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EXTRA 62/92 - USA (Virginia): death penalty: Edward Fitzgerald

, Index number: AMR 51/087/1992

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/87/92
Distr: UA/SC
EXTRA 62/92 Death Penalty 9 July 1992
USA: (Virginia) Edward FITZGERALD
Edward Fitzgerald is scheduled to be executed in Virginia on 23 July 1992.
Edward Fitzgerald, white, was sentenced to death in July 1981 for the rape
and murder of Patricia Cubbage, white, in November 1980. Fitzgerald was under
the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the crime. He was convicted
largely on the testimony of a co-defendant who received a term of 40 years'
imprisonment in exchange for his testimony. A jail inmate also testified that
Fitzgerald had confessed the crime to him.
Capital defendants in Virginia have experienced difficulty in obtaining lawyers
to represent them on appeal. Until recently, Virginia had no pool of experienced
criminal defence lawyers available to take on capital appeals. Edward Fitzgerald
was unrepresented by counsel until the beginning of July 1992: just three weeks
before his execution date.
The authority to grant executive clemency lies with Governor Douglas Wilder.
Since taking office in January 1990, Wilder has intervened to commute the death
sentences of two inmates: Joseph Giarratano in February 1991, and Herbert
Bassette in January 1992. However, he allowed the executions of six inmates
to proceed as scheduled, including the execution of Roger Coleman on 20 May
1992 in whose case there were grave lingering doubts about his guilt.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
As of April 1992 there were 47 prisoners under sentence of death in Virginia.
Fourteen prisoners have been executed in the state since 1982, the most recent
being Roger Coleman on 20 May 1992. The method of execution is electrocution.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases 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.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters:
- urging Governor Wilder to grant clemency to Edward Fitzgerald by commuting
his death sentence;
- expressing concern that Edward Fitzgerald was unrepresentetd by a lawyer
until the beginning of July 1992; urging that, as a minimum measure of justice,
he should be granted a stay of execution to allow his newly appointed lawyers
sufficient time to investigate his case;
- urging the state of Virginia to take a lead in the USA in according human
rights their rightful priority by abolishing the death penalty.
Page 2 on EXTRA 62/92
APPEALS TO:
The Honourable L Douglas Wilder
Governor of Virginia
State Capitol
Richmond, VA 23219, USA
Telegrams: Governor Wilder, Richmond, VA 23219
Telephone: +1 804 786 2211
Faxes: +1 804 786 3985
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
The Letters Editor
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
333 East Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23219, USA
Fax: +1 804 775 8019
or the Richmond News Leader, at the same address and fax number;
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY, TO ARRIVE BY 22 JULY 1992.

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