Mikal Mahdi– black, age 22

Sentenced to death in Calhoun County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: July 2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Mahdi was convicted of shooting an off-duty police officer nine times, then setting his body on fire.  He pleaded guilty to the crime after prison guards found a homemade handcuff key in his pocket.  Defense counsel’s main argument was Mahdi could not have known James Myers was a police officer when he committed the murder.  A week before this crime, Mahdi had killed a store clerk in a robbery, ending up on Myers’s farm.  Myers was killed in a shed on his property when he discovered Mahdi hiding out there.  Mahdi then fled in his unmarked police car and led police on a three-day chase
Prosecutor(s): David Pascoe Defense lawyer(s):
Sources:  Richmond Times Dispatch 12/5/06 (2006 WLNR 21193395), 12/10/06 (2006 WLNR 21793576); Associated Press 12/9/06 (Westlaw); Augusta Chronicle 12/10/06 (2006 WLNR 22825477)

Kevin Jermaine Mercer – black, age 25

Sentenced to death in Lexington County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 5/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Mercer carjacked Tracy Davis, shooting the victim in the head to obtain a Lincoln Navigator in order to drive to a party in Atlanta.  Mercer had a long criminal record, and had attacked another inmate with a shank in 2004.  Mercer claimed the other passenger found with him in the vehicle was the killer.
Prosecutor(s):  Rick Hubbard, Donnie Myers Defense Lawyer(s):  Cam Littlejohn
Sources:  Columbia State 4/20/06 (2006 WLNR 6579361), 4/23/06 (2006 WLNR 6768416).

Freddie Owens – black, age 19 (re-sentence after prior conviction overturned)

Sentenced to death in Greenville County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: Nov. 1, 1997
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Owens had twice been convicted of killing a store clerk and received a death sentence at both trials.  A new sentencing trial was granted in 2001, because the trial judge did not give defense attorneys time to prepare a response to the evidence presented in the sentencing phase.  The sentencing was again overturned in 2003 due judge’s error.  After being found guilty for the crime in 1999, Owens returned to his holding cell and beat a fellow inmate to death.  The defense relied primarily on mental disorders.
Prosecutor(s): Bob Ariail, Betty Strom Defense lawyer(s): Bill Godfrey, Ken Gibson
Sources: Charlotte Observer 3/6/99 (1999 WLNR 2092852); August Chronicle 3/6/99 (1999 WLNR 1086284); Greenville News 11/10/06 (LexisNexis), 11/11/06 (LexisNexis), 11/12/06 (LexisNexis), 11/14/06 (LexisNexis), 11/18/06 (LexisNexis); Augusta Chronicle 11/13/06 (LexisNexis); State v. Owens, 362 S.C. 175, 607 S.E.2d 78 (Westlaw 2004); State v. Owens, 346 S.C. 637, 552 S.E.2d 745 (Westlaw 2001)

Stephen Stanko– white, age 36

Sentenced to death in Georgetown County, South Carolina
By: A judge, after a recommendation of death by a jury
Date of crime: April 8, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Stanko killed Laura Ling, his live-in girlfriend, by slitting her throat.  He then sexually assaulted a teenage girl in his home.  Stanko was on probation at the time of the murder for a previous attack on a woman.  Defense argued that Stanko had brain injuries, therefore did not possess the ability to tell right from wrong.  Brain scans were even introduced into evidence to prove the brain damage.  Stanko is also awaiting trial for the murder of Henry Turner, whose body was found the day after Ling was killed.
Prosecutor(s): Greg Hembree, Fran Humphries Defense lawyer(s): Bill Diggs
Sources: Myrtle Beach Sun News 8/19/06, 8/27/06, 10/5/06; Augusta Choronicle 8/22/06

Anthony Woods – black, age 39

Sentenced to death in Clarendon County, South Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: June 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Woods was convicted of raping and strangling schoolteacher JoAnn DuBose.  A previous trial had ended in a mistrial.  Defense attorneys claimed Woods’ schizophrenic mother left him emotionally scarred.  Evidence of Woods being hit by a car as a teenager was also presented.  At the time of the conviction, Woods was already serving two life sentences for other crimes.
Prosecutor(s): Dudley Saleeby, Kelly Jackson Defense lawyer(s): Rick Hoefer
Sources: Associated Press 12/8/06 (Westlaw), 12/9/06 (Westlaw); Myrtle Beach Sun News 12/11/06 (2006 WLNR 21334488)