The Texas prosecutor who sought the death penalty almost 20 years ago against a man who never killed anyone has now asked that his sentence be reduced to life in prison.
Lucy Wilke, now the Kerr County district attorney, was the prosecutor in the 1998 murder trial of Jeff Wood — a man whose scheduled execution last year prompted lawmakers to question when the state should put accomplices to death.
Although she originally decided to seek the death penalty for Wood, she later said in a letter to the prison parole board that “the penalty now appears to be excessive.”
On this day in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court instituted what became a four-year ban on the imposition of capital punishment in the United States.
In Furman v. Georgia, the court ruled 5 to 4 that capital punishment, as it was then being levied on both the state and federal levels, violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A narrow majority of the justices held that the death penalty constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” basing their finding primarily on the “arbitrary and capricious ways” it was being administered, particularly regarding race.
The Foreign Secretary has refused to support the last appeal of a 78-year-old Briton, who has spent three decades in a US prison for a crime which his lawyers say he did not commit.
British businessman Kris Maharaj was arrested in Florida in 1986 and sentenced to death for murder, despite compelling evidence of his innocence. Since Mr Maharaj’s conviction, human rights organisation Reprieve has established – through six people affiliated with a Colombian drug cartel – that the cartels committed the crime.
Mr Maharaj has filed a final appeal against his original conviction in the US federal courts, asking the court to consider the new evidence of his innocence.