death penalty news----KY., ARK., MO., COLO., NEV., CALIF., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-10-21 18:56:43 UTC
Oct. 21


Trial delayed, death penalty under review

The trial for the alleged murderers of the former Kernel photo editor is
delayed while a decision is made about the constitutionality of the death
penalty for those under 21.

Efrain Diaz, Justin Smith and Roman Gonzalez allegedly killed Jonathan Krueger
in April of 2015.

Gonzalez was 17 at the time of the crime and was automatically ineligible for
the death penalty, but the other 2 men were over 18.

In September, however, Judge Ernesto Scorsone took the death penalty off the
table for Diaz and Smith as well, said prosecutor Andrea Mattingly Williams.

Scorsone made the decision related to the case of Travis Bredhold, who is now
21 but was just over 18 when he was charged with murder and robbery, according
to the Herald-Leader.

Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn, who is the prosecutor
in the Krueger trial along with Williams, made a statement after the judge's
decision in August. She said she will appeal Scorsone's order "because it is
contrary to the laws of Kentucky and the laws of the United States," the
Herald-Leader reported.

Williams said the prosecutor's office has appealed that decision to the Court
of Appeals, with the help of the office of Kentucky Attorney General Andy

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the 1st time a circuit judge has ruled
that the death penalty statute is unconstitutional as it applies to defendants
who are less than 21 years of age," said Terry Sebastian, head of the attorney
general's Office of Communications. "As such, the ruling warrants a review by
an appellate court."

The prosecutor's office has made a motion to transfer the decision of
constitutionality to the Kentucky Supreme Court, Williams said.

The death penalty was reinstated in Kentucky in 1975, according to the Death
Penalty Information Center. In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided in
Roper v. Simmons that the execution of offenders under the age of 18 at the
time of the crime was unconstitutional because of the Eighth and Fourteenth

Williams said the prosecutor's office does not know how long the appeals
process might take. In the meantime, she said, those involved in the trial will
try to make what progress they can while they wait for this decision.

Mary Krueger, mother of the victim, declined to comment about the specifics of
the trial but said she hopes to someday see the trial go forward.

(source: Kentucky Kernel)


Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a
forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen
School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Furonda Brasfield, executive director of the coalition, said there will be an
informal discussion on mental illness, how it can affect behavior and how the
criminal justice system deals with mental illness.

Likely to be discussed is the case of Jack Greene, convicted of capital murder
and scheduled to be killed by the state Nov. 9. His attorneys say he's mentally
incompetent to be executed. The state Correction Department thinks otherwise.

Participants include Rep. Vivian Flowers, who tried in 2017 to pass legislation
to preclude the death penalty for people with serious mental illnesses; Julie
Vandiver, one of Jack Greene's attorneys; a clinical psychologist and a
representative of Judicial Equality for Mental Illness.

(source: arkansastimes.com)


Poverty not an acceptable excuse for the act of murder

Regarding the commentary "Death penalty represents broken system of justice"
(Oct. 19):

We all recognize that money can buy a better defense, but that is nothing new
to our judicial system and has been true for crimes committed by people of all
income levels and race throughout our history. Poverty is just not an
acceptable excuse for the act of murder or killing. Many people grow up poor in
rural areas and urban Missouri but don't resort to killing.

The writers of the commentary say, "African-Americans are overrepresented on
Missouri's death row, accounting for only about 11 % of the state's total
population, but making up 1/3 of the inmates facing capital punishment." Were
these people just rounded up off the streets for no reason or, did they commit
the crimes for which they are being charged? Do the authors suggest that no
charges be filed against suspected criminals once a percentage of population
has been reached? Percentages should be blind to race and income level and not
used to advance any political agenda.

Maybe more concern should be shown to the victims instead of the criminals. The
authors also state that "poverty is perhaps the single most significant factor
to determine whether someone will receive a death sentence." Not true.
Murdering another person is the single most important factor in receiving a
death penalty.

Mike Kistner -- Oakville

(source: Letter to the Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Colorado Springs death penalty case spurs $50,000 in courtroom upgrades

El Paso County court administrators are weighing up to $50,000 in courtroom
audio-visual upgrades in preparation for the county's 1st death penalty case in
a decade.

2 new wall-mounted video monitors, a document reader and a "smart" podium
capable of powering electronic devices are among the innovations expected
before jury selection begins in the Glen Galloway case on Jan. 2, state
administrators say.

"The intent is for this to support many of our high-profile cases moving
forward," said 4th Judicial District Administrator Scott Sosebee.

The changes will be made in Division 3, which is larger than most other
courtrooms in the courthouse's south tower and better able to accommodate
attorneys and visitors.

Galloway, 45, is accused in back-to-back killings in 2016 of a homeless man
named Marcus Anderson and Galloway's ex-girlfriend, Janice Nam, whom he was
forbidden to contact under a prior conviction for stalking. His upcoming trial
marks the first death penalty case here since cop killer Marco Lee averted a
death penalty by pleading guilty to murder charges in exchange for a life
sentence without parole plus 167 years.

The judge overseeing the case, Gregory Werner, previously asked that the jury
box be expanded to accommodate a jury of 12 people plus six alternates. Werner
ordered a larger-than-normal panel to protect against the risk of a mistrial in
case some jurors get sick or are otherwise unable to complete their service.

The jury box modifications were underway this week, using county carpenters and
in-house materials, said El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose. He estimated the
project would require about $200 in lumber, rubber hosing and other materials.

Upgrading technology in the courtroom will involve between $40,000 and $50,000,
Sosebee said. Costs will grow more definite once a state-approved vendor, Xcite
Audiovisuals of Englewood, submits its work proposal.

The audio-visual improvements will be financed by the state court system,
either from the district's operating budget or a special capital improvement
fund, Sosebee said.

Court administrators will consider replicating the new features in other
courtrooms depending on how the changes are received and if funding can be
found, Sosebee said.

In keeping with the state constitution, the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex,
270 S. Tejon St., is owned by the county, which serves as a kind of landlord
for the state district courts. Rose said the state will reimburse the county
for materials.

The upgrades are likely a small part of the expenses incurred in the case,
which has 4 prosecutors and 4 defense attorneys, including members of the death
penalty teams from the state Attorney General's Office and the state Office of
the Public Defender. The trial is expected to last several months.

(source: The Gazette)


Crackdown on violent North Las Vegas gang leads to indictments

A monthslong crackdown on a North Las Vegas gang led to the indictment of 19
men and women on charges ranging from murder to racketeering, authorities
announced Thursday.

"We went after the head of the snake and cut it off," Clark County Assistant
Sheriff Tom Roberts said.

The 35-count indictment against the Southern United Raza First Onda Surenos was
handed down last week and unsealed Tuesday. It covers an 8-year crime spree
that culminated with arrests as recently as this week, according to police and
the Clark County district attorney's office.

Roberts said the sweeping indictment is a model for how authorities will target
gangs in the future.

Authorities in the multiagency investigation ramped up what they called
"Operation Spartan Fist" in May.

Police served 9 search warrants simultaneously Sept. 30, leading to the arrests
of 11 gang members. 1 of the indicted members, Julian Barboza, is still at
large, police said.

Not all of the 18 in-custody members were at a Thursday arraignment hearing,
but several who were pleaded not guilty. A hearing for those who were not
present was set for Nov. 1.

Prosecutors are expected to decide soon whether to pursue the death penalty
against 5 men facing murder charges. Clark County District Attorney Steve
Wolfson said the operation led to the solving of 2 murder cases.

Raul Lara and Osbaldo Rojas-Gaspar both face a 1st-degree murder charge in the
April 2016 death of Davion McKinzie. Daniel Mendoza-Bargoza, Christian
Rojas-Gaspar and Julian Barboza face murder charges for the February death of
David Espinoza.

Police said a 3rd murder is under investigation.

Authorities have charged almost the entire gang, which will make it difficult
for the group to recruit, Wolfson said.

"These are hoodlums," Wolfson said. "These are somewhat terrorists, if you
will, in our community who commit a number of violent crimes."

Along with murder, charges against those with ties to the criminal syndicate
include robbery, burglary, assault on a protected person with use of a deadly
weapon and attempted murder.

The targeted gang has been active since the 1990s, Metropolitan Police
Department Sgt. Tim Stovall said, and most of its crimes were committed in
North Las Vegas and the northeast valley. He said the gang has been recruiting

Metro's gang unit was moved from a centralized location at police headquarters
to the various patrol areas within the valley in the summer of 2015. The unit
was moved back to headquarters in April.

"It was a big step forward for us and was crucial in pulling off this type of
operation," Metro Lt. John Leon said.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)


California Man to Stand Trial for Deaths of His 3 Children

A West Sacramento man has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing his
3 children and trying to murder his wife.

A Yolo County judge ruled Friday that Robert Hodges must face trial for the
deaths last month of his 11-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter and 7-month-old

According to the Sacramento Bee, police testified Friday that Hodges told them
he was in financial crisis and had considered killing himself and his family
for a year.

Hodges allegedly told police he suffocated his son and used a belt to choke the
other children, stopping after each killing to gather his courage.

He's also charged with trying to choke his wife.

Hodges has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors
haven't said whether they'll seek the death penalty.

(source: Associated Press)


Report: Increased Republican opposition to the death penalty

A new report found increased Republican opposition to the death penalty,
according to a national network of conservatives and libertarians questioning
the alignment of capital punishment with their principles.

The group, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, scheduled a news
conference for Wednesday featuring state Republican lawmakers who have
sponsored bills to repeal the death penalty in Montana, Utah, Nebraska, and
Washington State.

"Conservatives recognize that the death penalty is a broken policy that does
not align with conservative principles, including valuing life, fiscal
responsibility, and limited government," said Marc Hyden, a national
coordinator for the group.

(source: KIRO news)

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