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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
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.
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
March 7, 2014 | By Jonathan Tamari and Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writers
WASHINGTON - Mumia Abu-Jamal, a name that for more than three decades has stirred emotional divisions in Philadelphia and across oceans, was at the center of a stunning defeat for President Obama on Wednesday as the Senate blocked a presidential nominee who had worked on the convicted cop killer's death penalty appeal. By a 52-47 vote, Republicans and eight Democrats blocked a key procedural step in the nomination of Debo Adegbile, a former NAACP lawyer whom Obama had tapped to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
NEWS
January 28, 2014
All together, jog Even in her attempt to be humorous, Sally Friedman - by lamenting the intrusion of new members at her health club - reinforced the notion among young people that today's seniors are the Greediest Generation ("January's fitful fitness," Jan. 19). She resents new members using her equipment, and looks forward to March, when many will quit. No doubt new members are younger and in need of advice and encouragement, not put-downs. Obesity-related diseases kill too many Americans, but are largely preventable if more of us would exercise and eat smarter.
NEWS
January 17, 2014
HAROLD MURRAY IV, 36, is getting another shot at justice. Marcus Perez, 43, is waiting for his. Murray was convicted in a 2005 revenge-murder in which the victim and her fetus died. He was sentenced to death for each. One problem: Defendants can't receive the death penalty in Pennsylvania for the death of a fetus, something the Montgomery County prosecutor, the defense attorney and the judge apparently didn't know. Heinous crime or not, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now ordered a new penalty hearing for death of the fetus - even as the death penalty for the mother remains intact.
NEWS
January 16, 2014 | By Mike Newall and Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writers
  PHILADELPHIA Edward Bracey had decided he was not going back to jail - and that no officer would stand in his way. Driving a stolen Buick that February night in 1991, with a 9mm pistol in his lap, the wanted felon told a cohort: "No cop's going to thump on me. " So, when Bracey crashed his vehicle at Eighth Street and Germantown Avenue while evading a traffic stop, Bracey jumped out and leaped onto the hood of rookie patrolman Daniel Boyle's...
NEWS
January 15, 2014 | By Robert Moran and Mike Newall, Inquirer Staff Writers
Update: Districty Attorney's Office said it is considering appealing the judge's ruling but will wait to study the it before deciding. Prosecutors noted that in 1998 Edward Bracey, convicted of killing Officer Danny Boyle, presented three witnesses who testified he was not mentally retarded. --- A Philadelphia judge, citing a constitutional restriction against executing people defined as mentally retarded, has vacated the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a city police officer in 1991.
NEWS
January 4, 2014 | By Carolyn Davis, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Indian immigrant accused of murdering a grandmother and her infant granddaughter in King of Prussia in 2012 claimed Thursday that he was coerced into confessing during 17 hours of detention and interrogation. Testifying at a pretrial hearing in Norristown, Raghunandan Yandamuri said police pressured him to cooperate and confess. In earlier court filings, Yandamuri denied that he killed the two. "They are forcing me," he said. "They are saying, 'You did it.' " Yandamuri's comments came during nearly two hours of often rambling testimony as his lawyers asked a judge to bar his confession from trial.
NEWS
December 27, 2013 | By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer
Tracy and Mike Riley celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary eating Wawa sandwiches on the floor of their living room, surrounded by autopsy photos and grisly police reports. "I think we could be married 50 years, and that will be one of the most memorable and most enjoyable anniversary dinners we've ever had," Tracy Riley said this month at the Mount Holly law office she shares with her husband. The Rileys, who have been married for 19 years, work side by side in one of the few husband-wife law firms in the state.
NEWS
November 16, 2013 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Axel Barreto, convicted of killing three teenage members of a Juniata Park gang involved in a running dispute with his stepson, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after a Philadelphia jury deadlocked on the death penalty. "Were you able to reach a verdict?" a court deputy asked the forewoman of the Common Pleas Court jury of seven men and five women. "We could not, unfortunately," replied the juror, after two days of deliberating over Barreto's sentence for the Jan. 10, 2012, shooting deaths of Joshua Soto, 14; Donti Lugo, 14; and Javier Orlandi, 16. Thus ended one of two Philadelphia trials this week involving a possible death sentence.
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