Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., MISS., KY., ARK.
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Rick Halperin
2017-06-10 14:49:00 UTC
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June 10




TEXAS:

Death penalty sought for alleged hitman accused of killing Uptown dentist


The Dallas County district attorney's office is seeking the death penalty
against the man accused of shooting a dentist in a murder-for-hire plot.

Authorities say a love triangle may have led to the 2015 slaying of 35-year-old
Kendra Hatcher in her Uptown apartment parking garage.

Kristopher Love, 33, is one of three people charged with capital murder in the
case. Investigators believe Brenda Delgado, who used to date Hatcher's
boyfriend, hired Love to be the triggerman.

Prosecutors filed a motion Friday to seek the death penalty against Love.

Police said Delgado, 34, was jealous of Hatcher's relationship with Ricardo
Paniagua, whom Delgado had dated for two years. She's accused of hiring
23-year-old Crystal Cortes to help rob Hatcher.

Cortes told police Delgado paid her $500, and she drove Love to Hatcher's
parking garage. Before the slaying, Cortes asked Love how much he was being
paid to rob Hatcher. He told her it was "none of her business."

Cortes said she waited in the getaway car while Love attacked Hatcher. She
heard 1 gunshot, and then Love got back into the Jeep with 2 purses. He told
Cortes that if she told police, she and her son "would be next," police records
show.

But their getaway car, a Jeep Cherokee belonging to Delgado, was captured on
surveillance cameras.

Initially, police questioned and released Delgado about her role in Hatcher's
slaying. She told police that she loaned the Jeep to Cortes, who was arrested
shortly after the killing.

About a month later, police issued arrest warrants for Love and Delgado, but by
then Delgado had fled to Mexico.

Delgado was extradited to the United States a year after the killing. Though
authorities believe she was the mastermind behind Hatcher's killing, she isn't
eligible for the death penalty as part of the extradition agreement with
Mexico.

Trial dates for Love, Cortes and Delgado have not been set.

(source: Dallas Morning News)






FLORIDA:

State could seek death penalty for Naomi Jones' alleged killer


The man accused of murdering 12-year-old Pensacola girl Naomi Jones has been
denied bond.

Robert Letroy Howard, 38, made his first appearance in court Friday morning via
video conferencing. At the hearing, Judge Joyce H. Williams determined there
was probable cause for the State Attorney's Office to charge Howard with
1st-degree murder, kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender.

In a press conference following the hearing, Assistant State Attorney Greg
Marcille said the state will present to a grand jury within the next 2 weeks
its reasons for charging Howard. If the grand jury indicts Howard on the
charges, the state will then decide whether or not to pursue the death penalty.

Marcille said he anticipates that decision will be made before Howard's
arraignment June 30.

Marcille added the state is still investigating and reviewing the facts of the
case, but at this point, "the factors of the case do indicate there are
circumstances that would justify the death sentence."

A few of the factors under consideration are Naomi's age and whether her death
was heinous, atrocious or cruel. Another factor will be Howard's previous
criminal history.

Howard, of Brewton, Alabama, is a convicted felon who served 15 years in prison
for 2 counts of rape. According to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Community
Information Center, Howard was arrested Dec. 8, 1998, and convicted Sept. 1,
1999, in Escambia County, Alabama. Howard's address in Brewton was last
verified the day after Naomi's murder.

Marcille said the state is reviewing the information on Howard's previous
convictions.

"If the prior cases do constitute a violent felony, then we could consider
those in seeking a sentence," Marcille said.

Howard was given a $600,000 bond for his failure to register charge, but was
denied bond on the murder and kidnapping charges. Procedurally, the no bond
takes priority, meaning Howard will remain in jail until his trial unless a
judge orders otherwise.

Howard developed as a person of interest in Naomi's disappearance June 2, two
days after the 12-year-old went missing, according to his arrest report.

Naomi lived in Aspen Village Apartments on East Johnson Avenue, the same
complex where Howard's girlfriend resides. During a neighborhood canvas, Howard
reportedly gave investigators inconsistent statements about his whereabouts at
the time of Naomi's disappearance.

Naomi was found deceased in a creek bed near Ashland Avenue and Detroit
Boulevard June 5.

On June 7, investigators recovered surveillance video from a business in the
area. It allegedly showed Howard's silver Nissan Altima traveling around the
intersection and bridge near the creek bed around 2:35 a.m. June 1,
approximately 14 hours after Naomi disappeared.

Investigators re-interviewed Howard later in the day on June 7. According to
the report, he told them he had been in Brewton when Naomi disappeared and had
nothing to do with the case. He reportedly also said he had never been in the
area of Detroit Boulevard and Ashland Avenue.

Howard was ultimately arrested early the morning of June 8 while he was still
in interviews with investigators.

During the process, he reportedly told investigators he stayed at his
girlfriend's apartment 3 nights a week, but was not required to register as a
sex offender in Florida if he did not stay more than 3 days at a time.

According to the arrest report, Howard was required to register with Florida as
a sex offender if he spent more than 5 days at 1 address in the state during
any calendar year.

Howard will be formally charged at his arraignment June 30, when he will have
the opportunity to enter a plea to the charges. He was assigned a pubic
defender Friday.

(source: Pensacola News Journal)






MISSISSIPPI:

Interview: The Aftershocks of Sentencing a Man to Death----Film Shows Impact of
Mississippi Death Penalty Trial on Jurors

In 1982 Bobby Wilcher stabbed to death 2 women he met at a Mississippi bar. 12
years later Lindy Lou Wells served on the jury that sentenced him to die - a
decision that unexpectedly upended her life. The documentary Lindy Lou, Juror
Number 2, featured in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, takes a nuanced
look at the death penalty in the US while it follows Lindy on her journey to
reconnect with the trial's other jurors. Amy Braunschweiger talks with her
about the trial and her search for forgiveness.

The trial was in 1994. What was your take on the death penalty before this
trial?

They asked me if I could deliver the death penalty without problems. And I
said, sure, he killed somebody, I can do it.

Being in the conservative South, being a Baptist, a person of faith, and a
Republican, you're brought up here with the notion that if someone murders
somebody the death penalty is a just punishment. It's eye for an eye. It's just
the way that you come up, you don't question it, you don't think about it.

What changed?

As I sat there in that jury box, and I watched him and everyone else in that
courtroom, I'm thinking, oh my gosh. This guy had no one. His sister was his
only defense, and the only thing she said was, "Please don't kill my brother."
I just got this overwhelming compassion toward this young man. I can't even
tell you what it was about him - he scared some of the other women on the jury.

When we went into the deliberation room, a panic attack or anxiety came over
me. I remember walking to the window the day before we were supposed to give
the sentence, and I looked outside and everyone is just shopping and going to
stores, and I wanted to scream, ???You're down there acting like everything is
wonderful and we're fixing to kill a man." There's something wrong with this
picture.

Why did you feel death was the only option?

In Mississippi at that time, there was no life without parole. And I didn't
want him back out, so we had no choice.

What did you think of the trial itself?

Those lawyers did a roughshod job. It was like they didn't care. They never
objected to anything the prosecutor said. They never brought up his childhood
or his background.

How did your life change after the trial?

I lost my temper really quick. Anxiety. I really didn't know it was the trial
that was causing it. I knew I needed to talk to someone about what I'd been
through, that I needed comfort, and I knew I wasn't acting right, either. I was
not my usual self. I avoided people. I avoided social situations. I'd even gone
to doctors - I thought it was hormonal. They couldn't find anything wrong. I
wanted my life back, and I didn't have it. Nothing was the same.

In the film, you say that your changing views on the death penalty cost you
people in your life. How did that happen?

Some people really did just stop being my friend, although most of them now
talk to me. But that's never a topic of conversation. Even me doing this film,
it's not discussed. I don't bring it up with anyone around here, just close
friends.

I talked mostly to my husband about the trial. My sister, who I'm really close
to, is one of those eye-for-an-eye people. I talked to my pastor, and he didn't
help. He just showed me the "eye for an eye" passage in the Bible. And I said,
"I can't accept that." I really had nowhere to turn.

You met Bobby after the trial. What was that like?

About the time Bobby was to be executed, I told his lawyers that I wanted to
meet him. I said I need to ask for his forgiveness, and I want to do it
face-to-face.

I went to visit him on July 6, 2006. I was the only visitor that he'd had in 15
years. And I was scared to death. But Bobby put me at ease. He asked me about
my trip to Parchman [the Mississippi state penitentiary]. We got to talking, he
asked me about my family, how many kids I had. He wasn't at all what I
expected.

I left at 4:30, and they were going to execute him at 6 that evening. I was
with my mom and sister at a Mexican place in my hometown, having a margarita,
when Bobby's attorney called me and said there had been a stay of execution. I
thought, 'God has given me more time to befriend this guy.'

I visited him on the 3rd Tuesday in August and September. He asked if he could
call, and he'd call 2-3 times a week, and we talked for 5 minutes. He said he
loved me. He knew I was married. I'd say I love you too, but I felt like I was
lying. My love was not a romantic love, it was the love of a friend or for
people. I just didn't have the heart to tell him.

Why did you do that?

I thought, why does it matter? He's going to die, and I didn't want him to die
thinking nobody cared about him because his mother and no one visited him.

But when he was executed in October, the commissioner of prisoners said on
national TV that Bobby and I were having a love affair. That was absolutely not
true. When I went to see him I was 55 years old. Bobby was 42. I was married.
My mother heard, and called me freaking out. But the damage was done. People I
knew asked why I was going up there and seeing him.

I gave people around here something to talk about for quite a while.

Do you like the movie?

Florent [the filmmaker] portrayed me the way I am, and the way I think. He gave
me a voice. People don't think about the jurors. We see all these pictures of
dead bodies and other evidence, and people expect us to just go home and resume
our lives?

Are you glad you did it?

What really made me glad I did this was that I found out I'm not by myself.
There were still some jurors who felt he deserved what he got, but I just don't
think we're in the judgment business. But other jurors were suffering inside
like I was. Seeing that made me realize there's nothing wrong with me. What I'm
feeling is a normal reaction to a terrible situation. And 4 of those jurors
said they would never serve on a death penalty case again.

In watching the film, I noticed you were very good at talking to jurors who
held different views on Bobby's sentencing than you did. What was that like for
you?

I can't sit and judge. Florent and I are just opposites on everything, and he's
one of my best friends. He's a progressive. I'm a conservative. When it comes
to faith, he's not a believer, I am. And he is one of the most gentle,
sweetest, kindest, thoughtful persons I've ever met. And he feels about me the
same way I feel about him. It makes life interesting.

I think that's what's wrong with the world today. People just can't sit down
and get past their own feelings or thoughts. We don't even take the time to
listen to people. We don't have to agree on everything, nobody is alike. But
why would that upset people?

It's like the political stuff today. This to me was absolutely crazy. I think
everybody just wants to overreact. Why have so much drama in your life? Life's
just too short. I just don't have time for it.

Did you find any closure in making this film?

I did. Florent helped me put things into perspective. I had all this angst and
I couldn't talk about it with anybody. My brain was on a carousel.

The 1st time Florent was here, I didn't say I was against the death penalty.
Because when people would ask me, "What if something happened to one of your
granddaughters?" I'd say that I'd probably kill the person who did it myself.
Florent told me he'd feel the same way if something happened to his kid. But
then he said, that's not justice. You're looking for revenge, not for justice.

I couldn't have those conversations in my life before.

The film ends shortly after another juror's daughter says she could never
sentence anyone to death. What did that mean to you?

It was enlightening. It just lifted my spirits. It dawned on me that's what I
wanted to do. I had started talking with my granddaughter about the death
penalty. The younger people that are here in this state, I don't want them to
grow up with that mentality that this is the answer. I want them to think about
each individual circumstance. If they're ever put in that position to sentence
someone to death, I want them to think about it, and not just assume that
because someone killed someone, they deserve the death penalty.

And if they're going to continue the death penalty - I don't see it to be done
away with - there needs to be some changes. There's no way you can take the
average person off the street, put them on a death penalty case, and expect
them to decide of the lawyers had proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
They need insight into the judicial system.

Also, they should have a counselor who could offer assistance if a juror needs
it. You can't kill someone and then go home and wash dishes. It changes you
from the inside out.

[Tickets for the film, part of Human Rights Watch's International Film Festival
in New York, are on sale now at bit.ly/HRWlindylou. The movie will screen the
evenings of Friday June 16 and June 17.]

(source: Human Rights Watch)

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

Capital cases are complex, costly


The man accused of killing 8 people in a shooting spree Memorial Day weekend is
facing a capital murder charge. If he is indicted and the case proceeds to
trial, it will be a lengthy and expensive process that may not take place in
Lincoln County.

Willie Cory Godbolt was charged with 1 count of capital murder and 7 counts of
1st degree murder. The capital murder charge is for the death of sheriff's
deputy William Durr. The 1st degree murder charges are for the deaths of
Barbara Mitchell, her daughter, Toccara May and Mitchell's sister Brenda May,
all of Bogue Chitto; Austin Edwards, his cousin, Jordan Blackwell, of
Brookhaven; and Ferral and Shelia Burage, of Brookhaven.

The court documents detailing the charges against Godbolt state that he knew
Durr was a law enforcement officer when he killed him.

Joel Smith, district attorney of Hancock, Harrison and Stone counties, whose
grandfather was the founder of Brookhaven Funeral Home, said the potential
death penalty case would be expensive and could take years.

Up next for Godbolt will be a preliminary hearing in Justice Court. He is being
represented by court-appointed public defenders Paul Luckett of Pike County and
Gus Sermos of Lawrence County. The court will review probable cause and facts
of the case. From that point forward, a file will be put together for an
investigative agency. Whether it be witness statements, recordings, written
statements, any kind of identification procedures - an investigative team will
put all of the information together.

The investigative team will also gather any forensic testing items. Whether
it's DNA testing, fingerprints or ballistics testing, those types of things
would be submitted to the Mississippi Crime Lab or to a private lab for
analysis.

"One they get all of that information put together, they will turn that
completed file over to the prosecutor's office and at that point, the
prosecutor would then present their case to the next available grand jury,"
Smith said. "The formal charging comes after you present the information in
front of the grand jury. The timing of that can vary depending on the
complexity of the investigation and the complexity of any testing. Prosecutors
want the evidence to be completed prior to presenting the case to the grand
jury."

It could be as late as the end of the year before a Lincoln County grand jury
potentially hears the case.

"The crime lab in Mississippi has a significant case load, which can make it
difficult as far as timing goes," said Smith. "It can cause a delay in moving
forward with the case."

If the grand jury were to indict Godbolt, the accused would be brought before
the court for a formal arraignment.

Whether there would be one trial or eight different trials for each victim if
the case reaches that point is still to be determined.

"There is a statutory procedure in Mississippi that allows cases to be tried
together if they arise out of a common scheme or plan," said Smith. "The court
will consider a lot of factors in determining whether or not the case arose out
of common scheme or plan, then they would make the decision whether to try
every count together, separately, or some combination thereof."

If there is a trial, it could take place outside of Lincoln County. A motion
filed for change of venue is often associated with someone believing that they
could not get a fair trial in the home county of the case.

"Most capital cases have tremendous pre-trial publicity and because of that,
the question for the trial judge is whether or not the defendant can receive a
fair and impartial trial in a county where the crime allegedly occurred," Smith
said. "There are 2 options for changing the venue for the trial. The court at
the change of venue hearing would allow both parties and the court to interview
a sampling of jurors from the home county. They would be able to ask them about
their knowledge of the case and their in-depth knowledge of the cases and then
determine whether or not their knowledge of the case would affect them to be a
fair juror."

Based on those sample jurors statements, the court would make the decision on
whether or not to keep the case in the home county or change venues. If the
judge decides to change venues, they have a couple of different options.

"They can change venues to a similarly situated county in the state of
Mississippi, where they would have less knowledge of the case," Smith said.
"The 2nd option would be to select jurors from a new county, bring the jury
back to the home county and try the case. What comes into play is what is the
most efficient way to try the case."

In all capital murder trials, the jurors are sequestered. Whether the jury is
picked and brought back to the home county or whether it's tried in another
county, the jury would stay in hotel rooms and have no contact with the public
for the duration of the court proceedings.

"Death penalty cases are expensive," Smith said. "They have significant cost
attached to them, primarily because what is at stake in the case."

A death penalty case is a unique case to try because it is what you call a
bifurcated proceeding," Smith said. "A bifurcated proceeding means you have 2
phases of a case. The 1st phase of the case is the guilty or innocent phase.
Where the jury hears all of the facts of the case and they decide whether or
not the accused in guilty or innocent of that particular crime. The jury will
have the option of deciding whether or not the accused is guilty of capital
murder or not in this case," Smith said.

"The 2nd phase of the case, if he's found guilty of capital murder, is the
sentencing phase," said Smith. "The same jury typically will hear the
sentencing phase of the trial. The state will give reasons of why the accused
should receive the death penalty and the defense will give reasons not to give
the death penalty and ultimately it's up to the jury to decide that."

Death penalty sentences are typically appealed at several levels. The appeals
process can take years, meaning Godbolt, if indicted and convicted and
sentenced to death, could spend years in jail awaiting a sentence that may
never be carried out. Mississippi hasn't executed someone since 2012, according
to an online database.

There are currently 47 people on death row in the state.

(source: dailyjournal.com)






KENTUCKY:

Are 18-year-olds too immature to face the death penalty? Lexington attorney
says yes.


Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone will soon decide whether to exclude the
death penalty for a murder defendant who was 18 when he was charged with murder
and robbery.

In a 2005 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of people
who were younger 18 at the time of their crimes violated the federal
constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishments.

The defense team for Travis Bredhold wants Scorsone to extend that exclusion to
people 21 and younger. Bredhold, 21, was 18 when he was charged Dec. 13 with
murder and robbery in the fatal shooting of Marathon gas station attendant
Mukheshbhai Patel.

Police said surveillance camera footage indicates that Patel, 51, was trying to
comply with a robber's demand for cash when he was shot. He died later at
University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Bredhold was "only 5 months and 13 days older than the limitation" established
by the U.S. Supreme Court, public defender Joanne Lynch said.

More importantly, Lynch said, research indicates that people's brains don't
mature until they are in their mid-20s. The Supreme Court ruled that people who
are young and immature and who are likely to be more impulsive are not as
culpable as a group and shouldn't be up for the death penalty.

Bredhold's defense team is asking to extend the exclusion "because people under
the age of 21 are almost completely like people under the age of 18. You really
don't mature until you are in your mid-20s," Lynch said.

Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn argued during a hearing
Friday that there isn't a "national consensus" on whether to extend the
death-penalty exclusion to defendants 21 and younger.

In its 2005 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court noted that states were reducing
the frequency by which they applied capital punishment to juvenile offenders.
At the time of the decision, 20 states had the juvenile death penalty on the
books, but only 6 states had executed prisoners since 1989 for crimes committed
as juveniles. Only 3 states had done so since 1994.

If the judge rules against the commonwealth, the appeal would be taken up by
the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

Bredhold's trial is scheduled to start Sept. 5.

(source: kentucky.com)






ARKANSAS:

2015 state law protects actions, judge says----Griffen says AG, justices
violated religious rights


Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen stood on the steps of the state
Capitol on Friday and took aim at lawmakers and the Arkansas Supreme Court,
accusing them of breaking the state's 2015 religious freedom law by
scrutinizing his public displays of faith.

Backed by a cadre of supporters who appeared at a rally on his behalf, Griffen
told reporters that he planned to take his case to court if sanctions against
him are not lifted.

The circuit judge has been stripped of his power to hear death penalty cases
since he appeared at a death-penalty protest at the Governor's Mansion in
April, the same day he issued an order that temporarily halted the state's
efforts to begin a series of executions.

Griffen later said his decision to lie prostrate on a cot at that April rally
-- which fell on Good Friday -- was meant to portray the crucifixion of Jesus.

On Friday, donning his Panama hat like he did at the rally (though he took it
off when he lay on the cot), Griffen said his actions fell under the protection
of the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The law says the government cannot "substantially burden a person's exercise of
religion," unless it is "the least restrictive means of furthering" a
compelling government interest.

Griffen is under investigation for his conduct by the state Judicial Discipline
and Disability Commission, and some Republican lawmakers have floated the idea
of impeachment.

That's in addition to the Supreme Court justices removing Griffen from cases
involving the death penalty.

"It has already happened. The violation [of the religious act] has already
happened," Griffen told reporters Friday.

In response to the complaints filed against him with the judicial discipline
commission, Griffen filed his own ethics complaint against the justices and
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for not offering him a hearing before
delivering sanctions.

2 of the top officials at the commission later recused from the competing
cases, citing potential conflicts of interest.

David Sachar, the executive director of the commission, said Friday that the
staff was looking to recruit 2 independent attorneys and 2 investigators to
handle the cases.

Griffen told reporters that he had not yet been contacted by the commission and
has not spoken to investigators.

Griffen did not speak at the rally that preceded his talking to reporters. At
the rally, supporters from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the NAACP and
local Baptist churches came to his defense.

A series of more than a dozen speakers from several states -- and one who said
she was a missionary in Indonesia -- accused lawmakers of trumpeting their own
brand of Christianity while chastising others.

Rizelle Aaron, the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP, read a list
of other judges who had run into trouble with the law or been accused of
breaking judicial rules without facing similar scrutiny from the courts or
lawmakers. (One of the judges he mentioned, former District Judge Joseph
Boeckmann, stepped down amid an investigation into sexual misconduct.)

"Where were you, Supreme Court? Where were you, impeachment legislators?" Aaron
repeated several times.

Multiple speakers mentioned the religious freedom law, Act 975, which passed
after an earlier version sparked heated debate over protections for lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender people. The bill was pulled and rewritten to more
closely match language in federal law.

Asked Friday to comment on Griffen's remarks, the sponsor of Act 975, state
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, said in a text message that he would
need to study the judge's argument more closely to give a full response.

However, Hutchinson said the argument would appear to carry more weight under
the earlier, failed version of the religious freedom law, which he voted
against.

(source: arkansasonline.com)

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

Religious Leaders Defend Arkansas Judge's Death Penalty Protest----"We need
more moral leadership in America, not less."


Religious leaders rallied on the state capitol steps Friday in defense of an
Arkansas judge's 1st amendment rights, after he was barred from hearing capital
murder cases in April.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen joined about 15 religious leaders
and scholars from different faiths and states in calling the actions against
him a "direct attack on religious liberty."

"I rise to say, 'Shame on you!,' to those in Arkansas government, law
enforcement and judicial branches who have falsely accused Judge Wendell
Griffen of being biased," said Valerie Bridgeman, the dean of the Methodist
Theological School in Ohio, as a crowd of 50 people cheered. "Do the right
thing, Arkansas. Do the constitutional thing."

Griffen, a Baptist preacher, came under fire on Good Friday when he lay
strapped to a cot as part of a death penalty protest organized by his church in
front of the Governor's Mansion, the same day he issued a ruling that blocked
the state's upcoming executions.

"When Pastor Griffen silently prayed while lying on a cot in solidarity with
Jesus on Good Friday, he did not impose his religious beliefs on others," said
Ray Higgins, the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of
Arkansas, which is the organization that sponsored the rally.

The president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP, Rizelle Aaron, asked the
crowd why Griffen, not other judges who have been criminally prosecuted, was
targeted for impeachment with "Guinness World Record lightning speed." Then
Aaron answered his own question: "His race."

"There's a great irony when a judge of justice is punished with injustice for
exercising his legal right," Aaron said.

After the Arkansas Supreme Court stripped Griffen of his authority to hear
death penalty cases, he sued the court and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

"It's not illegal to pray," Griffen said. "I've been targeted because I have
acted consistent with my ethics and my faith and that's wrong."

Griffen argues he hasn't done anything unethical. However, the state's Judicial
Discipline and Disability Commission (JDDC) is investigating misconduct
complaints against him.

Griffen said he has not been involved in the JDDC proceedings and plans to take
legal action under the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

"I do not misunderstand what freedom means," Griffen said. "I am not a slave. I
am a free man... I will fight this as long as there is fire in my body and
breath in my spirit."

Several state lawmakers have called for Griffen's impeachment, including Sen.
Trent Garner, R-El Dorado.

"He's trying to use his religion to justify his mistake," Garner said. "While I
think RFRA was an excellent piece of legislation, there's a distinct difference
between what it was meant for and what Griffen did."

Garner doesn't believe Griffen's actions had anything to do with religious
expression, classifying them as gross misconduct that would justify
impeachment.

"You can't use religion as an excuse for violating the code of ethics," Garner
said.

When asked if there was ever a moment he regretted his decision to lay on the
cot that day, Griffen responded, "Never a moment."

"I will go to my death with 2 things in my mind," he continued. "There was 1
right place for me that day. I was there. And if I had to do it a thousand
times, I'd be right back there doing that. I'll go to my maker and say, 'I'll
take whatever that means.'"

The religious leaders at Friday's rally would continue to stand beside him.

"We applaud the many ways Judge Griffen serves this state and this community.
Amen."

(source: KARK news)

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