Laquanta Chapman — black, age 29

Sentenced to death in Chester County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: October 30, 2008
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Chapman forced Aaron Turner (age 16) into the basement of a Coatesville home, stripped him, shot him and then dismembered the body, leaving the remains along the road in trash bags for pickup. Turner’s remains were never found. Police raided Chapman’s home and found items containing blood and DNA evidence that linked him to the murder. Chapman was ultimately convicted of conspiracy, abuse of a corpse, multiple drug and weapons violations, and cruelty to animals due to prosecutors believing that after dismembering the body, Chapman shot a pit bull he owned and cut up the dog’s body in an effort to disguise the murder.
Sources: News Journal (DE) 11/10/12 (2012 WLNR 24030904), Daily Local News (PA) 11/10/12 AP Alert – PA 19:35:23, 11/15/12 AP Alert – PA 11:12:25.

George Hitcho, Jr. — white, age 45

Sentenced to death in North Hampton County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: August 11, 2011
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hitcho was convicted of the murder of police Officer Robert Lasso (age 31), who was shot while responding to a disturbance call at Hitcho’s home. Defense attorneys argued Hitcho’s mental abilities have been impaired over the years due to multiple head traumas and that he reacted out of fear and anger, not malicious intent. Hitcho claimed the officer was trespassing.
Sources: 5/24/12 AP Alert – PA 20:46:04, 8/9/12 AP Alert – PA 23:27:32, 12/19/12 AP Alert – PA 22:41:40.

Christopher Johnson — white, age 27

Sentenced to death in Adams County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: November 11, 2010
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Johnson and Ryan Laumannn (age 19) poached a deer at night when pulled over by wildlife conservation officer David Grove (age 31), who was shot after Johnson vowed to never return to prison. In 2002, Johnson was convicted of two separate instances of burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary in a third. He was sentenced to prison because of a violation of his probation. Additionally, Johnson pleaded guilty to fleeing or attempting to elude police and endangering the welfare of a child in 2005 in order to have his other charges dismissed, which included speeding, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving.
Sources: 10/2/12 AP Alert – PA 22:18:48, Evening Sun (PA) 10/4/12 (2012 WLNR 21101762), Evening Sun (PA) 10/7/12 (2012 WLNR 21314767).

Melvin Knight — black, age 20

Sentenced to death in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: February 11, 2010
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Knight was convicted of the torture and murder of Jennifer Daugherty (age 30), a mentally disabled woman. Knight, along with his five roommates, held Daugherty captive for more than two days, beating and torturing her before stabbing her in the heart. Defense attorneys argued that mental illness was a factor in the attack.
Sources: Pittsburgh Tribune Review (PA) 8/12/12 (2012 WLNR 17118290), Pittsburgh Tribune Review (PA) 8/31/12 (2012 WLNR 18635918), Valley Independent (PA) 12/26/12 (2012 WLNR 27959512), 1/14/13 UPI NewsTrack 00:00:00.

Michael Parrish — white, age 23

Sentenced to death in Monroe County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: July 6, 2009
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Parrish was a prison guard who killed his girlfriend, Victoria Adams (age 21) and their 18-month old son Sidney, a heart transplant recipient, because he believed she was cheating on him. Defense witnesses claimed Parrish suffered traumatic experiences at an early age and was under stress trying to keep his job and care for a sick child.
Sources: Pocono Record 3/30/12 AP Alert – PA 23:00:34, 4/3/12 AP Alert – PA 01:24:42, Morning Call (PA) 4/3/12 (2012 WLNR 7117027), Morning Call (PA) 5/16/12 (2012 WLNR 10373980).

Wayne Smith — black, age 38 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Delaware County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: November 18, 1994
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and related offenses resulting from the strangling death of Eileen Jones (age 26), whose body was dumped in a creek. Smith claimed Jones agreed to have sex with him in exchange for drugs and when he attempted to have sex with her he became fearful she would accuse him of rape so he strangled her. Smith was one of two men charged in 1980 of a fatal stabbing of a man in a bar. Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served a brief jail sentence. Defense attorneys claimed Smith had brain damage from abuse suffered during childhood in addition to a long and intensive addiction to crack and alcohol. Smith’s first death sentence was reversed due to his attorney’s failure to investigate mitigating evidence.
Sources: 6/23/12 AP Alert – PA 14:18:38, Daily Times (PA) 6/23/12 (

Jakeem Towles — black, age 20

Sentenced to death in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: May 7, 2010
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Towles was found guilty of the murder of Cornell Stewart (age 20) outside of a hip-hop concert following a dispute. Four separate eyewitnesses identified Towles as the shooter. Towles was charged with murder, attempted murder, and a gun charge. Defense attorneys claimed that jurors improperly weighed evidence during sentencing.
Sources: Intelligencer Journal (PA) 6/11/12 AP Alert – PA 20:53:59, 6/12/12 AP Alert – PA 01:55:15, Sunday News (PA) 6/17/12 (2012 WLNR 12771910).

Derrick White — black, age 20

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: May 6, 2010
Prosecution’s case/defense response: White was convicted of shooting Abdul Taylor (age 33) outside of his mother’s house. White killed Taylor to prevent him from testifying as a prosecution witness in the 2006 murder of Allen Moment, Jr. (age 24). White was charged with first-degree murder, retaliation against a witness or victim, firearms not to be carried without a license, carrying firearms in public, and possession of an instrument of crime.
Sources: CBS 3/1/12 (, New York Times (NY) 3/19/12 (2012 WLNR 5812759).