Watland's cleverness had been demonstrated in other ways. In California, he had worked on computer networks, and at the Maine prison, using the library's computers, he had gained access to the prison's confidential files. In a letter to the Phoenix, Watland said he had for decades been a member of Mensa, the high-IQ association.

In the federal case, he is accused of killing Mark Baker with a homemade knife or shank while the victim played cards. A prison video exists, which reputedly shows the act. Sources say Watland's federally financed attorneys plan a kill-or-be-killed defense. Baker has been described as a member of the Nazi Low Riders gang, an ally of the white-supremacist Aryan Brotherhood.

According to court documents, aggravating factors justifying the death penalty include, prosecutors say, Watland's previous murder conviction, his "continuing danger" to others, "low potential for rehabilitation," his "lack of remorse," and an alleged attempt to threaten the lives of "the minor child and other relatives of potential witnesses."

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, in mid-2012 there were 29 federal prisoners awaiting trial or on trial on capital charges, and at the present there are 59 on death row.

But since 1963, only three people have been executed by the federal government, including, in 2001, Timothy McVeigh, the right-wing extremist who killed 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City federal-building bombing.

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: This Just In , Gary Watland, Maine State Prison, death penalty
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SUBVERSIVE SUMMER  |  June 18, 2014
    Prisons, pot festivals, and Orgonon: Here are some different views of summertime Maine — seen through my personal political lens.
  •   LEFT-RIGHT CONVERGENCE - REALLY?  |  June 06, 2014
    “Unstoppable: A Gathering on Left-Right Convergence,” sponsored by consumer advocate Ralph Nader, featured 26 prominent liberal and conservative leaders discussing issues on which they shared positions. One was the minimum wage.
  •   STATE OF POLARIZATION  |  April 30, 2014
    As the campaign season begins, leading the charge on one side is a rural- and northern-Maine-based Trickle-Down Tea Party governor who sees government’s chief role as helping the rich (which he says indirectly helps working people), while he vetoes every bill in sight directly helping the poor and the struggling middle class, including Medicaid expansion, the issue that most occupied the Legislature this year and last.
  •   MICHAEL JAMES SENT BACK TO PRISON  |  April 16, 2014
    The hearing’s topic was whether James’s “antisocial personality disorder” was enough of a mental disease to keep him from being sent to prison.
  •   LOCKING UP THE MENTALLY ILL  |  April 03, 2014
    The merger of the prison and mental-health systems continues

 See all articles by: LANCE TAPLEY