2017-09-13 11:20:20 UTC
Parents of slain Putt-Putt manager still opposed to execution of their son's
The parents of a Putt-Putt assistant manager killed in 2006 told a judge
Tuesday they are still against the death penalty even though their son's killer
Paul Storey, 32, of Fort Worth received the death penalty for the murder of
Jonas Cherry, who begged for his life before he was shot to death. The Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals in April granted Storey a stay of execution.
A district court hearing continued Tuesday to determine whether defense
attorneys were notified by prosecutors during Storey's 2008 trial that Cherry's
parents were against the death penalty.
"Judith and Glenn Cherry did not want death for Mr. Storey," an affidavit from
the parents stated. "Unknown to the jury and contrary to the state's argument,
they stood with the family members who pleaded for the jury to spare Mr.
"I've always thought that way," Judith Cherry, the mother of Jonas Cherry,
testified Tuesday. "Yes, it stayed that way even after my son's murder because
I did not want to change my values on that. We were told because [Jonas
Cherry's widow] was next-of-kin, her opinion carried more weight."
The hearing Tuesday was before Judge Everett Young. Attorneys Mike Ware and
Keith Hampton represent Storey, who was dressed Tuesday in a red Tarrant County
Jail outfit, sat without showing emotion in the courtroom and rarely spoke to
Attorneys Travis Bragg, Matthew Ottoway and Rachel Patton from the state
attorney general's office represented the Tarrant County district attorney's
3 defense attorneys in the case - Larry Moore, Mark Daniel and Tim Moore -
testified Tuesday they were never told by former Tarrant County assistant
district attorneys Robert Foran and Christy Jack about Cherry's parents
opposing the death penalty.
Defense attorney William "Bill" Ray testified that he couldn't say if he was
Daniel and Tim Moore represented Storey's accomplice, Mark Porter, in the 2008
trial. Larry Moore and Ray represented Storey.
"But if I had known, I would have tried to get the state to waive the death
penalty," Ray testified.
Larry Moore, who is now with the Tarrant County district attorney's office,
testified he didn't learn about how the Cherrys opposed the death penalty until
"I was shocked and surprised," Moore said when asked how he felt when he heard.
"My opinion has changed considerably about [Jack]. My concerns are about her
He noted that, had he known, he could have raised objections during Jack's
closing argument in Storey's trial when she told jurors the Cherry family
believed the death penalty was appropriate.
State District Judge Mollee Westfall, U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey Cureton and Letty
Martinez, a partner at Varghese Summersett, testified Tuesday afternoon that
Jack was a credible and truthful attorney.
Jack and Foran testified repeatedly Monday that lawyers for Storey and Porter
were told that Cherry's parents were against the death penalty.
Prosecutors have said that while the Cherrys were generally opposed to the
death penalty, they were in agreement at the time of the 2008 trial that Storey
should be executed because he had refused to accept a plea bargain for life
On Monday, Bragg introduced a card from the Cherrys to Foran and Jack, thanking
them for their work on the case and their "professionalism."
Jonas Cherry was at Putt-Putt Golf and Games, across Texas 121/Loop 820 from
North East Mall in Hurst.
Shortly before 9 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2006, Storey and Porter stood over Cherry,
who pleaded: "Please! I gave you what you want. Don't hurt me." They refused,
shot him twice in the head and twice in his legs and fled with $200 to $700.
Storey and Porter were convicted of capital murder, but only Storey got the
death penalty. Porter got life without parole after making a deal with the
district attorney's office.
The hearing recessed Tuesday, and more testimony is pending sometime in the
next few weeks. After the conclusion of testimony, a decision could take weeks
or months, according to attorneys on Tuesday.
Report needed fresh numbers on death penalty
Frank Green of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in an article running in
the Free Lance-Star [Only 4 inmates are on death row in Virginia, Sept. 6,
2017] that a 2016 Gallup national poll showed that 60 % of respondents favored
the death penalty and only 37 % opposed it.
However, a 2017 Pew Foundation national poll asking the same question found
that 49 % favored the death penalty and 42 % opposed it, a large shift in
public opinion in just 1 year. One wonders why the more recent and dramatically
different poll results were not reported by Mr. Green.
A 2014 Gallup poll asked about the death penalty in a slightly different way:
After conviction for murder, do you favor imposing the death penalty or life in
prison without parole? 50 % favored the death penalty and 45 % favored life in
prison with no parole.
Because the 2 executions in Virginia this year involved significant issues
about the mental health of both of the convicted murderers (Ricky Gray and
William Morva), perhaps it is time that the death penalty in this state becomes
not just a political issue but also a moral one.
Please join me on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Central Rappahannock Regional Library
headquarters in downtown Fredericksburg, when Mr. Brian Stolarz will discuss
his new book, "Grace and Justice on Death Row," to learn more about the many
important but publicly unknown issues surrounding the death penalty in the U.S.
and Virginia. Regardless of your own position on the death penalty, I guarantee
you will be shocked and enlightened if you attend his talk.
(source: Letter to the Editor, fredricksburg.com)
Hungarian citizenship on US death row?
On the evening of July 7 2017, 35-year-old William Charles Morva was executed
by lethal injection in the State of Virginia. Although Morva was a Hungarian
citizen and the Hungarian Embassy asked for clemency, Virginia's Democratic
governor Terry McAuliffe did not spare his life.
Morva's lawyers claimed that he was delusional when he killed 2 men during a
prison escape in 2006. The Governor issued a statement that he didn't find a
substantial enough reason to intervene. "At the conclusion of that review, I
have determined that Mr. Morva was given a fair trial and that the jury heard
substantial evidence about his mental health as they prepared to sentence him
in accordance with the law of our Commonwealth.... In short, the record before
me does not contain sufficient evidence to warrant the extraordinary step of
overturning the decision of a lawfully empaneled jury following a properly
Morva was born in 1982 in the United States. His father, Charles Akos Morva
(Morva K???roly) arrived to the US from Hungary as a refugee in 1956. In 2006
the young Morva was in jail for attempted burglary and requested medical
treatment of an injury. While being transported to a medical facility he stole
a sheriff's gun and fatally shot an unarmed security guard in the face before
fleeing. His escape triggered a manhunt. Within a day Morva had killed another
deputy and was found later in a ditch with a gun nearby.
The defense team stated that Morva suffered from a personality disorder that
resulted in "odd beliefs," but not delusions. According to the prosecutor,
Morva had a "superior IQ" and made up his stories. At the end the jury did not
buy the insanity plea.
According to court documents, Morva claimed that his father's experiences
caused him trauma and affected his life. The elder Morva "was forced to serve
in the Nazi-aligned Hungarian Army during World War II although he was Jewish."
His father also committed "very gruesome acts" during the 1956 Hungarian
Revolution and kept his Jewish heritage a secret. In the US, the family kept
multiple firearms in the house because his father feared that Nazis would kill
him and his family. Morva's father died in 2004 and many questioned the
validity of these claims.
In a surprise turn on May 11, 2012, 6 years after his initial arrest, Morva's
lawyers filed documents establishing that the defendant was a citizen of
Hungary. As a Hungarian citizen, the death penalty would be impossible. The EU
has abolished capital punishment and Hungary is an EU member. Did Morva obtain
Hungarian citizenship in order to avoid the death penalty? How could he obtain
Hungarian citizenship in jail after being accused of murder?
The Hungarian Embassy in Washington started to lobby in Morva's behalf. "While
I would like to stress that the Government of Hungary has no intention to
interfere in any way with the legal procedures and verdicts of the United
States justice system, I would hereby like to make a humanitarian appeal on
behalf of William Charles Morva. On behalf of the Hungarian Government, I
respectfully request you, Governor McAuliffe, to use the clemency proceedings
initiated on behalf of Mr. Morva to commute his sentence to life imprisonment
without parole. Should you be able to decide to spare the life of Mr. Morva,
the Government of Hungary would welcome and support such a decision."
The Embassy also stated that Hungary, as a member of the European Union and
State Party to all relevant international agreements, strongly opposes the use
of capital punishment. Strongly opposes?
2 years ago Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to reintroduce the
death penalty in Hungary. "The death penalty question should be put on the
agenda in Hungary," he said. "Hungary will stop at nothing when it comes to
protecting its citizens."
Several articles have appeared in the media saying that the Hungarian
citizenship process is partially controlled by a "passport mafia." However
Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semj???n has stated that "the procedure of granting
Hungarian citizenship is strictly controlled by the Hungarian state
administration and, if need be, police and the secret services are also
The question remains. How and when did William Charles Morva obtain his
Hungarian citizenship? We have asked the Hungarian Government. No answer yet.
(source Hungarian Free Press)
Jury to determine life or death for Campbell following closing arguments
When a North Carolina jury returns to court Wednesday, they will begin
deliberating whether a Texas man convicted of murder should live or die.
The sentencing phase in the trial of Eric Campbell began Tuesday.
Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, was found guilty last month for robbing and
murdering a Granville County, North Carolina couple. Jermome Faulkner, 73, and
Dora Faulkner, 62, were killed inside their home on Dec. 31, 2014.
Campbell and his father, Edward Campbell, were arrested in Greenbrier County,
W.Va. the next day following a shoot out with State Police. Edward Campbell
later killed himself in prison.
Throughout the nearly 2 month long trial, the defense repeatedly painted Edward
Campbell as an abusive father. They said Eric went on the trip with his father
from Texas to West Virginia to improve their relationship. Eric told the jury
last month his father killed the Faulkners, not him. He said he believed Edward
Campbell was only going to rob the couple, not kill them.
Tuesday's hearing included testimony from Campbell's family and friends from
Texas. Defense attorney William Durham told the jury during closing arguments
every witness described Eric Campbell as a "kind" person.
"They all agreed that Eric Campbell is not a sociopath. He's not someone who
routinely acts mean and then violates the rights of others. Everyone, of all
parts of his life, says he treats others with kindness," Durham said. "Despite
all that abuse, despite all the vicious things that Eric Campbell suffered at
the hands of his father, it did not crush all the good from him.
The defense asked the jury to grant Campbell life with mercy.
"We believe this case calls for life because of who Eric Campbell was, who he
could've been without that common denominator interfering and who he will be
for the rest of his life," said Amos Tyndall, another defense attorney.
Prosecutors are asking jurors to impose the death penalty.
"I ask you to do justice by the Faulkners, to do justice by their family, to do
justice by this community," said Granville County, North Carolina District
Attorney Mike Waters.
During closing arguments, prosecutors reminded the jury Campbell made a
"conscious choice and deliberate decision" to be involved with the crime.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Campbell was with his father before the
murders when he purchased chemicals, gasoline and other items that were used to
destroy the Faulkners home. The Campbells put the Faulkners' bodies inside a
stolen truck and set the house on fire.
"He knew the gravity of all of this," Waters said. "So ladies and gentlemen
it's not the decision that you are making. The choice is his. It's a choice he
made long ago."
Allison Capps, Assistant District Attorney in Granville County, N.C., said
Campbell did not give the Faulkners a chance to live, so he should not be
allowed to live either.
"I want you to ask yourself: When on December 31, 2014 did the defendant do
anything to speak life over Jerome Faulkner or Dora Faulker? The evidence shows
that all there was was death there that night," Capps said.
Waters said this was an organized murder.
"This course of conduct began in Texas with a plan. They came here to this
community where they were out of money, out of gas and they decided to pick on
people that they thought could not defend themselves," he said.
The defense said no matter what the verdict is, Campbell will never live a
normal life again. He will either remain locked up or be put to death.
"He'll never again walk on a beach. He will never get married, never have
children. He will spend every night of the rest of his life in a place none of
us would want to spend a single night," Durham said. "I believe that there is
some room in your heart for some mercy for Eric Campbell."
Unlike West Virginia, North Carolina is 1 of 31 states with a death penalty.
Capps encouraged the jury to "follow the law" and to do the right thing.
"We know it's going to be hard, but that is your duty," she said.
The jury meets again at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Juror sentenced killer to death because he was black, appeal contends
Attorneys for condemned killer Keith Tharpe are trying to halt his Sept. 26
execution with arguments that a juror on the case was racist and voted for
death because Tharpe was African-American.
The now-deceased juror, Barney Gattie, once said, "After studying the Bible, I
have wondered if black people even have souls," court filings say.
Gattie later backed off his statements, and Tharpe's juror bias claims have
gone nowhere. They previously were rejected by state court judges and, just a
week ago, a federal judge in Macon denied a motion to reopen the case.
Tharpe's legal team is now appealing that decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Tharpe sits on death row for committing particularly heinous crimes after his
wife left him and moved in with her parents. On the morning of Sept. 25, 1990,
instead of obeying a court order to stay away from his wife, Tharpe intercepted
her and her sister-in-law as they drove to work in Jones County.
Tharpe forced the car to stop, pulled out a shotgun and took his sister-in-law,
Jacqueline Freeman, to the rear of the car. He shot her, rolled her into a
ditch, reloaded and shot her again, killing her.
Tharpe then raped his wife on the side of the road and drove her to Macon,
telling her to take money out of her credit union account. Instead, she called
police and Tharpe was soon arrested.
His capital trial was held about 100 days later, a short amount of time unheard
of today. The jury unanimously sentenced Tharpe to death.
Claims of alleged racial bias of one of the jurors surfaced 8 years later when
Gattie, a retired truck driver with 8 children, signed an affidavit that
expressed his views.
In the affidavit, Gattie described himself as "an upfront, plainspoken man,"
and he said his wife had warned him about using racial slurs when talking to
Freeman, the murder victim, came from a family of "nice black folks," Gattie
said. "If they had been the type Tharpe is, then picking between life and death
for Tharpe wouldn't have mattered so much. My feeling is, what would be the
Gattie said he felt Tharpe, "who wasn't in the 'good' black folks category in
my book, should get the electric chair for what he did." (Georgia has changed
its method of execution to lethal injection since Tharpe's 1990 trial.)
Gattie also said, "In my experience, there are 2 types of black people: 1.
Black folks and 2. (racial slurs)," he said.
Gattie's statements were included in an affidavit he signed May 25, 1998, and
which was prepared by Tharpe's lawyers after they interviewed him. The
affidavit immediately caught the attention of the state Attorney General's
Just 2 days later, Gattie signed a 2nd affidavit, one prepared by a lawyer for
the state. It largely contradicted his prior affidavit.
"I believe Keith Tharpe was a cold, calculated murderer," Gattie said. "I did
not vote to impose the death penalty because he was a black man."
At no time, Gattie said, did he utter a racial slur during jury deliberations.
As for signing the March 25, 1998, affidavit, Gattie said he'd been drinking
beer and whiskey and didn't pay much attention when it was read to him.
"I just wanted to get rid of them," Gattie said of Tharpe's lawyers. "Many of
my statements were taken out of context and simply not accurate."
5 months later, Gattie gave sworn testimony before a state court judge,
answering questions from lawyers for the state and the defense. Gattie admitted
he used racial slurs, but not in a bigoted context.
"It was used in the terms that you are a white (racial slur) or a black (racial
slur)," he said. "If you commit a crime or you do wrong and you don't work and
you don't do that, that is the term I have used it in."
Gattie insisted, "I am not against blacks."
Tharpe's lawyers filed new motions after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March
that courts can examine what happened in a jury room when there are showings
that racial prejudice played a role in deliberations.
But Senior U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal in Macon recently rejected the
claims. Royal noted that 10 other jurors in the Tharpe case testified and that
all said racial animus played no part in their deliberations.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said a case can be reopened only when "a juror
makes a clear statement that he ... relied on racial stereotypes or animus to
convict a criminal defendant."
But in Tharpe's case, "There is absolutely no indication that Gattie, or anyone
else, brought up race during the jury deliberations," Royal wrote. "It was more
than 7 years later, and possibly when he was intoxicated, that Gattie made his
Tharpe's lawyers are now asking the 11th Circuit to consider the juror
"(A) grotesque perversion of justice ... results when a death sentence, such as
Mr. Tharpe's, is imposed as a result of a juror's racially biased views," their
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
U.S. Supreme Court rejects delay in Ohio inmate's execution
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a condemned Ohio killer's last-minute
attempt to delay his execution.
Justice Elena Kagan said in a Tuesday night order the court had denied the
request by Gary Otte.
Otte is scheduled to die Wednesday in the state death chamber at the Southern
Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
The 45-year-old inmate still has a final appeal before the state Supreme Court,
arguing he shouldn't be put to death because of his age at the time of the
crime. The court didn't indicate when it would rule, although an early morning
decision Wednesday was likely.
Otte was 20 when he killed Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura in suburban
Cleveland in 1992.
(source: Associated Press)
Has the death penalty outlived its usefulness in Ohio?
The state of Ohio is set to execute its second death row inmate this year on
Wednesday, at a time when the cost of executions is high and public sentiment
continues to shift.
Gary Otte, a Terre Haute, Indiana man who robbed and murdered two Parma
residents in 1992, is set to die by lethal injection. His execution will follow
the death of Akron child killer Ronald Phillips in July.
Every execution breathes new life into the debate over whether the death
penalty is necessary.
As it stands, state prosecutors in Ohio will continue to weigh the interests of
the families of the victims and the public when they decide whether to pursue
the death penalty. But challenges in obtaining drugs, as well as problems with
drugs the state uses, have combined with due process and legal challenges to
Phillips' execution came after the state ceased executing people for more than
2 1/2 years. This came after it took inmate Dennis McGuire an unusually long
time to die when the state injected him with a previously unused combination of
Following McGuire's death, the state searched for and found a new 3-drug
combination. But that plan led to a who new slew of legal challenges. While the
state prevailed in its legal fight, it was a long, drawn-out battle.
Still, such legal fights have become the norm in advance of a scheduled
execution. Attorneys for death row inmates draft numerous court documents to
try to either halt an execution or overturn the sentence altogether. Those
filings tend to become more voluminous as execution dates near.
The state that executes an inmate must also respond to those motions. And
judges, be them state or federal, usually address them.
When factoring in the cost of housing inmates and the precautions needed to
carry out executions, a February 2014 story by the Dayton Daily News estimated
that Ohio spends close to $17 million a year in costs associated with the death
In addition, the results of a Pew Research Center poll released in September
2016 showed that nationwide support for the death penalty is at its lowest
point in more than 4 decades. 49 % of Americans favor the death penalty for
murderers, while 42 % oppose it.
Support dropped 7 % since March 2015, the results say.
A poll on the sentiment of Ohio residents on the death penalty appears to have
been released by Quinnipiac University in May 2014. When respondents were asked
if they favored or opposed the death penalty for murderers, 69 % favored it,
while 25 % said they opposed it.
When respondents were asked to choose between the death penalty, life in prison
without parole or life in prison with parole possible, the results were much
National anti-death-penalty advocate calls for stop to execution of Ohio killer
A nun who is a well-known advocate against the death penalty took to Twitter on
Tuesday, imploring Ohio Gov. John Kasich to halt the scheduled execution of
convicted killer Gary Otte on Wednesday morning.
Sister Helen Prejean sent out several tweets Tuesday evening, arguing that Otte
has an IQ of only 85 and suffers from "severe mental illness."
"The death penalty is supposedly reserved for the 'worst of the worst,'"
Prejean said in 1 of the tweets. "Gary Otte is an impaired, damaged man, not
the 'worst of the worst.'"
Prejean said it's possible to remember Otte's victims, Robert Wasikowski, a
worker for the city of Broadview Heights, and Sharon Kostura, a 45-year-old
American Greetings employee, without killing Otte.
"You can stop this cycle of violence, Gov. John Kasich," she said.
Otte shot Wasikowski, 61, in the head after talking his way into the man's
apartment on Feb. 12, 1992, at the Pleasant Lake apartment complex in Parma.
Otte took $413.
The next day, Otte killed Kostura after he forced his way into her apartment at
the same complex. He stole $45, Kostura's car keys and her checkbook.
A 3-judge panel, which presided over Otte's trial in lieu of a jury, found Otte
guilty of 2 counts of aggravated murder and other crimes later that year. He
received death sentences for both killings in October 1992.
Otte's lawyers recently argued to the Ohio Parole Board that his life should be
spared because he was repeatedly bullied as a child and that bullying led to
drug and alcohol use and depression, which led him to commit his crimes.
The parole board rejected that argument and others, saying he had a good
upbringing with a loving family. Kasich upheld that ruling on Sept. 1.
Lawyers for Otte on Tuesday filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court hoping
to delay the execution so they can argue that he was too young at the time of
the crimes to be put to death. Otte was 20 when he killed Wasikowski and
The last-ditch request to the Ohio Supreme Court came a few hours after a lower
court rejected an appeal.
Late Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute request from Otte to
delay the execution.
Prejean is a Roman Catholic nun based in the Congregation of St. Joseph in New
Orleans. She is a nationally known opponent of the death penalty and in 1993
published "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty". In
1995 it was released as a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.
(source for both: cleveland.com)
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