Rendell Signs Six Execution Warrants, Urges Review of Death Penalty Timeliness

There are two separate news releases here from the Governor’s office.

Rendell Signs Six Execution Warrants

Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed execution warrants for thefollowing six individuals:

• Lavar Brown, of Philadelphia County, who was convicted of first-degree murderin May 2005. Brown, 33, shot and killed Robert Crawford in December 2003.He is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Hisexecution date is scheduled for Wednesday, March 2.
• William H. Housman, 35, for strangling and killing Leslie White in September2000. Housman, of Cumberland County, was convicted in November 2001. Heis a prisoner at SCI Greene and is scheduled to be executed Thursday, Feb. 24.
• Kareem Johnson, 26, of Philadelphia County. Johnson was convicted of firstdegreemurder in June 2007 for the shooting death of Walter Smith inDecember 2002. Johnson is held at SCI Graterford. His execution date isscheduled for Tuesday, March 8.
• Milton Montalvo, of York County, for two counts of first-degree murder.Montalvo, age 48, stabbed his estranged common-law wife, Miriam Ascencio,and her friend, Nelson Lugo, to death in April 1998. He was convicted inJanuary 2000. Montalvo is an inmate at SCI Greene. His execution date isscheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 23.
• Christopher Smith, 29, of Philadelphia County, for the December 2002shooting death of Rasheed Grant. He was convicted in May 2005. Smith’sexecution is scheduled for Thursday, March 3. He is a prisoner at SCI Greene.
• Ernest R. Wholaver Jr., 50, for killing his wife and two daughters on Dec. 24,2002. Wholaver, of Dauphin County, was convicted on three counts of firstdegreemurder and sentenced to die in August 2004. He is a prisoner at SCIGreene. His execution date is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1.With the warrants signed today, Governor Rendell has now signed 119 executionwarrants during his two terms of office.

Governor Rendell Urges General Assembly to Review Effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s Death Penalty

In one of his final acts as governor, Governor Edward G. Rendell today wrote to the General Assembly to urge legislators to review the effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s death penalty.

Earlier today, the Governor signed six execution warrants, bringing to 119 the number of warrants he has signed during his eight years in office. No executions were carried out during his time as governor.

Note: The text of the Governor’s letter follows:

Jan. 14, 2011

To Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly:

As of this date, I have signed 119 execution warrants since taking office in January 2003, and not one execution has been carried out during the last eight years. In fact, none are even close to having a final date set. The only executions carried out since the death penalty was reinstated in Pennsylvania in the late 1970s were two in 1995 and one in 1999, and those three men – Keith Zettlemoyer, Leon Moser, and Gary Heidnik – had waived their appeals and asked that their sentence be carried out.

There are inmates on death row today who were convicted and sentenced to death during my tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia County (1978-1986). As a former District Attorney and as a death penalty supporter, I believe the death penalty can be a deterrent – but only when it is carried out relatively expeditiously. Of course, great care must be taken to ensure the guilt of the offender, and every advance in science and technology should be made available to the defendant. However, a 15-, 20-, or 25-year lapse between imposition of a death sentence and the actual execution is no deterrent. In the public’s eye, the crime and the victim may be long forgotten. To criminals on the street, our death penalty is simply not a reality.

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One Comment

  1. Miguel says:

    Every legal option should be given to an inmate convicted of a crime
    especiallly a capita lcrime. No matter how long it takes. Many people have been falsely convicted and rushed to execution. The antogonists
    received judicial immunity and are now in public office.

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