death penalty news----TEXAS
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Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Nov. 10


Moore Shocks Courtroom By Recanting Confession

Thursday saw a shocking turn of events in a Williamson County courtroom.

The man who reportedly confessed to the disappearance and murder of
Georgetown resident Rachel Cooke recanted his confession after entering
the courtroom.

It's definitely not what prosecutor's had hoped or planned to hear:
Michael Moore entering a not guilty plea to charges he killed 19-year-old
Rachel Cooke.

It's a plea that even caught Moore's attorneys off guard.

District Attorney John Bradley says the most painful part of all of this
that Rachel Cooke's parents are still left wondering what happened.

It was supposed to have been simple, an open-and-shut plea bargain already
worked out in advance.

Convicted killer Michael Keith Moore admitting he murdered 19-year-old
Rachel Cooke in exchange for a lighter sentence.

That all fell apart when Moore stunned the courtroom -- apparently
changing his mind.

Red-faced officials insist they have the right suspect, even if Moore
refused to live up to his confession.

"There were several things that Michael told us that only the person
involved in the abduction and possibly the slaying of Rachel Cooke could
have known," Williamson County Sheriff Jim Wilson said.

Many people in the community had hoped yesterday's hearing would provide
some type of closure for the Cooke family. Instead the emotional
rollercoaster they've been on for nearly five years now took another
wicked turn.

Because Michael Moore did not plead guilty, prosecutors must start
building a case against him. The D.A. will now take the case to a grand
jury for an indictment. And the plea bargain is out, so Moore could face
the death penalty.

Williamson County detectives want to hear from anyone who may have
information about the Rachel Cooke case. You're asked to call (512)

(source: KEYE TV News)


Man on death row chooses SLT man as spiritual adviser

Doug Tjapkes, author of the book "Sweet Freedom" and president of a
nonprofit organization called INNOCENT, admits that what he's about to do
may be the most difficult assignment he has ever faced.

Tjapkes, who regularly works to free the wrongly convicted, has been asked
by Charles Anthony Nealy, 42, to be his spiritual adviser at the time of
his scheduled execution on Nov. 16.

Tjapkes believes Nealy is an innocent man, but the state of Texas believes
he is a murderer and deserves to die.

Tjapkes first visited his friend on death row in Livingston, Texas, 2
years ago. They had been corresponding since 2002 when INNOCENT was asked
to look into the case. A Dallas newspaper called the trial the fastest
death penalty trial in the history of Texas.

"There is new hope for a possible stay of execution," said Tjapkes, who
lives in Spring Lake Township.

At a hearing earlier this month, a witness in the Nealy trial testified
that he had been untruthful, and that he had been coerced by the
prosecutor to sign a statement. Since then, Nealy's attorney, John Nation,
has been frantically working with the courts for a stay of execution,
Tjapkes said.

Tjapkes, a staff member at Ferrysburg Community Church, said that he was
honored to had been asked to serve as Nealy's spiritual advisor, but that
nothing would please him more than to have the scheduled death of his
friend canceled.

Airplane tickets have already been purchased for Nov. 15.

"It would be a wonderful thing if I could fly down there for a friendly
visit with Anthony, rather than witness the murder of an innocent man,"
Tjapkes said.

Meanwhile, Tjapkes asks for 2 things:

First, the sending of letters, notes and picture postcards to Nealy, who
commonly uses his middle name Anthony. A fellow inmate who was due to be
executed this week killed himself last week, and life in that Texas death
row prison unit is very unpleasant right now, Tjapkes said.

The address is: Charles Anthony Nealy, No. 999289, Polunsky Unit, 3872-FM
350 South, Livingston, TX 77351.

Tjapkes' 2nd request is prayer for the condemned man's spiritual adviser.

(source: Grand Haven Tribune)


Jessica's Law: Will Texas Put Child Sex Offenders To Death?

Texas may soon have a law to put repeat child sex offenders to death.

"What I'm asking the legislature to do is pass the toughest law in the
country - Jessica's Law," re-elected Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said
Tuesday night.

The law is named after a 9-year-old Florida girl raped and buried alive by
a registered sex offender. It sets minimum prison sentences for predators
who molest children.

Dewhurst's plan is a souped-up version of that law.

"If you molest a child under 14, you're going to go to jail for 25 years
as a minimum. Then, it's lifetime GPS monitoring. And God forbid, you ever
do it a second time, it's the death penalty" said Dewhurst. Many other
states have passed similar laws, but Jessica's Law has it's critics.

Allison Taylor oversees sex offender treatment for the State of Texas.

"All sex offenders are not created equal, and we can't lump them into one
category" Taylor told News 4.

Taylor added that "Incarceration in an institutional division does not end
the proliferation of sexual violence. In fact, the same deviant person
going in to prison is going to get out after that 25 year sentence."

But if they do it again, Dewhurst wants to put them to death. That
provision will likely to generate the most controversy this spring.

5 other states allow the death penalty for sex offenders, but none of
those states has actually executed one. A Supreme Court ruling in 1977
suggested that the death penalty can only be used in cases of murder. So,
it's unclear whether Dewhurst's plan would be constitutional.

According to Dewhurst, 18 other states have some form of Jessica's Law.
California voters just approved a version Tuesday, and and the state of
Oregon signed one Wednesday.

(source: WOAI News)


Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000---Man cleared by DNA after 18
years is mum on what he'll do with cash

State law: A person pardoned based on innocence is eligible for up to
$25,000 for each year in prison. The state caps it at $500,000.

Arthur Mumphrey, who spent 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, is
keeping his day job as steel foreman even though he will soon be nearly a
half-million dollars richer.

Mumphrey, released from prison Jan. 26 after new DNA test results cleared
his name, has been awarded $452,082 before taxes in restitution from the

He recently got his first lump sum of $226,041 and will get another lump
sum in the same amount in August 2007, according to the Texas
Comptroller's Office.

He will have to report the compensation to the Internal Revenue Service,
and tax officials will decide if and how much he will pay in taxes, said a
comptroller official.

Mumphrey, who did not respond to a request for an interview, has been mum
about his compensation. Not even his wife, Angela, or his attorney, Eric
Davis, know what he plans to do with his money.

''That's his business," said Angela Mumphrey, who described her husband as
a quiet ''homebody" since his release nine months ago.

A jury convicted Mumphrey of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a
wooded area of Conroe on Feb. 28, 1986, partly based on blood tests that
could not rule him out as 1 of the 2 attackers.

A Montgomery County judge later ordered Mumphrey released from prison
based on new test results using technology not available in the 1980s. The
tests proved he was not responsible for the attack.

Gov. Rick Perry signed a pardon based on innocence for Mumphrey on March
17, expunging the conviction from his record and making him eligible for

Busy on the job

Mumphrey received his 1st payment in August, but the windfall hasn't
changed his priorities.

The Conroe native still spends most of his time working. His 1st job after
his release was at a Houston glass company. The past seven months he has
worked at a Houston steel company, where he was promoted to foreman last
month, his wife said.

When he's not working 14 to 16 hours, 6 days a week, Mumphrey relaxes at
his Houston home, watching football and basketball.

"On Sundays, he plays dominoes with my dad, and he talks on the phone with
his sisters every weekend," Angela Mumphrey said.

Davis, who reopened the case in 2005, described Mumphrey as ''hardworking
and industrious."

"He's a good success story in making the transition" from prison to the
real world, Davis said.

Mumphrey gained his freedom thanks to the persistence of Davis, who spent
months tracking down the original DNA in the case.

Davis found the evidence at the Texas Department of Public Safety's
Houston crime lab, but when prosecutors inquired about the DNA, lab
officials said they did not have it.

Stunned by the reversal, Davis kept digging until he reached a lab
supervisor who found the samples stored in a refrigerator.

Prosecutors now think Mumphrey's younger brother, Charles, might be one of
the attackers in the case.

Statute of limitations is up

Just days before Arthur Mumphrey was released, Charles Mumphrey, 35,
confessed to an investigator for the Montgomery County District Attorney's
Office during a jail interview, said Assistant District Attorney Marc
Brumburger, who handles post-conviction and appeal cases.

No criminal charges will be filed against Charles Mumphrey because the
statute of limitations has expired.

But his DNA has been submitted to the state crime lab to be compared with
evidence from the case.

Brumburger said he has not received any information about the evidence
since submitting it about 9 months ago.

Charles Mumphrey, like his brother, is now free. He completed his 1-year
sentence for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was released April
21, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

He could not be reached for comment.

(source: Houston Chronicle)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Nov. 15

TEXAS----new death sentence

Man who robbed, killed 89-year-old gets death penalty

In Fort Worth, a 26-year-old man was sentenced to death Wednesday
afternoon for robbing and killing an 89-year-old man who had thousands of
dollars stashed in coffee creamers and other containers in his Handley

A jury of 6 men and 6 women deliberated about 5 1/2 hours before deciding
that Tilon Lashon Carter should be executed for the April 28, 2004,
smothering death of James Eldon Tomlin, a retired Bell Helicopter

Carter showed no reaction when state District Judge James Wilson announced
the verdict, but after afterward, his grandmother proclaimed his

"He was framed," Gloria Carter said, dabbing her eyes. "We'll try and get
it appealed. We love him."

Tomlin's daughter, Deborah Wilson, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to the
detectives, prosecutor and jurors for the verdict.

"We had decided it would be in God's hands, but of course, in my heart of
hearts, this is what I wanted," Wilson said. "I felt like Tilon made those
choices. My dad didn't have that choice, and he loved living.

"3 or 4 times a day, he told me how much he loved me, and I miss hearing
that every day."

Earlier this month, jurors deliberated about two hours before convicting
Carter of capital murder.

On the morning of April 28, 2004, Carter and his girlfriend, Leketha Allen
whose mother, a prostitute, had a 20-year relationship with Tomlin went
to Tomlin's home to rob him.

Once inside, Tomlin was struck in the head, and his feet and hands were
bound with duct tape. His mouth was taped.

After they stole a shotgun and two jars of coins, Carter ordered Allen out
of the house and into the car, making him the last one with Tomlin.

Later that day, Wilson found her father dead, face down on the floor. The
Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled Tomlin died from positional
asphyxiation and that someone also smothered or attempted to smother him.

Investigators later recovered more than $20,000 cash hidden in coffee
creamers and other containers inside Tomlins house and car. It's unclear
how much Allen and Carter stole.

During the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutors urged jurors to
sentence Carter to death, while defense attorneys begged them to spare his

To assess the death penalty, jurors had to agree on 4 issues: That Carter
was not mentally retarded; that he would be a future danger to society,
even in prison; that he caused, intended or anticipated Tomlin's death;
and that there were no mitigating factors that reduced his moral
blameworthiness and made a life sentence more appropriate.

During their closing argument, prosecutors Lisa Callaghan and Darrell
Davila portrayed Carter as a longtime criminal with an escalating pattern
of violence.

They reminded jurors that Carter was a disruptive child who was repeatedly
sent to alternative school, including once for striking a 6th-grade

At age 16, he was certified to stand trial as an adult for robbing a
married couple at gunpoint and stealing their car to pay off a drug debt.
While serving his 5-year sentence for that crime, he led a prison riot,
prosecutors said.

Shortly after his release from prison in 2002, prosecutors said, Carter
was convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure for exposing himself to a
woman at an Arlington K-Mart. Later, he was convicted of misdemeanor
assault for biting and striking his girlfriend an assault that could be
heard, in part, on a 911 call.

The following year, on Christmas Eve 2003, prosecutors said, Carter,
Daunshea Choice and another man forced their way into a drug house on
North Little John Avenue. According to Choice, who was offered 20 years in
prison for burglary in exchange for his testimony, Carter duct-taped and
fondled a woman inside the house before making her and 3 men go into a

A short time later, prosecutors said, Carter fired into a closet, killing
Jose "Lucas" Munoz, 25.

4 months later, Tilon smothered 89-year-old Tomlin during the robbery a
choice, prosecutors said, that made him worthy of execution.

"He decided on the death penalty for James Tomlin," Callaghan told the
jury. "But he didnt just decide on it for James Tomlin, he made it for

He made this decision. You are giving him what he asked for."

During their final summation, defense attorneys Rick Alley and Santiago
Salinas begged jurors for a life sentence. They argued that Carter was
mentally retarded and had a dysfunctional family and poor upbringing.

Carter's mother, Sylvia Diane Carter, a mentally ill drug addict,
testified during the trial that she had 8 pregnancies with 8 different
men. Other relatives testified that she had only 5 or 6.

Regardless, Sylvia Carter had Tilon Carter, her 2nd child, when she was
14. According to defense attorneys, the only father figure Carter ever
knew, they said, was a man who is serving a life sentence on a
drug-related conviction. Carter spent much of his childhood living with
his grandmother.

"Just because you can consider the death penalty doesn't mean you should
give it," Alley said. "I'm begging you, spare a life, rather than take

Leketha Allen remains in the Tarrant County Jail, awaiting her capital
murder trial. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty for her.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Nov. 17


Appeals court rejects claims in Houston carjacking case

A federal appellate court has rejected an appeal from an inmate condemned
in a notorious Houston carjacking case for shooting a young woman in the
head as she waited at a stop light, pulling her from her car and dumping
her in the street as he drove away and ran over her.

Lionell Rodriguez had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a
rehearing before the full court after a 3-judge panel refused to let him
appeal his conviction because of what he argued was poor legal help during
the punishment phase of his 1994 trial.

The decision means Rodriguez likely will receive an execution date for
early next year, Roe Wilson, who handles death penalty appeals for the
Harris County district attorney's office, said Thursday.

The appeals court agreed in its ruling Wednesday with a federal judge who
rejected claims from Rodriguez that questioned admission of his jail
disciplinary records at his trial, a statement from a cousin who
implicated him in the slaying and the selection of one of the jurors at
his trial.

The slaying of Tracy Gee, 22, was highly publicized in Houston and its
random nature prompted worries about the safety of residents.

Rodriguez, 35, has been tried twice for killing Gee, who was gunned down
Sept. 5, 1990, only a few blocks from her home as she was returning from

Rodriguez was 19 at the time of the shooting and had been out on parole
only 3 weeks after serving 3 months of a 7-year sentence for burglary. He
also had a long criminal history, including revocation of juvenile
probation, and witnesses testified about violent behavior while he was
being held in the Harris County Jail before his 1st trial.

Police initially thought the woman was the victim of a hit-and-run
accident but the investigation changed when doctors found a .30-caliber
M-1 carbine bullet wound in her temple.

Rodriguez drove around for about 2 hours in Gee's car, which was
splattered with bone fragments and brain matter, and was sitting in the
car and in a pool of her blood when he was arrested near his home in
Rosenberg in Fort Bend County.

At his trial, evidence included his confession in which he said he wanted
her car because the one he riding in was almost out of gas.

His cousin, James Gonzales, implicated Rodriguez in the shooting and is
serving a 40-year sentence for aggravated robbery.

Rodriguez was convicted first in 1991 and sentenced to die but the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals 2 years later threw out the conviction and
ordered a new trial because a list of potential jurors for his trial had
been shuffled twice when the law said it could be shuffled only once.

He was retried in 1994, convicted again and sentenced to death again.

Rodriguez said from death row after his 1st trial that he had found
Christianity in prison and was sorry about the shooting.

(source: Associated Press)


Ken Rodriguez: Molesters who never kill but keep attacking skirt law for

The law has been slow to catch up with Charles Edwin Williams. It has been
criminally slow to catch up with every pervert like him.

Williams' history of child sex crimes dates to 1984. His first offense,
indecent exposure with a child, was a misdemeanor. Today it's a felony.

Over the years, the courts have been kind to Williams. Five convictions
have yielded small fines, two years of probation and just six years in

If current laws had been on the books 22 years ago, Williams would be
serving a life sentence.

Instead, Williams has recorded a string of misdemeanor offenses and left
behind an unknown number of victims.

2 years after completing a prison term for sexual performance by a child,
he awaits trial on a charge of possessing child pornography.

Just last week, he was charged with failing to register a vehicle. Deputy
sheriffs say Williams solicited a South Side prostitute with a 15-year-old
girl in his car. That's when authorities discovered Williams had failed to
register his vehicle as required by a sex offender.

How many chances should a predator get? Not many under proposed

State Sen. Florence Shapiro wants those who sexually abuse the same child
more than once to serve a minimum of 25 years.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle wants to eliminate parole for first-time sex
offenders. She also wants repeat sex offenders to be eligible for a life
sentence without parole and the death penalty.

In some cases that means two strikes and you're dead.

This is probably a good time to mention the average age of a child
molester: one researcher says 13 to 15. I suppose it's also a good time to
mention how many victims these predators abuse before getting caught: 80
to 120.

In short, 2 convictions could mean a death penalty candidate has abused
more than 200 children.

Now consider Williams, 43. With five convictions and more charges pending,
the possible abuse is staggering.

The justice system is slow, reactive and backward. Just look at the
history of sex crime legislation. Laws only get passed and toughened after
a little one dies.

States have sex offender registries because an 11-year-old boy was
abducted from his neighborhood in St. Joseph, Minn., in 1989.

Sex offenders lived nearby. The boys' mother, furious no one had told her
about them, became a crusader. 5 years later, the boy still missing,
lawmakers passed the Jacob Wetterling Act.

Tragically, the death of a 7-year-old girl revealed a gaping hole in the
law. In 1994, a registered sex offender raped and strangled Megan Kanka.

The predator, Jesse Timmendequas, lived across the street from Megan in
Hamilton Township, N.J. But existing laws prevented police from notifying
residents that a man twice convicted of sexually abusing a child had moved

Two years later, Megan's Law was born. It required states to make personal
information about sex offenders public information like age, height,
weight, address and sex convictions.

Regrettably, Megan's Law did not toughen sentences for repeat sex
offenders. In Texas, the death of 7-year-old Ashley Estell did. Ashley was
abducted from a Dallas area park. Her killer had been released from prison
after serving 18 months of a 10-year sentence for indecency with a child.

Enter Shapiro. In 1995, the senator authored a series of bills known as
Ashley's Laws. Sex offenders convicted again of certain crimes became
eligible for automatic life terms.

Last year, the death of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford prompted Florida to
toughen its child sex laws. Why? The man accused of killing her was a
registered sex offender.

In Florida, Jessica's Law mandates a minimum sentence of 25 years for
those convicted of certain sex crimes against children 11 or younger. The
law also requires molesters released from prison to wear satellite
tracking devices for life.

Note the pattern. Child predator kills. Law gets passed. Next predator
kills. Law gets toughened.

But what about molesters who attack but never kill? They don't inspire new
laws. They only slither around them. Ask Charles Edwin Williams. 22 years
of sex crimes, and he's crawled by every statute in the book.

(source: San Antonio Express-News)


Verdict: kibitzing

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals made no bones about rejecting
President Bush's attempt to give a death row inmate's appeal another
review in light of international law.

"We hold that the President has exceeded his constitutional authority by
intruding into the independent powers of the judiciary," Judge Michael
Keasler wrote for the court in a decision released Wednesday.

The breadth of the ruling makes it likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will
have the final word.

The immediate result was to again uphold the capital sentence of Jose
Ernesto Medellin, 1 of 6 gang members convicted in the gruesome 1993 rape
and slaying of Houston teenagers Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.

Medellin was among 51 Mexican nationals on Death Row in the United States
who challenged their sentences in the International Court of Justice on
grounds that they weren't notified immediately after their arrests that
they had the right, under an international treaty, to seek help from the
Mexican consul.

In 2004, the ICJ, which sits in The Hague, ruled that the United States
must comply with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular

Bush then sent a memo to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saying that
state courts should follow the ICJ decision and reconsider whether any of
the defendants were harmed by not being told about contacting consul
officials. But Texas officials argued that the ICJ ruling didn't trump
Texas criminal law and that Bush couldn't force the courts to follow the
international decision.

Relying on a June Supreme Court ruling, the Court of Criminal Appeals said
that the ICJ decision wasn't binding law and that Bush didn't have
congressional authority or constitutional power, express or implied, to
force compliance. Because Medellin didn't raise the treaty issue until far
into the appeals process, state law prevented the courts from considering

Though all 9 members of the court agreed with the outcome, 4 felt
compelled to write separately.

Judge Cathy Cochran, in a concurrence joined by Judges Cheryl Johnson and
Charles Holcomb, said the court didn't need to get into separation of
powers because Bush's memo was so informal that it didn't legally bind the

Presiding Judge Sharon Keller was less subtle: "The President has made an
admirable attempt to resolve a complicated issue involving the United
States' international obligations. But this unprecedented, unnecessary,
and intrusive exercise of power over the Texas court system cannot be
supported by the foreign policy authority conferred on him by the United
States Constitution."

And Judge Barbara Hervey sounded simply injudicious.

"This international cause clbre centers around this applicant who makes no
claim that he did not brutally rape and murder 2 teenage girls (ages 14
and 16) with fellow gang members over 13 years ago in the summer of 1993,"
she wrote, offering explicit trial details.

"This case has dragged on for an amount of time equal to almost the
entirety of the lives of these 2 girls," with Medellin receiving "almost
unparalleled due process protections," she said.

"Now, from half-way around the world, the International Court of Justice
... has ordered our state courts to review applicant's Article 36 Vienna
Convention claim. ... The President of the United States has made a
similar request," she said. "But, all of this is really much ado about
nothing because applicant received essentially the review mandated" by the
ICJ and the president.

She noted that, according to the trial record, Medellin has lived in the
United States since he was 3, appears to speak fluent English and didn't
tell police he wasn't a citizen.

"The Court's 60-plus page opinion disposing of applicant's current ...
application provides applicant with much more than he deserves," she

It might be difficult to find sympathy for a convicted killer whose crime
shocks the conscience. But that wasn't what the court was asked to

It undermines the notion of fair and impartial judicial review when a
judge sounds as if she's ready to complete the execution herself.

(source: Opinion, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)


Juvenile crime on an upswing in county----Recent rise still leaves numbers
far below the rates seen in the 1990s

Youths and crime Violent crime by juveniles has slowly crept up in Harris
County, with rates here in recent years surpassing statewide rates for the
2st time since 1995, according to data being released today by an
Austin-based research group.

This trend doesn't surprise those on the front line of juvenile crime.
Harvey Hetzel, executive director for the Harris County Juvenile Probation
Department, cites a rise in gang activity, increased violence among young
girls, and teen mental health problems as possible causes.

"A kid hauls off and gets mad and beats up his mother," he said. "It seems
like we are seeing a lot more of that."

But Hetzel, a veteran of the juvenile justice system, said today's numbers
are nowhere near the high juvenile crime rates seen in the early and

According to data compiled by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, 191
out of 100,000 juveniles were arrested for violent crimes in 2004 in
Harris County, compared with 177 in 2000. In 1993 the figure was 453.

The research group compiles an annual Kids Count report, which looks at a
variety of trends among children and teenagers including juvenile crime.
The report, released today, shows a steady increase in child poverty and
child abuse rates in both Harris County and Texas.

The report compiles the most recent comparable data on everything from
juvenile crime to infant mortality rates.

Hetzel said his staff has seen arrests continue to rise since 2004, the
most recent year cited in the report.

The department is initiating new mental health programs to help treat the
offenders committing some of these violent crimes.

Harris County's plan also includes new facilities at Youth Village in
Seabrook to house female offenders. The county currently sends girls to
halfway houses and treatment programs in other communities.

In a fluorescent-lit room at Youth Village on Thursday, seven juvenile
offenders in green hooded sweat shirts discussed anger management and
conflict resolution.

Later that afternoon they playacted a scene, in which one boy tried to
help a drug addict and his drug dealers avoid becoming violent.

These are juvenile offenders, locked up at the 520-unit detention facility
for a variety of crimes, including assaults and burglaries.

Group leader Alison Lootens has been teaching offenders such as these, as
well as area students, about anger management through her program "Resolve
It" since 1999.

Lootens said she has seen more violence among teens in the past 5 years
and blames what she sees as weakening anti-gang efforts on the local
government level.

But, she said, it is also getting harder to rehabilitate offenders because
many aren't required to stay long enough in the facility to complete her
10-week program.

"What does pacify mean?" she asked the group.

A 17-year-old raised his hand. The teen, in for aggravated assault, has a
baby son.

"It means you are being sensitive," he said.

(source: Houston Chronicle)


A loophole for the rich, a noose for the poor

This article was written before Willie Shannon was executed on Nov. 8. A
lively and angry protest was held outside the death house in Huntsville,
Texas, as Shannons special friend Regina Schmall and three others
witnessed the execution. Shannon' funeral was held Nov. 11 in Columbus,
Texas, where Shannon grew up. The church was packed with family, friends
and the community.

Shannon had been a member of PURE Panthers United for Revolutionary
Educationand as requested, was buried with a black beret, a black jacket
and boots. His coffin was covered with a red, green, and black African
Liberation flag. In his hand was a beautiful, simple light blue origami
flower, made by Shannon' comrade and the author of this article. Muenda, a
founder and leader, of PURE Muenda has spent the last 30 years on death
row and continues to be a political influence there.

On Nov. 8, Willie Shannon, a Texas death row prisoner, is slated to die.
And if no authoritative hand intervenesjudge, governor or Godhe will be
put down by a law designed specifically to bring finality to death penalty

To keep cases moving through the different layers of appeal, the state
legislators designed a time limitation rule, commonly called procedural
bar. It requires that all legal motions be filed in a timely fashion.
Failure to meet a single deadline bars the defendant from filing anything
further. All rights to appeal are instantly waivedthus the name procedural
bar. The defendant is then executed by default.

To say this rule was put into effect without genuine sentiments, that it
was devised expressly to hang the poor and let loose the rich, is indeed
grave and extreme. It can neither be proven nor disproved. But genuine
sentiments or not, the class thats exclusively affected by this rule is
well established.

In nearly 30 years of reading case law, never once have I come across a
case involving a rich person who had been procedurally barred. Well-paid
lawyers hired by the affluent never, for any reason, miss filing

So why is it that the poor and the poor alone, represented by
court-appointed counselors, are consistently hit with the bar?

The answer to this single truth can only be conjectural. But being that it
adversely affects the poor unilaterally and people of color
disproportionately, race and class bias must be considered.

The great American pretense is that we'e all one people, representing a
single national interest, with the fairness of democracy extended to all.
But the truth is that democracy is not extended to all, and we do not
share and can never share the same national interest.

As long as we live in a nation where one culture dominates all others;
where there is racial favoritism; where a small few appropriate a
disproportionate amount of the nations wealth to itself; and where some
live inside the mainstream while others live on the margins, we have no
common interest.

When this myth is exposed, we see clearly a country of antagonisms. So why
the myth? What is this supposed national interest, anyway? And, more
important, by whom and against whom is it defended?

A good place to start is with the Republicans and the Democrats. They are
the 2 controlling parties. When it comes to lawyers, judges, prosecutors
and politicians, 9 out of 10 belong to one or the other party. They
control, believe in, and defend the capitalist system. They will tell you
themselves that their values "are American values," that their interests
represent the national interest of the country.

In fact, they are literally offended by things and images perceived to be
uncouth or un-American: saggy pants, rap music, gays, lesbians, Muslims,
poor whites who are considered trash, Chicanos from the barrios, Blacks
from the ghettos, socialists, radicals, and people who protest against the

When it comes to officers of the court, a mistaken notion is that defense
lawyers are for you, prosecutors are against you, and judges are neutral.
They are all of the same class and support the system, whether they are
Republican or Democrat, and the greater number of them is conservative.

Therefore, they are unavoidably politically biased, but not necessarily
with malice. They are against crime, as they should be. They are also
against all images stereotyped as criminal, and they shouldn't be.

So when a youngster goes on trial and fits the stereotypical image of a
thug, then nobody in that courtroom wants to see him go free. Not even his

In the event that it's a capital murder case, the lawyer works to get a
life sentence rather than the death penalty. And sometimes they dont even
do that. They miss filing deadlines or fail to preserve their clients
right, which in effect amounts to killing the client themselves.

Again, this is something that could never happen to a person of clout and
station in this country. For this reason, this particular rule of law is a
loophole for the rich and a noose for the poor.

So, come November 8, barring a miracle, another poor man from the working
class will be hanged in Texas.

(source: Worker's World)


Prisons house too many illegals, alcoholics and potheads

The subject having to do with prisons and varying sentences for convicts
might need to be revisited. I received an unusually high response to my
critique of disparity in prison sentencing. Some readers agreed with my
conclusions that there was no consistency. Minor criminals sometimes
receive harsh sentences while major offenders receive a slap on the wrist.

Some of my readers took me to task, thinking that I advocated leniency for
criminals. That is far from true. Offenders should be punished and
rehabilitated where possible. The present system is long on punishment,
but rehabilitation is practically nonexistent.

Two high-ranking employees of the prison system called me to discuss some
of the points I'm making here. They have to speak off the record, of

There are dedicated, faith-based organizations and individuals that spend
a lot of time and money on changing inmates' lives. Most of them stress
the spiritual, the need for fundamental lifestyle changes. We are all
aware of inspiring stories of inmates who have "found Jesus in jail."
Death row inmates sometimes use this as a reason not to be executed,
saying that they are a changed and different person from the one who
committed the crime.

Judges recognize this need for an attitude change in probated convicts by
requiring them to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Most AA veterans
testify that they rely on a "higher power" to stay sober. Yet the American
Civil Liberties Union is exploring avenues of prohibiting the practice on
the grounds of separation of church and state.

There have been successful lawsuits against allowing these Christian
organizations to operate in our prisons. Yet an Islamic group is allowed
access, preaching jihad to a receptive audience. There is growing evidence
that this radicalized version of Islam is taking root in our prisons.
Political correctness dictates that their chaplains - with their message
of hate for our country - be given access.

In the early 1990s, we tripled the size of our prison system. Texas
Department of Criminal Justice budget proposals for the next two-year
budget cycle total $5.6 billion. One budget item includes $520 million for
3 new prisons with 11,000 additional beds.

Is this a trend that we can sustain? Is there an alternative? Staying the
course may be something we can't afford.

One item that helps the prison budget is a 10-percent deduction from money
sent by inmates' families for personal needs, such as stamps and
toothpaste. This has been added in the past year with no explanation.

Where will the staff to operate these new prisons come from? A friend who
works at the Clements Unit told me that they are more than 100 guards
short of a full staff.

Low wages and dangerous working conditions do not attract good, qualified

One way to make do with the present prison infrastructure might be to
deport illegal aliens who are incarcerated and begin to guard our borders

One statistic I read says that 29 % of inmates in federal custody are
illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican.

If the percentage of illegals was the same in Texas prisons, and we
deported them all, we might be able get by without any new construction.

And surely there are less expensive solutions for alcoholics and pot
smokers than a penitentiary. Exposure to killers and other hardened
criminals can't be a good thing.

(source: Column, Virgil Van Camp, Amarillo Globe)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Nov. 19


Moore's record reveals remorseless brutality.

The day after Michael Keith Moore killed a pregnant woman in her Round
Rock home, he was sitting across from a detective at the Georgetown police
station, answering questions about his suspected involvement in an
unrelated rape.

Moore wasn't summoned to the Georgetown station; he went on his own to
confront the rape accusation, a notably brazen act for a man who had slit
a handcuffed woman's throat only the day before.

Still, such boldness conforms to the profile of Moore that emerges in
court documents, parole records and conversations with those who have
dealt with the 31-year-old, whose trouble with the law began at age 13 and
who has spent almost all of his adult life behind bars.

That past is one reason investigators take seriously Moore's recent
confession that he raped and killed Rachel Cooke, a Georgetown woman
missing since Jan. 10, 2002. It is also why Lampasas police are
investigating Moore's possible connection to an attempted kidnapping 21
days before Cooke's disappearance.

The attempt was made about 10 p.m., when the young woman pulled up in
front of her Lampasas home after work. A pickup stopped behind her, and
the man got out and struck up a conversation, Lt. Investigator Jody
Cummings said.

"He tried to grab her (while) out on the street, but after a short
struggle she was able to free herself," Cummings said. "She fled into her
house, and he fled" in the truck.

Cummings said he later became interested in Moore based on the woman's
description of her attacker. "I made note that, just based on physical
similarities, that Mr. Moore can be a suspect in my case," he said.

Moore is a high school dropout of average intelligence who fully believes
he's the smartest guy in any room part of his self-image as irresistible
to women and intimidating to men, acquaintances say. He delights in toying
with law enforcement and is so sure he can outwit investigators that he
has dropped hints about his involvement in a crime and then reacted with
anger and shock when they figured something out.

He is most frequently described as unpredictable, arrogant and

According to his father, Ronald Moore of Houston, Michael Moore has been
in trouble since he was 13 years old.

Moore's juvenile record includes at least three arrests for burglarizing
homes. He also was arrested for theft, for leading police on a high-speed
chase through Waller County and for making a bomb threat at Leander High
School in 1991. With his parents divorced, Moore was twice sent to Kansas,
where his father lived, in 1990 once after a January arrest for burglary
and again after a May arrest for unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Remorse, his father said, is a foreign emotion for Moore.

"He has no guilt on anything he does; he never has," Ronald Moore said.
"And he can stand in front of you and lie to you, and you cannot tell
whether he's telling the truth or lying."

When a young Michael Moore shoplifted, his father said he took Moore back
to the store to return everything in front of the clerk and customers. The
experience didn't faze the boy, Ronald Moore said.

His family once sought a psychological evaluation, but Moore fled the
facility before doctors could diagnose him, his father said.

"You stand up for your kids. You stand up for them, but there's got to be
a point when you say, 'No more.' . . . I reached that point," Ronald Moore
said. "He's (in prison) where he belongs. It's where he started out in
life at 13, where he was headed anyway."

3 clear patterns

A review of Moore's criminal history reveals three compelling patterns of

His inability to stay out of trouble.

In 1993, Moore received a 60-day sentence, to be served on weekends, for
using a BB gun to break dozens of home and car windows in Georgetown.
Although the sentence also called for a 10-year prison term if Moore got
in legal trouble again, he failed to check into jail for his 1st weekend
stint. That's because he was being held in the Travis County Jail for
punching his girlfriend and future wife, who is nearly 20 years his
senior, and for putting a knife to her throat.

Moore would spend the next 4 1/2 years behind bars, yet the lesson wasn't
learned. Parole violations would land Moore in prison 3 times over the
next 7 years.

Much of Moore's legal trouble revolved around sexual misconduct.

On Feb. 24, 2004, Moore's stepdaughter-in-law awoke to find him rubbing
her leg in bed. Moore, who was arrested 2 days later for burglary and
assault, knew she would be alone that night, Bettye Johnson testified at
his parole revocation hearing.

Moore has not been out of jail since. But at the hearing, his parole
officer recommended that Moore receive a "sex offender evaluation" before
being released from custody, noting that a previous revocation hearing
also involved a sexual offense: rape.

On Sept. 20, 2003 three days before Moore would kill Round Rock resident
Christina Moore, who is not related to him he attended a Georgetown
party, during which a 20-year-old woman reported being raped after her
clothes were cut away as she slept. Moore was a suspect and met with
detectives on Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. No charges were filed in the assault,
but Moore's parole was revoked because he provided alcohol to two minors
at the party.

Georgetown police Detective Bill Pascoe would not comment on the
interviews, saying the rape investigation remains open.

Other questionable actions included writing sexually charged letters to
his then-teenage stepdaughter from prison. Moore tried to cut off her
shorts as she slept, stole her underwear several times and secretly
videotaped her, according to court records.

While he was in custody at the Williamson County Jail in 2004 and 2005,
Moore manipulated the locks on his infirmary cell to have sex with at
least one female inmate and to masturbate in front of others.

Moore is unintentionally self-destructive in his dealings with police.

Four days after Christina Moore's murder, Michael Moore anonymously
telephoned investigators to say that he had found checks bearing her name
in a pay phone coin-return slot. It would be one of the most obvious clues
linking Moore to the murder.

The break came when Moore's stepdaughter-in-law approached sheriff's
deputies in February 2004 to discuss Moore's break-in at her home. She
also mentioned that Moore once claimed to have possessed checks bearing
Christina Moore's name. When detectives played the audiotape of the
anonymous caller, she identified the voice as Michael Moore's.

Two days later, Round Rock police began questioning Moore about the

According to videotaped interviews with police, Moore volunteered to
officers that someone might have reported seeing him in the victim's
neighborhood, but he added that it wasn't true. Asked why someone would
say that, Moore sat silently with his arms crossed.

The detectives waited. Moore spoke again, asking if he would be charged or
arrested and then continuing before they could answer.

"This is exactly what I didn't want to happen," Moore said. "I knew
something like this was going to happen."

Moore's actions match behavior patterns frequently seen in repeat
criminals, said Mark Young, a retired FBI agent who spent 15 years as a
behavior analyst, or profiler, during 32 years with the agency.

"One of the things that we have seen over the years with repeat or serial
offenders, especially predatory offenders even burglars and bank robbers
is they develop a sense of omniscience. They are all-seeing, and going
with that is a narcissistic attitude that 'I am more powerful, I am
smarter than the police,' " he said.

"We see that a lot," said Young, now a law enforcement consultant from
Dripping Springs.

Truth or manipulation?

Moore also voluntarily provided leads on Cooke's disappearance, speaking
in enough detail to enable Williamson County District Attorney John
Bradley to charge him with murder, alleging that he hit Cooke with a
hammer and suffocated her.

In his prison confession, Moore said he was driving around Georgetown in
search of something to steal when he encountered Cooke jogging along a
street, according to a source familiar with the case who asked to remain
anonymous because the investigation is active.

Moore said he struck Cooke in the head with a hammer, drove her to another
location and raped her, the source said. He also confessed to throwing
Cooke's body, wrapped in a tarp and weighted down with rocks, into
Matagorda Bay.

Under an agreement, Moore was to plead guilty to Cooke's murder and lead
investigators to where he had left her body. He also would show where he
buried her jewelry and other personal effects, but instead he pleaded not
guilty on Nov. 9, reneging on the deal.

Moore who worked as a janitor, furniture mover and fireplace installer
during the rare times he was out of jail had reached a similar deal in
the Christina Moore case in February. After a jury convicted him of
killing the Round Rock woman, but before he was sentenced, Moore pleaded
guilty in exchange for four concurrent life sentences. He also guided
investigators to her wedding rings, which were buried near a cactus in
western Williamson County.

The question now is whether Moore's confession in Cooke's disappearance
was the truth or a hoax.

Investigators are working to build a case against Moore. Bradley has said
that if Moore's description of Cooke's death is accurate, a capital murder
charge, which carries a sentence of life in prison or death, is possible.

"All you can do is evaluate the evidence that you have and, based upon
experience, form an opinion that that is the person who we should be
focusing on," Bradley said. "I continue to have a high level of confidence
that the appropriate person we should be investigating is Michael Moore."

Ronald Moore described his son as tough, the veteran of a number of prison
fights. But murder seemed beyond the realm of possibility until the
evidence was revealed during the Christina Moore trial, he said.

"I know they got the right person on that," Ronald Moore said. "This other
one, I don't know."

If Moore killed Cooke, he should be held responsible, even if that means
the death penalty, Ronald Moore said. But it seems out of character that
his son, whom he described as manipulative, would admit to the crime when
confessing offered nothing to gain, Ronald Moore said.

It's more likely that his son is relishing an opportunity to toy with
investigators and prosecutors, and that's not fair to the Cooke family, he

"I hope through all of this they get to the truth . . . because these
people need closure," Ronald Moore said. "It's another one of his crimes,
playing with those people's emotions."

(source: Austin American-Statesman)


Murder trial jury near deadlock

Jurors will return Monday morning to continue deliberating in the trial of
a 43-year-old man accused of robbing and fatally beating a convenience
store owner nearly 4 years ago.

The jury of 5 men and 8 women deliberated for about 5 hours -- and sent
out at least 1 note saying they were deadlocked -- before recessing for
the weekend.

Sandy Ray Dickerson is on trial in state District Judge Mike Thomas'
court, accused of capital murder in the Dec. 6, 2002, slaying of Satish
Sharma, 57.

Sharma, a native of Lahore, India, in what is now Pakistan, was killed
during a robbery inside his store in the 3000 block of Mansfield Highway.

The crime scene was bloody and messy, investigators said. Money,
cigarettes and other products were strewn about the small store.

There were no arrests in the case for more than 2 years. Then in February
2005, police arrested Dickerson, saying they had found circumstantial
evidence linking him to the slaying.

During the trial, prosecutors Dixie Bersano and Mark Thielman told jurors
that, although there were no witnesses to the killing, the crime scene
told the story.

They contended that Dickerson and an unidentified person entered Sharma's
store, robbed and brutally beat him -- striking him at least 18 times --
with an object, which was not found.

They suggested that Dickerson was injured and left a calling card: His
fingerprints on 2 cigarette packages, 1 on the counter and 1 behind the
counter; a drop of his blood on a package of cookies found near Sharma's
body; and a smudge of blood on a newspaper that contained the DNA of
Dickerson, Sharma, and a 3rd person.

Prosecutors reminded the jury that Dickerson, in a statement to homicide
detective Jose Hernandez, maintained that he had never been inside the
store, much less robbed it and killed the owner.

Prosecutors said the fingerprint and DNA evidence proved that Dickerson
was in the store.

They said he was lying to distance himself from the crime.

"How easy would it be to say, 'I bought beer and cigarettes'?" Bersano
asked the jury.

"But over and over, he said, 'I was not there.' "

Defense attorneys Greg Westfall and Joetta Keene acknowledged that their
client lied about being in the store, but said he did so because he didn't
trust police and didn't think that they would believe him.

They offered jurors an alternative scenario.

Keene suggested that Dickerson went into the store and was about to
purchase two packs of cigarettes, leaving his fingerprints on them, when
he realized that he had forgotten to pick up beer.

While Dickerson was getting beer out of the cooler, a man burst into the
store and attacked Sharma.

When the man noticed Dickerson, Keene suggested, he turned on Dickerson
and began to fight, which is why Dickerson's blood was on the package of
cookies. She said Dickerson ran out and never looked back.

The defense team suggested that the killer had Sharma's and Dickerson's
blood on his hands and left the smudge on the newspaper, which accounted
for three DNA contributors. The defense lawyers reminded jurors that a
bloody palm print found on the counter belonged to neither Dickerson nor
Sharma and that much of the blood evidence taken from the crime scene was
never tested for DNA by Fort Worth's crime lab.

"Sandy is not going to win the best citizen award," Keene said. "He'll get
an F for that, but that does not make him a capital murderer."

At 3:45 p.m., after about 4 1/2 hours of deliberations, jurors sent out a
note saying they had voted 5 times and were deadlocked.

The judge told them to keep deliberating. Less than an hour later, the
panel sent out a note saying it still had not reached a verdict.

Thomas then recessed the panel for the weekend. The jurors are scheduled
to return at 8:45 a.m. Monday to resume deliberations.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)


Man still waiting for justice

Jerry Fuentes was working at a restaurant in Alvin on Oct. 1, 1996, the
night his entire life changed.

Only he was not supposed to be at work.

That night, his children, his estranged wife and a friend of hers were
shot and killed at the wifes home in a trailer park north of Alvin.

"The weekend it happened I was supposed to have the kids, but I got called
into work," Fuentes said. "I blamed myself for years."

When police arrived on the scene at the trailer home in the 19000 block of
Amoco Drive that night, they found the body of his wife Veronica Fuentes,
27, and her friend John Gomez, 18, who was barely alive. Both had been
shot several times....

The fast-paced environment of managing a fast-food restaurant became too
much to cope with while at the same time dealing with the memory of his
wife and children, so he quit and started working as a handyman. Working
alone at carpentry, plumbing and tilesetting helped keep what had happened
off his mind.

4 years ago, Fuentes started dating a woman he met through a mutual friend
while both were living in Houston. The woman, Veronica Gonzales, helped
him out of his drug and alcohol abuse, he said.

"Shes the reason I'm still here," he said. "She's brought me up from the

The 2 now are engaged and live in Austin. They moved away from the Houston
area, in part, to get away from where the murders had taken place.

"I saw the life in the hell he went through," Gonzales said. "He needed a
fresh start."

Jerry lives with his fianc and her 19-year-old son, Joshua. Living around
her son has helped Jerry slightly with the pain of losing his own
children, even if his fiancee and her son have the same first names as his
late son and wife.

"That kind of freaked everybody out," Gonzales said.

Fuentes now works for a construction company, and the manual labor keeps
his mind from wandering, he said.

He harbors some anger about the appeals process, and he wont hide how he
feels about Martinez.

"He's got to die, I'm sorry," Fuentes said. "The 4 people didn't have a
chance. They didn't get 10 years."



10----Number of years that have passed since the Alvin shooting deaths of
Veronica Fuentes, her children Joshua, 5, and Cassandra, 3, and a friend,
John Gomez.

8----Number of years since Virgil Martinez was convicted of the crimes and
sentenced to death.

1----Number of years since Martinez death sentence was overturned by a
federal appeals court. No hearing date on the states appeal of that
decision has been set.

1----Number of inmates from Brazoria County cases currently on death row
in Texas. Martinez is the only one.

10.4----The average number of years an inmate stays on death row in Texas
before they are executed.

(source: The Facts ---- John Tompkins covers the Brazoria County Sheriff's
Department for The Facts)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Nov. 22

TEXAS----new execution date

Feb. 22 execution date over East Texas double killing

A judge in Tyler today set a February 22nd execution date for a man
condemned over a 1999 double slaying during a robbery.

30-year-old Newton Burton Anderson was sent to death row over the killing
of 71-year-old Frank Cobb and his 61-year-old wife, Cobb, at their home
west of Tyler.

Prosecutors say Anderson shot and suffocated the victims, then set their
house on fire in an attempt to cover up the robbery.

Security was tight for Anderson, who in February of 2000 tried to flee a
hearing at the Smith County Courthouse by faking stomach cramps.

He ran out a courthouse back door, but was stopped by a bailiff -- who put
the prisoner in a bear hug.

Anderson originally faced execution July 26th, but that was blocked by a
federal appeals court. The court reviewed the case, declined to intervene
and lifted the stay of execution on November 1st.

(source: Associated Press)