You may want to meet Cory Maye now, because you may not get a change to later. Unlike that asshat murdering punk Li'l Tookie, Maye's death sentence seems very ripe for more and wider review, if not outright overturning. Radley Balko has done all the heavy lifting here:
Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect (and the police were in the wrong residence! -OctaneBoy). The man, frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.
The story gets more bizarre from there.
Death row clemency has everything to do with the circumstances of the original crimes, not what the convicted uses to pass the time in the jug. All the fabulous people who are feeding at the Big Media Teat that is the Stanley Williams case should all be grossly ashamed of themselves for taking an ignorant pass on Cory Maye. When you have read the above series of events, consider Mississippi's capital murder law:
The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases: (a) Murder which is perpetrated by killing a peace officer or fireman while such officer or fireman is acting in his official capacity or by reason of an act performed in his official capacity, and with knowledge that the victim was a peace officer or fireman . . .
Here's more from Radley Balko on this, which fleshes this case out further, and, no, you are not too busy to read it all.
UPDATE: A unexpected bolt from Syl Jones' blue:
It is fashionable to decry the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment, as barbaric and even medieval. This is part of modern society's unfortunate propensity to delay or completely obliterate the laws of natural consequences. Endless pleadings -- sickness, extenuating circumstances, born under a bad sign and the devil made me do it -- benefit lawyers and civil libertarians in search of new causes. It makes suckers of the rest of us. Where is Ramsey Clark when you really need him? In Iraq defending another "innocent" named Saddam Hussein, or surely he'd be in Sacramento pleading for Tookie.
Those who claim to be interested in justice and mercy while doing all they can to glorify people like Williams need to understand what this man represents: He is still a certified street hero to many young people in California because he demanded "respect" by killing others. His celebrity status will skyrocket if his sentence is commuted, and the young people who look up to him now will be forever bragging about how he successfully gamed the system.
The impulse to show mercy in response to true repentance can be a healing agent. But misguided compassion creates moral confusion that might make some of us feel better while ultimately lowering the community standard for acceptable behavior. Sometimes bad people do good things, too. But good works done by evil people always reek of self-interest and cynicism.