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Archive for January 9th, 2013

Column: Simply Put, the Death Penalty Cost Too Much

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.
 
Second of a two part series.

Ross Parker

 
 
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Stan Garnett, the District Attorney in Boulder, recently told the people of Colorado that, although he was not morally or philosophically opposed to the death penalty, he had simply concluded that it was too expensive, time consuming, and subject to random application. As reported in Colorado’s Daily Camera, he said that he found it to be impractical and of limited law enforcement relevance.

A recent death verdict had cost the state $18 million to fund its appeals. The budget of the county prosecutor’s office is $4.6 million a year, and he had 1,900 other felonies to prosecute. Boulder County has not executed anyone in the 140 years since statehood.

Damon Thibodeaux had confessed after a nine-hour interrogation to raping and killing his 14-year old cousin. He later recanted the confession but was convicted and sentenced to death in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He spent 15 years on Death Row in Angola Prison. In September of this year, after a five-year investigation in which the District Attorney cooperated fully, including DNA evidence, his conviction was set aside and he was released a free man. Capital defense experts claim that 140 other Death Row prisoners have been exonerated since 1973, 18 by DNA.

These two factors—financial burden and fear of executing an innocent person—are defining the terms of the current debate on the death penalty. Few such discussions seriously mention factors formerly considered crucial—morality, religion, deterrence, racial discrimination, except in passing. Nor do other seemingly important matters such as random unfairness, mental illness of offenders, logistical problems with the humane administration of lethal injection drugs, seem to affect the great majority of the populace or political decision makers very much.

Whatever the nature of the debate, the trend is clear. Five states in the last five years have ended capital punishment. Twenty-nine states have not conducted an execution in over five years, twenty-three in over ten years. There were 224 death sentences and 85 executions in 1985 compared to 78 death sentences and 43 executions in 2012.

Thirty-three states still have the death penalty but few use it. Three-fourths of the executions in the U.S. in 2012 took place in just four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arizona.

Even a conservative Supreme Court has whittled away at the scope of permissible candidates for the death penalty by eliminating broad categories: Cohen-1977 (rape not resulting in death); Emmund-1982 (minor participants who do not kill or attempt to kill); Ford-1986 (insane persons); Thompson-1988 (juveniles 15 and under at the time of the crime); Atkins-2002 (mentally retarded); Roper-2005 (under 18 at the time of the crime); Kennedy-2008 (victim’s life is not taken).

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Ex-FBI Agent Tapped to Help Run North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Former FBI Agent Frank Perry was named as interim chief operating officer of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the News and Observer reports.

The News and Observer wrote that Perry gained popularity by leading the FBI’s Raleigh office in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

Perry will replace former COO and Chief Deputy Secretary Mikael Gross, who was dismissed Monday.

Perruy, who holds a doctorate in ethics and political philosophy, will oversee day-to-day operations for the Department of Public Safety, the News and Observer reported.

Special Agent in Charge of Nevada Office Retires to Head Nonprofit

Ken Favreau
Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Kevin Favreau, FBI special agent in charge of the Nevada office, has retired from the bureau to take a job as head of a nonprofit youth golf leadership program, the Associated Press reports.

Favreau, 51, worked with the bureau for three decades.

“I am still only 51 years old, and the new job with the First Tee of Southern Nevada is right up my alley,” he said in an email to the AP. “It was a great career. After 29 years … I think it is just time to try something new.”

During his career, Favreau served as special agent of counterintelligence for the FBI Washington, D.C., field office and assistant director of intelligence. He arrived in Las Vegas in January 2010.

His first days in Nevada were memorable ones. A social security recipient with a shotgun killed a security guard and injured a U.S. marshal at the the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas.

FBI Has Highly Trained Team to Examine Digital Evidence on Computers, Cell Phones and Cameras

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In today’s world, digital evidence on computers, cameras and cell phones can make or break a case.

During the fiscal year 2012, the FBI’s Computer Analysis Response Team of nearly 500 trained and certified special agents and others examined more than 10,000 devices, the FBI reports.

How much data was recovered? According to the FBI, 10,500 terabytes of data were examined. That’s the equivalent of 1,050 Libraries of Congress.

The cases ranged from terrorism to corruption.

Bomb Technician: Accused Aurora Theater Shooter Set up Dangerous Explosive Device at Apartment

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes rigged his Colorado apartment with a frying pan, thermos, remote-control car and dangerous chemicals in hopes that it would blow up when law enforcement arrived, NBC News reports.

The revelation was made Tuesday during the murder the trial for Holmes, a grad-school dropout.

According to a bomb technician who took the stand, Holmes rigged the equipment so a series of explosions would have spread flames through his apartment when his door was opened, NBC New wrote.

A trip wire led from the door to a thermos, which was to spill glycerine on a frying pan filled with potassium permanganate, NBC News reported.

If the two combined, a quick-spreading fire with explosions was almost certain, the technician testified.

Wife Keeps on US Gov’t to Pressure Iran to Release Husband

Robert Levinson

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Almost six years has passed since Christine Levinson saw her husband, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007.

After all these years, Levinson still believes her husband, Robert Levinson, a private investigator, is alive.

Levinson is urging the U.S. government to increase pressure on Iran, which federal authorities believe played a role in the kidnapping, Fox News reports.

“I believe he is still alive,” she said in an interview Tuesday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “I believe he is spending every waking hour making sure that he is well enough to come home to us.”

The photos show Levinson with a long beard and disheveled hair, wearing an orange jumpsuit.

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