this thread will focus on executions in the U.S.
today, this guy gets it.
feel free to weigh in with your opinion of the death penalty.
California has the nation's largest death row, with 708 condemned inmates. Nationally, there were 61 condemned women at the start of this year, compared with more than 3,200 men, according to the Death Penalty Information Center database.
Dad to make 3rd trip to Texas death chamber for execution of gang member who killed daughter
August 17, 2010
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Randy Ertman knows the road to the Texas death chamber too well.
He's set to make the trip again, to witness for the third time the execution of one of the gang members responsible for the rape and murder of his teenage daughter and her schoolmate.
This time, it will be the lethal injection on Tuesday of Peter Anthony Cantu, the leader of the five young men who were sentenced to die for the June 1993 murders of 14-year-old Jennifer Ertman and 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena.
It's not lost on him that Cantu has lived in prison longer than Jennifer and Elizabeth were alive.
"He should have been hung outside the courthouse," Ertman said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't mean this in a gruesome way, but if they want to make the death penalty a deterrent, up in front of (Houston) City Hall, they've got all these beautiful trees. They should have hung them. If they hung all five of them, that would be a deterrent."
The case horrified Houston. Nearly two decades after friends and relatives frantically distributed flyers offering a $10,000 reward for help finding the teenagers who failed to return home from a summer pool party, prosecutor Donna Goode still has one in her office.
"Two beautiful young girls," Goode says. "I think about them."
Their battered and decomposing bodies, left to mummify in a wooded field in the relentless heat of Houston's summer, were found four days after they disappeared.
"They become everybody's daughter," recalled Don Smyth, a retired Harris County assistant district attorney who had helped prosecute Cantu. "Parents always worry about their kids, especially their daughters."
Of the six people convicted, five were sentenced to death. Two who were 17 when the girls were killed were spared the death penalty when the U.S. Supreme Court barred execution of people who were under 18 when they committed their crimes. The person not sentenced to death, 14 at the time, got a 40-year sentence.
Two of Cantu's companions in the gang they dubbed the Black and White preceded him to the death chamber.
Ertman made the drive here four years ago for the first execution. Derrick O'Brien, belted to a gurney, looked through the death chamber window at Ertman and other relatives of the girls and called his involvement "the worst mistake that I ever made in my whole life." Seven minutes later, O'Brien was dead.
In August 2008, Ertman again climbed the steps to the red-bricked Huntsville Unit prison. Mexican-born Jose Medellin, 33, with needles in his arms, also apologized. Nine minutes later, he was dead.
Ertman rejected an invitation from Cantu's lawyer to come to his office and read a letter of apology from Cantu.
"It's a little late," Ertman said. "I told him to stick it. Hell, no."
On that June night, the girls were hoping to beat an 11:30 p.m. curfew by taking a shortcut home to Pena's northwest Houston neighborhood. They were crossing a railroad bridge when the gang, drinking beer and initiating a new member, spotted them.
One of the gang members grabbed Pena. She screamed. Ertman tried to help.
In what police later would describe as a sadistic frenzy, the girls were gang-raped for more than an hour. They were forced to perform oral sex. They were kicked, teeth knocked out and hair pulled out and ribs broken. A red nylon belt, with an attacker tugging at each end, was pulled so tightly around Ertman's neck the belt snapped. Shoelaces were used to strangle Pena.
Evidence showed Cantu kicked one of the girls in the face with his steel-toed boot.
"The victims were so sympathetic and rightly so," said Robert Morrow, one of Cantu's trial lawyers. "Just a bad, bad case."
A tip led authorities to the bodies. And Cantu's brother, upset at the gang's gloating about having fun with the girls, called police.
Cantu, then 18, orchestrated the attacks and slaying. He became notorious for trying to kick a TV cameraman recording his arrest.
Because of repeated behavioral problems, Cantu had been in an alternative school since sixth grade. At age 11, he got caught stealing a bike from a younger boy. His offenses escalated to car theft and an attempted stabbing.
Authorities later linked him and O'Brien to a killing six months before the attack on Ertman and Pena. In that case, a 27-year-old woman was found at a Houston park with her throat cut. She'd been raped and eviscerated.
On death row, Cantu, now 35, was classified among the best-behaving inmates.
"He has matured remarkably," said Robin Norris, his appeals lawyer. "He's a guy who fully accepts his responsibility."
At his sentencing for the Ertman-Pena case, the judge asked Cantu if there was any reason the sentence shouldn't be imposed.
"Nah," Cantu replied. He has declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared.
Court appeals to delay the punishment appeared exhausted. On Friday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refused his clemency petition.
Cantu, the first of five to be tried, convicted and condemned, will be the last to be executed.
Ertman will stand a few feet away, watching again through the window.
I remember a few years ago in one of the Arab states there was a taxi driver who raped young
girls/women in his cab. He was sentenced to death immediately. His body was stretched across
an iron bed-frame and the parents of the victims were allowed to give him ten whipping-strokes
each, although it was reported that some parents were allowed to carry on for longer. He then
had a rope around his neck and was lifted, iron bed-frame and all, into the air until he was
unconscious but not presumed dead (there were no checks made) and then lowered for the masses
to tear his body apart.
Now I keep getting told that Islam and Sharia Law is compassionate - but that was too much.
The "Western-sympathiser" Arab reporter (biased?) said many in the crowd were physically sick at
Would you really like to this in your home town square?
(08-17-2010 07:28 AM)God Wrote: Would you really like to this in your home town square?
It's pretty barbaric but, sure, as long as people weren't forced to participate & there is no doubt whatsoever as to the guilt of the person.
I think most people reap what they sow. I don't believe in karma. Bad things happen to wonderful people all the time while the guilty come out smelling like a rose. I'd be all for the justice of the wild west.
well this IS about the death penalty in the US, not stoning, beheading, traitor's death of hang/draw/quarter, madame la guillotine, none of that. after all, 'cruel and unusual' is disallowed under our Constitution. i like double-tap myself, swift and sure.
i do think we have to get it right, allow appeals and be 100% sure of guilt. i have no doubt that we as a society have executed innocent people in the past. somehow it must be dished out equally, not only to the poor.
but it shouldn't take 20 years to carry out a lawful execution. justice delayed is justice denied.
I remember Timothy McVie /McVey(?) - aka the Oklahoma Bomber -
he refused all appeals etc and is the quickest Death Row inmate to die
and that took 9 months. Not bad really if we could get all appeals done in,
say, 2 years? But how to reduce the cost to the public purse?
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas on Tuesday executed the leader of a former gang of Houston teenagers who raped and murdered two young girls who were walking home from a neighborhood party 17 years ago.
Peter Anthony Cantu, 35, was strapped to a gurney in the Huntsville Unit prison death chamber and administered a lethal injection at 6:09 p.m. CDT. He was pronounced dead eight minutes later as relatives of his victims, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena, looked stoically through a window a few feet from him.
Asked by the warden if he had any last statement, Cantu replied: "No."
He never looked at any of the witnesses, including his victims' parents.
I know this sounds incredibly nieve of me - if we have gone so far in Capital Punishment
from stoning, etc, firing squad, to lethal injection, why are we strapping them to the gurney
if they are showing compliance? The majority of condemned prisoners want a quiet, "dignified"
exit and are compliant; is it so necessary to strap them down for their final few minutes,
if they are compliant?
This is not to feel sorry for them and give a slap to the victims, but isn't this, too, taking things
a bit too far?
'No regrets': Texas executioner retires after putting 139 men (and one woman) to death in just SIX years
For 140 people over the past six years, the soft Texas drawl of Charles O'Reilly was the last voice they heard before they died.
And Mr O'Reilly, who retired this week from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit - where he presided over more lethal injections than any other warden - says he has no regrets.
'I don't have any intentions of changing my mind, reflecting on how could I have ever done this stuff,' he said of the execution duty, which began for him in September 2004 when he took over the more than century-and-a-half-old 1,700-inmate penitentiary in downtown Huntsville.
'If you think it's a terrible thing, you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
'You don't do 140 executions and then all of a sudden think this was a bad thing.'
Mr O'Reilly, who turns 60 today, retired after more than 33 years with the Texas prison agency.
The 140 inmates whose executions he estimated he oversaw account for about a third of the 463 put to death since Texas resumed carrying out of capital punishment in 1982.
Some did leave an impression, although the only name that came immediately to mind for him was Frances Newton, who in 2005 became the third woman executed in Texas in modern times.
She was the only woman executed under Mr O'Reilly's watch.
'One guy, he cracked jokes, he cracked jokes through the whole thing,' Mr O'Reilly said. 'I can't remember his name. But I remember things like that.'
While he remembers the professionalism everyone shows throughout the process, it's the last words of the inmate that tend to draw the most attention.
With witnesses assembled and looking through windows, the chaplain normally offering a comforting hand resting on the inmate's leg and the final OK from a prison department executive, Mr O'Reilly, standing near the prone inmate's head, would lean over.
'I ask them: "Do you wish to make a statement?" ' he said.
'I leave the words "last" out, or "final," or anything like that. I think that's probably better than making a last statement, or final word. I just try to keep that out of it."
The condemned inmates arrive in Huntsville from death row, at a prison about 45 miles to the east, early in the afternoon on the day of an execution.
The punishments generally occur just past 6pm.
Mr O'Reilly would meet with inmates when they arrived to explain what would happen.
'What I want to do is talk to him and figure out his demeanour,' he said.
'Whenever they get here, they're either angry, extremely upset or nervous. They know why they're here... It's weighing kind of heavy on them.
'One way or another, it's weighing heavy on everyone here.
'I tell them I want to afford them all the dignity they allow us to. I tell them I'm going to come back at 6 o'clock and tell them "it's time".'
Few condemned inmates balked when the 'time' arrived, he said.
'We've had some tell us "I'm not going to fight, but I'm not going to walk",' he said.
'We picked them up and carried them. Ninety-nine per cent of them, they walked on their own.'
He told inmates they could say whatever they wanted in their last statement, but it must be in English.
'That's all I understand,' he said - and it can't be profane. If the obscenities start, so do the drugs.
'He's got about 15 seconds to do all the cussing he wants to and it will be all over,' Mr O'Reilly said.
'It is going to be the last thing they're going to say. It ought to mean something.
'Most of the statements are pretty decent. They apologise to the victim's family and tell their family they love them.'
Once the statement is complete, the drugs begin, normally carried through needles inserted in each arm of the prisoner. About five minutes later, a physician is summoned to make the death pronouncement.
The Huntsville Unit was the 11th stop in a career that took Mr O'Reilly to prisons from one end of Texas to the other beginning in January 1977.