Tag Archives: execution

Celluloid connections

I always enjoy recognizing places I know in movies, particularly when it surprises me. It brings back memories and makes connections with people and places. A recently viewed movie became much more enjoyable when I spotted Pedernal in the background.

This morning, I finished watching The Quare Fellow, an adaptation of Brendan Behan‘s play. It presents a critique of thedeath penalty as it focuses on two pending execution.

The character subje ct to execution is not named or seen, except with a hood over his head at the hanging. The crime remains unnamed.

As a death penalty opponent, who has not been active enough lately, I appreciate that. My opposition is to the death penalty – to the state taking a life. My opposition depends neither on the person nor the certainty of guilt nor the crime for which the person is convicted, many of which are truly horrific. I grieve for those killed and violated in the crime. But executing the criminal demeans society. Execution is the issue.

Given such a topic, the movie is bleak and somber.

I recognized a filming location as Kilmainham Gaol. Kilmainham has a painful, tragic, troubling history. It is a place of defiance and resistance. All that washed over me this morning.

541970_10150941839146063_1422754043_nBut so did the memory of visiting Kilmainham with Tricia and Bruce and Nancy when we were in Dublin for the wedding of Joel and Roja. And the connections to my family and friends warmed me. (And yes, I realize celluloid is not used much anymore.)

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Family, Friends, Ireland, Movie

Stay in Mississippi; execution in Texas

In a reversal of an April decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court voted 8-1 to grant a reprieve “until further order” to Willie Manning, who was convicted in 1994 of murdering two college students. The stay came about four hours before the today’s scheduled execution.

The court did not explain its decision or put a time limit on the reprieve. The U.S. Justice Department had sent letters to  officials involved in the case raising questions about the degree of certainty expressed by F.B.I. forensic experts at Manning’s original trial.

Hopefully this stay will offer an opportunity for the DNA testing that the Innocence Project and others call for in this case. Testing all the evidence seems an absolute minimum standard in capital cases.

I grieve for those who love Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, of whose murders Manning is convicted. An execution will not bring them back.

At 6:32 p.m. CDT, in Huntsville, Texas, Carroll Joe Parr died from a lethal dose of pentobarbital administered by the state. Parr stood convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Joel Dominguez. Although Parr denied the killing, evidence against him was strong.

Parr reportedly endured an abusive childhood. His criminal record included convictions on drug-related charges and alleged links to other crimes.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joel Dominguez.

But an execution demeans us all and perpetuates a cycle of violence. There has to be another way.

See you along the Trail.

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Preparing for execution in Texas

Too long has passed since I have written about death penalty cases. I grieve the executions I have missed and give thanks for those who have raised their voices against the them.

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Cleve Foster on Tuesday for his role in the abduction and slaying of Nyaneur Pal a decade ago near Fort Worth. Twice before his execution has come close. Each time he received a reprieve. He maintains his innocence.

Foster and a companion, Sheldon Ward, were convicted of fatally shooting Pal. She seen talking with Foster and Ward at a Fort Worth bar. Evidence indicated that she had been raped and shot in the head.

A gun identified as the murder weapon was found in a motel room where Foster and Ward were living. Authorities determined the same gun was used two months earlier to kill another woman, 22-year-old Rachel Urnosky, at her Fort Worth apartment. She also had been raped.

“Foster and Ward were implicated but never tried in her slaying.

Foster blames Pal’s death on Ward. At his trial, Prosecutors argued that “evidence showed Foster actively participated in the woman’s killing, offered no credible explanations, lied and gave contradictory stories about his sexual activities with Pal.

I grieve for Nyaneur Pal and for her family and friends. Her death is a tragedy – an obscenity – as is the death of Rachel Urnosky. Their deaths diminish us all.

However, executing Cleve Foster will not bring Nyaneur back. It will be act of vengeance; it will preclude possible reconciliation. It may even prevent the truth from coming out.

Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. Violence begets violence. We have alternatives.

See you along the Trail.

 

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The People v. the State

In my musings on the death penalty, I have often used the expression: “the State of X will execute Y” at such a time. Tonight, I took a few moments to explore the People of Faith against the Death Penalty Website.

On their list of upcoming executions, they use the word “people” in place of the word “State.”

The word “State” works on some levels – the State establishes and enforces the laws. The State conducts the trial. The State maintains the prisons where those awaiting execution and held and then put to death.

But – in a democracy, laying aside for a moment the serious conversations that need to take place about the nature and reality of democracy in our country – in a democracy, the line between people and State blurs. As far as I can tell, PFDAP always uses the construction, “the people of State X.” I have pondered the words since. That plays effectively on that blurred line.

One of my prime objections to the death penalty is that when the State kills, it does so in the name of  its citizens. It does so in the name of the people it represents. It does so in my name.

Saying, as PFADP does, “Person X is scheduled to be killed by the people of State Y for and the crime is named and the person against whom the crime is committed is named,” reminds me of that reality. When the State kills, it kills in my name. It becomes tricky in the United States where individual States execute. If I live in State Y, what responsibility do I have for what happens in State Z? A good question. But we are bound together.

Much to ponder. More pondering lies ahead.

See you along the Trail.

 

 

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Execution in Florida

An execution took place in Florida today.

Debbie Kammerer was brutally beaten, raped and killed 32 years ago in St. Petersburg. Robert Waterhouse was convicted of the crime. He had previously been convicted of raping and strangling a 77-year-old woman in New York in 1966. I have not been able to find her name in any of the postings. He served eight years behind bars before being paroled for that conviction.

Today, the state of Florida executed Robert Waterhouse. He maintained his innocence in relation to the murder of Debbie Kammerer as recently as 1995. Through the years the courts disagreed.

Nothing can justify these crimes. I grieve for the unnamed victim and for Debbie Kammerer. I grieve for those who love them. I wonder at the system that allowed his parole.

Yet for all that, I cannot condone his execution. Violence feeds violence. There has to be another way.

See you along the Trail.

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A reversal

Life can change in the twinkling of an eye – or at least very quickly some times.

On Monday, an attorney representing Edward Hart Turner had persuaded a U.S. District Court to block, temporarily, Turner’s execution. The argument did not dispute Turner’s guilt. Rather it focused on a Department of Corrections policy that apparently prevented Turner from getting tests about his mental health at the time of killings.

It appeared that the Mississippi would step back and determine if Turner was mentally ill before it decided if it would take his life.

Today things changed. Quickly. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the stay. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the execution. The Governor of Mississippi refused a reprieve.

And Turner received a lethal injection this evening – 8 February 2012 – as scheduled.

Nothing can defend the brutal murders of Eddie Brooks and Everett Curry.

However, nothing can justify execution by the state of someone whose mental health, and ability to understand what they are doing, is in question.

See you along the Trail.

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Execution in Texas

Again I am late.

The state of Texas executed Rodrigo Hernandez on Thursday, January 26. The state convicted him of sexually assaulting and strangling Susan Verstegen in 1994, leaving her body in a San Antonio trash can.

DNA evidence tied Hernandez to the brutal crime. Evidence also linked him to a 1991 murder in Michigan. One report says he confessed to both murders before his execution.

I grieve for Susan Verstegen – for her mother and son – for all who grieve for her.

I wonder at a judicial system that failed to identify Hernandez as a killer and remove him from circulation  in an efficient manner. But life imprisonment would serve that purpose. His execution by the state leaves me wondering why we believe that killing people demonstrates that killing is wrong.

See you along the Trail.

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