2017-06-07 15:53:59 UTC
Meet Larry Krasner: Civil Rights Attorney, Death Penalty Opponent and
Democratic Philly DA Candidate
Will a defense attorney with a long record of standing up to prosecutors and
police soon head one of the nation's busiest district attorney offices? We
speak with civil rights attorney Larry Krasner, who is considered the
front-runner in the race to become Philadelphia's next district attorney after
he overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary last month. Over his career,
Krasner has represented protesters with Black Lives Matter, Grannies for Peace,
ACT UP and Occupy Philadelphia. He's promised to never seek the death penalty.
AMY GOODMAN: The Clash's "Clampdown," sung by Philly rock 'n' roll band Sheer
Mag, joined onstage by our next guest, Philadelphia district attorney candidate
Larry Krasner. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace
Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, will a defense attorney with a long record of standing up
to prosecutors and police soon head one of the nation's most busy district
attorney offices? In Philadelphia, civil rights attorney Larry Krasner is
poised to become the city's next district attorney, after overwhelmingly
winning the Democratic primary last month. Philadelphia is a solidly Democratic
city, and the odds for winning November's general election are in Krasner's
favor, with Democrats commanding a 7-to-1 registration advantage.
Over his career as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, Krasner has
represented protesters with Black Lives Matter, Grannies for Peace, ACT UP,
Occupy Philadelphia and other progressive groups. He's a longtime opponent of
capital punishment who's promised to never seek the death penalty. Philadelphia
jails more people than any other city in the Northeast, and Krasner is on
record opposing police stop-and-frisk policies. He told The Intercept he hopes
to create a team that will investigate and prosecute police and public
officials for abuses.
This is a clip from an ad released by Krasner's campaign.
BERT ELMORE: When I heard Larry said he was going to run, I said, "He's going
to run for DA? Perfect. I'm in."
KITTY HEITE: I think, unlike any other candidate in the DA's race, Larry is
calling for a new approach.
MARGIE POLITZER: I've been aware of Larry Krasner since the '90s, when he was
defending protesters involved with ACT UP.
MICHAEL COARD: I knew Larry because he and I worked together pro bono in
representing activists. He's the attorney for Black Lives Matter.
AMY GOODMAN: As an attorney, Larry Krasner has never prosecuted a case, but
instead spent his career representing protesters and the economically
disadvantaged. He has also filed over 75 civil rights cases against police
officers and successfully gotten some 800 narcotics convictions thrown out by
revealing 2 officers perjured themselves.
For more, we're joined in studio by Larry Krasner himself, the longtime
criminal defense and civil rights attorney, the Democratic nominee for district
attorney for Philadelphia.
Larry Krasner, welcome to Democracy Now!
LARRY KRASNER: Thank you. Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you decide to run for district attorney? You've gone after
prosecutors for decades.
LARRY KRASNER: Well, I have spent 30 years being in court -- criminal court,
that is -- 4 to 5 days a week. And I've been watching what I view as a
slow-motion car crash for all that time. We have more and more people in jail
all the time, and yet the rate of -- the rate of poverty, the rate of infant
mortality, the rate of suffering, in many ways, doesn't get better, and we
don't get safer. So, you know, I think the truth is, when you read a report
card and it's all Fs, something needs to change. And I felt like there was no
other candidate who wanted to do that.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And how were you able to catch fire with the voters, given the
fact that there are -- there were quite a few candidates running, several of
them with other progressive positions similar to yours, but you managed to eke
out a -- not just a minor victory, but a big victory?
LARRY KRASNER: Well, I don't think it was really about me. I think it was about
the ideas. I think the reality is that, especially in a place like
Philadelphia, which is 80 % Democratic, and it's about 50 % nonwhite, you're
dealing with people who don't want the death penalty. They realize it's nothing
but a waste of money. They want their public schools. They don't want mass
incarceration. They want treatment for people who are suffering from the
disease that is addiction. And they also don't want civil asset forfeiture,
cash bail, these other measures that effectively just step on the necks of the
poor and don't make us any safer.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I wanted to ask you, the -- because you've been a defense
attorney, you're well aware that a huge portion of a part of the legal system
is basically plea bargaining. It's not actual criminal trials where guilt and
innocence is determined by a jury of your peers, but it's basically prosecutors
forcing defendants to somehow or other plea bargain to get a reduced sentence
rather than risk a longer term. How would you, as district attorney, try to
LARRY KRASNER: Well, you know, plea bargains always have been and always will
be a part of the system. The problem that we have now is that they're done in
such a coercive fashion. They're coercive because very often poor people sit in
jail from the moment they're arrested, and they're effectively serving a
sentence. So by the time they finally come up to their court date, the
incentive to plead guilty, even if you're innocent, is very high. And the other
thing that goes on is that people are punished, and often very severely, for
taking a case to trial. This is how we have coercive plea bargains.
I don't believe that people should be punished for exercising their
constitutional right to a trial, you know, and that's not something that I
intend to do as district attorney. We need to be responsible in how we approach
this. We need to be even-handed. We need to seek justice. And justice doesn't
mean maximizing convictions by coercive means or maximizing sentences.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to candidate Donald Trump, who called for a
nationwide stop-and-frisk program at a town hall meeting hosted by Fox News.
This is a town hall participant, Ricardo Simms, questioning Trump.
RICARDO SIMMS: There's been a lot of violence in the black community. I want to
know what would you do to help stop that violence, you know, black-on-black
DONALD TRUMP: Right. Well, one of the things I'd do, Ricardo, is I would do
stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York. It worked
incredibly well. And you have to be proactive. And, you know, you -- you really
help people sort of change their mind automatically. You understand. You -- you
have to have -- in my opinion, I see what's going on here. I see what's going
on in Chicago. I think stop-and-frisk -- in New York City, it was so incredible
the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was
incredible the way that worked. So I think that would be one step you could do.
AMY GOODMAN: So that was Donald Trump. Larry Krasner, what is the New York
version of stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia, and what's your position on it?
LARRY KRASNER: So, Donald Trump, needless to say, is the gift that just keeps
on giving. So much wisdom. It's a disaster. I mean, stop-and-frisk in
Philadelphia, in fact, results in the following. Fifty young men -- it's almost
always young men -- the vast majority people of color, get searched. They find
something one out of 50 times. They find a gun one out of 400 times. But what
they are doing, of course, is they are alienating over and over the other 49
young men, mostly young men. They're reminding them that they're poor. They're
reminding them that there are certain neighborhoods where police will do
whatever they want. And they are creating an environment in which those young
men don't want to be police officers and in which those young people do not
want to share information with the police about a shooting that may be about to
happen or about a shooting of their friend that has already happened. This is
the destruction of intelligence-based policing in which information is actually
shared. This is the genesis of the "don't snitch" culture. What you have here
is -- thanks to Rudy Giuliani and other people like Trump, you have this
incredible divide, which has been created by a policy that is unconstitutional.
AMY GOODMAN: The Fraternal Order of Police is very powerful in Philadelphia.
LARRY KRASNER: Fraternal Order of Police believes it's very powerful in
Philadelphia. I would submit, if you look at the results of the last election,
not so much. But I don't say that to gloat. You know, the problem is not the
rank-and-file police in Philadelphia, many of whom are very good people. The
problem is that the leadership of the FOP, unfortunately, during the campaign,
engaged in rhetoric that was very much Frank Rizzo-era throwback, reactionary
rhetoric. This is the same group that was on record as having endorsed Donald
Trump in a city that is 80 percent Democratic, to the absolute outrage of the
women and -- women officers and the officers of color. The Guardian Civic
League, which is the black union of police in Philadelphia, did a press
conference over how upset they were about that. So, you know, the leadership of
the FOP has been pretty good at attracting attention during the election cycle.
But they have also asked to meet with me, have met with me and are now talking
in a different fashion.
What concerns me is not them, because, in fact, the leader is not even a police
officer. What concerns me is the police commissioner. And we've had two fairly
progressive police commissioners in a row. He and I have an excellent
relationship. We've met. We've spoken by telephone. And while we will disagree
on some things, I'm much more concerned with working with the police department
as opposed to worrying about some throwback head of a police union.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Your ability to run for the seat was helped by the fact that the
current district attorney is now facing trial for corruption himself. And it
was not that long ago, wasn't it, that the state attorney general in
Pennsylvania also faced criminal charges herself? I'm wondering your sense of
what's going on where now even the prosecutors are ending up on corruption
trials in Pennsylvania.
LARRY KRASNER: You know, unfortunately, for as long as I have been practicing,
which is 30 years, the people who have become district attorneys in
Philadelphia County have been politicians, and ultimately their goal was not to
stop in the District Attorney's Office. It was to become governor or to become
senator, whatever it may be. It goes all the way back to Arlen Specter, Ed
Rendell, Lynne Abraham and now Seth Williams. So it's not surprising to me that
they end up embroiled in corruption scandals, because, the truth is, they're
mostly running for higher office. It has been, to a very large extent, an
exercise of ego.
I really don't want to run for anything else, didn't -- wasn't even sure I
wanted to run for this, until things got kind of out of hand. So, you know, I
think I'm coming at it from a different perspective, which is that I have
worked from the outside for justice for a very long time, and I now see an
opportunity to be more effective on the inside, and that's what I'd like to do.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And do you -- do you fear that the career prosecutors in that
office are going to -- because there have been some reports that there's
thoughts of open rebellion, of people resigning. And, you know, people are used
to watching "Law & Order" and seeing the heroic battle of prosecutors in New
York City and other places. Is your sense is that there's going to be rebellion
in the ranks when you come in?
LARRY KRASNER: No, not at all. The reality is that, once again, there are
certain people who are trying to, you know, use publicity to indicate that
there's more dissent than there actually is. I'm looking forward to working
with a lot of these prosecutors. Many of their personal cellphones are in my
phone, because I am in court 4 to 5 days a week for 30 years trying cases with
them all the time. And there are some people in there who are not just good,
they're truly excellent. Some of these folks have been feeding me information
about police corruption that they could not address within the office without
causing problems for their own career. So I'm looking forward to working with
But there is no question that in this location, as in many other locations
across the United States where progressive prosecutors have come in, there will
be some change of the guard. There has to be. When Josh Shapiro became the
state attorney general in Pennsylvania, he dismissed about 13, 14 percent of
the district attorneys in his office, a similarly sized office of about 300
attorneys and a bunch of staff. And no one thought that was strange. There's
nothing unusual about coming in and having some changing of the guard, because,
otherwise, you would be violating your promises to try to achieve the cultural
change that you have argued is necessary.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you ever pursue the death penalty in a case?
LARRY KRASNER: No.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
LARRY KRASNER: So many reasons, but let me just quantify it for a moment. I
think we all understand the moral arguments on this point. Pennsylvania has not
executed anyone against his will since 1962, when I was was 1 year old. Three
people wanted to die in the 1990s, and they were permitted to doing so. But
during that period of time, there have been six exonerations of innocent people
from death row. And there has been over $1 billion spent in the pursuit of
executions that are never imposed. A billion dollars, if you break it down,
turns out to be, at $40,000 a head, about 500 schoolteachers or social workers
or young police officers across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania every year for
the last 50 years. We know that measures like good public education stop crime,
reduce homicides. We know that. And we also know that there's no evidence that
the death penalty actually reduces crime. I see no value in destroying our
public schools, which is exactly what's going on, in favor of a penalty that is
never imposed, and shouldn't be, or we would be executing, frankly, significant
numbers of innocent people.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I'm wondering -- perhaps the most famous prisoner from
Philadelphia, if not in the entire country, is Mumia Abu-Jamal. And you're
familiar, obviously, with his long history and his case. I'm wondering your
thoughts on how justice was served in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
LARRY KRASNER: Well, you know, as someone who may very well be the next
district attorney, I have to be extremely careful about what I would say in
advance of being in office, because it could become a basis for an argument
that I should not be involved in that case. So, in this case, as with other
significant cases in Philadelphia, for example, the investigation around the
shooting and killing of Brandon Tate-Brown, I'm not commenting during this
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, you've represented so many different groups -- Black
Lives Matter, Occupy and many different groups forming a kind of resistance
right now to President Trump. You -- many of your supporters were Bernie
Sanders supporters. Do you see yourself carrying on his fight?
LARRY KRASNER: I think -- I think the short answer is yes. You know, I think
that while Bernie Sanders did not have quite as detailed a platform on criminal
justice as I would have liked to see, that this campaign is much more in the
tradition of Bernie Sanders.
The most exciting thing, in my view, to come out of this campaign is that in
the last 2 similar election cycles for DA, there were about 105,000 and 110,000
total votes each time; this time, there were 150,000 votes. The reason the
national Republican Party and Democratic Party are noticing what's happening
here is not me. What they're noticing is that in a state that was lost by
Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump by 40,000 votes, in a single city, in an
off-year election, about 45,000 new votes have turned out. There is a gold mine
of untapped progressive votes. And there is a coalition of African-American and
progressive votes that, unfortunately, Bernie Sanders was not able to tap as
well as he might have liked. But they're there. And this could be -- not me,
but this -- could be a model for what is possible across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Larry Krasner, we want to thank you for being with us, criminal
defense and civil rights attorney, Democratic nominee for district attorney for
Philadelphia. When we come back, we'll be joined by the Republican nominee, the
contender for district attorney for Philadelphia. Stay with us.
(source: Juan Gonzalez co-hosts Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Gonzalez has
been a professional journalist for more than 30 years and a staff columnist at
the New York Daily News since 1987. He is a 2-time recipient of the George Polk
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national,
daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on more than 1,100 public
television and radio stations worldwide. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its
"Pick of the Podcasts," along with NBC's "Meet the Press."----truth-out.org)
Motions denied to sever robbery, homicide cases
A Union County judge denied motions to sever pending robbery and homicide
trials involving capital murder defendant Justin Richard.
Richard faces the death penalty on an open count of homicide for the 2012
shooting of Randy Sampsell. He's also charged with robbery and burglary with
co-defendant Theron Moore in separate cases that were merged for trial.
A home invasion in New Berlin and thefts of a pickup truck and motorcycle, in
which Richard and Moore are accused, allegedly occurred 10 days after Sampsell
was shot inside his home during a robbery.
Attorneys for both Richard and Moore sought to sever the other cases from the
Judge Michael Sholley denied the requests because the homicide charge hasn't
yet been scheduled for trial. His order leaves open that the motions could be
"The court declines to take any action on the timing of the trial in this
matter as the matter has not been listed for trial at this point and therefore
these issues are premature," Sholley said.
A hearing on the matter was held in May, during which Sholley said the homicide
trial could be pushed as far as 2019.
The prosecutor, Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson, prefers either
to try Moore and Richard as part of the homicide trial or before the homicide
case comes before a jury.
Should Richard be convicted on charges of felony assault before or at his
homicide trial, it would add to aggravating circumstances supporting Johnson's
call for the death penalty.
Moore isn't named as a co-defendant in the homicide case. His attorney, Matthew
Slivinski, argued in court that Moore faces substantial prejudice if his cases
are heard as part of the capital homicide trial.
Attorney Michael Dennehy, Richard's counsel, favored the joint trial of Moore
and Richard come after his own client is tried in Sampsell's death.
Moore is next due in court July 14; Richard July 18. Both appearances are for
(source: The Daily Item)
Search warrant paints fuller picture of Rockingham DA investigation
A Forsyth County grand jury indicted a man Monday on charges of 1st-degree
murder and other offenses in connection with the death of a toddler in August
Charles Thomas Stacks, 31, is accused of killing Jaxson Sonny Swain, a
2-year-old boy, who died of head injuries on Aug. 19, 2015 at Brenner
Prosecutors have filed for a Rule 24 hearing, which determines whether they can
pursue the death penalty against Stacks, if he is convicted.
Jaxson was found unresponsive Aug. 16 in a bathtub at a home in the 5400 block
of Grubbs Street, Winston-Salem police said.
Charles Stacks lived in the home with Megin Elizabeth Stacks. At the time,
police didn't describe their relationship.
Police described Jaxson's death as a case of child abuse. Charles Stacks was a
friend of Jaxson's mother, Candace Swain.
The grand jury also indicted Charles Stacks on charges of intentional child
abuse; inflicting serious bodily injury; possession of a firearm - a
.45-caliber handgun - and altering or destorying its serial number; and felony
possession of cocaine, according to the indictment.
He is accused of biting Jaxson on various parts of his body, a court record
shows. The man was caring for Jaxson the day the child's injuries were
reported, police said.
Jaxson died 3 days after he was found in the bathtub, the result of bleeding
between the surface of his brain and its outer covering, which was caused by a
blunt force head injury, according to the autopsy report by Dr. Donald Jason, a
Forsyth County medical examiner.
The autopsy showed that the boy had bruises on his head, face and torso, as
well as bleeding and bruising in his genital area.
(source: News Record)
Motions heard for man accused of killing stepdaughter
Attorneys representing a Cobb County man charged with killing his stepdaughter
last July argued Tuesday that he shouldn't have to wear his orange jumpsuit to
Dafareya Hunter, 37, is accused of raping and stabbing his stepdaughter before
setting fire to his home in an effort to cover his tracks. He faces the death
He appeared at his motions hearing in Cobb Superior Court wearing an orange
Cobb County-issue jumpsuit and a white knit cap as his team of capital
defenders argued in favor of a series of motions they filed in his case. Those
motions included allowing Hunter to wear "civilian clothes" to court and
putting a gag order on media outlets to prevent news cameras in the courtroom.
Hunter was arrested Aug. 26 in Florida in connection to the July 23 fire, which
occurred at a home along Shadowridge Drive near the intersection of Powder
Springs and Hurt roads.
When the fire was extinguished investigators discovered the body of 14-year-old
Ana Then in one of the home's bedrooms. Her death was quickly ruled a homicide.
According to court records, Hunter allegedly raped his stepdaughter, stabbed
her multiple times and then doused her body in gasoline before setting it on
fire. The man's stepson was sleeping in the home at the time but managed to
escape the fire through a window, sustaining minor injuries.
Hunter was indicted Nov. 3 on 5 counts of felony murder and 1 count each of
malice murder, aggravated assault, rape, 1st degree cruelty to children,
aggravated child molestation, 1st degree arson and criminal attempt to commit a
Attorneys Crystal Bice and Jerilyn Bell, who were appointed to Hunter's case
after it was announced the state would seek the death penalty, argued before
Cobb Superior Court Judge Lark Ingram that having their client appear in court
shackled and clad in an orange jumpsuit could lead jurors to believe he is
guilty before he even has the chance at a fair trial.
"It's prejudicial for the potential jury pool," Bice said. "Every time he comes
to court in his shackles and jumpsuit, the public sees him that way."
A motion filed in February says forcing Hunter to wear bright orange jail
clothing is "manifestly prejudicial to (his) rights to due process and a fair
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans reminded the court that Hunter is
charged with the most serious offense possible and that this was a capital
"The defendant needed to be moved to protective custody because of the nature
of the charges against him," he said.
Hunter's team of attorneys also filed a gag order in an attempt to prevent
members of the media from taking photographs and video of the court
"My concern is that we are inviting all the media outlets to come and take an
interest in this case," Bice said, maintaining that photos and videos of her
client in newspapers and on the nightly news could lead people to presume
Hunter is guilty before his trial begins.
Evans argued it that it wouldn't be fair to keep members of the media from
covering a high-profile case by prohibiting video and photographs.
Judge Ingram suggested allowing news organizations that have expressed interest
in the case to continue their coverage, but is set to make a formal ruling on
the motions filed sometime between now and the next scheduled hearing.
Hunter's case marks the 1st time Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds has sought
the death penalty since he was elected in 2012.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 13 at 9 a.m.
(source: Marietta Daily Journal)
Fla. death penalty-prosecutor fight heads to high court----Aramis Ayala is
fighting Gov. Rick Scott's orders to transfer almost 2 dozen cases after she
said her office wouldn't pursue the death penalty against Markeith Loyd
Gov. Rick Scott and a Florida prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty
will square off against each other before the state's high court.
The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a June 28 hearing so justices can
question attorneys representing the Republican governor and State Attorney
The Orlando prosecutor is fighting Scott's orders to transfer almost 2 dozen
cases after she said her office wouldn't pursue the death penalty. Ayala has
said the process is costly and it drags on for the victims' relatives. Ayala
announced her decision in March as her office was starting to build a case
against Markeith Loyd in the fatal shootings of an Orlando police lieutenant,
and his pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Scott reassigned the cases to a prosecutor in a neighboring district.
(source: Associated Press)
Trial opens in 2006 murder of Broward Deputy Brian Tephford
Broward State Attorney Mike Satz faced a jury for the 1st time in 7 years
Tuesday, delivering opening statements in the case of 3 men accused of gunning
down a Broward sheriff's deputy in 2006.
Without consulting notes, Satz spent an hour laying out the case against Andre
Delancy, Bernard Forbes and Eloyn Ingraham, each of whom is charged with the
murder of Broward Deputy Brian Tephford, conspiracy to commit murder, and
attempted murder in the shooting of Deputy Christopher Carbocci. The defendants
face the death penalty if convicted.
Satz spoke in meticulous detail, starting with the defendants getting an
apartment in Tamarac earlier in 2006, recounting the shooting and the desperate
hours that followed, and ending with the defendants arrested at a Dania Beach
motel less than a day after the bullets were fired.
Satz has personally handled 3 trials since Tephford was murdered, all involving
the murder or attempted murder of law enforcement officers.
The start of trial was put off for a decade by a series of scheduling setbacks:
some routine arguments about the admissibility of evidence; some complications
arising from the challenge of coordinating the calendars of multiple defense
lawyers, prosecutors and witnesses; and some unexpected roadblocks caused by
the fluctuating status of the state's death penalty laws.
Jurors were told the trial would last 6 months or more. Of the 22 selected to
hear the case, 3 were dismissed Tuesday morning after telling Broward Circuit
Judge Paul Backman and the attorneys that they had conflicts that arose between
the time they were chosen in March and Tuesday. Their dismissal leaves the case
with 12 jurors and 7 alternates.
As murder trial looms, slain Broward deputy remembered for his love of job
For the trial, prosecution witnesses will be subject to cross-examination from
attorneys representing each of the three defendants, who were arrested a day
after the 34-year-old Tephford was shot to death after stopping a vehicle at
the Versailles Gardens apartment complex on Nov. 12, 2006.
Prosecutors say Ingraham's girlfriend was driving the vehicle and had told
Tephford the license tag did not match the car because her father had replaced
it, Satz said. Tephford was on the phone with the woman's father when Delancy
and Forbes showed up and opened fire, Satz said. The shots killed Tephford and
wounded Carbocci, who had responded to Tephford's call for backup.
"This brutality, this ruthlessness is the reason you are all here," Satz said,
promising the jury the evidence would be more than enough to prove the men
Tephford was a 6-year veteran of the sheriff's office and was working an
off-duty detail for extra income.
The defendants were arrested the day after the shooting, at a Dania Beach
motel. Investigators said they found evidence there implicating Forbes and
Ingraham in an otherwise unrelated robbery and kidnapping at a Tamarac clothing
store a month before the Tephford shooting. But the two men were acquitted
after a trial in 2015.
Judge Backman had anticipated the murder trial would start once the robbery
case ended, but the U.S. Supreme Court indirectly slowed the case's progress by
declaring portions of Florida's death penalty unconstitutional. The state's
legislature passed a new law in 2016, but the state's Supreme Court struck it
down, ruling that the changes to the previous law did not adequately address
the federal court's concerns.
The current law was enacted in March, enabling jury selection in the Tephford
case to conclude and the trial to proceed.
Defense lawyer H. Dohn Williams delivered the 1st of 3 opening statements for
the defense. Speaking on behalf of Delancy, Williams said prosecutors will
likely be able to tie the defendant to activities that took place after the
shooting, but not to anything that took place before or during.
"What did the state prove that Andre Delancy did before he got in the car and
drove away" with Ingraham, Forbes and a neighbor minutes after the shooting,
Williams asked. "He did get in that car. We don't dispute that." But he denied
Delancy was involved with the murder.
Defense lawyers for Forbes and Ingraham are scheduled to deliver their opening
statements on Wednesday, with testimony to get underway Thursday morning.
Woman on death row resentenced to life in prison----Emilia Carr, once Marion
County's only female death row inmate, will now spend the rest of her life in
After an evidentiary hearing May 19, the State declined to seek a new death
penalty phase, according to court records, and 5th Judicial Circuit Court Judge
Willard Pope resentenced Carr, 32, to life in prison without parole. She has
been fighting her death sentence since 2011. There are now only 3 women on
death row in the state of Florida.
A Marion County jury in 2010 found Carr guilty as charged of kidnapping and
1st-degree murder in the 2009 death of 26-year-old Heather Strong. Carr and her
boyfriend, co-defendant Joshua Fulgham, 35, lured his estranged wife, Strong,
to a storage trailer in Boardman in north Marion County.
When Carr arrived, Strong tried to leave and a scuffle ensued. Fulgham held
Strong down as Carr taped her to a chair. Fulgham then forced Strong to sign a
document that gave him custody of their 2 children.
Carr placed a garbage bag over Strong's head and Fulgham held it tight and
wrapped tape around his wife's neck. Carr tried twice to break Strong's neck.
Carr said Fulgham then put his hands over Strong's nose and mouth, and
Strong's body was found near the trailer 4 days later.
The jury voted 7-5 to recommend death for Carr. Fulgham was sentenced to life
in 2012 with a vote of 8-4.
Carr appealed her sentence, raising several issues including possible errors by
the trial judge and the proportionality of the death sentence.
In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Carr's death sentence.
"This case involves a love triangle between the victim, Heather Strong, her
estranged husband, Joshua Fulgham, and the defendant, Emilia Carr, that ended
when Carr and Fulgham carried out their plan to murder Strong," the high court
wrote in its decision.
Carr restarted the appeal process, claiming ineffective assistance from her
lawyer. It was during an evidentiary hearing on this appeal that her fate
Neither the State or defense attorneys were available Tuesday for comment.
Carr's resentencing comes at a pivotal time for Florida's death penalty.
After being ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016,
Florida's death sentence scheme became a topic of debate and revision. The
Florida Supreme Court released an opinion in October 2016 calling for a
In March of this year, Gov. Rick Scott signed new rules requiring a unanimous
jury decision for the death sentence. The Florida Supreme Court is still
hammering out final jury instructions for the new death sentence scheme.
Several appeals for resentencings have entered the state Supreme Court's queue.
Of the now seven convicted Marion County murderers on death row, one is arguing
for a reduced sentence of life on an intellectual disability claim, 2 were
granted resentencing by the Florida Supreme Court, the other 4 are still
fighting their death sentence with various appeals.
8 Marion County defendants await sentencing in death penalty-eligible cases.
Kelvin Coleman is scheduled to be the 1st local defendant to put the state's
new death penalty ruling to the test. Jury selection for the penalty phase of
his trial starts Aug. 21. Coleman was convicted in October 2016 of 2 counts of
Alabama execution back on for Thursday after U.S. Supreme Court ruling
The execution of Robert Bryant Melson is back on for Thursday after the U.S.
Supreme Court tonight lifted a stay that had been granted last week by an
The stay of the execution was lifted in an order issued by U.S. Supreme Court
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday.
3 of the 9 Supreme Court associate justices - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen
Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor - said they did not want to vacate the stay of
execution, according to the brief order.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Monday had asked the U.S. Supreme
Court to overrule the appeals court and reinstate Thursday's planned execution
of Melson, the man convicted in the 1994 shooting deaths of three fast food
employees at a Popeye's in Etowah County.
The execution is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility in
The 11th Circuit on Friday had granted a stay of Melson's execution. Melson is
challenging his execution on grounds that the three-drug cocktail Alabama uses
for lethal injections "has failed to work properly."
The 11th Circuit issued the stay so it can rule on Melson's challenge, which is
also being appealed by 4 other death row inmates.
Melson and the other inmates argue that the 1st drug administered in the
cocktail, the sedative midazolam, doesn't work well enough prevent the inmates
from experiencing the pain caused by the other 2 drugs that stop breathing and
The Alabama Attorney General on Monday, however, filed a motion to the U.S.
Supreme Court that argues in part that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled
that midazolam can be used in drug protocols.
Melson has been on death row since May 1996. He was convicted along with
Cuhuatemoc Peraita in the shooting deaths of fast-food employees Tamika
Collins, 18, Nathaniel Baker, 17, and Darrell Collier, 23, during a robbery of
a Gadsden's Popeye's restaurant. A 4th person, Bryant Archer, was shot 4 times
Also, the Attorney General argues, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the stay
requests of 4 Arkansas inmates who were executed using the same drug protocol
as Alabama. And Alabama has already carried out 3 executions using the
protocol, including the May 25 execution of Tommy Arthur in which the 11th
Circuit denied a stay.
The other 2 Alabama inmates who were executed - Ronald Smith and Christopher
Brooks - also were co-plaintiffs in the case with Melson "and their stay
requests were denied by the Eleventh Circuit because their nearly identical
claims were also time-bared," the Attorney General also argued.
House Bill would keep mentally ill from death row
For the 2nd year in a row, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney's Association voiced
strong opposition to a bill that would keep severely mentally ill people from
being executed on death row.
If passed, House Bill 81 would bar the possibility of the death penalty for
people who can prove they had a serious mental illness when they committed
aggravated murder. The maximum penalty would be a life sentence. The proposal
also would permit for current death row inmates to apply for resentencing.
John Murphy, executive director of the organization, said the bill would allow
countless criminals to avoid the death penalty by claiming mental illness at
the time of the crime. He said the bill is redundant when considering current
Ohio law and court precedent.
"If this were enacted, I think it would in effect repeal the death penalty,"
Murphy said. "Proponents argue that the process would apply to very few persons
- we don't see it that way. I think every single one of the persons on death
row will file for this."
Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, who sponsored the legislation, said the bill
came as a result of an Ohio Supreme Court joint task force recommendation. The
recommendation implores lawmakers to enact legislation that would exclude
defendants from the death penalty who were afflicted by "serious mental
illness" at the time of the crime.
"I guess they're fixated on executing the mentally ill," Seitz said.
Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, said the bill
does well to recognize that people with severe mental illnesses shouldn't be
executed. It doesn't take anything away from prosecutors, he said, instead
allowing for more options and convictions.
Currently 139 people are on death row in Ohio, according to figures from the
Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Only 1 of those inmates is
female. Ohio has carried out 53 executions since the state resumed them in
1999. The state has killed a total of 393 convicted murders in its history.
Early in 1999, Jay Scott, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was the 1st person
executed against his will since capital punishment resumed. A contentious legal
battle preceded the execution as his lawyers fought and won appeals in both
state and federal courts. The Ohio Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court upheld
a state law that allowed executions as long as the prisoner understands he will
die as punishment for his crimes.
Seitz said his bill is an attempt to address current law, which he called
inadequate. Following one of the recommendations of the task force, Seitz's
bill considers the defendant's state of mind at the time of the crime. He said
he worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to craft the bill.
Current law, according to Murphy, adequately considers mental illness and
retardation during the trial and sentencing. He said House Bill 81 expands the
definition beyond what's necessary, effectively making the death penalty null
and shifting the burden to the state to disprove the defendant's claims.
Seitz said that without reining in the death penalty, the state will lose it.
The bill is an attempt to protect a vulnerable population from being unfairly
sentenced to death.
"We think this is an appropriate and needed change to Ohio's Revised Code,"
Werner said. "This is the direction our society is moving in."
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
Canton Man Who Narrowly Escaped Execution Pushes for a New Trial
For more than 2 decades, Kevin Keith and his family have been fighting his
conviction on charges he gunned down 6 people, killing 3, in a small town in
central Ohio. Their latest attempt was in arguments Tuesday before a 3-judge
appeals panel in Lima. WKSU's M.L. Schultze reports the judges heard very
different interpretations of what forensic evidence showed and why it matters.
In the next 15 minutes, defense attorney Zachary Swisher argued that a
deposition from a controversial forensics analyst at the Ohio Bureau of
Criminal Investigation was fatally flawed, yet it provided the scientific
framework jurors relied on to convict Keith. Swisher read from Michelle Yezzo's
'2 eyewitnesses testified at trial that the appellant is the one who carried
out these heinous acts.'
"Her findings and conclusions regarding evidence may be suspect. She will
stretch the truth to satisfy a department.' I'm not sure a more damaging quote
could be attributed to a forensic expert who's testifying in a dealth penalty
Assistant Crawford County Prosecutor Robert Kidd acknowledged the analyst's
work record could have boosted the defense had it been revealed 23 years ago.
But "they're simply ignoring the rest of the evidence at trial. We have not 1
but 2 eyewitnesses that testified at trial that the appellant is the one who
carried out these heinous acts."
A decision is expected within three months. Keith had been on death row until
then-Gov. Ted Strickland commuted his sentence to life in prison.
Among those pushing for a new trial for Kevin Keith is former Ohio Republican
Attorney General Jim Petro. He's become an outspoken opponent of the death
penalty but says this case involves other questions.
"There's absolutely no confidence in the testimony and the proof presented by
the BCI expert. And of course, part of my career I managed BCI. So I'm
particularly concerned about that issue. But I think there's no proof
scientifically that is credible that points to Kevin Keith."
(source: WKSU news)
State is in a death penalty corner
Indiana officials probably don't want to have a big debate about the death
penalty, but they more or less have to. The issue has been hijacked by capital
punishment opponents, who have pushed the state into a corner by challenging
the lethal cocktail used to carry out state-sanctioned executions. If the state
can't talk its way out of the corner, it might have to go back to "less humane"
methods of execution.
Most death penalty states have a similar dilemma. Influenced by anti-capital
punishment activists, major drug companies have stopped making their lethal
products available to states using them for capital punishment, so states have
been scrambling to find alternatives.
In 2014, the Indiana Department of Correction came up with a 3-drug cocktail of
methohexital, potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide, which no state or
federal prisoner in the country has been executed by. Other states coming up
with their own concoctions have had horrible instances of prisoners dying
gruesome, drawn-out deaths, which has put the "cruel and unusual punishment"
argument back on the table.
Roy Lee Ward, 1 of Indiana's 11 prisoners on death row, sued the state in 2015,
arguing that the DOC skirted procedures when it chose the new drugs. A LaPorte
Circuit judge dismissed the claim. But now a 3-judge Indiana Court of Appeals
panel has reversed the lower court. The judges found that when the DOC chose
the new drugs, it violated Ward's rights under the state and federal
constitutions. The DOC did not follow guidelines set by the General Assembly
that regulate how state agencies change its rules, including holding a public
hearing, the court said.
The state's options are limited. Even if it backs up and follows all the
procedures the court says are necessary, it may be a moot point. Indiana's
stock of lethal injection drugs is expired - and, given the attitude of the
drug companies, the state is not likely to replenish them any time soon.
So what is the state to do? Put executions on hold indefinitely, which would
have the effect of eliminating capital punishment? Bring back the gas chamber,
hanging, the firing squad, the electric chair?
It is more than a little ironic that lethal injections were settled on as a
more humane way of dispatching capital offenders. In trying to deal with claims
of its cruelty, the state might have to revert to killing in ways considered
even more barbaric.
Maybe it's time for one of those public hearings.
(source: Editorial, (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel)
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