2017-10-06 13:37:21 UTC
Michelle Tharp's attorneys say she should not face death for starving daughter
A Burgettstown resident who has been incarcerated for nearly 2 decades for the
starvation murder of her daughter should not have to face the death penalty,
her attorneys said Wednesday after emerging from a conference in the chambers
of Washington County President Judge Katherine B. Emery.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered in 2014 Michelle Tharp should be
resentenced for the 1998 death of 7-year-old Tausha Lee Lanham, who weighed
less than 12 pounds when she died, because the public defender in her trial
failed to present evidence of her mental state that might have resulted in a
different punishment than the death penalty.
James J. McHugh Jr., first assistant defender in the Defender Association of
Philadelphia, said "so much time has passed, some 20 years since the original
penalty phase, that significant family members have passed away," so it would
be impossible for them to testify about Michelle Tharp's mental state at the
time of Tausha's death.
The lack of their testimony would violate Tharp's due-process rights and
subject her to cruel and unusual punishment, McHugh asserted.
"If we won, she would be subject to life (in prison) without parole," McHugh
said. "We're just saying that they can't execute her."
McHugh and Elizabeth Hadayia, assistant federal defender, have 60 days to file
a motion on behalf of Tharp, 48, who is imprisoned in the State Correctional
Institution at Muncy, Lycoming County. Tharp was not present in Washington
County Court Wednesday.
The prosecution will be able to respond to the motion by Tharp's attorneys,
presumably seeking to again empanel a jury to hear the death penalty phase.
"I can't talk about negotiations," said District Attorney Gene Vittone. "It's
still pretrial. But it's a death penalty case right now."
Emery will eventually schedule arguments before making a decision.
The state's highest court upheld Tharp's 1st-degree murder conviction in 2000.
Justice Max Baer called the evidence of Tharp's guilt "overwhelming," writing
she not only denied Tausha meals but physically restrained the child so she
could not feed herself and "remarkably ... asked others to perpetuate the same
abuse upon her own child."
Tausha was born prematurely in 1990 and spent the 1st year of her life in a
hospital. Baer wrote, as the 2nd of Tharp's 4 children, "she was the sole
target" of neglect and abuse. The other children were healthy and well-fed. In
1996, Tharp began living with Douglas Bittinger, with whom she had her 4th
When Tharp was away, she instructed Bittinger not to feed Tausha, and, on
several occasions, 2 or 3 days would pass without Tausha getting any food or
Bittinger was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to
criminal homicide, endangering the welfare of a child and abuse of a corpse.
Prosecutors said Bittinger's crime was not preventing the abuse by his
girlfriend, against whom he testified at trial. He is serving his sentence at
the state prison in Mercer.
Tharp claimed to have fed Tausha the day before she died, although a medical
examiner testified the girl had not eaten for several days, that she suffered
from malnutrition and her teeth were worn from grinding, common in juvenile
A psychologist evaluated Tharp and determined she was competent to stand trial,
but he diagnosed her with schizoaffective disorder, adjustment disorder with
anxiety, depressive personality disorder and passive-aggressive personality
disorder. The defense never called him to testify in support of an argument
that her mental state should be a factor in the jury sparing her from the death
Baer, in his 2000 order, noted Tharp's argument that she also had a difficult
childhood, was abandoned by her mother, was physically abused by her stepmother
and the men in her life, that her father was convicted of both drug dealing and
drunken driving, and she had below-average intelligence, repeated 10th grade
and graduated nearly last in her class.
Then-Washington County judge Paul Pozonsky took the unusual step of playing a
country song in his courtroom at Tharp's sentencing. "The Little Girl" tells of
a neglected girl living in a house filled with domestic violence.
Forsyth County man could face death penalty in shooting of 60-year-old
A Forsyth County man faces the possibility of the death penalty after rejecting
an offer to plead guilty to 1st-degree murder and be sentenced to life.
Norman Kennard Carter Jr., 21, of Brentwood Park Place in Rural Hall, was
charged with 1st-degree murder in the shooting death of 60-year-old Alphonzo
Singletary on Sept. 6, 2016.
Carter was scheduled to plead guilty Thursday in Forsyth Superior Court to
1st-degree murder. He would have been sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. But Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill said in
court that Carter rejected the plea offer.
What started off as a plea hearing turned into what is known as a Rule 24
hearing, in which prosecutors request to pursue of the death penalty. O'Neill
said there were 2 aggravating factors - that the killing was done while in the
commission of another felony and that the alleged murder was especially
heinous, cruel and atrocious.
O'Neill criticized Carter for rejecting the plea, saying that the evidence
against him is overwhelming.
"This case is no longer about guilty or not guilty," O'Neill said in court.
"The only issue is whether a sentencing jury will give him life or death."
David Freedman, attorney for Carter, said Carter is a young man struggling with
a big decision. He asked O'Neill and Assistant District Attorney Lizmar Bosques
to not withdraw the plea offer until December.
After consulting with Singletary's family, O'Neill granted Freedman's request.
Judge Angela Puckett of Forsyth Superior Court granted prosecutors' request to
pursue the death penalty.
(source: Winston-Salem Journal)
St. Augustine priest killer expected to plead to avoid death penalty
A disturbed Jacksonville man who admitted he abducted and killed 71-year-old
Father Rene Robert last year is expected to plead guilty later this month,
effectively avoiding trial and taking the death penalty off the table.
The Diocese of St. Augustine sent a statement Thursday morning that an
agreement between the state of Georgia and Steven James Murray, who was 28 at
the time of the killing, had been reached. District Attorney Natalie Paine has
not returned 2 phone calls seeking comment and in a text message to Times-Union
sister publication The Augusta Chronical, she said she had no comment.
According to the statement, Murray has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a
life in prison without the possibility of parole sentence. A sentencing hearing
is set for Oct. 18 in Waynesboro, Ga., according to court records.
After dozens of exclusive interviews with the Times-Union last year, the
newspaper in its "Road to a Killing" story explored Murray's tragic upbringing
and how his moral descent ended in the horrific death of Robert, a priest of
the Diocese of St. Augustine.
Murray has spent about half his life behind bars begining at the age of 11 when
he was first sent away. As a youngster, he said he got into trouble
intentionally to escape the horrors of his childhood. Murry and his 2 sisters
claimed their father was physically and sexually abusive. Police in South
Carolina opened up multiple investigations into Bobby James Murray on
allegations of sexual abuse. However, charges never went forward because
Murray;s sisters would recant their stories. The Times-Union reviewed thousands
of pages of documehts from police and the department of social services
regarding the allegations and investigations into abuse. 2 police officers in
South Carolina told the paper they believe the abuse did occur but their hands
were tied because the sisters' routinely recanted the allegations after being
senbt to foster care. The sister's told the Times-Union they were frightened
what their father would do to their mother if they did't recant.
Bobby James Murray moved from Aiken South Caolina to Jacksonville a few years
ago to follow one of his daughters. Here, just like in South Carolina, he was
in trouble, as was his son Steven. Bobby James Murray was arrested in
Jacksonville on allegations he exposed himself to children at a pool.
Robert, a Franciscan involved in prison ministries, was one of the only adults
whom Murray could count on to help him in a time of need.
Murray told the paper that Robert often let him use his car and gave him money.
He said last April while driving around with Robert, he decided he wanted to
head north to see his children in South Carolina. While en route, Murray said
he forced Robert into the trunk of his own car and told him to be quiet. He
said he kept hearing Robert's voice telling him he was going to go back to
prison. Murray said he panicked, stopped in Georgia and shot him.
A manhunt for Murray and the priest lasted days and through three states.
Shortly after his arrest, Georgia officials said they were seeking the death
penalty, something that Robert was against. In 1995, Robert signed a
Declaration of Life and left it with his personal records. It states that
should he ever become a victim of a homicide, he does not want those convicted
of the crime to be executed no matter how heinous the crime nor how much he may
have suffered. Because of this and that the church as a whole believes the
death penalty only contributes to an ever-growing disrespect for the sacredness
of human life, the diocese pressed prosecutors in Georgia to no longer seek the
"I am pleased an agreement has been reached between the state of Georgia and
Steven Murray," said Bishop Felipe Estevez of the diocese in the statement.
Murray, the statement says, deserves to be punished. "This decision is just and
will help Father Robert's loved ones find closure without the anguish of
enduring years of court proceedings."
Crystal Murray, Steven Murray's youngest sister said her brother needs
psychological help, something she said he is not getting in the Clayton County
jail. Crystal Murray said she received a postcard from her brother the other
day that said: "Life sometimes gets tricky when there's drugs in the way. It is
going to be all OK. I love you with all my heart."
(source: Florida Times-Union)
Florida executes man convicted of 2 killings
Florida has executed an inmate convicted of killing 2 people after a night of
drinking decades ago.
The governor's office says Michael Lambrix died by lethal injection at 10:10
p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison.
He was convicted of killing Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant in 1983.
Prosecutors said he killed the pair outside his trailer near LaBelle, northeast
of Fort Myers. Lambrix said he was innocent.
The 57-year-old Lambrix had filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court,
arguing that his execution should be halted after Florida's death penalty
sentencing method was found to be unconstitutional. The state has since
required a unanimous jury vote in death cases.
The jury wasn't unanimous in either of Lambrix's death sentence decisions, but
Florida's Supreme Court has said the new rules don't apply to cases as old as
(source: Associated Press)
State of Florida / First Person: Why I Wrote To A Death Row Inmate And Watched
Editor's note: 57-year-old Cary Michael Lambrix was convicted in 1984 for 2
1st-degree murders of Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant in Glades County.
Lambrix insisted he was innocent, claiming he killed Moore in self-defense when
he found Moore strangling Bryant. He spent 33 years on death row and avoided
execution 3 times. Rebekkah Mar, former WUFT journalist and current morning
news producer at WINK News in Fort Myers, corresponded with Lambrix from
February 2016 to September 2017. In May 2017, she visited him at the Florida
State Prison to write his story. She also worked with United Kingdom's Proper
Podcasts, to help record the podcast "Regrets Of The Dying: Mike" hosted by
Georgina Scull. Once Lambrix???s execution was re-scheduled, WUFT and the
Florida Association of Broadcasters reached out to Rebekkah for her to go to
his execution. (The following feature does not reflect the beliefs of WINK
The Execution, Oct. 5, 2017
As I waited in the visitation room at the Florida State Prison, one of the
journalists sat down next to me with the envelope given to him by the
Department of Corrections officials, containing a notebook and 2 pencils. On
the left hand corner of the envelope, he wrote in three lines, "Cary Michael
Lambrix, 10/5/2017, #74." As I looked at it, he said "This is my 74th
execution." I looked at him, pulled out my envelope and wrote "Cary Michael
Lambrix, 10/5/2017, #1."
I am not a seasoned journalist. I'm 22 years old. I do not have experience
covering executions. But there I was sitting in the 4th row among other media
witnesses, waiting to watch convicted murderer Michael Lambrix die.
Before taking a van from the State Prison to the death chamber, the 4 other
journalists told me the execution wouldn't be what I expected. They said it
would be anti-climatic and short. Still, that's not how I saw it.
We walked into the room at 9:45 p.m., 3 hours later than the expected start
time. When we walked in, the 17 people were already seated, including state
witnesses and Aleisha Bryant's sister.
Facing the back of the room was a large rectangle shaped window covered by a
brown curtain. At 9:53, the curtains went up and there, laying down on a gurney
on the other side of the window, was Lambrix and 3 other men standing around
the room. One of the men, the execution warden, picked up the phone on the wall
talking to the governor's office as Lambrix stared straight at the 1-way
mirror. His hands and body were covered, while a brown belt tied down his arms
with an IV hooked up to his veins.
The warden asked if he had any last words. He replied in a soft choked-up
voice, "Yes sir I do, I wish to recite the Lord's prayer." Ending with the
words, "deliver us from evil, amen," the warden began the execution.
Lambrix stared at the window, knowing we were all watching on the other end,
and his eyes closed. His chest started shaking sporadically, moving up and down
every few seconds. His mouth fluttered and then stayed slightly open turning a
shade of light purple. Once his chest stopped moving and he remained still, the
warden touched his eyes and with force, shook his shoulders. Once the doctor
examined Lambrix, the warden called his time of death at 10:10 p.m.
I stared, knowing all of these steps would unfold based on the other reporters'
predictions. I stared back at the window looking at the reflection of the
witnesses watching through the window, as we all looked at Lambrix's body in
the other room.
"Dear Michael Lambrix,
....your story is slightly confusing to me. I have tried to research as much as
I can but I'm still stumped....Even though I cannot call you, I was wondering
if you wouldn't mind writing to me, as I will write to you. I want to tell a
nonbiased story of what happened so I need the facts and I want to hear them
from you....I know this is hard since you don't know who I am, and I don't know
who you are, but I want to try to get to know you. I hope you will let me tell
this story the right way."
Those were the 1st words I wrote to convicted murderer, Michael Lambrix, in
February of 2016.
When people ask me why I took the time to write to Lambrix, I laugh. I asked
that same question to other people who wrote to him. Their responses varied
from "I grew to care for him" and "I don't agree with the death penalty."
I started this story because I was curious. When the Supreme Court in January
2016 declared Florida's system for sentencing prisoners to death as
unconstitutional, I asked "so does that mean all of the inmates scheduled to be
executed will appeal their case?" Before anyone could say that was impossible,
I stumbled upon Lambrix. Within days, he was using the Supreme Court's
declaration as a window out of his execution. At that time, his execution was
only a few weeks away.
Interviewing an attorney following oral arguments in a Michael Lambrix appeal
in Tallahassee on Feb. 2, 2016.
Lambrix spent nearly his entire adult life, more than 33 years, behind bars -
waiting to die. Several people who wrote to him, some from as far away as the
United Kingdom, thought his death an injustice. Lambrix insisted into this week
the state was sentencing an innocent man to death. But the Florida Supreme
Court, as well as prosecutors, didn't agree. The courts denied every appeal
Lambrix filed. He fought for his case during the entirety of his sentence.The
courts kept saying no.
The courts kept saying no.
I didn't tediously study Lambrix's case or analyze every handwritten appeal he
filed. We went a year without corresponding. But in March, we resumed writing
back and forth. In our written interactions, Lambrix was always sweet and kind.
He spent most of his free time studying law, talking to people outside the
prison who could help him, and writing to his several pen pals.
We will never know if Clarence Moore actually attacked Aleisha. Maybe Lambrix
was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe he thought he was playing
the hero and just was too late in saving Aleisha. But the evidence against him
was enough to convict. A jury decided he was guilty, as did a judge.
Below is the last letter I wrote him. I wrote about how our relationship grew
over time, but also touched on my biggest regret in this story; not focusing on
Aleisha Bryant. I should have tried to reach out to Aleisha Bryant's family. If
I could go backward 18 months, I wouldn't focus so much on Lambrix, but focus
on the victim - how she ended up at Lambrix's home that night, how she met
Moore, and how she died.
I'll never know if he read this final letter. But at the media interview just
two days before he died, he said something he's never mentioned to me before.
"As for the Bryant family, I have nothing but sympathy for them. I understand
that they need to believe that I killed their daughter. I understand for them,
that's what closure is about. But I also know that they're wrong. And if my
execution will bring them peace, then maybe that at least comes out of it."
My final letter
I apologize for the writing back so late. To be honest, I was very nervous to
respond to your last letter. I'm even more nervous to tell you that I was
invited to go to the execution. Since this response is delayed, you're probably
not going to have time to respond. But I do hope you receive this letter before
next Thursday, before you see me. I don't want to shock or surprise you. I also
hope you won't be upset either.
To finish covering this story, I'm actually working with WUFT again. They're
letting me write a narrative about my experience writing to you. Believe it or
not, It's been over a year and a half. It's truly crazy to think about how many
things have changed in that span of time. I'm definitely not the same person I
was when I started writing to you. the same goes to you.
Looking back at the letters exchanged between us, I noticed that your tone
changed towards me. Your first letter was distant and slightly cold. I don't
think you trusted me until I called you out for filling your letters with
supporter based websites and scripted responses. then You started addressing me
by my first name, adding smiley faces as well as insides jokes. You seemed like
you were letting a wall down and were finally trusting me.
So for the sake of us talking for so long, and for the trust that we have in
each other, I really hope you've been telling me the truth. Because if not, we
both wasted a lot of time.
And with that being said, I think I lost sight of what this story is really
about. It's not about you or me or the death penalty. It's about the people who
I know you told me that you wish you could start that night over again. And if
you could respond, you would tell me about the DNA evidence that could prove
Clarence attacked Aleisha, but it was thrown out. From all of the letters,
research and interviews, it's hard to not to see the holes in this case and
possibly your conviction. And if you're right about your innocence, then
justice wasn't served. But the sad thing is, you were the only one there when
they died. And you're the only one who knows what truly happened. So it all
goes back to trust.
If I could this over again, I wish I tried harder in contacting Aleisha's
While writing this letter, my sister called me. She told me my grandmother just
died. I can't begin to describe how awful it is to lose someone. The pain makes
every little thing in my life from broken relationships to failed friendships
seem so trivial. I wouldn't want anyone I care for to go through this.
I'm genuinely sorry that your family has to go through it. But my heart goes
out to Aleisha's family and even Clarence's family.
Thank you for responding to my first letter.
Rebekkah Anne Mar
(source: Rebekkah is a reporter for WUFT News)
Personal Essay: Witnessing The Last Chapter In Florida Death Row Inmate Mike
If Mike Lambrix's case played out today exactly the way it did when he was
convicted in 1984, he would not have been sent to death row and executed as he
was Thursday night.
For more than a year and a half I exchanged letters with Lambrix, who preferred
to go by Mike. I met him and his family to report the radio documentary: "Cell
1: Florida's Death Penalty in Limbo." The death penalty in Florida is no longer
in limbo and Lambrix was the second inmate to be put to death since executions
resumed at the end of August.
After a 4-hour delay, he recited his final words, those of the Lord's Prayer.
15 minutes later, he was pronounced dead at 10:10p.m.
Over the time I got to know him, we talked a lot about how he would prepare for
his execution and what that was like for him and his family. It was a plan that
he stuck to as he counted down to his execution.
Lambrix was convicted of murdering 2 people on the same night in 1983: Aleisha
Bryant was strangled and Clarence Moore Jr. was hit over the head with a tire
For 34 years, Lambrix has insisted he was innocent of the crimes he was
convicted of. His 1st trial ended in a hung jury, it was his 2nd trial that
convicted him of the 2 murders.
In Florida, juries take 2 votes, 1 to convict and another on whether to
sentence defendants to death.
In 1984, the jurors were divided on his sentence. They swung in favor of the
death penalty by 8-4 for 1 murder and 10-2 for the other, neither unanimous.
Last year, the Florida Supreme Court found that sending someone to death
without a unanimous jury would be unconstitutional. And before that, the U.S.
Supreme Court found Florida???s method of sentencing someone to death
unconstitutional because a judge had the final say, not the jury.
But, because Lambrix's case was so old he didn't get the chance that more than
100 death row inmates have gotten over the past year, the chance to be
I met Mike Lambrix for the 1st time in April of last year, about 2 months after
I sent my 1st letter to him.
He walked into the small interview room with his orange prison shirt on--the
death row uniform. He joked around with the guard, almost like they were pals
... except he had to ask him to loosen the chain around his waist that
connected with his handcuffs so that he could shake my hand.
At that time, Florida's death penalty had been going through a series of legal
challenges and nobody knew what was in store for the almost 400 people on death
row. Mike Lambrix was next in line to be executed when the death penalty was
thrown into limbo.
He talked to me about what it was like to watch the guy set to die before him,
Oscar Bolin, go through the slow process of divvying up his property, try on
his death suit and say his final goodbyes to his family. Lambrix talked about
what it was like to prepare for his own death.
Lambrix was on death row for nearly 34 years.
"The death penalty is a commentary on who we are as a society," he said at a
group interview on Tuesday. "And that's why it's important that those of us on
this side of the bars, on my side of the bars, try to help others to understand
this side of it. Because, if we forget that the person that we are condemning
is still a human being then we make the choice to compromise the sanctity of
It's not my place as a reporter to talk about my opinions on the death penalty
or lead you to a particular conclusion on one side of the debate or the other.
My job is to help you understand it.
Over the part 3 year, I talked with families of victims. I was never able to
get through to the families of Aleisha Bryant and Clarence Moore, but I did
talk to others for the documentary we made.
Mike Lambrix was willing to share his story too.
"We have to be able to understand the dynamics of this from both sides, my side
included," he said. "So, the reason I write what I write and I have been very
vocal is because even if I'm gone I want to leave something behind. And I'd
like to think that one day, maybe not today, but one day, what I leave behind
in my writings will be relevant to a society that will evolve."
In Florida, the public and reporters actually have more access to government
records than in most other states.
Execution is an exception.
For example, how the state comes up with the method it will use to execute
someone ... that's a secret. Who the person is that's actually conducting the
execution, that's a secret. Executions are not open to the public, just 10
reporters (usually far fewer) with pencils and pads of paper. Those are the
only public eyes in the room.
Gaining access to people on death row is difficult. Florida State Prison and
Union Correctional, the 2 facilities where death row is housed, is in the
middle of a cow pasture between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Really all you
can do is write letters, and once per month a death row inmate is allowed a
single hour-long interview.
I don't say this to suggest the state is hiding anything inappropriate, but,
executions are a government function, no different than a commission meeting or
a parole hearing. Executions are done in the name of the public.
For Lambrix, this was the 4th time he'd had to prepare for his execution. The
first 3 were all stayed - 2 in 1988 and a 3rd in Feb. 2016.
This week, again, he was planning his last meal.
"I want a Thanksgiving dinner because I am going to share it at Thanksgiving
dinner with my mother," explained Lambrix.
"His thing is when he got out of prison he wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner,
homemade Thanksgiving dinner by me and then he wanted to go over to his sister
and have another Thanksgiving dinner," said Lambrix's mom, Lorita Yeafoli,
during an interview last year. "You know, the turkey, the dressing, the sweet
potatoes, the mashed potatoes, dressing, olives, deviled eggs, all the stuff he
The prison version of that consisted of a turkey breast and drumstick, giblet
gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and brown sugar, mixed
vegetables with butter, a soft dinner roll with honey and butter, pumpkin pie
with whipped cream, chocolate milk and vanilla caramel gelato ice cream.
It's his family, and his mom especially, that had Lambrix worried leading up to
"My mom has stood by me for so many years and I am so blessed, and my family
too," said Lambrix. "It's very hard on them, and I just wish I could reach
through that glass and give her a big hug."
After a sleepless night, he had that Thanksgiving meal the morning of his
execution as his mom sat on the other side of a pane of glass.
Ever since I met him, Lambrix has tried to keep things upbeat for his family,
to try and keep them from suffering too much.
Even when he talked about his funeral arrangements--who would pick up his
remains, where he'd be buried--he cracked jokes about his 12-day hunger strike
to protest his scheduled execution.
The suit for his execution didn't fit anymore.
"Because he'd lost 18 pounds, the trousers promptly fell to the floor, they had
to be taken away to be taken up." Jan Arriens recounted Lambrix telling him
Arriens, who lives in the UK, had been exchanging letters with Lambrix since
the early 1990s.
"So I said to Mike, you've got to eat a lot of those burgers you get in the
visitors' room and then get so fat the trousers won't fit and they would have
to be taken away again at the last minute."
On Tuesday, Lambrix repeated that line in front of corrections administrators.
"...and that way we can get another couple of days. But I shouldn't say that.
Now they know," joked Lambrix.
I wrote another letter to Lambrix last week. I thanked him for telling his
story, for trusting me with it.
His response arrived the morning of his execution. It's waiting for me back in
(source: Wilson Sayre, WLRN news)
Records show Ohio has plenty of execution drugs
Ohio has been able to replenish part of its lethal drug supply in recent
months, and could carry out nearly 20 additional executions under certain
conditions, according to new records obtained by The Associated Press.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction took in new supplies of
midazolam, a sedative administered first to condemned inmates, and potassium
chloride, which stops prisoners' hearts, in December and January, several weeks
after receiving previous supplies of the drugs, the records show.
The records don't indicate whether the department received fresh supplies of
the 2nd drug in Ohio's method called rocuronium bromide, which paralyzes
But even relying on previous supplies, Ohio still has enough drugs for 18 more
executions, according to drug logs which the AP obtained exclusively through an
open records request.
Over the past decade, execution drug supplies nationally have dried up as
manufacturers, under pressure from death penalty opponents, started putting
them off limits for capital punishment. The shortage of drugs stopped
executions in the state between January 2014 and July.
Getting any information about Ohio's execution drug supply has become
increasingly difficult in recent years, thanks to a secrecy law that shields
almost all details about the drugs, including their source and their expiration
date. Death penalty supporters said the law - similar to laws in other states -
was necessary to protect drugmakers from threats of violence if their role in
capital punishment was made public.
Through records requests, the AP has twice been able to document the amounts
Ohio receives, though not the source of the drugs.
The number of upcoming executions is not guaranteed. Court rulings and clemency
decisions could spare some inmates.
Drug supplies also expire, which could also decrease the actual number of
executions Ohio could undertake. The secrecy law shields such information,
though a recent court filing indicated the drugs hadn't expired as of July 26,
when Ohio executed child killer Ronald Phillips.
In addition, if Ohio had to use extra amounts of drugs during an execution -
should the 1st dose of the sedative not work, for example - that could also
reduce the amount available for future procedures.
After executing Dennis McGuire in January 2014, Ohio - like many states -
looked unsuccessfully for years for a new source of lethal drugs.
The state won't say where it obtains its drugs. Attorneys for Ohio have said in
court filings the drugs are from federally regulated manufacturers and are not
being compounded in specialty doses, as in some states.
Ohio announced a year ago it had obtained new supplies of drugs. After courts
cleared the way to use them, Ohio put Phillips to death in July and executed
Gary Otte in September for killing 2 people in Parma, in suburban Cleveland, in
robberies over 2 days.
JoEllen Smith, an Ohio prisons department spokeswoman, declined comment.
Several drugmakers wrote Ohio prisons director Gary Mohr in July, shortly
before the Phillips execution, demanding information about the state's source
for its drugs.
"Mylan takes seriously the possibility that one of its products may have been
diverted for a use that is inconsistent with its approved labeling," Brian
Roman, the company's General Counsel, wrote to Mohr on July 14, requesting a
prompt reply. The AP obtained the letter through a records request.
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan makes rocuronium bromide. The state never
responded, Mylan spokeswoman Julie Knell said.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based B. Braun Medical Inc.; New York City-based
Pfizer; Princeton, New Jersey-based Sandoz Inc.; and Eatontown, New
Jersey-based, West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, sent similar letters.
The next execution is scheduled for Nov. 15 for Alva Campbell, sentenced to die
for killing 18-year-old Charles Dials during a 1997 carjacking in central Ohio.
Attorneys for Campbell argue midazolam still raises an unconstitutional risk of
serious pain because it may not render inmates so deeply unconscious that they
don't feel the second 2 drugs.
Serial killer Anthony Kirkland has 2nd chance to avoid death row----Facing new
sentencing hearing soon
Trial killer Anthony Kirkland has a 2nd chance to avoid death row.
He was convicted of 4 murders, including the death of 13-year-old Esme Kenney,
but a successful appeal has brought his case back before a judge.
Motions were heard Thursday before Judge Patrick Dinkelacker as prosecutors and
the defense prepare for an unusual re-sentencing hearing next month.
Kirkland was convicted of murder and a list of other charges in the deaths of
Cassonya Crawford, MaryJo Newton, Kimya Rolison and Esme Kenney. The jury that
heard the case in 2010 recommended the death penalty in 2 of those murders.
After an appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Kirkland was entitled to a new
The jury that considers his fate will get to hear about the horror of his
crimes, including visiting the crime scenes.
"This is one case where I think it's particularly important for the jury to
actually go and see where this happened," prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said.
Because of the unusual circumstances, the sentencing hearing will play out much
like a brand new trial for Kirkland.
(source: WLWT news)
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