Wednesday, November 16, 2005

And then there were 122

Another person has been freed from death row due to emerging evidence of innocence. This is not to be confused with being freed due to what some people would call "legal technicalities." (Although frankly I find that phrase to be so onerous....just which provision of the Bill of Rights is a legal technicality? Or which amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a legal technicality?)

But I digress.

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) has added Harold Wilson to its list of wrongly convicted people who were sent to death row. Wilson becomes the 122nd man on the list, which dates back to the 1970s.

Here's the DPIC press release:

Pennsylvania Man Becomes the 122nd Inmate Freed From Death Row

More than 16 years after a Pennsylvania jury returned three death sentences against Harold Wilson, new DNA evidence has helped lead to
his acquittal. Yesterday, Wilson became the nation’s 122nd person freed from death row according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).

During his 1989 capital trial, Wilson was prosecuted by former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon, a man best known for his role in a training video that advised new Philadelphia prosecutors on how to use race in selecting death penalty juries.

In 1999, Wilson’s death sentence was overturned when a court determined that his defense counsel had failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence during his original trial. A later appeal led the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to call for a new hearing because of
evidence that McMahon used racially discriminatory practices in jury
selection.

In 2003, a trial court found that McMahon had improperly exercised his peremptory strikes to eliminate potential black jurors and granted Wilson a new trial, a decision that the District Attorney’s office did not appeal. The court stated that in the new trial the death penalty could not be sought.

The jury in this most recent trial acquitted Wilson of all charges on
November 15, 2005, after new DNA evidence revealed blood from the crime scene that did not come from Wilson or any of the victims, a finding suggesting the involvement of another assailant.

Wilson is the second person to be freed from death row this year, and the sixth Pennsylvania death row inmate to be freed since 1982.

1 comment:

Dave said...

His Excellency S R Nathan
President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road Singapore 238823

November 3, 2005

Your Excellency,

Smuggling 396.2 grams of heroin is a terrible crime; but premeditated execution is heinous.

Capital punishment is a deplorable act; it is a cruel and unusual discipline shackled to history's barbarous past. A death sentence eliminates retribution; it severs the establishment of moral conscience and mercilessly smothers all ethical instincts. Execution is a crime that cannot be undone, and murder is an unjustly permanent measure when weighed against fleeting transgressions.

Hanging Van Tuong Nguyen demonstrates to the world that Singapore's judicial system has principles set no higher than those of criminals themselves. To sell a man's life for an evil that will be forgotten faster than death oft takes its toll is beyond comprehension. Worse still, it lifts the offender to the moral equality of societal norms.

Repaying stupidity, ignorance, and lack of forethought with termination can only be considered uncaring, unenlightened, and underdeveloped. Any government with the insolence to wield such a law shall be shrouded in those very traits. Disciplinary alternatives are available that meet the needs of society (which the State is supposed to represent), while being a fair reproach for the felony.

Where iron rules are forged, iron fists and iron curtains have both been known to rise. Leaders like Lenin, Mao, and Hitler lacked the mercy that separates humans from hellions. Abolish capital punishment in your country. Van Tuong Nguyen must certainly realise the seriousness of his mistake; make him pay, but not with his life. Grant him clemency; and in so doing, show the world Singapore's capacity for compassion.

Sincerely,
Dave Jarvis
--
Show your support: Clemency for Van!