death penalty news----N.C., S.C., FLA., OHIO, ARK., MO., ARIZ.
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Rick Halperin
2017-08-28 13:28:31 UTC
Raw Message
August 29


Campbell trial to resume Monday

Jurors in the murder trial of Eric Campbell are scheduled to return to a North
Carolina courtroom Monday to continue deliberations after the trial was placed
on hold for the last month.

The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

One of the jurors was involved in a car accident July 29. Granville County
Judge Henry Hight sent the jury home a few days later, so the injured juror
could heal from surgery.

Deliberations began July 27. The jury was sent home the next day after the same
juror asked to be removed from the panel saying she could not evaluate the
case. Judge Hight dismissed the jury instead of ruling on the request.

When the panel returns, they'll have to consider evidence and testimony
presented a month ago in connection with the death of a North Carolina couple.
Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, is on trial for the murders of Jerome Faulkner,
73, and his wife, Dora Faulkner, 62. The Faulkners were killed inside their
home on News Years Eve 2014.

Campbell is accused of assisting his father, Edward Campbell, in the killings.
The Campbells were arrested in Greenbrier County, W.Va. on Jan. 1, 2015. Police
found the bodies of the Faulkners in the back of the truck Edward Campbell was

A few months later, Edward Campbell killed himself in jail.

During the trial, the defense claimed Eric Campbell was abused by his father
for years and was forced to go on the trip from Texas to West Virginia. His
attorneys said he also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The
prosecution argued Campbell made a deliberate and conscious decision to go on
the trip.

Campbell previously took the witness stand in his own defense. He testified he
did not kill the Faulkners and that he was outside the home when his father
committed the crime.

Campbell is charged with 1st degree murder. If convicted, he could face the
death penalty.

(source: wvmetronews.com)


'Pure evil' made Conway shooting one of deadliest American bank robberies in
recent years

Last year, employees at banks and credit unions nationwide survived 4,250

In 1/2 of them, a robber threatened to use a weapon. In only 1, a gunman
followed through, with deadly results.

So when Brandon Michael Council walked into a CresCom Bank on Monday and opened
fire, it already was a rare occurrence. More unusual was the death toll that
resulted: 2 workers slain, doubling the total from 2016 bank robberies across
the country.

It was one of the deadliest American bank heists in recent years.

"It's rare that someone is even shot," said Chris Quick, a retired FBI agent in
Charleston who once led the local Violent Crime Task Force and investigated
bank robberies. "The robber goes in and gets out with the money, and nobody
loses a life."

He added, "Unfortunately for these 2 tellers, it didn't turn out that way."

It was likely an unfortunate happenstance that Council chose the small college
town of Conway to wreak such havoc and plunge a community into despair,
officials said.

Jean Timbes, a City Council member, said residents have approached her, unable
to sleep.

"This is something that would be so unexpected anywhere; it just came out of
the blue for us," she said. "It's hard to explain something that has no

Council, 32, of Wilson, N.C., faces federal charges of armed bank robbery
resulting in death and using a firearm in a violent crime. The counts could
make him eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors haven't said
whether they would pursue the punishment.

FBI agents said he admitted to walking into the bank, bent on hurting someone,
when he fatally shot teller Donna Major, 59, and 16th Avenue branch manager
Katie Skeen, 36. Both women had children; Major was a grandmother.

Mack Jones, a friend and co-worker of Skeen's for 2 years at another bank, said
the deaths have been devastating to all who knew the women.

Skeen helped desperate people like Council find the resources they needed,
Jones said. She gave Jones food when he had nothing to eat during his own hard
times, he said.

"He murdered the very person who could have changed his life," Jones said. "And
he cut off that blessing for so many other people.

"But that's what the devil will do."

How to help

2 churches set up charitable accounts at CresCom Bank to benefit loved ones of
slain bank employees Donna Major and Katie Skeen. Donations can be dropped off
at bank locations or sent to New Spring Church in Myrtle Beach for Major's
grandchildren or Advancing the Kingdom Church in Conway for Skeen's children.

'Unfortunate outlook'

Council had been in and out of North Carolina prisons for most of his adult

His past offenses were property crimes that did not indicate such violent
tendencies. He served less than a year behind bars for stealing a car in 2004,
North Carolina records showed. He later spent another months-long stint behind
bars for burglary.

His most recent and longest stay in prison ended last year after he served 7
years for larceny and being a habitual felon.

Council's release on parole would have restricted his movements. As a felon, he
couldn't have a gun. Authorities would have had zero tolerance for new crimes.

But 11 days after those conditions expired, the FBI said he robbed a BB&T Bank
location in downtown Wilson, a college town of 50,000 and his hometown an hour
east of Raleigh.

Federal agents described in an affidavit what led to the deadly confrontation
in Conway.

Investigators soon developed him as a "primary suspect" in the Aug. 11 hold-up,
but he remained on the lam.

He re-emerged 4 days later when he checked into the Conway Express Inn on Pine
Street. There, he climbed out of a white Chrysler minivan, and another man and
a woman helped carry his luggage into Room 110.

The man and the woman left with the van. Council, whose distinctive dreadlock
hairstyle showed up in hotel surveillance footage, stayed.

Council showed signs that he feared authorities could be on his trail. The
woman who helped Council at the hotel would later tell the FBI that he had
stomped on his cellphone and tossed away the device's subscriber ID card into a
nearby parking lot.

For 6 days, he holed up at the hotel. The CresCom bank was across the street.

"It's just unbelievable that this man had such an unfortunate outlook in life
that he stayed in that hotel, observing," Timbes said. "It's scary that he
scoped it out and planned to kill."

'A ridiculous crime'

Dark thoughts stirred in Council's mind, he would later tell the FBI. He had
watched "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," a film based loosely on rapper 50 Cent's
life. It chronicled crimes that put its main character in others' gunsights.

"He was desperate," FBI Agent Jeffrey Long said in the affidavit. "He needed
money. ... He knew he was going to shoot someone."

Council's indictment, expected in the coming weeks, might shed further light on
his motivation that day, Supervisory Agent Donald Wood of the FBI's Columbia
office said.

About 1:10 p.m. Monday, 7 minutes before a partial solar eclipse was set to
begin, Council stepped into the bank. Many employees were out to lunch.

"It's fortunate that more were not there," Timbes said.

2 minutes later, a video camera showed him holding a shotgun in his right hand
and pointing it over the bank counter.

His face was clearly visible. He wore no disguise.

He talked briefly with the teller.

Tellers like Major are trained to give robbers what they want, said Dana
Ridenour, a Murrells Inlet resident and crime novelist who spent 2 decades in
the FBI investigating violence and drugs. The money is insured, so there's no
reason to resist, she said. And banks often employ electronic trackers or
exploding dye packs to help authorities find suspects later.

"The employees just want everybody to go home at the end of the day," Ridenour
said. "This was a ridiculous crime. These tellers were not giving the robber
any problems."

Council poked his shotgun past the teller's computer screen and shot her
several times, then leaped over the counter, the FBI said.

The other woman hid under a desk, the FBI said, but Council found her and shot
her a few times, too.

He stole the women's credit cards, car keys and $15,294 from the bank, and he
left in Skeen's car.

Police officers in Greenville, N.C., caught him 2 days later after someone saw
him and dialed 911.

'Pure evil'

To Quick, the retired FBI agent who runs the private investigations firm Quick
Group, people who perpetrate violence during a bank robbery are often mentally
disturbed or addicted to drugs. Quick remembers only 1 robbery during his
career in which a worker was slain.

In 12,303 robberies of federally insured financial institutions from 2014
through 2016, a gun went off in 121 cases, FBI statistics showed. 92 employees
were hurt. Only 3 were killed.

Bank robberies often prove deadlier for the criminals. In the same 3-year
stretch, 25 robbers were killed, usually by responding law officers.

"For the most part, bank robbers aren't that sophisticated," Quick said. "It's
a target of opportunity. They just need the money. ... Basically, (Council)
seemed like one of those guys who just didn't care."

Skeen's death ripped a mother from 2 young boys. Major's loss took a mother of
3 and a grandmother of 3. 2 churches lost dedicated members.

"That man was cold and calculated," said Jones, the friend of Skeen's. "He
killed all that out of just greed and pure evil."

(source: Chalreston Post and Courier)


Fewer face death penalty in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren has withdrawn pursuit of the
death penalty in 5 of 24 cases he inherited when he took over the office in
January, The Tampa Bay Times reported. A 6th defendant avoided death row with a
guilty plea.

17 of the cases await review.

Only once, so far, has Warren affirmed the prior administration's decision to
seek death, although he also elected to seek it once in a more recent case.

"These decisions are the most serious and sobering decisions you make as state
attorney," he says. "And it's different academically than it is when you're
sitting in a chair as the one to make the decision."

The threat of capital punishment should not be used to coerce guilty pleas, he
told the Times. He spoke of seeking death only if defendants exhibit what the
Supreme Court has called "a consciousness of guilt materially more depraved."

(source: WLRN news)


Golf buddies memorialize LaRue Brown, 84-year-old murder victim

LaRue Brown, 84, was excited about trading in her old car for a Cadillac SUV.

She promised she would give rides to her friend Lois Greathouse, who was
recovering after surgery. Such generosity was typical of Brown, according to
those who knew her.

"She was so proud of that car," Greathouse said, before adding, with a quaver
in her voice, "Of course, she never got to give me that ride."

Brown was found dead in her Church Hill-Hubbard Road home in the early morning
of April 24. The Trumbull County Coroner's office ruled the death a homicide,
resulting from blunt traumatic injuries and an incision to the neck.

A Trumbull County grand jury indicted 33-year-old Sean Clemens, her neighbor
from across the street, on charges including aggravated murder. The case, which
could result in the death penalty, is set for a jury trial next year. Attorneys
representing Clemens could not be reached to comment Friday.

Prosecutors allege that Clemens beat Brown with a shovel, cut her with a knife
and loaded her electronics into her Cadillac SUV. Police later found the
burned-out SUV - the one that Brown had been so eager to purchase - in the
woods near Church Hill-Hubbard Road.

Brown left behind a close-knit group of friends, several of whom said they hope
to be alive long enough to see justice served.

Before her death, Brown spent just about every Thursday morning golfing with a
group of 10 women at Hidden Oaks Golf Course in Vienna. The women, who lately
have taken to calling themselves "Women for LaRue Brown," have placed a plaque
in Brown's memory at the first tee.

Her friends say the plaque's location is a fitting tribute to Brown's
athleticism. She walked miles every day for groceries and other errands.
Brown's neighbors knew her as the woman who always smiled and waved.

She delighted in buying carefully selected Christmas gifts for her golf
buddies. She kept busy with community service and placed American flags on the
graves of veterans.

Brown thrived when socializing and wasn't shy about asking people to speak up
because she was hard of hearing. She had started checking out tapes from the
library so she could learn to lip-read. Brown didn't mind shocking people with
occasional colorful language. People were often surprised, her friends said, at
such a frank sense of humor from a petite, elderly woman.

Brown was born in Youngstown and graduated from Newton Falls High School in
1952. Before her retirement in 2005, she worked as a manager at the 20th
Century Restaurant in Youngstown and as a saleswoman for Jewelry Connection in

Brown is survived by 3 daughters, 6 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
Her husband of 57 years, Donald Brown, died in 2010.

After Brown's husband died, her friend Joanne Cutter persuaded her to return to
golfing. Brown and Cutter met more than 5 decades ago, when their children were
trick-or-treating at Hubbard Estates.

"To meet her was to be her friend, immediately," Cutter said. "It's pretty hard
to understand why someone would want to hurt her."

(source: vindy.com)


Arkansas returns to center of execution debate

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's decision to schedule a convicted murderer's execution
this fall puts Arkansas back at the center of the death penalty debate months
after the state resumed executions following a nearly 12-year lull. But his
announcement that he will spare the life of a murderer the state had planned to
execute earlier this year offers some hope to death penalty opponents that he
can be swayed in some cases.

Hutchinson's announcement that convicted murderer Jack Greene would be put to
death on Nov. 9 came a little over a week after the state said it found a new
supply of the controversial sedative that prompted its initial unprecedented
plan to execute 8 inmates over an 11-day period. The state only conducted 1/2
of those executions before its supply of midazolam expired at the end of April.
It now has enough of the drug to conduct 2 more lethal injections, clearing the
way for Greene's date to be set.

Less than 2 hours after setting Jack Greene's execution date, Hutchinson said
he intended to commute the sentence of death row inmate Jason McGehee to life
without parole. McGehee was among 4 inmates scheduled for execution in April
who were at least temporarily spared by the courts.

Scheduling Greene's execution opens the door for a renewed legal fight over the
death penalty in Arkansas, though not as hectic as the flurry of challenges
that accompanied the state's marathon schedule of lethal injections in April.
Greene's attorneys have argued that the convicted killer is severely mentally
ill and should be spared from execution.

They say he suffers from a fixed delusion that prison officials and his
attorneys are conspiring to cover up injuries he believes corrections officers
have inflicted on him. The delusions cause Greene to twist his body and stuff
his ear and nose with toilet paper to cope with pain, his attorneys said.

"In the coming weeks, it's imperative that the appropriate decision makers
consider whether the state should execute a man in such a feeble mental state,"
Scott Braden, an assistant federal public defender representing Greene, said
after Hutchinson set the execution date.

But another question is how his case will fit in the larger fight playing out
nationally over midazolam, the sedative Arkansas uses in its lethal injection
protocol that has been linked to problematic executions nationwide. Death
penalty opponents say the drug is incapable of inducing unconsciousness or
preventing serious pain.

The pending execution could prompt renewed questions about whether the sedative
worked in 1 of Arkansas' executions in April. Kenneth Williams, who was put to
death on April 27, lurched and convulsed 20 times during his execution.
Williams' attorneys at the time called the witness accounts of the execution
"horrifying" and death penalty opponents called for an outside investigation.
Hutchinson said he didn't see the need for an anything beyond a routine review
of the state's execution procedures, saying he didn't believe there were any
indications of pain by the inmate.

The state's execution secrecy laws could also draw more scrutiny. The source of
Arkansas' new supply of midazolam is unknown, but documents show the state paid
$250 in cash for enough of the drug to conduct 2 executions. An expert has said
the purchase suggests Arkansas has found a reliable supplier.

The clemency granted McGehee, meanwhile, offers some hope to death penalty
opponents and even to Greene. Hutchinson cited the Parole Board's
recommendation for McGehee's commutation, as well as the disparity in sentence
given to McGehee compared to other co-defendants in the death of John Melbourne

"Jason's case offers a prime example of why clemency is a necessary part of
capital sentencing," said John C. Williams, an assistant public defender
representing McGehee.

Greene, too, will have a chance to ask for mercy.

(source: Arkansas News)


All steps in death penalty cases are imperfect

Last week, on the day he was scheduled to die, Marcellus Williams didn't.

Just hours before he was to be strapped down and pumped full of poison,
Williams, the convicted killer of Felicia "Lisha" Gayle, a former reporter for
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, received a reprieve. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
stayed the execution and announced formation of a panel to review the case.

To be sure, no one will ever mistake Williams for a choir boy. At the time he
was charged with Gayle's 1998 murder, he was a 29-year-old with a rap sheet
including convictions for burglary. He was also a suspect in an armed robbery
at a fast-food restaurant, a crime for which he was later convicted.

Whatever his other sins, though, there's reason to believe Williams may not, in
fact, have been the person who stabbed Gayle 43 times during a burglary. Yes, 2
witnesses - a jailhouse snitch and a woman Williams had dated - both came
forward after a $10,000 reward was posted and claimed he had confessed to them.
And granted, a piece of the victim's property was found in Williams' car and
the girlfriend led police to a laptop computer belonging to Gayle's husband.
She said Williams had bartered it for drugs.

On the other hand, no forensic evidence places Williams at the murder scene.
Kent Gipson, an attorney for Williams, has told reporters that hair fibers and
bloody footprints found in Gayle's home did not match his client and bloody
fingerprints found there were lost by police and never tested.

As if all that were not enough, there's this: in 2015, the Missouri Supreme
Court stayed an earlier execution date after Williams' attorney pleaded for
time to conduct DNA testing. The results of that testing showed that genetic
material found on the murder weapon did not come from Williams. And yet this
month, faced with that actual evidence of actual innocence, the same court said
the execution could now proceed.

Truly, the mind boggles.

So the fact that Marcellus Williams didn't die last week can be chalked up, not
to justice, but to that most transient and fickle of factors, political
courage. And make no mistake, Gov. Greitens' decision to block the execution
took some moral fortitude, especially given that he's a Republican and "tough
on crime" is the party's mantra.

(source: thetimesnews.com)


New attorney assigned to death penalty case

A Bullhead City man facing the death penalty has a new primary defense

Justin James Rector, 29, is charged with 1st-degree murder, kidnapping, child
abuse and abandonment of a dead body in the 2014 death of 8-year-old Isabella
Grogan-Cannella. He allegedly strangled Grogan-Cannella and left her body in a
shallow grave near her Bullhead City home.

Blake Schritter, Indigent Defense Service director, said Quinn Jolly has been
assigned as first chair on Rector's case. Co-counsel Julia Cassels will remain
as second counsel. Two death-penalty qualified attorneys are required in a
capital murder case.

Jolly had previously been with the Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office and
moved to Wisconsin at the end of July. However, Jolly will travel back to
Mohave County at his own expense about once a month for Rector's case,
Schritter said.

The benefit in hiring Jolly is that he has no other case load, Schritter said,
adding that Jolly was the most qualified death-penalty primary attorney, having
defended several first-degree murder cases in Maricopa County including Pedro
Morales, John Cole and Hojat Saadi.

At Rector's last hearing, Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen said much of the
work on the murder case doesn't need to be redone with the hiring of a new
primary counsel. Jolly will make his 1st appearance at Rector's next hearing,
set for Sept. 22.

Rector's former lead defense attorney, Gerald Gavin, withdrew from the case in
July after becoming aware of an ethical conflict of interest. He was assigned
Rector's case in March 2015.

Rector is also charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault after allegedly
assaulting a detention officer July 17 in his cell. His next hearing on those
new charges is also set for Sept. 22.

A date for Rector's murder trial has not been set. Rector is being held in
county jail without bond on the murder charge.

(source: Mohave Valley Daily News)

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