[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., N.C., USA, ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jul 14 10:19:38 CDT 2004
Peterson Prosecutors Focus on Disposal
Prosecutors in Scott Peterson's murder trial are focusing on how they
allege he disposed of his pregnant wife's body.
In rambling testimony ranging from evidence to the search for remains in
San Francisco Bay, Modesto police Detective Henry "Dodge" Hendee told
jurors Tuesday he collected suspected samples of blood from Peterson's
However, it has not been said in court whether the samples actually were
blood. In prior testimony, relatives said Peterson told them he had cut
his hand and that police would likely find blood in the truck.
Hendee said he also collected as evidence a "claw hammer" and cement
chunks from the back of Peterson's truck. Prosecutors alleged seven weeks
ago during opening statements that Peterson used homemade cement anchors
to weight his wife's body down.
Prosecutors then turned to their only piece of physical evidence presented
so far - a single strand of dark hair found on a pair of pliers in
Hendee said he noticed the hair while examining and collecting items from
the warehouse where Peterson stored the boat prosecutors allege he used to
dispose of his wife's body. During Peterson's preliminary hearing, experts
testified that DNA testing indicated the hair likely came from Laci
Prosecutors claim Laci never knew about the boat and that her husband
purchased it weeks earlier for the sole purpose of disposing of her body.
Peterson insisted he told his wife about it and a witness told police Laci
Peterson visited the warehouse after the boat had been purchased. That,
the defense contends, could explain how the hair got on the boat - if it
indeed belonged to Laci, a point the defense has not conceded.
Hendee went on to talk about powdery residue found in Peterson's warehouse
where he stored the 14-foot Gamefisher.
Prosecutors indicated Peterson crafted 5 cement anchors weighing about
5-10 pounds each, yet authorities only recovered 1.
They showed photographs of a wooden flatbed trailer covered with patchy
white residue, and indicated there were 5 bare circles in the dust where
Peterson allegedly made the anchors.
The apparent circles were barely visible, and prosecutors never asked
Hendee what about the cement residue made him suspicious.
Earlier in the day, an evidence technician who examined Laci Peterson's
body for scratches or bruises after she vanished testified he found
Doug Lovell of the Modesto Police Department said he wanted to see whether
there was evidence Peterson had been involved in a struggle, as police
became increasingly suspicious Peterson was responsible for his wife's
The examination was done more than a week after Laci Peterson was reported
missing on Christmas Eve, 2002.
Prosecutors at Peterson's double-murder trial first called Lovell to
testify about video and pictures taken of Peterson's home, part of their
strategy to show how authorities meticulously documented the suspected
But in yet another example of how defense lawyers may have scored points
through a prosecution witness, Geragos used Lovell to bolster his claim
that scant evidence implicates Peterson.
Prosecutors contend that Peterson killed his wife in their Modesto home on
or around Dec. 24, 2002, and dumped her body into San Francisco Bay. The
remains of Laci Peterson and the couple's fetus washed up 4 months later
near where Peterson claims he was fishing alone the day she vanished.
Defense lawyers say he was framed.
Peterson, 31, could face the death penalty if convicted.
(source: Associated Press)
Cops found blood stains in Peterson's truck/No mention of whose it might
have been, however
Police who searched Scott Peterson's pickup truck after his wife
disappeared found several stains that they suspected were blood, a
detective testified today at Peterson's double-murder trial.
Modesto police Detective Henry Dodge Hendee said investigators found the
stains during an extensive forensic search of the truck 3 days after
Peterson's wife, Laci Peterson, was reported missing Dec. 24, 2002. Hendee
said the stains were located on the driver's side door, the steering wheel
and the tool box.
Hendee, who was responsible for collecting evidence from the truck,
testified that some of the stains tested positive for blood, but did not
say which. He also did not say whose blood the stains may have matched.
Scott Peterson has told several people, including reporters who
interviewed him in the weeks after his wife disappeared, that he cut
himself on the truck's tool box Dec. 24.
Earlier in the trial, a close friend of Laci Peterson's mother testified
that Scott Peterson had told her he would not be surprised if police found
blood in his truck because he frequently cut himself.
Peterson, 31, is on trial in Redwood City on charges of killing his wife
and the couple's unborn son. Police believe he killed her at their Modesto
home Dec. 23 or 24, 2002, and then took her body in his truck to a nearby
warehouse where he stored a newly purchased boat.
Prosecutors allege he took the body and boat to the Berkeley Marina and
dumped the remains into the bay. The bodies of Laci Peterson and the
couple's unborn son washed up in April 2003 on the Richmond shoreline.
Scott Peterson maintains he was fishing the day his wife disappeared and
when he last saw her she was preparing to take their dog for a walk.
Earlier today, an evidence technician for the Modesto Police Department
testified that he had taken pictures of Scott Peterson, stripped to
nothing but his underwear, more than a week after his wife disappeared.
Doug Lovell said he didn't notice any scratches, bruises or anything out
of the ordinary on Peterson when the photographs were taken in a police
conference room Jan. 3, 2003.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Prosecutors Speak Out To Oppose Death Penalty Moratorium
While North Carolina death penalty opponents fight for a moratorium,
dozens of prosecutors are standing up for executions.
On Tuesday, the Conference of District Attorneys made it clear they do not
support a moratorium. Instead, they say a bill outlining more evidence
discovery will deliver added protection for defendants.
If the bill is approved by the Legislature, defendants could review
written reports and police notes before trial.
The Conference of District Attorneys said a moratorium would put the
system in turmoil by holding up cases.
(source: WRAL News)
Documentary explores debate on death penalty
The independent documentary "Deadline," which will air on NBC's "Dateline"
July 30, begins with the testimony of an articulate Northwestern
University undergraduate who, on a lark, took an investigative journalism
class. She and her classmates reenacted the crime of a man on death row
and determined that the key eyewitness couldn't have seen what she said
she had seen. The case quickly fell apart and the man was freed.
Eventually, such investigations turned up 13 innocent people on Illinois'
death row when George Ryan was governor of the state.
In 1978, as a Republican state legislator, Ryan voted to reinstate the
death penalty. But, in 2000, when he was governor and indicted in a
drivers'-licenses-for-bribes scandal, Ryan called a moratorium on the
states death penalty. He eventually requested clemency hearings for all
the prisoners on death row. The film takes us into the passion-filled
hearing room, where the power of documentary takes hold. We witness human
emotion at its rawest: desperate and vulnerable.
Horrific crimes play before us. We see two families from a small town.
They've known each other their entire lives. One son murdered and then
raped the daughter of the other. Her father tells his mother that he
cannot help it, he cannot forgive: He wants her son executed. She sobs, "I
understand." We witness firsthand how, when the death penalty is an
option, many victims families feel compelled to pursue it as a blue ribbon
tribute to their loved ones.
Directors Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson know better than to lecture us
on this volatile subject. They don't need to. They simply let the people
involved speak to us themselves. We see an accused man who claims to be
innocent. We watch his face up close on the screen and wonder: "Is he
really innocent? Do we believe him?" We catch ourselves. Does it matter?
Are we willing to play God?
In the film, the characters in the familiar Passion narrative emerge: the
zealous prosecutors; the Southern governor who declares the day in 1972
when the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty a dog day for America;
the prison guard who admits that a pending execution will be rough on him
because of his closeness to the condemned; the mother who pleads that
killing her husband would "only punish his children;" and Ryan -- the jury
of one -- trying to make up his mind.
Ryan, a member of the United Methodist church and a pharmacist, eventually
granted blanket clemency to the 167 prisoners on Illinois' death row,
commuting their sentences to life without parole. But the saga continues.
Under a new governor, 8 people now sit on Illinois' death row, although
the moratorium remains in effect. In America, 3,503 prisoners await
execution today. Christianity was founded by a victim of capital
punishment, yet America, while professing Christian values, continues to
repeat Christ's Passion.
Through archival and interview footage, the film calmly presents the basic
arguments against capital punishment: Innocent people are killed; the poor
and minorities are executed more frequently than others; and the U.S.
bishops position that life is sacrosanct, that killing, even in
retribution for killing, is wrong. As Martin Luther King Jr. said,
"Capital punishment is society's ultimate statement that it will not
Jesus invited everyone to his table. Can we follow his example and do the
same? At the end of the movie, we meet the Murder Victims Families for
Reconciliation, who show us another way -- the way that Jesus taught. One
family member after another describes the heart-wrenching murder of a
loved one and then concludes: "And I do not support the death penalty."
They are in the minority. Recent Gallup polls have found that 71 % of
Americans support the death penalty. And 66 % belong to a church or
synagogue, and 90 percent believe in God. Lawrence Marshall of the Center
for Wrongful Convictions says in the film: All that's needed in the death
penalty debate is education. If that is true, the national network
broadcast of this compelling documentary provides us with a momentous
NBC's "Dateline" can attract more than 6 million viewers. On July 30,
"Deadline" will bring an informed discussion of capital punishment into
the national debate this election year. The film, which addresses George
W. Bush's 152 executions while governor of Texas and the poor chances of a
black man in the criminal justice system in Florida, will air unedited
just after the Democratic convention this summer. The film is both
riveting and provocative. It just might have an impact.
(source: National Catholic Reporter)
Death Row inmate is prevented from aiding another Row inmate
Willie Dorrell Minor and James Barney Hubbard have little in common,
except that both reside on Alabama's death row.
Hubbard is white and 74 years old. If he's executed as scheduled Aug. 5,
he'll be the oldest U.S. prisoner put to death since the death penalty
resumed in 1976. Hubbard has been on Death Row nearly as long as Minor has
But last month, Minor, who is 31 and black, tried to help Hubbard. He
wrote a clemency petition, in hopes of having other prisoners sign the
request for mercy. He planned to forward it to Gov. Bob Riley.
Authorities at Donaldson Prison intercepted copies in the mail, saying the
small stack was a security violation. Minor's efforts to help have stalled
"First time I've ever had that happen, and I've been involved in this a
long time," said George Jones, a Leeds man who's active in the Alabama
Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty.
>From his cell, Minor mailed a copy of the petition to Jones and asked him
to make copies for almost everyone on Donaldson's death row. Jones said he
made about 18 copies and mailed them back to Minor. The prisoner never got
"The letter had absolutely nothing in it that was a problem for security,"
The letter reads, in part: "Mr. Hubbard has been ill for several years
suffering from prostate cancer, colon cancer and ulcers to name some of
his health problems. Given the condition of this elderly and sick man I
respectfully submit that the pending execution of Mr. Hubbard is offensive
to every civilized Alabamian."
It goes on, "This is not an issue of the death penalty per se, but rather
of justice, mercy and morality. ... I urge you to grant clemency to Mr.
The letter ends, "Gov. Riley, thank you for your mercy and consideration
concerning this very important matter."
Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the
package was confiscated because it was not pre-approved and because inmate
petitions threaten prison security.
"An inmate petition is an organization of inmates against the
administration or the overall Department of Corrections. So they're
frowned upon for that reason," Corbett said.
Hubbard was convicted of killing a 62-year-old woman who befriended him
and helped him gain release from prison in 1976. He had a previous
conviction for second-degree murder.
Hubbard has contended that Lillian Montgomery shot herself, and an appeals
court overturned his first conviction. He was convicted again when
prosecutors introduced evidence that she could not have shot herself.
Hubbard's execution is scheduled Aug. 5, and he has recently been moved to
Holman Prison, where lethal injections are conducted. At Holman, Hubbard
has begun attending meetings of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty,
an inmate-run group at the prison.
Inmates there are working on advocacy efforts on his behalf, but have not
formalized any plans yet.
"We want to do what he wants," said Esther Brown, of Lanett, executive
secretary of the group.
So far, appeals have delayed Hubbard's death for 27 years, and more
appeals will certainly be filed, Brown said. "There's always going to be
an appeal," she said.
Hubbard's attorney, Alan Rose of Boston, declined comment.
John Matson, deputy press secretary for Riley, said the governor has not
received a clemency request on behalf of Hubbard.
(source: Birmingham News)
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