Saturday, February 08, 2003

The title of this NYTimes article (reg. req.) is After Sweeping Clemency Order, Ex-Gov. Ryan Is a Celebrity. But after reading it...celebrity ain't what it used to be...

Highlights (or Lowlights of this celebrity):

...George Ryan has never been in more demand, with interview and speech requests flooding in from earth's far corners. Yet in a way, he has never been so alone, shunned by friends from 30 years in politics and hometown neighbors and left to unpack untold boxes of memorabilia in his century-old house.

...Police officers, prosecutors and the relatives of murder victims all say they feel betrayed — many have gone on national television programs like "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with scathing personal attacks. Retired judges who presided over the capital trials have called his action "gubernatorial nullification." The legislators whom Mr. Ryan desperately wants to change the justice system are instead working on a bill to restrict the powers of clemency.

(Ryan)....said his top aides on the death penalty had all opposed blanket clemency for the 171 people on death row, including four who were pardoned outright, as did his wife, Lura Lynn, whom he started dating when he was 15.

...On a recent afternoon, the former governor bought a cellphone from a sales clerk who called him George, and he was irked that she asked for his Social Security number. He stopped by the post office and the bank and said he would "probably have to go to the grocery store one of these days."

....David Dolman, who has lived across the street from the Ryans in Kankakee for decades, has been on the lookout for strangers lurking around the home of his now even more famous neighbor. "When he pardoned all those people," Mr. Dolman said "I told my kids, `If anyone wants to know where the governor lives, tell them that you don't know.' "

February 6, 2003

Well Dunn...

Last Meal: Cheeseburger--extra cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce and salad dressing, tray of french fries, ketchup, 25 fried shrimp, 4 cans of pineapple juice, 2 banana splits with a bottle of Hershey's syrup and one jar of apple butter jam.

The skinny: Dunn, a member of a gang that terrorized gays in an east Texas town was executed for the abduction and murder of a 23-year-old man.

Gay Angles: Nicolas West was gunned down during an abduction and robbery near Tyler, Texas more than nine years ago. West, a medical clerk, was grabbed by three men in a gay cruising area. He was taken to a remote area of Smith County, was stripped, ordered to his knees and shot as many as 15 times. Police said West was targeted solely because he was gay.

Not Gay Angle: The former fast-food restaurant worker also denied West's killing was motivated by hate. "I don't hate homosexuals," Dunn, who was 19 at the time of the killing, said. "That's their right to be that way if they want to." "I didn't even know him, I didn't pick him up. I'm sad it happened but I still don't think I'm responsible for the actual shot that killed him. I never got that close. Nicolas West was still alive at the time we left."

Helpers: Dunn and two other men were later arrested and charged with the murder. Dunn always maintained he was not the triggerman. Donald Aldrich, believed to have been the leader, also is on death row for the West slaying. A third man, David Ray McMillan, who was 17 when the crime occurred, received a life prison term. Authorities believed Aldrich was the leader of what became know as the "CB gang" -- because they first became acquainted over CB radios.

Papillon Moment: Dunn was among seven death row inmates who tried to escape from prison Thanksgiving night 1998. Only one, Martin Gurule, cleared a pair of fences that surrounded the Ellis Unit prison northeast of Huntsville. He was found drowned a week later. He never made it off prison property. Because of that escape, the Texas death row was moved to another prison at Livingston, although executions are still carried out at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

Last Words and such: Before being strapped down on a gurney where the lethal injection was administered, Dunn had a message for the West family. "I hope you can find it your heart to forgive me." In a written statement released following his death, he said the death penalty in Texas is broken. He said unqualified attorneys were appointed for him under state law.

"When the officials of any state, such as the state of Texas, has so much confidence in their justice system, mistakes will be made, and innocent people will be executed," he wrote. "Texas has executed innocent people, and tonight, Texas has shown just how broke and unfair its system is."

Factoid: Dunn was the eighth convicted killer executed in Texas this year and the 297th since the state restored the death penalty in 1982. Three more are scheduled for lethal injection later this month.

Former reporter Rebecca Mullens-Berkley: "The community was completely in shock over the brutality of the crime. But they were surprised to learn why the victim was targeted. And most people here in East Texas didn't want to believe that we had a gay community."

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Pedophiles to live in South Dakota....

well, at least not die...

The skinny:

House committee rejects death penalty for pedophiles

PIERRE, S.D. - With little discussion, a South Dakota House committee rejected a plan that would have allowed the death penalty for those convicted of a second sex offense against children.

The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to kill the measure.

The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said he proposed the death penalty because evidence indicates that people convicted of criminal pedophilia are likely to attack children again if they are released from prison.

"I want the person eliminated from society after the second time," Adelstein said.

But committee members pointed out that someone convicted a second time for criminal pedophilia automatically gets a life sentence without parole.

Criminal pedophilia is defined as sexual penetration of a victim younger than 13 by someone 26 or older. It does not include incest.

Adelstein said some people have argued that the death penalty should be used only for particularly violent crimes, but he believes nothing is more violent than criminal pedophilia.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

February 4, 2003

Tea for Texan...

Last Meal: A cup of tea and chocolate chip cookies

The skinny: Elliott, a British national, was executed for rape and murder despite high-level British government efforts to stall his execution. Elliott was listed as Hispanic in Texas prison records. Elliott was born in Britain, where his father was a U.S. airman. A thrice-convicted felon, he has said he moved to the United States with his family six months after he was born.

International machinations: British Members of Parliament, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and high-ranking clerics took up his cause in hopes of persuading Texas Gov. Rick Perry to halt the execution. Perry cannot commute a sentence without a vote to do so from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board, by an 18-0 vote, on Tuesday denied motions recommending that Perry issue a reprieve, commutation or conditional pardon.

Evidence & Priors: Police found Elliott with his shorts and shoes covered with blood that matched the victims. At the time, he was on parole from a 1982 conviction for killing a man during a bar fight. He was convicted again in 1984 of attempted burglary. But in an era when Texas prisons were overcrowded because of a space shortage, he was released under mandatory supervision after only 4 1/2 months of his eight-year sentence for murder, then received probation for the burglary.

Final words and such: Elliott, his long hair and goatee flecked with streaks of white, said as he lay strapped to a gurney in the pale green death chamber that he had no final statement. He turned briefly to the observation room where his son, sister and other personal witnesses were watching and mouthed a message to them.

A mother's words: The victim's mother told reporters later that Elliott's death had been "too easy" for him, compared with the beating her daughter suffered. "The people who are against the death penalty, good for them...but... they have never walked in our shoes." She said Elliott had committed the crime in Texas, not Britain. "So what if they don't believe in the death penalty. We want justice. That's what it was."

Reborn John Bull: In a recent interview, Elliott spoke of his affinity for Britain: "I have looked up where I was born on a map, and I am proud of it. I wish I had lived in Britain -- that country has cared about me in a way I never knew here."

Factoids: Elliott is the third Briton executed in the U.S. in the modern era of capital punishment. Georgia executed two British citizens in 2002 and in 1995.

Since 1982, when the state resumed carrying out the death penalty after a four-year national ban in the 1970s, Texas has killed 296 people.

The United States is the only Western democracy that still carries out executions.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Our first cease and desist e-mail!!!

The text....


I accidentally came across your website, where I discovered a picture
showing the recently executed death row inmate Granville Riddle with his wife.

Undoubtedly you took this picture from my own site at xxxxxxxxx. I did at no time authorize you to make use of that picture for your own purposes, which I obviously do not approve of. Therefore it is my concern to urge you to remove this picture from all your sites, should there be more than the one I have mentioned. Under the standards of current law as well as the regular standards of decency you have no right to randomly pick the property of others and display it on your website. Whereas I fully acknowledge your right to free speech and opinion, I hope that you will also respect my decision that this picture only be shown when and where I authorize it.

Thank you.

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx

Of course, DME doesn't want to stay where it isn't wanted (often, we don't want to stay where we are wanted), so the above-mentioned photo has been removed. Alas, we are saddened that we can't bring you the visual evidence that love conquers all, even the steel and glass of death row. Even if you bash someone's head in sixteen times with a tire iron...YOU CAN FIND LOVE! DON'T GIVE UP HOPE!


A couple of folks are trying to change that...

The beginning from the Green Bay News Chronicle:

In 1851, Kenosha resident John McCaffary was convicted of first-degree murder for having killed his wife. After he cut her scalp and choked her, he dumped her in a backyard cistern, where she drowned in 18 inches of water.

Kenosha's newspaper at the time, The Telegraph, provides the only recorded eyewitness account of the hanging: "... the prisoner was hoisted in the air. After a moment or two, there was a slight shrug of the shoulders. He continued to struggle for the space of five minutes. After he had been suspended eight minutes, the physicians were called upon the stand to examine his pulse, at which time his pulse was slightly reduced, and continued to beat for 10 minutes longer, at which time life was extinct and the prisoner was let down into the coffin. There were 2,000-3,000 people to witness the execution."

McCaffary's execution on Aug. 21, 1851, was the last to be carried out under Wisconsin law. Two years later, the state repealed the death penalty, a status it has maintained for 151 years. But now, two Republican legislators - including Door County's state senator - are pushing to change the course of Wisconsin's history.

A good read...