death penalty news----OHIO, NEB., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-07-23 12:32:07 UTC
July 23


Ohio needs a more humane way to kill

Between the ages of 3 and 4 years, a child starts to quickly develop
vocabulary. They know their name and can introduce themselves. They can speak
short sentences. The infamous "why" question starts to become a staple of both
curiosity and defiance.

Sheila Marie Evans of Akron was undoubtedly at the "why" stage in January 1993.
She was at a developmental age when she may have been capable of wondering why
her life was so full of pain and neglect. Why did she have to be beaten, raped
and ultimately killed by her mother's boyfriend?

On her final Friday evening, Ronald Phillips, the boyfriend, was babysitting.
It wasn't the 1st time. He took the 3-year-old girl from her bed and proceeded
to beat her because he was angry.

He flung the child by her hair against a wall and continued to hit her. Then he
raped her. Sodomy. When he finished, he put the child back in bed as if nothing
had happened.

When Fae Evans returned home, her daughter was dying. The child's organs were
badly damaged and she was bleeding internally. Severe vomiting and diarrhea
were the visible precursors of a horrible death. Still, it was not enough to
move Evans to seek prompt medical attention or call police.

The Summit County coroner counted 125 bruises on Sheila Marie's corpse when he
examined her the following week. It turns out she had been abused for much of
her life.

Fae Evans was an excruciatingly unfit mother. She was sentenced to 13 to 30
years for involuntarily manslaughter and child endangering. She died in prison
of leukemia in 2008. Now the executioner is coming for Ronald Phillips. He is
scheduled to die Wednesday by lethal injection.

Only the most vociferous death penalty opponents are arguing that Phillips
deserves to live. The last time Ohio attempted an execution in 2014, it took
convicted killer Dennis McGuire 25 minutes to die. The multi-drug cocktail
administered failed to sedate him before eventually killing him by suffocation.
It was more than an execution. It was also torture.

Even some death penalty supporters were disturbed by the state's presiding over
the extended torture of McGuire.

In an open letter to Gov. John Kasich published in Friday's Plain Dealer,
Republican Jim Petro and Democrat Lee Fisher, who both formerly served as Ohio
attorney general, made a compelling case that Ohio should continue a moratorium
on capital punishment until systemic problems are addressed.

"9 people have been exonerated from Ohio's death row in recent decade. Three
have been freed since the state last executed," they wrote.

Their concerns about competent lawyers for indigent defendants, as well as a
call for consistent and accurate sentencing must be addressed. Innocent people
have been narrowly spared death by the belated discovery of exculpatory
evidence. Mistakes are inexcusable. Death is permanent.

Kasich has already cleared part of his calendar for Phillips' scheduled
execution. He's skipping the opening of the Ohio State Fair, and instead will
be connected by teleconference to Ohio's death chamber in Lucasville. He will
bear witness that justice is finally served for Sheila Marie, who would have
turned 27 this year.

I no longer support the death penalty, but will shed no tear when Phillips
takes his final worthless breath. However, I do believe that Ohio must become
better at officially sanctioned killing. We can't morally afford to be as cruel
and inhumane as a child rapist and murderer.

(source: Commentary; Phillip Morris----cleveland.com)


Nebraska high court rejects Norfolk bank killer's appeal

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday rejected a death-row inmate's call for his
murder convictions in one of the deadliest bank shootings in U.S. history to be
overturned because he said the lawyer defending him was incompetent.

The state's high court agreed with a lower court that refused Erick Vela's
request to void the convictions.

Vela and 2 other men were sentenced to death for killing 5 people at a U.S.
Bank branch in Norfolk on Sept. 26, 2002. A 4th man who served as a lookout was
sentenced to 5 consecutive life sentences.

Vela pleaded guilty in June 2003 to 5 counts of 1st-degree murder in the
killings of bank customer Evonne Tuttle and bank employees Lisa Bryant, Lola
Elwood, Jo Mausbach and Sam Sun. Vela was sentenced to death in 2007 for the
botched heist at the bank about 90 miles northwest of Omaha.

The high court found no merit to Vela's claims, including one in which he
faulted his attorney for not advising him to plead guilty earlier in the case.
Vela asserted he would not have been subject to the death penalty had he
pleaded guilty earlier, because Nebraska enacted a revised death penalty law in
late 2002 to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said juries - not
judges - should determine whether a defendant is eligible for the death

Previous Nebraska Supreme Court rulings in the bank killings case undermined
that argument, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman wrote.

Those rulings rejected arguments that Nebraska effectively had no valid death
penalty before the law was amended in 2002.

Vela's attorney did not return a message left Friday seeking comment. The
Nebraska Attorney General's Office declined to comment.

(source: mcclatchydc.com)


Death Row Diaries: Stabbed couple assist each other in 1990 murder

Arizona's most notorious death row inmates past and present have incredible
stories, including this one where a husband and wife, both critically stabbed,
walk into their home arm in arm.


Date of Birth: February 8, 1964

Sentenced: April 27, 1992

The Crime before the Murder:

His crimes for the night were just beginning

On February 20, 1990, just before 7 p.m. a man returned his home from work and
saw his porch light was on. As he went inside, he saw his stereo equipment was
taken apart and moved. He then suddenly confronted a man who looked at him and
ran out of the house. That man would later be identified as Ernest Valencia
Gonzales and his crimes for the night were just beginning.

Another neighbor, living in the area of 35th and Northern avenues, was taking
out the trash with her dog when she saw Gonzales with what appeared to be a
tire iron in his hands. She looked at the man, grabbed her dog and retreated
into their home. She noticed the man walking toward the home of her neighbor
Darrel Wagner.

A Husband Defends his Wife, a Wife Defends her Husband:

About 10 minutes later the Wagner family returned home from dinner. As they
came upon the courtyard to their townhouse, they saw the front door was opened.
As Darrel went into investigate his wife and 7-year-old son waited by the gate.

As Darrel opened the door the rest of the way, he and his wife saw Gonzales on
the stairway holding their video cassette recorder tucked under his arm.

The mother immediately told their son to go to a neighbor's for help. She then
saw Gonzales push Darrel to the ground and begin stabbing Darrel in the chest.

She jumped on his back, grabbing his arms

Deborah begged Gonzales to stop, but when he refused, she jumped on his back,
grabbing his arms to prevent him from stabbing her husband anymore.

Gonzales swung wildly, stabbing Deborah twice, hitting her kidney, spleen, and
diaphragm. However, he also injured himself. He stole her purse then fled the

The 2 of them went inside and called 911, together

Darrel was stabbed 7 times but still managed to help his wife to her feet as
the 2 of them went inside and called 911, together.

Unfortunately, Darrel succumbed to his wounds while Deborah survived after
several days in intensive care.

The Arrest and Trial:

Meanwhile, Gonzales went his girlfriend's home to get his wounds cleaned.
Witnesses her house would later testify that Gonzales told them about a bag he
had with him that contained a woman's driver's license and a photo of a child
with red hair. The same color hair as Deborah's son.

Gonzales was arrested during a traffic stop a few days later. Police found out
he had been released from prison just three months before the attacks after
doing 5 years for theft and burglary. He also had nine juvenile arrests to go
with nine adult arrests.

Interviews with others that know Gonzales suggested he was stealing, on a near
daily basis, to support a drug habit and was smoking crack cocaine 2 days
before the murder.

After a hung jury in the 1st trial, Gonzales was found guilty in the 2nd trial
and sentenced to death on April 27, 1992.

In addition to the death penalty, Gonzales was sentenced to 3 consecutive life

On November 16, 1999, a Stay of Execution was issued by the Arizona Supreme
Court in his scheduled execution.

He remains on death row in the Eyman Prison in Florence.

(source: ABC News)

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

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