2017-11-23 13:43:11 UTC
D.A. opposes ban on death penalty
Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchell has experienced many
"firsts" in her career. In November 2014, she became the county's 1st woman to
hold the position of district attorney. Now, 3 years later, Mitchell has tried
- and won - her 1st capital murder case.
Texas is 1 of 32 states using the death penalty. With nearly 40% of states
banning the practice, capital punishment remains controversial. Mitchell,
however, does not favor a death penalty ban in Texas.
"You have to look at the specifics of every case," she said. "In the
appropriate circumstances, I believe the death penalty is appropriate."
On Nov. 15, Mitchell, along with Lisa Tanner of the states' Attorney General's
Office, obtained a death sentence for convicted murderer William Mitchell
Hudson, 35, was convicted on 3 counts of capital murder, stemming from the
killings of 6 people from 2 families who were vacationing in Tennessee Colony
in late 2015.
Mitchell personally investigated the site of the slayings shortly after
Hudson's arrest. She told the Herald-Press on Tuesday that, after what she saw
and the the evidence collected, no other punishment made sense.
"I take the responsibility [of requesting the death penalty] very seriously,"
Mitchell said. "I could not think of anything more in line with deserving a
Texas falls behind only Oklahoma in executions per-capita for the past 30
years. With Texas' far larger population, however, the number of prisoners
executed here is roughly 5 times higher: Texas has 521, Oklahoma, 112.
Irrespective of statistics, Mitchell said, Texas applies the death penalty in
only the most egregious homicide cases. Those include:
Murder of an on-duty police officer or firefighter.
Murder of a judge.
Murder while defendant was committing, or attempting to commit, kidnapping,
burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, or arson
Murder for hire.
Murder occurring during an actual or attempted prison break.
Multiple murders occurring as a result of the defendant's actions.
Murder of someone 10-years-old or younger.
The state requested the death penalty for Hudson under the statute's last 2
provisions. Of the multiple murders on Nov. 14, 2015, the youngest victim, Kade
Johnson, was 6-years-old.
Mitchell, who is up for re-election in 2018, said district attorneys cannot let
personal opinions interfere with their duties.
"Capital punishment is part of the law of Texas," she said. "Regardless of a
prosecutor's personal beliefs, he or she has sworn to uphold the law. That is
what I intend to do."
(source: Palestine Herald)
SOUTH CAROLINA----stay of impending execution
Federal judge grants stay in S.C. execution, state lacks drugs to carry it out
A federal judge has granted a stay of execution for a man on South Carolina's
death row, a day after officials said they couldn't secure the drugs needed for
U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis issued the stay Tuesday in the case
of 52-year-old Bobby Wayne Stone, who was scheduled to die Dec. 1. Lewis noted
that attorneys for Stone had filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pending before the court and argued that a stay was warranted.
Even if the state had the drugs to carry out the execution, Stone can pursue
federal habeas corpus, the final stage of the appeals process, which can take
Stone was on death row for killing a Sumter County sheriff's deputy in February
(source: Associated Press)
Ayala confident late filing will not affect motion to seek death penalty in
Kissimmee murder case
After coming under fire from Gov. Rick Scott for missing the deadline for
filing her intent to seek the death penalty in a Kissimmee murder case, State
Attorney Aramis Ayala said Wednesday she wasn't concerned.
After several days of going back and forth with Scott's office about the blame
for missing the deadline, Ayala said Wednesday she expects her death penalty
motion to be approved.
Ayala, who has been at odds with Scott since she announced her office would not
seek the death penalty in any case it prosecuted, said Monday that it wasn't
her fault the deadline was missed.
The case in question is against Emerita Mapp, who is accused of stabbing
20-year-old Zachary Ganoe to death and critically injuring another man at a
Kissimmee Days Inn in April.
The case against Mapp was never reviewed by Scott's office, or by another state
attorney, which is why the deadline was missed, Ayala said.
The reason the case was not reviewed would seem to be of Ayala's own making,
according to an email exchange with State Attorney Brad King, who is handling
the cases removed from Ayala's office.
"Without such an orderly process, we will be reacting to law enforcement, or
victim family, requests made to the governor," King wrote on April 20. "This
would create the potential for speedy trial and (death penalty) filing time
Nearly a month later, Ayala responded saying unless Scott had removed a case
from her office, she was in charge of prosecuting it.
"It remains my position that any cases within the Ninth Circuit, without an
executive order, remain the sole duty and responsibility of me to prosecute,"
Ayala wrote on May 15.
In September, Ayala announced the formation of a death penalty review panel,
which would examine potential capital cases and decide if seeking the death
penalty was appropriate.
The panel did not review Mapp's case until after the deadline, which requires
that an intent to seek the death penalty be filed within 45 days of the
Mapp was arraigned on Aug. 23.
While Mapp's attorneys moved to have the prosecution's filing of intent to seek
the death penalty dismissed, Ayala said her office is ready to litigate the
She filed a response to the defense motion Wednesday, saying that because Mapp
had waived her right to a speedy trial, it was OK to file the death sentence
WFTV legal analyst and former Chief Judge Belvin Perry said Ayala's argument
was an interesting one.
"It's going to hinge on the interpretation of the court on the statute," he
said. "Which says that they 'must' (file a death penalty motion within 45
The 45-day deadline is part of a recently enacted rule, changing the previous
one that allowed prosecutors to submit late filings.
Between the addition of the 45-day deadline and removal of the provision that
allows late filings, Perry said it is unlikely a judge will approve Ayala's
"If you read the two together, he can logically come up with the conclusion
that they are barred from seeking the death penalty," Perry said.
Scott's office struck back after Ayala's accusations Monday, saying the missed
filing was her fault alone.
"It is outrageous State Attorney Ayala is attempting to pass the blame for her
failure," Scott's deputy director of communications McKinley Lewis said in a
statement. "Let's be clear - State Attorney Ayala failed to meet this deadline
and she alone is responsible for not fighting for justice for the victims in
In light of the missed deadline, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran called
for Scott to remove Ayala from office.
"She should be removed from office," he said. "That's what I believe. I've said
When asked about the possibility of removing Ayala from office, Scott said his
attention was currently on the potential death penalty cases being prosecuted
"Right now, I'm going to focus on reassigning cases," he said.
(source: WFTV news)
ALABAMA----new execution date
Alabama Supreme Court sets January execution date for Vernon Madison
The Alabama Supreme Court has set a new execution date for Vernon Madison, who
saw an execution delayed in 2016 amid his questions of his mental competency.
The state plans to execute Madison - convicted of the 1985 murder of Julius
Schulte, a Mobile police officer, on Jan. 25, 2018. If carried out, it would be
the sixth execution by the state since executions resumed in 2016 after a 2 1/2
A message seeking comment was left with the Montgomery-based Equal Justice
Initiative, which has represented Madison in the past.
"I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has agreed to my request to set a
new execution date as soon as possible," Alabama Attorney General Steve
Marshall said in a statement. "32 years is far too long to wait to face
According to court records, Madison shot Schulte point-blank in the head on
April 18, 1985, as Schulte was responding to a report of a missing child at the
home where Madison, then a parolee, was staying. Madison then shot at his
girlfriend, who was shielding her 11-year-old daughter, hitting her in the
A jury convicted Madison of capital murder in September of 1985, but the
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial after prosecutors
excluded blacks from the jury. A 2nd conviction was set aside after prosecutors
got expert testimony "based on facts not in evidence."
Madison was convicted in a third trial in 1994. The jury sentenced Madison to
life in prison after hearing evidence of Madison's mental illness. Mobile
County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury's decision and imposed a
The inmate's attorneys said prior to his scheduled execution in May of 2016
that Madison suffered multiple strokes that lowered his IQ to 72, caused
dementia and left him blind and unable to walk on his own. The attorneys said
that the strokes affected his memory and ability to understand the reason for
A 3-judge federal panel stayed Madison's execution - just hours before it would
have taken place - over questions about his mental competence. The panel found
Madison "does not understand the connection between his crime and his
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision last month, saying a lower state
court's ruling was "not 'so lacking in justification' as to give rise to error
'beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.'"
Justice Stephen Breyer, while concurring in the decision, voiced concern about
executing prisoners "suffering the diseases and infirmities of old age" and
said the court should consider "the ways in which lengthy periods of
imprisonment between death sentence and execution can deepen the cruelty of the
death penalty while at the same time undermining its penological rationale."
The state executes condemned inmates using a 3-drug procedure involving the
sedative midazolam. Ronald Bert Smith, executed last December, gasped and
coughed for 13 minutes of his 34-minute execution. Torrey McNabb, executed last
October, raised his right arm and visibly grimaced about 20 minutes into his
(source: Montgomery Advertiser)
Judge finds capital murder suspect competent to stand trial
A Houston County Judge issued an order finding capital murder suspect Michael
Allen Tharp competent to stand trial.
During a hearing held Tuesday in Judge Kevin Moulton's courtroom, Dr. Amber
Simpler, a clinical psychologist at Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility,
testified Tharp, in her medical opinion, understands the charges against him.
According to Moulton's order issued later Tuesday, the courts took into
consideration Simpler's testimony and exhibits admitted during the hearing and
found the defendant competent to stand trial.
During Simpler's testimony, she also stated Tharp suffered from emotional
issues. He also has a history of drug abuse.
Houston County Sheriff's investigators arrested Tharp on Dec. 14, 2012, 2 days
after the slaying and robbery of his stepfather, 68-year-old Joseph Bernard
The shooting happened at a mobile home in the 500 block North Broad Street in
Cowarts near an intersection with Jordan Avenue, not far from Tharp's home.
Tharp's trial is set to begin Dec. 4. If Tharp is convicted of the capital
murder charge, he could face the death penalty.
(source: Dothan Eagle)
Ohio killer who survived execution files new court appeal
A condemned killer whose poor veins led Ohio to halt his execution has appealed
a judge's decision upholding the state's lethal injection system.
Death row inmate Alva Campbell argues that Ohio's process raises an
unconstitutional risk of serious harm because the 1st of 3 drugs may not render
inmates completely unconscious.
Lawyers for Campbell and fellow death row inmate Raymond Tibbetts announced the
appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
Federal Judge Michael Merz rejected the inmates' arguments earlier this month.
Ohio prisons director Gary Mohr stopped Campbell's execution Nov. 15 after
executioners said they couldn't find usable veins.
Campbell has a new execution date in June 2019.
Tibbetts is scheduled to die Feb. 13 for fatally stabbing a Cincinnati man in
(source: Daily Journal)
How activists are blocking states from getting execution drugs
Activists who oppose the death penalty have made executions more difficult by
cutting off states' access to drugs needed for lethal injections.
Popularity: Approval of the death penalty is at the lowest it's been since the
70s, according to Gallup's poll.
The drugs: Traditionally, a cocktail of three drugs has been used in lethal
injection: 1. An anesthetic so the prisoner is unconscious. 2. A paralytic,
which freezes up the lungs and other muscles. 3. Potassium chloride, which
stops the heart.
The problem: The anesthetic. Anti-death penalty activists have managed to block
one powerful anesthetic after another, which has resulted in experiments with
different drugs and ultimately, several seemingly-botched executions.
Sodium thiopental was the anesthetic of choice for years, and Hospira was the
only American, FDA-approved pharmaceutical for the drug.
Hospira stopped production of sodium thiopental after the FDA discovered
several cases of drug contamination in 2010. This left states with a shortage
of drugs, according to the Atlantic.
State prisons turned to Europe, Dubai and even a salesman in India to illegally
import the sodium thiopental.
Maya Foa, an anti-death penalty activist, first convinced British government
and eventually the European Commission to ban the exporting of drugs intended
for lethal injection, the Atlantic reports. The activist organization she
worked for also managed to stop other countries from exporting sodium
thiopental by informing the pharmaceutical companies what the drug was being
The Drug Enforcement Administration then went on raids taking the states'
supplies after reports came out about states importing drugs for lethal
In 2010, pentobarbital was first used as the anesthetic in a 3-drug lethal
cocktail in Oklahoma, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
7 months later, the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck used distribution controls
to prevent the U.S. government from using their pentobarbital for executions,
according to the Atlantic.
In the 2010s, several states passed secrecy laws which maintained anonymity for
the doctors and pharmacists who supplied drugs to state prisons, in an effort
to encourage cooperation. Only in Missouri did the court demand that the
prison's reveal their sources of the lethal drugs.
In 2013, Midazolam was first used in a 3-drug, lethal cocktail in Florida,
according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
In April 2014, Clayton Locket's execution, which lasted 2 hours, Midazolam was
used and resulted in Locket gagging and gasping for breath.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that there was not enough evidence that the
use of Midazolam falls under "cruel and unusual punishment," in a case brought
by death row prisoners. Activists had engaged "in what amounts to a guerrilla
war against the death penalty," wrote Justice Samuel A. Alito.
Earlier this year, the large pharmaceutical company, McKesson Corporation, sued
Arkansas for using its drugs for executions deceitfully, Reuters reported.
Arkansas then scheduled 8 executions in 11 days, after no execution since 2005.
Several of the inmates' executions were delayed after lawyers made the argument
that the use of Midazolam could violate the 8th Amendment.
Why the rush? The state's supply of Midazolam has expired and they don't know
when they could get more.
Houston man charged with kidnapping tied to ex-postal worker's death
A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with kidnapping a woman who was the mother
of his 2 children - and his co-worker at the U.S. Postal Service - after
allegedly shooting her in the head and abandoning her uncovered body in the
woods, according to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the Southern District of Texas.
Don Gaines is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning in federal court on
kidnapping charges for taking the body of Gayla Roy from Texas to Louisiana,
according to the complaint.
He could possibly face the death penalty if convicted.
The federal complaint charges that he "did unlawfully seize, confine, kidnap,
abduct, and carry away Gayla Roy, without her consent, from Texas to Louisiana
for a purpose, namely, to dispose of her body or to kill her."
Gaines also was accused in June of assaulting a family member in an unrelated
"This is sad," wrote a former co-worker on Facebook. "I used to work with both
of them. I'm just at a loss for words. Gayla Roy was such a beautiful and
outgoing person ... My prayers for her sons and her family ... I just can't
believe this happened."
The Postal Service in recent decades has been hit with violent incidents, often
tied to mass slayings in the workplace.
Roy's death comes after James Wayne Ham, of Coldspring, killed a postal worker
in May 2013. The man shot Eddie "Marie" Youngblood multiple times and
eventually set her on fire inside her Jeep Cherokee. Ham was reportedly upset
with Youngblood because he thought the postal worker was keeping his mail and
re-routing it to his estranged wife, who at the time also was a mail carrier.
Ham's trial was continued indefinitely until the Trump administration can
review the case, according to documents. In March 2018, both parties are to
report the status of the case. Federal prosecutors a year ago also renewed
their intent to seek the death penalty.
'Our hearts are broken'
In the latest local case, Roy, a 28-year-old postal worker, was reported
missing in September by family members after she failed to show up for work at
the USPS plant on Aldine Bender Road for 2 days.
"Our hearts are broken," a post read on a Facebook page titled 'Bring Gayla Roy
Home.' "Rest In Peace, beautiful girl."
Her body was found after Gaines told investigators he left her in the woods off
the feeder road of Interstate 10. He told federal agents that on Sept. 11 he
choked the woman inside her car and thought he killed her, the complaint
Roy regained consciousness at some point on the drive to Louisiana, and Gaines
eventually pulled over on the I-10 feeder road in Louisiana.
He took Roy into the woods and shot her in the head with a firearm and
abandoned her body, according to the complaint. Investigators from the Houston
Postal Division reviewed surveillance video from the workplace and saw both
Gaines and Roy leaving the building on Sept. 11 around 6:50 a.m. Gaines told
investigators that he rode inside Roy's black 2011 Lincoln MKZ.
Family members of the young postal worker also told investigators that Roy had
been physically assaulted in the past by Gaines, according to the complaint.
Interviewed his mother
Days after Roy went missing, investigators also met with Gaines' mother and
stepfather. They learned from his mother, Marcia Powell, that on Sept. 11 she
saw Gaines enter the house he shared with Powell and her husband.
She also saw Roy's car in the driveway, but his mother did not go into the
house. Powell said that at one point she noticed both her son and Roy's car
were gone, the complaint stated.
The last time she saw Gaines was when he asked the next evening to borrow his
stepfather's car, a Toyota Scion.
GPS records show that Roy's car traveled on Sept. 11 from Gaines' home to
somewhere near Iowa, La., but eventually returned back to Houston. The car was
recovered by investigators in the 3300 block ofYorktown on Sept 14.
Investigators were able to track the man's location after reviewing his
cellphone records and observing the Toyota Scion captured on a camera in a
Kroger parking lot in Atlanta. They set up surveillance and saw Gaines walking
to this car.
He was arrested Sept. 18 in connection with the June assault on another woman.
Investigators say Gaines confessed after his arrest the details of killing Roy.
He said during the drive with Roy, they would argue on and off, but at one
point were apologizing to each other, according to the complaint.
Investigators were able to recover Roy's body based on interviewing Gaines and
the GPS data from her vehicle.
He also admitted he did not cover up her body in the woods.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
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