[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----VA., TEXAS, GA., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 7 14:59:39 CST 2004
VIRGINIA----new execution date
Court Sets Bells Execution for Jan. 7, 2005
A January execution date has been set for Winchester killer Edward
Bell, currently on death row at Sussex Correctional Facility in southwest
Virginia, was convicted in May 2001 for the shooting death of Sgt. Ricky
L. Timbrook in 1999.
He is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 7, 2005, according to an order
received Monday by the Winchester Clerk of the Circuit Courts office.
Bell, 40, has tried unsuccessfully to overturn his murder conviction. His
most recent attempt came on Nov. 17, court records show.
Bell and one of his attorneys, Roy Bradley of Madison, have petitioned the
state Supreme Court twice. In March 2003, Bradley submitted a 97-page
habeas corpus petition listing errors the Circuit Court had made during
The petition claimed Bells civil rights were violated during the Circuit
Court trial. The petition also said Bell is mentally disabled. The Supreme
If Bell is executed, he will be the 1st in Virginia in the new year.
5 inmates were executed in Virginia this year, the most recent on Sept. 9,
according to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice.
Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, 96 people have been
executed in Virginia.
(source: The Winchester Star)
DEFENSE AIMS TO PROVE LEWIS IS MENTALLY RETARDED
Attorneys claiming a convicted killer is mentally retarded and should not
be executed for his crimes called several witnesses Monday, including
teachers, a death row inmate and mental health experts to testify at a
writ of habeas corpus hearing.
Rickey Lynn Lewis was convicted and twice sentenced to die for the Sept.
17, 1990, shooting death of George Newman during a burglary. He was also
found guilty of sexually assaulting the victim's common-law wife, Connie
Hilton, who survived the incident.
In a mental retardation claim, the burden of proof is on the defense since
the state has already proven its case in the guilt/innocence phase. If the
defense proves Lewis is mentally retarded, his death sentence will be
commuted to life in prison.
Convicted killer Preston Hughes III testified that he helped Lewis write
letters and legal motions while the 2 were inmates in Huntsville but said
he had not talked with the defendant since death row inmates were moved to
Livingston in 2000.
Hughes said Lewis had a hard time expressing himself and had problems
reading and writing.
He had no personal knowledge that Lewis didn't carry out his
responsibilities, such as work detail while at Huntsville, he said. Lewis
was not a troublemaker and seemed to care about others, he added.
The state showed a videotaped interview Lewis did with a local television
station when he was baptized on death row. In the video, he spoke clearly
about being a changed man and how he believed God had forgiven him for his
Hughes said the video did not depict the way Lewis sounded when they
talked. He also said court records of a civil proceeding where Lewis acted
as his own attorney were not consistent with the way he conversed with
Hughes was convicted of capital murder for attempting to rape and stabbing
to death a 15-year-old girl and stabbing to death a 3-year-old girl. He
has also pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl and
threatening her with a gun. On Monday, he claimed he was innocent of all
Martha Laumen Surles was the coordinator for special education for Tyler's
St. Louis School, a facility geared toward children with special needs, in
1971. She said not all of the students at the school were mentally
retarded but all of them had some sort of disability or impairment.
She said children who were not mentally retarded could have been there in
a limited way - in order for administrators to make more observations.
Former special education teacher at St. Louis at the time, Louise
Sullivan, testified that students who were not progressing properly in
regular schools were tested and observed before being sent to the special
MENTAL HEALTH EXPERTS TESTIFY
Dr. Susana Rosin, a Houston psychologist and expert on mental retardation,
was hired by the state but called by the defense to testify Monday.
Defense attorney Mike Charlton, of Taos, N.M., indicated some of her test
questions could be invalid because they were not administered according
Dr, Rosin said poor employment history and academic advancement could be
caused by extreme poverty, drug abuse, neglect or family abuse.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham declined to cross-examine the
witness and said the state would later call her to testify.
Dr. Paula Lundberg-Love, a physiological psychology professor at the
University of Texas at Tyler, testified to the effects and signs of fetal
Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent, of the 114th District Court, would not allow
her to testify as to her opinions on whether Lewis suffered from the
disease because she was not qualified.
She said alcohol effects the development of the brain and fetal alcohol
syndrome can be seen in physical features. She said the disease is the
leading cause of mental retardation.
Neuropsychologist Stephen Martin testified to administering adaption
deficit tests on Lewis and said he saw no evidence that the defendant
tried to fake the exams. He said Lewis was asked to perform tests, to the
best of his ability, as he believed he would have performed them at
certain ages younger than 18. He also reviewed records provided by the
defense that concerned Lewis and his actions as a minor.
The adaptive deficit test must be conducted to the intelligence of someone
prior to the age of 18. He said not every person with adaptive deficit is
He said medical records showing a gunshot wound Lewis suffered to the back
of his head could have some effect on motor or sensory skills. He said
Lewis' intellectual impairment occurred prior to the injury.
Martin said Lewis scored an IQ of 59 but Martin is not a mental
retardation expert. He said people could manipulate IQ test scores.
The three-prong approach to diagnose mental retardation outlined in the
Health and Safety Code includes below average intellectual functioning
usually denoted by an IQ score of 70 or less, manifestation of the
disorder by age 18 and consideration of adaptive functioning, or how a
person operates in daily life.
Martin said he was not provided with what could be relevant information,
such as juvenile records, included in the state's 4,700 pages of evidence.
But he said he felt the extra information would not outweigh his decision
because he felt the information provided to him was adequate.
Judge Kent said the hearing would last several days because several death
row inmates will be transported to Smith County separately for safety
concerns. An inmate scheduled to testify Tuesday requires 4 officers and 2
police dogs for transportation, she added.
(source: Tyler Morning Telegraph)
Woman to Face Death Penalty in Ga. Case
In Atlanta, prosecutors said Tuesday they will seek the death penalty
against a woman convicted of fatally poisoning her husband with antifreeze
and accused of killing a boyfriend the same way.
Lynn Turner, 36, was indicted in October on a charge of malice murder in
the 2001 death of her boyfriend, firefighter Randy Thompson.
In May, she was convicted in the 1995 murder of her husband, police
officer Glenn Turner, and sentenced to life in prison.
Authorities allege life insurance was the motive in both cases.
"Certainly, this type of murder warrants" the death penalty, prosecutor
Jack Mallard said.
A jury will still have the option of sentencing Turner to life in prison
with or without parole. No trial date has been set.
Lynn Turner, a former 911 operator, judge's aide, sheriff's assistant and
district attorney's secretary, has maintained her innocence. Her defense
attorney, Jimmy Berry, did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking
It was not until a few months after Thompson died that police launched a
criminal investigation into the deaths of both men. Testing on their
bodies showed they were poisoned with ethylene glycol, the sweet, odorless
chemical in antifreeze.
Turner is seeking a new trial in the case of her husband's death. A
hearing on that issue was postponed until Feb. 15.
(source: Associated Press)
Supreme Court overturns man's death sentence
The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned the death sentence of a
Mount Vernon man convicted of killing two brothers on New Year's Day 1996.
The court said Brandon Hutchison's conviction stands, but ordered a new
hearing to determine his sentence.
Hutchison's attorneys had argued that his trial counsel was ineffective,
and the court agreed. In particular, the court took issue with his defense
attorneys not presenting evidence of his "impaired intellectual
Brandon was convicted in October 1996 of two counts of first-degree murder
in the deaths of Ronald Yates, 35, and Brian Yates, 30. The brothers'
bodies were found along a road in Freistatt.
2 others, Freddy Lopez and Michael Salazar, both of Verona, also were
charged in the case. Authorities said the brothers were shot at Lopez's
body shop in Verona.
Salazar also was convicted of 1st-degree murder, and Lopez pleaded guilty
to 2nd-degree murder, according to court documents.
(source: Associated Press)
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