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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
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.
NEWS
December 23, 2015 | By Chris Palmer and Laura McCrystal, STAFF WRITERS
Gov. Wolf acted within his constitutional authority to temporarily halt the execution of a convicted murderer from Philadelphia, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous decision, the high court said Wolf had the power to delay the death sentence for Terrance Williams until a legislative task force issued its final report on the future of capital punishment in Pennsylvania. The ruling does not apply to Wolf's broader moratorium on the death penalty, but it was a victory for the governor in the broader and contentious battle over the future of executions in the commonwealth.
NEWS
September 18, 2015 | BY PAIGE GROSS, Daily News Staff Writer grossp@phillynews.com, 215-854-5938
ON THE ALTAR of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Germantown sits an oil painting of Pope Francis holding a tiny prisoner in his hands. The artist - the inmate pictured in the painting - resides at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the prison where the pope will stop during his visit to Philadelphia later this month. "We're here to build a fire," Magdaleno Rose Avila, executive director of the Philly-based group Witness to Innocence, told the Daily News yesterday as he waited for Mass to begin at St. Vincent de Paul.
NEWS
September 17, 2015 | By Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer
Saying Gov. Wolf's moratorium was unconstitutional, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Tuesday he would seek the death penalty in the case of a former Colwyn police officer accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and wounding her daughter. "We believe the state Supreme Court will nullify his decision," Whelan said at a news conference Wednesday. Stephen Rozniakowski, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Valerie Morrow, who had a protection-from-abuse order against him for harassment.
NEWS
September 12, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gov. Wolf calls his moratorium on Pennsylvania executions appropriate while he awaits a task force report about what he says is "a flawed system that has been proven to be . . . ineffective, unjust, and expensive. " District Attorney Seth Williams, county prosecutors, and legislative leaders counter that Wolf's position "usurps judicial review of criminal judgments, and is in direct violation of his duty to faithfully execute Pennsylvania law. " Resolving the debate is now up to the state Supreme Court, which on Thursday heard oral arguments on the constitutional challenge to Wolf's seven-month-old ban on the state's ultimate penalty, which was last used in 1999.
NEWS
August 22, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Convicted Valentine's Day killer Shaun Warrick was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms without parole Thursday after a Philadelphia jury deadlocked on whether he should get the death penalty for killing his ex-girlfriend and her cousin. The Common Pleas Court jury of six women and six men deliberated on a death sentence for about three hours before telling Judge Glenn B. Bronson it could not decide. On Wednesday, the same jury found Warrick guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2011 shootings of his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Barnhill, 19, and her cousin Marcedes Ivery, 22. Under Pennsylvania law, a jury's inability to vote unanimously for death means a default sentence of life without parole.
NEWS
August 21, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
In a verdict that could lead to a death sentence, a Philadelphia jury found Shaun Warrick guilty Wednesday of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2011 Valentine's Day shootings of his ex-girlfriend and her cousin. The Common Pleas Court jury of six women and six men is to return to court Thursday to begin hearing testimony in the penalty phase of the trial, in which they will decide whether Warrick, 32, should be executed by lethal injection or spend life in prison without parole.
NEWS
July 31, 2015
ISSUE | MORATORIUM Death penalty hardly tough on crime Two positives arise from the death-penalty confrontation among Gov. Wolf, District Attorney Seth Williams, and Attorney General Kathleen Kane ("Wolf calls on court to uphold his moratorium on death penalty," July 22). It keeps capital punishment under the spotlight, and it also makes it clear that many Democrats differ little from Republicans in important areas. Williams, Kane, and other tough-on-crime officials of either party seem to have given no consideration to the words of George Bernard Shaw: "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind.
NEWS
July 23, 2015 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gov. Wolf on Tuesday asked the state Supreme Court to ignore Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane's challenge to his death-penalty moratorium, arguing that the justices had already decided to consider a similar petition brought by the Philadelphia district attorney. In a court filing that responds to Kane's petition, Wolf also repeated the claim he has made since February: That he has the right under the state constitution to temporarily stay executions as he awaits a Senate report on capital punishment.
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