Death Row Inmates and the Lawyers Who Fail Them

Yesterday, the new journalism site, The Marshall Project, along with the Washington Post, released a 2-part investigative report looking into 80 cases of capital offenses and shining a light on the issue of incompetent, unqualified, and untrained lawyers failing to submit Federal habeas appeals prior to the deadline and to the detriment of their clients. A nonprofit journalism organization focused on investigating the criminal justice system, the Marshall Project officially launched its website this past weekend, with Bill Keller, previously the executive editor at the New York Times, at the helm.                                                                                                                                Read more at the Nonprofit Quarterly

Eric Holder Shares His Feelings On The Death Penalty

This interview with Holder was reported for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that just launched.

Excerpt: “I disagree very much with Justice Scalia’s certitude that we have never put to death an innocent person. It’s one of the reasons why I personally am opposed to the death penalty. We have the greatest judicial system in the world, but at the end of the day it’s made up of men and women making decisions, tough decisions. Men and women who are dedicated, but dedicated men and women can make mistakes.”                                                  Read the complete interview at the Huffington Post (This statement is near the end.)

New Development in Shane Willams Murder

PICKENS, S.C. — A Pickens County woman pleaded guilty to arranging for a friend to kill her husband to avoid a possible death sentence.

Local media outlets report that 35-year-old Crystal Williams pleaded guilty Friday to murder and conspiracy in the Jan. 26 death of 38-year-old Shane Williams. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the hearing, Solicitor Walt Wilkins announced he will seek the death penalty against 36-year-old Marcus Johnson of Easley, who rejected the same plea deal.Read more at The State

Potential Death Penalty Case

Prosecutors have not yet said if they will seek the death penalty against Timothy Jones Jr. – the Red Bank father accused killing his 5 children in August – but his defense attorneys are expecting it. Jones’ attorneys, Rob Madsen and Boyd Young, are preparing for the possibility of a death penalty case in a series of requests made to Circuit Judge Thomas Russo.    Continue reading at Myrtlebeachonline.com

Murder Rate Highest in South; Northeast has Sharpest Decline

On November 10 the Justice Department released its annual Uniform Crime Report for 2013. The report revealed an overall decline of 5.2% in the national murder rate. The Northeast had the lowest murder rate — 3.5 murders per 100,000 people — and the sharpest decline from last year. The South again had the highest murder rate (5.3).
Continue reading at the Death Penalty Information Center website.

Huggins’ Death Sentence Vacated

Titus Huggins was arrested for armed robbery, criminal conspiracy and the murder of Hazel Weaver on March 10, 1994. In 1995, his first trial ended in a mistrial. In 1996, he was convicted and sentenced to death, and in 2005 his sentence was overturned by Circuit Court Judge John M. Milling because his attorneys were found to be ineffective. On Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, his sentence was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole. — condensed  from an article by Tonya Root in The State

Pope Francis Defends Prisoners’ Rights, Calls for Abolition of Death Penalty

By Carol Kuruvilla | Huffington Post

Pope Francis is speaking up for some of the most outcast members of society — the prisoners.

The pontiff issued a call for the abolition of the death penalty on Thursday, harshly criticizing prison systems around the world for overstepping boundaries, mistreating inmates, and failing to recognize the sanctity of human life.
Continue reading at the Huffington Post

Death Penalty Possible for Aiken Defendant

A judge on Friday rejected defense motions to take the death penalty off the table for a man accused of killing an Aiken Public Safety officer during a 2011 traffic stop.

Several police officers and sheriff’s deputies from Aiken attended a pre-trial hearing in Charleston Friday for Stephon Morrell Carter, who is awaiting trial in the killing. The hearing was held in Charleston because the presiding judge in the case was serving a rotation in the Holy City.         Read more at the Charleston Post and Courier