death penalty news----OHIO, NEV., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-07-07 13:14:09 UTC
July 7

OHIO----impending execution

Ohio preparing for 1st execution in more than 3 years

Ohio is following a mandatory checklist for putting inmates to death as it
prepares for the state's 1st execution in more than 3 years, a prisons agency
official said.

The state wouldn't release documents related to those checkups to The
Associated Press, saying open records law shields such information.

"We can confirm, however, that to date all steps of Ohio's execution protocol
have been complied with in preparation of the execution scheduled later this
month," JoEllen Smith, prisons department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Ronald Phillips, who was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend's
3-year-old daughter in 1993 in Akron, is scheduled to die July 26. It's his 3rd
execution date of the year following earlier reprieves to allow legal arguments
over the drugs Ohio plans to use.

In a significant ruling, a federal appeals court last month opened the door to
Phillips' execution and others by permitting Ohio's use of a contested

That drug, midazolam, was used previously in problematic executions in Ohio,
Arizona and Arkansas in which inmates didn't appear fully sedated before other
drugs kicked in.

Attorneys for death row inmates fell short in attempts to prove that "Ohio's
protocol is 'sure or very likely' to cause serious pain," the appeals court
said in an 8-6 ruling.

An appeal of that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected.

Phillips, 43, also has separate federal appeals pending that argue his age at
the time - he was 19 - should be a consideration for mercy. The nation's high
court already has banned the execution of people under 18.

"We're going to continue to fight as vigorously as we can to see that this
execution does not go forward," said Tim Sweeney, an attorney representing

Executions have been on hold in Ohio since January 2014 when death row inmate
Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted during the 26 minutes it took him to die, the
longest execution in the state to date. The state used midazolam and a
painkiller on McGuire in a method that's since been abandoned.

What Ohio's protocols require:

30 days before the execution:

-- The warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where executions are
carried out, determines whether the state has sufficient execution drugs and
reports his findings to the prisons agency director. The state has said in
court filings it has enough drugs to carry out at least 4 executions.

--The execution team begins weekly training sessions.

21 days beforehand:

-- Prison medical staff evaluates an inmate's veins and plans for the
insertion of the IV lines.

-- A member of the prison system's mental health staff evaluates the inmate's
stability and mental health in light of the scheduled execution.

14 days beforehand:

The warden of Chillicothe Correctional Institution, where death row is housed,
verifies the inmate???s pre-execution visitors, his spiritual adviser,
execution witnesses and funeral arrangements.

(source: Associated Press)


Court overturns death sentence in 1982 Nevada killing----A federal court has
overturned the death sentence of a Nevada prison inmate who killed a Reno car
salesman in 1982

A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of a 65-year-old
Nevada state prison inmate convicted of killing a Reno used car salesman in
March 1982, just months after killing his girlfriend in Seattle.

Tracy Petrocelli's murder and robbery convictions for shooting James Wilson
were upheld by a 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San

However, the judges said in the Wednesday ruling that Petrocelli's
constitutional rights were violated during penalty proceedings because his
attorney wasn't present when he was interviewed by a psychiatrist who later
testified for the prosecution.

Petrocelli's attorney, A. Richard Ellis of Mill Valley, California, said
Thursday he would let the court opinion speak for itself.

Aides to Washoe County District Attorney Christopher Hicks and Nevada Attorney
General Adam Laxalt said a decision had not been made whether prosecutors will
retry Petrocelli's penalty phase in state court or seek a lesser sentence such
as life in prison without parole.

"We are in the process of further reviewing the 9th Circuit's decision," Laxalt
spokeswoman Monica Moazez said.

? Petrocelli's name is invoked regularly in criminal courts in Nevada, after
the state Supreme Court ruled in an appeal of his murder conviction that
prosecutors must convince a judge during a pretrial hearing that evidence about
so-called "prior bad acts" can be introduced to a jury.

Prosecutors in Nevada told the Washoe County District Court jury that
Petrocelli pleaded guilty in May 1981 in Washington state to kidnaping his
18-year-old girlfriend, Melanie Barker. He had not yet been convicted of
shooting Barker dead outside a Seattle restaurant where she worked in October

5 months later, Wilson, 63, was shot dead during a vehicle test-drive. His body
was found buried in a makeshift grave near Pyramid Lake north of Reno.
Petrocelli, who also used the name John Maida, was arrested in Las Vegas in
April 1982.

After nearly 35 years behind bars, Petrocelli has become one of Nevada's
longest-serving death-row inmates.

The last execution in the state was in 2006.

(source: Associated Press)


Prosecutors: Murder of correctional officer was 'sport' for Con-ui

The brutal murder of Correctional Officer Eric Williams was "sport" for the
gang assassin who committed the crime, a heinous act that "shocks the
conscience," prosecutors argued Thursday in seeking the death sentence for the

The defense for twice convicted murderer Jessie Con-ui, however, countered that
he was once a "kid with promise" who lost his way in the world and found
himself caught up in a life of drugs, guns and violence.

Jurors will soon be asked to decide if that is enough to spare his life.

The panel of 12 jurors on Thursday began hearing the closing arguments that
will bookend a two-month capital murder trial that has been years in the
making. When closings wrap up later Thursday afternoon, jurors will get their
final instructions before deliberating the fate of Con-ui.

Last month, the jury convicted Con-ui, 40, of 1st-degree murder and other
offenses for brutally beating and stabbing Williams, a 34-year-old Nanticoke
native, during an ambush attack at U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan on Feb. 25,

The attack, which Con-ui launched because he felt disrespected over his cell
being searched earlier that evening, involved the inmate kicking Williams down
a flight of stairs before chasing him down and slashing him with 2 shanks.
Con-ui stabbed and hit Williams more than 200 times in addition to stomping and
slamming the officer's head on the ground, fracturing his skull.

Jurors saw gruesome surveillance video of the 11-minute attack, which continued
long after Williams stopped moving in a pool of blood.

Prosecutors argue the ferocity of the attack warrant the death penalty. During
his closing argument Thursday morning, Robert J. Feitel, an attorney with the
Justice Department's Capital Case Section, reminded jurors that Con-ui paused
to wash a cut on his hand and to sip some water during the brutal attack.
Afterward, he stole a pack of gum from Williams' pocket and chewed it,
displaying nonchalance and "a level of depravity that we've never seen."

"He's relishing this murder," Feitel told the jury. "He's loving it. He's
enjoying it. This is sport to him."

But the brutality of the murder alone was just 1 element pointing to death, the
attorney argued. Con-ui's choices tore a hole in the heart of Williams' family
and friends, and he has consistently shown a cold, remorseless demeanor, he

Other aggravating factors include that Con-ui is a New Mexican Mafia assassin
already serving 25 years to life in prison for executing a gang member at a
Phoenix strip mall in 2002. He is also a convicted drug dealer who at the time
of Williams' murder was serving more than 11 years for trafficking about 33
pounds of cocaine.

Known on the streets as "Chino," Con-ui has a violent past that includes
stabbing an inmate, beating another inmate with a metal food tray and
threatening a correctional officer who had just searched his cell. Con-ui was
also involved in a conspiracy to kill several people, including a Phoenix
police detective, but the plot was stopped before Con-ui could act, according
to prosecutors.

"You have heard about the defendant's lifetime of bad choices," Feitel said.
"You have heard about a lifetime of horrible suffering for each and every one
of his victims."

Con-ui's defense, which admitted he was guilty of murdering Williams, has
sought to save him from death row by presenting jurors with dozens of
mitigating factors they say should tip the scales in favor of life without

Defense attorneys stressed that Con-ui has faced consequences for his actions -
since the murder, he has been held in isolation at the federal prison system's
lone supermaximum prison in Florence, Colorado. During his closing, defense
attorney David A. Ruhnke of Montclair, New Jersey, told jurors Con-ui now has
minimal human contact.

Con-ui has been restricted to his cell area at all times and can only see
people when guards pass his food trays, he said. Phone calls are also limited
to 2 per month and Con-ui is not permitted contact visits.

His conviction for Williams' murder also means Con-ui will no longer be
eligible for parole in 2031 at the age of 54, he said.

"Nobody is saying that this is a 'free crime,'" Ruhnke said. "He knows for sure
he will die as a federal inmate."

Con-ui's defense also sought to portray him as the product of a rough
upbringing, being raised in poverty in a slum in Manila, Philippines, before
coming to live in America.

He showed promise, excelling in school with involvement in student council and
lacrosse before things turned south, Ruhnke told the jury.

When Con-ui was a young man, his abusive stepfather kicked him out of the
family home, he said.

For an escape, Con-ui turned to alcohol and marijuana, before moving on to
harder drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD and PCP, a former friend
told jurors. Eventually, Con-ui got caught up in the justice system in Arizona,
which at the time was "one of the worst" in the country and helped mold him
into a hardened criminal, testified Dr. Craig Haney, a defense witness from
Santa Cruz, California.

Runke told jurors that while Con-ui's life experiences don't excuse what
happened, they can help explain why he turned out the way he did - enough of an
explanation to warrant a sentence of life in prison.

"There is a case here that screams out for life," Ruhnke said. "You don't have
to impose a death sentence."

Arguments continue this afternoon.

(source: Citizen's Voice)

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

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