Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Lethal Milestone

The US Supreme Court ruled the death penalty was constitutional in the 1976 in case of Gregg vs. Georgia marking the start of a new era in US capital punishment and ending a 4-year moratorium on the death penalty. The United States ranked 4th in the number of official judicial executions behind China (3400+), Iran (159+), and Vietnam (64+).

Today, Eric Nance and John Hicks were executed by lethal injection in Arkansas and Ohio, respectively. Nance was convicted of the killing and attempted rape of an 18-year-old in 1993. Hicks was convicted of killing his mother-in-law and 5-year-old stepdaughter after a cocaine binge in 1985.

Wednesday would have marked a milestone with the 1,000th execution of a Virginia man convicted of fatally stabbing a pool hall manager in 1998. Earlier today, Governor Mark R. Warner granted clemency to Robin Lovitt citing improperly destroyed evidence and the lack of DNA testing. Daryl Mack was scheduled for a execution on Dec. 1, but has received a stay of execution. Kenneth Boyd and Shawn Humphries are scheduled for execution on Dec. 2.

Three states account for more than half of the executions since 1976: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma; Texas has carried out 355. Since, the late 1990s the number of death sentences has decreased from a high of 98 in 1999, as a result of decreasing murder rates.

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