What happens next in federal death penalty case?
- Article by: JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
- Associated Press
- June 26, 2014 - 10:50 PM
HONOLULU — Jurors on Friday are revealing the fate of a former Hawaii-based soldier who was convicted of beating his 5-year-old daughter to death in 2005. Their options: The death penalty, life in prison or saying they were unable to agree.
Jurors came to a decision Thursday but asked to delay announcing it a day because some were emotionally drained from deliberations.
Naeem Williams' case is the first death penalty case to go to trial in the history of Hawaii's statehood. Hawaii's territorial government abolished the death penalty in 1957 but because the crimes took place in military housing, Williams was tried in federal court, where execution is an option.
If jurors say they were unable to agree on a sentence, they know that means the judge will sentence him to life in prison without possibility for release.
The judge must sentence Williams as decided by the jury — the same jury that found Williams guilty of murder — unless he finds a major reason why the panel's decision shouldn't be followed. Both life and death sentences carry several issues that need to be worked out.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., explains what happens next:
WHAT HAPPENS IF JURORS CHOOSE THE DEATH PENALTY?
The judge could sentence Williams immediately, but if the verdict is death, he would likely set a date in the future to review arguments from the defense and the prosecution about not imposing the jury's decision.
WHAT DECISIONS WILL THE JUDGE HAVE TO MAKE BEFORE IMPOSING A DEATH SENTENCE?
Because Hawaii doesn't have the death penalty, the judge will have to pick a state that does for carrying out the execution. One option would be Indiana, where federal death row is located. The judge will also have to decide whether there were any improprieties in the jury's deliberations.
WHERE WILL WILLIAMS GO IF HE'S SENTENCED TO DEATH?
The federal Bureau of Prisons has converted an old cell block in Terre Haute, Indiana into a facility for federal death row. If the judge picks a state besides Indiana to carry out the execution, Williams would still likely go to Indiana and officials would then have to work out the logistics of the selected state executing Williams.
WHERE WILL WILLIAMS GO IF HE'S SENTENCED TO LIFE?
The Bureau of Prisons would determine that, based on factors including his security level and medical needs. The judge could make recommendations and even order that some treatment be given. Williams' attorneys could ask the judge to make recommendations on preferred locations.
WHAT DOES THE APPEAL PROCESS ENTAIL?
If the sentence is life in prison, the appeal would focus on Williams' conviction. There might have been errors in the trial that would require a new one. If the sentence is death, both the sentence and guilt verdicts could be challenged separately. The first appeal would be before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and that decision could be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The President would have the power of clemency.
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