[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----KY., ALA., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jul 10 11:32:09 CDT 2004
[Dear Friends in the Abolitionist Community:
Here are 2 articles, the 1st from the Courier by the AP which might be in
many other KY newspapers; the 2nd from the Herald-Leader about the widow
of a murdered prosecutor attacking the Boyd County Commonwealth Attorney
for not seeking death and recusing himself from the case. I hope that many
of you will respond by writing letters to the editor of these newspapers
and others in your area that might run the AP story. The AP story seems
especially skewed since, to my knowledge, no one who represents the
abolitionist position was about Whaley's comments regarding why we oppose
the death penalty.
I believe that we are the people standing up for life, not denying the
horrible act of murder and the need to hold killers accountable, but also
holding our State accountable by not becoming a killer in our names. It is
up to those who decide to kill to provide overwhelming evidence of its
Whaley contends the murder rate in prison is high so she abandons her
Methodist church's teachings and seeks the death penalty. If anyone on
this list has info on murder rates in prison, please contact me. E.g., is
the murder rate in prison significantly different than in the general
society; and, is murder in prison more likely committed by a convicted
murder or someone else serving time?
To emphasize how important it is for you to write, let me point out that
Kentucky is nearing the time when we might have another execution, though
that is still a few months off. It is important that our voices cry out
now for life and continue to let legislators and our governor know we
This link provides access to an excellent story about the prosecutor Fred
Capps and his killer Eddie Vaughn who died also. Will give the reader a
sense of the town of Burkesville and the people there, including State
Senate President David Williams.
Rev. Patrick Delahanty, Associate Director--Catholic Conference of
Prosecutor opposed to death penalty has new critic----Wife Of Slain
Commonwealth's Attorney Takes Issue With Religious Jurstification
In Catlettsburg, a prosecutor's widow wrote to The Daily Independent in
Ashland this week to take issue with the dictates of Stewart Schneider's
Catherine Brown Capps of Burkesville, the widow of slain Cumberland County
prosecutor Fred Capps, was the latest in a series of people who have
challenged Schneider's decision to withdraw as the prosecutor in a death
Schneider, a minister with First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in
Ashland, touched off controversy among his colleagues when he said last
month that his religious principles would not allow him to seek the death
"The question is, if Christ's commandment to us is to love one another, is
there a way to lovingly strap somebody to an electric chair?" he asked in
an interview this week. "My decision was, 'No, there is not.' And so I did
what I did."
In her letter, Catherine Capps echoed sentiments expressed by various
prosecutors as she thanked special prosecutor David Flatt of Sandy Hook,
who will take over the case for Schneider.
"Would Mr. Schneider have the public believe that prosecutors who carry
out their sworn duties in full cannot be Christians?" Capps asked. "I take
issue with that and with the implied discreditation of all those current
and past Christian prosecutors who have stood tall and mightily performed
their jobs, irrespective of the difficulty or danger involved."
Schneider, who has served as Boyd County's commonwealth's attorney since
1993, is not the only minister who works as a prosecutor. But others say
they're able to reconcile their public duties with their faith.
Commonwealth's Attorney George Moore of Mount Sterling said he is a
commissioned lay pastor in the Presbyterian church.
"I don't view it as a conflict," said Moore, but he declined to comment on
"I don't want to second-guess somebody else," he said. "It's not fair to
Stewart, it's not fair to me and I don't try to define other people's
theology for them."
Moore said he knows other prosecutors who are opposed to the death
penalty, "not necessarily for religious reasons, but I think they
proceed." Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley, who took a leave of
absence and graduated from the Lexington Theological Seminary in 1997,
recently accepted her first death-penalty case since resuming work as a
prosecutor. Whaley previously had prosecuted several capital cases, but
was forced to re-evaluate the issue before she returned to court.
"I came to the conclusion that ... what I'd experienced in the seminary
didn't change my position on the death penalty," she said. "In some cases,
prison is not the remedy. It's not going to protect people."
In the case from which Schneider withdrew, 2 men are indicted on 2 counts
each of 1st-degree murder, 1 count of 1st-degree arson and 1 count of
tampering with physical evidence.
Jonathan Nolan, 24, of Catlettsburg, and Patrick Campbell, 21, of Ashland,
are charged in the slayings of Phillip "Bo" Booth, 32, and his wife,
Shonda Booth, 26, who were found dead at their Catlettsburg home in May.
Schneider said that, after he decided he could not seek the death penalty,
"I took what I thought was the only course of integrity open to me, which
is to rely on someone else to make the call."
Flatt could not be reached for comment, but has filed notice he intends to
seek the death penalty.
Public defender Brian Hewlett of Ashland, who represents Campbell, said
the local bar association was aware that Schneider had become increasingly
involved in his church work, but was surprised by his recusal.
"It may actually make my job a little harder because it's polarized the
pro-death penalty people in the community," he said.
Meanwhile, at least one prosecutor, Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray
Larson, has called for Schneider's resignation.
But Schneider, who said he intends to seek re-election in 2006, appears
"The story to me, or the issue -- if there is one -- is living your
faith," he said. "in light of what happens, historically, to Christians
who really try to walk the walk, who really try to live their faith, I'm
really being treated quite gently. It almost saddens me, but I'm not angry
with anybody; I understand they see my position as a betrayal."
(source: Lexington Herald-Leader)
Balancing jobs, beliefs difficult ----Prosecutors find different answers
to hard questions
On Sundays, gospel preacher J. Stewart Schneider tries to lead lost souls
to redemption. Monday through Friday he tries to send others to prison, in
his other job as a prosecutor.
Schneider was always able to reconcile those 2 roles until he was faced
with a double-murder case that would have put him in the position of
arguing for the death penalty.
It was a line he could not cross. He stepped aside, turning the case over
to a prosecutor in a neighboring county.
"If I preach on Sunday God's commandment to love everybody, how can I then
on Monday tell a jury of 12 people that its OK to kill someone?" Schneider
asked, stroking his fingers through a graying brown beard. "If we kill
someone, we cut off God's plan for that person's redemption."
The dilemma of preaching prosecutors can be perplexing, but preachers in
the rural South often hold secular jobs through the week.
George Moore, a Presbyterian lay pastor and commonwealth's attorney from
Mount Sterling, said he has come to terms with his support of the death
"While I probably agree it would be a better world if we didn't have to
have the death penalty, I am comfortable with the fact that that is the
law," Moore said. "The question is more complex than do I favor or oppose
the death penalty. The question is: Is this something I can do without
violating my faith structure?"
Barbara Maines Whaley, an ordained United Methodist minister who is a
special prosecutor in the Kentucky attorney general's office, has wrestled
with the issue and concluded that the death penalty is sometimes
necessary. She has prosecuted 6 death-penalty cases, sending 2 convicted
murderers to death row, one of whom later had his sentence reduced to life
"Biblically, you can look in the Gospel of Luke and find the reference to
Jesus speaking to one of the thieves on the cross next to him," Whaley
said. "He said, `Today you will be with me in paradise.' There is no
record of Jesus saying `you are being wrongfully punished' or of
expressing any opposition to the law. Jesus could have expressed an
opinion, but he chose not to."
Schneider said he has heard all the scriptural and legal debates. But in
the end, his role as minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ) won out over that of Boyd County commonwealth's attorney. And if
his decision prevents him from winning another term, so be it.
"Christianity's message of love for all is more powerful than the need for
vengeance," he said. "We kill and we kill and we kill. We bomb and we bomb
and we bomb. Yet, 2,000 years ago, a guy in sandals said love one
Schneider, 57, who has been the top prosecutor in his northeastern
Kentucky county since 1993, was sharply criticized for his decision, and
the head of the state association of prosecutors called for his
Some said Schneider was trying to have it both ways. He had the power to
seek only life sentences in the case, yet he is letting another prosecutor
seek the death penalty for what all agree was a particularly brutal crime.
2 young men, Patrick Campbell and Jonathon Nolan, are charged with
murdering a couple during a break-in, then setting their house on fire to
destroy the evidence. Phillip and Shonda Booth's two children, ages 4 and
8, were home at the time of the May 24 fire but escaped with minor
Moore said he tries to keep his roles as minister and prosecutor separate.
He said he has an obligation as prosecutor to seek the death penalty in
certain cases because civil law calls for it, and he has no problem doing
"Each individual has to make that decision for themselves," he said.
"Stewart decided that it violated his faith structure. That doesn't make
him right or wrong. And I'm not going to say I'm right or wrong."
Schneider said he believes putting murderers in prison where they no
longer pose a threat to society is sufficient.
Whaley said, however, that doesn't protect other inmates from convicted
murderers bent on harming others. In fact, she said, murder among inmates
is not uncommon.
"The people have determined through their elected representatives that
there is a need for this type of remedy," Whaley said. "Opponents to the
death penalty generally focus only upon death as a punishment. They don't
focus on the victim. They don't focus on future victims, on the fact that
if this person is not executed, how many lives would be taken."
Whaley, who has put her church ministry on hold while working in the
attorney general's office, said prosecutors shouldn't feel that they carry
the entire burden in a death-penalty case.
"I don't believe a prosecutor has any more of a significant role in a
capital-murder case than any other participant, beginning with
law-enforcement officers, jury, defense attorney, the judge and the
witnesses," she said. "The prosecutor is a public servant carrying out her
role in upholding the law."
(source: Associated Press)
Decatur attorney wins against death----Mays honored for work on capital
He never patterned himself after TV's great defense lawyer Perry Mason,
and he certainly never attempted any of the dramatics in the courtroom
performed by the witty Ben Matlock.
The driving force behind John Edmond Mays' success in trying capital
murder cases is the death penalty.
"I absolutely, positively hate the death penalty. I've always opposed it
for anybody, for any reason," he said. "I never paid any attention to TV
lawyers because I knew that wasn't the real world."
Mays, who defends many of the capital murder cases in Morgan County,
received the Roderick Beddow Sr. lifetime achievement award recently from
the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
The award honors Mays mainly for his winning record in capital cases and
for his devotion to criminal law.
"This is the biggest award that our association gives, and I can certainly
think of nobody more deserving," said Bruce Gardner, immediate past
president of the association. "We consider a variety of things, including
significant performance in the defense of criminal cases, particularly in
capital cases. It's just not something because a person has had a great
year. It is for the person's lifetime dedication to criminal defense."
Of 20 capital murder trials in which Mays represented defendants, only 3
resulted in capital murder convictions.
"The others were either acquittals or the clients were found guilty of
charges less than capital murder," said Mays. "None of the three clients
who were convicted were sentenced to die by a jury, but by judge
Mays' most recent win was last year when he was co-counsel on the case of
Brian Jones, a Trinity man whom police accused of beating a child to
death. A jury acquitted Jones of the capital charges.
Born in Richmond, Va., Mays, 55, grew up in Pikeville, Ky., and his
initial interest in the field of law came from inspiration on the front
"Two doors down from my house was a lawyer named John Hatcher, who
represented Randall McCoy, who had been involved in the Hatfields and
McCoys feuding. The Hatfields were from West Virginia and the McCoys lived
in my home county, Pike," Mays said. "I used to go visit Mr. Hatcher every
evening after supper and have a cigar with him on his front porch. I used
to love to talk to him about history, and that's when I first became
interested in law."
Mays went to military academies through high school and college. He joined
the U.S. Army, and when he got out in 1973 he enrolled at Birmingham
School of Law. He graduated in 1976. In addition, he received a master's
degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He also is a
graduate of National Criminal Defense College at Mercer University law
He was a judge advocate general in the National Guard for 17 years.
He moved in 1977 to Decatur, where he has maintained a law practice. In
addition, he is lead trial attorney for Birmingham attorney Richard Jaffe,
who is representing alleged bomber Eric Rudolph.
Mays' colleagues speak well of his career.
"He has tried a lot of capital cases, and he doesn't take the easy ones
where you're guaranteed to win," said attorney Brian White. "He doesn't
select them based on whether they're going to be a cakewalk. He selects
them because the defendants need help. In capital cases sometimes the win
is they're convicted, but you're able to save their life."
Morgan County Circuit Judge Steve Haddock said Mays has given much to
"John has devoted a lot of time and energy to efforts to improve criminal
defense practice throughout the state," said Haddock. "He has probably
been involved in more capital murder cases than anyone else I know. He
deserves the award."
Mays has penned 5 books, which, Gardner said, other lawyers use for help
in defending cases.
The books are "Defending Death Penalty Cases in Alabama," "Defending Child
Sex Abuse Cases in Alabama," "Defending Domestic Cases in Alabama/Crimes
against the Family," "Drug Condemnations and Forfeitures in Alabama" and
"Use of Computers in Criminal Trials."
"Roderick Beddow Sr. was the greatest attorney Alabama ever produced, and
to be granted this award is humbling," Mays said.
He attributes his wins to his defense team - Gary Fox, a private
investigator, retired from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and a
former state trooper; and John Taylor, his law partner - and his work
"The only secret there is to winning criminal trials is not what is done
in the courtroom, but what is done in preparation," Mays said. "You have
to go over all the evidence and facts many times over before trial because
you can never tell the jury that you intend to prove something that you
"The other part of the secret is never try to trick a jury because if they
ever lose confidence in your case, you no longer have credibility with
(source: The Decatur Daily)
Gambino crew charges rule out death penalty
A new federal grand jury indictment against members of a Gambino crime
crew was unsealed Friday, but it did not include charges that could
subject the alleged mobsters to the death penalty.
Last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Schwartz said prosecutors planned
to file capital counts, rare in a mob case. But the most serious charges
in the new racketeering indictment seek only life sentences.
"It's a big ado about nothing," said Scott Sakin, defense attorney for
Kevin "Capone" Antinuche. "... Somebody has been watching too much TV."
Edward "Crazy Eddie" Callegari, 39, was named with Antinuche, 34, as
eligible for a life sentence for a double murder in Fort Lauderdale, a
Publix supermarket holdup in Boca Raton and a Fort Lauderdale jewelry
store robbery, all in 1995.
The updated indictment alleged the crew, led by Gambino organized crime
family "capo" Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, 52, was a corrupt
enterprise engaged in a page-long list of crimes from New York to South
Florida -- including murder, robbery, extortion, arson, kidnapping, fraud
and witness tampering.
The indictment also included allegations that the defendants plotted to
kill the prosecutors and witnesses and to attack people in court.
Two defendants, Joseph "Baby Face" Kondrotos, 35, and Valentino Nucci, age
unknown, were dropped from the new indictment. Kondrotos is cooperating
with authorities, according to court documents.
Two defendants were added -- Peter "Bud" Zuccaro, 38, and Jamie Carr, 33.
While Carr is in custody, Zuccaro is a fugitive, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Lawrence LaVecchio said.
Zuccaro testified for the defense in a trial of the late Gambino don John
Gotti in the 1980s. According to Playboy magazine, Zuccaro, who
specialized in armored car heists, was asked if he turned money over to
"I don't give money to nobody," Zuccaro said. "What am I, Santa Claus?"
(source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
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