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As Trial in South Carolina Execution-Method Challenge Begins, Review of State’s Death Penalty Reveals System that is Biased, Arbitrary, and Error-Prone

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As the trial challenging South Carolina’s execution methods began on August 1, 2022, a review of the state’s death penalty by the Greenville News revealed a pattern of discrimination, geographic arbitrariness, and high error rates in the implementation of the punishment.  In a two-part examination, reporter Kathryn Casteel analyzed racial and county demographics on death row, reversal rates in capital cases, and the timing of death sentences to provide context for the state’s efforts to institute the electric chair and firing squad as its primary execution methods. RELATED |  Future of South Carolina death penalty now rests with judge Four of South Carolina’s 35 death-row prisoners are suing the state to block a law that would force them to choose between electrocution and firing squad as methods of execution. One of the men, Richard Moore, wrote in an April legal filing, “I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution.” Executions ar

Florida | Man serving life sentence for murder of 6 people given death penalty for killing 7th

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Billy Wells, who earned the nickname “Monster of Mayport” after five bodies in varying states of decomposition were found in his Mayport mobile home in May 2003, was serving a life sentence at Florida State Prison when he killed again.

Wells killed his wife and four other family members in a Mayport doublewide and lived there for another week with his 4-year-old son before he was arrested.

Wells pleaded guilty to the five murders in 2003 in exchange for the state waiving the death penalty. 

Melissa Nelson, who was an assistant state attorney at the time and assigned to prosecute the case, said at the time that the victims’ family had asked for a life sentence instead of death.

Before that plea deal, prosecutors expressed concern about his mental health and ability to understand the criminality of those killings.

Wells was given another life sentence for killing an inmate in 2011. 

But after his conviction on a seventh murder -- killing fellow Florida State Prison inmate William Chapman in 2019 -- a judge on Tuesday has sentenced Wells to death.

In sentencing Wells in Bradford County, Circuit Judge Mark Moseley wrote: “The aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating circumstances which the court has heard and considered.”

All death penalty sentences are automatically appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Wells, now 45 years old, has repeatedly told prosecutors he wants to be executed.

Source: news4jax.com, Steve Patrick, May 25, 2021


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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