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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 14, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Staff Writers
Pennsylvania's death penalty - used just three times since 1978 but as controversial as ever - was shelved by Gov. Wolf on Friday until after he gets the report of a task force studying the future of capital punishment. Acting on concerns he first expressed during last year's campaign, the new governor cited a wave of exonerations nationwide and questions about the effectiveness of executions. "This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive," Wolf said.
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
February 20, 2015 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams is fighting what he calls "an unconstitutional takeover of powers" lobbied by newly elected Gov. Wolf. In a statement yesterday, Williams announced that he's filed a petition to the state Supreme Court to reject Wolf's recent moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. "Just weeks ago, Governor Wolf took an oath to faithfully execute his duties in accordance with the Constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Williams said in the statement.
NEWS
February 18, 2015
WHOA, Gov. Wolf, you are not going to gain favoritism with your new constituents by putting a hold on Pennsylvania's death penalty. There are horrible criminals on Pennsylvania's death row who should get what they deserve for killing innocent people: their own death. This is not the way to go. Eric Frein will definitely get the death penalty for killing the state trooper. So, you are not going to sign his death warrant? The family of the trooper wants Frein dead, and for you to keep him alive will not go well, especially if you want to be re-elected.
NEWS
February 18, 2015
LAST WEEK, Gov. Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. He cited as reasons a system riddled with flaws, and said that the penalty is expensive and often applied unfairly. Wolf's move is to be lauded. The only thing we disagree with is his call for a task-force report on the state's death penalty. Another report? There are numerous reports and studies on the subject of the death penalty in general and in Pennsylvania in particular. For example, as recently as 2007, the American Bar Association released the results of a four-year Death Penalty Assessment project it conducted for eight states, including Pennsylvania.
NEWS
February 18, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
The Old Testament's recommendation of an "eye for an eye" to compensate an injured party has been cited over the ages by proponents of capital punishment. Meanwhile, death penalty opponents note the New Testament's directive to set aside the desire for retribution and "turn the other cheek" when slapped. No biblical debate is required, however, to determine the value of capital punishment. There is more than enough empirical evidence to show that the practice is neither fair nor cost-effective and that it fails to deter violent crime.
NEWS
February 16, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Staff Writers
Pennsylvania's death penalty - used just three times since 1978 but as controversial as ever - was shelved by Gov. Wolf on Friday until after he gets the report of a task force studying the future of capital punishment. Acting on concerns he first expressed during last year's campaign, the new governor cited a wave of exonerations nationwide and questions about the effectiveness of executions. "This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive," Wolf said.
NEWS
January 31, 2015 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
MILFORD, Pa. - He eluded police for nearly two months, and has been jailed for three more. But the death-penalty trial for Eric Frein could still be more than a year away. On Thursday, Frein pleaded not guilty to charges he plotted the ambush that killed one state trooper and wounded a second last September in nearby Blooming Grove. It was his first court appearance since prosecutors officially declared they would seek the death penalty against him. In a brief court appearance via video feed from the Pike County prison, the self-styled survivalist remained expressionless and responded politely to County Court Judge Gregory H. Chelak.
NEWS
January 29, 2015 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Eric Frein, the man accused of shooting two Pennsylvania state troopers in Pike County in September. Though Pike County District Attorney Raymond J. Tonkin had said he intended to seek the death penalty in the case, he made it official by filing a formal notice in court Tuesday. "We anticipated that he would file the notice seeking the death penalty, and so it's not a surprise," said Michael Weinstein, one of Frein's court-appointed attorneys.
NEWS
January 2, 2015 | By Michaelle Bond, Inquirer Staff Writer
Growing up, Carol Houck said, she was verbally, physically, and sexually abused. She was too frightened to tell anyone what was happening. Although she suspected her neighbors knew something was not right, she never got the rescue she hoped for. "I wanted someone to speak up for me. No one spoke up for me," said Houck, 57. "I'm alive and well, and Scotty isn't. So I wanted to speak up. " Houck and about 20 other demonstrators stood outside the Chester County Justice Center on Wednesday morning to try to raise awareness about child abuse.
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