Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update on the Case of Steve Henley

Update on the Scheduled Execution of Steve Henley: February 4, 2009

The state of Tennessee is moving forward with the scheduled execution of Steve Henley on February 4, 2009, at 1:00 a.m. at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Henley was convicted for the 1985 murders of Fred and Edna Stafford in Jackson County, Tennessee. He has been on death row for 23 years.

The case of Steve Henley is yet another demonstration of the many problems with Tennessee's death penalty. Problematic issues include:

All the evidence, including the motive for the crime, was provided by a co-defendant who served just over five years for his participation in the murder.
Mr. Henley received grossly inadequate representation at his sentencing hearing.
A majority of appellate court judges have ruled that Mr. Henley's death sentence should be overturned.
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Henley's attorneys are working to secure a stay of execution in the courts. With the continued litigation of the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the state should not be allowed to move forward with Henley's execution.

In 2007, Judge Aleta Trauger ruled in favor of Tennessee death row inmate, E.J. Harbison, concluding that Tennessee's lethal injection protocol violates the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. Arguments were made today in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue with a ruling not anticipated for several weeks.

TCASK hopes that the court will grant Steve Henley a stay of execution, at least until the issue of the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol is resolved. But, there is no guarantee that the court will intervene.

TCASK continues to prepare for a possible execution on February 4, and chapters across the state are planning vigils and actions witnessing to life and opposing this execution. In Nashville, a "Service of Remembrance and Resistance" is in the planning stages as well as a candlelight vigil to be held at Riverbend. We will provide more details next week.

The clemency campaign for Steve Henley continues with the collection of clemency cards from concerned citizens asking that the Governor stop this execution and commute Henley's sentence. The cards will be collected and kept at the TCASK office until they are delivered to the Governor. If you are interested in receiving a stack of cards to distribute and collect, please email clemencyforhenley@gmail.com or call (615) 256-3906.

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