Monday, February 1, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Pennsylvania death penalty case

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case of a Pennsylvania death row inmate who wants to have the death penalty outlawed, according to LancasterOnline.
Shonda Walter was convicted in 2005 of first-degree murder in the 2003 hatchet attack death of her 83-year-old neighbor in Lock Haven.
The Associated Press reported the Supreme Court justices did not comment after turning away Walter’s challenge.
In a petition for certiorari, Walter’s attorney, Daniel Silverman, argued that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment because “our standards of decency have evolved to the point where the institution is no longer constitutionally sustainable.”
Silverman said Walter was “ill-served by counsel, leaving serious questions about her guilt and eligibility for the death penalty.” He also said Walter, who is black, “joined a mostly black death row … as a product of a system that even a state supreme court committee has acknowledged is plagued by racial discrimination.”
In June 2015, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a lengthy dissent questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty.
“I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eight Amendment,” he wrote. “At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question.”
The case that was declined is Walter v. Pennsylvania.

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