death penalty news----TEXAS, GA., FLA., ALA., MISS., OHIO, IND.
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Rick Halperin
2017-09-23 12:33:25 UTC
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Sept. 23


Pair charged with murder outside parole office

2 Houston men on Thursday were indicted for allegedly killing a man as he sat
in his car in the parking lot of a local parole office,

Ronald Donell Brown, aka "Dorsey Robinson," 44, and Clyde "Pete" Williams, 50,
are charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire, intentional killing
related to drug trafficking and 2 counts of using a firearm in the commission
of a murder.

Davis "Cuz" Roberts, 42, also named in the indictment, is charged with 1 count
of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to
distribute, and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Brown and Williams could potentially face the death penalty, according to a
news release from the U.S. Attorney's office. For his role in the drug
conspiracy, Roberts faces up to life in prison, if convicted.

According to a 7-count federal grand jury indictment, Brown allegedly hired
Williams, and provided him with a firearm, to kill Marcus Celestine as he sat
in his car outside a Houston parole office on July 1, 2014.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

GEORGIA----impending execution

Many of slain woman's family members support clemency for her killer, lawyers

Many family members of a woman fatally shot in 1990 support clemency for her
condemned killer, lawyers for Keith "Bo" Tharpe argue in a petition seeking
clemency on the eve of Tharpe's scheduled execution.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole is set to consider Tharpe's case
Monday, the 27th anniversary of Jacqueline Freeman's killing in Jones County.
Freeman was Tharpe's sister-in-law.

Lawyers for Tharpe are asking that his execution - set for Tuesday - be stayed
and that his sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

The copy of Tharpe's clemency application released to the media Friday after
being declassified doesn't list which of Freeman's family members support

The portion of the document addressing their support was redacted "to protect
the victims' and victims' family members' identities and privacy," according to
the application.

Tharpe's application describes his early introduction to alcohol, drug
addiction and remorse.

According to the application:

When jurors convicted Tharpe and sentenced him to death - just 3 months after
Freeman's Sept. 25, 1990 killing - they didn't hear about his childhood, drug
addiction or "limited intellectual abilities" that would have provided context
for understanding how someone others described as being "kind, loving and
generous" could kill his sister-in-law.

Tharpe's mother admitted in an affidavit that she drank moonshine and beer
daily while pregnant with her son.

Both of Tharpe's parents drank "excessively" and ran an illegal moonshine
business - a shot house - out of their home. At age 5, Tharpe began serving the
homemade alcohol to customers and taking sips himself.

By the time he was 10, Tharpe was drinking enough liquor to make him drunk
enough to lose consciousness. His early exposure to alcohol impaired his

Despite his childhood, Tharpe has been described as being a "friendly,
outgoing, happy and athletic child" who had many friends and was a standout
high school athlete.

He married his high school sweetheart and the couple shared 4 children. Tharpe
had another daughter from a previous relationship.

Later, Tharpe became addicted to crack cocaine which led to his alienating his
family and losing himself in the drug culture.

In August 1990, Tharpe's wife took their children and left him. Tharpe was
desperate to win his family back, but his wife's relatives were protective of
her and wanted him to stay away.

On the night before Freeman's murder, Tharpe drank and smoked crack until the
early morning hours.

Then, he drove toward the Freeman family's home where several family members
had homes and his wife was staying.

He encountered his wife and Freeman on the road leading to the family's
property, stopped them and told his wife to get into his truck. Tharpe and
Freeman argued. Then Tharpe shot Freeman with a shotgun, reloaded and shot her

"To this day, Mr. Tharpe cannot fathom what came over him and caused him to act
as he did and kill Mrs. Freeman," his lawyers wrote in the application. "It is
an act for which he takes full responsibility and will regret every day for the
rest of his life."

Tharpe regularly talks about his remorse and has endeavored to live a Christian
life, devoted to helping others learn from his mistakes, his lawyers argue.

Tharpe's lawyers are continuing to appeal his conviction and death sentence
alleging that 1 member of the juror voted for the death penalty due to racial

(source: Macon Telegraph)


Georgia Set To Execute Second Inmate Of 2017----Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, was
convicted in the 1990 shotgun killing of his sister-in-law and of kidnapping
and assaulting his estranged wife.

A Georgia man convicted of killing his sister-in-law with a shotgun then
kidnapping and sexually assaulting his estranged wife has been scheduled for
execution on Tuesday.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, would become the 2nd person executed by lethal
injection in Georgia this year and the 71st person put to death in the state
since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

That is a slower pace than 2016, when Georgia executed 9 condemned inmates.

According to court documents, Tharpe, on Sept. 24, 1990, met up with his
estranged wife and sister-in-law in middle Georgia's Jones County, using his
vehicle to block them then getting out brandishing a shotgun. Apparently under
the influence of drugs, Tharpe, who had repeatedly threatened his wife and her
family with violence, shot his sister-in-law - 29-year-old Jacquelin Freeman -
with the shotgun, rolled her into a ditch, reloaded and shot her again.

He then kidnapped his wife. After unsuccessfully trying to rent a motel room,
he parked by the side of a road and raped her, court documents say. Afterward,
he drove her to Macon, where she was supposed to get money from her credit

Instead, she called police.

On January 18, 1991, Tharpe was sentenced to death after a Jones County jury
found him guilty of malice murder and 2 counts of kidnapping with bodily

Tharpe is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. at the Georgia
Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Lawyers for Tharpe have petitioned the state Board of Pardons and Paroles for
clemency in the case.

The petition says Tharpe was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol when he
committed the crimes - addictions he has overcome while in prison.

"Without in any way discounting or minimizing Mrs. Freeman's death and the pain
caused by Mr. Tharpe's crime, we ask the Board to consider who Mr. Tharpe is
today: a man full of remorse, living every day guided by his faith, respect,
and good will, who strives to put as much good into the world as he can, which
he will continue to do if allowed to live out the remainder of his natural life
in prison," the petition reads.

The document notes that at least some of Freeman's family members support
clemency in the case and that his conviction and sentence possibly were tainted
by racism, citing a jury member who was quoted using a racial slur when
referring to Tharpe.

Tharpe would become the 48th inmate put to death since Georgia switched to
lethal injection. There are presently 56 men under death sentence in Georgia.

Death row inmate J.W. "Boy" Ledford was the last prisoner executed in Georgia,
on May 17.

(source: patch.com)


Death penalty sought for accused Kissimmee cop killer

Prosecutors with the state announced Friday that they plan to seek the death
penalty against the man accused of killing 2 Kissimmee police officers.

Everett Miller shot and killed Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard last
month near Palmway and Cypress Streets in Kissimmee after they responded to a
suspicious persons call, investigators said.

Miller is set to appear in court Friday afternoon where the court will hear
arguements if he's competent to stand trial. Miller has already undergone a
mental health evaluation and the findings will be discussed in court.

Shortly after Miller was arrested at Roscoe's bar, he asked officers to kill
him and that "he did a bad thing."

Miller was indicted by a grand jury on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder earlier
this month.

(source: WFTV news)


Prosecutors to seek death penalty in Jacksonville witness murder

The State Attorney's Office intends to seek the death penalty for Jecorian
McCray if he is found guilty of 1st-degree murder in the September 2016 slaying
of a witness.

McCray, 24, is accused of masterminding the plot to kill University of North
Florida employee Joe Brenton and using jailhouse calls to recruit his teen
stepbrother to carry out the killing.

Brenton was gunned down at his Oceanway home Sept. 21 to keep him from
testifying against McCray in a 2014 burglary case, according to the
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

McCray and his stepbrother, Dakarai Maxwell, were indicted last month on murder
and conspiracy charges. Maxwell, who was 17 at the time of the killing, won't
face the death penalty.

The step siblings were charged with burglary after Brenton's home was broken
into and ransacked in 2014. Prescription drugs and jewelry were taken in the
burglary, which was caught on camera.

McCray, who previously served time for armed robbery, was arrested for the
burglary in 2015. Police said recorded phone conversations indicated he was
anxious about returning to prison.

According to court records, McCray first enlisted his girlfriend, Teirany
Shelton, to lean on Brenton's family. When that plan fell through, records
state McCray ordered a hit to silence Brenton.

McCray has pleaded not guilty to charges of 1st-degree murder, conspiracy to
commit murder and witness tampering. Jury selection in the case is set for

(source: WJXT news)


Jury selected in Bradenton double-murder case

A jury has been chosen in the trial of 1 of 2 men still facing charges in the
2015 fatal shooting of a Bradenton couple during a home invasion while their 5
children were home.

Trey Nonnombre, 20, is facing 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of
armed home invasion in the slaying of Esther Deneus and her boyfriend, Kantral
Markeith Brooks, both 29. If convicted of the 1st-degree murder, the state will
seek the death penalty.

Deneus and Brooks were found shot dead just before 4 a.m. July 9, 2015, when
Bradenton police were called to the 3900 block of Southern Parkway after a
security alarm was triggered by the break-in at the home the couple shared
across the street from Robert H. Prine Elementary School.

The couple's 5 children, between the ages of 1 and 11 at the time, were not
injured but were near their parents' bodies when police arrived.

Following a 5-day process, a jury of 14 - 6 women and 8 men - that includes 2
alternates were selected on Friday afternoon.

Jury selection began on Monday with more than 150 potential jurors summoned.

For 4 days, potential jurors went through the individual voir dire process.
Assistant State Attorneys Art Brown and Rebecca Muller and defense attorneys
Daniel Hernandez and Bjorn Brunvand were only permitted to ask about their
prior knowledge of the case because of media attention it received, scheduling
hardships and regarding any strong feeling that may have for or against the
death penalty during individual questioning.

On Friday, the 54 potential jurors who remained returned for the general jury
selection process, and by 4 p.m. attorneys had chosen the panel.

Circuit Judge Diana Moreland swore in members of the jury and gave them
instructions before releasing them for the weekend.

Opening arguments are set to begin Monday morning.

One of Nonombre's co-defendants, Terez Jones, took a plea deal in May and
pleaded guilty to 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder with a firearm and armed
burglary. Jones, 35, was sentenced to 25 years of prison but as a condition of
his deal will have to testify truthfully against Nonnombre and a 3rd
co-defendant, Jimmie McNear.

McNear, 20, is set to stand trial on identical charges as Nonnombre during a
5-week trial period that begins Oct. 16, after the conclusion of another death
penalty case in Sarasota that Moreland is presiding over.

(source: bradenton.com)

ALABAMA----woman may face death penalty

Woman found guilty in 1995 killing, dismembering; penalty phase underway

The woman charged with killing 23-year-old Justin Barnett in 1995 was found
guilty of capital murder Friday morning.

Tricia Abney, 42, was charged in 2015 with capital murder during the course of
a robbery for the stabbing death of Barnett. A Jefferson County jury
deliberated for less than a full day before finding Abney guilty of that same

Jurors were instructed on the lesser charges of intentional murder and felony
murder, but opted to convict her of the more serious charge.

Abney will now have a penalty phase, where jurors will decide whether she will
spend her life in prison without the possibility of parole, or face the death
penalty. A mitigation expert for the defense will stand the stand this

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, only 5 women are currently
on Alabama's death row.

Barnett disappeared on the night of June 3, 1995. He and his girlfriend, Sheila
Horton, had split up for the evening to go to separate parties with their
friends. When Horton returned to the couple's Southside apartment around 2 a.m.
the next morning, Barnett was not there. He never came home, and Horton never
heard from him again.

The case went cold for 20 years, until Abney's brother Johnathan Abney came
forward to Birmingham police in 2015. He told investigators he had information
about a 2-decades old murder case, and said his sister was involved.

Abney's trial started this week in Jefferson County Circuit Judge Laura Petro's
courtroom. Testimony lasted 2 1/2 days, before the jury began deliberations
Thursday afternoon. Abney did not take the stand.

Justin Barnett, who disappeared in 1995, was still considered a missing person
until a witness came to Birmingham police 20 years later to clear his

Johnathan Abney testified on the 1st day of the trial, where he talked about
his sister and their upbringing. In 1995, he moved in with his sister and her
boyfriend, Jeff Martin, in a small 1-bedroom apartment on the east side of
Birmingham. He said on June 3 of that year, he went to the Superbowl in Tarrant
to play pool because his sister said she wanted to have some alone time with
Martin. She and Martin did not pick up Johnathan Abney from the bowling alley
for several hours, he said.

When the 3 got back to the apartment, Johnathan Abney said he was led into the
bathroom and saw Barnett's legs hanging over the bathtub. Barnett's head and
arms had been cut off and placed in trash bags on the bathroom floor, Johnathan
Abney said.

He had met Barnett once before, when his sister had met up with Barnett in a
Southside apartment to buy drugs. Johnathan Abney also saw a backpack on the
couple's bed--one he recognized as belonging to Barnett, which had drugs and
money that both Johnathan Abney and his sister told police they used.

Johnathan Abney said he drove Barnett's vehicle, which actually belonged to
Horton, to a spot in Lakeview and left it. He then joined his sister and
Martin, and the 3 headed to a Bibb County field. Johnathan Abney said there,
his sister and Martin buried Barnett's remains and placed rocks on top of the

During his testimony earlier this week, Johnathan Abney admitted to threatening
his sister about a year before he went to police in 2015. "I said I'd make sure
she spends the rest of her life in prison," Johnathan Abney said.

Police went to Mobile to interview Martin in 2015, but he refused to speak to
investigators. Several days later, Martin committed suicide. Abney was arrested
and charged with capital murder on July 22, 2015.

Johnathan Abney was not charged.

Police have searched the field where Johnathan Abney said Barnett's body was
buried, but no remains have ever been found.

Jefferson County Deputy District Attorneys Kylie Jernigan and Neal Zarzour
prosecuted the case. Emory Anthony and Wakisha Hazzard represented Abney.

Anthony said after the verdict, "We respectfully disagree but we have to accept
the verdict."

(source: al.com)


'Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2' explores guilt after issuing death sentence

A new film exploring the ramifications of the death penalty from an unusual
perspective is showing in select screenings throughout the country. "Lindy Lou,
Juror Number 2" is the story of Lindy Lou Isonhood, a Mississippi woman who
served on a jury that sentenced a man to death in 1994

The movie follows Isonhood as she attempts to reconnect with the jurors who
served alongside her and come to terms with her grief and guilt for her part in
the decision.

Isonhood was prepared to teach vacation Bible school for a week in the summer
of 1994, but "God had other plans." She was instead called for jury duty in
what she soon learned to be the sentencing of Bobby Wilcher.

Wilcher was convicted in the robbery and stabbing death of 2 women in 1982, and
had already been sentenced to death for the killings before. He received a new
hearing after the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered new juries to review all
death penalty sentences.

When it came time to make her decision, Isonhood says her "head was in
conflict" with her heart, but she ultimately sided with her head - as well as
the other 11 members of the jury - and voted in favor of death.

After the sentencing, Isonhood was haunted by her vote and decided to meet with
Wilcher shortly before his execution. After their meeting the execution was
stayed, and in subsequent years, Isonhood had the chance to get to know the man
she had condemned to die.

Isonhood learned many things about the convict in their time together,
including his family struggles and the sexual abuse he suffered in his
childhood. She and the other jurors fault the defense attorneys for not making
any of Wilcher's troubled background known during the sentencing hearing,
instead asking "irrelevant" questions that did nothing to make the murderer
seem more sympathetic. The closest thing he had to a real defense, they said,
came from his sister, who simply pleaded with them, "please don't kill my

Wilcher was executed on Oct. 18, 2006. Isonhood was Wilcher's only friend to
attend the execution.

After Wilcher's execution, director Florent Vassault, a French filmmaker
working on a documentary about the death penalty in the U.S., asked Isonhood if
he could make a movie about her story.

Over the next 3 years, Vassault and his cameras followed Isonhood through
Mississippi and Georgia, as she searched for the others who had sat on the jury
with her.

Some jurors expressed remorse at their decision, while some remained firm that
Wilcher got what he deserved. One man struggled with the knowledge that he had
put Wilcher's family through the same emotional turmoil that Wilcher had put
those of his victims through. Another, however, remained resolute in the choice
he made and barely seemed to remember the details of the case. "Because it
didn't affect him," Isonhood says as she drives away from their meeting.

Isonhood laments the fact that many Americans do not feel strongly about issues
that do not seem to have any impact on their own lives. However, as Missourians
for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an organization which cosponsored the
Sept. 13 Kansas City, Missouri, screening reminded the audience before the film
began, in many states anyone could potentially be selected for jury duty and
placed in the same position Isonhood and her 11 colleagues found themselves in
23 years ago.

She believes that taking a defenseless life is wrong for any reason, and also
cites troubling problems in our criminal justice system. These include the
incompetent defenses the accused often receive from backlogged and underpaid
appointed attorneys and public defenders, as well as the sometimes biased
juries selected.

"A jury of Bobby's peers? Did you see the houses these people lived in?" she
asked after the Kansas City screening, comparing the large homes of some of the
jurors to the relatively poor area Wilcher came from. She also noted the lack
of African-Americans on the jury, even though many were in the jury pool when
jury selection began.

Isonhood says that before her experience, she never had a problem with the
death penalty, but serving on that jury opened her eyes to just what a terrible
choice one is faced with when deciding whether another human being lives or
dies. "It changes you," she tells the camera, "from the inside out."

(source: National Catholic Reporter)

OHIO----2 new execution dates

Ohio court sets execution dates for 2 killers in 2022

The Ohio Supreme Court has set execution dates in 2022 for 2 condemned killers.

Death row inmate Percy Hutton, of Cleveland, was sentenced to die for the 1985
slaying of Derek Mitchell in a dispute over a sewing machine.

The court on Friday scheduled Hutton to die on June 22, 2022.

Hutton's attorney, Michael Benza, argues the execution date shouldn't be
scheduled because the 63-year-old Hutton still has federal appeals pending.

Death row prisoner Cedric Carter, of Cincinnati, was sentenced to die for the
1992 shooting of convenience store clerk Frances Messinger during a robbery.

The court scheduled an Aug. 24, 2022, execution date for Carter.

Cedric's attorney, Keith Yeazel, argues the 44-year-old Carter also still has
appeals pending.

(source: Associated Press)


Death penalty sought in Lebanon slaying

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer announced Wednesday that the state would
seek the death penalty against Zachariah Wright.

Prosecutors charged Wright, 20, on June 26, with allegedly murdering Lebanon
resident Max Foster, and severely injuring his wife, Sonja Foster, as they
slept in their Lebanon home on Father's Day morning.

In all, prosecutors charged Wright with 23 crimes.

"When someone commits this type of crime he should have to face the ultimate
penalty, which, in the State of Indiana, is a sentence of death," Meyer said.

Meyer said he spoke to Foster's family, presented the case to the Indiana
Prosecuting Attorney Council's capital litigation committee, and spoke with the
Indiana Attorney General's Office before coming to the decision to seek the
death penalty against Wright.

In a death penalty case, aggravating factors often determine the state's course
of action.

Meyer highlighted 5 aggravating factors that helped make the decision.

When Wright allegedly committed the murder, the 19-year-old was on probation
for committing a felony; he allegedly committed murder while attempting to
commit arson; he allegedly committed murder while attempting to commit burglary
that resulted in death; he allegedly committed murder while committing a
burglary that resulted in serious injury to Sonja Foster; and he allegedly
committed murder while attempting to commit rape.

"The crimes this defendant is alleged to have committed are horrific and serve
as everyone's worst nightmare," Meyer said. "Being awakened in your home, in
the middle of the night, to find an intruder standing over you armed with a

Copies of the death sentence request were sent to the Indiana Attorney General,
the Indiana Supreme Court Administrator, and Allan Reid, Wright's counsel.

Trial is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 4 in Boone Superior Court I. Wright is
being held in the Boone County Jail without bond.

(source: flyergroup.com)

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