2017-06-25 12:54:43 UTC
He's a killer set to die. But his mental illness has set off a new death
Someone was trying to kill him. William C. Morva was certain of it.
He couldn't breathe and he was withering away, he told his mother in a
"Somebody wants me to die and I don't know who it is," he said. "They know my
health is dwindling, okay?"
He sounded paranoid. His voice grew more frantic with each call over several
months on the recorded lines.
"How much more time do you think my body has before it gives out?" he asked
just months before he escaped from custody, killing an unarmed guard and later
a sheriff's deputy before his capture in woods near Virginia Tech's campus.
Morva faces execution July 6 for the 2006 killings.
With the date looming, Morva's family, friends and lawyers are pressing for
clemency from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in what has become a broader
national push to eliminate capital punishment for people with severe mental
illnesses such as Morva's delusional disorder.
Supporters say the jury at Morva's trial was given inaccurate information about
his mental health and are asking McAuliffe to commute his death sentence to
life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Supreme Court in recent years has ruled that juveniles, whose brains are
not fully developed, and people with intellectual disabilities are not eligible
for the death penalty. Lawmakers in 8 states, including Virginia, Tennessee and
Indiana, have introduced bills that would expand the prohibition to people with
severe mental illnesses.
A vote on an Ohio measure pending in the state legislature is expected this
fall. It is backed by a coalition of providers of mental-health services,
social justice groups, religious leaders, former state Supreme Court justices
and former Republican governor Bob Taft.
The bills address punishment, not guilt or innocence. If lawmakers in Columbus
sign off on the measure, Ohio would become the 1st state to pass an exclusion
for severe mental illness among the 31 that retain the death penalty.
Bipartisan legislative efforts underscore shifting views of capital punishment,
and about whether it can be applied consistently and fairly.
Advocates for reform say the penalty was not intended for people who are
incapable of distinguishing between delusions and reality, and that jurors
often misunderstand mental illness.
The reformers' efforts have met with resistance mostly from prosecutors and law
enforcement officials who say jurors already can factor in mental illness at
sentencing and that the exemptions are too broad.
Morva, 35, exhausted his legal appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to
take up his case in February.
"It hurts me so much to know that there is nothing I can do to fix him,"
Elizabeth Morva, his mother, said in an affidavit in support of her son.
Morva was 24 when he fatally shot a decorated sheriff's deputy, Cpl. Eric
Sutphin, and beloved hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. Each was
married and the father of 2 children.
"If someone had intervened sooner, I truly believe William would never have
killed those 2 men," his mother wrote. "But I cannot change the past. I can
only say that I am so sorry and ask that my son please be spared."
Attorney Dawn Davison of the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center
says the jury in Morva's 2008 trial did not consider his psychotic disorder
because experts in that case did not have access to Morva's complete history.
Morva was under the influence of his delusions when he escaped and killed
Sutphin and McFarland, she said in submitting Morva's clemency application.
Relatives of the victims did not return phone calls seeking comment on Morva's
Mary K. Pettitt, the Montgomery County (Va.) commonwealth's attorney who helped
prosecute Morva, has urged the governor to let the jury's verdict stand.
"To assert some 10 years later that all 3 of the original experts were wrong is
absurd," Pettitt wrote in a letter to McAuliffe. "With enough time and
motivation one can always find an expert to say what you want to hear but that
doesn't mean it is true or accurate."
McAuliffe is reviewing the case and declined to be interviewed in advance of a
decision. The governor is personally opposed to the death penalty, attributing
his views to his Catholic faith. He has allowed 2 executions to go forward,
while commuting the death sentence of Ivan Teleguz in April because the
sentencing phase of his trial was "flawed and unfair."
It has been years since Morva accepted in-person visits from his lawyers and
He insists they are part of the conspiracy to kill him.
Long before Morva committed the murders, there were signs that he was not well.
In his senior year at Blacksburg High School, Morva's parents moved back to the
Richmond area, where his father had worked in engineering. Morva stayed behind
but dropped out of school weeks before graduation.
In Blacksburg, he walked barefoot in winter and sometimes slept in the
Jefferson National Forest, buried in piles of leaves. He was known at the local
coffee shop for diatribes about politics and religion, and confided in family
and close friends about what he said were special powers he possessed to fix
the world's problems.
Morva's early encounters with police came in 2002 when he was 20. Friends say
their free-spirited, compassionate classmate who had been active in Amnesty
International became consumed by unusual eating patterns - large amounts of raw
meat, nuts and pine cones - and spent hours in the bathroom.
In August 2002, Virginia Tech police found Morva after 9 p.m. half-naked on the
floor of a women's bathroom on campus. Officers turned him over to the
Blackburg police and called Elizabeth Morva.
"They said, 'Ma'am he's not normal.' I said, I'm beginning to realize that. And
they said, 'Ma'am your son needs help.'"
Morva's mother, a classroom aide for special-education students, declined to be
interviewed for this story. Her statements are drawn from transcripts of
Morva's robbery trial and sworn written statements she submitted for her son's
At the time of his 2002 arrest, Morva's mother tried to get him help.
She asked police for a temporary detention order to force an evaluation.
But by then, Morva had calmed down and police said a detention order was not
needed. Morva was instead charged with trespassing, released and banned from
the university campus.
In the years that followed, Morva worked briefly at a hair salon, in
construction and as a waiter. And at his father's funeral in early 2004, he
showed up barefoot and disheveled.
At dinner with his mother soon after the funeral, Morva lectured loudly about
the plight of indigenous people. He was in training, he told her, to live in
the wild and fight on behalf of Native Americans.
Elizabeth Morva gently suggested her son see a therapist.
"His mind was not normal. His thoughts were not normal, they were
disconnected," she said.
The next year, those undiagnosed, untreated problems landed Morva in jail, his
Morva was charged in 2005 in a series of botched robberies and burglaries.
In an attempted robbery, Morva, masked and carrying a shotgun, crept up to a
convenience store, only to find the doors locked, then ran off and hid in woods
- where police found him.
Jailed for a year while awaiting trial, Morva's mental health deteriorated. His
mother did not bail him out, thinking that he would finally get psychological
Morva told his mother that he was dying, that someone was torturing him and
intentionally withholding medical care - and with that mind-set, was convinced
he had to flee.
"He believes anybody would have done exactly what he did," said Davison, the
lawyer who has worked on Morva's appeals since 2009. The escape, she said, "was
all part of this effort to save his life. He's incapable of seeing things any
In August 2006, a deputy escorted Morva to the Montgomery Regional Hospital for
minor injuries. In a bathroom, Morva knocked him unconscious and took his gun.
Morva then shot McFarland, the unarmed hospital security guard, from 2 feet
away as hospital colleagues watched in horror.
He killed Sutphin the next day as the deputy was on a wooded trail in the hunt
for the fugitive. Morva shot Sutphin in the back of the head.
The jury that decided Morva???s fate in 2008 heard from two doctors who
diagnosed him with schizotypal personality disorder similar to schizophrenia.
They noted his rigid thinking, odd behavior, and that Morva's maternal
grandmother had been treated for schizophrenia in the 1950s. But the doctors
told jurors that Morva was not delusional, an assessment his lawyers dispute -
and a determination that later was rebutted by another doctor in what now is
the key contention before McAuliffe.
Prosecutors portrayed Morva at trial as "extremely intelligent and extremely
dangerous." The jury reviewed a letter Morva wrote to his mother 1 month after
landing in jail, in which he promised to "kick an unarmed guard in the throat
and then I will stomp him until he is as dead as I'll be."
Morva's lawyers acknowledged his horrible crimes but said Morva was "hurting
the people that he thought would put him back in jail." The jury did not hear
from Morva's mother, who said she wanted to testify to explain, not justify,
After 3 hours of deliberations, the jury imposed the death penalty.
Before the judge formally sentenced him to death, Morva, in his chance to
address the court, called himself Nemo.
"I'm almost done. You may kill me, that's guaranteed. I can't fight. There's
nothing more I can do. But there are others like me, and I hope you know that.
And soon they're going to get together. They're going to sweep over your whole
civilization and they're going to wipe these smiles off of your faces forever."
In the lengthy appeals process, a federal judge agreed to appoint a forensic
psychiatrist to evaluate Morva.
By then, Davison and her colleagues had collected dozens of sworn statements.
The trial experts, Davison said, had "lacked the complete picture," and that
meant that the jury did, too.
High school classmates, roommates, relatives and co-workers swore to what they
had observed up close and consistently in Morva during the years leading to the
The new psychiatrist reviewed their statements and medical records and met with
Morva in state prison in 2014.
She concluded that Morva's delusions began years before the murders and
recommended antipsychotic medication.
Morva's appeals were restricted to narrow legal questions about his trial. The
appeals courts could not take up the question of whether Morva was mentally ill
when he killed McFarland and Sutphin.
"That's what the governor can do," Davison said. "The governor is his last
(source: Washington Post)
European Union trying to block William Morva execution----Morva is
The Hungarian Government and European Union are trying to stop the execution of
a Virginia inmate.
William Morva is set to be executed on July 6.
Morva was convicted of killing Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy, Corporal
Eric Sutphin, and security guard Derrick McFarland during a prison escape in
His lawyers filed a clemency petition Tuesday.
They said jurors did not know Morva suffered from a severe mental illness.
His attorneys want to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole.
Both Hungary and the European Union have reached out to Governor McAuliffe to
stop the execution.
According to the Mercy for Morva Group, he is a Hungarian-American dual
(source: WSLS news)
Alabama's execution drugs may be close to expiring----State officials mostly
mum on status of lethal injection drugs
In the past year, 2 states have seen their lethal injection drugs expire -
forcing state officials to search for new drugs or scrap executions altogether.
It's possible Alabama could soon face a similar hurdle.
A number of factors - the pace of executions, new information about the state's
last purchase of the drugs and the shelf life of the state's drugs - suggest
that Alabama could be out of drugs in about a year, if it isn't already.
Any estimate of the timetable requires guesswork, though, because the Alabama
prison officials have been secretive about when and where they get the drugs
used in executions.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said
states aren't trying to keep the drugs secret from the public, but rather from
the makers of the drugs.
What follows are questions and answers on the topic:
Can execution drugs really expire?
Yes. 2 states, Arkansas and Florida, recently acknowledged that they could no
longer use the drugs they'd acquired for executions because the drugs were past
or near their expiration dates.
Obviously, expiration dates and other rules are meant for the safety of
patients who are trying to heal, not convicts the state is trying to kill.
Still, states are under pressure to follow federal rules for the use of drugs -
particularly after Alabama and other states got into trouble with the Drug
Enforcement Agency in 2011 for illegally obtaining its supply of an earlier
execution drug, sodium thiopental.
Alabama may have already passed a drug expiration deadline once in the past. In
2014, after nearly a year without an execution, state officials acknowledged
that they couldn't execute more inmates because the state's supply of execution
drug pentobarbital had run out.
It's unclear whether the state had used all its drugs or let its drugs expire.
Later that year, the state switched to a new drug, midazolam.
How hard can it be for a state government to get these drugs?
Pretty hard, actually. Opposition to the death penalty is strong in Europe,
where many drug manufacturers are headquartered, and European drug companies
years ago began shutting down sales of execution drugs to prison systems in the
More recently, U.S. companies and distributors have joined in, partly because
professional associations for doctors and pharmacists have expressed their
opposition to members' participation in executions.
In 2014, state prison officials campaigned for a bill that would make the names
of drug suppliers a secret, in hopes of protecting suppliers from political
pressure. That bill didn't pass, but the state still refuses to release the
names of its drug suppliers.
Manufacturers are genuinely skittish. When drugmaker Akorn was mentioned in an
Alabama death penalty appeal in early 2015, the company quickly moved to
declare it would never intentionally sell drugs for executions, and even asked
for the state to return any drugs it had. When drugmaker Becton-Dickinson was
mentioned in court documents later that year, that company also declared that
its drugs weren???t meant for use by U.S. prison systems.
Earlier this month, the state prison system's main drug supplier, Corizon
Health, acknowledged that it had never supplier drugs for an execution either.
Since then, The Star has also contacted drugmakers Baxter, Fresenius Kabi and
West-Ward. All of them said they weren't the suppliers of Alabama's execution
So who's really supplying the drugs?
It's not 100 % clear that either Akorn or Becton-Dickinson are the actual
makers of the drugs Alabama has used in its most recent executions. State
officials used technical information from both companies in their arguments in
court, but it's possible they were using that information as a stand-in for the
technical specs from their actual drug supplier.
It's equally possible that they bought drugs produced by either or both
manufacturers, but got them from a 3rd-party supplier against the wishes of
Akorn and Becton-Dickinson.
When will the drugs expire?
Possibly as early as September. Maybe never. It all depends on how you read the
timeline of events.
Here's what we know: In September 2014, state officials said they had enough
midazolam on hand to kill nine inmates. That means the oldest drugs in the
inventory could be nearly 3 years old.
And here's what we found out earlier this month: In an Arizona court case last
year, lawyers asked Alabama officials to give depositions on their sources of
execution drugs. Anne Hill, a lawyer for the Department of Corrections,
declined to name the state's drug suppliers, but did say that Alabama last
bought midazolam in 2015.
That could mean 1 of 2 things.
If the state bought drugs in both 2014 and again in 2015, Alabama may have a
secure supply of drugs - a seller they can go back to again and again.
But the 2015 purchase could have another meaning.
Akorn demanded a return of its drugs in March 2015. After that,
Becton-Dickinson got more mentions in court documents, but the company didn't
announce its position on death penalty drug sales until September of that year.
If Alabama bought Akorn's drugs in 2014 and returned or destroyed them months
later, the state might have bought drugs made by Becton-Dickinson between March
and September of 2015.
Becton-Dickinson's midazolam has a shelf life of no more than two years,
according to officials at Fresenius Kabi, the company that acquired Becton's
injectable midazolam operation in 2016. If the state has a batch of
Becton-Dickinson's midazolam, purchased between March and September 2015, those
drugs could expire by September, or they could be out of date already.
Drugs by other manufacturers seem to have shelf lives that aren't much longer.
Injectable midazolam in its powder form lasts for 3 years unopened, said
Christopher McCurdy, pharmacy professor at the University of Florida and
president-elect of the the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
Officials of the Alabama attorney general's office said they had no comment on
the purchase or expiration dates of midazolam.
What evidence supports the soon-to-expire theory?
Within the last month, Alabama executed 2 inmates, Robert Melson and Tommy
Arthur, just 2 weeks apart. But state officials tell The Anniston Star there
are no future execution dates set.
That seems to mimic the recent execution schedule in Arkansas, where the state
sought to executed 8 inmates in rapid succession to beat the deadline on their
execution drugs. Another state, Florida, saw its midazolam expire last year and
has already switched to a new execution drug.
What evidence works against the soon-to-expire theory?
As any addict knows, there are lots of ways to get drugs for off-label use if
you're really determined. The state could be using an offshore supplier or
transferring drugs from another state agency.
The state Department of Public Health buys millions of dollars' worth of drugs
every year, but both current director Tom Miller and past director Don
Williamson told The Star the department hasn't supplied midazolam to the prison
system for executions.
"We were never asked nor did we order it," Williamson said.
The Department of Mental Health's Chief of Staff Jerry Mitchell told The Star
the department hasn't supplied DOC with midazolam, either.
That eliminates 2 of the state's biggest purchasers of drugs, but there's
always the chance the state could have picked up the drugs through a different
Alabama could even pay a compounding pharmacist - a specialist who mixes drugs
in small batches - to make the drugs from scratch. Court documents show the
state couldn't find a single Alabama pharmacist who would take the job. But
there???s always the possibility state officials have ordered drugs from an
ALABAMA'S EXECUTION DRUGS
Last known purchase of midazolam by Alabama prison system: 2015
Shelf life of midazolam: 2 to 3 years
Executions in last month: 2
Executions currently scheduled: None
Source of state's midazolam: Unknown
Potential drug sources who've refused to supply midazolam or denied involvement
Corizon Health, Akorn, Becton-Dickinson, Fresenius Kabi, Baxter, West-Ward,
Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Department of Mental Health.
(source: The Anniston Star)
Man Spared the Death Penalty for Murder Dies in Prison at 74----Patrick Wright
Is Accused of Killing Founder of Coles County Coalition Against Domestic
A 74-year-old man initially sentenced to death for killing a central Illinois
woman in 1983 has died in prison.
Patrick Wright died on May 5 at the prison in Pontiac. The Herald & Review in
Decatur says he had heart failure, emphysema and other health problems.
Wright was convicted of killing Carol Specht and attacking her daughter at
their apartment in Mattoon. His death sentence was overturned by a federal
judge. Before he could be sentenced again in 2004, Illinois Gov. George Ryan
commuted all death sentences to life in prison or a term of years.
Specht was 44 years old at the time of her death. She was founder of the Coles
County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
(source: Associated Press)
Death sentence in jeopardy in scandalous 2001 Oklahoma City murder case
A federal appeals court has ruled 2-1 in favor of a notorious Oklahoma City
murderer on his latest legal challenge to his death sentence.
James Dwight Pavatt, 63, is on death row for the 2001 shotgun slaying of his
lover's husband, Oklahoma City advertising executive Rob Andrew.
The decision throws out a key justification for Pavatt's death sentence. If it
stands, prosecutors will have to seek the death penalty again before a new
The jury at his 2003 trial chose the death sentence on 2 grounds - that the
murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel and that it was done for
remuneration, specifically $800,000 in life insurance benefits.
Pavatt complained the evidence in his case was insufficient for the jury to
find the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. His attorneys
argued essentially that the victim had died too quickly, after being shot
In a ruling June 9, two judges on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Denver agreed. In holding for Pavatt, they pointed to U.S. Supreme Court
decisions dating back to 1972.
The decision also could impact Pavatt's lover, Brenda Andrew, now 53, the only
woman on death row in Oklahoma. She was sentenced to death on the same grounds
after a separate trial. She has made the same argument in her appeals.
On Friday, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asked for a rehearing.
The attorney general called the decision in Pavatt's case "a drastic departure"
from rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. He asked the two judges to reconsider
their decision or for all the judges on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
to take up the issue.
"To the extent the majority determined Mr. Andrew did not suffer severely
enough, or long enough, there is no clearly established federal law which
requires conscious physical suffering, much less suffering of a certain
intensity or duration," Assistant Attorney General Joshua Lockett wrote.
"Simply stated, the Supreme Court has never held that 'a brief period of
conscious physical suffering' is insufficient."
The two judges "overlooked" another reason the shooting was considered
especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, its "pitiless nature," the assistant
attorney general also wrote.
Pavatt, an insurance salesman, and Brenda Andrew became lovers after meeting at
church, according to testimony at the trials. They even taught a Sunday school
Pavatt and Rob Andrew had been friends. He assisted Rob Andrew in setting up a
life insurance policy worth $800,000.
The Andrews' 17-year marriage fell apart in 2001, with her filing for divorce
and him moving out.
On Nov. 20, 2001, Rob Andrew came to the family home in Oklahoma City to pick
up his son and daughter for Thanksgiving. He came into the garage after Brenda
Andrew told him the pilot light on the furnace was out.
There, he was shot twice, 1st by Pavatt and then by his wife, with his own
16-gauge shotgun, prosecutors alleged. Pavatt also shot Brenda Andrew in the
arm with a .22-caliber pistol to make it look like she was a victim, too,
Brenda Andrew, who suffered only a superficial wound, called 911 and reported
her husband was shot. Emergency personnel were unable to revive him after
arriving. Rob Andrew was 39.
Brenda Andrew told police two armed, masked men had attacked her husband.
Police later found evidence that Pavatt hid afterward in the attic of the home
of the Andrews' next-door neighbors, who were away.
Brenda Andrew had a key to the neighbors' house.
As police suspicions about her story grew, Pavatt and Brenda Andrew fled to
Mexico with her children. After running out of money, the couple re-entered the
United States in February 2002. They were arrested at the border.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in 2007 had rejected Pavatt's same
complaint about his sentence.
The state court pointed out the medical examiner testified that death was not
instantaneous, that the victim was clutching a trash bag full of empty aluminum
cans and that Brenda Andrew had claimed in her 911 call that he was conscious
and trying to talk to her.
"All of these facts tend to show that Rob Andrew suffered serious physical
abuse, and was conscious of the fatal attack for several minutes," the Oklahoma
Court of Criminal Appeals said.
(source: The Oklahoman)
'The Hanging Judge'----Famous judge contended that he didn't hang anyone, the
In an interview he gave to reporters from his deathbed, "The Hanging Judge"
insisted that he never hanged anybody the law did, veteran Chautauquan Doug
Mishler points out.
Technically, Judge Isaac Parker was right.
Though his "show no mercy" judgments reduced untamable outlaws to skeletons,
Mishler makes no bones about the character he portrays:
"If you're found guilty of murder or rape the 2 capital crimes you die. There
was no alternative. And so if he felt they had murdered somebody, he gave them
the death penalty. And most of the people that he sentenced to die, I don't
think they made many mistakes, 'cause it seems like they're a rogues' gallery
of scum. They're horrible human beings, these people they killed. It's just
Charles-Manson-on-steroids kinds of people," Mishler said.
He cited a deputy who found a man calmly continuing to play cards after
shooting to death one of the other cardplayers. His late victim was still
occupying a chair at the table.
"These guys are cold. They killed 'em for a hatband, a hat, a saddle, for no
reason at all. A couple of bucks. ... As Parker uses the term, 'the spark of
humanity is gone for these people.' So that is a lot of who he deals with,"
Understandably, given his views, Parker made it a point to stay away whenever
executions were held on the Fort Smith, Ark., scaffold. As many as six
desperadoes might swing on a single day.
To see Mishler's presentation of the legendary Judge Isaac Parker for the 2017
Lawton Chautauqua, be at the City Hall Auditorium, 212 SW 9th, at 7 p.m.
tonight. The performance is free, thanks to a grant from Oklahoma Humanities
and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The living history interpreter has been on the road for the past month, doing
his Parker impersonation at Chautauquas in Altus, Tulsa and Enid before
arriving in town last Sunday. He will have a five-day break before he takes on
his second new character of the year, Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, in
Mishler said he doesn't practice his characters' mannerisms in front of a
"I think about what I'm going to do. I try to figure out who the character is,
and then I figure out what I want to do with it. And then I try to keep it a
little bit fresh, for me, by not really over-rehearsing it," he said.
When he does theater, and he does a lot of it, he insists on a lot of rehearsal
to lock a performance down.
"When I do Chautauqua, I think it's more spontaneous than that, because I have
to think and answer questions ... It's a little more improv," he said.
Researching "The Hanging Judge" is tough, for several reasons.
"There are not many writings by him because most of his personal papers blew
away in a tornado a couple of years after he died," Mishler said. His home in
Fort Smith, Ark., was destroyed, "so we don't have a lot of that. We don't. If
there are letters out there, we really don't have many of those. What we have
is the court cases, and a few comments he made to the newspapers over the
years. And that's all we know about him."
There are no real biographies devoted to Parker. There are books about the
Federal Court of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith that include
him because he was so central to it, but they too suffer from lack of
"For years and years and years, the number of how many people he hung was just
all over the place, because nobody really went into the records. The court
records are still a terrible mess. ... Most people now have agreed that the one
who's gone in and went through the records to get the total number, got 79. So
most people agree with 79 now as the actual number of hangings," Mishler said.
Searching the records is a daunting task because cases were not assigned docket
numbers in those days. To find the materials associated with any one case means
looking for witnesses in one file, the arresting officer in another and the
case itself in yet another. Cases were filed alphabetically by name, not by
year. A lot of the records are in shorthand.
"They finally have digitized it, but it's still a mess," Mishler said.
(source: The Lawton Constitution)
Defenders Seek $350,000 for South Dakota Death Penalty Case----The Pennington
County Public Defender's Office is asking the county for about $350,000 to help
defend a man facing the death penalty for the alleged murder of his
The Pennington County Public Defender's Office is asking the county for about
$350,000 to help defend a man facing the death penalty for the alleged murder
of his ex-girlfriend.
The Rapid City Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2t6N2ak) that the extra costs in
Jonathon Klinetobe's case involve expert evaluations, travel expenses and
The 27-year-old Klinetobe, of Sturgis, is charged with first-degree murder for
the stabbing death of Jessica Rehfeld. Prosecutors are seeking the death
penalty against Klinetobe and Richard Hirth, an alleged accomplice.
Eric Whitcher, director of the public defender's office, says it's a complex
issue and death penalty cases are "extremely expensive." He could not elaborate
because of a judge's gag order.
Authorities say they believe Rehfeld's May 2015 death was a contract killing.
Her body was discovered last summer.
(source: Associated Press)
6 Nazi spies were executed in D.C. White supremacists gave them a memorial - on
A team of power company workers was trudging through a seldom-visited thicket
in Southwest Washington when they spotted something odd in a ditch.
Protruding from the grass was a rectangular slab of granite.
They looked closer, and an inscription on the surface came into focus. What
they saw astonished them.
It was a memorial. In honor of Nazi spies. On U.S. government property.
"In memory of agents of the German Abwehr," the engraving began, "executed
August 8, 1942."
Below that were 6 names, and below those was another cryptic line: "Donated by
News of the unsettling discovery soon reached Jim Rosenstock, who worked in
resource management for the National Park Service and also happened to be a
local history buff. He was curious, but also skeptical. How could someone have
planted such an item there? And why? And - above all - who?
Rosenstock needed to see it for himself, so he, too, made the hike into Blue
Plains, a woody area known best for a wastewater treatment plant and an
abundance of mosquitoes. And that's when he saw the stone.
"I kind of started doing a little bit of my own research," Rosenstock recalled
of that day in 2006 when he began to help unravel an only-in-Washington
mystery, complete with World War II espionage, nationwide panic, a mass
electrocution, J. Edgar Hoover chicanery, white supremacists, classic federal
bureaucracy and a U.S. Supreme Court case that played a significant role in
America's modern war on terror.
For decades, very few people in Washington, or elsewhere, knew of the stone's
existence. It wasn't a secret so much as something that just never got out -
remarkable in a town famous for its leaks.
Only when a former Park Police detective mentioned it in passing to a
Washington Post reporter, then provided photographic evidence, did anyone ask
the Park Service about it.
A spokeswoman referred the Post to the now-retired Rosenstock, because perhaps
no one has thought more about the 31-by-26-by-8-inch object than he has.
At the start of World War II, Rosenstock discovered when he began his research,
Adolf Hitler had been determined to show the world just how susceptible America
was to a Nazi attack, so he ordered his military to devise a plan.
The high command, according to a 2002 Post story, recruited 8 Germans for the
mission. In teams of 4, the men were loaded onto a pair of U-boats, 1 destined
for Jacksonville, Fla., and the other for a beach near the tip of Long Island.
On June 13, 1942, the New York group reached shore - and was almost immediately
discovered by an unarmed Coast Guards member on foot patrol. The men escaped,
but by morning, the Coast Guard had unearthed the Germans' buried supplies:
fuses, pre-made bombs and 4 crates of TNT. That wouldn't have mattered to their
leader, George John Dasch, who hadn't intended to wreak devastation on Hitler's
behalf anyway. When the group reached New York City, he and a comrade decided
to turn the others in, so Dasch phoned the FBI.
4 days later, he took the $82,000 he'd been given for the operation - more than
$1 million in today's money - and boarded a train for Washington. There, he met
with FBI agents, whom he expected to welcome him as a hero.
J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous head of the bureau, recognized an opportunity. In
late June, with all 8 men caught, Hoover announced their capture in New York -
and claimed credit for his agency.
He made no mention of Dasch.
"The country went wild," Francis Biddle, then attorney general, later wrote in
Hundreds of German aliens were rounded up and others, suspected of spying, were
arrested. The Justice Department banned German and Italian barbers, servers and
busboys from Washington's hotels and restaurants because 3 of the would-be
saboteurs had worked as waiters in America.
Ignoring due process, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that the men be
tried in secret before a military commission - a tactic, then backed by the
U.S. Supreme Court, that President George W. Bush would replicate 59 years
later in his directive that Guantanamo Bay detainees be judged in a similar
In mid-summer 1942, 7 U.S. Army generals found all 8 men guilty but left their
punishment to the president. He sentenced 6 to death and 2, including Dasch, to
lengthy prison terms (both were deported after the war).
The electrocutions began at 12:01 p.m. on Aug. 8. By 1:04, all 6 were dead.
3 days later, they were secretly buried amid a seldom-visited thicket of
Southwest Washington known as Blue Plains.
Rosenstock quickly learned the backstory of the 6 Nazi spies listed on the
stone, but another question remained: Who had placed it there?
The line at the bottom - referencing the "N.S.W.P.P." - offered a clue.
Until the mid-1960s, the National Socialist White People's Party had gone by a
more familiar name: the American Nazi Party. According to the Southern Poverty
Law Center, the group's founder, George Lincoln Rockwell, had given it the new
title shortly before his assassination in 1967.
By the 1970s, though, the group had begun to split apart and had lost much of
its relevance, leading Rosenstock to believe the Nazi memorial dates back to
The party didn't entirely cease to exist until 1983, the law center said, so
the stone may had been carved more recently - though that still means it likely
sat on Park Service land for more than 2 decades before the power company's
For Rosenstock and his colleagues, the memorial presented a conundrum. It was
deplorable, and certainly not something that belonged on public property, but
none of their handbooks suggested how to deal with a 200-plus pound monument to
Nazis installed on public land by white supremacists.
Plus, the Park Service couldn't do anything until they were sure it hadn't been
placed atop someone's bones.
What if, they wondered, the Nazis were buried beneath it?
The Park Service scoured World War II-era records for details on their bodies,
but researchers could find nothing that provided a definitive answer. Old maps
showed conflicting spots, including 1 beneath a building.
"The location is a little bit confusing," he said, "and I think deliberately
Rosenstock suspected that whoever disposed of the spies' bodies didn't want
What he did learn, though, is that no one was buried beneath the stone because
a creek had run through that area in the 1940s.
Still, the Park Service hadn't decided what should be done.
"It was an illegal monument," Rosenstock said. "And we certainly did not want
to be hosting a site for midnight rituals on Hitler's birthday."
That was a legitimate concern. Rosenstock once found deer bones arranged atop
the memorial. Others had found candles around it and noticed that it was
"At least 1 fellow in the Park Service suggested breaking it up with sledge
hammers and throwing it in the river," he recalled. "It's not the argument that
historic preservationists make."
The memorial remained intact.
In 2010, under the direction of a museum curator, a forklift exhumed the
granite block and lowered it into a truck.
The stone, tagged OXCO-475, now spends its days beneath a protective blanket on
a shelf at a storage facility in suburban Maryland. Park Service staff asked
that The Post be no more specific than that because, though they didn't mind
its long-unknown story being told, they'd prefer that its exact location remain
(source: Washington Post)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
DeathPenalty mailing list