death penalty news----N.C., FLA., ALA., MISS., OHIO, IND., OKLA., CALIF., USA
(too old to reply)
Rick Halperin
2017-10-10 13:06:31 UTC
Oct. 10


DA asks for judge to oversee Stroupe case

A judge with death penalty certification will be requested to preside over the
Phillip Stroupe II 1st-degree murder case, ensuring continuity and cohesion in
the case, District Attorney Greg Newman said.

In Henderson County Superior Court Monday, Newman asked Judge Mark Powell to
request that the judge be appointed, as Newman's office is seeking the death

Newman asked Powell to formally request the North Carolina Administrative
Office of the Courts appoint a judge, which Powell agreed to do. Powell said he
will not request any specific judge or a judge from any specific part of the
state, saying it's all in Raleigh's hands.

To hear a death penalty case, judges have to have certain training and
certifications, Newman explained. That was the main reason for the request, but
having a particular judge preside over the entire case also ensures continuity
and cohesion, Newman added, as superior court judges are assigned to a region
every 6 months.

Newman also said he's been working with the county jail to have Stroupe brought
back to Henderson County. This would allow Stroupe's attorneys more access to
their client and help move the case along.

If Stroupe were to remain in Raleigh, Newman said it could have the unfortunate
result of delaying the case.

Stroupe was indicted in August on charges of 1st-degree murder, robbery with a
dangerous weapon and 1st-degree kidnapping in connection with the July 26
homicide of 68-year-old Mills River resident Thomas Bryson. Stroupe was
arrested July 27 in McDowell County, and Bryson's body was discovered off Glenn
Bridge Road in Arden July 30.

The Henderson County Sheriff's Office has not provided Newman with all the
evidence yet, the district attorney told Powell Monday. He said the Sheriff's
Office is still working with several counties in the area and even in

He said HCSO, in addition to the evidence it has collected, is serving as a
clearinghouse for other counties involved in the case, including Transylvania,
Buncombe and McDowell, and is almost finished.

Another court appearance was scheduled for Stroupe for Dec. 11, to update on
the progress on the judge appointment and work on timetables for motions and
the trial itself.

Newman said he's hoping to announce the pretrial hearing and trial schedule
before the end of the calendar year.

Stroupe waived his right to appear in court Monday.

(source: blueridgenow.com)


Father & son both due in court Monday on murder charges

The man awaiting trial on capital murder charges in Henderson County is
scheduled to be in superior court Monday, along with his father.

Phillip Stroupe, II was indicted for 1st-degree murder in the killing of Thomas

Stroupe was arrested in July following a 5-day manhunt that spanned several

The district attorney says he will meet with the judge today in Hendersonville
to pursue the death penalty.

Stroupe, II also faces felony charges in Transylvania, Madison, Yancey and
McDowell counties.

Phillip Stroupe, Sr. will also be in court facing accessory after the fact to
1st-degree murder charges.

(source: WLOS news)


Convicted killer returns to court for 3rd sentencing----Randall Deviney
convicted, sentenced to death twice before

A man convicted and sentenced to death twice in the killing of his neighbor was
back in court Monday morning for yet another sentencing.

Randall Deviney killed Delores Futrell, 65, in August 2008 during an attempted
burglary. His case is 1 of 6 Duval County death sentences overturned this year
by the Florida Supreme Court.

Deviney, a neighbor who was 18 at the time of the murder, was first convicted
of killing Futrell in 2010. The conviction and death sentence were overturned
after it was found that detectives had coerced a confession out of him without
giving him his Miranda rights.

In July 2015, Deviney was found guilty again, and a jury recommended he be sent
back to death row with a final 8 to 4 vote.

The state Supreme Court upheld that 2nd conviction at first, but later ruled
the death penalty unconstitutional unless there is a unanimous jury

Over the years, Deviney's behavior behind bars came under scrutiny. Before the
start of his 2nd trial, Deviney publicly made claims that Donald Smith, the man
charged with murdering Cherish Perrywinkle, had told him about another murder
he committed years before. He even attempted to use that information as
leverage for a shorter prison sentence. The State Attorney's Office said
Deviney's claims were not credible.

Jury selection begins Monday and Deviney will learn this week if he will be
sentenced to death for a third time, which is what prosecutors are seeking.

(source: news4jax.com)



Last week, a federal court stayed the scheduled execution of 56-year-old
Jeffery Borden in order to address questions about the constitutionality of
Alabama's method of execution.

Mr. Borden challenged Alabama's method of execution last year, arguing that the
3-drug protocol puts him at risk of a torturous execution in violation of the
Eighth Amendment because there is a substantial risk that the first drug, the
sedative midazolam, will not anesthetize him and instead he "will be paralyzed,
suffocating, and unable to alert anyone" before the third drug, potassium
chloride, is administered, causing extreme agony.

The federal trial court granted the stay on October 5, mere hours before the
scheduled execution, in order to provide an adequate opportunity to fairly
consider evidence in support of Mr. Borden's constitutional challenge.

In a similar case, the State of Alabama has scheduled an execution for Torey
McNabb for October 19.

But an earlier order from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals required that
there be no executions in Alabama before October 19, which could block Mr.
McNabb's execution as well. Last week, Alabama prosecutors asked the United
States Supreme Court to vacate the Eleventh Circuit's stay order, which it did
over the dissents of 3 Justices.

Observers are hopeful that another execution will be avoided so that inmates
challenging Alabama's method of execution can have a fair opportunity to prove
that the current method is unconstitutional.

Questions about lethal injection [1] persist around the country as states
respond to drug shortages by engaging in illegal drug imports and sales, buying
drugs from largely unregulated compounding pharmacies, conducting experiments
on prisons by injecting them with never-before-tried quantities and
combinations of drugs, and using drugs like midazolam, which has been involved
in several botched executions.

Links----[1] https://www.eji.org/death-penalty/executions

(source: eji.org)


Jury selected in Jessica Chambers capital murder trial

A jury has been seated in the capital murder case of a teenager brutally burned
to death in Panola County almost 3 years ago.

Quinton Tellis is accused in the death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers of
Courtland and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Of the 7 men and 5 women selected, 6 are black and 6 are white.

Pike County has a similar demographic to Panola, and jurors had to be pulled
from outside the north Mississippi area because of pre-trial publicity. Court
officials said the jurors were to be sent to Panola County Monday night.

There, in a trial expected to last 2 weeks, they will decide Tellis' fate. The
trial could go through the weekend should the judge so decide.

On Dec. 6, 2014, Chambers was found on Herron Road in the Panola County town of
Courtland a little after 8 p.m., moving away from her burning vehicle with
burns over 98 % of her body. In the small community of barely 500, almost all
the first responders on the scene knew her and her family.

Chambers was flown to a Memphis hospital, where she died hours later. Coroner
Gracie Gulledge said the cause of death was thermal injury.

Authorities worked leads and investigated for 14 months, ultimately indicting
Tellis. It was an investigation that brought in local, state and federal
agencies on personal, forensic and technological levels.

A team of investigators from the Panola County Sheriff's Department,
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives and the U.S. attorney's office dug into Chambers' death. A
marked lack of street chatter, possibly attributable to Tellis' solitary
personality, made the case tougher to crack, causing much of the investigation
to hinge on data collection.

On Feb. 23, 2016, a news conference was held to announce Tellis' indictment. It
was an unforeseen development for many of the amateur sleuths who had begun to
follow the case online, as Tellis' name had not come up publicly during the
investigation. Chambers was with Tellis the night she died, by his own
admission, officials have said.

Tellis' attorneys, Alton Peterson and Darla Palmer, have not responded to calls
seeking comment.

Chambers' parents, Ben Chambers and Lisa Daugherty, once somewhat vocal, now
keep their opinions, hopes and fears to themselves.

Tellis is also charged with murder in Louisiana in the death of Meing-Chen
Hsaio, 34, of Taiwan. Court documents say Hsaio's death was slow and painful.
She was allegedly stabbed and tortured to death for her credit card PIN

Authorities say the homicide took place on July 29, and her body was found Aug.
8. As authorities were working the homicide scene, Tellis was celebrating his
wedding to girlfriend Chikita Jackson.

He faces a 1st-degree murder charge in Hsaio's death after Mississippi is
finished with him, officials said.

(source: The Clarion Ledger)


Beacon Journal editorial board: Justice, mental illness and the death penalty

3 years have passed since a statewide task force made 56 recommendations to
improve the conduct of the death penalty. Lawmakers have enacted fewer than 10.
The courts, too, have been slow to act, though the Ohio Supreme Court led the
way in forming the panel. Among the most notable recommendations yet to become
law would exclude from the death penalty defendants who suffered from serious
mental illness at the time of the crime.

The proposal appears to have strong support. The task force approved the
proposal by a 15-2 vote. At one point, nearly every member of the Ohio Senate
expressed backing, only to see Keith Faber, then the chamber's president, stand
in the way.

Now the legislation has been revived as House Bill 81, sponsored by state Rep.
Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, and Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat.
Committee hearings have been held. The time has come to advance this sensible
legislation, out of committee, to the floor and then the Senate.

The concept builds on the exclusion already established for juveniles and the
developmentally disabled, that the death penalty should not apply to those with
diminished capacity. It goes to the idea that capital punishment should be
reserved for the "worst of the worst." That doesn't mean those with a serious
mental illness would escape accountability. They still would face the severe
punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors object to the change, arguing the legislation would bring a
practical end to the death penalty. They overstate the case. The state public
defender's office notes that just 2 of the 2 dozen death row inmates currently
scheduled for execution would be affected. The door would not be open to an
avalanche of resentencing requests. The legislation identifies 5 precise mental
illnesses, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major
depressive disorder and delusional disorder.

So the application is narrow, a judge determining whether the defendant
suffered from the affliction at the time of the crime.

Prosecutors add that the process already accommodates mental illness. During
the sentencing phase of a death penalty trial, the defendant presents
mitigating evidence to the jury. Yet, as David Niven of the University of
Cincinnati points out, studies consistently show that jurors actually see
serious mental illness as an aggravating factor and thus are more likely to
conclude that a death sentence is warranted.

Why? Researchers note that jurors see the presence of such an illness as a
reason to be more confident of guilt and to be more fearful of the defendant.
The practice reinforces the powerful stigma still attached to mental illness.

House Bill 81 would remedy what plainly is an injustice, jurors getting wrong
the intent of the law. The judge would rule during a pretrial hearing on
whether the evidence shows the presence of a serious mental illness. If the
answer is yes, the process would move ahead without the death penalty. That is
the responsible course, and why House Bill 81 deserves passage soon.

(source: Editorial Board, Beacon Journal)


Inmates deserve transparency

Roy Lee Ward, an inmate on death row in Indianapolis, is contesting the
legality of Indiana's lethal injection process to the Indiana Supreme Court
after the Court of Appeals of Indiana ruled that Indiana prisons were unable to
follow through with their executions.

According to Ward's attorney, David Frank, a state agency must choose its
lethal injection drug cocktails by nature of a public hearing.

When new death penalty protocol was adopted in 2014, adding a new drug called
methohexital, there was no venue for public comment. It was decided by
unelected state agencies.

State transparency for the drugs being used in executions is important, and
those on death row have the right to know the specific drugs being used in
lethal injections. The Editorial Board believes that one's status as an inmate
does not preclude that person from the right to transparency.

Ward is wary of the combination that the Department of Correction has chosen
due to the fact that its chosen ingredient methohexital has never been used for
lethal injections in any other state. The other 2 drugs being used are
potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide.

At the same time, Ward does not have a lot of standing to contest his own
sentence. He was originally condemned with capital punishment for the rape and
murder of a 15-year-old girl in 2001. At this point, he is only delaying his
own death sentence.

Also, adding extra provisions for the Department of Corrections to obtain drugs
for legal injections makes the entire process extremely complicated.

Understandably, drug companies are wary about supplying their drugs for lethal
injections. For many pharmaceutical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and
Akorn Pharmaceuticals, supplying medicines for a purpose other than furthering
health and wellness is against their mission statements.

Gov. Eric Holcomb added a budget provision to protect the confidentiality of
drug manufacturers in order to obtain these drugs for lethal injection more

This confidentiality for drug manufacturers is important and a necessary
process for the state agency to obtain safe drugs for use in lethal injection.
In the past, whenever states could not obtain the drugs they needed for a
lethal injection, they have created drug cocktails from whatever drugs are
available to them, leading to many gruesome botched executions.

For example, in 2014, a death row inmate in Alabama struggled violently after
being administered drugs for lethal injection and died 43 minutes later of a
heart attack. In Alabama in 2016, an inmate gasped and coughed for 13 minutes
after his lethal injection.

While the right to transparency about the drugs being administered for these
inmates is important, the right to a safe and painless death is just as
important and cannot be ignored.

The issue of constitutionality regarding the death penalty and lethal
injections comes into play when determining whether or not drugs used in lethal
injection cocktails violate the provisions of cruel and unusual punishment
outlined in the 8th Amendment.

Painful, botched executions are absolutely examples of cruel and unusual
punishment, which is why the state should be able to take the necessary
measures to obtain safe drugs for lethal injection cocktails.

The Supreme Court of Indiana questions why Ward has decided to bring up the
issue of transparent drug choices now. Justice Steven David claims the
Department of Corrections has been following the same procedure for the past 25
years with no objection.

While Ward's objection and criticism of the process is valid, states should
value the rights to their inmates safety above all else.

(source: Editorial Board, Indiana Daily Student)


After Years With No Death Penalty Trials, Central Indiana Could See
2----Prosecutors seeking death sentence in Southport cop's death, Lebanon

After 4 years without anyone being sentenced to death in Indiana, prosecutors
have filed 2 capital cases in the last month.

Not every murder is eligible for the death penalty, and not every case which
meets 1 of 18 qualifying factors gets filed. But Marion and Boone County
prosecutors have requested death sentences in the murders of a Southport police
officer and a Lebanon man killed during a burglary.

Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director David Powell says only
a couple of cases a year might be eligible for death sentences, and the
creation of life without parole in 1993 gave prosecutors another option to take
killers permanently off the streets. Death penalty cases are expensive to
prosecute, and appeals can drag on for decades. And prosecutors sometimes
follow the wishes of victims' families who don't want the death penalty.

Some prosecutors follow the rule Powell says he used as Greene County
prosecutor, reserving the penalty for cases which were not only beyond a
reasonable doubt, but where there was no doubt at all about the defendant's
guilt or the horror of the crime.

And Powell says only 1 in 100 criminal cases of any kind goes to trial -- most
defendants plead guilty. Powell says prosecutors don't file death sentence
requests just for extra leverage, but notes having a potential death sentence
in play gives defendants an added incentive to reach a deal.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has sought the death penalty 3 times in 7
years, all against cop-killers -- he filed the 3rd, against the accused killer
of Southport officer Aaron Allan, 2 weeks ago. Both prior defendants received
life without parole after pleading guilty. Curry says one of those defendants
had mental-health issues which would have complicated the possibility of the
death penalty. The parents of the victim in the other case, Indianapolis
officer David Moore, were both police officers themselves, and Curry says he
heeded their wishes not to insist on a death sentence.

Curry declined in 2013 to seek a death sentence in the explosion which killed 2
people in Indy's Richmond Hill neighborhood. He noted the plotters weren't
targeting anyone specific, but just failed to think through the consequences of
an insurance fraud scheme. Curry instead sought and got life without parole for
ringleader Mark Leonard and Leonard's brother Bob.

(source: WIBC news)


Tulsa man pleads not guilty in strangulation of 19-year-old woman; death
penalty trial set for spring

A Tulsa man pleaded not guilty in the strangulation death of a 19-year-old
woman and attack on her boyfriend inside the couple's southeast Tulsa
apartment, setting the stage for a capital trial to begin in May.

Gregory Jerome Epperson, 41, was arraigned Monday on charges that he strangled
Kelsey Tennant and attempted to do the same to her boyfriend, Riley Allen, on
March 20.

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office had already filed a Bill of
Particulars noting the state's intent to seek the death penalty in Epperson's
case, the 1st time prosecutors have asked for the maximum sentence since 2012's
Good Friday shootings.

The Bill of Particulars was read Monday in court, and a defense motion to quash
the bindover for trial was overruled. Epperson will be tried on charges of
1st-degree murder and felony assault, with jury trial set for May 14.

Tennant was a 2015 Broken Arrow High School graduate who later studied at Tulsa
Community College with the goal of learning to be a therapist for people with
special needs.

An arrest report indicated Tennant's neck had ligature marks, and an autopsy
report says Tennant's cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

Allen said during a preliminary hearing that he called Tennant but didn't get a
response, which prompted him to knock on the front door and then use his key to
open it. He said that's when Epperson attacked him from behind, shoved him down
a short flight of stairs and began to choke him.

Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker said in March that police initially believed
Tennant's arrival at the apartment surprised Epperson amid a break-in attempt
but later said it was possible Epperson ambushed her when she got home and
therefore gained access to the residence.

Epperson's next court hearing is set for Feb. 12.

(source: Tulsa World)


California regulators reject new lethal injection method

California regulators for the 2nd time Monday rejected a proposed new method of
carrying out the death penalty by lethal injection, another move that slows the
process for California to resume executing death row inmates.

A voter-backed initiative aimed at speeding up executions, though, may render
the regulators' decision moot.

The Office of Administrative Law did not elaborate in its 3-paragraph decision
rejecting the rules. But officials previously said the proposal wasn't clear on
how the execution team would be selected and trained; how the drugs would be
obtained and administered; and how a condemned inmate should be treated in the
days and hours before the execution.

Those issues were raised during the 1st rejection in December.

California has nearly 750 inmates on death row, but only 13 have been executed
since 1978, the last in 2006. Since then, death penalty foes and supporters
have engaged in a push-pull over when and how to resume executions, if at all.

One of those fights is over the method of executing inmates.

State and federal judges have barred the old method of using a series of 3
drugs, prompting the need for new rules.

The regulations up for approval Monday would have allowed condemned inmates to
be executed using 1 of 2 powerful barbiturates. Inmates could also choose the
gas chamber.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,
which sued to force the new rules, thinks it shouldn't be necessary for
regulators to consider the latest proposal.

He said the regulations must be approved by state and federal judges.

"This is stupid," he said. "This additional layer of bureaucracy is completely

The state Supreme Court in August upheld Proposition 66 ending the requirement
that prison officials receive approval from state regulators. Death penalty
opponents asked the judges to reconsider it with a Nov. 22 deadline, but
Scheidegger expects the justices to uphold their earlier ruling.

If so, Monday's regulatory rejection won't add much delay, he said.

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said
the state will continue following the regulatory process while waiting to see
what the justices decide.

If the high court ruling stands, the next step would be for state officials to
ask a federal judge and a Marin County Superior Court judge to lift separate
injunctions that blocked California's old way of executing inmates using a
combination of 3 lethal drugs.

Critics have complained that Democratic office-holders have delayed the rules
for years because they are in no rush to resume executions.

The latest rejection shows the proposed rules remain "deeply flawed on many
levels and is further evidence that California is in no position to resume
executions," Ana Zamora, the American Civil Liberties Union's criminal justice
policy director, said in an email.

(source: mcclatchydc.com)


California's latest attempt at a death-penalty drug is rejected

Proposed rules for single-drug executions in California were rejected Monday by
a state legal agency, whose decision may soon be nullified by an initiative
approved by state voters last November.

State prison officials have been trying to rewrite their regulations since a
federal judge halted implementation of California's death penalty in 2006,
finding flaws in staff training and procedures that created the risk of a
prolonged and agonizing execution. The state has nearly 750 inmates on death
row, and courts have rejected final appeals on the convictions and sentences of
at least 18 of those inmates.

With lethal drugs increasingly scarce, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration
settled a lawsuit by murder victims' families by switching from the previous
3-drug executions to a single dose of a powerful barbiturate. Prison officials
drafted procedures to use 1 of 2 possible drugs, to be obtained from private
pharmacies. They received thousands of public comments, mostly critical, and
then submitted them to the state office that reviews new state regulations for
their compliance with the law.

On Monday, the Office of Administrative Law vetoed the procedures for the
second time, issuing a brief notice that the prison department "did not resolve
all necessity and clarity issues." The office said it would explain its
reasoning within a week.

Meanwhile, however, 51 % of the state's voters in November approved Proposition
66, a measure designed to speed up executions, while rejecting a competing
initiative to abolish the death penalty. The state Supreme Court upheld some
provisions of Prop. 66 in August, including one that eliminates the need for
regulatory review of 1-drug executions.

Opponents of the measure have asked for a rehearing, and the court has delayed
implementation until at least Nov. 22 while it considers the request. But if
the ruling stands, Monday's action will have no effect.

The dispute over execution procedures would then move to federal court, where
lawyers for the condemned prisoners would renew their arguments against
California's proposed injection procedures.

"The whole thing is stupid," death penalty supporter Kent Scheidegger, legal
director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and an author of Prop. 66,
said of the regulatory review process. He said the U.S. Supreme Court has
approved similar execution drugs and procedures in other states.

On the other side, David Crawford of the anti-capital punishment group Death
Penalty Focus endorsed the state office's decision.

"We've known all along that (the proposed procedure) was deeply problematic,
and that it increased the risk of botched executions and secret drug deals like
we've seen in other states," Crawford said. "We're coming up on a year since
the election and nothing has changed, except that we've wasted another $150
million" in maintaining death row.

(source: San Francisco Chronicle)


Jury: LB homeless camp killer Ponce should receive death penalty----Last month,
Ponce and Max Eliseo Rafael were found guilty of 5 counts of murder and 1 count
of kidnapping

A jury has recommended the death penalty for a gang member convicted of
murdering 5 people at a Long Beach homeless encampment nine years ago, the
Compton Herald has learned.

The panel sentenced David Cruz Ponce, 37, to death after deliberating for about
2 hours. Ponce will return to court for sentencing on Nov. 27.

Last month, Ponce and co-defendant Max Eliseo Rafael, 31, were found guilty of
5 counts of murder and 1 count of kidnapping. The jury also found true the
special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder during a
kidnapping and murder while the defendants were active participants in a
criminal street gang.

Ponce also was found guilty of an additional count of murder and kidnapping and
2 counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Deputy District Atty. Cynthia Barnes of the Major Crimes Division prosecuted
the case.

Ponce and Rafael fatally shot Lorenzo Villicana, Katherine Verdun, Hamid
Shraifat, Frederick Neumeier, and Vanessa Malaepule on Nov. 1, 2008. All 5
victims lived in a homeless encampment near an off ramp of the 405 Freeway in
Long Beach.

The prosecutor said jailhouse conversations of the 2 defendants were recorded
as they talked about the murders.

Ponce also was convicted of the kidnap and murder of Tony Bledsoe on March 23,

Rafael faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is
scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16.

The case was a joint investigation by the Long Beach Police Department and the
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

(source: Compton Herald)


US should condemn death penalty

I am dismayed the United States couldn't sign onto a United Nations resolution
that condemns executions for "apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual
same-sex relations."

Our delegation refused to vote for it without an amendment that would enshrine
the right of governments to execute their citizens. Apparently, the president
has decided the ability to execute prisoners is so precious that he is willing
to silently endorse theocratic and sexist policies. This is where defense of
capital punishment always leads. You find yourself on the same side as human
rights paragons such as China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

I'd like to hear an explanation from the pro-life lobby and anyone who has ever
used the phrase "all lives matter." They should explain how President Donald
Trump is acting as America's moral compass.

Anthony Brylski, Madison

(source: Letter, Wisconsin State Journal)

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