Federal District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein said recently that seeking the death penalty against Humberto Pepin Taveras in New York is not worth the effort of prosecutors or taxpayers’ money. “Based on the history of cases tried in metropolitan New York, the chance of Pepin receiving the death penalty is virtually nil,” Weinstein said. The case against Taveras, who confessed to murdering two drug traffickers in the 1990s while already serving more than 12 years in prison for other crimes, has already cost over $750,000 in defense costs, and Judge Weinstein expects that number to increase. There has only been one death sentence recommended by a federal jury in New York since the federal death penalty was reenacted in 1988 (Ronell Wilson in 2007).

Taveras’ defense attorneys responded to Judge Weinstein’s suggestion and intend to petition the Department of Justice prior to the May 12 trial date asking DOJ not to seek the death penalty if Taveras pleads guilty to the murder charges. If they succeed, Taveras will serve life in prison.

Defense attorney Lou Freeman said, “We applaud the judge’s decision as fair and common sense-based.” The U.S. Attorney did not respond, but his office is seeking the federal death penalty in six cases in that same district.
(“Judge: Death penalty in drug case not worth pursuing,” by Anthony Destefano, Newsday.com, March 1, 2008). See New Voices and Costs.