Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, VA., S.C., FLA., ALA., OHIO
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Rick Halperin
2017-06-21 14:06:45 UTC
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June 21



TEXAS:

Suspect charged with capital murder in slaying of Houston
10-month-old----Before he was accused of killing a 10-month-old, Jared Balogun
had been arrested repeatedly.


6 days after a 10-month-old was shot in his father's arms, a Houston man was
charged with capital murder in the shocking southwest Houston slaying that
authorities say may be gang-related.

Jared Balogun, a 24-year-old with a long history of minor arrests, was already
behind bars when authorities Tuesday afternoon accused him in the shooting
death of baby Messiah Marshall.

Although the mayor praised the Houston Police Department for "working
feverishly" for justice, authorities believe there are 2 other assailants who
may still be at large.

"No murder in the City of Houston is acceptable, but let it be very, very clear
when there is a child or a kid murdered in this city we are going to expend
every and all available resources in order to find these people and bring them
to justice," Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters at a Tuesday press
conference.

The exact events of June 14 are still unclear, but police now say the gunfire
may have been in retaliation for a previous altercation with the boy's father.

The tragedy unfolded around 1:30 p.m., when Nigel Marshall was out walking with
his son near the Nob Hill Apartments on North Braeswood.

3 men approached the pair and began firing multiple rounds "indiscriminately,"
police said.

Marshall fled across the complex parking lot, seeking to shield his son from
the gunfire.

But at least one bullet hit the baby, who died at a nearby Valero gas station.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

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

US Supreme Court Refuses Appeal From Dallas Man on Death Row


The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from a Dallas man on
death row for fatally shooting his cousin during a November 2000 robbery where
a 2nd person also was killed.

The high court had no comment Monday in its decision in the appeal from
44-year-old inmate Ivan Cantu. He argues his legal help at his 2001 trial was
deficient for failing to investigate and present evidence that he's innocent.

Cantu was convicted of killing 27-year-old James Mosqueda and was indicted for
the death of Mosqueda's girlfriend, 22-year-old Amy Kitchen. The 2 were shot at
Mosqueda's Collin County home in north Dallas.

Mosqueda's Corvette was taken and found outside Cantu's apartment. Evidence
showed he took Kitchen's engagement ring and gave it to his own girlfriend.

(source: Associated Press)






VIRGINIA----impending execution

Morva attorneys ask governor to stop execution


William Charles Morva's attorneys are asking that the convicted murderer's
execution - scheduled for July 6 - be halted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In a petition filed Tuesday, the Virginia Capital Representation Center says
that Morva has mental illness that was never adequately taken into account
during his 2008 trial, and that life imprisonment would be a more appropriate
punishment for him. The attorneys group also asked that McAuliffe order mental
health care for Morva.

"For more than a decade, William Morva has suffered from a serious psychotic
disorder similar to schizophrenia," a statement from the attorney group said.

"Mr. Morva has never received treatment for his mental illness, although
administration of anti-psychotic medications has proven successful in
controlling symptoms of people similarly affected."

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy wrote in an email Tuesday that the governor, who
is presently in Europe on a trade mission set to run through June 30, and a
team will review the petition.

"We'll make an announcement when that review is complete," Coy wrote.

The attorneys' statement said Morva believes local law enforcement and the
administration of former President George Bush conspired to harass and unfairly
arrest him, that he had a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition that
required him to spend hours on the toilet every day and "adhere to a diet of
raw meat, berries, and pinecones."

The statement said Morva felt called "to lead indigenous tribes on an
unexplained quest" and that "remote tribes would recognize his leadership
status from his facial features."

In 2006, Morva, then a 24-year-old Blacksburg resident, was jailed and awaiting
trial on theft-related charges when he complained of falling from his bunk and
was taken to what was then called Montgomery Regional Hospital.

There, Morva knocked out a sheriff's deputy who was guarding him, took his gun
and killed hospital security officer Derrick McFarland. The next day Morva
killed Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Sutphin.

In 2008, Morva was convicted of 3 counts of capital murder, 1 for each victim
and a 3rd for killing 2 people in less than 3 years, which is a capital offense
in Virginia.

In the appeal to McAuliffe, the attorneys wrote that the jury that recommended
the death penalty for Morva was not given accurate information about his mental
condition.

Jurors were told Morva had a "schizotypal personality disorder???"that included
odd beliefs and attitudes but was not treatable, the attorneys' statement read.

But a fuller evaluation conducted later, during Morva's appeals, determined
that he had a more serious diagnosis of delusional disorder, a condition that
would make him unable to tell reality from delusion, the attorneys wrote.

"I hope that Governor McAuliffe will be able to put himself in William Morva's
shoes and feel what it must be like to live in a reality that no one else does
and to worry every day that the people who are supposed to care the most about
you are conspiring to hurt you," Dawn Davison, one of Morva's attorneys, said
in the statement.

Morva's appeals ran for years after his conviction, until the U.S. Supreme
Court in February declined to consider his case.

The most recent execution in Virginia was Ricky Javon Gray's in January. He
died by lethal injection for the 2006 murders of 2 sisters in Richmond during a
rampage that included killing their parents.

In April, McAuliffe commuted Ivan Teleguz's sentence from death to life in
prison in a murder-for-hire case. The governor said then that he did not think
Teleguz was innocent but acted because the sentencing phase of Teleguz's trial
had been unfair, with jurors given false information.

(source: roanoke.com)






SOUTH CAROLINA:

Anderson death row inmate eligible for parole


William Bell has spent more than 1/2 his life behind bars after killing Dennis
Hepler at West Franklin Elementary School. But in a post conviction relief
hearing last fall, a judge deemed Bell intellectually disabled and by federal
ruling, the state cannot enforce the death penalty on someone who is mentally
disabled.

The murder happened just a week before school in 1988 when this tragedy rocked
the Anderson community. Friends of Hepler said it was his dream to become a
principal and he had been working late the night he was murdered. Three men
jumped him, taking his wallet with $67 and shooting him right in front of the
school. But Hepler's legacy lives on with a park in his name and the memories
of the passion he had for education.

"I have gone to that school several times for meetings and such and walk up the
steps knowing that where I'm standing Dennis was killed. That's heartbreaking,
but knowing at the same time that school is a community center serving that
community makes it a little bit easier," said Jacky Stamps, former coworker of
Hepler.

Sometime in the next month, Bell's death sentence will be changed to a life
sentence and he could be eligible for parole depending on a decision by the
parole board.

(source: WSPA news)






FLORIDA:

Florida prosecutors seek death penalty for Naomi Jones accused killer


Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins has decided to indict 38-year-old Robert
Latroy Howard, of Brewton, on a capital murder charge in the death of
12-year-old Naomi Jones.

A grand jury came to the decision prior to the press conference held by Eddins
on Tuesday afternoon.

"We determined that it was appropriate to seek the death penalty and as a
result we will be seeking the death penalty," said Eddins.

Eddins said before Howard has an arraignment hearing on the charges his office
plans to file a written notice. It will detail the aggravating circumstances
that led to the decision to seek the death penalty for Howard.

Under Florida state law, to convict someone for capital murder, without the
chance of life in prison or parole, requires proof that the act was
premeditated or it was done during the commission of a statutory enumerated
felony.

In this instance, Howard has also been charged with kidnapping, which falls
under the statutory felony category.

"So the indictment charges either that the death occurred during the kidnapping
and/or during fully formed conscience intent to take her life," said Eddins.

Howard was arrested on June 8 ending the Escambia County Sheriff's Office
nationwide manhunt for a suspect in Jones' homicide investigation. ECSO
investigators said that video surveillance showed Howard in the area where
Jones disappeared on May 31.

She was last seen near home at the Aspen Village Apartments in Pensacola.

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office in Florida arrested Robert Howard, 38, of
Brewton in connection with the disappearance and death of Naomi Jones, 12.

During questioning Howard told investigators he was not in Florida at the time.

But, the surveillance video showed a vehicle matching Howard's in the area of
Eight Mile Creek where Jones' body was found on June 5, which was five days
after she was reported missing.

Eddins said Jones' family was pleased with the prosecutors decision to seek the
death penalty in this case.

"We received input from them in this matter and we feel like it's very
important," said Eddins. "This is the appropriate decision. It's my
understanding she's (Jones' mother) pleased with the proceedings to this
point."

A preliminary autopsy report from authorities in Florida revealed that Jones
died of asphyxiation, which is a form of suffocation. Eddins said at this time
they can not say whether Jones was raped prior to her death. But, he says more
results from the autopsy are pending at this time.

"There is additional testing to be done," said Eddins. "So there may be
additional information that will come out in the coming weeks."

He said that there will be some forensic evidence presented in the case as it
progresses, but at this time no DNA evidence has been presented.

Eddins said their investigation has revealed that Howard had been previously
convicted on sexual assault charges twice in Alabama prior to this arrest. He
said those 2 cases involved individuals under the age of 18.

He is currently charged with 1st-degree murder, kidnapping and failure to
register as a sex offender in the state of Florida.

He said the failure to register as a sex offender charge will be tried
separately from the 1st-degree murder and kidnapping charges. The time period,
which the failure to register as a sex offender charge stemmed from was prior
to Jones' disappearance.

Eddins stated that Howard does not face any additional charges at this time.

He said due to the amount of attention Jones' death has received, the case has
become a bit emotional. But, he wanted to reassure the public that when Howard
goes to trial it will still be a fair trial.

"In the past we've had other emotional case and we've always been able to
obtain a fair and impartial verdict in homicide case and I'm pleased about
that," said Eddins.

Howard will have an arraignment at a court hearing in Escambia County on June
30 for the indictment on the capital murder charge.

He currently remain in the Escambia County Jail being held with no bond at this
time.

(source: al.com)

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

Robert Howard Indicted for Murder of Naomi Jones, Faces Death Penalty


Florida prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the man accused of
murdering 12-year-old Naomi Jones.

Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins says Robert Howard faces capital murder in
the death of Jones, who Eddins confirmed died of asphyxiation.

Howard is a convicted sex offender who reportedly lied to authorities about his
whereabouts at the time of Jones' disappearance. Authorities say he was in the
area when Jones disappeared, though more indisputable evidence has not been
made public as the investigation has continued to develop.

Eddins says an additional tests are being conducted on Jones' body to determine
any further charges. He won't confirm whether or not Jones was sexually abused
before or after her death.

(source: WKRG news)






ALABAMA:

Supreme Court ruling in capital case mandates psychiatric assistance for
indigent defendants


The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday in favor of a man who has been
sentenced to death in Alabama, holding that he had not received "the
psychiatric examination and assistance necessary to prepare an effective
defense based on his mental condition" as required after the 1985 case Ake v.
Oklahoma. James McWilliams was convicted of raping and killing a convenience
store clerk in 1984. At trial, the defense counsel repeatedly moved to continue
the court proceedings so they could have an "expert" evaluate McWilliams'
psychiatric report. The judge denied the requests, telling the defense they
could have until 2 p.m. on the day of sentencing to look over the report, which
the defense had only acquired 2 days earlier. The judge, taking the position
that McWilliams was faking and exaggerating his mental illness, sentenced him
to death.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that the precedent
set in Ake goes beyond simply examining an indigent defendant, but also
requires assistance:

We are willing to assume that Alabama met the examination portion of this
requirement by providing for Dr. Goff's examination of McWilliams. But what
about the other 3 parts? Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the
defense evaluate Goff's report or McWilliams' extensive medical records and
translate these data into a legal strategy. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other
expert helped the defense prepare and present arguments that might, for
example, have explained that McWilliams' purported malingering was not
necessarily inconsistent with mental illness. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other
expert helped the defense prepare direct or cross-examination of any witnesses,
or testified at the judicial sentencing hearing himself.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch,
issued a strongly-worded dissent, claiming the Ake decision was intentionally
ambiguous, and that more deference should have been granted to Alabama's
Supreme Court ruling.

The death penalty continues to be a point of contention across the US. Earlier
this month the Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution granted by the US
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for Robert Melson, who challenged the
use of midazolam in the 3-drug cocktail used in Alabama executions, arguing
that it does not properly insensate prisoners to the pain of lethal injection.
In May the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill that would reinstate
the death penalty. In April the Texas Department of Criminal Justice sued the
Food and Drug Administration for banning a shipment of lethal injection drugs
to prison officials. Earlier in April Amnesty International released an annual
report revealing the US to not be among the world's top 5 executioners since
2006. However, in March the Mississippi house approved a bill allowing firing
squad executions. In March, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill which
stated that the death penalty may only be imposed by a judge upon unanimous
recommendation from the jury. In January Ohio's lethal injection protocol was
deemed unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

(soruce: jurist.org)






OHIO:

Ohio Supreme Court Presses Prosecutor on Reasons to Withold Complete DNA Report


The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments today over whether a northeast Ohio man
is entitled to the full report on DNA testing and other evidence. WKSU???s M.L.
Schultze has more on the arguments in a death-penalty case that has stretched
on for nearly 3 decades.

Tyrone Noling was convicted of killing an elderly Portage County couple in
1990. But since his conviction, he's been pushing for the DNA evidence he
maintains would clear him and implicate someone else. Last year, he won access
to the state's DNA report on a cigarette butt found at the scene. But now the
Supreme Court is trying to define just what makes up a "report."

Vigluicci say the DNA questions could be used to further delay Noling's
execution.

Portage County Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci says the 1-page summary from the state
Bureau of Criminal Investigation is all Noling is entitled to. Supreme Court
Justice Judith French pressed him.

FRENCH: 'What's the harm in giving all of the results of everything that was
produced at BCI? What's the harm in that?

VIGLUICCI: "Because we're not here to question the methodology and the process
of the BCI lab. I'm sure that I could find a DNA lab somewhere in the country
that will criticize what BCI did. We will be here forever, your honor."

But Noling's attorney, Brian Howe, says courts throughout the state have
regularly supplied complete BCI reports that include important DNA details -
and that's especially crucial in a death-penalty case.

Brian Howe says transparency and specificity are especially crucial in
death-penalty cases.

"The practice in the state -- and I believe the state admits this in its brief
-- is to disclose the full results including electropherograms. And it has not
resulted in endless delay or appeal or chaos."

During his arguments, Howe also pointed to other cases in which DNA evidence
that the state originally said was too degraded to be tested ended up
exonerating people who had been convicted.

(source: WKSU news)

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

Supreme Court reverses Sixth Circuit in criminal case


The US Supreme Court on Monday reversed a decision by the US Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit, finding that the circuit court did not have authority to
review the trial court's decision where the trial court had not violated
defendant's due process rights during the penalty phase of his criminal trial.
In Jenkins v. Hutton, the circuit court had relied on the
miscarriage-of-justice exception, which permits the habeas petitioner "to
review a defaulted claim when there is clear and convincing evidence that, but
for the constitutional error no reasonable jury would have found [him] eligible
for the death penalty under the applicable state law." The Sixth Circuit gave
two reasons for which it had the authority to review the case: (1) "the jury
had not [found] the existence of aggravating circumstances"; and (2) "a court
may review a procedurally defaulted claim if, 'but for a constitutional error,
no reasonable jury would have found the petitioner eligible for the death
penalty.'" In a summary reversal, the Supreme Court found the Sixth Circuit
erred for 2 reasons: (1) "the jury had found existence of mitigating
circumstances in the guilt phase of the trial"; and (2) instead of considering
"whether, given the (alleged) improper instructions, the jury might have been
relying on invalid aggravating circumstances when it recommended a death
sentence ... the Sixth Circuit should have considered the following: Whether,
given proper instructions about the 2 aggravating circumstances, a reasonable
jury could have decided that those aggravating circumstances outweighed the
mitigating circumstances." The case was reversed and remanded.

Percy Hutton was convicted of aggravated murder, attempted murder and
kidnapping in an Ohio court in 1985. During his trial, the jury found: (1)
"that Hutton engaged in 'a course of conduct involving the ... attempt to kill
2 or more persons"; and (2) "that Hutton murdered [1 of the 2 men] while
'committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing immediately after ...
kidnapping.'" Following a finding of guilt in the 1st jury trial, Hutton
underwent a trial for sentencing and was sentenced to the death penalty. The
jury instructions during the second trial were at issue and the Supreme Court
found those jury instructions to be independent from the jury's finding of
guilt in the 1st trial.

(source: jurist.org)

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