Archive for Monday, March 1, 2010

Appeals keep executions a long way off

March 1, 2010


— Kansas legislators recently completed an exhaustive review of the death penalty that resulted in a 20-20 vote in the Senate that left capital punishment on the books.

But an actual execution in Kansas of someone on Death Row won’t happen for years, if ever.

“It’s impossible to determine” when an execution will be carried out, said Rebecca Woodman, who is an attorney with the Capital Appellate Defender Office for the State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services. “It could be years. It could be never,” she said.

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994. Since then, 12 men have been sentenced to death. Of those, one sentence was removed at the request of the district attorney, two have had their sentences vacated by the Kansas Supreme Court and others remain in the early stages of appeals.

The appeals process in death penalty cases is greater than any other.

A death sentence triggers a mandatory review by the Kansas Supreme Court. After that there are other avenues of review, and then there are appeals before the federal judiciary, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For example, the first man sentenced to death in Kansas after reinstatement of the penalty was Gary Kleypas, who was convicted in 1997 of the rape and slaying of Pittsburg State University student Carrie Williams.

His death sentence was overturned in 2001 after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that jury instructions were faulty. His sentencing case didn’t happen until 2008 when a jury once again recommended the death penalty.

The seven years between the high court ruling in the Kleypas case and another sentencing trial occurred because of another death penalty case — that of Michael Marsh.

In that case, the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty law because of its requirement that when a jury considering capital punishment finds pro and con factors to be equal, it must choose the death penalty. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Kansas Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.

Now, the Kleypas case is on direct appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. Woodman said it may be years before the court considers the case because of other death penalty cases that have since been put in the pipeline.

Despite the lengthy process, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six supports the death penalty.

“Death penalty litigation should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint,” Six said. “Families of victims, prosecutors and law enforcement officers understand how important this statute is to our criminal justice system. Some crimes are just too heinous and cruel to receive a lesser sentence.”


verity 8 years, 1 month ago

The question to me is not whether somebody deserves to die---according to Christian precepts, I believe we all deserve to die.

The question is---what kind of people do we want to be?

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

There was a story a few months back; a guy sentenced to lethal injection and they couldn't find a usable vein (former hard-core druggie, ruined all his veins.) . Maybe in Colorado? Anybody hear anything?? Pretty interesting.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 1 month ago

I am wih Soloman on this one. I have seen enough in recent times about prosecutorial bumbling and police avarice to "look good" that I frankly do not trust much of the present day judicial system. There are too many players with agendas, too many people who think that jucicial dictates like the Miranda decision do not apply to them (like the Lawrence Police Department and it's chief), and too much political wrangling to allow death sentences to be allowed in the present flawed judicial system.

The wisdom od Soloman is truly needed here.

ralphralph 8 years, 1 month ago

Bottom Line = Kansas is NEVER going to execute anyone. Never. Ever. Ergo, this is a huge waster of taxpayer money. Ditch the death penalty, commute to life-without-parole, close the capital defender office.

verity 8 years, 1 month ago

defenestrator says... "Contact your reps in the statehouse and tell them that you think the death penalty should be repealed specifically for this reason."

Too late---they've already voted on it and since it was a tie vote, the law stayed on the books.

Maybe next year.

chasmo 8 years, 1 month ago

I am for the rope and tree. And let the family members kick the stool out from under the rascals.

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

The pillow is a nice touch, do you suppose they leave a chocolate on it for you?

trollpatrol 8 years, 1 month ago

Solomon says that DNA evidence is incontrovertible. There are many reasons why that is not the case, such as:

labs make mistakes much often than you would believe evidence can get mixed up DNA tests are getting so sensitive that they can pick up DNA tracked in from elsewhere police have been known to frame someone they think is guilty and about to get off there could actually be an innocent but improbable-sounding explanation of why DNA is present.

You can bet that all of these things will occur sooner or later, given a large enough number of death penalty cases.

notajayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Keith (anonymous) says...

"The pillow is a nice touch, do you suppose they leave a chocolate on it for you?"

I was thinking about the same thing - at least they die on clean sheets (and, likely, a mattress more comfy than the one they've been sleeping on for the past ten years).

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