2017-09-02 13:50:47 UTC
Ohio governor reschedules 19 upcoming executions
Gov. John Kasich has rescheduled executions for 19 condemned killers on Ohio's
The reprieves granted by Kasich push most executions previously scheduled over
the next several years forward by a few months. The latest is now set for April
Kasich said Friday he adjusted the schedule following a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling earlier this summer upholding Ohio's 3-drug lethal injection process.
The governor says the goal is ensuring that executions are carried out in a
humane and professional fashion.
On Friday Kasich also rejected a clemency request by death row inmate Gary
Otte, scheduled to die Sept. 13 for killing 2 people in Parma in suburban
Cleveland in 1992.
Kasich denies clemency, moves execution dates
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday denied clemency to a Cuyahoga County man
scheduled to be executed later this month.
Gary Otte is slated to die in the Ohio death chamber at the Southern Ohio
Correctional Facility near Lucasville on Sept. 13. He was convicted of the 1992
robbery and murder of Robert Wasikowski, 61, and Sharon Kostura, 45, at their
apartments in Parma.
Otte's attorneys asked for clemency, citing the fact that he was under 21 at
the time he committed the murders, Cleveland.com reported. The Ohio Parole
Board in February rejected the request 11-0.
Otte's execution would be Ohio's 2nd in 3 years. Ronald Phillips was executed
July 26 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's lethal-injection
Also on Friday, Kasich announced the execution of Raymond Tibbetts will be
moved from Oct. 18 to Feb. 13, 2018. He was convicted in Hamilton County of the
1997 murders of his wife and their landlord.
The execution of William Montgomery has been moved from Jan. 3, 2018, to April
11, 2018. He was convicted in Lucas County of the 1986 murders of Debra Ogle
and Cynthia Tincher.
Robert Van Hook, who was convicted in Hamilton County of the 1985 murder of
David Self, will be executed on July 18, 2018, instead of Feb. 13, 2018, as
The Nov. 15 2017, execution date for Alva Campbell Jr. is unchanged. He was
convicted in Franklin County of the 1997 murder of Charles Dials, whom he had
taken hostage after assaulting a sheriff's deputy and stealing her pistol.
Also unchanged is the Sept. 13, 2018, execution date for Cleveland Jackson. He
was convicted in Allen County of the 2002 murder of Lenishia Williams, 17,
during a robbery.
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
Prosecutors seek death penalty in Cleveland car dealership murders
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office will seek the death penalty for the man
accused of killing a married couple at a Cleveland car dealership.
Trina Tomola, 46, and Michael Kuznik, 50, owned Mr. Cars on East 185th Street.
Their 19-year-old son was unable to get in touch with his parents and found
them dead at the car lot on April 14.
Prosecutors said Joseph McAlpin broke into the dealership, then shot and killed
the couple and their dog. He's also accused of stealing a car.
Cleveland police identified McAlpin as a suspect through DNA evidence and
arrested him on June 13. He was originally indicted on 25 counts, including
aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and cruelty to animals.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned a new indictment with death penalty
specifications against the 29-year-old suspect.
"The Capital Review Committee thoroughly reviewed the facts and circumstances
surrounding this case and the decision was made to seek capital charges against
McAlpin," said Prosecutor Michael O'Malley in a news release on Friday.
(source: Fox News)
CALIFORNIA----death row inmate dies
Death row inmate Christopher Adam Geier, convicted of murder, dies
Christopher Adam Geier, who was on death row on his conviction of 2 counts of
murder and conspiracy to commit murder in San Bernardino County, died Thursday
at San Quentin State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation said in a news release.
Geier, 49, collapsed just before 11 a.m. in the prison's recreational yard, the
release said. He was pronounced dead at 11:34 a.m.
The cause of death is unknown, pending the results of an autopsy.
Geier was sentenced to death by a San Bernardino County jury on July 21, 1995,
in the slaying of military police Officer Erin Tynan and the fatal stabbing of
Curtis James Dean. He also was convicted of attempted murder in an attack on
Gail LeBouef, who survived after being shot in the face.
The release said he had been on death row since Oct. 20, 1995.
(source: San Bernardino Sun)
Minnesota 'family killer' could face death penalty for killing Oregon
cellmate----Craig Dennis Bjork, now 57, could be the first Minnesota prisoner
sentenced to death in modern history.
35 years ago, a Minnesota judge sentenced Craig Dennis Bjork to 3 consecutive
life sentences in prison for the grisly murders of 2 women and his 2 young
children. But that didn't stop Bjork from killing again.
Now the notorious mass murderer could face the death penalty.
Minnesota abolished capital punishment in 1911. But after decades of violence
and escape plots from behind prison walls, the state transferred Bjork to
Oregon, where he allegedly killed another prisoner. Prosecutors are seeking
capital punishment, meaning Bjork, now 57, could be the 1st Minnesota prisoner
sentenced to death in modern history, according to corrections staff and
criminal justice experts.
Human rights groups say the unusual case shines a spotlight on the "randomness"
of the death penalty in America, and how geography determines if a crime is
punishable by execution.
"As a state that abolished the death penalty more than 100 years ago, Minnesota
should consider refusing to transfer its prisoners - and the taxpayer dollars
that go with them - to states where the death penalty remains on the books,"
said Michele Garnett McKenzie, deputy director for nonprofit The Advocates for
Human Rights. Bjork's attorney in Oregon, Gordon Mallon, said he's looking into
whether Bjork being committed to Minnesota's corrections system will be an
issue in the case.
Oregon prison officials denied a request to interview Bjork in person. In
letter correspondence, Bjork agreed to talk over the phone, saying he had
"nothing to lose." But he reneged after a Star Tribune reporter declined to pay
"Nothing is free," wrote Bjork, saying he needed the money for postage and
phone calls related to the interview, much more than the actual costs for these
"If not, I wish you well," Bjork wrote. "I'm genuine."
Murder of the century
Bjork's story as a notorious prisoner begins in March 1982. After his
girlfriend, Ramona Yurkew, had been missing for 4 days, Minneapolis police
searched Bjork's duplex unit near Powderhorn Park.
There, they found Yurkew's body beneath a bed. Police also discovered the
lifeless bodies of Bjork's sons, ages 1 and 3, along with Gwendolyn Johnson, a
20-year-old woman with a history of prostitution arrests. All had been
strangled. Police called it the worst mass murder in the city since the turn of
After a month on the run, Bjork surrendered to police in Wichita, Kan. At the
trial, a psychiatrist who'd interviewed Bjork said he had binged on amphetamine
and alcohol. He'd killed Johnson after she solicited him for sex, and the next
day choked his family and hid their bodies under beds.
"I choked everybody with my hands," Bjork said, according to the psychiatrist.
"It was all peaceful. There was no bizarre episode. No running through the
halls or clanging. In my eyes it ain't murder. I was just taking care of
everybody. I wasn't trying to hurt nobody."
Kevin Burke, now a Hennepin County judge, took on Bjork's defense pro bono. "It
was a challenge," Burke explained in a recent interview. And Burke was no
stranger to ambitious cases; at the time he was also representing a cop killer.
Burke had no illusions about his client's role in the murders, but he argued
Bjork was so detached from reality he didn't understand his actions and should
be found not guilty by reason of mental illness. He cast Bjork as a deeply
troubled man who binged on drugs and alcohol to manage a serious personality
disorder. His client had lost the internal battle, he told the court, and
simply snapped into a fugue of violence.
The judge rejected the insanity plea. He sentenced Bjork to 3 life terms, plus
20 more years for killing Johnson - all but guaranteeing he would die in
After the sentence, Bjork was a problem prisoner, known by other inmates as
"The Family Killer." One summer day in 1996, while serving a stint in solitary
confinement, Bjork wrote an internal memo to the Stillwater prison warden
demanding he be moved back to Oak Park Heights prison. If he didn't comply,
Bjork threatened to kill again.
"I'm very homicidal," he wrote, according to court records. "I'm very close to
committing mass murder in Stillwater. Trust me minimum of 3 bodies, I'd go for
10 and come real close." A prison psychologist interviewed Bjork and said he
appeared capable of following through on his plan.
On Thanksgiving Day 1997, a correctional officer, John Sward, found Bjork in
the Stillwater prison kitchen mopping up a dark red liquid that looked a lot
"What is going on?" he demanded, according to court documents.
"It's these beet cans making a big mess," Bjork replied.
It didn't look like beet juice, the officer said.
"I gotta get out of here," Bjork said, and he walked out of the kitchen.
Sward followed red drag marks through the kitchen to a garbage storage area. He
lifted an overturned garbage cart and found Edwin Curry, another inmate who had
been on kitchen duty that day. Curry had been bludgeoned with a pipe.
Correctional officers searched the prison and found Bjork in the dining hall
eating a candy bar and drinking a cup of milk. "It was nothing personal," Bjork
said, "but a few minutes more and you would have had a dead guard on your hands
Prison staff found a notebook in his cell with an underlined entry for that
date: "Should have moved me, punks."
The trial of his life
After Bjork killed Curry, the Minnesota Department of Corrections transferred
him out of state through a program called the Interstate Corrections Compact.
He ended up at Oregon State Penitentiary, a maximum-security facility in Salem.
On Aug. 13, 2013, he killed a prisoner named Joseph Akins, according to a grand
jury indictment filed in December 2015.
The full details have not yet been made public, but Marion County prosecutor
Matthew Kemmy confirmed his office is seeking the death penalty. In court
filings, Bjork has called the killing self-defense.
In a pretrial hearing earlier this year, Bjork lashed out at 1 of his defense
attorneys, shouting for him to "shut up" during court proceedings and then
speaking over the judge's warnings to be quiet. "This idiot isn't going to
represent me," he said, according to court documents filed by the prosecutor,
and then he muttered insults under his breath.
Bjork fired that attorney and Mallon took his case this spring. Prosecutors are
asking that Bjork be restrained during the trial.
Because of Oregon's backlog on death penalty cases, the trial won't take place
until April 2019.
Bjork will have to answer for more than just the Akins murder. Oregon law
considers it aggravated murder when a person kills someone while incarcerated
or intentionally kills after being convicted of murder. In addition to killing
Akins, the indictment includes 5 more counts for the killings of his 2
children, Johnson, Yurkew and Curry.
But even if a jury sentences Bjork to death, he may never be executed. Oregon
currently has a moratorium on executions. And even if the temporary ban is
lifted, it could be decades before Bjork is actually executed if he is
"People have been sitting on death row for more than 30 years," said Mallon,
"and so there's a question of whether he could live long enough to get
(source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Capital Punishment Is A Social Problem In America
[The following article is entirely the opinion of Hussein Elghoul and does not
reflect the views of the Inquisitr.]
The death penalty process in the United States can easily be characterized as a
social problem because it is severely flawed. Too often, it is applied in an
unfair and unjust manner against people largely dependent on how much money
they have, the skill of their attorneys, race of the victim, and where the
crime took place. This, in itself, violates the constitutional guarantee of
Creating an even bigger social problem within the country is the fact that the
death penalty denies the due process of law as its imposition is often
arbitrary and always irreversible. The finality of it all forever deprives an
individual of the opportunity to benefit from new evidence or new laws that may
come to light after the trial and might warrant the reversal of a conviction,
or, in the very least, the setting aside of a death sentence. The issue that I
feel needs more attention is the fact that the death penalty leaves the door
open for the chance that an innocent person could be executed.
Another reason why the entire process of capital punishment is wrong is that
execution is a violent public spectacle of official homicide, and something
that spectacle appears to endorse killing to solve social problems. This is the
worst possible example to set for citizens, and especially children. The
effects on youngsters can be traumatizing but can also be influential for all
the wrong reasons, of course. Young people can see an execution on television,
for instance, and if they are led to believe that this is the proper way to
obtain justice, their young, impressionable minds can lead them to taking
matters into their own hands should they ever find themselves in a situation
where they feel like they've been wronged.
Those in power can try to justify their actions when it comes to capital
punishment by talking about the supposed benefits that such killing would bring
the rest of society, but they are still sending the message out there that the
answer to violence is more violence.
Stacy Mallicoat, professor of criminal justice at the University of California,
likes to focus her capital punishment class on this question: "To kill or not
to kill?" She spoke on the matter during an interview conducted several years
ago when she worked as an assistant professor.
"Philosophically, you have to ask yourself, 'Do I want to kill others to prove
killing is wrong? What is the purpose?' If it is to deter crime, then that's
not a valid argument."
More so, it is a known fact that the cost of the death penalty is
extraordinary. The statistics tell us that California has spent more than $4
billion administering the death penalty since 1978, or more than $300 million
per person for each of the 13 people who have been executed since the death
penalty was reinstated. Conversely, it costs approximately $200,000 to $300,000
to convict and sentence an individual to life without the possibility of
An obvious, although far from simple, solution to the problem is to make a life
sentence without parole the worst possible punishment a criminal could receive
and to get rid of the death penalty altogether. A life sentence has the same
deterrent effect of the death penalty: criminals remain off the streets for the
rest of their lives.
The money saved could be spent on ways to improve the criminal justice system
such as increasing public safety or providing resources to help prevent
wrongful convictions. Just as important, the money saved could help create new
jobs and opportunities for those impoverished to live more productive and
Also, the money saved by eliminating the death penalty could go towards
creating outreach programs to help people better understand social problems
such as discrimination against others based on race, wealth, religion, etc.
Programs like that, which would bring awareness to such issues, could come in
handy if someone is put on trial and the jury is made up of people, who up
until that point, were taught to think in a stereotypical way.
Bringing awareness to real social problems could lead to people being more
open-minded in the short-term, and in the long-term, could help prevent an
innocent person from being executed.
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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