Death penalty ‘patently unfair’

Former death row inmates tell their stories in Sandusky appearance
Tom Jackson
Oct 24, 2013


Delbert Tibbs is a tall, lanky black man, about 6-foot-3.

In 1974, when the Chicago native decided to see the country and hitchhike across the country, he wore his hair cut short.

Somehow, Tibbs was convicted of murder and rape in connection with a case in Florida — even though the killer was described as a 5-foot-6 man with a large Afro. He spent time on Florida’s death row before being exonerated.

An audience of several dozen people crowded into a meeting room at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Sandusky to hear Tibbs’ story Tuesday night, and the stories of two other former inmates who faced execution, Joe D’Ambrosio and Damon Thibodeaux.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo sponsored the “One.for.Ten Tour” program on the death penalty, which stopped in several northern Ohio locations this week.

One.for.Ten is a series of short films, available on YouTube and elsewhere online. Filmmaker Will Francome served as the moderator, screening the films about the three former prisoners, who spoke after each film.

After Tibbs’ film, he got up and denounced the death penalty.

“I make no bones about it — I’m an abolitionist,” he said. “It is patently unfair. Everybody who commits a murder does not get the death penalty.”

“There have been no millionaires on death row that I know about,” said Tibbs, who said anyone convicted of killing a white person in Florida is 11 times more likely to get the death penalty than someone who kills anyone else.

D’Ambrosio was freed from Ohio’s prison system after spending more than 20 years on death row. A judge ruled that prosecutors withheld evidence that could have helped him win acquittal.

D’Ambrosio told the audience he had no criminal record and had served in the Army, rising to the rank of sergeant, before entering civilian life.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to you,” he said.

Thibodeaux confessed to the murder of a teen girl, but was freed from prison after DNA evidence exonerated him.

He explained that after going 36 hours without sleep, he could not take it any longer after being questioned for hours. He told the detectives what they wanted to hear so they would leave him alone.

“I used to be one of those people who believed nobody would ever confess to something they didn’t do,” he said.

Thibodeaux described prison life as “hell on earth.”

“I missed sitting on my couch, just because I can,” he said. “A real bed and a pillow — we didn’t have those things.”

The trio urged members of the audience to work to abolish the death penalty.

“They’re killing in your name, because you allow it,” D’Ambrosio said.



I wish I could of heard there stories. That's why I'm not like others one here who think they know so much I don't just jump to convict.

thinkagain's picture

Abolish the death penalty now!

"Tibbs waived extradition to Florida, where he was indicted even though he did not match the original description the female victim had provided and he had a solid alibi. At trial, in addition to the young woman’s dubious testimony, the prosecution sponsored the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed Tibbs had admitted the crime. An all-white jury convicted Tibbs of both the murder and rape, the victims of which were white."

"After the trial, the jailhouse informant acknowledged that he had fabricated his testimony against Tibbs in the hope of receiving leniency in his own case, a rape for which he was facing a life sentence."
"In 2010, the District Court barred D’Ambrosio’s re-prosecution because of the prosecutors’ misconduct."

"For 20 years, the State held D’Ambrosio on death row, despite wrongfully withholding evidence that ‘would have substantially increased a reasonable juror’s doubt of D’Ambrosio’s guilt.’ Despite being ordered to do so by this Court … the State still failed to turn over all relevant and material evidence relating to the crime of which D’Ambrosio was convicted. Then, once it was ordered to provide D’Ambrosio a constitutional trial or release him within 180 days, the State did neither."
"He says the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office tried to kill him by withholding 10 pieces of evidence at his trial, evidence that could have led to a not-guilty verdict."

"D'Ambrosio is angry at the prosecutors who withheld information, who called him a liar on the stand."
"Finally, the prosecution consulted a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Michael M. Welner, who concluded that Thibodeaux’s confession had been the result of police pressure, exhaustion, psychological vulnerability, and fear of the death penalty."

The question is how many innocent people were executed (murdered) because of corrupt prosecutors and corrupt police?


I can say that in cases of these guys and I'm sure in others like them that I'm glad that they were able to be freed before their sentence was carried out but I'm sorry I do still believe in the death penalty in cases of assured and clear guilt. People should have to pay for the crimes they've committed.

Good 2 B Me

An eye for an eye. Killing another human being is brutal. Don't cry for mercy once the crime has been done.


No 1 wants to see innocent people destroyed. DNA testing is great. Most people do want Manson & other trash dead. Most do want violent repeat offenders dead.


I remain in favor of the death penalty, but ONLY when there's 100% certainty. The fact that these men were exonerated only has a relatively happy ending if they're still alive to be released! That doesn't, however, take away from the fact that some crimes WARRANT death. And if we're positive somebody did that kind of thing (mass murder, for example, or torture before killing), then we're best rid of them.

I'd note that, in these specific cases, it wasn't a jury that caused the problem per se. It was, instead, malfeasance by prosecutors. In my opinion, THAT ought to be punishable as well!


Be careful of what you ask for!!!


Be careful of what you ask for!!!

Truth or Dare

theguardian - Monday - May 21, 2012 by David A. Love: "How America's death penalty murders innocents". Just a bit from this;

"The U.S. criminal justice system produces wrongful convictions on an industrial scale-with fatal results.

The leading causes of wrongful convictions included perjury, flawed eye witness identification and prosecutorial misconduct....The U.S. ranked 5th. in the world of executions, with China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq leading........Due to an embargo, the U.S. is faced with a shortage of poison to execute prisoners. Ohio has had to abandon it's 3-drug cocktail and decided upon pentobarbital. It's used to euthanize animals........It is now transparent to the public that, at best, the application of the death penalty is rife with human error and incompetence. At worst, we know there is prosecutorial misconduct that the courts shelter and nurture officials who are rewarded for gaming the system by career advancement, rather than determining true guilt or innocence and ensuring that justice is done."

Based upon the evidence provided and witness statements, I would guess the jurors that heard these cases were pretty sure they were making the right choice? Don't know about anyone else here, but the way I see it, anyone, especially a prosecutor that would be willing to do such things, let alone those that would allow it, are guilty of murder themselves! P.S. Not sure about anyone else, but it doesn't make me ooze with pride to know we're right behind countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. That speaks volumes to me!


This is the only reason I am not a big fan of the death penalty. A prosecutor would rather see you put to death than admit h/she convicted an innocent person. It is wise to let a judge hear your case instead of a jury if you are really innocent. Let's face it, those 12 jurors probably know very little about the law and that crash course they get at the end of the trial just doesn't cut it. Most jurors don't want to be there nor can they afford to be there so it's easier to just say "guilty" and get back to your own life. Sometimes, they get it right but SOMETIMES they get it wrong!


Deer if I was on trial I'd rather have a jury. Another valid reason why to vote. Jury duty is a civic responsibility. I was in the jury pool. My friend made a difference. You are right though about the legal system. those in it imo have disdain for everyday people. And yes DNA testing exonerated some in Ohio & Texas.


The Death Penalty: Justice and Saving Innocent Lives
Dudley Sharp

The death penalty has a foundation in justice and it spares more innocent lives.

The majority populations of all countries, likely, support the death penalty for some crimes (1).

Why? Justice.

Anti death penalty arguments are either false or the pro death penalty arguments are stronger.


The 140 Innocents Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

A review of the debate
99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

Saving Costs with The Death Penalty


"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

"Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"


Immanuel Kant: "If an offender has committed murder, he must die. In this case, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is no parallel between death and even the most miserable life, so that there is no equality of crime and retribution unless the perpetrator is judicially put to death.". "A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral."

Pope Pius XII; "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

John Murray: "Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life." "... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty." "It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit." (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).

John Locke: "A criminal who, having renounced reason... hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tyger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security." And upon this is grounded the great law of Nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Second Treatise of Civil Government.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgments are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State." (The Social Contract).

Saint (& Pope) Pius V: "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

3200 additional pro death penalty quotes

1) US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Much more, upon request.


How can anyone defend a system that makes a mistake 10% of the time? Further, how do we know that there are not many more wrongful convictions?

The fact is, if one has a death penalty case, there will be exceptional lawyers willing to fight to the highest levels to prevent the execution. However, if you are facing life or some long prison sentence, your appeal rights and the quality of legal representation is dismal. So if we have a 10% error rate in death penalty cases (and its probably higher); the odds are the error rate is much higher in other cases.

Again, name one industry that the public would tolerate a 10% error rate that endangered lives. Would you tolerate 10% of the food you buy being tainted? How about a 10% risk of maiming due to a product defect every time you drove your car?

The civilized world views the US criminal system as barbaric and primitive. The US justice system is a legal fiction.