September 24, 2016 |
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.
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.
August 25, 2016 |
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.
July 31, 2016 |
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.
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.
June 11, 2016 |
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.
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.
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.
April 12, 2016 |
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.
April 5, 2016 |
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)