[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- TEXAS, CONN.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Thu Dec 16 12:32:22 CST 2004
death penalty news
December 16, 2004
Kunkle given 6th rendezvous with death
Appeal not heard; attorney predicts still another stay
A San Antonio man sentenced to die for the 1984 murder of a Corpus Christi
man has received his sixth date with death.
District Judge Nanette Hasette on Wednesday signed a death warrant for Troy
Kunkle, setting a Jan. 19 execution date, Assistant District Attorney Doug
Norman said. Kunkle was convicted of murdering Steven Horton, 31, in 1984.
The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed Kunkle's execution twice on the day of
his execution, most recently in a 5-4 order last month, while his attorneys
filed appeals. His attorneys had argued that Kunkle's history of drug and
alcohol abuse was not properly considered as mitigating evidence at trial.
The high court on Monday declined to hear the appeal, even though one
justice said Kunkle's sentence clearly violated the Constitution. In a
concurring opinion, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that he
initially had agreed to the stay because justices believed they had
authority to review the case. However, upon closer review, justices
realized the appeal was based on state law.
Kunkle's attorney Danalynn Recer, of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center based
in Houston, said she will continue to fight the execution. Recer said there
already is litigation pending and more is forthcoming.
"It is premature to be setting a date," Recer said. "What I think it means
is that we will have another stay. I don't know what the purpose is,
because there are serious constitutional issues being litigated and that
litigation is nowhere near completion."
Norman said the District Attorney's Office requested a new execution date
because they believe Kunkle has run out of appeals.
"We think he has at the state level, and we are pretty certain that he has
at the federal level," Norman said. "His lawyers think they have another
argument they can make to the federal courts involving the
constitutionality of his sentence."
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Kunkle, 18 at the
time of the killing, and three friends were visiting Corpus Christi from
San Antonio. They picked up Horton, who was walking along Paul Jones
Avenue, and demanded his wallet, which contained $13. Kunkle then shot
Horton in the head, according to state reports.
After the death, Kunkle reportedly quoted lyrics from heavy metal band
Metallica's song "No Remorse," from the album "Kill 'em All," when he said,
"Another day, another death, another sorrow, another breath."
(source: Corpus Christi Caller Times)
Juror's allegation of misconduct delays sentence Hired killer faces
execution; prosecution disputes claims
The sentencing of a convicted Torrington killer was delayed Wednesday after
a juror alleged misconduct during death penalty deliberations.
In August, a jury ruled Eduardo Santiago Jr., 25, should die by lethal
injection for killing a West Hartford landscaper four years ago in exchange
for a broken snowmobile. The same jury convicted him earlier that month in
Hartford Superior Court of capital felony murder and eight other charges
stemming from the Dec. 14, 2000, killing.
A statement made by a juror on Tuesday prompted a hearing that put a
temporary hold on Santiago's sentencing, which had been scheduled for
Wednesday, said Kevin Randolph, Santiago's defense attorney.
He declined to identify the juror, who has been advised not to talk to the
"We were able to contact a juror who deliberated in both the guilt and
penalty phases who admitted the jury considered certain things improperly
in returning a death verdict," said Randolph, whose office contacted all 12
jurors -- eight women and four men -- after the penalty phase was complete.
"She said some jurors were disappointed that there was only a single
aggravating factor, so they listed on a board other things they considered
aggravating factors and weighed them against the mitigating factors."
For example, Santiago killed someone he didn't know for a snowmobile with a
broken clutch, he committed the crime in the middle of the night and he
used a homemade silencer.
Because the death of 45-year-old Joseph Niwinski involved a murder-for-hire
scheme, it was classified as a capital felony murder, which allowed
prosecutors to seek the death penalty. By law, that was the only factor the
jury was allowed to use to determine whether Santiago should be put to
death, Randolph said.
Assistant State's Attorney Donna Mambrino said details surrounding the
murder were entered as evidence in the guilt and penalty phases and, as
such, were a legitimate part of any deliberations. Only external
influences, such as a newspaper story, would be banned from the
deliberation process, she said.
"They're claiming this is jury misconduct," Mambrino said. "Our response is
that it does not even rise to that level. It's more akin to buyer's
remorse. This was a very weighty decision. She sentenced someone to be
executed, and now she's having second thoughts about it."
If Judge Douglas Lavine finds there was indeed misconduct that was
prejudicial to Santiago, he could order a new penalty hearing, Mambrino
said. The conviction would stand, she said.
Briefs are due in the case on Jan. 7, and sentencing is set for Jan. 31.
Two other men, Mark Pascual, 39, of Torrington and Matthew Tyrell, 22, of
Winsted pleaded guilty for their roles in Niwinski's murder and avoided
possible death sentences by testifying against Santiago.
Pascual is awaiting sentencing; Tyrell was sentenced to life in prison
without parole in 2002.
Pascual testified that he was so obsessed with Joseph Niwinksi's
girlfriend, he hired Santiago to kill the West Hartford man in exchange for
a snowmobile with a broken clutch.
Santiago enlisted the help of Tyrell and, together, the trio hatched the
plan that led to Niwinski's murder.
While Pascual waited outside, Santiago and Tyrell crept into Niwinski's
garage loft apartment and Santiago shot the sleeping man in the left temple
with a rifle. He used a homemade silencer made out of a plastic soda bottle
and bullets with Niwinski's nickname, "Joe," etched into the casings.
If sentenced to death, Santiago would become the eighth man on death row in
Connecticut, which hasn't carried out an execution since 1960.
Convicted serial killer Michael Ross, 45, is scheduled to be executed on
Jan. 26. He is on death row for killing four women in eastern Connecticut
in the 1980s and has admitted to four other murders in New York.
(source: Waterbury Republican American)
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