[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----PENN., CALIF., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jul 10 11:33:01 CDT 2004
Lehigh jury divided on death penalty for Allentown man----Panel's failure
to agree means he will get life sentence for murder.
An Allentown man will be sentenced to life in prison because a jury failed
to reach a verdict Friday on whether he should live or die.
Barring clemency or a successful appeal, Carlos Moctezuma, 21, will spend
the rest of his life in state prison for the execution-style shooting of a
suspected drug dealer in Allentown. He will not be eligible for parole.
"God's always watching, and he heard our prayers,'' Moctezuma's mother,
Ana Rivera, said afterward.
She maintained that her son did not kill Jasper Watts, 19, and that his
conviction will be overturned on appeal.
"Tell my son good luck and I love him," she said.
On Wednesday, the 12 jurors convicted Moctezuma of 1st-degree murder,
robbery and criminal conspiracy to commit robbery. He shot Watts in the
back of his head in December 2002 from several feet away, authorities
The jurors deliberated for nearly five hours after hearing closing
arguments in the penalty phase of the trial. After about 3 hours, they
reported in a note that they were split and could not reach a verdict.
Defense lawyer Charles Banta asked Lehigh County Judge Carol McGinley to
call off further deliberations. When jurors cannot decide on a death
sentence, the law requires a prison term of life without parole. But
prosecutor Matthew Weintraub requested more deliberations.
Granting Weintraub's request, McGinley asked the jurors to continue
deliberating after allowing them to take a break outside the courthouse,
accompanied by court employees.
She cautioned them not to change any honestly held opinions. "Don't change
your view for the mere purpose of a unanimous verdict," she said.
They deliberated another two hours and sent a second note. "After further
deliberations, we are still unable to reach a unanimous verdict." Before
McGinley brought the jurors back into the courtroom, Banta asked if she
could direct Lehigh County Prison officials to allow Moctezuma's mother to
McGinley declined. "Be lucky he isn't getting a needle in his arm," she
told Banta. "I'm not going to instruct the prison to do anything."
McGinley then dismissed the jurors and set Aug. 19 as a date to formally
impose the life sentence. "You've undertaken one of the most difficult
tasks you will ever be asked to undertake in public service," she told
them before they left.
Outside the courtroom, with tears in her eyes, Rivera hugged Banta and
thanked him. "I think this is a day I'll remember for a long time," Banta
Earlier in the day, Banta had given an impassioned closing argument,
yelling at times as he implored the jurors to spare his client's life. He
urged them to look at Moctezuma as a fellow human being.
"I beg you," Banta said. "I beg you to show mercy to Carlos Moctezuma
because he is loved, because he does love."
He asked them to reject any images they might have of him as an animal.
"Carlos Saul Moctezuma does have redeeming qualities. He is not a rabid
dog and he is not foaming at the mouth. He is capable of being loving and
But Weintraub asked jurors to suspend their emotions and any possible
sympathy. He urged them to consider Moctezuma's 2 prior convictions
involving violence or the threat of violence.
While still a juvenile, Moctezuma was classified as delinquent for
committing the crimes of conspiracy to kidnap and aggravated assault. He
committed the offenses while possessing a handgun, Weintraub said. He was
ordered to spend four years in a secure juvenile center.
Last year, he pleaded guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery
for helping to hold up 7 teens. He was ordered to serve 5 to 10 years in
To impose the death penalty, the jurors had to decide whether the
aggravating factors outweighed mitigating factors. As proposed by
Weintraub, the aggravating factors were whether Moctezuma shot Watts while
committing a separate felony, specifically robbery, and whether Moctezuma
had a significant violent criminal record.
Banta proposed three mitigating factors: The defendant's age, whether he
had a substantial impairment that prevented him from appreciating the
criminality of his conduct and other unspecified factors involving his
character, record and circumstances of his offense.
Watts was found dead in the doorway of his apartment at N. Sixth and
Linden streets. Moctezuma and 3 other people had gone there to rob Watts.
The other 3 did not know Moctezuma would shoot Watts, authorities said.
The jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse. They did not
disclose how many of them favored death.
(source: Allentown Morning Call)
Death Penalty Case?
The boyfriend of the Cassandra Hodges' mother may face the death penalty
in connection with the little girl's death.
Erik Guillermo was arraigned in a Klamath County court by video on
He pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and murder charges.
Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb says Guillermo may face death
penalty charges, "If we in fact charge the death penalty, I don't know if
the local Klamath Falls defense services actually does death penalty
Guillermo and his girlfriend, Amanda Hodges, are accused of beating
Cassandra to death.
Police say her mother reported the girl missing from a Selma swap meet and
then led officers to her body the following day.
(source: ABC News)
Judge denies request to remove death penalty
Lawyers for a Greenville man charged in an August 2003 drive-by shooting
asked for the death penalty to be taken off the table during a pretrial
hearing Thursday, but a judge denied the request.
Monte House, 20, faces a capital murder charge in connection with the
death of a 16-year-old girl in the Hardee Acres subdivision. Prosecutors
have said they plan to seek the death penalty if House is convicted.
Eight co-defendants accused of going to Hardee Acres with House face
charges that do not involve the death penalty.
The group is believed to have gone to 2393 Springhill Road looking for
Carlos Davis, 20, with whom they had been in an altercation earlier in the
day. Stacy Carr, 16, was at the home visiting. Both were shot; Carr was
House is scheduled to be the 1st of the 9 to go to trial. He faces charges
of murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting
serious injury and attempted murder.
During the motions heard Thursday, House's lawyers argued he did not
intend to kill Davis and the factors did not warrant continuing to pursue
the death penalty during a trial.
Assistant district attorney Glenn Perry said House had planned to kill
Davis, but in attempting to carry it out had shot the wrong person.
Judge Russell Duke allowed the prosecution to continue to a death penalty
trial on 1st-degree murder.
During the hearings, Perry described how Carr was in the front yard near
Davis, who was standing in the doorway of the house. A shot from a
high-powered rifle hit her in the back, traveling up into her head. Davis
was hit by shrapnel from the bullet.
That shot was fired by House from an SUV within 20 yards of the pair,
Perry said. House was using a rifle that he got from Eric Bailey, another
co-defendant in the case. Another co-defendant, Ebony House, was driving
the car that House was in, Perry said.
House's lawyers have hired a crime scene investigator to look at the
Duke denied a requested delay for the case, which is set for trial Sept.
The cases of the 8 co-defendants were scheduled for an administrative
court date Nov. 4.
(source: Greenville Daily Reflector)
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