85 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Attorneys from the U.S.A II



“Obviously the death penalty has been with us since the dawn of man. Sometimes it’s called war.”

THE SHOOTING OF RICARDO THOMAS WAS AN ordinary murder. Something similar happens more than once a day in Philadelphia. And as the case wound its way through the various steps of the prosecution, District Attorney Abraham treated it in the usual way -- seeking the death penalty, as she does in all murders like this one. "It was cold-bloodedly going from one person to another, planned for when the victims were the most defenceless," she says.

 

Where others might see gray, Abraham does not: "When it comes to the death penalty, I am passionate. I truly believe it is manifestly correct." She considers it the appropriate response to horrible crime, and the right thing to do for the families of murder victims.

 

"I don't care how many millions it costs, given the billions wasted every year in large cities. Please don't tell me about cost when talking about the rights of the victim. It's of no interest to me. It's not even a consideration. Whatever it costs is worth it."

 

"I've looked at all those sentenced to be executed. No one will shed a tear. Prison is too good for them. They don't deserve to live. I represent the victim and the family. I don't care about killers. All of our cases now are multiple gunshot executions, houses set on fire and six children burned to death. This is Bosnia."

“The defense did the greatest job of conning the public and the press," District Attorney Lynne Abraham said. "I think it was sad after 14 years that they had so little to muster."

Abraham was dismissive of the writers and activists from around the country and the world who had termed Abu-Jamal a political prisoner. "They are hypocrites and hucksters," she said. "They don't know a thing about this case."

Lead defense attorney Leonard Weinglass said he wasn't surprised by Sabo's decision.

Lynne Abraham (born 1941) served as the District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia from May 1991 to January 2010. She was the first woman to serve as Philadelphia's District Attorney. Abraham won election to that position four times. As District Attorney, she oversaw the largest district attorney's office in Pennsylvania. The office prosecutes approximately 75,000 cases every year and is the largest appellate litigator in the Commonwealth. Abraham oversaw a professional staff of 300 assistant district attorneys and 275 support staff. Lynne Abraham was born and raised in Philadelphia and educated in its public schools. She studied at Temple University for her undergraduate degree and also received her Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law. She was married to Frank Ford until his death in March 2009. Abraham is a former assistant DA. She served as a legislative consultant for the City Council of Philadelphia, where she assisted council in conducting investigations, drafted legislation, testified at public hearings, met with citizens' groups and revised portions of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. She served as the head of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority during the administration of Mayor Frank Rizzo. She was elected Judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court in 1977, then was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in 1980, where she presided over criminal trials until she became District Attorney in 1991. Abraham was elected by her fellow judges to take over as District Attorney in 1991 when then-DA Ron Castille, now on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, stepped down from the post in order to run for mayor. As an incumbent, Abraham was elected to a four-year term in 1993. She was re-elected three more times; in 1997 (defeating challengers Jack McMahon and Leon Williams), 2001 (defeating challengers Alexander Talmadge and Leon Williams) and 2005 (defeating challenger Seth Williams, who would succeed her as District Attorney five years later). In September 2006, she announced that she would not seek re-election in 2009. She held the office of District Attorney longer than anyone in Philadelphia history. Abraham earned the nicknames "Deadliest DA" and "Queen of Death" many years ago, for the high rate at which her office sought the death penalty in past decades. In the 2004 presidential election, she served as one of Pennsylvania's electors, casting her ballot for John Kerry. In the 2008 election, she cast her electoral ballot for Barack Obama.

"It is a travesty that Reginald Brooks has lived so long on death row after cruelly shooting his three boys to death," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said in a statement after the Eighth District decision. "Justice demands that Brooks' execution go forward tomorrow."

 

Bill Mason A.K.A William D. Mason (born: 1959) is the prosecutor Cuyahoga County, Ohio. He took office in 1999, succeeding Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Mason was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.

“My goal was to make Oklahoma County the safest county in the country,” Macy said when he retired in 2001. “We have done that.”

“I don’t take any joy in the execution of a person. But I know when that happens, two things are going to happen: He isn’t going to kill anyone else and … (it) is a deterrent,” he said.

Robert Macy, District Attorney of Oklahoma City, described his concept of the need for retribution in one case: "In 1991, a young mother was rendered helpless and made to watch as her baby was executed. The mother was then mutilated and killed. The killer should not lie in some prison with three meals a day, clean sheets, cable TV, family visits and endless appeals. For justice to prevail, some killers just need to die."

Bob Macy was a Democrat who spent 21 years as Oklahoma County's top prosecutor. He charmed voters, easily winning re-elections by large margins. He was unopposed in his last election, in 1998. Born July 5, 1930, in Indianapolis, Robert H. Macy was the son of a truck driver. Gov. George Nigh appointed him in 1980 to take over for District Attorney, Andy Coats, who left to run for U.S. Senate. He worked as a police officer in Oklahoma City to put himself through law school at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated there with his law degree in 1961. Even as a prosecutor, he frequently still went to crime scenes and was one of the first to go into the Edmond post office after the 1986 massacre there. He spent four days and nights at the bomb site after the 1995 attack on the Oklahoma City Federal building. Macy denied that he ever acted unethically and usually dismissed criticism as coming from death penalty foes. Macy resigned in 2001 for health reasons. He suffered for years from dementia. He kept count on how many he put on death row - 54 at the end. Not all of the convictions were upheld, though, and critics of Macy included appellate judges.He died on Friday 18 November 2011 at his home in Newalla following a lengthy illness.

It must be remembered that criminal law does not function in a vacuum, and that it cannot ignore the human beings with whom it has to deal. There seems to be an instinctive feeling in most ordinary men that a person who has done an injury to others should be punished for it… It has, therefore, been pointed out that if the criminal law refuses to recognize retributive punishment then there is a danger, to my mind, is that without a sense of retribution we may lose our sense of wrong. Retribution in punishment is an expression of the community’s disapproval of crime, and if this retribution is not given recognition then the disapproval may also disappear. A community which is too ready to forgive the wrongdoer may end by condoning the crime. [English Law and the Moral Law (London: Stevens & Sons, 1953), pp. 92-93]

Arthur Lehman Goodhart , KBE, KC (1 March 1891, New York City – 10 November 1978, Oxford) was an American-born British academic jurist and lawyer; he was professor of jurisprudence, University of Oxford, 1931–51, when he was also a Fellow of University College, Oxford. He was the first American to be the Master of an Oxford college, University College and was a significant benefactor to the College.

Hancock County State's Attorney Jim Drozdz helped prosecute Ramsey during his second trial in the summer of 2007. The Illinois Supreme Court recently rejected Ramsey's appeal of the conviction and death penalty sentence.

"I believe there are certain cases that cry out for the imposition of the death penalty, and Daniel Ramsey is a poster child for the death penalty," Drozdz said. "It's a powerful tool and it certainly provides the prosecutor with lots of options. It's not one to be used without a lot of careful deliberation. But given the right case, and Ramsey was the right case, there should be in certain situations the most serious form of punishment."

 

Jim Drozdz born Chicago, Illinois, 1960; admitted to practice Illinois, 1992; U.S. Supreme Court, 1999. Education: Western Illinois University (B.S. 1981, M.A. 1990); Southern Illinois University School of Law (J.D. 1992); The University of Iowa (Ph.D. 2004). Attended the Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the National Advocacy Center. Past Fellow of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (1997-1998). Adjunct Instructor in the School of Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice at Western Illinois University (1995-1997; 2005-present). Previously employed by the Illinois State Police (1983-2004) and attained rank of master sergeant. Professional Organizations: Hancock County Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association. Community Organizations: Kiwanis Club (Immediate Past President 2010-2011), Lions Club, Sportmen's Club(Dallas City)and Hamilton Fire Department. Parishioner: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (Vice-President Parish Council 2010). Religious Organization: Knights of Columbus (1st Degree/Vice-President). Other Licenses/Certifications: Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic, Certified Firefighter II, and Lead Instructor. He is currently Hancock County’s State Attorney.

Saturday 28 April 2012 - Yet Lieberstein opposes the measure to abolish the death penalty. One reason is that the measure is retroactive, he said. The initiative, if successful, he said, “would reopen the scars of scores on crime victims families across our state without them having a word to say about it with the exception of their personal vote at the ballot box.”

“It is truly cruel and unusual punishment for each of them who have sat through lengthy jury trials, sentencing and appeals only to have their vivid memories re-ignited by this initiative,” Lieberstein said.

Eric Matthew Copple was the last defendant in Napa County who was eligible for the death penalty for killing two women in their West Napa home in 2006. He was sentenced in 2007 to life without the possibility of parole.

“In my opinion, Copple was a cold-blooded murderer who deserved to die for his crimes,” Lieberstein said. “Having said that, life without the possibility of parole, the sentence he offered to plead to and was convicted of, was the appropriate and just sentence in this case for a number of reasons. Most importantly it was within the ultimate wishes of both of the victims' families who did not want to be dragged through trial and then through decades of appeals.”

Gary Lieberstein is the Napa County District Attorney in California.

Every year across the state in North Carolina, 10 death penalty cases on average are brought to trial.

Next year, Mecklenburg prosecutors plan to put three men on trial for their lives, signaling a more aggressive strategy to deal with the most heinous crimes. It's a significant change. In the last decade Mecklenburg has tried just four capital murder cases.

"Our goal is to obtain closure for the victims' families and reduce the murder case backlog," said Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray. [Monday 11 July 2011]

Prosecutors have already begun scheduling multiple murder trials each month, expecting that some will fall through. Sometimes cases are postponed; other times defendants plead guilty prior to trial. The tactic ensures prosecutors will have at least one defendant to put on trial.

"By scheduling several cases at the same time, we'll be able to obtain justice in the most heinous of crimes even if unforeseen events prevent the trial of any single case," Murray said.

R. Andrew Murray was sworn as the elected District Attorney for the 26th Prosecutorial District of North Carolina on 1 January 2011. The 26th District includes all of Mecklenburg County, including the municipalities of Charlotte, Mint Hill, Matthews, Pineville, Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson. A senior attorney with 18 years of practice in Mecklenburg County, Andrew has substantial knowledge and experience in criminal law. In 1992 Andrew began his law career in the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office where he served as an Assistant District Attorney for four years. Serving in a variety of positions and on several special prosecution teams within the District Attorney's Office provided Andrew with a breadth of knowledge and insights on the complexities of the office.

"It seems to me that what the legislators should be thinking about in Sacramento is how to reduce the budget in other areas -- not to release hardened criminals out on the streets; not to eliminate the death penalty," he contends. "The death penalty is something that would be a deterrent to folks [and] prevent them from committing crimes [or] participating in crimes. It's something that we see too much here in California." [Monday 18 July 2011]

 

The former prosecutor's statements to the Los Angeles Times are her first on the topic, and Robert Tyler of Advocates for Faith & Freedom believes they echo the growing distaste for the death penalty in The Golden State.

"It is a very expensive method of punishment; however, it is also an effective method," he weighs. "Certainly for individuals who recognize the possibility of facing death, that will be a deterrent."

Robert Tyler is the Advocates for Faith & Freedom general counsel.

On Wednesday 20 July 2011, District Attorney Julia Slater has decided to seek the death penalty against Ricardo J. Strozier, the Columbus man charged last year in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Heath Jackson.

The case marks the first time in Slater’s two-and-a-half years in office that she has sought capital punishment in a case indicted on her watch. During a brief news conference Tuesday afternoon, Slater declined to discuss the specifics of her decision, saying “it is impossible to compare one murder to another.”

The decision was reached sometime “in the last few months,” Slater said, after prosecutors received Jackson’s autopsy report. Slater cited three aggravating circumstances in the case -- the shooting allegedly happened during a robbery -- which are statutorily required in order to seek capital punishment, and stressed that she had the unwavering support of Jackson’s family members.

Jackson, a local radio personality, was killed Sept. 7 2010 after he walked in on an intruder in his residence. His homicide was one of four fatal shootings that happened over five days around Labor Day weekend.

Prosecutors said Strozier broke into the Carter Avenue home and robbed and shot Jackson twice with a .38-caliber revolver -- once in the lower back and once in the back of the neck. Jackson ran outside of the residence and collapsed in his driveway. Strozier allegedly fled the scene but was arrested the next day. Witnesses reported seeing a black man with shoulder-length dreadlocks in the area, and Strozier later was identified as a suspect in other burglaries in the area.

Slater’s announcement came shortly after a Muscogee County grand jury indicted Strozier on a raft of charges stemming from three separate incidents, including murder, armed robbery aggravated battery and burglary. A 10-count indictment also accused Strozier in an armed robbery and a burglary on 15th Avenue and a burglary on Virginia Street -- not far from Jackson’s residence.

“The decision to seek the death penalty is a case-by-case decision,” Slater said, adding she weighed the circumstances of Jackson’s death, the evidence collected by investigators and the results of “research into Strozier’s background.”

“Each murder case is considered and prosecuted separately on its merits,” she added.

Julia Slater is the District Attorney for Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit in Columbus, Georgia. Since taking office in January 2009 as a Democrat, Slater has handled her share of high-profile and heinous cases. But before Tuesday 19 July 2011, she had not sought the death penalty in a single case, though critics have pointed to a few cases she passed on that would have passed statutory and political muster. (Slater points out, however, that she is vigorously pursuing the execution of Carlton Gary, the so-called Stocking Strangler -- sent to death row long before Slater took office -- who is fighting for a new trial based on the results of DNA testing.) Slater did not seek capital punishment in the case of Michael Curry, the man convicted this year of murdering his family with a bush ax, one of the most heinous local crimes in recent memory. Charles Johnston, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to killing three people in a shooting spree at Doctors Hospital, where he blamed a nurse for his mother’s 2004 death. He’s serving three consecutive life sentences. In an interview this year, Slater told the Ledger-Enquirer that she hadn’t yet sought the death penalty because she had not “found a case that I thought was appropriate for that.” She acknowledged that neither she nor anyone on her staff has tried a capital case. Slater said Tuesday she will try the case with Kelly but also mentioned the possibility that her office could be aided by “other attorneys,” perhaps from the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, as the case continues. http://www.columbusga.org/District_Attorney/

They also said abolishing the death penalty is too important an issue to rush through the General Assembly during the closing hours of the veto session.

"Why are we here now?" asked Lyons. "We can only assume it's because you do not want to hear from persons opposed to this bill. That's why it comes up in the veto session, and that is offensive to victims. Prosecutors are accused all of the time of rushing to judgment. That's what's happening here."

Kevin Lyons was born in Peoria, Illinois. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence law degree in 1981 from Drake University Law School where he served as clerk to the Attorney General of Iowa, writing appellate briefs for the Iowa Supreme Court. He was engaged in private practice and served as assistant public defender until 1988, when he was elected Peoria County State’s Attorney. He has been re-elected in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. He has served as a village board member and for ten years served as a member and school board president of District #265. He has served as chairman of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Committee on Prisons and is past chair of the ISBA Criminal Justice Council. He is past president of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and is a member of the Board of Governors of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor. He serves as the Illinois delegate on the Board of Directors for the National District Attorney’s Association. He is the president of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation, the nation’s largest group of death penalty prosecutors. The Peoria County State’s Attorney prosecutes criminal defendants and represents all elected county officers in civil, labor and administrative matters, including the Sheriff, Coroner, Treasurer, Clerk, County Administrator and Peoria County Board and addresses matters of dispute related to the County’s 900 employees. State’s Attorney Lyons is a frequent lecturer throughout the country for the National College of District Attorneys and the National District Attorney’s Association. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois, the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals. Kevin Lyons is a member of the Peoria County and Illinois State Bar Associations, and the American Bar Association.

Commission member and Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams told the Concord Monitor that a reason to retain the death penalty is the limitation of the law.

He described New Hampshire's statutes as "much more protective" than those in other death penalty states.

Reams also said he believes the death penalty has a deterrent effect, referring to a story the commission heard from Peter Heed, the Cheshire County attorney. According to Reams, Heed told the commission that when he was a criminal defense lawyer, a client said he didn't kill a police officer because he knew he could face the death penalty.

"There's a police officer probably alive today who doesn't even know he was saved by the fact that we had a death penalty," Reams said.

 

Support for death penalty is strong

Thursday 06 January 2011

The anti-death penalty coalition asserts time and time again that public support for the death penalty in America and the world is declining. In fact, there is no indication that public support is waning. When faced with an actual execution, the public has overwhelmingly supported the application of the death penalty. The proof? Public opinion polls following the execution of Timothy McVeigh for blowing up more than 160 men, women and children in a terrorist act in Oklahoma showed an over 80 percent approval rating for the execution. Further proof? If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 was to be executed, the approval ratings for that execution would be at least as high as the McVeigh figures.

 

Support for death penalty is strong

Thursday 06 January 2011

Complicated math

The anti-death penalty lobby also asserts that the death penalty is too expensive to administer. The figures presented to the commission by the Judicial Council, the attorney general's office and the courts were valid attempts to comply with commission requests but were hampered by complications that undermined an accurate understanding of the costs of the recent capital murder trials and the expected costs of substituting life-without-parole sentences for the death penalty in cases of capital murder.

For example, the attorney general's office is challenged when providing figures about the costs of litigating the two recent death penalty cases. In the Brooks case, the defendant was a retired multi-millionaire with virtually unlimited resources to pour into his defense. It was also complicated by the fact that multiple trips had to be made to Las Vegas, the defendant's home, to interview, depose and prepare witness for both the guilt phase and the penalty phase of the trial.

In State v. Addison, the attorney general's office assisted the Hillsborough County attorney in the preparation and trial of the underlying armed robberies cases, which became factors in the death penalty case. In a bid to be entirely transparent and complete, the attorney general included all costs associated with Addison case. Thus, the Addison figures overstate the actual costs of the death penalty trial.

The costs of incarceration for life in prison are equally challenged because of the limited information available. The Department of Corrections indicated the average length of incarceration of an inmate serving a life without parole sentence is 16.4 years. If the costs of incarceration of inmates are averaged across the system, the cost comes to approximately $33,100 per year. The costs associated with housing inmates in the Secured Housing Unit, where Michael Addison is housed, are higher because of the nature of confinement and the increased security in that unit.

Support for death penalty is strong

Thursday 06 January 2011

Skewed formula

Additionally, when talking about costs, the Department of Corrections uses an average cost of housing an inmate in New Hampshire prisons, which takes the total costs of the system and divides those costs by the number of inmates. This method skews the actual costs of life sentences downward. Clearly, it is more expensive to house an inmate sentenced to life without parole than an inmate serving three to six years, the average sentence in the state prison.

It is axiomatic that the prisoners who are serving life without parole have much higher total costs, such as medical costs associated with geriatric care, medical care for chronic health issues and end-of-life care. It is well documented that most Americans spend most of their lifetime health-care dollars during their end-of-life phase. There is no reason to doubt that the lifetime costs of average life-without-parole sentences will be higher than average costs of persons serving shorter sentences.

Since there is little data about the real cost of a life-without-parole sentence, the commission reached only general conclusions based upon general facts about end-of-life issues. Faced with lower that actual incarceration costs and higher than average prosecution costs, the commission settled for the proposition that while the cost of death penalty prosecutions is higher, no realistic precise figures could be ascertained.

James M. Reams became the county attorney in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, in 1998. He heads an office of 19 attorneys who prosecute felonies and who serve as counsel in three district courts in Rockingham County. He has oversight responsibility for the police departments in 37 towns. Reams describes his jurisdiction as “wealthy and rural, but moving toward suburban.” With a population of approximately 300,000, it is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.

Monday 7 May 2012 - Describing Kenneth Lynch as a “parasitic leech” and a “ticking time-bomb getting meaner by the day,” 11th Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers asked a judge Monday to sentence him to death by lethal injection for the 2006 murders of a 53-year-old grandmother and her young granddaughter.

“He even stole the baby’s money,” Myers told Judge Eugene Griffith in his 23-minute closing argument during the trial’s penalty phase at Lexington County’s Westbrook courthouse. Trial testimony last month indicated Lynch raided the doll-bank of Angelica Livingston, a 7-year-old second-grader, around the time he killed her.

Griffith is trying the case without a jury, at Lynch’s request, and will be considering a sentence today.

Mocking Monday’s defense efforts to show Lynch’s human side, Myers — a veteran of dozens of death penalty trials known for channeling victims’ suffering and outrage — stepped to the side of the courtroom and uncovered a large white piece of paper.

On it, in foot-high, blood-red capital letters was written the word “EVIL.” Then Myers picked up a photograph of Lynch and taped it on the paper.

“Evil has a face to go with it — and this is it,” shouted Myers, sarcastically calling Lynch “killin’ Kenny.”

Under state law, the death penalty is reserved for murders with certain aggravating circumstances. This case met three qualifications: two or more people were killed, the death of a child and killing during a grand larceny.

To stress the legal as well as emotional grounds for giving the death penalty, Myers stressed the apparent brutality of the young girl’s killing, Lynch’s lies about the crime, and his refusal to say what happened to the bodies.

Holding up a photo of a green chair in Washington’s apartment under which Livingston’s blood was found, Myers said, “That’s where she came to her end — right there ... A battle! A fight for life with a man too big and a child too small, a body too weak, and a body (Lynch’s) too strong. ... A heart filled with murderous intent, snuffing the life out of that baby.”

Myers reminded the judge how unrepentant Lynch has been.

“Somewhere, there’s a 53-year-old woman’s body, a 7-year-old’s body, whose location is known only to an evil murderer,” said Myers, his voice rising to a loud growl.

“Where’s the mercy here?” said Myers. “Show mercy to those who give mercy. Deny mercy to those who are merciless ... The death penalty itself screams out for this case.”

Donnie Myers is the 11th Circuit Solicitor from Lexington County.

"We can specifically deter such criminals with the threat of death."

 

Gregg Bernstein (born 9 July 1955) is Baltimore City state's attorney. As a former federal prosecutor and partner at a major law firm, Gregg has the extensive trial and management experience needed to make Baltimore a Safer City. http://greggbernstein.org/bio.html

Deputy District Attorney Edward McCann, a city homicide prosecutor for more than 25 years, said he thought "there is still significant support for capital punishment."

Nevertheless, McCann said he believed his office now sought death in far fewer cases - well below 10 percent of the 300 to 400 murder cases seen each year.

And, he added, that's proper: "It should be reserved for those crimes where you have strong evidence and the defendant is the worst of the worst. I think it should be difficult."

 

 

Edward F. McCann, Jr., Esq. is the Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney. Mr. McCann has been a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office since 1989, and is currently serving as Chief of the Homicide Unit. In this position, Mr. McCann is responsible for supervising 19 attorneys and for overseeing the investigations and approving charges in all homicide cases. He has been a frequent lecturer on trial advocacy, mental health defenses, and other issues for the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association, the National District Attorney’s Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Mr. McCann graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications in 1985. He received his law degree from Temple University in 1989.

Oakland is neither a pro police nor a pro law-and-order town.  More to the point, Oakland is not a death penalty friendly jurisdiction.  Let me make a disclaimer.  I don’t like the death penalty, but reality teaches some harsh lessons.  As Public Defender, I worked hard to prevent any of my clients from going to death row.  But that makes my point.  They didn’t want to go. Thirty years of experience, of confidential interviews with thousands of criminals is a great reality check.  As a realist, I now support the death penalty for certain murders, especially for the criminals who have gotten used to prison life, because the credible threat of that ultimate punishment saves innocent lives. [30 November 2002]

Death penalty opponents usually talk about crimes of passion, pointing out that the jealous husband was too filled with rage to give a thought to penalty, or on the homicidal maniac who is on a suicidal run.  This is all beside the point.  Whole other categories of criminals are deterred.  Think of those carjackings where the victim is in the trunk.  Some are shot, others not. Of course some criminals think of the consequences. Very few look forward to death row, let alone the “green room.”  Most criminals who don’t kill don’t want to be executed.  It really is that simple. [30 November 2002]

The death penalty deters that entire class of murders where there is a moment to reflect before killing.  This includes most drug dealer turf shootings, gang warfare, witness killings, robbery murders, and so on.  The dirty little secret is that most murders committed in the city of Oakland could be deterred as long as two conditions are met: (1) the arrest risk must reach a more credible level; (2) there must be a genuine prospect of the death penalty for the convicted.  The problem remains that, under current law, some Oakland murders aren’t death penalty eligible because “special circumstances” can’t be proved.  Witness killings, killings while “lying in wait,” and killings in the course of listed felonies are special circumstance murders eligible for the death penalty.  I would advocate adding a new one: any first degree murder by someone who has spent time in state prison.  The list of special circumstances seems to grow every time the legislature meets; this legislative change is needed for Oakland. Our governor is a death penalty supporter and our Supreme Court long ago found it constitutional. The City of Oakland should support this legislation; declare zero tolerance for killings; and ask the prosecutor to seek the death penalty in every Oakland case whenever legally appropriate. [30 November 2002]

Despite all the pressures on them, only a comparatively handful out of these thousands actually pick up a gun and blow away a fellow human being.  Remember: when we deter a potential killer, we help several people, the would-be killer among them.  Being tough on murder is ultimately a humane stance.  In fact, not all murder convicts need be ultimately executed for the penalty to be an effective deterrent, since the alternative is life without parole.  The strong message is the key: That Oakland is fed up with murder; that enough is enough; that if you take a life in “Oaktown”, you may forfeit your own. [30 November 2002]

Jay B Gaskill is a California attorney who served as the Alameda County Public Defender (headquartered in Oakland, CA) before he left his life of crime to devote full time to writing and consulting.

Lawton said the lengthy nature of the case has helped rampant speculation override the facts. "It has been a game of delay throughout. The longer the delay, the more time they have to create not doubt, not honest doubt, not real doubt, but the appearance of doubt," he said. "And there are people who have not troubled themselves to acquaint themselves with the record, who don't know the facts, who do oppose the death penalty and who have been willing on the strength of that emotion alone to assume the truth of the allegations of the weakness of evidence in the case." [Referring to the Troy Davis case]

Spencer Lawton was the former Chatham County prosecutor in Georgia, U.S.A.

Tuesday 19 April 2011 - Jim O'Neill, the district attorney for Forsyth County, said the study doesn't take into account the pain and suffering of the murder victims and fails to examine the heinous nature of the crimes.

Some families don't want prosecutors to pursue the death penalty, O'Neill said. He also makes sure families know that because of appeals, it often takes a long time before someone is executed, he said.

But he said it is important to keep the death penalty as an option to reserve for the worst murders.

"As a result of dozens of murder cases I have prosecuted, I have come to believe that some people are so evil that death is the only appropriate punishment for them," he said.

Jim O'Neill was formally sworn in as Forsyth County District Attorney this morning on 1 December 2009. O'Neill was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to finish out the term of Tom Keith, who retired yesterday after 19 years in office. William Freeman, a retired Superior Court judge, administered the oath. O'Neill, 43, has been an assistant district attorney in Keith's office since 1997. He graduated from Duke University in 1988 and got his law degree from New York Law School in 1993. He has been the chief prosecutor for sex-offender registry violations and motor-vehicle fatalities. O'Neill also has served as legal advisor to law-enforcement for first-degree murder cases, and he was the first dedicated domestic-violence prosecutor in Forsyth County. He is married to Dr. Oona O'Neill, a physician at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The couple has one daughter, Naya, who is 4 months old.

A recent editorial (5/14, A-14, “Death penalty system has serious flaws”) seeks a moratorium of the death penalty in favor of “a thorough study of the system.”

The editorial overlooks one important thing. Studies of the death penalty have already been conducted across the nation, and their verdict is clear: the death penalty is fairly administered; today’s defendants receive effective representation; and any errors during the investigation or trial are uncovered in the appellate process.

More importantly, a growing number of studies indicate something that should not be overlooked: the death penalty saves lives.

A dozen recent studies reveal that the death penalty has a significant deterrent effect. A leading study published in the American Law and Economics Review collected data from 3,054 counties over a 20-year period. Using sophisticated multiple regression analysis, the study concluded that, on average, each execution results in 18 fewer murders.

The results of these studies mean we are confronted by a stark decision with real consequences.

On the one hand, we can continue to carry out death sentences. In so doing, we will execute only those defendants who have been found guilty by unanimous juries that have taken the extra step to recommend a death sentence. The executions will occur only after the defendants have exhausted their rights of appeal and been afforded every possible due process right.

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1935 after a spate of killings by criminals who admitted ... they chose Kansas to commit more crimes solely because they could avoid a death sentence if they were captured.

 

Eric Zahnd - Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd was originally elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006. Zahnd’s team of eleven attorneys and eight staff members are responsible for handing more than 12,000 cases each year, ranging from traffic offenses to first degree murder. Zahnd's top priorities are protecting children, prosecuting sex offenders, and cracking down on career criminals. Under Zahnd and Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson‘s leadership, Platte County’s Cyber Crimes Unit became one of the first in Missouri to hunt down and prosecute Internet predators. In 2006, Zahnd successfully pushed the Missouri legislature to pass Jessica’s Law to put child rapists in prison for life and enact tough mandatory sentences for Internet predators. In 2005, he helped write the law to increase penalties against repeat drunk drivers. Zahnd has personally convicted every person charged with murder since he took office. One newspaper has called him an “aggressive prosecutor” who passionately presents an extremely impressive case to the jury. Zahnd was named one of Ingram’s magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2004, recognizing him as one of the most influential business, government, and community leaders in Kansas City. He was one of only two Missouri prosecutors selected in the inaugural class of “Super Lawyers,” an honor given to the top attorneys in Missouri and Kansas. Prior to his election, Zahnd was a business litigator with one of the nation’s largest law firms. He has also worked in the Missouri Attorney General’s office and served as a staff assistant to the Governor’s Commission on Crime. Zahnd graduated with honors from William Jewell College and Duke Law School.

Sunday 25 September 2011 - An area solicitor said he has "no problem" with South Carolina's top jurist suggesting that state prosecutors refrain from a "win at all costs" mentality in death penalty cases.

Noting capital cases must continue to be held to a higher standard than other criminal cases, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said of S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal's stance "that is her job and I applaud her."

"The chief justice mentions this, and it is a phrase that judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys use in South Carolina: ‘Death is different,'" Pascoe said. "It demands higher ethics from the court, attorneys and law enforcement.

"I ask all judges to rein in prosecutors and expect them to do the right thing."

Pascoe feels the death penalty laws in South Carolina offer fair hearings to defendants.

"I take as much pride in dismissing a case when the defendant is not guilty as I do in a conviction when they are," Pascoe said. "The role of the prosecutor is to be a minister of justice rather than seeking conviction at all costs."

Toal's statements came on the same day Georgia executed 42-year-old Troy Davis, who was convicted in 1991 for killing an off-duty police officer. Witnesses that later recanted their testimony set off protests against the execution.

After conducting his own research on Davis' case, Pascoe said he was convinced of his guilt.

"After reading the original story you think, ‘Man, it looks as though he is getting railroaded,'" Pascoe said. "While there was no forensic evidence, what you don't get to read is that prosecution had a pair of his pants as evidence. It was suppressed in court because it was tied to an illegal search and seizure.

"He also fled the state after the crime. In my personal experience, no death penalty is handed down if they are innocent."

Death penalty about justice, not winning.

David Pascoe was born on March 2, 1967. In 1989 he graduated from the Citadel, Magna Cum Laude and then from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1993. During law school, David clerked for the U.S. Attorney's office and then went to the Richland County Solicitor's Office as an Assistant Solicitor for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. In 1995 David then became an Assistant Attorney General before returning to the Richland County Solicitor's Office in 1996. He served as an Assistant Solicitor there until 2005 when David was elected Solicitor for the First Judicial Circuit. Since taking office on January 14, 2005, David has worked hard to reduce the backlog of the county jail cases and violent crimes pending in the First Judicial Circuit. He has also implemented a number of new programs. Immediately after taking office, he recruited churches and youth organizations to start a Youth Mentor Program. This program is the first of its kind in the First Circuit to target juvenile crime and incarceration reduction by linking the judicial system with the local faith community through the mentoring process. In January 2006, he implemented the circuit’s first Youth Drug Court Program to rehabilitate children who take drugs. He also started the circuit-wide Worthless Check Program to assist local merchants in dealing with the burden of bad checks.

An estimated 230,000 killings remain unsolved since the reinstatement of capital punishment. Yet more time, attention, and resources continue to be focused on the rare challenge to an execution that somehow captures the morbid curiosity of the public. Whether a condemned killer lives or dies strikes me as far less important than the literally thousands of killers who are walking America's streets. [Capital punishment is the least of the justice system's problems. October 14, 2011|By Matthew T. Mangino]

Matthew T. Mangino is the former District Attorney of Lawrence County, Pa.

Jurors sentenced Jerry Lard to death Saturday morning, July 28, 2012 in the April 2011 shooting death of Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt.


The jury of seven women and five men found Lard guilty of capital murder on Thursday, July 26, and voted unanimously Saturday for him to be put to death by lethal injection.

Circuit Judge Brent Davis set Lard's execution to be on April 12, 2013 -- exactly two years to the day after he killed officer Schmidt.

Following the sentencing hearing Saturday, Ellington, who serves as Second Judicial District prosecuting attorney, issued this statement:

"When the spouse of a law enforcement officer sends him or her off to begin their shift, they never know if they will see each other alive again. The most important job of a law enforcement officer is to return home safely to his or her family at the end of his or her shift.

"I have attended three funerals for fallen officers since I was elected in 2010. I hope and pray that I never have to attend another. The citizens of the Second Judicial District can trust that if another law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty while I am your prosecuting attorney, my office will pursue the death penalty against the responsible person or persons. My administration has and will continue to have an absolute zero tolerance policy for the unspeakable crime of murdering a police officer in the line of duty.

"My decision to seek the death penalty in this case is one that did not come without a great amount of prayer and guidance. Capital punishment and the use of such is not something that I take lightly. In this particular case, I saw no other option. Not only did the defendant kill Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt, he came within inches of killing Sgt. Corey Overstreet in the same episode.

"In my 20 years as a trial attorney, I have never heard a jury speak any louder or clearer than this Greene County jury did today. This jury spoke volumes with the punishment that they delivered today -- a sentence of death. The jury echoed the commitment of the community to protect those who protect us. I am very proud of their courage and fortitude. I know it wasn't an easy decision, but it is one that had to be made. They jury is the conscience of the community, and I appreciate their sacrifice in serving in this two-week trial and for what I know had to be a difficult decision. We knew it would take all 12 jurors to impose the death sentence and they have done just that.

"The State of Arkansas -- and I speak for the state as the elected prosecutor for the Second Judicial District -- believes officer Jonathan Schmidt and his family now have justice for his murder and are a step closer to closure. They have experienced a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. That pain and void that they have felt will never fully go away, but I pray that with the jury's decision they will find peace. The family of officer Schmidt are some of the finest and strongest people that I have ever had the privilege of meeting, and they will continue to be in my prayers.

"I want to thank my team, Greene County Deputy Prosecutors Kimberly Dale and Dr. Andy Fulkerson; Poinsett County Deputy Prosecutors Jimmy Gazaway and David Boling, and our support staff, Zach Morrison, Liz Wagner, Robin Norman and investigator Allan Hicks. All have given 110 percent, and I could not be prouder of my deputy prosecutors and staff for their tireless work and effort in helping me achieve justice for officer Schmidt and his family.

"I also want to thank Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix, Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills, Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann, Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston and all of their departments for the assistance they have provided throughout this long ordeal.

"Poinsett County has gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping to bring this murderer to trial and hold him responsible for his actions.

"The Arkansas State Police and their expertise were so valuable in taking this case, investigating it, and pulling it together for the prosecution team. They turned over every rock and followed every possible lead to ensure that justice would be done for officer Schmidt. Lead investigator, Special Agent Mike Grimes, Sgt. John Carter, Special Agents Ramey Lovan, Allen Earnhart and Tony Roe gave their all and I appreciate their service.

"Most importantly, let us not forget about the true heroes in this, officer Jonathan Schmidt and Sgt. Corey Overstreet, who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect the people of Trumann.

"Officer Jonathan Schmidt made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved most, protecting and serving his community. His legacy and life that he gave unselfishly will never be forgotten.

"In remembering Officer Schmidt and the sacrifice that he made, my mind was drawn to John 15:13: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

"Officer Jonathan Schmidt, fallen but not forgotten. Thank you."

An Arkansas lawmaker filed a bill to end the death penalty in the state, Monday 11 March 2013. 

The bill was filed by Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock who said she was asked by a group interested in ending the death penalty to file the bill.

"I can't see Arkansas abolishing the death penalty, I certainly would be opposed to that," said Scott Ellington, district prosecuting attorney.  "Opponents to death penalty say it is so easy to get the death penalty, it is not. First of all the crime has to fit in the very specific areas that is spelled out in the statute. "

Ellington said the state of Arkansas has what's called capital felony murder which is someone committing a felony or was an accomplice of someone committing a felony.

There are currently 37 people on death row in the state of Arkansas.

"We take filing a capital murder and especially seeking the death penalty as a very very serious matter," said Ellington. "It's not something we do half-heartedly or without much thought or consideration."

Once a person is convicted of a capital crime, there are certain factors that must be proven to convince a jury that the death penalty is necessary. In the case of a tragedy, Ellington said the public deserves that option.

"If we had another Sandy Hook and the person didn't kill themselves but they were actually captured. I think there would be a public outcry if we didn't have the death penalty asking why do we not have the death penalty," Ellington said.

"I believe that it is necessary in this society that we continue to have that option available in the most heinous of crimes."