Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Dylann Roof indicted in deadly Charleston rampage

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
A man accused in a deadly shooting rampage at a historic South Carolina church was indicted Tuesday on nine murder charges, three attempted murder charges and a weapon offense.

Dylann Roof, 21, is accused in the June 17 massacre that left nine people dead at Charleston's predominantly black Emanuel AME Church. The victims had at an evening Bible study, and Roof apparently joined them for several minutes before he drew a gun and began shooting.

Survivors told police that Roof, who is white, shouted racist epithets during the massacre. Roof reportedly told at least one survivor that she was letting her live so she could tell others what happened.

The church's pastor and a state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed.

Roof fled the scene, but friends and family identified him from surveillance video at the church. A manhunt followed, and the next day police were tipped off after a florist in North Carolina spotted a black Hyundai with South Carolina plates that matched the description of Roof's car.

Roof was arrested in Shelby, N.C., 245 miles from Charleston, about 14 hours after the attack. Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said Roof was cooperative when Shelby police took took him into custody.

Roof has already been charged by state warrants with the murder counts and possessing a weapon during commission of violent crime. The attempted murder charges are new and relate to three victims who survived the attack, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said in a statement.

The shooting, and Roof's fondness for the Confederate flag, sparked a push to remove a Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol. The South Carolina Senate earlier Tuesday formally approved and sent to the House a bill removing the flag, where it has flown either atop the Capitol or on a nearby flagpole for 54 years.

A white supremacist manifesto purportedly written by Roof to explain why he targeted the church says he had "no choice" but to target African Americans, whom he derided as "stupid and violent."

Source: USA Today, John Bacon, July 7, 2015

Court filing: Accused Charleston church killer Roof headed to death penalty trial?

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Attorney Boyd Young, who specializes in representing defendants in death penalty trials, has filed notice in court that he will represent accused mass killer Dylann Roof in the state murder charges against Roof.

"Potential death penalty case" are words on top of Young's filing in the Charleston County clerk of court's office.

It will be up to to 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson to decide whether she will seek the death penalty in this case. She has made no announcement.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Wilson announced that Roof has been indicted on 3 additional attempted murder charges. He already is facing 9 murder charges in connection with the June 17 mass killings at a Charleston church.

Tuesday's indictments of attempted murder relate to the 3 survivors of what is called a massacre of African-Americans at the hands of a white supremacist.

Attorney Young works in the capital trial division of the S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense, where he is deputy chief attorney. That division represents indigent defendants in death penalty trials statewide. The division not only provides legal representation to clients but also investigates cases.

Young was not available for comment.

Roof, 21, of Columbia, allegedly killed 9 African-Americans in a prayer meeting at Emanuel AME Church, according to warrants in the case. He was arrested hours later in Shelby, N.C.

Jack Swerling, a Columbia private criminal defense attorney, said Tuesday that Wilson will make her decision on whether to seek the death penalty on several factors, including community sentiment, whether the death penalty is appropriate and the wishes of the victims' families.

Another factor might be "If this crime does not qualify for the death penalty, with 9 victims, then what case would?" said Swerling.

"That would be a question people would ask," said Swerling, adding that Wilson is not likely to make her decision on that consideration, Swerling said.

Swerling has handled more that a dozen death penalty cases, including some seven that went to trial.

The cost of defending a death penalty case, which are ususally far more complicated than regular cases, can "run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars," Swerling said.

But, he said, "It's going to be a case where it's going to be difficult not to go for the death penalty," Swerling said.

Source: The State, July 7, 2015

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