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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Pennsylvania: Aric Woodard's execution stayed

Aric Shayne Woodard
Aric Shayne Woodard
A York murderer's execution, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been stayed, according to online court records.

Aric Shayne Woodard, 43, formerly of West Jackson Street, was sentenced to death after being found guilty in 2013 of first-degree murder for fatally beating 2-year-old Jaques Omari Twinn on Nov. 7, 2011, while baby-sitting the boy and the boy's little sister.

Jaques was the son of Hayley Twinn, of York, and Tyrone Kemp, of Baltimore.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel signed a notice of execution for Woodard in January, setting March 4 as the execution date .

However, online court records show Woodard filed a motion to stay the execution on Feb. 6. That motion was granted by Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner on Feb. 9, according to court records.

Additionally, on Feb. 13, Bortner granted a motion for an appointment of legal counsel for Woodard.

Pennsylvania's death penalty


Shortly after taking office in 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf began issuing reprieves to condemned inmates, citing concerns about flaws in Pennsylvania's capital-punishment system.

He has said the moratorium will remain in effect at least until he receives a report from a legislative commission that has been studying the topic for about five years, according to The Associated Press.

The last execution in Pennsylvania was in 1999.


The background


According to Woodard's charging documents, police were called to a home in the 100 block of West Maple Street about 2:25 p.m. Nov. 7, 2011, for a child in cardiac arrest.

Jaques was rushed to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:05 p.m.

York City Detective Al Clarkson said at the time that Woodard left the children alone to go to a nearby store and that when he returned, he assaulted the child after realizing Jaques had smeared feces on the kitchen carpet.

Woodard had feelings for the children's mother, but she did not reciprocate, according to Clarkson.

"(Woodard) became frustrated that day," the detective has said. "He knew she was out with somebody else, and he realized she was using him to watch her kids while she was out with another guy."

Source: York Dispatch, Christopher Dornblaser, March 4, 2017

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