2017-08-26 15:07:40 UTC
Texas Prepares for Execution of Juan Castillo on September 7, 2017
Juan Edward Castillo is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday,
September 7, 2017, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in
Huntsville, Texas. 36-year-old Juan is convicted of the murder of 19-year-old
Tommy Garcia, Jr., on December 3, 2003, in San Antonio, Texas. Juan has spent
the last 11 years of his life on Texas' death row.
Juan had previously worked as a cook and a laborer. He was previously convicted
of deadly conduct with a firearm. During the trial, witnesses also testified
that Juan was a violent man, threatening and beating the mother of his child.
Additionally, he had previously shot a man during a road rage incident, boasted
about similar crimes, and bragged about committing home invasions and
In December 2003, Juan Castillo was dating Debra Espinosa. Late on December 2,
and during the early morning hours of December 3, 2003, the couple was with
Francisco Gonzales, a friend with Castillo, and Gonzales' girlfriend Teresa
Quintero. The 4 of them created a plan to rob Tommy Garcia, Jr., with who
Espinosa had previously been intimate.
Espinosa was to take Tommy to secluded spot in a residential neighborhood in
San Antonio, Texas. Castillo and Gonzales, in masks and armed with guns, would
storm the car and rob Tommy. Espinosa would play along, as if she were a victim
too. Quintero would serve as the get away driver from Castillo and Gonzales.
During the ensuing robbery, Tommy was shot and killed by Castillo, according to
Gonzales was arrested by the police as he fled from the scene, with Espinosa
arrested a short time later. Both agreed to testify against Castillo in
exchange for a reduced charge and a sentence of forty years in prison. Gonzales
and Espinosa testified that Castillo took the lead in planning the robbery.
They also testified that he was the person who shot and killed Tommy.
Some of Gonzales's family members also testified that they heard Castillo
confess to the crime and speak of how he hid the evidence. 2 of Tommy's friends
testified that they were with him when he received a phone call to meet up with
Espinosa. Shortly thereafter, they received a phone call from a hysterical
Espinosa, who said that Tommy had been shot. Castillo had also been seen
wearing a distinctive necklace that Tommy had been wearing the night he was
Castillo was convicted. During the punishment phase of the trial, Castillo
elected to represent himself, a move that was allowed after the court
determined Castillo was making a knowing and voluntary decision. His 2
appointed attorneys remained as stand-by counsel. Castillo was sentenced to
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Tommy Garcia. Pleas pray
for strength for the family of Juan Castillo. Please pray that Juan is
innocent, lacks the competency to be executed or should not be executed for any
other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please
pray that Juan may come to find peace through a personal relationship with the
Lord, if he has not already. (source: theforgivenessfoundation.org)
Cruel and unusual - the case of schizophrenic death row inmate Scott Panetti
In 1999, Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti talks during a interview in
Huntsville, where he is on death row for the 1992 murder of his wife's parents.
It was obvious he was not fit to stand trial.
Scott Panetti was just hours from death on Nov. 29, 2014. Not because of some
rare disease with an unpronounceable name but, sadly, because of a not-so-rare
disease with a name that can strike terror in the heart of the patient's loved
ones: Paranoid schizophrenia.
Inmate No. 999164, the other label by which Panetti goes, received the sentence
of death in 1995 after murdering his in-laws during a psychotic episode.
What makes his case newsworthy is not the heinousness of the killings, which
they were, not the outlandish behavior of Panetti at trial, which it was, and
not the multiple attempts to subpoena the pope, Jesus Christ and President John
F. Kennedy, which he did, but the fact that his case progressed to within mere
hours of his execution before the courts acknowledged that his consistently
disturbing behaviors, over more than 19 years as a diagnosed schizophrenic,
signaled that he may not have been competent to stand trial in the first place.
Virtually every country in the world prohibits pursuit of the death penalty
against the mentally ill. The United States, however, has yet to uniformly
abolish the practice. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 definitively ruled in Ford
vs. Wainwright that the execution of the insane - by definition, someone who
does not comprehend the reason for, the reality of, nor the gravity of his or
her crime and the subsequent punishment - violates the United States
While states were left to define what insane meant, too many bright-line cases
- ones where it is clear to the judge and jury that the defendant is mentally
unwell and unable to participate in his defense - have been allowed to progress
beyond the finding and sentencing stages.
For example, until recently, Texas used what was commonly called "the Lenny
test" - the state measured the accused???s state of mind against that of a
fictional character in a John Steinbeck novel. Only in the rarest of cases were
defendants found incompetent to stand trial.
Society's right to punish, the social contract entered into to avoid chaos,
provides for punishment of those found to be in violation of written laws.
Before societies had constitutional governments, punishment was arbitrary and
often dispensed on the whim of whomever possessed power at that moment. As
society matured, so did the philosophical discussion defining the purpose of
There is no argument that a mentally ill defendant, who clearly is responsible
for the crime, such as Panetti, should be punished in some way. Punishment can
prevent further crime by that individual, and it tells the victims that society
condemns the harm visited on them and their families. However, the consequences
and merits of punishment, particularly regarding the concepts of deterrence and
incapacitation, have no utility with mentally ill defendants.
Mental Health America, a support and advocacy group, estimates that 20 % of
death row inmates suffer from a severe mental illness. Both the American Bar
Association and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill have joined the
conversation pressing for the implementation of policies and procedures to
exclude the death penalty for mentally ill individuals prior to trial precisely
because these defendants' vulnerabilities are what often fast-track them to
The U.S. Constitution states that for a defendant to stand trial, he or she
must possess a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings, as well
as materially participate in the defense. Individuals experiencing severe
delusions do not typically understand events unfolding around them and
therefore are unable to coherently participate in the trial process. In
addition to defendants choosing risky trials over plea bargains and
representing themselves in court, prosecutors have pressed forward with capital
cases for mentally disordered defendants despite deranged courtroom behavior
that surpasses even the most rational person's definition of "crazy."
In the case of Panetti, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans
recently granted access to a new court-appointed attorney, funds with which he
may retain an expert for extensive mental competency assessment, and an
opportunity to have the findings reviewed by the lower court - all at taxpayer
Ultimately, as a society, we must be honest with ourselves about what we seek
to accomplish by putting mentally disordered defendants to death. If the
impetus for punishment is simply retribution, certainly a case can be made to
pursue the death penalty reflecting the basest of human motivations: revenge
To do this, however, requires a suspension of the collective bargain society
made when we evolved from indiscriminate arbitrary punishment to a society
promoting the use of punishment as deterrence, a philosophy involving cause,
effect and rational consequences, which tragically remain beyond reach for too
many mentally ill defendants.
(source: Commnentary; Shannon McShane, Ada Hernandez, Tracy Loftin and
Ekaterina Mozzhurina are masters of social work students at Texas State
University----San Antonio Express-News)
Courthouse shooter asks U.S. Supreme Court to review case
Jefferson County Courthouse shooter Bartholomew Granger is appealing his 2013
death penalty conviction to the highest court in the nation.
Granger, 46, filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 15, according
to court filings.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in May rejected Granger's final state
In December 2016, Gretchen Sween and Benjamin B. Wolff, with the Office of
Capital and Forensic Writs in Austin, filed objections with Texas court,
arguing that trial lawyers Sonny Cribbs and James Makin failed to present
relevant evidence in 2013.
Cribbs, who died in June, and Makin represented Granger in his capital murder
trial, which was moved to Galveston County.
Sween and Wolff contended that the Texas appeals court denied Granger due
process by not holding a hearing on his objections and should not have adopted
facts presented by the state.
The court denied the 65-page appeal, in which Granger claimed ineffective
assistance of counsel, misconduct of prosecution, denial of due process and
other constitutional violations.
Granger was sentenced to death in 2013, after a jury convicted him of the March
14, 2012 murder of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County
Courthouse. Granger was attempting to kill his daughter, Samantha Jackson, and
her mother Claudia Jackson, according to court testimony.
Granger was on trial for sexual assault of a child the day of Sebolt's killing.
Samantha and Claudia testified the day before.
Granger has been on death row at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, in Livingston,
since his conviction.
In an interview in March, Granger denied trying to killing Sebolt.
"The only person I remember shooting at was my daughter," Granger said. "I shot
at her 8 times."
(source: Beaumont Enterprise)
Franklin capital murder case set for April
Franklin County Circuit Terry Dempsey set the trial of a Franklin County man
accused of killing his girlfriend's 22-month old baby for April.
"He has not finished his trial calendar for next year, but he made it plain
that he wants it to be tried during the April jury term," Franklin County
District Attorney Joey Rushing said Friday, following a status conference on
the capital murder case of Shannon Dale Gargis.
The 30-year-old Gargis of 1724 Rail Splitter Road, Phil Campbell, is indicted
for capital murder and aggravated child abuse.
Rushing said a decision has not been made about whether to seek the death
penalty if Gargis is found guilty.
"We're still considering the death penalty, but I want to talk with the child's
family before we decide," he said. "The judge gave both sides until March 1 to
submit all motions, so the decision has to be made by then. I suspect it will
be sooner than that."
The child's mother, Halie Renfroe, 22, of Hackleburg, was indicted at the same
time as Gargis for aggravated child abuse and 1st-degree hindering prosecution.
She pleaded guilty in July to 1st-degree hindering prosecution after it was
determined she was not involved in the child's death. She was charged because
she "lied about where she found the baby."
Reports indicate Renfroe, who was living with Gargis at the time, told
authorities the child was on the couch in the living room, but actually the
child was at the foot of the bed.
In pleading guilty Renfroe was sentenced to 6 years. The sentence was split,
and she had to serve 18 months in the Franklin County Community Corrections
Program and then 4 years on supervised probation. She had served more than 15
months in jail at the time of her plea.
Sheriff department investigators said the baby was killed March 23, 2016.
Gargis, who was indicted in November 2016, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sheriff's investigator Jason Holcomb testified during a preliminary hearing
that the state medical examiner reported the baby died from multiple blunt
force trauma to the head.
Holcomb testified during the hearing that after being questioned about the
child's injuries, Gargis admitted to becoming "overly aggressive" and "causing
the injuries" that killed the baby.
"He said (the baby) spilled cereal in the floor, and he got overly aggressive,
picking her up by the throat and throwing her (across the room) onto the
loveseat, hitting her head," Holcomb testified.
Gargis is being held in the Franklin County Jail without bail.
(source: Times Daly)
Ohio Gives Gary Otte Execution Date of September 13, 2017
Gary W. Otte is scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT on Wednesday, September
13, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio.
45-year-old Gary is convicted of the murder of 61-year-old Robert Wasilkowski
on February 12, 1992, and for the murder of 45-year-old Sharon Kostura on
February 21, 1992, both in Parma, Ohio. Gary has spent the last 24 years of his
life on Ohio's death row.
Gary allegedly had a troubled childhood. He was depressed and began using drugs
at an early age. Gary had difficulty fitting in with other children, as noted
by his grade school teachers. As an adult, he frequently drank alcohol and used
cannabis and cocaine.
On February 11, 1992, Gary Otte stole a 1962 Chevrolet Impala and a .22
revolver from his grandfather in Terre Haute, Indiana. He also stole 2 credit
cards from his aunt and uncle. The following day, Otte arrived in Parma, Ohio,
where he attempted to use the credit cards, only to have them confiscated at
the stores when they were identified as having been stolen.
Otte then went to visit his friend Mike Carroll, who lived with his fiancee
Jerry Cline, in Parma. Jerry was not at the apartment, but Otte found him at a
local bar. Otte asked if Jerry was "still robbing people." Jerry told Otte
about 2 people he planned to rob near his apartment: an old man that lived
diagonally across from Mike and Jerry, and a woman who lived one building over.
Otte later returned to the apartment complex alone. Otte knocked on Mike's
door, however the couple was not home. Otte then knocked on their neighbor's
door, Mary Ann Campangna. When Mary answered, Otte told her that he was looking
for Mike because his car had overheated and he needed oil. When Mary said she
did not have any oil, Otte left.
While outside, Otte observed a man pulling into the parking lot and thought he
matched the description of Robert Wasikowski, the man who lived diagonally
across from Mike. Otte approached Robert, telling him the same story he told
Mary. Robert, who had been drinking, agreed to drive Otte to the store and
back. When they returned to the apartment complex, Otte asked to use Robert's
Mary observed Otte entering Robert's apartment and continued watching the door.
Several minutes later, she heard "a very loud crack, cracking sound." After
entering the apartment, Otte pretended to make a phone call and "tried to stall
for time." When Robert finally asked Otte to leave, Otte pulled out a gun.
Robert offered Otte $10 from his pocket, but Otte pulled the trigger. The gun
did not go off, prompting Robert to ask if the gun was loaded. Otte pointed the
gun at Robert's head and again pulled the trigger. This time the gun went off,
and Robert collapsed to the floor, gasping and begging for help.
Otte turned up the volume on the television to cover the noise and went through
the apartment, taking what money he could find. He then left through the back
sliding door, returning to the bar at which he had met Jerry earlier. While at
the bar, he paid off a debt, played pool, drank, and took drugs. He left the
bar at 2:30 am, but continued partying until mid-morning, when he checked into
a hotel and slept until evening.
Robert's body was discover that day by police when he failed to show up for
work. Police interviewed Mary, who gave a description, and Mike, who gave
police Otte's 1st name and the car he was driving. Mike later told police what
bar Otte would be at that evening.
After waking up on February 13, 1992, Otte returned to the apartment complex to
rob another resident, Sharon Kostura. He knocked on her door and forced his way
in at gunpoint when she answered. Otte shot Sharon when she screamed for help.
He stole money from her purse and took her car keys and checkbook, leaving
through the back door.
Otte returned to the bar and left with Jerry and a 3rd individual identified as
Buster. The 3 did drugs together, before Jerry and Buster were dropped off near
the bar. As Otte approached the bar, he was pulled over by police who were
waiting for him. Police found the weapons and Sharon's checkbook in the car.
Otte denied knowing how any of the items got into his car. Police went to check
on Sharon, and discovered that she was still alive. She died 8 days later on
February 21, due to the gunshot wound.
Otte confessed to the police regarding the murders of Robert and Sharon. He was
convicted and sentenced to death.
Gary Otte has had several previous execution dates that have been stayed due
ongoing legal challenges to Ohio execution protocol. Those issues have since
been resolved with the state carrying out the 1st execution in over 3 years on
July 26, 2017. Ohio executed Ronald Phillips and there were no reported
problems with Ronald's execution, allowing Ohio to resume executions.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Robert Wasikowski and
Sharon Kostura. Please pray for strength for the family of Gary. Please pray
that if Gary is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be
executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to the
execution. Please pray that Gary may come to find peace through a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Ohio resumes executions, but concerns remain
The 1st of more than 20 planned executions has taken place in Ohio, but
questions concerning how and when the death penalty is imposed and whether it
is employed equitably continue.
The July 26 execution of Akron child killer Ronald Phillips was the 1st to take
place in the state in more than 3 years.
Prior to his execution, American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein
issued a statement urging Gov. John Kasich to delay resuming executions until
all the reforms recommended in the ABA's 2007 Ohio Death Penalty Assessment
Report had been implemented.
The American Bar Association, which does not take a position on the use of the
death penalty as a means of punishment, worked with a team of Ohio legal
experts, including the late Ohio Supreme Court Justice J. Craig Wright, to
produce the report.
According to Klein's statement, the team found a number of problems, including
significant geographic and racial bias that "resulted in an inconsistent and
unfair administration of the state's death penalty and inadequate protections
for individuals with mental illnesses."
Klein said a handful of reforms have been passed in Ohio over the last two
years and several important bills are pending in the legislature, adding "some
individual prosecutors have taken the initiative to implement important reforms
to improve the fairness of capital litigation in their counties."
However she said, "Despite this progress, the majority of the assessment's
recommendations have not been adopted statewide. Delaying the planned
executions until all needed reforms have been implemented will not result in
the release of death row inmates, but it will allow time to ensure that Ohio's
death penalty system comports with due process."
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office declined to comment on the American
Bar Association statement.
JoEllen Smith, communications chief for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation
and Correction, sent the following email to the Akron Legal News, stating "Ohio
intends to continue to fulfill its statutory obligation of carrying out
court-ordered executions in a lawful, humane and dignified manner."
The last execution to take place in Ohio was in January 2014, when the state
used a never-before-tried 2-drug combination that witnesses said left inmate
Dennis McGuire gasping for air and struggling for about 26 minutes.
In response, the state abandoned the protocol and executions were halted by a
federal judge and later by the governor as officials sought to determine what
went wrong and come up with a new option.
The moratorium continued for more than 3 years as Ohio officials encountered
difficulties acquiring the drugs needed to carry out the executions and
lawsuits were filed over plans to use a new 3-drug protocol, which death row
inmates argued constituted "cruel and unusual punishment."
The 3-drug combination used to execute Phillips reportedly included midazolam,
rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
The 43-year-old death row inmate was convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of
his Akron girlfriend???s 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans.
According to reports, it took approximately 10 minutes for Phillips to die and
there were no signs of distress. This after his execution was delayed several
times, including because of court battles challenging the state's use of the
sedative midazolam, employed in some problematic executions in Ohio and other
Ronald Kopp, immediate past president of the Ohio State Bar Association, said
the execution of Phillips could pave the way for the full resumption of the
death penalty in state.
26 executions are scheduled through 2020, with the next one expected to take
place on Sept. 13.
"The state has had a lot of problems finding the right drug combination that
would keep the inmate from suffering during the execution," said Kopp,
administrative partner at Roetzel & Andress.
"The public defender who worked on the Phillips case has said that just because
Phillips did not appear to be suffering does not mean that he was not in pain,"
"I believe more research needs to be done on the use of the new drug
combination before more executions take place."
The American Bar Association's attempt to stop executions from resuming in Ohio
had nothing to do with the drugs used to carry out the process.
"The recommendations in the 2007 report dealt with its (death penalty)
equitable and fair use," said Kopp. "Some of the suggested changes have been
implemented in Ohio.
"However the ABA position was that they want to see all of the recommendations
"The Ohio State Bar Association has not taken a position as to each
recommendation, but instead assesses positions as to respective issues as they
come forward," said Kopp.
The OSBA has also not taken a formal position on whether the state should have
a death penalty.
Maggie Ostrowski, director of public and media relations for the OSBA, said
"that question wasn't even on the table when the Joint Task Force on the
Administration of the Death Penalty met and completed its work.
In an emailed statement, she explains "Our members universally agree that as
long as the death penalty is in effect in Ohio, it must be administered fairly,
but as evidenced by the Dissent to the joint task force report, there are
vastly differing opinions within the legal community we represent as to the
best way to achieve that goal.
"We endorsed Senator Bill Seitz's legislation last year regarding
post-conviction relief procedures that resulted from the Task Force's
recommendations. We have also consistently pushed for additional funding for
the Public Defender's Office. We will continue to consider other proposals as
they come before the Ohio General Assembly and the Ohio Supreme Court."
John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association,
said the organization supports Gov. Kasich's decision to resume executions.
"First of all, we believe that the 2007 report was biased," said Murphy. "There
were no Ohio prosecutors on the committee that issued the report.
"With respect to the recommendation to create a board to review all
convictions, my response was that we already have one: The court system.
"Our justice system is one that is full of due process protections," he said.
"It takes years to litigate every death penalty case. Every case is reviewed by
the Ohio Supreme Court and usually by the federal courts as well, sometimes
"Some of the report's recommendations have been implemented. Many of the others
are unnecessary," said Murphy.
Man who killed 5 Ohio inmates wants new trial
A death row inmate convicted and sentenced in the slayings of 5 fellow inmates
during a 1993 prison riot in Ohio is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review
The state has until Sept. 18 to respond to 48-year-old Keith LaMar's request.
LaMar was convicted of aggravated murder in 1995 for the deaths of 5 inmates
during the riot at Lucasville's Southern Ohio Correctional Institution. He
received the death penalty for 4 of the 5 murders.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision keeping
LaMar's convictions and death sentences in place.
LaMar argues he was denied a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to
withhold evidence from the defense. A 3-judge panel ruled that evidence
wouldn't have changed the outcome of LaMar's trial.
(source: Associated Press)
Ohio ending plans to move its death row to another prison
Ohio will not be relocating its death row for the 3rd time in little more than
a decade, state officials said Friday.
A shift in population strategies makes the move from Chillicothe in southern
Ohio to a newer prison in Toledo unnecessary, according to the prisons
The move announced last October and expected to be finished before the end of
last year was opposed by the union representing Ohio prison guards. A death row
inmate who killed himself in March didn't want to make the move to a new prison
and was upset about a legal setback, records showed.
But the change of plans came about because the state found it could shift some
high-security inmates to a privately operated prison in Youngstown and turn its
Toledo prison into a maximum-security facility, said Ed Voorhies, operations
director for the state prisons department.
Abandoning the move will allow the prison system to reduce inmate density in
high level security prisons, he said.
Prison officials said last year they hoped the move to Toledo would help reduce
crowding at the Chillicothe prison and other sites across the state and provide
space that is more suited to death row inmates with physical and mobility
limitations, including those in wheelchairs.
There are 139 inmates on death row, and the average age is around 50.
Death row was moved from the supermax prison in Youngstown, where it had been
since 2005, to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution at the beginning of
2012. Executions are carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in
Lucasville, which is much closer to the current death row.
The Toledo Correctional Institution will become a maximum-security facility and
hold higher-security inmates who require more supervision.
The prison already has added more guards to deal with the additional
higher-security inmates, Voorhies said.
An area for lower-level offenders will be closing at the Toledo prison in
November and new inmates will be moved in shortly afterward, he said. About 200
of the higher-security inmates already are being housed in Toledo.
Judge delays Lexington murder trial until appeal ruling on death penalty----A
judge ruled to delay Travis Bredhold's trial
Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone granted a request from the Commonwealth
Attorney's Office to delay a murder trial until an appeals court makes a ruling
on whether the state can pursue the death penalty in the case.
Earlier this month. Scorsone ruled the state's death penalty law is
unconstitutional for defendants who were under the age of 21 when they
allegedly committed their crimes. Back in June, attorneys for Travis Bredhold
argued that the death penalty should be excluded in this case because Bredhold
was 18 at the time of the crime. The defense argued it is unconstitutional to
execute someone under 21 because the average male brain doesn't reach full
maturity until age 25. Scorsone ruled in favor of the defense.
Lexington Police say Bredhold shot and killed Mike Patel during a robbery at a
Marathon on Alexandria Drive in December 2013. Bredhold was scheduled to go on
trial on September 5th, but Scorsone's ruling on Friday put that trial on hold
until the appeal plays out.
"The Commonwealth is free to appeal, but it can't interrupt what is going on in
court for the defendant," said Audrey Woosnam, who is Bredhold's defense
attorney. "The decision on the stay should have been with the court of appeals.
Procedurally the court of appeals has jurisdiction now that an appeal has been
At this point, attorneys on both sides say they are waiting for a ruling from a
higher court which the defense expects will be a minimum of 18 months.
"This is a significant delay, and then once we have a decision, it could take
up to another year for all the parties to have availability in their schedules
to have a trial of this length and magnitude," said Woosnam. "We are looking at
a delay of 2 years, probably closer to 3."
(source: WKYT news)
ARKANSAS----new execution date
Arkansas Sets Execution Date for 'Delusional' Killer Jack Greene
4 months after Arkansas officials sparked outrage by trying to kill 8 inmates
in 11 days, the state has set another execution date - this time for a murderer
who stabbed, shot and beat a retired minister with a can of hominy but who is,
according to his lawyers, too delusional to be put to death.
His attorney said Greene should be exempt from execution under court rulings
that hold condemned inmates must be competent enough to understand their
"The state has taken the next step toward executing a man who suffers from
severe mental illness," Greene's federal defender, Scott Braden, said Friday
after Gov. Asa Hutchinson set the execution date.
"Mr. Greene has long held a fixed delusion that the Arkansas Department of
Correction is conspiring with his attorneys to cover up injuries that he
believes corrections officers have inflicted upon him. He complains that his
spinal cord has been removed and his central nervous system has been destroyed.
He believes he will be executed to cover up what he calls these 'crimes against
Greene was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of retired pastor Sidney
Burnett - who had accused him of arson - days after he killed his own brother.
According to court documents, he tied up and gagged the 69-year-old clergyman,
bashed his head with the can of hominy, cut him from mouth to ear, and fired a
.25 caliber pistol into his chest and head. One judge referred to it as
The state argues that Greene was found competent before his trial and
sentencing, but the defense says he hasn't had a proper hearing on his current
"Mr. Greene's severe somatic delusions cause him to constantly twist his body
and stuff his ear and nose with toilet paper to cope with the pain," another
federal defender, John Williams, said. "By doing so, Mr. Greene frequently
causes himself to bleed."
In 2009, Greene told an Arkansas judge that his "frontal lobe hurts so bad I
have to stick my finger in the corner of my eye," his lawyers said in a brief.
Defense experts said he was brain damaged and "psychotic," while a state doctor
has testified that he is not mentally ill or incompetent.
Arkansas set Greene's execution date soon after obtaining a new batch of
execution drugs, paying $250 in cash to an undisclosed supplier. When its
previous stockpile was about to expire in the spring, the state tried to stage
eight executions at an unprecedented pace.
Ultimately, 4 inmates were put to death. One of the prisoners who received a
temporary reprieve, Jason McGehee, was granted clemency by Hutchinson on
Friday. His death sentence for the murder of a 15-year-old boy will be commuted
to life in prison.
Nationwide, executions hit a 25-year low last year, suppressed in part by
states' inability to obtain drugs for lethal injections. According to a Pew
Research survey, public support for the death penalty has dropped to its lowest
level in 4 decades, although slightly more Americans favor it than oppose it.
(source: NBC News)
Jason McGehee spared death penalty; Would serve life in prison without parole
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday he intends to commute Jason Farrell
McGehee's prison sentence from death to life without parole.
Hutchinson said his decision was based on the Parole Board's recommendation
earlier this year that McGehee, now 41, be granted clemency.
"My intent to grant clemency to Mr. McGehee is based partly on the
recommendation of the Parole Board to commute his sentence from Death to Life
Without Parole," Hutchinson said in a statement. "In making this decision I
considered many factors including the entire trial transcript, meetings with
members of the victim's family and the recommendation of the Parole Board. In
addition, the disparity in sentence given to Mr. McGehee compared to the
sentences of his co-defendants was a factor in my decision, as well."
McGehee was 1 of 3 defendants convicted of capital murder and kidnapping in the
torture/beating of 15-year-old John Melbourne Jr. in Harrison and his ultimate
strangulation death near Omaha in August 1996. Melbourne was believed to have
been a snitch.
Christopher Epps, now 41, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on
capital murder and 40 years for kidnapping, while Benjamin MacFarland, now 38,
was sentenced to life without parole on capital murder and life on kidnapping.
MacFarland was 17 at the time and the youngest of the 3 defendants. Due to a
U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he was resentenced to 40 years in prison and he must
serve 70 % of that sentence before being eligible for parole.
Both MacFarland and McGehee were tried in Baxter County on a change of venue
due to pretrial publicity before and during Epps' trial in Boone County.
(source: Harrison Daily)
State preps for possible death-penalty cases against parents of 3-year-old
Ogden murder victim
Miller Costello and Brenda Emile - accused in the July death of 3-year-old
daughter Angelina - have each been assigned lead attorneys, suggesting that
their aggravated murder charges may result in death-penalty trials.
Costello, 25, and Emile, 22, were taken into custody on July 7, a day after
first responders were called to their Ogden residence and found Angelina,
already deceased and stiff, visibly malnourished, and her body covered with
bruises, lacerations, open sores and burns.
The injuries were in various stages of healing, suggesting a prolonged period
of abuse, according to a probable cause statement.
Evidence in the case includes cellphone photos and videos showing Angelina
being taunted with food, which was then withdrawn, and showing her in various
stages of deteriorating health.
Emile admitted she had applied makeup to Angelina's body in an attempt to hide
the severity of the child's injuries, according to the statement.
Criminal attorneys Martin Gravis and Randall Marshall appeared Thursday in
Ogden's Second District Court to swear under oath that they meet the
qualifications of Utah's Rule 8.
The Rule 8 attorney requirements include a minimum of 5 years actively
practicing law, previous experience as counsel or co-counsel in a capital case
that resulted in a verdict, and hours of continuing education completed since
In addition, capital case defendants must be given 2 or more attorneys, at
least 1 of whom meets the Rule 8 specifications.
Costello and Emile also appeared in court Thursday. Their next scheduled
appearances in their separate cases are preliminary hearings scheduled in
mid-December, before Judge Michael DiReda.
The final autopsy report on Angelina's body is expected to be released by the
Utah Medical Examiner by sometime in October.
(source: Gephardt Daily)
How many US states still have the death penalty, what is the lethal injection
and how many people have been executed?
Over 1,400 people have been executed in the United States since 1976
The United States remains one of the very few Western democracies that executes
some criminals, with almost 3,000 inmates currently on death row.
On average, each convict will spend 15 years waiting to be executed - with
almost 1/4 dying of natural causes before they are given the lethal injection.
How many US states have the death penalty?
As many as 31 US states have the death penalty in the United States.
There have been over 1,400 executions in American since 1976, and so far in
2017 there have been 17 executions.
It is believed Britain influenced America's use of the death penalty more than
any other country, with the 1st recorded execution of Captain George Kendall in
the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608.
The states that do not have the death penalty include: Alaska, Connecticut,
Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island,
Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and District of Columbia.
But for those who are found guilty in the states with the death penalty, they
face waiting an average of 178 months between sentencing and execution.
Which US states have the death penalty?
When was the death penalty abolished in the UK?
The last people to be sentenced to death in the Britain were Peter Anthony
Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans - real name John Robson Walby - in 1964.
They had knifed a friend to death for money. The executions took place
simultaneously at 8am on August 13.
Public anger led to the suspension of executions in 1965 and they were
abolished in 1969.
Technically, the death penalty could still be imposed for offences including
treason, violent piracy or certain military crimes until 1998, but no
executions took place.
Former Ukip leader Paul Nuttall said in 2016 that he wanted a referendum on
bringing back the death penalty.
What is the lethal injection?
All US states that have the death penalty use lethal injection as their primary
method of execution, but protocols differ from state to state.
Some use one drug while others use a cocktail of 2 or 3.
The 3-drug protocol uses an anaesthetic or sedative, usually followed by
pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
This paralyses the inmate and then stops their heart.
Florida convict Mark Asay was executed on August 24 2017 with a mix using the
anaesthetic etomidate for the 1st time.
(source: The Sun)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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