ANNAPOLIS – Tyrone Delano Gilliam’s execution by lethal injection Monday night was the culmination of a 10-year process that included more than a dozen requests for reviews by state and federal appellate courts and a petition to the governor.
Chairmen of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegate committees that deal with court matters agree the appeals process needs to be speeded up.
“It is cruel and unusual for these cases to stay around for eight or nine years,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D-Prince George’s.
“And it is cruel to the victims’ families for those charged with these types of offenses to wait so long for closure,” Vallario said.
Cathy Knepper, Maryland Amnesty International coordinator on the death penalty, disagrees. “Because at the root, there is unconscious racism, these defendants need a long process so they have the chance to be heard by a lot of different judges,” she said.
Knepper added that, following Gilliam’s execution, 11 of the 14 inmates on Maryland’s death row are black. Gilliam also was black.
Here are highlights of Gilliam’s road through the legal system, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services:
* June 1989: Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John Fader III convicted him of kidnapping, robbing and murdering Christine Doerfler, 21.
* October 1989: Fader sentenced Gilliam to death.
* September 1990: Maryland’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, affirmed the conviction and sentence.
* February 1991: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the case.
* September 1992 – January 1994: Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John Grason Turnbull refused to overturn the death sentence, as did the Maryland Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused a second time to consider the case.
* February and March 1994: Gilliam’s second lawyer, Jerome H. Nickerson Jr., filed requests to hold a hearing because he claimed Gilliam’s first lawyer provided an inadequate defense. The Baltimore County Circuit Court refused.
* January 1998: The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond denied Gilliam the right to another hearing.
* October 1998: The U.S. Supreme Court refused for a third time to hear Gilliam’s case.
* Nov. 6: Turnbull refused to hold a hearing on the sentence, and the same day, the Maryland Court of Appeals also refused to grant a hearing.
* Nov. 16: Gov. Parris N. Glendening turned down Gilliam’s request for life in prison without parole. * Nov. 16: The U.S. Supreme Court, for a fourth time, refused to consider Gilliam’s case. -30-