death penalty news----KY., ARIZ., CALIF., ORE., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-06-07 15:55:01 UTC
June 7


Clay County murder trial scheduled for 2018

Almost 2 years have passed since Trevor Dykes was killed at his home in Clay

On Monday, family members found out Roscoe Henson, Ashley Lawson and Gilbert
Henson will stand trial in June of 2018.

We are told a judge will likely set a court date for Thomas Miracle, who also
faces charges in the case, on July 3.

Police say Thomas Miracle hired Roscoe Henson to kill Dykes and Lawson took
part in the plan because of a custody battle over a child. Gilbert Henson is
accused of hiding the murder weapon.

Family members said it is still hard to wrap their heads around the crime.

"Trevor was the type of boy...he never hurt nobody, he never harmed nobody,"
said Dykes' Mother, Kim Bixler. "What they done and what they took from us and
from his family and his friends...they should be in jail. They shouldn't be out
here having no kind of freedom."

On Monday, Trevor's family also found out that Roscoe Henson will face the
death penalty for allegedly shooting Dykes.

"It's a good thing but either way if he gets life in prison or the death
penalty, it's not going to bring Trevor back," said Stephen Dykes, Trevor's
cousin. "Trevor...they gave him the death penalty so what's the difference."

In March, Dykes' family learned Lawson would be released from jail on a
property bond.

Dykes' father, Charles, said he has already seen Lawson around town. He said it
makes him uneasy knowing that he could run into her at any time.

"It's hard to keep yourself back away from her," said Dykes. "You just want to
go at her so bad knowing what she did to your son. I mean she took his life.
I'll never see him no more."

Dyke's mother tells WYMT that Ashley Lawson is scheduled to appear in court on
July 31 for violating the terms of her release from jail.

The family said they are just ready for the trials to be over.

(source: WYMT news)


Arizona publishes new lethal injection rules for prisoner executions

What's the best way to kill a death-row prisoner?

That has been an issue in Arizona since the flawed execution of Joseph Wood,
who in July 2014 gasped and snorted for nearly two hours as Arizona Department
of Corrections personnel injected him with 15 doses of a drug combination that
didn't work as planned.

In response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of seven other Arizona death-row
inmates, a U.S. District Court judge slapped an injunction on executions.
Lawyers for the prisoners, meanwhile, have made the state revise an execution
method that gave total discretion to Corrections Director Charles Ryan.

The department published its most recent execution plan, known as a protocol,
on May 30.

It yields to most of the demands set forth by attorneys from the Los Angeles
office of the law firm Sidley Austin and the Federal Public Defender's Office
in Phoenix.

Changes in the latest protocol:

Strip Ryan's ability to make last-minute drug changes or discretionary
decisions, such as closing curtains into the execution chamber if things go

Eliminate a traditional three-drug combination that defense attorneys believe
merely masks any sign of pain or distress. A new single-drug protocol takes its

Remove a clause saying that defense attorneys may obtain their own drugs for
their clients' executions if they pass quality standards. Execution drugs, for
the most part, are controlled substances that are only available to persons or
entities licensed to obtain them.

Judge Neil Wake scheduled a September trial for the case, but whether it plays
out or the case settles remains to be seen. All of the suit's demands appear to
have been agreed upon, except for a matter of attorneys fees, which Wake
ordered be paid to the defense attorneys. A hearing is set for June 12.

No executions can go forward in Arizona until the case is settled or
adjudicated and the judge lifts his injunction.

The Corrections Department did not comment on the matter, nor did attorneys for
the Federal Public Defender's Office.

Execution drugs focus of another lawsuit

Meanwhile, a 2nd case pertaining to lethal injection is set for trial in late
July before U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow. That case focuses on whether
the state must be more transparent in revealing details about the execution
drugs it obtains and the people who administer them.

Much has changed as a result of the 2 lawsuits since the 2014 Wood execution.

Because other, more-efficient drugs were not available at that time, Wood was
put to death using a cocktail of a Valium-like drug called midazolam and a
narcotic called hydrocodone. One dose was supposed to be lethal, but Wood
lingered. Ryan himself made the decision to inject him repeatedly with more
doses until he finally died.

Ryan will not be able to make such decisions under the terms of the new
protocol, nor will they be allowed to arise. Wake has insisted that the case be
fully litigated because of Ryan's history of signing off on a protocol and then
unilaterally changing it shortly before scheduled executions.

A clause in the previous protocol that said it "does not create any legally
enforceable rights or obligations" has been removed from the latest version.

The department has had difficulty finding execution drugs since 2010, when The
Arizona Republic disclosed that Arizona and other states were illegally
obtaining a drug called sodium thiopental from Britain. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration shut down importation of the drug. Britain and other European
countries also blocked its export because executions are not legal there.

At Ryan's last-minute order, Corrections switched to a barbiturate called
pentobarbital in a three-drug combination, and then later made another
last-minute change to use it as a single drug because 1 of the other drugs had
passed its expiration date.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam in a case out of
Oklahoma, the Arizona Department of Corrections has agreed not to use it again
because of the current litigation.

Also, the department removed the so-called 3-drug protocols, which start with
thiopental or pentobarbital and include a paralytic drug that stops breathing
or other movement and would mask any pain caused by the third drug, which stops
the heart.

(source: Arizona Republic)


Justices skeptical about death sentence appeal deadlines

California Supreme Court justices considering whether a ballot measure to speed
up executions is unconstitutional expressed skepticism Tuesday about a
provision that would require death sentence appeals to be completed within five

Several justices peppered a lawyer from the attorney general's office about how
the deadline could be met without radically altering the court system and
whether there would be consequences for failing to meet it or whether it was
merely aspirational.

"So it's a mandatory deadline that's toothless?" Justice Leondra Kruger asked.

The ultimate goal is to meet the deadline, Deputy Attorney General Jose Alfonso
Zelidon-Zepeda said, but he conceded it's not enforceable.

Supporters of Proposition 66 downplayed the deadline as not being a critical
piece of the law that aimed at reforming a dysfunctional system that hasn't
executed a condemned killer in more than a decade. But death penalty opponents
said it was a flip-flop from the language of the law in order to protect the
measure from a constitutional challenge.

The measure passed by 51 % of voters in November would assign more lawyers to
death sentence appeals and shift some appeals to trial court judges in an
effort to speed up cases. It can now take 5 years to appoint a lawyer and an
average of 15 years to complete appeals.

Supporters said the court could strike the 5-year time limit and still uphold
the law, but death penalty opponents said the deadline was not merely a
guideline - it was a critical piece of a false promise made to voters.

"The voters were promised that they could make death penalty cases happen
faster and cheaper and without killing ... any innocent people," attorney
Christina Von der Ahe Rayburn, who challenged the measure, argued. "The voters
were promised a trifecta that everyone in this room, I believe, knows is not
quite possible to achieve."

Foes of capital punishment argued that Proposition 66 was unconstitutional
because it would strip the state's high court from deciding how it handles
cases and it would disrupt the court system, cost the state more money and
undermine the appeals process.

The state Judicial Council, which sets policy for the courts, would have the
burden to put changes in place that would affect trial courts and both levels
of appeals courts. Justice Goodwin Liu asked how such changes would take effect
with no plan in place and how many cases the high court would have to hear per
year to get through a backlog of more than 380 appeals.

"That is a massive delegation of power to reorganize a third branch of
government," Liu said. "One would expect that if legislation were to do that
the legislation should make clear ... what trade-offs are needed to be made so
that can be enacted into law. Not an aspirational goal that just says, 'Come as
close as you can to five years and you guys go figure it out.'"

Zelidon-Zepeda, who was frequently interrupted, said cases should be handled as
quickly as possible and it was important to let the measure take effect to see
how it works.

The ballot initiative was designed to "mend not end" capital punishment in
California, where nearly 750 inmates are on death row and only 13 have been
executed since 1978.

A competing measure to repeal capital punishment lost at the polls by a
slightly wider margin. Both sides acknowledged the current system is broken.

"The one thing everybody agreed on was that the status quo was unsatisfactory,"
said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,
who also argued in support of Proposition 66. "What they're asking to do is
override the voters and keep the status quo."

Even before all the votes were counted and the reform measure was declared a
winner, challengers went to court to block it.

Ron Briggs, a former pro-capital punishment supervisor from El Dorado County
whose father wrote the ballot measure that expanded California's death penalty
in 1978, brought the measure with former state Attorney General John Van de
Kamp, a longtime death penalty opponent, who died in March.

The challengers also targeted Proposition 66 for violating a requirement that a
ballot measure only cover a single subject.

They said it appealed to voters by incorporating unrelated elements that would
allow condemned inmates to be housed more cheaply at prisons other than San
Quentin and would require a percentage of inmate pay to go toward victim

But that issue got short shrift and Justice Kathryn Werdegar said the court
allowed ballot measures to embrace a wide range of subjects. Historically, the
court has given wide latitude to the will of the voters and shot down most
challenges to ballot measures.

The 7 justices must rule within 3 months.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Ming Chin, both members of the
Judicial Council, which is a defendant in the case, recused themselves.

They were replaced by Court of Appeal justices from Sacramento and Orange
counties, who were less active in the arguments.

(source: Los Angeles Times)


State Supreme Court skeptical about key death penalty provision

A 5-year deadline "may not be achievable without radially changing the ability
of the courts to carry out their functions," said Justice Leondra Kruger.

A central feature of a ballot measure aimed at speeding up executions in
California - its requirement that the state Supreme Court decide all death
penalty appeals within 5 years - got an apparent thumbs-down from the court's
justices Tuesday and drew little support even from the measure???s defenders,
who sought to recast the mandate as a nonbinding guideline.

It was far less clear, however, whether the court planned to strike other
provisions of the wide-ranging initiative, Proposition 66, which won in
November with a 51 % majority while the voters were also rejecting a rival
measure, Proposition 62, to repeal the state's death penalty law.

Condemned prisoners in California now wait more than 20 years, on average, for
a final ruling on their appeals. Prosecutors and crime-victims' groups who
backed Proposition 66 told voters the measure would cut that period in half by
requiring faster court action, limiting some types of appeals, and requiring
more lawyers to accept capital cases.

One of its provisions said the state's high court, which hears the appeals
required by law in every death sentence, "shall" rule within 5 years of
sentencing, more than twice as fast as its current pace. The same 5-year
deadline would apply to the 2nd-stage appeals known as habeas corpus, which
often focus on claims of misconduct by prosecutors or jurors and inadequate
representation by defense lawyers.

At a hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles on a lawsuit seeking to overturn the entire
measure, several justices suggested that such a timetable, if binding, would be

California has long been what 1 expert calls a "symbolic death penalty state,"
1 of 12 that has capital punishment on the books but has not executed anyone in
more than a decade. Prodded by voters and lawsuits, the nation's most populous
state may now roll back toward allowing executions, though observers are split
on how quickly they will resume, if at all.

A 5-year deadline "may not be achievable without radically changing the ability
of the courts to carry out their functions" in any cases other than death
penalty appeals, said Justice Leondra Kruger.

Defenders of the measure countered that, despite the wording of Prop. 66, the
5-year timetable was not mandatory. Deputy Attorney General Jose Zelidon-Zepeda
noted that Prop. 66 did not specify any consequences, such as dismissal of the
appeal, if the court took longer than 5 years to decide it.

"What the measure was trying to do was speed up the process" and encourage the
court to eliminate unnecessary delays, Zelidon-Zepeda said. He noted that Prop.
66 directs the state Judicial Council to propose methods to handle capital
cases more quickly and efficiently.

"That is a massive delegation of power to reorganize the 3rd branch of
government," said Justice Goodwin Liu.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and
one of the authors of Prop. 66, told the court that a 5-year timetable was
achievable and that California courts were more willing than courts in other
states to postpone death penalty hearings at defense lawyers' requests. But he
said the ballot measure "does acknowledge that the goal will not always be

The justices seemed skeptical - "So it's a mandatory deadline that's
toothless?" asked Kruger - but they also questioned the contention by opponents
of Prop. 66 that eliminating the deadline should invalidate the entire measure.

The lawsuit was filed by the late John Van de Kamp, a former state attorney
general, and Ron Briggs, a former El Dorado County supervisor whose father,
state Sen. John Briggs, R-Fullerton (Orange County), sponsored the 1978 ballot
measure that established the current death penalty law.

They argued that Prop. 66 violated a state constitutional rule limiting
initiatives to a single subject - a position that drew no apparent support from
the justices Tuesday - and that the 5-year deadline, and other provisions,
interfered with judicial authority and reduced safeguards against wrongful
death verdicts.

"The voters were promised that they could make death penalty cases happen
faster and cheaper and without killing ... any innocent people," said the
plaintiffs' lawyer, Christina Von der Ahe Rayburn.

Noting that the court has a backlog of nearly 400 capital cases, Rayburn said
Prop. 66 was drafted to require rulings within 5 years - in "very mandatory"
language - and that it was uncertain that the voters would have passed it if
they had been told the timeline was merely advisory.

But Liu told Rayburn that the willingness of Prop. 66's defenders to recast the
mandate as a guideline "removes a central pillar of your argument." "There's
still a lot more to it," he said of the ballot measure.

Another provision seeks to reduce delays in capital cases by requiring defense
lawyers to handle death penalty appeals if they accept other court assignments
to represent criminal defendants. Rayburn argued that only the state's high
court is authorized to set standards for lawyers in death appeals, now handled
only by lawyers with experience in death penalty or other murder cases.

Another change would eliminate the authority of a state administrative agency
to review the legality, after considering public comment, of California's
proposed procedures for executions by a single drug, replacing the former
3-drug procedure.

A ruling in Briggs vs. Brown, S238309, is due within 90 days.

(source: San Francisco Chronicle)


Court denies public defender's motion to preserve informant-related evidence in
Daniel Wozniak death penalty appeal

The Orange County Superior Court denied inmate Daniel Wozniak's public
defender's motion to preserve evidence in his death penalty appeal. The motion,
filed by the defense in May 2017, was an unsuccessful attempt to preserve what
the Orange County Public Defender (Public Defender) purported to be "informant
related evidence" in the People v. Daniel Wozniak case. The Honorable John D.
Conley filed the court's order denying the motion on June 2, 2017.

Circumstances of the Case

On May 21, 2010, Wozniak murdered his neighbor, 26-year-old Sam Herr, and the
next day, the defendant killed Herr's friend Juri "Julie" Kibuishi. After a
thorough investigation, Wozniak was arrested on May 28, 2010, and subsequently
charged with 2 felony counts of murder with special circumstances for
committing multiple murders, murder for financial gain, and the personal
discharge of a firearm causing death.

On Dec. 16, 2015, the defendant was found guilty by a jury of all charges, and
the jury recommended the death penalty for Wozniak's special circumstances
murder conviction on Jan. 11, 2016. He was sentenced to death by the court on
Sept. 23, 2016, and his case is currently on automatic appeal to the California
Supreme Court.

Public Defender's Motion

On May 10, 2017, the Public Defender submitted an 84-page brief detailing his
request motion to preserve evidence in the Wozniak case, followed by three
3-ring binders of exhibits, totaling approximately 900 pages. As the court
opined, the Public Defender lacks standing for the request, as he is "no longer
the attorney of record for Mr. Wozniak." The appeals process has begun and the
California Supreme Court will be appointing an attorney for the inmate, however
the Orange County Superior Court must resolve all discovery issues as the trial

Basis of the Court's Ruling

The court issued the following opinion:

"The trouble with the defendant's argument is that, despite his continuing
claims, this was not an informant case," the court stated. "One might have
difficulty gleaning this from the defendant's brief," but no informants
testified in Wozniak's trial or had statements included in any way, so
informant claims in the case are, "legally a 'dead end street': they lead to no
relevant evidence."

The court noted it permanently retains all records related to capital felonies,
and said in their order stated, "the defendant has taken an approach of asking
for everything that he can think of to be preserved." The court found no legal
basis for the Public Defender's request that they order the preservation of
hundreds of thousands of documents going back 36 years, long before the case
and some before Wozniak was born.

The Public Defender wrote dozens of pages regarding People v. Skylar Deleon,
claiming Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy was on notice of an
informant program. Judge Conley stated in his order that Murphy told the jury
the informant was offered no consideration for his testimony, no evidence was
presented that he did, and, "as the court sees it, there is no evidence of
misconduct on the part of Mr. Murphy in either the Deleon or Wozniak trials."

OCDA Response to the Court's Ruling

The jury came back in record time to deliver the death penalty in the Wozniak
case. He earned his spot on death row because he is a repugnant murderer who
lured and murdered a decorated combat marine so he could steal the money that
Sam saved by fighting for our country, and he lured and murdered Julie, who by
all accounts was full of sunlight and beauty, just to frame Sam.

During the hearing, the Public Defender admitted the court absolved the
prosecutor of all wrongdoing. The Public Defender, as he did throughout this
entire case, has made irresponsible and untruthful allegations against
prosecutors, police, and even the victims. Hopefully the Public Defender will
let Wozniak's attorney litigate future motions.

(source: oc-breeze.com)


He thinks God will protect him. His lawyers say he's insane.

Luis Bracamontes has blurted out in court that he killed 2 Sacramento-area
deputies back in 2014, and threatened to do the same to his lawyers.

He's made wisecracks to the judge handling his death penalty case, and told
psychologists that God will interfere with any attempt to execute him, turning
lethal injection poisons into vitamins.

His attorneys say they have an explanation for his outbursts: He's insane.

In a motion to be argued in Sacramento Superior Court next week, Bracamontes'
public defenders are asking for permission to enter a plea of not guilty by
reason of insanity, despite their client's desire to plead guilty and face the

"Mr. Bracamontes does not meaningfully comprehend the potential consequences of
a death penalty trial," public defenders Norm Dawson and Jeffrey Barbour wrote
in their motion. "He is not seeking to plead guilty because he wishes to take
full responsibility and be punished for his actions.

"He is seeking an expedited resolution to the proceedings because he believes
he cannot be killed."

Prosecutor Rod Norgaard isn't buying it, writing in an opposing motion that
Judge Steve White already has found Bracamontes fit to stand trial and that
"the defendant's beliefs regarding the death penalty and the defendant's desire
to plead guilty were not a product of a delusional thought process."

The effort to introduce an insanity plea is the latest twist in a case that has
produced a series of bizarre statements and outbursts since Bracamontes and his
wife were arrested in the October 2014 slayings of Sacramento sheriff's Deputy
Danny Oliver and Placer sheriff's Deputy Michael Davis Jr.

Bracamontes, a Mexican citizen with a history of drug and weapons charges, had
been deported at least twice and was in the United States illegally at the time
of the bloody rampage, which began at a Motel 6 near Arden Fair Mall and ended
near Auburn.

The case has received so much notice that a 3-day hearing has been scheduled
starting Monday on whether the trial, now scheduled to start in October, should
be moved to another county.

Whether you'll get to read anything about what happens during the change of
venue hearing depends on the judge, who must also rule on a defense request
that he close the hearing and keep the media and the public out.

"The obvious concern is that if a change of venue is not granted, there will be
further publicity and prejudice to the rights of Mr. Bracamontes through the
reporting of the hearing on the motion to change venue," his lawyers wrote.

White has rejected 3 similar requests from the defense in the past, and The
Sacramento Bee is filing a motion opposing closure of the proceedings.

(source: sacbee.com)


MAX stabbing suspect indicted by grand jury

The suspect in last month's triple-stabbing on a TriMet MAX train has been
indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury and could face the death penalty.

Jeremy Christian, 35, faces 1 counts of aggravated murder, 1 count of attempt
to commit murder, 1 count of 1st-degree assault, 2 counts of 2nd-degree
intimidation, 1 count of menacing and 4 counts of unlawful use of a weapon in
connection with the stabbings that killed 2 men and wounded a 3rd on May 26.

The aggravated murder charges carry a potential death penalty.

The 3 men, Rick Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Micah Fletcher, were defending
2 young girls who were the focus of Christian's yelling on the train before the
stabbing. Both girls are black and one was wearing a hijab. Detectives said
video on the train showed Christian yelling racial and religious epithets.

Best and Namkai-Meche died after the stabbing. Fletcher survived.

The indictment also included additional counts of intimidation, 2nd-degree
assault, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing, which were added after
Christian's 1st court appearance. The 2 new charges stem from an altercation on
May 25, the day before the stabbings, authorities said. Christian reportedly
threw a bottle of Gatorade at a black woman during a confrontation at the
Interstate Rose Quarter Station. The woman sprayed Christian with a can of

Christian is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning.

During his 1st court appearance, Christian entered the packed courtroom yelling
about free speech. Fletcher was sitting in the court room during the hearing.

"Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom.
Death to Antifa! You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism! You hear me?
Die," Christian said.

Court documents released the day of Christian's 1st hearing detailed his
confession to the stabbings in the back of a Portland police car.

Christian, who was being recorded while in the back of the car, said,"I'm happy
now. I can rest easy," court documents said.

(source: KGW TV news)

USA----new book

I have co-authored a book ("A Courageous Fool") about the late Marie McFadden
Deans, which is being published later this month by Vanderbilt University
Press. Marie is 1 of the unsung heroes from the early years of the fight
against the modern death penalty. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Marie
worked with the men of South Carolina's death row.

In 1983, Marie moved to Richmond, Virginia and opened the Virginia Coalition on
Jails and Prisons. For the next 10 years, Marie worked to improve death row
prison conditions and find appeals lawyers for the men of the row. She helped
fully or partially exonerate 3 different death row inmates (including fully
exonerated death row inmate Earl Washington, Jr.), and she stood "death watch"
with countless men.

After the Coalition closed in 1993, Marie worked as a mitigation specialist in
over 200 capital murder trials. Marie served on several national death penalty
organizations, including AI USA and the NCADP. She was also the founder of
Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.

Marie's work on death row took a terrible physical and mental toll, and she
died at the relatively young age of 70 - as much a victim of the "machinery of
death" as the men she fought to save.

My goal in co-authoring this book is to finally give Marie the recognition that
she deserves.

More information about Marie, her work, and the book can be found at

(source: Todd Peppers)

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

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