2017-06-17 13:39:40 UTC
Larry Fitzgerald, face for Texas death row, dies at 79
Larry Fitzgerald, former Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman, sits
on the sofa in his living room in what had been his quarters in Huntsville. He
witnessed more than 200 executions during his 8 years as the face of the
nation's busiest death chamber. He died June 12.
As prison system spokesman, Fitzgerald was the face of the nation's busiest
death chamber for 8 years.
Friends and relatives remember his wit, empathy with death-row inmates and his
notorious gallows humor.
Larry Fitzgerald, who for years was the Texas prison system's spokesman,
working as the public face of the busiest death chamber in the nation, died
June 12 at his Austin home, according to his family.
Fitzgerald was the Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman for 8 years
during which Texas was building new prisons and dealing with the attention
drawn by then Gov. George W. Bush's run for the presidency. He was inevitably
drawn into stories about the death penalty and Texas' approach to it, fielding
inquiries from American media he said were generally cordial and foreign
outlets that he said treated him as if he personally sharpened the
A hard-drinking, chain-smoking archetype of a public relations era now past,
Fitzgerald, according to a 2014 Texas Monthly article, once showed his
mischievous streak by taking a newly hired spokeswoman to a prison on the
pretense of educating her about the business - only to lead her "past dozens of
newly shorn arrivals who had been divested of not just their hair but all their
Fitzgerald's obituary - most of which he wrote himself - notes that as a prison
system spokesman he "witnessed 219 executions, allowing him to meet many state,
national and international media types. Big whoop."
But as the public face of a notorious prison system, "If Larry said it, you
could take it to the bank," said Michelle Lyons, the co-worker Fitzgerald had
led past the cluster of nude inmates. "He was, quite simply, the face of TDCJ
and he always will be."
Fitzgerald is survived by his wife, Marianne Cook Fitzgerald; daughter, Kelly
Anne Fitzgerald; and son, Kevin Lane Fitzgerald. He died from what his wife
said was a serious internal disease, for which he had been in hospice care. The
family is planning a public memorial, though they are still working out the
details, Marianne Fitzgerald said.
Clyde Larry Fitzgerald was born Oct. 12, 1937, in Austin, according to his
obituary. He was the son of a government land man and a schoolteacher,
according to an article by Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Ward, one of the
many Texas journalists Fitzgerald grew to know over the years. Fitzgerald
graduated from McCallum High School and attended the University of Texas. He
worked for years at radio stations around Texas as a disc jockey, reporter and
news director, developing the authoritative voice he would employ before the
cameras. He worked in political campaigns for Bill Hobby, who was then the
lieutenant governor, and Ann Richards during her run for governor. His obituary
notes that he "was proud that he kept one particular promise he had made to
himself: never vote Republican."
(source: Austin American-Statesman)
Convicted killer 'should go to the very top' of execution list, judge says
A Lancaster County man has been formally sentenced to death for fatally
stabbing a woman and her 16-year-old daughter because they were going to
testify against him in a child sexual assault trial.
Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker ordered the sentence Friday
for 40-year-old Leeton Thomas and said if Pennsylvania lifts a moratorium on
the death penalty, Thomas "should go to the very top of the list."
Thomas, 40, was found guilty by a jury Tuesday of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder
in the June 2015 killings of 44-year-old Lisa Scheetz and her daughter.
The Quarryville man was also convicted of attempted homicide for severely
wounding Scheetz's then-15-year-old daughter after breaking into the family's
East Drumore Township home. She testified at trial and identified Thomas as the
The jury decided on the death sentence Wednesday night.
(source: WHTM news)
Prison bus was 'tank of piranhas' as guards slain; death penalty sought for
Convicts on a Georgia prison bus appeared to laugh and jump around as 2
corrections officers were shot to death earlier this week in an escape that
prompted a nationwide manhunt.
The callousness of the crime has authorities preparing to seek the death
penalty for accused killers Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell "Whiskey" Rowe.
"We've got too many of these savages out here. We need to keep them caged up
and send those to hell that we can," Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said
Friday, a day after Rowe and Dubose were caught south of Nashville, Tennessee.
The sheriff has seen surveillance video from the bus that shows Tuesday's
attack on guards Curtis Billue and Chris Monica.
Sills suspects some of the prisoners knew something was afoot by the way they
moved to the back of the bus. They may not have known the guards were about to
be killed, but their behavior was unsettling.
"They're no different than a tank full of piranhas," Sills said. "They're
purposely jumping around and laughing and going on."
The killings happened along on Ga. 16 between Sparta and Eatonton.
Billue and Monica were taking 33 inmates to the prison at Jackson when Dubose
and Rowe, former cellmates, somehow got through a metal barrier on the bus.
"I can see them do it (on the video), but I don't know how they did it," Sills
said. "You can see them mess with (the lock) a little before they go in. But it
was not locked when I got on the bus, and I was the first person on the bus."
Rowe and Dubose fought the officer who wasn't driving and somehow got their
hands on an officer's pistol.
"The bus driver gets shot and the guy riding shotgun gets shot and his body
collapses down the stairwell of the bus door," Sills said.
A tracking device on the bus showed that it stopped on the highway south of
Lake Oconee at 6:44 a.m.
The accused killers were initially trapped on the bus by the mortally wounded
guard lying in front of the door.
After busting a window on the folding exit door and squeezing through, Rowe and
Dubose began their 3-day flight by commandeering a passerby???s Honda Civic.
The car had stopped behind the bus, which was blocking the road.
Video footage shows other prisoners possibly trying to make a break for it, but
apparently thinking better of it and returning to the bus.
"I think they were concerned that their walk might lead to a ride on that
needle," Sills said, referring to execution by lethal injection.
By Thursday, the fugitives believed they were dead men walking.
Having eluded the dragnet for 2 days, they took an elderly couple hostage in
their home near Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing said the husband and wife were "extremely
traumatized" and feared for their lives.
Dubose and Rowe told the couple the men didn't have anything to lose, that
"they would probably be dead in 24 hours."
Earlier Thursday in Moore County near Lynchburg, Tennessee, the escapees stole
a sedan after ditching the Ford F-250 pickup taken from Madison late Tuesday.
They got as far as Bedford County before abandoning the vehicle on the side of
"I'm assuming and think it broke down on 'em, but they may have decided just to
ditch it," Swing said.
The escapees walked a little ways up the road, barged into the couple's house
and put guns to both of their heads.
Rowe and Dubose tied them up, ate some beef stew, grabbed some clothes, boots
Sills said they hid in the house for about 3 hours as Bedford County deputies
were down the street with the abandoned car.
Once the scene cleared, the accused killers left in the couple's Jeep Cherokee
and threatened the husband and wife that they would come back for them if the
couple told on them.
About 15 minutes later, the man was able to break free and called authorities.
A new lookout on the Jeep was posted and deputies spotted the car on Interstate
24, about 50 miles southeast of Nashville.
The chase reached speeds of over 100 mph, Sgt. Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford
County Sheriff's Office told reporters.
"A highly dangerous situation, 2 extremely dangerous people, well-armed and
traveling high-speed through our community was a grave concern," Goodwin said.
Shots were fired at the pursuing officers, but deputies did not return fire,
Rutherford County Sheriff Michael Fitzhugh said.
Rowe and Dubose crashed the car and ran into the woods and came upon a house at
the end of a long driveway in Christiana, Tennessee.
The homeowner saw them trying to steal his car and came out with an AR-15 rifle
pointed at them.
He and a neighbor held them at gunpoint until officers arrived.
Seeing the men face down on the concrete driveway with their hands bound behind
their back was a relief to law enforcement officers across the Southeast.
The GBI will reward the "bravery of Tennessee civilians" who helped apprehend
the fugitives by distributing the $141,000 in reward money.
Rowe and Dubose will be held in Tennessee awaiting extradition to Middle
Georgia to face murder charges.
Putnam District Attorney Stephen Bradley plans to review the evidence and move
forward "quickly," he said.
"I cannot imagine a case being more serious than this."
Miami Man Who Fed 5-Year-Old Girl to Alligators Gets Death Sentence Overturned
In 2007, a jury convicted Liberty City native Harrel Braddy of kidnapping a
5-year-old and leaving her to die on the side of Interstate 75, where she was
eaten alive by alligators. Eleven jurors believed Braddy should be put to
death, but one disagreed.
It was an important holdout: The split decision means that ten years later,
Braddy will be granted 1 more chance to avoid the death penalty.
Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court vacated Braddy's death sentence, calling it
unconstitutional under a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated the
state's sentencing practices. Although it's possible that Braddy could be
resentenced to death, he is now entitled to return to court so his sentence can
The 40-page ruling recalls gruesome details of Quatisha Maycock's murder and
the attempted murder of her 22-year-old mother, who survived the attack and
later testified against Braddy. On November 6, 1998, Braddy put the mother and
daughter in his rented Lincoln Town Car and took them on a horrifying ride to
Broward County, where Shandelle Maycock was thrown out of the car and choked
unconscious, prosecutors say. Quatisha's body was found 3 days later in a canal
off Interstate 75 near mile marker 34.
Though the official cause of her death was blunt force trauma to the head
consistent with being thrown onto rocks near the canal, the medical examiner
said she was still alive when an alligator bit her head and torso. At the time
the girl's body was recovered, her left arm had also been ripped off by
Questioned by detectives, Braddy gave inconsistent stories about why he left
the girl in the Everglades in the middle of the night, but admitted he "knew
she would probably die." At one point, he told investigators he was worried
Quatisha would tell people what he had done to her mother.
Following a 2-week trial in 2007, Circuit Judge Leonard E. Glick agreed with
the jury's recommendation to send Braddy, a dangerous felon with previous
convictions for armed burglary and attempted 1st-degree murder of a
correctional officer, to death row.
"The defendant... caused this 5-year-old to die, alone in the wilderness, and
to be mutilated by monsters of the swamp," Glick wrote in his sentencing order.
"Adults are supposed to protect children from monsters; they are not supposed
to be the monsters themselves."
Braddy appealed his case from prison, but Florida Supreme Court justices denied
his petition in 2012.
The decision to vacate Braddy's death sentence was supported by all but one
justice, Charles Canady, who says he does not believe the 2016 Supreme Court
decision should be applied retroactively. A 2nd justice, Alan Lawson, says he
does not agree with the Supreme Court ruling but will uphold it as the current
law of the land.
(source: Miami New Times)
Alabama Supreme Court denies appeals of 2 death row inmates
The Alabama Supreme Court has denied hearing 2 death row inmates' appeals.
Jason Michael Sharp and James Osgood both filed for a writ of certiorari to the
state's highest court-- a petition that asks the court to hear their separate
cases. Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court announced they will not hear the cases
of either inmate.
No opinion was written for either case.
Sharp, 40, was moved to Alabama's death row in 2006 after being convicted of
murder in Madison County. He was found guilty that year of the 1999 rape and
stabbing death of Huntsville nurse Tracy Morris. Due to procedural issues, the
case took 7 years to go to trial.
Sharp's attorneys filed an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court after an appeals
court denied his request for post conviction relief earlier this year. Sharp
claimed he had ineffective counsel throughout his trial, and his counsel did
not object to the police's "inadequate" investigating of the case.
Sharp's murder conviction has been appealed several times in the past. The
Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that prosecutors improperly struck 11 of 13
African American jurors in the jury pool. Sharp is white, Tracy Morris was also
white. A Madison County circuit judge ruled in 2010 prosecutors did not
discriminate during jury selection, but the state Court of Criminal Appeals
ruled 1 year later that it appeared jurors were improperly struck from the
jury. They ordered a new trial for Sharp.
The Alabama Attorney General's office asked the court to reconsider the opinion
and in 2012, the court reversed itself, finding no discrimination by
prosecutors. The state Supreme Court later upheld that ruling.
A law enacted in 2012, named "Tracy's Law," criminalizes some of the behaviors
stalkers use and increases penalties for stalking. The victim's brother, Brian
Morris, said Sharp "bothered his sister for about 18 months" before she was
Osgood, 48, was sent to death row in 2014 after being convicted of 2 capital
murder charges in Chilton County. He was found guilty killing 44-year-old Tracy
Brown in 2010 after sexually abusing her. Osgood's girlfriend Tonya Vandyke was
also convicted in Brown's death. She was sentenced to life without parole.
She and Brown were cousins.
Brown was attacked in her mobile home and forced to perform sexual acts at
gunpoint. She was beaten, stabbed, and had slit her throat, court documents
Osgood's appeal to the state Supreme Court is based on several claims including
that his confession to police should have seen suppressed, crime scene photos
should have not been shown in court, and that the state's penalty phase
instructions were improper.
Jury Recommends Death Penalty In Slaying Of Ex-girlfriend
An Ohio jury has recommended that a man be put to death for abducting his
estranged girlfriend from Kentucky and killing her along an Ohio interstate.
A jury in southwest Ohio's Warren County deliberated several hours Thursday
before making the death penalty recommendation for 43-year-old Terry Froman, of
Brookport, Illinois. The same jury found Froman guilty of aggravated murder and
kidnapping Tuesday in the September 2014 slaying of 34-year-old Kimberly
A judge will decide whether to impose the death penalty or a prison sentence.
Froman's attorney declined to comment Friday.
Prosecutors said Froman became vengeful when Thomas ordered him out of her
Mayfield, Kentucky, home. Prosecutors say Froman abducted Thomas from Kentucky
after fatally shooting Thomas' 17-year-old son, Eli Mohney.
Froman faces charges in Kentucky for Mohney's death.
(source: Associated Press)
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