death penalty news----TEXAS, LA., OHIO
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Rick Halperin
2017-10-15 18:14:26 UTC
Oct. 15


Sherman hotel clerk murder suspect caught in N.Y.

The final suspect in the August murder of a Sherman hotel clerk has been
apprehended and is now in police custody.

Family members of the victim in the case, 32-year-old Brandon Hubert of
Denison, confirm that Reginald Vernard Campbell Jr., 24, has been taken into
custody in New York.

Campbell was added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list earlier this
week. Their webpage shows he was captured Friday in Mt. Vernon, a suburb of New
York City.

"The arrest was the result of tip information received through Texas Crime
Stoppers and a reward will be paid," the posting said.

At an afternoon press conference, Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores said
Campbell was arrested without incident, and he will be extradited back to
Grayson County "within the next couple of weeks."

Flores also noted, "The best feeling we can have is for the family, being able
to see some closure for them."

Campbell, according to Flores, will face capital murder and unlawful flight to
avoid prosecution charges.

Police said a tip led them to the home in Mount Vernon where Campbell was
arrested, and the tipster will get $5,000.

"I know it's going to be a long road, but still I am able to have a smile on my
face now," Brandon Hubert's twin brother Brent Hubert said.

On Aug. 11, Campbell was allegedly involved in a robbery at the Quality Suites
hotel in Sherman that resulted in the front desk clerk, Hubert, being fatally

An investigation led authorities to arrest two female accomplices and identify
Campbell as the masked suspect in the robbery and murder. On Aug. 23, law
enforcement authorities encountered Campbell near Columbia, South Carolina.
However, Campbell assaulted the officers and escaped.

Sherman Police obtained a capital murder warrant for Campbell for his part in
the murder of Brandon Hubert at the Quality Inn and Suites on Aug. 11. Karalyn
Marie Cross, 19, and Nikeya Grant, 24, were arrested days earlier on capital
murder warrants.

Court documents show on Aug. 10, Karalyn Cross was out with her boyfriend,
Reginald Campbell, and her roommate Nikeya Grant.

The trio went to Oklahoma to a local strip club, then to a casino, where they
left before sunrise.

Records state the trio came up with the idea to rob a hotel, so they tried the
Super 8 off U.S. Highway 75 in Sherman, but the clerk was in a protected area,
so they went to the Quality Suites, where Hubert was working at the front desk.

A security camera captured the trio pulling into the parking lot.

Documents state Campbell put on a mask, walked in the lobby, and after a brief
struggle, shot Hubert in the head.

A coworker found Hubert laying in a pool of blood hours later, and called 911.

During a police interview, Cross and Grant admitted to driving Campbell to
Dallas after the murder so he could leave the area.

If convicted, all 3 face life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Hubert was working as a hotel clerk while attending Southeastern Oklahoma State
University in Durant. His family has set up a scholarship fund in his name at
the university.

The capturing agencies were listed as U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey
Regional Fugitive Task Force, U.S. Marshals Joint East Texas Fugitive Task

(source: KXII news)


As man on death row awaits decision about new trial, group protests for his
release----A group of 20 people gathered outside the Court of Criminal Appeals
to represent the 20 years Rodney Reed has sat in prison.

1 day after the hearing for Rodney Reed wrapped up, a group of University of
Texas students and advocates gathered at the Court of Criminal Appeals to show
their support for the man on death row for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites.

For 4 days this week, Reed's defense argued new evidence shows he did not
murder Stites. Reed was sentenced to death in 1998. Many believe evidence
points to Jimmy Fennell as the suspect in her murder. Fennell was Stites'
fiance and a law enforcement officer when she was found on the side of a
Bastrop County Road.

After the 4-day hearing wrapped up, Judge Doug Shafer said he may need up to 2
months to give his recommendations to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

About 20 UT students and members of the "Free Rodney Reed Campaign" were at the
event Saturday, rallying for a new trial for Reed. 20 people gathered to
represent the 20 years that Reed has been in prison. Throughout the event, they
read facts about the case and spoke out against the death penalty.

(source: KVUE news)


Man condemned in family murder plot loses high court appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider an appeal from a suburban
Houston man on Texas death row who arranged the killings of his mother and
brother in 2003 so he could collect a $1 million inheritance.

Attorneys for 37-year-old Thomas "Bart" Whitaker went to the high court after
losing a federal court appeal earlier this year. He claims his trial lawyers
were deficient and that Fort Bend County prosecutors engaged in misconduct by
improperly referring to discussion of a plea deal that never was reached.

According to court records, Whitaker offered to take responsibility for the
killings and accept life sentences but his attorneys said prosecutors rejected
it because it contained no expression of remorse for the shooting deaths of his
mother, Patricia Whitaker, 51, and his brother, Kevin, 19, at the family's
Sugar Land home. Whitaker's father was shot but survived.

The justices provided no explanation for their refusal.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in its ruling in April, pointed to court
records consistently showing trial lawyers initiated the plea bargain offer and
that prosecutors said they would promise "to consider" not seeking the death

A jury decided he should be put to death.

Evidence showed Whitaker orchestrated the plot and that it was at least his 3rd
attempt to kill his family.

As part of the scheme with 2 friends, Whitaker was shot in the arm to draw
attention away from him.

The gunman, Chris Brashear, pleaded guilty in 2007 to a murder charge and is
serving life in prison. Another man, Steve Champagne, who drove Brashear from
the Whitaker house the night of the shootings, took a 15-year prison term in
exchange for testifying at Whitaker's trial.

Investigators said they made the shooting look as though the family had
interrupted a burglary when they returned from a dinner to celebrate Thomas
Whitaker's graduation from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. Whitaker
never graduated.

Whitaker does not yet have an execution date.

In a 2nd case involving a Texas death row inmate, the Supreme Court ordered the
5th Circuit to review the case of 36-year-old Obie Weathers, who was convicted
in a robbery-slaying in San Antonio in 2000.

The 5th Circuit last year rejected arguments that Weathers is mentally impaired
and shouldn't be put to death. That decision, however, preceded a similar case
earlier this year in which the high court decided that the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals ignored current medical standards and required use of outdated
criteria when ruling on the mental disabilities of capital murder convicts.

Weathers was 19 in February 2000 when he shot 63-year-old Ted Church twice in
the head and once in the abdomen as Church tried to break up the robbery at the
bar on San Antonio's east side. Church was a customer. Weathers fled with about

(source: Associated Press)


Random killing sprees draw eerie parallels to a history of serial murder in
Baton Rouge

It was as if the gunman had gone out hunting, targeting strangers as they
carried out quotidian tasks on their own property.

1 victim was shot dead as he sprayed weeds in rural East Baton Rouge Parish.
Another was gunned down outside his home at the Avondale Scout Reservation in

The slayings, seemingly indiscriminate, sent a shudder through the quiet
communities of Pride and Bluff Creek. Mothers forbade their children to play
outdoors. A grass-cutting crew adopted a rotation of armed lookouts.

The anxiety was only heightened by a similar - and overlapping - pair of
shootings that shook Baton Rouge last month, ambush-style killings that
authorities said may have been racially motivated.

Taken together, the attacks bore a haunting resemblance to a past era of murder
for the sake of murder in the Capital City, a region that has produced an
uncanny number of serial killers over the past 2 decades.

"When people can relate to the victims, you see that public panic starting to
take place," said Pat Englade, the former Baton Rouge police chief who in 2003
led a multi-jurisdictional task force organized to capture the serial killer
Derrick Todd Lee. "Everybody in East Baton Rouge Parish can relate to a man
working in his yard. Everybody does that."

A terrifying 3 months passed between the first shooting this summer and the
arrest of Ryan Sharpe, a man authorities described for the 1st time Friday as a
"serial killer." Sharpe, who said in a court hearing he has not hired a lawyer,
is accused of fatally shooting three men and wounding another before being
taken into custody last week, a couple days after the most recent killing. All
4 shootings of the middle-aged men occurred within a 25-mile radius.

"Everyone felt like they were in danger because the shootings appeared to be
random," said Greg Phares, chief criminal deputy at the East Feliciana Parish
Sheriff's Office. "I think there's a great sense of relief in our parish given
people's justifiable fears over the past several months."

Sharpe's arrest came less than a month after another man, Kenneth Gleason, was
booked in the fatal shootings of two black pedestrians, stranger-on-stranger
killings that prosecutors described as "cold and calculated" and police said
could have a racial motivation. Those killings spanned just 3 days, as Gleason
was quickly taken into custody following a frenzied manhunt by the Baton Rouge
Police Department. Before the arrest, detectives distributed in an internal
bulletin to law enforcement that warned, "We cannot predict where this person
may strike again."

Gleason, a 23-year-old white man also accused of shooting at the house of black
neighbors in the same week as the killings, has maintained his innocence
through an attorney. He is not yet charged. But if convicted, he also would
meet the FBI's definition of a serial killer - someone responsible for 2 or
more murders at different times.

"There's no telling how many people would have been killed if the police had
not made these arrests," said Susan Mustafa, a journalist who has written books
about Lee and another Baton Rouge serial killer, Sean Vincent Gillis. "Once a
serial killer gets his first taste of blood, they don't usually stop."

The recent slayings - and the pressure law enforcement faced to solve the
concurrent cases - recalled a notorious chapter of violence for Baton Rouge in
the late 1990s and early 2000s, when no fewer than 3 serial killers tormented
the city. The Lee case garnered national attention and prompted a vast
expansion of the state's DNA database. It also drew attention to the slayings
of several Baton Rouge women that remain unsolved to this day.

Preying on the community at the same time as Lee, who was connected to 7
murders, was Gillis, who confessed to killing 8 women between 1994 and 2004,
often mutilating and photographing his victims. There was also Jeffery Lee
Guillory, who was accused in the slayings of women in 1999, 2001 and 2002 and
who remains a suspect in several other unsolved killings.

Another serial killer who grew up in Baton Rouge, John Allen Muhammad, carried
out the so-called D.C. sniper attacks in 2002. Muhammad, who was executed in
2009 in Virginia, and his accomplice were also indicted for a fatal shooting
and robbery in Baton Rouge that happened before a 3-week killing spree that
left 10 people dead in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Serial murder is hardly unique to the Baton Rouge area, though it is more often
associated with major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, jurisdictions that
have had scores of serial killers throughout their histories.

But the Baton Rouge serial killings were such a law enforcement priority that
prosecutors here lobbied the legislature to adopt a law in 2009 that makes it
easier for district attorneys to seek the death penalty against serial killers.
That bill, passed after the Gillis case, added an element to the state's
1st-degree murder statute that allows the state to seek capital punishment when
a defendant "has previously acted with a specific intent to kill or inflict
great bodily harm that resulted in the killing or one or more persons."

Hillar Moore III, the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney, has said he is
considering using that law to seek the death penalty against Gleason.

"We needed a serial killer statute," Prem Burns, an assistant of Moore's who
prosecuted Gillis, told The Advocate last month. "I'm glad we have it."

The city's violent history has spawned a range of speculation about the factors
that contribute to the proliferation of serial killers. Tony Clayton, an
assistant district attorney in the 18th Judicial District who prosecuted Lee
and Gillis, pointed to what he described as a disturbing lack of resources for
the mentally ill in Louisiana.

"I don't think it's in the air or in the water," Clayton said. "I think you'll
see an element of some psychosis in each and every one of these serial killers,
and it's a direct cause of not having access to these resources and not being
able to diagnose these folks."

Ben Odom, a longtime Baton Rouge homicide detective, said it was no accident
that the likes of Lee and Gillis operated in a community with universities like
LSU, which he described as "a fertile field for serial killers who want to kill

"We agonized over that question for a long time when we had 3 serial killers
working at once in Baton Rouge," Odom said. "These guys were hunters. They did
their homework.

Another former Baton Rouge police chief, Jeff LeDuff, said he finds the city's
history so troubling that the FBI's "experts at Quantico," Virginia, should
examine it. "I think it's something that criminologists and law enforcement
really need to sit down and come up with an answer for as to why this keeps
happening," LeDuff said. "It's something we should be concerned about."

In the case of Sharpe, the alleged gunman arrested last week, authorities were
reluctant at first to use the term "serial killer."

That initial reticence could have been an attempt by law enforcement to avoid
sensationalism at a time when the community's nerves are already frayed.
Phares, the East Feliciana chief deputy, said authorities Friday decided to
adopt the phrase "serial killer" after Sharpe's arrest based on the FBI's
definition of the term.

It's also true that the definition of "serial killer," a term first coined in
the 1970s, has evolved.

The FBI adopted its current definition in 2005. "But if you ask 10 experts for
a definition, you will get 10 answers that vary in terms of numbers of kills
and motivation," said Michael Aamodt, professor emeritus at Radford University
who maintains a vast research database of serial killers and their victims.

The Northeastern University Atypical Homicide Research Group said last week
that Sharpe fit the profile of a serial killer in part because he used a
firearm - the weapon most commonly chosen by such offenders - and allegedly
confessed to authorities. But the case is unusual in that Sharpe is accused of
targeting men "in the late stage of their lives," said Enzo Yaksic, the group's
co-founder and a longtime researcher of serial killers.

Yaksic also said it is "exceedingly rare for serial murderers to be motivated
to kill by mental illness or by urges beyond their control."

"More often than not," he wrote in an email, "serial killers deliberately
choose their course of action and can also decide to end their campaigns of
violence on their own terms. While some serial killers operate at the behest of
a desire to placate an internal drive for gratification, it is a myth that all
serial killers are compelled to kill."

(source: The Advocate)


Prosecutor to pursue death penalty in quadruple murder case

An Ohio prosecutor said Saturday he intends to pursue the death penalty against
the man who allegedly killed 4 family members.

Arron Lawson appeared in Ironton Magistrate Court for his arraignment Saturday
morning - a day after being taken into custody following a manhunt that began

Lawson allegedly killed his uncle and aunt, Donald McGuire, 50, and Tammie
McGuire, 43, along with his cousin, Stacie Jackson, 25, and her son, Devin
Holston, 8. A 5th victim who was in the residence Wednesday night near Pedro,
Ohio, escaped after being stabbed.

Lawrence County (OH) Prosecutor Brigham Anderson told WSAZ-TV Saturday this is
a death penalty case.

"These were premeditated with prior calculation and design as well as
committing numerous other felonies, and therefore the death penalty is required
for crimes this horrific," Anderson said. "That's my job, is to seek justice
and to make sure that this family knows that justice has been served, as well
as the rest of the community. This is a horrific event."

A possible motive has not been released.

(source: wvmetronews.com)


Prosecutor: Suspect in Southern Ohio slayings may face death penalty

A county prosecutor says he'll pursue the death penalty against the man charged
in the slayings of 3 adults and a young boy in southern Ohio.

23-year-old Arron Lawson was ordered held without bond Saturday after his
arrest along a rural road in Lawrence County on Friday. He's charged with1`
count of aggravated murder and 3 counts of murder in the shooting deaths of
28-year-old Stacey Jackson, 50-year-old Donald McGuire, 43-year-old Tammie
McGuire and Jackson's son, 7-year-old Devin Holston.

They were killed inside Jackson's trailer home Wednesday. Devin's body was
found hidden there Thursday after being reported missing. All of the victims
are related. No motive has been made public.

Devin's father, Todd Holston, was hospitalized after being stabbed inside the

Messages were left with Lawson's attorney Saturday.

(source: Associated Press)

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