Alabama Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, October 23, 2007, 11:10:09 AM

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Jeff1857

New Lethal Injection Procedure


Governor Bob Riley says the state will move forward with Thursday's scheduled execution of a convicted serial killer now that changes to Alabama's lethal injection procedure have been completed.

Last month, Governor Riley ordered additional safeguards be added to ensure inmates are unconscious when a lethal combination of drugs are administered. Those safeguards have now been added so the state will move forward with the next scheduled execution, which is for Danial Siebert on October 25th.

Siebert was sentenced to die for the 1986 strangulation deaths 24-year-old Sherri Weathers, her two sons, 5-year-old Chad and 4-year-old Joey. Weathers was a student at the Alabama School for the Deaf in Talladega and had been dating Siebert. The bodies were found in her Talladega apartment several days after the 3 were killed.

Siebert was also convicted of two other murders and has claimed responsibility for as many as a dozen more.

Governor Riley rejected calls to spare Siebert because he has terminal cancer and would only live a few months if not executed. "I would in essence be commuting his sentence to life in prison and that is not the sentence he was given by a jury. His crimes were monstrous, brutal and ghastly."

The change in Alabama's lethal injection procedure also lead to a 45-day stay of execution for convicted killer Thomas Arthur. Arthur was scheduled to die September 27th, the same day Governor Riley ordered the changes.

(source: WKRG)


tramoore

Let's just pray the wonderful ACLU doesn't step in like they did here in Nevada!  Hopefully this will help some other states....

Jeff1857

State's new execution procedure detailed----New method aims to ensure inmate is unconscious


Under a new procedure intended to ensure that Alabama's condemned inmates are unconscious when executed, a prison guard will call the inmate by name, brush his eyelashes with a finger and pinch his arm, a Department of Corrections spokesman said Thursday.

Gov. Bob Riley announced Monday that a new execution procedure had been adopted, but disclosed no details. Thursday, Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett discussed the new procedure, which will come after a drug causing unconsciousness is administered, but before the administration of drugs meant to kill the inmate.

"It's simply a consciousness check after the first drug has been administered," Corbett said.

The addition to the state's execution protocol was developed after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a Kentucky case challenging the constitutionality of that state's lethal injection procedure. Alabama keeps most details of its execution procedure secret, but lawyers representing death row inmates have said that Alabama's procedure was identical to Kentucky's before the change was made.

According to court filings in death penalty cases, Alabama, Kentucky and most other states use a combination of three drugs to execute prisoners. Lawyers representing convicted killer Thomas Arthur said in court documents that Alabama uses Thiopental, Pavulon and potassium chloride.

Arthur was issued a 45-day stay last month pending implementation of the new procedure. A new date for his execution has not been set.

Thiopental is a barbiturate that experts say causes unconsciousness. Pavulon causes paralysis and halts breathing, and potassium chloride stops the heart.

Corbett said that, after the first drug is administered, a member of the security detail assigned to the condemned prisoner will follow the new procedure to assure he is unconscious. Then the execution will continue with the administration of the final 2 drugs.

Medical professionals said the procedures being adopted by the state are commonly used to assess consciousness. A person who is conscious will blink when his eyelashes are brushed, and will withdraw his arm when pinched, they said.

Death penalty opponents said the procedure will do little to ensure the inmate doesn't suffer a horrible death.

"These additional steps are by no means sufficient to ensure that the inmate will be unconscious," said Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. The clinic represents death row inmates.

The risks involved:

Death penalty protocols typically are developed and used in secrecy, meaning qualified medical personnel don't have input, and the result is a system that can suffer catastrophic failure, she said.

Problems inherent to lethal injection have been well-documented in lawsuits arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, Semel said. Those lawsuits, including suits filed on behalf of Alabama death row inmates, argue that Thiopental could lose effectiveness before death, leaving the inmate conscious but paralyzed and in extreme pain.

Those suits also argue that, because qualified medical personnel routinely refuse to participate in executions, it's more likely that the wrong dosage of one of the drugs will be administered, or that an IV will be improperly inserted, leading to a painful death.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said Alabama is far from alone in revisiting its lethal injection procedures. Nevada has proposed doubling the dosages it administers of all three drugs in the common cocktail, and North Carolina has proposed using an electronic monitor to assess consciousness. Some states are building new execution chambers.

Dieter, whose organization does not take a position on the death penalty, said most states are waiting on direction likely to come from the Supreme Court in the Kentucky case of Baze v. Rees.

While the court is unlikely to address the procedure adopted by Alabama, it likely will provide guidelines that will determine how states will execute prisoners, he said.

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Sounds good to me. Start rolling.

Jeff1857

#3
January 31, 2008, 02:47:56 AM Last Edit: May 26, 2008, 04:32:23 AM by Jeff1857
The third time wasn't the charm for state Sen. Hank Sanders.

Neither was the fourth, fifth, six or seventh time.

But Sanders isn't giving up.

The Selma Democrat announced Tuesday that when the Legislature convenes Tuesday, he will again sponsor legislation to place a three-year moratorium on executions in Alabama.

Legislative records show Sanders has been introducing the moratorium bill annually since at least 2001, but it never has been approved by the Senate, much less the House.

Sanders was joined at a windy outdoor news conference Tuesday by supporters of his bill. Judy Cumbee, first vice president of the Alabama New South Coalition, said the wind was symbolic.

"These are winds of change," she said as she brushed her hair out of her face.

Cumbee, Sanders and others said there is growing concern in Alabama about the fairness of the death penalty, and that is causing more people to support a moratorium while officials look at how the law is administered.

Opposition to Sanders' legislation remains strong in a victims' support group.

Miriam Shehane, founder of Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL), said a moratorium "is the most heartless thing I can imagine. Walk a mile in our shoes."

Shehane's daughter, Quenette, was kidnapped and killed in Birmingham on Dec. 20, 1976. One killer was executed, another is serving life in prison without parole, and another has a life sentence.

Shehane said it already takes many years of legal reviews before an execution can be carried out, and one inmate convicted of killing an Alabama sheriff has been on death row for 26 years.

Sanders' supporters said executing someone does not bring back the victim, and the state shouldn't respond to a murder by having a state-sponsored killing.

"We can't take two wrongs and make a right," said the Rev. Alan Forte of Eufaula, representing the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Sanders' moratorium bill would do more than impose a three-year ban.

It also would require changes in the way attorneys are appointed to represent indigent clients and would implement U.S. Supreme Court rulings against executing anyone who was mentally retarded or under 18 years old when their crime occurred.
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Q - What do snowballs and hell have in common?
A - More of a chance happening than Alabama putting a stop to the
      DP.

Just my humble opinion anyway.  ;)

Jeff1857

Alabama's new execution procedure, which critics have blasted as a thinly veiled attempt to get around a federal moratorium on the death penalty, still amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a Death Row inmate argues in a lawsuit against the state.

Daniel Lee Siebert, a convicted serial killer who is dying of pancreatic cancer while he awaits execution, amended a suit filed earlier to claim that Alabama's new procedure for executing the condemned violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

"The revision to the protocol is substantial, though inadequate to meet constitutional standards," the suit says.

In October, the Department of Corrections adopted changes to its execution protocol to require a corrections officer to assess the consciousness of the condemned before the administration of chemicals intended to cause paralysis and cardiac arrest.

The guard is to speak the inmate's name, pinch his arm and brush his eyelashes to determine whether a drug meant to cause unconsciousness was effective. If the inmate is judged unconscious, the execution is to continue, DOC officials have said.

In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Siebert argues that the guard tasked with assessing consciousness has "no medical background," making the change insufficient to assure the condemned doesn't unduly suffer.

In motions filed Monday afternoon by the state, Alabama Attorney General Troy King asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying a statute of limitations giving Siebert two years to file the action had expired. King also argued in the filing that Siebert - given separate death sentences for two murders - should not be allowed to challenge the constitutionality of the sentences separately.

"Even though Siebert was sentenced to death two times, Alabama has only one procedure by which he will be executed," King wrote in the filing.

Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said Siebert's argument that the state's execution procedure amounts to cruel and unusual punishment is not new. It's the same fight being waged before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kentucky case of Baze vs. Rees, he said.

Most states have voluntarily halted executions pending the outcome of the Kentucky case, which challenges lethal injection on the grounds that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Federal courts have ordered stays in states that have tried to carry out executions, including Alabama. A decision is expected this summer.

Siebert also argues that complications related to his cancer would make executing him cruel and unusual punishment. It may be hard to find veins to administer the drugs, and one of the drugs believed used by the state for executions could react with his cancer drugs, causing severe pain that would be only visibly masked by an execution drug causing paralysis, he said.

Efforts to reach an attorney representing Siebert were unsuccessful Monday.

Alabama does not disclose the details of its execution procedure. But Siebert's suit, and suits brought by other Death Row inmates, indicate the state uses three drugs: Thiopental, Pavulon and potassium chloride.

Thiopental is a barbiturate believed to be administered first as an anesthetic. Pavulon, a trade name for pancuronium bromide, is believed to be administered second, to paralyze the condemned. Potassium chloride is believed used last, to cause cardiac arrest.

According to lawsuits filed by inmates, Alabama's execution procedure before the October changes was identical to the procedure used in Kentucky. Alabama changed its procedure shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider the Kentucky case. Anti-death-penalty activists argued that the Alabama development was an attempt to skirt the moratorium.

Siebert was convicted of five Alabama murders and has confessed to as many as 13 killings nationwide. Now 53, he was sentenced to death for the Feb. 19, 1986, strangulation killing of his girlfriend, Sherri Weathers, 24, and her two sons, 5-year-old Chad and 4-year-old Joey. Weathers was a student at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in Talladega.

Siebert also was sentenced to death for the murder of Linda Jarman, a resident of Weathers' apartment complex. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced separately, to life in prison, for killing Linda Faye Odum, 32, also of Talladega. Police said he strangled all five of his Alabama victims to death over a period of a few hours.

Siebert also pleaded guilty in Nevada to manslaughter, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Authorities have said he confessed to a number of other killings - the exact number is unclear - from California to New Jersey.




Jeff1857

Inmate lodges challenge to lethal injection system---- Herbert Williams Jr. on death row for 1989 slaying


A death row inmate convicted of murdering a prominent Mobile businessman has asked a federal judge to stop his execution on the grounds that Alabama's lethal injection system causes an unacceptable risk of pain.

The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Mobile, is the latest in a wave of challenges to lethal injection that has swept the nation in recent months.

The U.S. Supreme Court has put dozens of executions on hold while it considers a Kentucky case that could settle the matter.

A Mobile County Circuit Court jury convicted Herbert Williams Jr. in February 1990 of capital murder in the 1989 slaying of Timothy Hasser.

Police in Jackson arrested Williams as he was driving Hasser's Porsche, with the body in the back. The jury voted 9-3 to recommend life in prison without parole for Williams, but Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae sentenced him to death.

Williams, 39, is 1 of 8 Alabama prisoners to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection. Three have been executed.

"It seems like this is a new strategy where all death row inmates when they come to the end of their appeals are going to file lethal injection challenges to drag this out," said Clay Crenshaw, an as sistant Alabama attorney general who represents the state in capital appeals.

Talitha Bailey Powers, the director of the Capital Defense Clinic at the University of Alabama School of Law, said the legal challenges raise important questions about the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Williams' lawyers with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund point to several botched executions across the country to support their claims that legal injection has "caused excruciating pain and suffering."

Williams' lawyers are pursuing the lethal injection challenge at the same time the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta is weighing claims that the inmate's original attorneys failed in their duty to mount a vigorous defense during the penalty phase of his trial and the ultimate sentencing.

Despite the fact that McRae had overturned jury recommendations in previous death penalty cases, Williams' lawyers offered only the defendant's mother as a witness on his behalf during the penalty phase and no testimony at all during the later sentencing hearing.

The lawsuit filed in Mobile deals only with the narrow issue of how Alabama carries out the death penalty. Condemned prisoners first receive a drug to make them unconscious. A second drug paralyzes them, and a third kills them.

The lawsuit contends that the lethal drug can cause tremendous pain if the 1st drug does not work properly. Since the 2nd drug causes paralysis, the suit contends that an inmate would have no way to alert executioners to problems with the 1st drug.

Powers said officials administer the 2nd drug to prevent the inmate from disconcerting twitches in the final moments of his life.

"It's not for any benefit of the person being executed," she said. "It's purely for the comfort of the people watching."


Jeff1857

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - The Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday that upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injection removed a legal logjam that has delayed executions in Alabama for months.

"It should mean that executions will resume very quickly," Assistant Alabama Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said.

But a death penalty opponent said the ruling wasn't definitive and further legal challenges likely will ensue.

Crenshaw, the state's capital punishment prosecutor, said the ruling could affect Supreme Court stays granted for two inmates - Tommy Arthur and James Harvey Callahan - and lethal injection challenges by several others, including Herbert Williams Jr., who only last week joined the list of Alabama inmates with a lethal injection challenge.

In January, Callahan won a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court a little more than an hour before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection at Holman Prison. Arthur also was within hours of execution in September when it was stayed by Gov. Bob Riley after a change was made in the lethal injection protocol.

Currently, Alabama has no pending execution dates set by the state Supreme Court. But the state, with slightly more than 200 inmates on death row, has executed 38 since executions resumed in the state in 1983 after a national hiatus when the death penalty underwent legal scrutiny. Three were executed in Alabama last year.

"Alabama's execution protocol is essentially the same as Kentucky and every other state that uses lethal injection," Crenshaw said.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, turned back a constitutional challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky, which uses three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by roughly three dozen states.

Talitha Powers Bailey, the director of the Capital Defense Clinic at the University of Alabama School of Law, which assists attorneys in death penalty cases, said the high court's ruling wasn't "clear cut" and left open the option of investigating other modes of execution.

"It's an invitation to future litigation," she said. "The stakes are entirely too high."

She said the high court's main opinion seems to create a "standard framework by which lower courts can consider a particular method of execution."

If an alternate procedure comes up in the future, then it could be challenged, she said.

In a statement, Attorney General Troy King said the high court ruling "reaffirmed a constitutional principle long understood by Alabamians: Those who willfully and cruelly take a human life can - and must - face the only punishment equal to their crime."

He described it as "a substantial victory for the champions of justice, and it strikes a blow to those who stand in justice's way."

Bailey said Wednesday's ruling wasn't unexpected. She said a benefit of the Kentucky challenge was that it created a six-month pause in executions for states to re-examine their death penalty procedures.

While awaiting the Kentucky ruling, Alabama adjusted its execution protocol slightly to include a consciousness test for the inmate as the drugs are administered.
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Have to love the anti-spin on the ruling. I'll give them credit for that while these scumbags are on the gurney they still spin it  ;D ;D ;D ;D.







Jeff1857

Alabama's AG intends to quickly resume executions


Alabama will move quickly to resume executions now that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Kentucky case challenging lethal injection, state officials said Wednesday.

"It is time to move forward seeking the execution of the guilty for their murderous acts," Alabama Attorney General Troy King said in a prepared statement.

"As attorney general, I will do so."

King did not say when the state will resume executions, although Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said they likely will resume "very quickly."

Crenshaw said the death row inmate most likely to face execution next is Thomas Arthur, who twice has come within hours of being put to death.

The U.S. Supreme Court could lift a stay in the Arthur case as soon as Monday, Crenshaw said. The attorney general then would ask the state Supreme Court to set a new execution date, and Arthur could be executed 30 days later.

No state has executed a prisoner since the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced in September that it would hear the Kentucky case. In that case, Kentucky inmates unsuccessfully argued that lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

3 executions on hold:

3 executions scheduled in Alabama have been halted during that time:

An Atlanta federal appeals court on Oct. 24 stayed the execution of serial killer Daniel Siebert pending the outcome of the Kentucky case. Siebert has other appeals pending, however, including one alleging that drugs he takes for pancreatic cancer could react poorly with drugs used in lethal injection, causing him pain.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 31 stayed the execution of convicted killer James Callahan. The court's order did not indicate why the stay was issued, although Callahan had argued lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed Arthur's execution on Dec. 5, pending the outcome of a challenge he filed on the same grounds as in the Kentucky case.

Arthur also narrowly escaped being executed Sept. 27, when Gov. Bob Riley granted a stay so the state could add a step to its execution procedure.

Under the procedure, after the condemned is given a drug meant to render him unconscious, a corrections officer will speak the inmate's name, pinch his arm and brush a finger over his eyelashes. If the guard determines the prisoner is not conscious, the execution will proceed with the administration of drugs meant to cause paralysis and cardiac arrest.

According to lawsuits filed by death row inmates, before the addition of the steps meant to assess consciousness, Alabama's execution procedure was identical to the Kentucky procedure that was before the Supreme Court.


Jeff1857

#8
April 19, 2008, 04:33:36 AM Last Edit: May 26, 2008, 04:33:33 AM by Jeff1857
AG asks court to set execution dates for 2 Wiregrass killers


When Pat Jones heard her mother's murderer may soon be executed, she was hopeful, but cautious.

It's been 17 years since Willie McNair was convicted of the 1990 murder of Ella Foy Riley in Henry County. Since then, McNair has been on Alabama's death row awaiting execution.

"Until I'm sitting down there and I actually see it and know it is going to happen, I'm not going to get my hopes up," said Jones, whose mother's murder prompted her to become a victim's rights activist and organize the local chapter of the group known as VOCAL -- Victim's of Crime and Leniency.

Jones' hope comes from an announcement that state Attorney General Troy King has filed motions asking the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for McNair, another convicted murderer from the Wiregrass and a third man. The announcement comes just 2 days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution method of lethal injection does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Along with McNair, King asked for execution dates for Phillip Hallford, convicted of the 1986 murder of 16-year-old Charles Eddie Shannon in Dale County and Jimmy Dill, convicted for the 1991 murder of Leon Shaw of Jefferson County.

Earlier this week the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Kentucky legal challenge to lethal injection, rejecting the claim that it was cruel and unusual punishment. There had been no executions in the United States using this method for about 7 months.

A Henry County jury heard evidence that indicated McNair stabbed Riley to death after he asked to borrow $20 and she then allowed him into her home for a glass of water. A Dale County jury convicted Hallford after hearing evidence he used his daughter to lure her boyfriend to a secluded bridge. He then shot Shannon 3 times and threw him over the bridge.

"Justice has too long been delayed in each of these cases, and in many more," King said in a written release.
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Alabama is gonna have about 5 or 6.

Michael

Court rules against 2 Ala. death row inmates
5/30/2008, 4:40 p.m. CDT
The Associated Press   

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A state appeals court on Friday ruled against two Alabama death row inmates who challenged their sentences.

The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a second sentencing hearing for Brandon Washington of Birmingham was adequate and his death sentence should be upheld.

The court also reversed a trial judge who had allowed Michael David Carruth to raise a challenge to his death sentence even though time had run out to file it. Carruth, a bail bondsman from LaGrange, Ga., was convicted in Russell County of abducting and killing a 12-year-old Phenix City boy in 2002.

The appeals court ruled that Carruth could not blame ineffective counsel for missing a deadline to petition the Alabama Supreme Court for a review of his case. State prosecutors argued that the trial judge could not grant him that permission and the appeals court agreed, returning his case to Russell County court.

Washington was convicted in Jefferson County in the 2005 shooting death of Walter Justin Campbell, a clerk at a Birmingham Radio Shack store where Washington recently had been fired.

The appeals court ruled Washington's sentence was not disproportionate or excessive when compared to penalties imposed in similar cases.

The evidence indicated that Campbell pleaded for his life, but Washington shot him in the back of the head from a distance of two to three feet.

"The record does not reflect that the sentence of death was imposed as the result of the influence of passion, prejudice, or any other arbitrary factor," the court ruled.

http://www.al.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-36/121217996238260.xml&storylist=alabamanews
I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

Jeff1857

State's use of lethal injection affirmed----Alabama Supreme Court upholds method as legal


Ruling on a case from Marshall County, the Alabama Supreme Court held Friday that the state's use of lethal injection on death row does not violate the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

The high court's ruling in an 8-0 vote affirmed the death sentence of Rick Allen Belisle, who was convicted in the May 19, 1999, murder of Joyce Moore, a cashier at the T&J Kwik-Mart convenience store in Boaz.

Moore was bludgeoned to death with a six-pound can of peas and a metal pipe at the store - where Belisle's wife, Annette, worked. The store was robbed of about $900.

Although the court examined several issues raised on appeal by Belisle's attorneys, the gist of the 42-page opinion, written by Associate Justice Harold See, focused on its decision on the lethal-injection question.

In rejecting the argument that Alabama's method of lethal injection violates the Constitution's 8th Amendment, the court cited the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of the constitutionality of Kentucky's 3-drug protocol, which is virtually the same as Alabama's.

"The state argues, and we agree, that Belisle . . . cannot meet his burden of demonstrating that Alabama's lethal-injection protocol poses a substantial risk of harm by asserting the mere possibility that something may go wrong," See wrote.

Even though U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented in the Kentucky case, See noted they "recognized, however, that Alabama's procedures, along with procedures used in Missouri, California and Indiana 'provide a degree of assurance - missing from Kentucky's protocol - that the 1st drug

had been properly administered.'"

Sodium thiopental is the 1st of 3 drugs administered in an execution. Pancuronium bromide or Pavulon induces paralysis and then potassium chloride stops the heart.

Lawyers for Belisle had argued Alabama's system "creates an unnecessary risk of agonizing pain" and that the method used to check an inmate's level of consciousness after administration of the first drug for anesthesia is insufficient.

But the state noted the Department of Corrections has eliminated the risk of unnecessary pain by using 2.5 grams of sodium thiopental - itself a lethal dose - to sufficiently anesthetize the inmate. Additional safeguards include the examination of the prisoner by an execution member following administration of the 1st drug but before administration of the 2nd to assess his consciousness. This is done, the state said, by calling the inmate's name, gently stroking the eyelashes and pinching the arm. If this reveals consciousness, there is a second dosage of sodium thiopental.

Belisle, 39, has been on death row at Holman Correctional Facility since Aug. 29, 2003. His wife, who was originally charged with capital murder, testified for the state and received a 20-year sentence.

Attorneys for Belisle argued unsuccessfully that his conviction should be reversed because the state withheld its plea deal with Annette Belisle until the eighth day of the trial.

(source: Huntsville Times)
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Hopefully now the AL Supremes will now set some dates that was requested a few months ago.

Jacques

State's use of lethal injection affirmed
Saturday, October 04, 2008 By BOB LOWRYTimes Staff Writer bob.lowry@htimes.com
Alabama Supreme Court upholds method as legal

MONTGOMERY - Ruling on a case from Marshall County, the Alabama Supreme Court held Friday that the state's use of lethal injection on death row does not violate the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/local.ssf?/base/news/1223111764227051.xml&coll=1

The high court's ruling in an 8-0 vote affirmed the death sentence of Rick Allen Belisle, who was convicted in the May 19, 1999, murder of Joyce Moore, a cashier at the T&J Kwik-Mart convenience store in Boaz.

Moore was bludgeoned to death with a six-pound can of peas and a metal pipe at the store - where Belisle's wife, Annette, worked. The store was robbed of about $900.

Although the court examined several issues raised on appeal by Belisle's attorneys, the gist of the 42-page opinion, written by Associate Justice Harold See, focused on its decision on the lethal-injection question.

In rejecting the argument that Alabama's method of lethal injection violates the Constitution's 8th Amendment, the court cited the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of the constitutionality of Kentucky's three-drug protocol, which is virtually the same as Alabama's.

"The state argues, and we agree, that Belisle . . . cannot meet his burden of demonstrating that Alabama's lethal-injection protocol poses a substantial risk of harm by asserting the mere possibility that something may go wrong," See wrote.

Even though U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented in the Kentucky case, See noted they "recognized, however, that Alabama's procedures, along with procedures used in Missouri, California and Indiana 'provide a degree of assurance - missing from Kentucky's protocol - that the first drug had been properly administered.'"

Sodium thiopental is the first of three drugs administered in an execution. Pancuronium bromide or Pavulon induces paralysis and then potassium chloride stops the heart.

Lawyers for Belisle had argued Alabama's system "creates an unnecessary risk of agonizing pain" and that the method used to check an inmate's level of consciousness after administration of the first drug for anesthesia is insufficient.

But the state noted the Department of Corrections has eliminated the risk of unnecessary pain by using 2.5 grams of sodium thiopental - itself a lethal dose - to sufficiently anesthetize the inmate.

Additional safeguards include the examination of the prisoner by an execution member following administration of the first drug but before administration of the second to assess his consciousness. This is done, the state said, by calling the inmate's name, gently stroking the eyelashes and pinching the arm. If this reveals consciousness, there is a second dosage of sodium thiopental.

Belisle, 39, has been on death row at Holman Correctional Facility since Aug. 29, 2003. His wife, who was originally charged with capital murder, testified for the state and received a 20-year sentence.

Attorneys for Belisle argued unsuccessfully that his conviction should be reversed because the state withheld its plea deal with Annette Belisle until the eighth day of the trial.



"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein

kanga

ALABAMA:

From Halperin.

State Supreme Court sets 5 execution dates for 2009


The Alabama Supreme Court today announced that it has scheduled an execution a month for the first 5 months of 2009.

James Callahan's execution date has been set for Jan. 15. Callahan was convicted of the 1992 murder of Rebecca Suzanne Howell in Calhoun County.

Danny Joe Bradley's execution has been set for Feb. 12. Bradley has been on death row for 25 years for the 1983 murder of Rhonda Hardin in Piedmont.

Phillip D. Hallford is scheduled to die March 19. He was convicted of the 1986 murder of Charles Eddie Shannon in Dale County.

Jimmy Lee Dill's execution date is April 16. He was convicted of the 1988 robbery and murder of Leon Shaw in Jefferson County.

Willie McNair's execution has been scheduled for May 14. He was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of Ella Foy Riley of Abbeville in 1990.

Executions were effectively halted nationwide for months while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a Kentucky case challenging lethal injection. The court cleared the way for executions to resume earlier this year.

Alabama has scheduled just 1 execution since deciding the Kentucky case of Baze v. Rees.

Convicted killer Thomas Arthur was scheduled to be executed July 31. But the state Supreme Court issued a stay after another inmate claimed he was responsible for the murder for which Arthur was convicted.

A hearing in Arthur's case has been scheduled for Feb. 17

(source: Birmingham News)


Jacques

Death penalty method upheld
Posted by BRENDAN KIRBY April 17, 2008 6:38 AM
Categories: Top Stories
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld lethal injection as a means of capital punishment, removing a key obstacle that had delayed executions in Alabama and the rest of the country.

The 7-2 ruling held that Kentucky's method for carrying out the death penalty -- which is nearly identical to Alabama's -- does not violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Officials predicted that executions in Alabama would resume shortly.

"I would think that execution dates would be set pretty soon in some of these cases," said Alabama Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw, who represents the state in death-penalty cases.

Talitha Powers Bailey, director of the Capital Defense Clinic at the Univer sity of Alabama School of Law, said she expects lawyers representing the state's death-row inmates to continue to raise objections to lethal injection because the procedures vary slightly from those in place in Kentucky.

But, she said, it's unlikely they would prevail.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered a halt to two executions that had been set in Alabama, those of Thomas D. Arthur and James Harvey Callahan.

Crenshaw said he expects the Alabama Supreme Court to set a new execution date soon for Arthur. He had been fighting Callahan's lethal injection challenge on procedural grounds, arguing that he waited too long to raise the issue. But he said Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes that argument academic.

"Whether he filed too late or not now is immaterial," he said. "He loses on the merits."

In addition, three other death row inmates -- Willie McNair, Jimmy Lee Dill and Phillip D. Hallford -- had filed lawsuits challenging the state's method of execution. Those cases have not yet reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state has requested execution dates, but the state Supreme Court has not acted.

Bailey said Arthur is now in "a very difficult situation," since he was closest to execution before the U.S. Supreme Court began ordering delays to executions across the country.

Arthur could well be the first person executed in Alabama since Luther Jerome Williams was executed in August for a fatal shooting and robbery committed in 1988.

"It's going to be a very morbid race," said Bailey, a death penalty opponent. "He's probably going to be one of the first in the country."

Arthur's daughter, Sherrie Arthur Stone, said she was disappointed but not surprised by the Wednesday's ruling.

"Just as soon as they get executions started back up, they're going to start killing hundreds of people," she said.

While opponents decried Wednesday's high court ruling, some victims' advocates cheered it.

"I say, 'Hallelujah,'" said Miriam Shehane, executive director of Victims of Crime and Leniency. "When they went to lethal injection instead of the electric chair, I predicted they (death penalty opponents) were going to say lethal injection is inhumane. It just happened a little sooner than I thought."

Shehane, whose daughter was murdered in 1976, said she has little sympathy for arguments that lethal injection, if administered improperly, might cause pain. It is far less than the pain that killers inflict on their victims, she said.

And she noted, in Alabama at least, the condemned have the choice of dying in the electric chair.

Challenges to lethal injection in Kentucky, Alabama and other states revolved around allegations that the procedure is unreliable and creates too great a risk of pain to the inmate.

But the justices ruled that the mere possibility that something could go wrong is not sufficient to make it unconstitutional.

Suhana Han, one of Arthur's attorneys, said her client has never had the opportunity to litigate Alabama's specific execution procedure. She said she would continue to try to persuade Gov. Bob Riley to intervene on his request for DNA testing that he insists will prove him innocent.

"I want to emphasize the point that Alabama should not execute Tommy Arthur without giving him a chance to test the DNA," she said.

The following Alabama death row inmates have challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection:


James Harvey Calla

han, 61:
Convicted of the 1982 kidnapping and murder of Jacksonville State University student Rebecca Suzanne Howell; won a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court hours before his scheduled execution Jan. 31.


Thomas Douglas Ar

thur, 66:
Convicted of 1982 murder of Troy Wicker in Colbert County; scheduled to be executed in December 2007.


Willie McNair, 43:
Convicted of the May 21, 1990, robbery and murder of Ella Foy Riley of Abbeville; lethal injection challenge is pending in Montgomery County's federal court.


Jimmy Lee Dill, 48:
Convicted of the 1988 robbery and murder of Leon Shaw in Jefferson County; filed a federal lawsuit in Bir mingham in December challenging lethal injection.


Phillip D. Hallford, 61:
Convicted of killing the boyfriend of his daughter, whom Hallford was sexually abusing; federal judge in Mobile ruled the Dale County man waited too long to challenge the state's method of execution; appeal is pending in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.


Herbert Williams Jr.,

39:
Convicted of murdering a Mobile businessman in 1989 and stealing his Porsche; filed a lawsuit this month in Mobile's federal court challenging lethal objection.


Daniel Lee Siebert,

53:
The Supreme Court ruling likely will not impact this case because of Siebert's unique argument regarding how the lethal injection drugs would interact with the medication he takes to treat cancer. That case is pending before a federal judge in Montgomery.

Best

Jacques

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein

roo28

#14
June 05, 2009, 09:12:20 AM Last Edit: June 05, 2009, 09:14:08 AM by lyrakie
Alabama's New Law Providing DNA Testing Has Limitations

Alabama has adopted new legislation that allows some inmates to obtain DNA testing on old evidence.  However, critics have pointed out important limitations in the new law.  The new procedure is limited to inmates who were convicted of capital crimes, including those on death row.  The Department of Forensic Sciences requested this limitation because they believed they did not have the resources to handle a larger class of cases.  Even those convicted of a capital crime face further hurdles.  For example, the law requires petitioners to show that the identity of the guilty party was "at issue in the trial that resulted in the conviction."  In cases where a confession existed or the inmate pled guilty, DNA testing could be denied. DNA technology has cleared people in those circumstances before, yet this law precludes testing in such cases.  Some see the legislation as at least a beginning in a state that was one of the very last in the country to adopt a law to provide after-the-fact DNA testing in criminal cases.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/alabamas-new-law-providing-dna-testing-has-limitations

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