This is a perfect example of one of the major reasons for abolition cited by Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. She gives three reasons: that innocent people are in danger of being executed, like in this case, that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to minorities and that it is more costly than sentencing people to life in prison.
House had been scheduled to be executed next month for the 1985 murder of Carolyn Muncey. He had been on death row for 22 years but was released on bail last year. He has multiple sclerosis and must use a wheelchair.
The high court ruled in June 2006 that House was entitled to a new hearing.
"Although the issue is closed, we conclude that this is the rare case where -- had the jury heard all the conflicting testimony -- it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror viewing the record as a whole would lack reasonable doubt," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-3 majority.
House's appeal was championed by the Innocence Project, affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law in New York.
I've always maintained that there's an even stronger reason, one that perhaps rides above all those very valid reasons. I say capital punishment is morally unacceptable. In order to avoid the ethical hypocrisy of killing people for killing people, we must abandon the death penalty.
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