Friday, September 05, 2003


U.S. Court Overturns 100 Death Sentences

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court threw out an estimated 100 death sentences in Arizona and two other states Tuesday because the inmates were sent to death row by judges instead of juries.

The case stems from a 2002 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the high court found that juries, not judges, must render death sentences. But the Supreme Court left unclear whether the new rules should apply retroactively to inmates awaiting execution.

In an 8-3 vote, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said all condemned inmates sentenced by a judge should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

The ruling applies only to Arizona, Idaho and Montana, the only states in the 9th Circuit that have allowed judges to impose death sentences.

Two other states, Nebraska and Colorado, have also allowed judges to sentence inmates to death. But the federal appeals courts that oversee them have yet to rule on the issue.

The ruling affects approximately 3% of the 3,700 people on death row in the United States.

Murray and attorneys for Arizona estimated that the decision affects around 100 inmates on that state's death row alone.

The ruling is expected to reduce the death sentences of at least 16 condemned inmates in Idaho. Montana Assistant Attorney General Pamela Collins said state attorneys were reviewing the decision to determine whether its five condemned inmates would be affected.

"This may cause some chaos in the short term. I don't think this is going to hold up," Collins said.

The Death Penalty Information Center, which compiles statistics on capital punishment, calculated that since 1976, those five states have executed 29 people under laws allowing nonjury sentencing.

Dateline: Vietnam

Vietnam defends use of death penalty


Vietnam imposes the death penalty for only the gravest crimes and has reduced the number of offences that carry the punishment, a government spokesman said yesterday.

The spokesman was responding to an August 28 report from international rights group Amnesty International that said the number of death sentences and executions was rising in communist Vietnam, where executions are carried out by firing squad.

"In Vietnam the death sentence is carried out for extremely serious crimes and follows tight legal procedures in accordance with Vietnamese laws," Foreign Ministry spokesman, Le Dung,.

A recently amended penal code had reduced the number of crimes for which death sentences are imposed to 29 from 44, he said.

Amnesty International, which campaigns against the death penalty, said Vietnam had sentenced 62 people to death so far this year and carried out 19 executions, compared with 48 sentences and 27 executions for the whole of 2002.

The rights group had also expressed alarm over the rise in capital punishment for drug and economic crimes.

But the spokesman made no apologies about that.

"Recently the death sentences in Vietnam are mainly ruled for offences involving trafficking huge volumes of narcotics," he said. "This is an extremely serious crime which is condemned by the society and which needs adequate punishment."



The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is getting a new and larger death row and execution house.

The $6 million project is expected to be completed within 18 months.

Plans include room for more witnesses to view executions.

....."The concept of a serial killer ... makes us realize that we need an enhanced capacity," Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder said.

The new building will have more witness rooms than the old building. Currently, there is only one glass-windowed room for the media, coroner, relatives of the victim, the inmate's spiritual adviser and an attorney to watch an execution, Stalder said.

That single room can accommodate about eight to 10 people.

State law mandates that two members of a victim's family can witness an execution.

....Nationwide, the number of executions fell 22 percent between 2000 and 2001, marking the first time since the death penalty's 1976 return in the United States that the number of inmates put to death dropped two years in a row.

Dateline: Australia

Terror Outrage Resurrects Death Penalty Question in Australia

The Highlights:

More than 30 years after Australia's last execution, the issue of capital punishment has returned to the public agenda, prompted by the worst terrorist outrage to affect the country.

In an opinion poll released this week, 56 percent of respondents said they supported the death penalty for those convicted of major acts of terrorism, while 36 percent opposed it.

The Newspoll survey, published in The Australian newspaper, obtained similar results in a second question, which sought views on the death sentence handed down by an Indonesian court earlier this month to a man accused of playing a leading role in last October's Bali bombing. That terrorist act killed 202 people, 88 of them Australian.

Following the poll's appearance, a government lawmaker said Tuesday he had no doubt that, if the decision were left to voters, Australia would again adopt the death penalty for cases such as terrorism.

All major parties have platforms that oppose the death penalty.

....The last person to be executed in Australia was Ronald Ryan, who was hanged amid public protests in 1967 for the murder of a prison warden during a jailbreak. He was the 115th person to be executed in the country since 1900.

Australia officially abolished capital punishment in 1985.

Dateline: Georgia



Apparently alarmed at deteriorating law and order in Georgia, the country’s president has publicly expressed his regret at being forced into abolishing the death penalty.

"If it were not for problems with the Council of Europe (CoE), Georgia would not have abolished the death penalty," Eduard Shevardnadze said in a meeting with his government on 20 August.

The president’s statement follows reports by law-enforcement agencies that there has been a sharp rise in crime in the past few months. Conditions are particularly serious in the northwestern region of Svanetia, a mountainous area that borders territory controlled since 1992 by the secessionist Abkhazian government, and in the Kodori Gorge, which straddles the Abkhazian border. The Kodori Gorge, an area with no police, no court, and no effective rule, has long been a flashpoint and has gained a reputation for criminality. It leapt to international prominence this spring when several UN observers were kidnapped.

There are also alarming reports about the influence of criminal authorities over business, governance, and media sectors. The president’s declaration followed the detention of a high-level official in a law-enforcement agency who had been implicated in the abduction of a 15-year-old.

"The death penalty has been abolished, and these people fear nothing," Shevardnadze said, adding that in many cases criminals in custody live better than ordinary people in the country.

The abolition of a death penalty was one of primary preconditions set by the CoE before Georgia could join. In 1995, Shevardnadze declared a moratorium on executions, and the following year Georgia was invited as a guest to the international organization. In 1997, Georgia formally abolished the death penalty by adopting a new criminal code. Two years later it gained full membership in the CoE. The last execution was in 1994.



A man facing execution for a 1984 double murder got a chance to prove his claim of innocence Fwhen a judge ordered DNA testing of a cigarette butt found at the scene of one killing.

Henry Lee Hunt, 58, is scheduled for execution at 2 a.m. Sept. 12. His attorney said the state crime lab could produce results within seven days.

At issue is Hunt's contention that he wasn't present when police informant Larry Jones was killed and buried in rural Robeson County.

Prosecutors have said a cigarette butt found at the scene was the same brand Hunt smoked; it never was tested. Hunt also was convicted of killing Jackie Ransom, whose wife paid to have him killed to make a second marriage legal.

If the butt tests negative for Hunt's DNA, his claim of innocence would be strengthened, said defense lawyer Steven Holley.

"We're going to be under a very tight timetable, even if we get it next Thursday," Holley said outside court. "The cigarette butt is one more piece of the puzzle. Mr. Hunt is adamant that he didn't kill anybody."

Holley said if the butt tests negative for DNA, it also will strengthen arguments to Gov. Mike Easley to change the sentence to life in prison.

Post Labor Day Reader's Last Meal

mark l. of parts unknown.....

A medium anchoive thin crust pizza, chicken cacciatore, crusty italian bread, fried eggplant, reggiano cheese, ceasar salad (don't forget the anchovies), olives, mushrooms, roasted red peppers in ev olive oil, canolli for dessert...sneak in some good merlot, cold mgd and some anisette.

NYCGold of parts unknown (a wild guess...NYC?)

If it was me I would pig out!!!! 3 cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomatoes, onioins, pickles, cheese, bacon, ketchup, mayo. 5 orders of frenchfries. 6 barbecued ribs, 1 lobster, 10 chicken fingers with honey mustard and honey barbecue sauce, 1 caesar salad, 1 gallon of mashed potatoes with gravy, 1 gallon of cole slaw, 1 gallon of mac and cheese, 3 fried eggs, 5 strips of bacon, 5 pork sausage links, 3 pork sausage patties, 5 slices of toast, 1 order of home fries, 1 bowl of New England Clam Chowder, 1 order of General Tso's Chicken, 1 order house Lo Mein, 4 orders of white rice with duck sause, 5 Boston Rolls, 5 California Rolls, 5 Philadelphia Rolls, 10 pieces of fried chicken, 2 tacos, 2 burritos, 2 quesedillas, 1 large pizza with everything, 1 bowl of French Onion Soup, 10 bottles of orange soda, 2 gallons of cookies n' cream ice cream

Kathy from Oregon...

Let me think, I am dieting and I have diabetes, okay here goes: Pepperoni Pizza, Whopper, Fries, Onion Rings, Chocolate Cake and _Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream. If no diabetic coma has set in yet, 'lose' it all and start over with Prime Rib, Baked Potato, Loaf of Garlic Bread and Iced Tea. Shoot after eating all that I would welcome the needle.


one gallon of holy water, 3 unions, 52 oz. steak rare, jumbo bottle of A-1, and tetziki sauce. for desert, one slice of 10 diferent asorted pies.

September 3, 2003

"Martyrs" eat sherbet....

Last Meal: Hill was served a final meal of steak, broccoli with
hollandaise sauce, salad, orange sherbet and iced tea.

The skinny: Paul Hill, a former Presbyterian minister and fervent anti-abortionist, used a shotgun to kill a doctor and his bodyguard as they drove into a Pensacola abortion clinic. in 1994. Hill told reporters that his death would make him a "martyr" in the anti-abortion movement and that he expected a "reward" in Heaven.

At his trial, Hill attempted to present a defense claiming that his actions had been justifiable homicide, since he had killed the two men in order to prevent the murder of unborn children. The judge refused to allow this argument in court, and Hill refused to present any other defense.

The weeks leading up to: The execution reignited fears that the militant wing of the extreme antiabortion movement will use his death as a catalyst for renewed violence.

Two weeks ago, death threat letters containing rifle bullets were sent to top state officials involved with the execution, but a resolute Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed Hill's death warrant, said he wouldn't be ''bullied'' and refused to halt the execution.

Legal Machinations: The former minister said two weeks that he did not want his case appealed and would welcome his execution.

Last Words and such: Hill showed no remorse and, in his final words, spurred antiabortion activists to follow his lead. ''If you believe abortion is a lethal force, you should oppose the force and do what you have to do to stop it,'' he said, strapped to the gurney at Florida State Prison, his face without expression. ``May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.''

Prison officials wouldn't release the names of the two dozen people who witnessed the execution, citing the ongoing criminal investigation into the death threats.

Factoids: Hill became the first killer of an abortion clinic doctor to be executed.

Hill was the...

53rd murderer executed in U.S. in 2003
873rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Florida in 2003
57th murderer executed in Florida since 1976

Hill's death led to the tightest security since serial killer Ted Bundy was electrocuted in 1989 in the same death chamber.