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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…

Missouri's governor leaves office without granting pardon to death row inmate Marcellus Williams

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
(CNN) Missouri's governor took the rare steps last year of staying the execution of a death row inmate and announcing the creation of a five-person panel to look at the case.

But with Eric Greitens resigning in disgrace and leaving office Friday [Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens officially resigns amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign violations. - DPN], supporters of convicted killer Marcellus Williams, 49, were scrambling to figure out whether that board inquiry would ever meet.

It had been scheduled to meet Tuesday but an attorney for Williams' team said they had been notified the meeting was canceled.

Williams' supporters remained hopeful, but on Friday learned his name was not included on a clemency and pardon list released by Greitens' office before the governor resigned.

Greitens decided to issue five pardons and commute four sentences before leaving his position. The list included men and women sentenced for crimes ranging from DWI to capital murder.

"Each of the people on this list has a story to tell, and I look forward to each of them having the chance to do that," Greitens' office said in a statement. "Each of them has overcome injustice, and many have overcome abuse. Each of them has something to give to this state, and to the world."

The NAACP was one of the groups that asked Greitens to commute Williams' sentence before departing office.

"The (NAACP) has long been opposed to the death penalty in any case because it is a cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary punishment that has been applied in a racially disparate manner. However, above and beyond these general problems, there are compelling reasons to spare Mr. Williams' life," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said earlier.

Williams was convicted in the death of Felicia Gayle, 42, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper who was stabbed 43 times inside her home in August 1998.

The newly acquired evidence shows Williams' DNA was not found on the murder weapon, Williams' lawyers say, though DNA from another male was found.

That evidence was not available when Williams went to trial in 2001, court documents say. Williams maintains his innocence and says he was convicted on the testimony of individuals who were, themselves, convicted felons.

The state attorney general's office said the new DNA evidence does not show that Williams is innocent. His guilt was proven without DNA evidence, it said.

Other evidence included a laptop belonging to the victim's husband, which Williams sold and police recovered, and some of the victim's personal items, which police found in the trunk of the car Williams drove, according to court documents.

Williams got picked up about three weeks after Gayle was killed on unrelated charges. His cellmate from that time, Henry Cole, and Laura Asaro, Williams' girlfriend, testified for the state, saying Williams told them separately that he killed Gayle, according to the documents filed by the state attorney general.

Source: CNN,  Amanda Watts and Steve Almasy, June 1, 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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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?