Capital Murder Charge Decisions Vary Widely In AL Counties


The filing of a capital murder charge can vary widely from one Alabama county to the next, often because of differing philosophies of district attorneys, reports the Mobile Press-Register. In southwest Alabama, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. is more reticent to file capital murder than his counterparts in Baldwin County and most of the state.

From fiscal year 2003 through fiscal year 2008, 60 of Mobile County’s 770 murder cases were indicted as capital murder. That rate of 7.8 percent was the fifth-lowest of the state’s 41 jurisdictions. Baldwin County was ranked eighth-highest during that time period, with 31 percent of murder cases prosecuted under the capital statute. Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes executions, said that leaving such decisions up to each prosecutor “is a very dangerous prospect. Everybody’s acting in good faith here, but the result is arbitrary.”

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