Current Military Death Penalty News June 2008

Started by ScoopD (aka: Pam), June 24, 2008, 06:25:11 PM

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ScoopD (aka: Pam)

Kreutzer attorneys challenge military death penalty's fairness

Defense lawyers for William Kreutzer have questioned the fairness of leveling the death penalty at their client in a military court. The arguments came this morning during an Article 39A pretrial hearing held on Fort Bragg.

Kreutzer was sentenced to death for one count of murder and 18 counts of attempted murder stemming from a 1995 shooting at Towle Stadium of members of the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. The conviction was set aside in 2005 by a judge who ruled Kreutzer's attorneys were ineffective.

The case is awaiting retrial.

Kreutzer's lawyers contend that their client would have more legal protections in civilian court than in a military court. For example, the lawyers say, in civilian court lawyers must show they are qualified to handle death penalty cases. That is not the case in military hearings.

The judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, had not issued a ruling at midday.

Earlier, Kreutzer's lawyers asked Col. Parrish to recuse himself from the case over his ties to Fort Bragg. Patrick declined.
<br /><br />If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. -Thomas Paine<br /><br />My reason for supporting capital punishment: My cousin 16 yr. old Amanda Greenwell was murdered in March of 2004 at the hands of serial killer Jeremy Bryan Jones.


Even if he does get the guilty verdict again, and the DP, it still takes the President to sign the order. Currently and perhaps in the future I don't think that there will be a President with enough balls to do it. The last one was in 1961.
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat



An excerpt from:
"A Matter of Life and Death: Examining the Military
Death Penalty's Fairness" by Dwight Sullivan (The Federal Lawyer, June 1998) (reprinted with permssion of author)

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 15 offenses can be punishable by death, though many of these crimes -- such as desertion or disobeying a superior commissioned officer's orders -- carry the death penalty only in time of war.

The "convening authority" -- a high-ranking commanding officer who decides to bring the case to trial -- chooses whether the government will seek a death sentence. If the case is referred capitally, the defendant cannot choose a bench [judge only] trial; rather, the case must be tried before a panel of at least five military members. The Uniform Code of Military Justice also precludes the defendant in a capital case from pleading guilty. Thus, every military death penalty case is resolved by trial before a panel of servicemembers.

A death penalty will be imposed only if the panel members reach unanimous agreement on four separate points. First, a military defendant cannot be sentenced to death absent a unanimous conviction of a death-eligible offense.... If the panel returns a unanimous conviction, the case then enters the sentencing phase.... The case's outcome will depend upon the [panel] members' resolution of three issues. First, they must determine whether the government has proven a specified aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt.... Most of these aggravating factors -- such as killing more than one person or being the triggerman in a felony murder -- are similar to those found in civilian capital punishment schemes. Other factors -- such as committing an offense with the intent to avoid hazardous duty or knowingly endangering a mission -- are unique to the military.
[The panel] must then weigh all of the aggravating evidence in the case against any evidence in extenuation and mitigation. A death penalty may not be imposed unless the members unanimously conclude that the aggravating circumstances substantially outweigh the mitigating circumstances.

Finally, even if every member agrees upon the existence of an aggravating factor and concludes that the evidence in aggravation outweighs the extenuating and mitigating evidence, any member is still free to choose a sentence other than death. Thus, members must unanimously conclude that death is an appropriate sentence.

When a death sentence is imposed, the record is initially reviewed by the convening authority, who has the power to reduce sentences and to set aside guilty findings.... The convening authority can reduce the sentence, but cannot increase it. And this review is no mere rubberstamp. Several years ago, a Marine Corps general commuted an adjudged death sentence to imprisonment for life. If the convening authority approves the death sentence, the condemned servicemember will be moved to military death row....

The record of trial then goes before one of the military justice system's four intermediate appellate courts: the Army, Navy-Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals.... If the Court of Criminal Appeals affirms a death sentence, the case then goes before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, as the Court of Military Appeals was renamed in 1994. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is a five-member Article 1 court that sits atop the military justice system. Its judges are civilians appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate to serve 15-year terms.

[If the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces affirms the sentence], the case is eligible for Supreme Court review. The Supreme Court's certiorari jurisdiction over military justice cases... was enacted in 1983.... When the Supreme Court affirms [the sentence] or denies certiorari in a military capital case, the death sentence is then reviewed by the executive branch. If the President approves the death sentence, the condemned servicemember can seek habeas relief from the Article III judiciary. If the habeas petition is ultimately denied, the condemned servicemember will be led from death row down a flight of stairs to the USDB's death chamber. There he will be strapped to a gurney and executed by lethal injection."

This is for those that don't know how the military justice system works in a Death Penalty case. It's a bit different than the civilian courts.
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat



Kirkland Murder Suspect Still in Custody at JBLM As Army Processes Its Charges
Dakota Miles Wolf is charged by the military with assault and being AWOL, but the Army says at some point he will be transferred to the King County Jail.
By Greg Johnston Email the author December 19, 2011
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The Kirkland soldier charged in the stabbing death of Scarlett Paxton, also from Kirkland, remains in custody at Joint Base Lewis-McChord while military authorities work through their own charges against him.

The King County Prosecutor's Office filed first-degree murder charges Thursday against Dakota Miles Wolf, a 2010 graduate of Juanita High School and, like Paxton, 19 years old.

Charging documents say evidence shows Wolf attacked Paxton with a butcher knife as she returned to her north Juanita apartment from a walk with her boyfriend just before 3 a.m. on Nov. 30. The King County Medical Examiner's Office said Paxton died of wounds to her neck, and the charging documents indicate she also sustained cuts to her leg, chin and left hand, the latter consistent with defensive wounds.

I Corps Maj. Chris Ophardt of the U.S. Army at JBLM near Tacoma said Monday that Wolf remains at the base corrections facility and is charged by the military with being absent without leave, assault and missing a mandatory unit movement.

I Corps Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said the Army is working with the Kirkland Police Department to transfer custody, but the process could take some time.

"We're still in the judicial process on this side ... under the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said. "We do recognize the severity of the crime he is charged with, murder, and that it is more serious than what we have charged him with. We understand what the family is going through and that they seek some closure. We're working closely with the Kirkland Police Department."

Wolf is a private first class in the Army's 2nd Stryker Brigade and missed a mandatory training maneuver at Fort Irwin, Calif., in November, said JBLM spokesman Joe Piek. He joined the Army in August 2010.

Neither of the I Corps officers would elaborate on the assault charge against Wolf and said they were not sure when Wolf would be transferred to the King County Jail. Wolf is scheduled for arraignment in the King County Courthouse next week, on Dec. 28. Preliminary bail has been set at $2 million.

Kirkland Police said earlier they could not find any connection between Wolf and Paxton, who was found by her boyfriend, Michael Lawson, 19, slumped on the stairway to their shared apartment. But in a press release last week announcing the charges, Kirkland Police said they continued to explore any possible link between the two.

However, both Wolf and Paxton are apparently longtime Kirkland residents of the same age. Paxton was attending BEST High School in Houghton and had attended Kirkland Junior High.

Charging documents indicate Wolf's mother lives in north Juanita, and that he was staying with the parents of a friend at the time of the murder, at a house not far from the murder scene.

The Kirkland Reporter newspaper has quoted a source it did not identify as saying the two indeed knew each other, that both used to hang out at the Kirkland Teen Union Building in downtown Kirkland, and apparently did not care for one another.

Kirkland Police Detective Allan O'Neill said he could not respond specifally to that, except to say, "Of course we are following up on every lead we get."

Paxton was memorialized Saturday by family and friends during a packed and emotional service at Life Community Church in Kirkland.

Related Topics: Dakota Wolf, Kirkland Police Department, Kirkland murder, and Scarlett Paxton

I'll probably see this one at work when JBLM releases him to King County
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat


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