Remembrance

The Youngest Person In U.S. To Receive The Death Penalty May Get A New Trial


George Stinney may receive new trial 70 years after his execution in South Carolina
By Ja’Neal Johnson

70 years ago, a 14 year old black teenager named George Stinney, would become the youngest to be executed in the history of the United States and of that century for the murder of two young white girls, Betty June Binnicker and Mary Emma Thames in the small town Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944.

It would take the all-white jury only 10 minutes to decide whether the young quiet Stinney was guilty. His defense lawyer made no effort to prove if George Stinney was innocent. No witnesses were called for his defense or no cross examination. George Stinney’s family would have to flee their home before the trial.His lawyer at the time would not file an appeal on behalf of Stinney. George Stinney would be executed by electrocution just 84 days after the two white girls were found. Today is a different story. The family of George Stinny hired lawyers to ask for a new trial. The presiding Judge Carmen T. Mullen will make a decision based on both sides. One side that was never heard during the trial in 1944.

Dr. Amanda Salas, a forensic psychiatrist testified that George Stinny’s confession does not match the evidence. Dr. Salas stated, “It is my professional opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the confession given by George Stinney on March 24, 1944 is best characterized by a coerced compliant, false confession. It is not reliable.” Seven-member board of Parole and Pardons spokesman Peter O’Boyle said Stinney’s application is pending and its investigation should conclude next week. Depending on Mullen’s ruling, the board could hear the case within a few months.

Ernest “Chip” Finney, third circuit solicitor urged Judge Carmen T. Mullen to leave the case alone, despite its flaws. “This would not happen today,” Finney said. “While we along with others have questions about the 1944 trial and its outcome..the evidence here is too speculative and the record is too uncertain for the motion to succeed.”

One of the lawyers working on the case Clarendon County attorney Steve McKenzie, said, “I think we got George Stinney’s story out there,” he said. “I think we got some of the family’s story out there that back in 1944 no one was able to get out there.”

There are no official records of the original trial.

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Executed At 14: George Stinney’s Birthday Reminds Us That The Death Penalty Must End


October 19 2012 http://newsone.com/

george junius stinney jr birthday

George Junius Stinney Jr., the 14-year-old Black boy who died as the youngest person ever executed in the United States in the 20th century, would have been 83-years-old this Sunday.

Instead, his birthday will serve as a haunting reminder of why the death penalty needs to be abolished.

When two White girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames, went missing in Alcolu, S.C., on March 22, 1944, after riding in to town on their bicycles, Stinney was arrested the following day for allegedly murdering them.

The girls had allegedly passed Stinney’s home, where they asked him where they could find a particular kind of flower. Once the girls did not return home, hundreds of volunteers looked for them until their bodies were found the next morning in a ditch.

Because Stinney joined the search team and shared with another volunteer that he had spoken to the girls before they disappeared, he was arrested for their murders.

Without his parents, Stinney was interrogated by several White officers for hours. A deputy eventually emerged announcing that Stinney had confessed to the girls’ murders. The young boy allegedly told the deputies that he wanted to have sex with the 11-year-old girl, but had to kill the younger one to do it. When the 8-year-old supposedly refused to leave, he allegedly killed both of them because they refused his sexual advances.

To coerce his confession, deputies reportedly offered the child an ice cream cone.

There is no record of a confession. No physical evidence that he committed the crime exists. His trial — if you want to call it that — lasted less than two hours. No witnesses were called. No defense evidence was presented. And the all-White jury deliberated for all of 10 minutes before sentencing him to death.

On June 16, 1944, his frail, 5-foot-1, 95-pound body was strapped in to an electric chair at a state correctional facility in Columbia, S.C. Dictionaries had to be stacked on the seat of the chair so that he could properly sit in the seat. But even that didn’t help. When the first jolts of electricity hit him, the head mask reportedly slipped off, revealing the agony on his face and the tears streaming down his cheeks. Only after several more jolts of electricity did the boy die.

It was, without question, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in U.S. history. Yet, decades later,33 states in the United States still practice this barbaric form of so-called justice. And the way it has been applied to our community has been especially unjust — and discriminatory.

Since 1973, almost 30 years after Stinney’s execution, 141 people in 26 states have been exoneratedfrom death row after new evidence cleared them of wrongdoing, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Seventy of those individuals were Black men and one was a Black woman, which accounts for more than half of the wrongfully convicted. Twelve of them were Latino.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says that race and other unjust factors determine who is sentenced to death.

“It’s those who are the most vulnerable,” Dieter told NewsOne in a phone interview. “If you have a poor lawyer or if you kill a White person, you’re more likely to get the death penalty. If you kill someone in Texas, it’s different than if you are accused of killing someone in another state and that is terribly unfair.”

What is even more unfair is that, since 1977, the majority of death row defendants have been executed for killing White victimsaccording to Amnesty International. But more than half of all homicide victims are African American. A Yale University Law School study reports that Black defendants are sentenced to death at three times the rate of White defendants when the victim is White.

Things really have not changed since little George Stinney was executed for killing two White girls based on virtually no evidence and pure racism.

Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty, told NewsOne in an interview that Stinney’s upcoming birthday should remind us all that a flawed method of administering justice for the victim is not just if it clearly targets a particular group of people.

“If we don’t care whether or not race is influencing these cases, how are we going to make the system care if it turns out that our children are not getting the education they need or we’re not getting a fair shake in mortgages?” Rust-Tierney asked. “That is what this is about.”

Her Washington, D.C.-based organization played a pivotal role in helping to abolish the death penalty for juveniles in the United States with its 1997 “Stop Killing Kids Campaign” that lead to South Dakota and Wyoming banning the practice for offenders under the age of 18. The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the practice against juveniles in 2005.

Before the High Court’s ruling, however, 71 juveniles were on death row. Two-thirds of them where offenders of color, and more than two-thirds of their victims were white.

“For people of color, the criminal justice system has been designed to be about us and around us but never with us,” Rust-Tierney said.

It certainly wasn’t with Stinney when his court-appointed attorney didn’t even care to call witnesses or provide evidence in his defense. And the justice system certainly wasn’t with his parents when a lynch mob ran them out of town, leaving their son in that South Carolina courtroom to face his fate all by himself.

I believe the best way we can commemorate the birth of this poor 14-year-old boy’s short life is to take a moment to really ask ourselves why we need this cruel form of punishment to begin with. Some will argue that if you kill someone, you should be put to death.

Well, the vast majority of convicts who are found guilty of killing someone are not sentenced to death. So why the selective application?

Is it making our streets safer?

No.

Has it put innocent lives on death row for crimes they did not commit?

Yes.

Of the 33 states in the Union that administer the death penalty, California voters will have the choice on Nov. 6 to vote for or against Proposition 34.

Not only would it end the death penalty in California, it would save the state more than $130 million per year in costs from death penalty cases. The measure would also require convicted killers to work and pay restitution in to a victim’s compensation fund.

Greg Akili, the Southern California field director for Safe California, told NewsOne that as much as $100 million of the money saved from executions can potentially go to a crime victim’s fund to help support their cases.

“That is a better use of the money because many of the victims that we work with and who have been supporting the initiative are victims of rape and murder but their cases are not being aggressively pursued,” Akili said. “So the money that we save from executing people here in California can be used for that fund.”

Proposition 34 is a smart, cost-effective way of administering justice that can truly help make our street’s safer and ensure that no innocent person is killed for a crime they did not commit.

We do not know what Stinney would have done with his 83 years had he lived that long. But what we do know is that the ugly, inhumane practice that took his life nearly seventy years ago is as flawed and broken now as it was back in 1944.

Currently, more than half of the 3,170 of the people on death row are people of color,according to the Equal Justice InitiativeForty-three percent of them are African-American.

In Alabama, for example, 80 percent of all death sentences are imposed in cases where the victim is White even though 65 percent of the state’s murder victims are Black.

The racial bias that forced a 14-year-old Stinney in to an electric chair some 68 years ago clearly exists today.

So when we sit in our church pews this Sunday morning, lead our congregations in prayer, and deliver the good word, let us not forget that little George Stinney was born.

Let us take a moment of silence to reflect on the fact that the United States –  along with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and China — tops the list of countries with the highest execution rates in the world. We are not serving justice nor are we serving any God by using the death penalty to take another human being’s life. We’re merely serving our primal desire to get even.

But as little George Stinney should remind us, there was nothing even about the way it was applied to him or others since his execution.

It’s time to end the death penalty in America. Now and forever.

 

TROY DAVIS’ DEATH ANNIVERSARY 09/21/2012


Why It's Time to End the Death Penalty

All my prayers for his family . R.I.P Troy

Troy Davis’ Nephew : A year ago, on Sept. 21, the state of Georgia killed my uncle. BeforeTroy Davis‘ name buzzed all over the news and was known around the world, I called him “Uncle Troy.”

I was born in 1994, after he went on death row. I went regularly with my family to visit him in prison, before I could speak and before I could comprehend what prisons and executions meant. As I got older, I started asking my mother tough questions about her brother.

She wanted me to have a relationship with Troy; after all, he was my uncle. But she also wanted to protect me from the harsh reality of his situation. She explained why he was on death row and how the government wanted to put him to sleep, the way they do with dogs that can’t be adopted. I asked, “But Troy didn’t kill anybody, so why do they want to kill him?” She had a hard time explaining why, because she had the same question.

2011 was a very hard year for my family. I lost my grandmother just after Troy’s final appeal was lost and before his last execution date was set. The death penalty takes a toll on everyone within its reach.

My mother [Martina Correia] suffered a lot in her battle to save Troy’s life, but she didn’t let it show. She was battling for her own life, too. Around a decade ago, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and given six months to live. She asked God to let her live long enough to raise me and to clear my uncle’s name.

She made it another 10 years after that prayer. She did everything possible to proclaim the innocence of my uncle and stop his execution. And I was just about to finish high school when she passed.

People wonder why I didn’t crack after a year like that. There was nothing normal or easy about it, and my emotions have come at me at strange times like a ton of bricks. The best I can explain is that my mother raised me well, my family has stuck together and we have held firm in our faith in God.

My mother was always a fighter, and so was my uncle Troy. For many years my mother spoke out for Troy, to deaf ears. It was weird to see almost a thousand people in Atlanta stand with my family at the state Capitol, glued to her words, as we rallied to stop Troy’s execution. We were fortunate to have the help of organizations likeAmnesty International and theNAACP to pull together hundreds of thousands of people to support our cause, which was about Troy but was also about truth, justice and human rights.

People are asking me what my family wants these days. We still want to clear Troy’s name. He was innocent and his execution was wrong — this shouldn’t just fade away. We also want to help other families in similar situations. No one should ever go through what we did.

And we know that the only way to make sure the innocent aren’t executed is to replace the death penalty with better solutions. We don’t need to rely on the death penalty to ensure public safety. We know that it doesn’t deter violent crime. In fact, it costs a lot more even than life without parole. We are helping the campaign in California to encourage people to vote “yes” on Proposition 34, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole.

I hope that Californians will show my state, Georgia, what a better way looks like.

Remembering Jack Alderman – the longest serving death row prisoner in the US


May 29, 2012 Source :http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Jack Alderman

Sixty-one years ago today, Jack Alderman was born in Savannah, Georgia. On 16 September 2008 he was executed by that same state for a crime he did not commit. By that time, he had spent 33 years on death row, making him the longest serving prisoner awaiting execution in the US.

Based on the testimony of John Arthur Brown – Jack’s neighbour and a known drug addict and alcoholic – Jack was convicted for the murder of his wife Barbara in 1975. Since there was no forensic evidence against him, the District Attorney stated that he “structured the entire case” around Brown’s statement. A few months later, Brown was himself sentenced to death after claiming that he and Jack killed Barbara together. This was later commuted to a life sentence – a result of a deal struck between Brown and the prosecutors – and he was freed after 12 years. Always maintaining his innocence, Jack lost several appeals, and remained on death row until his death five years ago.

During his 33 years on death row, Jack gained the respect of his fellow prisoners, guards, and even the prison administration, for his peacemaking abilities within the prison community. Along with Reprieve, hundreds of individuals, faith-based organizations, and even supporters of capital punishment, advocated for his clemency.

There was a glimmer of hope on the day of his execution – a judge ordered a stay until the State Board of Patrons and Paroled had granted a “meaningful” hearing, where Jack’s legal team and witnesses could have an opportunity to appeal for clemency. Sadly, the Board – the same which offered parole to Brown – denied clemency, and Jack was executed by lethal injection just a few hours later.

Refusing to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, Jack consistently stated until the end: “I would rather die than lie to save myself.” The horribly unfair nature of this case shows how a system created to do justice may very easily end up killing innocent people.

REMEMBRANCE : Troy Davis


R.I.P Troy

We must all fight for justice, freedom, humans rights, Troy Davis must remain an example for the fight against the mistakes of U.S. laws! there are still many of “Troy Davis” in the death Row. Do not close our eyes because innocent people waiting for someone to lend a hand.

Amid tragedy, activists promote ‘Better Days Ahead’


march, 26, 2012  source : http://www.roosevelttorch.com

Last year, the execution of Troy Davis execution sparked outrage around the world. Davis, who was wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer in 1989, became a symbol of worldwide artistic and political movements against racial injustice and wrongful convictions.

At the Wicker Park Arts Center Friday, Occupy Chicago Rebel Arts Collective (OCRAC) hosted a tribute event called “Better DaysAhead.” The event was to pay remembrance to Davis and his sister, Martina Correia. Correia, who passed six months after Davis, was an advocate on Davis’ behalf and fought against the death penalty.

“We’ve learned quite a bit of how the legal system fails in the last few decades,” said Paul Cates, Innocence Project communications director. He explained that 25 percent of wrongfully convicted cases are due to misidentification. False confessions account for another 25 percent and 50 percent is attributed to invalidated forensic science. In Davis’ case, there was no DNA evidence, according to Cates.

OCRAC, a project of Occupy Chicago’s Arts & Recreation, hosts events like the Davis tribute to connect local artists and to highlight the human effect of unchanging laws and wrongful convictions.

“OCRAC exists for the purpose of connecting with artists of all stripes…and mobilizing the power of art in the name of a more just and equal world,” according to the OCRAC website.

Artists and attendees reflected on the tragedies and celebrated Davis’ and Correia’s lives at the “Better Days Ahead” event. Speakers from various local anti-racism organizations like Amnesty International, Occupy 4 Prisoners, and Campaign to End the Death Penalty attended the tribute.

FM Supreme, ‘Two-time Louder than A Bomb’ city-wide high school poetry competition winners, performed at the event. The group wrote a song last year, dedicated to Davis and Correia.

“FM Supreme in particular was active in trying to save Troy,” Alex Billet said, an OCRAC artist and Rebel Frequencies founder, a journalism website focused on political activism through music. “Word is that Supreme had the chance to perform the song for her (Correia) before she passed away.”

An additional memorial was held for Trayvon Martin, in which a local artist set up a framed photo of Martin along with candles, and placed iced tea and Skittles, which Martin was carrying in his pockets at the time of the shooting.

Billet felt the impromptu memorial was important.

“Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin are both victims of the same sick, violent and virulently racist system,” Billet said in an email statement.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy at ACLU Illinois, believes tributes like “Better Days Ahead” help to spread awareness about injustices in the legal system and inspire people to right those injustices in various ways.

“I think stories like Davis’ have a powerful impact on how people relate to policy issues, and how it could affect them,” said Yohnka. “For example, President Obama’s statement in regards to relating to Trayvon Martin as a son. Comments like that connect people to issues. It’s very, very powerful.”

OCRAC hosts several events a month to promote activism through art. The next

OCRAC-sponsored event is Chicago Spring, at the Chicago Board of Trade on April 7 at noon.

 

US – 10 convicts presumed innocent after execution


Carlos De Luna
Executed in 1989

Carlosdeluna Bookingphoto

In February 1983, Wanda Lopez, was stabbed to death during her night shift at the gas station where she worked. After a brief manhunt, police found De Luna hiding under a pick-up truck. Recently released from prison, he was violating his parole by drinking in public. De Luna immediately told police that he was innocent and he offered the name of the person who he saw at the gas station. Police ignored the fact that he did not have a drop of blood on him even though the crime scene was covered in blood. De Luna was arrested too soon after the crime to clean himself up. The single eyewitness to the crime, Kevin Baker, confirmed to police that De Luna was the murderer after police told him he was the right guy.

At trial De Luna named Carlos Hernandez as the man he saw inside the gas station, across the street from the bar where De Luna had been drinking. Hernandez and DeLuna were strikingly similar in appearance but, unlike DeLuna, Hernandez had a long history of knife attacks similar to the convenience store killing and repeatedly told friends and relatives that he had committed the murder. Friends confirmed that he was romantically linked to Lopez as well. De Luna’s lawyers knew of Hernandez’s criminal past but never thoroughly investigated his previous crimes. On December 7, 1989, Texas executed 27-year old Carlos De Luna.

Executed in 1995

Larry Griffin

On June 26, 1980 in St. Louis, Missouri, 19-year-old Quintin Moss was killed in a drive-by shooting while allegedly dealing drugs on a street corner. The conviction was based largely on the testimony from Robert Fitzgerald, a white career criminal, who was at the scene at the time of the murder. He testified that he saw three black men in the car when shots were fired and that Griffin shot the victim through the window of the car with his right hand. This was Griffin’s attorney’s first murder trial and he did not challenge the testimony even though Griffin was left-handed. He also failed to bring forth an alibi witness who was with Griffin at the time of the murder.

Griffin’s fingerprints were not found on the car or the weapon – all evidence against him was circumstantial. There is evidence that suggests Fitzgerald was promised a reduce sentence in exchange for his testimony. The prosecution also failed to address that there were two other witnesses who confirmed that Griffin did not commit the murder and they were able to name the three men who did.Appeals courts upheld his conviction and death sentence. Griffin was executed by lethal injection on June 21, 1995. Griffin maintained his innocence right up to his execution. In 2005, a professor University of Michigan Law School reopened the case. His investigation concluded that Griffin was innocent.

Executed in 1993

Ruben Cantu

On the night of November 8, 1984, Ruben Cantu and his friend David Garza, broke into a vacant San Antonio house under construction and robbed two men at gunpoint. The two victims, Pedro Gomez and Juan Moreno, had been workmen sleeping on floor mattresses at a construction site, guarding against burglary. As they tried to take their cash, they were interrupted by Gomez’s attempt to retrieve a pistol hidden under his mattress. The boys shot both men killing Gomez instantly. Thinking they had killed both men, the two teens then fled the scene.

The police showed Moreno photos of suspects, which included Cantu’s picture, and he was unable to identify his attacker. On the basis of no physical evidence, no confession, and only Moreno’s subsequently recanted testimony, a jury convicted Ruben Cantu of first-decree murder. Juan Moreno now says that he had felt pressure from the police to finger Cantu. David Garza, Cantu’s codefendant, has since admitted involvement in the burglary, assault and murder. He says he did go inside the house with another boy, did participate in the robbery, and saw the murder take place, but that his accomplice was not Ruben Cantu.On August 24, 1993, Ruben Cantu at the age of 26, was executed by lethal injection. His final request was for a piece of bubble gum, which was denied.

David Spence
Executed 1997

Dspence

In 1982, David Spence was accused of the rape and murder of two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy in Waco, Texas. He received the death penalty in two trials for the murders. Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, hired Spence to do the murders and he was also charged and sentenced to death. He received a new trial in 1993 and was later acquitted.

The prosecution built its case against Spence around bite marks that a state expert said matched Spence’s teeth and jailhouse snitches. Two of the six jailhouse witnesses who testified at trial later recanted, saying they were given cigarettes, television and alcohol privileges, and conjugal visits for their testimonies. Spence’s post-conviction lawyers had a blind panel study in which five experts said the bite marks could not be matched to Spence’s. Even the original homicide investigator on the case said he had serious doubts about Spence’s guilt and a former Waco police detective involved in the case said he did not think Spence committed the crime. David Spence was executed by lethal injection on April 14, 1997.

executed in 1990

Jesse-Tafero

On the morning of February 20, 1976, Highway Patrol officer, Phillip Black, and Donald Irwin, approached a car parked at a rest stop for a routine check. Tafero, his partner Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs, and Walter Rhodes were found asleep inside. Black saw a gun lying on the floor inside the car so he woke the occupants and had them come out of the car. According to Rhodes, Tafero then shot both Black and Irwin with the gun, which was illegally registered to Jacobs, led the others into the police car and fled the scene. All three were arrested after being caught in a roadblock. The gun was found in Tafero’s waistband.

At their trial, Rhodes testified that Tafero and Jacobs were solely responsible for the murders. Tafero and Jacobs were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death while Rhodes was sentenced to 3 life sentences. Rhodes was eventually released in 1994 following parole for good behavior. Because the jury had recommended a life sentence for Jacobs, the court commuted Jacobs’ sentence to life in prison, but not Tafero’s. She was later released after agreeing to a plea bargain. Prior to his release, Rhodes confessed several times to lying about his involvement in the shooting. Even Sunny Jacobs claimed that Rhodes, not Tafero, carried out the shooting as well. Rhodes was the only person on which traces of gunpowder were found. Tafero was executed by electric chair on May 4, 1990. The chair malfunctioned causing the process to take over 13 minutes.

Read more : Listverse.com

TEXAS : Remembrance – Dominique Green “A Saint on Death Row “


On October 26, 2004, Dominique Green, thirty, was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas. Arrested at the age of eighteen in the fatal shooting of a man during a robbery outside a Houston convenience store, Green may have taken part in the robbery but always insisted that he did not pull the trigger. The jury, which had no African Americans on it, sentenced him to death. Despite obvious errors in the legal procedures and the protests of the victims family, he spent the last twelve years of his life on Death Row.