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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
September 24, 2016 | By Julie Shaw, STAFF WRITER
In the end, a 22-year-old man convicted of first-degree murder in a July 2014 Feltonville porch shooting opted to take a deal of life in prison instead of risking the death penalty. Siddiq Shelton agreed to the deal after first rejecting it Wednesday. On Thursday, after more discussions with his lawyers, Shelton told Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson he wanted to end his penalty-phase hearing, in which a jury would have decided his fate: life in prison or death. The jury of seven women and five men convicted Shelton Wednesday of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Elisha Bull, 20, who was one of seven people hanging out on a porch on North Front Street near Roosevelt Boulevard at about 12:19 a.m. July 28, 2014.
NEWS
August 27, 2016
ISSUE | DEATH PENALTY A flawed system The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit showed us that the death penalty is a flawed system ("New trial ordered in 1991 slaying," Wednesday). The court ruled Tuesday that the prosecution improperly kept evidence out of the murder trial of James Dennis. That evidence might show that the Philadelphia man did not kill a 17-year-old Olney High School student. The ruling is a victory for Dennis, who has been in prison since 1992 because prosecutors were more interested in getting a conviction than in getting it right.
NEWS
August 25, 2016 | By Michael Boren, Staff Writer
Jamil Baskerville Jr. was sitting on a bed crying when his mother's boyfriend punched him in the chest Saturday night, causing Jamil to fall backward and his head to hit the wall, authorities said. When Jamil got up, Zachary Tricoche punched him again, prosecutors said. This time, Jamil did not get up. His mother called 911 from their Pennsauken home. She told dispatchers that her son wasn't breathing, and that his chest had bruises, prosecutors said. He had also vomited before losing consciousness.
NEWS
July 31, 2016 | By Janaki Chadha, Staff Writer
In April 1958, 26-year-old In-Ho Oh, who had left South Korea to continue his studies and was living with an aunt and uncle in West Philadelphia, went to mail a letter at 36th and Hamilton Streets. He never returned. He was beaten to death by 11 juveniles and left on the street corner, police said. His aunt, Za Yung Oh, remembers being so shocked when she heard the news that she couldn't move. But on Friday morning, Oh, 95, said she was thankful. A small crowd had gathered on the corner where her nephew was killed to commemorate his death - and to name the 3600 block of Hamilton "In-Ho Oh Memorial Way. " The street-naming ceremony was led by her son, City Councilman David Oh, who held back tears while telling the story of his cousin's death.
NEWS
July 2, 2016
By Marc Bookman Forty years ago, on July 2, 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court put its imprimatur on capital punishment in the case of Gregg v. Georgia . This was a surprising development. Only four years earlier, the court had struck down death-penalty laws across the country, declaring the death penalty "cruel and unusual in the same way as being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual. " In other words, the laws did not target those most deserving of the maximum punishment, instead making death sentences a random occurrence.
NEWS
June 11, 2016 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Staff Writer
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille was wrong to participate in an appeal from a death-row inmate whose prosecution he oversaw nearly three decades before. In a 5-3 split, the justices ordered a new hearing for Terrance Williams, finding that Castille's involvement in hearing the case when it came before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2014 violated Williams' constitutional rights. The decision served as a sharp rebuke to Castille, one of the Pennsylvania legal system's most towering figures in recent years.
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)
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