Thursday, 24 July 2008




Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

PO Box 4804 ● Charlottesville, VA 22905

(434) 960-7779 ● (888) 567-VADP ●Fax (434) 984-2803 ●




Christopher Scott Emmett is scheduled to be killed by the people of Virginia at 9 p.m. on July 24th, 2008 for the murder of John Langley on April 26th, 2001. At a time when much of the country is turning away from the death penalty or procee ding cautiously, Virginia is proceeding full speed ahead with executions. We are second only to Texas in the number of prisoners killed and next week's scheduled killing of Christopher Scott Emmett would be Virginia's 102nd execution since 1977. Please take a few minutes right now to say "Enough!" and help stop this execution.

Please take one or more of the following actions - Details below:

1. Contact Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and ask him to stop the execution

2. Forward this and ask people you know to also contact Governor Kaine

3. Attend the execution protest and vigil

4. Support VADP's Efforts

5. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper

ACTION #1: Contact Gov. Tim Kaine RIGHT NOW by telephone and/or fax and politely ask him to grant clemency (show mercy) by commuting his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole. If you live in Virginia, be sure to start by stating your name and where you live.

Gov. Tim Kaine

Phone: (804) 786-2211

Fax: (804) 371-6351

NOTE: You can e-mail Gov. Kaine via his web page, but in order to stress the urgency of this matter we are urging more personal/tangible contact at this time (i.e. make a phone call or send a fax - something that forces the recipient to acknowledge your communication.)

ACTION #2: Ask others to join you in taking action. Calls may be made and faxes may be sent as late as 8 p.m. on the night of the execution, so please forward this action to others. Ask people you know to also contact Governor Kaine, including people at religious services or other activities you attend. Print it out so that you have the information with you when you bump into a friend who might call.

ACTION #3: If no stay or commutation has been granted by the afternoon of the execution, attend the execution protest and vigil outside Greensville Correctional Center at Jarratt. We urge all who can to attend the vigil at the prison. Jarratt is about 50 miles south of Richmond on I-95. If you cannot travel to the prison, please attend a vigil closer to where you live. Details on scheduled vigils are at http://vadp.o rg /attend-a-vigil.html

For last minute information about whether a stay has been granted, please call VADP at 888-567-VADP. You can also check the web page at

ACTION #4: Please support VADP's efforts on-line HERE or by sending a donation to:

P.O. Box 4804
Charlottesville, VA 22905

ACTION #5: Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper calling for Virginia stop executions and abolish the death penalty. If you would like some helpful hints about points you could make in your brief letter, send a message to

Thank you for supporting these actions.

Case Background:

Emmett’s court-appointed defense lawyer failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence during the penalty phase that would have detailed Emmett’s wretched life as a child. Social service records and witnesses describe Emmett’s childhood home as extremely chaotic, abusive, and neglectful. Three of Emmett’s older siblings were kidnapped from school by their biological father, who was appalled by the conditions in the home. Sadly, because Emmett was too young to be attending school, he was left behind. Emmett’s juvenile probation officer, Butch Parker, states that Emmett’s “impoverished home situation, with emotional abuse and neglect, is very typical of what we see with children who become involved with the juvenile system.” Faye White, a state social worker who visited Emmett’s childhood home, states “[t]he situation in the Emmett home was one of the worst I have seen. It was the classic, text-book case of what you hear discussed as being the environments in which adults who have serious problems have been raised.”

Emmett’s aunt, Joanne Bazemore, remembered that the home was filthy and smelled of urine, a stench bad enough to make her eyes burn. She remembered dirty diapers that fell out of closet doors and urine-soaked mattresses that had to be taken outside for airing. She recalled there were many times the children did not have enough to eat. While unsupervised, and older sister then two years old, Angela Emmett Wynn, sustained severe injury from an electrical shock after she was allowed to chew on a cord. Also while unsupervised, an infant sister died, apparently from an asthma attack.

Visitors to the home described it as dilapidated. The stairs had fallen off the front porch, so the children climbed up a tree to enter the home from the front; the back of the house was also difficult to access. Emmett’s brother Bobby Emmett Jr. remembered that bugs infested the house in the summer because none of the windows had screens, bats flew inside the house, and the one oil heater in the parents’ bedroom could not keep the family warm in the winter.

A sister, Mary Emmett Floyd, remembered that their step-father Tommy was often working, but their mother was either idle at home or “running the streets”. The lack of supervision led to injuries. Mary fell off the front porch and suffered rib injuries that persist today. When still a baby, Emmett fell down a flight of stairs and required emergency room care. Even though Tommy was home that night, he blamed and beat [another sister] Amy for Emmett’s fall.

Glenda [Emmett’s father’s second wife] remembered piles of dirty clothes and dishes, the smell of urine, and dirty diapers that were left wherever a baby was changed. Amy could not recall [Emmett’s mother] Karen ever doing laundry.

The children were also mal-nourished; therefore Emmett was very thin as a child. Karen only served dinner and sometimes a tomato soup lunch. Emmett’s siblings remembered that there was never enough food to eat, so the children regularly left the house to look for food. They occasionally had to steal food. More often, neighbors, or the man working at a local ice cream shop fed them; other times, a local doughnut shop owner fed them on the way to school. Angela remembered that, strangely, her mother always had enough to eat and would not share with the children the cakes she lay in bed eating.

The children suffered physical abuse. Karen and [Emmett’s father-in-law] Tommy beat Mary and Emmett with “anything that was handy”. Emmett received more beatings because he was rebellious; Mary went to school with marks from the beatings. Angela remembered not feeling safe in the home. She recalled that the children were so afraid of Tommy, especially when he was drinking, that they would climb down a tree from the second floor window to reach the bathroom behind the house without seeing him, or simply urinate on their bedroom floors. Tommy beat Emmett badly after one of his sisters threw him though a wall in the trailer. Bobby Jr. remembered that a caretaker beat Amy badly and locked Emmett and Bobby Jr. in their rooms.

Around 1974, the children’s biological father, Bobby, picked up his three eldest children at school, without permission, and took them to live with him in Chesapeake, Virginia. Mary and Emmett, however, were too young to be in school and were therefore left behind. Amy, Bobby Jr., a nd Angela considered it a huge relief to go live with their father. They recalled that back in North Carolina, Tommy sometimes beat Emmett badly, dumped their plates of food in the trash just for “looking at him wrong,” and locked them in a closet.

Sometimes Karen left the home for weeks or months at a time. Emmett was first arrested for stealing at age seven. A psychiatric social worker noted that Emmett’s “hygiene was most inappropriate. There was a distinctive odor of urine about him.”

Juvenile court reports confirm these accounts of Emmett’s childhood. In 1980, a juvenile intake counselor preparing for Emmett’s court appearance on charges of breaking and entering and larceny described the home as dilapidated and unkempt. When he visited, he wrote, the children were extremely dirty and the only furniture in good condition was a fully stocked gun cabinet.

The Chief Court Counselor filed a Child Abuse and Neglect Report against Karen on March 3, 1981. He recommended that Emmett be placed outside the home if the present conditions could not be fixed. The next month, a social worker reported that Karen resisted DSS involvement. When the s ocial worker did succeed in visiting the home, she found that rotted food and dirty dishes filled the sink in a roach-infested kitchen; the furniture was dilapidated; all the children were unkempt and dirty; there was a lack of bonding between mother and children and among siblings; and the mother did not nurture or show any affection toward the children. The social worker concluded that the home was dysfunctional. Emmett was finally removed from the home on March 7, 1984.

During trial, defense counsel failed to take even the most basic steps to investigate Emmett’s childhood. Defense counsel never requested Emmett’s mental health records from court-ordered therapy he received as a child, never requested social service records documenting efforts to remove Emmett from his childhood home, never interviewed six of Emmett’s seven siblings, any paternal relatives, or Emmett’s daughter or her mother. As a result, virtually no mitigating evidence about Emmett’s childhood was presented to the jury to avoid a death sentence. On November 2, 2001, Emmett was sentenced to death.

During state habeas corpus proceedings, the Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously ruled that “it is clear that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the improper and incomplete verdict forms” that were given to Emmett’s jury. In a second order dated March 3, 2005, the Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously reaffirmed that “the representation provided to Emmett by his trial counsel ‘fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.’ Despite finding that Emmett had not been competently represented at trial, the Supreme Court of Virginia refused to grant a new penalty trial.

An execution date of June 13, 2007 had been set by the Danville Circuit Court but was stayed just hours before by Gov. Kaine to allow for a possible review by the US Supreme Court. On Oct. 1, 2007 that court declined review but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens issued a statement noting that except for Gov. Kaine’s intervention the Commonwealth of Virginia had attempted to cut short the ability of the court to review Emmett’s appeal.

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