Wednesday was to be the execution of Philadelphia Police Officer Charles “Chuck” Cassidy’s killer.
But working within the appeal process in the state of Pennsylvania, Lewis M. Jordan may not step into the lethal injection chair for a while, if ever.
Eventhough Gov. Tom Corbett signed Jordan’s death warrant on April 28, his execution was delayed by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart on May 2.
Joshua Maus, press secretery in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel, said “An inmate sentenced to the death penalty has the right to exhaust all claims and all appeals.
“And their access to an appeal depends on the circumstances of the cases,” Maus added. “And. … every case is different. It’s not a cookie cutter deal. An appeal can take five to 10 years and sometimes longer. And there’s nothing the governor can do to expedite the legal process. This is pursuant to Pennsylvania law. And the governor does not take the duty of signing execution warrants lightly.”
The last three executions in the state of Pennsylvania were all volunteers who forfeited their rights to continue their appeal process.
Serial murderer Gary Heidnik, who was put to death in 1999, was the last person executed in the state.
“And pretty much the two in 1995 also, as is my understanding, is that people have considered them to be volunteers,” according to Susan McNaughton, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections.
Jordan shot and killed Cassidy in a Dunkin Donuts on Halloween 2007. He was convicted in 2009.
Some have screamed for the courts to remove Jordan’s access to an appeals process.
He killed a police officer.
“The death penalty is a highly complex and it’s an emotionally charged issue,” Maus said. “There are opponents and advocates on both sides and they are incredibly vocal.”
Maus added: “It’s Pennsylvania law. (Corbett) is statutorily guided in how any governor would handle dealing with these cases.”
Once a death penalty is rendered, or an appeal has been taken and then denied, the governor is forced, by law, to issue a death warrant within three months, Maus said. And then that warrant must be dated within the next 60 days after it is issued.
Corbett has signed 31 death warrants since taking office.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby said “Unfortunately that was expected.”
“It’s gonna be delay after delay,” he said. “We saw what we’ve gone through with people like Wesley Cook — I’m not going to even talk about his regular name and what he calls himself — but that’s expected, and when was the last time you saw anyone executed in the state of Pennsylvania? We’re there to support Judy (Cassidy) and the family, and hopefully one day this will come to fruition, but they expect long appeals and years and years of waiting, so their up for this fight and they have 7,000 family members standing with them.”
Philadelphia Police Lt. John Stanford released to Metro this statement on behalf of the police department:
“I don’t know all of the circumstances surrounding the decision, but we expect the criminal justice system to do its part and hold this male accountable for his cowardice actions. Lewis Jordan took the life of a man, a husband, a father, a Philadelphia Police Officer, and he should be held accountable for that heinous crime.”
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