"Opponents, supporters discuss death penalty before lawmakers," is by Rob Moritz for the Arkansas News Bureau. It's the most extensive report on the hearing.
A man who spent 10 years on death row in Arizona before being found innocent and the father of a Trumann police officer slain in 2011 expressed divergent views on the death penalty during a legislative hearing Wednesday.
Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee did not pertain to particular legislation, although the panel did endorse legislation Wednesday to allow family members of victims to witness an execution of the person convicted of the crime and later will take up a measure to set methods for carrying out the death penalty.
Lawmakers asked few questions during nearly two hours of often poignant testimony on both sides of the issue.
Ray Krone, who was convicted twice for the 1991 slaying of a Phoenix bartender, said he spent more than 10 years on Arizona’s death row before he was freed after DNA evidence proved his innocence. He urged the committee to oppose the death penalty in Arkansas.
Death penalty opponents called on Arkansas lawmakers Wednesday to abolish capital punishment after Gov. Mike Beebe said earlier this month that he would sign legislation outlawing the punishment if it were to reach his desk.
No lawmakers have proposed abolishing the death penalty so far, but Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it was important for legislators to hear from both opponents and proponents of the death penalty before discussing how to rewrite the state's lethal injection law that the Arkansas Supreme Court threw out last year.
"I thought it would be appropriate to, before we discuss the methodology of executions, that we discuss the humaneness of the death penalty itself," Hutchinson, R-Benton, said.
Academics, ministers and a former death row inmate spoke out against capital punishment during the judiciary committee meeting before lawmakers heard from a widow and the father of a slain police officer who spoke in favor of the death penalty.
The second version of the AP report is via KTHV-TV.
A man exonerated after spending 10 years on death row spoke out against the death penalty in Arkansas.
He joined other speakers at the capitol Wednesday as lawmakers take up the issue of victim's families in the same room as the inmate's during execution.
"There's now been 142 exonerations in our country," said Ray Krone who was convicted for murder and known as the Snaggle-Tooth Murderer in Arizona." The DNA came back from that case with a match from a man currently in prison for having sex with a child and served a previous sentence for raping a woman.
"I think all the committee members were on the edge of their seats today," said Sen. Robert Thompson (D-Paragould). Thompson said he isn't swayed to abolish the death penalty. "That was an old case from another state."
KATV-TV posts, "Capital Punishment Debated in Senate Committee," by Janelle Lilley.
The Senate Judiciary Committee considered the ethics of capital punishment on Wednesday. Next week, they'll be asked to decide how Arkansas should carry out the punishment.
It was a hearing filled with emotional testimony as activists made their cases for and against the death penalty.
"I have to say, I supported the death penalty. I believed in it, deterrent affect for the worst of the worst. I found out I was wrong, almost dead wrong at the age of 35," testified former Arizona death row inmate Ray Krone.
Next week the Judiciary Committee will consider a bill, effectively allowing executions in the state to be carried out once again. Wednesday, the committee did pass Senate Bill 52 which allows family members of the victim in capital cases to view the execution from behind a glass window. As of now, family can only watch the execution via a closed circuit television.
"Lawmaker Death Penalty Panel: Victims Speak Out," is by Marci Manley for KARK-TV.
A bill that would allow victim's families to view executions inside the chamber viewing area did pass through the committee following the Death Penalty hearing.
The bill was filed by State Senator Bart Hester (R) of Cave Springs.
Current policy allows media, the inmate's attorney and spiritual adviser, along with citizen witnesses inside the viewing area.
Victim's families have the opportunity to watch the execution in a different area on closed circuit television.
Hester's bill would allow up to five of the victim's immediate family members in the chamber to watch the execution.
The bill passed despite protestations from Dina Tyler, with the Arkansas Department of Correction. According to Tyler the space where executions are conducted is extremely small, and placing victim's families in the room with the inmate's advocates could result in outbursts and possibly expose family members to media attention they would not be comfortable with.
Earlier coverage from Arkansas begins at the link.