death penalty

mug shot

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Delaware judge has overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man found guilty in the shooting deaths of two men in Wilmington 20 years ago.

In a ruling Wednesday, the judge questioned the fundamental legality and fairness of Luis Reyes' trial.

creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The bill to be voted on Thursday narrowly cleared the Senate last year, but had been languishing in a House committee until the committee chairman agreed last week to release it.

Judiciary Committee members voted 6-to-5 last May not to send the bill to the full House after it narrowly cleared the Senate on an 11-to-9 vote.

Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has said he would sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

Department of Correction

A videotaped confession in the murder case of freed former death row inmate Jermaine Wright will be allowed to be used by prosecutors in the retrial.

Delaware’s Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that threw out the confession in the 1991 death of Phillip Seifert.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the confession was a key element in the state’s death penalty case when Wright was tried twenty years ago.

The paper reports that this means Wright will be taken into custody to await his trial.

creative commons

The final forum yesterday for the Access to Justice Commission Committee heard calls for smarter reforms of the criminal justice system.

Much of the testimony surrounded issues ranging from ending bail and reducing mandatory sentencing to ending the three strikes law and the death penalty.

The Wilmington News Journal reports Carri Seward with the Delaware Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow told the panel that the harm that has been done to the African American community needs to be repaired.

creative commons

BALTIMORE (AP) - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are issuing an election-year guide stressing a moral imperative to evaluate candidates according to their positions on marriage and abortion.

The bishops adopted the guide called "Faithful Citizenship" at their national assembly Tuesday in Baltimore. The document was approved overwhelmingly in a vote at the event.

The statement was especially watched for how much it reflected the priorities of Pope Francis, who was elected two years ago.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A law professor says a decline in death sentences in Virginia is at least partly due to more vigorous legal representation during the sentencing phase of capital murder trials.

Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia released results of his study of Virginia's death penalty Monday.

Virginia Department of Corrections

JARRATT, Va. (AP) - A convicted serial killer who faced the death penalty in two states has become the first inmate to be executed in nearly three years in Virginia.

Alfredo Prieto was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. Thursday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Virginia has long been among the most prolific death penalty states, but had not put an inmate to death since January 2013 before this week.

Virginia Department of Corrections

A scheduled federal court hearing on a Virginia inmate's challenge of the state's use of lethal injection drugs from Texas has been set for 1 p.m. in Richmond.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga had scheduled a hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday in Alexandria after Alfredo Prieto's attorneys asked the court to halt his execution until officials disclose more information about the drugs they plan to use.

But the hearing was canceled late Wednesday after Trenga approved the state's request to transfer the case to Richmond.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has denied a last-minute attempt to delay the execution of a convicted serial killer who claims that he's intellectually disabled.

Alfredo Prieto's attorneys had asked McAuliffe to grant a temporary reprieve of his Oct. 1 execution so that the 49-year-old can be transferred to California. His lawyers there hope to argue that Prieto is ineligible for the death penalty because he's intellectually disabled.

creative commons

With nearly 60% of the prison population in Delaware consisting of African American inmates, while blacks only make up less than a quarter of the population, a group consisting of Complexities of Color Coalition, the Delaware NAACP and the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware are holding a town hall in Lewes. The meeting will focus on specific policy changes in the criminal justice system ranging from law enforcement and legal penalties to repeal of the death penalty. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush spoke with Dr.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A group that advocates for people with intellectual disabilities wants Gov. Terry McAuliffe to delay the execution of a man convicted of killing two George Washington students in 1988.

Alfredo Prieto's attorneys have asked McAuliffe to grant a temporary reprieve of his Oct. 1 execution so he can be transferred to California and assessed on whether he's intellectually disabled.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty has failed to clear a House committee after winning narrow passage in the Senate last month.

After a two-and-a-half hour hearing Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted 6-to-5 not to send the bill to the full House.

Supporters of the bill argued that the death penalty is racially unfair, costly, morally wrong, and ineffective as a deterrent to crime. Opponents argued that capital punishment is justified as a form of punishment for first-degree murder.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A House committee is set to hold a pivotal hearing on legislation to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The bill narrowly cleared the Senate last month. The chief House sponsor of the bill, however, concedes that he probably doesn't have enough votes in the judiciary committee to send the bill to the House floor.

Democratic Rep. Sean Lynn of Dover says he plans to take the politically risky option of trying to suspend rules and bring the bill straight to the floor.

repeal project facebook

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has come out in support of an effort to repeal Delaware's death penalty.

Markell said Thursday that if a bill to abolish capital punishment reaches his desk, he would sign it.

In recent years, Markell has refused to say where he stands on the issue.

But Markell said the recent acknowledgment by the FBI that examiners in its microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 250 criminal cases, including death penalty cases, before 2000, helped him reach a decision.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - For the better part of three decades, Virginia operated one of the busiest execution chambers in the nation. Not anymore.

Statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center show that Virginia has sent only six people to death row in the last nine years after sending 40 over the previous eight years. As a result, the state only has eight inmates awaiting execution - down from a high of 57 in 1995.

A new poll finds that 63 percent of Delawareans still support the death penalty.

The survey was carried out in mid-April by Public Policy Polling of just under 600 Delaware residents.

The company was hired by the Delaware Center for Justice which is seeking to end the death penalty in the First State.

The survey found that 34 percent opposed or were somewhat opposed to capital punishment.

delaware repeal project facebook

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate is set to vote on a bill to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The legislation, which cleared a Senate committee last week, mirrors a bill that passed the Senate in 2013 by only one vote before dying in a House committee.

The legislation removes execution as a possible punishment for first-degree murder, leaving life in prison without the possibility of parole as the only sentence.

The bill, which faces opposition from the law enforcement community, would not apply to inmates currently on death row.

delaware repeal project - facebook

The repeal of Delaware’s death penalty inched forward this week with a Senate committee approving the legislation that excludes the 15 inmates currently on death row.

Senator Karen Peterson is cosponsor of the measure.

And, the Stanton Democrat along with other supporters of repeal says that capital punishment is not only costly but has been applied in a morally discriminatory fashion.

This is not the first time that repeal has headed to the full Senate for approval.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Death penalty opponents in the General Assembly say they plan to reintroduce legislation to abolish capital punishment in Delaware.

The legislation, which was discussed at a news conference Wednesday, mirrors a bill that passed the Senate in 2013 by only one vote before dying in a House committee.

The legislation would remove execution as a possible punishment for first-degree murder, leaving life in prison without the possibility of parole as the only sentence for that crime.


SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - A Maryland inmate whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison is hoping to argue for less time behind bars.

On Jan. 20, former Gov. Martin O'Malley commuted the death sentences of four inmates who had been sentenced before the state banned capital punishment in 2013. Among them was Jody Lee Miles, convicted in the 1997 robbery and murder of Edward Atkinson in Wicomico County.


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)-  Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler says the state has lost the ability to carry out a death sentence, even against a death row inmate who was sentenced before the state banned capital punishment last year.

Gansler argued before a three-judge panel in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Monday that death-row inmate Jody Lee Miles should be re-sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Maryland has four death-row inmates who were sentenced before last year's repeal.

Maryland Law Enforcement

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Attorneys for a man on Maryland's death row will argue before an appeals court that his sentence is illegal because the state no longer has a death penalty.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that lawyers for Jody Lee Miles, who has been on death row since 1998, will argue before the Court of Special Appeals on Monday that the state lacks the authority to execute Miles and will ask for a new sentence that includes the possibility of parole.

mug shot

BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland's attorney general has taken steps that could result in the revocation of death sentences for four inmates who were sentenced to die before the state abolished capital punishment last year.

Doug Gansler announced Thursday that he was filing a brief with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to support attorneys for Jody Lee Miles. They contend his death sentence is illegal.

The repeal applied only to future death sentences, leaving four men on death row.

creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Board of Pardons has refused to hear a commutation request from a killer whose sentencing led to changes in Delaware's death penalty law.

James Llewellyn Jr. is one of four men convicted of robbing and murdering two armored car guards in December 1990. The defendants all received life sentences after jurors could not unanimously agree on the death penalty.

mug shot

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's highest court has upheld the conviction and death sentence for a man found guilty of raping and killing a University of Delaware student.

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled Thursday that none of the claims raised by lawyers for 43-year-old James E. Cooke had a basis for overturning his 2012 conviction and sentence.

Cooke was convicted of the 2005 rape and killing of 20-year-old Lindsey Bonistall of White Plains, N.Y.

official photo

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is lending his voice to an effort to repeal the death penalty in Delaware.

Richardson, who as governor signed a bill repealing New Mexico's death penalty, visited Legislative Hall on Thursday to call for a Delaware House vote on repealing the death penalty.

A bill abolishing capital punishment in Delaware failed to gain enough support to clear the House Judiciary Committee last year after passing the Senate by a single vote.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Roman Catholic nun whose book inspired the movie "Dead Man Walking" is pushing for Delaware to repeal the death penalty.

Sister Helen Prejean was scheduled to lead a rally of death penalty opponents in Dover on Tuesday in an effort to persuade state lawmakers to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

Prejean was scheduled to address a gathering at an Episcopal church in downtown Dover before going to Legislative Hall to meet with lawmakers.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware has 17 condemned prisoners facing the death penalty, but no means of executing any of them.

Prison officials in Delaware, like other states, have found it difficult to get the drugs used in lethal injections. Nationwide, states started facing shortages several years ago after drug manufacturers began prohibiting the use of their products in executions because of ethical concerns and fear of unwanted publicity.

\Records obtained by The Associated Press show that supplies of two of the three drugs used in Delaware have expired.

Amnesty International Website

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The judge tapped by Gov. Jack Markell to become Delaware's new chief justice says he is personally opposed to the death penalty.

But Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. said Monday that judges and other public officials must follow the law in performing their duties and not impose their personal political preferences.

Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking”, is pushing for the repeal of the death penalty in Delaware.

She is backing Senate Bill 19 that barely got past the Senate but only after a retroactive clause was eliminated from the legislation.

And the same measure stalled in the House Committee in April.

WDEL reports that Sister Prejean noted that there are 22 aggravating factors in Delaware law that would sentence someone to death.