Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts

Friday, August 1, 2008

Virginia: Kaine and Commutations

The Wall Street Journal has an article on Virginia Governor Tim Kaine which relates the manner in which former state Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore attempted to paint Kaine as a "liberal who would be soft on crime."

... Mr. Kaine was an inviting target: He represented two death-row inmates as a young lawyer; opposed the death penalty on religious grounds, as a Roman Catholic; and had called in 2001 for a moratorium on executions to reexamine sentencing disparities, limits on introducing evidence and other concerns.

Mr. Kilgore claimed Mr. Kaine would commute all death sentences if elected. The turning point came after a Kilgore television ad suggested Mr. Kaine would be so lenient that he might have commuted a sentence for Adolf Hitler.

The tactic backfired. Newspaper editorials excoriated the Kilgore campaign for going too far. Mr. Kaine took the offensive, aggressively highlighting his religious faith and pledging he would do nothing to obstruct executions.

"People want to know what your motivation is. For me, it's my faith," Gov. Kaine said recently. "That was strengthened in my experience in Honduras. I just want to serve people. I know it sounds like a simple cliché" ...

See full Wall Steet Journal article here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Virginia: Rejection. Another Execution.

Kent Jermaine Jackson was put to death tonight for a murder of a 79-year old woman that was committed in 2000. The 26-year old was executed by injection. According to the Associated Press, his last words were,"You all can't kill me. I'm the king. Remember me like you remember Jesus. I'll be back."

Joseph M. Dorsett was also charged in connection with the same murder, but only sentenced to 135 years in prison. Jackson's lawyers contended that Dorsett was the actual killer and a clemency petition emphasizing this point was sent to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. The Governor responded:

"Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts. Accordingly, I decline to intervene."
It is reported that the execution was the 101st execution in Virginia since the death penalty was allowed to resume by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. See story here and here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Virginia: Rejection

The Washington Post is reporting on the clemency request of Robert Stacy Yarbrough, who was executed last night.

Kaine declined yesterday to block Yarbrough's execution, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene, although Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have granted a stay, the court said.

In a statement, Kaine said: "The trial, verdict, and sentence have been reviewed in detail by various state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Virginia, a United States Magistrate, a United States District Court Judge, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme Court of the United States also has denied Yarbrough's petition for review."

Kaine continued: "Having carefully reviewed the Petition for Clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury, and then imposed and affirmed by the courts. Accordingly, I decline to intervene."

See complete story here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Virginia: Another Execution for Kaine?

Robert Stacy Yarbrough is asking Gov. Tim Kaine to grant him clemency and has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the execution. Yarbrough was convicted for the 1997 murder of a 77-year old shopkeeper and is scheduled for execution this evening. He now claims prosecutors improperly struck African Americans from a jury pool and that his trial lawyer was negligent for failing to challenge DNA evidence. His pleas also emphasize that he was the victim of childhood neglect and deprivation. See additional details here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Virginia: Fast Track Clemency? is reporting that a clemency petition for a mother facing deportation "is on the fast-track to the Governor's office." Immigration officials want 31-year old Kathryn Ingleson deported to England in August for an offense she committed as a teenager (credit card fraud to the tune of $300). A pardon from Governor Tim Kaine would save the mother of two the trauma, but applications usually take a year to process. According to the report, Ingleson "has also secured very strong, bipartisan support." Lawmakers "on both sides of the isle" are said to be "urging" the Governor to grant a pardon. See story here

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Virginia: Piling on the Gov.'s Commutation

Yesterday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine commuted the death sentence of Percy Levar Walton, who murdered three people in Danville in 1996 (see the Governor's statement here). Attorney General Bob McDonnell then issued a statement (here) saying he disagrees with the decision. Now, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has issued the following statement:

“I was very disappointed by Gov. Kaine’s decision to commute the death sentence of Percy Walton. The Governor’s decision is inconsistent with the findings of the courts, and it sets a very dangerous precedent for evaluating cases of this nature in the future.

“In 1996, Percy Walton brutally murdered three innocent people in Danville. He had been tried and convicted of these charges and the court had decided that he should be put to death for these crimes. Walton’s conviction and sentence had subsequently been reviewed by Virginia courts and federal courts, and these courts had consistently found that Walton was mentally competent and eligible for execution under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“While the imposition of the death penalty should never be undertaken lightly, there are certain cases where the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for the crimes committed. That is certainly true in this case. By unilaterally concluding that Walton is mentally incompetent and substituting his own judgment for that of the courts, Gov. Kaine has done an injustice to the families of Percy Walton’s victims and set a very dangerous precedent for evaluating such cases in the future.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of Percy Walton’s brutal crimes.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

Virginia: Attorney General Disagrees with Commutation

Attorney General Bob McDonnell issued a statement this evening saying he disagrees with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's decision to commute the death sentence of Percy Levar Walton, who murdered three people in Danville in 1996. Says McDonnell:

“Governor Kaine is within his authority under the Virginia Constitution to grant clemency when the ends of justice require it. Under the law, a person who is mentally incompetent may not be executed. Walton’s mental health status was fully adjudicated in multiple courts. Each concluded that he is not incompetent or mentally retarded. The United States Supreme Court denied Walton’s petition in which he argued that he is incompetent and requested that his execution be stayed.

“The United States Supreme Court has made clear that new evidence of incompetency to be executed may be presented in court when that evidence arises. Nothing has prevented Walton from bringing such evidence to the federal courts for further review in light of the U.S. constitutional standard. Evidence of an inmate’s competency is more effectively evaluated by a judicial officer. Thus I respectfully disagree with the Governor’s decision that clemency is now warranted in this case.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Walton’s three murder victims, Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, and Archie Moore, Jr., who have suffered for more than 11 years.”

Virginia: Kaine Commutes Sentence

Governor Timothy M. Kaine has just issued the following statement on the scheduled execution of Percy Levar Walton by the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“I have carefully considered over the past 24 months the question of whether the Commonwealth can carry out the execution of Percy Levar Walton in a constitutionally permissible manner.

“There is no doubt that Walton killed three innocent people over a two-week period in November 1996. The victims met a fate they did not deserve and the families of the victims have suffered greatly from the loss of their loved ones. I have no reason to question the prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty or the judge’s decision that death was an appropriate sentence.

“The courts have emphasized, however, that it is unconstitutional to execute a person who is mentally incompetent. The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. wrote in the seminal case of Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), that the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ‘forbids the execution of those who are unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.’ He further concluded that the execution of a mentally incompetent inmate would be a ‘uniquely cruel penalty’ where the inmate could not comprehend that they are about to die and could not ‘prepare, mentally and spiritually’ for the execution.

“Thus, the question of Walton’s mental status is of the utmost importance in assessing whether the Commonwealth may carry out his death sentence. For this reason, the court system has wres-tled with the question of whether Walton’s mental capacity imposes a bar to his execution. Notwithstanding consistent decisions upholding his conviction, the courts found it necessary to carefully examine whether Walton’s death sentence could be carried out consistent with the U.S. Con-stitution.

“In this regard, a few days before Walton’s initial scheduled execution date of May 28, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granted Walton a stay of execution in order to determine Walton’s mental competence. In July 2003, following extensive submission of evidence about Walton’s mental state from 1997 through 2003, the court ruled that he was competent to be executed. A three-judge panel of appellate judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated the lower court ruling, directing a broader inquiry into Walton’s mental state. Before that inquiry took place, the entire court reconsidered the panel’s decision in an en banc review. The en banc court found Walton competent to be executed by a narrow 7-6 majority.

“In issuing its ruling, the Fourth Circuit properly limited its consideration to psychiatric evaluations and other evidence pertaining to Walton’s mental state during the period from 1997 to 2003. By the time I first reviewed this matter, shortly before Walton’s scheduled execution in June 2006, three years had passed since the evidence on his mental competence was presented to the court.

“I noted at that time that Walton’s clemency petition presented significant evidence that Walton had schizophrenia, that such a mental illness can cause serious deterioration of mental competence, and that Walton’s mental state had deteriorated since 2003 such that there was more than a minimal chance that Walton no longer knew why he was to be executed or was even aware of the final punishment he was about to receive. Due to the history of judicial concern about his mental status, I determined that it was important to have current and independent information about Walton’s mental condition in order to comply with the law forbidding execution of a mentally incompetent person. Accordingly, I delayed Walton’s June 2006 execution date until December 8, 2006, for the purpose of conducting an independent evaluation of his mental condition and competence.

“During that six-month period, I was provided with current and independent information pertaining to Walton’s mental state from a number of sources including a thorough review of records maintained by the Department of Corrections, updated evaluations by psychiatrists, and information provided by persons who had interacted with Walton on a regular basis over a period of years.

“After reviewing the information, I was compelled to conclude that Walton was seriously mentally impaired and that he met the Supreme Court’s definition of mental incompetence. Because one could not reasonably conclude that Walton was fully aware of the punishment he was about to suffer and why he was to suffer it, I decided that his execution could not proceed at that time.

“At the same time, it was within the realm of possibility - though unlikely - that Walton’s men-tal impairment was not permanent. As a result, I concluded that a commutation of his sentence was not then appropriate. Rather, continued observation of Walton’s condition over a more extended period of time was the appropriate course of action. Accordingly, I delayed his execution date by an additional 18 months, to June 10, 2008.

“Over the course of those 18 months, there has been no discernible improvement in Walton’s condition and no evidence that his mental impairment is temporary. Walton differs in fundamental ways from other death row offenders. He lives in a self-imposed state of isolation that includes virtually no interest in receiving or understanding information. Walton communicates only infrequently, almost invariably in response to direct questions, and those responses are minimal in nature. He has nothing in his cell other than a mattress, a pillow and a blanket. He shows no interest in contact with the outside world and has no television, radio, magazines, books or sta-tionery. He has no personal effects of any kind. This minimal existence has been in evidence for the past five years.

“In light of this information, I am again compelled to find that one cannot reasonably conclude that Walton is fully aware of the punishment he is about to suffer and why he is to suffer it.

“Given the extended period of time over which Walton has exhibited this lack of mental competence, I must conclude that a commutation of his sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole is now the only constitutionally appropriate course of action.

“Although Walton’s mental incompetence alone precludes carrying out an execution that would violate the Constitution, there are other factors that I have considered in granting limited clemency. Since Walton’s conviction and sentencing, separate Supreme Court decisions have placed limitations on executions that very nearly fit Walton’s circumstances.

“The Court has ruled that the Constitution forbids executing an individual who: commits a capital crime under the age of 18 years old; was insane at the time of the capital crime; or is mentally retarded due to intellectual disabilities evidenced before the age of 18.

“In this instance, Walton committed these murders less than two months past his 18th birthday. While he was not insane at the time of his crimes, there are strong indications that his mental illness started prior to the murders. While he scored a 66 on his most recent IQ test, which is below a standard for mental retardation (70 on an IQ test) set by the Supreme Court of Virginia, he appears to have fallen below that standard for mental retardation only after he turned 18 while the relevant legal standard in the Commonwealth requires that retardation be in evidence prior to that age.

“While no one of these additional factors would justify clemency for Walton standing alone, it is appropriate to employ the sound legal practice of considering and weighing the totality of the facts in determining whether to grant limited clemency to Walton.

“In light of the foregoing conclusions and in accordance with the powers granted to me as Governor under Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia, I have granted Walton a commutation of his three death sentences to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

“In reaching this decision, I remain mindful of the terrible injustice that Walton perpetrated against Jessie E. Kendrick, Elizabeth W. Kendrick, and Archie D. Moore, Jr. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these honorable people.

Virginia: Request on the Eve of Execution

Percy Walton is set to die by lethal injection at 9 p.m. Tuesday. In 1979, Walton pleaded guilty to the murders of Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick and Archie Moore. The husband and wife (in their 80s) were shot in the head from close range. Walton would have been executed in 2003, but a federal court intervened three days beforehand. In 2006, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine granted a reprieve just two hours before Walton was set to die and delayed the execution another 18 months. Kaine argued that Walton met the Supreme Court's definition of "mental incompetence." At the time, it was reported that Walton laughed a great deal and talked to voices in his own head. Today. Walton's attorney says his client's mental condition is, if anything, worse. He reports that Walton has told him that he plans to go to Burger King and ride a motorcycle after the execution. Today, a spokesman says the governor is "reviewing" Walton's clemency petition. See story here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Virginia: Another Request on Kaine's Desk

Percy Lavar Walton is scheduled for execution next Tuesday and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has a clemency petition on his desk. Walton pleaded guilty to a triple murder that took place in 1996, when he was 18-years old. At the time, he scored 90 on an IQ test and his scores have steadily declined since. As a result, Walton's execution has been delayed twice by Kaine - once to allow for an independent evaluation of Walton’s mental condition and competence and a second time to allow for “continued observation” of Walton’s mental state. The director of the Lynchburg Depressive Disorders Association says, "the life sentence commutation would be appropriate." But attorney William H. Fuller III says the execution is about 10 years overdue. Mental health issues were never brought up by the defense during Walton’s trial. See report here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Virginia: Rejection

The Washington Post reports:

Convicted killer Kevin Green was scheduled to be put to death at 9 p.m. Earlier tonight, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his request for a stay of execution and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) denied a petition for clemency. He said he had carefully reviewed the case but found "no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury.''

See story here.

Virginia: The "Politics" of an Execution

The State of Virginia appears to be headed toward the execution of Kevin Green and the "politics" of the situation could not be more dynamic. Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) personally opposes the death penalty. He did not hide this position during his gubernatorial campaign, but promised that, if elected, he would objectively enforce the laws of his state - which so allow for the penalty. Of course, Kaine's opponents were skeptical.

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the constitutionality of lethal injection (the method employed in Virginia), Kaine decided to place a temporary moratorium on executions in the state. Kaine, of course, argued that he was reasonably erring on the side of caution. And several other states had already done the same thing. But Kaine's critics were quick to shout "AH-HAAA!" In their minds, the campaign promises were pure hot air, null and void. When the Court's final ruling let lethal injection stand, however, Governor Kaine lifted his temporary reprieve, allowing for today's scheduled execution of Mr. Green.

Kevin Green's lawyers argue that their client is mentally disabled and deserves a commutation of sentence (to life in prison). From the standpoint of Governor Kaine, it seems that the pertinent question is not whether or not Mr. Green is mentally disabled so much as it is this: "Is it reasonable to conclude that he might be." If so, a commutation of his death sentence seems quite appropriate, regardless of the certain mass and predictable intensity of the "AH-HAAA"s to follow.

Kaine never promised to execute everyone on the state's "death row" no matter what. And no governor (or candidate) ever should.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Virginia: Clemency for Kevin Green?

Here is more insight on Kevin Green's clemency application and the case in general from The Virginia Pilot:

... Green's IQ has been listed as 65, 10 points below what is generally considered the threshold for mental retardation. But two federal judges in Norfolk determined that Green did not qualify as mentally retarded under the Supreme Court's and Virginia's two-prong test. While his IQ is considered to be in the range for mental retardation, Green exceeded the minimum standard for the second prong, which looks at his "conceptual, social and practical skills," according to the judges' rulings. Those skills include use of language, the ability to handle money and keep a job, self-direction and his relationships with others.

His attorneys say Green, 31, could not hold a job while he was free, can't read, doesn't know how to use a phone and was unable to hold on to his driver's license. Though he had a girlfriend, she had to take care of him as if he were a child, they said. "He is, beyond a doubt, mentally retarded, and his execution would be unconstitutional," said Washington lawyer Sarah Wilson, who filed the clemency petition with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. Kaine had not acted on the petition as of Friday. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the Green case.

The governor last year halted the execution of Percy Walton, a convicted triple murderer, based on questions of his mental capacity. Those issues seemingly resolved, Walton is now scheduled to be executed next after Green, on June 10. Green has shown no remorse for his actions that day in August 1998 at Lawrence's Grocery. (He was also tried and acquitted of the murder that year of another convenience-store merchant.)

... At his sentencing in 2002, Green told the judge: "You want to know if I have any remorse? No, I don't. I'm ready to die."

... Virginia hasn't executed anyone since November 2006. Kaine, who personally opposes the death penalty but has said he will not stand in the way of the law, has allowed four executions to go forward but has halted several others. Most recently, he issued a brief moratorium on executions in April while the Supreme Court decided the legality of lethal injection. After the court found lethal injection to be
constitutional, Kaine lifted the moratorium.

See previous posts here and here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Virginia: More Appeals to the Gov.

James W. Ellis, past president of the American Association on Mental Retardation, and the executive directors of ARC of Virginia, ARC of the United States and the American Association on Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities have written a seven-page letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) arguing that Kevin Green is mentally disabled. The letter thus requests that Green's death sentence (for murder) be commuted to "a sentence of life in prison." The letter argues that Green "clearly has substantial deficits in adaptive behavior." Among other things it is observed that he cannot sign his name, pay bills, read newspapers or tell a story coherently. However, a federal magistrate judge found Green had a savings account, paid his own rent, purchased money orders, profited from drug deals, obtained a driver's license and hid much of his criminal activities from loved ones.

Jurors at Green's 2001 trial also heard an expert say Green was mentally disabled, but another expert said he simply had a personality disorder and was pretending to be less intelligent than he is. Later, the State Supreme Court dismissed the retardation claim as "frivolous." The same claim was then dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge and a federal appeals court. Observers note the Governor allowed the execution of Brandon Wayne Hedrick in 2006 even though his lawyers said there was evidence Hedrick was mentally disabled. See story here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Virginia: Application Before Gov. Kaine

Kevin Green will be probably be executed May 27 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt unless Gov. Tim Kaine (D) responds to an application for clemency from his attorneys. The U.S. Supreme Court has also been asked to review the case, just after 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a stay on Monday. In 1998, Green shot a married couple who owned and operated a store and fled the scene with about $9,000. The wife survived, but the husband died. See full story here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve Ended

The Washignton Post reports that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will now allow executions to proceed in his State as the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of lethal injection in the State of Kentucky. Kaine suspended the practice earlier this month (details here) while he awaited the Court's decision in the case Baze v. Rees . He also says that he will continue to decide, on a "case by case basis," whether to grant clemency in death penalty cases. See story here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve (Update)

Richard Timbrook, whose police son, Police Sgt. Rick L. Timbrook, was shot to death while chasing a suspect has criticized Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for delaying the execution of Edward Nathaniel Bell, his son's killer. Bell was convicted seven years ago. Timbrook says he left a message at the governor's office telling Kaine that he had the right to oppose the death penalty but "he didn't have the right to push his views" on others. Kaine committed himself to upholding the death penalty as a feature of Virginia's law during the 2005 campaign, but Timbrook says the Governor "bare-face lied to us" and is failing his "obligation to the people." See story here. See also: Virginia: Reprieve (Background, Update) and Virginia: Reprieve

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve (Background, Update)

Virginia has executed 98 people since 1976, a figure that is second only to the State of Texas. Since becoming governor in 2006, Timothy M. Kaine Kaine (D) has carried out four executions. He has issued three stays, but has yet to commute a death sentence. Yesterday, Kaine rescheduled Edward Nathaniel Bell's execution for July 24. It is hoped that, by that point in time, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of lethal injection (in the case Baze v. Rees). A separate Virginia execution scheduled for next week and three others scheduled for July, will also be delayed. Meanwhile, 30 executions in other states have also been put on hold, dating back to September of last year, in apparent anticipation of the High Court's ruling. So, arguably, Virginia is simply lining up with everyone else. Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) has called Kaine's decision “premature,” however, and suggests the decision to grant a stay is more appropriately a "legal decision to be made by a court.” As a gubernatorial candidate, Kaine professed that he was "personally opposed" to the death penalty but pledged that he would carry out the sanction if elected. See story here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve

Governor Timothy M. Kaine today issued the following statement regarding the execution of Edward Nathaniel Bell and other scheduled executions in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“On September 25, 2007, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Baze v. Rees in order to consider the constitutionality of using lethal injection as a method of execution. There has been no execution carried out in the United States since that date, as courts around the country await the Supreme Court’s ruling, which will likely be issued at some time before the middle of July. Approximately 30 execution dates in 13 states have been stayed in the interim, either by actions of the Supreme Court, lower federal courts, state courts or gubernatorial action. In one of these cases, the Supreme Court issued a stay of the October 17, 2007 scheduled execution of Christopher Scott Emmett in Virginia.

“In order to await the Supreme Court’s ruling in Baze, and respecting the national legal consensus that no execution go forward until that time, I grant a temporary reprieve of the execution date for Edward Nathaniel Bell, currently scheduled for April 8, until July 24, 2008. This temporary reprieve will allow for issuance of the Supreme Court decision and consideration of whether its outcome has any effect upon the merits of Mr. Bell’s legal claims or request for clemency.

“Stays in the final hours before an execution can take an emotional and physical toll on those who must prepare for the execution, including the family members of the victim or victims. In order to provide guidance to courts, litigants and the public, it is my intention, for the reasons expressed here, to grant a temporary delay of any execution date in Virginia that has been set after the conclusion of federal habeas corpus review and that is scheduled to occur before the Baze decision is rendered, unless the Supreme Court, by other ruling or action, specifies that executions may commence once again.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Virginia: Pardon

The Washington Post reports that Ollin Crawford has been granted a pardon by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D). Crawford served a twenty-three year sentence for robbing banks of $10,000 with a fake (or at least never found) grenade and running afoul of the state's three-time loser law - which made her ineligible for parole. According to the Governor, the prosecutor and the judge in Crawford's case "never contemplated that she should serve this much time." As lieutenant governor, Kaine told then-Governor Mark Warner (D) that she deserved "special attention." A legislator from Norfolk, Algie Howell Jr. (D) took interest in Crawford as well, as did prison guards, inmates, administrators and a warden. See story here. Additional background here.

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