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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
February 24, 2009
Too few politicians today are willing to act in accordance with their conscience when doing so might risk their careers. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is doing that, though, with his push to abolish the death penalty in his state. O'Malley faces a tough fight, but his cause is just. The majority of Maryland residents support capital punishment. The General Assembly in Annapolis remains divided over the issue. By forcing lawmakers to take a stand on the death penalty, O'Malley risks rankling lawmakers he may need for other legislative battles.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
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)
NEWS
April 2, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
Philadelphia prosecutors have charged the two brothers accused of killing Police Officer Robert Wilson III with committing a series of armed robberies in the same North Philadelphia area in the three months before Wilson was fatally wounded in a March 2015 robbery and shootout. Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo said Thursday that Carlton Hipps, 30, was charged with eight armed robberies and brother Ramone Williams, 26, with nine. Zarallo said the pair, both being held without bail in Wilson's killing March 5, 2015, were officially charged last month, but the new cases only recently appeared on the court database.
NEWS
March 2, 2016 | By Jeremy Roebuck and Jonathan Tamari, STAFF WRITERS
WASHINGTON - When he was Philadelphia's district attorney, Ronald D. Castille signed off on a decision that would land Terrance Williams on death row for the 1984 beating death of a Germantown church deacon. Now, a role that Castille later played in the case as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could prove key in efforts to fend off Williams' execution. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on whether Castille, the prosecutor who approved pursuing the death penalty against Williams, should have recused himself when the case came before the state's top court for appeal.
NEWS
February 25, 2016
By Gil Garcetti The decision to seek the death penalty is one of the most profound responsibilities entrusted to any district attorney. Seeking a punishment that ends the life of a human being, even when that person is accused of having committed murder, is a solemn and sobering decision that cannot be taken lightly. In the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office when I led it, a decision to seek a death sentence was the result of an intensive process, but the final decision was mine alone.
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