[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, N.C., OHIO, PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Dec 17 11:07:53 CST 2004
Suspect denies confessing to Killeen strip-club killings
In Dallas, a man charged with last month's slayings of 4 people connected
to a Killeen strip club said he is innocent and denied confessing to
"I have not been indicted. I am innocent until proven guilty, and I have
not at any time whatsoever confessed to the allegations against me," said
Richard Lee Tabler, who read a prepared statement to The Dallas Morning
News in a telephone conversation from the Bell County Jail.
Authorities said Tabler confessed within hours of his arrest and have used
his confession as a cornerstone for their capital murder allegations.
Sheriff Daniel Smith did not return calls seeking comment, and Bell County
District Attorney Henry Garza declined to comment.
"What the sheriff's department has done is deliberately sent
misinformation to the press to influence the public, especially those who
may be selected as jurors," Tabler said.
Tabler also said he is being mistreated in jail as he awaits indictment on
four counts of capital murder.
Bell County deputies arrested Tabler 2 weeks ago after the fatal shootings
of a dancer at Teazers gentlemen's club in Killeen, a former Teazers
dancer, a club manager and the manager's friend over Thanksgiving weekend.
A 2nd suspect, Pfc. Timothy Payne of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort
Hood, faces 2 counts of capital murder.
Police have said that Tabler's confession, obtained after he was picked up
on an unrelated arrest warrant, led them to Payne, who confessed to
videotaping the killings.
Authorities have not released a copy of the written confessions and they
will not talk about the videotape.
Smith has said Tabler was angry at being banned from the club and was
carrying out a "sinister and gruesome" revenge plot against its employees.
Payne's attorney, Steve Lee, declined to comment on Tabler's statements or
say whether his own client had confessed. Payne will plead not guilty, he
Tabler's court-appointed attorney has not responded to interview requests.
Tabler, who declined to elaborate on his statement of innocence, said he
is coming forward because "I want to be treated like a human being, not a
"I'm being treated as though I've already been convicted," he said. "I
want the public to know that I'm being mistreated and threatened and
prejudged on the pretense" of Sheriff's Smith's accusations.
He said he is being denied phone calls to his attorney and mother, that he
was threatened by the jail staff and that the staff will not let him have
cleaning supplies in his cell.
(source: Associated Press)
Chief defends use of deceit
Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison on Thursday defended the tactics
her officers used to obtain a confession from a man accused of a 1997
murder, saying that police are allowed to use deceit to get someone to
confess to a crime.
"Courts have established that police offers are allowed to use deception
in their jobs," Hutchison said in her first interview since The Herald-Sun
reported the trick police used on Andrew Douglas Dalzell. "It is something
that is used as a matter of routine in police work."
Hutchison said she believes the fake warrant and fake letter her officers
used pricked Dalzell's conscience, prompting him to confess to killing
Deborah Leigh Key.
"In my opinion, his guilty conscience spun out of control, and it worked
on him," Hutchison said. "That guilty conscience caused him to confess
what he had done in 1997."
Carrboro officers arrested Dalzell on Sept. 9 in Stanley, about 150 miles
west of Orange County, on relatively minor property-crime charges. But
they didn't tell him the real reason he was under arrest or read him his
rights. Instead, during the 3-hour drive back to Carrboro the officers
made Dalzell think they'd already filed 1st-degree murder charges against
him and that District Attorney Carl Fox was vowing to seek the death
penalty unless he immediately cooperated.
Dalzell then told police he strangled Key and took her body to Wilmington
and put it in a trash bin, according to 2 Carrboro officers. Dalzell, 28,
and Key, who was then 35, were seen together outside a bar in downtown
Carrboro on Dec. 1, 1997. Key has not been seen since.
Officers continued talking to Dalzell -- whether they "interrogated" him
is a matter of debate -- at the Carrboro Police Department before finally
telling him he could remain silent and have an attorney present, his
so-called Miranda rights. Dalzell then signed a waiver of his rights and
wrote out a confession, at one point even using a computer to compose it,
according to police.
Later that day, police obtained a real warrant charging Dalzell with
Dalzell's attorney, Orange-Chatham Public Defender James Williams, has
questioned the ruse and filed a motion to suppress the statements his
client made to police.
A judge heard testimony from the officers and Dalzell's mother during a
hearing in Orange County Superior Court on Wednesday. Judge Wade Barber
did not make a decision and has continued the hearing until Jan. 10.
Hutchison had previously declined to talk about what her officers did to
obtain the confession, but on Thursday she said she was willing to discuss
the issue because Barber had already heard their testimony.
Carrboro investigators had been working to find out what happened to Key
for seven years, and Dalzell was always the prime suspect, she said.
When they obtained the warrants to arrest him for allegedly stealing items
from Hungate's, a store at University Mall, the officers saw it as an
opportunity to try to find out what happened to Key, she said.
"We knew it was a long shot," she said. "We did arrest him on legitimate
charges. We had every right to arrest him. We created the perception that
he was being arrested for murder."
Lt. John Lau testified Wednesday that he came up with the idea of making a
fake warrant that said Dalzell was being charged with first-degree murder
and a fake letter purportedly from Orange-Chatham District Attorney Carl
Fox. The letter said Fox would definitely seek the death penalty against
Dalzell unless he immediately told investigators where Key's body was.
Lau testified that he consulted Fox about his plan, and Hutchison said
that she believed that everyone was comfortable with it.
On Thursday, Fox agreed that he had talked to Lau and knew that Lau was
going to trick Dalzell into believing he was being charged with murder.
Fox, however, said he did not know specifically that Lau planned to make
the fake warrant and the fake letter. But Fox has already acknowledged
giving the officers a piece of his office stationery for their plan.
Steve Stewart, Carrboro's town manager, stood behind Carrboro's Police
Department and said Fox was aware of what the officers planned to do.
"Without going into detail, please be assured that our Police Department
used methods in this murder investigation that were appropriate and within
the bounds of existing law," Stewart said in a written statement.
"Further, the Orange County District Attorney's Office was involved
through all phases of this investigation," Stewart said. "I have also
discussed this matter with our town attorney, who is also comfortable with
the methodology used in this investigation."
On Wednesday, Cpl. Seth Everett testified that when the officers and
Dalzell stopped at a gas station on their trip back from Stanley, Dalzell
began crying and said he didn't want to die.
Everett testified that he encouraged Dalzell to tell the truth. Dalzell
then blurted out that he didn't mean to do it and that he had taken her to
Wilmington and put her in a Dumpster.
Hutchison said she's used deceit herself in police work.
For example, Hutchison said that when she was a young officer, she worked
as an undercover drug officer in Orange and Chatham counties.
"In doing that I assumed a different name and different personality,
someone other than Carolyn Hutchison," she said. "The state provided me a
driver's license with a different name on it, a different date of birth,
and a false address from out of town.
"It helped me establish my ruse, my identity, as a young student from out
of town who lived in this area," she said. "I wore spiky hair in a
rattail, and I looked the part of a young, punky college student."
Some of the people who sold her drugs were convicted and sent to prison,
"I think there is a parallel between that sort of deception and the
deception we used in this particular case," she said. "The parallel is I
created a personality and presented that personality ... to convince drug
dealers to want to sell me drugs."
Hutchison said she used fake documents, like the fake driver's license,
and no one ever questioned the use of those techniques in her and other
officers' undercover drug work.
The chief also said her officers were not required to give Dalzell his
Miranda rights before they actually did because they did not interrogate
Dalzell or ask him questions about Key's murder until after they read him
Before that, Dalzell made what authorities call "a spontaneous utterance,"
"A 'spontaneous utterance' is not the product of interrogation or
interview," Hutchison said. "It's something someone offers before they
have been questioned, and that's what happened in this situation."
The officers weren't required to give Dalzell his Miranda rights as they
rode back to Carrboro, she said. "We had no intention of interrogating him
in that vehicle, and we didn't," she said.
Lawmakers should have review of death penalty
Experts say the numbers are not typical.
Nonetheless, the number of executions in Ohio during the current year is a
serious matter that should get the attention of the legislature, which has
debated -- or at least worried about -- capital punishment in fits and
starts through the years.
It may be just the right time for a more concentrated review.
Ohio executed more people in 2004 than in the previous year, the reverse
of a national trend toward fewer executions, a study says.
Ohio's seven executions in 2004 was second in the country to Texas, with
23 executions, according to an annual report by the Washington-based Death
Penalty Information Center. Oklahoma was next with 6 executions, while
Virginia had 5.
A 40 percent drop in executions and fewer death sentences during the past
five years across the country represents a change in opinions on capital
punishment, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the national
center, a nonprofit organization.
"The public's confidence in the death penalty has seriously eroded over
the past several years," Dieter said. "Life without parole offers the
public a better alternative without all the risks and expense."
Nationally, there were 59 executions in 2004, compared to 98 in 1999.
Ohio's total this year, however, was the highest since 1949 when 15 were
put to death.
Ohio had 3 executions in 2003, tied for 4th in the nation behind Texas,
Oklahoma and North Carolina.
Ohio Public Defender David Bodiker said he doesn't think the state is
necessarily speeding up the pace of executions.
"I don't think we're moving very fast. The 7 this year was probably not
typical," Bodiker said.
"We obviously have a reservoir of convictions which makes it possible for
any year to have a substantial number of executions."
The number of death sentences statewide continues to decline, from 18 in
1996 to 5 this year.
More and more people across the country would say that decline is the
right way to go and the death sentence should be eliminated completely.
Changing public attitudes toward the death sentence should prompt
lawmakers to take a renewed serious look at the controversial and
(source: Chillicothe Gazette)
Washington County authorities eye convict
If a murder conviction and death sentence for Terrell Yarbrough are thrown
out in Ohio, he will be charged in Pennsylvania for the slayings of 2
college students, Washington County District Attorney John Pettit said. A
Steubenville, Ohio, jury in 2000 convicted Yarbrough, 24, formerly of East
Liberty, as the triggerman in the 1999 execution-style killings of Brian
Muha, 18, of Westerville, Ohio, and Aaron Land, 20, of Evergreen, Colo.
The pair were kidnapped at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio,
and killed in Washington County.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Dec. 1 ruled that Yarbrough had been wrongly
tried there for the killings. An Ohio prosecutor has asked the court to
reconsider the decision.
If the ruling is upheld, Yarbrough will be charged and tried in Washington
County, Pettit said. The prosecutor said he has discussed the case with
"They do want to see it prosecuted," Pettit said. "They don't want him to
ever be free, and there's always the chance that he could be pardoned or
something on the sentence that he's serving now."
Yarbrough is serving a 59 1/2-year sentence on kidnapping, aggravated
robbery and other charges.
Co-defendant Nathan "Boo" Herring, 23, of Steubenville, was found guilty
of aggravated murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Because he did not receive a death sentence, Herring's case was not
appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Brian Muha's mother, Rachel Muha, of Westerville, Ohio, is an outspoken
opponent of the death penalty, but reasoned when Yarbrough was sentenced
that he and other prisoners alike would be safer with him on death row,
rather than in the general prison population.
Pettit said he spoke with Rachel Muha and other relatives of both victims,
but did not discuss with them whether he would seek the death penalty.
That decision would not be made until it is certain the case will be
retried in Pennsylvania, he said. Pettit said he will consult with the
victims' families, but ultimately, "This is a decision I will have to
Muha and Land were robbed and kidnapped at their Steubenville apartment
and killed on Memorial Day 1999. Their bodies were found on a remote
hillside off Route 22 about 5 miles northeast of Burgettstown, Washington
County. Jefferson County, Ohio, prosecutors argued that all charges in the
case should be filed in Ohio because most of the crimes took place in
there, but Pettit said he was concerned then over questions of
(source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
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