death penalty news----TEXAS, VA., GA., FLA., OHIO
(too old to reply)
Rick Halperin
2017-11-11 16:01:12 UTC
Nov. 11

TEXAS----new execution date

Lubbock judge signs death warrant for Rosendo Rodriguez

Lubbock Judge Jim Bob Darnell issued Wednesday an order of execution for
37-year-old Rosendo Rodriguez III, who was convicted and sentenced to death for
the 2005 slaying of a pregnant woman whose body was stuffed inside a piece of
luggage found at the Lubbock city landfill.

Darnell's order comes 2 weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear
Rodriguez's appeal and sets a March 27 date for his execution by lethal

Rodriguez, who became known as the "Suitcase killer," was convicted of the 2005
beating and choking death of 29-year-old Summer Baldwin, who was 5 weeks
pregnant. Her body was stuffed inside a piece of luggage found at the city
landfill in Lubbock. Baldwin lived in Lubbock and Rodriguez was training here
as a Marine reservist.

Court records show Rodriguez was linked to at least 5 other sexual assaults and
to the disappearance of 16-year-old Joanna Rogers, who had been missing more
than a year. He confessed to killing the teenager, whose body was also found in
a suitcase in the Lubbock landfill.

Rodriguez is 1 of 3 Texas death row inmates convicted in Lubbock County.

Joe Franco Garza, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Silbiano Rangel, is
awaiting results of a post-conviction DNA testing filed in 2015, according to
court records.

Brian Suniga, who was convicted in the 2011 slaying of David Rowser, is in the
midst of appealing his death sentence.

(source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)


DA will not seek death penalty in murder of Zoe Hastings

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson will not be seeking the death
penalty in the case of Antonio Cochran, charged with the murder of Zoe Hastings
in 2015.

Police allege that Cochran kidnapped Hastings in her family's minivan from
Walgreens on Garland Road and Peavy Drive, killed the teenager, then dumped her
and the vehicle in a creek in Lake Highlands. Hastings was on her way to

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said that the Cochran had an
"intellectual disability," which makes him ineligible for the death penalty. On
Friday, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office released the following

"It came to our attention that the defendant may have had some intellectual
challenges. As a result, we were pro-active in requesting the court's
permission for an evaluation. Our expert's findings are such that the defendant
does fit the current legal definition of a person with an intellectual
disability. We are not seeking the death penalty in this case because the
current law states an individual who has been diagnosed with an intellectual
disability is not eligible for the death penalty. However, we remain committed
to seeking justice on behalf of Zoe Hastings and her family."

WFAA discovered Cochran has an extensive criminal history in Bowie County that
includes multiple felony arrests.

(source: WFAA TV news)


Former partners, jailers give testimony during punishment phase in Hudson
capital murder trial

Prosecutors rested their case late Thursday afternoon after calling 8 witnesses
during the 2nd full day of the punishment phase of a capital murder trial for
an East Texas man facing the death penalty for killing multiple members of 2
families in one night in November 2015.

William Mitchell Hudson, 35, of Tennessee Colony was indicted on 3 counts of
capital murder in connection with the slayings of Thomas Kamp, 45; Austin Kamp,
21; Nathan Kamp, 23; Kade Johnson, 6; Hannah Johnson, 40; and Carl Johnson, 76
at a campsite in Anderson County. Jurors convicted Hudson of capital murder in
less than 20 minutes Tuesday for killing Hannah Johnson and her father, Carl
Johnson. The case was moved to Brazos County because of pre-trial publicity in
Anderson County, which is more than 100 miles northeast of Bryan.

The Johnson and Kamp families met on Nov. 14, 2015, at a campsite on land in
Anderson County that Thomas Kamp had recently purchased from a distant relative
of Hudson's family, a transaction that Hudson reportedly was not happy about.
Jurors convicted Hudson for shooting and beating to death Carl Johnson and his
daughter, Hannah; prosecutors also argued that Hudson had shot and killed the 4
others in the woods while they were looking for firewood, shortly before he had
returned to the campsite to kill Hannah and Carl.

Jurors heard testimony Thursday from Suzanna Reed, one of Hudson's ex-wives,
and from Amanda Hyden, Hudson's ex-girlfriend and mother of one of his
children. Both women painted similar pictures of Hudson: a violent and erratic

Reed said Hudson had threatened to shoot himself, but had never threatened to
shoot her, when he brought his guns out to demonstrate his commitment to
suicide. Reed said Hudson hadn't drank much when they were dating, but started
drinking heavily once they tied the knot. When Hudson got mad, Reed said, she
could see "a rage" in his eyes.

Hyden said Hudson has put guns to her head and once put her in a headlock after
she told him she wanted to leave him. She was able to escape after putting her
keys between her fingers and punching him in the groin. Altogether, Hyden
estimated Hudson threatened her life 10 to 15 times over the course of their

Reed said Hudson had threatened to cut her brake lines in the future -- when
enough time had passed so authorities wouldn't suspect him -- and at one point
threw a knife so hard into the ground that it stuck straight up. She said she
had been scared of Hudson in the past, but wasn't now.

Hyden, who suffers from epilepsy, said she "had to drive everywhere we went
because he was always drunk."

Both Hyden and Reed said they hadn't called the police when threatened because
Hudson had warned them against involving the authorities.

"He told me that if I called the police he would shoot them when they came in,"
said Reed.

Hyden, meanwhile, said Hudson had told her that calling the police "wouldn't
matter" because he knew all the cops, so Hyden never called because "it seemed
like it was useless."

Hudson's tense relationships stretched beyond his significant others, the women
said in their separate testimony. According to Reed, Hudson had a "strained
relationship with his parents,"

"There was some animosity, maybe some resentment there," she said of his
relationship with Mac and Crystal Hudson.

Multiple witnesses have portrayed Hudson in their testimony as narcissistic and
prone to exaggeration. Hyden said part of this derived from his pride in his

"He liked to talk about how he was entitled to so many things because of his
last name," she said.

Multiple jailers from the Anderson County Jail testified Thursday that Hudson
had threatened or verbally abused them, though they could not recount an
instance where he had physically harmed another inmate or member of the jail
staff. Judith Skinner, former jailer at the Anderson County Sheriff's Office,
said Hudson once attempted to strike her, but was unable to do so after she
restrained him.

Prosecutors also played recordings of calls Hudson made to his mother and
girlfriend from the county jail, where he can be heard repeatedly making
threats toward the jail staff who had testified earlier Thursday morning.

In one call, Hudson asked his mother why he was considered a high-risk inmate,
noting that he was in a solitary cell.

"They put me in isolation ... I didn't ask to come over here," Hudson said.
"They've given me no chance in general population whatsoever."

In another phone call, Hudson said he would beat up a cellmate if he were asked
to share a cell, so he could get back to being by himself. In multiple other
calls, Hudson could be heard complaining to a girlfriend and his mother about
various perceived infractions from jailers at the Anderson County Jail. Hudson
can be heard in several calls threatening to kill or hurt other jail staff.

Under questioning from Hudson's attorneys, various witnesses on Thursday said
Hudson had not carried out his violent threats -- aside from attempting to
strike Skinner -- against jail staff or other inmates, but Aneshia Thompson,
investigator with the district attorney's office, said Hudson had been in his
own cell and had been restricted from interacting with inmates in general

Thursday's testimony ended with 2 members of the Johnson and Kamp families
talking about the loved ones they lost in the Tennessee Colony massacre.
Elizabeth Helena Johnson Vankirk, daughter of Carl Johnson, sister of Hannah
Johnson and aunt of Kade Johnson, said she had begun to move on since the
slayings, but "every time something comes up, it brings back the memories all
over again."

The trial continues at 9 a.m. this morning, when defense attorneys will have
the opportunity to present their case and call their own witnesses. They did
not call any witnesses in the trial's guilt/innocence phase.

(source: theeagle.com)


Longtime Bedford County Judge William W. Sweeney presided over city annexation
case, Soering trial

Ascending to a judgeship has been known to cause a spike in self-importance and
the erosion of a sense of humor.

Judge William W. Sweeney, who died Nov. 5 at the age of 89, spent most of his
33 years on the bench fighting against those inclinations.

"You have to be careful," Sweeney once told a reporter. "When you're a judge,
people stand up when you walk into the courtroom. Lawyers laugh at your jokes,
even when they're not funny. You can't let it go to your head."

Yet with Sweeney, by most accounts, it was never about him. It was about the

"A good judge," he said, "is like a good basketball referee. You should be
almost invisible."

Phil Baker, who argued cases before Sweeney as a Bedford County assistant
commonwealth's attorney, said: "He did what he had to do as a judge, and he
made the decisions a judge has to make. Sometimes, though, I think it stayed
with him."

Like the 3 times during his long tenure on the Bedford County Circuit Court
bench when Sweeney had to sign off on death penalty convictions. Or the period
in the mid-1970s when he served on a 3-judge panel created to rule on
Lynchburg's attempted annexation of portions of Bedford, Campbell and Amherst
counties - a decision, Sweeney later said, that brought out as much raw emotion
as any criminal case.

Sweeney also faced some criticism when he declined to recuse himself from the
double-murder trial of Jens Soering in 1990. He had attended Virginia Military
Institute with the brother of Nancy Haysom, 1 of the victims, and had presided
over the earlier trial of Elizabeth Haysom, who was convicted of being an

In his statement, Sweeney said: "The alleged offenses occurred in this
jurisdiction. Therefore, it is my responsibility to try unless I am unable to
give the defendant a fair trial. I have concluded that I can preside fairly in
Jens Soering's trial."

Moreover, he added, Soering's fate would be determined by a jury, and the death
penalty had been taken off the table in a deal to get the German citizen back
from England. Thus, Sweeney's role would be more like the aforementioned
basketball referee than that of a final decision-maker.

William P. Sweeney, the judge's father, had been a self-made man who ran the
Duti-Duds Apparel company in Lynchburg and a tight ship at home for William and
sisters Pat and Mary. Young William played football at E.C. Glass, ran track at
VMI and then volunteered for the Army Airborne, where he made more than 30

His military service provided 1 of the stories Sweeney loved to tell about
himself. Serving as the jumpmaster on 1 occasion, he mistakenly deployed his
paratroopers not over the assigned target field but downtown Paducah, Kentucky.

"I got a little anxious and went out the door prematurely," he said, "and my
men followed me. I was lucky enough to land in a schoolyard, but the others had
to fend off church steeples and such. The fact that I wore pretty thick glasses
never inspired much confidence in my men, anyway."

After his military service, Sweeney graduated from the University of Virginia
Law School and then went to work for the law firm of Caskie, Frost, Davidson
and Watts in Lynchburg. He eventually became president of the Lynchburg Bar,
but he was still surprised when the General Assembly nominated him for the
Bedford judgeship in 1965, following the death of Charles Burks. At 36, Sweeney
became the youngest jurist in the state.

"Like most people, I didn't grow up wanting to be a judge," he said later. "It
just sort of happens to you. It's something you can't control."

But Sweeney was eager for the challenge, and he had always preferred a judicial
seat somewhere other than in his hometown of Lynchburg.

"You really don't like to shop and mingle and socialize with people who may one
day come before you for one reason or another," he explained.

Sweeney was not the sort of judge inclined to wall himself away from the public
for fear of being asked about a case. In so many ways, he was the
quintessential well-to-do Lynchburger - an E.C. Glass graduate, a Sunday school
teacher at Court Street United Methodist Church, a board member for the
Salvation Army and Red Cross, a member of the intellectual Sphex Club, frequent
mentor to young attorneys and an engaging public speaker. He regularly made the
circuit of local churches at Easter to deliver a lecture on "The Trial of

Sweeney's 1st Bedford case was hardly the stuff of high drama, and even may not
have been reported in the newspaper. But the new judge took it seriously.

"It involved someone accused of not paying for a refrigerator," he said, "and I
remember being very nervous. It may sound trivial now, but to the people
involved in that case, it was the most important thing in the world at that

The Soering trial was at the other end of the visibility spectrum, attracting
media attention from as far away as Washington, Atlanta and Detroit (where
Soering's father occupied a diplomatic post). It also was televised in its
entirety via Lynchburg's Cable Channel 6, which then broadcast the day's
testimony each evening, unedited, to an increasingly fascinated audience.

This was a contentious and complicated case, and the strain on Sweeney was
enormous. Still, he managed to demonstrate his sense of humor in the midst of

Early in the trial, he had worn bright red socks on the bench, and the
unblinking eye of the TV camera honed in on them. Sweeney's wife, Nada, teased
him about it, which inspired him to write a whimsical poem. During a break from
the trial, he called a group of reporters back into his chambers and read it to

Phil Baker got to see a different side of Sweeney when the judge took up
mediation after his retirement in 1998.

"He loved doing that," Baker said, "and he was good at it. He was always a good

Sweeney said he relished the opportunity to work collaboratively with
individuals rather than having to pick winners and losers.

"A judge has to make decisions that only God should make," he said.

(source: Darrell Laurant, now retired, was a longtime columnist for The News &
Advance. His book, "Even Here," chronicles the Soering trial along with several
other high-profile criminal cases from Bedford County in the 1980s.----The News
& Advance)


Ruling in Columbus' only pending death penalty case challenged

Attorneys for the man charged in Columbus' only pending death penalty case want
the Georgia Supreme Court to review a local judge's ruling justifying the
police search that followed Brandon David Conner's arrest on Aug. 21, 2014.

Conner earlier that night is alleged to have killed girlfriend Rosella "Mandy"
Mitchell, 32, and their 6-month-old son, Dylan Ethan Conner, before setting
their 1324 Winifred Lane home afire.

The fire was reported at 12:35 a.m. Around 1 a.m., Officer Jason Swails saw
Conner's blue 2001 BMW turn from Wynnton Road onto Cedar Avenue, and park near
Davis Broadcasting, where Conner worked. Conner then sat in the car for 10
minutes, the officer said.

Because of recent business burglaries in the area, Swails found this
suspicious, and decided to question Conner. He saw the suspect was shaking and
sweating, and apparently had blood on him.

Conner told the officer he had just left work, which Swails didn't believe
because he'd seen Conner turn off Wynnton Road and park. Conner then altered
his story, claiming he'd left work to get some food, but changed his mind and
returned, Swails said.

Swails arrested Conner for breaking a city law against lying to police. Because
police routinely search suspects being detained, officers checked Conner's
pockets, and found a bloody, yellow dishwashing glove, a bloody baby wipe, a
cigarette lighter and an extended grill lighter.

Learning of the bodies found on Winifred Lane, they had Conner's BMW impounded,
and got a warrant to search it. Inside they found a bag of bloody clothes, a
bottle of bleach and a bent steak knife with blood on the handle, they said.

Defense attorneys William Kendrick and Mark Shelnutt argue all of that evidence
now is inadmissible in Conner's trial because prosecutors missed a deadline to
prove the city ordinance against lying to police actually exists.

Authenticating the law Conner was arrested for breaking is part of proving the
murder case against him, as it led to his initial arrest, the police search of
his clothes and car, and his subsequent statements to detectives investigating
the homicides.

Defense objections

Kendrick and Shelnutt say the deadline to submit such evidence to Judge William
Rumer was April 29, 2016. When the prosecution failed to meet that deadline,
they filed a motion the following May 4, noting the omission, and sought to
have the evidence suppressed.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly included a certified copy of the
law in a brief filed June 20, 2016.

Rumer on Sept. 20, 2016, denied defense motions challenging the search and
seizure of evidence against Conner. This past June 14, Rumer ruled the
prosecution properly filed the certified copy of the law last year.

Because Conner, 38, is facing the death penalty, a Superior Court judge's
rulings in dispute may be reviewed by the state Supreme Court, to avoid errors
that could send the case back on appeal, after a conviction.

But Rumer on Sept. 19 told the defense he didn't think the review was

During a hearing Thursday, the judge said he had to weigh whether the issue was
so critical as to warrant the delay an appeal would cause.

Kendrick argued that because Conner's facing death, his life merits the 45-day
delay a Supreme Court review would take.

Rumer said he again would consider the defense argument and rule later.

A grand jury indicted Conner April 14, 2015, on charges of murder, aggravated
battery, 1st-degree arson and using a knife to commit a crime. Authorities say
he stabbed Michell repeatedly in the throat and torso. The nature of the
infant's injuries has not been disclosed.

Arson investigators said a dog trained to find flammable liquids alerted to 3
spots in the gutted Winifred Lane home where the fire is believed to have been
set. They found a gas can in a closet.

2 trials, same time

So far Conner's trial remains set for Jan. 22 or Jan. 29, but District Attorney
Julia Slater said she has filed notice of a scheduling conflict because of
another prominent murder case scheduled for trial then:

Superior Court Judge Gil McBride had set an Oct. 30 trial date for 3 men
charged in the 2016 triple-homicide of a grandmother, son and granddaughter in
Columbus' Upatoi neighborhood, but defense attorneys on Oct. 23 argued they
needed more time to prepare, so McBride moved it to Jan. 29.

Slater also is involved in that prosecution, and Shelnutt and Kendrick
represent Raheam Gibson, 1 of the 3 suspects. The others are Rufus Burks,
represented by Jennifer Curry, and Jervarceay Tapley, whose attorney is Shevon
Sutcliffe Thomas.

The 3 are accused of killing Gloria Short, 54; her son Caleb Short, 17; and
granddaughter Gianna Lindsey, 10; found dead in the Shorts' 3057 Bentley Drive
home on Jan. 4, 2016.

Police said Gloria Short and her granddaughter were beaten and stabbed to
death, and the son was fatally bludgeoned.

The defendants' 30-count indictment charges them with 10 counts each: 3 counts
of malice or intentional murder; t3 counts of felony murder for homicides
involving the felony of aggravated assault; 2 counts of auto theft; and 1 each
of kidnapping and 1st-degree burglary.

Back in January 2016, Burks was only 15; Tapley was 17; and Gibson was 19. Now
Burks is 17; Tapley is 19; and Gibson is 21.

(source: ledger-enquirer.com)


Death penalty witness: 'It's as though you are watching someone fall asleep'

A reporter who witnessed a death row execution this week has revealed exactly
what the process entails. WARNING: Graphic.

Greg Angel is one of about 20 people staring through a glass window as
convicted killer Patrick Hannon appears shackled to a bed on the other side.

The American CBS News reporter, based in Florida, has already witnessed the
executions of 2 death row inmates. On Wednesday, his tally rose to 3 when he
watched Hannon be put to death by chemical injection, in Florida State Prison.

Hannon was executed for the 1991 murders of Brandon Snider, 27 and Robert
Carter, 28.

Nearly 3 decades later, family members of Carter and Snider gather in a small
room, with a large window, to watch the man - who took the lives of those young
men - lose his own life as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

Mr Angel was 1 of 4 members of the media invited to witness the execution in a
bid to ensure a "humane process".

"It's seen that the media has a watchdog advocacy role and it's the reporters'
job to ensure a lethal injection is carried out with an accurate record of
events," Mr Angel told news.com.au.

Despite the nature of the assignment, it's not one that comes at a personal
cost, according to the reporter.

"What I find most striking is how unaffected I am," he said.

"Many define an execution as a barbaric act, but it is veiled in the guise of a
medical procedure. It is very anticlimactic: There are no violent physical
reactions, one you may have with an execution by electrocution.

:"It's as though you are watching someone fall asleep, yet as you watch, you
can see the sudden change in colour in the inmate's face.

"Their lips first appearing darker in colour, and then their face becoming an
ashy white. That is the only real reminder that what you are watching is
someone being put to death."


It's late afternoon on November 8, 2017 when a small media contingent,
including Mr Angel, is piled into a van and driven to the middle of a
razor-wired compound inside Florida State Prison.

The only items they are allowed to bring inside are 5 $1 notes - for vending
machines - and ID. Inside, they are each given a manila envelope with a
palm-sized notepad and 2 pencils.

About 3.5 hours later, the group is eventually escorted from a waiting room to
the witness chamber where 18 people are already seated, "their gaze locked
forward on the 4.5 x 12 foot reflective glass window".

"The black curtain is drawn and it's easy to see the reflections of their faces
on the glass," Mr Angel says.

"We're not sure who is who specifically, but we do know they are the families
of Robert Carter and Brandon Snider."

The tiny room is busy but silent "with the exception of the buzzing of the
window-unit airconditioner".

"It buzzes as the clock keeps ticking," Mr Angel says.

At 8.36pm, the witnesses watch a dark curtain rise on the window - which
doubles as a 1-way mirror - and reveals a sterilised white room on the other

"There is Patrick Hannon, a white man, 6'3", short, trimmed hair, and beard,"
Mr Angel says.

"He is tethered by thick leather straps to a gurney in the centre of the room.

"His body covered in a white sheet, with only his head, neck, and forearm

Hannon is already hooked up, via his forearm, to a machine that will pump
lethal drugs into his body "just moments from now", according to Mr Angel.

"Hannon's head tilts up, his eyes shift left to right as he tries to assess the
room," Mr Angel says.

"The only thing he sees, from his vantage point, is reflective glass. He has no
way of seeing into the witness room, who is there."

Hannon delivers a final statement before the team warden announces: "With the
preparation phase complete, the penalty phase will now begin."


8.38pm "The lethal cocktail of drugs that will kill Hannon begins to be
administered through an IV hooked to Hannon's forearm. Hannon's head is tilted
forward, with a long stare at the glass. He rests his head, but only for a
brief moment, before again tilting his head up again. His eyes moving back and
forth, surveying the room the best he can."


"Hannon lays his head back on the gurney for the final time. His mouth is
slightly open. His lips fluttering. His face will give the only clues to the
process, this journey from life to death unfolding before our eyes. Hannon's
hands are covered in a white glove-like fabric."


"There is minimal chest movement, but a few coughs or gasps for air. For the
next minute, it remains constant, multiple coughs, but nothing alarming. Each
person seems to have a different reaction."


"A few minutes after the process began, the warden approaches Hannon. The
warden uses his finger to flick Hannon's eyes a few times. The warden then
grabs Hannon by the shoulder and vigorously shakes him. This is the assessment
to ensure Hannon is unconscious, to lessen any adverse pain or effect of the
soon to be delivered lethal drugs.

In Florida lethal injections, there are 3 primary drugs used in the cocktail,
administered in stages at various doses.

The Etomidate injection is used 1st, to ensure the inmate is unconscious. A
round of Rocuronium Bromide is then used to relax the muscles, essentially to
paralyse the inmate, and the 3rd and final and fatal drug is the Potassium
Acetate. This is the drug that stops the heart."


"Satisfied Hannon is unconscious, the next round of drugs is administered, and
the process continues in a typical anticlimactic fashion. There is little
movement from Hannon. However, there is a change in colour in his face. I
notice the 1st appearance of a darker colour in Hannon's lips; a sign of death
setting in."


"Hannon's face appears to become more ashy white, his lips now even darker in
colour than a few minutes before."


"We are now 10 minutes into the process. If all is going accordingly to how it
should, we should be done in a few minutes. (Former death row inmate) Mark
James Asay was pronounced dead 11 minutes after the process began. (Another
former death row inmate) Michael Lambrix's lethal injection took 15 minutes."


"A tall, bald man, wearing a doctor's coat and stethoscope around his neck
pulls open a curtain from behind the warden. The doctor walks into the
execution chamber/room, and makes a quick right turn to approach Hannon's body.
The doctor begins to perform a physical exam, using a flashlight to find signs
of eye movement in Hannon's eyes. The doctor checks for any other signs of
life, a pulse, breathing, anything. No signs of life are found.

The doctor mouths a few words to the warden, and exits through the curtained
doorway where he came in. The warden reaches over and picks up the receiver of
a beige phone on the wall, presumably telling the Governor's office that the
execution has been completed.

The warden hangs ups, turns to the window where witnesses are on the other side
and announces "The matter of State of Florida v Patrick Hannon was carried out
at 8:50pm."

The black curtain then abruptly drops as quickly as it went up.

In 12 minutes, Hannon went from a condemned inmate on Florida's Death Row to a
former existent being of Earth."

CBS News reporter Greg Angel told news.com.au he's not affected by watching
death row inmates be executed.


Mr Angel told news.com.au that his experiences watching death row executions
haven't shaped his views on the death penalty.

"I believe it is a divisive issue, one that is up to society and government to
determine the merits of," he said.

But he's adamant the executions he witnessed were carried out in an ethical and
humane way.

"I can say through my observations, as lethal as the end result it, is does not
appear from the outside looking in, to be a violent, painful, process," he

"There is no surge of physical response, no explosion of verbal cries.

"It is silent, and somewhat peaceful.

"A drastic difference in tone compared to the violent crimes these men are
convicted of carrying out that put them on the gurney in the first place."

(source: news.com.au)


Prosecutors will seek death penalty in Key West murder case

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the Key West murder case in which a
transgendered woman is accused of stomping and stabbing a man to death.

Justin Calhoun, 24, admitted to police she jammed a broken piece of furniture
down the throat of Mark Brann, 67, and stomped on it and also stabbed him in
both eyes with a pen, according to detectives.

"The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel," State Attorney Dennis
Ward said in a filing this week at the Monroe County Courthouse, giving reasons
for seeking the death penalty if Calhoun is convicted of the crime.

Calhoun was also committing a robbery at the time of the killing, Ward says.

Brann was attacked early Aug. 14 inside his 1206 12th Street home in New Town,
where Calhoun said she often stayed. The 2 had been having a sexual
relationship, she told police.

Calhoun admitted to the attack, saying it started when she accused Brann of
being a cannibal and Brann grabbed a gun which went off during a struggle,
police said.

No one was shot but Calhoun then racked the pistol planning to shoot Brann with
it but firearm jammed.

After stabbing Brann in the eyes, detectives said, she jammed a piece of wood
down his throat and stomped on it, and then grabbed a dresser drawer and beat
Brann about the head and throat with it.

"Calhoun admitted [she] went beyond self-defense," wrote Detective Jeffrey
Dean, in the arrest affidavit.

Brann died the next day, having suffered severe head injuries.

Calhoun is also charged with robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of
cocaine and possession of hydrocodone.

(source: flkeysnews.com)

OHIO----impending execution

Attorney says executing ill Ohio inmate could be a 'spectacle'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he won't spare the life of a condemned killer who
has cited his poor health and tough upbringing in an attempt to avoid

Kasich's decision came Thursday in the case of Alva Campbell, who was sentenced
to die for fatally shooting 18-year-old Charles Dials after a 1997 carjacking.

The 69-year-old Campbell is scheduled for execution Nov. 15.

Federal public defender David Stebbins says attorneys had hoped Kasich would
seriously consider Campbell's health problems and poor veins, which could
affect the placement of an IV for lethal injection.

Stebbins said the result could be a spectacle of the 69-year-old Campbell being
transported to the execution gurney in a wheelchair followed by difficulties
finding a vein.

Campbell's attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on an external colostomy bag,
requires 4 breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer.

They also say Campbell was the product of a violent, dysfunctional and sexually
abusive childhood.

Prosecutors say Campbell's health claims are ironic given he faked paralysis to
escape court custody the day he killed Dials.

Stebbins said Campbell is an old and frail man who isn't a threat to anyone.

(source: Associated Press)

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