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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2001 7:48 pm 
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You've all heard or read about Kristin Gilbert, the "Angel of Death" nurse at a VA hospital in Massachusetts who has been convicted of killing 4 of her patients.

The latest developments have surrounded the fac that even though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts doesn't have the death penalty, Ms. Gilbert was on Federal property at the VA Hospital and has been convicted under Federal law, therefore she is eligible for the death penalty. Those are the deliberations that the jury is undertaking now... so I put it to you as a "tough issue"...

Life or Death?


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2001 8:00 pm 
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Location: Halifax, NS Canada
Panther, can you explain why "federal" property/law makes a difference?

I don't know the "ins and outs" of US law that well.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2001 8:47 pm 
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Certainly... The Commonwealth (State) of Massachusetts currently has a ban on the use of the Death Penalty. Federal law has no such ban and under federal law, a person convicted of murder can be sentenced to Death. (In Massachusetts, the worst sentence available to a jury is Life in prison without possibility of parole.)

Since the nurse was in a Federal facility during commission of her crimes (a VA hospital), she was prosecuted and convicted under Federal law, not the laws of Massachusetts. As such, even though Massachusetts has a ban on the Death Penalty, she won't be going to a Massachusetts prison, but rather a Federal prison. The Federal prosecutors have asked for the Death Penalty to be carried out at a Federal prison facility. The jury is now deliberating whether she should get the Federally requested death penalty or not. Part of those deliberations are emotional for many reasons, but another part falls under the "State's Rights" aspects and beg the question of whether the wishes/laws of the State should be followed (to wit, life rather than death) OR whether the fact that her crime occurred in a Federal facility should be enough for the jury to sentence her to death.

That's the basics of the situation. The fundamental question that I'm asking as a "tough issue" is where do people stand on the death penalty? Also does the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence in this (or any other) case make a difference in that position? What about all the recent cases of inmates on death row who've been freed after modern forensics and DNA evidence exonerated them? What about mistakes or even railroading since abuses have been shown?

These are the tough questions and tough issues. Now, wouldn't it be easier if people could and would just defend themselves and their loved ones in such a fashion that the guilty party is either punished immediately (the "instant karma" rule) OR in such a fashion that the guilty party is known with complete certainty... Image


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2001 12:00 am 
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Mary:

As to why the Feds get a crack at someone who committed a crime in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it's a matter of jurisdiction.

Or turf.

Every U.S. citizen is also a citizen of the state or territory wherein she has residency. Some things are crimes in both jurisdictions, if something happens that triggers the Federal jurisdictions as well - national security, interstate commerce, voting rights, civil rights, etc.

You may recall following the riots in Los Angeles these LA police were acquitted in state court - but later convicted in Federal court for violating civil rights, for essentially the same actions. Likewise, using the other thread as an example, Timothy McVeigh - his actions were crimes against both Oklahoma and The United States, and he could still be tried in Oklahoma.

As a defense attorney who was fed the malarkey about 'double jeopardy' - and who believed it - I have a problem with this concept. But I recognize that my having a problem with it does not make it go away.

student


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2001 1:12 am 
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Location: Mount Dora, Florida
Yes, I'm for the death penalty!


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2001 11:23 am 
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student,

I strongly feel that our Fifth Amendment Right against "double jeopardy" is not "malarkey", but that the erosion of this Right, just so the desired verdict can be reached is simply another example of the fact that those in power care not which of our inalienable Rights they stomp on.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 9:55 pm 
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Location: Halifax, NS Canada
And...life it is.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 9:59 pm 
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Location: Climax, MI U.S.A.
I don't think any state should have a ban on executions, and I'm glad that the federal government doesn't. If convicted, it won't hurt my feelings if she gets put to sleep.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 10:11 pm 
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Um...what I should have written was that the jury decided - Life.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 10:53 pm 
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Location: Charlottesville, VA USA
I heard (no good source here) that one of the states with a ban had been freeing more wrongly convicted people from death rowthan it was executing. That, if true, sounds like a ratio FAR above my threshold for initiating a ban until the thing could be properly applied.


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2001 8:02 am 
I'm kind of old school an eye for an eye in my out look towards crime and punishment.

To quote Beretta,(TV show late 70's for you young folk),"If you can't do the time don't do the crime."

Ian's post however has got this me taking a second look.

I live in Canada The death penalty was abolished decades ago.I have always thought this was an error.I thought we should reinstate the death penalty.

Ian's post for some reason has caused me to reconsider this position.

I started thinking about the wrong fully convicted. I know everyone is innocent in prison. Image

But Ian talks about prisoners on death row who were wrongfully convicted and eventually released.The same thing has happened in my country. People are convicted and imprisoned for life,only to be released 15 to 20 years later because of new evidence.

I can think of two cases off hand . In 1 an individual in a Saskatchewan prison was exonerated on a murder rape scenario as a result of new DNA evidence that was not possible to obtain at the time of conviction.This individual would have been dead for over a decade before science could have proven him innocent.

In another case a Mi'kmaq Indian in Nova Scotia was imprisoned for 15 plus years for the old murder death kill kind of throw away the key offence. And over a decade latter Donald Marshall was released. He was innocent. Our own Jim Malloney was the Chief Investigator appointed by the Royal Commission.Turns out this poor guy was in prison because it was easier to smear him than to actually be bothered to solve the crime.

I tend now to be less willing to call for execution. Then again the justice system may be in error on 1 murder,but mass murder hmmmmmmm?

Laird

[This message has been edited by uglyelk (edited March 27, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Life or Death?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2001 2:13 pm 
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As much as I know it will shock everyone, especially Ian... I completely agree with Ian on this. Image The fact is that over 80 people were released from Death Row in various States last year because newly performed DNA tests proved that they were not the guilty party!

I've been very clear about my "Instant Karma" position and I was one of the people who cheered when Ted Bundy was roasted and toasted... but these cases over the last year show a greater problem in our criminal justice system.

And that's the next phase of this "tough issue" I'd like folks to think about and discuss. That being the fact that in those cases where Death Row inmates were exonerated by DNA evidence, there was investigative, prosecutorial or evidentiary misconduct/tampering/incompetence in (don't know the exact percentage, but something like) 75+% of the cases!!! Image It was suggested that the cause of that was in no small part because of the desire on the part of DAs and LEOs to get a conviction (evidently at all costs) when they believe they have the correct perp. The attitude carries over and can be seen in the comment of many LEOs and DAs who have said, "yeah, well... even if he's not guilty of this, he's guilty of something else..."


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