[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- MISSOURI, OHIO, IND./U.S.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Wed Jul 14 12:26:13 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 14, 2004
Jurors say they could consider death penalty
Potential panel members for David Zink's murder trial also would consider
life in prison.
More than two-thirds of a second group of potential jurors for David Zink's
murder trial indicated Tuesday they could consider the death penalty if he
Several of the 33-member panel assembled at the Lafayette County Courthouse
for a second day of jury selection also said they could consider life in
prison if punishment must be assessed. Those are the only two options
facing the St. Clair County man if he is found guilty of first-degree
murder and kidnapping in the July 12, 2001, death of 19-year-old Amanda
Morton of Strafford.
"If you can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, then yes," a female panel
member said when Assistant Attorney General Robert Ahsens asked if she
could consider sentencing a defendant to death. "You go do your job, and
I'll do mine."
However, a couple appeared hesitant a reaction that Ahsens acknowledged
"The question is not whether it will be tough. The question is whether you
could," said Ahsens, who is assisting the St. Clair prosecuting attorney's
office in the case. "This is not the kind of thing we sit and talk about
with our family over a lemonade on a Sunday afternoon."
Attorneys continued to ponder potential jurors late Tuesday after quizzing
the panel throughout the day. Circuit Judge William Roberts said the jury
trial should start in Osceola on Thursday or Friday once a jury is selected.
Officials conducted jury selection in Lexington to choose people outside
southwest Missouri who could not only be fair and impartial, but agree to
be sequestered for the estimated 10-day trial. Attorneys narrowed down an
initial group of more than 40 jurors on Monday. Jurors could be chosen from
None of Tuesday's panel recognized Zink or were familiar with Morton or her
family. The group also did not know any of the more than 100 names of
potential witnesses, which will mostly get called from southwest Missouri.
"I don't think anyone north of Interstate 70 or Clinton will be testifying
in this case," Roberts said.
The judge reviewed some basic, undisputed facts in the 3-year-old case,
emphasizing that nothing should be considered evidence until the trial
begins. He told the panel that Morton was driving home around midnight, but
a Strafford police officer found her vacant vehicle running on Missouri 125.
Morton was found dead in St. Clair County early July 13, 2001, and Zink was
arrested and accused of killing her, the judge said. Roberts also noted
that Zink admitted he killed the Strafford woman, but denies he is guilty
of the charges against him. An autopsy has shown that Morton died of
strangulation and stabbing.
While most potential jurors had no knowledge of the case, a few had either
read about the case in the Kansas City Star or heard reports from relatives
in the Springfield area.
Attorneys asked panel members if they had relatives who were convicted,
family members or friends who were law enforcement officials, and if they
members of victim advocate organizations or anti-death penalty groups,
among other questions.
The possible jurors included a part-time Lafayette County Courthouse
bailiff, a Higginsville city alderman, a former FBI employee, and a
Lafayette County criminal law firm assistant.
People were allowed to speak with the judge and attorneys in private if
they indicated they were victims of serious crime on a questionnaire.
Zink appeared in court wearing a light striped shirt and brown slacks as he
had on Monday. He was uncuffed to handle documents, but a Lafayette County
sheriff's deputy guarded his side throughout the proceeding.
Although the defendant opted to represent himself, he allowed Kansas City
public defender Thomas Jacquinot to handle jury selection questioning. Zink
periodically turned to an adjacent table with public defender assistants to
ask a question or request a document. Despite frequent whispers to
Jacquinot and others, he spoke little during the proceeding.
One prospective juror was eliminated before the panel was even brought in
Tuesday. Roberts discovered the man entered a guilty plea to a felony
sodomy charge in 1987 in Lafayette County.
The man told the judge he received a suspended five-year prison term and
probation, and indicated that any rights lost upon conviction had been
restored. Jacquinot argued that disqualifying the prior felon as a
potential juror would violate Zink's right to a fair trial.
"I concur," Zink said from the defense table with a nod.
Roberts disagreed, though. He also immediately cut another panel member who
said he could not sit in judgment on a jury.
"The good Lord is the only one who should decide," the released man said
(source: Springfield News-Leader)
Prosecutor drops death penalty specification in shooting case
Prosecutors said Tuesday they dropped a death penalty specification against
a former college professor charged in the shooting death of the city's
John M. Adams, 60, of Barboursville, W.Va., was charged with aggravated
murder, aggravated burglary and three counts of kidnapping in the July 2,
2003 death of Bobby Burns.
Scioto County Prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw said he dropped the death penalty
specification because of Adams' age and because he has Parkinson's disease.
The trial is scheduled to start Monday.
Authorities said Adams left the Burns home after the shooting, drove his
car a short distance and abandoned it.
Adams then forced two women to drive him across the Ohio River to Kentucky,
where he got out of their vehicle, authorities said. Adams kept police at
bay for about 10 minutes by threatening to shoot himself.
Adams was an associate professor of psychiatry at Marshall University in
Huntington, W.Va. His contract with the university expired June 2003,
school officials have said.
INDIANA / U.S.: (federal trial)
Judge change delays death penalty trial
A federal judge will have a hearing next week to decide the next step for
the interrupted jury trial of two men facing the death penalty.
U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann took over the case late last
week after Judge Allen Sharp removed himself from jury selection in the
first death penalty murder trial in federal court in decades because of ill
Lawyers for defendants Styles D. Taylor, 24, and Keon R. Thomas, 29, both
of Hammond, and the U.S. Attorney's office are scheduled to confer Monday
The two defendants are accused of killing 73-year-old Frank Freund during a
March 20, 2000, robbery of his Firearms Unlimited Gun Shop, 935 Chicago Ave.
The U.S. Attorney's office first charged the pair with the murder three
years ago. The case was delayed while the U.S. Justice Department decided
whether to seek capital murder charges, which were only filed last year.
Jury selection had begun July 6. Lawyers had selected three of the jurors.
The parties will have to decide whether to start jury selection anew.
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