2017-07-07 13:12:29 UTC
TEXAS----new execution date
Houston's 'Tourniquet Killer' set for October execution
He was a musician. A hard-working father. A charismatic charmer. But now, he's
just a convicted killer who has a date with death.
Houston's so-called "Tourniquet Killer" - a 55-year-old who admitted to raping
and killing young Hispanic women in Harris County for nearly a decade - is
slated for execution this fall.
Anthony Allen Shore terrorized the county in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving
behind a trail of young victims in a gruesome set of crimes marked by the
killer's use of handmade tourniquets.
He was found guilty on 1 count of capital murder in 2004 and, finally, on
Thursday, state District Judge Maria T. Jackson set his execution for Oct. 18.
He is the only inmate from Harris County with a death date on the calendar.
"There's a reason we have the death penalty in Texas and Anthony Shore is a
poster child for why," said Andy Kahan, Houston's victim advocate.
One final long-shot plea for consideration is pending before the U.S. Supreme
"I would certainly say that the odds are not in our favor," said his attorney,
K. Knox Nunnally, of Houston. "But we believe that we have a strong argument."
The brutal killings went unsolved for nearly 2 decades until Shore was arrested
for molesting 2 girls - both of whom were relatives - and a DNA breakthrough
cracked the cold cases.
As a convicted sex offender, Shore's DNA went on file. And after testing cold
case evidence, investigators realized that Shore's sample matched a speck
recovered from underneath the fingernails of a dead woman. When police
confronted Shore with the newfound connection to the killing, the former
telephone technician calmly confessed to four crimes, starting with the slaying
of 14-year-old Laurie Tremblay in 1986.
6 years later, he raped and murdered 21-year-old Maria del Carmen Estrada
before leaving her naked body in the drive-through of a Spring Branch Dairy
In 1994, he killed 9-year-old Diana Rebollar. When he snatched her, his
youngest victim was on the way to the store to buy sugar so her mom could make
The following year, Shore slaughtered 16-year-old Dana Sanchez, who vanished
while hitchhiking to her boyfriend's house in north Houston.
All of the victims were raped and tortured before he strangled them with
At the time of his 2003 arrest in the slayings, Shore was still on probation
for the earlier molestations.
Shore is a "true serial killer, a person deserving of the ultimate punishment,"
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Thursday. "His
crimes were predatory, and his victims the most vulnerable in society - women
and children. For his brutal acts, the death penalty is appropriate."
Before he was sentenced in 2004 for Estrada's slaying, Shore stunned listeners
in court by requesting the death penalty, and a Harris County jury quickly
Prosecutors at the time chalked his bizarre request up to a deranged mind and
Now, Shore's lawyers are still fighting for their client's life.
Nunnally, who's represented Shore as appointed pro bono counsel through the
federal appeals process, said there's currently a petition for a writ of
certiorari pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. If granted, that could require a
lower court to reconsider a request for appeal.
The crux of the appeal is that Shore has previously unrealized brain damage.
"In the course of our appeal we discovered he suffered a traumatic brain injury
prior to the times he committed the crimes he was accused of," Nunnally said.
"That possibly could have affected his reasoning and determination of what is
right or wrong."
His lawyers aren't seeking to exonerate him, though.
"This is not a guilty/innocent argument," Nunnally said. "This is a
Shore's scheduled execution comes amid a dip in the use of capital punishment
both statewide and across the nation. So far, Texas has only executed four
offenders this year, and just six more - including Shore - are scheduled to die
before the year's end.
"This will be the 1st execution date out of Harris County this year and leaving
aside any particulars about his case, we're seeing a general downward trend in
both executions and death sentences," said Kristin Houle, executive director of
the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "But it's always
disappointing to see new dates added to the list."
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----24
Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----543
Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #
25---------July 27-----------------Taichin Preyor---------544
26---------Aug. 30-----------------Steven Long------------545
28---------Oct. 12-----------------Robert Pruett----------547
29---------Oct. 18-----------------Anthony Shore--------548
30---------Oct. 26-----------------Clinton Young----------549
31---------Jan. 30-----------------William Rayford--------550
Conservative Texans are losing faith in the death penalty
Despite executing more than 500 individuals since 1982, in 2016 Texas executed
the fewest number of people in 2 decades. Executions are in decline - and death
penalty support in the Lone Star State has also begun to wane.
Conservatives are part of this shift. A growing number have been reconsidering
the death penalty and questioning whether it aligns with our principles.
Pro-life, social conservatives and faith leaders are sparking new discussions
within their communities about whether capital punishment's usage is ultimately
in accordance with their principles of valuing life.
Capital punishment certainly does devalue life - and it even imperils the
innocent. We know of at least 13 people in Texas who were wrongfully convicted
and sentenced to die. There are others who have been executed but may have been
Fiscal conservatives are increasingly recognizing the death penalty's deep
financial implications, considering it costs millions more than life without
parole. Many conservatives are concerned that capital punishment is cramping
their state's budget and taking away resources that would be better used to
support the local community. In 2015, former Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul - a
supporter of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty - echoed those
sentiments in an opinion column, writing that it was "hard to find a more
wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty." He noted
that Jasper County raised property taxes by 7 % in order to pay for just one
capital case - a claim that was ruled "true" by PolitiFact.
Information has also come out over time that has led experts to conclude that
the death penalty itself is not effective as a deterrent. Nearly 88 % of
criminologists do not believe that capital punishment protects the public. In
the same poll, 78 % of those surveyed said that "having the death penalty in a
state does not lower the murder rate." Moreover, there is no correlation
between the death penalty and lower murder rates.
The capital punishment system is complex, while the mandated processes are
time-consuming. This means that murder victims' families face multiple trials,
appeals and perpetual publicity that requires them to relive their family
member's death - repeatedly - for many years.
There are also racial implications related to Texas' death penalty usage. 80 %
of death sentences over the last 5 years have been imposed on people of color,
according to the report provided by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty. Furthermore, all 9 men sentenced to death in Dallas or Tarrant County
since 2012 are African-American. 15 of the last 18 defendants sentenced to die
in Harris County are African-American, while the other 3 are Hispanic. For
those concerned with racial equality, the death penalty is simply inadequate.
There are myriad reasons to oppose capital punishment in Texas. Between the
high financial costs, high number of wrongful convictions and failure to
effectively deter homicide, conservative Texans are starting to realize that
the death penalty is marred by inequity, inefficiency and inaccuracy. It is no
surprise that public support for capital punishment is declining. Given all of
its problems, Texas' death penalty should be laid to rest.
(source: Commentary; Brian Bensimon is a student at the University of Texas and
a Charles Koch Institute Communications Fellow with Conservatives Concerned
About the Death Penalty----Austin American-Statesman)
When the county sheriff handled Texas executions----Encyclopedia looks at those
who went to the gallows for their crimes
There was a time in Texas history -- from just before the days of the republic
up until 1923 -- when death sentences were carried out by local authorities.
Back then the method of executing a convicted criminal was by hanging.
During that time, 467 people were executed this way, 60 % of which were
African-American. 18 were hanged in Harris County. The executions were an
event, with thousands gathering outside to catch a glimpse of the condemned or
to hear his final words. Such scenes played out often in the 122 Texas counties
that performed executions.
Veteran law enforcement officer West Gilbreath has researched these executions
for his book, "Death on the Gallows: The Encyclopedia of Legal Hangings in
Texas" (Wild Horse Press). Gilbreath, a captain with the University of North
Texas Police Department, previously published a similar look at legal hangings
in New Mexico.
What follows are e-mailed questions and answers with Gilbreath about this era
in the state's criminal justice system.
After working on this book and "Death on the Gallows: The Story of Legal
Hangings in New Mexico" were there any major differences in how the 2 states
approached the death penalty?
Yes. 2 very distinct differences. In New Mexico, if the trial was moved to a
different county on a change of venue, and if the defendant was found guilty,
the defendant was returned back to the county that had original jurisdiction to
be executed. A good example was when Billy the Kid was found guilty in Dona Ana
County for the murder of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady and was returned
back to Lincoln for execution. After his return, Billy shot and killed both
deputies and escaped. The other noted difference is Texas allowed the defendant
to waive their 30-day appeal, and to be sentenced to death immediately with an
execution date. Men such as Henry Johnson, who was hanged in Kaufman County on
May 30, 1903, was hanged within five days from the day he committed the rape.
Or Dick Garrett in Shelby County who was hanged within f4 days.
Executed in Harris County
1838: John Christopher Columbus Quick, murder
1838: David Jones, murder
1855: Johnson, murder
1856: John K. Hyde, murder
1870: Jake Johnson, robbery and murder
1880: Henry Quarles, murder
1882: John Cone, rape
1888: Burke Mitchell, murder
1888: William Caldwell, murder
1891: Henry McGee, murder
1892: Walter E. Shaw, double homicide
1897: Alexander Terrell, rape
1899: Pate E. Burton, robbery and triple homicide
1909: Marcellus Thomas, murder
1916: Louis Utley, murder
1916: Henry Sampson, robbery and murder
1916: Clarence Cooley, robbery and double homicide
1921: Harry L. Walker, robbery and murder
1922: Carl Parker, robbery and murder
[source: "Death on the Gallows: The Encyclopedia of Legal Hangings in Texas."]
In Texas, did you observe any significant differences in how counties handed
out the death penalty? Were some parts of the state more apt to hand down the
death penalty than others?
The biggest differences were the counties that contained large towns such as
Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Ft. Worth. Counties with less population had
less. North and Panhandle counties had far less than anywhere else. The other
difference would be where the execution took place. Was the execution held
openly to the public, or did the sheriff hold it privately in the jail? Also
the method: Was the method a fall from the trap that was released by a lever,
or the cut of a rope that held the trap in place? Or was the method a
weight-and-pulley system, whereby [...] the person was jerked upward with such
force that the jerk upward or the fall would break the neck. The media at times
referred to this method as being "Jerked to Jesus."
Was there any particular crime you discovered in your research that stood out?
Actually there are 2 incidents that stood out the most for me. The 1st being
when members of the United States Army, 24th infantry, rioted in Houston on
August 23, 1917. 63 soldiers out of the 118 who were tried for murder, mutiny,
aggravated assault and disobeying an order were found guilty. On the morning of
December 11, 1917, 13 men were executed near San Antonio at Camp Travis.
Another 6 were hanged on September 1918. This became Texas' largest mass
execution and the 2nd-largest in the nation. The other incident was the
execution of Roy Mitchell, who was hanged on July 23, 1923, at Waco, McLennan
County. He may have been Texas' 1st serial rapist and murderer.
You pulled from various media accounts to research these executions. What are
your observations on how the media covered these events?
Some accounts of the crime and the defendants were very sensational and were
covered very extensively on the front page with large, bold headlines,
especially once the telegraph and railroad system was built where information
and mail could flow faster and more accurately. When executions were public,
the media would print the history of the crime and the trial, attempt to
interview the defendant and provide a witness account of the last moments of
the condemned on the gallows. [...] Did he confess on the gallows or make a
last statement prior to the trap being sprung, which was very important to the
Some newspaper accounts were vague. One reason is because everyone in the
community already knew what occurred, or went to the trial, and then some of
the newspaper sources did not feel the need to write about it. The media also
assumed the reader was already aware of the story and never imagined that
people would want to know and research this information a hundred or more years
later. There also seemed to be a shift in the amount of information printed
about the offense and the execution after the year 1900.
You mention the crowds that would come out to witness these executions. Based
on your research, did you get a sense as to how Texans felt about the death
When executions were public, the stores would close and families from nearby
counties would make the trip by horse, buggy, wagon and train. Estimates were
in the thousands, 10,000 or more. The newspapers noted that hangings gathered
more of a crowd than the approaching circus. Other sources described the event
as having a carnival atmosphere. Men and women dressed in their finest clothes.
This gave families, friends, neighbors an opportunity to visit and socialize.
The witnesses present expected to be entertained. Many times, people running
for a political office took the opportunity to stand on the platform to address
all as to why they should elect him. Vendors would sell refreshments or
photograph souvenirs. Many times the condemn sold items as well for money to be
given in support of their families. They also saw this as a religious
gathering. The clergyman took the opportunity to make a sermon, and hymns and
gospel songs were sung by all. After the execution, the crowd would ask the
sheriff to cut the rope used in the execution and hand out the pieces as
souvenirs. Other times, pieces of wood from the gallows were taken. Once the
executions were held privately inside the jail or enclosed in the jail yard,
the sheriff would receive many requests asking for an invitation to be present,
and hundreds would also gather outside the jails awaiting word that the
execution had taken place.
In your research involving African-American defendants, did you get a feeling
as to the certainty of the verdict? Did any case against a suspect seem tenuous
or did it appear as if a suspect was being railroaded? Do you have a theory as
to why so many of those hanged were African-American?
Did I get a feeling of the certainty of the verdict?
With 60 % of black males being hanged, I would believe if a black male
committed certain crimes, it was a good chance his fate was already sealed once
he was arrested. Not only by the judge and jury but for fear of a lynch mob.
Texas as a republic and later as a pre-Civil War state had laws making it the
death penalty for murdering the slave's master. After the Civil War, sexually
assaulting a white woman by a black male made the offense a capital offense.
Were any of the accused railroaded?
I'm sure there were. There were a lot of prejudicial feelings, especially
during the reconstruction of Texas and the rights afforded to free slaves after
the war. The jury many times already had their minds made up, especially if the
crime involved the rape or murder of a white girl or a white woman by a black
male. The raping or murdering of a white woman by a black male was considered
one of the most horrible crimes imaginable at the time and society did not
tolerate it. At trial, when the victim took the stand and identified the
defendant as the person who committed the assault upon her, even after the
defendant claimed he was innocent, did the victim correctly identify the
offender? Or did she hope by identifying him as the offender that his
conviction and death sentence, regardless if he was the correct person
responsible, would bring both her and the community in which she resided to
closure? I am sure some victims and even the members of the jury said to
themselves, "It must be him because he is black and the police who arrested him
said he did it."
When such crimes did occur, posses were immediately organized to track down the
responsible person. Once captured, the sheriff had to do everything in his
ability to make sure the suspect was not lynched or the jail overpowered to
remove his prisoner from his care. The sheriff had to call upon the Texas
Rangers and state militia, and swear in trusted citizens as special deputies to
protect the jail, or sneak the prisoner out of the jail and quickly transport
him to a stronger jail in a different town until the town folks calmed down or
until trial. Regardless of the crime, the sheriffs took their oath seriously
and protected the accused. Many times on the gallows, the African-Americans'
address to the crowd that had gathered showed appreciation to the sheriff and
his jailers for the kind treatment afforded to him.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Virginia executes William Morva using controversial 3-drug mixture
A Virginia man who killed a hospital security guard and a sheriff's deputy
after escaping from custody in 2006 has been executed after an unsuccessful
campaign to spare the inmate's life over concerns about his mental health.
William Morva, 35, was pronounced dead at 9.15pm on Thursday after a lethal
injection at Greensville correctional center in Jarratt. It was the 1st
execution in Virginia under a new protocol that makes more of the lethal
injection procedure secret.
Morva, who was wearing jeans and a blue shirt, said "no" after he was asked
whether he had any last words. A few minutes later, he could be heard speaking,
but it was not clear what he was saying.
The lethal injection began about 9pm after the warden read him the court order
of his execution. Shortly after the drugs began flowing, his stomach moved up
and down quickly several times before he became motionless.
Morva's execution came hours after Virginia's Democratic governor announced he
would not spare Morva's life despite pressure from mental health advocates,
state lawmakers and attorneys who said the man's crimes were the result of a
severe mental illness that made it impossible for him to distinguish between
delusions and reality.
In denying a clemency petition, Governor Terry McAuliffe concluded Morva
received a fair trial. He noted that experts who evaluated the man at the time
found he didn't suffer from any illness that would have prevented him from
understanding the consequences of his crimes. He also said prison staff members
who monitored Morva for the past nine years never reported any evidence of a
severe mental illness or delusional disorder.
"I personally oppose the death penalty; however, I took an oath to uphold the
laws of this Commonwealth regardless of my personal views of those laws, as
long as they are being fairly and justly applied," McAuliffe said in a
Morva was the 1st inmate executed in Virginia since officials made changes to
the state's protocol that have drawn fire from attorneys and transparency
advocates. Those changes came after attorneys raised concerns in January about
how long it took to place an IV line during the execution of convicted killer
Execution witnesses used to be able to watch inmates walk in and be strapped
down. A curtain would then be drawn during the placement of the IV and heart
monitors. After the curtain was reopened, inmates would be asked whether they
had any final words before the chemicals started to flow.
In Morva's execution, the curtain was closed when the witnesses entered the
chamber and was not opened until he was strapped to the gurney and the IV lines
were in place. Virginia used a 3-drug mixture, including midazolam and
potassium chloride that it obtained from a compounding pharmacy whose identity
remains secret under state law.
Morva is the 3rd inmate to be executed since McAuliffe took office in 2014. In
April, McAuliffe granted clemency to Ivan Teleguz, saying jurors in the
murder-for-hire case were given false information that may have swayed
Among those who had urged McAuliffe to spare Morva's life were the daughter of
the slain sheriff's deputy, 2 United Nations human rights experts, and
representatives from the Hungarian embassy. Morva's father was born in Hungary
and Morva was a Hungarian-American dual national.
"Our message and William's story and his family's story were resonating with a
lot of people, and I don't know why it didn't resonate with the governor,"
Morva's attorney Dawn Davison said after the execution.
Morva was awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges in 2005 when he was taken
to the hospital to treat an injury. There, he attacked a sheriff's deputy with
a metal toilet roll holder, stole the deputy's firearm, and shot an unarmed
security guard, Derrick McFarland, in the face before fleeing. A day later,
Morva killed another sheriff's deputy Eric Sutphin with a bullet to the back of
the head as Sutphin searched for him near Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus.
Experts who examined Morva for his trial said he suffered from personality
disorders that resulted in "odd beliefs".
After his trial, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with delusional disorder, a more
severe mental illness akin to schizophrenia that made him falsely believe,
among other things, that he has life-threatening gastrointestinal issues and
that a former presidential administration conspired with police to imprison
him, his attorneys said.
His lawyers argued Morva escaped and killed the men because he was under the
delusion that he was going to die in jail.
(source: The Guardian)
William Morva executed by injection for murders in Southwest Virginia
William C. Morva was executed by injection Thursday night for the capital
murders of an unarmed security guard and a deputy sheriff during an escape in
Montgomery County in 2006.
Morva, a 35-year-old former Chesterfield County resident whose lawyers said
suffered from a chronic psychotic disorder, was pronounced dead at the
Greensville Correctional Center at 9:15 p.m.
The execution occurred without any complications, according to Lisa Kinney, a
spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
At 8:59 p.m., a curtain barring the view of witnesses into the execution
chamber was opened. Morva was breathing deeply while lying strapped onto a
gurney with IV lines in his arms.
His face could not be seen. He would raise his head slightly and then drop it
every few seconds. At 9 p.m., Warden Eddie Pearson read the death warrant, then
asked him, "Mr. Morva, do you have any last words?"
"No," Morva replied.
The 1st of 3 drugs was administered. His deep breathing and apparent nodding
continued. At 9:03 p.m., he appeared to be speaking and made a loud sound like
a hiccup. His diaphragm contracted sharply several times. He then grew still.
At 9:05 p.m., an execution team member checked to make sure he was unconscious
before the 2nd and 3rd drugs were administered.
At 9:14 p.m., a physician checked for a heartbeat with a stethoscope. A minute
later, Morva's death was official.
On Aug. 20, 2006, while in jail awaiting trial on attempted robbery and other
charges, Morva was taken to the Montgomery Regional Hospital for treatment of
minor injuries. He assaulted a deputy who was escorting him, knocking him
unconscious and taking his handgun.
Morva encountered Derrick McFarland, 32, a hospital security guard and shot him
in the face. The next day Morva shot Eric Sutphin, 40, a deputy sheriff who was
searching for him, in the back of the head. Morva was convicted of capital
murder, assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and escape by force.
His legal appeals exhausted, Morva's lawyers filed a clemency petition with
Gov. Terry McAuliffe asking that the death sentence be commuted to life. They
argued that the jury did not know of his serious mental illness, diagnosed by a
forensic psychiatrist years after his trial.
In a statement released at 2:17 p.m., Gov. Terry McAuliffe turned down Morva's
petition and sided with state officials who said Morva's pre-trial diagnoses by
experts were valid and that the jury considered them and nevertheless sentenced
Morva to death.
"These experts thoroughly evaluated Mr. Morva and testified to the jury that,
while he may have personality disorders, he did not suffer from any condition
that would have prevented him from committing these acts consciously and fully
understanding their consequences," said the governor.
He added, "We also consulted with the Department of Corrections, whose mental
health staff have monitored him weekly and assessed him quarterly for the past
9 years and have never reported any evidence of delusional disorder or severe
Morva's clemency petition divided at least 1 of the victims' families - a
daughter of Sutphin asked McAuliffe to grant clemency, while Sutphin's mother
hoped to see the death penalty carried out for the sake of justice.
On Wednesday, 2 experts with the United Nations urged McAuliffe not to execute
Morva. His lawyers said Thursday that more than 34,000 people signed petitions
backing clemency and 28 state legislators and 3 members of Congress also
Bill Farrar, with the ACLU of Virginia, said the organization was saddened by
McAuliffe's decision "to allow the execution of William Morva, a mentally ill
man, despite strong appeals for clemency from state, national and international
mental health and human rights advocates.
"This is more evidence that the death penalty must be repealed in Virginia, and
that until that happens the layers of secrecy surrounding it must be peeled
back," he said.
Before Morva's execution, a group of 10 people protesting the death penalty
gathered outside the prison, including the Rev. Hilary Streever. She said she
knew Morva when she attended Virginia Tech and that he was odd, but kind. They
met in a coffee shop a couple years before he was accused of armed robbery.
"He was a little strange and from there he grew stranger," said Streever, who
now lives in Richmond.
"The Episcopal Church is against the death penalty," she said. "I've always
been against it religiously, but this is my 1st personal connection to it," she
The Rev. Lauren Ramseur, a member of the board for the Virginians Against the
Death Penalty, said she's led 1 other vigil for an execution. "We are here to
witness for life and hope," she said.
"I'm opposed to the death penalty in any case," Ramseur said. "I think it is
particularly wrong to murder someone who's sick because he acted out of his
mental illness and we should have compassion."
Executions are carried out in "L-Unit," or the death house, at the Greensville
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said Thursday that family
members of the victims had expressed an interest in attending the execution.
Such witnesses view the proceedings from a separate area and not with official
citizen witnesses and media representatives.
Prison officials said Morva's last visitor Thursday was with a rabbi and that
he did not appear to have visits with family or lawyers.
Far less of Morva's execution was visible to witnesses than prior ones.
In February, the Department of Corrections adopted a new policy calling for a
curtain to block the view of the death chamber from a glassed-in witness area
until the IV lines are in place and the execution is ready to be carried out.
In prior executions, citizen and media witnesses could watch the inmate be led
into the chamber and strapped onto the gurney or into the electric chair. Only
the placing of the IV lines was blocked from view by a drawn curtain.
Problems were encountered when placing the IV lines in Ricky Javon Gray on Jan.
18, delaying his execution for an inordinate length of time. The department
said the changes were made in part to reduce stress on the staff who carry out
the executions and bring Virginia's procedure in line with those of other
Critics, including the ACLU of Virginia, have decried the increased secrecy
that also prevents making public the pharmacy concocting drugs needed to carry
out a lethal injection.
Virginia uses a 3-drug procedure. The f1t one is intended to render the inmate
unconscious, the 2nd to cause paralysis, and the 3rd stops the heart. 2 of the
drugs, midazolam and potassium chloride, were made by a licensed compounding
pharmacy in Virginia.
Morva was the 113th person executed in Virginia since the U.S. Supreme Court
allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976 - the 2nd most among states that
have the death penalty.
1 of the witnesses to the execution was Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin,
who knew Sutphin and said following the execution that he was relieved.
Partin said Sutphin "was a family man. He was a veteran. He loved his country
and he loved the Sheriff's Office. He was a hero ... and I miss him dearly."
(source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Governor McAuliffe Statement on the Execution of William Morva
Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement on the planned
execution of William Morva:
"Over the past several weeks, my staff and I have carefully considered the
petition for clemency submitted by William Morva, who was tried, convicted, and
sentenced to death for the murder of Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Corporal
Eric Sutphin and hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. We have also
reviewed extensive communications from family members of the victims, law
enforcement officials, community leaders, and concerned observers from all over
"Consistent with the three previous petitions for commutation of a capital
sentence that I have reviewed, I have evaluated Mr. Morva's submission for
evidence that he has been subjected to a miscarriage of justice at any phase of
his trial that could have impacted the verdict or his sentence. After extensive
review and deliberation, I do not find sufficient cause in Mr. Morva's petition
or case records to justify overturning the will of the jury that convicted and
"There is no question that, in a carefully orchestrated effort to escape
custody while awaiting trial for burglary, robbery and firearms charges, Mr.
Morva brutally attacked a deputy sheriff, stole his firearm and used it to
murder Mr. McFarland, who was unarmed and had his hands raised as he was shot
in the face from a distance of 2 feet. The next day, Mr. Morva murdered
Corporal Sutphin by shooting him in the back of the head.
"Mr. Morva's petition for clemency states that he suffers from a delusional
disorder that rendered him unable to understand the consequences of his
"That diagnosis is inconsistent with the findings of the 3 licensed mental
health professionals appointed by the trial court, including an expert
psychiatrist who is Board-Certified in both Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry.
2 of these 3 experts were called by Mr. Morva's own legal team. These experts
thoroughly evaluated Mr. Morva and testified to the jury that, while he may
have personality disorders, he did not suffer from any condition that would
have prevented him from committing these acts consciously and fully
understanding their consequences.
"As my team and I gave Mr. Morva's mental state the consideration it deserves,
we also consulted with the Virginia Department of Corrections, whose mental
health staff have monitored him weekly and assessed him quarterly for the past
9 years and have never reported any evidence of delusional disorder or severe
"Additionally, we evaluated the rulings of the numerous state and federal
courts that have reviewed this case and have all upheld the jury's verdict and
sentence, including the Supreme Court of Virginia, the United States District
Court for the Western District of Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
"Mr. Morva's petition relies on the diagnosis of a psychiatrist who evaluated
him nearly 7 years after his trial and conviction. My team and I evaluated that
report closely alongside the findings of the experts who testified at trial in
order to determine if the totality of their findings might have led the jury or
appellate courts to hand down a different sentence.
"At the conclusion of that review, I have determined that Mr. Morva was given a
fair trial and that the jury heard substantial evidence about his mental health
as they prepared to sentence him in accordance with the law of our
Commonwealth. In short, the record before me does not contain sufficient
evidence to warrant the extraordinary step of overturning the decision of a
lawfully empaneled jury following a properly conducted trial.
"I personally oppose the death penalty; however, I took an oath to uphold the
laws of this Commonwealth regardless of my personal views of those laws, as
long as they are being fairly and justly applied. Thus, after extensive review
and deliberation consistent with the process I have applied to previous
requests for commutation, I have declined Mr. Morva's petition. I have and will
continue to pray for the families of the victims of these terrible crimes and
for all of the people whose lives have been impacted."
Montgomery County Sheriff reacts to William Morva execution
When William Morva was executed Thursday night for the 2006 killings of
security guard Derrick McFarland and Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy
Corporal Eric Sutphin, the Sheriff's Department was in attendance.
Sheriff Hank Partin said in a statement after the execution:
"I appreciate Governor McAuliffe's decision not to interfere with the execution
of William Morva. While we regret any loss of human life, this brings to an end
a painful series of events that began on August 21, 2006 when William Morva
made a decision to murder Corporal Eric Sutphin and Security Guard Derrick
McFarland. The consequences of his decision that day has lingered for more than
10 years. For the victims' families, the men and women of our Office, the
Montgomery Regional Hospital employees, and all of the law enforcement agencies
who helped during those tragic days following the murders of Corporal Eric
Sutphin and Security Guard Derrick McFarland, we pray that the healing process
will continue to move forward. Our thoughts are continually with the families
of both Eric and Derrick who live each day without them."
Sheriff Partin was joined by several other members of his office at the
Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt for the execution.
On why they made the trip for the execution, he said, "I had to come here today
because I love Eric and I love his family and we needed to be here."
It's been just under 11 years since Corporal Eric Sutphin was killed, but the
department makes sure his memory lives on.
The Law Enforcement Memorial outside the department, which was Deputy Sutphin's
idea, will forever have his name on it.
And the vehicles the Sheriff's Office drive around continue to have a decal in
The Sheriff and his officers admit it's been hard to think about Sutphin, as
many were working here when he was killed.
Sheriff Partin said in his statement his office never wants to see anyone die,
but Thursday's execution was necessary.
"This definitely brings to close a terrible time for a lot of us and for Eric's
family and for Derrick's family, it's been extremely hard."
(source: WDBJ news)
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for accused X-Box murderers again
Volusia County prosecutors will again seek the death penalty for 2 men
convicted in the 2004 murders of 6 people in Deltona whose sentences were
thrown out because jurors in their original trial did not vote for death
Troy Victorino, 40, and Jerone Hunter, 31, were found guilty of the 6 murders
and sentenced to death in 2006.
But the jurors who voted for them to get the death penalty were not unanimous
in their decision, and in 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida's
non-unanimous sentences are unconstitutional because they gave too much power
to judges and not enough to juries.
Victorino and Hunter's death sentences were vacated, and they are entitled to
new sentencing proceedings in which new jurors will decide whether they should
be put to death or get life in prison, courts have ruled.
The jurors will not have to decide whether Victorino and Hunter are guilty,
only what sentence they should get. The trial date has not been set.
Victorino and Hunter were convicted in the murders of 6 people in a home on
Telford Lane: Jonathan Gleason, 17; Michelle Nathan, 19; Erin Belanger, 22;
Roberto Gonzalez, 28; Francisco Ayo Roman, 30; and Anthony Vega, 34.
A co-worker of 2 of the home's residents went to check on them the morning of
Aug. 6, 2004, and found them dead, court records show. Law enforcement found
the front door kicked in, the deadbolt broken, and a 13-inch shoe print on the
door. There was blood everywhere.
All 6 people were beaten to death with baseball bats. They also had their
throats cut, likely after they died, court records show. Officers also found a
dachshund named George was found dead in the home as well.
Prosecutors said Victorino was angry about a missing XBox video game console,
which he claimed was stolen from him. He brought Hunter, Michael Salas and
Robert Cannon to the home to get the XBox and other items back, prosecutors
Cannon and Salas both got life in prison for their roles in the attack, and
Victorino and Hunter were sentenced to death.
At the time, it was Central Florida's deadliest mass killing in 2 decades.
Until January 2016, Florida law required seven or more of 12 jurors to vote for
the capital punishment in order for a judge to sentence a defendant to death.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that was unconstitutional, and Florida's
legislature since passed a law saying defendants can only be sent to death row
if the jury is unanimous.
Dozens of death row defendants whose cases were finalized after 2002, including
Victorino and Hunter, are now entitled to new sentencing hearings.
(source: Orlando Sentinel)
Death sentence for convicted PCB cop killer vacated
A man sentenced to death for killing a Panama City Beach Police officer in 2005
is getting a new penalty phase after the state's top court vacated his death
sentence because it wasn't unanimously recommended by the jury.
In an opinion released Thursday, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled 5-3 that
Robert Bailey is entitled to a new sentencing hearing, despite an 11-1
recommendation of death by the trial jury.
Bailey was convicted to killing Panama City Beach Police officer Kevin Kight
during a traffic stop on March 27, 2005. Bailey shot Kight because, in Bailey's
own words "he was not going back to jail again." Bailey had a suspended license
when Kight pulled him over and shot Kight when Kight went to arrest him.
Bailey was sentenced to die in April of 2007.
Bailey's case is just the latest death case to get a new sentencing hearing.
That's due to a United States Supreme Court ruling that Florida's death penalty
law was unconstitutional because it gave judges the final say in death penalty
cases, not juries. Previously, the judge was required to give the jury's
decision great weight, but could ultimately impose whatever sentence they felt
was appropriate for the crime.
Since then the Supreme Court of Florida has determined that death penalty cases
that were not unanimous jury recommendations since 2002 were unconstitutional.
The ruling also applied to cases where appeals weren't finalized before 2002.
This affects more than 200 death penalty cases statewide, including a number
throughout northwest Florida.
In Bay County alone, convicted killers Roderick Orme, James Card, and Matthew
Caylor have all been granted new sentencing hearings. The guilt of the killers
isn't in doubt. The only thing to be determined is if each of these men will
once again be sentenced to death or if they'll spend the rest of their lives in
(source: WJHG news)
Jamal Jackson sentenced to death for 2014 murder of Satori Richardson
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Ben Brooks (Thursday) accepted a jury's
recommendation of the death penalty in the capital murder case of Jamal
Jackson, who was convicted of stabbing and strangling his girlfriend Satori
Richardson in 2014 before setting their apartment on fire.
After his conviction in March, the jury recommended the death sentence by a
margin of 10-2, accepting prosecutor's claims the crime rose to the level of
capital murder based on Jackson's previous conviction of robbery using a
Both the jury and Brooks rejected another aggravating factor; prosecutors
claimed the murder was especially "cruel and heinous" because it was committed
in the presence of Richardson's 4-year-old daughter, who later testified
against Jackson and can be heard on a July 4, 2014 911 recording screaming for
her mother's life as Jackson stabbed Richardson 32 times with a kitchen knife
and strangled her with an electrical cord.
Jackson was 24 at the time, Richardson was 26.
Afterward, prosecutors say Jackson lit a fire in their shared apartment on
Navco Road before fleeing to the Florida Panhandle, where he was caught hours
later after a brief pursuit by police. The child fled unhurt to a relative's
apartment next door.
Although he initially pleaded not guilty, defense attorneys Greg Hughes and
Robert "Bucky" Thomas did not attempt to prove Jackson's innocence. Rather,
they sought to mitigate the intent of the defendant's crime, suggesting it was
an isolated incident fueled by a day of heavy drinking.
At a sentencing hearing last month, Jackson apologized for the crime, saying he
"wakes up every day and deal with the mistake I've made, and think of the pain
I caused ... I wasn't in my right mind ... I pray one day y'all can forgive
But witnesses testified that in the one year they dated, Jackson and Richardson
had been in other domestic violence incidents, including one when Jackson drove
Richardson to a graveyard and told Richardson that "this is where you're going
Brooks cited previous court rulings to indicate he was wary about imposing
capital punishment, but ultimately concluded the facts surrounding Jackson's
armed robbery conviction at the age of 17 were enough to meet the state's
standard for aggravating circumstances necessary to pursue the death penalty.
As to the violence of the murder, Brooks noted Richardson was "stabbed so
forcefully the long-bladed knife was bent into the shape of a U," and said had
he been required to make an independent finding on the definition of heinous
and cruel, "a different conclusion may have been reached."
"The victim was aware her daughter was watching her being killed," he said.
The prosecution was led by Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood.
State shouldn't expand death penalty
With public support for capital punishment at a 40-year low, Alabama continues
to buck the trend. But just because 2018 is an election year, there's no reason
to expand the state's death penalty.
More than 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the
constitutionality of the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia, many states are
rethinking capital punishment.
Alabama is not one of those states.
A survey last year by the Pew Research Center found public support for capital
punishment at its lowest level in more than 40 years, with 49 % of Americans in
favor and 42 % against. That has been the trend virtually since support for the
death penalty peaked in 1995 at 80 %. At the current rate, support for capital
punishment will fall below opposition in a couple of years - something that has
happened only once before, according to Pew, in the mid-1960s.
But public support for the death penalty remains strong in Alabama, which makes
it a political winner here.
State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, already has said he plans to introduce a
bill in the 2018 legislative session to expand the list of crimes punishable by
death. It is surely a happy coincidence that 2018 is an election year, when
candidates will need issues to run on besides, say, fixing the state budget or
Medicaid or education.
It's not as if Alabama is lagging when it comes to executing people. 5 states -
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and, of course, Texas - accounted for all
executions last year in the U.S.
Greer's proposal would add to the state's list of capital murders those
committed on school campuses or day cares, murders of prosecutors and law
enforcement officers, and murders of family members of law enforcement,
correction officers and judges as acts of revenge.
All of these are terrible crimes, but life in prison is a terrible punishment,
in some ways perhaps worse than death. Life imprisonment is also less expensive
Whether the death penalty actually deters murder, meanwhile, remains the
subject of contentious and inconclusive debate, with each side able to cite
studies of questionable quality.
Most important, however, imprisonment is not irrevocable. There is no atoning
for putting an innocent person to death, and the Alabama Legislature's recent
"streamlining" of the death penalty appeals process may make it only more
likely that the state executes an innocent person.
The death penalty has a visceral, intuitive appeal. Some crimes are simply so
brutal, so horrible and committed with such disregard for human life that the
ultimate Earthly punishment seems the only proper one. But what seems obvious
in theory often doesn't stand up to how things play out in practice, and
capital punishment is one.
It may be unrealistic to expect the Alabama Legislature to rein in the death
penalty, especially with elections coming up. But at the very least, they
should not expand it.
(source: Editorial, Decatur Daily)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
DeathPenalty mailing list