2017-10-16 13:00:54 UTC
Death penalty has its place in an orderly society
Several weeks ago, North Carolina Rep. Justin Burr took to his Facebook page
and advocated for a return of capital punishment. Opponents of the death
penalty have hammered Burr ever since, not only on Facebook (where several
responses are childishly profane), but also in the pages of this newspaper and
Raleigh's News & Observer. National magazines, including The Hill and Newsweek,
have picked up the story.
But according to nearly every reputable poll, most North Carolinians continue
to support capital punishment. This despite a relentless, years-long campaign
against the death penalty from almost every mainstream news source.
What explains the majority's stubborn, unrelenting support for capital
Maybe our priorities and those of the media elite are not the same. Among our
top priorities is the preservation of order, which necessitates a reverence for
and protection of the innocent and defenseless. The deliberate taking of such a
life is incomprehensibly cruel and unforgivable. The ultimate punishment for
such offenses is not only justified, but necessary: the offender receives
punishment that is proportionate to his offense, and society sends a message
that is unmistakable.
North Carolina's most recent execution (in 2006) provides a vivid example. In
1994, Samuel Flippen beat to death his 2-year-old stepdaughter, Britnie Nichole
Hutton. Flippen was not executed until 12 years later.
Opponents of the death penalty are in the awkward (if not impossible) position
of arguing that the execution of Samuel Flippen was, somehow, a miscarriage of
justice. But one could argue that the only injustice in the Flippen case is
that it took the state about a decade too long to carry out the sentence. Since
2006, legal challenges have effectively created a moratorium on the death
penalty in North Carolina.
A recent case in Michigan reminds us that lenient treatment of murderers can
have catastrophic consequences. 25 years ago, Gregory Green stabbed his wife to
death. She was 7 months pregnant at the time. (The infant also died.) Green
served 16 years, was released from prison, and remarried. In September 2016, he
killed his 2 biological daughters, aged 4 and 5, and both of his teenage
stepchildren. The latter pair were shot to death in front of their mother,
Green's 2nd wife, who was shot and stabbed, but survived. Maybe it's time for
Michigan to reconsider its ban on capital punishment.
And Rep. Burr is correct: North Carolina needs to resolve its legal quagmire
and resume executions. Our death row is occupied by 145 people. The oldest,
Blanche Taylor Moore, is now in her mid-80s, and has eluded justice for a
Despite the virtual moratorium on the death penalty, some prosecutors,
including Assistant DA Robert Enochs, continue to seek the ultimate punishment.
A local man, 29-year-old Garry Gupton, is on trial in Greensboro for the murder
of Stephen White, 46, 3 years ago. As reported in these pages on Oct. 3, police
"believe Gupton beat White before setting him on fire in Room 417 of the
Battleground Inn at 1517 Westover Terrace." Surgeons had to amputate both of
White's arms, and he died less than a week later.
Faith Harris-Green, Gregory Green's 2nd wife, told her homicidal ex-husband at
his sentencing hearing, "Your justice will come when you burn in Hell for all
eternity for murdering 4 innocent children." It's a shame that the state of
Michigan is unable to expedite Mr. Green's long-overdue journey to Hell.
(source: Charles Davenport Jr. is a News & Record columnist and a member of the
Community Editorial Board----greensboro.com)
Man once sentenced to death gets life for killing teen
A Georgia man once sentenced to death in South Carolina for torturing and
ordering the killing a 16-year-old boy will now spend the rest of his life in
Steven Barnes, 36, was found guilty of murder Friday after an hour of
deliberations by an Edgefield County jury, Solicitor Rick Hubbard said.
Barnes ran a teen prostitution ring in Augusta, Georgia, where clients were
robbed after having sex, and 16-year-old Samuel Sturrup was one of several
teens who liked to hang out with him, investigators said.
But in September 2001, Barnes thought Sturrup robbed him. He beat the teen with
his fists, a metal pole and a shock absorber, stuffed him in a car trunk and
drove toe Edgefield County with several other people, authorities said.
Barnes forced Sturrup into the woods, where he ordered another teen to shoot
the victim in the head. Sturrup's disappearance went unsolved for three months
until a dog found a skull with a bullet hole, investigators said.
Barnes had been sentenced to death, but the South Carolina Supreme Court
overturned his conviction in 2013, saying he should have been allowed to
represent himself at his death penalty trial. Barnes had defense lawyers at
this week's trial, prosecutors said.
All the others with Barnes the night Sturrup was killed served lengthy prison
sentences, either for the sex ring or the beating, authorities said.
Hubbard said Charlene Thatcher pulled the trigger. She is serving 20 years in
prison in Georgia.
(source: Associated Press)
Man gets death sentence again for killing neighbor
A Florida man has been sentenced to death a 3rd time for slashing a neighbor's
throat and strangling her.
The Florida Times-Union reports that a Duval County jury unanimously decided
Friday that Randall Deviney should die.
Deviney was 18 in 2008 when he killed 65-year-old Delores Futrell, a neighbor
who used to bake cookies for him, pick him up at school and give him odd jobs
A 2010 conviction and death sentence for the Jacksonville man were later
overturned. Deviney was convicted and sentenced to death again in 2015 with and
8-4 jury recommendation.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida's death penalty unconstitutional in 2016,
because it didn't require unanimous approval from a jury. Hundreds of cases
from 2002 on required re-sentencing hearings.
(source: Associated Press)
Alabama Prepares for Execution of Torrey McNabb on October 19
Torrey Twane McNabb is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday,
October 19, 2017, at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
40-year-old Torrey is convicted of the murder of Police Officer Anderson Gordon
on September 24, 1997, in Montgomery, Alabama. Torrey has spent the last 18
years on Alabama's death row.
Torrey's father had spent time in prison and his mother was a cocaine addict.
Torrey began using cocaine around the age of 14 or 15.
On September 24, 1997, Sanford Sharpe, a bail bondsman, was attempting to
locate Torrey McNabb, who had failed to appear in court to charges of receiving
stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. After failing to
appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Sanford located McNabb and
McNabb's grandmother's residence. Sanford spoke with McNabb, who said he would
go with Sanford. Under the pretense of putting on shoes, McNabb fled out the
Later that day, around 1:30 pm, Sanford again located McNabb, this time parked
in a vehicle outside of his grandmother's home. Sanford pulled up beside
McNabb. When McNabb noticed Sanford, he quickly drove away. Sanford pursued.
While crossing an intersection, McNabb struck another vehicle. Sanford drove up
and started to get out of his vehicle when McNabb started shooting a gun.
Sanford quickly drove away from the gunfire and called the police. Sanford then
returned to intersection and parked next to a police patrol vehicle. Inside was
Officer Anderson Gordon, who had been shot several times. Sanford, fearing for
his safety, pulled out his own weapon. Police arrived a short time later and
confiscated Sanfords weapon.
Annie Gamble, was the women whose vehicle had been struck by McNabb. After
being struck, Annie saw McNabb, who she identified later, pull a gun. She
pleaded with him not to shoot her. McNabb began shooting at a red truck that
drove by. Annie then saw McNabb walking towards the police patrol parked on the
corner, hiding his weapon. McNabb approached the rear of the patrol car and
began firing into the car, shattering the rear window. When the officer fired
back, McNabb fled the scene.
Several other eyewitnesses corroborated Annie's story. They were also able to
tell police what direction the shooter had fled. Police officers pursued.
McNabb attempted to hide in a ditch and, upon discover, shot at the officers.
The officers returned fire, wounding McNabb.
McNabb was treated for his injuries and confessed to the shootings, telling
police a similar story as reported by the witnesses. However, McNabb disputes
the earlier events as reported by Sanford, alleging that Sanford fired at him
1st and was an "out of control bounty hunter." He also claims that he
approached Officer Gordon for help and that the officer pointed a gun at him
first, causing him the panic. Witnesses report that the police officers weapon
was not drawn when McNabb began shooting. He also argued that he was high on
cocaine that morning making him unaware of his actions and paranoid. McNabb was
sentenced to death in 1999.
McNabb has requested that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals halt his execution
over concerns about the state's lethal injection protocol.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Officer Anderson Gordon.
Please pray for strength for the family of Torrey McNabb. Please pray that if
Torrey is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be
executed for any other reason, evidence will be provided prior to the
execution. Please pray that Torrey may come to find peace through a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Lesson in law----Prospective jurors whittled down in Hamad trial
Jury selection in the capital murder trial of a Howland man is expected to
continue this week as attorneys on both sides try to pick panel of 12 jurors
and 2 alternates from a pool of about 130 candidates.
The potential jurors showed up in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court last
Wednesday to begin the proceedings against Nasser Hamad, the man accused of
shooting 2 people to death and wounding 3 others Feb. 25 during a confrontation
at Hamad's state Route 46 home.
Hamad is charged with 2 counts of aggravated murder that carry the death
penalty specification and 6 counts of attempted aggravated murder.
Attorneys for both sides spent most of the day Thursday and Friday questioning
around 30 people from the pool about their views on capital punishment and
whether they would be adversely affected by publicity in the case.
More people from the jury pool are expected to be brought in this week to be
questioned individually to the courtroom of Judge Ronald J. Rice. The pool is
expected to be narrowed to about 40 by Wednesday before the final 12 plus 2
alternates are picked.
"We are definitely putting the cart before the horse," said defense attorney
Robert Dixon in explaining to a prospective juror why he was asking about her
views on the death penalty.
Prospective jurors were given a lesson in law as attorneys explained the 2
phases of the trial - the evidence stage where jurors would hear from witnesses
and view exhibits. If they find Hamad guilty, a penalty or mitigating phase
would then begin where jurors would have to weigh the aggravating circumstances
of the crime against mitigating factors about the defendant to determine if a
death penalty is necessary.
Rice would have the final word on sentencing.
One woman, prospective juror No. 5, put it succinctly as lawyers talked about
the process Thursday.
"I didn't learn this stuff in school," she said.
Defense attorney David Doughten of Cleveland responded to one juror who was
surprised by the length of a questionnaire each prospective juror had to fill
out after he entered the courthouse Wednesday.
"The reason we ask so many questions is that it cuts down on the time frame for
questioning here," Doughten said.
Each side can use up to 6 pre-emptive challenges before a final jury and
alternates are impaneled.
Once a jury is seated and before testimony begins, jurors are expected to tour
the scene of the shooting which lies near a busy commercial stretch of state
Route 46 near the state Route 82 interchange. Also a Mahoning County drone is
expected to take overhead pictures of the scene to give jurors a better
The case revolves around a confrontation between Hamad and occupants of a van
that was driven up to his home late in the afternoon of Feb. 25. Hamad and
several of the van's occupants had engaged in taunting and threatening behavior
over social media prior to the shootings, according to a Howland police report.
Although court officials are under a gag order in the case, a series of court
filings show that defense attorneys at trial are expected to try to prove that
Hamad suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by "constant
threats of death" over a 6-month period.
Meanwhile, assistant Trumbull County Prosecutors Christopher Becker and Michael
A. Burnett paint a different picture of Hamad - someone who boasted to
detectives after the shootings about successfully defending himself after he
retrieved a 9 mm handgun inside his home and began firing at those in the van.
Killed in the shooting were Joshua Haber, 19, and Joshua Williams, 20. The
three other gunshot victims were April Vokes, 43; John Shivley, 17; and Bryce
Hendrickson, 20. Hendrickson, whose name was on a list of potential state
witnesses, was found dead late last month.
(source: Tribune Chronicle)
State is accountable to Hoosiers on death penalty issue
The Indiana Supreme Court is weighing an issue that may have flown under the
radar for most Hoosiers.
It's literally a matter of life and death.
The high court is considering whether state prison officials can change
execution drugs without going through a public review.
The justices heard arguments earlier this month in the challenge by death row
inmate Roy Lee Ward, who was convicted in the 2001 rape and murder of
15-year-old Stacy Payne in southern Indiana's Spencer County.
In June, the state appeals court ruled that the Department of Correction didn't
follow proper procedures in selecting a new 3-drug combination in 2014. A
lawyer for Ward says such decisions should be subject to public oversight.
Deputy Attorney General Stephen Creason says state law doesn't require the
rulemaking process and would unduly delay executions.
In its decision in June, the appeals court ruled that Indiana couldn't execute
prisoners with its chosen lethal injection cocktail because it didn't follow
proper procedures when it chose the drugs. Before Indiana could carry out an
execution, it had to go through a public hearing process to win approval for
the drug cocktail it plans to use. Under the appeals court ruling, public
officials would also have to seek input from the governor's office and the
state attorney general before changing the drugs used for lethal injection.
In an earlier comment, we expressed support for the decision, which has nothing
to do with your position on the death penalty. The issue is a critical reminder
that lethal injection must be carried out according to protocol and with the
bright light of transparency. Life and death decisions should not be made in
the dark. The state must be accountable to Hoosiers for the executions it
carries out in their name.
(source: Editorial, South Bend Tribune)
Big boost in funding for death penalty cases
Pennington County Commissioners have granted the courthouse and public
defenders' office half-a-million dollar increases in their 2018 budget, part of
which will be spent on defending 2 men facing the death penalty.
2 high-profile death penalty cases in Pennington County have led to large
increases in funding for the county courthouse and public defender's office.
On Sept. 26, Pennington County Commissioners granted the courthouse's and
public defenders' request for half-a-million-dollar increases to their 2018
budgets. A significant portion of the amounts will go toward defending 2 men
who are facing the death penalty on 1st-degree murder charges.
Jonathon Klinetobe of Sturgis and Richard Hirth of Rapid City are charged with
murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the disappearance and death of 22-year-old
Jessica Rehfeld in 2015.
Klinetobe, 28, is represented by 3 appointed lawyers, 2 from the county public
defender's office and 1 private attorney. Hirth, 36, has 2 court-appointed
The public defender's office has been approved a $567,000 increase to its $2.4
million existing budget, according to documents from the county auditor's
About $200,000 of the new funding has been earmarked for expert evaluations,
witness fees and travel expenses in Klinetobe's defense. In recent years - and
before county prosecutors announced in April that they were seeking capital
punishment - the public defender's office requested only around $35,000 for
this category of expenses.
The county courthouse, which initially shoulders the cost of court-appointed
attorneys, got a raise of $530,000 to its current $1.4 million budget. Nearly
$1.2 million of the new funding will be allocated for court-appointed
The law mandates that defendants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer be
appointed one by the court. Death penalty cases require at least 2 lawyers, but
defendants are responsible for repaying the county the cost of their legal
Death penalty cases are "exceedingly expensive," said Eric Whitcher, director
of the county public defender's office. He said taxpayers can "reasonably
expect" to shoulder $500,000 to $1 million for the prosecution and defense of
such a case.
During a Pennington County budget hearing in August, Commissioner Ron Buskerud
commented that the Supreme Court should just allow people facing the death
penalty to have a trial, then be taken outside and shot.
Buskerud, who used to be a county prosecutor, later said he regretted the
statement and that it was made out of frustration over the exorbitant cost of
the death penalty cases.
When defense lawyers take on capital punishment cases, Whitcher said, they need
to hire the assistance of various people who they otherwise don't have access
"The people who are available to handle those cases are highly specialized, and
they cost significant funds," he said, naming as examples criminal
investigators, lab analysts, psychiatrists, crime scene analysts and
pathologists. Some of these experts apparently can be found only in big cities
like Denver and Minneapolis.
In contrast, prosecutors have at their disposal resources of the state, such as
law enforcement officers and crime lab analysts, Whitcher said.
The county state's attorney's office will next year get $135,000 more than its
$5.1 million budget now. The increase includes the $57,000 it requested for its
witness fund, which State's Attorney Mark Vargo said is expected to be spent on
expert witnesses for the death penalty cases and other homicide cases.
The money being sought for the death penalty cases is necessary to meet the
essential requirements of such a case, Whitcher said. Defendants have a
constitutional right, he said, to a competent defense.
"If you fail in your efforts to do those basic things, the case will likely
come back and will likely cost even more," he said, referring to a defendant's
appeal rights, which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. "We're in
a fight for a human's life, and it's grave business."
Not all of the 3 departments' funding will come from taxpayers; each generates
some type of revenue.
The courthouse will shoulder nearly 30 % of its budget in 2018; the state's
attorney's office, 10 %; and the public defender's office, 5 %.
It\'s not clear when Klinetobe and Hirth, detained at the county jail since May
2016, will go to trial. The court right now is in the midst of settling
pretrial matters between prosecutors and defense lawyers.
If Klinetobe and Hirth aren't tried this year, their cases will likely again
come under the spotlight in the budget hearings for 2019.
Data on death sentences imposed around the U.S. since 1991 shows that death
penalty cases are largely disappearing from small cities and rural counties,
according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Reasons include their "substantially greater cost" compared with non-death
penalty cases, as well as the resources involved in their appeals, said the
Robert Dunham, executive director of the center, a nonprofit organization that
provides data and analysis on issues concerning capital punishment.
"The length and complexity of capital appeals that are necessary to minimize
the risk of wrongful convictions and wrongful death sentences require a
substantial commitment of staff, time and money - often for decades," Dunham
told the Journal.
Pennington County's last death penalty case, according to the courthouse, was
that of Charles Rhines. He was convicted in 1993 of 1st-degree murder and
sentenced to death for fatally stabbing 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer during a
Rapid City burglary in 1992.
Rhines, 61, is detained at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls while his
appeals go through the judicial system. He is on death row in South Dakota
along with 2 other inmates.
(source: Rapid City Journal)
BBC Worldwide, UKTV Take On True-Crime Series 20 Years on Death Row
BBC Worldwide will distribute the new true-crime series 20 Years on Death Row
internationally, outside of France and the U.K., where the show has now been
picked up by UKTV's Really.
The 4x1-hour series was originally commissioned by French pay-TV channel 13eme
Rue and was shot entirely on location in the U.S. The program spotlights the
story of Keith Doolin, a former long-distance truck driver with no previous
criminal convictions, currently incarcerated on death row in San Quentin
prison. He was convicted of the murder of 2 women in 1995 and after 20 years is
maintaining his innocence while awaiting execution and trying to navigate
California's capital appeals system.
The series is produced by Pernel Media, which secured access to the case via
Doolin's defense attorneys, Robert R. Bryan and Pamala Sayasane, both of whom
specialize in defending people facing the death penalty.
Samuel Kissous, the president of Pernel Media, said: "The Keith Doolin case is
an extraordinary story which we believe sheds a new light on the American
justice system. We're sure that viewers in the U.K. and around the world will
be gripped by this true-crime series as they follow Keith's appeal process,
revealing the new evidence and twists and turns of the case."
Emma Sparks, UKTV's head of acquisitions, added: "We are so pleased to have
agreed our 1st collaboration with Pernel Media on this groundbreaking series.
It's an explosive series which further cements Really as the U.K.'s destination
channel for true crime."
Lawyers Defending Suspect in Bombing of USS Cole Quit
In what the Miami Herald calls "a stunning setback," the entire civilian legal
defense team in a Guantanamo Bay death-penalty case has quit over claims the
government was eavesdropping on confidential meetings with its client. Abd al
Rahim al-Nashiri was arraigned 6 years ago on charges he spearheaded the
bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 US
sailors, the New York Times reports. Nashiri was to be the first Guantanamo
prisoner to face the death penalty in court under a hybrid civilian-military
trial system set up in the wake of Sept. 11, but his trial has been delayed
over ongoing problems, including now the defection of his legal team.
(source: KABC news)
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