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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Rare in Michigan: Feds in Detroit set to seek death penalty against gang members

Billy Arnold
Federal prosecutors filed a rare "Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty" on Monday in Detroit in the case of a gang suspect who is charged with a raft of murderous crimes.

And Billy Arnold, 31, likely won't be the only member of the Seven Mile Bloods to be fighting for life in U.S. District Court in Detroit, according to court officials.

Arnold is one of several members of the gang facing charges where the death penalty may be applied, officials said Monday. The Department of Justice is reviewing those cases to determine whether the death penalty should be invoked, they said.

Although Michigan was the first state to ban the death penalty in state courts — in 1847 — capital punishment can still be sought in federal cases. Arnold was charged in March 2016, along with six other gang members, with murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder, RICO conspiracy and other crimes. The Seven Mile Bloods gang has been linked in court pleadings to trafficking in prescription pills and to using violence to protect their sales turf.

Arnold, in particular, "has demonstrated a lack of remorse (and) participated in the killings of more than one victim," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in blunt language filed Monday in the case. Prosecutors say Arnold is known by nicknames "B-Man" and "Killa." He was released in March 2015 from state prison, after serving several years for convictions in state courts on assault and gun charges.

Still, under the law, he is innocent until proven guilty of the charges.The case is being tried before U.S. District Judge George Steeh.

The website of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center says the only Michigan defendant to be sentenced to death in more than 50 years is Marvin Gabrion, found guilty of murdering a woman whose body was found in the Manistee National Forest, which is federal land.

Gabrion's conviction and death sentence were upheld by a federal appeals court in 2013, but he remains on death row while appeals continue.

Gabrion was convicted of killing Rachel Timmerman, 19, who had accused him of rape. Her body, bound with chains and blocks, was found in 1997 in a lake in the Manistee National Forest in western Michigan.

If the body had been found a few hundred feet away on state property, the case wouldn't have been in federal court and the death penalty would not have been an option.

Source: Detroit Free Press, Bill Laitner, January 7, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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