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December 12, 2010

Final execution of 2010 scheduled for this week in Oklahoma

As detailed in this local news piece, "Oklahoma State Penitentiary death row inmate John David Duty, 58, is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 16."  This pending execution is notable not only because it appears to be the last one slated for 2010, but also because "the Oklahoma Department of Corrections ran out of sodium thiopental, a key component in the three-drug cocktail that causes unconsciousness ... [and so it has] decided to use pentobarbital instead, a similar drug and powerful sedative that is commonly used to euthanize animals."  As the story further explains, it appears that this defendant is eager to be executed:

Duty was sentenced to death for the Dec. 19, 2001 murder of Curtis Wise, Duty’s 22-year-old OSP cellmate. At the time of the murder, Duty was serving three life sentences for his 1978 convictions of rape, robbery and shooting with intent to kill.

In a 2002 letter submitted into court records, Duty wrote: “I talked my cellpartner Curtis Wise into letting me tie him up as a hostage so I could be moved from Disciplinary Unit to Administrative Segregation. I then strangled him to death. When I convinced Curtis Wise to let me tie him up it was with the intention of killing him. If it hadn’t been him it would have been somebody else.”

District Attorney Jim Bob Miller, in a report filed with the Pittsburg County Court in August 2002, stated that the murder of Curtis Wise was “especially heinous” because Duty talked his cellmate into acting like he was the defendant’s hostage ... [and later wrote] a letter to the mother of Curtis Wise bragging about how Curtis Wise struggled for his life throughout the conscious torture...

Duty also, subsequent to the murder of Curtis Wise, “threatened to kill prison staff at the Department of Corrections both in writing and orally,” Miller reported.  In a letter to Pittsburg County Assistant District Attorney, Richard Hall, Duty wrote: “You can’t say I don’t deserve the death penalty.  I’ve killed another inmate, taken hostages 3 times, and assaulted a guard. Plus other various things to numerous to mention.”

During the 2002 court proceedings, Duty pleaded guilty to the murder, waived the presentation of mitigating evidence during his sentencing and said he wanted the death sentence.

Meanwhile, in this new New York Times editorial headlined "Justice Stevens and the Death Penalty," the Gray Lady reiterates points recently made by former SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens against capital punishment and concludes that "Justice Stevens is right that [political and cultural forces provide] "woefully inadequate justifications" for a penalty that is a brutal anachronism.

December 12, 2010 at 09:53 PM | Permalink


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Without knowing the background to the case, it seems a massive misjudgment that Duty was not transferred to administrative segregation, and given treatments, monitoring and supervision appropriate to his mental health state and needs. Executing him now is both closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, perpetuates the risks to innocent others on death row, and apparently grants the right of euthanasia to a person who is not suffering from a terminal illness. All three consequences are of questionable constitutional and moral justification.
In support of the NY Times editorial and the views of Justice Stevens, The Texas Monthly, and Dallas Morning News, again call for a Moratorium in Texas ... and rightly so.
The Duty's of this world should not determine the moral practice of law and justice in any part of the US, or other parts of the world, which in the 21st Century have the means and responsibility of conduct that preserves and enhances the concept of sanctity of life.

Posted by: peter | Dec 13, 2010 5:16:45 AM

Justice John Paul Stevens: Facts & Victims Overlooked
from Dudley Sharp

1) A factual deconstruction of Judge Stevens' death penalty claims

Justice John Paul Stevens' Hysteria: The Death Penalty

2) A legal deconstruction of Judge Stevens' death penalty writings

Justice Stevens' Odd Death Penalty Review
December 4, 2010 8:00 AM, Kent Scheidegger,

3) A breakdown of Justice Stevens decisions

The "Moderate Republican" Death Penalty Values of Justice Stevens: Do tormented victims matter?
Lester Jackson Ph.D.,

3) What the media isn't telling us.

The One-sided media coverage of Justice Stevens, Lester Jackson. Ph.D.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 13, 2010 12:00:54 PM

1. He wasn't in segregation because he wasn't a violent inmate up until the murder.
2. Closing the stable door...okay, what would you do with a man who commits murder while doing life in prison.
3. As for euthanasia, he only requested death at his trial. He's been fighting his sentence ever since.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Dec 13, 2010 12:50:16 PM

MikeinCT --

"...what would you do with a man who commits murder while doing life in prison."

Great question. The only answer abolitionists have is, "nothing." There might be a whole bunch of words that come along with that answer, but at the end, that's what it is. Nothing.

This shows in bold relief the moral incoherence of abolitionism. A killer could do it again and again in prison, and would suffer not one whit of additional punishment. It turns out that those professing reverence for life are ready to issue an unlimited license to kill to precisely the people who have shown themselves most likely to use it.

Freebie murder. Yikes. That is where abolitionism leads, and provides yet one more reason it does not sell in this country.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 13, 2010 7:16:48 PM

I bet he dooties his underwear

Posted by: hangemhi | Dec 14, 2010 11:52:10 PM

Non violent? He raped and shot to kill! How do you measure violence?

The system let Curtis down period and there should have been changes in the way folk are incarcerated.

The Death Penalty resolves nothing other than revenge a very un-Christian attribute in a Christian Country!!! (Jesus came a long time after the eye for an eye BS.)

Posted by: Phaedrus | Dec 16, 2010 10:23:52 PM

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