U.S. MILITARY: Latest Sentence Reversal Follows Trend of Rarely Using Death Penalty

The U.S. Military has not carried out an execution of a service member for 50 years. Of the 11 military death sentences that have completed direct appeal, 9 (82%) have been reversed.  On August 22, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the death sentence of former Lance Corporal Kenneth G. Parker, the only Marine on the military's death row. The court also overturned one of Parker’s two murder convictions after finding that his guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Judge J.A. Maksym, while condemning Parker's actions, said, “We have upset aspects of this verdict and will set aside the death penalty due to numerous and substantive procedural and legal failures at trial.”  Parker is now facing a life sentence without parole at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Parker's co-defendant, Wade Walker, had also been sentenced to death but had his sentence reduced to life earlier.  Since 1984, 11 out of 16 military death sentences have been overturned. The last military execution occurred in 1961.

(M. Doyle, "Marine's death sentence overturned on appeal," McClatchy Newspapers in the Kansas City Star, August 23, 2012).  See U.S. Military.