Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UPDATE: Asheville, North Carolina: Third Annual Freedom Ball for Edward Chapman NC DR Exoneree

Alexandra Cury with Edward Chapman
Ms. Cury is a lawyer who's been one of Chapman's major supporting team both while he was on death row and since. She is the founder and key "propeller" of the Annual Freedom Ball and has worked with Ed Chapman on his life story. The final edition of of this book will be out this spring.

UPDATE - a Video of the Freedom Ball here

Edward Chapman, 41, of Asheville, who spent 14 on Death Row wrongly convicted of two murders, arrives at UNC-Asheville for a 2009 celebration party of his first year of freedom. He is hugged buy Psychology Department Chairwoman Pam Laughon who led the investigation into his case and helped win his freedom. / CITIZEN-TIMES FILE
Written by STAFF REPORTS published 3:40 pm ET March 30, 2011

ASHEVILLE — Third Annual Freedom Ball: A Fundraiser for NC Death Row Exoneree Edward Chapman will be held March 31. Doors open for food and drink at 6 p.m.; the music will play from 7 p.m.-midnight.

Edward Chapman celebrates his third year of freedom, after more than thirteen years on North Carolina's death row for crimes he did not commit, with a musical lineup featuring David LaMotte, Skinny Legs & All, The Krektones, and Kinjah. The event features a silent auction as well as an all-star musical lineup.

Among the items for auction are a basketball signed by Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade. Edward Chapman, tomorrow night, Thursday, March 31, at the Grey Eagle Music Hall from 7 till midnight. All proceeds ($10 student; $15 general and $25 patron tickets) will available at the door starting at 6pm.

Three years after his release, Chapman continues working at the Renaissance Hotel. He also donates his time to speak to youth and other groups of people who find meaning and inspiration in his story. Chapman plans to release his book this spring, Life After Death Row: The True Story of Glen Edward Chapman. A cable pilot of his story was filmed last year in Hickory and may also air this spring on BET's new show, "Vindicated."

Chapman's case was fraught with police misconduct. Hickory police detectives hid evidence of Chapman's innocence, including a lineup in which the eyewitness made a positive identification of another man, as well as a confession by another man. Chapman's lawyers did not bother to investigate multiple reports by people who saw the victim the day after the prosecution claimed she was murdered by Edward. Nor did they pursue any investigation of the prime suspects in the case.

It was only when local attorney Frank Goldsmith and mitigation specialist Dr. Pam Laughon, chair of the Psychology Department at UNC-Asheville, started working on Edward's case more than a decade later that the truth began to be revealed. Even then, it took years to achieve justice and secure Chapman's freedom. His son had grown up and his own mother had died while Chapman was wrongly imprisoned.
The Grey Eagle Music Hall is located at 185 Clingman Avenue.

For more information, contact Alex Cury at or 253-5088 or Pam Laughon at 712-2114 or Alex Holsten 910-471-0822.

See and Read more on Glenn Edward Chapman just below from his visit to Brevard, NC

Published originally in Hendersonville Times News - Thursday September 17, 2009
(in Community Section)

Edward Chapman: Free, Upfront and In Charge

By Connie L. Nash

When Edward Chapman described death row last Thursday at Transylvania County Library, he said he liked to be “upfront from the git-go”. Attention around the table grew and folk leaned further in while Chapman told of his troubled past and struggles to survive a corrupt environment where some guards had more to do with a prostitution ring and bringing in drugs than the prisoners did.

Chapman was also candid about his inner struggle and success to inwardly become and stay free along with his regrets as a son, a husband, a father and more. His mother and common-law wife died during his imprisonment. He watched his beloved son’s anger toward him grow over the years – especially after his wife’s death. Chapman’s eyes filled with tears a few times in the telling. Still, he said, through all those years he prayed and “never gave up - if you throw in the towel," he said, "no one wants to hear you cry."

Daily conditions? Food was terrible. “Floodlights twenty-four seven - THAT was torture and we had to take our shower five minutes max or pick up cigarette butts. Sometimes punishment was to move us old guys where the younger play rap music all the time." Classes and the arts? These were discontinued. “We were told,” Chapman said, “You're not here to learn - you're here to die.”

Behind bars for fifteen years, Chapman said he liked to think for himself and to learn from others who did the same - like the inmate who "visited" a different country every day via maps and knew facts and figures as if he’d been there. Chapman didn't mind being alone. He liked reading deep poetry - looking for the "story within the story". He got interested in writing his own poems and asking others to decipher his own hidden meaning. People began calling him “The Philosopher King” – they still do.

Chapman wrote letters daily and kept records of "every act of kindness" – he wrote with the faith that someone – somewhere would help him get free. Eventually he got to know the Chair of the Psychology Dept. at UNC-Asheville, Dr. Pam Laughon, who looked under every legal rock - for years – even after a string of state-appointed lawyers had failed.

Finally, Attorney Frank Goldsmith and Professor Laughon (become Mitigation Specialist) put together a winning case.

On April 2, 2008 Glen Edward Chapman became the seventh inmate freed in NC due to wrongful conviction . In summary, he was erroneously charged with the murders of two women by sloppy lawyers, ineffective counsel, and numerous other roadblocks. In the case 'State v. Glen Edward Chapman' NC Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin found that each of the lead detectives assigned to the case had covered up exculpatory evidence inconsistent with the State’s theory of his guilt.

Chapman said, "I hit the road running." Alexandra Cury, head of the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium , added “He works harder than anyone else at the Asheville hotel where he's been recently promoted from dishwasher to the most popular staff member of Housekeeping and has lots of friends. He works extra every chance he gets. He never drinks. Chapman said that he wanted to do everything possible to stay clear-headed.

According to Chapman and the legal team, racial discrimination may have played a strong role in the false charges. His testimony was added to many other such statements spoken on behalf of “The North Carolina Racial Justice Act” which Governor Beverly Perdue signed the Act into law August 11, 2009. Over 60% of those on NC Death Row are black.

Since 1973, nationwide 135 people have been exonerated and freed from death row –. including five people in 2009.

Percentage-wise, for every six people executed in North Carolina – there’s been one person freed from death row. There are nine stories of the wrongful conviction of people with strong innocent cases posted at the “ North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium” website under “Wrongful Convictions”. There may well be more such cases.

What’s next for Chapman? Asked - “Why don’t you sound bitter?" Chapman said, "I'm in control of my life now. I’m free. It's like winning the lottery… When you're bitter, other people have power over you." “Edward’s dad’s a chef” Cury added “and one day Edward would love to be one.” There is one more goal, Cury told the group: like most released prisoners, Chapman was sent from prison minus resources to help start a new life. He and his supporters are seeking a “Pardon of Innocence” from Governor Bev Perdue so that he may receive the compensation he is due, "from the State of North Carolina for his unjust and unlawful incarceration."

Along with many cheering supporters, I pray Glen Edward Chapman will succeed. GO Edward and god-speed - stay free, upfront and in charge each day for the rest of your life!

END article

This item posted on The Journey of Hope blogsite (where I co-blog) where you can find other links to Ed Chapman - CLICK here

Monday, March 28, 2011

Amnesty Release: US in top 5 position for executions

Despite some improvements, more nations worldwide now executing

Posted: Monday, Mar. 28, 2011 in The Charlotte Observer (NC/USA)
Amnesty: More countries now executing convicts

LONDON The number of countries executing convicts rose to 23 in 2010, four more than the previous year, Amnesty International said in a report published Monday.

The year 2009 saw the lowest number of countries impose the death penalty since the 50-year-old rights organization began keeping statistics.

Despite the rise in 2010, the London-based group said momentum is still with those who are seeking to outlaw the practice, which it argues is cruel and degrading. An increasing number of countries have stripped capital punishment from their books, and fewer executions are being reported across the globe, the report said.

"Countries that use the death penalty are increasingly isolated following a decade of progress toward abolition," Amnesty said in a statement. "A world free of the death penalty is not only possible, it is inevitable. The question is how long will it take."

The West African nation of Gabon became the 96th nation to officially eschew the use of capital punishment in February 2010, and the number of such abolitionist countries have doubled in the past two decades, the group said.

In many countries that still carry out executions, the use of the death penalty has dropped. The United States executed 46 people in 2010, a fall from 2009, when 52 people were put to death. Amnesty noted that the 110 death sentences handed down in the United States in 2010 represent only about a third of the number handed down in the mid-1990s.

Globally, Amnesty reported that at least 527 executions were carried out in 2010, although that figure only represents a fraction of the death sentences thought to have been imposed worldwide.

China retained the title of the world's biggest executioner, killing what Amnesty estimated were thousands of convicts. The group said it could not put a specific figure on the number of people sentenced to death there because the issue of executions in China is shrouded in secrecy.

Other top executioners identified by Amnesty included Iran, which executed at least 252 people in 2010, North Korea, with at least 60 executions, and Yemen, with at least 53 executions.

The rights group warned that those numbers could be far higher. For example, it said it had credible reports of more than 300 additional executions in Iran. Information from North Korea and other repressive communist countries remains incomplete, it said.


Online: or CLICK here

Find the article posted above at here

Find related item today at here

CBC report here

Huff Post: US in top 5 for executions here

Find much earlier yet still relevant artical with Death Pen Stats (comparing pro/con death pen positions here

Isn't it time to end ALL executions - including assassinations carried out by nations?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Producer of Lethal Drugs Misses Chance to Challenge Capital Punishment System: Report from Reprieve/Denmark

found at Dr. Rick Halperin's Current News and Updates

Friday, MARCH 25, 2011:


Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck votes to continue supplying pentobarbital for lethal injections

Danish manufacturer Lundbeck has today missed a major and historic opportunity to change the face of the U.S. capital punishment system. By choosing not to put measures in place to prevent its drugs being used to kill people, the company has opened its doors to executioners all over the country.

Lundbeck and its shareholders will now be responsible for potentially hundreds of deaths, as executing states snap up Lundbeck’s pentobarbital, a dangerous and experimental lethal injection drug, to kill prisoners.

Recent shortages of the anaesthetic sodium thiopental have forced prisons in Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio to abandon the standard 3-drug protocol used by the majority of executing states, turning instead to pentobarbital as an untested alternative. As the only licensed supplier of pentobarbital in the United States, Lundbeck has the power to halt countless executions by putting in place ‘end-user agreements’ with its customers. Such agreements would stop intermediaries selling Lundbeck’s chemicals on to state penitentiaries, thus preventing Danish drugs from ending up in the veins of condemned prisoners.

According to a source within Lundbeck, the company’s managers were so afraid that their distributors would not like their amended contracts that they decided to avoid taking action.

Lundbeck’s decision will open the floodgates in terms of encouraging executing states to adopt pentobarbital for use in executions. The method is considered highly dangerous because the drug, a sedative, was not designed for executions and has no clinical history of such use.

Reprieve Investigator Maya Foa said:

“By refusing to alter their contracts, Lundbeck has effectively elected to become the primary supplier of drugs for U.S. executions. They have consistently declared their desire not to facilitate capital punishment, and yet presented with the opportunity to turn their words into deeds, they have rejected it. This is an extremely disappointing and cowardly response.”


In the summer of 2010, the only US manufacturer of execution drug sodium thiopental, Hospira, ceased production of the substance due to a shortage of raw materials, forcing Departments of Corrections in executing states to source their drugs from overseas. Reprieve discovered that a company in Britain was supplying these chemicals and set out to stop British complicity in executions. The approved execution protocol in the United States consists of a cocktail of three drugs: sodium thiopental (also known as thiopental sodium and pentothal) supposedly anaesthetizes the victim, before pancuronium bromide paralyses the muscles and potassium chloride stops the heart.

On 25th October 2010, Jeffrey Landrigan was executed in Arizona using sodium thiopental imported from Britain. The lawyers of Edmund Zagorski, a man who has spent 28 years of his life on death row in Tennessee, subsequently contacted Reprieve with the information that the Tennessee Department of Corrections was seeking to purchase their own supply of sodium thiopental from the same company. Reprieve and lawyers Leigh Day & Co contacted members of the government, asking them to put in place emergency measures to prevent the export of the chemical, and thus stay Edmund's execution. Business Secretary Vince Cable and Jeremy Browne MP on behalf of the FCO declined to take such a step.

Reprieve therefore filed for judicial review of the government’s failure to prevent British complicity in executions. Counsel for the government initially argued that it was not worth imposing an export ban as executing states would source their sodium thiopental from elsewhere, but on 29th November Vince Cable finally agreed to put in place a system of controls making it illegal to export sodium thiopental from the UK to the US.

Shortly afterwards, Reprieve discovered that the British company responsible was Dream Pharma, a tiny pharmaceutical wholesalers operating out of the back of a driving academy in Acton, and that it had already exported a substantial quantity of sodium thiopental – as well as the other two lethal injection chemicals – before the ban came into force. We asked Matt Alavi, the Managing Director of Dream Pharma, for his help in mitigating the damage done by his quest for profit; he had been selling sodium thiopental for between 6 and twelve times its recommended price, knowing that it was to be used in lethal injections. Mr Alavi refused, and the drugs he supplied have already been used to kill three people: Brandon Rhode and Emanuel Hammond in Georgia, as well as Jeffrey Landrigan.

Disturbingly, it seems that Dream Pharma’s sodium thiopental may not have been properly effective as an anaesthetic, and that Brandon and Emanuel may therefore have been in agony during their executions. Dr Mark Heath, a renowned lethal injection expert, filed a sworn declaration stating that the fact that Brandon's eyes remained open throughout his execution was highly unusual and strongly suggested that he was not properly anaesthetized and therefore conscious throughout the process. He also wrote that:

“...if the thiopental was inadequately effective Mr Rhode’s death would certainly have been agonizing; there is no dispute that the asphyxiation caused by pancuronium and the caustic burning sensation caused by potassium would be agonizing in the absence of adequate anesthesia."

Reprieve is currently asking Business Secretary Vince Cable to put in place strict measures regulating the export of pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride from the UK. We are also asking the governments of Austria and Germany, where sodium thiopental and its active ingredients are still manufactured, to follow Britain in imposing a full export ban on the drug. Hospira, which originally intended to begin manufacturing sodium thiopental destined for American penitentiaries in an Italian factory, announced in January that it would be ceasing all production of the drug.

The use of pentobarbital in executions is experimental and considered highly dangerous because the drug, a sedative, was not designed to be used as an anaesthetic. According to Dr. David Waisel, Associate Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School: “The use of pentobarbital as an agent to induce anesthesia has no clinical history and is non-standard… the combination of significant unknowns… puts the inmate at risk of serious undue pain and suffering."

About Reprieve:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve has represented, and continues to represent, a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’


PO Box 52742

London EC4P 4WS


Website: or CLICK here

(source: Reprieve)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What's New? Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Scott Turow

Watch for more news items on Marietta Jaeger Lane from her various appearances in North Carolina...and hopefully we will soon be able to connect her with the amazing WINNING songwriter who was inspired by her story! (See one report on her story in the post just below)


NEW VOICES: Some Prosecutors and Judges Welcome End of Death Penalty
Posted: March 18, 2011

Illinois: Potential Benefits to Justice System
Following the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois, some state prosecutors and judges have pointed to potential benefits to the criminal justice system. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon recently said that abolishing the death penalty meant that murder trials in the county could come to a conclusion more quicly. McMahon said, “To the extent that we can bring these cases to resolution sooner, and help the families of the victims get some measure of closure and allow the healing process to begin sooner, [it] will be helpful.” Judge Keith Brown, chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, said that the lack of the death penalty will ease some of the burden of allocating additional resources to murder trials. Judge Brown noted that, “prosecuting murders should become less time consuming and less expensive, as the county and the state will no longer need to pay additional attorney’s fees for defendants, pay to bring in additional juries or pay staff and court costs for extended trials.”

LETHAL INJECTION: Texas Switches to New Drug as Next Execution Approaches
Posted: March 17, 2011

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced on March 16 that it will switch to pentobarbital as part of its three-drug lethal injection protocol for the upcoming execution of Cleve Foster on April 5. The short notice has drawn concerns from Foster's defense attorneys and lethal injection experts. Maurie Levin, a professor at the University of Texas who represents Foster, said, “Prison officials are not medical professionals. They cannot be trusted to change a medical procedure in the dark of night without public scrutiny, especially when there is such a minimal track record on the use of pentobarbital in lethal injections." Prof. Deborah Denno of Fordham Law School, one of the nation’s leading experts on the lethal injection, said that the “Texas decision was not about making executions more humane but was meant to make the process more feasible.” She also pointed to the fact that the problems with the earlier methods of lethal injection arose because one state blindly followed another, without careful review: "This lemming-effect has created a decades-long pattern of lethal injection botches in which department of corrections try to remain one step ahead of lawsuits."

LETHAL INJECTION: Federal Agency Seizes Georgia Execution Drug
Posted: March 16, 2011

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has seized Georgia's foreign supply of sodium thiopental, saying it will hold the drug while it investigates whether the Department of Corrections imported the drug legally. In February, attorneys representing Georgia death row inmate Andrew DeYoung sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder alleging that Georgia had violated the federal Controlled Substances Act "by failing to register as an importer of the controlled substance" sodium thiopental. Georgia reportedly obtained its supply of sodium thiopental from a small pharmaceutical company, Dream Pharma, in Great Britain. Five other states also acquired a supply of the drug in England.

NEW VOICES: "The Conservative Argument to Abolish the Death Penalty"
Posted: March 15, 2011

In a recent op-ed in the Chicago Tribune following Illinois's abolition of the death penalty, author and attorney Scott Turow (pictured) outlined three major conservative reasons for opposing capital punishment: it is a failed government program, it is a waste of money, and it doesn't fit with the idea of limited government. Turow served on former Governor George Ryan's Commission on Capital Punishment, which found numerous problems with the state's death penalty. In highlighting the failures of the system, Turow said, "For conservatives who believe government is too large, too inefficient and too unwieldy to deliver health care, or even the mail for that matter, it should come as no surprise that government efforts to justly select those worthy of death has been a moral disaster." On the issue of costs, he addressed the high cost of death penalty trials and appeals and the lack of deterrent effect, saying, "if the death penalty clearly served a practical purpose like saving lives, these increased costs might be worth it. But in Illinois we have experienced a steady decline in our murder rate since Gov. Ryan first declared the moratorium on executions." Turow closed by noting that some of our European allies abolished the death penalty as a reaction to the horrors of World War II. "The conservative-libertarian view that says that the powers of government must be strictly limited supports drawing a clear line prohibiting a democratic government from ever lawfully killing any of the citizens from whom it draws power. That way a regime that vanished its political enemies or executed despised minorities would mark itself, whatever the legal rigamorole, as an outlaw."

Judge Dismisses Capital Murder Charges After Finding State Report "Intentionally Misleading" North Carolina Innocence/Justice issues
Posted: March 14, 2011

On March 10, a North Carolina superior court judge released his opinion throwing out murder charges against Derrick Michael Allen, who was accused in the 1998 death and sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl. Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed the case after finding that a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) report was prepared in an "inaccurate, incomplete and intentionally misleading manner.” Judge Hudson also found that an SBI agent (now suspended) and a former assistant district attorney working on the case “decided to stop further testing of items for DNA testing because they believed further testing of physical evidence of the case would not prove inculpatory to the defendant Derrick Allen and could possibly inculpate others." He wrote that Allen was coerced into entering an Alford plea (a plea in which the defendant accepts that the weight of the evidence points to his guilt but without admitting actual guilt) after being threatened with the death penalty. An autopsy showed that the girl died of shaken baby syndrome. Allen spent more than 10 years in prison. Allen’s case was among 200 cases that an outside audit discovered were mishandled by the SBI. The audit revealed that agents failed to report correct evidence in a number of cases. Because evidence has been destroyed or is missing since Allen’s case started, Judge Hudson noted, “It is no longer possible for Mr. Allen to ever receive a fair trial.”

LETHAL INJECTION: Ohio Carries Out First Pentobarbital-Only Execution
Posted: March 11, 2011
On March 10, the execution of Johnnie Baston (pictured) in Ohio marked the first time any state carried out a death sentence with a single dose of the barbituate pentobarbital. The use of pentobarbital, more commonly employed in euthanizing animals, raised concerns among some death penalty experts. Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno warned, "Ohio is gambling blindly in its rush to execute. There is no reason why Ohio cannot take the time to devise a constitutionally acceptable execution procedure in the way so many experts have recommended." H. Lundbeck, the U.S. distributor of pentobarbital, condemned the use of the drug in executions in a statement: "It's against everything we stand for. We invent and develop medicine with the aim of alleviating people's burden. This is the direct opposite of that."

All the above found at Death Penalty Information Center here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Marietta Jaeger Lane's Story: Mother shares loss of daughter to teach forgiveness

By Patrick O’Neill, posted on the Garner Citizen

It’s hard to imagine the horror Marietta Jaeger Lane felt when she woke up in a Montana campground in 1973 to discover her 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was missing.

After putting her five children to sleep in a tent while on a family camping trip, Lane gave them each a hug and kiss goodnight. Susie had climbed out of her sleeping bag to give her mother a special good night hug. That was the last time Lane ever saw her youngest child again.

In the morning, the family discovered that someone had come in the night, cut a hole in the side of the children’s tent and abducted Susie, whose stuffed animals were left behind on the ground.

What followed was a journey Lane never expected. For a year after Susie’s abduction, Lane, who will be speaking this Saturday, March 19 at Garner’s St. Christopher Episcopal Church, waged a battle with God. Why had her daughter been taken from her under such devastating circumstances?

Before leaving their Michigan home for the trip, Lane said the family prayed, specifically asking God to bless and protect them.

“And then this happened. Where are you God? Where are you in this?” Lane recalled asking.

It wasn’t until a year after Susie’s abduction that Lane learned that her daughter had been tortured and raped for more than a week before being strangling to death and dismembered. The serial killer who abducted her, David Meirhofer, had also confessed to murdering three other children.

“He had her locked up in a broom closet, naked, having to sit in her own excrement in an abandoned farm house,” Lane said. “He would come every night and bring her food and water, but he would also rape her.”

Lane said she was blessed to have a year to work through her questions with God.

“… Because I was Susie’s mother, my motherliness made me go screaming after God, and God was there for me, and I came to understand that nobody grieved more about all the terrible things that happened to Susie, nobody was grieving more about that than God.”

Lane, now 72, said every time she felt rage and anger toward Susie’s abductor, God would tell her: “But that’s not how I want you to feel.”

As the first anniversary of Susie’s abduction approached, Lane gave an interview in which she expressed a desire to speak with her daughter’s kidnapper.

On June 25, 1974 — exactly a year to the minute of Susie’s abduction — Lane’s phone rang in the middle of the night, waking her from a sound sleep.

It was Meirhofer, who had called to taunt her.

“But he wasn’t counting on the spiritual journey that I’d been on during the intervening year,” Lane said.

Rather than get hysterical, Lane spoke with compassion toward Meirhofer, telling him how terrible he must feel to be burdened with the reality of what he had done, and that God loved him.

“He was virtually undone by what God had done to me, and backed down and stayed on the phone for about an hour and 20 minutes,” Lane said. “At one point I told him that I had been praying for him, and I asked him what I could do to help him, and he just broke down and … he said, ‘I wish this burden could be lifted from me.’”

Lane said that she knew what that could mean regarding the fate of her daughter but that she was committed to finding proof of what had happened to Susie.

That proof came in the course of that conversation, which Lane had been taping.

“He just relaxed and said a lot of things that he probably never in his wildest dreams intended to say, but he gave out enough information about himself — and God had graced me to remain calm … It just kind of undid him … but it was enough information that the FBI was able to identify him.”

After Meirhofer’s arrest, Lane stated publicly her opposition to capital punishment for her daughter’s killer. Because he wasn’t facing execution, Lane said he agreed to plead guilty to Susie’s murder and the other three murders. He was suspected in as many as a dozen Montana murders.

Meirhofer committed suicide the same day of his guilty plea.

As part of her healing, Lane befriended Meirhofer’s mother. The two mothers have prayed together at the graves of their children.

“She loves me,” Lane said. “She said I was the best thing that ever happened to her. I had absolutely no ill will toward her whatsoever. I just have grief and enormous sadness because she had no idea that there was anything wrong with her son.”

Today, more than 37 years after her daughter’s death, Lane speaks of her journey as being part of “Susie’s parable.” Jesus used parables, and the way Lane sees it, God is using her to be a living example of what’s possible when it comes to forgiveness and reconciliation.

“I understood after it was over that it needed to happen because this was a very sick young man who had killed many children, and he had never been identified,” she said.

“God had me prepared, had laid the foundation in me, so that I would eventually respond as God needed me to respond, and he allowed Susie to be a sacrificial lamb.”

In the years that have passed, and in the hundreds of talks she has given, scores of people have come up to Lane to tell her that forgiveness in their own lives seemed unattainable, but after listening to her story, they know they can forgive those who have hurt them.

“I know it’s a powerful script, but I don’t take any credit for it because it is not the script I wanted,” Lane said. “It’s a script written by the Holy Spirit to help people understand the importance of forgiveness and how it affects our relationship with God …”

In the fall, Lane, who has lectured all over the world with the group Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, was interviewed on Vatican Radio during a trip to Rome. In his book, “No Future without Forgiveness,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives an account of Lane’s story.

Because hers is a real-life story, Lane says, “There’s nobody who can come to me and say, ‘Well, you wouldn’t be opposed to the death penalty if it happened to your little girl,’ because they hear that it did. They may disagree with my stance on the death penalty but they can’t argue with my human experience. … To kill somebody in [Susie’s] name would be an insult to her memory.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

NORTH CAROLINA - NEW: NC Judge Dismisses Capital Murder Charges After Finding State Report "Intentionally Misleading"

What's New:

Judge Dismisses Capital Murder Charges After Finding State Report "Intentionally Misleading"

Posted: March 14, 2011 (on Death Penalty Information Center site)

On March 10, a North Carolina superior court judge released his opinion throwing out murder charges against Derrick Michael Allen, who was accused in the 1998 death and sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl. Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed the case after finding that a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) report was prepared in an "inaccurate, incomplete and intentionally misleading manner.” Judge Hudson also found that an SBI agent (now suspended) and a former assistant district attorney working on the case “decided to stop further testing of items for DNA testing because they believed further testing of physical evidence of the case would not prove inculpatory to the defendant Derrick Allen and could possibly inculpate others." He wrote that Allen was coerced into entering an Alford plea (a plea in which the defendant accepts that the weight of the evidence points to his guilt but without admitting actual guilt) after being threatened with the death penalty. An autopsy showed that the girl died of shaken baby syndrome. Allen spent more than 10 years in prison. Allen’s case was among 200 cases that an outside audit discovered were mishandled by the SBI. The audit revealed that agents failed to report correct evidence in a number of cases. Because evidence has been destroyed or is missing since Allen’s case started, Judge Hudson noted, “It is no longer possible for Mr. Allen to ever receive a fair trial.”

From the News & Observer The Derrick Allen Case here

See those removed from Death Row in NC on here More from the same site here

Other recent news:

From Topix dot com (death penalty) here

From Prison Talk here

BE sure to visit the last three or four posts AND COMMENTS! Plz add your own and THANX for coming by...

In Texas, no one should pay for an imperfect system with their lives

By Helen Burns, published on

I am a survivor of a murder victim.

I'm a registered nurse, wife, mother and a citizen interested in helping the community. I even vote.

In 1985, my mother was killed in cold blood by my father, a physician. As it was a capital offense in California, the district attorney's office approached my family as to whether or not we wanted to pursue the death penalty. Although at that time, I was an advocate of the death penalty, the deputy district attorney explained that pursuing the death penalty is much harder on the surviving family members/victims, as it takes years of appeals before executions are carried out. Pursuing a life sentence would result in justice for the family in a more expedient fashion.

With input from the family, the district attorney's office opted to seek a sentence of life. I assisted prosecutors with gathering information for the case, as well as testified during the trial. After 22 months, my father was convicted, and remains incarcerated today.

We did not have victim services available to us at that time, which would have been an invaluable resource for me as well as my family.

Over time I became educated about capital cases in which mistakes were made, and innocent men executed. I was shocked as I had not thought that possible in the justice system. I came to believe that the death penalty is wrong in all cases. I am a firm believer in life without the possibility of parole for capital offenses. The death penalty only serves to create more victims. Executing someone does not bring back our loved ones.

We do not live in a perfect world, and we do not have a flawless criminal justice system. Innocent people have been executed. We can strive to develop a better system, but we will never be on the mark 100 percent of the time. There is no perfect system, and you can't apologize to a dead man for convicting him of something he didn't do. Once the wrong person is executed, the mistake can't be corrected, and the killer remains loose in society. That's dangerous to all of us.

When someone loses a loved one to murder, there is never closure. You just learn to live with it. Closure is a myth.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed a bill to abolish the death penalty. Countless people in his state will benefit from his choice now and in the future, as well as enabling Illinois to free up millions of dollars for productive use.

In the midst of these tough, and often unpredictable economic times in our nation and the great state of Texas, the funding in the millions of dollars we would save by utilizing permanent imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty, could be used for law enforcement, cold case units, corrections and victim services. It would be a win-win situation in a truly difficult arena.

Let's rise to the occasion ... and choose life.

Burns, a registered nurse, is a board member of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and a volunteer for both the Travis County Sheriff's Office's Critical Incident Stress Management Team and Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Illinois: Death penalty abolished

Yesterday Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3539 thus abolishing the death penalty in the state of Illinois.

We want to express our gratetude towards all the people, organizations and politicians who worked tirelessly to make this happen.

And we want to thank Governor Quinn for doing the right thing. Not only did he abolish the death penalty in Illinois with his signature, he also took the courageous step to comute the sentences of the people on death row natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release.

I raise my hat to Governor Quinn.

Susanne Cardona

Please watch Governor Quinn's speech here:

Governor Quinn's speech:

Today I have signed Senate Bill 3539, which abolishes the death penalty in Illinois.

For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death. This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.

Since the General Assembly passed this bill, I have met or heard from a wide variety of people on both sides of the issue. I have talked with prosecutors, judges, elected officials, religious leaders from around the world, families of murder victims, people on death row who were exonerated and ordinary citizens who have taken the time to share their thoughts with me. Their experiences, words and opinions have made a tremendous impact on my thinking, and I thank everyone who reached out on this matter.

After their guidance, as well as much thought and reflection, I have concluded that our system of imposing the death penalty is inherently flawed. The evidence presented to me by former prosecutors and judges with decades of experience in the criminal justice system has convinced me that it is impossible to devise a system that is consistent, that is free of discrimination on the basis of race, geography or economic circumstance, and that always gets it right.

As a state, we cannot tolerate the executions of innocent people because such actions strike at the very legitimacy of a government. Since 1977, Illinois has seen 20 people exonerated from death row. Seven of those were exonerated since the moratorium was imposed in 2000. That is a record that should trouble us all. To say that this is unacceptable does not even begin to express the profound regret and shame we, as a society, must bear for these failures of justice.

Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it. With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case. For the same reason, I have also decided to commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release.

I have found no credible evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on the crime of murder and that the enormous sums expended by the state in maintaining a death penalty system would be better spent on preventing crime and assisting victims’ families in overcoming their pain and grief.

To those who say that we must maintain a death penalty for the sake of the victims’ families, I say that it is impossible not to feel the pain of loss that all these families share or to understand the desire for retribution that many may hold. But, as I heard from family members who lost loved ones to murder, maintaining a flawed death penalty system will not bring back their loved ones, will not help them to heal and will not bring closure to their pain. Nothing can do that. We must instead devote our resources toward the prevention of crime and the needs of victims’ families, rather than spending more money to preserve a flawed system.

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin observed, “[i]n a complex, sophisticated democracy like ours, means other than the death penalty are available and can be used to protect society.” In our current criminal justice system, we can impose extremely harsh punishments when warranted. Judges can impose sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Where necessary and appropriate, the state can incarcerate convicted criminals in maximum security prisons. These means should be sufficient to satisfy our need for retribution, justice and protection.

As Governor, I took an oath to uphold our state’s Constitution and faithfully execute our laws. Honoring that oath often requires making difficult decisions, but I have found none to be as difficult as the one I made today. I recognize that some may strongly disagree with this decision, but I firmly believe that we are taking an important step forward in our history as Illinois joins the 15 other states and many nations of the world that have abolished the death penalty.

(Source: Illinois Government News Network)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

"Marietta's Song" has won TEN DAYS STRAIGHT

Find our most recent post on Marietta here

UPDATE: March 9, 2011

Readers and Journey family...I found this HAPPY note on a comment just received so decided it goes here on top.

Dear friends, The Competition is OVER!!!!!!! "Marietta's Song" won it fair and square. It is now headed for the Songcat "Wall of Fame". Listening to "Marietta's Song" via this link is the best possible way to access the song, the lyrics, and the artist's information: or CLICK here

Perhaps Xanthe has heard from Marietta by now? If not, I will try to arrange a connection soon (unless Bill or Gilles do so before I get the chance.) What a nice connection that will be...what a gift.

CONGRATS dear XANTHE!!! What talent - what heart!

Xanthe has yet to hear from Marietta about the song, but sincerely hopes she accepts her song-gift in the spirit of lovingkindness it was written. Broken Dreams, Xanthe says to tell you that it was for YOU as well, people who really GET IT, that her songs are written. Thank you for your honest and heartfelt response. Kind wishes, Music Central Recording Studio

By Shanti from Music Central on "Marietta's Song" has won TEN DAYS STRAIGHT at 9:52 AM

UPDATED: March 7, 2011 ………

“Marrietta’s Song” by Xanthe Littlemore (was the winner of past 9 throwdowns and yet looks like for the first time it is no longer on top. Still, what a showing that has been!) Try these connections now:

Leaving for cut and pasting: or CLICK here

And try YouTube on Xanthe's channel TheXantheL

“The following just came in on a recent comment from a songwriter inspired by our dear Marietta!

Dear Marietta, Hi. I'm an award-winning songwriter. I saw you on Oprah years back, and your story of forgiveness and compassion moved me to tears. It also moved me to write you a song. It's called "Marietta's Song" and it is a gift for you. I wrote to Oprah trying to find you so that I could offer you this song in recognition of your inspiring acts and your amazing depth of soul. Oprah never wrote back. Music Xray, the internet's biggest A&R website liked the song so much they recently entered it into a song contest. The song I wrote for you has won TEN DAYS STRAIGHT, which is very rare, and I believe it now qualifies for the Songcat Wall of Fame. I dearly want you to hear the song that you inspired, Marietta. If you want to, please go to (GO here Click on "Marietta's Song" and please accept my humble offering to you.

Kindest regards, Xanthe Littlemore

By Xanthe Littlemore on MARIETTA JAEGER-LANE at 10:19 AM (This was originally posted by Xanthe in February. Sorry to be so far behind!)

Soon I hope to find out more about this award-winning songwriter and post more. Anyone heard "Marietta's Song" yet? I'm sure happy to discover this comment in my rush to get back to a family birthday...because IF I were a songwriter, I'd certainly have been inspired to write one based on Marietta's life, story and soul as well!

Thanx so much for posting and I will try to let everyone at the Journey of Hope know right away dear Xanthe Littlemore.

Congrats to MARIETTA as well for continuing to inspire with her obedience to LOVE.

Love and Prayers Xanthe for a long, fruitful songwriting career.

Connie for all the "Journey of Hope" family

For Marietta's story GO here and here

Friday, March 04, 2011

UPDATED (in prison abuse): Bradley Manning may face death penalty

See UPDATES at the end of this post...

MSNBC/Common Dreams

Published originally on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by MSNBC Wikileaks: Bradley Manning Faces 22 New Charges, Possible Death Penalty
by Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube

'Aiding the enemy' is most serious of new counts filed against private in WikiLeaks case

WASHINGTON — Following an intensive seven-month investigation, the Army on Wednesday filed 22 additional charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of illegally downloading tens of thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents that were then publicly released by WikiLeaks, military officials tell NBC News.

The most serious of the new charges is "aiding the enemy," a capital offense which carries a potential death sentence.

Pentagon and military officials say some of the classified information released by WikiLeaks contained the names of informants and others who had cooperated with U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, endangering their lives.

According to the officials, the U.S. military rounded up many of those named and brought them into their bases for protection. But, according to one military official, "We didn't get them all." Military officials tell NBC News a small number of them still have not been found.

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, did not immediately return a call from for comment.

But Coombs wrote on his blog Wednesday that it was uncertain whether any additional charges filed against his client would stick.

"The decision to prefer charges is an individual one by PFC Manning's commander," he wrote. "The nature of the charges and the number of specifications under each reflects his determination, in consultation with his Staff Judge Advocate's office, of the possible offenses in this case. Ultimately, the Article 32 Investigating Officer will determine which, if any, of these additional charges and specifications should be referred to a court-martial.”

Manning, 23, was first charged on July 6, 2010, with illegally downloading and transferring defense information to an "unauthorized source," when he worked as a military intelligence analyst in Baghdad. He was also charged on accusations that he obtained 150,000 classified State Department cables, many of which were also eventually released by WikiLeaks.

The charges filed Wednesday include 16 specifications of wrongfully obtaining classified material for the purpose of posting it on the Internet, knowing that the information would be accessed by the enemy. Other charges include the illegal transmission of defense information and fraud.

While conviction on the charge of "aiding the enemy" could result in the death penalty, military prosecutors recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on that charge alone. But the presiding military judge would have the authority to dismiss the prosecution's recommendation and impose the death penalty.

Like the earlier charges, the charges made no specific mention of WikiLeaks.

Pentagon and military officials also report that investigators have made no direct link between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Manning remains in custody at the U.S. Marine Brig at Quantico south of Washington, D.C., awaiting court martial proceedings.

Coombs, Manning's lawyer, has complained that his confinement conditions — in maximum custody under a “prevention of injury” watch — are unduly harsh and undermine his right to a fair trial. Manning has been confined in a 6-by-12-foot cell with a bed, a drinking fountain and a toilet for about 23 hours a day, Coombs has said.

Anti-war groups, a psychologist group as well as filmmaker Michael Moore and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg have called for Bradley to be released from detention. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have condemned the Obama administration's imprisonment conditions.

James Eng of contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 MSNBC.Login

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CLICK here where you can find plenty of discussion. Better yet, why don't we get a discussion going here at The Journey of Hope blog?


Here are some related items:

Is This Quantico or Abu Ghraib?

By Rep. Dennis Kuchinich, Reader Supported News 05 March 11

After initial allegations of mistreatment, I requested a visit with Private First Class Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, to see for myself the conditions of his treatment.

Despite the fact that Manning has not been found guilty of any crime, his lawyer reports that he is in isolation 23 out of 24 hours every day, conditions which may violate his 8th Amendment protection from 'cruel and unusual' punishment. This treatment is in stark contrast to a presumption of innocence and raises questions of whether Pfc. Manning can be fit for trial.

My request to visit with Pfc. Manning must not be delayed further. Today we have new reports that Manning was stripped naked and left in his cell for seven hours. While refusing to explain the justification for the treatment, a marine spokesman confirmed the actions but claimed they were "not punitive."Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib? Officials have confirmed the "non-punitive" stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime.

This "non-punitive" action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas. The justification for and purpose of this action certainly raises questions of "cruel and unusual punishment," and could constitute a potential violation of international law.The Army Field Manual, 2-22.3 (FM 34-52): Human Intelligence Collector Operations, Page 5-21, section 5-75 clearly states that: "If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations, prohibited actions include, but are not limited to -- Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner."

Find this item here

Bradley Manning's Forced Nudity To Occur Daily
By Glenn Greenwald on Counter Currents dot org here

Brig officials now confirm to The New York Times that Manning will be forced to be nude every night from now on for the indefinite future -- not only when he sleeps, but also when he stands outside his cell for morning inspection along with the other brig detainees. They claim that it is being done "as a 'precautionary measure' to prevent him from injuring himself."

Criminalizing The Truth Tellers
By Dr. Lawrence Davidson GO here

There is no doubt that Julian Assange, the head of the Wikileaks organization, and Bradley Manning are being singled out and made examples of by the Obama administration. Their suffering constitutes a message which goes like this: if you inform the public of what the United States government is doing, no matter how illegal and disgusting it might be, our police and intelligence agencies will track you down and turn your life into hell...

From Andy Worthington who wrote "The Guantanamo Files: here Find lots of comments here