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A decade after Georgia legislators established the sentencing option of life in prison without parole, the number of Georgia defendants sentenced to death has dropped from an annual average of 10 to 4 or fewer each year. The decline is the result of jurors opting to sentence defendants to life without parole and plea bargains in capital cases. District Attorney J. Tom Morgan noted that life without parole is in effect a death sentence: "It takes a little bit longer, but it is more certain [because of appeals of death sentences]." Prosecutors also indicated that it
Jurors in Virginia sentenced juvenile offender Lee Boyd Malvo to life in prison without parole after finding him guilty of murdering Linda Franklin, who was one of 10 victims killed during a series of shootings in October 2002. Malvo was 17 at the time of the crime. Attorney General John Ashcroft had cited Virginia's ability to impose "the ultimate sanction" in sending Malvo and his mentor, John Muhammad, to Virginia for prosecution. Virginia is one of only 21 states that allow the execution of those who were 16 or 17 at the time of their crime.
A recent Baltimore Sun editorial criticized state leaders for failing to respond to a series of studies showing that race plays a disturbing role in capital punishment in Maryland. The paper noted that a study conducted by University of Maryland Professor Raymond Paternoster agreed with four other reviews that all revealed similar findings regarding race and the death penalty in Maryland. The paper stated:
Of the 1,311 death penalty-eligible cases that the University of Maryland researcher reviewed, he found the same troubling news: Defendants
Harris County District Attorney Joseph S. Owmby, who helped prosecute Andrea Yates for capital murder, recently told a gathering of 200 Houston area mental health and law enforcement professionals that had Yates received more hospital treatment for her postpartum depression, she probably wouldn't have murdered her children. Owmby noted that Yates lost her last chance for recovery when she was released from a hospital in League City while she was still dangerously delusional. He said that what happened two weeks after Yates' release is a frightening example of how postpartum depression
A new poll conducted by ABC News revealed that only 37% of the public supports the death penalty for Lee Boyd Malvo, who was recently convicted of murder in Virginia. Malvo was 17 at the time of a series of shootings in the Washington, DC area. 52% of respondents preferred a sentence of life without parole for Malvo. Even stronger opposition to the death penalty for juveniles in general was revealed in the same poll: only 21% were in favor of the death penalty for juveniles, versus the 62% who preferred the sentence of life without parole. The poll was conducted Dec. 10-14 (ABC News, Dec.
On December 17, 2003, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation released a report regarding the perspectives of family members on the juvenile death penalty: "I Don't Want Another Kid to Die." The report opens a window into murder victims' families struggles with the death penalty in general, and more specifically, how the issue changes when the defendant is a juvenile. Read their Press Release. Read the Report (in PDF format).
The Chicago City Council finance committee quickly approved a $2.2 million wrongful conviction settlement for former death row inmate Ronald Jones. "I think it is a good deal for the city," said Chicago Alderman William Beavers, indicating that he and other aldermen breathed a sigh of relief that the city will get off so cheaply in its settlement with Jones, who was coerced into a confession to a 1985 rape and murder that he did not commit. Jones spent 14 years on Illinois's death row before DNA tests excluded him as the perpetrator. Former Illinois Governor George
After 16 years on death row, Darnell Williams was 3 days from execution when then Governor Frank O'Bannon issued a reprieve to allow the genetic testing of droplets of blood found on Williams' shorts after the shooting. Recently released test results support Williams' claim that he wasn't present when a Gary, Indiana couple was fatally shot 17 years ago. Thomas Vanes, the prosecutor at Williams' 1986 trial, now says that Williams should not be executed. He said, "I agree now that this is not a death penalty case." (Indianapolis Star, December 13, 2003). See
A list containing the names of 169 members of the U.S. military who were executed between 1942 and 1961 was recently discovered at the Pentagon. The list also contains a few dozen additional cases where persons were sentenced to death, but not executed, and the names of 7 German prisoners of war who were executed. The 1961 execution of Pvt. John Bennett, who was hung after convictions for rape and attempted murder, was the military's last execution. The ledger also includes the name of Pvt. Eddie Slovik, who is the only member of the U.S. military to be executed for
Members of New Jersey's legislature have passed by a wide margin a bipartisan bill calling for the creation of a study commission to examine the cost, fairness and effects of capital prosecutions in that state. The bill had the support of key state legislators, including Republican Senator Robert Martin. Martin said that he believed it might be time for New Jersey to consider a complete ban on capital punishment, noting that the state's review process "is so cumbersome and expensive" that New Jersey might be better off "with a punishment