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death penalty news----OHIO, ARIZ., NEV., CALIF., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-06-08 13:41:20 UTC
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June 8



OHIO:

Death row inmate's request for new sentencing hearing denied


Convicted killer Stanley Jalowiec has lost his latest effort to have his death
sentence overturned.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook rejected a request from Jalowiec's
attorneys to grant him a new sentencing hearing in a decision filed Wednesday.

Jalowiec's lawyers had argued that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that
found Florida's death penalty process unconstitutional should also invalidate
Ohio's death penalty law.

Richard Cline, chief counsel for the Ohio Public Defender's Office Death
Penalty Department, had argued in court documents filed earlier this year and
during a hearing last month that the two laws had similar problems because both
placed the final decision in deciding a death sentence in the hands of a judge,
not a jury.

But prosecutors countered - and Cook agreed - that the 2 death penalty laws
were substantially different.

In Ohio, Cook wrote, jurors make a recommendation to the judge overseeing the
case on whether a death sentence should be imposed.

If a jury recommends death, then a judge can sentence a defendant to death or
reduce the sentence to a life prison term. If jurors recommend a life prison
term, a judge cannot impose a death sentence.

That is different from Florida, where judges were allowed to sentence a
defendant to death even if jurors recommended a life prison sentence, Cook
wrote.

Cook also noted that Ohio's death penalty laws have survived legal challenges
over the years, and the process is largely unchanged from when Jalowiec was
sentenced to death in 1996 for his role in the killing of police informant
Ronald Lally.

That means, Cook wrote, that even if he were to grant Jalowiec's request for a
new sentencing hearing, the process that would be followed would be mostly the
same as it was 21 years ago.

"Ohio's death penalty sentencing statute remains constitutionally sound and
practically unchanged," the judge wrote.

Cline largely declined to discuss Cook's decision Wednesday.

"We'll review the judge's order and act accordingly," he said.

Cook's decision is the 2nd blow to Jalowiec's legal efforts this year. Last
month, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of decisions by lower
courts not to grant him a new trial.

Jalowiec, 46, claims to have been at his mother's house when Lally was shot,
stabbed beaten and run over by a car in a Cleveland cemetery in 1994. Both a
county judge and the 9th District Court of Appeals rejected his arguments that
new evidence would prove it.

Jalowiec also has been unsuccessful in his efforts to claim that his case was
tainted by police and prosecutorial misconduct.

In addition to Jalowiec, Raymond Smith was also sentenced to death for the
Lally killing, but his sentence was later reduced to a life prison term after
he was found be mentally handicapped.

Jurors acquitted Daniel Smith, Raymond Smith's son, of involvement in Lally's
death.

(source: The Chronicle Telegram)






ARIZONA:

Child killer fights to avoid death penalty


The case of a little girl killed almost 33 years ago is still alive in the
courts today and we are getting a rare look at key evidence in the case.

Frank Atwood was found guilty of killing 8 year old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in
1984. He was sentenced to death.

Now he is fighting appeals to stay alive, while the girl's family waits for his
execution.

In September 1984 Vicki Lynne Hoskinson got on her bicycle and rode off to mail
a birthday card. Her family never saw her again.

Frank Atwood was found guilty of killing her, in part on the strength of a mark
of pink paint on his car bumper, that lab tests called a match for the paint on
the little girl's pink bike.

Evidence photos simulate Atwood's car hitting Vicki Lynne's bike.

They also show a dent on the bumper that appears to fit the shape of one of the
bicycle pedals.

But 33 years later, Atwood is trying to avoid the death penalty by claiming
that evidence was planted.

Before 3 Federal judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Atwood's lawyer,
and an attorney for the state of Arizona argued over whether evidence from the
car and bike can be believed.

They also argued whether Atwood's original attorney made a mistake in Atwood's
original trial that led to a death sentence.

Atwood claimed he had been molested as a child, and he had a history of crimes
against children. His original trial attorney kept that information out of the
trial thinking it would make jurors more likely to convict. Now Atwood's
appeals lawyer says that information might have avoided a death penalty.

It is not clear when the judges will rule. The appeal could go all the way to
the Supreme Court.

(source: KGUN TV news)






NEVADA:

Trial set for next week in 9-year-old murder case


Thomas Randolph had 6 wives. 4 are dead.

On Monday, lawyers are scheduled to start picking jurors for a trial on charges
that Randolph hired a hitman to kill his last wife and then killed the hitman.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

But first, the 62-year-old needs to see a barber.

Randolph's gray-white hair, which he wore in pigtails for a brief court
proceeding Wednesday, has grown well past his shoulders. His lawyers, special
public defenders Randall Pike and Clark Patrick, want him well-groomed for the
jury.

When the murder trial starts next week, he is expected to have short hair
again, like he did when he was arrested in January 2009 in connection with the
May 2008 killings. Randolph's is the oldest murder case yet to see a trial in
Clark County, but that's mainly a result of his own doing.

He has fired several attorneys through the years, including Yale Galanter,
known for representing O.J. Simpson. Randolph retained Galanter for 3 years
before firing him and receiving 2 Clark County public defenders, whom he also
fired.

Prosecutors have said that Randolph wanted his wife, Sharon Clausse Randolph,
whom he married in 2006, dead to collect more than $400,000 in insurance, a
similar motive alleged in the death of 1 of his previous wives.

About 2 decades before the deaths of Sharon Randolph and Michael James Miller,
a jury acquitted Thomas Randolph of murder in the death of his previous wife,
Becky Randolph. She was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head, and
Randolph collected $250,000 in insurance payouts after her death, according to
news reports at the time.

District Judge Stefany Miley recently ruled that jurors can hear about those
allegations but only when referred to as "the Utah case." His defense attorney
at the time said Randolph's wife committed suicide, had suffered from a cocaine
addiction and had previously attempted suicide.

Prosecutors at the time said Randolph and a friend, Eric Tarantino, plotted to
kill Becky Randolph and make it look like an accident. Randolph pleaded guilty
to tampering with a witness for conspiring with a fellow inmate to kill
Tarantino, who was the prosecution's prime witness against him.

Randolph met 38-year-old Miller in front of a convenience store about a year
before the killings. The 2 struck up a relationship, and Randolph hired Miller
as a handyman to work on his northwest valley home at 6517 Rancho Sante Fe
Drive.

2 of Randolph's other wives died of illness.

Should a jury convict Randolph of 1st-degree murder, Randolph's 1st and 4th
wives are expected to testify during a penalty phase that he threatened to kill
them.

Thomas Randolph trial

Thomas Randolph said an intruder killed his wife, and then he shot the
intruder. But authorities didn't buy his story.

November 1986 -- Becky Randolph dies in Utah of gunshot wound to the head.

April 1989 -- Jury acquits Thomas Randolph of his wife's murder.

May 2008 -- Sharon Clausse Randolph and Michael James Miller are killed inside
Randolph's northwest valley home.

January 2009 -- Police arrest Randolph on suspicion that he killed Miller after
hiring him to murder his wife.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)






CALIFORNIA:

California's top court appears divided on measure to speed up executions


The California Supreme Court appeared closely divided Tuesday over the
constitutionality of a ballot measure passed in November to speed up
executions.

Proposition 66, sponsored by prosecutors, would require courts to rapidly
review death penalty appeals, force more criminal defense lawyers to represent
death row inmates and remove public review requirements for the state's lethal
injection procedures.

An opponent of the death penalty sued to block the measure after the election,
arguing it usurped the power of the judicial branch to run the courts.

During arguments in Los Angeles, several justices said it was clear that the
California Supreme Court could not meet the measure's 5-year deadlines for
resolving death penalty appeals without sacrificing attention to other kinds of
cases.

When told by the measure's advocates that the deadlines were mere targets, the
justices noted that the wording of the ballot measure suggested otherwise.

"So it is a mandatory deadline that is toothless?" asked Justice Leondra
Kruger.

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar said the measure appeared to contain "pretty
stark time limits."

"If you are asking us not to view the 5-year time limit as binding, what
exactly is the speed-up?" Cuellar asked.

Justice Goodwin Liu also seemed doubtful of the measure's validity. If the
deadlines are not true mandates, how is the court to know what compliance
means, he asked.

"We are talking about systemic change" if the initiative is enforced, he said.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, a moderate Republican appointee who has joined
the liberals at times, could be the swing vote on the 7-justice court.

She was the 1st to raise the point that there appeared to be no consequence for
the court if the deadlines were missed. So the time mandates were merely
"aspirational, directory, hopeful?" she asked.

The court has a backlog of more than 300 death penalty appeals ready to be
heard and decided. Legal analysts have said the deadlines would force the court
to decide death penalty cases almost exclusively for the next several years if
the court upholds them.

Liu asked Jose A. Zelidon-Zepeda, defending the measure for the state attorney
general, whether the deadlines were binding.

"Yes and no," he said.

Cuellar told him to clarify his answer. Zelidon-Zepeda said the time limits
were binding but there was no consequence for failing to meet them.

"The initiative tries to speed up the process," he said.

Kent S. Scheidegger, arguing for the proponents of the measure, told the court
it could strike down the provision establishing the deadlines and still keep
the rest of the measure.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Ming W. Chin removed themselves
from the case because the lawsuit named the Judicial Council as a defendant.

Both serve on the council, a policy-making body for the court system, which
would have to make new rules to implement Proposition 66.

2 court of appeals judges took their place: Santa Ana-based Justice Raymond J.
Ikola, an appointee of former Gov. Gray Davis, and Sacramento-based Justice
Andrea L. Hoch, an appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The few questions the two asked indicated possible support for the measure.

"Who knows that a 5-year time limit can't be made until we try it?" Ikola
asked.

Justice Carol A. Corrigan, a former prosecutor and 1 of the court's more
conservative members, also seemed inclined to rule in favor of the measure.

When a lawyer for the challenger argued that voters were promised the courts
would meet the new deadlines, Corrigan appeared irritated.

Did that mean it would be impossible to "dispose of these capital cases in less
than 15 years," the average time it now takes resolve death penalty appeals?
she asked skeptically.

Kermit Alexander, a former UCLA and 49ers player whose mother, sister and 2
nephews were murdered in 1984, sponsored Proposition 66. He sat in a center
seat in the back row of the courtroom, wearing a black suit.

Alexander noted that one of the killers of his family members has been on death
row for nearly 32 years. Alexander wants to see him executed.

If allowed to take effect, the measure could result in the resumption of
executions within several months. It passed with 51% of the vote. A competing
measure to replace the death penalty with life without parole lost.

Supporters of Proposition 66 argue that major change is necessary to clear up a
backlog of hundreds of appeals and begin executing inmates after an 11-year
hiatus. California has more than 750 condemned inmates, the largest death row
in the nation.

Proponents blame defense lawyers for requesting too many time extensions to
file written arguments and the California Supreme Court for granting them.

A decision is due within 90 days.

(source: Marin Independent Journal)

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

Replace death penalty with life in prison


Vindictiveness is not a reason to kill somebody. Sierra LaMar's family
expressed disappointment that the man found guilty of their daughter's presumed
murder will not be put to death. Would watching Antolin Garcia-Torres, a
husband and father, die really offer comfort?

With the high percentage of death row inmates found innocent by the various
Innocence Projects throughout the country, and no body found, how unsettling it
will be both families and the District Attorney's office if Garcia-Torres is
executed. In the 2016 election, 55 % of voters in Santa Clara County voted to
replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole. It
is the will of the people.

Jan Dietzgen

Local chapter head Amnesty International USA

Cupertino

(source: Letter to the Editor, Mercury News)






USA:

Appeals process lengthy in capital cases


Convicted of ambushing and murdering a correctional officer in cold blood,
Jessie Con-ui is now certain to die behind bars. The only questions left are
when and how.

Jurors will begin hearing evidence June 19 as they begin to decide whether
Con-ui should serve life in prison or get the death penalty for viciously
slashing Nanticoke native Correctional Officer Eric Williams at U.S.
Penitentiary at Canaan on Feb. 25, 2013.

Con-ui, an enforcer for the violent New Mexican Mafia gang, was at the time of
Williams' murder, finishing an 11-year bid at Canaan for his role in the gang's
Arizona drug trafficking operation. After completing that sentence, he was
scheduled to return to the Arizona state prison system to serve out a sentence
of 25 years to life for gunning down Carlos Garcia outside a laundry facility
in East Phoenix in August 2002.

Wednesday's conviction under federal law - brought about because the crime
happened in a federal prison - now means Con-ui will not be eligible for parole
after 25 years.

As a result, Con-ui will live out the rest of his days in a federal prison. But
even if he gets death, it's highly possible the 40-year-old killer could live
to be a senior citizen before he is executed - if it ever happens at all.

The appeals process in death penalty cases can take 15 to 20 years - or longer
if "twists and turns" arise, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the
Death Penalty Information Center, a national nonprofit that studies capital
punishment.

In fact, only a small percentage of those sentenced to death actually get the
death penalty.

"The single most likely outcome of a capital case once a death sentence is
imposed isn't that it gets carried out," Dunham said. "The single most likely
outcome of the case is that the death penalty is overturned."

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the 8,124 people sentenced to
death in state and federal courts between 1977 and 2013, only 17 % were
executed. Another 6 % died in prison of causes other than execution, while 40 %
of the cases got other dispositions.

Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, only 3 federal
prisoners have been executed, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

1 major difference between capital and noncapital cases is the cost. According
to a September 2010 report by the Defender Services Office of the
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the median cost to defend a
noncapital case that year was about $55,000 - a fraction of the $431,000 it
cost to defend a capital case.

"Realistically with the death penalty, it costs so much more than just
incarcerating someone for life," said Theron Solomon, a Wilkes-Barre defense
attorney. "And with the appeals and the fight, it just keeps going and going.
Look at George Banks, how many years that went on for and now it's not going to
happen."

Banks murdered 13 people in 1982 but was later spared the death penalty when
the state Supreme Court ruled he is not competent to be executed.

From the inmate's perspective, a major difference between sentences of life and
death - at least in the short term - is the prison conditions. While Con-ui has
likely had his prison freedoms significantly curtailed since the murder, most
inmates serving life in prison are allowed in the general population, meaning
they can associate with other inmates. Inmates on federal death row, however,
are kept in solitary confinement, mostly at U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute,
Indiana.

If Con-ui lands there, he could be sharing a cell block with notorious killers
including mass murderer and white supremacist Dylann Roof.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long declined to comment on
conditions on federal death row. Others, however, have described it as a grim
existence.

Speaking to the (Terre-Haute) Tribune-Star in 2015, Sister Rita Clare Gerardot,
a spiritual adviser to a death row inmate, described the prisoners spending
most of their time, and eating their meals, in small cells equipped with a bed,
toilet, shower, desk and small TV. Three times per week they can leave their
cells and go to "cages" for a change of scenery, she said.

"Truthfully, I don't know how they keep their sanity," Gerardot told the
newspaper. "They have to be persons of great strength of will to get up every
day, and know they have no choices."

(source: The Citizen's Voice)

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

Inmate Jessie Con-ui found guilty of murdering prison guard Eric Williams


In what felt more like a formality than an uncertainty, a jury in the Jessie
Con-ui capital murder trial affirmed Wednesday what prosecutors, defense
attorneys and even the inmate himself said about federal prison guard Eric
Williams' savage murder.

Con-ui is guilty.

The 40-year-old inmate stabbed Williams more than 200 times with a pair of
shanks while the 34-year-old Nanticoke native was on duty at U.S. Penitentiary
Canaan in Wayne County on Feb. 25, 2013, a federal jury found after about a 1/2
hour of deliberations.

Con-ui's guilt decided by the jury, the trial will now shift to the penalty
phase June 19 where the same panel will determine whether he should be
sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or executed.

Williams' parents, Don and Jean Williams, did not comment following the
verdict, and the prosecution and defense declined to talk to reporters.

Con-ui's reaction to the 1st-degree murder conviction - his 2nd - mirrored the
"emotionless" demeanor many Canaan guards described seeing on Con-ui when they
found him in his cell after following bloody trail from Williams' body.

The inmate appeared attentive to testimony this week, but showed visible
reaction only when television screens throughout the crowded courtroom
displayed the video footage of Williams' murder.

The footage punctuated a strong case brought against the inmate by federal
prosecutors. They again detailed their evidence in closing arguments Wednesday,
citing the recording, witness testimony, the DNA from Williams' blood found on
Con-ui, and the inmate's own admissions as proof of his guilt.

The roughly 11-minute video of Con-ui's ambush-style attack on the unsuspecting
guard played to a mostly silent courtroom Monday, though portions of the brutal
assault drew tears and grimaces from some onlookers.

Williams was stabbed 203 times, kicked 11 times, and stomped in the head, neck
and face 6 times, prosecutors said. Con-ui can also be seen on the video
lifting Williams' limp body up and slamming it off the concrete floor.

The graphic footage even appeared to grip Con-ui, who removed the black glasses
hung from his head and covered his eyes with a clenched fist as the recording
played.

Con-ui's defense, who acknowledged to the jury during opening statements that
the inmate was in fact guilty "beyond all doubt," held true to their promise
not to cross-examine or call any witnesses. They said they will attempt to save
Con-ui's life during the penalty phase.

Defense attorney James A. Swetz reiterated the admission of their client's
guilt in his closing argument.

"Jessie Con-ui killed Eric Williams, a corrections officer just doing his job,"
Swetz told the jury. "There is no doubt of Jessie Con-ui's guilt."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa told the jury in his closing argument
that the case has been working its way through the court system for 4 years,
and while "justice has been delayed, it must not be denied."

Several Canaan guards testified Williams was "unrecognizable" when they found
him in a pool of blood in the cell block that housed Con-ui and more than 100
other inmates, all of whom did nothing to intervene in the attack.

Other guards testified they followed a trail of blood to Con-ui's cell, where
they said the inmate confessed to killing Williams because he felt
disrespected. Con-ui's cell had been searched earlier that day, according to
testimony.

Shortly after he was removed from his cell, Con-ui blurted out, "Hey man, I am
sorry but I had to do what I had to do. I am sick of all your people's
disrespect," witnesses said.

The conviction sets the stage for the proceedings to move to the penalty phase.
Essentially a 2nd trial, it will feature opening statements, closing arguments,
witnesses and evidence.

There, prosecutors will present aggravating factors - acts or characteristics
they believe demonstrate that Con-ui deserves to die - while the defense will
lay out mitigating factors in hopes of sparing Con-ui's life.

In this phase, prosecutors face the greater challenge. The defense needs to
prove mitigating factors by the preponderance of the evidence, a lesser
standard, while prosecutors must prove each of the aggravating circumstances
beyond a reasonable doubt.

A sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is imposed if
the jury cannot unanimously agree on the death penalty. Should the jury decide
on the death penalty, it would seem unlikely Con-ui is executed. The last
federal execution was in 2003, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The jury of 8 women and 4 men who will decide Con-ui's fate was sworn in
Friday. 6 alternates were also selected.

In addition to 1st-degree murder, the jury found Con-ui guilty of 1st-degree
murder of a U.S. corrections officer and possession of contraband in prison.

The 1st-degree murder conviction marks the 2nd for Con-ui. He pleaded guilty in
2002 to a gang initiation killing in Arizona and was to begin serving life
behind bars for the murder after he completed an 11-year sentence for drug
trafficking.

(source: timesleader.com)


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