Friday, May 04, 2007

A Temporary Stay For Workman

It's not the best news we could have hoped for, but I'll take it.

A judge has issued a restraining order against Governor Bredesen, forbidding the execution of Philip Workman until after a hearing on May 14.

WPTY has the restraining order here.


LeftWingCracker said...

Props to you and Miss Cobb for all you do...

nut-meg said...

It's really scary that this guy could be executed on such flimsy, WAY beyond reasonable doubt evidence.

Anonymous said...

Even if Workman did not fire the fatal shot he would still be guilty of felony murder and subject to the death penalty -- because he committed a robbery that ultimately led to Oliver's death.

Had he not robbed that Wendy's to feed his drug habit Ronald Oliver would most likely have retired from the MPD.

While I would prefer Workman spend the rest of his life in prison I do not feel sorry for him as his actions took the life of another man - directly or indirectly - and he should pay.

Freedonian said...

If that was true, there would be no need for the mountain of BS connected to this case.

Felony murder applies only to actions carried out by the defendant or an accomplice. Had an accomplice of his fired the fatal bullet, felony murder applies. Otherwise, it does not.

If felony murder was applicable in thie case, there would have been no need to pretend that it wasn't one of the other policemen that fired the fatal shot. There would have been no need to defy common sense by pretending that the exit wound is really an entrance wound that defies physics. There would have been no need for the other police on the scene to pretend they never fired.

If you've read the felony murder laws, then you need to read them again.

Now, the things he actually did--- He DID rob a Wendy's, and he DID shoot another policeman in the arm, although there's some doubt as to whether that shot was fired intentionally--- He's served 26 years for them. How long does a defendant usually serve if he's convicted of those crimes? A far sight less than 26 years, I daresay.

But that's not even what we're asking. The State of Tennessee is hellbent on sending a man to his death for killing a man when no one can tie his gun to the kill, and no reliable eyewitness can put him as the shooter.

I'm not asking anyone to release him, although that might well be the liogical conclusion if the truth comes out--- I'm saying that killing a man when this much is uncertain is wrong on every level.

Clemency is not absolution.

Sharon Cobb said...

Bad news. The execution is back on for Wed at 1am.

Andrew said...

I am horrified, disgusted, and deeply saddened. The citizens of Tennessee will have to live with the knowledge that they killed an innocent man for the rest of their lives.

Andrew said...

I do want to thank you, Freedonian, for all you have done about this case. You are a brilliant writer who has an apparent knack for capturing the complete insanity which brings us to tragic moments like these.

Anonymous said...

Workman's actions - robbing a Wendy's - led to the death of Oliver. He is not "innocent" nor is this a "tragedy".

Workman was convicted of the felony murder of Lt. Ronald Oliver of the Memphis Police Department in connection with a robbery of a Wendy's restaurant. During sentencing, he presented no evidence of mitigating circumstances. The jury recommended a sentence of death, finding five statutory aggravating circumstances:

a) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to two (2) or more persons, other than the victim murdered, during the act of murder, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-2-203(i)(3);

b) The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrestor prosecution of the defendant or another, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-2-203(i)(6);

c) The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in committing, or was an accomplice in the commission of, or was attempting to commit, or was fleeing after committing or attempting to commit, the offense of robbery, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-2-203(i)(7);

d) The murder was committed by the defendant while in lawful custody or in a place of lawful confinement or during the defendant's escape from lawful custody or from a lawful place of confinement, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-2- 203(i)(8); and

e) The murder was committed against any law enforcement officer, corrections official, corrections employee or firefighter, who was engaged in the performance of official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that such victim was a law enforcement officer, corrections official, corrections employee or firefighter engaged in the performance of official duties, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-2-203(i)(9).

The jury decided the sentence for Workman years ago and it is time for it to be carried out. Period.

nut-meg said...

If you were really so confident that kiling this guy was a great idea, you wouldn't be hiding behind "Anonmous".

Whether or not Workman deserves life in prison is debatable. But he quite obviously does not deserve the death penalty.

It's not a matter of "feeling sorry" for him. It's a matter of what is right and what is wrong. State sponsored murder is wrong.

Freedonian said...

Your arguments all pre-suppose that he fired the fatal shot, which subsequent evidence has not only cast reasonable doubt on, but left most scratching their heads, asking "What the hell were they thinking?" No ballistics. No X-rays of the victim to prove this magic bullet theory to explain why this is the one shot in 10 billion that makes an entrance wound larger than an exit. And the only eyewitness that claimed to have seen Workman fire the fatal shot is one that not even police could accurately place at the scene of the crime. A witness who WAS verifiably on the scene saw the other policeman firing his gun, and no one ever bothered to check the guns of the other two officers to see if they were fired.

Aggravating circumstances are worthless when you cannot establish a reasonable case that the underlying crime was committed.

Let's call this case what it really was. Whenever a law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty, the community is outraged. The facts of this case were stretched to suit the law. Lt. Oliver's death was a tragic accident, but not even the felony murder laws of this state can stretch far enough to make Workman liable for a policeman's errant shot.

Freedonian said...


I wanted to thank you for the kind words and for the encouragement. Seeing your comments made my morning.

I was also very please to see that someone has made two of my posts a reference on the Philip Workman Wikipedia page. Whoever did that--- Thank you, it's an honor.

Anonymous said...

If Workman had not been robbing Wendy's there would not have been any "errant shot" and that is why I have no problem with his sentence being carried out. His actions led to the death of a man -police officer or not.

What difference does it make,"nut-meg" for me to use "anonymous". Would you know me from Adam's Housecat if I used my real name or some other moniker? Not very likely. I guess I could use some made-up name and post a silly photo next to it but what would be the point? It does not change my opinion of Workman or his pending execution.

Freedonian said...

If Workman had not been robbing Wendy's there would not have been any "errant shot" and that is why I have no problem with his sentence being carried out. His actions led to the death of a man -police officer or not.

Felony murder is applicable if an accomplice of his commits the murder. Period. If the law said what you apparently want it to say, then the state would have nothing to lose by acknowledging what really happened that night. Instead, they presented no ballistics evidence in the original trial and based their case around the eyewitness testimony of a man they can't even prove was at the scene. And they still cannot remain consistent on whether or not an x-ray of Oliver was ever taken.

Now you have to ask yourself why. If the law reads as you insist it does, then what is to be gained by acknowledging the truth?

Anonymous said...

The felony murder rule is a legal doctrine current in some common law countries that broadens the crime of murder in two ways.

First, when a victim dies accidentally or without specific intent in the course of an applicable felony, it increases what might have been manslaughter (or even a simple tort) to murder. Second, it makes any participant in such a felony criminally responsible for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony. While there is some debate about the original scope of the rule, modern interpretations typically require that the felony be an obviously dangerous one, or one committed in an obviously dangerous manner. For this reason, the felony murder rule is often justified as a means of deterring dangerous felonies.

Freedonian said...

But modern interpretations have also held that the death occur because of the direct actions of the defendant or an accomplice. Not indirect.

If Officer Parker fired the fatal shot, and I am far from alone in believing that he did (A friend of mine graduated the U of M with a lw enforcement degree last year, and the law enforcement professionals that trained him regard this case as a friendly shoot and misapplictaion of felony murder as well), then felony murder does not apply.

If it did, they would concede what really happened and put this thing to bed. Instead, they have insisted that the laws of physics did not apply on August 5, 1982.

That's not to say that no state has ever tried to stretch the laws to ridiculous levels. Arkansas had a recent case where a guy mugged an old lady at Wal-Mart and tried to run. As another policeman raced across town (And I do mean across town; I'm familiar enough with the city to know it was about a mile and a half away), he plowed into a car driven by a teenaged girl (The officer was not at fault in the accident).

The state of Arkansas is talking about trying the defendant for first degree murder in her death. It's a gross misapplication of law, but it varies from this case only in degree, not substance.

nut-meg said...

My identity is no secret. Anonymous cowards always use the same argument you do here. Guess what? You are still a coward. I have no patience for anon. Nothing you say can be credible if you are too afraid to own it.

Hiding behind anonymous and justifying murder is not admirable. Even if one does believe state sponsored murder is OK, this case has way more than reasonable doubt tied to it.

I think killing just makes some people feel better about themselves. Execution is nothing but vengance. It is not a deterrent. It is not justice. It is an irreversable solution for a justice system that is deeply flawed.

So if you are so excited about killing a man, just own it. Be honest. Say what it is, and that is blind vengance.