U.S.A. & the Death Penalty

October 6, 2011


The news early this morning, October 6, of the releases of two men from jails in two different U.S. states after decades in prison bring to the fore that it is high time the U.S.A. does away with the death penalty and exit a group of Citizen Murderers like Nigeria, Iran, China, etcetera.

Just yesterday, I watched Joel Scott Osteen, one of those slick, and rich American televangelists who, in the now common tradition of inheriting churches from their fathers – Polyanna, people DO own churches – squirm on his seat while facing CNN’s Piers Morgan.  His wife, “co-pastor” of their Texas Church was by the husband’s side.  Tried as he could, Osteen could not shake off Morgan from showing this “Christian” pastor as one of those hypocrites who drive the political agenda in the USA because they command large congregations that want the death penalty to remain on US law books:  it’s hardly news that a large number of those who get the death penalty are African-Americans.  Whites and others who are sentenced to death are, for the most part, poor.

Osteen “cannot say”, “does not know” … and other fence-sitting catch-words/phrases when pressed by Morgan for opinions on wrongful sentences, killing through the death penalty VERSUS abortion.  He “wants every baby to live” and “respects laws of the land” but became incoherent when asked what his opinions would be if the death penalty was abolished.

Below is a story of the latest acquittals from crimes two innocent men did not commit, thanks to The Innocent Project.


Exonerated men from Texas and California freed after decades in jail

By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout 

While Amanda Knox’s release from Italian prison took the spotlight, two exonerated men who spent a combined four decades in prison were quietly set free on Tuesday.

Obie Anthony, 37, and Michael Morton, 57, each insisted on their innocence throughout their many years in jail serving life sentences for murder. And each man was eventually freed with the help of the nonprofit Innocence Project, which works to overturn wrongful convictions.

Anthony with fiancee after prison release AP

Anthony spent 17 years in prison after he was convicted of shooting and killing a man outside a brothel in Los Angeles. The prosecution’s star witness, a pimp, eventually recanted his testimony. The pimp was offered a lighter sentence for his own crimes in order to testify against Anthony, the L.A. Times reports, and no one else at the crime positively identified Anthony as the shooter. Anthony said he was never there.

Anthony told the Associated Press that he isn’t angry at the system that wrongly imprisoned him. “I knew from the very beginning that justice will come,” he said. “I never once wavered in my faith.” He said he spent his time in jail reading self-help books. He became engaged to his high school sweetheart during a prison visit more than year ago.

Morton, a Texan who spent nearly 25 years in prison on charges of beating his wife to death, was also released on Tuesday after a long campaign by the Innocence Project to uncover evidence they say was deliberately suppressed by the prosecution.


Morton with his parents, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT


DNA testing on a bandana found near the scene of the crime found blood from Morton’s wife and an as-yet-unnamed convict who is suspected of killing another woman in a similar way two years later, while Morton was in jail. (When Morton was convicted in 1987, current DNA testing didn’t exist.) The Innocence Project says the prosecution hid from the jury that Morton’s three-year-old son, who witnessed the murder, told a relative that a “monster”–not his father–was the perpetrator. The jury was also never told that Morton’s wife’s purse was stolen and her credit cards used in the weeks after her death, when Morton was  in custody, the Innocence Project says.

As described in this great feature in the Austin American-Statesman, the prosecution painted Morton as a sex-crazed and murderous monster because he left a note to his wife that said she made him feel “unwanted” by refusing to have sex with him the night before she died. They said he faked the burglary and killed his wife in a rage.

“Colors seem real bright to me now. Women are real good looking,” Morton told the AP after his release. He may be eligible for up to $2 million from Texas under the state’s exonerated prisoner compensation law.

John Raley, Morton’s attorney, told CBS that his client may have trouble adjusting to life outside of prison.

“He’s kind of going to be Rip Van Winkle,” Raley said. “He’s never held a cell phone. Reagan was president when he went in so there is going to be a long adjustment.”

The case may have consequences for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, a close Perry ally, is accused by the Innocence Project of slowing the release of evidence that would have exonerated Morton more quickly.


“The Innocent Project is a national [American] litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully-convicted through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” http://www.innocenceproject.org/



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
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