PA Dept. of Corrections: Notices of Execution Signed for Four Capital Case Inmates

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel signed Notices of Execution on Wednesday for the execution of the following four inmates.

Wayne A. Smith, March 2, 2017

Smith was charged with first-degree murder and related offenses resulting from the strangling death of Eileen Jones, 26, whose body was dumped in a creek.

At trial, the Commonwealth presented the transcribed, tape-recorded statement appellant gave police after waiving his Miranda rights, in which appellant admitted killing the victim; he stated the victim 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 and dumped the body in a nearby creek.

Smith was sentenced to death in Delaware County on May 22, 1995. His sentence was later overturned and he was again sentenced to death in 2010.

Richard Andrew Poplawski, March 3, 2017

Poplawski was found guilty and sentenced to death in June 2011 of killing Pittsburgh Police officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayle, and Paul Sciullo II.

They were gunned down in 2009 while responding to a domestic disturbance call from Poplawski’s mother at the family home.

Aric Shayne Woodard, March 4, 2017

Prosecutors said Woodard beat the child to death in November 2011 in a home in York. Police said Woodard told them he smacked the boy after finding him smearing himself with feces, then ordered him upstairs to clean up.

Investigators concluded Woodard had hit the boy so hard in the abdomen that the child’s liver was lacerated.

Patrick Ray Haney, March 6, 2017

Haney was convicted of first-degree homicide in the September 2011 beating of four-year-old Trenton Lewis St. Clair.

Trenton’s mother, Heather Louise Forsythe, 30, testified Haney slapped and kicked Trenton on September 10 and would not let her take her son to a hospital until he stopped breathing on September 13.

Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, three inmates in Pennsylvania have been executed by lethal injection.

The last execution was in 1999.

The law provides that when the governor does not sign a warrant of execution within the specified time period, the secretary of corrections has 30 days within which to issue a notice of execution.

The execution orders may be a moot point because in 2015 Gov. Tom Wolf placed a moratorium of the death penalty.

He is waiting on a report from a task force that is studying the future of capital punishment.

That report has not been finalized.

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