death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., OHIO., MO., KAN., NEV.
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-01 13:16:32 UTC
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Nov. 1


Brazos County jury hearing testimony today in 2015 Anderson County slayings

Brazos County jurors will hear testimony today as trial gets underway for a
Tennessee Colony man facing the death penalty for allegedly killing 6 people at
an Anderson County campsite in November 2015.

William Mitchell Hudson, 35, is accused of killing 6 people between the ages of
6 and 77 on Nov. 14, 2015. According to the Palestine Herald Press, Hudson is
accused of killing members of 2 families after sharing alcoholic drinks with
them. Though the case occurred in Anderson County, about 100 miles away,
Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchell will try the case at the
Brazos County Courthouse.

According to the Palestine Herald Press, Mitchell filed a State of Notice to
Seek the Death Penalty on Jan. 23.

Brazos County District Clerk Marc Hamlin said 180 jury summons were sent to
potential jurors around Sept. 1, the vast majority of whom responded.

Hamlin said the number of county residents sent jury summons varies by case,
and that the severity and heinousness of crimes are taken into account when
determining how many potential jurors to ask to come into court.

Mitchell said it took about 4 weeks for attorneys to pick the 14 jurors needed
for the case. Because Hudson's case involves the death penalty, potential
jurors are individually interviewed and can be given written questionnaires to
determine their general stance on capital punishment.

Mitchell said attorneys began individual interviews with potential jurors Oct.
2. The 14 jurors were finalized Oct. 27.

Mitchell will prosecute Hudson alongside Lisa Tanner, from the Texas Attorney
General's Office. Hudson's attorneys are Stephen Evans and Jess Harrington.
District 3 Judge Mark Calhoon will oversee the case in 361st District Court
Judge Steve Smith's courtroom, on the fourth floor of the Brazos County

Authorities transferred Hudson from the Anderson County Jail to the Brazos
County Jail on Sept. 22, according to public records. He is charged with 6
counts of capital murder and is being held on a $2.5 million bond.

The trial begins at 9 a.m. today.

(source: theeagle.com)


U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Lubbock Death Penalty Appeal

Court documents filed Monday in both New Orleans and in Lubbock indicated that
the United States Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of a death row inmate.

It would appear to clear the way for the execution of Rosendo Rodriguez III,
but his defense team could file further requests for court review.

Rodriguez was convicted of killing Summer Baldwin. Her body was found in a
suitcase by landfill workers.

"He picked up Baldwin in the early morning hours of September 12, 2005, and
took her to his hotel room where he beat, strangled, and sexually assaulted
her," the appeals court record said. "He then purchased the suitcase, placed
her body in it, and threw it in a dumpster."

"The ongoing police investigation also linked Rodriguez to the disappearance of
16-year-old Joanna Rogers, who had been missing for more than a year," the
appeals records said. "Rodriguez confessed to Rogers's murder, and her body,
like Baldwin's, was found in a suitcase in the Lubbock city landfill."

Prosecutors offered Rodriguez a plea deal for prison time instead of the death
penalty. At first, Rodriguez took it, but then when finalizing the deal in
court he claimed to not understand the deal or the charges against him. The
deal was withdrawn and prosecutors sought the death penalty.

Ultimately, Rodriguez was found guilty and sentenced to death.

He appealed in both state court and federal court.

A federal district court in Lubbock rejected Rodriguez' claims last year
including his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals
for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans did likewise in May of this year.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had already rejected his appeal in 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused a writ of certiorari - meaning it won't even
hear Rodriguez' case.

As of Tuesday, state court records in Lubbock did not yet indicate an execution

(source: Everythinglubbock.com)


Jurors will have to be unanimous for death sentence against Luis Toledo

The same St. Augustine jury that convicted Luis Toledo of murder is expected to
begin hearing evidence Wednesday on whether he should be sentenced to death for
killing his wife's 2 children.

But first the court must resolve the issue of Toledo insisting he does not want
his attorneys to argue against the death penalty.

That's what Toledo said moments after a jury found him guilty of all counts: 2
counts of 1st-degree murder for killing 9-year-old Thalia Otto and 8-year-old
Michael Elijah Otto and 1 count of 2nd-degree murder for killing their mother,
28-year-old Yessenia Suarez in their Deltona home. He was also found guilty of
evidence tampering for disposing of the bodies and other evidence.

"I don't want to waste anymore of the court's time, so I'm going to do it right
now," Toledo said after the jury had left ."I'm going to waive mitigation
against my attorneys' wishes, no matter what they tell me, I'm not going to
change my position to waive mitigation no matter what my attorney's tell me."

Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano told Toledo that it was too emotional a time to
make such a weighty decision just moments after the jury reached its verdicts
at the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine. Zambrano advised
Toledo to talk again to his defense attorneys, Michael Nielsen, Jeff Deen and
Michael Nappi before making any decision.

Toledo faces up to life in prison for second-degree murder for killing his

Toledo has the right theoretically to make the final decision about his
representation and "fold his tent," said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson
University's College of Law.

"Sometimes when a criminal defendant waives their opportunity to present
mitigation evidence the court will allow mitigation evidence to be presented by
defense counsel without the defendant's permission, if the court determines
that's an appropriate things to do," Rose said. "But usually when that happens
it's because the defendant has either raised some issue of mental capacity or
status or competency that's got the court worried about the appellate
ramifications of that decision. I'm not aware of anything in the Toledo case
that creates that issue."

Rose said it's "not uncommon" for a defendant to waive mitigation. There's been
some psychological research indicating that sometimes defendants can't deal
with the stress and just want to put it behind them, Rose said.

"Now what the jury will do with him waiving the right to present mitigation. I
don't know," Rose said." I don't know how that will be perceived by the jury
but there are heinous cases and then there are heinous cases and this one's got
an awful lot of aggravating factors to it."

Assistant Public Defender Matt Phillips said he has not had a client facing a
possible death sentence waive his defense. He said the Florida Supreme Court
has said in previous cases that defense attorneys should at least present
mitigating evidence to the judge, even if it's not presented to the jury.

Sometimes clients don't want ugly family matters coming out, he said.

"It's like airing the dirty laundry. Theoretically you could be talking about
childhood physical and sexual abuse or adulthood physical and sexual abuse for
that matter," Phillips said.

Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza said after the verdicts on
Friday that prosecutors Mark Johnson and Ryan Will would press on in seeking
the death penalty against Toledo.

(source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)


Aramis Ayala's office to seek death penalty against woman accused in Osceola
hotel stabbing

Prosecutors in Osceola County will seek the death penalty against a woman
accused of stabbing and killing a man at an Osceola County hotel - the 1st time
Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala's office will do so since she took
office earlier this year.

Emerita Mapp, 33, is charged with 1st-degree murder in the death of Zackery
Ganoe, 20. She is also charged with attempted murder of another man in the
hotel room, robbery, evidence tampering and possession of a stolen credit card.
A notice to seek the death penalty was filed with the Osceola County clerk of
courts Tuesday.

Ganoe was found dead at the Days Inn on Polynesian Boulevard the morning of
April 11, court records show. Another man was found outside the room with
serious injuries.

"This was a violent and horrific crime. 2 young men were attacked viciously, 1
losing his life," Osceola County sheriff's spokesman Jacob Ruiz said at the

The man who survived, Andrew Bickford, told deputies that he came back from
breakfast the morning of April 11 and found a woman with a handgun, records
show. The woman told Bickford to get on the ground. Bickford told deputies she
pulled out a knife and cut his neck, then went through his pockets and took his
wallet and cell phone, records show. Bickford said he saw his friend, Ganoe,
lying motionless on the hotel room floor.

Bickford managed to crawl out of the room and into the hallway. That's the last
thing he remembered, he told deputies. He was found and rushed to Osceola
Regional Medical Center.

Ayala, who took office in January, announced in March that she would not seek
the death penalty in any case in Orange or Osceola counties. Over the following
months, Gov. Rick Scott signed executive orders taking 29 first-degree cases
away from her office and assigning them to State Attorney Brad King of Ocala.

Ayala sued to get the cases back, hiring a Washington, D.C., attorney for
$375,273 to argue that she could use her discretion not to seek the death
penalty as an independent prosecutor. The Florida Supreme Court sided with
Scott in a 5-2 decision, saying the catch-all policy was an example of a lack
of prosecutorial discretion.

After the court decision in late August, Ayala said the death penalty was again
an option in Orange and Osceola counties. She put together a panel of 7
attorneys from her office, who have been reviewing every homicide case assigned
to the office since January and deciding whether it would be appropriate and
feasible to seek the death penalty.

Ayala is not on the panel herself. Her chief assistant state attorney, Deborah
Barra, announced that the review board unanimously decided to seek the death
penalty in a case last week but declined to say which case it was.

Mapp's case was the 1st in which the panel unanimously decided to seek the
death penalty.

(source: Orlando Sentinel)


Lawson murder trial date could come up Friday

A murder trial could be set Friday for Arron L. Lawson, also known as Aaron Lee
Lawson, who is accused in the shooting deaths of 4 family members in the Pedro,
Ohio, area last month that sparked a nearly 2-day manhunt.

A pretrial hearing has been set for 1 p.m. Friday in Lawrence County Common
Pleas Court. Judge Andy Ballard is presiding over the capital murder case.

Lawson, 23, of Township Road 1051, Ironton, was named last month in a 13-count
indictment that charged him with 4 counts of aggravated murder, rape,
kidnapping and abuse of a corpse, aggravated burglary, felonious assault,
attempted murder, tampering with evidence, theft of a motor vehicle and failure
to comply with the order or signal of a police officer. The charges carry a
possible death penalty by lethal injection upon conviction.

He is charged with fatally shooting Donald McGuire, 50, his wife, Tammie L.
McGuire, 43, Tammie's daughter, Stacey Holston, 24, and her son, Devin Holston,
8, on Oct. 11. The defendant is Tammie McGuire's nephew.

A 5th victim, Stacey Holston's husband, Todd Holston, was stabbed but survived
and was treated for his injuries.

Family members told The Herald-Dispatch that Lawson frequently visited the
Holston family and would baby-sit Devin and his 2-year-old brother, Braxton,
who was not harmed during the incident. The McGuires and the Holstons lived
about a quarter-mile apart in Pedro, according to relatives.

Kirk A. McVay, assistant state public defender, has been appointed to represent

Meanwhile, Gene Meadows, a Portsmouth lawyer, was appointed by the Ohio Supreme
Court as a second lawyer to represent Lawson. Under Ohio law, 2 lawyers
certified to handle death penalty cases are assigned as defense counsel.

Lawson is being held without bond.

Some Ohio schools in the area closed Oct. 12 and 13 over safety concerns in the
wake of the incident, which Lawson allegedly fled. More than 100 state, county
and local law enforcement officers were involved in the search for the suspect,
who was arrested at about 10:35 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, without incident while
walking along the 1700 block of County Road 52 after authorities got a tip from
someone who spotted him. When authorities approached him, Lawson, who seemed
worn out, quickly gave up, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said.

(source: Herald-Dispatch)


Law enforcement helps present physical evidence in Greene County death penalty

The trial of a former teacher's aide and coach, charged with an unthinkable
crime that still haunts Springfield continued Tuesday.

Craig Wood faces the death penalty if he's convicted of 1st degree murder for
killing 10 year-old Hailey Owens.

Prosecutors called on law enforcement as they presented a mountain of physical
evidence they collected during their investigation.

"He seemed like Craig Wood," said longtime friend and coworker, Gary Turner.

Greene County Prosecutor, Dan Patterson asked, "Did you notice anything out of
the ordinary?"

"No sir," replied Turner.

Wood seemed normal to Turner, on the day he's accused of kidnapping, raping,
sodomizing and killing Owens. That was until Patterson showed him pictures of
young girls Wood had in his possession.

"I'm taking out some photographs here," Patterson told Turner.

Turner said, "They went to school at P.V."

Springfield Police called in every available officer to help search for Haliey
when she disappeared.

"Behind the business, over fences," said Sgt. Todd King.

Teams of 2 officers walked up and down every block near north Glenstone until
they found the clothes Owens was wearing in a dumpster behind a strip mall.

"After we completed the search there we actually went south from that location,
approximately another mile, mile and a half," King said.

The FBI was called in from the Kansas City bureau to help with the

"We packed our bags and headed to Springfield from the Kansas City office to
help," said Special Agent Brian Pickens.

Their team of experts helped Springfield Police gather evidence at multiple
crime scenes across the east side of town.

Evidence, including the blue tub where police found Hailey's body, was shown in

Hailey's mother, Stacy Herman also took the stand today. We were not able to
get her testimony on camera at her request to the court.

She was told the jury about the last time she saw her daughter and was
remarkably strong.

Wednesday, the prosecutions case will continue.

(source: KSPR news)


rosecutor to seek death penalty for Ellington killings

A prosecutor will seek the death penalty against 2 men accused of killing an
elderly couple during a robbery, he said Monday.

Timothy Callahan, 44, of Farmington, Missouri, and David Young, 67, of Ironton,
Missouri, were arrested Saturday without incident at a motel in Deerfield
Township, Ohio. Both were charged with 2 counts each of 1st-degree murder.

Reynolds County, Missouri, prosecutor Michael Randazzo said in an interview
with The Associated Press he will file additional charges of armed criminal
action, robbery and assault against both men, who are jailed without bond in
Ohio awaiting extradition.

Randazzo said there was evidence the crime was premeditated and he planned to
pursue the death penalty.

The men are accused in the shootings of 86-year-old James Nance, his
72-year-old wife, Janet, and a 73-year-old friend of the family Oct. 18 at the
Nance home near Ellington.

The 3rd victim was shot twice in the head but survived.

Young was on probation after pleading guilty in 2016 to financial exploitation
of the elderly or disabled in Pulaski County, according to Missouri Case Net,
the state's online court reporting system. He was arrested again in September
and charged with scamming an elderly couple out of thousands of dollars by
convincing them to write checks for the same job -- painting their barn.

"He would drive around looking for decent-looking homes, elderly couples, and
try to do work for them," Randazzo said.

Authorities believe the men may have planned a similar scam on the Nances.
Randazzo said it appeared they had contacted the couple about doing work at
their home, but decided instead to rob James Nance.

Randazzo said the robbery was in progress when Janet Nance and her friend
returned home from a shopping trip and encountered the gunmen.

(source: Associated Press)


End the death penalty in Kansas

The budget shortfall and challenges facing our Department of Corrections have
concerned Kansans from across the state anxious to ensure we are able to keep
KDOC staff, inmates and our communities safe. In this economic climate, doing
that properly will involve tough choices. From my vantage point, having served
KDOC for 28 years - 8 of those years as the Secretary of Corrections - one
simple choice would be to eliminate the excessive amounts of money we are
spending on Kansas' broken death penalty by replacing it with life without

With the proposed rebuilding of Lansing Correctional Facility, Kansas may no
longer have a death chamber. The one in Lansing cost the state $60,000 to build
and was never used. In fact, no execution has happened in our state since 1965.
Instead of building a new chamber, I believe it's time we acknowledge that the
return on our investment in the death penalty has been abysmal. Numerous
studies conclude that the death penalty keeps us no safer than imprisonment,
and yet it siphons away far more crime prevention dollars.

A 2014 Kansas Judicial Council study, which could not obtain access to
prosecution and investigative costs, found that defense expenses alone cost the
state 4 times the cost of a murder case where death wasn't sought. Court
expenses were found to be similarly more costly. This isn't unique to Kansas.
Dozens of other states have shown death penalty systems cost states millions of
dollars. Complicated, lengthy capital trials, plus decades of court-mandated
appeals, contribute to the death penalty's exorbitant costs. These are funds
that would be more wisely invested in easing the financial stress of the
corrections system.

The problems are vast for our corrections system. There have been multiple
disturbances in several facilities over the past few months. There is an
inability to fully staff all posts within our facilities. Employees are being
forced to work too much mandatory overtime. KDOC struggles to retain employees.
We are failing to obtain all the technological improvements we could utilize
for the safety of our corrections officers and inmates. We've lost programs to
keep offenders meaningfully occupied and to modify their antisocial behavior.
Funds currently spent on the death penalty system should be immediately
re-directed to ensuring KDOC can properly address these critical issues.

There is an additional expense to keeping the death penalty: the potential for
grave psychological damage to the brave men and women of the Department of
Corrections. It's been proposed that Lansing's death chamber be moved to El
Dorado, where death row inmates are housed. Charles E. Simmons, my predecessor,
who was the secretary of corrections when the Lansing death chamber was built,
said then, "We learned it is a benefit to the staff where the inmate is held
for a long period of time to not participate in the execution." He is right.

According to studies and numerous testimonies from executioners, there is a
serious psychological cost to participating in an execution. It is one thing to
support the death penalty in theory. It is another thing entirely to be asked,
as part of your job, to strap down an incapacitated inmate and take his life.
Moving the death chamber to El Dorado would compound this trauma - the officers
who work at the death chamber would be the same officers who have spent decades
working with the men on death row.

There is no shortage of needs for the current Kansas Department of Corrections.
We absolutely shouldn't do anything to make the job of being a Kansas
corrections officer even more difficult. With funds so scarce, and the needs so
great, it simply makes no sense for us to continue to invest more in our
ineffective death penalty. The opportunity is ripe: It's time to end the death

(source: Roger Werholtz served the Kansas Department of Corrections for 28
years - 8 of those years as the Secretary of Corrections; Commentnary----Topeka

NEVADA----impending volunteer execution

ACLU Fights New Execution Drugs

Scott Raymond Dozier, 46, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on November
14. A jury convicted Dozier of the 2002 murder and dismemberment of Jeremiah
Miller, 22. Miller's torso was found in a suitcase that had been dumped into a
trash bin in Las Vegas. Dozier was also found guilty of second-degree murder of
another victim, whose torso was found buried in the Arizona desert.

"We reserve the death penalty for the worst of the worst," Washoe County
District Attorney said. "Sometimes people do things that are so vicious, so
violent, so horrible that that's the right answer, and that's what the voters
have said all these years, and that's why Nevada still supports the death

Hicks was not a part of Dozier's case since it happened in Clark County, but he
is a proponent of capital punishment. Dozier waived his appeals and wants to
move forward with his execution.

Nevada state law requires all executions to be done by lethal injection, but no
states can buy the traditional drugs needed to complete the sentences. The
Nevada Department of Corrections consulted with the Chief Medical Officer and
decided to carry out the execution with Diazepam, Fentanyl and Cisatracurium.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada says there should be a stay of
execution, fearing the potential for cruel and unusual punishment.

"They're experimental," Holly Welborn, Policy Director of the ACLU of Nevada
said. "They're using Mr. Dozier as a guinea pig because he's volunteered to
have the state put him to death, but that implicates more than Mr. Dozier. That
implicates everyone on death row."

"For years, the opponents of the death penalty have campaigned hard against the
pharmaceutical companies and they've stopped prescribing the traditionally used
drugs," Hicks said. "So now, when they're trying to find alternatives, those
same opponents are turning around and saying 'We can't use that. We need the
old drugs.'"

Welborn says Dozier's execution could set a precedent, allowing a string of
other death row inmates to be put to death. Since Dozier waived his appeals,
the state is required to carry-out his sentence.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions that we do not have that would
guarantee that Mr. Dozier would undergo a humane death," Wellborn said.

While NDOC says its prison staff is well-trained for executions, the ACLU has
questions about staff's preparedness.

"We're very concerned about the training that new Department of Corrections
personnel may or may not have had in administering these execution drugs,"
Welborn said.

"The Department of Corrections is consulting with the appropriate medical
people and then I think what can't be lost in this whole argument is what
happened to the victims of these murders," Hicks said.

The ACLU is urging Gov. Brian Sandoval to take action regarding Dozier's
execution. While Sandoval does not have the authority to pardon or grant a stay
of execution, Welborn hopes he can use his influence to grant a stay.

"There's just no guarantee that it would be a pain-free execution, and there
are fears that it could be botched and if that's the case, then the state will
be in a lot of trouble," Welborn said.

Dozier can still change his mind and appeal his sentence, delaying his
execution date. If he goes through with it, he would be the 1st Nevada inmate
to be put to death since Daryl Mack in 2006.

(source: KTVN news)


Death penalty trial begins for man accused of raping, killing mother and child

DNA appears to be at the center of Bryan Clay's death penalty trial.
Prosecutors say they have no doubt Clay was the person who killed and raped
Yadira Martinez and her 10-year-old daughter Karla in April of 2012 because his
DNA was all over the crime scene.

However, Clay's defense team argued that the only reason his DNA was found
there was is because the evidence was mishandled and manipulated.

During opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors told jurors what lead them to
Clay. They said, investigators, where able to link Clay's DNA from a sexual
assault that occurred on the same night of the murders to DNA found on the
bodies of Karla and Martinez.

Investigators also found a handprint on the tile floor by Martinez's body that
was also matched back to Clay. Meanwhile, the defense spent a great deal of
time explaining to jurors how DNA results can be biased.

They claim to have evidence that will prove falsified information and mistakes
in the police investigation. In fact, they say police DNA findings and a 2nd
opinion from an outside firm do not match.

2 other small boys were not physically injured during the attack. It was
actually one of the boys who first reported the murders of his mother and
sister to his school teacher.

The state's 1st witness was the teacher, followed by an officer who responded
to the scene.

Testimony resumes Wednesday at noon. If convicted, Clay could be sentenced to

(source: KLAS news)

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