Archive for

October, 2012



Californians Increasingly Support Death Penalty Repeal

With election day just over a week away, a new Los Angeles Times poll shows promise for the passage of Proposition 34, the ballot initiative that would repeal California’s death penalty. The latest poll questioned 1,504 registered voters by telephone from October 15- 21 and the gap between opponents and supporters shrunk from 13 percent in September, to just 3 percent -a statistical tie- in October.

Although 45 percent of poll respondents opposed death penalty repeal while 42 percent said they support it, when voters were given more information about the measure, such as its financial impact and effect on prisoners, responses flipped: 45 percent were in favor of Proposition 34 and 42 percent were against it. A significant 12 percent of respondents said they did not yet know how they will vote. This poll was taken just before numerous ads in support of Proposition 34 began running throughout the state.

Proposition 34 would apply retroactively to current death row inmates and replace the death penalty with life without parole. It would require convicted murderers to work in prison and contribute their earnings to victim compensation funds. It would also direct $100 million to law enforcement over four years, and according to California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst, it could save the state as much as $130 million a year.

California has the largest death row in the nation with 727 inmates. It has executed 13 inmates since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, and there has not been an execution in six years. TADP is hopeful that California voters will turn out on election day, vote YES on Proposition 34, and abolish their costly, unjust, and ineffective death penalty.  To learn more and get involved, please visit SAFE California’s website, and encourage any friends and family in California to get out the vote!

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100th Death Row Exoneree Ray Krone Speaks In Memphis

After ten years and four months behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, Ray Krone has a powerful story to tell. TADP traveled with Ray to Memphis on Saturday for a couple of days of presentations to more than 200 people.

Ray, along with TADP Director Stacy Rector, spoke at Evergreen Presbyterian Church and Church of the Holy Spirit on Sunday and to criminal justice students at the University of Memphis on Monday. Stacy outlined the continuing problems with Tennessee’s death penalty, and Ray shared his compelling story of serving time on death row for the murder of Kim Ancona in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite the prosecution fighting his attorney every step of the way, DNA tests finally identified the real killer, who was already serving time in prison and was only three months from parole.

Tennessee has released three men from death row when evidence of their innocence emerged and has released another on an Alford plea, allowing him to plead to a lesser charge while maintaining his innocence and avoiding more jail time waiting for a new trial. Given that Tennessee has executed six men in the modern era of the death penalty, these numbers of questionable convictions are startling and should make all of us wonder why we maintain a system this flawed when alternative sentences are available like life and life without parole.

If you have never heard Ray’s story, I would encourage you to visit Witness to Innocence and read more. Thanks to all who made this weekend possible.

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile malfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile disfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying soundness conditions that can be very much dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile disfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Shelby County Judge Overturns Conviction and Death Sentence

On Friday, Shelby County Judge James. C. Beasley, Jr. overturned the conviction and death sentence of Michael Dale Rimmer, who has spent 14 years on death row for the 1997 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Ricci Ellsworth.

Judge Beasley wrote in a 212-page order that the lead prosecutor in the case made “blatantly false, inappropriate and ethically questionable” statements to Rimmer’s defense lawyers denying that evidence existed, even though an eyewitness had told police that two different men were inside the office of a Memphis motel where Ellsworth worked around the time that she disappeared and that both men had blood on their hands. One of the men that this witness identified, Billy Wayne Voyles, was already wanted in connection with an unrelated stabbing.

Beasley added that the prosecution’s misconduct alone wasn’t enough to overturn Rimmer’s conviction and death sentence but that it was also the “seriously deficient” investigation by his “overburdened” defense lawyers that required that Rimmer be given a new trial.

It is not yet clear whether Shelby County prosecutors will appeal Beasley’s decision or re-try Rimmer. Although there are troubling facts in this case, we are hopeful that Beasley’s ruling will lead to a fair trial in which all of the evidence is presented so that a new jury will be able to make an informed decision.

(Photo via The Atlantic)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual appeal among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile dysfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile disfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying soundness conditions that can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile disfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

More Allies for Death Penalty Repeal

A recent article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal highlights the increasing number of people who are concerned about the broken death penalty system, particularly fiscal conservatives who are often tough-on-crime but recognize the enormous economic toll that the death penalty system takes on states.

Supporters of Proposition 34, a referendum to abolish the death penalty in California slated to be voted on next month, consist of many unlikely allies, including former judge Donald McCartin, who sent nine men to death row, Donald Heller, a former prosecutor who authored California’s death penalty law, and Ron Briggs, a Republican who led the campaign to reinstate the the death penalty in California in 1978.

A 2011 study that was co-authored by Arthur Alarcón, a federal appellate judge for the Ninth Circuit in Los Angeles, found that the state had spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since it was reinstated – about $308 million for each of the 13 executions since then. The study explains the cost results from the fact that housing a death-row inmate is more costly than housing a general-population prisoner, that the state provides two lawyers to every defendant facing the death penalty, and that capital punishment cases require two phases- one to determine guilt and one to determine sentencing- all of which is very expensive. In fact, the study found that jury selection alone in capital cases in California costs more than $200,000 above the amount for life without parole cases and that death penalty prosecutions can cost the state 20 times as much as life without parole cases.

While death penalty supporters in California and across the country often argue that the system could be reformed to be more efficient and less costly, we only need to look at the 141 individuals who have been exonerated from death rows across this country to understand why the often lengthy appeals process simply cannot be expedited. The facts show that innocent people do end up on death row, and research suggests that innocent people have been executed. Reducing appeals would only further compound this risk.

It is encouraging to see that conservatives in California and elsewhere, like Montana and Utah, and even here in Tennessee, are rethinking the death penalty and that media outlets like The Wall Street Journal are paying attention.

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile disfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong soundness problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile disfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile malfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying soundness conditions that can be much dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile dysfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Justice for Damon Thibodeaux and Terrance Williams

Two victories from this past Friday highlight the continued problems that plague our death penalty system. On September 28, Damon Thibodeaux became the 141st person exonerated in the U.S. since 1973 when he was freed from death row in Louisiana. That same day, Terrance Williams, a Pennsylvania death row inmate who was scheduled to be executed this Wednesday, was granted a stay and a new sentencing hearing.

Thibodeaux spent 15 years on death row in Angola prison where he was isolated 23 hours per day in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell for the 1996 rape and murder of his 14-year-old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne. He was convicted and sentenced to death primarily based on his own confession, which was obtained after nine hours of interrogation by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives. After denying any involvement in the crime multiple times over the course of more than six hours throughout the night, Thibodeaux finally confessed to police in the early morning . “At that point I was tired,” Thibodeaux said. “I was hungry. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was willing to tell them anything they wanted me to tell them if it would get me out of that interrogation room.” He recanted his confession that same day.

Thibodeaux’s release followed a rare, five year joint reinvestigation by his defense attorneys and Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. that concluded that his confession was obviously false. Thibodeaux’s account of what happened did not match up with evidence from the crime scene, and although he admitted that he had raped the victim, no evidence of sexual assault was ever found. No DNA evidence was found on his clothing, and blood that was lifted from the wire that was used to strangle the victim did not match Thibodeaux. The cost of the reinvestigation was more than $500,000, an expense shared by the defense and prosecution.

Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project and part of Thibodeaux’s defense team, noted that this was the 300th case nationally in which DNA evidence was used to exonerate someone wrongly convicted and, like Thibodeaux’s, 25 percent of those cases included false confessions. “People have a very hard time with the concept that an innocent person could confess to a crime that they didn’t commit,” said Scheck. “But it happens a lot. It’s the ultimate risk that an innocent man could be executed.”

Terrance Williams was sentenced to death in Pennsylvania for the 1984 killing of Amos Norwood but was granted a stay for his scheduled October 3 execution and issued a new sentencing hearing on Friday by Philadelphia Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who insists prosecutors suppressed important mitigating evidence that likely would have caused the jury to give him a different sentence. Williams was only 18 when the murder occurred, but says he had been sexually abused by Norwood since the age of 13. Norwood was a church deacon and worked with underprivileged boys through a church theater program.

Marc Draper, an accomplice in the murder and a childhood friend of Williams, says he was offered a deal by trial prosecutor Andrea Gelman Foulkes if he testified that he and Williams fatally beat Norwood during a robbery. He took the deal, thinking he would be paroled after 10 or 15 years. Instead, he received a life sentence. In recent affidavits, he admits that he had told Foulkes and detectives about the victim’s sexual abuse of Williams and he claims they didn’t want to hear it. Foulkes even testified last week that she had suspected that there had been a sexual relationship between Norwood, who was 56, and 18-year-old Williams, but neither she nor the police pursued it.  Williams’ defense lawyer and jurors also never heard about statements from Norwood’s wife and pastor about prior fondling complaints and his odd interactions with teenage boys.

In earlier appeals, federal courts have called the work of Williams’ now-disbarred trial lawyer “unconstitutionally deficient,” although they continued to uphold his death sentence. Federal public defenders who have been representing Williams since 1996 warn that the injustices seen in this case happen often.“That we were talking about executing somebody who meets his lawyer a day before trial is an indictment of the system. The fact we’re talking about this new evidence a week before execution is a bigger indictment of the system,” said public defender Victor Abreu.

Williams’ fate is now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after District Attorney Seth Williams denounced the ruling by Judge Sarmina and his office immediately appealed. Shawn Nolan, one of Williams’ attorneys said “It is legally and ethically unconscionable that Seth Williams and his assistants continue to advocate for the execution of Terry Williams after hiding significant evidence for 28 years from defense counsel, jurors, the courts, the Board of Pardons, and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

Williams also has a clemency petition pending with the state Board of Pardons, which had two hearings over the last two weeks on Williams’ plea to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The five-member board must vote unanimously to recommend clemency to the governor. The clemency vote failed on September 17 with a 3-2 vote for clemency. However, they agreed to revisit Williams’ case last Thursday but did not issue a ruling. The board could be asked to reconsider the petition for clemency if the state Supreme Court overturns Sarmina’s ruling.

There is a chance that Williams could still be executed. You can take action by calling the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office at 215-686-8000. You will get a voicemail menu. Select option 3 and leave a message that Terrance Williams should not be executed and that he deserves a new sentencing hearing. If you have not already done so, you can also sign this petition calling for his clemency.

While Friday brought good news for these men, their cases are symbols of everything that can and does go wrong in so many death penalty cases in our country. The system remains severely broken and it must be abolished.

(Photos of Damon Thibodeaux and Terrance Williams as teenagers courtesy of FRROLE and The Atlantic)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual claim among men is the erectile disfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile dysfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying heartiness conditions that can be very much dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile disfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.