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Death Penalty

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NEWS
March 26, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court has dismissed litigation to reform the way Philadelphia reimburses lawyers appointed to defend indigent clients facing the death penalty. The four-justice majority filed an unsigned per curiam order Friday that did not explain why the jurists, including Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, decided to end the case. The majority thanked Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner for his "exemplary efforts and analysis. " Castille named Lerner in 2011 to study allegations that Philadelphia's pay scale for lawyers appointed to capital cases was so low it violated their clients' constitutional right to effective counsel.
NEWS
July 17, 2013 | By Angela K. Brown, Associated Press
FORT HOOD, Texas - Prosecutors asked Monday that three Army officers be dismissed as potential jurors in the murder trial of the Fort Hood shooting suspect because of their views on the death penalty. Six potential jurors - four colonels and two lieutenant colonels - were brought in from Army posts nationwide and overseas as questioning continued in the court-martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan. The Army psychiatrist faces execution or life in prison without parole if convicted in the 2009 rampage that left 13 dead and nearly three dozen wounded on the Texas Army post.
NEWS
January 10, 1990 | By Rose Simmons, Inquirer Staff Writer
The final chapter to a duel under a warm June sun was written in Chester County Court yesterday, as a 22-year-old man was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for killing his former girlfriend's lover. Jason Jaye Welles pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and aggravated assault for the shotgun slaying in the middle of a Phoenixville street as neighbors looked on. Witnesses told police that Welles shot Michael Brockerman four times with a 12-gauge shotgun about 4:40 p.m. on June 6, the last three blasts coming as the 24-year-old Pottstown man lay prone on the street.
SPORTS
October 22, 2004 | Daily News Wire Services
A former college football player at Lock Haven University was sentenced to life in prison because a jury could not agree on whether he deserved the death penalty for murdering the brother of an Olympic wrestler. The jury voted 7-5 in favor of the death penalty yesterday for Fabian Desmond Smart, of Clyo, Ga. Death sentences require a unanimous decision in Pennsylvania. Smart was convicted last week of the January 1999 murder of Jason McMann, the older brother of Olympic wrestler Sara McMann.
NEWS
March 2, 2005 | By Jacqueline Soteropoulos INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Justina Morley, the 15-year-old who lured a Fishtown teenager to his death in 2003, began to cry yesterday as she demonstrated how her alleged accomplices attacked Jason Sweeney with a hatchet and a hammer. Morley, now 16, testified that she feels remorse for the brutal slaying and for luring Sweeney to his death with the promise of sex. But in a jailhouse letter to Domenic Coia, one of the defendants, Morley wrote: "I am guilty. But I still don't feel guilty for anything.
NEWS
January 21, 1993 | by Dave Racher, Daily News Staff Writer
The West Philadelphia food store owner was not only the cousin of a jailed enemy of the Junior Black Mafia, he was also the object of affection of a female companion of JBM boss Aaron Jones. That put Bruce Kennedy, 26, in serious jeopardy, a prosecutor said. And on Aug. 18, 1990, two enforcers of the drug syndicate pumped 10 bullets into him with an Uzi as he was making a steak sandwich at Kennedy's Mommie's Food Market, 54th Street near Master. Yesterday, a jury convicted Jones, 30, and two henchmen, Sam Brown, 29, and James Anderson, 21, of first-degree murder.
NEWS
October 3, 2006
I AGREE with letter- writer Lynn Thistlewood about the death penalty. My father was killed 28 years ago at his place of business. Our family life was destroyed by this. He was only 49 years young. The killers got life in prison. Big deal. They should have died the way my father did. Nancy Branca Philadelphia
NEWS
September 25, 2012
By Jonathan Zimmerman Terrance Williams was sexually abused by the two men he killed, according to his lawyers. He was poorly represented at his trial, where jurors never heard about these circumstances. And the widow of one of his victims wants Williams' death sentence commuted. But those aren't the strongest arguments for sparing the life of Terrance Williams, who is scheduled to be executed on Oct. 3. The best reason is the simplest: Capital punishment is inherently wrong, no matter the circumstances.
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NEWS
April 21, 2016
A hearing will be held Thursday on whether the media and public can view a videotaped interview of Eric Frein, charged with the ambush killing of a state trooper and the wounding of another. At a proceeding Tuesday on the defense requests to waive the death penalty for Frein, 32, of Barrett Township, and suppress statements he made to police, Pike County Court Judge Gregory Chelak decided that the videotape be shown "in camera," or out of public view. After he announced the decision, a reporter objected in open court, and others filed objections later, the Pocono Record reported.
NEWS
April 12, 2016
DUANE BUCK was convicted in 1997 of murdering his ex-girlfriend and a male friend. After a Texas jury determined that he was likely to pose a continuing danger to society, it sentenced him to death. How did the jury conclude that he posed a future threat (a finding that state law requires as a condition for imposing the death penalty)? Simple: Buck is black and, according to a psychologist who testified at the sentencing hearing, race is one of a number of "statistical factors" that can be used to predict whether a person will reoffend in the future.
NEWS
April 12, 2016 | By Michaelle Bond, Staff Writer
The crime was horrific: LaQuanta Chapman fatally shot his teenage neighbor, then dismembered him with a chainsaw. The Chester County District Attorney's Office promised it would seek the death penalty - and it delivered. Chapman was sent to death row in December 2012. But he remains very much alive, and two weeks ago the state Supreme Court reversed his death sentence, citing prosecutorial error. Chapman is just the latest example of a death-row inmate spared execution. In fact, no one has been executed in Pennsylvania since Philadelphia torturer-murderer Gary Heidnik in 1999.
NEWS
April 5, 2016 | By Marc Bookman
Over the past decade, there has been a revolution in juvenile justice and the sentencing of youths. The Supreme Court ended the death penalty for juveniles in 2005; in 2012, it did the same for mandatory life without parole. Four years later, in the case Montgomery v. Louisiana , the court applied its earlier ruling retroactively and granted new sentencing for close to 2,000 juveniles who had received mandatory life sentences without parole. In so doing, the court has turned a very bright light on the Philadelphia justice system, which has more juveniles serving life-without-parole sentences (300)
NEWS
April 2, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
Philadelphia prosecutors have charged the two brothers accused of killing Police Officer Robert Wilson III with committing a series of armed robberies in the same North Philadelphia area in the three months before Wilson was fatally wounded in a March 2015 robbery and shootout. Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo said Thursday that Carlton Hipps, 30, was charged with eight armed robberies and brother Ramone Williams, 26, with nine. Zarallo said the pair, both being held without bail in Wilson's killing March 5, 2015, were officially charged last month, but the new cases only recently appeared on the court database.
NEWS
March 2, 2016 | By Jeremy Roebuck and Jonathan Tamari, STAFF WRITERS
WASHINGTON - When he was Philadelphia's district attorney, Ronald D. Castille signed off on a decision that would land Terrance Williams on death row for the 1984 beating death of a Germantown church deacon. Now, a role that Castille later played in the case as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could prove key in efforts to fend off Williams' execution. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on whether Castille, the prosecutor who approved pursuing the death penalty against Williams, should have recused himself when the case came before the state's top court for appeal.
NEWS
February 25, 2016
By Gil Garcetti The decision to seek the death penalty is one of the most profound responsibilities entrusted to any district attorney. Seeking a punishment that ends the life of a human being, even when that person is accused of having committed murder, is a solemn and sobering decision that cannot be taken lightly. In the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office when I led it, a decision to seek a death sentence was the result of an intensive process, but the final decision was mine alone.
NEWS
February 18, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has decided not to seek the death penalty in the retrial of a North Philadelphia man whose 2007 death sentence was invalidated after discovery of a mix-up in DNA evidence. Assistant District Attorney Andrew Notaristefano announced the decision at a hearing Tuesday for Kareem Johnson, 31, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in the 2002 shooting of Walter Smith, 39, outside a North Philadelphia bar. Smith, a barber, was a potential witness in a murder case against Johnson's friend.
NEWS
January 1, 2016
VENEZUELA Court bars four from taking office The Supreme Court on Wednesday barred four incoming lawmakers from taking office, putting at risk the opposition's newly won two-thirds legislative "super-majority. " Responding to a legal challenge filed by supporters of the ruling socialist party, the Supreme Court blocked the four lawmakers from taking their seats when the new National Assembly convenes Tuesday. The ruling affects three opposition lawmakers and one socialist deputy, all from the sparsely populated state of Amazonas.
NEWS
December 30, 2015
ISSUE | DEATH PENALTY Reprieve warranted The Jewish Social Policy Action Network applauds the unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Gov. Wolf's grant of a reprieve to death-row inmate Terrance Williams ("Court backs Wolf in Phila. death penalty case," Dec. 22). The decision was in keeping with the position taken by JSPAN in a detailed statement of interest supporting a brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, in which we reviewed our long-standing opposition to capital punishment as it is imposed, based on a reading of many Jewish sources and our concern about its moral implications.
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