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Alabama Capital Punishment News
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Thread: Alabama Capital Punishment News

  1. #1
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    Alabama Capital Punishment News

    Giles Perkins calls for a moratorium on Alabama's death penalty until it is fairly administered.

    Attorney General candidate Giles Perkins calls today for a moratorium on Alabama's death penalty. Said Perkins, "We have a broken system, and we should not execute another person until it is fixed. There are a lot of guilty people on death row but we can't take the risk of executing anyone who is innocent. This is a moral issue."

    A 2006 American Bar Association study identified a number of serious flaws in Alabama’s death penalty process. These include:

    Inadequate indigent defense services

    Lack of appellate defense counsel

    Lack of a statute protecting people with mental retardation

    Lack of a post-conviction DNA testing statute

    Inadequate proportionality review

    Lack of effective limitations to "heinous, atrocious, or cruel" aggravating circumstance

    Capitol Juror Confusion

    Perkins agrees these are serious problems, and they need to be addressed.

    Perkins believes the most important reforms are those to ensure all defendants, no matter their financial means, have competent counsel and access to technology, like DNA testing.

    Perkins commented, "We need to provide all defendants good lawyers and good science to make sure we get it right. We should not execute an innocent person while the real killer walks the streets."

    Giles Perkins is an attorney practicing in Birmingham since 1992, and he is running as a Democrat to become Alabama's next Attorney General.

    (Source: Project Hope)

    Campaign 2010: Democratic attorney general candidates favor death penalty study

    James Anderson and Giles Perkins are Democratic candidates for Alabama attorney general.

    The 2 candidates in the Democratic primary runoff for Alabama attorney general want a review of how the death penalty is administered and one is calling for a moratorium on executions.

    Birmingham attorney Giles Perkins said Thursday if elected he would ask the Legislature to approve a moratorium to make sure the death penalty is being administered fairly.

    His opponent in the July 13 runoff, Montgomery lawyer James Anderson, said he wants the attorney general's office to study the issue first. If problems are found, he said he would then favor a moratorium.

    Their positions on the death penalty assure there will be an issue dividing the Democratic runoff winner and Republican nominee Luther Strange.

    A Birmingham attorney, Strange said he supports the death penalty and would oppose a moratorium.

    (Source: The Associated Press)

  2. #2
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    Supreme Court rejects Alabama's appeal in murder-for-hire case over dissent of 3 justices

    The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Alabama to reinstate the death sentence for a man convicted of a $100 murder-for-hire more than 20 years ago.

    The court on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that set aside the death sentence for James Charles Lawhorn because of his lawyer's poor work in the penalty portion of the case.

    Three justices — Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — said they would have reversed the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The appeals court upheld Lawhorn's conviction for killing William Clarence Berry in 1988. Berry was the boyfriend of Lawhorn's aunt, who said she wanted Berry dead because she was scared of him.

    Earlier, a federal judge overturned Lawhorn's conviction, ruling that his confession had been obtained improperly.

    The case is Allen v. Lawhorn, 10-24.


  3. #3
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    Alabama ranks third nationally in executions

    Alabama ranked third nationally in executions conducted in 2010, while the nation overall continued to see fewer executions and death sentences, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

    Alabama's five executions in 2010 trailed only Texas, which had 17, and Ohio, which had eight. Alabama ranks fifth nationally in the number of executions since 2000, with 30, according to the Death Penalty Information Center's annual report.

    The state ranks 23rd in population, but Alabama remains among the top death penalty practitioners because it holds a unique place among the 35 states and two federal jurisdictions that allow it, said Richard Dieter, the center's executive director.

    Alabama allows less-than-unanimous death recommendations by juries, and it gives judges the power to override recommendations of life without parole and sentence a capital inmate to death, even when a majority of jurors voted for the lesser sentence.

    "The door is open in two ways," Dieter said. "That makes Alabama slower to respond to the growing public concern about the death penalty that we have been seeing as a national trend."

    Nationally in 2010, 46 condemned killers were put to death, mostly by lethal injection, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment and is a national clearinghouse on death penalty statistics.

    The 2010 rate is 12 percent lower than in 2009 and a drop of more than 50 percent from 1999, the peak year for modern executions, according to the Washington-based center.

    The 114 death sentences handed down in 2010 nationally were three more than in 2009, and the second-lowest number of capital sentences imposed in any year since modern death penalty laws were passed after 1972. It also was well below the national peak of death sentencings in the mid-1990s, when more than 320 murderers per year on average were condemned.

    "Whether it's concerns about the high costs of the death penalty at a time when budgets are being slashed, the risks of executing the innocent, unfairness or other reasons, the nation continued to move away from the death penalty in 2010," Dieter said.

    Three states have dropped the death penalty in the past three years, and abolition is set to be seriously debated in two other states in 2011, Dieter said.

    The modern era for capital punishment began in 1976. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the first state death penalty laws passed after the court struck down all capital statutes in effect nationwide in 1972.

    Alabama's 49 executions since 1976 ranks the state seventh nationally, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The state's Death Row population of 204 ranks fifth in the nation.

    Texas perennially leads the nation in executions, often putting more of its killers to death in a year than all other states combined. Texas has put to death 464 killers since 1976, which is 38 percent of the 1,234 conducted nationally in that period.

    "But even Texas is having fewer executions and death sentences," Dieter said. "It's a reflection of that national trend, although Texas has been slower to respond."

    Alabama's executions in 2010 were:

    Thomas Whisenhant, executed May 27 for the 1977 murder of Cheryl Lynn Payton in Theodore. Whisenhant also admitted killing Venora Hyatt and Patricia Hitt. Whisenhant was 63 when he was executed, after spending nearly 33 years on Death Row.

    John Parker, executed June 10 for the 1988 stabbing death of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett during a contract killing in Colbert County. He was 42 when he was executed, 21 years after he was sentenced to death.

    Michael Land, executed Aug. 12 for the 1992 kidnapping and shooting death of Candace Brown in Jefferson County. Land was 41 when he was executed and had been on Death Row for 16 years.

    Holly Wood, executed Sept. 9 for the 1993 shooting death of a former girlfriend, Ruby Lois Gosha. He was 50 when he was executed, nearly 16 years after the man with an IQ below 70 was sentenced to death in Pike County.

    Phillip Hallford, executed Nov. 4 for the 1986 murder of Eddie Shannon, the 16-year-old boyfriend of Hallford's 15-year-old daughter in Dale County. Hallford, 63, had been under a death sentence for 23 years.

    Alabama judges sentenced nine killers to death in 2010, including two for capital murders in Jefferson County and one in Shelby County.

    Of the 27 capital defendants whose cases were resolved in Jefferson County in 2010, four got capital convictions and sentences of either life without parole or death by lethal injection. The rest of the cases ended with convictions on lesser charges, acquittals or a dropped charge.

    The state's Death Row population is now 50 percent white and 49 percent black, with 1 percent listed as "other."

    Most condemned males are held at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, while the rest are at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer. The four condemned women are held at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.


  4. #4
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    WOW! With al.com coming out against the death penalty I am surprised 80% of the following comments they have posted in an article are pro death penalty!

    Commenters react to Alabama's third-place death penalty ranking

    Out of the 35 states that allow the practice, Alabama executed five people, adding to the national total of 46 executions for the year.

    The release of this information has prompted many al.com readers to share their opinions on the subject:

    "In it's simplest terms it is protecting society from those who would victimize said society, and personally, I can't see a single thing wrong with protecting society by killing threats, and as a flawed human, I'm also practical enough to understand that we will occasionally send an innocent to their death."-elmerthefirst

    "It is a fitting punishment for those guilty of atrocities against their fellow man. And once guilt is established, an appeal should only be granted if new, exculpative evidence or proof of prosecutorial malfeasance is presented. Absent that, on with justice, and quickly at that. I do believe that before someone is put to death, their guilt be as completely assured as humanly possible. Photographic, DNA, or one police officer or multiple civilian eyewitness accounts of the crime should be present. If you don't have any of that, then you cannot execute a thug with a clear conscience."- bamain09

    "I believe in an eye for an eye. The same should be done to the accused as was done to the victim, as for these thugs robbing they should be put on a work gang and made to work from daylight till dark,oh but we would be abusing their civil rights so let them lay around while people are out working and just let them keep on with the job of robbing people.This country has gotten too soft."- natashia

    "With DNA testing and other advanced techniques, it's unlikely nowadays that an innocent person would be executed. I'm all for the death penalty. I used to be opposed to it, but things change after you lose someone you love to a brutal murder. I think the victim's family should be able to administer the punishment, if they wish to."- songstress

    "Does the existence of a death penalty prevent murders? Only if killers (1) always act and think rationally, fully contemplating the many consequences of their actions, and (2) care whether they themselves live or die. I doubt enough killers meet both of these conditions to allow the death penalty to have much of a deterrent effect."- wineridger


  5. #5
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    Capital punishment remains fairly common in Alabama

    Recent studies have indicated that, while capital punishment may be in a decline nationally, it still continues to be fairly common in Alabama. The state ranked second behind Texas, with six executions in 2010, and third, behind Texas and Ohio, with five in 2010.

    There are currently 203 inmates on death row in Alabama, according to the state Department of Corrections. Of those, 97 are black males, one is a black female, 99 are white males, three are white females and three are males of other ethnicity.

    Talladega County juries have sent 12 people to Alabamas death row, and St. Clair County has sent seven. All of these are males. Five of the inmates from Talladega County are white, as are five of the seven from St. Clair County. The longest serving member of this group, William Ernest Kuenzel of Talladega, was convicted in 1988. The most recent addition, Brandon Michael Kelly of St. Clair County, was sentenced in November.

    The Alabama Department of Corrections keeps records of executions going back to 1927. The earliest record of an execution from Talladega County is for Cleveland Malone, a black man executed for rape in February 1931. William Hokes, a black man from St. Clair County, was put to death for murder five months later. Over the next 74 years, only one Talladegan (Julius Jackson, a black man convicted of murder in 1941) was executed and no one convicted in St. Clair County was put to death by the state.

    One St. Clair County convict, Mario Centobie, and two from Talladega, Jerry Paul Henderson and John W. Peoples, were all executed within five months of each other in 2005.

    Two other Talladega convicts, Shep Wilson and Danial Siebert, died on death row of natural causes. Wilson was awaiting a new trial and Siebert was waiting for an execution date.

    None of the Talladega or St. Clair inmates currently has an execution date, meaning all of them are sill somewhere in the appeals process. They are listed here in order of their conviction:

    William Ernest Billy Kuenzel, 49, who was convicted of killing Sylacauga convenience store clerk Linda Jean Offer by shooting her in the chest with a shotgun during a robbery in November 1987. Kuenzel says he is innocent.

    Ricky Dale Adkins, 45, who was convicted of killing Birmingham real estate agent Billie Dean Hamilton and dumping the body in St. Clair County. Adkins raped and kidnapped Hamilton before killing her by beating her with a wrench and stabling her; he stole her credit cards afterward. The killing was in January 1988, and Adkins was sentenced to die 11 months later.

    James Charles Lawhorn, 45, who accepted $50 from his aunt to kill her boyfriend, who she said she was afraid of. The aunt, Maxine Walker, was previously sentenced to death as well, but was retried and later sentenced to life in prison. Lawhorns death sentence (although not his conviction) was recently overturned, and there will have to be a new sentencing hearing sometime in the future.

    Colon Lavon Guthrie, 53, was convicted of killing Rayford Howard by shooting him with a sawed off shotgun while robbing Howards store in St. Clair County. The killing was in February 1988, but Guthrie was not convicted until 1996.

    Charles Randall Stewart, 56, broke into the home of his ex-wife and shot her to death in front of their 6-year-old son in July 1990. He was convicted and sentenced to death in December of that year.

    Mark Allen Jenkins, 43, was convicted of strangling Birmingham waitress Tammy Hoagland to death during the course of a kidnapping and robbery. Hoaglands body was recovered in St. Clair County in April 1989. Jenkins was sentenced to death in April 1991.

    Derrick Anthony Debruce, 40, and Charles Lee Burton, 55, both sentenced to death for killing Doug Battle during a robbery at the Talladega Auto Zone in August 1991. The victim was ordered to lie down on the floor and then shot in the back at close range. DeBruce pulled the trigger, but Burton planned the robbery. They were convicted in March and May 1992, respectively.

    Larry Donald George, 55, shot three people, including his wife, in February 1988. His wife was left paralyzed and the other two victims died. He was convicted in November 1994.

    Robert Shawn Ingram and Anthony Boyd, both 39, participated in kidnapping Gregory Huguley in Anniston in July 1993 to settle a drug debt. Huguley was driven to a ballpark in Munford where he was duct-taped to a park bench, soaked in gasoline and set on fire. Boyd claims that he held the victim during the kidnapping and helped tape him to the bench but had nothing to do with the murder. A third codefendant is serving life without parole, and a fourth is serving a life sentence after agreeing to testify against the other three. Boyd and Ingram were sentenced in May and June 1995, respectively.

    David Eugene Davis, 52, killed Kenneth Douglas and John Fikes with Douglass gun in June 1996. He had come to get the gun initially so he could kill his ex-wife, according to witnesses. After stealing several other weapons that he said he intended to sell for crack cocaine, Davis knocked over a kerosene heater and set the house on fire. He pleaded guilty in 1997 and was sentenced to death.

    Frederick D. Woods, 33, convicted of fatally shooting Roaul Rush Smith during a botched robbery in September 1996. He was sentenced to death a year later.

    Marcus Bernard Williams, 35, was convicted of strangling his neighbor Melanie Dawn Rowell while raping her in her bed at knife point in November 1996 in St. Clair County. Rowell had two small children sleeping in the next room. Williams was sentenced to death in April 1999.

    William A. Corky Snyder, 48, was convicted of beating Dixie Gaither and Carey Milton Gaither to death, then fatally shooting Nancy Burkhalter in August 1995. Several items from the home were found in Snyders residence or had been pawned by him. He was sentenced to death in April 2000. Snyder maintains that he is innocent.

    John Russell Cody Calhoun, 42, convicted of breaking into the home of Tracy Phillips, killing him and repeatedly raping and sodomizing Phillips wife. He was sentenced to death in September 2000 in Talladega County.

    Jimmy Lee Brooks, 31, was sentenced to death by a Talladega County jury only because the trial of his codefendant had drawn so much attention in Lee County, where it occurred. Brooks and his codefendant broke into a home, stole a safe, then killed the young boy that lived, slashed the fathers throat and dumped them both into a shallow grave. The father survived the attack and called the police. Brooks was sentenced to death in April 2004.

    Wakillii Brown, 35, killed his girlfriend, Cherae Jemison, and her mother, Dotty Jemison, by striking both women in the head multiple times with what appeared to be a hammer. The murders took place at the Sylacauga home where all three were living at the time, in early March 2001. Brown took the three children in the house and fled to Ohio in Cherae Jemisons car. He was arrested in Ohio without incident, and sentenced to death in May 2008.

    Brandon Michael Kelley, 30, convicted of strangling Emily Milling to death. Kelley confessed to disposing of the body, but said he was trying to purchase cocaine when Milling was killed. He was sentenced to death in November 2010.

    Alabama law defines a capital offense as an intentional murder with at least one aggravating circumstance. These aggravating circumstances include murders committed during a kidnapping, robbery, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, arson or burglary; murder of any on-duty law enforcement officer or corrections officer; a murder committed by someone already serving a life sentence; contract murder; murder through the use of explosives; the killing of two or more people by one act or in one course of conduct; killing of a current or former state or federal official related to his official capacity; murder committed while unlawfully attempting to take control of an aircraft; murder by a defendant with a previous murder conviction in the last 20 years; murder of a witness in any judicial proceeding to prevent that witness from testifying; and the murder of a child less than 14 years old. Murder by shooting into an occupied dwelling and shooting into or from a vehicle are also capital crimes, but due to a loophole in the criminal code, are not currently punishable by death.

    Following the arrest, a capital case generally proceeds the same way any other felony case does, until the jury has delivered a guilty verdict. Sentencing is normally at the sole discretion of the judge, but in a capital case, the jury must weigh the aggravating circumstances against any mitigating circumstances the defense might wish to put on. In the sentencing phase, the jurys recommendation does not have to be unanimous, but at least 10 out of the 12 must vote for the death penalty in order to make that recommendation to the judge.

    The judge is not bound by the jurys recommendation, however, and may still impose a sentence of death or life without parole as he sees fit.

    After conviction of a capital offense, according to a guide published by the state Attorney Generals Office, the case is automatically appealed to the state Court of Criminal Appeals. If the conviction and sentence are upheld, they may be appealed to the state Supreme Court and then the United States Supreme Court. These appeals are not automatic, and the higher courts do not have to hear them. This phase is referred to as the direct appeal. The direct appeal is limited to the issues brought up at trial.

    Once the direct appeals have been exhausted, the collateral, or Rule 32, appeal process begins.

    The Rule 32 appeal returns the defendant to the circuit court where he was convicted, and at this point issues that were not raised at trial, including issues of jurisdiction, assistance of counsel and new evidence that would not have been available at trial are shown. Evidence that was considered at trial or that reasonably could have been but was not, is not allowed in this phase of the appeal.

    Lawhorn was recently granted a new sentencing phase during his Rule 32 appeal.

    If the conviction and sentence are once again upheld in circuit court, then that ruling may also be appealed to the state Court of Criminal Appeals, the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Again, there are strict time limits, and the higher courts are not required to hear the appeal.

    After the Rule 32 appeals are exhausted and the conviction and death sentence still stand, the federal appeals begin. At this point, the convicted is arguing some violation of his constitutional rights. In Talladega and St. Clair counties, the first round of appeals would be heard at the U.S. District Court in Birmingham.

    If the District Court rules against the defendant, the next step is to appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court in Atlanta, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    At any phase of the appeals process, a higher court can strike down either the conviction or the sentence and order either a new trial or a new sentencing phase. Several of the defendants above have been convicted two or three times of the same offense. If they are convicted again, then the appeals process starts over.


  6. #6
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    Alabama's Death Sentencing and Execution Rates Continue to be Highest in the Country

    In the face of growing evidence about the unreliability of the death penalty, and in sharp contrast with the national trend again death sentences, Alabama continues to sentence more people to death per capita than any other state in the nation.

    Alabama has the highest death sentencing rate in the country. In 2010, more people were sentenced to death in Alabama than in Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Louisiana combined.

    The death sentencing rate in Alabama is nearly 6 times greater than in Texas. Last year, Alabama – with a population of 4.7 million – sentenced more people to death than Texas – with a population of 24.8 million.

    In addition to having the highest sentencing rate, Alabama executed more people per capita in 2010 than any other state in the country. Alabama executed 5 people last year.

    The latest data from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Death Penalty Information Center shows that Alabama continues to condemn and execute people at a disproportionately high rate even as other states continue to move away from capital punishment in favor of more effective and less expensive ways to improve public safety.

    Alabama is the only state in the country that permits judges, without limitation, to override a jury verdict of life without parole and impose a death sentence. More than 1/4 of Alabama's death row prisoners were condemned to death by an elected judge after the jury decided life was the appropriate sentence. In 2008, an election year, 30% of death sentences were imposed by judicial override of jury life verdicts.

    (Source: Fact Sheet: The Death Penalty in Alabama)

    (Source: The Equal Justice Initiative)

    Go Alabama!

  7. #7
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    Alabama Hands Over Execution Drug to Federal Authorities

    Alabama said Tuesday that it turned over its supplies of a drug used in executions to the Drug Enforcement Administration, becoming the latest state to face setbacks due to a nationwide shortage of the drug.

    Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky earlier relinquished their supplies of thiopental, used with other drugs to carry out lethal injections, amid claims from attorneys for death-row inmates that states acquired the drug in violation of federal import laws.

    A yearlong shortage of thiopental has delayed executions and prompted states to acquire foreign-made batches of the drug.

    Alabama also announced that due to the thiopental shortage it would now allow the use of the sedative pentobarbital, a drug used in animal euthanasia, for future executions.

    Alabama obtained a small amount of thiopental from Tennessee, but Alabama later "willingly" turned over that drug supply after it was contacted by the DEA, an Alabama prison spokesman said in a statement. The state didn't disclose when it handed over the drug or elaborate on the DEA's concerns.

    Alabama will "cooperate fully with federal authorities," the statement said. The Justice Department didn't return a call for comment.


  8. #8
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    Waiting to Die

    MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - There is no shortage of Mobile and Baldwin county prisoners awaiting execution.

    According to the Alabama Department of Corrections , out of the 202 inmates in state's 3 death rows, 6 are from Baldwin County and 14 are from Mobile County. That's roughly 10 percent of those on death row.

    They range from those who admit being cold blooded killers to those who insist they are innocent. But unless the courts intervene, all of their lives will end with a needle in their vein as a lethal cocktail of chemicals knocks them out then stops their heart. The list includes:

    * Jarrod Taylor was convicted of the execution-style slaying of 3 people at a used car dealership on Government Boulevard right before Christmas in 1997.
    * Garrett Dotch, who in 2006, ambushed his former girlfriend outside the sandwich shop where she worked on Old Shell Road.
    * Donald Deardorff, who was convicted of the murder of Eastern Shore minister Ted Turner. Before his sentencing, Deardorff told the court, "Bring the death penalty. It doesn’t scare me. It's what the state wants, so bring the death penalty". Deardorff has been sitting on Death Row for 10 years.
    * Calvin Stallworth was convicted of killing 2 Baldwin County convenience store clerks in December, 1997.
    * Former Alabama State Trooper George Martin is still fighting his conviction. He was found guilty of killing his wife Hammoketh, whose body was found in a burned out car in 1995.

    The case of Jeremy Jones was in the news for months. The self-professed serial killer was sentenced to die for raping and killing Lisa Nichols inside her Turnerville home. At Jones’ sentencing, he told Judge Charles Graddick that his attorneys wanted him to beg for mercy, but he said, "I don't know how to do that, and I'm not going to do that." He also threatened the judge saying, "If you put me to death then you too shall be put to death yourself."

    And there was Lam Luong, who faces death for throwing his 4 children off the Dauphin Island Bridge. Judge Graddick also heard that case, and ordered that Luong be shown pictures of his children, every day, until the day he dies. Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, Jr, told Fox 10 News, “I had not anticipated that. But the court was so moved by the facts of this case and those pictures are now law in this case."

    Timothy Jones, who was sent to death row for the murders of his parents in Monroeville, is no longer there. He killed himself 4 years ago.

    Gerald Patrick Lewis, sentenced to death for the murder of a Baldwin County woman, died on Alabama's death row in 2009.

    There was also Samuel Ivery, who told our cameras, “I'm the sweetest, kindest, most caring person you'll ever meet in life or in all eternity, even though I killed three people”. Ivery, who beheaded a gas station attendant in 1994 and claimed that God told him to come to Mobile to kill her, committed suicide before he had a chance to be executed.


  9. #9
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    The Hanging Judges of Alabama

    The ACLU's Blog of Rights highlights a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) documenting a pattern in which elected Alabama judges sentence black defendants to death, overriding jury verdicts, in cases where the victim was white:

    Of the 34 death penalty states in the U.S., only three states allow judge override at all: Alabama, Delaware, and Florida. But Alabama is the only state where the practice continues without any meaningful oversight ... Of these three states, Alabama is also the only one with partisan judicial elections, and overrides often occur with increasing frequency during election cycles ...

    One of the most disturbing findings in EJI's report is that race appears to play a significant role in the override system. Three-fourths of Alabama life-to-death override cases ... occurred when the victim was white, even though the majority of homicide victims in Alabama are African-American.

    The ACLU is challenging the practice indirectly in Spradley v. State of Alabama.

  10. #10
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    Mobile DA Ashley Rich wins award for death penalty prosecutions

    MOBILE, Alabama -- Mobile County District Attorney Ashley this week was presented with a national award for her prosecution in three recent death penalty cases.

    The Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation selected Rich as one of seven recipients for its "Best of the Best" award during a conference in New Orleans this week.

    Ward Campbell, supervising deputy attorney general in California who presented the award, said Rich was being commended for "the amount of time and effort she put into those cases" and "her commitment to the victims and the victims' families in those cases."

    The three cases are:

    Derrick Shawn Penn, who was sentenced to death this year for shooting to death his estranged wife, Janet Penn, and her boyfriend, Demetrius Powe, inside her Birdville home while her daughter was inside.

    Donald Whatley, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for killing Pete Patel, a downtown motel owner. Whatley choked, beat and ran over Patel, 34, with a car

    Garrett Dotch, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for shooting death girlfriend Timarla Taldon outside a Subway sandwich shop in west mobile where she worked

    "It was a huge honor to receive this award," Rich said today. "I'm proud that my work in fighting for justice for these victims has made such an impact on my fellow colleagues across the United States who also try capital cases."

    The association has 150 organization and individual members, including prosecutors' offices across the country.


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