Monday, July 28, 2003

Lest we forget...

Lawyer: DNA clears man on death row since '82

DNA evidence proves that a man on death row since 1982 for rape and murder is innocent, a defense attorney said today.

Nicholas James Yarris, 42, of Philadelphia, who is on death row for the murder of Linda Craig, 32, of Boothwyn, was convicted based on unreliable forensic evidence and witness testimony that put him at the scene of the crime, attorney Christina Swans said.

Recently completed testing shows that Yarris' DNA did not match physical evidence left on the victim's clothing and under her fingernails, said Swans, of the Federal Defender Association of Philadelphia.

The Texas Clemency Memos
Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally consists of little more than a brief description of the crime, a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.


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