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Pennsylvania Governor Orders Moratorium On Executions

By Angela Couloumbis, The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Friday announced a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania, saying he wanted to wait for the results of further study on its value.

“This reprieve is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes, and all of whom must be held to account,” the governor said in a memo issuing a reprieve for Terrance Williams, a Philadelphia man on death row for a 1984 murder. “The guilty deserve no compassion, and receive none from me. I have nothing but the deepest appreciation for the work of victim advocates, and sympathize and stand with all those who have suffered at the hands of those in our society who turn to violence.”

Williams was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986. His appeals have bounced back and forth for years. In January, Governor Tom Corbett signed his death warrant, and a March execution date was scheduled.

“There has been no contention that he is innocent of the crime of which he was convicted,” Wolf wrote in his memorandum. “The reprieve announced today does not question Williams’ guilt. Rather, I take this action because the capital punishment system has significant and widely recognized defects.”

Corbett signed 40 death warrants, although no executions occurred during his time in office.

Pennsylvania’s last execution was in 1999.

There are just over 180 people on death row in the state.

Wolf said during his campaign last year that he would not sign death warrants until concerns have been addressed about avoiding executing an innocent person.

Last fall, Corbett stayed the execution of Hubert L. Michael Jr., who confessed to murdering a York Couny teenager two decades ago. Corbett’s decision came after state officials were unable to acquire lethal injection drugs.

The drugs needed for lethal injections are becoming harder for states to obtain because some manufacturers have refused to sell them for that purpose. Some states, including Pennsylvania, have resorted to obtaining them from compounding pharmacies.

Photo: Governor Tom Wolf via Flickr

Pennsylvania Attorney General To Release Sandusky Report Next Week

By Angela Couloumbis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will release her long-awaited report into the investigation that led to the prosecution of serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky and top officials at Pennsylvania State University on Monday, her office announced Friday.

Sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this month that the review found no evidence that then-Attorney General Tom Corbett delayed the investigation for political gain, but that it raises questions about the pace of the inquiry and some decisions of prosecutors. Corbett is now the governor.

Kane has declined to comment on those claims.

A pledge for a deeper look into the three-year Sandusky investigation was a cornerstone of Kane’s 2012 campaign to become the state’s top prosecutor. She contended that her predecessors — Corbett and his successors, William Ryan and Linda Kelly — wasted too much time by taking the case to a grand jury and allowed Sandusky, a serial predator, to remain on the streets.

After taking office in January 2013, Kane commissioned a former federal prosecutor, H. Geoffrey Moulton to lead the probe.

Moulton’s inquiry included interviews with dozens of people, including Corbett and former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank G. Fina, who headed the investigation. Kane’s office also went through the process of recovering scores of internal emails her staff believed had been permanently purged by her predecessors.

Those who have read the report said Moulton lays out an exhaustive timeline of the 33-month Sandusky investigation, which began in spring 2009 under Corbett, and examines virtually every aspect of the probe from the moment the first victim came forward to when Sandusky was charged in November 2011.

The report could have lingering impact — particularly as the Republican governor campaigns for a second term and as Kane, a Democrat, ponders her own political future.

It’s also likely to be widely read by legions of Penn State fans and supporters of Sandusky’s boss — the late coach Joe Paterno — who have challenged every aspect of the case and its aftermath.

Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys. Former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other ranking administrators are awaiting trial on accusations that they concealed concerns about his conduct or lied to the grand jury.

Photo via WikiCommons

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