Crime Media Issues

Media rush to judgment in Boston Marathon bombing

By Barry Grey, 16 April 2013

At least three people were killed and 144 wounded, including 15 with critical injuries, by two bomb explosions in downtown Boston.

Second US federal execution set for Tuesday morning

By Kate Randall, 19 June 2001

Juan Raul Garza, a 44-year-old Mexican-American, will die by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana at 7 a.m. Central Daylight Time on June 19. Garza was convicted of three drug-related murders in 1993. His execution is to follow by only eight days the state killing of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the first federal prisoner put to death in 38 years.

Ohio executes schizophrenic death row inmate

By Kate Randall, 16 June 2001

Despite widespread protests both internationally and in the US, the state of Ohio executed 48-year-old Jay D. Scott on Thursday, June 14. Scott was a diagnosed schizophrenic with a low IQ who suffered an abusive childhood and spent all but 28 months in prison since the age of 13. He was only the second inmate put to death in Ohio since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1981.

Executions continue as US rejects worldwide moratorium on the death penalty

By Kate Randall, 27 April 2001

The United Nations Human Rights Commission called on Wednesday for a worldwide suspension of the death penalty. Twenty-seven members of the 53-state commission approved a European Union motion asking countries for a moratorium on executions as a move towards the eventual abolition of capital punishment. The United States joined with a number of Arab, African and Asian states in voting against the non-binding motion, which also called for a ban on the execution of juvenile offenders.

Nineteen US death row inmates executed so far this year

By Kate Randall, 16 March 2001

Nineteen people have been put to death in the US since the beginning of the year, bringing to 702 the number of executions since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Another five men are scheduled to be executed before the end of the month. The executions of two other men were halted by court rulings only hours before they were set to die.

US set to execute 13 death row inmates this month

By Kate Randall, 10 January 2001

After a pause in executions in the US since before the Christmas holidays, 13 people are scheduled to be put to death between now and the end of the month. Seven of these executions are set to take place in Oklahoma, which executed 11 men last year. The state was second only to Texas, which carried out a record 40 executions in 2000. The other states scheduled to send condemned inmates to their deaths in January are Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Detroit police gun down another mentally ill man

By Debra Watson, 21 December 2000

A mentally ill Detroit resident, 22-year-old Sharrone Mathews, was shot dead by police early on the morning of December 13. Nearly a dozen officers fired 80 rounds of ammunition at the young man who had retreated into his home after being questioned by police about a car theft. Mathews died in the doorway of his home, suffering from multiple bullet wounds.

Police fatally shoot eleven-year old boy in California drug raid

By Andrea Cappannari, 20 September 2000

Police fatally shot an eleven-year old boy on September 13 in Modesto, California, during a narcotics raid on the boy's home. Alberto Sepulveda, a seventh grader, died from a single gunshot wound through the back.

Workers speak out against police killings at Detroit town meeting

By Shannon Jones, 19 September 2000

A standing-room only audience of well over 500 people attended a September 14 meeting in Detroit called in response to mounting criticism of the city's police department, which has been involved in a spate of recent fatal shootings. The town hall meeting, called by the Board of Police Commissioners ostensibly to conduct a “dialogue with the community,” erupted in anger when police officials refused to answer why citizens engaged in no criminal activity were being murdered by police.

Detroit police kill again

By Larry Roberts, 15 September 2000

In the early morning hours of September 8 another Detroit citizen was shot and killed by a police officer—the second fatal police shooting in the space of 10 days. The victim of the latest shooting was 49-year-old Dwight Turner, an autoworker at Ford Motor Company for over 20 years.

Michigan judge drops charges against security guard in choking death of Detroit man

By Kate Randall, 8 September 2000

A Michigan judge has dismissed charges against a security guard charged with involuntary manslaughter in the June 22 death of a man outside a Lord & Taylor department store in suburban Detroit. Dennis Richardson, 29, was indicted in the choking death of 32-year-old black worker Frederick Finley. He faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Detroit police kill deaf mute

By Jerry White, 31 August 2000

Detroit police officers on Tuesday shot and killed a deaf and mute man whom they say was “menacing” them with a garden rake. Relatives and neighbors who witnessed the shooting of 39-year-old Errol Shaw Sr. said police ignored their shouts that the man could not hear or speak and their pleas not to shoot him. The fatal shooting is the latest for the Detroit Police Department, which leads the US in police killings.

One thousand protest death penalty near Pennsylvania's death row

By Eula Holmes, 23 August 2000

On Sunday, August 13, close to 1,000 opponents of the death penalty attended a rally near the gates of the state prison that houses Pennsylvania's death row inmates and death chamber. The prison is located in Waynesburg, 45 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Executions in Oklahoma and Texas

By Kate Randall, 18 August 2000

John Satterwhite, 53, died by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas at 6:29 p.m. Wednesday. He had been convicted of the 1979 murder of Mary Francis Davis, 54, at a store in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas carries out a double execution

By David Walsh, 11 August 2000

In the absence of Governor George W. Bush, who was campaigning for the presidency in California, the state of Texas carried out a double execution Wednesday, for the fourth time in fifty years and the third since Bush took office. Brian Keith Roberson, 36, and Oliver David Cruz, 33, were put to death at a state prison in Huntsville a little more than a half hour apart. They were the 27th and 28th inmates executed in Texas this year, the country's leader in capital punishment. Republican Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry acted for Bush in refusing to issue a 30-day delay in either case.

New York cops cleared in killing of Patrick Dorismond

By Bill Vann, 2 August 2000

A Manhattan grand jury cleared a New York City detective of criminal charges in the death of Patrick M. Dorismond, an unarmed Haitian-American security guard who was shot dead after angrily rebuffing undercover cops who approached him asking to buy drugs.

City and police prepare for Republican Convention

Philadelphia rally demands prosecution of cops for televised beating

By Tom Bishop, 26 July 2000

About 1,000 angry Philadelphia residents attended a rally July 23 to demand the prosecution of police officers involved in the beating of carjacking suspect Thomas Jones 10 days earlier. The beating, in which Jones was kicked or punched 59 times in 28 seconds, was videotaped by a local television news helicopter and broadcast around the world. Those attending also expressed outrage at the firing of 45 shots in a residential neighborhood in the initial attempt by police to apprehend Jones and the July 18 killing of a mentally ill homeless man, Robert Brown, by Amtrak police at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station.

Police beating in Philadelphia captured on videotape

By Tom Bishop, 14 July 2000

In yet another case of police brutality that has drawn national headlines, more than a dozen Philadelphia cops were shown beating a wounded suspect on live TV on Wednesday, July 12. The scene was reminiscent of the brutality meted during the reign of Philadelphia Police Chief and Mayor Frank Rizzo in the 1970s, or more recently the beating of black motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police.

Following the execution of Gary Graham: a curious silence in the media

By Kate Randall, 1 July 2000

It has been a little more than a week since Gary Graham was executed in Huntsville, Texas. CNN provided minute-by-minute coverage of the run-up to the lethal injection, and, in general, the American media paid considerable attention at the time of the state killing. Yet within a day or two of Graham's death, TV news commentary on his case and the controversy over capital punishment virtually ceased.

After the execution of Gary Graham: the world looks at America and America looks at itself

By David Walsh, 24 June 2000

The June 22 execution of Gary Graham, sanctioned by Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate-to-be George W. Bush, has cast a penetrating light on American society and helped lay bare its contradictions. Although hardly the first state murder carried out in the US, there was something particularly shocking and horrifying about the event. This quality was clearly felt around the world.

In cold blood: the state murder of Gary Graham

By Kate Randall, 23 June 2000

American death row inmate Gary Graham was executed Thursday night in Huntsville, Texas. Graham, 36, also known as Shaka Sankofa, maintained his innocence to the end. He was killed by lethal injection in an action epitomizing the brutality of the US judicial system.

Report details the railroading of defendants to the death chamber in Texas

By Joseph Tanniru, 23 June 2000

A report released earlier this month documents gross injustices and legal abuses in death penalty cases in the state of Texas. The report, published by the Chicago Tribune, examines the state with by far the most executions of any in the US. Over the past five years under Governor George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president in the November elections, Texas has executed 135 individuals. The most recent execution was that of Gary Graham, who was killed yesterday despite clear evidence pointing to his innocence and the fact that he never received a fair trial.

US death penalty study exposes a system rife with errors

Seven of ten cases "seriously flawed"

By Kate Randall, 22 June 2000

A recent study on the death penalty in the United States exposes a system fraught with error and inequities. The US has come under increasing international criticism for continuing the barbaric practice of capital punishment, putting to death 54 people so far this year and 98 in 1999. This new study indicates the high probability that innocent people are being sent to their deaths.

Widespread protests against impending execution of Gary Graham in Texas

By Joseph Tanniru, 22 June 2000

Texas inmate Gary Graham, also known as Shaka Sankofa, is scheduled to be executed this Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. Graham has been imprisoned on death row for 19 years.

US court upholds nine-year solitary confinement of Philadelphia man

By Tom Bishop, 3 June 2000

A three-judge panel of the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has unanimously ruled that Pennsylvania authorities may continue the nine-year solitary confinement of Russell Shoats, a former member of a militant black activists' organization.

DNA retesting denied for Texas death row inmate

By Kate Randall, 1 June 2000

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected on Tuesday by a 6-3 vote a plea by death row inmate Ricky Nolen McGinn for DNA retesting in his case. McGinn is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday, June 1 for the 1993 rape and beating death of his 12-year-old stepdaughter Stephanie Rae Flanery.

Texas executes three men in one week

By Kate Randall, 26 May 2000

Three men have been put to death in Texas this week. James Richardson, 32, died by lethal injection Tuesday for the 1986 holdup and murder of Gerald Abay. On Wednesday, Richard Donald Foster, 47, was executed for the 1984 murder of storeowner Gary Cox. James Clayton was put to death in the Huntsville, Texas execution chamber on Thursday for the murder of teacher Lori Michelle Barrett. Also on Thursday, Charles Adrian Foster, 51, died by lethal injection in Oklahoma for the 1983 murder of Claude Wiley, 74.

Detroit leads US in police killings

By Jerry White, 17 May 2000

Detroit police officers kill citizens at a higher rate than police in any other big US city, according to FBI statistics made public by the Detroit Free Press Monday, May 15. Detroit had a rate of 0.92 fatal shootings per 100,000 residents, far higher than New York and Los Angeles, two cities recently scandalized by revelations of widespread police killings and brutality.

Amnesty International condemns US for violations of UN Convention Against Torture

By Kate Randall, 12 May 2000

The United States appeared Wednesday, May 10 in front of the United Nations Convention Against Torture in Geneva in its first appearance before the body since ratifying the convention six years ago. The human rights group Amnesty International filed a 45-page report with the UN committee that documented specific cases where the US has violated the international pact.

No federal charges in police killings of two unarmed Philadelphia men

By Tom Bishop, 8 May 2000

US Attorney Michael Stiles has announced that no federal criminal charges will be filed in two police shootings which drew widespread protest from civil rights and community groups, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in Philadelphia. Stiles stated that the decision not to prosecute the three officers involved was made after a year's review because there was no evidence that the officers "intentionally used force that they knew was excessive under the circumstances."

Prison labor on the rise in US

By Alan Whyte and Jamie Baker, 8 May 2000

US trade union officials have repeatedly denounced China for its use of prison labor, as part of the AFL-CIO's campaign against the normalization of trade relations with China. At the same time, however, the union officials have virtually been silent about the huge growth of prison labor in the United States.

Tennessee executes first prisoner in four decades

By Kate Randall, 21 April 2000

At 1:37 a.m. Wednesday morning, April 19, Robert Glen Coe was pronounced dead after receiving a lethal injection at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in west Nashville, Tennessee. He became the first prisoner executed in that state since 1960. Tennessee had been the only Southern state not to have carried out an execution since the death penalty was reinstituted by the United States Supreme Court in 1976. There are currently 100 people on the state's death row.

US Supreme Court upholds limits on death penalty appeals

By Kate Randall, 21 April 2000

In important rulings related to the death penalty on April 18, the US Supreme Court voted to uphold the basic tenets of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), which restricts the ability of death row prisoners to gain federal review of their cases. At the same time, the court also voted to grant new sentencing hearings to two Virginia death row inmates, Michael Wayne Williams and Terry Williams (unrelated).

Robert Lee Tarver put to death in Alabama's electric chair

By Kate Randall, 15 April 2000

Robert Lee Tarver Jr, 52, was put to death shortly after midnight on Friday morning, April 14 in Atmore, Alabama in the state's electric chair. Tarver had been convicted of the 1984 murder of convenience store owner Hugh Kite in rural Alabama. Tarver maintained his innocence until the end.

Thousands protest police violence in New York City

By Steve Light, 8 April 2000

In the face of growing police violence and the firm backing of the police by New York City's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, several thousand people marched April 5 in Manhattan from Union Square to City Hall to demand justice for the victims of the official brutality.

Class justice in New York: Why the DA failed to aggressively prosecute the cops who killed Diallo

By Bill Vann, 31 March 2000

The outrage sparked by the acquittal last month of four New York City police officers in the Amadou Diallo case continues to simmer, fed by new acts of brutality and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's outright defense of police killings.

Abuse in the California prison system

29 March 2000

The following commentary was submitted to the WSWS by David McGowan. McGowan is the author of the recently published book Derailing Democracy.

Executions carried out in Virginia, Missouri and Oklahoma

By Kate Randall, 24 March 2000

The most recent US executions took place in the states of Virginia, Missouri and Oklahoma, bringing the number of death row inmates put to death this year to 27. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 625 people have been executed in the United States.

The killing of Patrick Dorismond: New York police violence escalates in wake of Diallo verdict

By Bill Vann, 22 March 2000

Less than one month after the acquittal of four New York City police officers in the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo, new acts of murderous violence by the city's police force have made it clear that the fusillade that felled the West African immigrant in the Bronx was no aberration.

US government report reveals growing numbers of children in adult prisons

By Larry Roberts, 18 March 2000

On February 27 the US Justice Department released a report, Profile of State Prisoners Under 18, 1985-97, revealing that the number of children sentenced to adult prisons more than doubled between 1985 and 1997 from 3,400 to 7,200. The study, prepared by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, further establishes the erosion of the legal rights of juveniles.

A letter on the Los Angeles Police Department scandal

17 March 2000

A reader in LA 16 March 2000

The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots

Part 4 of a series

By Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, 16 March 2000

We conclude today our series on the scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots

Part 3 of a series

By Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, 15 March 2000

We continue today our series on the scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department. Part 1 appeared on Monday, March 13; part 2 on Tuesday, March 14. The fourth and concluding installment will be published tomorrow.

The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots

Part 2 of a series

By Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, 14 March 2000

The testimony of former Los Angeles police officer Rafael Perez about widespread police frame-ups and corruption has so far been limited mostly to the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. But according to Perez, 90 percent of the officers assigned to the specialized CRASH anti-gang units, not just those from Rampart, routinely falsify evidence.

The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots

Part 1 of a series

By Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, 13 March 2000

Substantially more information has been made public in the Los Angeles Police Department corruption and frame-up scandal. News reports have revealed a widespread pattern of unjustified arrests, beatings, drug dealing, witness intimidation, illegal shootings, planting of evidence, frame-ups and perjury at the CRASH unit of the Rampart Division of the LAPD.

The Abner Louima case: three New York cops guilty in cover-up of torture

By Bill Vann, 9 March 2000

A federal court jury in Brooklyn convicted three New York City cops March 6 of conspiring to cover up the 1997 stationhouse torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

Five days after the Diallo verdict

New York plainclothes cop kills unarmed Bronx man

By Alan Whyte, 3 March 2000

Only days after a jury in Albany, New York acquitted four plainclothes policemen in the February 1999 killing of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, a plainclothes cop shot and killed a 23-year-old unarmed man in the Bronx.

More letters on the Amadou Diallo verdict

2 March 2000

Dear editors of WSWS,

Letters on the Amadou Diallo verdict

29 February 2000

I've just learned of the pathetic verdict concerning these undercover policemen shooting and killing an innocent (very young) black boy. I am completely amazed at the fact that the jury didn't take into account the great amount of time it would have needed to discharge 41 shots into this poor defenseless young man. I'm not black and I'm certainly against the death penalty, but in this case these gun-happy policemen (like many of your countrymen) should have been put away for a very long time!

Acquittal of New York City police: court sanctions murder of Amadou Diallo

How the trial was rigged

By the Editorial Board, 28 February 2000

The not guilty verdicts announced February 25 in the police killing of Amadou Diallo were both outrageous and predictable.

The Amadou Diallo case: The social and political roots of police violence

By the Editorial Board, 28 February 2000

The four New York City police officers acquitted February 25 in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo may still face departmental trial and could be removed from the force if it is found that the shooting violated police department guidelines. In addition, Diallo's parents intend to file a civil suit against the police and the city, and the Justice Department announced, through the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, that it would review the case “to determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”

Texas executes 62-year-old great grandmother Betty Lou Beets

By Jerry White, 26 February 2000

The state of Texas executed Betty Lou Beets, a 62-year-old great grandmother, Thursday evening at Huntsville prison. Beets was the second woman to be put to death in Texas in the last two years—Karla Faye Tucker was executed in February 1998—and the fourth woman to die in the US since executions resumed in 1976.

Cops take stand to defend shooting of immigrant worker

Amadou Diallo murder trial drawing to a close

By Fred Mazelis, 22 February 2000

After only three weeks, the trial of the four police officers accused in the killing of Amadou Diallo last year is moving rapidly toward its conclusion.

True to form: Clinton rejects moratorium on death penalty

By Kate Randall, 19 February 2000

At a press conference on Wednesday, President Bill Clinton rejected calls for a national moratorium on capital punishment. Clinton had been urged by death penalty opponents to call a halt to federal executions in light of last month's decision by Illinois Governor George Ryan to stay executions in that state.

California's "three-strikes" law boosts prison population-two cases in point

By Kim Saito, 15 February 2000

As a result of its “three-strikes-and-you're out” law, the state of California has one of the fastest growing prison populations of any state in the US. The law imposes an automatic 25-years-to-life prison term if a person is convicted of three felonies. According to the latest figures from the California Department of Corrections, a record 162,381 people inhabit the state's prisons. Two recent cases are noteworthy in illustrating what the courts consider third-strike offenses.

US executions continue at record pace despite revelations of wrongful convictions

By Kate Randall, 11 February 2000

Michael Roberts, 42, died by lethal injection in McAlester, Oklahoma at 12:21 a.m. Thursday morning. His death brings to 13 the number of executions so far this year, including 7 in the state of Texas alone. If the state killings proceed at this pace, executions for the year would surpass the 98 carried out last year, which was the highest total in 45 years.

Trial begins in New York police killing of Amadou Diallo

By Joseph Tanniru, 9 February 2000

The trial of the four New York City police officers accused in the shooting death of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo began last week in the state capital of Albany. Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy are charged with second-degree murder and reckless endangerment for their actions on February 4, 1999, when Diallo died after the plainclothes officers fired 41 shots as he stood unarmed in the vestibule of his apartment building in the Bronx.

Illinois governor calls temporary halt to executions

By our reporter, 2 February 2000

Illinois Governor George Ryan announced Monday that he would call a temporary halt to executions in the state. A spokesman for Ryan said the Republican governor is convinced the death penalty system is "fraught with errors" and "broken" and should be suspended until it has been thoroughly investigated.

Two million incarcerated in the US

By Helen Halyard, 1 February 2000

Two million people are expected to be incarcerated in US prisons and jails by February 15 of this year, according to data released by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) last month. Over the last decade the prison population increased by 840,000, a 61 percent rise over the 1980s, and nearly 30 times higher than the average increase over each of the five decades preceding 1970.

Paranoid schizophrenic executed in Texas

By Kate Randall, 24 January 2000

Larry Keith Robison, 42, was put to death on Friday, January 21, despite pleas to Texas Governor George W. Bush to spare the life of the mentally ill man. He died by lethal injection in Huntsville Friday evening. The European Union, Pope John Paul II and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill had called on Bush to halt the execution.

Florida legislature approves bill to speed executions

By Kate Randall, 13 January 2000

Florida lawmakers passed a bill overhauling the state's death penalty laws last Friday, effectively speeding up the state's execution process. The legislation would streamline the appeals process by reducing the length of time between sentencing and execution to five years from the current average of 14 years. Republican Governor Jeb Bush, brother of Texas Governor and Republican presidential frontrunner George W. Bush, had urged passage of the bill at a special three-day legislative session.

Trial in Amadou Diallo killing is moved out of New York City

By Fred Mazelis, 23 December 1999

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court Appellate Division of New York State has ruled that the trial of the four police officers charged with the murder of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo in the Bronx last February must be moved 150 miles north to Albany County.

Three prisoners set to die December 14 as US executions near 100 for the year

By Kate Randall, 14 December 1999

Three executions are scheduled in the US today. The state of Arkansas plans to put to death two men, Jack Greene and Andrew Sasser, and Robert Atworth is scheduled to die in Texas. These executions would bring the number of state killings nationwide to 99 for the year, more than in any year since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. At least two more executions are planned before the end of the year—Sammie Felder in Texas and Wendell Flowers in North Carolina.

The Nathaniel Abraham case and the conditions facing Michigan's children

"Here is this mother begging for assistance and no one responds"

By Debra Watson, 11 December 1999

The recent murder trial of Nathaniel Abraham focused national and international attention on the treatment of children in the US, particularly in the state of Michigan. Thirteen-year-old Nathaniel was convicted of second-degree murder November 16 by a jury in Pontiac, Michigan for the October 1997 murder of Ronnie Greene, Jr. His sentencing is scheduled for January 13, when he could received up to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Four days of violence and death

Social conditions and tensions in the US take their toll

By David Walsh, 8 December 1999

These are a few events that took place in the US from Friday, December 3 to Monday, December 6.

Sentencing postponed for 13-year-old Michigan youth convicted of murder

By Jerry White, 8 December 1999

Sentencing for Nathaniel Abraham, the 13-year-old Michigan boy convicted of murder last month, has been postponed until January 13. On Monday Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore granted motions to delay the sentencing hearing, originally scheduled for December 14, in order to give psychologists for the defense and prosecution additional time to complete their evaluations of Nathaniel.

Letters on the Nathaniel Abraham verdict

3 December 1999

The WSWS received the following letters on the case of Nathaniel Abraham, the 13-year-old convicted of second-degree murder in Pontiac, Michigan on November 16. Nathaniel, only 11 years old at the time of the shooting of Ronnie Greene Jr., is the youngest person in the US to stand trial for murder as an adult, and could face a sentence of up to life in prison at his sentencing hearing December 14.

WSWS readers comment on Nathaniel Abraham verdict

23 November 1999

Since the verdict in the Nathaniel Abraham case was delivered on November 16, the World Socialist Web Site has received a large volume of e-mail concerning our coverage of the case. Abraham, 13, is the youngest child in the US to be tried as an adult for murder. He was found guilty of second-degree murder in the October 1997 shooting death of 18-year-old Ronnie Greene. Below we reprint a selection of the letters.

13-year-old convicted of murder in Michigan: Harsh truths about a repugnant verdict

By David Walsh, 23 November 1999

The conviction of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham of second degree murder in Michigan's Oakland County on November 16 has provoked a strong reaction in many quarters, including a good deal of indignation. The World Socialist Web Site has received a substantial volume of correspondence on the verdict. (See today's correspondence for a selection of letters on the case sent by WSWS readers). The issues raised by the Abraham trial and its outcome are of considerable importance for the future development of American society.

Larry Roberts discusses murder trial of 13-year-old Michigan youth

WSWS reporter interviewed on Seattle radio about Nathaniel Abraham case

By Jerry White, 19 November 1999

Larry Roberts, the World Socialist Web Site correspondent who covered the recent murder trial of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham, was interviewed Thursday by CBS radio affiliate KIRO in Seattle. Roberts condemned the second-degree murder conviction of the Pontiac, Michigan child and discussed the social issues underlying the case in the course of an hour-long interview by CBS syndicated commentator Dave Ross. The live call-in program reaches 130,600 listeners daily in Seattle, Tacoma and other western portions of Washington state.

Human rights advocates condemn murder conviction of 13-year-old Michigan child

By Jerry White, 18 November 1999

The conviction on Tuesday of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham for second-degree murder has been condemned by human rights and juvenile justice advocates. It has also been cited in the international press as an example of the brutal treatment of children in the United States.

Michigan jury finds 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham guilty of second-degree murder

By Kate Randall, 17 November 1999

After 15 hours of deliberation, a Pontiac, Michigan jury on Tuesday found 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham guilty of the second-degree murder of Ronnie Greene. Abraham was found not guilty of three lesser crimes—assault with intent to murder his neighbor Michael Hudack and two felony weapons charges.

"It's a tragedy for all of us," says Robin Adams

Shooting victim's mother opposes jailing of 13-year-old defendant in Michigan murder case

By Larry Roberts, 17 November 1999

Shortly before the guilty verdict was announced in the Pontiac, Michigan murder trial of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham, the World Socialist Web Site spoke to Robin Adams, the mother of Ronnie Greene, the 18-year-old youth Nathaniel was accused of shooting.

Gloria Abraham speaks out on the Michigan murder trial of her 13-year-old son

"People need to become aware that the government can do these things"

By Larry Roberts, 16 November 1999

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to family members of Nathaniel Abraham, including his mother Gloria Abraham, outside the Pontiac, Michigan courtroom where the 13-year-old's murder trial is under way. Nathaniel is being charged with the murder of 18-year-old Ronnie Greene. He is possibly the youngest person in the US to be prosecuted for first-degree murder as an adult, having been only 11 years old at the time of the crime for which he stands accused.

Background to the Nathaniel Abraham case

The origins of the juvenile justice system in America

By Alden Long, 11 November 1999

The trial of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham in Pontiac, Michigan has focused attention on the nation's juvenile justice system. Abraham has been charged as an adult for first-degree murder under a 1997 Michigan law that sets no minimum age for the prosecution of children as adults for violent and serious offenses.

Federal appeals court upholds racial profiling by upstate New York police

By Jamie Baker, 11 November 1999

On October 26 a federal appeals court panel upheld the constitutionality of a 1992 police sweep of hundreds of young black men in the upstate New York town of Oneonta, home of a branch of the State University of New York. Police targeted blacks after a 77-year-old woman reported being robbed by an intruder with a knife. Her limited account of the incident was that the assailant was black and that he cut himself on the hand. Police dogs supposedly traced a scent a few hundred feet in the general direction of the campus.

Michigan prosecutes 13-year-old as an adult

Closing arguments due in murder trial of Nathaniel Abraham

By Kate Randall and Larry Roberts, 10 November 1999

The defense in the Nathaniel Abraham trial rested its case yesterday, and closing arguments are expected today. Abraham is on trial in Pontiac, Michigan, charged with first-degree murder in the October 29, 1997 shooting death of Ronnie Greene. He is also accused of assault with intent to murder Michael Hudack.

Forensic psychiatrist speaks on the Abraham case: "When Nathaniel needed a system there was no system there for him"

By Larry Roberts, 10 November 1999

Gerald A. Shiener is a forensic psychiatrist who testified for the defense in the Nathaniel Abraham trial taking place in Pontiac, Michigan. The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Dr. Shiener outside the courtroom.

Letters on the Michigan murder trial of 13-year-old

9 November 1999

The WSWS has received a number of letters on the Nathaniel Abraham trial now taking place in Pontiac, Michigan. Abraham, who was 11 years old—and functioning at the mental level of a 6- to 8-year-old—at the time of the offense for which he is charged, is being prosecuted as an adult for first degree murder. If convicted he could face a sentence of life imprisonment. Below we reprint some of these letters.

New York City police cleared in fatal shooting

By Fred Mazelis, 6 November 1999

The family of Gidone Busch reacted bitterly to the exoneration this week of the four New York City police officers involved in the shooting death of the 31-year-old mentally disturbed man. A grand jury convened by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, announced that no charges would be brought against the police in the August 30 shooting.

Michigan murder trial of 13-year-old: Testimony undercuts prosecution case

By Kate Randall and Larry Roberts, 4 November 1999

The prosecution rested its case November 2 in the murder trial of Nathaniel Abraham. The defense begins calling witnesses today. The case is being tried in the Pontiac, Michigan courtroom of Judge Eugene Moore.

US schedules five executions this week

By Kate Randall, 29 October 1999

Five executions were planned this week in the United States, which would bring the total of state killings to 86 this year, more than any year since 1954. The US has executed 581 people since the reinstitution of the death penalty in 1976.

On-the-spot report from Michigan courtroom: Scenes from the murder trial of a 13-year-old

By Kate Randall, 29 October 1999

Thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Abraham was led into a Pontiac, Michigan courtroom on Monday, October 18, as jury selection began in his murder trial. His slight, barely five-foot figure was shackled in layers of chains and handcuffs—a set of heavy chains wrapped around his waist, another set of chains connected to handcuffs on his wrists, and chains with handcuffs connecting his feet. The dismantling of the shackles took several, long minutes, requiring the child to turn toward a chair and lean forward while the sheriff unlocked his leg irons.

Highest number of US executions in 45 years

By Kate Randall, 2 October 1999

Seventy-six executions have taken place in the United States in 1999, the highest yearly total of executions in the US in 45 years. Scheduled executions on the nation's death row, where more than 3,500 people are incarcerated, could bring the total to 100 or more by year's end. Since a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for the reinstitution of the death penalty in 1976, 576 people have been put to death in the US, including two women.

Murder trial of Michigan child to begin October 18

By Jerry White, 24 September 1999

The trial of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham, one of the youngest children in the US ever prosecuted for first degree murder, is set to begin October 18. The youngster, arrested at the age of 11, is being tried under a 1997 Michigan law that sets no minimum age for the prosecution and sentencing of juveniles as adults. If convicted, Nathaniel could face life in prison without parole.

More Los Angeles Police Department violence and frame-ups exposed

By John Andrews, 23 September 1999

A Los Angeles Police Department officer facing five years in prison for stealing eight pounds of cocaine revealed last week that he and his partner handcuffed and then shot an unarmed young man three years ago, planted a gun on him, and lied in court to convict him of a felony. The victim, Javier Francisco Ovando, now 22 and confined to a wheelchair for life, received a draconian 23-year sentence from the trial judge, who increased the penalty because Ovando did not show “remorse” for his crime. Ovando has no other criminal history.

Snapshots of America's brutal society: two more executions, another police killing

By Kate Randall, 3 September 1999

Executions in Texas and Missouri

Trial date set for 14-year-old Michigan youth charged with first-degree murder

By Helen Halyard, 27 August 1999

The recent decision of the Michigan Supreme Court not to hear an appeal clears the way for a trial in the case of Nathaniel Abraham, who was charged with first-degree murder at age 11 in 1997. Nathaniel will be the first person prosecuted for a crime allegedly committed at the age of 11, making him the youngest ever. His trial date is set for September 21.

Snapshots of America's brutal society: state murder, police corruption and the expanding prison population

By Kate Randall, 26 August 1999

Judges meeting at luxury resort discuss ways to speed up executions

Texas court issues last-minute stay of execution of mentally ill death row prisoner

By Kate Randall, 18 August 1999

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4 yesterday to stay the execution of Larry Keith Robison, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas at 6pm Tuesday. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of five people in 1982, carried out while in a psychotic state. He has spent 16 years on death row.

Sister of mentally ill prisoner facing August 17 execution in Texas: "A segment of society is applauding a man's death"

By Kate Randall, 16 August 1999

Barring a highly unlikely intervention by the US Supreme Court, Larry Keith Robison will be executed by the state of Texas in Huntsville at 6pm Tuesday, August 17.

Events on Florida's death row underscore barbarism of the US judicial system

By Kate Randall, 11 August 1999

The human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the United States for its use of the death penalty, its execution of juveniles and the mentally impaired, and its abusive treatment of prisoners. The US has the highest known death row population in the world, with more than 3,300 people awaiting execution. In April 1998 the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions in those countries where the death penalty is still allowed. The US response has been to step up the rate of judicial killings.

Ricky Blackmon the first of seven Texas death row prisoners to be executed in the next two weeks

By Kate Randall, 6 August 1999

Ricky Blackmon, 41, was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1987 murder of an East Texas man. Blackmon was the first of seven men on death row in the state of Texas scheduled to die by lethal injection over the next two weeks.

Inside the US prison system—frame-ups, brutality and murder

By Kate Randall, 22 July 1999

America's prison system is notorious around the world for both its vast scale—more than 1.6 million people, enough to comprise the country's fourth-largest city—and for the savagery of its treatment of prisoners, culminating with the barbarism of capital punishment. Five examples of conditions in the prisons are culled from news reports over the past week.

US media attempts to discredit campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Helen Halyard, 16 July 1999

During the past week major media outlets in the United States have revived their efforts to discredit the international campaign for the freedom of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. The former member of the Black Panthers and outspoken opponent of police brutality and racism has been on Pennsylvania's death row since his 1982 conviction on false charges of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

More than a quarter million mentally ill in America's jails and prisons

By Kate Randall, 15 July 1999

A report from the US Department of Justice finds that as of mid-1998 there were an estimated 283,800 mentally ill in the nation's prisons, and 547,800 on probation. Results of surveys conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that 16 percent of state prisoners, 7 percent of federal prisoners and 16 percent of those in local jails reported mental health problems or overnight stays in a mental facility. Figures are likely much higher, as the survey relied solely on information provided by the prisoners themselves.

New York cop acquitted in shooting of unemployed "squeegee man"

By Shannon Jones, 12 July 1999

Brushing aside compelling eyewitness testimony that New York policeman Michael Meyer shot an unarmed man without provocation, a New York City judge found the police officer not guilty of all criminal charges in the June 14, 1998 shooting of “squeegee man” Antoine Reid.

Executions carried out in three US states

By a reporter, 9 July 1999

Three men were executed in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida late Wednesday night, and Florida was set to kill again on Thursday.

US youth crime bill: more children to be tried as adults

By Kate Randall, 24 June 1999

On June 17 the US House of Representatives passed a juvenile crime bill which strips young people in America of many of their rights as children in the justice system, and further erodes the distinction between adults and juveniles under the law. The vote was 287-139, with 80 Democrats voting for the bill.

US Supreme Court upholds federal death sentence

By Martin McLaughlin, 23 June 1999

In the first case to reach the highest US tribunal since the passage in 1994 of the Federal Death Penalty Act, the Supreme Court upheld a death sentence in a federal criminal case despite ample evidence of judicial error in instructing the jury. The decision was by a 5-4 margin, with the five most conservative justices supporting an opinion written by Clarence Thomas.