October 27, 2005
STANLEY "TOOKIE" WILLIAMS is a charismatic symbol of what's wrong with the death penalty -- and of what's wrong with the debate about the death penalty. His story of sin and redemption powerfully illustrates the unfairness of capital punishment. But to argue that capital punishment is unjust for some defendants is to concede that it may be acceptable for others. The reason to oppose capital punishment has to do with who we are, not who death row inmates are.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 16, 1996
Re " 'Freeway Killer' May Finally Face Execution," Jan. 6: I am outraged that you would elect to report that despite 14 years on death row his lawyer says that William Bonin "is concerned but his spirits are good." As a member of the 1981 grand jury that handed down a murder indictment on Bonin, I have a clear recall of his testimony. The murder involved a young boy of about 12 who was planning a trip to Disneyland on his birthday. He came to the home of his sister who lived across town to collect some unused tickets, which were used for Disneyland rides in those days.
October 2, 2008 |
As the warden of San Quentin, I presided over four executions. After each one, someone on the staff would ask, "Is the world safer because of what we did tonight?" We knew the answer: No. I worked in corrections for 30 years, starting as a correctional officer and working my way up to warden at San Quentin and then on to the top job in the state -- director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
September 7, 2002
The killing of Tupac Shakur in 1996 followed years of conflict involving Shakur, rapper Notorious B.I.G., their record companies and their gang followers. November 1994 Shakur is shot five times and robbed in the lobby of a recording studio near Times Square in New York. He blames the ambush on Notorious B.I.G., whose real name is Christopher Wallace, and Sean "Puffy" Combs, right, head of Bad Boy Entertainment. 1995 Notorious B.I.G. records a song called "Who Shot Ya?
May 8, 2007 |
LAST MONTH, the state of Texas executed James Lee Clark, a plumber's assistant who raped and killed a teenage girl. Clark's lawyers argued in vain that their client, a high school dropout with a low IQ, should have been spared because of his mental impairment. Within hours of Clark's death, California's highest court spared Jorge Junior Vidal from a possible death penalty trial in the torture and murder of a teenager because he is mentally retarded. Five years ago this June, the U.S.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2012 |
SAN QUENTIN - John C. Abel is the first to admit he's led a crook's life. He robbed banks and convenience stores, grocery marts and check-cashing joints. He terrified people with Uzi-style Mac 11s and .22-caliber handguns, Browning pistols and Dirty Harry-style Magnums. His stickup jag dated to the 1960s and sliced through the country from Massachusetts to California. "Even a couple islands up there by Seattle," he adds, in the genial voice of an old ballplayer reminiscing about a far-traveling career.
April 8, 2014 |
It's hard to get executions right. This week, the Supreme Court denied appeals by Louisiana and Missouri death row inmates who argued that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs with which they are to be executed, and that denial of that information compromises their right to due process. It's unclear why the court refused to hear the cases, but the underlying argument remains potent. Another challenge is underway in Oklahoma, where two inmates are seeking stays of execution because state officials have revised protocols on the fly as the lethal drugs they usually use have become more difficult to obtain.
March 30, 2011 |
A bitterly divided Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed out a jury verdict won by a New Orleans man who spent 14 years on death row and came within weeks of execution because prosecutors had hidden a blood test and other evidence that would have proven his innocence. The 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas shielded the New Orleans district attorney's office from being held liable for the mistakes of its prosecutors. The evidence of their misconduct did not prove "deliberate indifference" on the part of then-Dist.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 3, 2012 |
Michael Clarke Duncan, the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama "The Green Mile," died Monday. He was 54. Duncan died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to a statement from his publicist, Joy Fehily. He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover. A former ditch digger for a natural gas company in his native Chicago, Duncan began his Hollywood saga as a celebrity bodyguard in the mid-1990s.