Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recap: September 23, 2008 Florida/Georgia


Richard Henyard was executed by lethal injection tonight as the state carried out the death penalty against the 34-year-old Lake County man for the 1993 killings of 7-year-old Jamilya Lewis and her 3-year-old sister, Jasmine. Henyard was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m.

Henyard was put to death at Florida State Prison after a delay of about 2 hours while authorities waited for a final U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a last-ditch appeal. The court denied requests for a stay.

Earlier in the day, Henyard was "somewhat quiet and withdrawn, but he is respectful," said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.

A civil-rights lawyer who was appointed to represent him today had filed a new appeal with a federal appellate court in Atlanta. Henyard had brought a civil-rights complaint this morning in federal court, alleging that the state's "execution team" lacks training and could cause him to suffer a painful death if they "fail to properly insert the IV's as they did in (Angel) Diaz." Diaz' botched execution in Dec. 2006 caused the state to temporarily halt executions.

Henyard wrote the complaint by hand, assisted by Mark S. Gruber, who has handled his death appeals for the state-funded Capital Collateral Regional Commission. It also alleged "The drugs that will be used by the Department of Corrections have been known to cause excruciating pain."

The state Supreme Court has ruled that challenging the death-penalty procedure is beyond the scope of the Capital Collateral Regional Commission, whose job is to handle trial-related appeals.

Henyard was sentenced to death for the 1993 murders of the Eustis sisters, who were carjacked along with their mother from a grocery store parking lot by Henyard and a juvenile accomplice, Alfonza Smalls. Henyard and Smalls took turns raping the girls' mother before shooting her 4 times. Prosecutors said Henyard then shot the girls as they cried out "Mommy." The girls' mother, Dorothy Lewis, survived, though she was shot between the eyes.

Smalls was too young to receive the death penalty. He is serving consecutive life terms for the crimes.

Plessinger said Dorothy Lewis' husband, Hugh Brockington, was among family members who were granted permission to witness the execution.

Henyard met late this afternoon with his spiritual advisor, Is-Hak Saddique, a muslim cleric. Henyard became a Muslim while in prison, Plessinger said.

Henyard becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Florida and the 66th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1979.

Henyard becomes the 23rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1122nd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Orlando Sentinel & Rick Halperin)


Lawyer describes what would have been Davis' last hours

Troy Davis was scheduled to die tonight by lethal injection but the US Supreme Court granted him a week-long stay of execution. See Stay of execution granted for Troy Davis.

The Supreme Court will review Davis' request for an appeal on September 29 and we won't know until then whether or not an execution will take place.

But if Davis is executed, he will be the second Chatham County man put to death in recent weeks.

Jack Alderman was executed last Tuesday for the murder of his wife. Terry Jackson was his attorney. Jackson said that case didn't get near the attention Davis' case has received.

"No publicity, nobody cared it seemed. I'm glad somebody cares about Troy Davis because this is it," Jackson said. "If there are mistakes, if there's perjury as in the Alderman case, it's too late. Once you're executed they just sort of close the file."

The rallies and publicity have helped but is there anyone out there this late in the game that can stop the execution? "Certainly," said Jackson. "The US Supreme Court can stop it in a heartbeat."

And that's just what they did.

Jackson described what Davis was likely going through earlier today before the stay was granted by the Supreme Court.

"Friends and family come in but as of 4pm everybody is gone. They do have a priest or pastor, minister that will come in and talk to him if he wants to. He has the right to make a final statement if he wants to," Jackson explained.

But thanks to the last-minute stay of execution, Davis now has another chance.

(source: WTOC News)


Troy Davis Supporters Relieved By Stay, Hope for More

Troy Davis supporters gathered here in Savannah at the Chatham County Courthouse tonight.

It was one of several events across the state today organized by Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The mood changed as people began to arrive. That's because they were all receiving word that the U.S. Supreme Court granted Troy Davis a stay.

Supporters gathered and celebrated the news. "I waited all day long for a phone call to hear that,"explains Jean Zittrauer, a Troy Davis supporter who opposed the death penalty.

Jean Zittrauer expresses her relief that today is not Troy Davis's day to die.

Davis supporters…hugging, talking and smiling as their signs of support sit on the ground.

"I couldn't believe it, I shouted, I praised the Lord," exclaims Marilyn Jackson, organizer of the vigil and president of the Daughters of Mary Magdeline.

"I left the office at 4:30 and I had not heard anything except that the Supreme Court was reviewing the case and so when I approached you, I wasn't sure with the look on your face what the news was going to be, but I am certainly very grateful that there is a stay," says Sister Jackie Griffith of the Catholic Diocese.

The group of about 20 gathers to pray for Davis.<>P> The Lord gave me this not only gave us the vision to name this celebration Jubilee because the Lord knew that the Supreme Court was going to give him a stay of execution. He knew that and I am so exceedingly happy," Jackson says with a smile.

It's joy that spreads. The group sings.

And hope that remains.

"I'm hoping that the Supreme Court opens up this opportunity so that this case can be reviewed, there's witnesses who've recanted, there is a doubt, a reasonable doubt, I believe that Troy Davis is innocent and this is a life we're talking about," says Sister Jackie.

It's something Sister Jackie Griffith and other supporters say the courts need to take their time with.

"Don't go home and say everything is alright because it's not alright okay we've got a long, long fight, the Supreme Court only gave us until Monday," Jackson exclaims to the group.

All of the Troy Davis supporters I spoke with tonight are just hoping that officials will begin to look at a moratorium on the death penalty here in Georgia so that it's bigger than Troy Davis or Jack Alderman who was executed last week.

(source: WSAV News)

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