death penalty news-----TEXAS, N.H., PENN., GA., FLA.
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-09 14:15:28 UTC
Raw Message
Nov. 9


Texas execution of Mexican man draws fire from Mexico's president

A Mexican citizen on death row in Texas was executed Wednesday night for the
slaying of his 16-year-old cousin who was abducted from her family's apartment
and fatally beaten.

Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, 47, was given a lethal injection after several federal
court appeals failed to halt his punishment for the February 1997 killing of
Mayra Laguna.

Asked by the warden to make a final statement, he replied, "No, sir."

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began, he took a couple of breaths and then
began snoring. After less than a minute, all movement stopped.

21 minutes later, at 10:26 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead, making him the 7th
convicted killer put to death this year in Texas, which carries out capital
punishment more than any other state.

Shortly after the execution, Mexican President Enrique Nieto tweeted, "I
express my firm condemnation of the execution of the Mexican Ruben Cardenas
Ramirez in Texas, which violates the decision of the International Court of
Justice. My deepest condolences to the mourners."

Cardenas' attorney, Maurie Levin, contended eyewitness testimony against
Cardenas was shaky, that little physical evidence tied him to the killing and
that a confession he gave was obtained after 22 hours of isolation and intense
police questioning.

She also said that authorities acted improperly when not telling the
Mexican-born Cardenas that he could get legal help from the Mexican consulate.

Being born in Mexico, which does not have capital punishment, made Cardenas
eligible for legal help from the Mexican consulate when he was arrested,
according to provisions of the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, which
is a 1963 international agreement. The courts have allowed executions to move
forward in several previous Texas death row cases in which the agreement was
said to have been violated.

"For the Mexican government, capital punishment constitutes one of the most
essential violations of human rights," Jacob Prado Gonzalez, the Mexican
government's general director for consular protection, said.

Cardenas grew up in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.

In a handwritten statement released afterward, Cardenas thanked his family,
attorneys and the Mexican consulate for their help.

"Now! I will not and cannot apologize for someone elses crime, but, I will be
Back for Justice," he wrote. "You can count on that!"

His punishment was delayed for about 4 hours as last-ditch appeals for the
former security guard focused primarily on efforts to have trial evidence
undergo new DNA testing. In a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court hours before his
execution, lawyers argued Texas was violating Cardenas' due process rights and
a state statute that covers forensic testing. They asked the justices to halt
the execution for a court review.

They also asked the justices for more time to appeal a lower court's rejection
of a federal civil rights lawsuit in which they claimed his due process and
civil rights were being violated because Texas officials wouldn't release
evidence so it can undergo new DNA testing. Attorneys for the state said the
lawsuit was improper and that state courts already refused the DNA request
because Cardenas could not show that more advanced tests would exonerate him.
DNA results in evidence at Cardenas' trial were not false, state attorneys

The high court, without comment, rejected both appeals.

Earlier this week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest
criminal court, rejected a similar appeal seeking DNA tests. Cardenas'
attorneys argued the new testing would be better than the now-obsolete testing
that left "persistent doubts about his guilt and the integrity of his

Laguna was snatched from a bedroom she shared with a younger sister at her
family's public housing apartment in McAllen in South Texas. In a confession to
police, Cardenas said he and a friend drove around with the high school student
in his mother's car. He said he had sex with the teen and then punched her as
she fought him after he unbound her arms to let her go.

"I didn't plan on doing this, but I was high on cocaine," he told authorities.

He said after he hit the teen in the neck, she began coughing up blood and
having difficulty breathing. After trying unsuccessfully to revive her, he said
he tied her up "and rolled her down a canal bank."

Her body was found in a canal near a lake in the Rio Grande Valley in far South

Laguna's sister, Roxana Jones, said she had waited 21 years for justice to be

"Words can't begin describe the relief it feels to know that there is true
peace after so much pain and sorrow," she said in a statement released by
prison officials. "Mayra can be remembered as loving, caring, funny and dimples
when she smiled. She will continue to watch over family and friends."

The friend who was with Cardenas during the abduction, Jose Antonio Lopez
Castillo, now 45, was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and is serving a
25-year prison term.

(source: CBS News)


In race against Texas judge Sharon Keller, Republican highlighting infamous
death row call----Sharon Keller, the longtime presiding judge of Texas' Court
of Criminal Appeals, has tried to move on from several past ethical
controversies - including blocking the last-minute appeal of a 2007 execution.
A primary challenger hopes voters will reconsider them.

It's been more than a decade since Sharon Keller became an international figure
in the death penalty debate.

On the afternoon of Sept. 25, 2007, when attorneys for death row inmate Michael
Richard asked if they could file an appeal at the court a few minutes past
their deadline, Keller, the presiding judge of the state's Court of Criminal
Appeals since 2000, famously insisted "we close at 5." Richard was executed
hours later.

The incident earned Keller questions from the state Commission on Judicial
Conduct and widespread criticism from Texas legislators, ethics experts and the
impassioned authors of sharonkiller.com, a website sparked by the incident.

Keller says the controversy is behind her. David Bridges disagrees.

Bridges, a justice on Texas' 5th District Court of Appeals, is making Keller's
past ethical controversies central to his campaign to unseat her in next year's
Republican primary.

"I have to tell [voters] that she's had a few lapses in judgment," Bridges
said. "If the voters don't know who we are and what our backgrounds are, then
how do they make a choice?"

For her part, Keller said she is not approaching this election any differently
than she did her past races. Elections, she said, are "cleansing" - and voters
knew her when they elected her the last time around, rendering any past
controversies moot.

"What you're asking me about are things that happened in the past. In the time
since then, the voters have decided to keep me on the court," Keller said in an
interview with The Texas Tribune last month. "What's important now is whether
I'm qualified - whether I'm the best candidate for the job."

Keller, who has served on the court since 1994, insists that experience is the
most important consideration in her re-election. Bridges argues that her past
should disqualify her from a seat whose occupant should be above reproach.

And he has not been shy about bringing that up. On his campaign website,
Bridges writes, "I ask you to Google her name Sharon Keller ethics," even
providing a link.

Along with the infamous Richards execution, Bridges also points to criticism
Keller drew in the late 1990s, when a property she owned in Dallas County
housed a strip club called the Doll's House. And in 2010 she was fined $100,000
by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to disclose nearly $3 million of
personal real estate holdings. (She later negotiated the sum, which was the
largest civil penalty ever levied by the Commission, down to $25,000).

Keller's past came up in 2012, when she was last up for re-election. But that
time around her primary challenger dropped out months before voting began, and
in a statewide judicial race in deep-red Texas, even a controversial Republican
incumbent is likely to best a Democratic challenger. No Democrat has won
statewide office in Texas since 1994, and judicial races rarely draw much

"If she faces a Democrat, the only thing important about her will be the 'R'
after her name," said Craig McDonald, the executive director of a watchdog
group that filed a complaint against Keller in 2009. "That dynamic may change a
little bit in a Republican primary. The race becomes a little more

In 2012, Keller won her seat with 55 % of the vote; the other 2 incumbents from
the Court of Criminal Appeals on the ballot that year, Judges Barbara Parker
Hervey and Elsa Alcala, each took 78 %. Keith Hampton, the Democrat who ran
against Keller 6 years ago and drew 41 % of the vote, said he is positive that
his party affiliation is the only reason he didn't win.

"The reality is that people don't flock to the polls to vote for judges," said
Hampton, who doesn't plan to pursue the seat again next year. "It didn't matter
the individual race. They went in, they punched 'R,' they walked out."

(source: Texas Tribime)


' Houston death row inmate denied retrial in 2005 carjacking, rape and murder

A federal judge this week denied a retrial for a condemned Houston man on death
row for a 2005 rape-murder.

Dexter Johnson was 1 of 5 men who carjacked 23-year-old Maria Aparece and her
boyfriend Huy Ngo as they sat in their chatting on a summer night more than 10
years ago.

Prosecutors during his trial alleged Johnson had "fun" when he and his friends
carjacked the couple and drove them around town demanding money, credit cards
and ATM access.

Then, they parked near a patch of thick woods and forced Ngo to listen as
Johnson raped Aparece in the backseat.

Afterward, Johnson shot Ngo in the side of the head execution-style before
slaughtering Aparece with a shot to the top of the head. At trial, defense
counsel argued that it was someone else who walked the couple into the woods
and fired the fatal shot.

During his trial, the then-19-year-old hurled a chair across the courtroom and
at one point refused to come to his own court dates.

(source: Houston Chronicle)


Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----27

Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----545 Abbott#--------scheduled
execution date-----name------------Tx. #

28---------Dec. 14-----------------Juan Castillo----------546

29---------Jan. 18-----------------Anthony Shore----------547

30---------Jan. 30-----------------William Rayford--------548

31----------Feb. 1-----------------John Battaglia---------549

32----------Feb. 22----------------Thomas Whitaker--------550

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)


Christian activist to speak Nov. 11 at Brookside church on abolishing the death

Christian activist and author Shane Claiborne will speak about abolishing the
death penalty, and his book, Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed
Jesus and Why It's Killing Us, at public events in Manchester and Durham on
Saturday, November 11.

Claiborne, who worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, heads Red Letter
Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living "as if Jesus meant
the things he said." Shane's activism has led him to jail advocating for the
homeless, and against war and the death penalty. His work has appeared in
Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been
on Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR.

Mr. Claiborne will speak and take questions at 2 public events on Saturday.

2 p.m., Brookside Congregational Church at 2013 Elm Street in Manchester.

7 p.m., The Community Church of Durham at 17 Main Street in Durham.

In a 2010 statement, agreed unanimously by the 10 member churches, the Council

Scripture cautions us: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for
what is noble in the sight of all" (Romans 12:17). From this Christian
perspective we are led to conclude that the death penalty does not provide

The Executive Director of the Council of Churches, Rev. Jason Wells further

"Shane is an engaging and faith-filled speaker who can help Christians reflect
on their beliefs more deeply as next year the New Hampshire legislature debates
a bill to abolish our state???s death penalty."

This event is sponsored by the New Hampshire Council of Churches and the New
Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

(source: Manchester Ink Link)


DA provides exclusive details on Pitt murder, additional rape allegation
against suspect

The Allegheny County district attorney has provided exclusive new details on
the murder of Pitt student Alina Sheykhet.

"We believe he went in through the basement," Stephen Zappala told Channel 11's
Courtney Brennan.

Zappala is talking about Matthew Darby, Sheykhet's ex-boyfriend, who is charged
in her death. He's in jail in South Carolina awaiting extradition to

According to Zappala, Darby used a hammer and knife to attack Sheykhet. Both
murder weapons came from inside her home.

"We believe that the murder weapon was taken from the house, was already in the
house," he said.

Pittsburgh police say Darby dropped those weapons into a sewer about 2 blocks
away from Sheykhet's home before fleeing to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where
he was eventually caught.

Channel 11 also has learned Darby now faces a new rape charge in Allegheny
County, in addition to the rape charge he currently faces in Indiana County.

"A week, approximately, before the homicide took place in Oakland, the juvenile
accused Darby of raping her," Zappala said. "That matter is being investigated
by the county police and we authorized charging 2 days ago."

Zappala said the victim told Pittsburgh police she was raped a week before
Alina's murder in Elizabeth Township, and county police are now investigating
that case.

"So you have the rape in Indiana, you have the trespass in Allegheny County,
you've got allegations of rape in Allegheny County and you've got the homicide,
so this is a bad man," Zappala said.

Channel 11 asked Zappala whether, given the violence involved in that series of
alleged incidents, if he would seek the death penalty.

???The nature of the conduct merits consideration, but it's a little too early
to determine whether or not that would be appropriate," he said.

Sources told Channel 11 investigators tracked Darby to West Virginia, where he
used an ATM after allegedly killing Sheykhet, and have surveillance video of
him changing the license plates on his car before driving on to Myrtle Beach.

A vigil is planned for Sheykhet on Thursday night, with another planned this
weekend. A high school friend, Salvatore Desimone, spoke at her funeral
Wednesday and told Channel 11 Thursday she was a joy to be around.

"She was just too perfect for the world, so God wanted her back," he said.

(source: WPXI news)


"Stocking Strangler' Carlton Gary makes final appeal to the Georgia Supreme

Had jurors in Columbus "Stocking Strangler" Carlton Gary's 1986 trial seen the
evidence his defense team since has uncovered, they either would have found him
not guilty in the heinous serial killings of 1977 and '78, or at least not
sentenced him to death.

That's the argument Atlanta attorneys Jack Martin and Michael McIntyre make in
their 90-page application to the Georgia Supreme Court as they try to persuade
the justices to hear what could be Gary's final court appeal.

Though Gary may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, it previously has refused to
review the case. Though all condemned inmates get a last hearing before the
Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, it declined to commute Gary's sentence to
life in prison in 2009.

In 2009, Gary was hours away from lethal injection when the state Supreme Court
stayed his execution and sent the case back to Muscogee Superior Court to
consider DNA-testing any suitable evidence from the 7 rapes and stranglings of
older Columbus women, most of them residents of the Wynnton area.

That testing produced mixed results, with the most promising semen sample
tainted and destroyed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab.

Attorneys since have battled over the relevance of other evidence that the
defense says either exonerates Gary outright or casts so much doubt on his
guilt as to have led to a different verdict or sentencing.

His defense team now is appealing Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr.'s Sept.
1 ruling denying Gary both a new trial and new sentencing. Jordan agreed with
the defense that much of the evidence cited is new, having come to light since
Gary was convicted in 3 of the 7 serial killings on Aug. 26, 1986, but he ruled
it was not so "material" as to have led to a different outcome.

A key point in the defense appeal is this: Prosecutors in 1986 used other
crimes in which Gary was implicated as "similar transactions" illustrating his
method of operation, so if any of the evidence in those cases does not fit
Gary, it must be considered evidence of his innocence, and thus so "material"
that it could have altered the outcome.

That evidence involves so many cases over so many years that it requires a
chronological review.

Back to the 1970s

Gary grew up in Columbus before moving to Florida and then New York, where he
was implicated in the April 14, 1970, rape and strangling of Nellie Farmer, 85,
in her home in the Wellington Hotel, Albany, N.Y. Gary's fingerprint was found
at the scene. Gary was convicted only of robbery, claiming another man killed

Then-District Attorney Bill Smith in 1986 said this case fit Gary's pattern:
Farmer was raped and strangled and her body left covered, and when arrested,
Gary blamed someone else. This would become routine, in Gary's murder cases.

Undisclosed to the defense during Gary's trial was a footprint found on a
bathmat, where the killer apparently cleaned himself after Farmer's rape. The
imprint was a shoe size 9. Gary wears size 13 1/2.

In August 1977, Gary escaped from prison in New York and moved back to
Columbus, to a home on Fisk Avenue

That was near the 2703 Hood St. home of Gertrude Miller, 64, who was beaten,
raped and choked with stockings on Sept. 11, 1977. Miller was a star witness at
Gary's trial, identifying him in court as the man who assaulted her.

But a DNA test of evidence from Miller's case excluded Gary as the source of
semen found on her undergarments. So, her identifying him - already problematic
because she said she recognized him on TV after his arrest, and did not pick
him from a lineup of lookalikes - must have been mistaken, the defense said.

On Sept. 16, 1977, Mary Willis "Fern" Jackson, 59, of 2505 17th St., was found
brutally beaten, raped and strangled with a stocking and sash. Her body was
left covered, and her stolen car later was found on Benner Avenue, near Gary's
Fisk Avenue home.

After Gary's arrest, police reported they'd matched his fingerprint to one
found at the crime scene. The defense maintains all the stranglings'
fingerprint evidence is suspect because investigators had no set standard of
"points of comparison" to declare a match, and they neglected to photograph
where at the crime scenes police found the prints.

On Sept. 24, 1977, Jean Dimenstein, 71, was found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her home that then had the address 3027 21st St. (the street has
since been renamed). Her body was left covered with sheets and a pillow.

A DNA test matched Gary to evidence found in vaginal washings from her body,
authorities said. The defense questions whether prosecutors are entitled to
present their own "newly discovered" evidence on a defense appeal, and whether
a jury would believe results from a crime lab that tainted and destroyed
another sample.

Blood evidence and DNA

On Oct. 21, 1977, Florence Scheible, 89, was found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her 1941 Dimon St. home, which now has a different address. Her
body was left covered. Police said they found Gary's right thumbprint on a door
frame leading into Scheible's bedroom.

On Oct. 25, 1977, Martha Thurmond, 70, was found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her 2614 Marion St. home. Her body was covered by a pillow,
blankets and sheets. Gary's fingerprint was found on the frame of a rear
bedroom window.

While again disputing the fingerprints, the defense argues testimony regarding
blood evidence found at the Scheible and Thurmond crime scenes simply was
wrong. A prosecution witness testified it showed the killer was a "weak or
non-secretor," meaning his bodily fluids were missing markers signifying his
blood type. Gary is a strong secretor.

Secretors make up 80 % of the population; non-secretors 20 %. "This is a
genetic factor based upon a recessive gene and was an important investigative
tool in rape cases before the advent of DNA testing," the defense writes.

The prosecution witness at Gary's trial said such secretions may vary over
time, so a strong secretor may appear to be a weak or non-secretor. During
hearings on Gary's appeal, a defense expert testified this just isn't true:
Secretors are always secretors; they don't change.

The Thurmond crime scene produced the best semen sample suitable for DNA
testing. That was the sample the GBI crime lab tainted and destroyed. "At the
very minimum, the issues surrounding the egregious destruction of critical
evidence as occurred in this case merits review by this court on appeal," the
defense writes the state Supreme Court.

On Dec. 28, 1977, Kathleen Woodruff, 74, was found raped and strangled in her
1811 Buena Vista Road home, later demolished during an Aflac expansion. Gary's
right little fingerprint was found on the aluminum window screen where the
intruder entered, and his palm print was found on the windowsill just inside.

The defense again disputes the validity of such fingerprint evidence.

The 'Night of Terrors'

Feb. 11 and 12, 1978, would become known as the "Night of Terrors," when a
rapid series of burglaries would coincide with an attempted strangling and
another murder.

Ruth Schwob, 74, of 1800 Carter Ave., was nearly strangled to death by an
intruder she fought off, pressing a panic alarm by her bed. Police found her
sitting on the edge of her bed, gasping, a stocking wrapped around her neck.

That same night, the 2021 Brookside Drive home of Abraham Illges was
burglarized, but the intruder triggered an alarm and fled. Police said Gary
later told them he ran and hid in Wildwood Park.

The next day, Mildred Borom, 78, 1612 Forest Ave., about two blocks from
Schwob's home, was found raped and strangled with a cord cut from window
blinds. Her body was covered with a garment.

Undisclosed to the defense during Gary's trial was a footprint found on the
air-conditioner outside the window Schwob's assailant crawled through. It was a
size 10 shoe.

Gary wears a size 13 1/2, the defense again notes. Because prosecutors told
jurors the same person attacked Schwob, killed Borom and broke into the Illges
home, the shoe print clears Gary in all 3 cases, his attorneys argue.

On April 20, 1978, Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, was found raped
and strangled with a stocking. A pillow covered her face.

Investigators found a bite mark on her left breast, and the coroner had a
dentist make a mold from it, preserving the teeth marks. The mold was lost
until Nov. 9, 2005, when then-Coroner James Dunnavant found it in a file drawer
in his office.

The mold shows a gap in the biter's upper teeth and a crooked lower tooth,
defects Gary's teeth never had, the defense says, noting he would not have been
hired as a TV model for "The Movin' Man" clothing store in the 1970s had his
smile been so flawed.

Prosecutors argued Gary later had dental work in prison. The defense counters
the work was on his upper teeth only, so that does not account for the crooked
lower tooth.

On May 3, 1984, authorities arrested Gary in Albany, Ga., and brought him to
Columbus. That night, from around midnight until 3:30 a.m., he is alleged to
have taken investigators on a tour of homes he broke into, blaming the
stranglings on an accomplice, as he did in other cases.

This confession was not recorded, nor did police create a written statement for
Gary to sign. The defense argues it is invalid, noting that in the Farmer case,
in 1970, Gary gave a full statement 12 pages long and signed it. So, why would
he refuse to sign one in 1984?

The jury in 1986 convicted Gary of burglary, rape and murder in the Scheible,
Thurmond and Woodruff stranglings, with evidence from other cases used as
"similar transactions."

Had those jurors seen what has since been revealed, that would not have been
their verdict, the defense concludes:

"There is an even greater probability that at least one juror would not have
returned a death sentence due to lingering doubts as to guilt in light of this
powerful and persuasive physical evidence undermining guilt. Simply put, this
evidence shows that the state's theory that Mr. Gary was a serial killer who
had committed 7 different rapes-murders was not in fact true."

The defense filed its appeal Nov. 1, leaving prosecutors 10 days to respond.
District Attorney Julia Slater said the prosecution will respond Monday.


This timeline was compiled from Columbus police, court records and
Ledger-Enquirer archives:

Sept. 24, 1950, Carlton Michael Gary is born in Columbus, Ga., where he lives
until age 16, when he moves with his mother to Fort Myers, Fla., and later
Gainesville, Fla.

Sept. 3, 1964, Gary attends Carver High School.

Nov. 18, 1965, Gary attends Spencer High School.

Jan. 31, 1966, Gary returns to Carver High School and later transfers to Dunbar
High School in Fort Myers, Fla.

Oct. 31, 1967, Gary's charged with breaking into an automobile in Gainesville,

March 17, 1968, Gary's charged with arson in Gainesville, Fla.

Nov. 26, 1969, Gary's charged with assaulting a police officer in Bridgeport,

April 14, 1970, Nellie Farmer, 85, is raped and strangled and her body left
covered in her home in the Wellington Hotel, Albany, N.Y. Gary's fingerprint is
found at the scene. Gary claims another man killed Farmer, and is convicted
only of robbery.

July 15, 1970, Gary's sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery.

March 31, 1975, Gary is released from prison and moves to Syracuse, NY.

June 27, 1975, the body of Marion Fisher, 40, is found on a road just outside
Syracuse. She was raped and strangled. Authorities in 2007 say they match
Gary's DNA to the cold-case evidence.

July 25, 1975, Gary's charged with escape, resisting arrest and violating

July 17, 1976, Gary's released on parole.

Sept. 3, 1976, Gary's charged with assault.

Jan. 2, 1977, Jean Frost, 55, is raped and nearly choked to death in her home
in Syracuse, N.Y. Gary has a watch taken from Frost???s home when police arrest
him 2 days later. Again he blames another man for the assault. He is charged
with possessing stolen property, resisting arrest, perjury and assault.

Aug. 23, 1977, Gary escapes from New York's Onandaga County prison by jumping
from a 3rd-floor window. He goes home to Columbus, where he soon moves to 1027
Fisk Ave.

Sept. 11, 1977, Gertrude Miller, 64, is beaten with a board and raped in her
2703 Hood St. home, about 2 blocks from Fisk Avenue. Her assailant leaves
behind knotted stockings he took from her dresser. She in 1986 identifies Gary
as the rapist.

Sept. 16, 1977, Mary Willis "Fern" Jackson, 59, of 2505 17th St., is found
brutally beaten, raped and strangled with a stocking and sash. Her body is left
covered. Her stolen car is later found on Benner Avenue near Fisk Avenue.

Sept. 24, 1977, Jean Dimenstein, 71, is found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her home that then had the address 3027 21st St. (the street has
since been renamed). Her body was left covered with sheets and a pillow Later
tests match Gary's DNA to crime-scene evidence.

Oct. 4, 1977, Gary moves to 3231 Old Buena Vista Road.

Oct. 8, 1977, the 1427 Eberhart Avenue home of sisters Callye East, 75, and
Nellie Sanderson, 78, is burglarized. Sanderson's son Henry is visiting. The
intruder steals his Toyota, which has a .22-caliber Ruger pistol under the
seat. The car's left on Buena Vista Road.

Oct. 21, 1977, Florence Scheible, 89, is found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her 1941 Dimon St. home, which today has a different address. Her
body was left covered. Gary's right thumbprint was found on a door frame
leading into Scheible's bedroom.

Oct. 25, 1977, Martha Thurmond, 70, is found raped and strangled with a
stocking in her 2614 Marion St. home. Her body was covered by a pillow,
blankets and sheets. Gary's fingerprint is found on the frame of a rear bedroom

Nov. 11, 1977, Gary moves to 2829 Ninth St. and gets a job working the late
shift at Golden's Foundry.

Dec. 16, 1977, Gary leaves the foundry job.

Dec. 20, 1977, the 1710 Buena Vista Road home of William Swift is burglarized
while the residents are away. Swift later discovers the burglar removed bars
from a kitchen window to get in, then set the bars back on the windowsill.
Detectives later say Swift never told police this; Gary did.

Dec. 28, 1977, Kathleen Woodruff, 74, is found raped and strangled in her 1811
Buena Vista Road home, which later was demolished during an Aflac expansion.
Gary's right little fingerprint is found on the aluminum window screen where
the intruder entered, and his palm print is found on the windowsill just

Jan. 1, 1978, the 2021 Brookside Drive home of Abraham Illges, who is 85 and
whose wife is 75, is burglarized and a Cadillac stolen. The car's left at a
restaurant on Victory Drive. Police say Gary later refers to this home as "the

Feb. 11, 1978, Ruth Schwob, 74, of 1800 Carter Ave., is nearly strangled to
death by an intruder she fights off, pressing a panic alarm by her bed. Police
find her sitting on the edge of her bed, gasping, a stocking wrapped around her

Feb. 11, 1978, the Illges home is burglarized again, but the intruder triggers
an alarm and flees. Police said Gary later told them he ran and hid in Wildwood

Feb. 12, 1978, Mildred Borom, 78, 1612 Forest Ave., about 2 blocks from
Schwob's home on the west side of Wildwood Park, is found raped and strangled
with a cord cut from window blinds. Her body's covered with a garment. This
series of rapid events becomes known as "The Night of Terrors."

April 20, 1978, Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, is found raped and
strangled with a stocking. A pillow covers her face. Police find Cofer's stolen
car on Mill Road.

April 20, 1978, Gary robs the Burger King at 3520 Macon Road.

May 14, 1978, Gary robs the Hungry Hunter restaurant at 1834 Midtown Drive.

Sept. 4, 1978, Gary robs the Western Sizzlin restaurant at 4385 Victory Drive.

Sept. 22, 1978, Gary robs the Talk of the Town restaurant in Greenville, S.C.

Oct. 8, 1978, Gary robs the Ryan's Steakhouse in Greenville.

Oct. 19, 1978, Gary robs the Western Sizzlin steakhouse in Greenville.

Nov. 5, 1978, Gary robs the Po' Folks restaurant in Greenville.

Dec. 7, 1978, Gary robs Jack's Steak House in Greenville.

Feb. 15, 1979, having earned the nickname "Steakhouse Bandit," Gary robs a Po'
Folks restaurant in Gafney, S.C., and is arrested the next day.

Feb. 22, 1979, Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Greenville County, S.C.

March 29, 1979, Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Cherokee County, S.C.

March 15, 1984, he escapes from a prison in Columbia, S.C., and returns to

April 3, 1984, Gary robs a Po' Folks restaurant on the 280 Bypass in Phenix
City and rapes a woman who works there.

April 10, 1984, Henry Sanderson calls Columbus police to ask about the Ruger
pistol taken from his Toyota in the 1977 Eberhart Avenue burglary. A detective
sends out a nationwide alert for the gun, which turns up in Michigan and is
traced back to Gary.

April 16, 1984, Gary robs a Wendy's restaurant in Gainesville, Fla.

April 22, 1984, Gary robs a McDonald's restaurant in Montgomery, Ala.

April 28, 1984, Gary robs the County Seat Store in the Oaks Mall of
Gainesville, Fla.

April 30, 1984, prompted by Sanderson's call and the gun trace, copies of
Gary's fingerprints arrive at the Columbus Police Department, where 1 is
matched to a print found on the frame of a screen removed from Woodruff's home.

May 3, 1984, authorities arrest Gary in Albany, Ga.

May 4, 1984, from around midnight until 3:30 a.m., Gary takes investigators on
a tour of homes he tells them he broke into. He blames the stranglings on
another man.

May 8, 1984, Gary attempts suicide in jail.

May 9, 1984, then Superior Court Judge John Land appoints attorneys William
Kirby and Stephen Hyles to represent Gary.

Aug. 28, 1984, attorney August "Bud" Siemon becomes Gary's lead defense

Oct. 11, 1984, attorney Bruce Harvey becomes Gary's co-counsel. Attorney Gary
Parker joins the defense team the following December.

Feb. 8, 1985, Siemon files a motion asking Judge Land to recuse himself because
he has personal knowledge of the case. Land recuses himself.

May 13, 1985, Judge E. Mullins Whisnant is assigned the case.

May 22, 1985, Siemon files a motion asking Whisnant to recuse himself because
he was the district attorney during the stranglings.

May 20, 1985, Whisnant recuses himself and the case is assigned to Judge
Kenneth Followill.

Dec. 18, 1985, Parker withdraws as co-counsel after Followill refuses to grant
the defense team funds for an investigator.

Dec. 29, 1985, Gary tries to escape from jail.

March 10, 1986, on the day Gary's trial is to start, he refuses to get dressed
and come to court. Harvey files a motion questioning Gary's competency to stand
trial, saying the defendant's mental health is in decline. Followill orders a
psychological evaluation.

March 24, 1986, Gary goes to Georgia Central State Hospital in Milledgeville
for his evaluation, but refuses to cooperate with doctors.

April 21, 1986, Followill holds a trial to determine Gary's mental competency.

April 28, 1986, the jury finds Gary competent for trial.

June 9, 1986, Gary's trial is set to begin, but Siemon files for a change of

July 2, 1986, Followill decides that instead of moving the trial, the court
will bring jurors from Griffin, Ga., to hear the case.

July 7, 1986, Harvey withdraws, leaving Siemon as Gary's only lawyer.

Aug. 11, 1986, Gary's trial begins.

Aug. 26, 1986, the jury finds Gary guilty in 3 of the 7 stranglings, though
then-District Attorney Bill Smith maintains one perpetrator committed all seven
along with the attack on Miller and Schwob. Smith used evidence from the other
cases to illustrate a pattern of criminal behavior.

Aug. 27, 1986, the jury sentences Gary to death.

Sept. 25, 1986, Gary moves for a new trial. His motion's denied the following
Oct. 18, and he appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court.

June 26, 1987, the Georgia Supreme Court sends the case back to Columbus,
instructing the court here to determine whether Gary had ineffective counsel.

Nov. 4, 1987, Followill holds hearings to determine the effectiveness of
Gary???s defense.

June 12, 1989, Followill rules Gary failed to show his counsel was ineffective.

March 6, 1990, the Georgia Supreme court upholds Followill's ruling and
reaffirms Gary's conviction and death sentence.

Jan. 27, 1995, the superior court of Butts County, Ga., where Gary is
imprisoned, rejects one of his habeas corpus appeals.

Nov. 13, 1995, the court rejects another of Gary's habeas corpus appeals.

Nov. 18, 1997, Gary files a habeas corpus appeal in U.S. District Court for the
Middle District of Georgia.

Sept. 28, 2004, the federal court rejects Gary's appeal, and he appeals to the
11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nov. 9, 2005, then-Coroner James Dunnavant finds a bite-cast mold made from
teeth marks on Janet Cofer's body. It has been missing since Dunnavant's
predecessor Don Kilgore died.

Nov. 23, 2005, the appeals court sends the case back to U.S. District Court to
consider the bite-mark evidence.

Feb. 14, 2007, the district court holds a hearing and decides the bite cast
would not have bolstered Gary's defense and again rejects his appeal. Gary
again appeals to the 11th Circuit.

Feb. 12, 2009, the 11th Circuit rejects Gary's appeal. He appeals to the U.S.
Supreme Court.

Dec. 1, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Gary's appeal. His
execution is set for the following Dec. 16.

Dec. 16, 2009, Gary is hours away from execution when the Georgia Supreme Court
issues a stay and sends the case back to Muscogee Superior Court to consider
DNA-testing evidence.

Feb. 19, 2010, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree to DNA-test suitable
evidence samples, four items from 3 cases: Dimenstein, Scheible and Woodruff.

Dec. 14, 2010, attorneys say the initial DNA test results match Gary to the
murder of Jean Dimenstein but not Martha Thurmond. The defense seeks testing on
clothes from Gertrude Miller the morning after she was raped and beaten.

March 6, 2012, tests of the Miller evidence yield a DNA profile that does not
match Gary. The prosecution says the defense can't prove Miller was wearing the
garments when raped.

Nov. 21, 2013, District Attorney Julia Slater announces the Thurmond DNA test
was tainted at the state crime lab and thus invalid.

February 24-28, 2014, Judge Frank Jordan Jr. holds evidentiary hearings on
Gary's new trial motion.

Jan. 11, 2016, Doug Grubbs, son-in-law of sheriff's investigator Don Miller, in
the attic finds a briefcase containing files on the strangling. He turns it
over to the sheriff's office.

Jan. 27, the defense is told of the briefcase.

Feb. 3, both sides meet to inspect the documents. They find a composite sketch
believed to have been drawn as Gertrude Miller described her assailant under
hypnosis in October 1977.

Jan. 12-12, 2017, Jordan holds a final set of hearings on the new evidence in
Gary's motion for a new trial.

June 27, the prosecution files a motion asking Jordan to issue a ruling.

Sept. 1, Jordan denies Gary's motion for a new trial in a 50-page ruling.

Sept. 20, Gary's attorneys file for an extension of the deadline to appeal to
the Georgia Supreme Court.

Nov. 1, the defense files a 90-page application for appeal to the Georgia
Supreme Court. The prosecution has 10 days to respond.

(source: ledger-enquirer.com)


Florida executes man for pair of killings dating to 1991

A man convicted of killing 2 people in 1991 on Wednesday became the 3rd inmate
executed in Florida since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty
after a hiatus.

Fifty-three-year-old Patrick Hannon received a lethal injection and was
pronounced dead at 8:50 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke, the office of
the governor said.

Hannon was strapped to a gurney as witnesses watched on the other side of a
glass window. While he expressed regret over the killings, he said it was two
accomplices that killed the victims, Robert Carter and Brandon Snider. Carter
was fatally shot and Snider had his throat slashed.

"I hope the execution gives the Carter family some peace. I wish I could have
done more to save Robert. I didn't kill anybody, but I was there," he said.

As he spoke, one of the victim's female family members cursed.

"Robby was a good man and a good friend, and I let him down when he needed me
most," Hannon continued. "As far as Brandon Snider, I think that everybody
knows what he did to get this ball rolling. I'm sorry things worked out like
this the way it did."

The same woman, who authorities declined to identify later, cursed again in a

Then as the execution began at 8:38 p.m., the woman made eye contact with
Hannon and raised her hand as if to wave "bye, bye."

Hannon's body moved during the execution procedure. His lips twitched, his
chest heaved and his arms, legs and body appeared to convulse a bit. Then, 12
minutes after the execution began, he was pronounced dead.

Florida resumed executions in August after making changes to its death penalty
sentencing law. The law now requires a unanimous jury vote for a death

The U.S. Supreme Court had previously found that Florida's old sentencing law,
which did not require unanimity, to be unconstitutional. However, the new
sentencing law did not affect Hannon's case because the state's high court
ruled that those decided before 2002 were not eligible for relief.

Hannon was convicted in 1991 of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the slayings
of Snider and Carter.

It was in January 1991 when Hannon and 2 other men went to Snider's apartment
in Tampa.

Hannon's friend, Jim Acker, initially attacked Snider with a knife, according
to authorities. Prosecutors said the attacks were motivated by Snider's
vandalizing of Acker's sister's apartment. Snider was "eviscerated" by the
initial stabbing, according to court documents, and Hannon sliced his throat,
nearly cutting off the victim's head.

Carter, who was Snider's roommate, also was home and fled the violence to an
upstairs bedroom, where Hannon dragged him out from under a bed and shot him 6
times, the jury found.

Hannon's jury recommended death unanimously after finding him guilty of both

Hannon's lawyers had earlier requested a halt to the execution plan before the
Florida Supreme Court, but that was denied. Hannon had asked for a new
sentencing phase, citing recent changes to Florida's death sentencing system.
Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, who dissented from the rest of
the court, wrote that the jury was not given enough information to make an
informed decision in Hannon's sentencing phase.

Without explanation Wednesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court denied 2
last-hour requests by Hannon's lawyer sto block the execution.

(source: Associated Press)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

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