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When is a killer too young to die.doc

When is a killer too young to die.doc

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Published by etimms5543
The approaching execution of a Texas death-row inmate Napoleon Beazley became a focus of national and international opposition to capital punishment for youthful murderers.

The approaching execution of a Texas death-row inmate Napoleon Beazley became a focus of national and international opposition to capital punishment for youthful murderers.

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Published by: etimms5543 on Oct 30, 2013
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Publication: THE DALLAS MORNING NEWSPubDate: 5/24/2002Head: When is a killer too young to die? Beazley casefocuses death penalty debate on age at time of crimeByline: ED TIMMSCredit: Staff Writer Section: NEWSEdition: SECONDPage Number: 1AWord Count: 1521The approaching execution of a Texas death-row inmate has become afocus of national and international opposition to capital punishment for youthful murderers. Napoleon Beazley, 25, is scheduled to die by injection Tuesday for the 1994 shooting death of Tyler businessman John Luttig during a bungled carjacking. Mr. Beazley was 17 at the time.Prosecutors say Mr. Beazley was legitimately tried as an adult andconvicted for a heinous crime and deserves to die.The European Union, Amnesty International, the American Bar Association and several other groups oppose his execution.Organizations in Texas have clamored for a commutation, depictingMr. Beazley as an accomplished young man who made one dreadfulmistake. Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and Mexico Ambassador JuanJosé Bremer Martino, among others, have written letters recently onhis behalf.Opponents say offenders who committed their crimes while under theage of 18 should not be held to the same standard as adults.“In light of the characteristics associated with childhood -impulsiveness, lack of self-control, poor judgment - we cannotreasonably expect the death penalty to act as a deterrent for other  juveniles,” American Bar Association president Robert Hirshon wrotein a May 14 letter to Texas officials. “Retribution is also anunsatisfactory justification for the juvenile death penalty. ... A juvenile simply cannot be held to the same degree of culpabilityand accountability for his or her actions to which we hold anadult.”Attorneys for Mr. Beazley this week asked the U.S. Supreme Court toreview his case to determine whether executing an offender who wasunder 18 at the time of the offense violates constitutional
 
 prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. They also assertthat such executions are contrary to international laws.Prosecutors, not swayed by the support for Mr. Beazley or thearguments in his behalf, dispute assertions that he was a juvenilewhen he committed the murder, pointing to state law that allows a17-year-old to be tried as an adult.Two lesser-known Texas inmates who committed their crimes at age 17have execution dates in August: T.J. Jones, who was sentenced todie for killing 75-year-old Willard Lewis Davis of Longview in1994; and Toronto Patterson, who was sentenced to death after killing his cousin and her two young daughters in Dallas in 1995.Mr. Beazley’s case has attracted the most attention, in no smallmeasure because of a background that belies many of the stereotypesand commonly held beliefs about death row inmates.In the East Texas community of Grapeland, Mr. Beazley was anaccomplished student and athlete and president of his senior class.His parents, Ireland and Rena Beazley of Grapeland, pleaded for hislife Thursday at a Capitol news conference, describing him as anormal kid who got caught in a bad situation. They were joined bymore than a dozen Austin clergy, legal experts, child advocates andother death-penalty opponents who called on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry to commute Mr. Beazley’ssentence to life.“We are asking only for mercy for our son Napoleon,” Mr. Beazleysaid. “He’s my child and I love him very much.”Another persona emerged on the night of April 19, 1994, when Napoleon Beazley drove to Tyler, about 80 miles away, with twoaccomplices.There, he became a killer.Smith County Assistant District Attorney Edward Marty said that Mr.Beazley and his accomplices followed Mr. Luttig and his wife,Bobbie, to their Tyler home so they could steal the couple’s 1987Mercedes Benz. It was, he said, a “predatory hunt-down.”According to the Texas attorney general’s office, Mr. Beazley firedone round that grazed Mr. Luttig’s head, fired at Mrs. Luttig fromclose range and missed, then returned to Mr. Luttig and “fired
 
 point blank” into his head.Mr. Beazley was tried as an adult and sentenced to death in 1995.The two accomplices, brothers Cedric and Donald Coleman, receivedlengthy prison sentences. The petition filed Wednesday by Mr.Beazley’s lawyers seeks to convince the Supreme Court that theexecution of youthful offenders and the execution of the mentallyretarded involve similar issues.Earlier this year, the justices heard arguments in Atkins vs.Virginia, which raises the question of whether the nation’schanging standards of decency should preclude the execution of mentally retarded offenders as cruel and unusual punishment. Adecision is expected this summer.The outcome of the Atkins case may well depend on how the justicesdo their math, as they gauge the national will to execute thementally retarded. Death-penalty states that execute the mentallyretarded outnumber those that don’t. If the 12 states that do nothave a death penalty are factored in, a majority of states do notexecute the mentally retarded.Similarly, Beazley attorney Walter Long said that the execution of murderers who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offenses is permitted in the majority of states that have a death penalty, but in fewer than half of all states.The court provided states with some guidance on the issue of youthful offenders in the 1980s, ruling in an Oklahoma case thatthose who were 15 or younger at the time of the crime could not beexecuted. A decision in a Kentucky case permitted states to executeoffenders who were 16 or 17.Today, 38 states permit the death penalty, with 16 of those settingage 18 at the time of the crime as the minimum age for execution.Five states, including Texas, set 17 as the minimum age. Seventeenstates set 16 as the minimum age.In the Kentucky case, Justice Antonin Scalia opposed includingnon-death-penalty states when determining a national consensusagainst executing 16- and 17-year-olds. He likened it to“discerning a national consensus that wagering on cockfights isinhumane by counting within that consensus those states that bar all wagering.”

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