Oklahoma executes Brutal Killer
Frank Duane Welch was executed on Tuesday for a 1987 rape and murder that had gone unsolved for 10 years. Doug Russell of the McAlester News-Capital reports here that in 1996, DNA evidence linked him to the murder of Tracy Cooper. It’s ironic because as it happens, the execution is exactly 53 years to the day Debbie Stevens was born. She was another Welch victim killed in 1987. He was caught in 1994 when he attacked another woman in a parking lot and was sentenced to life in prison. Subsequently, DNA linked him to the Cooper and Stevens murders. Welch told his victims’ family members that what had happened to the dead women was his fault and his alone. “There’s nothing that can change the horrible thing I done,” he said while strapped to a gurney in the state’s execution chamber. “There’s nothing I can say that can change that. I’m truly, truly sorry for all the hurt and pain I caused y’all. I take full responsibility for what I done. There’s no excuse for it. There never was.”
400th Execution Again Focuses Attention on Death Penalty in Texas So reads the headline of this article by Jim Forsyth on the KQXT website. The 400th execution, scheduled for tonight, is of Johnny Conner, described as a "two bit hood." However, the article focuses on Kenneth Foster, whose execution is scheduled to take place on August 30. The Fifth Circuit opinion in Foster's case is here. The article gives the anti-DP line of the “law of parties” which allows accomplices to face the same punishment as the person who commits the crime. The article conveniently omits any mention of the federal constitutional limits on that law in capital cases. Under Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137 (1986), a felony-murder accomplice can be executed only if he personally intended to kill or acted with reckless disregard of human life. When you are on a crusade, there is no need to confuse people with the facts.
New Trial sought for Daryl Atkins Amanda Kerr of the The Virginia Gazette has this story on Atkins petitioning for yet another trial. Atkins attorneys filed a petition with the Virginia Supreme Court asserting that he deserves a new trial because York Commonwealth attorneys failed to disclose conversations they had with Atkin’s accomplice and co-defendent, William Jones. Daryl Atkins and his accomplice, William Jones, drove to a convenience store where they abducted Eric Nesbitt, an airman from nearby Langley Air Force Base. Unsatisfied with the $60 they found in his wallet, Atkins and Jones drove Nesbitt in his own vehicle to a nearby ATM and forced him withdraw $200. In spite of Nesbitt's pleas, the two abductors then drove him to an isolated location, where he was shot eight times, killing him.
Jose Padilla Makes Bad Law
This commentary in today’s Wall Street Journal by retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey helps to illustrate the inadequacy of the current approach to terrorism presecutions in the U.S. and why the recent ending to Padilla’s trial makes for bad law.