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death penalty news----NEV., CALIF., WASH., USA, US MIL.
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Rick Halperin
2017-08-30 13:27:11 UTC
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August 30



NEVADA:

Death row inmate, attorneys seek more information about expected execution



Nevada's 1st death penalty execution in more than 10 years is scheduled for
November 2017. But, knowledge of how the inmate will be put to death remains a
mystery.

On Monday, lawyers for convicted killer Scott Dozier, along with the
prosecution were in court arguing over his execution.

The defense says the state is not revealing information that should be public
about his execution, so they want to know more about the combination of drugs
that will be used, along with how the lethal injection will occur.

"I need to know what they're going to do," said David Anthony, Assistant
Federal Public Defender. "Which drugs are going to be the ones to kill him?"

Anthony didn't hold back while in court Tuesday. His client, 46-year-old Scott
Dozier is on death row for killing and dismemembering 22-year-old Jeremiah
Miller back in 2002.

The crime also led police to a 2nd murder victim. Dozier has made it clear that
he wants to be executed, but there are still questions about how it will be
done.

"He expressed to me that he would like answers to these questions," said Judge
Jennifer Togliatti, Eighth Judicial District Court.

Anthony says the Nevada Department of Corrections, through the Attorney
General's Office, has refused to communicate and has ignored Freedom of
Information requests.

But, on August 17, in a press release, the Department of Corrections, revealed
3 drugs that will be used in the lethal injection process. The DOC also noted,
"the department is prepared to carry out the order" on Nov. 14 at Ely State
Prison.

The attorney general's office argued in court that revealing more poses a
safety risk.

"We certainly don't want to cause harm to the operations of that facility or
the inmates or the staff by disclosing something that should be confidential,"
said Ann McDermott, NV Attorney General's Office.

So, what's next?

The DOC is expected to provide more information about the execution to Dozier's
defense team. They also plan to make it clear to the court why any other
details might be withheld within the next week.

The next court date for the matter is Sept.11th. Last week, the Department of
Corrections said another inmate could soon exhaust all appeals so another death
row case may be coming up shortly.

(source: lasvegasnow.com)








CALIFORNIA:

California's death penalty speed-up is about to be undercut on a case-by-case
basis. Here's why.



The California Supreme Court's decision upholding Proposition 66, the
initiative to speed up the imposition of the death penalty, fails two basic
requirements of good judicial rulings: It ignores the language of the law and
it ignores reality.

Instead of resolving the matter by invalidating an initiative that is
unconstitutional and unworkable, it will lead to a great deal of confusion and
future litigation.

It should have been an easy case: What the law requires is clearly
unconstitutional.

Proposition 66 says that courts "shall complete the state appeal and the
initial state habeas corpus review in capital cases" within 5 years. The word
"shall" in a law always means that it is imposing a requirement.

Indeed, all 7 justices agreed that the "statute is framed in mandatory terms,
and the voters were told in the ballot materials that the 5-year limit on the
post-trial review process would be binding and enforceable." Moreover, all
seven of the justices also agreed that it violates separation of powers for a
law to compel that courts complete their decision-making process within a
specified period of time.

As Justice Goodwin Liu explained, "All members of the court agree that if the
5-year limit were mandatory, it would undermine the courts' authority as a
separate branch of government." That should have made this an easy case: What
the law requires is clearly unconstitutional.

Instead, in a 5-2 decision, the California Supreme Court did what courts are
not supposed to do. It rewrote the initiative so that the 5-year limit is not
mandatory, but just "directive" and "an exhortation to the parties and the
courts to handle cases as expeditiously as is consistent with the fair and
principled administration of justice."

Perhaps, though doubtful, this could be justified if it made any sense to have
a "directive" or an "exhortation" to do this. But it doesn't because
Proposition 66 does not begin to solve the causes for death penalty delays in
California.

There simply are not enough lawyers qualified to handle death penalty cases. As
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney noted, in California, on average it
takes 3 to 5 years after a death judgment to appoint appellate counsel. As
Justice Liu observed, "in April 2016, there were 49 capital defendants waiting
for attorneys to be appointed for direct appeals and 360 capital defendants
waiting for attorneys to be appointed for habeas corpus petitions. About half
of those waiting for appointment of habeas counsel have been waiting for over
10 years." Proposition 66 does nothing to solve this. Appointing lawyers who
are not qualified to handle complex death cases serves no one's interests.

Also, the structure of appellate review in death penalty cases - with review
directly in the California Supreme Court - ensures lengthy proceedings. This
process takes an average of 11.7 to 13.7 years after the trial court imposes a
death sentence and many cases take much longer to resolve.

Proposition 66 does nothing to solve this either: It does not increase the
number of courts hearing death penalty cases and the California Supreme Court
cannot devote more time to these cases without neglecting its other
constitutional responsibilities.

By not declaring Proposition 66 unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court
has created great confusion. As Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar explained in
his dissent, the Court's decision "by insisting the mandate be treated as both
a mere 'exhortation' yet one 'not empty' of legal meaning - leaves in its wake
grave uncertainty about the rules and standards the Judicial Council is
supposed to adopt to render meaningful that exhortation."

This will lead to litigation in each death penalty case about what to do about
the 5-year requirement, with courts making findings in every instance as to why
it could not be met. Proposition 66 will be rendered meaningless on a
case-by-case basis.

The death penalty is likely to remain for the foreseeable future. Prior to Nov.
8, I thought it might be eliminated in California by a voter initiative and by
the U. S. Supreme Court once a more liberal justice replaced Antonin Scalia.
But the voters rejected the initiative to abolish the death penalty and the
election of Donald Trump means that there will not soon be a majority on the
Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional.

In confronting this reality, a society that has chosen to have the death
penalty must do more to provide competent counsel and fair proceedings to
ensure that we do not execute innocent individuals or those whose
constitutional rights have been violated. The tragedy of Proposition 66 and the
California Supreme Court's decision is that they do nothing in this regard.

(source: Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and professor of law at the UC Berkeley
School of Law----Opinion, Sacramento Bee)






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

DA Still Deciding Whether to Seek Death Penalty in Han Family Murders



The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office has not decided whether to
pursue the death penalty in the case against an Oceanside man accused of
murdering a Santa Barbara doctor and his family.

Pierre Haobsh, 27, was charged with 3 counts of 1st-degree murder and special
allegations that the offenses were willful, premeditated and deliberate;
committed by means of lying in wait; and committed for financial gain.

Superior Court Judge Brian Hill held Haobsh to answer to the charges after a
preliminary hearing, and his arraignment scheduled for Tuesday was continued
until September.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said she has not yet made a decision on whether
to pursue the death penalty in the case.

The decision doesn't have to be made until trial, so prospective jurors know
whether they have to consider the death penalty in their deliberations, Dudley
said.

In her 7 years as District Attorney, Dudley has never pursued the death
penalty.

"And when I first came into office there was a death penalty case and I took
that off the table," she said.

"If it is a death penalty case, it would be the 1st death penalty case I
pursue."

Haobsh is accused of killing Santa Barbara Herb Clinic founder Dr. Weidong
"Henry" Han, 57; his wife, Huijie "Jennie" Yu, 29; and their 5-year-old
daughter, Emily Han.

The victims' bodies were found wrapped in plastic and tape in the garage of
their home on the 4600 block of Greenhill Way near Goleta on March 23, 2016.

Autopsies determined that all 3 died from gunshots to the head.

During the preliminary hearing, law enforcement officers said Haobsh was a
business associate of Han, and a memorandum of understanding between the men
was found at the victims' home.

Authorities also said the alleged murder weapons and victims' belongings were
found in a search of Haobsh' car after his arrest.

Haobsh previously pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being represented by
deputy public defenders Christine Voss and Mindi Boulet.

The case is being prosecuted by Hilary Dozer and Benjamin Ladinig.

(source: noozhawk.com)








WASHINGTON:

Man accused of killing wife, mother-in-law in Lacey could face death penalty



A man who is accused of killing his estranged wife and mother-in-law, raping
his 11-year-old stepdaughter and kidnapping her and his 3-year-old son has made
his 1st appearance in court after spending nearly a month in the hospital.

The Olympian reports that 32-year-old Ricardo A. Gardin-Gonzalez is being held
without bail in the Thurston County jail after being deemed healthy enough for
release from the hospital. Police say Gardin-Gonzalez shot himself at the end
of the deadly July 31 crime spree. He is also accused of shooting at officers.

The Prosecutor's Office is exploring whether to file more-serious charges
against him, including aggravated 1st-degree murder, which carries a maximum
sentence of death.

The prosecution delayed Gardin-Gonzalez's arraignment until Sept. 26 to give
the office time to make a charging decision.

(source: Associated Press)








USA:

Gary Lee Sampson files another appeal of his death sentence



Admitted serial killer Gary Lee Sampson is continuing his 16-year fight to
avoid execution for a murderous crime spree in 2001.

Lawyers for Sampson, 57, a former Abington resident, filed their official
notice of appeal of his January death sentence on Monday with the US Court of
Appeals for the First Circuit, a standard step in capital cases.

A federal jury in Boston sentenced Sampson in January to die for the carjacking
and killing of Jonathan Rizzo, a 19-year-old college student from Kingston, in
July 2001. He was sentenced to life for the slaying days later of Philip
McCloskey, a 69-year-old plumber from Taunton.

Sampson had also pleaded guilty in separate proceedings in New Hampshire to
killing his 3rd victim, Robert "Eli" Whitney, and received a life sentence in
that state.

Earlier this month, US District Judge Leo T. Sorokin denied Sampson's routine
motion to toss the death sentence he received in January, prompting Monday's
appeal. Sorokin wrote in his ruling that Sampson "brutally and incomprehensibly
murdered Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo, and Robert Whitney."

It was the second time a jury had voted to give Sampson the death penalty. The
initial sentence was in 2003 and came more than a half-century after
Massachusetts last executed someone. It was later overturned on appeal,
prompting the 2nd trial. He had pleaded guilty to killing Rizzo and McCloskey
in 2003, so the only issue to resolve at trial was sentencing.

Sampson tricked Rizzo and McCloskey into giving him rides, then directed them
at knifepoint to secluded areas, where he stabbed them to death. He later
strangled Whitney with a rope.

If the appellate court denies Sampson's bid for a 3rd sentencing trial, he can
ask the US Supreme Court to take up his case. He is currently on federal death
row at a prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

(source: Boston Globe)

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

Court pushes trial date for Chinese scholar abductor



A new trial date has been set for the suspect in the kidnapping of Chinese
scholar Zhang Yingying in the U.S.

It was rescheduled from September 12th to February 27th during a pretrial
hearing in Illinois District Court on Monday.

On Aug. 23, defense attorneys involved in the case filed an appeal to the court
asking to postpone the start date for trial, stating that they require
additional time to prepare.

After considering opinions from both sides involved in the case, the appeal was
approved by the judge, though it was stated that there's a high probability the
federal government will bring in additional charges in the future.

Suspect Brendt Christensen will remain in custody ahead of the start of his
trial. Defense lawyer Thomas Bruno said, "As the attorney for the defendant, we
are always concerned about reviewing what the government's evidence would be,
and vigorously and zealously protecting the rights of the defendant. So we have
a duty to research the law, review the evidence and determine whether or not
the defendant is being treated fairly."

In the meantime, Steven Beckett, a notable local criminal lawyer, said both
sides need enough time to prepare for the trial and it's common for a federal
judge to delay the final date of the trial.

Beckett said the lawyers need more time to go through evidence and documents
detailing the case.

"If you were the defense lawyer, as I said before, you'd want to entertain your
own experts to have them look at that evidence and see if they agree with the
conclusion that the government experts made. That all takes time."

He also said there is a strong possibility that this could become a death
penalty case.

Zhang Yingying, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, was last seen getting into a black car driven by 28-year-old
Brendt Christensen on June 9.

Police arrested Christensen on charges of kidnapping 26-year-old Zhang on June
30, but her location remains unknown.

Based on the facts unearthed during the ongoing investigation, the FBI said it
believed Zhang is no longer alive.

Christensen was indicted on July 12 by a federal grand jury on a criminal
charge related to Zhang's abduction. He has been in custody since then.

The father of the missing Chinese scholar has asked U.S. President Donald Trump
to direct all available Federal law enforcement and investigatory resources to
help find his daughter.

(source: china.org.cn)








US MILITARY:

Appeals continue in case of serial killer facing death sentence



Lawyers for the Army and convicted serial killer Ronald A. Gray are still
battling over whether the military can carry out the death sentence Gray
received nearly 30 years ago.

The legal fight is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, where
lawyers have traded arguments in recent weeks.

It's the latest legal battle in the long-running saga of Gray's conviction and
subsequent appeal, which was renewed in the courts late last year after a
federal judge ruled the stay of execution first granted to Gray in November
2008 was no longer in effect.

The appeals court is reviewing the decision of another military court, the Army
Court of Criminal Appeals, which on May 9 denied a petition by Gray to have his
convictions and death sentence vacated. That same court declined to reconsider
its decision in a decision made June 20.

Gray, a former Army private, was convicted of committing a series of rapes and
murders in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg in the mid-1980s.

A Fort Bragg court sentenced him to death in 1988, after convicting him for the
rape and murder of 2 women and the rape and attempted murder of a 3rd woman,
among other offenses.

A civilian court in 1987 sentenced him to eight life sentences, including 3 to
be served consecutively, after convictions on charges of 2 counts of 2nd-degree
murder, 5 counts of rape and a number of other offenses all related to
different victims.

Gray has been confined at the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks at Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, since he was sentenced to death.

In 2008, President George W. Bush approved the sentence, making Gray the only
current military death row prisoner whose execution has been approved by a
president - a requirement before a death sentence can be carried out.

If Gray's sentence is carried out, it would be the 1st execution for the U.S.
military since 1961.

In the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Gray's lawyers are fighting to
prevent that.

In a petition filed last month, lawyers argued it was a mistake for the lower
court to deny Gray's petition for relief in the form of a writ of coram nobis,
a legal order that allows a court to correct a judgment based on the discovery
of a fundamental error which did not appear in the records of the original
trial.

Gray's legal team repeated much of the case it made to the lower court, arguing
that Gray was tried while incompetent to stand trial; that he was denied due
process when military authorities failed to disclose evidence about his
competency during appeal; that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective
assistance; that his sentence was the result of racial discrimination; and that
the military death penalty violates evolving standards of decency under the
Eighth Amendment.

Army lawyers have argued the court should uphold the decision of the lower
appeals court. In an answer to Gray's petition dated Aug. 4, they argue that he
is ineligible for a writ of coram nobis because he has not served his sentence
and that Gray should instead seek other forms of relief.

Army lawyers said Gray's other claims were already litigated and found to be
without merit.

Gray was a former resident of Fairlane Acres near Bonnie Doone in Fayetteville.
He served as an Army cook before he was convicted of the series of rapes and
murders in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg that took place 3 decades ago. His
crimes were committed in 1986 and 1987 on Fort Bragg and near Fairlane Acres
Mobile Home Park off Santa Fe Drive.

Gray killed cab driver Kimberly Ann Ruggles, Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay,
Campbell University student Linda Jean Coats and Fairlane Acres resident and
soldier's wife Tammy Wilson and raped several other women.

Late last year, relatives of Wilson said they hoped Gray would eventually be
executed. But Army officials have said no execution date has been set due to
Gray's ongoing appeal.

Gray is the longest-serving inmate on the military's death row. If he is
executed, officials said he likely would be put to death at the United States
Penitentiary in Terre, Haute, Indiana - the same facility where, in 2001,
terrorist Timothy McVeigh was executed for the bombing of a federal building in
Oklahoma City in 1995.

(source: The Fayetteville Observer)

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