Richard Boxley—black, age 29 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Berks County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 6/11/00
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Boxley and cohorts Tito Black and Wilson Menendez ambushed Jason Bolton on a city street in Reading, killing him with a gunshot wound to the chest. Boxley boasted of the killing afterward. Boxley defended on the basis that Black and Menendez had killed Bolton. The death sentence was reversed on appeal for failure to permit sufficient individual voir dire of prospective jurors. Boxley was re-sentenced to death. (At the original sentencing, the judge said: “I wish I had the authority of a sentencing judge in [Old West] times. I would have the circle rebuilt at Fifth and Penn streets, not just to have a place for Christmas tree, but as an excellent place to construct a gallows for your speedy and public hanging. Perhaps then the gun-toting, drug-dealing scum that has moved in to take your place will get the point.”)
Prosecutor(s): unknown
Defense lawyer(s): unknown
Sources: Commonwealth v. Boxley, 838 A.2d 608 (Pa. 2003); Patriot-News (Harrisburg) 10/29/00 (2000 WL 9366916)

Junious Diggs—black, age 26

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 3/16/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Diggs went to the apartment of Marilyn J. Bryant. She had instructed her children not to let him in. When he arrived, Bryant’s daughter, who was sitting outside, told him not to enter, but he did so. The daughter followed him in and saw him begin arguing with her mother. The daughter then saw Diggs shoot her mother multiple times in the face and body, with several of the shots inflicted as she was lying on the floor. Throughout the proceedings Diggs denied that he had committed the murder despite the eyewitness testimony of the daughter and another person who saw him enter the apartment. He twice declined plea offers that would have avoided a death sentence. In mitigation the defense presented evidence of his horrific childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Debra Watson-Stokes
Defense lawyer(s): Daniel Connor
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer 3/18/02; Telephone call 9/28/04 with Defense Counsel Conner and on 9/27/04 with his office manager Susan Mills Tarrington.

Mark Duane Edwards, Jr. – black, age 19

Sentenced to death in Fayette County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/14/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Edwards killed a family and then set their home on fire to try to cover up the murders. Edwards shot Larry Bobish Sr., his wife, Joanna, and their pregnant daughter, Krystal over stolen drugs. Larry Sr., started selling drugs to support Joanna and Krystal’s drug habit. Edwards admitted to stealing drugs from Larry, but claimed he was asleep at his grandmother’s house at the time of the murders. Edwards also shot 12-year-old, Larry Bobish Jr. in the head. Larry Jr., survived and testified that Edwards was the killer. During sentencing, the defense argued that Edwards was borderline mentally retarded and was addicted to drugs at the time of the murders.
Prosecutor(s): Nancy Vernon
Defense lawyer(s): Susan Ritz Harper, Dianne Zerega
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5/6/04, 5/8/04, 5/18/04; Pennsylvania Department of Corrections:

Christopher Kennedy—black, age 21

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/19/03
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Kennedy and three cohorts (who were sentenced to life in prison for this crime) robbed a pharmacy. Kennedy shot the manager, Michael Richardson, in the leg to “soften him up,” then dragged him to the store safe. Richardson opened the safe while pleading for his life. Kennedy then shot him once in the head. Kennedy testified at trial and admitted shooting Richardson in the leg, but denied shooting him in the head and said he did not know who did. At the penalty phase the defense presented evidence that Kennedy was beaten as a child, and lived in foster homes after age 8.
Prosecutor(s): Michael Fisher, Tom Malone
Defense lawyer(s): Gary Server
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer 8/3/04; Philadelphia Daily News 8/3/04

Ernest Wholaver—white, age 42

Sentenced to death in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 12/24/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Wholaver was estranged from his wife Jean, and she had a protective order against him. His two daughters (Victoria, age 20, and Elizabeth, age 15) had accused him of sexually abusing them for many years, and were within weeks of the trial where they would testify against him. Wholaver had his brother drive him to his wife’s house (his brother pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree murder for his role in the crime, and testified against Ernest). Ernest burglarized the home, shooting and killing Jean, Victoria, and Elizabeth. He killed Victoria while she was holding her infant daughter. The police found the infant alive by her mother’s body the next day. Wholaver was also convicted of attempting to hire a hit man from jail to kill Victoria’s ex-boyfriend and frame him for the crime by leaving a suicide note confessing to the crime. In defense, Wholaver denied committing the murders. The defense attempted to point the finger at Victoria’s ex-boyfriend, and claimed that Wholaver had attempted to have him killed because Wholaver believed the ex-boyfriend had killed the three victims.
Prosecutor(s): Francis T. Chardo
Defense lawyer(s): Spero T. Lappas
Sources: Bucks County Courier Times (PA) 8/22/04; Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) 9/1/04, Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA) 8/31/04, 9/1/04