2017-09-08 14:09:46 UTC
14 years after murder, Ashe man remains on death row
There are currently 145 offenders on North Carolina's death row at the state
central prison in Raleigh.
One of those individuals is Ashe County's lone representative on the state's
list of men awaiting death for the atrocities they have committed.
Chris Goss, of Jefferson, was sentenced in Feb. 2005 to death for killing
Deborah Veler. This month is the 14-year anniversary of her death and final
justice has yet to be served in the case as Goss awaits an execution that may
According to cncpunishment.com and newspaper archives, Veler was at home with
her 4-year-old grandson when Goss beat her until she was unconscious. After
Veler was unconscious, Goss went to his parent's house to retrieve a roll of
duct tape and a change of clothes. Goss tied up Veler with the duct tape,
stabbed her over 30 times, and slit her throat. Veler's body was found with a
knife in her throat and a knife in her back. After Goss killed Veler, he
ransacked her house and wrote 'I will kill' on the sofa to make the murder
appear as if it had been in a robbery or done by a crazy person. The
prosecution's evidence included a 23-page confession Goss made to the police.
The defense admitted Goss killed Veler but contested premeditation with
psychiatric testimony stating Goss had a personality disorder and used alcohol
at the time of the murder. The prosecution also presented psychiatric testimony
that stated Goss had an anti-social personality disorder but the disorder would
not impair his ability to think or plan. During the penalty phase the defense
argued Goss had a mental disorder and low IQ.
It is unclear in Goss will ever be put to death for the murder. The last state
ordered execution took place more than a decade ago.
Since his conviction, Goss has made numerous petitions to the state???s supreme
case to reexamine his case. All of which, were denied.
(source: Jefferson Post)
2 Remain On Death Row Today
As talks are ongoing of possible prosecution of 3 suspects charged with a
double murder in Harnett County, there are currently 2 men sitting on death row
for crimes committed here.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Offender Public
Information database, Robert F. Brewington and Eddie L. Taylor currently sit on
death row at Central Prison in Raleigh.
Robert F. Brewington
On June 30, 1997, Robert F. Brewington was indicted on 2 counts of 1st degree
murder, 2 counts of conspiracy to commit 1st-degree murder, 1 count of
conspiracy to commit 1st-degree burglary, 1 count of conspiracy to commit
1st-degree arson and 1 count of 1st-degree arson.
The charges stemmed from the June 12, 1997, murders of his 82-year-old
great-grandmother, Frances Brewington, and 8-yearold nephew, Brian Brewington.
They were found burned to death in Ms. Brewington's farmhouse near Dunn.
The 2 died after a fire was deliberately set by 2 co-defendants named in the
case, Vera Lee, and friend, Michael McKeithan. Both were later found guilty of
murder and arson charges and were sentenced to life without parole.
Mr. Brewington was found guilty on both conspiracy and both murder charges.
The trio had planned the deaths in order to receive insurance payments. The
plan arose after Mr. Brewington and Ms. Lee were denied a loan for a new home.
Mr. Brewington, now 53, still sits in a cell on death row awaiting his
Eddie L. Taylor
Eddie L. Taylor, 35, was given a death sentence on Jan. 12, 2004, following a
conviction for his role in a robberygone- wrong in Bunnlevel. It was there, he
and another man, Tyrone Crawley, attempted to rob Mitch's Grocery in Bunnlevel
During the robbery, store coowner Talmadge "Mitch" Joseph Faciane Jr. was
gunned down after he attempted to thwart the robbery with a shotgun.
During the span of the crime, Mr. Crawley also received what would later prove
to be fatal gunshot wounds.
Mr. Taylor, who had also been charged with kidnapping - which was dropped
during the trial for lack of evidence - was convicted on 1st-degree murder and
armed robbery charges.
He now sits in Central Prison awaiting his execution.
Both defendants had their cases reviewed by the Supreme Court of North Carolina
and their convictions were ultimately upheld.
The 2 stand to be the 5th and 6th person to be executed after sentencing in
Harnett County since 1910.
Here's The Glitch
While the 2 men remain in Central Prison awaiting the carrying out of their
sentences, there are several issues preventing the re-starting of executions in
The last person executed was Samuel R. Flippen who was convicted of killing his
2-year-old stepdaughter. That took place on Aug. 18, 2006. Since then there
have been several roadblocks to capital punishment erected.
Some are based on the legalities involved in either the cases themselves or
capital punishment in general. There about as many legal actions pending as
there are inmates on death row.
With the repeal in 2013 of the Racial Justice Act, many more sitting on death
row have filed legal action to have their sentences commuted to life.
The act, which was instituted in 2009, essentially prohibited seeking or
imposing the death penalty on the basis of race.
With its repeal by Gov. Pat Mc-Crory, it opened the flood gates to litigation
that has aided in stalling capital punishments in North Carolina.
Other obstacles involve drug makers being hesitant to provide the necessary
Pentobarbital used in the procedures and public outcry.
There's also the procedures for carrying out the executions that's proving to
be a difficulty for state corrections officials.
According to the state-mandated guidelines for an execution - which were
revised along with the repeal of the Racial Justice Act in 2013 to require only
the single drug - there must be a doctor present to administer the lethal
The North Carolina Medical Board prohibits physicians to take a life and
therein lies the problem.
Despite a clause included in the legislation protecting doctors from the
medical board, physicians are still reluctant and fear they might not be
protected if they move to another state.
So, until the legalities and other obstacles are overcome, any inmate sitting
on death row may have a long wait.
Duval County starts death penalty cases again with brutal killings
At a little past 1 p.m. Wednesday, a 12-person jury of equal parts men and
woman were ushered into a Duval County courtroom to do what no jury has done
for quite some time here.
Sometime next week after all photos of the gruesome crime scene are revealed,
the hammer that gnawed away at the skulls of the 2 young men are passed around
and the horrific nature of Raymond Bright's childhood is explored, this jury
will decide if the 63-year-old Bright should be put to death for killing
16-year-old Randall Brown and 20-year-old Derrick King.
A jury 8 years ago found Bright guilty of the 2008 murders. They voted 8 to 4
to sentence Bright to death. Today, that vote would not be enough to condemn a
man to death.
The Florida House passed legislation in March that said Florida juries must
unanimously decide if a defendant convicted of capital crimes should be put to
death. The 112-3 vote paved the way for Gov. Rick Scott to once again begin
signing death warrants. He has since signed 2.
The measure also paved the way for Florida courts to once again try people for
death penalty cases after a January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case
known as Hurst v. Florida put the skids on death penalty cases in the state.
Prior to that landmark decision, Bright's death sentence was thrown out by a
Florida Supreme Court after it sided with a lower court that found Bright's
trial lawyers did not investigate his mental-health history and childhood. His
case was sent back for re-sentencing.
So, in Circuit Judge Russell Healy's courtroom Wednesday, a death penalty case
started again in Duval County. The jury can only decided if Bright should get
life or death.
The 2016 Hurst decision and other similar higher court cases are sending
hundreds of cases backs to Florida courtrooms for re-sentencing hearings.
Bright is being tried by veteran prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda and Pam Hazel,
the same team that tried him in 2009.
King was asleep on the couch when Bright beat him on the head 38 times with a
hammer. He was also hit another 20 times on his hands and arms. Brown died
cradled in a Lazy Boy after being hit in the head 14 times. He was hit another
20 times on other parts of the body with the hammer.
"They were asleep when this defendant came upon them and beat them senseless.
It was a heinous murder. It was shockingly evil and wicked," de la Rionda told
the jury in his opening statement.
The state is expected to wrap up its portion of the case Thursday, de la Rionda
said. After that, the defense will begins its portion of the case.
Defense attorney Michael Williams told jurors Bright suffered from adverse
trauma from his childhood and once they understood that, they may understand
more about crimes he committed. Williams put 7 people on his witness list.
"We believe the verdict should be life in prison without the possibility of
parole," Williams said.
Because of Hurricane Irma, the court will be in recess Friday, Monday and
(source: Florida Times-Union)
Death row inmate asks for death penalty to be declared unconstitutional
The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected the request of a condemned killer to delay
next week's execution while he pursues an appeal.
Death row inmate Gary Otte wants the death penalty declared unconstitutional in
his case because he was under 21 at the time of the crime.
The court denied Otte's request for a delay Thursday.
Otte was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski
and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura. Both slayings took place in
Parma in suburban Cleveland.
Gov. John Kasich has rejected a request for clemency made by Otte's attorneys.
The 45-year-old Otte is scheduled to die Sept. 13. He is also challenging
Ohio's lethal injection method in federal court.
(source: Associated Press)
CALL ON OHIO GOVERNOR TO RETHINK CLEMENCY
Gary Otte is scheduled to be executed in Ohio on 13 September. He was sentenced
to death in October 1992 for 2 murders committed 8 months earlier. 20 years old
when he was sent to death row, he is now 45. The governor has rejected
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
* Urging Governor Kashich to reconsider his decision to deny clemency for Gary
* Explaining that you are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of violent
crime or its consequences
Friendly reminder: If you send an email, please create your own instead of
forwarding this one!
Contact below official by 13 September, 2017:
Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117, USA
Fax: +1 614 466 9354
Email (via website):
Salutation: Dear Governor
(source: Amnesty International USA)
Lance Hundley changes mind twice on counsel in capital case
It appears the only thing to count on when Lance Hundley appears in court is to
not count on anything at all.
For the 2nd time in a month, Hundley, 47, who is facing the death penalty if
convicted of the Nov. 5, 2016, beating death of Erika Huff in her Cleveland
Street home, fired his court-appointed attorneys in Mahoning County Common
Unlike his last pretrial hearing, however, when he fired John Juhasz and Doug
Taylor, then asked to meet with Judge Maureen Sweeney and had them reappointed,
he did not do that Wednesday.
Instead, Hundley got Judge Sweeney to agree to appoint him an attorney from out
of the area - something she refused to do in the past.
But after court adjourned, Hundley reconsidered that request, however, and said
he wanted to represent himself, which keeps jury orientation in the case on
track for Friday.
Besides aggravated-murder charges with death-penalty specifications for Huff's
death, he also faces charges for the beating of her mother and for setting fire
to the home. Police had to go inside the home and drag him and Huff's mother
out while it was still ablaze early Nov. 5, 2016.
Hundley also fired his 1st set of court-appointed attorneys, which is when
Judge Sweeney appointed Juhasz and Taylor to represent him.
When Hundley asked to represent himself, the judge asked him a lengthy series
of questions, such as did he know he would be held to the same rules as the
other attorneys. He answered yes to most, but at one point, when she asked if
he understood how to question jurors during jury selection in a death-penalty
case, he said, "Your honor, I'll figure it out. I'll figure it out."
"Mr. Hundley, you don't have time to figure it out," Judge Sweeney replied.
"I'll figure it out," Hundley answered.
Juhasz and Taylor did not say what differences they had with Hundley, but when
Judge Sweeney asked Hundley if they had investigated things for him, he spoke
out. "Well that hasn't quite happened with my attorneys," Hundley said.
A clearly exasperated Judge Sweeney told Hundley she had changed her mind and
would appoint a lawyer from out of Mahoning and Trumbull counties for him.
"I don't mean to offend the court," Hundley said.
"Well, you are," Judge Sweeney replied. Court adjourned shortly after, then
Hundley asked to speak to the judge again. With Taylor and Juhasz in the room,
but seated separately from Hundley, Hundley said he was concerned with how long
it would take for a new lawyer to get up to speed on the case and he wants his
trial to proceed, so he decided to represent himself.
Taylor and Juhasz will be standby counsel for Hundley, and he can consult with
them, but not before jurors, the judge said. Should he agree to have them jump
in, the trial process will not start over again, Judge Sweeney said.
Closing argument in Lara case points fingers at California----Judge rules
Hummel didn't violate gag order
The 1st death penalty case in years in Deschutes County may be in jeopardy of
losing key evidence, and it's because of 1 question from accused murderer Edwin
Lara: "Is my lawyer almost here?"
The question came on July 26, 2016, as California Highway Patrol officers
handed over Lara to the Tehama County Jail after they arrested him, and was at
the heart of closing arguments of lengthy hearings this summer to decide what
statements should be allowed at trial.
On Thursday, Lara's defense team argued in Deschutes County Circuit Judge A.
Michael Adler's court that Lara asked the question of 2 veteran officers, and
one responded: "No. It's your right to request a lawyer. You can request a
lawyer when you get a phone call."
What Matt Szychulda, the officer who said that, didn't know at the time was it
would be more than 24 hours before Lara would get a phone call.
In the meantime, Lara would undergo a 6-hour interrogation without an attorney
present, during which he gave a lengthy statement about the death of Kaylee
If Adler sides with the defense and throws out what Lara told officers in
California, he will then have to decide whether evidence from those statements
- which included the location of Sawyer's body - should be admitted at trial.
Lara, 32, is accused of killing Sawyer, 23, in the early-morning hours of July
24, 2016, while he was working as a security guard for Central Oregon Community
College in Bend. He is charged with 4 counts of aggravated murder, the only
crime punishable by death in Oregon. Deschutes County District Attorney John
Hummel is seeking the death penalty, and Lara is due to stand trial in October
Lara was arrested after allegedly going on a crime spree in California that
included attempted murder, kidnapping and carjacking.
The hearings were originally scheduled to end Thursday, but ran long and should
be finished Friday morning. The hearings began July 10 and ran through July 20
before pausing and picking back up Tuesday morning. Adler will then take the
argument and testimony under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date.
Much of the weeks of testimony surrounded the conduct of the California Highway
Patrol officers and the Tehama County Jail deputies.
"Tehama County Jail does not fare well in this hearing, your honor," defense
attorney Benjamin Kim said during his closing arguments. He attacked the
testimony of the California officers.
While on the stand Tuesday, California Highway Patrol officer Joyce Dicharry,
who was present when Lara asked if his lawyer was en route, testified that in
California a defendant has to directly state "I want a lawyer" to invoke the
constitutional right to representation. That is incorrect, Kim said, pointing
out that the U.S. Constitution dictates what is and isn't an invocation of a
right to an attorney.
There are no specific words that must be said, though.
At the heart of the hearings is whether Lara's statements regarding a lawyer
were unequivocal - their meaning clear - or equivocal demands of his right, or
that he wasn't asking for anything at all. The defense argued that Lara clearly
asked for a lawyer. However, if there is any doubt, police are constitutionally
mandated to ask clarifying questions to ensure suspects understand their
rights. The prosecution argued Lara wasn't asking for a lawyer.
Lara allegedly made a 2nd comment, asking a jail deputy when he would get a
lawyer. The deputy - Scotty Kelley - testified he found the question to be
procedural rather than an invocation, and told Lara he would get a lawyer when
arraigned in court.
Kim began his closing arguments with an analogy: "Do you have a pen?" When
technically parsed, the question means exactly that. However, Kim argued, the
phrase is commonly used as a way to ask someone for a pen. Similarly, when Lara
asked if a lawyer was on their way, he was not looking for a simple yes or no
"Why would someone in Mr. Lara's circumstance ask about a lawyer if not to
speak with him?" Kim said.
Deschutes County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Gunnels countered,
arguing in his closing statements that Lara was twice read his Miranda Rights.
His statements about lawyers were ambiguous, and he was fully willing to talk
to police during an interrogation. He gave less-damning admissions of guilt to
a handful of people over the previous 2 days. When asked who he wanted to call
after the interrogation, Lara said his wife, the news and a pastor, not a
"It's important to take those words, 'My lawyer almost here yet' not entirely
out of context," Gunnels argued.
Kim shot back, pointing out when Lara did finally get a phone call, he called
his wife and begged her to help him get an attorney. Kim said while both
statements about a lawyer were not as direct as they could be, it doesn't make
sense that Lara would repeatedly ask about lawyers and at the same time have no
interest in talking with one. Lara's intent was obvious, he said.
Lara told detectives where Sawyer's body was, and the defense has argued that
police would not have found the body in the same state if it weren't for Lara's
help during an improper confession, according to testimony during the hearings.
Much testimony has been devoted to the decaying state of Sawyer's remains,
which were being broken down by insects and heat.
The prosecution has argued that since the body was just over the shoulder of
state Highway 126 between Redmond and Sisters, it would have been discovered
around the same time anyway, and therefore evidence from the body should be
allowed at trial.
Thursday's proceedings started with Adler ruling on a motion the defense filed,
saying Hummel 3 times violated the gag order imposed on the case, prohibiting
any statements made outside of court. Adler found Hummel, in giving information
to Sawyer's family about the case, did not violate the gag order. Adler had
previously stated in court that Hummel was allowed to do so.
(source: The Bend Bulletin)
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