Wilcher's case puts focus on appeals Jul 3, 2006 19:04:28 GMT -5
Post by Anja on Jul 3, 2006 19:04:28 GMT -5
After his 24 years on Mississippi's death row, the state Supreme Court has
issued a warrant of execution and set an execution date of July 11 for
Bobby Glen Wilcher, 44, of Scott County.
Barring the production of a legal rabbit out of an unseen hat, it appears
that Wilcher's execution will be carried out on schedule. But the inmate's
long odyssey in the appeals process demonstrates some of the frustration
society feels with the death penalty in Mississippi.
Wilcher received two death sentences for the 1982 murders of Katie Belle
Moore and Velma Odell Noblin in Scott County.
After the women agreed to give Wilcher a ride home from a Forest bar
because they knew his mother, he diverted them down a U.S. Forest Service
road and stabbed them at least 20 times each.
Wilcher was convicted in separate trials in 1982, receiving the death
sentence in each case. Both of Wilcher's convictions were vetted through
the federal and state appeal processes.
APPEALS STARTED OVER
In 1993, new sentencing trials were ordered for Wilcher following a U.S.
Supreme Court ruling that suggested the jury instructions in many
Mississippi death penalty cases were unconstitutionally vague.
Essentially, the high court ruled that the average Mississippi juror was
too ignorant to know the meaning of the phrase "heinous, atrocious and
cruel" in describing the act of murder.
The ruling gave the inmate new trials and also gave him a new round of
appeals in both state and federal court venues.
Wilcher was re-sentenced to death in 1994 in both cases. In 2003, the
Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Wilcher presented no post-conviction
claims that could lead to a new trial.
Mississippi is one of 38 states that utilize the death penalty. There are
3,370 death row inmates in the U.S. - with 70 in Mississippi.
$2.2 MILLION EACH?
Duke University and other studies in North Carolina and in Texas suggest
that the cost of the average death penalty case is about $2.2 million -
with most of those costs incurred in the trial and appeals process.
Nationally, the Death Penalty Information Center reports that 57 percent
of the 1,026 inmates executed since 1976 were white while 34 % were
African-American. Some 45 % of the current U.S. death row inmates are
white while 44 % are African-American.
In Mississippi, 50 % of the death row inmates are white, 49 % are
African-American and 1 percent is Asian, according to the Department of
Is the system totally reliable? No. Since 1973, 123 people have been
released from death row with evidence of their innocence, U.S. House of
Representatives' reports show. But the circumstantial evidence, the
forensic evidence, and Wilcher's multiple confessions make these
While some $2.2 million and 24 years were expended protecting Wilcher's
rights, the majority of the family members of both Mrs. Noblin and Mrs.
Moore have died awaiting some measure of justice in the murders of their
loved ones.That's not right.
After a quarter century, Wilcher's case is a tragic reminder that victims'
rights increasingly get trampled in the appeals process.
(source: Clarion Ledger)