death row

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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.

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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.

amnestyuse.org

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A bill reviving attempts to abolish capital punishment in Delaware after an earlier failed effort is teed up for its legislative hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider the legislation, which 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.

creative commons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A divided federal appeals court has upheld Virginia's policy of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement.

In a 2-1 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge's finding that the policy violates inmates' due process rights.

The policy was challenged by Alfredo Prieto, who was sentenced to death for the 1988 murders of two George Washington University students in Reston. He has spent most of the last six years alone in a 71-square-foot cell.

creative commons

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Maryland's four remaining death-row inmates would become eligible for transfer to medium-security prisons after Gov. Martin O'Malley signs executive orders commuting their sentences to life without parole.

They would lose their guarantee of single-bed cells, however. State prison agency spokesman Gerard Shields says some inmates prefer to have no cell mate.

All four men are housed at the maximum-security North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland.

creative commons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A lawyer for the state has asked a federal appeals court to approve Virginia's policy of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement.

The Virginia Department of Corrections is appealing a judge's ruling that automatic around-the-clock isolation violates death row inmates' due process rights.

creative commons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's practice of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement will be reviewed by a federal appeals court.

Experts say that if the court upholds a ruling in favor of condemned inmate Alfredo Prieto, prisoners in other death penalty states could be encouraged to file similar challenges.

amnestyusa.org

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware prosecutors are moving forward with the case of a man whose conviction and death sentence for a 1991 slaying were tossed out by the state Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Supreme Court overturned Jermaine Wright's conviction and death sentence in May because prosecutors repeatedly withheld evidence that could have helped Wright's defense attorneys fight murder charges for the killing of Wilmington liquor store clerk Phillip Seifert.

creative commons

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) - Maryland corrections officials say a death row inmate has died, apparently of natural causes.

Corrections spokesman Mark Vernarelli says 60-year-old John Booth-El died Sunday after staff found him unresponsive in his cell at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland. As first reported by The Baltimore Sun, Vernarelli says Booth-El was pronounced dead a short time later despite attempts to revive him.

He says Booth-El's death appears to be from natural causes, but a state medical examiner autopsy will determine the exact cause of death.

amnestyusa.org

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate is set to vote on a bill repealing Delaware's death penalty and sparing 17 killers already on death row.

The measure cleared a Senate committee last week and was scheduled for a vote by the full Senate on Tuesday.

Supporters of the bill argue that the death penalty is morally wrong, racially discriminatory, ineffective as a deterrent to violent crime and far more costly than putting killers in prison for life.  They also point to cases in other states where condemned killers have later been exonerated.

mdcase.org

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate is scheduled to take up a measure to repeal the death penalty.

The Senate is set to consider amendments to the bill on Friday.

A vote on the measure is not expected until next week.

Maryland has five men on death row. The state's last execution was in 2005.

Maryland's death penalty has been on hold since a 2006 court ruling found the state's lethal injection protocols weren't properly approved by a legislative committee.

Justin Wolfe, amnestyuse.org

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia attorney general's office says it won't seek further review of a court's decision vacating a death row inmate's conviction and sentence.

The state did not oppose an order Friday finalizing a federal appeals court decision in Justin Wolfe's case. The attorney general's office said in an email to The Associated Press that further litigation would not change the result.

 

      WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A Superior Court judge has set bail at $200,000 cash for a former death row inmate accused of killing a liquor store clerk during a 1991 robbery.

     In setting the bail for 39-year-old Jermaine Wright on Monday, Judge John Parkins rejected arguments by prosecutors that he did not have jurisdiction to do so. Parkins agreed to stay his ruling for two days to allow the state to appeal.