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death penalty news----TEXAS, S.C., FLA., KY., ARIZ.
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-19 14:47:28 UTC
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Nov. 19


TEXAS----impending execution date


Texas Gives Juan Castillo Execution Date of December 14, 2017


Juan Edward Castillo is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday,
December 14, 2017, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in
Huntsville, Texas. 36-year-old Juan is convicted of the murder of 19-year-old
Tommy Garcia, Jr., on December 3, 2003, in San Antonio, Texas. Juan has spent
the last 12 years of his life on Texas’ death row.

Juan had previously worked as a cook and a laborer. He was previously
convicted of deadly conduct with a firearm. During the trial, witnesses also
testified that Juan was a violent man, threatening and beating the mother of
his child. Additionally, he had previously shot a man during a road rage
incident, boasted about similar crimes, and bragged about committing home
invasions and robberies.

In December 2003, Juan Castillo was dating Debra Espinosa. Late on December 2,
and during the early morning hours of December 3, 2003, the couple was with
Francisco Gonzales, a friend of Castillo, and Gonzales’ girlfriend Teresa
Quintero. The 4 of them created a plan to rob Tommy Garcia, Jr., with whom
Espinosa had previously been intimate.

Espinosa was to take Tommy to secluded spot in a residential neighborhood in
San Antonio, Texas. Castillo and Gonzales, in masks and armed with guns, would
storm the car and rob Tommy. Espinosa would play along, as if she were a victim
too. Quintero would serve as the get away driver from Castillo and Gonzales.
During the ensuing robbery, Tommy was shot and killed by Castillo, according to
the others.

Gonzales was arrested by the police as he fled from the scene, with Espinosa
arrested a short time later. Both agreed to testify against Castillo in
exchange for a reduced charge and a sentence of 40 years in prison. Gonzales
and Espinosa testified that Castillo took the lead in planning the robbery.
They also testified that he was the person who shot and killed Tommy.

Some of Gonzales’s family members also testified that they heard Castillo
confess to the crime and speak of how he hid the evidence. 2 of Tommy’s friends
testified that they were with him when he received a phone call to meet up with
Espinosa. Shortly thereafter, they received a phone call from a hysterical
Espinosa, who said that Tommy had been shot. Castillo had also been seen
wearing a distinctive necklace that Tommy had been wearing the night he was
killed.

Castillo was convicted. During the punishment phase of the trial, Castillo
elected to represent himself, a move that was allowed after the court
determined Castillo was making a knowing and voluntary decision. His two
appointed attorneys remained as stand-by counsel. Castillo was sentenced to
death.

Juan Castillo was previously scheduled to be executed on Thursday, September 7,
2017. His execution was delayed at the request of the Bexar County District
Attorney’s Office. They requested that Juan’s execution be rescheduled due to
the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey days before. In their request, the
Bexar County District Attorney’s Office noted that several members of Juan’s
legal defense lived and worked in the Houston area, which was hit particularly
hard by the hurricane, with torrential rain and flooding. The request was
granted and the execution rescheduled for December 14, 2017.

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Tommy Garcia. Please pray
for strength for the family of Juan. Please pray that Juan is innocent, lacks
the competency to be executed or should not be executed for any other reason,
that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Juan
may come to find peace through a personal relationship with the Lord, if he has
not already.

(source: The Forgiveness Foundation)






SOUTH CAROLINA----new & impending execution date

Execution set for convicted slayer of Sumter sheriff's Sgt. Kubala

Dec. 1 execution to be South Carolina's first in 6 years


A Sumter man convicted of murder for the 1996 slaying of Sumter County
Sheriff's Sgt. Charlie Kubala will be executed after more than 20 years on
death row, marking what will be the 1st execution in South Carolina in more
than 6 years.

The State Department of Corrections announced Friday it had received an order
from the state Supreme Court setting a Dec. 1 execution date for 52-year-old
Bobby Wayne Stone, who was convicted in 1997 of the Feb. 26, 1996, murder of
Kubala. The order was issued after the court denied Stone’s most recent appeal.

Third Judicial Circuit Ernest A. “Chip” Finney III said he was notified by the
state attorney general’s office of the scheduled execution.

“It is my understanding they expect them to file a federal appeal,” he said.

If Stone is executed on Dec. 1, it will be the state’s first execution since
2011.

South Carolina uses lethal injection as its execution method, though inmates
have the choice to opt for electrocution. The state's protocol requires three
drugs. Other states have gone to using a single drug after controversy over
effectiveness and morality.

According to previous reports and documents, Stone admitted he shot Kubala as
the officer responded to a call about an attempted burglary but said the
shooting was accidental.

Kubala, 32, had been with sheriff's office for 9 years and left behind a wife
and 2 children.

Stone was originally convicted of murder, 1st-degree burglary and two counts of
possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in January
1997.

He received a death sentence for the murder conviction and other sentences for
the burglary and weapons convictions.

Stone's appeals were based on the effectiveness of his lawyer and other issues
and have been heard in both state and federal courts, according to reports. In
2002, in a direct appeal, Stone's death sentence was reversed by the state
Supreme Court, even though the issue of guilt was never overturned.

After a resentencing trial, Stone was again sentenced to death in February 2005
and placed back on death row. That death sentence was later affirmed on appeal.

In a July 2016 interview with The Sumter Item, Kubala’s mother, Peggy Kubala,
said she and her family have been able to press forward since her son was
murdered.

"It's a long road afterward," she said.

Kubala commended local efforts to help support her son's family and other local
families of fallen officers with the Charlie Kubala Memorial Trust and the
annual Charlie Kubala Memorial Golf Tournament.

(source: The Sumter Item)

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


South Carolina's 1st execution in 6 years set for Dec. 1


South Carolina has scheduled its 1st execution in more than 6 years.

The State Department of Corrections said Friday it had received an order from
the state Supreme Court setting a Dec. 1 execution date for 52-year-old Bobby
Wayne Stone.

Stone has been on South Carolina's death row for 20 years, convicted of murder
in the 1996 slaying of Sumter County sheriff's Sgt. Charlie Kubala.

Stone has acknowledged he shot Kubala as the officer responded to a call in
February 1996, but said the shooting was accidental.

South Carolina uses lethal injection as its execution method, though inmates
can opt for electrocution.

The state's injection protocol requires 3 drugs. Other states have gone to
using a single drug.

South Carolina hasn't carried out an execution since 2011.

(source: Associated Press)



FLORIDA:

Wilton Manors double murder trial opens


Peter Avsenew told his mother on Christmas Day 2010 that he had done something
terrible, the worst thing he had ever done. Prosecutors and defense lawyers
agree, that’s what he said.

But a Broward jury heard conflicting accounts of what Avsenew meant.

Defense lawyer Gabe Ermine said the statement to his mother was Avsenew’s way
of admitting that he’d hired himself out as a prostitute to a Wilton Manors
couple, then took their credit cards, money and car after he found them shot to
death in their home.

But prosecutor Shari Tate said Avsenew was admitting to the murders of Kevin
Powell and Stephen Adams, who took Avsenew into their home after finding his
suggestive posts on the Craigslist classified ads website.

“He shot them multiple times in the head and left them to die,” said Tate. “He
took their credit cards, their money and their car.”

Avsenew faces the death penalty if convicted.

In opening statements Friday, Tate said Avsenew followed up the murders with a
shopping trip — first he went to Bass Pro Shops and Wal-mart, where he bought
camping equipment. Then he picked up a watch at a store in Cooper City. He used
Adams’ credit cards to make his purchases, Tate said.

Finally, he drove north to Polk County to visit his mother.

Adams was scheduled to fly to Ohio on Christmas Day to visit his family. His
sister, Marci Craig, testified that Powell, Adams’ partner for nearly 30 years,
would have been welcome but had not planned to make the trip because he was
recovering from two recent transplant surgeries — kidney and pancreas.

Craig said she waited at the airport for her brother to arrive Christmas night,
but he never did. She checked with the airline and learned he never boarded the
flight. She called the house in Wilton Manors. No one answered.

“I yelled into their voicemail. Pick up! Are you sleeping?” she said.

Desperate to find out what was wrong, Craig said she called Wilton Manors
police. She checked news reports and hospitals to find out if either Adams or
Powell were in an accident.

Finally, on Dec. 27, she called Wilton Manors police again and gave them
permission to break down the door if they had to. That’s when police found the
bodies.

Avsenew, meanwhile, was visiting his mother, who immediately became suspicious
when he arrived in a 2003 Saturn Vue he did not own. She knew her son did not
have a license to drive, Tate said.

First Avsenew said he had a friend’s permission to borrow the car. But after
news reports of the murder were published online, Avsenew admitted he stole the
car and asked for his mother’s help getting rid of it, Tate said. The mother
reluctantly complied, but she called police after she realized her son was a
murder suspect.

Defense attorney Ermine offered no explanation for who shot Powell and Adams,
but he said the men were dead when Avsenew found them. The shock of seeing
them, coupled with the shame of why he was staying with them in the first
place, left Avsenew with a difficult choice, Ermine said.

“He should have stayed,” Ermine said. “And he should have called the police.
But he didn’t. He sees these two people and he sees that they are dead, and he
panicked. He was not living a lifestyle where he was going to pick up the phone
and call police.”

The trial, before Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes, is scheduled to resume
Monday.

(source: Sun-Sentinel)






KENTUCKY:

Madden trial venue yet to be determined

Timothy Madden's trial on murder and 3 other charges will not take place in
Allen County, but a venue hasn't been determined ahead of the scheduled Feb. 26
trial date.

Madden, 40, of Scottsville, could face the death penalty if he is convicted on
charges of murder, 1st-degree rape, 1st-degree sodomy and kidnapping in the
death of 7-year-old Gabriella "Gabbi" Doolin on Nov. 14, 2015.

Gabbi's body was found in a wooded area near Allen County-Scottsville High
School, where her brother was taking part in a youth football game.

Madden's attorney, Travis Lock, successfully sought this year to have the trial
moved out of Allen County, arguing that pretrial publicity prejudiced potential
jurors against Madden and would prevent him from receiving a fair trial.

Simpson County, a neighboring county that is in the same judicial circuit as
Allen County, would take precedence as a trial venue, but Lock has filed to
have the trial moved out of any county bordering Allen County.

On Friday, Lock made his case for preventing the trial from taking place in any
adjoining county, calling Joel Turner, director of the Western Kentucky
University Social Science Research Center to testify.

Lock commissioned the research center to conduct a random telephone survey of
725 residents in Simpson, Warren, Barren, Monroe and Christian counties to
learn what they knew about the case and assess their opinions of Madden's guilt
or innocence.

The survey, conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 8, found that 56 % of Warren
County residents believe Madden is guilty of murder.

A total of 48 % of respondents in Barren and Simpson counties believed Madden
is guilty, while 43 % of respondents in Monroe County voiced the same opinion.

Of the people in those 4 counties who believed Madden is guilty, a large
majority stated that he was "definitely guilty."

On the witness stand Friday, Turner said the random sampling of residents would
most accurately reflect the sentiments of residents in those counties who would
be part of the jury selection process.

"If an unbiased jury is selected, it would really be just by luck," Turner
said.

Christian County, which does not border Allen County, was selected for the
phone survey because Madden is being jailed there and the county's relatively
new justice center could accommodate a trial of this nature, Turner testified.

The survey showed a low public awareness of the case in Christian County, where
only 18 % of respondents polled knew that Madden had been charged with Gabbi's
death, and 11 % believing Madden is guilty.

A total of 85 % of Christian County respondents said they did not know whether
Madden is guilty.

"Most people in Christian County had not made up their mind or were largely
unaware of the case," Turner said.

Allen County Commonwealth's Attorney Clint Willis' questioning of Turner
focused on census figures of the adjoining counties that had been compiled in a
response to Lock's motion.

Willis argued that, given a pool of a few hundred jurors for a death penalty
case, it would be reasonable to expect to find several dozen potential jurors
from which a panel of 12 unbiased jurors could be selected in any of the
adjoining counties.

The jury pool in Allen County would be reduced merely by virtue of the amount
of people who know Madden, are related to him or have worked with him, Willis
said.

"By going to another county, contiguous or not, we get back all the potential
jurors we would normally lose," Willis said.

Allen Circuit Judge Janet Crocker did not give a ruling from the bench, saying
she would take Lock's supplemental motion under advisement.

"I want to give some additional consideration to the surveys and the analysis
the commonwealth has done with the census figures," Crocker said.

After the hearing, Lock said he was encouraged by the court's decision to
review the arguments from both sides before making a ruling.

"We look forward to the time when the court makes a decision on the venue
issue," Lock said. "Once we know the venue, then that will put us in a better
position to start preparing this case for trial."

(source: Bowling Green Daily News)





ARIZONA:

After more than 3 years, no trial date on horizon in Rector case


The defense attorneys for a Bullhead City man potentially facing the death
penalty are wading through mountains of evidence and other discovery.

Justin James Rector, 29, is charged with 1st-degree murder, kidnapping, child
abuse and abandonment of a dead body for the Sept. 2, 2014, death of Isabella
Grogan-Cannella. He is charged with murdering the 8-year-old girl and leaving
her body in a shallow grave near her Bullhead City home.

He is being held in county jail without bond.

After 3 months on the job, Rector’s attorney, Quinn Jolly, said Friday that he
is making progress in the case, going through all the evidence and other
documents. Getting documents from the previous attorney has proven to be
difficult, he said.

Deputy Mohave County Greg McPhillips also told the judge that the case is
moving forward with the new attorneys on board and will soon give the defense a
compact disc with interviews that have been conducted.

Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen suggested that in order to move the case
along, Quinn file a motion if needed so he could order the previous defense
attorney, Gerald Gavin, to disclose any documents or evidence in the case.
Gavin had the case for more than 2 years. The judge also set Rector’s next
hearing for Jan. 19.

Jantzen previously granted an extension of time for Rector’s co-counsel, Julia
Cassels, to file a motion to remand Rector’s 2017 aggravated assault case back
to the grand jury. Cassels, who represents the defendant in that case, has
until Jan. 24 to file that motion.<P>

Jolly was assigned to Rector’s death penalty murder case in September. Cassels
was assigned to the case in July 2016. 2 death penalty-qualified attorneys are
required in a capital murder case. Rector’s trial date has not been set.

(source: Mohave Daily News)
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