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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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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
July 31, 2014
It's doubtful that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, would approve of the civil rights organization's efforts to block a measure that would provide an alternative for poor defendants who can't afford bail. Legislation in Trenton would also close a loophole created when New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007. Previously, judges could deny bail in death penalty cases, but the end of capital punishment means that even defendants accused of the most heinous crimes are eligible to post bail.
NEWS
July 30, 2014
ISSUE | DEATH PENALTY Different tack, same conclusion In suggesting that the justice system has been "manipulated into coddling its worst offenders at the expense of victims' loved ones," Michael Smerconish misses two important points ("Death delayed is injustice," July 27). First, all victims' relatives do not see the death penalty the same way. Many understand that a death sentence will not provide them the closure that capital punishment advocates claim. (A co-signer of this letter whose daughter was murdered is among them.)
NEWS
July 11, 2014 | By Erin McCarthy, Inquirer Staff Writer
Terry Rumsey fights for gun safety. Before that, it was mental health reform. And reducing homelessness. And fair voting laws. And ending the death penalty. "The thread between all the work I've done is a belief in nonviolence," said Rumsey, 59, of Media. His current crusade is universal background checks on gun sales. Rumsey and Robin Lasersohn, 48, his wife and business partner, created Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
NEWS
June 16, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
THE FATE of a federal death-row inmate, who strangled his cellmate in a central Pennsylvanian penitentiary 18 years ago and who has made national headlines, is now in the hands of a federal judge in Philadelphia. David Paul Hammer, an Oklahoma native who is housed on death row in the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., has been appearing via video link in a Philadelphia courtroom for a resentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky during the last two weeks. His death sentence was vacated by a different judge in 2005.
NEWS
May 13, 2014
Capital punishment is unjust, immoral and prone to error, as most of the world's developed nations have figured out. But the United States, unwilling to put aside a desire for revenge, continues to kill its own citizens; 32 states and the federal government still impose the death penalty. At the very least, they ought to perform that barbaric task as fairly and humanely as possible. A report released last week by the Constitution Project, a bipartisan think tank that includes both death-penalty abolitionists and death-penalty supporters, calls for a complete overhaul of the process, from arrest to execution.
NEWS
May 2, 2014
A botched lethal injection in Oklahoma Tuesday left a condemned man convulsing for nearly 45 minutes before he died, suggesting officials need to do far more than tinker with the machinery of death. The horrific scene was the latest evidence that the nation's clinical approach to execution can prove as gruesome as a hanging, and stand as an affront to the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. But the troubling means of execution is only a corollary to the greater threat that - due to fatal flaws and inequities in the death penalty's application - the wrong person might be strapped to the gurney.
NEWS
May 2, 2014
LET ME, for a brief moment, put on my lawyer's hat. The Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment is not a suggestion. It is a mandate carved in stone. We do not torture, we do not cause undue suffering, we do not stretch the bounds of humanity in the name of vengeance. Now let me toss that hat to the side. The merits of the death penalty have been and will continue to be debated as long as justice is viewed through a personal prism. I believe that a society must impose the most draconian punishment for the most heinous crimes, otherwise we do violence to the humanity of the victim.
NEWS
April 30, 2014 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
GOV. CORBETT took the next step yesterday in bringing the ultimate punishment to the confessed killer of Officer Chuck Cassidy. But there's still a long road of bureaucracy ahead in that tragic case, authorities said. Corbett signed the execution warrant for Lewis Jordan, 27, who was convicted in 2009 of shooting Cassidy in the head during the robbery of a Dunkin' Donuts in West Oak Lane in 2007. Jordan has been on death row since his conviction, but sources close to Corbett say the governor took the earliest opportunity available to sign the order.
NEWS
April 24, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
FEDERAL prosecutors in Philadelphia are awaiting a decision by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on whether the government should seek the death penalty for Linda Ann Weston. Weston, 54, is the accused mastermind of a decadelong scheme to kidnap and keep mentally disabled victims hostage - including four disabled adults found malnourished in a locked Tacony dungeon in 2011 - to bilk them of their Social Security benefits. At a status hearing yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Faithe Moore Taylor told U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe that the decision had not been made, but that her office had requested an expedited review.
NEWS
April 5, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Maintaining his innocence - but wanting to avoid a possible death sentence - a Florida man allegedly linked by DNA to the 1996 rape and murder of a Kensington teen has agreed to a nonjury trial. Rafael Crespo appeared before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart on Thursday and waived his right to a trial by jury in the slaying of 17-year-old Anjeanette Maldonado. Minehart set Sept. 8 for a three-day bench trial, though he heard brief testimony from the girl's mother, Paulette Smith.
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