2017-09-19 13:26:21 UTC
Jurors seated in capital murder trial
Jurors in the aggravated murder trial of Christopher Peters were seated Monday
The 12 jurors and 2 alternates, along with attorneys and court officials, then
traveled to the scene of the alleged crime in Delphos as what is expected to be
a weeklong trial with capital punishment implications got fully underway.
Peters, 27, of Delphos, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of
15-month-old Hayden Ridinger on Nov. 15 at The Old Lincoln Inn, 24249 Lincoln
Highway on the west edge of Delphos. If convicted, Peters could face the death
penalty. He previously pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder;
felonious assault, a 2nd-degree felony; and endangering children by abuse, a
felony of the 2nd degree.
The mother of the victim, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces charges of
involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in connection with her son's
death. The infant???s body was found inside an apartment at 24249 Lincoln
Highway in Van Wert County. Her case will be heard separately from that of
Judge Martin Burchfield is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last
at least a week.
Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick in presenting the state's case against
Peters as the special counsel appointed by Burchfield. He is being assisted by
Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger. Lima attorney Bill Kluge is serving as
the lead defense attorney, joined by fellow Lima attorney Bob Grzybowski.
During the jury selection process that ran throughout most of the day Monday,
prospective jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case, their
views on the death penalty, and whether the fact that the victim in the case
was an infant would cloud their decision-making process. Many potential jurors
were excused after saying they believed they could not be fair and impartial in
judging the facts of the case for various reasons.
By mid-afternoon Monday, 23 potential jurors had been selected to be part of
the jury pool. Shortly after 3 p.m. a jury of 6 men and 6 women - along with 2
alternates - was sworn in to get the trial underway.
Jurors will hear opening arguments from attorneys Tuesday morning.
Costly and complicated: How effective is the death penalty in Utah?
Salt Lake County is pursuing its 1st death penalty case in years.
District Attorney Sim Gill is leading that case against Ramon Rivera, 31, who
is accused of brutally killing a fellow inmate in prison last year.
"This is something that I struggle with on a personal level and as a
professional," Gill said, "but it is a tool that our Legislature has given to
But it's expensive to keep people on death row. Past reports peg the cost of a
death row case at $1.6 million more than just going for life in prison.
It's also becoming more and more complicated.
There are the 9 people sitting on Utah's death row. Of those, 2 - Douglas
Lovell and Floyd Maestas -- don't even have permanent attorneys leading their
cases, according to Utah Courts spokesman Geoff Fattah.
"I am not totally surprised," said Stewart Gollan, executive director of the
Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "There is very limited money."
He said that makes it difficult to find qualified attorneys able to take on
Gollan said his organization opposes the death penalty and hopes to see it
abolished in Utah. Former State Sen. Steve Urquhart pushed a bill 2 years ago,
but it failed.
"The death penalty is going to continue to be far, far, far more expensive than
simply seeking life without parole in prison for these kinds of defendants,"
As for the case against Rivera, Gill said it's a tough one and he acknowledged
the debate surrounding the death penalty. But Gill said he's made his decision,
and it's "something I do not absolutely take lightly at all."
(source: KUTV news)
2 death row inmates need new attorneys - but will anyone sign up?
Wanted: An attorney to represent a Utah man condemned to death.
Must be licensed to practice law in the state of Utah and meet the state's
special qualifications for death penalty cases.
The pay is about $125 per hour - but co-counsel in one case will warn you,
there's been trouble actually getting paid. And the last guy who had the job?
He left because payment issues and threatened disciplinary sanctions took a
toll on his health.
9 men are currently on Utah's death row. 2 of them - 61-year-old Floyd Maestas
and 59-year-old Douglas Lovell - currently have no qualified lead attorney
representing them as they appeal their capital murder convictions in state
And while the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers isn???t telling its
members to not apply for the job, it's not exactly encouraging them to do so
Executive Director Stewart Gollan said the organization has "strongly
encouraged" its members to think carefully about what they're signing up for if
they take on either case. An attorney should consider the "significant
practical and ethical bind" they might put themselves in by signing onto a
complicated and weighty death penalty appeal, he said, given past defense
attorneys' issues with getting compensated for their own work or funding to
"There seems to be some pretty significant financial limitations that are being
imposed to the attorneys representing the defendant," Gollan said. "These
[cases] are extremely burdensome on the attorney. Our concern is that,
certainly, it puts attorneys in a bind and it also is not in the interest of
Anyone who is charged with a crime that includes the possibility of jail time -
in Utah, that is anything more serious than an infraction - is entitled to an
attorney, even if they can't afford one. For death penalty cases, those
attorneys must be experienced and qualified under court rules.
Utah is 1 of 2 states in the nation that delegates the responsibility to
provide defense lawyers to individual counties and cities.
There are 2 ways in which Utah's counties are funding defense lawyers in death
penalty cases: Most pay into a state-managed fund, a sort of insurance policy
from which officials can request money if they have a death penalty-eligible
case in their county.
But 5 of the state's 29 counties - Salt Lake, Weber, Summit, Wasatch and Utah -
don't pay into the fund, according to Utah court officials. Instead, each of
those counties uses its own money to contract with individual attorneys.
Lovell's case is on direct appeal with the Utah Supreme Court but has been sent
back to 2nd District Court in Weber County for a remand hearing. Weber County
is currently funding the defense costs.
Maestas is seeking post-conviction relief, a court process that is funded by
the state's Division of Finance, in Salt Lake County's 3rd District Court.
Appellate attorney Samuel Newton represented both men until recently, when he
withdrew after stress related to funding issues began causing him heart
Now, 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy is tasked with appointing a new
attorney for Maestas. The state courts have posted an opening with the Utah
State Bar, and Skanchy has ordered second-chair attorney John Boden to find
someone qualified to take the lead on the case.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Boden said he has drafted a letter and
sent it to several qualified attorneys - but adds that he's "disheartened"
after hearing about those attorneys' experiences in past cases.
In his letter, Boden writes that while there are issues surrounding Maestas'
factual innocence that need to be tackled, any applicant should also know that
there have been payment issues.
"We are each solo practitioners," Boden said of himself and Newton. "I cannot
afford health insurance, and bankruptcy keeps leering at me, as well as it has
The judge also ordered Boden to serve as lead chair in the case temporarily -
an appointment that Boden has objected to. The attorney, who practices family
law and is a certified public accountant, wrote in court papers that he???s
never done a post-conviction review, never served as an attorney in a felony
case and has no experience in civil cases at trial.
Newton asked Boden to sign on to Maestas' case, Newton wrote in an affidavit,
because no qualified attorney would step in and he knew Boden was "very good
with people" and could interview mitigation witnesses.
Before Newton was allowed to withdraw from their cases, Maestas and Lovell
pleaded with their respective judges that Newton be paid and allowed to
continue representing them.
"I'm asking you to pay him ... plus allow him to stay on my case," Maestas
scribbled in a letter to the judge. "Cuz myself + Mr. Newton have a great
relationship + we never fight + we get along very well.
At an August hearing, Lovell asked the judge in his case to order the county
and Newton to renegotiate the contract. But Judge Michael DiReda said he
couldn't involve himself in a contract dispute.
In his remarks to the judge, Lovell echoed a sentiment that critics of Utah's
public defender system have been voicing for years: Flat-fee contracts
incentivize attorneys to do less work.
"It's to his advantage to do as little work as possible, to talk to me as
little as possible," Lovell says in an audio recording of the Aug. 29 hearing.
"Because it's getting into that money thing. That's happened time after time
after time on this case. That's why I was hoping the court would ..." Lovell
takes a long pause before the judge says: "Step in and -"
"Say enough's enough," Lovell finishes.
"Well, it's not that I don't feel enough is enough," DeRida tells Lovell.
"There is a difference between feeling it and being able to articulate it in
terms of an order. I don't think this scenario is a good scenario. But it is
the statutory scenario that our Legislature has created."
DeRida said at the August hearing that if Weber County doesn't have an attorney
for Lovell by Wednesday, he'll step in and appoint one himself and oversee
But Deputy Weber County Attorney Bryan Baron - who works in the county's civil
division and handles contracts - said they are hoping to have an attorney hired
by the judge's deadline.
"I think we will," he said Thursday. "We've not had as many attorneys [apply]
as I had hoped, but a few have expressed interest in the case."
Baron also disputes Newton's assertion that he wasn???t paid in Lovell's case
or that a financial cap was put on him for the remand hearing. He said the
county placed a "soft cap," but Newton could have asked for more money if he
could show it was needed.
"We had never given him a firm amount, saying, "We won't pay you anymore than
this," Baron said. "We want to see that Doug Lovell gets adequate
Funding for the defense in death penalty cases has been a problem in Utah for
decades, according to attorney Ralph Dellapiana, who is the chairman of UACDL's
capital case committee. Experienced attorneys aren't going to work for free, he
said, and oftentimes those who do take the contracts don't understand the
complexity of a death penalty review.
"That's a problem, the state refusing to pay qualified counsel to do the
necessary work for appeals in death penalty cases," Dellapiana said. "And the
solution is either to pay for it or end the death penalty."
Newton and others have expressed concern that state and county officials so far
have disproportionately funded prosecutors' offices who are seeking an
execution and have not done the same for the defense.
"The state gives enormous resources to the prosecution," Newton told The
Tribune in an email. "The state must similarly commit to equally and adequately
support criminal defense attorneys, which is a right guaranteed by the United
States Constitution. The defense attorney, especially a solo practitioner,
should not have to personally bear and front the financial cost for the
enormous review required in a capital case."
Lovell admitted he killed 39-year-old Joyce Yost in 1985 in the mountains east
of Ogden to keep her from testifying that he had previously raped her. He
pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in 1993, after striking a plea deal that
spared him the death penalty if he could lead authorities to her body. The
search was fruitless, however, and he was sentenced to die by lethal injection.
But in 2011, he was allowed to withdraw his plea after the Utah Supreme Court
ruled he should have been better informed of his rights during court
proceedings. A jury again convicted him to death in a 2015 trial. His case is
currently on a direct appeal. His appellate attorney has argued in court papers
that one of Lovell's trial attorneys did not contact a number of witnesses who
wanted to testify on his behalf, and did not object to The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints limiting what bishops who worked with Lovell at the
prison could say on the stand. His case was recently remanded back to the
district court for an evidentiary hearing.
Maestas was convicted of killing 72-year-old Donna Lou Bott by stomping her to
death during a break-in and robbery at her Salt Lake City home in 2004 and was
sentenced to death in 2008. The Utah Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in
2012, ruling the defense hadn't shown Maestas had a significant mental handicap
that would exempt him from the death penalty or keep him from understanding the
proceedings, among other points. He is now seeking post-conviction relief in
state court. There, his attorneys have argued there are issues with the DNA and
fingerprint evidence used against him, and have said one of the men involved in
the crime has since recanted and said Maestas was framed. Maestas has
maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.
(source: Salt Lake Tribune)
Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret----Scott
Dozier faces loss of prison privileges in last months of life if he discloses
death manual details.
While Scott Raymond #Dozier, 45, waits for his date with death in November at
Ely State Prison, NV, the condemned inmate and his attorneys were granted
approval in court on Thursday to review Nevada's #execution manual, according
to KNPR and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Eighth Judicial District Court Judge
Jennifer Togliatti cautioned his lawyers, however, that she can sever Dozier's
communication with people, outside of prison, if their client discloses prison
information that is confidential and contained within the manual.
An agreement was worked out in court that permits Dozier and his lawyers to see
portions of the execution manual that were previously redacted, the
The manual's details are not available to the public. Judge Togliatti seeks to
ensure that the inmate does not leak parts of the document to anyone - his
fellow inmates, family, or friends. If Dozier does disclose contents from the
manual the judge warned that she can strip his prison privileges for the
remainder of his life, which is 2 months away.
Condemned inmate's lawyers want execution details reviewed by medical expert
The reason Dozier and his attorneys sought access to the state???s execution
manual is that the inmate???s federal public defenders want a medical expert to
review the details. Not since the April 2006 execution of Daryl Mack has a
Nevada inmate been put to death by capital punishment in the state. Dozier is
next in line and the 1st inmate to experience Nevada's new $860,000 execution
Dozier was convicted twice of murder. His 1st conviction was in 2006 for
2nd-degree murder in Arizona. He was convicted of murder by a Clark County, NV,
jury in 2007 and received the death penalty for killing Jeremiah Miller, 22, in
The drug cocktail that will be injected into Dozier to deliver death was
recently reported by prison officials, the Review-Journal noted. The #Lethal
Injection protocol will include diazepam, fentanyl, and cisatracurium, which is
Some say state statute poses ethical conflict for doctor consulting on
The pending execution does not come without a potential clash in ethics for Dr.
John DiMuro, Nevada's Chief Medical Officer. The chief medical officer has to
consult on delivering capital punishment, according to Nevada law. The Reno
Gazette-Journal explained that DiMuro is "an anesthesiologist committed to
According to the board that certifies the doctor, the American Osteopathic
Association (AOA), DiMuro's role assisting the state in selecting drugs used in
the injection protocol does not pose an ethical dilemma since he will not be
administering the lethal combination that kills Dozier.
At the same time, however, Johan Bester interprets the fact that DiMuro is
acting as a state consultant involved in Dozier's pending execution means that
the doctor is participating in creating the drug cocktail that will ultimately
kill the inmate. Bester is the medical director of bioethics, University of
Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine. Bester said the doctor's involvement
could present an ethical conflict. Bester described DiMuro's situation as
"difficult," the Gazette-Journal reported. On one hand, he's a physician with
an ethical obligation not to be involved, Bester relayed. On the other hand,
the doctor is faced with a law stating that he has to offer his advice.
DiMuro commented on his role as a consultant for the execution in an email to
the Gazette-Journal. He wrote, "I can confirm that I am consulting with the
NDOC as required by Nevada statute." He also noted that the process is not
complete and that the court is most apt to review the final decision.
Jessica Bardoulas, the AOA spokeswoman, stated that DiMuro's certification is
not jeopardized by fulfilling his responsibilities as the state's chief medical
officer. As well, the ethical policy for the Nevada Medical Association states
that physicians are not supposed to "actively participate," the Gazette-Journal
Earlier this year, Dozier voluntarily ended all appeals and Judge Togliatti
signed his death warrant. The condemned inmate affirmed that his stance has not
wavered, according to News3LV. He told the judge, "I will gladly write a letter
every single week, just letting you know nothing has changed between now and
then," he said. "I'll write it every Sunday."
Death Row White Supremacist Fires Jewish, Indian Attorneys for Failure to
Dylann Roof, who was convicted in federal court for the 2015 of killing 9
people, all African-Americans, during a prayer service at Emanuel African
Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, wants to fire his Jewish and
Native American appellate attorneys, AP reported.
Roof, 23, who is on federal death row, on Monday sent a hand-written note to
the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, saying that "because
of my political views, which are arguably religious, it will be impossible for
me to trust 2 attorneys that are my political and biological enemies."
He argued that because of their racial identities, "it is therefore quite
literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests relating to
Roof told the court he believes "ethnicity was a constant source of conflict
even with my constant efforts to look past it" with renowned death penalty
lawyer David Isaac Bruck, who is Jewish and served as Roof's primary attorney
during his federal trial.
Dylann Roof has made legal history, being the 1st US citizen to face both a
state and federal death penalty at the same time. In September 2015, it was
announced Roof would face capital punishment in his state prosecution, and in
May 2016, the US Department of Justice announced Roof would face capital
punishment in his federal prosecution as well.
This could turn out to be a difficult to resolve conflict between states and
federal rights, seeing as only one of them gets to kill Roof, for obvious
It is also conceivable that Roof will not make it to either of his executions:
on August 4, 2016, he was beaten by an African-American inmate at the
Charleston County Detention Center. The inmate, 25-year-old Dwayne Marion
Stafford, was mysteriously able to exit his cell, get through a steel cell door
with a narrow vertical window, and go down the stairs into the jail's
protective custody unit to reach Roof. When he reached Roof, the latter was
alone after 2 detention officers assigned to be with him had mysteriously left
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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