URBANA - Champaign County State's Attorney John Piland has filed a motion in Champaign County Circuit Court seeking to put convicted murderer Eric Daniels of Champaign back on death row.
Daniels was one of 167 death row inmates whose sentences were commuted from death to life in prison on Jan. 11 by former Gov. George Ryan in one of his final acts before leaving office.
Daniels, now 29, formerly of Champaign, was sentenced to die in March 2001 for the July 22, 1993, murder and rape of Michelle Davis, 20. The attack on the motel night clerk took place at the now-demolished Charter House Inn on North Cunningham Avenue in Urbana.
In a three-page motion filed Wednesday in Champaign County Circuit Court against Ryan, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, former Corrections Director Donald Snyder, and Daniels, Piland asserts that because Daniels did not sign the petition for executive clemency, Ryan did not have the authority to grant him clemency.
Piland joins prosecutors from Will and Cook counties who have asked that the Supreme Court void the clemencies of other death row inmates because the inmates did not authorize or sign petitions for clemency filed on their behalf.
The petition seeking clemency was filed by the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Chicago. Several death row inmates for whom the clemency was sought did not sign the petition.
Piland noted in his motion that prosecutors sought a hearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to oppose Daniels' request for clemency but that was not held. The board didn't hold formal hearings for any inmates who didn't sign their petitions.
Daniels' case has been marked by numerous twists and turns.
He was initially convicted in 1994 by a Champaign County jury and sentenced to death but that was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled Daniels was not allowed enough challenges during jury selection.
Daniels was retried in Cook County in 1997, but the jury could not reach a verdict on the rape and murder charges. It acquitted him of robbery.
While awaiting a third trial, Daniels attacked Champaign County correctional officer Craig Morrison, stabbing him in the face 11 times in May 2000.
On his first trial for that offense, the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. Daniels was immediately retried and convicted of attempted murder and is serving a 95-year prison sentence for that as well.
Death penalty discussion planned at UI
CHAMPAIGN - A group of experts will discuss the death penalty in Illinois and recommendations for reform Friday at the University of Illinois College of Law.
The panel discussion will be at 5 p.m. at the law school auditorium, 504 E. Pennsylvania Ave., C. It is free and open to the public.
The panel discussion will include State Appellate Defender Ted Gottfried and Michael Radelet, both of whom worked with the Governor's Commission on Capital Punishment, and UI law professors Patrick Keenan and Richard McAdams, both of whom have worked on death penalty cases.
They will discuss defending death row inmates and the findings of the governor's commission, which made more than 80 recommendations for reforming the capital punishment system last spring after two years of research and analysis.
Gottfried has been the state appellate defender since 1972. Radelet is a sociology professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He prepared the data analysis for the commission and he has written numerous books and articles about the death penalty.
Keenan worked on death penalty cases in Georgia and Alabama for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta for five years before coming to the UI law school.
McAdams represented a Louisiana death row inmate while working at a Philadelphia law firm.
The panel discussion is sponsored by the UI law school chapter of the American Constitution Society.