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Editorials



Friday, August 12, 2005



OUR OPINION


Death penalty not
welcome in Hawaii

THE ISSUE

A soldier and his wife could face the death penalty if convicted of their daughter's murder.

CAPITAL punishment was abolished in Hawaii prior to statehood, but the Justice Department might extend to the islands its recent effrontery of seeking the death penalty in states that consider it barbaric. U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo says he transferred the case of Army soldier Naeem Williams from military to federal court so he can be tried with his civilian wife. Kubo should respect the state's abhorrence of the death penalty -- even in the face of the most reprehensible of crimes -- by recommending pursuit of humane punishment.

Naeem and Delilah Williams are charged with first-degree murder for the beating death last month of their 5-year-old daughter, Talia. In military court, soldier Williams, if convicted, would have faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If convicted in federal court, either defendant potentially could face the death penalty.

Prior to the Bush administration, the Justice Department refrained from seeking the federal death penalty where capital punishment was illegal under state law. That changed when John Ashcroft became attorney general and won reversal of a federal judge's 2000 rejection of capital punishment as "locally inapplicable" in Puerto Rico, which forbids the death penalty.

Ashcroft charged ahead in seeking the death penalty in the 12 states that forbid it, obtaining two death sentences in Iowa and one each in Massachusetts, Michigan and, last month, Vermont. Federal prosecutors are now seeking the death penalty for a man charged with kidnapping and killing a Grand Forks, N.D., college student.

The decision of whether to seek the death penalty for the Williamses will be made by new Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who approved the death penalty in the North Dakota case. "I believe the fact the state doesn't have the death penalty doesn't mean that the people of the state would not impose the ultimate sanction when the right circumstances dictate that that happen," he told the Grand Forks Herald. Such double talk is as offensive in Hawaii as it is in other death penalty-free states.


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Hawaii takes pride
in globe’s top athlete

THE ISSUE

Castle High graduate Bryan Clay has won the decathlon event at world championships.

GOLIATHS lagged behind the David of track and field, allowing Hawaii-reared Bryan Clay the distinction of being the world's greatest athlete. The 1988 Castle High School graduate's victory in the decathlon at the world track and field championships at Helsinki, Finland, places him at the top of Hawaii's historic elite in athletics. Future success will only make his zenith grow taller.

Clay, at 5-foot-11 diminutive against his competition, went largely unnoticed until he won the 10-event decathlon at last year's U.S. Olympic Trials in California and went on to capture the silver medal at Athens. Recovering from a broken rib from competing in an annual meet in Austria, he dominated the decathlon field in the U.S. championships in California, the qualifier for this week's tournament.

Clay began training at Castle High after he was inspired by television coverage of the 1988 Olympic decathlon. He was tutored by Coach Martin Hee, who steered him to Azusa Pacific University, a small California college that embraces decathletes.

The world championships are held every two years, and Clay did not finish the last two events in Edmonton, Alberta, and Paris. Clay said he wanted only to "come out and finish well" at Helsinki. "I think we accomplished that," he said. Clay set personal bests in the discus and high hurdles, and he finished well ahead of reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Roman Sebrie of the Czech Republic.

"On any given day, one of us could have won," Clay said in modesty after earning the most decisive decathlon victory at a world championship in 14 years. "Roman was there every step of the way."

Clay will train next for the 2007 championships in Osaka, Japan, and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Hawaii will continue to cheer his world-class performance.






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and military newspapers

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