[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----FLA., WASH., NEV.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Dec 11 16:35:57 CST 2004
Police search cell of murder suspect
Looking for what they said is new evidence, investigators raided the jail
cell of a suspect awaiting trial in a brutal rape and murder case.
Hoping to bolster their case against the suspected triggerman in the
kidnapping, rape and killing of a popular South Miami teen, authorities
have seized a batch of "notes and sketches" -- from his jail cell.
Joel Lebron has been in jail for more than two years awaiting trial after
being accused of executing Ana Maria Angel. He and four friends are also
accused of kidnapping and raping the South Miami High student in a crime
that shocked South Florida.
State investigators last week raided cell No. 9220 at the Turner Guilford
Knight Correctional Center, hauling away 3 evidence bags of papers,
according to a search warrant.
The Miami-Dade state attorney's office declined to reveal more details
about the Dec. 3 seizure. Prosecutors and detectives have yet to examine
Instead, they allowed Lebron's attorney, Jeffrey Finkel, to review the
seized papers to determine if they could be used as evidence in the case
or are protected under client-attorney privileges.
After looking at the papers, Finkel said, he will file a motion early next
week asking a judge to not allow prosecutors to examine the material.
"The search was not based on a security concern, like escape or injury to
other inmates," Finkel said. "It was based on the belief that the
documents contained papers in the nature of admissions. Personal writings
ought to be protected. This was not something that was part of the crime."
It was not clear Friday whether prosecutors will ask a neutral judge to
review the material to see if it can be used as evidence, said Ed
Griffith, a state attorney's spokesman.
The state attorney's office declined to say how or who tipped off agents
to the material in Lebron's jail cell.
The crime is well-known in South Florida -- Angel and her boyfriend were
abducted as they took a stroll down South Beach on April 27, 2002.
Authorities say Lebron, now 26, and 4 other Orlando-area men kidnapped the
couple, tossing them in a rented truck and gang-raping Angel. They slashed
the throat of boyfriend Nelson Portobanco and dumped him on the side of
the road. He survived.
Prosecutors say Lebron shot Angel in the back of the head on the side of
Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County as she begged for mercy.
This is not the 1st time Lebron has attracted jail-house attention. Just
after he was arrested, The Herald reported, fellow inmates threatened to
kill him because he bragged about the murder-rape.
Then, investigators said, from jail he tried to hire a hit man to kill
Portobanco, an accusation Lebron's attorney questioned. Lebron was never
Lebron and suspects Cesar Mena, Hector Caraballo and Victor Caraballo all
face the death penalty.
A 5th suspect, Jesus Roman, is considered by law too young to be sentenced
to death because he was 16 at the time. He faces life in prison.
A hearing to update the case will be held Feb. 3.
It is not unusual for a death penalty case with multiple suspects to last
for years, said Griffith, the state attorney's spokesman.
"We're looking forward to pursuing this in trial," he said.
(source: Miami Herald)
Nisqually Indian Chief Cleared in Slaying
Chief Leschi of the Nisqually Indian tribe was exonerated by a historical
court Friday, nearly a century and a half after he was hanged for the
death of a militia soldier in what is now Washington state.
The unanimous verdict by a seven-judge panel isn't binding legally, but it
drew cheers and tears from hundreds of people who gathered at the state
history museum to hear the decision.
Leschi (pronounced LESH-eye) was hanged in 1858 for killing Col. A. Benton
Moses of the territorial militia during the region's Indian war of 1855.
The historical court, led by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry
Alexander, ruled that if Leschi did in fact kill Moses, they were lawful
combatants in a time of war, so a murder charge was not justified.
"I'm just happy. This is really about the future," said Cynthia Iyall, a
descendant of Leschi's sister and chairwoman of the Committee to Exonerate
"This is for all the kids ... they need to know who that man was and what
truthfully happened to him."
Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, a former prosecutor who helped
represent Leschi's descendants before the historical court, agreed that it
was important to establish the truth.
"We cannot bring Leschi back to life, and we cannot restore Leschi to his
land. We can, we must, restore his good name."
Over the years, everyone from Leschi's executioner to respected historians
had questioned his guilt.
He had fought to preserve his tribe's way of life: The government had
consigned the Nisqually to a high forest, cut off from their homes by the
Nisqually River. The government later returned the tribe to a spot along
the river about 50 miles south of Seattle.
After Leschi's 1st trial ended with a hung jury, the judge in the second
trial refused to instruct jurors that killing an enemy soldier in war is
not considered murder. Leschi was convicted and sentenced to death. On
appeal, the territorial Supreme Court refused to consider new evidence
showing Leschi was miles away when Moses was killed.
The Army refused to execute Leschi, as military leaders believed the rules
of war should have prevented him from being charged with murder.
Instead, Pierce County authorities oversaw Leschi's execution Feb. 19,
1858. His hangman, Charles Grainger, said later: ``I felt then I was
hanging an innocent man, and I believe it yet."
Nisqually Indians have kept Leschi's legacy alive by telling his story to
their children and grandchildren, and his name appears on schools,
monuments and even a Seattle neighborhood.
Alexander proposed holding the historical court because he didn't think
the current state Supreme Court has the power to overturn a decision by
its territorial predecessor.
Nisqually tribal member Andreya Squally, 17, who attended the trial,
recalled arguing about Leschi at school, insisting he had been unjustly
"They said it was right because it was in the history book," Squally said.
"Now they have to change the history books."
(source: Associated Press)
Jewelry repairman sentenced to death in Las Vegas double-slaying
A 46-year-old part-time jewelry repairman has been sentenced to death for
killing and robbing his two employers at a downtown Las Vegas store.
The same jury that earlier found Avetis Archanian guilty of bludgeoning
86-year-old Juana Quiroga and her 68-year-old daughter, Elisa Del Prado,
to death deliberated less than an hour Thursday before deciding for the
"We all came to the agreement that this was the proper, just thing to do,"
said Judy Epstein, forewoman of the eight-man, four-woman Clark County
District Court jury. "We feel very confident about our decision."
After they were dismissed, jurors walked two blocks from the Clark County
Courthouse to the store.
"Each side has lost in this case," family member Frank Quiroga said.
Archanian had been convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and robbery in
the September 2003 slayings at the World Merchants-Importers store.
Archanian's lawyer, Mace Yampolsky, called the death sentence
During the trial, Yampolsky offered little defense for evidence including
a videotape showing Archanian inside the store before the slayings; Del
Prado's blood on Archanian's shirt and in his vehicle; Quiroga's blood on
a pair of pants found at Archanian's home; and $250,000 in stolen jewelry
found in his vehicle.
District Attorney David Roger said Archanian used jeweler's tools to
bludgeon Quiroga and Del Prado. Quiroga died at the scene. Del Prado died
from her injuries in March.
(source: Associated Press)
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