Well, it’s getting closer to over for Kreutzer.

Drew Brooks, Kreutzer enters guilty plea, no longer faces death penalty, FayObserver.com, 11 March 2009.  Some observations (on the article, and assuming the article is correct).  There is no word in the article about how the family is taking this and what role they did or did not play in the negotiations.  As we've discussed elsewhere, the family must be consulted under the Victim Witness Assistance Program rules, although the Army isn't bound to follow the victim's wishes.

1.  He was sentenced to "life," which is mandatory.  The UCMJ amendment authorizing Life Without Possibility of Parole was passed after Kreutzer was sentenced first time around.  See Article 56a, UCMJ, 10 U.S.C. 856a.  Under current regulations it will be many years before he becomes eligible for parole.  And as a practical matter he's unlikely to see parole.

2.  "prosecutors will try to persuade Parrish to raise the aggravated assault charges to attempted premeditated murder charges."  Anyone have any idea what this means?  Is the prosecution trying to make a major variance on the charge sheet post-referral, post-something?

3.  "Kreutzer could also lose his rank, forfeit all pay and be dishonorably discharged."  Actually, he will lose all of his pay whether he's sentenced to that or not, by operation of law.  See Articles 57, 57a., 58, 58a., UCMJ.

4.  The AP story on this case has this interesting tidbit, "Defense attorneys had argued Kreutzer suffered from a personality disorder that makes him unable to show remorse."

5.  Kreutzer's crimes occured in 1995 and he was sentenced to death in 1996.  This week the Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in x.  The petitioner in that case was complaining that it was cruel and unusual under the 8th Amendment to keep him on death-row for 32 years.  See e.g. Warren Richey, How long can executions be delayed? Christian Science Monitor, 12 March 2009.

Thirty-two years is a long time for a death-row inmate to contemplate his pending execution. But is it so long that it violates
the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment?

That was the issue at the heart of an appeal filed at the US Supreme Court on behalf of Florida death-row inmate William Lee

This week, the high court announced that it would not take up Mr. Thompson's case. The denial touched off a heated debate
among three justices, including a harsh critique of capital punishment in America by Justice John Paul Stevens

Here is a blurb courtesy of SCOTUSBlog.  The reference to Thompson is part way down the summary about "Court to rule on investment adviser fee."  Not such odd placement.  The fee case was a grant, the article then summarizes the petitions denied.

Justice John Paul Stevens issued a statement (not formally a
dissent) as the Court refused to hear a case involving a Florida inmate
who has been on death row for 32 years, in which he renewed his
previous call for the Court to put an end to the death penalty.  The
case of Thompson v. McNeil (08-7369) involved William Lee
Thompson, who is awaiting execution for the 1976 murder of a woman who
failed to obtain money that Thompson and another man demanded from her
family.  His 32 years is the longest time on death row spent by an
inmate who has asked the Court to decide whether such a delay makes
execution unconstitutional.

The Justices written memorandums in
Thompson v. McNeil are here.

Gray then is the only military person on death row with an approved death sentence.  See more at CAAFLog.  No military death penalty has been carried out since Private Bennett in 1957.  Current method is lethal injection.

This other day Walter Mondale had a piece in the Washington Post about the state of public defender services on the anniversary of Gideon.  A Key Legal Right at Risk, Washington Post, 10 March 2009.  Here is an interesting little piece on CrimLaw blog, Ken Lammers, Will Lack of Money Make the Criminal Justice System More Brutish? 9 March 2009.

I don't think the current economic downturn is enough to effect this
one way or the other. Sure, anti-death penalty activists are reliably
making noises about eliminating the penalty because it is too
expensive, but it does not seem to be making too much headway.
Nevertheless, the question at hand is,
should the economy ever become
so depressed that it cannot support the money we now spend on capital
defense will we prune the defense or eliminate the punishment

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