2017-12-02 15:59:48 UTC
Death Penalty Sought for Tech Officer Murder, But Daniels Might Be Incompetent
to Stand Trial
A court record filed on Tuesday indicated that prosecutors are now seeking the
death penalty against Hollis Alvin Daniels, 19, for the shooting death of a
police officer on the campus of Texas Tech.
Daniels was arrested on October 9, less than 2 hours after officer Floyd East,
Jr. was shot and killed inside the Texas Tech police station.
The newest document filed by Daniels' defense attorney, Dennis Reeves, said,
"a) Mr. Daniels has been charged with the offense of Capital Murder. The State
is seeking the death penalty. b) This Court has determined that ... Mr. Daniels
is indigent. c) This Court has appointed the Regional Public Defender for
Capital Cases to represent Mr. Daniels."
Reeves is with the public defender's office.
A gag order has been issued in the case, meaning members of the news media
cannot speak to police or other officials about the case.
Some of the court records are publicly available in the Lubbock County online
court system. Some are not.
In the newest document filed by Reeves, it was revealed that Daniels might not
be found competent to stand trial.
"Prior to his indictment, previously appointed Counsel for Mr. Daniels filed a
Motion Suggesting Incompetence and Request For Examination," the document said.
"The appointed examiner has not yet issued a report finding that Mr. Daniels is
presently incompetent, but that report is forthcoming. Informal conversations
with the examiner indicate that he is likely to find Mr. Daniels incompetent."
The original motion related to incompetence is not publicly available at this
Reeves' motion indicates that Daniels might need court-ordered mental health
treatment to restore him to competence. A finding of incompetence to stand
trial is not the same as insanity.
Daniels' father has been named as his legal guardian.
Mostly, what Reeves' motion does is request that documents and evidence be made
available to the defense without the defense having to reveal its legal
One more document has been filed since Reeves' motion according to the court
docket. But that document is not available to be viewed in the online court
In a separate criminal case, Daniels was charge possession of a stolen firearm.
Court records indicate that the stolen gun was indeed the one used to murder
Daniels remained in the Lubbock County Detention Center Friday in lieu of a $5
Accused murderer commits suicide in Harris County jail
Maytham Alsaedy, 26, was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell on the 2nd
floor of the 1200 Baker Street jail facility just before 11 p.m. after a
detention officer noticed that Alsaedy had covered his cell window with
An inmate at the Harris County jail charged with capital murder died Friday
morning after hanging himself in his cell, according to the Harris County
A detention officer found Maytham Alsaedy, 26, hanging by a bedsheet in his
cell on the 2nd floor of the 1200 Baker Street jail facility just before 11
p.m. Thursday, according to an HCSO news release.
The detention officer had noticed that Alsaedy had covered his cell window with
Jail medical staff tried to revive Alsaedy, who was taken by ambulance to St.
Joseph Medical Center, according to the release. The inmate was pronounced dead
at 12:06 a.m. on Friday.
Sheriff's office spokesman Jason Spencer declined to comment on when detention
officers had last checked on Alsaedy.
"That's all part of the investigation," he said. "We'll look at the jail logs
and compare them to video to make sure the logs are an accurate reflection of
what's seen on video."
The Harris County Sheriff's Office's Homicide Unit and Office of Inspector
General are both investigating the death, sheriff's officials said. The Texas
Commission on Jail Standards has been notified of the suicide but has not yet
received reports, said Executive Director Brandon Wood.
Authorities had charged Alsaedy with capital murder in the February 2015
slaying of Kella Bracken, 22, who was found stabbed to death in her car in the
parking lot of a pizza restaurant in east Harris County. Officials had
determined at the time she had been dead for 2 days.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office had announced in July that
prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty in the case, but spokesman Dane
Schiller said Friday Alsaedy was scheduled to plead guilty to a life sentence
Alsaedy had been apprehended by police on February 27, 2015, 2 days after
Bracken's death. That night, police had said he attacked a woman outside of a
Walmart with a knife pointed into her back, demanding her purse and keys before
shoving her into her car, police said at the time. He was charged with
aggravated robbery--but it was in fact not until the next day that police
discovered Bracken's body slumped in her car in the Peter Piper Pizza parking
lot, just up the road from the Walmart.
Wood said this was the 2nd suicide this year at the Harris County Jail.
The 1st was in February, when 32-year-old Vincent Dwayne Young hanged himself
with a bedsheet. At that time, The Texas Commission on Jail Standards had
determined the Harris County Jail was out of compliance with minimum state
standards because jailers had failed to check on Young as frequently as the law
requires. The jailer who failed to make the rounds in a timely manner was
Young's suicide had also prompted various new security measures at the jail
under Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, including requiring watch commanders to conduct
weekly random audits comparing detention officers' written logs on inmate
observation rounds with video.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Death penalty trial date up in the air
Ricky Allen Dubose, 1 of 2 prison inmates accused in the shooting deaths of a
pair of Georgia Department of Corrections officers following a June 13 escape
from a state prison transport bus in Putnam County, found himself back in the
courtroom Friday morning.
It marked only the 2nd time that Dubose has appeared there since he and
co-defendant Donnie Rowe were taken into custody following their escape and
capture in Tennessee. The 1st time was for a 1st appearance hearing. Friday's
hearing involved procedural matters.
Dubose and Rowe are accused of murder in the shooting deaths of Sgt. Curtis
Billue and Sgt. Chris Monica, both veteran corrections officers who lived in
Milledgeville and were assigned to a transport detail out of Baldwin State
Prison in Milledgeville. Both men also are charged with 2 counts each of felony
murder, 1 count each of escape and 1 count each of hijacking a motor vehicle.
The 2 defendants will be tried separately.
Several members of the victims families, as well as close friends attended the
In the presence of heavily-armed security from officers with the Georgia
Department of Corrections and deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office
in the courtroom Friday, Dubose, clad in all while prison clothing, sat beside
his attorneys' Amber Pittman and Nathaniel L. Studelska, both of whom have been
appointed to defend Dubose in his upcoming death penalty trial. The attorneys
are with the Georgia Capital Defense Team in Atlanta and specifically handle
only death penalty cases.
The prosecution team, meanwhile, is made up of Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit
District Attorney Stephen A. Bradley, Chief Assistant District Attorney Allison
Mauldin and Assistant District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale.
The hearing was presided over by Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge
Alison T. Burleson.
In accordance with the Unified Appeals process, Bradley made it known in open
court that the state is seeking the death penalty against Dubose and that the
notice had been property filed with Putnam County Superior Clerk Sheila Perry.
"Judge, we want to do this very professionally; we want to do it one time and
we want to do it right," Bradley said.
When it comes to discovery in the case, Bradley pointed out that the
prosecution team was going to give the defense team everything they had.
He later told defense attorneys that 5 boxes had been prepared for them by the
district attorney's office.
2 of the first issues that Pittman addressed on behalf on her client involved
Dubose being allowed by the judge to wear street-type clothing as opposed to
prison clothing for all hearings and during his trial. She also objected to
photographs of her client being taken by news media representatives who covered
"What we would like is for the news media to be directed to not photograph our
client during pre-trial hearings, and for our client to be allowed to dress in
street clothes," Pittman said. "The reason for this is his due-process rights
are being brought in today."
Pittman said if a jury was going to be selected in Putnam County to hear her
client's case, they need to be fair jurors.
As for her concern about the media, Pittman said if the media was going to be
allowed to video tape that they simply not be allowed to video tape her client.
Bradley said he agreed with the defense's motion as to the extent of how her
client was dressed in the presence of jurors.
"When there is a civilian presence, the defendant ought to be allowed to be
dressed in something other than this," Bradley said. "However, the irony here
is that should anybody be chosen to serve on this jury, they're going to know
that everything took place while they were GC inmates, which the defendant was
at the time."
On the issue involving the media, Bradley told Burleson he would leave that
matter up to the court's discretion.
"As I read the Supreme Court's decisions, there seems to be a strong
presumption of open courtrooms," Bradley said. "That said, I do think I agree
with defense counsel that when we get to things that are a little more
sensitive - things that are a little more important that we do not need to have
out into the jury's knowledge prior to trial, we might want to think about
reducing access to some at that point.
But in a hearing such as the one held Friday, Bradley said he had no problem
with the coverage by the media.
Pittman fired back contending that the Council for Superior Court judges had
recently amended Rule 22.
Rule 22 is part of the rules that govern what news media organizations can do
inside the courtroom under the Uniform Superior Court Rules. The Uniform
Superior Court Rules are part of judicial proceedings that govern death penalty
trials where news media coverage is being provided. Rule 22 allows for still
photographs and video tape recordings to take place in the courtroom.
"While that has not gone into effect, one of the considerations that the court
is allowed to direct the news media to not photograph the defendant - it says
that specifically," Pittman said. "And we would ask that again - we're not
asking for a closed courtroom. I want to be very, very clear on that. We're not
asking that the news media be eliminated."
Pittman explained that she and her co-counsel were generally in favor of open
"However what we are asking for is that certain limitations be set," Pittman
said. "One of those limitations is simply that they not photograph our client."
She also expressed concern about the placement of television microphones in the
courtroom and they could infringe on consultation talks between defense
attorneys and their client.
"We're concerned about our client's privileges at this point in addition to the
potential prejudice going forward for our client," Pittman said. "So, what
we're asking for - and I want to also point out that we brought clothes for our
client. We have never been denied the right to have our client dressed down in
any other court in the state of Georgia for pre-trial hearings, because of the
She contended that photographs of her client were prejudicial against him.
Pittman said the new Rule 22 suggests that the court can place limitations on
the media when it comes to photographing a defendant.
"Again, we are objecting to have our client videoed or photographed in his
current state," Pittman said.
Burleson said going forward that she had no problem with Dubose being dressed
in other clothing.
"That's fine," Burleson said, noting he would remain in his prison clothing for
the hearing, but that in the future he would be allowed to change into street
clothing, provided that the clothing was properly screened from a security
On the issue of the media not being allowed to photograph Dubose in the
courtroom, Burleson said she was not going to direct the media not to
photograph the defendant.
"But I am going to direct our friends in the media who are here today that you
are not to zero in with the camera in any way, if the camera has any sort of
capability to infringe on any confidential notes or anything like that that may
be being passed or discussed," Burleson said.
The judge cautioned television reporters about what their microphones might
pickup during privileged conversations between defense attorneys and their
The judge later asked Pittman and Studelska to provide the court with their
qualifications as defense attorneys on behalf of Dubose.
Pittman said she would serve as lead counsel in the upcoming death penalty
trial for Dubose, while Studelska would serve as co-counsel in the case.
Several other matters also were addressed with Burleson by defense attorneys.
One of those included Dubose not having to be confined to waist chains and that
shackles would be removed for court appearances.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who oversees all courthouse security,
suggested that Dubose wear an electronic stun-cuff, a specialized security
device that would be attached to 1 of the defendant's ankles. Sills said if the
defendant were to pose a threat of any sort, that device would shock the
defendant, because it would send 40,000 volts of electricity through his body.
When it came to the possibility of a trial date, Bradley and his team of
prosecutors suggested a date 6 months down the road, excluding December. That
would place it in May 2018.
But Pittman quickly argued that 6 moths was simply not enough time to prepare
for a death penalty trial.
Instead, she suggested a trial date 3 years from now.
Pittman said the average death penalty case in Georgia requires an average of
26 months of preparations alone for trial.
The defense attorney told Burleson that Dubose has a history with the
Department of Family and Children Services that stretches across 2 states and
because she has an extensive caseload involving 6 other death penalty cases in
the state that it would be impossible for defense attorneys to be ready for
trial in 6 months.
Pittman said representing Dubose was "a mental and massive undertaking
defending this man."
She noted that she would be attempting to interview every inmate who was a
passenger on the state prison bus at the time of the crimes.
"It's a logistical nightmare, but it's our job," Pittman said, noting it was
far too premature in the proceedings to think about setting a trial date.
Burleson did not set a trial date.
Bradley also discussed the state wanting to seek a mental evaluation on Dubose
so that it would not become a possible issue moving forward. But again, Pittman
She maintained that it wasn't the state's place to request a mental evaluation,
and that if one was deemed necessary down the road that the defense team would
request their own evaluation.
Pittman said there was no basis for her client to undergo such an evaluation at
Burleson, meanwhile, has scheduled Jan. 5, 2018 as Dubose's arraignment date.
Trial date expected to be pushed back of man charged with deaths of Peach
The scheduled February trial of a man accused of the 2016 shooting deaths of 2
Peach County deputies is expected to be pushed back to a date yet to be
Additionally, the prosecution is in agreement with a defense motion for a
change of venue in the trial of Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr. based on pretrial
publicity. A change of venue could mean that the case is heard elsewhere, or
that jurors are brought into Peach County from elsewhere.
That's based on discussions among prosecution and defense attorneys with
presiding Judge Ed Ennis at a court hearing Friday on motions from the defense
seeking more time to prepare for trial.
Attorneys were instructed to talk among themselves to determine which motions
can be heard at the next hearing Dec. 13.
Each side is also expected to prepare a "reasonable schedule" - Ennis said -
for pretrial and trial dates for Ennis' consideration.
The hearing included a closed segment in which defense attorneys alone spoke
with the judge about some of the issues related to preparation of the defense.
The hearing then resumed in open court.
In open court, one of the challenges facing the defense team was discussed. An
investigator for the defense is expected to be on 12 weeks of maternity leave
at the end of January into March.
Additionally, in seeking more time to prepare, defense attorneys noted that the
average length of death penalty case in Georgia is about 4 years from time of
the announcement to seek the death sentence to trial conclusion. Meanwhile,
murder cases that are not death penalty cases average about 2 years in the
Macon Judicial Circuit from date of incident to conclusion of trial.
The Elrod case was set for trial Feb. 12, about 15 months from the date of the
incident, noted Franklin J. Hogue, one of Elrod's defense attorneys. Elrod is
also represented by 2 attorneys for the state's Office of the Capital Defender.
While Ennis is expected to hear suggestions for a revised trial schedule, the
judge made it clear that he wanted to keep the case on track. Ennis also noted
that his schedule would allow him to be more available for the case.
Elrod, who is charged with murder and related crimes in the Nov. 6, 2016
incident outside his Peach County home, has pleaded not guilty.
Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron were looking into a complaint
that Elrod had threatened a neighbor's nephews who had been riding in front of
Elrod's home on a 4-wheeler and a motorcycle.
When Sondron reached out to apparently take Elrod into custody, Elrod pulled
out a gun and opened fire on the deputies, authorities have said. When more law
enforcement personnel responded, Elrod came out of his garage with a rifle and
wearing a bullet-proof vest. He was wounded in the shootout.
Sondron died soon after the shooting. Smallwood died 2 days later.
Eldrod's mother and 2 aunts of Smallwood attended the hearing.
In Latest Complication, Judge Craig Recuses Himself From David Snelgrove Death
Pre-empting a move by the defense asking him to do so, Circuit Judge Dennis
Craig today voluntarily recused himself from the re-sentencing ordered in the
chronically complicated case of David Snelgrove, the Palm Coast man on death
row for the better part of the last 2 decades for the double-murder of Glyn
Fowler, 84, and his wife, Vivian, 79, on Bannbury Lane in June 2000.
Chief Judge Raul Zambrano will have to appoint a new judge - assuming Zambrano
does not recuse himself.
Snelgrove, now 44, was found guilty of the murders 2 years later and after 2
recommendations of death from 2 different juries, neither one close to
unanimous (7-5 and 84), he was sent to death row.
U.S. Supreme Court and Florida Supreme Court decisions have since invalidated
his sentencing. Non-unanimous recommendations are no longer considered
constitutional. Even though Snelgrove was himself in the process of contesting
his sentence, he got 2 big assists from the Florida Supreme Court: first, a
ruling that he must be sentenced yet again, with a full sentencing hearing
before a new jury.
Second, and thanks to Justice Barbara Pariente, he may possibly have an
evidentiary hearing that could render his sentencing moot. Pariente had
actually dissented from the decision that ordered a new sentencing for
Snelgrove - not because she was opposed to his being re-sentenced, but because
she was opposed to his still being eligible for the death penalty. The reason:
his intellectual competency to make him even eligible for the death penalty is
too much in question. She said he should have a new evidentiary hearing on that
Whether he will or not has yet to be decided by a circuit judge in Flagler
County. Until now, the judge handling the case here has been Craig. But Craig
was an assistant state prosecutor at the State Attorney's Office from 1998 to
2011, which included the time of Snelgrove's trial-court prosecution.
Zambrano was in the same office. So was Circuit Judge Matthew Foxman, an expert
on death penalty cases who sits in Volusia County. So was Judge Leah Case. So
this last wrinkle in Snelgrove's case may be 1 more complication that has yet
to be sorted out.
When last sitting on a status hearing in the case last August, Craig said he
was uncomfortable about the idea of going forward with the case, with himself
as judge, without hearing whether Snelgrove wanted him to do so, or to recuse
himself. Snelgrove was not at that hearing, and Craig did not want to make a
decision in his absence.
After waiting for 9 days at the Flagler County jail, Snelgrove was present for
this afternoon's hearing, which took all of 5 minutes.
"First order of business," Craig said to Matt Phillips, the division chief of
the public defender's homicide unit and 1 of the attorneys representing
Snelgrove, "did you talk to Mr. Snelgrove about my disclosure?" Craig asked.
"Yes we did your honor, I've met with him now several times" in state prison in
Raiford, Phillips said. "Mr. Snelgrove would respectfully request that you
would recuse yourself and he could have a judge preside who was not employed by
the State Attorney at the time in question."
"That's perfectly all right Mr. Snelgrove, no problems there whatsoever, that's
why I wanted to bring you over in person," Craig said. "I didn't want to agree
unless you were going to agree with me in person. So with that being said
there's nothing else for us to do today."
Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dutton asked for the defense to explain in
writing why it was asking for the recusal. She said she did not find the
defense's position regarding Craig's conflict of interest legally sufficient
since Craig had nothing to do with the case in the early 2000s.
But Craig pre-empted that possibility. "It was based on my disclosure, I pretty
much offered that I would if he just asked," Craig said.
Phillips noted that Zambrano may have the same conflict as Craig, making his
involvement in the case potentially questionable.
"Well, I'll leave it up to him to decide if he wants to have somebody else
decide who to assign it to, I'll let him decide," Craig said, though Craig is
bound to send him the order. The 2 judges have also had discussions about the
Snelgrove himself did not speak during the hearing, though he'd been quite
animated before the hearing started, speaking with his attorneys about various
things. "I was shocked. They woke me up in the middle of the night and told me
I had to go to court the next day," he said of his apparent latest transfer
from death row.
There was also his concern to make it back to death row in time for a death row
Christmas party next Friday. It's organized by several religious and civic
groups for inmates.
"There's about 70 or 80 of them," Snelgrove said, "they come to prison, they
basically come on each wing, sing a whole bunch of Christmas carols and give
you a big old bag of goodies, so that's basically what it is. It's something we
get to have but once a year."
It appears that he will make it back in time.
ACLU files suit to force Nebraska to provide death penalty records
The ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit Friday alleging the Department of
Corrections violated the state's open records act and asserting Corrections
Director Scott Frakes must disclose records relating to lethal injection drugs.
The organization said the department didn't comply with its open records
requests related to Nebraska's lethal injection protocols and information on
the sources of execution drugs. The Lincoln Journal Star, the Associated Press
and other media outlets have also reported their requests for records have been
The complaint is against Frakes and the Department of Corrections, and was
filed in Lancaster County District Court.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith said the department does
not comment on pending litigation.
The Journal Star, AP and other media requested information on the suppliers of
the drugs and other pertinent facts immediately after the state sent
notification to death row inmate Jose Sandoval of the 4 drugs that would be
used in a pending execution.
The state has not yet filed a request with the Nebraska Supreme Court for an
execution date for Sandoval, but could ask for a date 60 days after the
notification was given to him.
The drugs purchased by the state for an execution are diazepam, fentanyl
citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride. The department has not
made public either the supplier of the drugs or whether they came from a known
drug manufacturer or a compounding pharmacy. It did say they were purchased in
the United States.
The state open records law is clear, said Amy Miller, ACLU of Nebraska legal
director, that the government has to make available all documents that relate
to public business. That is true especially with lethal injection drugs in
which the state has a history of backroom deals, money that was wasted and
efforts to obtain drugs illicitly, she said.
"This is an issue that the public, the ACLU, lawmakers all have a right to know
what's happening with our state Department of Corrections," Miller said.
Public records requests by the ACLU and the media over the past couple of years
are the only reason a public debate on the state's efforts to procure lethal
injection drugs took place, she said.
Those requests enabled knowledge of the state's troubling behavior of importing
drugs without licenses, spending taxpayer money on drugs that were never
received, and now purchasing a combination of drugs from unknown sources that
have never been tested in an execution, she said.
This is the first time in those recent requests the state has refused to
produce the records.
"There is every intention in state law to have transparency and sunshine in
government practice," Miller said.
Most recently the department responded that documents, forms, invoices, reports
and purchase orders were attorney-client privilege. But even if the department
copied its attorney on emails and documents, it would not mean they would be
subject to attorney-client privilege, Miller said.
"It would still be documents the public would have a right to see," she said.
The fundamental concept of open government is at issue in this case, the
complaint said. The taking of a person's life is the most extreme use of state
power. And the death penalty should not be implemented in the shadows.
ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said open, transparent
government is a bedrock of Nebraska tradition deeply valued by citizens across
the political spectrum because it provides a check on the abuses of big
In recent years the department has complied with open records laws and revealed
the lethal injection drug supplier. The law has not changed, Conrad said.
"This lawsuit lays out Nebraska's shady history of backroom deals and attempts
to circumvent federal law to obtain lethal injection drugs," she said in a news
release. "In recent years, Nebraska taxpayers have spent over $54,000 to obtain
drugs that have never been used and taxpayers' dollars still have not been
The state's remedy is simple: Comply with Nebraska law and make public records
public, Conrad said.
The ACLU understands that Nebraskans hold differing opinions about the death
penalty, she said, "but we shouldn't allow the Department of Corrections to
disregard the law and the Nebraska tradition of open government for pure
"Decisions made in darkness don't belong in Nebraska government."
Death row inmate Lotter's attorneys ask U.S. Supreme Court to hear case
A Nebraska death row inmate has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take his case
and review decisions by a federal district court and appellate court to deny
his latest challenge to his sentence.
John Lotter, who was convicted in the killing that inspired the 1999 movie
"Boys Don't Cry," specifically is seeking review of an 8th Circuit Court of
Appeals order July 31 denying him permission to go forward with an appeal in
U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
Rebecca Woodman and Jessica Sutton, of the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic in
Kansas City, Missouri, had sought to challenge Nebraska's method, which relies
on judges and not juries to determine if someone gets the ultimate punishment.
They started the challenge in U.S. District Court in Lincoln.
But in February, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf refused and denied
Lotter's habeas petition, in part because the attorneys hadn't gotten
permission from the 8th Circuit Court to file it.
He likened the filing to a hail Mary pass.
Lotter, who is raising the same challenge in state court based on a U.S.
Supreme Court decision in a Florida case last year, appealed.
In a 1-page judgment July 31, a 3-judge 8th Circuit panel said after carefully
reviewing the district court file it was denying Lotter's application for a
certificate of appealability.
The court's permission is required for him to go forward in federal because he
has had at least 1 prior habeas corpus petition.
Lotter also currently is appealing a Richardson County District Judge's
decision to deny him an evidentiary hearing.
Lotter was sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 killings of Brandon
Teena and 2 witnesses, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, at a rural Humboldt
(source for both: Journal Star)
NEVADA---- former death row inmate dies
Man who killed 2 girls in Reno has died in prison
Ricky Sechrest, who beat and murdered 2 girls in 1983, has died in a Carson
City hospital on Friday, according to a press release from the Nevada
Department of Corrections.
Sechrest, 56, was serving 2 death sentences for the kidnapping and 1st degree
murders of 9-year-old Carly Villa and 10-year-old Maggie Schindler. He was
being held at a medical facility in the Northern Nevada Correctional Center
prior to being admitted to the hospital.
Sechrest was removed from death row in 2008 after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals overturned due to "gross misconduct" from the prosecution.
Then-district attorney Mills Lane told jurors that they would be "risking the
life" of "some other child" if they did not sentence him to death, He also said
people sentenced to life are sometimes paroled.
Those statements led to the the overturning of the conviction.
"Bottom line: the prosecutor misled the jurors to believe that if they did not
impose the death penalty, Sechrest could be released on parole and would kill
again," the justices said in their 2008 ruling.
(source: Reno Gazette Journal)
CALIFORNIA----new death sentence
Death for gang killer of 3: Rivals, snitches targets of ex-informer
A judge imposed a death sentence Friday on a San Jacinto gang member who once
was a police informant before he fatally shot 3 men and tried to kill another
because of their affiliations.
Raymond Alex Barrera, 27, was obsessed with killing rivals, people who had
dropped out of Barrera's gang and police snitches, according to authorities.
He had been convicted in September of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder, 1 count of
attempted murder and special circumstance allegations of lying in wait, killing
for the benefit of a criminal street gang and taking multiple lives in attacks
that occurred during the early summer of 2013.
The same Murrieta jury in Riverside County that found Barrera guilty of the
offenses recommended that he receive capital punishment, and Riverside County
Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon followed that recommendation, rejecting
motions from the defense that sought to reduce the defendant's punishment to
life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to the prosecution, Barrera selected all but one of his targets as
they were walking along San Jacinto streets.
The defendant, an admitted member of San Ja, the San Jacinto Valley's oldest
street gang, was with his girlfriend, now-24-year-old Tawpash Paillia Durnin,
during the killings. Durnin pleaded guilty last year to 3 counts of voluntary
manslaughter and was sentenced on Nov. 3 to 26 years in state prison.
Prosecutors alleged that Barrera was obsessed with eliminating rivals, as well
as so-called "drop outs" who had deserted San Ja and "snitches," who had
assisted law enforcement. Barrera's own reputation had been marred because of
prior cooperation with police, according to court papers.
The defendant's 1st victim was Juan "Spooks" Perez, attacked while walking with
a friend - identified only as "W.S." - as they headed to the El Toro Market on
Main Street to purchase beer on the night of June 27, 2013.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Barrera identified Perez as a
dropout and ran up behind the young man, shooting him in the back of the neck,
then attempting to shoot W.S., who managed to hide underneath a car to protect
Perez died at the scene, and Barrera made his getaway in Durnin's vehicle, with
her at the wheel, according to prosecutors.
The defendant's next target was a supposed police informant, Jose "Flaco"
Venegas, gunned down on June 30, 2013. According to the prosecution, Barrera
employed a ruse, involving Durnin, to get Venegas to a deserted location on the
Soboba Indian Reservation, where he shot him twice and left his nude body in a
The 3rd and final murder victim was Ruben "Toker" Zavala, a member of "Hemet
13," which had been engaged in turf wars with San Ja, according to court
Prosecutors said Barrera, Durnin, then-17-year-old Robert Anthony Hernandez and
another individual - identified in court papers only as a "confidential
informant" - were driving in Durnin's Dodge Caravan on the night of July 8,
2013, when they encountered Zavala crossing the 300 block of West 1st Street.
Barrera shouted, "State your name and what you bang?" But according to the
prosecution's trial brief, the young man tried to ignore the convicted felon,
who jumped out of the van with Hernandez and chased the victim down, fatally
shooting him with a .38-caliber pistol.
Sheriff's detectives spent several months investigating the murders, initially
tying Barrera to only one, though with the help of the confidential informant,
Durnin and others, all of the killings were eventually solved.
Hernandez is awaiting trial for murder in juvenile court.
Barrera's prior convictions include illegal possession of a firearm and
obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Glenn County DA: Death penalty on the table after Thanksgiving Day murder
2 brothers that were arrested for murder charges on Thanksgiving Day were in
court today for a preliminary hearing.
Ricardo Garcia 25 years old, and Fernando Garcia, 19 years old are charged with
attempted murder for an ambush style attack that left one man dead and another
man with 8 gunshot wounds and hospitalized.
All of the men involved including the victims were in a gang fight that led to
According to the Glenn County District Attorney they will be looking into the
brothers previous criminal history when deciding whether to seek the death
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