An Army Court of Criminal Appeals has vacated the death sentence of William Kreutzer, a Fort Bragg soldier who was sent to the military’s death row for killing a fellow soldier and wounding others in 1995. The Court cited a number of grounds for the ruling that opens the door for rehearings on some charges and the sentence. For example, Kreutzer’s attorneys failed to adequately explain the significance of their client’s mental health problems for the panel that determined his guilt and sentence. In the ruling, Col. James S. Currie noted, “Appellant’s
According to District Attorney Tom Keith, death sentences in North Carolina have dramatically declined because jurors are increasingly skeptical of the justice system. Last year, 6 people were sent to North Carolina’s death row, far less than the 26 who were given death sentences in 1999. Keith, who is moving resources away from death penalty cases and to aggressively targeting gun criminals before they kill, believes that a number of high-profile wrongful convictions and DNA exonerations have contributed to the trend
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) has released its latest Death Row USA report. Data from this and previous reports for 2003 show that there were 143 new death sentences in the United States in 2003, the fewest number since 1977 and about 50% fewer than the annual new sentences in the late 1990s, which averaged about 300 per year. According to LDF, 3,503 people were on death row in the United States as of January 1, 2004, a decrease from the 3,697 reported on October 1, 2002. Of those 1.4% are
Mexican President Vicente Fox has urged the United States to halt the execution of Osvaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national who is scheduled to die in Oklahoma on May 18th. Oklahoma set the execution date despite a 2003 ruling by the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, that called for staying Torres’s execution and the execution of two other foreign nationals in Texas until the Court could further review the case. The allegation before the world court is that Torres and more than 50 other Mexican prisoners
Florida Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), a long-time death penalty supporter, is asking his legislative colleagues to support a bill to bar the juvenile death penalty in Florida. “In my heart and soul I believe it’s the right thing to do. There is a certain essence of juveniles that make them different,” said Crist. Research supports that notion. David Fassler, a Vermont psychiatrist who helped the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry draft its policy against capital punishment for juveniles stated, “[L]aws raising the
Steven Manning, a former Chicago police officer who was exonerated from Illinois' death row in 2000 but remained in a Missouri prison on another charge, has been freed after Missouri prosecutors dropped all charges against him. In January 2000, 7 years after he was sentenced to death in Illinois, a judge threw out Manning’s death sentence and conviction because the state used inadmissible testimony to secure his conviction. Cook County prosecutors later dismissed their case against Manning because the
In its review of death penalty expenses, the State of Kansas concluded that capital cases are 70% more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases. The study counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1.26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost. The
West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, has told state lawmakers that resources devoted to the death penalty would be better spent elsewhere. He noted, "It is a practical issue. We have a death penalty law on the books, but we haven't executed anyone since 1960, and it doesn't look like anyone will be executed. The process is long, labor intensive and expensive. Now, any money we've put into death penalty cases has really been wasted." Strillacci
Governors Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming have signed into state law bipartisan legislation banning the execution of those who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes. Of the 38 death penalty states, 19 forbid the death penalty for juveniles. The federal government also forbids the practice. Twelve additional states do not allow the death penalty at all. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty this fall when it hears arguments in Roper v. Simmons.
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent reversal of Delma Banks' death sentence in Texas because of prosecutorial misconduct, the Dallas Morning News has called for a halt to executions while state officials review serious problems in the system:
It's hard to imagine a clearer message. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision lifting Texas inmate Delma Banks' death sentence paints as bright a line as jurists paint. The governor, Texas legislators and law enforcement officials should absorb the ruling and change the state's ways.