Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, DEL., FLA., ALA., OHIO
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Rick Halperin
2017-05-09 13:22:41 UTC
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May 9




TEXAS----new death sentence

Joseph Colone Jr. sentenced to death


Joseph Colone Jr. has been sentenced to death in the 2010 double killings of
Mary Goodman and her 16-year-old daughter Briana at their South End Beaumont
home.

Both sides rested Monday in the sentencing phase of the capital murder case
against Colone, who last week was convicted of capital murder.

On Monday, Colone's family members testified as character witnesses in an
effort to spare him of the death penalty.

Jurors heard from Colone's teenage daughter, his aunt, and multiple deputies
from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

(source: KFDM news)






DELAWARE:

Delaware House votes on reinstating death penalty


House lawmakers are set to vote on a bill reinstating Delaware's death penalty.

Tuesday's scheduled vote comes amid a public outcry over the killing of a
correctional officer during a prison riot and hostage-taking in February, and
the fatal shooting of a state trooper 2 weeks ago.

Under the bill, jurors would have to find unanimously and beyond a reasonable
doubt that a defendant should be executed.

A majority of state Supreme Court justices declared Delaware's death penalty
law unconstitutional in August because it allowed judges too much discretion
and did not require that a jury find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt
that a defendant deserves execution.

That ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's death
sentencing law, which was similar to the one in Delaware.

(source: Associated Press)






FLORIDA:

Ayala-Scott death penalty suit waiting for Florida Supreme Court ruling


Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala has filed a reply to Gov. Rick
Scott's argument in their legal fight over death-penalty cases, and the 2 now
wait for a response from the Florida Supreme Court.

Ayala announced in March that she would not seek the death penalty against
anyone while she is in office, and Scott responded by reassigning 23
death-penalty cases from her office to that of Ocala-based State Attorney Brad
King. Ayala sued last month.

Ayala had asked the court to order Scott to provide his valid legal reasoning
for reassigning the cases. Scott's attorneys responded with counter-arguments,
and people with interest in the matter - lawmakers, activists and families of
homicide victims - filed their own legal briefs.

The filing Monday is the final step in the initial state of the process. Ayala
and Scott will now wait for the Florida Supreme Court???s next ruling in the
case.

(soruce: Orlando Sentinel)

*************

State to seek death penalty against man charged in Jupiter triple homicide


State attorneys said during a Monday court hearing they will seek the death
penalty against a man arrested in connection with the February shooting deaths
of 3 people in Jupiter.

Christopher Vasata, 24, was arrested in March after the homicides occurred Feb.
5 on Mohawk Street.

Vasata faces 3 counts of 1st degree murder with a firearm, 1 count of attempted
1st-degree murder with a firearm and 1 count of a felon possession of a firearm
or ammunition.

Kelli J. Doherty, 20, of Tequesta, Brandi El-Salhy, 24, of Gainesville and Sean
P. Henry, 25, of Jupiter died in the shootings.

(source: WPTV news)






ALABAMA----impending execution

Alabama death row inmate Tommy Arthur writes to Gov. Kay Ivey: 'My life is in
your hands'


Alabama death row inmate Tommy Arthur, who is set to be executed later this
month, has sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey pleading for his life and DNA
testing on hair he claims was collected in his case.

"Please do not let me die for a crime I did not commit and the facts on these
pages point to (the) real killer," Arthur writes in a 4-page hand-written
letter. He states that "my life is in your hands" and asks her to consider his
claims about evidence in his case.

The letter was first sent by the 75-year-old inmate last week to AL.com, which
forwarded it to Ivey's press secretary.

"We just received the letter and it will be reviewed. The AG's (Alabama
Attorney General's) office will be given an opportunity to respond, and Gov.
Ivey will be thoroughly briefed on all the issues raised by Mr. Arthur and his
attorneys," according to a statement emailed to AL.com from Bryan Taylor,
Governor's Legal Counsel.

Arthur's execution is set for May 25 at the Holman Correctional Facility in
Atmore. It is the 8th time since 2001 that the state has set an execution for
Arthur for his conviction in the 1982 shooting death of Troy Wicker.

Last month, Ivey denied a request by Arthur's attorneys for DNA testing of a
wig purportedly used by Wicker's killer. Ivey, in her letter denying the
testing, stated that no genetic material had been found when the wig was tested
8 years ago.

Arthur, however, states that his attorneys did not include a request to test a
hair he claims is also among the evidence collected by police in his case.
Arthur asks that the hair be found and tested.

3 different juries in trials in 1983, 1987 and 1991 found him guilty. The
victim's wife, Judy Wicker, was also convicted of the murder and spent a decade
in prison. She testified at one trial she paid Arthur $10,000 of the insurance
money for the killing. Judy Wicker and Arthur, who was on work release at the
time, were in a romantic relationship, court records show.

"Please Governor Ivey don't kill me with this evidence never being DNA tested.
I simply am not guilty," Arthur writes.

Alabama has set executions for Arthur seven previous times, but each time he
was granted a stay, including by the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 3, 2016.

Arthur also had written a letter to former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley begging
for his life prior to the November planned execution. Bentley did not grant
that plea for clemency.

Will Gov. Kay Ivey grant clemency to death row inmates?

As governor, Ivey has the power to commute the death sentence of an inmate to
life or grant reprieves to stay executions.

Here is a timeline of Arthur's case:

-- On Feb. 1, 1982, police found Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals shot to death in
his bed - a gunshot wound to his right eye.

-- At the time of the Wicker murder, Arthur was serving at a Decatur work
release center for a conviction in the 1977 murder of his sister-in-law, Eloise
West, in Marion County. Having two murder convictions in that short a span made
him eligible for the death penalty.

-- Arthur was convicted of capital murder in 1983.

-- In 1985, Arthur's conviction in the Wicker case was overturned because
details of the earlier murder had been introduced at his trial.

-- On Jan. 27, 1986, while awaiting retrial, Arthur escaped from the Colbert
County jail by shooting a jailer in the neck with a .25 caliber pistol and
forcing another jailer to open his cell. He was caught a month later by FBI
agents in Knoxville, Tenn., after robbing a bank.

-- Arthur was retried for the Wicker murder in 1987, with the case moved to
Jefferson County because of publicity. He was convicted, but the conviction was
again overturned.

-- Arthur was tried again in Jefferson County and convicted in 1991. That
verdict was upheld.

-- Before he was sentenced, Arthur asked jurors to recommend the death
penalty. He said that he did not have a death wish, but that the sentence would
provide more access to appeals. A lawyer for the state at that time said Arthur
"knows how to work the system."

-- Tuscumbia attorney William Hovater, who was appointed to defend Arthur
after he fired his first 2 attorneys and later escaped from the Colbert County
Jail, told a reporter after one trial that he had worked a plea agreement for
Arthur to be sentenced to life without parole, if he pleaded guilty. Arthur
declined. "He never admitted that he did it," Hovater told a reporter.

(source: al.com)

**********************

Judge dismisses Alabama prisoner's lethal injection claim


A judge on Monday dismissed a death row inmate's claim that Alabama improperly
allows "unaccountable bureaucrats" to decide how executions are carried out in
the state.

The ruling came as lawyers for Tommy Arthur urged another judge to force the
state to release prison records from recent executions, including one where the
inmate coughed for 13 minutes.

Arthur is scheduled to be given a lethal injection on May 25 for the 1982
murder-for-hire slaying of Troy Wicker. Investigators said Arthur was having an
affair with Wicker's wife and she paid Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband.
Arthur was on a prison work-release program for the slaying of his
sister-in-law at the time of Wicker's killing.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs on Monday dismissed Arthur's lawsuit
claiming Alabama improperly lets the Department of Corrections determine the
lethal injection protocol. Hobbs wrote that Arthur waited too late to raise
that claim.

Arthur's lawyers argued in a separate lawsuit that the state is being illegally
secretive about recent executions and wrongly refused to release information
through a public records request.

The Department of Corrections has refused to release execution logs and other
records from recent executions. Arthur's lawyers argued that witness accounts
suggested the inmates might not have been fully anesthetized after being given
the sedative midazolam.

The state refused to release records saying it "would be detrimental to the
public interest" and might identify prison employees involved in executions.
The accused Arthur of being on a "fishing expedition" as he tries to stop his
execution.

Arthur's attorneys argued in a motion filed Friday that the records are public
and the state was using flimsy reasons for not releasing them. Names can be
redacted if needed, they wrote.

"For Mr. Arthur, who is scheduled to be executed on May 25, 2017, the need for
information regarding his government's affairs - specifically, records
concerning the State's last 2 executions - is especially urgent. But even if
Mr. Arthur were not a death row inmate facing imminent execution, he would,
like any other citizen of Alabama, have "a right to inspect and take a copy of
any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by
statute," Arthur's lawyers wrote.

(source: therepublic.com)






OHIO:

Jurors' death penalty views to be examined in case against Delphos man accused
of killing toddler


Potential jurors in a death penalty case should have more space to express
their views on capital punishment when filling out a pretrial questionnaire, a
Van Wert County judge ruled Monday.

The issue arose during a pretrial hearing for Christopher Peters, a 27-year-old
Delphos man charged with aggravated murder in the death of 15-month-old Hayden
Ridinger.

One of Peters' defense attorneys, Bill Kluge, argued that a question asking
future jurors about their views on the death penalty, which Peters is facing,
warranted more than the two response lines initially provided in the
questionnaire.

"I'm sure a lot of people would like to explain themselves more," Kluge said to
Judge Martin Burchfield. "I know I could write 3 to 4 pages."

Burchfield agreed to move the death penalty question further up, meaning it
will appear earlier in the questionnaire. The move will allow jurors more space
to respond to the question, which Kluge said would "give us a good head start
to determine where we should start as we begin questioning the jury."

Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger, who is representing the state, made no
objection to the request.

In another motion, Burchfield ruled that the court will grant $2,000 for a
pathologist, which is a physician that studies the cause and effect of
diseases.

Other motions included securing records from the Hancock, Putnam and Seneca
counties' children services office. Burchfield said he has received these
records from Hancock and Putnam counties, but a court order was requested from
Seneca County. Burchfield said he will put in a court order for the records
from Seneca County, and will review documents from the other 2 counties by the
end of this week.

Kluge said he may file another motion with the court, this time requesting a
psychiatrist to interview and evaluate the defendant. Yarger said she would
like to review the motion before she determines whether or not to issue an
objection.

Peters has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault,
and endangering children in Hayden???s death. The child was found dead inside
an apartment Nov. 15 at 24249 Lincoln Highway. The child's mother, 24-year-old
Valerie Dean, faces involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges.

Peters, who was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, will appear for his 4th
pretrial hearing on June 5. His jury trial is set for Sept. 18.

(source: limaohio.com)

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