Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., N.C., GA., FLA., ARK.
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Rick Halperin
2017-08-18 11:26:26 UTC
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August 18




TEXAS----new execution date

Ruben Cardenas has been given an execution date for November 8; it should be
considered serious

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

Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----25

Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----543

Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #

26---------Aug. 30-----------------Steven Long------------544

27---------Sept.7------------------Juan Castillo----------545

28---------Oct. 12-----------------Robert Pruett----------546

29---------Oct. 18-----------------Anthony Shore----------547

30---------Oct. 26-----------------Clinton Young----------548

31---------Nov. 8------------------Ruben Cardenas---------549

32---------Nov. 16-----------------Larry Swearingen-------550

33---------Jan. 30-----------------William Rayford--------551

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)

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

What should happen now to Paul David Storey? Nothing.



"Nothing" would mean leaving Storey, a convicted capital murderer, to live out
the rest of his days at his current address, which is prison.

Late last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted Storey's execution,
which had been scheduled to take place Wednesday. The court was motivated -
indirectly, at least - by the pleas of the victim's parents, who do not want
their son's killer put to death.

As I said last week in writing about this case, we cannot allow victims or
their survivors to assess punishment for the criminals who have wronged them.
That would be too arbitrary, too inconsistent, too emotional.

But there was wisdom in considering the statements made by Glenn and Judith
Cherry of Fort Worth. Their adult son, Jonas, was killed during a 2006 holdup
at the Tarrant County business he managed.

Storey and an accomplice eventually confessed to the murder. The accomplice
accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to life in prison. Storey went to trial
and was sentenced to death.

"As a result of Jonas' death, we do not want to see another family having to
suffer through losing a child and family member," said the statement the couple
recently forwarded to state criminal justice authorities.

The appellate court wants the trial court to determine whether jurors in
Storey's 2008 trial, and subsequent appeals lawyers assigned to his case, were
aware of the Cherrys' opposition to Storey's execution.

Appeals lawyers for Storey claim Tarrant County prosecutors told jurors that it
"went without saying" that the victim's family considered a death sentence
appropriate.

The case is further complicated by a juror, who now says he would not have
sided with his fellow jury members in voting for death in the case had he known
their sentiments.

These are all challenging issues, complicated by emotion as much as by legal
procedure and the passage of time.

But the very central role that emotion plays in every death penalty case makes
a dispassionate argument against executing capital offenders.

I have no love for Paul Storey, no sentimental indulgence for his grandiose
jailhouse dreams of becoming a poet or novelist, no sympathetic ear for
besotted activists who try to recast stone killers as tragic victims of a cruel
system.

Justice, by definition, needs to be guided by fact and by law, not by emotion.
But when we move into the painfully conflicted territory of capital punishment,
emotion is all we have - on all sides.

And as fervently as death penalty supporters deride its opponents as "bleeding
hearts," they're operating on an emotional basis themselves. It's
understandable that many of us might want to assess the most severe punishment
imaginable on those who commit the most heinous and unforgivable crimes.

But from a pure policy standpoint, the death penalty is expensive - unavoidably
so, given the constitutional guarantees to which inmates are entitled. It's
also irreversible, unevenly assessed and arbitrarily applied.

Admitting as much does not make us suckers and rubes. It highlights the
practical reality that society is as just as well protected by sentencing our
worst criminals to life without the possibility of parole as it is by killing
them. Should appeals lawyers succeed on Storey's behalf, he could be entitled
to a new trial on punishment only. His guilt would remain unchanged.

Prosecutors might conceivably save everyone a great deal of time, expense and
painful emotion by choosing not to retry this and leave Storey where he is,
where he belongs, where the grief this case has already caused can be
contained: permanent incarceration.

The death penalty still enjoys considerable public popularity, which I
understand. Nothing will cure a bleeding heart like sitting through a few
murder trials. The cruelty inflicted and the grief victims endure can harden
even the most sympathetic onlookers.

But capital punishment is too fraught with problems, too controversial, and in
the end, too impractical to continue in widespread use. It's already dying a
slow death, as evidenced by statistics chronicling its steady decline.

You don't have to love Paul Storey, or think he has been somehow misunderstood,
or view him as a victim, to see permanent incarceration as the best way for the
state to handle him. You just have to be pragmatic.

(source: Commentary; Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News)








PENNSYLVANIA:

Road Rage Killing Case Against Accused Murderer Moves Forward in Chester
County----David Desper is accused of gunning down Bianca Roberson during a road
rage encounter



The 4-day manhunt for a man who police say shot and killed a teenager in a case
of road rage has ended. The suspect, David Desper, has surrendered to law
enforcement. NBC10's Lauren Mayk has the story.

Shackled in handcuffs, a Pennsylvania man charged with shooting and killing an
18-year-old student during a road rage encounter waived his preliminary hearing
in a Chester County court Thursday morning.

The case will now move forward in the Court of Common Pleas.

David Desper, 28, entered the courtroom quietly, his beard darker and fuller
than when he first surrendered to authorities in July. He did not make eye
contact with Bianca Roberson's family.

Desper's attorney, Daniel McGarrigle, declined to comment on his client's
condition. He is charged with 1st- and 3rd-degree murder, possession of an
instrument of crime and reckless endangerment.

Relatives and friends of Roberson, who died June 28 just weeks before leaving
for college, crammed into the courtroom and overflowed into adjacent hallways
to witness the proceedings. Many of them wore T-shirts calling for "justice."
They hugged at the end of the 5-minute hearing, which started a full hour
earlier than reporters were told to arrive.

Outside, Roberson's father, Rodney Roberson, vowed to make Desper's life as
miserable as his has become. Roberson said he hopes Desper will receive the
death penalty. The Roberson family also plans to sue Desper in civil court.

"He took something away from us," Roberson said.

"We need to have justice on some other things. We need to take some things from
him, make some things painful for him. It's not about money. We're just trying
to do whatever it is we can to get back at him."

Police say Desper, of Trainer, Pennsylvania, and Roberson, of West Chester,
were engaged in a high-speed "cat-and-mouse game" as both tried to merge into a
single highway lane on Route 100 in Chester County. Desper shot Roberson in the
head and then sped off, according to investigators. After a dramatic manhunt
that spanned multiple states and days, Desper turned himself into authorities
in the early hours of July 2.

Previously, Roberson implied his daughter's death was racially motivated. He
echoed that sentiment Thursday morning.

"I can't think no other alternative why would have done something like that,"
he said.

Those who knew Bianca described her as a "sweet child" with a "full life to
live." On the day she died, the recent high school graduate was returning home
from a college shopping trip.

She was set to attend Jacksonville University in Florida this fall and wanted
to study criminal justice, her family said.

"There are no words that can describe what he did," Renee Manon, a close family
friend, said. "A mother, a father lost their child. What can [Desper] say?
There is nothing he can say."

Bianca's older brother died in 2013 of heart disease.

Desper will return to court for his formal arraignment Aug. 24. He is being
held at the Chester County Prison.

(source: nbcphiladelphia.com)








NORTH CAROLINA:

Prosecutors to seek death penalty against man accused of killing parents,
kidnapping niece



Prosecutors announced Thursday that they'll seek the death penalty against a
couple accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old and killing her grandparents in
April.

Nikkia Cooper, 25, and Curtis Atkinson Jr., 36, are both charged with the
murders of Atkinson's parents, Curtis and Ruby Atkinson.

Investigators said the couple also kidnapped 11-year-old Arieyana Forney,
Atkinson's niece, and took her to Washington D.C., where police located their
vehicle.

An autopsy revealed that Atkinson's 63-year-old father was stabbed a total of
60 times during a brutal attack. Of those stab wounds, 36 were to the face and
neck with another 22 to the chest. Officials also determined that Atkinson
suffered from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

(source: WCNC news)








GEORGIA:

Death penalty could be sought for man police say aided in grandparents' killing



A district attorney says he'll request the death penalty for a man accused of
murdering his girlfriend's grandparents.

The prosecutor says a plea deal is on the table for now.

Johnny Rider's girlfriend is also accused in the murders but legally she's too
young to face the death penalty.

District Attorney Danny Porter says the final decision will be made in the next
month or so.

"This was a 1st step in a plot between them to kill both of their families,"
Porter said.

Porter says Rider and Cassandra Bjorge are equally as culpable in the killings
of Wendy and Randall Bjorge last spring.

"We do have to consider the age of the defendant and the fact that there is
really not a prior criminal record on his part. But on the other hand,
defendants hit a home run on the 1st case," he explained.

Gwinnett police say Cassandra confessed she and Rider used a tire iron, hammer,
baseball bat and butcher knives to beat and slice the throats of the
grandparents, then caulked two interior doors and the homes front door to try
and seal the smell of death inside. Police say the teens stayed in the home
smoking pot for days as her grandparents bodies laid upstairs. All factors,
Porter says, could be used for a death penalty case.

"Not in a million years did I think something like would ever happen," said
Amanda Sterling, Cassandra's mother.

Officials delayed the 2 defendants court appearances on Thursday. Porter says
defense attorneys are discussing plea deal with both clients and he will wait
until after those offers expire before filing the death penalty notice.

"Right now the plan of action is we would file a notice of intent," Porter
said.

Rider's attorney, Leanne Chancey told Channel 2's Tony Thomas she and Rider are
considering the plea offer and are hopefully the state will reconsider its
intention of the death penalty.

(source: WSB TV news)








FLORIDA----impending execution

Jacksonville man on death row for 30 years set to be executed



Mark Asay, who was was convicted of killing 2 men in 1987 in downtown
Jacksonville and has been on death row, is set to be executed August 24.

Asay's execution will be the 1st in Florida since 2016.

Asay, a known white supremacist, killed 2 men almost 30 years ago and has been
fighting his death sentence ever since. Now, a local group is asking that his
life, be spared

The diocese of St. Augustine will be holding several vigils for Asay while he
is executed.

Kathleen Bagg, the director of communications for the diocese, says the does
not believe in the death penalty--not even for people like Asay, who have been
convicted of egregious crimes.

"We are praying for society, and hoping one day that Florida and the United
States will one day get rid of the death penalty," Bagg said.

Asay will be put to death by lethal injection. It's the 1st execution in
Florida in 18 months. According to reports,

Florida will be using a new cocktail of drugs and Asay will be given 3
injections during his execution.

The 1st and most critical of the 3 is the one being replaced.

"I think each time an execution occurs it chips away at our humanity as a
society and vengeance doesn't help anybody," Bagg said.

(source: actionnewsjax.com)

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

Inmate claims Luis Toledo confessed to killing Deltona family



A man accused of punching and killing a woman in a bar is claiming that Luis
Toledo told him in a jailhouse confession details about how he beat his wife to
death, strangled her children then buried their bodies, court records show.

Michael Lamothe told investigators Toledo told him and another inmate that he
"beat the crap" out of his wife, Yessenia Suarez, in their Deltona home, then
choked and broke the necks of her children Thalia Otto, 9, and Michael Otto, 8.

The bodies of the mother and children have never been found, and Toledo did not
reveal where he hid them, but Lamothe said the murder suspect told him that he
used the chemical lye to help dispose of them.

Lamothe, 35, has been at the Volusia County Branch Jail since April 29 waiting
trial on a charge of manslaughter in the one-punch killing of Debra Jost at the
Oyster Bay bar in Daytona Beach. Lamothe said Toledo recounted the killings to
him and a fellow inmate, all housed in the same jail block.

Toledo, 35, is charged with s2nd-degree murder in the killing of Suarez, 28,
and 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the deaths of her children. Toledo, a
former high-ranking member of the Florida Latin Kings gang, faces the death
penalty if convicted of killing either one of the children.

The mother and children were reported missing about 9:20 a.m. Oct. 23, 2013,
from their home at 317 Covent Gardens Place. Toledo was arrested that day.

Inmates will regularly offer up information about other inmates' cases in hopes
of getting a lighter sentence on their own charges. Lamothe's statements about
what Toledo allegedly told him contain at least 2 inconsistencies with what is
known about the disappearance of the mother and her 2 children.

Lamothe also offered investigators information about two jailed suspects in
another killing. Documents do not indicate whether Lamothe is seeking leniency
on his own charges.

Lamothe told investigators during an interview on July 10 that he was in
another cell talking with a fellow inmate about his case. That's when Toledo
walked up and told Lamothe that what he is accused of was nothing: "Try killing
the woman you love and 2 children," Toledo said according to a note Lamothe
wrote about the conversation.

Then Lamothe relayed gruesome details of the triple murder, saying that Toledo
believed his wife was having an affair.

"He said he'd been doing some drugs, doing some coke went home and confronted
her, and she admitted it," Lamothe told investigators in the recorded
interview. "And he said he punched her a couple of times in the face, beat her
up, punched her in the throat. He said, uh, he beat the crap out of her."

Lamothe, in the interview, said Toledo told him the children were screaming and
one was yelling to call 9-1-1. Toledo attacked the girl first, Lamothe said.

"He grabbed her hair. He said he put her in some kind of, he said he did some
MMA fighting or something like that. He said he put her in some, choked her up.
I guess she passed out or something, broke her neck, or something, I don't
know," Lamothe said in the recorded interview.

Lamothe said Toledo stated he then went to the boy.

"He said he grabbed him up and choked him, broke his neck," Lamothe said in the
interview.

The State Attorney's Office declined to comment, citing the open case.

Lamothe is represented by defense attorney Spencer Hathaway, who also declined
to comment.

Lamothe also wrote a 2-page note about what he claims Toledo told him. In the
note, Lamothe wrote that Toledo knocked the mother to the ground, got on top of
her and started punching her face over and over. Lamothe said that Toledo
stated the children were watching and screaming.

Toledo said that her face was a bloody mess, that "he could fel (sic) that her
throat was smashed in," Lamothe wrote. Toledo said she was dead when he
stopped.

Lamothe wrote that Toledo said, "He got lost in the anger." He wrote that
Toledo heard the daughter tell the brother to call 9-1-1 which "pissed him
off."

Lamothe wrote that Toledo said he wished he had planned to kill the wife alone
away from the children, so he would not have had to kill the kids. Lamothe
wrote that Toledo said he had killed before.

"He said of all the people he has killed only the 2 children bother him,"
Lamothe wrote.

Lamothe wrote that Toledo said he had martial arts training and put the girl in
a "front guillotine choke like in the UFC." Toledo choked her until she was
limp and then said he "made the decision to not let the children tell on him
and continued to choke her until she stopped breathing."

Lamothe wrote that Toledo told him he then went to the room where the boy was
in a corner crying. Lamothe wrote that Toledo said the boy asked him not to
hurt him.

"Toledo grabbed the boy from behind wrapped his legs around the boy???s body
for leverage and put him in a rear naked choke," Lamothe wrote.

Toledo said he squeezed and turned the boy's neck and felt it break.

Toledo has been at the jail since Oct. 23, 2013, and is being held without
bail. His trial is set for Oct. 2 in St. Augustine after several delays due to
changes in the state's death penalty law.

Lamothe said that Toledo laughed after telling them the story about the
killings.

"I don't know why he started laughing, whatever, maybe he's just different than
everybody else," Lamothe told investigators.

Toledo also supposedly fixed himself a sandwich after the killings, Lamothe
said.

Lamothe said that after killing the mother and her children Toledo said he went
out to buy lye, a strong chemical used in cleaning, to help dispose of the
bodies. Toledo did not say where he buried them, just in the woods.

Toledo went to 5, 6 or 7 different stores to buy 60 pounds worth of lye,
Lamothe said he was told. Then he returned home and put the bodies in the car
in the darkness. He wrapped the mother in a rug before putting her in the car's
trunk.

Toledo said he drove to some secluded woods, dug a hole, removed their clothes,
put them in the hole and covered the three with lye, Lamothe told
investigators.

Lamothe wrote that Toledo then went home and went to bed and then the next day
drove to a dumpster and threw away the bloody rug and a plastic bag with bloody
clothes inside.

Investigators have said the family disappeared between 1 and 5 a.m. on Oct. 23,
2013.

Lamothe's claims call into question how Toledo could have visited 5 to 7 stores
to buy lye in the middle of the night. Lamothe said Toledo said that he did not
get rid of the rug and clothes until the next day, after he slept, which
appears to conflict with the timeline of investigators.

"The only other thing he said after he got rid of the bodies he went home and
said he was so tired of all the stress he said he went to sleep and the next
day is when he got rid of the rugs, the clothes and stuff like that," Lamothe
said in the interview.

(source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)

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

Jury votes for death sentence in Sean Bush trial



A St. Johns County jury voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to sentence to
death the man who killed his estranged wife more than 6 years ago.

It took the jury of 12 just under 3 hours to return the sentence for Sean
Alonzo Bush.

The decision brought to an end the 4-day penalty phase in the case, initiated
after the jury found Bush guilty earlier this month of 1st-degree murder and
burglary with an assault for killing the 35-year-old mother of 2, Nicole Bush,
in her Julington Creek apartment in May 2011.

That's where she was found early one morning shot 6 times, stabbed and beaten
with an aluminum baseball, but still living. She died later at a Jacksonville
hospital.

As part of their deliberations, the jury found that Assistant State Attorneys
Mark Johnson and Jennifer Dunton proved 5 aggravating circumstances in the
case, including that the murder was done for financial gain, was "heinous,
atrocious and cruel," and was "cold, calculated and premeditated."

Those factors, the jury said through the verdict form read aloud by the clerk
in Circuit Judge Howard Maltz's courtroom, outweighed a number of mitigating
circumstances presented by Bush's defense team through more than 2 days of
witness testimony during the penalty phase. Those, many of which the jury said
they agreed with, included that Bush had an abnormally difficult childhood
being raised by a homeless and drug-addicted single mother who often-times
turned to prostitution to support him and his brother and that he had been
abused and even sexually assaulted while growing up on the streets of Newark,
New Jersey.

In a news release announcing the jury's decision, 7th Judicial Circuit State
Attorney R.J. Larizza called Bush "a violent criminal predator who earned the
jury's recommendation of death."

"We are grateful the jury held him accountable for this brutal murder," he
said.

Bush is the 1st defendant in St. Johns County for whom a jury has recommended
death since the state Legislature, earlier this year, passed a new law in the
wake of higher court decisions requiring all 12 jurors to vote for the
sentence. Prior to a January 2016 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, and
subsequent rulings from the Florida Supreme Court, judges could sentence a
defendant to death with only a majority of jurors voting for a recommendation
of the death penalty.

Maltz will formally sentence Bush in about two months after a final hearing at
which his defense team can present any last minute mitigating circumstances for
the judge to consider.

That hearing is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 13.

(source: St. Augustine Record)

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

Segura quadruple murder case continued to next week

It's the day after the judge declares a "mistrial" in the quadruple murder
trial of Henry Segura, after jurors could not agree on whether or not the
Tallahassee man had committed a crime.



Segura has been in the Leon County Jail since 2011, charged with the murders of
Brandi Peters and her three young kids, one of them being Segura's son.

The jury spent 19 hours deliberating, but could not reach a verdict, resulting
in a "hung jury."

The trial started on July 31st with three days of jury selection. 8 women and 4
men were picked, all of whom were white.

The state argued Segura committed the murders because of ongoing child support
issues with Peters. The defense claimed the murders were the act of multiple
people and possibly the work of a Mexican drug cartel.

After 2 days of deliberation, the jury announced it had not reached a
consensus.

This was the 1st death penalty case in Tallahassee to be tried since Florida
lawmakers required a unanimous decision for a death sentence.

The judge has scheduled a case management hearing this Tuesday, August 22nd, to
start figuring out whether or not this case will be re-tried.

Both sides have indicated they plan to go to trial again, rather than work on a
plea agreement.

Segura's lead defense attorney tells WTXL he doesn't expect the re-trial to
start until after this year.

(source: WTXL news)








ARKANSAS:

Arkansas gets new batch of lethal injection drug, seeks execution date



Arkansas has acquired a new batch of a drug it uses in lethal injections,
prompting the state's attorney general on Thursday to request an execution date
for an inmate first sentenced to death 24 years ago, a prisons official said.

Arkansas in April put 4 inmates to death by lethal injection in its first
executions in about a dozen years, ahead of the May expiration date of the
state's drug supply.

The resumption came as the number of U.S. executions in 2016 fell to a low not
seen in a quarter century.

Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement she requested
the governor to set an execution date for Jack Greene, 62. He was convicted of
beating and stabbing Sidney Burnett, 69 in 1991, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
reported.

An attorney for Greene said he had a well-documented history of brain damage
and mental illness, and asked Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson to hold off on
setting an execution date.

"Capital punishment should not be used on vulnerable people like the severely
mentally ill," John Williams, an assistant defender with the Federal Public
Defender Office's in Little Rock, said in a statement.

The state acquired 40 vials of the sedative midazolam this month, Department of
Corrections spokesman Solomon Graves said in a telephone interview.

Midazolam is 1 of 3 drugs used in the state's lethal injection mix along with a
paralytic agent that halts breathing and another chemical that causes cardiac
arrest.

Midazolam, a Valium-like drug, is supposed to render inmates unconscious but
critics say it has failed in some cases, leaving them feeling the painful
effects of the other drug. Lawyers for death row inmates argue that this
violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Death penalty supporters have said some pain in executions is warranted given
the brutality of the murders the condemned typically commit.

Major pharmaceutical companies began a sales ban on lethal injections drugs
about six years ago to death penalty prison systems due to ethical concerns.

Lawyers for death row inmates have asked a federal court and the state to
examine Arkansas' lethal injection protocols, saying that in at least one of
the April executions, an inmate coughed and convulsed on a death chamber
gurney. The lawyers contend that indicated possible problems with the drugs.

Arkansas has said its lethal injection mix is lawful and its protocols have
been carefully examined.

(source: Reuters)



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