[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----MISS., FLA., ARIZ., S.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 4 18:46:04 CDT 2004
High court denies appeals for 2 inmates on death row
2 death-row inmates have been denied post-conviction appeals because the
Mississippi Supreme Court ruled this week they raised no new issues on
which they could win a new trial.
Earl Wesley Berry and Dale Leo Bishop raised similar issues of mental
retardation and ineffective assistance from their lawyers.
Inmates use post-conviction petitions to try to convince a judge that new
evidence has surfaced in their case that warrants a new trial.
Berry was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1987 killing of Mary
Bounds. Bounds' body was found just off a Chickasaw County road near
Houston. Berry admitted to the killing, and the confession was used
against him at trial. In his post-conviction petition, Berry said his
attorney failed to move the trial from Chickasaw County.
Presiding Justice Bill Waller Jr., writing for the court, said Berry tried
in some instances to take issues rejected on his first appeal and disguise
them as ineffective counsel. He also said some of what Berry was arguing
fell under the category of defense strategy.
Waller said Berry's claims of being mentally retarded failed because at
his trial there was expert testimony that Berry was competent to be
executed and that he had never been diagnosed, treated or
institutionalized for mental problems before he killed Bounds.
Bishop was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000 for the kidnapping and
slaying of Marcus Gentry, 19, of Fulton, who was beaten with a claw
hammer. The murder occurred in 1998. According to testimony, Gentry,
Bishop, Jesse Johnson and Ricky Myhand were riding around drinking beer
that night. Testimony revealed an argument began after Johnson accused
Gentry of getting Johnson's brother in trouble with the law.
According to court records, the two exchanged words and then Johnson hit
Gentry over the head with an 18-ounce carpenter's framing hammer. When the
victim jumped from the car and fled, Bishop ran after him and hit and
kicked him numerous times.
Bishop claimed his attorney failed to adequately prepare for trial, didn't
get his trial moved out of Lee County and didn't present a good defense.
Waller, again writing for the court, said Bishop's complaints fall into
the realm of court strategy. Waller said the attorney also followed
Bishop's instructions and did all he could within the limitations demanded
by Bishop. On the issue of mental retardation, Bishop argued his school
records and statements from family members showed he had mental
deficiencies. Waller said the evidence in the court record did not support
Bishop's claim of being mentally retarded.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty to be sought in slaying of Jacksonville mom, infant
A man charged with the slaying of a Jacksonville mother and her infant son
has been indicted on two charges of first-degree murder and if convicted
will face the death penalty, said State Attorney Harry Shorstein.
John Mosley Jr. is charged in the deaths of Lynda Wilkes, 40, and her
10-month old son, Jay-Quan Mosley. A grand jury returned the indictment
Mosley was arrested in May, a month after Wilkes and Jay-Quan disappeared.
Wilkes was last seen when she met Mosley to talk about child support
A teenager told police he saw Mosley choke Wilkes and held a garbage bag
into which Mosley put Jay-Quan.
The youth also told police where to find Wilkes' body near Waldo and said
the garbage bag was placed in a trash bin in Ocala. That prompted a search
of a landfill near Valdosta, Ga., where the trash from the bin was taken.
The baby's body was never found.
After his arrest on the murder charges, Mosley denied any involvement in
either the deaths and claimed he was not the father of the infant.
(source: Associated Press)
'94 trial conduct brings sanction; Prosecutor Zawada is out for 6 months,
The state Supreme Court suspended a Pima County prosecutor for his conduct
in a 1994 trial in which he improperly told jurors that a murder suspect's
insanity defense was fabricated.
Justices ordered Friday that Juvenile Court prosecutor Thomas J. Zawada be
suspended from practicing law for 6 months and one day. The order takes
effect in 30 days.
After his suspension, Zawada will be placed on probation under State Bar
supervision for 1 year.
In the 1994 trial, Alex Vidal Hughes was sentenced to life in prison for
the 1991 shooting death of Army Sgt. Frank Albert Borquez, 32, who had
dated Hughes' sister. Hughes shot at police during a long pursuit that
involved up to 40 patrol cars.
The state Supreme Court overturned Hughes' conviction in 1998, and charges
were ultimately dismissed.
Friday's new ruling states Zawada improperly argued that mental-health
experts in general create excuses for criminals. That deprived Hughes of a
fair trial because Zawada repeatedly violated his rights, the justices
6 mental-health experts determined Hughes was mentally ill. A Superior
Court judge later ordered Hughes to be institutionalized in a psychiatric
hospital because he was "persistently or acutely disabled" by mental
The court said Zawada violated an ethical obligation by attacking expert
witnesses' testimony when he had no evidence to support his argument.
Zawada has argued that there is no legal basis for presenting expert
testimony from a psychologist or psychiatrist and that he has a duty as a
prosecutor to argue against that concept in court. He also said a Superior
Court judge and the Court of Appeals reviewed Hughes' conviction and
He said he's unsure if he will have to retire from the County Attorney's
Office, where he has worked for more than 25 years.
"I've enjoyed the vast majority of that time. I've made a lot of good
friends, had a lot of good times and felt like I was really accomplishing
something in this position," Zawada said Friday. "But, whatever. I don't
know what the office is going to do."
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall could not be reached for comment.
Zawada is not the 1st deputy county attorney to be chastised by the high
court. Long-time prosecutor Kenneth Peasley was disbarred in May after the
court determined he presented false testimony to put 2 defendants on death
row, a move that "violated one of the most important duties of a lawyer."
(source: Arizona Daily Star)
Man sentenced in beating death
In Walhalla, a man sentenced to 47 years for beating his girlfriend to
death could face the death penalty in his next trial, prosecutors say.
Dennis Harold Crowe Jr., 38, was found guilty Friday of killing
47-year-old Roberta Flora Davis in June 2003. He also is accused of
stabbing to death his roommate Lester Ray Cobb, 44. Chief prosecutor
Druanne White said she would seek the death penalty against Crowe in
At one point last summer, Crowe, Davis and Cobb shared a residence.
Prosecutors say Crowe beat Davis to death, then killed Cobb a few weeks
later because Cobb witnessed the beating.
Crowe maintained his innocence Friday.
"If anyone's to blame for Lester getting killed it's that man right
there," Crowe said, pointing at Oconee County sheriff's investigator Greg
Reed. "I'm not guilty and I will appeal this all the way to the Supreme
Court. My liver is about gone so the death penalty don't scare me."
No trial date has been set in the Cobb case.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty