Saturday, July 5, 2008

Healing

"The death penalty is about revenge and hate, and revenge and hate is why my daughter and those 167 other people are dead today."

Bud Welch, father of Julie Marie Welch,
victim in the Oklahoma City bombing

"I have come to believe that the death penalty is not what will help me heal. Responding to one killing with another killing does not honor my daughter, nor does it help create the kind of society I want to live in, where human life and human rights are valued. I know that an execution creates another grieving family, and causing pain to another family does not lessen my own pain."

MVFHR board member, Vicki Schieber, testifying to the Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Property Rights; Committee on the Judiciary; US Senate, February 2006

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Love from Norway to Terri`s family

Op-Ed

If Only My Sister Were A Convicted Murderer

By Bobby Schindler

As the mainstream media editorialize outgoing Florida Governor Jeb Bush, I can't help but compare their opposition to the 34-minute execution of convicted killer Angel Diaz with their support of the 14-day execution of my sister, Terri Schiavo....

Orlando Sentinel, 12-28-06

[Governor Jeb Bush's] intervention in the Terri Schiavo fiasco, without even talking to her husband, was unconscionable.

News-press.com, 12-19-06

Governor Jeb Bush was wise to suspend executions and order the review of lethal injection procedures after the bungled execution of a convicted murderer last week.

Miami Herald, 1-8-07

It will be difficult for the public to forget [Bush's] disgraceful performance in the Terri Schiavo case, just one of a number of legal battles in which the ACLU engaged his administration because of his posture that public policy "should err on the side of life.''

FloridaToday.com, 12-20-06

Governor Jeb Bush was correct to impose a hold a hold on death warrants in Florida following the gruesome execution of Angel Diaz.....

Convicted murderer Diaz was put to death by lethal injection, taking 34 minutes to die.... That likely violates the constitutional mandate against cruel and unusual punishment...

An American Bar Association study... cited more than a dozen glaring flaws [with Florida's death penalty process]. Among them...unjustly imposes the death penalty on persons with severe mental disabilities.

--Florida unjustly imposes the death penalty on persons with severe mental disabilities.

Orlando Sentinel, 12-31-06

... Mr. Bush...insisted on intervening in the case of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo.

The Ledger (Associated Press), 12-17-06

Article title: "Doctors: Botched execution likely slow, painful"

Death penalty foes have for years warned of a worst-case scenario in which an inmate being executed by lethal injection could remain conscious, experiencing severe pain as he slowly dies. That day may finally have come.

"It really sounds like [Angel Diaz] was tortured to death,," said Jonathan Groner, associate professor of surgery at the Ohio State Medical School.... "My impression is that it would cause an extreme amount of pain.."...

[W]itnesses reported movement of Diaz as long as 24 minutes after the first injection, with him grimacing, blinking, licing his lips, blowing and attempting to mouth words.. At one point, about midway through the process, he turned his head toward witnesses....
Tampa Tribune, 1-31-07

Family members - and later state lawmakers, with Bush's support - tried to force [Terri's] sustenance. Courts stopped the Legislature, and later Bush, from ordering a feeding tube reinserted..... Despite overwhelming public distate over the government's intervention--- by a 2-1 ratio in one poll - Bush remains unrepentant..

I don't believe in the deliberate killing of any human being.

But if the press is so worried about cruel and unusual punishment of convicted murderers by lethal injection, perhaps they would consider it better to starve and dehydrate them to death.

Because as the press constantly reminded us, death by dehydration and starvation of innocent disabled people who have committed no crime is a "peaceful and painless" way to die. 1-26-07

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

America turns its back on death penalty after botched lethal injection of killer

Number of condemned at lowest point for 30 years as opinion begins to change

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

Wednesday January 10, 2007

Guardian

It took Angel Nieves Diaz 34 minutes to die from the time the two executioners inserted the IV tubes into each arm and began pumping the chemicals into his body. His eyes widened. His head rolled. He appeared to speak. "It was my observation that he was in pain," Neal Dupree, a lawyer for Diaz and a witness to the execution, wrote in an affidavit. The faint signs of movement from the body strapped to the trolley continued for 24 minutes. "His face was contorted, and he grimaced on several occasions. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down continually, and his jaw was clenched."

Diaz's execution in Florida on December 13 for the murder of the manager of a topless bar was the last in the state for some months to come. Almost immediately after his body was removed from the execution chamber, it became clear that the execution had gone wrong.

The cocktail of three chemicals that was meant to have sent him to oblivion within moments had led to a painful, lingering death. After a report from the medical examiner found 12-inch-long chemical burns on Diaz's arms, the state governor, Jeb Bush, opened an inquiry into his death and suspended all executions, granting more than 370 people on Florida's death row at least a temporary reprieve.

Brutality

Although the brutality of Diaz's death merited attention across America, what has gone almost unnoticed is that the death penalty, once an article of faith for conservatives, is now in retreat.

The penalty remains the law in 38 states, but last year saw the lowest number of executions in a decade - 53 including Diaz. The number of condemned fell to the lowest level since the restoration of capital punishment in 1976: 114, compared with 317 in 1996.

Ten states have suspended executions, and for the first time last week, one state - New Jersey - announced it was leaning towards abolition. "The death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency," an official commission reported. New Jersey would be the first to take such a step since capital punishment was restored.

"The death penalty is on the defensive," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Centre in Washington DC. "Its flaws are much more obvious now. If you are for the death penalty you are going to have to say how are we going to avoid executing innocent people."

Mr Dieter attributes much of the declining taste for the death penalty to science, with DNA and other new technologies used to establish innocence in cases where a jury has chosen to convict. More than 120 people have been freed from death row because of doubts about their conviction, including at least a dozen because of DNA testing.

Such doubts led George Ryan, the conservative Republican governor of Illinois, to impose a moratorium on executions seven years ago after more than a dozen wrongful convictions were overturned. His conversion came about when journalism students at Northwestern University produced a taped confession exonerating a man who had been on death row for 17 years. Other inmates on death row were later cleared by DNA, and subsequent investigations.

"Juries make mistakes. Prosecutors make mistakes. If you are for the death penalty you have to say we are going to lose innocent lives but it is worth it," Mr Dieter said.

In Florida, executions are on hold because of public queasiness about lethal injection following Diaz's botched execution. As the medical examiner discovered, technicians missed the veins when they were inserting the intravenous tubes into Diaz's arms, and it took a second injection to kill him. Death penalty opponents say such excruciating deaths are to be expected in American prisons. According to Human Rights Watch, one of the three chemicals in the mix of lethal injections has been banned for use on animals because of fears that it masks, rather than relieves, pain.

In New Jersey, where there have been no executions since the state restored the death penalty 25 years ago, the argument came down to the high cost of legal appeals while keeping people on death row. An official commission last week concluded it did not work. "There is no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent."

Last defence

The judiciary has also turned against the death penalty, with the supreme court barring the execution of the insane, people with learning difficulties, or minors, and lower courts turning to alternative sentences. Thirty-seven of the 38 states that retain the death penalty now have life without parole.

Death penalty opponents say that such lifelong prison terms make it increasingly difficult to argue that the death penalty is the last defence against a convicted killer going free. In the last few years, juries in celebrated capital cases have balked at imposing the final punishment. Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted last year over the September 11 attacks, got life in a maximum security jail. So did Gary Ridgeway, the Green River serial killer from Washington state, who admitted to murdering 48 people, and received a life term with no parole. If one of the worst serial killers in history does not deserve the death penalty, the argument goes, who does?

Mr Dieter said: "There are indications of change even in places like Texas and Virginia," the states that perform the most executions.

Those developments came too late for Diaz, as did the outrage over lethal injection. But for Suzanne Keffer, of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, his lawyer for the past eight years, his suffering may produce some good. "If you can look at it this way, that something good may come out of this ... it certainly may be a benefit."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

In memory of Angel Diaz


Attached is a picture of some flowers that started to bloom on 13th of December just as Britta and I were going to the vigil. they are in memory of Angel Diaz.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cruel, unusual and in decline Editorial

Berkshire Eagle
Article Launched:12/23/2006 11:30:47 AM EST
Sunday, December 24

With the holidays upon us, and the year coming to an end, it is heartening to find that imposition of the death penalty declined dramatically in the United States in 2006. It is not reasonable to believe that this barbaric practice, which is far from foolproof and doesn't make society any safer, will continue to fade into disuse in 2007.

According to the year-end report of the Death Penalty Information Center, the annual number of death sentences is at a 30-year low and the number of injections has dropped to the fewest in a decade. For the first time in two decades, the Gallup Poll revealed that more Americans support life without parole than the death penalty for murder convictions. New Jersey joined a growing list of states to declare moratoriums on the death penalty while study commissions review its fairness and accuracy, and New York lawmakers voted against reinstating the state's defunct death penalty. The tide has turned against the death penalty, and we hope for good.

Americans and their elected officials are appalled by the knowledge, supplied by better DNA testing, that a significant number of innocent people have been sentenced to death. It is difficult to compensate someone for years served in jail for a crime he or she didn't commit, but it is impossible to return an innocent person from the grave. Americans and their elected officials are also sickened by the execution of the mentally ill. The American Bar Association has passed a resolution calling for an exemption from the death penalty for the severely mentally ill that should be heeded.

Evidence of the cruelty of the death penalty was provided in all its ugliness earlier this month, when Angel Diaz suffered for 34 minutes before he was finally executed in the state of Florida. Mr. Diaz was given a lethal injection that was supposed to kill him within 15 minutes but after the clock ticked past 30 minutes, during which Mr. Diaz appeared to be struggling to speak, he was given a second injection that finally killed him.

After this medieval exhibition, Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended executions pending an investigation. On December 15, a U.S. District Court judge in California ruled that the injection procedures in that state are so brutal they violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will address the court's concerns. Better he should push the Legislature to abandon the death penalty altogether.

Massachusetts had a close call during the Cellucci administration when the Legislature came within one vote of enacting a death penalty. That was the closest the state has ever come, and we believe, ever will come, to making that terrible decision. Governor Romney floated what he described as a foolproof death penalty law, but this time the Legislature never even considered it and the death penalty appears dead in Massachusetts.

There are no statistics that back the assertion that the death penalty deters violent crime. There is, however, growing evidence that the death penalty is cruel, error-prone and stacked against minorities. Mr. Diaz was the 53rd and last person executed in the United States in 2006. He should be the last ever.

Botched Execution Shines Light On Barbaric Aspect Of Death Penalty

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the state of Florida executed Angel Nieves Diaz. This in itself is unremarkable: his was the 64th execution in the United States in 2006 and the fourth in Florida. His death provoked an outcry, however, since Florida botched his execution. Lethal injection is nominally a humane way to die, but in his case it was anything but. Technicians inserted the needles incorrectly, injecting the caustic drugs into his arm muscles instead of into his veins. He should have been unconscious after five minutes and dead within 15. Instead, he struggled and grimaced for 34 minutes while a second dose of lethal drugs was administered, again incorrectly. The county medical examiner who performed an autopsy after the execution found 12-inch chemical burns on the interior of both his arms.

In the aftermath, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a moratorium on executions until a special commission can examine lethal injection procedures to ensure they do not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But he adamantly defends the death penalty itself and rejected calls for its abolition. Other proponents of the death penalty were quick to defend the system. The more ruthless suggested that Mr. Diaz didn't suffer enough for his crimes; the more sanguine said that his botched execution was unfortunate, but that any sympathy for him or his family was misplaced and should be reserved for his victims and their families.

Despite the heinous nature of Mr. Diaz's crimes, this cold-blooded response is unsettling: Lethal injection was adopted for executions precisely because it was supposed to be more civilized than the alternatives — hanging, the gas chamber, the electric chair, the firing squad. What does it say about us, as a society, that we want to respond to violent crime with the same degree of brutality? It indicates that the death penalty is more about revenge than justice.

Emotional appeal

This defense of the death penalty is a deliberate appeal to our emotions: It works because the crimes were evil and the suffering of the victims and their families real. But death penalty supporters are forced to appeal to anger and pathos since otherwise they have no argument. The death penalty does not provide justice, either for society or for the victims and their families.

Capital punishment is not justice for the "worst of the worst." The application of the death penalty is capricious and bears no connection to the nature of crime itself. In the case of Mr. Diaz, his accomplice is serving a life term for the same crime. Instead, the death penalty singles out the poor and racial minorities. A death sentence is more likely the consequence of racist police and prosecutors and an incompetent lawyer than any other factor. Even worse, capital punishment is often tragically misdirected. Since 1976, at least 123 innocent people have been sentenced to death. They spent years on death row, and some came within hours of being executed, before they were exonerated.

Where's the justice?

Capital punishment does not provide justice for victims' families. It only prolongs their suffering. They are forced to endure the trials and appeals, hoping that the execution will bring closure. But in the end they discover that the death of another does not heal their own wounds. Many victims' family members have turned against the death penalty. Robin Theurkauf, a Connecticut resident whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, chose to testify for the defense at the sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui. She wanted Mr. Moussaoui punished, but knew that his death would bring no healing for her or her family.

The botched execution of Angel Diaz is a pale reflection of a grimmer reality: The death penalty is a failure as public policy. It is expensive, does not deter crime, fails to provide justice and punishes victims' families. No amount of tinkering with execution protocols or other details will fix it. The only solution is to abolish it, and it is long past the time for the state of Connecticut to follow Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts and end the use of the death penalty.

Robert Nave is executive director of Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty; the state/regional death-penalty abolition coordinator for Amnesty International and the vice chairman of the national steering committee for the Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, National, for Amnesty International .

Cruel, unusual and in decline


Cruel, unusual and in decline
Editorial


Sunday, December 24

With the holidays upon us, and the year coming to an end, it is heartening to find that imposition of the death penalty declined dramatically in the United States in 2006. It is not reasonable to believe that this barbaric practice, which is far from foolproof and doesn't make society any safer, will continue to fade into disuse in 2007.

According to the year-end report of the Death Penalty Information Center, the annual number of death sentences is at a 30-year low and the number of injections has dropped to the fewest in a decade. For the first time in two decades, the Gallup Poll revealed that more Americans support life without parole than the death penalty for murder convictions. New Jersey joined a growing list of states to declare moratoriums on the death penalty while study commissions review its fairness and accuracy, and New York lawmakers voted against reinstating the state's defunct death penalty. The tide has turned against the death penalty, and we hope for good.


Americans and their elected officials are appalled by the knowledge, supplied by better DNA testing, that a significant number of innocent people have been sentenced to death. It is difficult to compensate someone for years served in jail for a crime he or she didn't commit, but it is impossible to return an innocent person from the grave. Americans and their elected officials are also sickened by the execution of the mentally ill. The American Bar Association has passed a resolution calling for an exemption from the death penalty for the severely mentally ill that should be heeded.


Evidence of the cruelty of the death penalty was provided in all its ugliness earlier this month, when Angel Diaz suffered for 34 minutes before he was finally executed in the state of Florida. Mr. Diaz was given a lethal injection that was supposed to kill him within 15 minutes but after the clock ticked past 30 minutes, during which Mr. Diaz appeared to be struggling to speak, he was given a second injection that finally killed him.


After this medieval exhibition, Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended executions pending an investigation. On December 15, a U.S. District Court judge in California ruled that the injection procedures in that state are so brutal they violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will address the court's concerns. Better he should push the Legislature to abandon the death penalty altogether


Massachusetts had a close call during the Cellucci administration when the Legislature came within one vote of enacting a death penalty. That was the closest the state has ever come, and we believe, ever will come, to making that terrible decision. Governor Romney floated what he described as a foolproof death penalty law, but this time the Legislature never even considered it and the death penalty appears dead in Massachusetts.


There are no statistics that back the assertion that the death penalty deters violent crime. There is, however, growing evidence that the death penalty is cruel, error-prone and stacked against minorities. Mr. Diaz was the 53rd and last person executed in the United States in 2006. He should be the last ever.

Family denounces botched Florida execution at funeral in Puerto Rico


The Associated Press

December 22, 2006, 11:57 PM EST

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Family denounces botched Florida execution at funeral in Puerto Rico.

A Puerto Rican man whose botched execution in Florida renewed opposition to the death penalty in the United States and this island territory was buried Friday in a ceremony attended by about 100 people.

Angel Nieves Diaz, a career criminal condemned for killing a manager of a Miami topless bar 27 years ago, was given a second dose of deadly chemicals as he took more than half an hour to die on Dec. 13.

At the funeral in suburban Rio Piedras, family members said they hoped the notoriety of Diaz's case would boost the international campaign against capital punishment.

"God chose my uncle to change history," said Jackeline Nieves. "Now the death penalty isn't seen as something normal. It's seen as the worst, most inhumane method."

Medical experts said the 55-year-old convict could have experienced severe pain as needles that were supposed to inject drugs into his veins were instead pushed all the way through the blood vessels into surrounding soft tissue.

The case prompted Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to suspend all executions in the state as a commission examines its lethal injection process.

The U.S. Caribbean territory abolished capital punishment in 1929. However, federal prosecutors can seek the death penalty in some cases because Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. federal law.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Editorial: Capital punishment on trial

THE TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT (Johnstown, Pa.)

— An editorial: Capital punishment on trial

Opinion: The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
A botched execution in Florida has given death-penalty opponents new ammunition in their fight to end the practice.

Whether you’re for or against executions, you should be appalled that a normally 15-minute process to end the life of a convicted killer by lethal injection took two doses and 34 minutes, raising speculation that the inmate suffered psychological and physical discomfort while his family experienced extreme anguish.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, was put to death for murdering a Miami bar manager 27 years ago. Witnesses said Diaz grimaced before dying, although an autopsy report has not concluded whether, in fact, he did suffer.

What the report did confirm, however, was that needles were wrongly inserted into the flesh of his arms, instead of into his veins as is proper procedure.

Along with a national uproar has come decisions by Florida and California officials to suspend all executions pending further investigations. Both states use lethal injection.

The suspensions and further studies would certainly seem appropriate.

Meanwhile, there has been growing sympathy for Diaz, a man convicted of taking another person’s life, and his family.

"They had to execute him twice," said Mark Elliot, a spokesman for Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

"If Floridians could witness the pain and the agony of the executed man’s family, they would end the death penalty."

In a twist of irony, you can just sense that a lawsuit and perhaps a large payout of taxpayer money to the family could be on the horizon.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rethinking the Death Penalty

Editorial, Bennington Banner

Thursday, December 21

The United States may be slowly ridding itself of the urge to impose the death penalty, according to a study released last week. A protracted execution in Florida on Wednesday starkly illustrated one of the reasons for the change in attitude.

Angel Diaz was the 53d and last person to be executed in the United States this year. He was strapped onto a gurney and given an injection that was supposed to kill him within 15 minutes, but he lay there squinting and grimacing, and seemed to be trying to speak. Prison officials had to give him a second injection, and it took him 34 minutes to die.

Governor Jeb Bush promised an investigation and suspended executions pending the results, but the exact reason for Diaz's ordeal ignores the wider question of whether execution by any method is right. The murder took place in 1979, and any deterrent effect has vanished.

Thousands of people have been murdered in the state since then, yet only 64 have been executed. This hit-and-miss system offers no protection for society.

Other states are starting to accept this reality, according to a survey by the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. The 53 executions this year are down from 60 the year before, and 98 in 1999. The New Jersey Legislature imposed a moratorium on executions, and North Carolina and California began legislative studies of their systems. The issue gained urgency in Califonia last week when a federal judge ruled that the injection procedures followed there were so cruel that they violated the Constitution.

Based on the Florida experience, it's easy to understand why states are wary. Florida abandoned the electric chair in 2000 in favor of lethal injections, but Diaz's prolonged death shows this method to be similarly inhumane. Even if a painless system were devised, the variation of sentencing across multiple jurisdictions is inherently arbitrary.

Support for capital punishment remains steady at two-thirds of those polled nationally, but when details are provided of the executions, that begins to erode. And when given a choice of execution or life without parole, a slight majority in a recent Gallup Poll favored the life sentence. This punishment would protect society while allowing for redress if a prisoner could show he was wrongly convicted. A ban on executions would spare judges and juries from having to consider whether mental illness, age, or other mitigating circumstance should preclude a death sentence. The legal system cannot make these Solomonic decisions with assurance of a just outcome.

Before he died, Diaz called his execution an act of vengeance. Perhaps, but given the 27-year lapse between crime and punishment, there was no public outcry for his death. His execution rather shows the capricious nature of a brutal act that should have no place in American society.

— The Boston Globe

Lawyers seek to halt executions

By Estes Thompson, Associated Press

Ask Easley to spare inmate while death method is studied.

Raleigh Lawyers for a death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month asked Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday to stop executions in the state so that the method for putting prisoners to death can be studied.

Easley should follow the lead of Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who stopped executions there after a botched execution lasted 34 minutes - at least twice as long as usual - before the prisoner died, defense attorney Geoffrey Hosford said.

A federal judge in California imposed a moratorium in that state after Florida halted its executions. And the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that state executions cannot proceed until a legislative panel reviews execution protocol."North Carolina follows the same formula as Florida and California," said Hosford, who represents condemned prisoner Marcus Reymond Robinson.Easley's office declined to comment about the request. Easley, a former prosecutor and state Attorney General, has been a steadfast supporter of the death penalty but has commuted two sentences since taking office in 2001. Twenty-seven inmates have been executed in that time.A retired executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy who attended a news conference with Hosford said he received a lesser dose of potassium chloride - the same chemical used to put prisoners to death - after heart surgery."It was so painful that I screamed until the nurse pulled the thing out," David Work said. "I liken it to putting an electric wire in your artery. "Work, a death penalty opponent, suggested that the state instead use morphine drips that would make the prisoners unconscious before stopping their breathing.

Hosford also complained that North Carolina keeps the qualifications and identities of executioners secret and "whether or not the person has any medical training is a question.

"Defense lawyers are scheduled to meet with Easley on Jan. 17 to request clemency. Hosford said he intends to discuss the pain issue with Easley and to introduce it in court filings.Robinson, 33, was sentenced to death in 1994 in Cumberland County for the June 1991 death of 17-year-old Erik Tornblom. Tornblom gave Robinson and Roderick Sylvester Williams Jr. a ride from a Fayetteville convenience store, but he was forced to drive to a field where he was shot in the face with a sawed-off shotgun. Williams, 32, was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.

Robinson's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was dismissed Oct. 30, and that triggered the scheduling of his execution.Department of Correction spokesman Keith Acree said Wednesday the execution was still scheduled and that he was "not aware of any efforts or plans by the state to change that."In Florida, the IV needle used to deliver the lethal combination of drugs missed a vein and was inserted into muscle tissue.

Our humane evolution; As long as we have the death penalty, we can’t flinch from its implications.

The first official death sentence recorded by history happened in 16th century B.C. Egypt, according to Laura Randa, author of “Society’s Final Solution.” The wrongdoer, a member of the nobility, was accused of magic and ordered to take his own life. How very tidy – the state orders a death but is spared the messiness of actually carrying out the execution.

Ever since, society has searched for a more rational and justifiable death penalty and a less “cruel and unusual” way of carrying it out.

The latest agonizing is over the lethal injection of Angel Nieves by the state of Florida earlier this month in what one anti-capital punishment editorial page called a “horrific botched execution.” It took two sets of injections to kill Nieves, and he didn’t die for 34 minutes, twice the usual time it takes for a lethal injection to work. Florida, California and Maryland have now suspended executions until it can be determined if lethal injections are as painless as claimed. At least two recent studies say that the three-drug cocktail used to inject the condemned is often misadministered, causing excruciating pain.

Even if that is so, we have come a long way in how we agonize over the death penalty. At most, Nieves had 34 minutes of pain, after residing on death row for more than 20 years. How do we compare that to the pain and suffering of the person he killed?

And how do we compare it to the past?

In the most often-cited example of cruel and unusual punishment, those convicted of treason in 18th century England were drawn and quartered – dragged through town, hanged but not until dead, cut down and forced to watch their own disembowelment, then cut into fourths. Other official methods of execution have included being boiled alive, crucified, burned at the stake, thrown off cliffs and mutilated by various means. In various jurisdictions at various times, everything from cursing to stealing grapes to cutting down a tree has been a capital crime.

Today, very few crimes are felt to warrant execution. In Indiana, even cold-blooded murder doesn’t qualify unless there are “special circumstances.” And some are consumed with guilt because the last few minutes of the condemned prisoner might have been painful.

The U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual pun- ishment but doesn’t define it, which leaves it necessary to consider the concept in light of society’s current state of evolution. Since that document also recognizes the death penalty, that means the method is what changes. And the pattern has always been the same. A new method comes along that is thought to be more humane – we’ve gone from hanging to the electric chair to lethal injections, with momentary flirtations with the gas chamber and firing squads. But then the humaneness of the new method comes into question, and we have the death penalty debate all over again.

Where is the debate taking us?

Most people live quiet, ordinary lives. Very few of them are rewarded for their decency by getting to enjoy long lives in perfect health, then having death come quickly and painlessly while they’re not paying attention. The end of life often comes with uncertainty, agony, fear, pain and suffering. Many today seem to want better deaths for convicted murderers than for everyone else.

And perhaps that’s where our society is headed. Only 53 people have been executed this year, down from 60 last year and 98 in 1999. We may soon join the 88 other nations that have formally abolished capital punish- ment, leaving life without parole as the maximum penalty possible. Would the criminal justice system then be “humane” enough for modern sensibilities?

Perhaps, but then again . . .
All punishment for major crimes confiscates the time of the criminals. Capital punishment merely takes all of it all at once. Life without parole is just as much a death penalty, taking all of people’s time but stretching out the punishment. The condemned know all their tomorrows will be as bleak and barren as all the days that have come before and that there is no hope of change. That is, in many ways, far more cruel than just immediately killing the killers.

Much of the agonizing about the humaneness of executions is more about our suffering than that of the condemned. We want to mete out punishment, but we don’t want to think about how untidy it might be. Electrocutions were quicker and more reliable than hangings. The gas chamber disfigured the body less. Lethal injections make us believe those executed are just going peacefully to sleep.

It is civilized to have qualms about capital punishment and to worry about whether its use is consistently and fairly applied and whether its forms are overly cruel and unusual. But we will either have that maximum punishment, or we will not. As long as we believe there are crimes for which no other punishment seems suitable – the killing of a guard by someone already serving life without parole, for example, or the torture and killing of children – completely giving it up should be thought about long and hard.

And whatever we decide, we shouldn’t flinch from its implications.

Though “evolving standards of decency” might change how much criminals must endure, the way a civilized society stays civilized is to make sure that those who cause suffering also must suffer.

By Leo Morris for the editorial board

Executions must stop

Dec. 22, 2006 Editorial

Our View
Executions must stop


When the state of Florida botched Angel Diaz's execution last week, it did so on behalf of all of the citizens of the state, ostensibly in the name of justice. Therefore, we all ought to be ashamed of what happened. It took 34 minutes to kill Diaz, two to three times longer than usual. The needle apparently went through his vein and the drugs ended up in the soft tissue of his arm instead of his bloodstream.

For more information on the Florida bishops' appeal related to Angel Diaz, please see:

http://flacathconf.org/pressreleases/Prsrel06/Diaz12-5-06.htm.

For what the Catechism has to say about the death penalty, see CCC Nos. 2266 and 2267.

Initially, state prison officials tried to blame the lengthy process on a diseased liver, which might have explained a longer time for the drugs to metabolize. The convicted killer's family said they were not aware of any such condition. Later, an autopsy revealed the execution had been mishandled. Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a halt to executions while this incident is investigated and while lethal injection protocols are studied. Results of the investigations are due by March.

The whole incident calls into question not just whether the drugs themselves are a form of cruel and unusual punishment — as has been the subject of recent lawsuits and appeals — but also whether the process of execution itself is flawed.

Florida's bishops called on Bush to stay this execution, noting, "Through life imprisonment without parole, criminals are severely punished for their transgressions against society."

The bishops did not minimize the anguish of the family of the victim in this case. "Our genuine prayers and sincere sympathies are extended to the family and loved ones of Joseph Nagy, the victim of this crime. We pray not only for the relief of their pain, but also that justice is served. Justice is not best served, however, by the taking of another's life."

Justice has certainly not been served in this case, and in fact, another injustice occurred. Because "the state" put Diaz to death on our behalf, from Gov. Bush to each of us in Florida — whether we support capital punishment or not — we all participated in the act that left Diaz on that table for 34 minutes while the chemicals that were to paralyze him and cause his death slowly worked their way through his body. Gov. Bush had the chance to stop this in advance and he did not.

Even though he will be leaving the governor's office soon, we call on Bush to hold these two teams of investigators accountable.We also implore Governor-elect Charlie Crist to stay any further executions, to not rescind Bush's executive order suspending executions and to hold the investigation teams to the same high standard of accountability to which Bush would hold them.

Last week a federal judge in California placed a moratorium on executions in that state, pending a ruling on whether lethal injection may be cruel and unusual punishment.

That case was unrelated to this local fiasco, but the Diaz incident will likely affect such cases nationwide. Clearly, the application of the death penalty has problems.

These are some of the reasons that the U.S. bishops (and the Catechism of the Catholic Church), while acknowledging that the government has a right, in extremely limited circumstances, to use capital punishment, also asks for our country to stop using the death penalty, because it cannot be applied in a way that is foolproof, in a way that is always fair, and in a way that always guarantees that no innocent person will be executed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Death penalty babble


Death penalty babble

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Friday, December 15, 2006


Who cares if he "suffered?" His victim suffered, so why shouldn't he? And he's dying, for crying out loud. How can you have dying without suffering?


That will be a common reaction to the news that Florida still can't figure out how to kill people efficiently. Wednesday's execution of Angel Diaz took 34 minutes, about twice as long as usual, and required a second dose of lethal drugs. In petitioning the Supreme Court to stay his execution, Diaz had argued that use of the chemicals violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


Yes, that's an ironic argument, coming from a murderer. But because Florida has the death penalty, odd comments are the rule, whether from the state or the condemned. Sounding vaguely like an insurance agent, Gretl Plessinger of the Florida Department of Corrections explained that Diaz required the second dose because of a preexisting liver condition. He couldn't process the lethal drugs. Ms. Plessinger also concluded that Diaz didn't feel any pain. How would she know?


So, Gov. Bush announced that the state will review its execution procedures, just as the state reviewed them in 1997 after a botched electrocution that led to the switch to lethal injection.


Compared to the death penalty, a maximum sentence of life without possibility of parole is cheaper - fewer costly, taxpayer-financed appeals - swifter - Diaz committed his crime in 1979 - and safer, since it means that the state never will kill the wrong person. Florida leads the nation in exonerations from Death Row.


And in trying to defend itself, the state would sound a lot less bizarre.

Killer's wake planned for Osceola


http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/osceola/orl-mnieves1806dec18,0,2351486.story?coll=orl-home-headlines

Killer's wake planned for Osceola

The inmate's execution 'tortured, literally crucified' him, his niece says.

Jeannette Rivera-Lyles
Sentinel Staff Writer

December 18, 2006

The family of Angel Nieves Diaz, who was executed by lethal injection Wednesday, is expecting to have his body in Central Florida today for a wake at a Kissimmee-area funeral home.

Sol Otero, Nieves' niece, told the Orlando Sentinel the body will be laid out for a few hours at Funeraria y Crematorio Porta Coeli, off Osceola Parkway, before it is flown to his native Puerto Rico for burial.

"We want to begin healing," Otero said. "We want closure."

The body of Nieves has been retained by the state longer than expected because of irregularities surrounding his death.

Nieves , who was convicted for the 1979 killing of Miami strip-club manager Joseph Nagy, required two doses of the series of drugs used in Florida's lethal-injection executions. It took 34 minutes for him to die. Most executions end in 15 minutes or less.

A spokeswoman with the state's Department of Corrections said the night of the execution that a liver condition had caused the drugs to work slower.

But an autopsy revealed that the liver appeared normal. It also found that the needle carrying the drugs had gone through Nieves' vein and lodged into soft tissue and muscle. A second dose was administered.

Witnesses' accounts indicate that Nieves showed signs of pain, such as grimacing and gasping for air, and that he continued to move after the third and final drug, potassium chloride, was administered the first time. This would indicate that Nieves had not been knocked out by the two previous drugs.

"The pain [caused by potassium chloride] is excruciating," Otero said. "My uncle was tortured, literally crucified, for 34 minutes. Why would they administer it if obviously he was still conscious?"

The chemical compound traumatizes internal organs and stops the heart by provoking a massive heart attack.

Otero said the image of a crucifixion came to her before the execution when she went to see the gurney onto which her uncle's body was going to be strapped. The gurney has two winglike shelves that extend out on each side, to which the inmate's arms are secured.

Gov. Jeb Bush appointed a commission to investigate Nieves' execution and halted all others indefinitely. A report is due by March 1.

Otero said the attorney for the family, Todd Doss, is looking into whether the second series of drugs was administered in its entirety. The family thinks only the third drug -- potassium chloride, used to induce the heart attack -- might have been used in the second injections.

Doss could not be reached Sunday.

The attorney has handled at least one other high-profile death-penalty case. He told The Associated Press he is considering legal action against the state.

Jeannette Rivera-Lyles can be reached at jrivera@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5471.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

For Angel from Mary

Angel,

Today I light a candle for you

To guide you on your way

It would be good if you could stay

But if you have to go

Here are some gifts

For your journey

Love of friends and family -----

That can never die

Your body has to stay here

But the rest of you can fly

Sky-high

The little acts of kindness

That make a life worthwhile

May you go quickly and find peace

On the other side.

May angels come to greet you

To meet you there

Provide you with

softness and care.

Fare thee well


Mary Nordkvelle

2.35pm 12 December 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lethal injection BLOG







The lethal injection BLOG for updates on the botched execution of Angel Diaz

and the pending litigation in Florida and in US

http://lethal-injection-florida.blogspot.com

Jeb Bush and how much he cares for victims - Angel Diaz



Debbie Nieves, center, daughter of convicted murderer, Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, cries and prays with other family members outside the Florida State Prison in Starke, Fla., moments before her father was executed, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006

. Diaz was convicted of murdering a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago. Diaz died 34 minutes after receiving the first of two doses of chemicals.

Second dose needed to kill inmate - Angel Diaz


Second dose needed to kill inmate



By CHRIS TISCH and CURTIS KRUEGER
Published December 14, 2006


STARKE - A death row inmate who argued that Florida's execution procedures were cruel punishment needed 34 minutes and two drug doses to die by lethal injection Wednesday evening.


The scene of a grimacing Angel Diaz once again called into question the way the state kills condemned prisoners. Diaz winced, his body shuddered and he remained alive nearly three times as long as the state's two most recent executions.


Department of Corrections officials said they had to take the rare step of giving Diaz a second dose of drugs to kill him. A second dose is part of their protocol and was anticipated because Diaz had liver disease, which they said can slow the time it takes the drugs to metabolize.


But defense lawyers said Diaz's execution was so unusual it could once again disrupt executions in Florida.


"Obviously there was something very wrong here," said Neal Dupree, supervisor of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel office for South Florida, which represented Diaz in his appeals.


Dupree, who sat in the front row while Diaz was executed, said the procedure appeared botched, particularly when Diaz squinted his eyes and tightened his jaw as if in pain. Twenty-six minutes into the procedure, Diaz's body suddenly jolted.


"It looked like Mr. Diaz was in a lot of pain," Dupree said. "He was gasping for air for 11 minutes. This is a big deal. This is a problem."


Corrections officials acknowledged that 34 minutes was an unusually long time but said no records are kept that would tell if it's the longest in state history. They said they were not sure how many times a second dose has been needed.


Gretl Plessinger, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said it's unknown at what times the first and second doses were given because those records are not kept.


The execution team called for the second dose after noticing on heart monitors that Diaz was not dying, she said.


Diaz's cousin Maria Otero said the family had no knowledge of any liver disease.


"Who came down to Earth and gave you the right to kill somebody?" Otero said, referring to Gov. Jeb Bush. "Why a stupid second dose?"


Bush said in a written statement that the Department of Corrections followed all protocols.


"As announced earlier this evening by the department, a preexisting medical condition of the inmate was the reason tonight's procedure took longer than recent procedures carried out this year," the statement said.


Florida voluntarily began using lethal injection in 2000 after a number of gruesome executions in the electric chair put electrocutions at risk of being declared unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.


But capital defense lawyers have contended that lethal injection, which in Florida and most states is given with a three-drug cocktail, has its own cruelty problems.


They cite a recent study that suggests a painkiller administered first wears off before the third and fatal drug kills the person. That third drug can cause excruciating pain, the study said, but no one would know because the second drug in the cocktail paralyzes the person.


Earlier this year, executions in Florida were halted while the Supreme Court considered the case of Clarence Hill, condemned for the 1982 shooting death of a Pensacola police officer. Hill's lawyers argued that lethal injection was cruel and unusual, but the court's ultimately rejected his argument and Hill was executed this fall

.

Martin McClain, a lawyer who has represented more than 100 death row inmates, called for an investigation into Diaz's execution.


McClain said the state should have disclosed any liver problems in advance and explained its plans for dealing with them

.

McClain said he questions if Diaz was given the pain-inducing drug potassium chloride before the anesthetic started working.


Lethal injection had been a subject of legal challenges, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, which put executions in Florida on hold for much of this year. When those legal maneuvers failed, Gov. Bush began signing death warrants.


Diaz, 55, was the fourth person to be executed this year, the most the state has put to death since six were executed in 2000.


Diaz was condemned for the 1979 shooting death of Joseph Nagy, a topless bar manager in Miami. Nagy was killed during a robbery by three men. The case was unsolved for four years before a girlfriend of Diaz's called police to say he was involved.


Diaz had been sentenced to life in prison in Puerto Rico for another murder but escaped and came to the United States. He also escaped from a prison in Connecticut and tried to arrange an escape from jail in Miami.


Though no one witnessed Diaz pull the trigger, a jury convicted him of Nagy's murder and sentenced him to death.

His defense lawyers challe

nged his conviction and death sentence, especially after a jailhouse snitch who said Diaz confessed to him recanted his testimony. But courts let the death sentence stand.


Time line


Diaz's death

What happened in the execution chamber as Angel Diaz was put to death Wednesday night:


6:00 p.m.: The curtain opens. Angel Diaz gives a short last statement claiming he is innocent.


6:02: Diaz begins grimacing and seems to speak, though a microphone is off and none of the witnesses can hear him.


6:06: Diaz squints his eyes and juts his chin as if in pain. He continues this for several minutes.


6:12: Diaz's head slips to the right. He coughs several times and appears to shudder.


6:15: His mouth has appeared to widen and his breathing is deep.


6:18: A member of the execution team hands a phone to another member of the team. What they say on the phone is not revealed. Diaz's mouth and chin move as he breathes deeply.


6:24: Diaz's mouth and chin slowly stop moving. His eyes appear fixed.


6:26: His body suddenly jolts. His eyes appear to be opening more widely. Again, a member of the execution team gets on the phone.


6:34: A doctor wearing a blue hood that covers his face enters the execution chamber and checks Diaz's vital signs. The doctor returns a minute later, checks the vital signs again and nods to a member of the execution team.


6:36: A member of the execution team announces that the sentence of Angel Diaz has been carried out. The curtain closes.


Past controversies

May 4, 1990: Smoke, sparks and flames shoot from behind his mask as Jessie Tafero is executed in the electric chair. A synthetic sponge used to conduct electricity into the brain caught fire.


March 25, 1997: Pedro Medina's head catches fire as he is electrocuted. The leather skullcap burned because copper wiring inside it had not been cleaned.


July 8, 1999: Blood appears on the face and shirt front of 344-pound Allen Lee Davis, for whom a larger electric chair was specially built. Photos later show Davis bleeding from the nose and grimacing.


June 8, 2000: The lethal injection of Bennie Demps is delayed 33 minutes while technicians cut his groin and leg searching for a second injection spot. In his final statement he says, "They butchered me back there."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FLORIDA - Stop your lethal secrecy - Now we want to know - Angel Diaz




" And the eyes of the world are watching now . . ."


Authorities should conduct a complete investigation to get to the bottom of what went wrong with Diaz’s execution.



FLORIDA SUPPORT


NOT ONCE AGAIN




Allen Lee Davis
Florida

Botched execution - Angel Diaz





Executed man takes 34 minutes to die

By CHRIS TISCH and CURTIS KRUEGER



Published December 13, 2006


STARKE — A death row inmate who had argued that Florida’s execution procedures were cruel hung on for much longer than usual after his lethal injection Wednesday evening, once again calling into question the way the state kills condemned prisoners.


Angel Diaz winced, his body shuddered and he remained alive for 34 minutes, nearly three times as long as the last two executions.


Department of Corrections officials said they had to take the rare step of giving Diaz a second dose of drugs to kill him.


A second dose is part of their protocol and was anticipated in this case because Diaz had liver disease, which they said can slow the time it takes the drugs to metabolize, they said.


But capital defense lawyers said Diaz’s execution was so unusual that it could once again upend executions in Florida.


Obviously there was something very wrong here,” said Neal Dupree, supervisor of the capital collateral regional counsel office for South Florida, which represented Diaz in his appeals.


Dupree, who sat in the front row while Diaz was executed, said the procedure appeared botched, particularly when Diaz squinted his eyes and tightened his jaw as if in pain.


Twenty-six minutes into the procedure, Diaz’s body suddenly jolted.


It looked like Mr. Diaz was in a lot of pain,” Dupree said. “He was gasping for air for 11 minutes. This is a big deal. This is a problem.”


Corrections officials acknowledged that 34 minutes was an unusually long time but said no records are kept that would tell if it’s the longest ever in state history.


They were not sure how many other times a second dose was needed.


Gretl Plessinger, a DOC spokeswoman, said it’s unknown at what times the first and second doses were given because those records are not kept.


Diaz began snoring after the first dose was given and never regained consciousness, she said.


The execution team called for the second dose after noticing on heart monitors that Diaz was not dying, she said.


Diaz’s cousin Maria Otero said the family had no knowledge of any liver disease. She said the execution was political.


“Who came down to earth and gave you the right to kill somebody?” Otero said, referring to Gov. Jeb Bush. “Why a stupid second dose?”


Florida voluntarily began using lethal injection in 2000 after a number of gruesome executions in the electric chair put electrocutions at risk of being declared unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.


But capital defense lawyers have said lethal injection, which in Florida and most states is given with a three-drug cocktail, has its own cruelty problems. They cite a recent study that shows a painkiller administered first wears off before the third and fatal drug kills the person. That third drug can cause excruciating pain, the study said, but no one would know because the second drug in the cocktail paralyzes the person.


Martin McClain, an attorney who has represented more than 100 death row inmates, said authorities should conduct a complete investigation to get to the bottom of what went wrong with Diaz’s execution.


McClain said the state should have disclosed any liver problems in advance and explained its plans for dealing with them. This scenario makes McClain wonder if Diaz was given the pain-inducing drug potassium chloride before the anesthetic started working.


He said he’s concerned that this could have caused the kind of pain in Diaz that constitutes “”cruel and unusual punishment,’’ outlawed by the U.S. Constitution.


Lethal injection had been a subject of legal challenges, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, which put executions in Florida on hold for much of this year. But once those legal maneuvers failed, Gov. Jeb Bush began signing death warrants.


Diaz, 55, was the fourth person to be executed this year, the most the state has put to death since six were executed in 2000.


Diaz was condemned for the 1979 shooting death of Joseph Nagy, a topless bar manager in Miami. Nagy was killed during a robbery by three men. The case was unsolved for four years before a girlfriend of Diaz’s called police to say he was involved.


Diaz had been sentenced to life in prison in Puerto Rico for another murder but escaped and came to the United States. He also escaped from a prison in Connecticut and tried to arrange an escape from jail in Miami.


Though no one witnessed Diaz pull the trigger, a jury convicted him of Nagy’s murder and sentenced him to death by an 8-4 vote.


His defense lawyers vigorously challenged his conviction and death sentence, especially after the jailhouse snitch recanted his testimony. But courts let the death sentence stand.


Diaz clung to his innocence in his final statement.


“The state of Florida is killing an innocent person,” Diaz said in Spanish. “The state of Florida is committing a crime because I am innocent. The death penalty is a form of vengeance but also a cowardly act by humans. I am sorry for what is happening to me and my family who have been put through this.”



Execution of Fla. Inmate Takes 34 Min. - Angel Diaz

Maria Otero Diaz is carried to an EMS van after she was overcome by emotion during the execution of Angel Nieves Diaz, her cousin, outside the Florida Department of Corrections facility in Starke, Fla. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006.

Diaz, convicted of murdering the manager of a topless bar 27 years ago was executed by injection Wednesday despite his protests of innocence and requests for clemency made by the governor of his native Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)



STARKE, Fla. | A man convicted of murdering the manager of a topless bar nearly three decades ago was executed by injection Wednesday, appearing to grimace before dying 34 minutes after receiving the first of two doses of chemicals.

The manner of his death will likely rekindle the argument that Florida's method of execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m., despite his protests of innocence and requests for clemency made by the governor of his native Puerto Rico. He appeared to move for 24 minutes after the first injection. His eyes were open, his mouth opened and closed and his chest rose and fell. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes after his last movement.

In most Florida executions, the prisoner loses consciousness almost immediately and stops moving within five minutes. The entire process usually takes about 15 minutes.

The state of Florida is killing an innocent person, Diaz said from the gurney

"The state of Florida is killing an innocent person," Diaz said from the gurney.

"The state of Florida is committing a crime, because I am innocent.

The death penalty is not only a form of vengeance, but also a cowardly act by humans.

I'm sorry for what is happening to me and my family who have been put through this."

We should cry, but it should not destroy us - Angel Diaz

He said man can take away his life, but his spirit will belong to God, - Angel Diaz



From Angel Diaz to FLORIDA :


He said man can take away his life, but his spirit will belong to God


Puerto Rican officials begged for clemency - Angel Diaz

STARKE, Fla. (AP) -- A Puerto Rican man convicted of killing a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago was set for execution Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeal.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. EST, about an hour after the justices declined to intervene. The news came after Puerto Rican officials begged for clemency and as Diaz's relatives gathering outside Florida State Prison claimed his innocence. State policy prohibits the condemned inmate's family members from witnessing the execution.

We love him so much and we are planning his burial - Angel Diaz

"We are just overwhelmed. We love him so much and we are planning his burial," Otero-Barahona said.


Another cousin, Maria Magdalena Ortero, said Nieves had asked his relatives to accept his fate.


"He asked us to remain calm, that we understand that he is tired of being jailed alive for 21 years. He said man can take away his life, but his spirit will belong to God," said Maria Magdalena Otero. "Yes, that we should cry, but that it should not destroy us."


Officials in Puerto Rico, including Gov. Acevedo Vila and Senate President Kenneth D. McClintock, have written letters to Gov. Jeb Bush asking him to stop the execution. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, abolished capital punishment in 1929.


There are so many problems with Nieves' trial and appeals that the execution should be stopped, Solsirette Otero said.


No one actually witnessed the shooting death of manager Joseph Nagy. Most of the patrons and employees had been confined to a restroom and a dancer hiding under the bar did not see who fired the shoots which killed Nagy, she said.


"Everyone has recanted. Fingerprints were not clear. There were no eyewitnesses and even the shooter says my uncle is an innocent man," Otero said.


The case remained unsolved

Scheduled to die today, killer maintains innocence in Miami strip club case


``He is at peace with God. He just wants people to know he is innocent,'' said Solsirette Otero-Barahona of Orlando, who calls Nieves her uncle, although he is her father's first cousin.

Otero-Barahona said at one of her last visits with 55-year-old Nieves, he told her ``You know I'm innocent. I know I'm innocent. God knows I'm innocent.''

In an interview with Notiseis television broadcast Tuesday evening in Puerto Rico, Nieves said, ``I feel at peace. Yes, nervous, but without fear because I feel close to God and that helps me feel good.''

You know I'm innocent. I know I'm innocent. God knows I'm innocent - Angel Diaz



Strip club manager killer set to die
RON WORD
Associated Press

Family members surrounded Angel Nieves Diaz for likely the last time Wednesday as the death row inmate faced execution for fatally shooting a Miami topless club manager 27 years ago this month.


As his attorney pressed final appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, Nieves' family members were gathering at Florida State Prison near Starke to say their last goodbyes to a man they know as a loving father, grandfather, brother and uncle. They claim the state is getting ready to unjustly execute him.


He was later be joined by Dale Recinella, a prison chaplain, and was to receive last rites from a priest, Jose Maniyangat.


"He is at peace with God. He just wants people to know he is innocent," said Solsirette Otero-Barahona of Orlando, who calls Nieves her uncle, although he is her father's first cousin.


Otero-Barahona said at one of her last visits with 55-year-old Nieves, he told her "You know I'm innocent. I know I'm innocent. God knows I'm innocent."


In an interview with Notiseis television broadcast Tuesday evening in Puerto Rico, Nieves said, "I feel at peace. Yes, nervous, but without fear because I feel close to God and that helps me feel good."


Funeral services are being planned for Nieves, who wants his body returned to his native Puerto Rico. A prayer service was being held Wednesday evening in front of a church in Old San Juan and family members celebrated Mass on Tuesday night in Maclenny.


"We are just overwhelmed. We love him so much and we are planning his burial," Otero said.


Officials in Puerto Rico, including Gov. Acevedo Vila and Senate President Kenneth D. McClintock, have written letters to Gov. Jeb Bush asking him to stop the execution. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, abolished capital punishment in 1929.


There are so many problems with Nieves' trial and appeals that the execution should be stopped, Otero said.


No one actually witnessed the shooting death of manager Joseph Nagy. Most of the patrons and employees had been confined to a restroom and a dancer hiding under the bar did not see who fired the shoots which killed Nagy, she said.


"Everyone has recanted. Fingerprints were not clear. There were no eyewitnesses and even the shooter says my uncle is an innocent man," Otero said.


The case remained unsolved for four years until 1983, when Nieves' girlfriend told police he was involved in the crimes. Angel "Sammy" Toro and Angel Nieves were charged with murder. A third man, "Willie," was never identified, according to a summary of his case by the Florida Commission on Capital Crimes.


At his trial, where he was forced to wear shackles, Nieves conducted his own defense, with the assistance of counsel. Toro cut a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to life in prison.


The jury in Nieves' trial recommended he be sentenced to death by an 8-4 vote.


Barring a last-minute reprieve, Nieves would be the 21st man executed under th
e administration of Gov. Jeb Bush and the 64th inmate to die since Florida resumed executions in 1979 after a 15-year hiatus. It would be the fourth execution this year.


Nieves' prior record includes a second-degree murder conviction in his native Puerto Rico and escapes there and in Connecticut.


Nieves did not order a last meal, so he will be served Wednesday's prison of shredded turkey with taco seasoning, shredded cheese, rice, pinto beans, tortilla shells, apple crisp and ice tea, said Gretl Plessinger, a Department of Corrections, spokeswoman.


The court issues raised by Nieves included a challenge to Florida's method of lethal injection. The arguments are similar to those made earlier this year by three other death row inmates who all lost their appeals and were executed.


Each has argued that Florida's three-chemical method is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it results in extreme pain that an inmate cannot express because one of the drugs is a paralyzing agent.

Putting someone to death on the word of a jailhouse snitch is Unamerican



Dec. 13 - 2006


FLORIDA----impending execution

Evidence questioned ahead of execution


Jenny Greenburg didn't mince words when talking about the execution of
Angel Nieves Diaz, scheduled today at Florida State Prison.

"Putting someone to death on the word of a jailhouse snitch is
un-American," said Greenburg, director of the Florida Innocence
Initiative.

Nieves, 55, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Miami topless
club manager Joseph Nagy in 1979. The conviction was largely based on the
testimony of a jailhouse informant, Ralph Gajus, who occupied a nearby
cell and said Nieves who spoke poor English admitted he was the
triggerman by miming the shooting.

Gajus later said he made up the story. But unless the Supreme Court steps
in, Nieves will be executed at 6 p.m. today in the Bradford County prison.
State and federal appeals courts have found the evidence has already been
considered and also rejected Nieves's claim that lethal injection is cruel
and unusual punishment.

Greenberg, who runs the nonprofit seeking to overturn wrongful
convictions, said the case illustrates that jailhouse informants are
notoriously unreliable. Such informants often trade testimony for lesser
sentences or favorable treatment, she said.

Jailhouse informants are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in U.S.
capital cases, according to a report by the Center on Wrongful Convictions
at Northwestern University. The report found that 51 death row inmates
have been exonerated who were initially convicted on the word of jailhouse
informants.

State Attorney Bill Cervone, prosecutor for the 6-county district
including Alachua County, said he's reluctant to rely on the word of a
jailhouse informant. He said he'd be unlikely to base a case on an
informant's word if there was no other evidence.

"We're very cautious about it because there are obvious agendas involved,"
he said.

In the Nieves case, Gajus said police promised to help him with his own
case. He was later sentenced to 20 years for second-degree murder.

Greenburg said one of Florida's best known wrongful convictions was due to
a jailhouse informant. Based on the testimony from convicted murderer
Clarence Zacke, Wilton Dedge was sentenced to life in prison for sexual
battery and other changes in Brevard County.

An investigation by the New York-based Innocence Project found Zacke
received a drastic reduction in his sentence by claiming Dedge confessed
while they were being transported together. DNA evidence proved Dedge
didn't do it, leading to his release after 22 years in prison.

Carolyn Snurkowski, who is representing the state in the Nieves case, said
it's up to a jury to decide whether an informant is reliable. She said she
doesn't have a problem with such testimony being used if jurors are
informed of any deals being given.

"It's in their hands to make a credibility determination," she said.

But Greenburg supports allowing judges to determine credibility before
allowing such testimony.

"The presumption should be this is not credible evidence unless the state
proves otherwise," she said.

Nieves was convicted of 1st-degree murder, 4 counts of kidnapping, 2
counts of armed robbery, 1 count of attempted robbery and 1 count of
possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony for a holdup at a
bar.

Nieves' prior record includes a 2nd-degree murder conviction in his native
Puerto Rico and escapes there and in Connecticut. In 1981, he escaped from
the Hartford Correctional Center by holding 1 guard at knifepoint while
another was beaten as he and 3 other inmates escaped, according to court
records.

(source: The Gainesville Sun)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No. 06A569 USSC - Angel Diaz

No. 06A569
Title: In Re Angel N. Diaz, Applicant
v.


Docketed:

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dec 11 2006 Application (06A569) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Suzanne Myers Keffer 101 NE 3rd Avenue Suite 400 (954)-713-1284
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Attorneys for Respondent:
Sandra S. Jaggard Office of the Attorney General (305) 377-5441
Rivergate Plaza, Suite 650, 444 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL 33131

No. 06A565 - USSC - Angel Diaz

>No. 06A565
Title:
Angel N. Diaz, Applicant
v.
James McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections
Docketed:
Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Florida
Case Nos.: (06-2313, 06-2259&06-2305, 06-2325)

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dec 11 2006 Application (06A565) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.
Dec 11 2006 Response to application from respondent James McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections filed.



~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:

Suzanne Myers Keffer 101 NE 3rd Avenue Suite 400 (954)-713-1284

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Party name: Angel N. Diaz



Attorneys for Respondent:

Sandra Sue Jaggard 444 Brickell Avenue Suite 950

Miami, FL 33131-2407
Party name: James McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections



No. 06-8249 USSC docket - Angel Diaz

No. 06-8249 *** CAPITAL CASE ***
Title: In Re Angel N. Diaz, Petitioner
v.


Docketed: December 11, 2006

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dec 11 2006 Petition for writ of habeas corpus and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed.
Dec 11 2006 Application (06A569) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Suzanne Myers Keffer 101 NE 3rd Avenue Suite 400 (954)-713-1284
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Attorneys for Respondent:
Sandra S. Jaggard Office of the Attorney General (305) 377-5441
Rivergate Plaza, Suite 650, 444 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL 33131

No. 06-8239 USSC docket - Angel Diaz

06-8239 *** CAPITAL CASE *** Title:
Angel N. Diaz, Petitioner
v.
James R. McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections
Docketed: December 11, 2006 Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Florida
Case Nos.: (06-2313, 06-2259&06-2305, 06-2325)
Decision Date: December 8, 2006
Discretionary Court
Decision Date: December 1, 2006

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dec 11 2006 Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed. (Response due January 10, 2007)
Dec 11 2006 Application (06A565) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.
Dec 11 2006 Brief of respondent James R. McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections in opposition filed.
Dec 11 2006 Response to application from respondent James McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections filed.



~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:

Suzanne Myers Keffer 101 NE 3rd Avenue Suite 400 (954)-713-1284

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Party name: Angel N. Diaz



Attorneys for Respondent:

Sandra Sue Jaggard 444 Brickell Avenue Suite 950

Miami, FL 33131-2407
Party name: James R. McDonough, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

Challenged Florida's method of lethal injection - Angel Diaz



According to his state-paid lawyer, Suzanne Myers Keffer, Nieves still had appeals pending with the U.S. Supreme Court.


The appeals filed with the high court also challenged Florida's method of lethal injection. Similar arguments were made earlier this year by three other death row inmates who all lost their appeals and were executed.

Each has argued that Florida's three-chemical method is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it results in extreme pain that an inmate cannot express because one of the drugs is a paralyzing agent.

Inmate's Attorneys Fight Against Execution

Inmate's Attorneys Fight Against Execution

POSTED: 3:51 pm EST December 11, 2006

The convicted killer of a Miami topless club manager has turned to an appeals court in Atlanta and the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to stop his scheduled execution Wednesday.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, whose state appeals were denied Friday, turned to the federal courts Saturday.

Nieves' attorney, Suzanne Myers Keffer, said Monday she filed a request from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking permission to file another appeal and with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay of execution. Neither had ruled by midday Monday.

The new appeals challenge Florida's method of lethal injection. Similar arguments were made earlier this year by three other death row inmates who all lost their appeals and were executed.

Each has argued that Florida's three-chemical method is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it results in extreme pain that an inmate cannot express because one of the drugs is a paralyzing agent.

Love from Angel for Christmas 2006 - Angel Diaz



FROM ANGEL WITH LOVE

CHRISTMAS 2006

The option of imposing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole - Angel Diaz


Bishop Wenski - Column

DEATH PENALTY - JANUARY 2006

Last month while California’s governor contemplated the fate of Stanley Tookie Williams whom he later had executed, Governor Bush signed two death warrants for two men on Florida’s death row. Later this month, Clarence Hill, 47, and Arthur Rutherford, 56, will be also be executed by lethal injection.

Both men were guilty of shedding innocent blood. And both have been imprisoned for some years: their crimes were committed more than 20 years ago. Yet, is it any more necessary for the State of Florida to kill these men than it was for California to kill Williams? Does society really make a coherent statement against killing by killing?

The argument has been made that the application of the death penalty represents the legitimate self defense of society from an unjust aggressor, i.e. the murderer. And, historically, the Church has conceded the point that the State can rightly apply capital punishment when absolutely necessary, i.e. when otherwise impossible to defend society. There is, in Church teaching, no moral equivalence between the execution of the guilty after due process of law and the willful destruction of innocent life that happens with abortion or euthanasia. However, Pope John Paul II has pointed out in Evangelium Vitae (no. 56): given the organization of today’s penal system and the option of imposing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, such an “absolute necessity” is “practically non-existent”.

Also, it is difficult to defend the “necessity” of executing someone when often his accomplice, in exchange for information or testimony, is given through plea bargaining a lesser sentence. And while some loved ones seek “closure”, it is hard to see how capital punishment as “social retribution” or “institutional vengeance” really serves the purpose of punishment which should be designed to redress the disorder caused by the offense. The death penalty cannot bring the victims back to life.

Even from a purely pragmatic or utilitarian point of view, the death penalty cannot be defended. It is not an effective deterrent to crime. Texas has executed more criminal than any other state; yet, it still has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. And the death penalty is not cost effective. It costs the state less to imprison someone for the remainder of his natural life than to execute him. Given that it is irreversible, society has rightly provided that it be applied only after lengthy and expensive legal appeals. And, in spite of this, there are more than 400 documented cases of wrongly convicted persons executed in the U.S. during the last century.

Willful murder is a heinous crime; it cries to God for justice. Yet, God did not require Cain’s life for having spilt Abel’s blood. While God certainly punished history’s first murderer, he nevertheless put a mark on him to protect Cain from those wishing to kill him to avenge Abel’s murder (cf. Gn 4:15). Like Cain, the condemned prisoner on death row – for all the evil of his crimes – remains a person. Human dignity – that of the convicted as well as our own – is best served by not resorting to this extreme and unnecessary punishment. Modern society has the means to protect itself without the death penalty.