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death penalty news----LA., OHIO, MO., NEB., WYO., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-07-14 14:21:31 UTC
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July 14



LOUISIANA:

Attorney in Alexandria fatal shooting to file competency motion


An Alexandria man facing the death penalty for a fatal February shooting was
agitated from the time he was brought into a Rapides Parish courtroom Thursday
morning.

Timothy Teasley, 25, faces 1st-degree and attempted 1st-degree murder charges
for the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 27-year-old Thaer Zidan at the Chi-Town
Gas & Grocery on 3rd Street in Alexandria.

Another clerk at the store had been shot at but wasn't injured. Teasley
suffered minor gunshot wounds during the incident, which the Alexandria Police
Department said "did not appear to be a robbery," according to a Town Talk
article.

Community members came together for a vigil days after the shooting.

"We don't hold anyone responsible except the person that did this," said
Zidan's brother, Lou Zidan, that night. "This wasn't black vs. Arab. This was 1
person."

But in late April, the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office announced its
intention to seek the death penalty a day after Teasley was indicted.

The Town Talk left a message for Assistant District Attorney Monica Doss about
the reasons behind that decision, but a response wasn't immediately received.

Before court started, Teasley kept hopping up from his chair, waving his hands
that were cuffed and shackled to his waist, while talking to a bailiff. The
Rapides Parish Sheriff's deputy kept telling Teasley to sit down and calm down
before he had to take Teasley out of the courtroom.

Not everything Teasley said could be heard. "I'm telling you the truth," he
said to the bailiff before he was led out.

Minutes later, Teasley's defense attorney, Dwight M. Doskey with the Capital
Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, was taken to meet with his client.

After 9th Judicial District Court Judge Monique Rauls entered, Teasley was the
first before her. As Doss and Doskey tried to conduct the pretrial hearing,
Teasley interrupted and tried to talk to Rauls about the case.

"No, you're not," she said. "No, you're not."

Teasley continued to talk over the attorneys even after that, with the bailiff
standing behind him telling him to be quiet.

Doskey said he intends to file a motion to determine Teasley's competency to
assist in his defense. He at first said Teasley was unwilling to assist, but
then said it would be better to say Teasley is unable to assist in his defense.

Doskey said Teasley insists that police arrested the wrong man in the case. He
asked Rauls to continue the hearing until Sept. 12, and she approved that
request over the objection of Doss.

As Teasley was being led out of courtroom, he told the bailiff, "You better be
ready to fight."

The day after Teasley was charged in this case, he also was arrested in a case
that happened the day before the fatal shooting. Police have said the shootings
do not appear to be related.

Both shootings happened on 3rd Street. The Feb. 13 shooting was at a
convenience store in the 4300 block. Responding officers found a man who had
been shot in his abdomen, but the man recovered.

(source: The Tgown Talk)

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

Pre-trial continued until September for Rapides man facing death row trial


A pre-trial was reset until September 12 for Timothy Teasley, 25, of Alexandria
who is charged with 1st degree murder and attempted 1st degree murder for the
February murder of Thaer Ziden, an employee at Chi-Town Gas & Grocery, and the
attempted murder of another employee.

In June, the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office filed a notice that it
plans to seek the death penalty for Teasley in the case. Teasley is being
represented by attorneys with the Capital Defense Project of Southeast
Louisiana.

His pre-trial was scheduled for Thursday. Before court began, Teasley started
getting restless with court bailiffs, repeating over and over, "I ain't got
time." And, "I'm telling you the truth."

When he was brought before Judge Monique Rauls, Teasley became restless again
and made an effort to try to talk to Judge Rauls about the case, to which she
replied, "Not you're not."

Dwight Doskey, who is serving as co-counsel for Teasley, told the judge that,
"Mr. Teasley has been unable to speak to us. He feels they have the wrong man."
Doskey said he plans to file a motion to determine Teasley's competency.

The pre-trial was reset for September 12. Teasley became restless again and was
escorted out, telling the bailiff, "You better be ready to fight."

(source: KALB news)

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

Armande Tart charged with 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in Metairie quadruple
slaying


A Jefferson Parish grand jury on Thursday indicted Armande Tart on 4 counts of
1st-degree murder for a quadruple killing in a Metairie apartment complex in
March.

Tart, 20, was also indicted on 1 count of obstruction of justice.

The 1st-degree murder charges would allow District Attorney Paul Connick's
office to pursue the death penalty.

"That decision has not been made," said Paul Purpura, Connick's spokesman.

State law allows for the charge of 1st-degree murder in certain circumstances,
though Connick, who has been the district attorney since 1996, has for years
generally charged defendants in murder cases with 2nd-degree murder, which is
punishable by mandatory life in prison without benefit of parole, probation or
suspended sentence.

Last year, however, Connick's office secured 1st-degree murder indictments in
two high-profile cases: the brutal stabbing of the manager of a Raising
Cane???s restaurant in Kenner and the slaying of a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's
Office deputy in Harvey.

In both of those cases, Connick's office announced quickly that it would pursue
the death penalty. Death penalty cases generally are more complicated and
expensive to prosecute and defend. They also require unanimous jury verdicts
and carry automatic appeals upon a conviction.

Whether those 2 cases - currently the only 2 open death-penalty cases in
Jefferson Parish - mark a new tack for Connick's office toward prosecuting
capital cases is uncertain. Purpura declined to comment on the decision to seek
the 1st-degree murder indictment against Tart, citing the office's policy of
not commenting on open cases.

The killings at the center of Thursday's indictment involved several
aggravating factors, including drugs, burglary and multiple victims.

Tart, who also goes by the nicknames "Baby," "Big Baby" and "Pop Tart," is
accused of killing 4 people in the early morning hours of March 15 and injuring
another woman, whom he shot in the face.

The woman called 911 and was rushed to University Medical Center as deputies
discovered the bodies of Rosemary Charles, a 61-year-old elder care worker, and
her boyfriend, John Edward Henry, 56.

Charles and Henry each had been shot once in the head. A visiting friend, Kyle
Turner, 40, was shot twice in the head.

In another apartment in the same complex, 56-year-old Harold Frisard was found
dead from multiple stab wounds to the head.

Tart surrendered to authorities March 17 in Kenner. He is being held without
bail in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

(source: The New Orleans Advocate)






OHIO----impending execution

Judge Rejects Last-Ditch Effort to Block Ohio Executions


Rejecting Eighth Amendment challenges to the drug cocktail Ohio uses to give
the death penalty, a federal judge moved the state one step closer Wednesday to
resuming lethal injections.

The executions of Alva Campbell Jr., Gary Otte, Ronald Phillips and Raymond
Tibbetts have been on hold since January, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael
Merz found that the state's 3-drug injection protocol violated the Eighth
Amendment.

Merz said that"'the use of midazolam as the 1st drug in Ohio's present 3-drug
protocol will create a 'substantial risk of serious harm'" to the prisoners.

But the Sixth Circuit lifted the ban 2 weeks ago in a 8-6 en banc ruling,
clearing the way for the state to move forward with the executions.

Ohio is scheduled to execute convicted murderer Phillips on July 26.

Otte and Tibbetts had tried to block their executions by raising 49 claims
under the Eighth Amendment, asserting that the state will be "experimenting" on
them by using an untested, lethal drug cocktail.

Judge Merz rejected each challenge Wednesday.

"Our revulsion from the so-called medical 'experiments' conducted by the Nazis
and indeed from the notorious syphilis experiments on African-American men in
this country has led to strict controls of medical experimentation, including
the requirement of informed consent," the 60-page opinion states. "But that is
not what defendants are engaged in, although they have appropriately considered
the results of the use of particular drugs in planning future executions."

Merz dismissed the prisoners' other various claims related to the purported
pain they will suffer during the execution, citing Sixth Circuit precedent that
a prisoner has no property interest in a painless death.

Ohio's lethal-injection procedure came under national scrutiny following the
botched execution of Dennis McGuire in January 2014.

As noted by Justice Samuel Alito when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma's
execution protocol in the 2015 decision Glossip v. Gross, efforts to lobby
against the death penalty have been widely successful in pressuring drug
companies to stop selling the drugs used in the lethal-injection process to
states for execution purposes.

As a result, the drug cocktail injected into McGuire's veins had never been
used before.

Ohio ran out of pentobarbital, and instead used a mixture of midazolam and
hydromorphone to sedate McGuire, before administering the next 2 execution
drugs.

McGuire was not rendered unconscious by the midazolam, however, and the
protocol left him choking and gasping for air for 25 minutes before he died.

Ohio has not carried out an execution since killing McGuire.

(source: Courthouse News)

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

Executions traumatic for prison employees


As a retired prison warden, I feel obligated to speak out as Ohio proposes
restarting executions. While I read the Monday op-ed "Wrongful convictions make
death penalty too risky" by Dale Johnston, I couldn't help but think how unfair
this heavy execution schedule would be for corrections workers, even without
the horrific risk of executing the wrongfully convicted.

The public should not ignore the fact that corrections staff are people who
have dedicated their lives to serving the state. Performing so many executions
would impose extraordinary and unnecessary stress and trauma on them.

Additionally, even before an execution takes place, these public servants are
placed in a terrible paradox: After dedicating their professional lives to
protecting the safety and well-being of prisoners and the public, they are then
asked to participate in the death of a person under their care.

Finally, lethal-injection executions are very complex with little room for
error. This exhausting execution schedule increases the risk of error. A
problematic execution would add to the trauma already present for the
corrections officers when they are tasked with carrying out a death sentence.

A better option would be to continue to use Ohio's supermax facility for
inmates who present a threat to the public without resorting to executions.

Rex Zent

Dublin

(source: Letter to the Editor, The Columbus Dispatch)






MISSOURI:

Judge upholds death sentence for Shockley


A Crawford County judge has ruled to uphold the death penalty for a Van Buren
man who shot and killed a Missouri state trooper in March 2005.

Lance Shockley, 40, was found guilty of the 1st degree murder of Sergeant Carl
Dewayne Graham Jr., armed criminal action and leaving the scene of an accident
by a West Plains jury in 2009.

Shockley had filed an appeal, claiming that he had ineffective assistance of
defense attorneys and wanted a new trial. But on Monday, Crawford County
Circuit Judge Kelly Parker ruled against Shockley, stating in his order,
"Wherefore, the Court overrules Movant's [Shockley's] amended motion to vacate,
set aside or correct judgment and sentence following an evidentiary hearing and
Movant's claims are denied."

Shockley was represented by attorneys Jeannie Willibey and Pete Carter.
Assistant Greene County Prosecuting Attorneys Emily Shook and Todd Myers
represented the state.

Shockley was sentenced to death on May 22, 2009, by Circuit Court Judge David
P. Evans after the jury that found Shockley guilty became deadlocked during the
penalty phase of the trial.

According to the probable cause statement, Shockley waited at Graham's home
near Van Buren on March 20, 2005, armed with a shotgun and a rifle. Graham was
shot as he stepped out of his cruiser once by a rifle bullet and at least once
by a shotgun blast, authorities said.

Police said that Shockley knew Graham was investigating his role in a fatal
vehicle crash months before the murder in which Shockley was believed to have
been driving and left the scene of the accident in which his friend and
passenger Jeff Bayless died.

According to the statement, Shockley borrowed his grandmother's red Pontiac
Grand Am on that same day and asked someone for directions to Graham's
residence. Police said several witnesses spotted a red Grand Am parked on a
secluded gravel road just north of the trooper's home that day.

Shockley owned several firearms, including .223-caliber and .224-caliber rifles
and at least 1 12-gauge shotgun, according to the affidavit. A search of
Shockley's house in Van Buren turned up a spent .22-caliber shell which a
forensics comparison determined it matched a bullet pulled from Graham, police
said.

(source: westplainsdailyquill.net)






NEBRASKA:

Anthony Garcia case shows the flaws of the death penalty


Anthony Garcia has been found guilty of murdering 4 people, including a child.
But now his Omaha-based attorney has been suspended from practicing law in
Nebraska while he completes continuing education requirements ("Local lawyer
suspended, who defends Garcia?" July 13 World-Herald).

His Chicago-based attorneys are barred from practicing law in the case without
their Nebraska sponsor. And the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy has been
appointed to help with the defense, which has spurred an appeal, but the State
Supreme Court has refused to adjudicate the matter until Garcia is actually
sentenced.

The most likely scenario is that whatever decision is made, someone will
appeal, and Garcia will be given a new sentencing hearing.

Then the real process of appeals starts - cruel and unusual punishment,
improper consideration of aggravating and mitigating factors, and on and on and
on. And with the grandstanding Motta family representing Gracia, you can bet
there will be plenty of appeals, full of theatrics and accusations against the
state.

There will be appeal after appeal, and the state will never get around to
executing Garcia.

If the governor and the people of Nebraska are serious about the death penalty,
then let's make sure the administration of justice is swift.

Otherwise let's repeal the death penalty and spend the money on building parks
and schools instead of lining the pockets of lawyers.

Nathan Rice, Omaha

(source: Letter to the Editor, Omaha World-Herald)






WYOMING----female may face death penalty

McWhorter pleads not guilty to Evanston murders 'by reason of mental illness'


Michelle Lee McWhorter pleaded "not guilty by reason of mental illness," and
the alternative plea of "not guilty," at her arraignment Thursday morning. She
is charged with murdering 2 Evanston residents in September 2016, among other
crimes.

McWhorter appeared calm as she walked into district court wearing a rosary and
ankle cuffs. She occasionally looked into the audience while her public
defender, Kent Brown, conferred briefly with county attorney and prosecutor
Loretta R. Howieson.

Before listing the charges, Judge Joseph Bluemel asked McWhorter if she was
competent to stand trial. She stated that she has a mental illness but is being
treated for it and that she understood what was going on.

Bluemel clarified that McWhorter waived her preliminary hearing, and she stood
by her earlier decision. He then listed her Constitutional rights before
detailing the 6 charges she is facing.

McWhorter is accused of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder: of killing, purposefully
and with premeditated malice, Christina L. Caves between the dates of Sept. 1
and Sept. 16, 2016, and Dean L. Corlett between the dates of Sept. 15 and Sept.
26, 2016.

A 1st-degree murder conviction could bring the death penalty, life imprisonment
without parole, or life imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Bluemel said that if the State of Wyoming pursues the death penalty in the case
of a conviction, there would be a separate hearing to determine whether that is
appropriate.

McWhorter is also accused of remaining in Caves' residence and in Corlett's
residence with the intent to commit theft (2 charges). Bluemel asked Howieson
about the justification for the original "aggravated" charge attached to the
case, to which Howieson said that word was likely a typo and should be removed.
Bluemel amended both charges.

If McWhorter is convicted of the amended theft charges, she could be imprisoned
for up to 10 years for each and fined up to $10,000.

Finally, McWhorter is charged with 2 counts of burglary from Caves' and
Corlett's residences, specifically with taking property valued at less than
$1,000 from each. These charges, if McWhorter is convicted of committing them,
come with a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $750.

All told, 4 of the 6 charges are felonies. Each conviction would also be
accompanied by a crime victims compensation fine as well as other possible
court costs.

Bluemel summarized the maximum possible penalty if McWhorter is convicted of
all 6 charges, saying she could be sentenced to death or for 2 life sentences
(with or without parole) plus 21 years and up to $41,500 in fines.

Upon listing the possible penalties, Bluemel commented that McWhorter's
eyebrows rose at the extent of the potential fine.

He then added that, if she is convicted of any crime, she could be ordered to
pay restitution for damages and to reimburse the public defender's office. Any
felony convictions would also result in stripped rights to vote, carry
firearms, hold public office and other penalties.

As proceedings continued, McWhorter's answers to Bluemel's questions became
more subdued although no less certain. However, before asking for the plea,
Bluemel asked if McWhorter has been satisfied with Brown's representation, to
which she answered emphatically, "Oh, yes."

She then entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental
illness on all 6 counts.

Upon this plea, Bluemel said that the court will enter an order to have
McWhorter evaluated. In the meantime, McWhorter will return to the Wyoming
State Hospital, where Howieson said McWhorter has been housed.

Caves and Corlett were found dead several days apart in their Evanston homes
last September. According to court documents, McWhorter gave detailed accounts
of the crimes to investigators and allegedly confessed to both murders while
she was in custody in February for unrelated charges.

(source: Uinta County Herald)






USA:

We Saw Monsters. She Saw Humans.----Scharlette Holdman, pioneering foe of the
death penalty, dies at 70.

Scharlette Holdman, whose pioneering work with defense lawyers contributed to
the decline of the death penalty nationwide, and whose clients included Ted
Kaczynski, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, died Wednesday. She
was 70. In the tight-knit world of defense lawyers who focus on the death
penalty, Holdman was a revered figure, a non-lawyer responsible for the
development of mitigating evidence, aimed at convincing jurors to spare the
lives of men and women whose crimes, at first blush, only elicited disgust. It
is now common practice for capital defense lawyers to hire "mitigation
specialists," and in recent years such evidence has often convinced district
attorneys not to seek the death penalty in the first place.

"Her enthusiasm and strength of personality inspired hundreds of young people
to join the struggle against the death penalty," said Judy Clarke, the criminal
defense attorney, who worked with Holdman on several high-profile cases.

Holdman grew up in Memphis, Tenn., the daughter of a landlord who described
collecting rent and evicting his poor black tenants as "going niggering,"
according to the journalist David Von Drehle, who profiled Holdman in his book
Among the Lowest of the Dead. She rebelled, studying anthropology and working
among civil rights activists before running chapters of the American Civil
Liberties Union in the 1970s. During those years, the Supreme Court struck down
the country's death penalty laws and state legislatures raced to rewrite them.
When the court restored capital punishment in 1976, it declared that those who
sentence people to death must be able to consider "compassionate or mitigating
factors stemming from the diverse frailties of humankind."

As the number of death row prisoners grew, Holdman ran the Florida
Clearinghouse on Criminal Justice, where she tried to find lawyers for the men
as their execution dates approached.

"She was like a medic performing triage at a train wreck," Von Drehle wrote.
"The 1st job was to determine who was closest to dying." She was famous for her
skill in cajoling lawyers over the phone into taking on appeals. She worked
round the clock for $600 per month while raising 2 kids, surviving on KFC fried
chicken, coffee, cigarettes, and jug wine, all the while gaining a nickname in
the press: "Mistress of Delay."

In such grim circumstances, a macabre sense of humor flourished. On the
anniversary of an execution, she sent Florida attorney general Jim Smith a
"deathday cake" with black candles.

In another case, while trying to show a court that a mentally ill man was not
"competent" to be executed, she encountered a state-hired psychiatrist who said
the man had beaten her at tic-tac-toe, thus proving his mental acuity. Holdman
remembered that as a child she'd seen a chicken at a fair that could play
tic-tac-toe, and she tried to get such a chicken admitted as a witness. The
judge "felt that bringing the chicken into the courtroom to play tic-tac-toe
would degrade the dignity of the court," Holdman later told This American Life.
"I thought that the dignity of the court was degraded by executing a mentally
retarded, mentally ill person."

Holdman later worked in California and Louisiana, and shifted from appeals to
investigations before trial. Her training in anthropology allowed her to
develop a deep understanding of her clients and their backgrounds. "What she
saw is that killers are not just born," said lawyer George Kendall, who
represents death row inmates. "They have had unbelievably abused and neglectful
lives, and that history is relevant. You become your client's biographer, you
speak to the 60 most important people in that person's life - friend and foe."

Many clients had suffered sexual abuse and other traumas, and trust was key.
"How do you get people to talk about the worst family secrets? None of that
comes easily," said James Lohman, a lawyer who worked with her in Florida. "She
figured it out, and then trained people how to do it." Many of the mitigation
specialists who followed in her footsteps are journalists and social workers.
"It's the antithesis of being a lawyer; it's all about human feeling and
connection."

In recent years, Holdman worked with the lawyer Judy Clarke on the cases of
Jared Loughner, who pled guilty to the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson in which
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was injured, and Eric Rudolph, responsible for the
1996 bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She was famous for her devotion
to her clients, and they often grew attached to her; after Ted Kaczynski, known
as the Unabomber, was sentenced to life in prison for a series of bombings, he
asked that Holdman be given his Montana cabin. (According to The New Yorker,
the government did not let her keep it.)

Her final client was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is accused of planning the
9/11 attacks. She studied Islam while preparing for his military trial. She
received a Muslim burial Thursday, according to a colleague.

(source: The Marshall Project)



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