2017-08-31 13:47:43 UTC
TEXAS----stay of impending execution
Bexar County delays execution because of Hurricane Harvey----Hurricane Harvey
has delayed the execution of a San Antonio man. Bexar County officials withdrew
the execution date because part of the man's defense team works in the Houston
A man sentenced to death in San Antonio and facing execution next week had his
death delayed due to Hurricane Harvey.
The execution of 36-year-old Juan Castillo was scheduled for next Thursday, but
a Bexar County judge issued an order Wednesday delaying the man's death for 3
months because some of his defense team works in the Houston area, which has
been devastated by flooding from the storm. The request to move the execution
didn't come from the defense, but from the Bexar County District Attorney's
"A portion of Mr. Castillo's defense team resides and works in Harris County
and the surrounding areas, and has been affected by Hurricane Harvey," wrote
Bexar County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Matthew Howard in the motion.
"...Under the extraordinary circumstances, the State would move to withdraw the
execution date and seek a new date."
Castillo's new execution date is now set for Dec. 14, granting him an extra 3
months of life in his prison cell, where he has lived almost 12 years.
In 2005, Castillo was convicted in the 2003 robbery and murder of Tommy Garcia,
Jr. in San Antonio, according to court records. Prosecutors said Castillo and 3
others planned to rob Garcia after luring him to a secluded area with the
promise of sex with one of the women involved in the plan. But when Garcia
tried to run, Castillo shot him, according to the accomplices.
There have been 5 executions in Texas this year. The next one is scheduled for
Robert Pruett on Oct. 12.
(source: The Texas Tribune)
Student murder suspect gets another capital charge
The man charged with killing NE student Molly Matheson has been indicted in
another capital murder in North Texas.
Reginald Kimbro, 24, is accused of killing and sexually assaulting Megan
Getrum, 36, of Plano within days of killing Matheson.
Matheson's body was found in her garage apartment near the Texas Christian
University campus April 10.
On April 14, Fort Worth police interviewed Kimbro. During the interview, he
admitted the 2 used to date and that he had been in her apartment the night she
was killed. He said he left after a few hours and had nothing to do with her
death. Police didn't arrest him at the time, according to an arrest warrant
The same day, it is believed Getrum disappeared while out hiking in the Arbor
Hills Nature Preserve in Plano, close to where she lived, according to the
affidavit. Her body was found nearly 30 miles away in Lake Ray Hubbard April 15
but was not identified until her family reported her missing.
Police found Kimbro's DNA on both women's bodies, court records say.
Kimbro has since been charged and indicted in both cases for capital murder.
Given that the deaths occurred in 2 different counties, they are being
prosecuted separately by 2 different district attorneys.
With a charge of capital murder, a guilty verdict automatically carries a death
sentence or mandatory life in prison without parole.
On Aug. 10, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement
that Kimbro will face the death penalty if convicted.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson has not yet said whether she
intends to seek the death penalty or life without parole when she tries Kimbro.
However, Johnson said she intends to find a just resolution for Getrum's and
"We continue to pray for Megan Getrum's family. We also continue to pray for
the family of Molly Matheson of Fort Worth," Johnson said in a statement. "We
believe that justice will be served in both of these cases."
If Johnson seeks the death penalty against Kimbro, it will be the 2nd time
she's made that choice since becoming Dallas County's DA in 2016.
In addition to Matheson and Getrum's murders, police in Plano and South Padre
Island believe Kimbro is linked to 2 other rapes that involved choking, in 2012
and 2014, according to the affidavit.
The 1st assault happened in September 2012 in Plano. Kimbro was never arrested
in the case because the victim didn't want to pursue charges, Plano police
The 2nd assault allegedly happened in March 2014 in South Padre Island. Kimbro
claimed the sex was consensual, and the charges were dismissed, according to
However, in June, the Cameron County District Attorney indicted Kimbro on an
aggravated sexual assault charge from the 2014 incident. The DA has not said
why the office is pursuing the case now.
Following Kimbro's indictment in the South Padre rape, Matheson's family
released a statement saying, "We are pleased that the South Padre District
Attorney's Office has made the decision to indict Mr. Kimbro on the rape and
assault that took place in 2014. However, we are frustrated that it took the
deaths of 2 innocent victims and almost 3 years for them to come to this
conclusion. Our daughter, Molly, and Megan Getrum would be alive today if the
system had done its job properly 3 years ago."
Kimbro is currently being held at the Tarrant County Lon Evans Correction
Center with bail set at over $2 million.
Officials have not said when they expect the trials to begin.
(source: The Collegian)
Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----25
Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----543
Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #
26---------Oct. 12-----------------Robert Pruett----------544
27---------Oct. 18-----------------Anthony Shore----------545
28---------Oct. 26-----------------Clinton Young----------546
29---------Nov. 8------------------Ruben Cardenas---------547
30---------Nov. 16-----------------Larry Swearingen-------548
31---------Dec. 14-----------------Juan Castillo----------549
32---------Jan. 30-----------------William Rayford--------550
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
NC Lawmaker Calls For Return Of Electric Chair
North Carolina Representative Justin Burr on Aug. 29 posted to a social media
profile that he advocates for the return of the electric chair in the death
The Republican Congressman shared his thoughts on the abandoned device through
his Facebook page, according to Spectrum News:
"North Carolina's Electric Chair from death row. The chair was originally used
to put inmates to death by electrocution. After North Carolina switched to
executing inmates by lethal gas, the chair was converted and put to use in the
gas chamber until the late 1990s. Justice was served to nearly 200 convicted
murders in this chair. The chair has been in the possession of our state
history museum since 2000. I think it's time to put it back to work."
Burr reported that he has been hard at work on legislation that would bring the
death penalty back to North Carolina after more than a decade of zero
A group of bikers gave back to those who served, donating $92,000 to veterans
suffering from PTSD:
"I want the death penalty to be used again in North Carolina, to stop the
attempts to delay justice for victims and their families," said Burr, according
to News Observer.
Burr is also an outspoken supporter of a recently-proposed North Carolina House
Bill that would grant civil immunity to drivers who injure people demonstrating
in roadways under a specific set of circumstances, according to truthout.
Some have lashed back at backers of House Bill 330 for viewing the bill as a
callous, and even offensive reaction to the protesters injured or killed during
the Aug. 12 demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.
North Carolina lawmakers, including Burr, released a statement on the bill on
"It is intellectually dishonest and a gross mischaracterization to portray
North Carolina House Bill 330 as a protection measure for the act of violence
that occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend. Any individual who
committed a deliberate or willful act, such as what happened this weekend in
Charlottesville, would face appropriately severe criminal and civil
liabilities. The one-page bill is tightly tailored to protect innocent drivers
exercising due care from individuals from blocking a public street or highway
while respecting the right to protest according to the 1st Amendment."
The ACLU, on the other had, has been largely critical of HB 330.
"It's saying that somebody who's driving who hits a protester wouldn't be
civilly liable for that action if the protester is in the street without a
permit," said Susana Birdsong, a representative of the North Carolina ACLU.
"That has the potential to do a lot of damage to people's inclination to
(source: America Now)
Florida Governor Takes 2 More Murder Cases From Prosecutor
Florida's governor has taken 2 more capital murder cases from a prosecutor who
is opposed to the death penalty.
Gov. Rick Scott signed executive orders Wednesday reassigning the cases from
Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala to a prosecutor in a neighboring district.
State Attorney Brad King's office will handle a new sentencing for Jermaine
Foster, who was previously sentenced to death following a 1994 murder
conviction. The office will also prosecute Robert Cardin, who is charged with
killing his elderly mother and brother in May.
Scott, a Republican, began taking cases away from Ayala, a Democrat, after her
March announcement that she would no longer seek the death penalty. They argued
the legality of this before the Florida Supreme Court in June, but no decision
has been announced.
(source: Associated Press)
State appealing decision to vacate Carlie Brucia's killer's death sentence
Court proceedings have been halted in the re-sentencing of Joseph Smith for the
2004 kidnapping, rape and murder of Carlie Brucia as the state appeals the
District Court of Appeal's decision to vacate his death sentence in the wake of
changes to Florida's death penalty laws.
On Feb. 1, 2004, 11-year-old Carlie was walking home from a friend's house when
Smith abducted her as she passed the back of Evie's Car Wash, 4715 Bee Ridge
Road, Sarasota. Her abduction was captured by the car wash's video surveillance
system and used as key evidence at Smith's trial.
Her body was found at Central Church of Christ, 6221 Proctor Road after Smith's
arrest and the confession that followed.
When a judge vacated Smith's death sentence in July, he was not granted an
automatic life sentence as his defense sought. Instead, Smith was granted a new
penalty phase of his trial which would still allow the state the opportunity to
re-seek the death penalty under Florida's new law.
Smith's scheduled court appearance for 1:30 p.m. Thursday for a case management
hearing was canceled after State Attorney's Office filed an appeal with the
Florida Supreme Court last week.
Joe Brucia, the father of Carlie Brucia, holding a picture of Carlie that was
dropped off to the State Attorney's office and give to him. Brucia read a
statement to the jury during the 1st day of the sentencing stage of Joseph
Smith. Smith was found guilty of the murder of Carlie Brucia.
Circuit Judge Charles Roberts then issued a stay in all local proceedings in
the case until there's a decision from the Florida Supreme Court.
After being found guilty by a jury on Nov. 17, 2005, of 1st-degree murder,
sexual battery and kidnapping, the same jury later that year voted 10-2
recommending Smith be sentenced to death. Smith was sentenced to die on March
15, 2006, by Circuit Judge Andrew D. Owens, in addition to 2 life sentences for
kidnapping and sexual battery.
Florida's law surrounding the death penalty fell into limbo on Jan. 12, 2016,
with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida that ruled it was
unconstitutional that in Florida a judge, not a jury, has the ultimate say in
whether to sentence someone to death.
Working to fix the issue raised by Hurst, the state legislation passed a new
law on March 7, 2016. The Hurst case was remanded back to the Florida Supreme
Court, and among the decisions in Hurst v. State was that a unanimous vote by
the jury is necessary to impose death.
On the same date, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled in Perry v. State that
Hurst required a unanimous vote by a jury to sentence someone to death, making
the new legislation invalid.
Later in a Dec. 22 ruling in Asay v. State, the Florida Supreme Court ruled
that only death row inmates whose cases were finalized after the 2002 U.S.
Supreme Court ruling in Ring v. Arizona qualified for a re-sentencing hearing.
ALABAMA----2 new and impending execution dates
Alabama sets execution dates for 2 inmates; both set to die in October
The Alabama Supreme Court has scheduled October execution dates for 2 death row
Jeffrey Borden is set to be executed on October 5, and Torrey Twane McNabb on
The Alabama Attorney General's office had asked the state's highest court
earlier this month to set execution dates for 3 inmates-- Borden, McNabb, and
Doyle Lee Hamm. No execution date was set for Hamm.
McNabb has spent the last 18 years on death row, after being convicted of
fatally shooting Montgomery police officer Anderson Gordon in September 1997.
McNabb was convicted on 2 capital murder counts-- 1 for killing Gordon while he
was on duty, and 1 for killing him as Gordon sat in his patrol car. McNabb also
was found guilty of 2 additional counts of attempted murder.
Borden has been on death row for 22 years, and was convicted of the murders of
Cheryl Borden and her father Roland Harris. The murders took place at a family
gathering in Gardendale on Christmas Eve 1993. Court records show Borden
travelled from Huntsville to Gardendale to bring his 3 children to Cheryl
Borden, his legally separate wife and the children's mother. After Cheryl
Borden arrived, Jeffrey Borden shot her in the back of her head outside the
house in the presence of the children. Borden then shot Roland Harris, his
wife's father, in the back as Harris tried to run into the house.
AG Steve Marshall said earlier this month that the state does not anticipate
any problems securing enough drugs to execute the men. "Yes, we have the
means," he said, when asked if the state would be able to follow through.
John Palombi, Assistant Federal Defender for the Federal Defenders for the
Middle District of Alabama who represents both McNabb and Borden, commented on
both execution dates:
"It was premature for the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for
Mr. McNabb. Mr. McNabb has a pending case in Montgomery Circuit Court
challenging the legality of his death sentence after the Supreme Court's
decision in Hurst v. Florida... This case was filed long before the State
requested an execution date for Mr. McNabb, and the Circuit Court previously
indicated that it wanted a hearing on the issue," he said.
"Jeffrey Borden is severely mentally ill, and has been since at least the age
of 17, when he sustained a serious head injury that left him in a coma for four
days and permanently damaged his judgment and ability to control his impulses.
The same principles that exempt the intellectually disabled and people who
committed crimes before the age of 18 from being executed apply to cases like
Mr. Borden's, where the individual who committed the crime had a diminished
ability to control himself or understand the full implications of his actions,"
Alabama has executed 2 death row inmates in 2017 - Tommy Arthur on May 25 and
Robert Melson on June 8.
Rushing toward a death sentence
It took 15 years to overturn Calvin Burdine's death sentence, but at last, in
2001, the federal appeals court in New Orleans accepted a defendant's right to
an attorney who remains awake at trial.
It now seems odd that there should ever have been any doubt that a sleeping
attorney cannot provide the effective counsel guaranteed by the Constitution.
But at least there was always a chance that Burdine's attorney, Joe Cannon,
would suddenly open his eyes and shout "Objection!" When Kevin Daigle goes on
trial for his life, however, he knows there is no chance his attorney, David
Price, will participate in proceedings.
After Price died last month, Daigle sought more time to prepare for trial, but
prosecutors objected and state Judge Guy Bradberry ordered that it take place
as scheduled Sept. 18.
Daigle, of Lake Charles, is accused of murdering state trooper Steven Vincent 2
years ago. Daigle, then 54, allegedly opened fired when his truck got stuck in
a ditch and Vincent stopped to help. Daigle, whose roommate was subsequently
found murdered, was evidently out of his mind on drink and painkillers at the
time. His lengthy rap sheet includes multiple DWIs, and he is such a blot on
humanity that it will require some pretty fancy lawyering if he is to be spared
the death sentence.
Acquittal seems out of the question. Daigle was caught on police radio
threatening Vincent and was then taken in, together with a sawed-off shotgun,
after passing motorists pinned him down. Assistant Calcasieu Parish District
Attorney Rick Bryant can keep his powder dry until the penalty phase of the
trial, which Price was presumably focused on when he suffered a heart attack
following cancer surgery.
The loss of Price, with his years of experience as a public defender in capital
cases, may make it somewhat easier for Bryant to sell the jury on death, but he
wasn't about to give Daigle any chance to regroup. Bradberry noted that Price's
death was not unexpected, he had been repeatedly assured that the trial could
proceed on schedule regardless, and "justice delayed is justice denied." Kyla
Romanach, who had been working under Price, does not need any more time to
prepare "exceptional representation during the trial," and Daigle has "more
than enough information to provide an effective mitigation defense," Bradberry
Maybe so, but the state also has more than enough information to press for
Daigle's death. The state's case can surely withstand a delay. And Romanach
will be saving the taxpayer a whole bunch of money if she can keep Daigle off
The outcome of the case is easy to predict. Daigle will be found guilty of
1st-degree murder, and die in Angola. But if the jury comes back with a death
sentence, we will have to cough up for extra security and appeals while he
keeps the executioner at bay until succumbing to natural causes decades hence.
Better to give him life in the first place.
Certainly, Daigle deserves the worst the criminal justice system can throw at
him, and a death sentence is a powerful symbol of society's revulsion. But
capital punishment is withering away in Louisiana.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976, Louisiana has
executed 28 convicts. The last one, Gerald Bordelon, came in 2010, but he
didn't count because he waived appeals. Not since 2002 has a murderer been
executed against his will. That was Leslie Dale Martin, who, like Daigle,
hailed from Calcasieu Parish.
At his 1st court appearance in 2015, Daigle said he expected to get the death
sentence, which is indeed a fair bet for a cop killer. But what is the point of
spending millions on a capital case when nobody expects an execution at the end
It seemed that Burdine was headed for federal death row after an appeals court
panel initially declined to vacate his conviction and sentence, ruling that it
had not been established that Cannon's naps occurred at crucial stages of the
trial. The full court finally saw reason, and Burdine got a plea deal that gave
Anyone who has been to a courthouse will likely have encountered incompetent or
drunk defense counsel, and Cannon was probably not the first to slumber
mid-trial. You've heard of dead man walking too, but, until now, that never
meant the defense attorney.
(source: The New Orleans Advocate)
Man who killed ex on I-75 gets stay of execution
The Ohio Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for a man convicted of
killing his ex-girlfriend on the side of Interstate 75 in Warren County,
according to documents obtained by this news outlet.
Terry Froman kidnapped the victim, Kim Thomas, from her Mayfield, Ky., home in
September 2014. He led police on a chase before beating Thomas and shooting her
Froman was convicted on charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping earlier
this year. A Warren County judge accepted the jury's recommendation of a death
Froman's attorney filed an appeal and requested the stay of execution last
month, according to court documents.
The Supreme Court's decision Wednesday to grant the stay means that no
execution date will be set while the appeal is pending. Froman is also accused
of killing Thomas' 17-year-old son, Michael "Eli" Mohney in the Mayfield home
before he kidnapped Thomas.
Mottas back in court Thursday to ask to be removed from Garcia case
Serial killer Anthony Garcia's case will be back before a judge Thursday
WOWT 6 News has learned that his Chicago Attorneys, the Motta's, are expected
to withdraw as counsel in the case. That means the sentencing and appeal phase
will be left to the Public Advocacy Commission.
It's also possible that this will clear the way for Judge Gary Randall to
schedule the next step which is for Garcia to face a 3 judge panel to decide if
he gets the death penalty or life in prison.
(source: WOWT news)
Nevada Plans to Use Fentanyl in Upcoming Execution----Medical professionals say
the state's new lethal injection protocol "doesn't make much sense."
Nearly a year ago, Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier asked to be executed,
telling a state court judge he would forego his appeals. A doctor deemed
Dozier, who was convicted of the 2002 shooting and dismemberment death of
22-year-old Jeremiah Miller, competent to make the decision. But a problem
arose: The state had no drugs to carry out a lethal injection.
Keeping with a recent trend of pharmaceutical industry opposition to the use of
their products in executions, the drug manufacturer Pfizer ordered its
distributors not to sell midazolam and hydromorphone to prisons. Nevada
solicited bids for those drugs from suppliers and received zero offers.
Earlier this month, Nevada officials announced a solution in the form of a new
drug combination, which numerous experts say has never been used in a U.S.
execution. At Dozier's execution on November 14 - the state's 1st in more than
a decade - he will be injected with fentanyl (the well-known opioid), diazepam
(the sedative better known as Valium), and cisatracurium (a muscle relaxant
that causes paralysis).
Though the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that some pain during an execution
does not violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the
new combination is sure to revive debates over how executions are carried out.
Much is still unknown. Brooke Keast, a department spokeswoman, said in an email
the full protocol - which may include the order of the drugs, who will
administer them, and who will witness the execution - will be released in the
coming weeks, and that the drugs were "suggested" by the state's Chief Medical
Officer John DiMuro. DiMuro declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Several medical professionals say there is no obvious explanation for why these
drugs were selected. "It doesn't make much sense; you don't need Valium if you
have fentanyl," said Susi Vassallo, a New York University professor of
emergency medicine who has written on lethal injection. Valium "makes you
sleepy," and can kill in large doses, but fentanyl also brings about
unconsciousness without pain, and the drug's deadliness is well-known, having
caused thousands of overdose deaths around the country in recent years.
The potential problems will come with cisatracurium, which is related to
curare, a paralyzing agent first discovered in South America, where indigenous
people used it to poison the tips of their hunting arrows. Fentanyl can stop
the heart, but it is short acting and will need to be given in a massive
ongoing dose, because otherwise the prisoner may wake up. If he does, the
cisatracurium will mask his consciousness while also potentially giving him the
sensation - unobservable by witnesses - of being unable to breathe. "People who
have recovered from it have said that they couldn't breathe, and they knew they
were suffocating," Vassallo said. "The paralytic is only going to disguise
whether the fentanyl is being administered properly."
It is for this reason, she said, that the American College of Veterinarians
forbids the use of paralytics when animals are euthanized.
The fentanyl and diazepam "may be trying to block the experience of
suffocation," said Joel B. Zivot, an Emory University anesthesiologist who has
served as an expert witness in legal challenges to execution protocols. "The
fentanyl takes away pain, and the Valium takes away anxiety. Both drugs are
limited in their ability to do that, and of course neither is designed to block
the pain or anxiety of death. So that's just a show."
"This is not actually science," he added. "It's not actually medicine. It is a
grotesque impersonation of those things."
Such analysis may play some role in forthcoming legal battles, which have often
followed announcements of new drug combinations. Nevada public defenders are
demanding in court that the state give them more information. A hearing is
scheduled for September 11.
Dozier himself is not concerned about the possibility of pain. "If they tell
me, 'Listen there's a good chance it's going to be a real miserable experience
for you, for those few hours before you actually expire,' I'm still gonna do
it," he said in court recently. The state attorney general has argued that this
renders moot any legal challenges on his behalf, and that opponents of the
method would need to offer an alternative.
Scott Coffee, a Clark County public defender, argues that the constitutional
ban on cruel and unusual punishment is not only about Dozier's interest. "What
if [the method] was Ajax and peanut butter, or dismemberment?" he said. "Dozier
could say it's okay, but there would still be a public outcry."
The gradual restriction of drug supplies has led multiple states to turn to new
drugs and combinations, which have in turn led to visible agony among prisoners
in Arizona, Ohio, and Oklahoma. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that some pain
does not make an execution cruel and unusual punishment. "While most humans
wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune," Justice
Samuel Alito wrote in Glossip v. Gross. "Holding that the Eighth Amendment
demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively
outlaw the death penalty altogether."
Nevada bought its drugs from Cardinal Health, a wholesale pharmaceutical
distributor. Company spokesman Corey Kerr responded to a list of questions
about the drugs by writing in an email, "We hold ourselves to the highest
standards of accuracy and safety and have robust controls in place. We follow
every manufacturer's specific instructions to ensure the safe distribution of
Numerous pharmaceutical manufacturers have opposed the use of their drugs in
lethal injections, but it has not been made public which companies produced
these drugs. It is inevitable that reporters and activists will start looking
for the sources. "It's pretty troubling that Nevada has responded to the
industry opposition to the use of 'traditional' execution drugs in executions
by coming up with an entirely untested, experimental, and dangerous new
protocol," said Maya Foa of Reprieve, a British human rights organization that
works with drug manufacturers to cut off supplies for executions.
In the meantime, New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who manages the
state's Common Retirement Fund, an investor in Cardinal Health, intends to
propose that shareholders request that the company issue a report on its
efforts to prevent their drugs from being used in executions. "Association with
executions puts the company's reputation at risk and opens it to legal and
financial damage," DiNapoli said in an email. "We invest the state pension fund
for more than 1 million active and retired public workers and I am duty-bound
to protect their investment portfolio from risks like this." DiNapoli has filed
similar requests to other pharmaceutical companies.
The cycle of new drugs, legal challenges, and questions of supply is not the
first and surely will not be the last of its kind. Zivot, the anesthesiologist,
sees this round as further proof that the public should realize it is
impossible to conduct a "humane" execution. "If the state is inclined to
execute, it might be the time again to take up hanging, the electric chair or
the bullet," he wrote in a 2013 column for USA Today. Nevada is 1 of 2 states,
along with Utah, that has carried out an execution by firing squad, in 1913,
and was the 1st state to utilize the lethal gas chamber, in 1924. Dozier, for
his part, prefers the firing squad. "That would be the way to go," he told a
friend, "if it was up to me."
Haobsh Death-Penalty Decision Delayed----It Would Be DA Dudley's 1st
District Attorney Joyce Dudley's decision whether or not to seek the death
penalty against Pierre Haobsh - accused of killing Chinese herbal doctor Henry
Han; his wife, Jennie; and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily, last March - has
been delayed another 3 weeks. Dudley and her department???s leadership team
received a major pulse of documents and information from the defense attorney,
Christine Voss of the Public Defender's Office, late last week, and additional
time is needed to review the new information. The case was scheduled for
arraignment this Tuesday, August 29.
Dudley, now in her 2nd term, has yet to file a death-penalty case as DA. While
Dudley hasn't taken a formal position against capital punishment, she's been
critical of its application in California and has opted not to pursue it in a
couple of high-profile murder cases filed on her watch. Last November, voters
statewide approved an initiative designed to speed up executions, Proposition
66, which was upheld - though amended - last week by the California Supreme
Details of the Han murders seem ripe for the application of capital charges:
Prosecutors allege Haobsh, a 27-year-old business partner of Dr. Han's, acted
with great premeditation and deliberation and that he killed for financial
gain. That he is accused of killing Han's 5-year old daughter adds
significantly to the case for the death penalty.
Defense attorneys met with Dudley and her leadership team last week to lay out
information that may mitigate against the apparent heinousness of the killing.
Typically, this process involves information calling into question the capacity
of the accused.
Currently, Santa Barbara County has 9 individuals on California's death row at
San Quentin. The most recent - Joshua Miracle - was sent in 2006 after having
pleaded guilty to stabbing an associate 50 times in a drug deal gone bad. There
the longest is Malcolm Robbins, who was sentenced to death in 1983 for
kidnapping, raping, and murdering a Goleta boy in 1980 and then setting his
body on fire.
(source: Santa Barbara Independent)
How to clear up confusion about the death penalty
Re "Scott Dekraai should get death penalty" (Letters, Aug. 25)
Letter writer Isadora Johnson states that she is usually "against the death
penalty, but in the case of Scott Evans Dekraai, confessed killer of 8,
wounding another while wearing a bullet proof vest, it seems that the death
penalty should be warranted."
Should we take that to mean that those among the 750 inmates on California's
death row who might not have been wearing a bullet-proof vest while murdering
maybe only 6 or 7 (or possibly even killed just 1 person) should not be put to
Perhaps a way of helping Californians decide their feelings on the issue of
capital punishment might be in establishing a requirement for all citizens to
The California state income tax bills of we citizens who have registered as
being opposed to the death penalty would proudly show that we have agreed to
bear the entire costs of guarding, housing, feeding, including the costs of all
legal appeals of those who have been convicted of capital crimes.
Those California citizens who have registered as being in favor of the death
penalty would be required to bear none of these costs. Merely considering the
possibility of such a scenario might be of assistance in helping us to make up
our minds on this issue.
David M. Bouchier, Long Beach
(source: Letter to the Editor, Press-Telegram)
Gary Lee Sampson to appeal 2nd death sentence
Gary Lee Sampson, a man who freely admits to taking 3 innocent lives, is not
done fighting for his own.
The 57-year-old convicted killer, who is facing his 2nd death sentence for a
murderous 4-day rampage in 2001, filed a notice in U.S. District Court this
week indicating that he plans to take his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the First Circuit. The filing comes less than 2 weeks after Sampson's trial
judge, Leo Sorokin, denied a slew of post-trial motions.
The notice gives no indication as to how Sampson's attorneys would argue his
appeal, which covers his death sentence, Sorokin's post-trial decision and "all
other rulings and orders of the district court concerning Mr. Sampson." It will
be the 2nd time the appeals panel will consider a death sentence for Sampson, a
former drifter from Abington.
Sampson was first sentenced to death in 2003 for the carjacking murders of 2
men on the South Shore, but that sentence was later overturned by a federal
judge who determined that one of Sampson's jurors had lied about her
background. Sampson was sentenced to death again this past February following
an 8-week trial in U.S. District Court.
Sampson has had mixed luck with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 16 years since
he committed the murders. The court denied Sampson's appeal of his 1st death
sentence in 2007, but then in 2013 agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Mark
Wolf's decision to reverse it against prosecutors's opposition.
Sampson has been behind bars since July 2001, when he turned himself in to
Vermont police and confessed to killing the 3 men. He started the rampage by
carjacking and murdering Philip McCloskey, a 69-year-old retired plumber from
Abington, on July 24 after McCloskey pulled over and offered him a ride. 3 days
later, Sampson carjacked Jonathan Rizzo, a 19-year-old college student who had
also pulled over to help him, and forced the teenager to drive at knifepoint to
Abington, where he killed Rizzo and stole his car. Sampson then drove to New
Hampshire and murdered Robert Whitney after breaking into an empty lake home.
Sampson was tried separately for Whitney's murder and received a life sentence.
Massachusetts does not have a state death penalty, but defendants like Sampson
charged with federal crimes in the state can still be put to death. Sampson is
now 1 of 61 defendants on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty
Information Center. Also on that list is Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
If the appeals court denies Sampson's appeal, he could turn to the U.S. Supreme
Court, which refused to hear his 1st case in 2008.
(source: The Patriot Ledger)
Talmudic opposition to capital punishment
The Torah is a living, vibrant document. Its teachings are and must be
applicable at all times and in every generation, forever and always. I believe
this to be an absolute of Jewish life. It is challenging then to read a passage
in this week's Torah portion that takes for granted the permissibility of
capital punishment. "If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is
... hanged from a tree ... you must surely bury him the same day. ..."
Here and elsewhere it is clear that the Torah allowed for capital punishment.
Yet, as Joseph Telushkin has written, "There are few areas in Jewish law where
the biblical and talmudic view so conflict as in the matter of capital
punishment. The dominant, although not exclusive, line of argument proffered in
the Talmud opposes the death sentence. ..."
Though the Torah allowed for capital punishment for a select number of crimes,
the rabbis of the Talmudic era created juridical standards that made it all but
impossible to carry out a death sentence.
I do not expect the United States to adhere to Jewish law in regard to the
death penalty. Nonetheless, a set of legal standards must be in place to limit
its application. Given the racial and economic disparities in our nation,
particularly as regards the justice system, it is by any reasonable measure
impossible to make the case that even minimum standards are met for carrying
out the death penalty. To read more about this I recommend "Just Mercy" by
He offers this analysis: "The death penalty in America is a failed, expensive
policy defined by bias and error. Modern death sentences are disproportionately
meted out to African-Americans accused of crimes against white victims.
Mounting evidence shows that innocent people have been sentenced to death and
that serious legal errors infect the administration of capital punishment: 156
people have been exonerated and released from death row. The evidence is clear
that executions do not lower homicide rates ... and polls show that a majority
of Americans prefer life over death sentences." (Equal Justice Initiative
It should be noted that in the state of Israel the only capital crime is
genocide. Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann, y'mach sh'mo, his name should be
erased,is the only person ever executed. Despite the atrocity of his crimes,
leading intellectuals spoke out against his execution including philosopher
Martin Buber, Jewish mysticism scholar Gershom Scholem, poet Leah Goldberg, and
painter Yehuda Bacon, himself a Holocaust survivor.
While the Torah may accept the death penalty, in principle and possibly in
practice, our rabbinic ancestors were wise to set the bar so high as to make it
a practical impossibility.
(source: Commentary; Rabbi Eddie Sukol directs The Shul in Pepper
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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