Friday, October 07, 2005

Re: [francesnewton2005] NCADP Conference in Austin Oct. 27 -30, 2005

Thought you might be interested in this editorial about another death row case - this one in Virginia.

Examiner Editorial - No evidence, no execution


Published: Friday, October 7, 2005 12:06 AM EDT

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Arlington's only death row inmate, despite the fact that a court clerk threw away nearly all the physical evidence days after a state law went into effect requiring that it be preserved.

Robin McKennel Lovitt was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing Champion Billiards Hall manager Clayton Dicks - a 45-year-old single father raising two sons - with a pair of scissors during a 1998 robbery. But after sparing his life just four and a half hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 11, the high court turned down Lovitt's case on Monday without comment.

Arlington prosecutors say that throwing away key evidence was just a simple mistake that would not have made any difference in the outcome. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the deputy clerk - who said he was just trying to "free up space" in the Arlington Circuit Court's evidence room - did not act in bad faith when he ordered the blood-caked scissors and other evidence destroyed.

That's debatable because two other clerks reportedly protested at the time. Even former federal judge and special prosecutor Ken Starr, who favors the death penalty, was disturbed by the ramifications. Now dean of Pepperdine University's School of Law and part of the pro bono team of lawyers representing Lovitt during his appeals, Starr maintains that the 41-year-old death row inmate was "denied a fundamental tool for proving [his innocence], one that was taken away from him in violation of state law."


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