Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Daryl Holton Executed

At approximately 1:25 a.m. on September 12th, 2007 Daryl Keith Holton was executed by the state of Tennessee by method of electrocution.

My prayers were focused on Daryl receiving a swift and painless death and I thank the Lord that they were granted.

A thick fog swept over Riverbend Maximum Security Institute just before 1:00 a.m., the scheduled execution time.

I will blog further on experiencing my first execution and my first vigil tomorrow.

Peace and good will to all, may Daryl rest in peace.
Comments :
So, was there pizza for the homeless?
I suggest TCASK remove the option of posting anonymously. It's a coward's way of baiting as a form of entertainment. They serve no useful purpose.
I've considered it on many occasions since I started here and I also discussed it with Alex. It's unfortunate and perpelxing why people feel the need to post such hurtful and snide remarks especially in the midst of an execution. I have appealed to those who post anonymously to respect this blog and respect all sides of the argument, but I am continually dissapointed by what folks have to say.

However, there are anonymous folks who bring some inciteful and intelligent commentary. What confuses me though, is that these folks also feel the need to post anonymously. But, if I limit their ability to do this, I fear that we may lose some of that important discussion which I believe aids us in understanding the perspective of proponents and their understanding of abolitionists.

And to answer you anon, although you are hardly deserving of recognition, there was no pizza for the homeless. A multitude of people were touched by Workman's last request, how many people have you had a positive impact on in your life? To poke fun at such a kind act, an act thats positive momentum will echo for generations reinforces why I do what I do, and why great people like Susan do what they do. And it isn't because I believe that you are ignorant, I believe that someday all people, will gain an understanding to fair mindedness, to justice, and to peace. Until that day my friend, would you please not post comments that are hurtful?

Thank you
Great comment Ike.
Although pizza was not served I told that story at our vigil and will again over and over every time I get the chance. There are not enough good stories about people who have done some wrong things in their lives but then repent (which by the way means to change your mind and your direction) People were touched by Philip's kindness and his legacy will live on. When God changes a life it is done right and no anonymous person can touch that.
Ok, I will admit that comment was over the top, and I apologize for that. It was snide, and it was intended to be a sharp barb, and it obviously hit its mark. (I won't be lame and say otherwise.)

Sometimes I forget that people truly get emotional about executions--to be honest, I think it silly to get worked up about a quadruple child killer, but hey, different strokes for different folks. (I know that sounds flip, but I gotta tell ya, it's hard for me to believe.)

I will say one thing, however, people here say all sorts of nasty things about people. For example, when thinly-veiled accusations of racism are tossed around, e.g., posts about the upcoming execution of Harbison, jurors, prosecutors and judges are smeared. This is unfair, and I think that posters who claim to be such good Christians ought to think about how hurtful such charges can be. And it must be borne in mind that they are being made without personal knowledge.

I will say though that sarcasm should be fair game. Ike, the "didn't you get the memo" comments are funny, even you have to admit that. If you can't, then you guys are way too serious. We should all be able to laugh at ourselves. Moreover, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything I've posted in here as inappropriate. Sharp. Yes. Inappropriate. No.

And hey, in all seriousness, if you guys want to honor Workman with pizza parties for the homeless, that's not a bad thing.
Oh, and Ike, believe me, I have a very positive effect on people in my life. I support my family and I pay taxes, give to charity etc.

I just believe in capital punishment.
My last comment apparently didn't "take".
It basically said we post ast anonymous, some of us anyway, because we could hurt our own "case" by using our names.
I don't claim to be a good anything. You make comments which have no validity.
The only good in me comes from the God who works through me.
People who don't know God shoot snide remarks at Christians and we expect that. If you ever get to know Him you will stop that. Only kindness can flow from the Father and that's how we know another Christian and that is also how we know counterfeits. Maybe one day you can share in the goodness of God and really shed more light in this thing called life.
Comments with no validity? Surely you jest, cheryl.

Ike, do you agree that my comments have no validity, e.g., my pointing out that the authors of the Lancet Study have agreed that their work may have flaws.
I apologize for asking you anon if you have had a positive effect on other individuals. I meant it as a rhetorical question, but after I posted it, I felt as if I was being negative, and that is the last thing I want to do.

Some of my best friends, relatives, and colleagues are supporters of the death penalty. My grandfather is a staunch supporter and he is a great man. I'm sure there might be a sentiment out there that abolitionists think that proponents are not good people. Please, consider otherwise. I believe that we are a peaceful people and that we believe in the goodness of all people...which is of course one of the reasons we are against the death penalty.

As for your comments, clearly, you are very intelligent and have knowledge of the law. I believe that you know a significant amount more than I do in fact. But I'm planning on going to law school, so we'll have to see about that :)

I think that some of the ire folks draw with your comments is that they seem myopic and singular. You seem to focus on one study, case, victim, etc. The death penalty to me is multilateral. First, it is a structural problem that exposes the cracks in our justice system and our overall economic disparity. And second, and we at TCASK will always stand by this, we DO NOT want executions to be done in our name. Regardless of who murdered who, how violent the crime was, it is in our name. This is not to say that we don't individually care about these folks just as we care about folks like Paul House. But, the fact that executions are carried out by the state denotes a collective agreement with the procedure and policy.
Though I hesitate to post a comment responding to Anon, I want to try once again to explain that when we refer to racial bias within the criminal justice system, we are not pointing fingers at individual people. If so, we have to point a finger at ourselves as well, since we all participate in these systems that are racist, sexist, classist, homophobic etc. The problem with the death penalty is that, intentionally or unintentionally, the outcomes are problematic: a person is 3 times more likely to be sentenced to death for killing a white person than for killing a black person. Furthermore, the percentage of African Americans in Tennessee is around 17%while the number on death row is about 40%, with 25% of that population placed there, not by juries of their peers which would mean a diverse representation of the community, but by all white juries. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not Anon, systems can be racist and they are. When we talk about racism in the death penalty system, we are not pointing fingers at this person or that person...we are saying that we all need to evaluate why things are the way they are. If you don't accept this understanding or just don't get it, I can respect that, but please don't question the sincerity of my or anyone else's faith. We are all just trying to live and to learn as best we can in the most faithful ways we know how. No one is pointing a finger of blame at any individual or group in particular. Those are your perceptions,not ours.
Stacy, this is a quote from your post:

"The case of E.J. Harbison is very problematic, involving a variety of issues such as ineffective counsel, racial bias, and arbitrary sentencing. The bottom line is that in 1983, Harbison a poor, borderline mentally retarded, African-American man with no prior criminal record was convicted by an all white jury in the murder of Edith Russell, an elderly white woman, in a botched robbery occurring in Chattanooga."

The accusation of racism on the part of the "all white jury" drips from this post. To say otherwise is simply to insult a reader's intelligence. Any juror from the Harbison case would have every reason to be offended by your casual assumption that their racism played a role in Harbison's death sentence. And, as I have mentioned before, I believe that you should be a lot more careful about tossing around those types of accusations.

You make two other statements which merit response. You point to the disparity between the percentage of African-Americans on death row and those in the general population of Tennessee. Well, Stacy, given the indisputable fact that blacks commit murder at a far higher rate than whites, it is likely that white murderers are overrepresented on Tennessee's death row. What you should be looking at is the percentage of death-eligible murderers in Tennessee who are black--if that number is 40% or more (and given the fact that blacks nationally are eight times more likely to commit murder than whites, it's likely that more than 40% of killers in Tennessee are black), it is simply impossible to argue that there is a disparity here. If you think that the percentage of Tennessee's population which is black is more relevant than the percentage of Tennessee's murderers who are black, please explain why.

As for the "white victim" theory, if Tennessee is like other states, the issue is likely as a result of geographic effects. Jurisdictions with large concentrations of white folks (and where white victims are more likely) are usually much more inclined towards the death penalty. Moreover, some studies have shown that non-racial factors relating to victims and crimes contribute to the disparity as well. Remember, a murder has to be "death eligible", and murders where whites are victimized are, according to some studies I have read, more likely to be death eligible.

As for the "all white" jury, we can disagree about that one, but the courts have consistently held that a defendant has no right to a particular racial composition of a jury. Any attempt to reserve places on a jury for minorities would likely violate the Equal Protection Clause, by the way.

I don't think I have questioned your faith at all or the sincerity of your beliefs. (I do question the sincerity of some of your arguments, though.) If I have, please point out where. As for my perceptions, I think that the quoted post provides more than adequate support for my perceptions.

By the way, what do you think of the Lancet Study, now that the authors themselves have said that the conclusions may have been wrong?
When I said that you make comments that have no validity I was speaking of you saying the phrase such good Christians.
I'm not real knowledgeable about all the other things you comment on but I know what God called me to do. It is not to be better than anyone else or to judge anyone else, especially when I don't have all the facts, but to give hope to those without hope. In a society where people cheer on the death of another person I think we need to step back and ask ourselves Is this how it is supposed to be?
I think not.
I used to be like you but when you get close to God and hang out with Him He just starts rubbing off on you and you can't hurt people anymore.
I feel bad that I let you upset me sometimes because becoming upset is a choice I make but I thank God that He sends people like you into my life to help me to grow and remind me that I don't have it all together yet.
I think my comment about "Good Christians" was intended to ask whether smearing people (i.e., the "all white jury") is a Christian thing to do. Given what I know about Christianity, it is not.

Perhaps, Ike or Stacy can explain why the jurors in the Harbison case deserve such treatment? Or maybe Auggie, with his vast knowledge of the legal system . . . .
Anon, this is my final comment to you about how racism plays a part in the current system. Again, I am not smearing anyone--no one--yet again, those are your words. In your comments, you simply don't allow for systemic unfairness or want to make it individual every time. I don't. We clearly don't agree and won't. I also find it interesting that you say that all white jurisdictions are more inclined to the death penalty...why would that be? I could infer from that statement that white people are more prone or inclined to retribution? Hmmm... Now, I don't think that is at all what you mean, just as I don't think you really believe my citing racial bias when black defendants are sentenced by all white juries means that I believe those individual jurors are racist. They are not, but I do believe that they, as we, are part or a system with racial bias. I am sorry that is appears that you need to question my Christianity, in order to make your point. I am sure you will have a response to this comment but you won't hear back from me on this blog post.
Anon says ...we post ast anonymous, some of us anyway, because we could hurt our own "case" by using our names.
Why do you say that anon? You could use a fictitious name like Bloomer or Blecker or Roodie.

Then anon says:
Sometimes I forget that people truly get emotional about executions--to be honest, I think it silly to get worked up about a quadruple child killer, but hey, different strokes for different folks.
This kinda comment from anon is what really scares me. These folks are not even locked up and they are willing to premeditatively kill without any remorse another human being. That does scare me.
anon, what is your purpose here (i.e., the tcask blog)? what do you gain from your experiences here?
Well, Stacy, I will respond, and you can choose not to, obviously, but I find it pathetic (not that you care) that you cannot even defend your own words. I quoted them, and you just say that it's not a smear. I don't see how any intelligent person can say that you are not imputing racism to the jury with that quote. Ike? What do you think? Anyone care to defend the quote? Like I said before, I don't know how anyone can read that quote and not conclude that the "all white jury" was being smeared. In any event, I find interesting the juxtaposition of exquisite sensitivities here (with respect to taking offense) with crass innuendo.

With respect to whites as a whole, yes, they tend to be more pro-death. Opinion surveys have borne that out. You see Stacy, that's the difference between making a general statement backed up by empirical facts and making allegations about a specific case, which you did. You were talking about the Harbison case and his jury, were you not? And the idea that you were merely commenting on them being part of a system is, to be blunt, ridiculous.

Funny too, Stacy, you cannot even defend your use of the percentage of blacks in Tennessee's population (instead of the percentage of murderers in Tennessee who are black) as a starting point for determining whether blacks are overrepresented on Tennessee's death row. Moreover, you won't even answer questions about whether you still believe in the Lancet study.

Of course, there's no law to say that you have to respond, but Stacy, to the extent people you are trying to convince are reading this blog, you likely are not doing such a good job if you cannot defend your positions, other than to say that you're talking about the system as a whole. (How you are talking about the system as a whole but talking about a specific case is beyond me.)

As for premeditated killing--I believe in the death penalty--sorry.

What I get out of this--hmmm--that's easy. Although it may not be apparent in TCASK's echo chamber, the bottom line is that people reading the blog and my comments are seeing my points go unrebutted. The true believers will ignore me, but I have a feeling that unbiased folks reading this know that I am winning the argument.

Sometimes, I like taking potshots. I admit the pizza comment was over the top--although I bet there were some chuckles for those with a sense of humor. But you guys have to admit, you make it easy--Ike's comment about Workman's gesture (which looked a bit cynical from this end, but, hey, I don't know the guy) echoing through generations is, to be blunt, beyond self-parody.

I also believe in capital punishment, and I am fighting for it here.
As for premeditated killing--I believe in the death penalty--sorry
I accept your apology - does this mean we've won you over? :-)
You never elaborated on "because we could hurt our own "case" by using our names" - what does that mean?
There are probably folks that would post anonymously here but don't dare now because of your postings.
Could you turn me on to some of the pro-death penalty blogs you participate in as much as you participate in this one?
I wasnt the anon that made the comment re: names.

I don't need to participate in pro-DP websites that much. No need to.
stacy has defended her position quite well, anon. unbiased individuals are/will be able to see that; you seem to be the one that will not.

taking potshots is an excellent way to educate, too i might add. it certainly will help in swaying individuals to see your viewpoint(s) and does wonders for your credibility and sincerity.

this may not be your best venue in fighting for captial punishment as those who do not want to learn more will no more likely read this blog as pro-death penalty blogs. Those that are pro-death penalty feel no need to troll this or similar blogs because capital punishment is supported by the state. they may have a passing curiousity, but the majority of those individuals feel they do not need to take action. how do i know this? with the exception of one member, my entire family is pro-death penalty. the majority of the people i know support capital punishment. i deal with their same arrogance and closed mindedness quite frequently.

this is a forum to educate, but it is also a forum to dissimenate information to tcask members and supporters of abolishion so in reality your arguments serve only to take time away from our work. i suppose that is an acceptable outcome for you, however your ultimate goal may be better served fighting alongside your fellow capital punishment supporters in a more productive way. Although, upon reflection, it may be that you and your fellow supporters have taken this back door and anonymous approach in the misguided belief that you will divide and conquer your opposition. i won't assume to know. you know what is said about assumptions.

We are sincere and driven in our beliefs, just as you. You may continue your efforts here and on similar blogs for as long as they are in existence. We can agree to disagree. There is no room for being disrespectful and regardless of how you judge your words and actions, you have been disrespectful. We have not come into your home telling you that you are wrong, using potshots, badgering you because you hold beliefs different from ours.

There are forums for debate. This site is not designed as such yet your continued insistence to do so has been answered and answered again. You are not winning anything here.
Boy that echo chamber is loud, isn't it?

We have your considered opinion that this quote:

"The case of E.J. Harbison is very problematic, involving a variety of issues such as ineffective counsel, racial bias, and arbitrary sentencing. The bottom line is that in 1983, Harbison a poor, borderline mentally retarded, African-American man with no prior criminal record was convicted by an all white jury in the murder of Edith Russell, an elderly white woman, in a botched robbery occurring in Chattanooga."

does not strongly imply that Harbison's jury was racist. You may as well be arguing that the sky is pink.

And, funny how you guys cannot even defend your "there's a disparity on death row because blacks are 17% of tennessee's population, but 40% of death row" argument. As I have pointed out before, you guys apparently didnt get the memo--most of the sharp abolitionists don't argue that there is a lot of discrimination against black killers, but rather the discrimination is victim based. N.B., the victim discrimination is a bogus argument too, it's just that it's less obviously bogus.

And even the truest of true believers has got to admit that the idea of Workman's pizza party reverberating through generations is self-parody (sorry Ike, but it is).

As for arrogance, well, Karan, that;s some nice ad hominem. AM I close-minded, perhaps, but so what? You still cannot answer the disparity argument, can you?
You are NOT winning your arguments.

I feel that unbiased people will begin to see what is wrong with the death penalty. I believe that folks that are the strongest death penalty proponents are far from unbiased and have been ingrained upon a misguided ideology. You appear to be on of these folks, although I might be wrong.

I don't have some study to back this up. But I see it in the folks I meet when I organize. I see it in the eyes of people when they hear that the death penalty costs more. I see it in the hearts of folks that sympathize with Paul House and his mother Joyce House. I see it when folks learn that we aren't deterring crime, only perpetuating violence. I see it when people learn that we scapegoat the poor and goad them into false confessions. I see it when Tennesseans learn that we go after the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, the poor, the minorities.

So Anon, you are NOT winning your arugments, in fact showing everyone what is wrong in supporting the death penalty because you continue to present a myopic view that lacks compassion and understanding and forgiveness. I believe in those things, I hope all people do.
This comment has been removed by the author.
being closed minded and/or arrogant is not irrelevant in the context in which it was used and it was not directed at you, anon. it was, in fact, directed at my own family and friends. i apologize if it can across as a personal attack.

i have only God to answer to. i have no need or desire to answer to you.
[edited to correct spelling]: i apologize if it came across as a personal attack.

it's late...
Ike, maybe I am winning; maybe I am not, but the reality is that the quoted language is a smear on the jurors--any objective observer would agree (and I take your silence, Ike, as agreement with my point of view) and none of you can explain why the 17%/40% comparison is apt, when the black rate of murder is so much higher. Facts are stubborn things--very stubborn things.

And like I said, it's interesting how Stacy's sensibilities are offended by my suggestion that her quote is not exactly in line with Christian values but she is unwilling to accept the fact that her words were an unfair attack on the people that sentenced Harbison to death. Doth the lady protest too much?
I am not the primary anon poster. I have posted to this blog previously under anon. I am a legal professional with extensive experience in death penalty issues. Trust me guys, I do not support the death penalty from a moral and philosophic point of view. In that respect I am with TCASK. However, from a purely legal standpoint, the primary anon poster is clearly winning the arguments on this blog. The death penalty is a societal phenomenon that is dependent on our legal system. So long as the law allows the death penalty, TCASK would be well served to have someone who knows what they are talking about in legal matters speaking for it. The primary anon poster is clearly legally educated and is running circles around everyone else legally and rhetorically. Furthermore, personal attacks on anon, which often seem unprovoked, only diminish the TCASK messengers and, hence, the message.
I am the primary anon poster.

So, I ask again, can anyone here justify the 17%/40% comparison? You guys threw it out there, can you defend it?

Oh, and by the way, speaking of deterring crime, there is a growing body of research which suggests that the death penalty does deter crime. Cass Sunstein, no right-winger by any stretch of the imagination, has wondered aloud whether the death penalty is morally required due to the deterrence rationale. You guys can scream "Nyah nyah nyah, I can't hear you", but when people like Professor Sunstein accept that the death penalty may be a deterrent, it's hard for you to simply make blanket statements that it does not deter and expect serious observers to believe anything you say.
Are you all kidding me? This man killed four children ages 4, 6, 8, and 12 - executed them. He is far from a poster child of why the death penalty is wrong.
You pro-death penalty people really make me laugh. The argument for the death penalty is about as convincing as the one for frontal lobotomies in gifted children.

You all go on about how the death penalty deters murderers. No it doesn't. Not at all. You can have all the studies and surveys you like, but they're all meaningless.

I mean let's look at this rationally. If you are prepared to take someone's life, then you have no respect for life, any life, even your own. All you can think about is eliminating whoever it is that you're killing. You don't even think about getting caught until afterwards.

Ah but that's just the problem with you pro-death penalty people, you don't think rationally.

We live in a world where there's both good and evil. There really is. And like it or not both good and evil coexist side by side. And the only thing you can do, and should do, is separate the evil from the good. It's really that simple.

I'm not defending Holton in any way. The way he killed his children and why is especially heinous and sick. But the only thing that has been achieved by his execution is yet another statement that the only response the State has to deal with such people is one which is both barbaric and primitive.
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