bill now effectively turns it into a death sentence, offering either the
option of the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The original
author of the bill, panhandle representative Casey Murdock says the bill makes
it difficult to just get life in prison.

"I don't know that it'll increase our number of executions. My hope is that it
reduces or has a deterrent factor, and reduces the number of officers we have
murdered in the line of duty," said Lindsey.

This law doesn't just cover the officers on the street, but also in prisons.
Corrections officers are also protected by the Blue Lives Matter Law. The law
goes into effect in November.

(source: KTUL news)


DA Shares Prosecution Concerns About Oklahoma's New Blue Lives Matter Law

The Blue Lives Matter bill signed by Gov. Mary Fallin last week, mandates that
anyone convicted of killing a law enforcement officer be sentenced to life in
prison, or receive the death penalty.

The bill will go into effect in November.

Payne and Logan County DA Laura Thomas is worried that the law will make
prosecuting a suspected cop killer more difficult.

(source: 9news.com)


Reasons to end the death penalty in Colorado

Re: "The death penalty is appropriate but impractical to carry out," May 6
letter to the editor.

Letter-writer Ralph Shepherd's analysis of the high cost in time, labor and
money to see a death sentence through to the end is spot-on correct. I
completely agree. I would only add that there is also a "cost" for the victims'
families. Waiting, waiting and waiting for finality and closure.

The Aurora theater shooting death penalty trial is the poster case for the
enormous costs of pursing this route to conviction. And Nathan Dunlap is the
poster person for the enormous costs following a death-penalty conviction.
We're still waiting.

Colorado voters should demand an end to the death penalty in our state.

Stephen B. Pacetti, Lakewood

(source: Letter to the Editor, Denver Post)


Judge Gives Prosecutors Time to Consider Death Penalty

A judge has given central Wyoming prosecutors a month to decide if they want to
pursue the death penalty in a claw hammer killing in Riverton.

The Daily Ranger reports (bit.ly/2qK12pe) District Judge Norman Young gave
Fremont County Attorney Pat LeBrun until June 3 to decide on the prosecution of
27-year-old Florin Brandon Wyatt for the March 3 beating death of 56-year-old
Keith Stephenson.

Court records say Wyatt had been living in Stephenson's basement and said that
Stephenson had tried to kick him out of the house.

The public defender's office asked for the deadline because it would need to
bring in an attorney certified to handle death penalty cases. Wyatt has pleaded
not guilty to 1st-degree murder. His trial is set for Sept. 25.

The last execution in Wyoming was in 1992.

(source: Associated Press)


Death penalty possible for accused child killers

Ame Deal died alone and terrified stuffed into a plastic toy box.

She stole a popsicle and was just 10 years old.

Her death ended a harrowing cycle of abuse at the hands of people who were
supposed to love her.

Later this week her cousin, Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen, and her husband,
John Michael Allen, both 28, are going on trial for Ame's murder.

And looming on the table is the death penalty. The duo have pleaded not guilty.

In total, 6 people were arrested and charged in connection to the sad little
girl's senseless death.

Already her grandmother, 2 aunts and her biological father, David Deal, have
been hammered with long jolts in prison for their roles in her tragic life and

Her mother fled the abuse and torment from the hillbilly headcases years

Phoenix police Det. Trent Crump told the New Times he had never seen anything
like the barbaric torture and abuse Ame suffered.

"Simply put, no. It makes you just sick to your stomach," Crump said.

The details are sickening.

Her sinister relatives forced her to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans with
her barefeet, eat hot sauce, kicked her in the face, beaten senseless with a
wooden paddle and being dunked to the point of drowning in the swimming pool.

Investigators wrote about life for the girl: "The common theme is, Ame is bad,
Ame lies, Ame steals, Ame is not allowed to play."

And then there was the box. It was 3 feet long by a foot wide and a foot deep.

When Ame's heartless guardians decided the little girl was out of line, in she

And that's where she was found lifeless in July 2011.

Once, her father put her in the box then tossed it into the pool.

There were also 10 other children in the home. Tami Sweeney adopted one of them
and read his victim impact statement in court to David Deal.

"I hope you burn in hell for everything you did to us kids," the impact
statement read.

David Deal - on his way to 14 years in prison - sat stone-faced. He did not

(source: The Toronto Sun)


Suspect Could Face Death Penalty In Hayward Officer's Death

A judge Monday ordered an Oakland man to stand trial on a murder charge with
three special circumstances for the fatal shooting of Hayward police Sgt. Scott
Lunger during an early morning traffic stop 2 years ago.

At the end of a preliminary hearing that spanned three days, Alameda County
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said, "There's very powerful evidence to
support each and every charge" against 22-year-old Mark Estrada.

Now that Estrada has been ordered to stand trial, the Alameda County District
Attorney's Office is expected to decide soon whether to seek the death penalty
against him.

Lunger was shot near Myrtle and Lion streets in Hayward at about 3:15 a.m. on
July 22, 2015, and was pronounced dead at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley
a short time later.

The special circumstance allegations against Estrada are for murder of a peace
officer during the course of his duties, committing a murder while lying in
wait and committing a murder by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle.

Prosecutor John Brouhard played a recording in court Monday of a police
dispatch of Lunger's last words, in which he said over the police radio that he
was stopping a white Chevrolet Silverado truck driven by Estrada because it was
"swerving all over the road and almost hit a few cars."

Hayward police Officer Justin Green testified that the truck driver fired at
Lunger shortly after Lunger approached the truck.

Brouhard said the police dispatch recording is "chilling" because he believes
it indicates that Estrada didn't immediately stop his truck after Lunger
flashed his warning lights but instead slowly drove to the end of Lion Street
and took the time to "prepare and arm himself with a gun" so he could shoot
Lunger when he approached.

"(Estrada) waits and watches for Sgt. Lunger to move into place where the
defendant can be more successful with his plan to shoot and kill,' Brouhard
said. "There was a period of waiting and watching that put Sgt. Lunger at a

But Estrada's attorney Christopher Morales said lying-in-wait cases usually
involve a suspect who has a grudge against a person or a group and there's no
evidence that Estrada knew Lunger or had a grudge against police officers as a

Morales also said such cases normally involve a suspect who is waiting for a
victim for "a substantial period of time."

However, Horner said "even a short period of waiting" is sufficient for the
lying-in-wait clause to apply.

Referring to the period between the time that Lunger flashed his warning lights
at Estrada and the time that Lunger was shot, Horner said, "In terms of real
life and every day law enforcement experiences, 68 seconds seems like a

Green testified that after the truck driver shot Lunger, Green fired multiple
rounds into the truck but the suspect, later identified by police as Estrada,
managed to drive away.

Hayward police investigators testified that the evidence indicates that Estrada
abandoned his truck at 98th and Edes avenues in East Oakland and later walked
into San Leandro Hospital to be treated for his gunshot wounds.

Authorities contacted Estrada at San Leandro Hospital but eventually moved him
to Highland Hospital in Oakland to be treated for a gunshot wound to his left
lower flank above his waist.

Estrada admitted to a doctor that he was shot while he was in the driver's seat
of his vehicle near A Street in Hayward but wouldn't say who had shot him,
police said.

When police searched the crime scene, they found a 9mm handgun, unexpended
rounds and an associated magazine, according to testimony at Estrada's hearing.

Officers testified that during a search of Estrada's residence in the area of
107th Avenue and Beverly Street in East Oakland, they found 9mm ammunition, 9mm
casings and surveillance video that showed 3 people arriving at the house at
4:48 a.m. on July 22, 2015, 1 of whom was limping.

They also said the suspect's vehicle had bullet holes on the driver's side
consistent with the bullets that were fired by the officer who was with Lunger.

Estrada's hearing was attended by Lunger's family members, a large number of
Hayward police officers and a large contingent of Estrada's family members and

Horner ordered Estrada to return to court on May 19 to have a trial date set.

(source: CBS News)


Bernie Sanders Honored In Beverly Hills For Opposition to Death
Penalty----Sanders received the award for being the 1st presidential candidate
in nearly 30 years to declare his opposition to the death penalty.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was honored for his opposition to the death penalty
in Beverly Hills on Sunday, 1 day after expressing optimism about creating "a
government which works for all of us."

Sanders received the Abolition Award at the 26th annual Death Penalty Focus
Awards Dinner at The Beverly Hilton for being the first presidential candidate
in nearly 30 years to forcefully declare his opposition to the death penalty
and playing a key role in getting the Democratic Party to adopt abolition of
capital punishment as a plank in its platform, organizers said.

His wife Jane presented him with the award. The dinner was organized by Death
Penalty Focus, which describes itself as one of the world's largest
organizations solely dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty.

Sanders and his wife Jane received the Public Servants of the Year award from
the nonprofit nonpartisan public interest group Consumer Watchdog on Saturday
night at the Beverly Wilshire.

In his acceptance speech, Sanders said "unless we develop a movement in this
country from coast to coast which is prepared to take on oligarchy, which is
prepared to take on the Trump administration and the corporate greed that is
destroying the middle class ... the outcome for this country will not be good.

But I do believe, having been all over this country, having talked to well over
a million people... that we are coming together and that we are going to create
a government which works for all of us and not just the 1 %."

(source: City News Service)


A more honest approach to executions

Capital punishment in America resembles a mild chronic disease that we've
learned to live with. Most of the time it resides quietly in semi-remission,
though occasionally it flares up enough for us to notice it, but not enough to
make us take the cure.

A flare up at the end of April briefly caught our attention. Officials in
Arkansas were planning to execute 8 men in 11 days, largely because the supply
of midazolam, a sedative used as part of Arkansas' lethal injection protocol,
was set to expire at the end of the month. Since the drug's manufacturers are
reluctant to have their product associated with the death penalty, the state
could not be certain of resupply.

Even though Americans - by a diminishing margin - still favor capital
punishment, we prefer a careful, deliberate application of this most
irrevocable of punishments. We're uncomfortable with the idea of squeezing 8
executions in at the end of a month just to beat an expiration date.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer noted this arbitrary factor in his dissent
to the 5-4 decision that allowed the executions to go forward: "In my view,
that factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live
from those who die, is close to random."

Further, Americans are uncomfortable with mass executions, as well. Ordinarily,
single executions, spaced over time, are mostly unnoticed, but the idea of 8
deaths in 11 days makes some a little queasy.

As it happened, only 4 of the 8 were actually put to death, but Arkansas made
news when it executed 2 of the condemned within 3 hours on April 24, carrying
out the 1st double execution since 2000.

Our reaction against killing more than 1 condemned man at a time is emotional
rather than logical. But America's death rows currently house nearly 3,000
inmates. Many states face the same problem obtaining lethal drugs that Arkansas
faces. Some states have considered bringing back the firing squad, electric
chair or hangman's noose.

There's nothing in the current logic of capital punishment in the United States
that would prevent it, but most of us would be disgusted by the spectacle of a
couple of thousand of the worst of these inmates being bussed to secluded
shooting ranges and executed by firing squads on a single day.

Historically, mass executions are common. As recently as last year Saudi Arabia
executed 47 during a single day by beheading and hanging. The U.S. hasn't held
such an event since Dec. 26, 1862, when 38 Sioux "Indians and Half-breeds" were
hanged on a specially built gallows in Mankato, Minnesota.

Even capital punishment's strongest proponents might have trouble stomaching a
mass execution like this one. Our sensibilities have moved in a better

Which helps explain an anomaly connected to the episode in Arkansas: the state
began to run out of people to witness the executions.

Like many other death penalty states, Arkansas requires witnesses who have no
connection to the case to be present at executions. The witness shortage for
the 8 planned executions was serious enough that the director of the Department
of Correction made a public appeal to members of the Little Rock Rotary Club.

We haven't always had this problem. The last public execution, the hanging of
Rainey Bethea on Aug. 14, 1936, reportedly drew a crowd of 20,000 people.

After 1936, legislatures began to recoil at the unseemly spectacle of throngs -
often picnicking and drinking heavily - showing up for public executions, and
they took them out of the public view.

I wonder if this was a good idea. Lethal injection is the culmination of a
trend that makes executions less grisly and thus more palatable. We've also
made them more or less invisible, until something like the Arkansas episode
crops up.

I wonder if we would tolerate executions quite so readily if we actually had to
watch them. Perhaps we'd soon join the rest of the western world in abolishing
this practice, which is thoroughly suited to outmoded cultural sensibilities
that accepted slavery, torture, child labor and human sacrifice.

(source: Column; John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service,
teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi,
Texas----Times record News)

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