death penalty news----VER., N.C., TENN., ILL., MONT., CALIF., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-09-10 18:56:32 UTC
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Sept. 10


Sister Janice Ryan to receive Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Community Foundation is proud to honor
Sister Janice Ryan with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service. The
award will be presented at the Community Foundation's Annual Meeting (link is
external) on September 13, 2017 and is given to a person who has demonstrated a
long-term and significant commitment toward creating healthy and vital Vermont

Sister Janice Ryan is a lifelong advocate for special education, social
justice, and criminal justice reform. She was born on a dairy farm in
Fairfield, Vermont in 1936. In 1950, she moved to Burlington to attend high
school at Mount St. Mary's Academy and during her last year there, she joined
the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. She went on to receive a B.A. in English
from Trinity College of Vermont and a Masters of Education in Special Education
from Boston University.

Ryan began teaching at Cathedral Elementary and Junior High School in
Burlington and then became the Diagnostic and Pre-School Program Director for
Handicapped Children at Trinity College of Vermont, a Catholic women's college.
From there, Ryan became a Professor of Education and then the President of
Trinity College (1979-1996).

After leaving Trinity, Ryan went to Washington, D.C. where she worked to
promote fairness and justice. She served as Director of Justice Education and
Interfaith Relations under The Justice Project; the Education Director for U.S.
Senator James Jeffords; and Project Director of the Catholic Campaign to Ban
Landmines. She was influential in the passage of the Vermont Special Education
Law and pushed to have it used as the prototype for Congress in developing the
nation's special education law. Ryan was also involved with a group that
focused on the death penalty and "The Innocent Protection Act," which motivated
states to collect DNA from all incarcerated individuals.

Ryan has traveled extensively for her work, with visits to Austria, Russia,
Croatia, Yugoslavia, and the Republic of Latvia. She was also invited on the
Vietnam Veterans of America's trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and took part in a
three-week experimental living program in Cochabamba, Brazil.

In 2003, Ryan became the Deputy Commissioner of Corrections for the State of
Vermont and is now retired, but still works with prisoners on a regular basis.
As Deputy, she oversaw nine facilities in Vermont, twelve field offices for
probation and parole, the furlough program, and Vermonters incarcerated in 3
other states.

In 2006, she was 1 of 4 Vermont natives who have celebrated 50 years as a
Sister of Mercy. In their honor, the State of Vermont House of Representatives
passed H.C.R. 367. Ryan is currently a part of the Fellows Program and the
International Women's Forum Leadership Foundation.

(source: vermontbiz.com)


Campbell sentencing phase to begin; faces death penalty

The sentencing phase for a Texas man convicted of killing a North Carolina
couple is set to begin Monday morning.

Eric Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, faces the death penalty after being
convicted last month of 1st-degree murder in connection with the deaths of
Jerome Faulkner, 73, and Dora Faulkner, 62.

Campbell was also found guilty of 1st-degree burglary, 2nd-degree arson,
robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, financial card
theft, identity theft and 2 counts of cruelty to animals.

West Virginia State Police arrested Campbell and his father, Edward Campbell,
in Greenbrier County.

Edward Campbell later killed himself in prison.

The sentencing phase was put on hold for the last few weeks to allow travel
time for witness impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Since Campbell is from Texas,
his attorney indicated his family and friends would travel from Texas to North
Carolina to testify.

The Faulkners were stabbed to death inside their Granville County, NC home on
New Years Eve 2014. The Campbells put their bodies inside a stolen truck, set
their house on fire, then drove off.

During the trial, the defense claimed Eric Campbell suffered from Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. They said his father was extremely abusive and lured
him in to going on the multi-state crime spree.

Prosecutors told the jury Eric made the deliberate and conscious choice to go
on the trip. They said the killings were not the result of 1 person's actions
and that it was a 2-person job.

The trial was delayed for about a month after a juror got into a car accident.
The judge allowed her a few weeks to recover from the crash. When jurors
reconvened, they only took a few hours to convict Campbell of the crime.

The same trial jury will decide if Campbell should be put to death.

Monday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

(source: wvmetronews.com)


Holly Bobo Jury has been selected; Trial starts Monday

After more than 7 hours, the jury for the Holly Bobo murder trial has been

Dozens of potential jurors faced tough questioning from both the defense and
prosecuting attorneys at the Hardin County Courthouse Saturday.

Twenty-nine potential jurors were dismissed before the final 15 were chosen.

1 woman was sent home after telling the court she didn't believe in the death
penalty, and another man was dismissed early after having a panic attack in the
jury box.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to take the stand during the trial, but
Judge C. Creed McGinley said he wants to, "keep things moving."

Defendant Zach Adams was present during jury selection and Bobo's family was
seated in the second row of the courtroom.

The jury will be sequestered at a local hotel for the duration of the trial,
which is expected to last 2 weeks.

Bobo was kidnapped from her Decatur County Home in 2011, raped and killed.

Her remains weren't discovered until 2014.

Adams is charged with 1st-degree felony murder, premeditated murder, especially
aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape.

He faces the death penalty if convicted.

(source: WREG news)


It's true, Illinois' 1st execution of a non-Native American was in St. Clair

Q: I thought your recent column on the Macoupin County executions was superb.
It reminded me that I thought I once heard that the state's 1st execution was
in Belleville. Is that true? Also, you mentioned that the arm and head later
was cut off the corpse of the second man executed in Macoupin. Why?

B.M., of O'Fallon

A: Here's something even eerier: Trivia scholars love to trip up their less
knowledgeable friends by asking how many witches were burned during the
infamous trials in Salem, Mass.

The answer, of course, is none. 19 were hanged, and 1, Giles Corey, had heavy
stones piled on him to try to force a plea. After 2 days, he died - a week
after his 81st birthday.

In fact, it is often alleged that nobody has ever been burned at the stake for
being a witch in the United States. But that's demonstrably not true. At least
1 man was - and it happened right in our backyard in Kaskaskia, Illinois.

Col. John Todd was the 1st civil governor of what was then Illinois County.
According to his record book, a black slave named Manuel, "who made a honorable
fine at the door of the church," was arrested for practicing voodoo. He was
sentenced June 13, 1779, by Todd to be chained to a post and burned alive with
his ashes scattered. 2 days later, Sheriff Richard Winston carried out the
ghastly execution.

But, yes, it is true that once Illinois became a state in 1818, Belleville is
believed to have carried out its 1st execution of a non-Native American 3 years
later, the terrible outcome of an otherwise petty neighborly dispute.

According to Alvin Nebelsick's "The History of Belleville," Timothy Bennett
owned a horse that often strayed into the neighboring field of Alphonso
Stewart's. When one of Stewart's farmhands once peppered the wayward horse with
beans, Bennett heard of the incident and was angered.

Some say Bennett and Stewart later engaged in a drunken argument while others
say Bennett asked friends Jacob Short and Nathan Fike for advice. Whatever the
true preliminaries, Bennett and Stewart challenged each other to a duel.

Feb. 8, 1819, turned into "High Noon" in Belleville. With Fike and Short acting
as seconds, the 2 squared off just south of what would become Turners Hall on
North 1st Street.

The sad thing was that it was supposed to be a sham duel. Everyone thought they
had worked it so the 2 men would face off with guns loaded only with powder.
But as Rachael Tannehill would later testify, Bennett, just before making his
way to the site of the duel, stepped into an alley and rammed a ball down his

When all was ready, the 2 combatants were placed 30 yards apart and told to
await the signal to fire. Again, Bennett refused to follow the rules. Before
the signal could be given, Bennett unloaded his round, killing Stewart.

On March 8, a grand jury indicted Bennett, Short and Fike for murder. Just 3
months later, both Short and Fike were acquitted, but by that time, Bennett had
escaped from the St. Clair County Jail, going on the lam for more than 2 years.
Finally, in early July 1821, he was recaptured.

Justice was swift. On July 26, another special grand jury re-indicted him. A
day later, Bennett went on trial and a day after that a jury convicted him.
Judge John Edwards sentenced him to be hanged.

"Neither Bennett nor his friends believed that this awful sentence would ever
be executed," an old history of St. Clair County says. "The latter made
strenuous efforts to have him pardoned. Failing in this, they tried to have the
sentence commuted. But the governor (Shadrach Bond) remained firm against all

So, for want of proper fencing for his horse, Bennett was led to the gallows on
Sept. 3, 1821.

"Bennett was hanged near West Belleville, near the site of the Henry Raab
School," the county history account says. (Nebelsick put it in a large field
near 1200 W. Main St.) "The execution was witnessed by a multitude of men,
women and children."

It would be the 1st of 250 hangings in the state, including 1 woman, Elizabeth
Reed in 1845 at Lawrenceville. In this area, St. Clair County topped the list
with 11, followed by Madison (6), Randolph and Washington (3 each) and Bond and
Monroe (1 each), according to the list at www.genealogytrails.com. On July 1,
1927, hanging was replaced by 3 electric chairs at Joliet, Chester and Chicago,
which were used 97 times until 1990, when Charles Walker became the 1st of 12
people executed by lethal injection. On March 9, 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn signed
the law abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

As to why the executed prisoner's body was later mutilated, no reason was
given, so I did not speculate. However, since you asked, I can only hypothesize
that it may have been a final act of revenge by the victim's family or simply
an easy act of tasteless hooliganism, since the body had been buried apart from

(source: bnd.com)


Great Falls street fighter charged with murder

A Great Falls man who admits to being involved in about 50 street fights and
having "knocked out at least 20 people" has been charged with deliberate
homicide in the beating death of a 26-year-old man who is described as being "a
friend of Douglas."

Darionn Tyler Douglas was arrested early Sept. 5 and charged with felony
aggravated assault after Great Falls police responded to a call just after 2
a.m. Tuesday reporting that an unconscious man was at a residence on the 1200
block of 7th Avenue South.

A court affidavit states that when police arrived at the residence the deceased
man, identified only as M.L., "appeared to have been severely beaten and was
bleeding profusely." The female resident of the residence "was a registered
nurse and was administering aid to the victim" the affidavit states.

M.L. was immediately transported to Benefis Health System where he was treated
for his injuries. On Thursday, Sept. 7, medical personnel advised the
investigating officer that M.L. "was clinically brain dead."

Douglas' charges have now been amended to include deliberate homicide, and in
the alternative felony negligent homicide. If convicted of deliberate homicide,
Douglas could face the death penalty.

According to the court affidavit, Douglas admitted to police that he and M.L.
had been in a fight.

"Douglas admitted he and the victim were drinking alcohol when a verbal
argument ensued," the court affidavit states. "Both Douglas and the victim
agreed to go outside and engage in a fight."

Douglas later admitted to putting a set of weight lifting gloves on his hands
just prior to the fight with M.L.

In a follow-up interview, Douglas allegedly bragged to police investigators
that he had "been involved in roughly 50 street fights and of those fights, he
had knocked out at least 20 people."

Douglas also has a prior Partner/Family Member Assault conviction.

Douglas told police that M.L. hit him 1st, breaking his nose and tooth.
However, Douglas' nose was examined by medical staff the morning of the
assault, and it was found to not be broken.

Douglas allegedly then kicked M.L. in the face and knocked him out, and then
continued to repeatedly punch, elbow and knee the man in the face after he was

"Medical personnel indicated M.L. has sustained massive injuries to his face to
include a broken jaw in 2 places, a broken orbital bone/eye socket, and
substantial brain trauma causing it to swell significantly," the court
affidavit states. "It was determined the injuries sustained by M.L. were caused
by Douglas, and they directly led to his death."

The state of Montana has requested a $250,000 bond for Douglas' release pending
trial. He remains in custody at the Cascade County Detention Center.

(source: Great Falls Tribune)


Death Penalty in California is Madness!

To D.A. Dudley:

The News-Press reported today that you will seek the death penalty for Pierre
Haobsh for his brutal murders of the Han family in Santa Barbara. In principle,
I could not agree with you more that this guy deserves to die, but I do not
agree with your decision. If you succeed in getting the death penalty for this
killer and I believe that you will, your office will spend an inordinate amount
of time and taxpayer money on it and in the end, he will not be executed in
your lifetime!

The facts concerning the death penalty in California will show that Haobsh will
die of old age in San Quentin instead of being executed. The public needs to be
educated and shown how really ineffectual and costly the death penalty is in
order for an anti-death penalty initiative to succeed next time.

One of the leaders advocating to end the death penalty is Jeanne Woodford, a
former deputy undersecretary and director of the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation and the former warden of San Quentin prison.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated in the L.A.
Times that "the death penalty in California is dysfunctional" in its failure to
bring about executions. Victims' families' appearances in court for appeal
hearings literally go on forever, therefore prolonging their pain and suffering
and who in most cases never receive closure for their loss.

Murderers who were sentenced to death, in some cases 35 or more years ago, are
still sitting on death row in California through appeal after appeal. More
death row prisoners have died from natural causes than have been executed in
the last 35 years.

Santa Barbara County has 7 inmates on death row and among them is Malcom
Robbins. He murdered a child in Goleta in 1980 and has been on death row since
1983; 34 years! Richard Benson: 30 years! George Wharton: 30 years! Tommy
Martinez: 19 years! Martin Mendoza: 17 years! Ryan Hoyt: 15 years! Joshua
Miracle: 11 years. This does not include the previous years that were taken for
their trials and convictions.

Death penalty inmates live a more comfortable life on death row than general
population inmates! This entire process is madness!

Since 1976, California has executed 13 people, the last one in 2006. This is
about 1 every 3 years.

Each of the 13 executions has cost California's taxpayers $250 million.
California has about 745 people on death row and each inmate there costs
$90,000 more, per year, to house than other prisoners, a total of over $65
million a year in extra costs for all death row inmates. An inmate on death row
for 25 years costs over $3.5 million just to house in San Quentin.

Each initial death penalty trial costs over $1 million more than a
life-without-parole trial. The legal system eats up one-third of its total
budget, hundreds of millions of dollars through hearing endless death penalty

The enormous expense associated with the prosecution of death penalty cases
starts with the discovery of the homicide. Many people attribute the costs
primarily to the delays following a conviction, i.e., appointment of counsel,
appeals, etc. Those expenditures are imposed on the state. The counties bear
the costs of initial investigation by law enforcement, District Attorney,
appointed defense counsel and their investigators, psychologists and
psychiatrists, court personnel, jurors (and their employers) -- all of which
are multiplied from the norm of "ordinary" criminal prosecutions as a result of
a potential verdict of death.

The death penalty should be replaced by a sentence of life without the
possibility of parole. Of the over 4,700 men and women sentenced to life
without possibility of parole in California, few, if any, will ever be

If desired by the people of California, an exception for the death penalty
could be made for serial killers, for killers who have committed murders with
extreme cruelty and murderers of children. In these most heinous of cases, the
appeals process would move much faster than it does now, because the courts
would then have relatively few death penalty cases to review, rather than the
over 700 death penalty appeals that now clog the entire California judicial

Convictions of life without parole are far easier to obtain and there is the
important safeguard that no innocent person would get executed. Families of
murder victims would get faster justice and their emotions would not be on a
rubber band.

California Chief Justice Sakauye and former San Quentin Warden Woodford are
both tough, hard-line advocates of the criminal justice system, but they
realize the failure of the death penalty.

I urge all my fellow citizens and you to take the time to review the staggering
total costs of billions of tax dollars involved in death penalty cases, even
though we have over 745 inmates on death row and it has only been imposed 13
times in the last 35 years.

The last ballot initiative to end the death penalty in California failed to
pass. When the people in our state become educated and then realize why the
death penalty is not a death penalty at all, then the next initiative to end it
will pass!

With regards,

Ernest Salomon

(source: Op-Ed; edhat.com)


Judge OKs request by alleged kidnapper's attorneys

A federal court judge has allowed a request by attorneys for accused kidnapper
Brendt Christensen to withdraw from representing him.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, Judge Colin Bruce allowed the request of
Thomas Bruno and his sons Anthony and Evan Bruno of Urbana, to no longer
represent the 27-year-old Champaign man.

Bruce then appointed the office of the federal public defender to step in.

Christensen was indicted in late July for the June 9 kidnapping of visiting
University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang, 26, of Urbana, who hails from

Because authorities have said she is presumed dead - even though she's not been
found - federal prosecutors indicated there could be more serious charges
coming that might warrant the death penalty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres confirmed that for Bruce on Friday,
indicating that prosecutors would seek a superceding indictment in October.

Prior to hearing that, Bruce had hesitated in acting on the Brunos' request,
noting that nothing had changed since they were last in court in late August.

Speaking on behalf of his firm, Evan Bruno disputed that.

"The American Bar Association model rules say a death penalty defense begins
when the government even hints it's going to seek (that). Work gets started
when there's even a whiff that it's coming down the pipeline," he said.

Evan Bruno urged the judge not to wait on the lawyer change until a more
serious charge is lodged, saying that would cost the public defender's office
valuable time.

\"They are ready to go, to put in the massive amount of effort required. We
don't have the funds or the resources to do that," he said, referring to
Christensen's lack of funds to pay for his defense.

Even though the government may file a charge for which the death penalty is an
option - in this case murder in the course of a kidnapping - the case will
still have to be vetted through a panel at the Department of Justice in a
mini-trial of sorts to see if the death penalty will actually be sought.

Complicating matters is that none of the public defenders in the Central
District of Illinois is qualified to mount a death penalty defense.

Federal Public Defender for the Central District Tom Patton, whose office is in
Peoria, gave Bruce the name of Robert Tucker, an assistant public defender in
Washington D.C. who has handled "mainly terrorism cases that were eligible and
4 cases where the death penalty was sought."

"I haven't spoken to him personally. He's out of the country. But I'm told he's
willing to accept this case," Patton said.

Patton told Bruce that Elisabeth Pollock, an assistant public defender in the
Urbana office, met with Christensen on Thursday to go over what would happen
and to confirm that he was on board with their representation.

Patton said Pollock and George Taseff, another assistant public defender from
the Peoria office, would assist Tucker. Both have handled serious felony cases
in state and federal courts but do not have the necessary experience in federal
death penalty cases - which are quite rare - to be lead counsel.

Appearing in jail garb and looking a bit pale, Christensen confirmed for the
judge that he was willing to allow the Brunos to withdraw and would need
appointed counsel. He told Bruce that he has about $60,000 in outstanding
student loans, $4,000 in car loans and a spouse who earns about $2,500 a month.

The Brunos had filed their motion seeking to withdraw a week ago, citing
Christensen's family's inability to pay them any more for the intensive defense
that would be required for a capital case.

Bruce put it this way: "If you agree to represent someone for X offense and
then later it becomes, X plus Y plus Z, they can ask to withdraw."

Last month, Bruce set a trial date of Feb. 27. He told Patton he wanted to
stick to that schedule, even though that may be optimistic given the volume of
discovery, which is the subject of a protective order, that the government will
have to hand over to the new defense team.

"We need to get this case resolved. That's months and months away," Bruce

Christensen was arrested June 30 and has been held in the Macon County jail
since then.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Patton made a brief statement saying
that it would be the only statement to come from the defense team while the
case is active.

"I ask everyone to recall he's presumed innocent and the allegations are only
allegations. All you've heard so far is one party's version of the facts," he

Patton said he hoped the defense team would be able to head off the death
penalty at the Department of Justice.

(source: News-Gazette)

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