• الحملات

USA (Montana): death penalty: Duncan McKenzie

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 51/061/1995

Duncan McKenzie is scheduled to be executed in Montana on 10 May 1995. He was sentenced to death in 1975 for the kidnap and murder of a female teacher. Before his trial, he was offered a prison sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty, which he accepted. However, despite the plea-bargain being approved by the trial judge, this offer was withdrawn after objections from the victim's family. Her mother is a state senator. At his trial, evidence of mental illness was not commented on by the judge who passed sentence.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/61/95
Distr: UA/SC
EXTRA 42/95 Death Penalty 20 April 1995
USA (Montana) Duncan MCKENZIE
Duncan McKenzie is scheduled to be executed in the state of Montana on 10 May
1995.
Duncan McKenzie was sentenced to death in 1975 for the kidnapping and murder
of school teacher Lana Harding. Duncan McKenzie is currently Montana's longest
serving death row inmate.
Before his trial Duncan McKenzie was offered and accepted a prison sentence
in exchange for a guilty plea. However, despite the fact that the plea-bargain
had already been approved by the trial-judge, this offer was withdrawn after
objections from the victim's family. The mother of the victim is a state senator.
Duncan McKenzie was tried under Montana's 1973 death penalty laws which
contained no listing of mitigating circumstances for prisoners facing capital
punishment. These laws were repealed in 1977. Duncan McKenzie is the only person
currently sentenced to death under the old laws.
At the trial, testimony from psychiatrists on behalf of both the State and
the defence presented clear evidence of Duncan McKenzie's mental illness. In
his sentencing order, the judge made no comment on the mitigating effect of
mental illness.
In a recent ruling the Supreme Court of Montana refused to hear an appeal
from Duncan McKenzie. The appeal was based on the State of Montana's refusal
to allow the change in its death penalty laws to be applied in McKenzie's
case. In an unusual move, the Court gave no reason for its ruling. The Court's
decisions in McKenzie's case have been criticised by former Justice Dan Shea
in his dissenting opinion, "The McKenzie Rules: Not for General
Application--Apply Sparingly."
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Duncan McKenzie would be the first person to be executed in Montana in over
50 years. The last prisoner to be executed in Montana was Philip "Slim" Coleman
on 10 September 1943. As of January 1995, Montana had 8 prisoners under sentence
of death. Prisoners are offered a choice of hanging or lethal injection as
the method of execution.
The power to grant commutation of a death sentence rests with the state governor.
The governor needs the approval of, but is not bound by, the majority opinion
of the three-member Board of Pardons. The Board of Pardons is appointed by
the governor.
2
According to Montana's clemency laws, the governor can also grant a reprieve
"for such time as he thinks proper."
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing deep concern that Duncan McKenzie is scheduled to be executed
on 10 May 1995; at the same time expressing concern and sympathy for the victims
of violent crime and their families;
- urging the Board of Pardons to recommend to Governor Racicot that he grant
clemency to Duncan McKenzie by commuting his death sentence;
- expressing concern that the trial-judge may not have taken Duncan McKenzie's
mental illness into account as a mitigating factor when passing a sentence
of death;
- pointing out that under Montana's current death penalty laws Duncan McKenzie
may not have been sentenced to death;
- stating that for Montana to have its first execution after more than half
a century would be a retrograde step which goes against the international trend
away from the use of the death penalty;
- expressing your opposition to the death penalty in all cases.
APPEALS TO
The Board of Pardons
300 Marilyn Avenue
Deer Lodge, MT 59722
USA
Fax: +1 406 846 3512
Telephone: +1 406 846 1404
Salutation: Dear Board Member
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Governor Marc Racicot
P.O. Box 200801
Hellena, MT 59620-0801
USA
Fax: +1 406 444 5529
Telephone: +1 406 444 3111
Salutation: Dear Governor
The Letters Editor
The Great Falls Tribune
Box 5468
Great Falls, MT 59404
USA
Fax: +1 406 791 1431
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

استعرض التقرير بـ English