December 13, 2005

Execution puts spotlight on moratorium effort

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The execution of Stanley Tookie
Williams has put the spotlight on a campaign by opponents of
the death penalty for state legislation that would temporarily
halt capital punishment in California.

Assemblyman Paul Koretz, a Democrat, said on Tuesday he
would renew a push for a bill he introduced earlier this year
that calls for the state to stop executing condemned prisoners
until January 1, 2009, so a committee can investigate whether
California's justice system sends innocent people to death row.

"It's targeted at the accuracy of the system," Koretz said
of his bill. "If you don't execute people for a couple of
years, I don't see the great harm, but you could prevent an
innocent person from being executed."

Koretz predicted that Democrats, who control California's
legislature, in the state Assembly would rally behind his bill
following Williams' execution, and provide enough votes to
overcome expected opposition by minority Republicans.

Williams was the 12th person executed since California
reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

Koretz's bill will have a legislative hearing a week ahead
of the state's next scheduled execution, but the lawmaker said
the bill was unlikely to influence the state's planned
execution of Clarence Ray Allen.

Allen, 75, is scheduled to die on January 17, 2006, for
ordering three murders while serving a life-sentence in prison
for arranging the murder of his son's girlfriend, a potential
witness against him in a burglary case.