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death penalty news----N.Y., N.C., GA., FLA., OHIO, COLO., CALIF.
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Rick Halperin
2017-09-26 11:00:46 UTC
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Sept. 26



NEW YORK:

Albert Tomei, Judge Who Made Key Death Penalty Ruling, Dies at 77



Albert Tomei, a retired state Supreme Court justice who sat in Brooklyn and
spent more than 30 years on the bench, died Sept. 22. He was 77.

Tomei presided over New York City's 1st death penalty case after the state
reinstated capital punishment in 1995. He ruled the plea bargain provisions of
the law were unconstitutional and the case went all the way to the state Court
of Appeals.

The death penalty was abolished in New York in 1997.

Tomei retired last year and went on to work for Judges for Love Inc., a service
where judges perform civil wedding ceremonies.

"He went from sentencing felons to execution to sentencing romantic couples to
a lifetime of marriage," said Alan Marrus, also a retired state Supreme Court
justice who sat in Brooklyn and who worked alongside Tomei for Judges for Love.

While Tomei was well-known in New York City's legal community in his own right,
he was also known for a famous relative: actress Marisa Tomei, who won an Oscar
in 1993 for best supporting actress for her role in "My Cousin Vinny."

A Brooklyn native, Tomei obtained his J.D. and LL.M from Brooklyn Law School in
1964 and 1966, respectively. He worked in private practice after law school and
was first elected to the bench in 1978, as a Civil Court judge.

Tomei was briefly appointed as Brooklyn's surrogate in 2005 after the
Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of surrogate Michael
Feinberg for awarding more than $2 million in excessive legal fees to a friend.

Office of Court Administration officials said at the time that Tomei's
appointment was intended to restore public confidence.

While Tomei was known within Brooklyn's legal community for his sense of humor
and his stand-up comedy routine, Marrus said he had a reputation for being a
no-nonsense judge who was not afraid to speak his mind on the bench.

"He didn't come across as a pompous, arrogant judge which, unfortunately, some
of my colleagues do," Marrus said.

Tomei is survived by his wife, Lynda Sumner, 2 sisters, 1 brother and a
granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Lisa.

(source: New York Law Journal)








NORTH CAROLINA:

Kids push for death penalty for men charged in mother's death



The family of a woman who was murdered in Durham on Friday night say they want
the men responsible to receive the death penalty.

"I pray to God they get the death penalty," said Lazayrea Smith, Tequila
Smith's daughter. "Because at the end of the day they killed our mom. We don't
get her back."

The family and friends of 36-year-old Tequila Smith filled a Durham courtroom
on Monday as the men charged in her death made their 1st appearance.

Smith was found shot to death shortly after 9:45 p.m. in the 100 block of E.
Umstead St.

Police later arrested and charged three men in connection to the murder. Jamal
Shamsuddeen, 23, Aquan Pitts, 24, and Mustafa Magwood, 20, each face one count
of 1st-degree murder.

Lazayrea Smith, 16, said she and her four siblings they lost their father in a
shooting a few years ago. Now, they are orphans.

"We have each other. That's all that matters," Smith said. "My brother is in
prison but he is getting out soon...we all just have to step up for our little
siblings."

John Smith, Tequila Smith's uncle said the loss is very hard for the family.

"A lot of evil things go through people's mind, but I'm trying to let the Lord
get in between me and the evil. I'm going to try to get through it with the
Lord's help," he said.

The 3 suspects are due back in court on Oct. 16. They are currently being held
without bond.

(source: WRAL news)








GEORGIA----impending execution

Lawyers ask panel to spare life of Ga. inmate set for execution----The inmate's
lawyers outlined his rough childhood, struggles with substance abuse and his
remorse over the killing



A Georgia prisoner scheduled for execution this week has spent the last 27
years regretting the decisions that led him to kill his sister-in-law as she
was on her way to work with his estranged wife, his lawyers said in a clemency
application.

Keith Leroy Tharpe, 59, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday at the state
prison in Jackson for the September 1990 shooting death of Jacquelyn Freeman.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles was holding a hearing Monday - the 27th
anniversary of Freeman's death - on Tharpe's clemency petition. The parole
board is the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence.

In a clemency application that was declassified Friday, Tharpe's lawyers detail
a tough childhood and an extensive history of substance abuse that they say
included getting black-out drunk by age 10 and a debilitating crack cocaine
habit.

Tharpe's wife left him Aug. 28, 1990, taking their four daughters with her to
live with her mother.

His addiction coupled with intellectual disabilities dating to childhood left
him unable to deal effectively with the stress of losing his family, his
lawyers wrote in the clemency application.

He drank and smoked crack until early on Sept. 25, 1990, his lawyers wrote. As
his wife was driving to work with her brother's wife that morning, he used a
borrowed truck to block them. He got out armed with a shotgun and ended up
killing Freeman.

Tharpe went to trial in Jones County a little more than 3 months after the
killing and was convicted and sentenced to death

In the clemency application, his lawyers describe a changed man who has kicked
his addictions, devoted his life to God and sought to help improve the lives of
others while also developing deep remorse.

"He wishes more than anything he could take back that day and give back Mrs.
Freeman's life," Tharpe's lawyers wrote.

The clemency application includes testimonials from Tharpe's mother, one of his
daughters, other family members, prison staff, clergy members and friends.

His lawyers also ask the parole board to consider their assertion that his
death sentence is tainted by the racial bias of a juror who freely used a
racial slur in conversations with Tharpe's legal team more than seven years
after the trial. Barney Gattie, who has since died, said Freeman came from a
family of "nice black folks" and Tharpe "wasn't in the 'good' black folks
category in my book" and so should be executed for what he did, according to an
affidavit he signed in May 1998.

"After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls,"
Gattie said in the affidavit.

State lawyers met with Gattie 2 days after he signed that affidavit and he
walked back much of what he'd said, ultimately saying race wasn't an issue
during jury deliberations and that he voted for a death sentence because of the
evidence against Tharpe, not because of his race.

A federal judge earlier this month declined to reopen Tharpe's case, and a
3-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected
his appeal. But the panel said that in light of U.S. Supreme Court decision
earlier this year on racial prejudice in jury deliberations, Tharpe must make
those arguments in state court first.

Tharpe's lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and are also pursuing
action in state court.

If executed, Tharpe would be the 2nd inmate put to death in Georgia this year.

(source: Associated Press)








FLORIDA:

Jurors decide 2nd death sentence for Jacksonville man who bludgeoned 2 to death
with a hammer----In all likelihood Raymond Bright will die in prison. Barring a
successful appeal, the 63-year-old will either die at the hands of the state or
of natural causes while on Florida's death row.



Monday a jury unanimously found that Bright should be condemned to die for the
2008 deaths of 16-year-old Randall Brown and 20-year-old Derrick King, who were
bludgeoned with a hammer while they were hanging out at his home. Several
members of the jury had strained facial expressions and a few appeared on the
verge of tears as the verdicts were read in the Duval County courtroom.

It took the jury 3 hours to reach the verdicts for the double slaying. Monday
was the 3rd and final day of the case that began nearly 3 weeks ago but was
delayed mid-stream after the day's end on Sept. 7 because of Hurricane Irma's
impending approach. Then after that, there were scheduling conflicts.

Bright showed no reaction to the verdicts. King was beaten over the head with a
hammer 38 times and struck another 20 times in the arms and hands. Brown died
cradled in a Lazy Boy after being stuck 14 times on the head with the hammer. A
judge in 2009 condemned Bright to death after a jury voted 8 to 4 in favor of
sentencing the former Marine to death.

Now in Florida, verdicts for the death penalty must be unanimous. Because of
that, hundreds of cases across the state are being sent back for re-sentencing
hearings. Bright's case though was sent back to Duval County because the
Florida Supreme Court threw out the death sentence when it sided with a lower
court that said his mental health had not been taken into account at his
original trial.

In this re-sentencing hearing, 3 psychologists testified that the Bright
suffered a horrendous childhood. One psychologist said his case was one of the
worst that he has even seen. Bright's sister testified to the suffering her
brother endured. Bright did not get called to the stand.

Because the guilt of Bright had been established in 2009, the jury had to
decide if he should be re-sentenced to life in prison or to death. It chose
death.

"He deserves every bit. May he rot in hell," said King's mother, Carolyn
Jaudon. "My son got justice now. We don't have to keep running back and forth
to court so we can feel sympathy for his [Bright's] childhood. No way in hell."

Jaudon embraced Carrie Brown Gray, Brown's mother after the hearing. Both cried
and thanked prosecutors Bernie de la Rionda and Pam Hazel. The 2 of them also
prosecuted Bright in 2009.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through this all again," Hazel told the mothers.

Defense attorney Kelli Bynum, gave a passionate closing statement about the
horror of Bright's life.

"I'm not asking you to save the life of a man. I'm begging you to spare the
life of a sinner. Air on the side of grace. Air on the side of mercy," she
said.

It's a heavy decision, said de la Rionda of the jury's responsibility now.
Before the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a jury's decision in Florida didn't
have to be unanimous and on top of that, it was just a recommendation to a
judge. All that has changed.

Bright's new sentencing is the 1st death penalty case to be heard in Duval
County since the death penalty was reinstated this year.

(source: Florida Times-Union)








OHIO:

Convicted Ohio Craigslist killer of 3 questions evidence



The evidence against an Ohio man accused of killing 3 down-and-out men lured by
fake Craigslist job offers wasn't strong enough to convict him, according to
attorneys fighting the defendant's death sentence.

No physical evidence links death row inmate Richard Beasley to the killings,
his attorneys argued in a court filing with the Ohio Supreme Court.

It also doesn't make sense that someone would go to great lengths to target the
poor individuals whom Beasley was charged with killing, the attorneys said.

The "result of these labors would be to rob homeless, destitute individuals
with little or no property or money," according to Beasley's public defenders.

Prosecutors say Beasley's motives were so callous and depraved they befuddle
the average citizen.

"There is no question that common sense among reasonable persons may have a
hard time grasping the sheer depravity of such conduct, but the degree of such
depravity certainly does not call into question the veracity of the evidence,"
the state argued in its own filing.

The state Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday for and against
Beasley's death sentence. A ruling isn't expected for months.

Beasley, 58, a self-styled street preacher, was convicted of partnering with a
teenage boy in 2011 to lure victims with promises of jobs on a southeastern
Ohio farm. The job offers were posted on Craigslist.

A jury convicted Beasley in 2013 and a judge sentenced him to death.
Co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the killings and not
eligible for the death penalty, was convicted and sentenced to life without
parole.

Beasley also says extensive pretrial publicity prevented him from getting a
fair trial in Summit County.

State prosecutors say the publicity barely made an impact on the jury pool.

One victim was killed near Akron, and the others were shot at the farm in Noble
County about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Columbus.

The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk,
Virginia; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.

All were down-and-out men looking for a fresh start in life, prosecutors
repeatedly said during Beasley's trial.

(source: Associated Press)








COLORADO:

In Colorado, a shocking case of prosecutorial abuse



The Colorado Independent lays out the facts in one of the worst examples of
prosecutorial misconduct I've ever seen in a death penalty case.

The case was prosecuted for 6 years under former 18th Judicial District
Attorney Carol Chambers. Brauchler, her elected successor, has led the office
for the last 5 years as it has continued rallying to preserve [Sir Mario]
Owens' and other death sentences against a long list of appeals claims.
Brauchler, a Republican who has made a name for himself as a death penalty
prosecutor, is running for governor.

There is no definitive physical evidence, no confession, and no eyewitnesses
who identified Owens in a case prosecutors built almost entirely on the
testimony of informant witnesses to whom the DA's office gave plea bargains,
funds, or both in return for their cooperation against Owens.

Among the charges upon which the appeal was based is the office's failure to
disclose thousands of dollars in payments it made to informant witnesses. One
of those witnesses was promised and later given a district attorney's office
car. Some were given gift cards for local businesses. One received $3,400 in
benefits, including cash for Christmas presents in the months prior to
testifying on behalf of the prosecution.

The defense cited the prosecution???s failure to disclose other incentives
given to witnesses in exchange for their testimony. If he didn't cooperate,
court records show, one of the main witnesses was threatened with being charged
for the murders Owens was accused of and with receiving 2 life sentences.
Another witness, according to the records, received a suspension of his jail
sentence on the condition that he help prosecutors in Owens' case. People
working for the prosecution would appear at informant witnesses' court hearings
and ask for lesser sentences on the condition that they testify against Owens,
the records indicate. Records also show that informants who had been convicted
of crimes were allowed to violate probation and commit future crimes without
consequences as long as they cooperated.

The appeal argued that by failing to disclose these deals before trial, the
prosecution rendered Owens' defense lawyers unable to cast doubt on those
witnesses' testimonies and put their credibility in dispute. In doing so, the
argument goes, Owens was denied a fair trial.

Incredibly, neither Chambers's successor in the DA's office (who is defending
the conviction) nor the district court judge (who denied the appeal) dispute
that informants were paid in cash, lenient sentences and other compensation,
and that none of this was disclosed to the defense. And the case gets only more
disturbing from there.

The withholding of exculpatory evidence continued through the new leadership in
the DA's office. The new DA kept the existing prosecutors on the case. In 2015,
two years later, they revealed another file full of secret payments to
eyewitnesses in the case.

For 7 years after Owens filed his appeal, the courts imposed a gag order
keeping the appeal secret. According to the Independent, to this day some
exhibits are still secret.

The judge who oversaw the trial and appeals was apparently growing increasingly
skeptical of the state's case against Owens. That is, until he was abruptly
fired by the state supreme court. The firing was apparently over a personnel
matter, though the Independent article casts some doubt on that explanation.

The new judge ruled on Owens's appeal "without having seen or heard from a
single witness about errors in the capital proceedings."

Then there is the matter of the original DA, Chambers. She has since left
office, but she left quite the record. Among her greatest hits:

When the DNA profile for semen taken from a 8-year-old sexual assault victim
didn't match the man local authorities had arrested, Chambers offered a whopper
of an explanation: "With the low-cut jeans that girls wear, she could have
picked up anyone's DNA off any surface her panties touched while they may have
been riding up above her pants. I hate those low-cut pants," Chambers said,
according to the Denver Post. "Depending on how long she had been wearing those
panties and where, they could have rubbed up against the back of her chair at
school, a restaurant, the couch at home that someone else had been sitting on,
a bus seat, someone's toilet seat if she did not pull them down far enough -
there are many ways to get unknown DNA on clothing. Another kid could have
snapped the elastic on her underwear - kids do that sort of thing."

In 2011, the Denver Post reported that Chambers had been offering "conviction
bonuses" to prosecutors on her staff who hit her quotas.

The same year, Chambers was widely criticized for seeking felony arson charges
against 2 young boys who started a house fire after playing with a lighter.

In 2006, she was investigated for allegedly threatening a man who was trying to
collect a debt from one of Chambers's political allies with a grand jury
investigation.

In 2007, she was again investigated, this time for allegedly threatening a
judge she felt ruled against her office one too many times.

At one point during her tenure, Chambers was responsible for nearly 1/2 the
"habitual offender" prosecutions in Colorado, a designation that means a decade
or more in prison for crimes that otherwise might earn a year or 2 at most.

Chambers's office also faced allegations of hiding evidence in the death
penalty trial of David Bueno. Those allegations were later upheld by a state
appeals court.

. . . and in a sexual assault case.

After a jury acquitted an Ethiopian woman Chambers's office had accused of
human trafficking, the jury foreman told a local paper, "In the DA's office's
agenda to prosecute so overzealously, it seems that the facts of a case aren't
really an objective."

You get the idea. Colorado is also the state where, incredibly, 2 judges were
recalled by voters after the state supreme court reprimanded them for
withholding exculpatory evidence during a murder trial they conducted as
prosecutors.

(source: Radley Balko, Washington Post)








CALIFORNIA:

Court Considers Mental Competence of Accused Police Killer



A 27-year-old ex-con charged with the ambush killings of 2 Palm Springs police
officers may have suffered traumatic amnesia during last fall's shooting,
preventing his recollection of the events and his ability to assist in his
defense, the defendant's attorney suggested Monday.

A mental competency trial began this morning for John Hernandez Felix, who
faces charges of murder and other counts that could result in the death
penalty.

To obtain a mental incompetency finding, Felix's attorneys would need to
provide "substantial evidence" that their client, who's being held without
bail, does not understand the nature of the criminal proceedings against him
and cannot assist them in his defense. Dr. William H. Jones, who examined Felix
during a 2-hour interview in May, said Felix appeared to understand why he was
being held and also scored well on a test measuring his ability to consult with
his counsel.

Felix scored 78 on a recent IQ test and told Jones that in his youth, he was in
"resource classes," which are classes for students of normal intelligence, but
with specific learning disorders. Jones also testified that Felix told him he
was suffering from hallucinations and "presented himself as a childlike person
who did not understand why he was being incarcerated."

However, Felix's familiarity with the criminal justice system through his prior
convictions were part of what led Jones to conclude that Felix understood what
he was facing. Jones said that after talking with the defendant, he "believed
(Felix) had more understanding than he was admitting."

Defense attorney John Dolan asked several questions in regard to traumatic
amnesia, in which emotional trauma omits certain events from memory in order to
shield a person from the traumatic event. Dolan suggested that Felix may not be
able to remember the Oct. 8 shooting that killed veteran training Officer Jose
Gilbert Vega, 63 and rookie Officer Lesley Zerebny, 27, due to trauma suffered
that day.

Jones said there were no indications that Felix suffered any such trauma, and
thus he did not touch upon the subject of amnesia in his report. However, a
neuropsychologist who concluded that Felix's competency to stand trial was
"questionable" may provide more answers as to potential traumatic amnesia when
she testifies later.

Jones also testified that he found claims of traumatic amnesia were more common
in suspects of violent crimes, particularly homicides. Felix is accused of
shooting Vega, Zerebny and a third officer through the metal screen door of his
home when they responded to a family disturbance call. He also allegedly fired
on 2 of their colleagues, who were not struck by the gunfire. The shooting
triggered a 12-hour standoff and his eventual surrender.

Prosecutors allege Felix donned body armor and fired armor-piercing rounds from
an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. District Attorney Mike Hestrin has alleged that
Felix specifically targeted police. "This individual knew what he was doing.
His actions were deliberate. He attacked these officers for no other reason
than they were there, answering a call for service," Hestrin said when the
charges were announced last fall.

The deaths of Vega and Zerebny marked the first time Palm Springs police
officers had been killed in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 1962, when Officer
Lyle Wayne Larrabee died during a vehicle pursuit. The only other death in the
department was that of Officer Gale Gene Eldridge, fatally shot Jan. 18, 1961,
while investigating an armed robbery.

Vega had been with the department for 35 years -- 5 years past his retirement
eligibility -- and had planned to finish his career last December. He had 8
children, 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Zerebny had been with the
department for a year and a half and had just returned to duty from maternity
leave after the birth of a daughter, Cora, 4 months before her death.

(source: nbclosangeles.com)

***************

Edgar H. Smith, death row inmate whose release was championed by William F.
Buckley Jr., dies at 83



It began in March 1957. Police found a body dumped in a desolate sand pit in
Ramsey, N.J. The remains belonged to Vickie Zielinski, a popular 15-year-old
high school cheerleader whose skull had been crushed by a boulder, her clothes
in disarray.

A neighbor, Edgar H. Smith, a machinist who lived in a nearby trailer park with
his wife and daughter, was quickly identified as the likely killer. He was
convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

A high school dropout who was reputed to have a 154 IQ, he became a savvy,
self-taught jailhouse lawyer, filing appeal after appeal staving off his
execution and adamantly denying his guilt.

So began the strange, riveting and horrifying odyssey of Mr. Smith, who became
a cause celebre when influential conservative commentator William F. Buckley
Jr. began campaigning for his release in the mid-1960s. Buckley profiled him
sympathetically in Esquire magazine, helped establish a defense fund to retain
top-notch lawyers and transformed Mr. Smith into a symbol of the heavy-handed
justice of the state.

In a stunningly engineered plea bargain in 1971, the attorneys won Mr. Smith
release. He wrote a book, "Getting Out," made high-profile TV appearances and
pulled down hefty fees for speeches before college audiences and legal groups.

After settling in California, his moment in the spotlight gradually dimmed. He
became unemployed, went broke and began drinking heavily. He spent 5 years as a
free man, then suddenly attacked again, a gruesome assault in which he
kidnapped and stabbed a woman in San Diego.

At trial in 1977, he dropped a confessional bomb, admitting for the 1st time
that he had murdered Zielinski after all, stunning the public and, most of all,
Buckley.

In a Life magazine piece in January 1979, Buckley wrote, rather stiffly: "Other
than that I and Smith's other supporters were wrong, which is obvious - without
its being obvious that we acted wrongly - what has come of it all? It is a pity
that nothing that is generally useful has been written as a result of the Smith
experience."

Mr. Smith, 83, died March 20 in the prison system's hospital in Vacaville,
Calif. He had been suffering from diabetes and heart disease for several years,
according to prison authorities. His death had not been previously reported.

Edgar Herbert Smith, known as Eddie, was born in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., on
Feb. 8, 1934. His parents divorced, and he was raised largely by his mother.
After dropping out of high school, he joined the Marines and worked as a flight
crew member shuttling mail, troops and supplies in the Far East during the
Korean War. Discharged in 1954, he worked as a bartender, truck driver and
sewing machine salesman.

He landed a high-paying job as a machinist in 1955 and married Patricia Horton.

The pair lived in a northern New Jersey trailer court with their infant
daughter, also named Patricia, when he had the ill-fated encounter with
Zielinski.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Smith offered her a ride the night of March 4,
1957, drove her to the sand pit and beat her to death when she resisted his
sexual advances.

At his trial, Mr. Smith acknowledged taking her to the sand pit but said he
only slapped her when she told him his wife was cheating on him. He said she
got out of his car and shortly thereafter was joined by another man, a mutual
friend, who Mr. Smith suggested was her killer. Prosecutors scoffed at the
idea.

In prison, he wrote a best-selling book, "Brief Against Death" (1968),
asserting that prosecutors and police used coercive tactics - keeping him awake
for more than 24 hours with little food - to extract incriminating statements.

The state courts did not agree. But when he appealed to the federal courts, he
won a key ruling that tossed out the statements as illegally obtained and
ordered a new trial. The decision greatly reduced the state's ability to
proceed again on a charge of 1st-degree murder.

While on death row, Mr. Smith became a voracious reader of books and magazines,
including National Review. Buckley, the political goliath and editor of the
conservative magazine, struck up a correspondence and became convinced of Mr.
Smith???s innocence after reading his skillfully written appeals.

"Doesn't it strain the bounds of credibility that an essentially phlegmatic
young man, of nonviolent habits, would so far lose control of himself, in the
space of a minute or 2, as to murder under such circumstances a 15-year-old
girl he hardly knew?" Buckley wrote in a 1965 Esquire magazine story.

He attacked the prosecutor's case as "inherently implausible," raised defense
funds, hired the blue-chip Washington law firm run by legendary litigator
Edward Bennett Williams and, after months of painstaking bargaining with
prosecutors, helped win Mr. Smith's freedom on a reduced charge of
second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty in exchange for time served.

Within hours, the ex-con, who was also declared fully rehabilitated by the New
Jersey courts, dramatically disavowed his guilty plea on Buckley's nationally
televised talk show "Firing Line." He said the plea was a tactical ploy, pure
"theater," to get off death row and out of prison.

He scratched out a living in Southern California. Then, in October 1976, the
day after being turned down for yet another job, he forced 33-year-old
Lefteriya Ozbun, a Greek immigrant seamstress, into his car as she was leaving
her job at a garment factory in Chula Vista, Calif.

He taped her wrists and threatened to rob her. As he sped off down a highway,
she loosened her hands, reached for the steering wheel, pressed on the brakes
and was stabbed savagely.

She jumped from the stalled car and survived to testify against Mr. Smith after
he was caught and subsequently convicted.

At trial, Mr. Smith confessed to the Zielinski murder, explaining that he had
been moved during a visit to her gravesite while on the run in the Ozbun case.

"For the 1st time in my life, I recognized that the devil I had been looking at
in the mirror for 43 years was me," he told the court. "It was at that time I
recognized that my life had reached a point at which I had a choice of doing 2
things: I could kill myself, or I could return to San Diego and face what I
was."

His marriages to Horton and later to Paige Hiemier ended in divorce. At a 1987
parole hearing in California, he claimed to have married a 3rd time - to the
mother of a former cellmate. A complete list of survivors could not be
immediately confirmed.

After years of being denied parole, Mr. Smith wrote a letter to the Los Angeles
Times portraying himself as a victim and blaming New Jersey prosecutors for
what he did to Ozbun.

"Don't ask me why I did it," Mr. Smith wrote from prison in 1989. "Ask those
self-righteous public servants why they gave me the opportunity to do it. Ask
them why they did that to Lisa Ozbun. And ask them why they did that to me.
Those are the questions they aren't going to want to answer, but which need
answering, which Lisa Ozbun and I need answered."

(source: Washington Post)
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