Thursday, April 22, 2010
When you check it out, you will see that there are still some things we are working on (like a picture for the home page), but we hope to have those issues taken care of as soon as possible.
Once we are settled into the new site, www.tcask.org will point to it.
Please check it out www.tennesseedeathpenalty.org
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Read it here.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Nancy's two sisters, Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, and Jeanne Bishop, have dedicated their lives to honoring their sister's life through their work to reduce violence, including work to abolish the death penalty and enact tougher gun control laws. The sisters also co-founded the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers, which has lobbied against parole-granting efforts for juvenile offenders with life sentences, the sentence that their sister and brother-in-law's killer received.
This is a powerful story of hope, in the face of great tragedy. We all have much to learn from the witness of this family.
Read the story here.
Monday, April 05, 2010
For the first time, there were no reported executions in Europe, and no executions took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Mongolia for the first time in many years. Burundi and Togo abolished the death penalty in 2009.
The U.S. was the only country in the Americas to carry out an execution. What is wrong with this picture?
The United Nations General Assembly has called for a moratorium on all executions.
You can read the full report here.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
We continue to be grateful for Governor Clement's leadership on the issue of the death penalty in Tennessee which has helped to keep Tennessee's execution rate lower than other Southern states. I hope that as more people understand the failures of the current system, Tennessee can become the first Southern state to repeal the death penalty.
Read the article here.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The reality of the death penalty is that it drains state resources away from those measures that have been shown to prevent crime and is a public policy failure. We can do better.
Read the full story here.
Click here to vote in the Fox News poll on the death penalty
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Toxicology tests from Skinner showed that he was passed out on the couch, nearly in a coma from a mix of vodka and codeine, at the time of the crime. He argues that the real murderer attacked Busby and her sons while he was passed out. And the ex-girlfriend who testified against him at the trial later recanted her story.
Skinner is convinced that the real killer was Busby’s uncle, Robert Donnell, who was killed in a 1997 car crash. Donnell had a violent past, an incestuous relationship with Busby, and had made unwanted drunken advances toward her at a party the night of the murders.
Larry King Live featured this story last night. Watch it here.
You can read more about this case here.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
We also heard a moving tribute to the late Representative Larry Turner by his wife and current state representative, Johnnie Turner. Larry Turner always addressed TADP on Justice Day, and last year, he spoke at the TADP Justice Day press conference about his support and sponsorship of moratorium legislation. Yesterday, Johnnie reiterated how much Larry believed in abolition, even though his own brother had been brutally murdered just a few years ago while on the job in Memphis. Larry’s opposition to the death penalty never wavered. We all joined Johnnie in remembering and giving thanks for Larry, for his convictions, his witness, and his service to the state of Tennessee.
After the morning session, we made our way through the halls of Legislative Plaza to meet with legislators concerning a bill repealing Tennessee’s death penalty sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Richardson and Senator Beverly Marrero. The conversations were informative and encouraging. The personal stories told by surviving family members of murder and by the sister of an executed inmate, were particularly compelling to legislators, many of whom had never met anyone whose loved one had been executed. Concerns about the cost of capital punishment also became a key point of discussion considering Tennessee’s budget woes. TADP participants agreed legislators seemed more open to considering the problems with Tennessee’s death penalty system than last year, and we hope that trend will continue next year.
Thanks to all who participated in some part of Justice Day on the Hill! Because of you, we are moving closer to the day when the death penalty in Tennessee will be repealed.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
On Christmas night, 1997, hundreds of people attended a Christmas party at Crumpy's Comedy Club. As the party was winding down, Donald Williams, an off-duty Memphis police officer moonlighting as a security guard at the club, was shot point blank in the back of the neck and was fatally wounded by an assailant whose face was obscured. Within hours, Memphis police identified 23-year old Timothy Terrell McKinney as a suspect.
McKinney became a suspect because police believed him to be a man with whom Williams had quarreled in the club's parking lot a few hours prior to the shooting. After the shooting, as the assailant fled, another off-duty officer providing security, Frank Lee, exchanged gunfire in the alley with the assailant before he got into a car and sped away. Witnesses, including Lee, initially described an assailant dressed completely in black, which did not match McKinney's outfit that night. Lee later identified the man as Timothy McKinney. The description of the getaway car also changed over time and became an exact match for McKinney only after his driver's license was matched with the vehicle he owned. By the time of the trial, however, Lee's description of the assailant's clothing matched what McKinney was wearing that night. Lee told detectives that he was about three car lengths away from the getaway car and fired two or three more shots after the shooter had gotten into the car. Yet McKinney's car, which Lee said he was able to identify because of its tail lights, showed no bullet strikes or damage when it was seized by the police.
Lee testified at trial that the only altercation with a party patron was with McKinney, thus, giving him a motive to kill Williams. However, at the post-conviction hearing, the club owner, Crumpy, testified under oath that he personally ejected an intoxicated party guest from the club then saw an encounter between the man he had ejected and Williams. Crumpy witnessed McKinney taken into custody and told police at the arrest that McKinney was not the man he had thrown out of his club that night.
An officer testifying that he saw McKinney arguing with the victim, according to the police dispatch logs, did not in fact arrive at the club until 2:01 a.m., much later than when he claimed to see McKinney. Radio dispatches to police place the shooting at approximately 2:30 a.m. or even earlier. Yet, at trial, the State placed McKinney at his girlfriend Debra Kimble's house at 2:15 a.m. It is virtually impossible for McKinney to have arrived at Kimble's house by 2:15 a.m. and then return to Crumpy's Comedy Club, park his car in the alley, sneak up on and shoot Officer Williams by 2:30. In addition, McKinney's lawyers never used a statement made by Kimble to a defense investigator that she argued with him for 20 minutes. That would have meant that McKinney was at her house at the time of the shooting.
McKinney's clothing worn that night were seized and logged into evidence, but the State did no scientific testing on the sweater that Lee said McKinney was wearing the night of the shooting. His pants and vest were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for analysis, but the scientist could not testify conclusively to the presence of gunshot residue. Though eyewitness reports and the testimony of the medical examiner would suggest that the murder weapon was a .38 caliber revolver, no gun was ever found, and there wasn't enough left of the bullet that struck Williams to determine conclusively the type or caliber of the weapon. No blow-back of blood spray, typical of close gunshot wounds, was found on any of McKinney's clothing.The State testified that no forensic testing was ever done on McKinney's car nor on the skid marks at the crime scene. Incredibly, McKinney's car was sold at a police auction on March 3, 1998, just two months after the shooting and McKinney's arrest.
McKinney's court-appointed attorney presented no evidence during the guilt phase of the trial. His attorneys did not call any witnesses who could have rebutted the prosecution. His lead attorney said that if McKinney was innocent, he didn't have anything to worry about and that the prosecution couldn't prove its case. His defense attorneys did not do an independent investigation of the facts nor did they interview any of the people who could testify to McKinney's alibi and version of the events. His attorneys were reluctant to ask for the records or subpoena police reports and dispatch logs that would have enabled the defense to create an accurate timeline of the events that night. And, in an inexplicable legal move, his attorneys actually agreed in writing not to pursue discovery of those items or of the witness statements that could have contradicted the official account at trial.
After his conviction and death sentence, McKinney was appointed the Post-Conviction Defender (PCD) to represent him. The PCD discovered numerous documents which were never turned over to the defense prior to his 1999 trial, including police dispatch and 911 logs that establish a much shorter timeline for McKinney to commit the crime; statements from other witnesses describing a shooter not matching McKinney or his car; and the revelation that the lay eyewitness who testified at trial did not identify McKinney in the first photo lineup she was shown.
A post-conviction hearing was held in early 2006 with forty-two witnesses testifying. McKinney's lawyers argued that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel at both his trial and direct appeal, and that there had been numerous violations of both the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. Despite these efforts, on August 31, 2006, McKinney was denied relief by the post-conviction trial judge. A brief in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals was filed in 2007 by the New York Firm Davis Polk appealing the denial of post-conviction relief.
Yesterday, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in Timothy McKinney's favor concluding that the defendant was “deprived of effective assistance of counsel at both the guilt and penalty phases of the trial. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is reversed and the matter is remanded for a new trial.”