May 31, 2007
DAs want death penalty decision
By: Tim Boyum, News 14 Carolina
RALEIGH -- A death penalty moratorium remains alive at the General Assembly.
A bill to study the issue was given the go-ahead to hear debate Thursday. At
the same time, a judge already has executions on hold in North Carolina.
Now, many district attorneys are furious and want a decision one way or the
Some lawmakers say it's time to stop executions for two years and study the
"We think the people of North Carolina want a death penalty but they want it
fair," Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, said. "They don't want to see poor people
on death row because they couldn't afford a good lawyer."
"Where we're able to look at reforms so the innocent don't get executed and
it only reserves the death penalty for those who are most worthy of the
death penalty," death row attorney Mark Kleinschmidt added.
A federal judge says a doctor must take part in executions, but the state
medical board says any doctor who does could lose their license. The dispute
has put executions on hold. Death penalty supporters want to pass their own
"The bill by Rep. Moore and Sen. Phil Berger would take away the ability of
the medical board to discipline doctors who attend an execution," Rep. Paul
Stam, R-Wake, said.
With the issue still up in the air in the court system a moratorium bill
here at the legislature, many district attorneys say they just don't know
what to do and aren't moving forward with death penalty cases.
"It's really hard to tell victims what's going on in our system," Wake
County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "There's so much confusion,
so many obstacles that have been artificially put in the way it's really not
fair to the victims and it's not fair to the public."
Iredell District Attorney Garry Frank adds, "Let's don't keep the
prosecutors held out there in limbo when the public says they're never going
to be executed anyway."
"Just vote it up or down," Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith said.
"Either have it or not. It's either morally right or morally wrong but don't
just nibble us to death."
There is no time frame for lawmakers to take up the bill. The committee
could wait as long as next year to debate the proposal or never take it up
Source : News 14 Carolina