[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----OKLA., CALIF., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jul 15 16:47:13 CDT 2004
Jury mulls Andrew's fate
Death penalty deliberations in the Brenda Andrew murder trial were
interrupted this morning when the jury sent a letter to the judge asking
for the definition of the word "extenuate."
Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Bragg said she would send a
definition of, "to lessen, to palliate, to mitigate," back to the jury.
Defense attorneys objected to the definition, but Bragg overruled the
Jurors began their task this morning of deciding a punishment for Andrew,
the convicted murderer who will face either life in prison or the death
The jury had been scheduled to begin deliberations at 9 a.m., but didn't
start until 9:34. Bragg said she had a scheduling conflict that prompted
the late start.
Wednesday the jury heard statements from attorneys and from the families
of Andrew and her husband, Rob Andrew, the 39-year-old advertising
executive who was shot and killed Nov. 20, 2001.
Jurors on Tuesday found Brenda Andrew, 40, guilty of planning Rob Andrew's
death and then taking part in the killing. She has already been sentenced
to 10 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.
To gain a death sentence decision prosecutors had to prove to the jury at
least one of three aggravating circumstances: That the crime was done for
financial gain; that the crime was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel;
or that the defendant represents a continuing threat of violence.
If jurors agree unanimously that one or more of the aggravating factors
has been met they must then decide that those factors outweigh mitigating
evidence presented by the defense.
Defense attorneys said Brenda Andrew is a good mother who could be a
benefit to other inmates in prison. The defense reminded jurors that it
only takes one juror to embrace a mitigating factor and avoid the death
Prosecutors argued all 3 aggravators have been met and that Brenda Andrew
is without remorse and deserves the death penalty.
(source: The Oklahoman)
Court overturns Richmond man's death sentence
The California Supreme Court overturned Wednesday the death sentence of a
man convicted of killing his mother and stepfather and ordered a new trial
to determine whether he should die.
The state's high court upheld a previous court's ruling of guilt for
Richard Bert Stewart, 40, but said that evidence of improper jury
selection compelled it to reverse the death sentence.
The court agreed with Stewart that the prosecution in the case wrongly
dismissed five potential jurors, solely because of their written responses
to questions about their opinions on the death penalty.
Jurors who in some way personally objected to the death penalty were
dismissed without being given an opportunity to clarify their opinions in
court, according to the ruling.
"Those who firmly believe that the death penalty is unjust may
nevertheless serve as jurors in capital cases so long as they clearly
state that they are willing to temporarily set aside their own beliefs in
difference to the rule of law," Chief Justice Ronald George wrote.
In 1989, Stewart, in a dispute with his family, shot and killed his
mother, Gloria Pillow, his stepfather, Weldon Ardell Pillow, and Murray
Lucas, a border who was living with the 2 in Richmond.
The case is People v. Stewart, S020803.
(source: Associated Press)
Gell pleads again for N.C. House moratorium vote
A former death-row prisoner released from prison because prosecutors
withheld evidence from his case again urged House leaders Thursday to
allow a vote on a moratorium on executions.
The Senate approved a two-year pause in carrying out the death penalty in
North Carolina last year, but the House hasn't debated the measure in part
because of opposition by Co-Speaker Richard Morgan, R-Moore.
Alan Gell, who has become a leading lobbyist for a pause in executions,
said he was frustrated with the delay as the session winds down this
weekend. Moratorium supporters contend they have the House votes to pass
"I personally know there are some innocent people on death row," said
Gell, who was freed from prison in February, six years after receiving a
death sentence for the 1995 slaying of a Bertie County man. He was removed
from death row in 2002 in light of the allegations against prosecutors and
a jury earlier this year acquitted him in a retrial.
Gell said he is pleased with legislation working its way through the
General Assembly that would require prosecutors to provide to defense
lawyers their investigatory files for any felony case. But that's not
enough to deal with questions of fairness in the death penalty and
prosecutorial misconduct, he said.
"There's no question on whether or not we have problems," he said.
"There's no question on a need for a moratorium."
House Democratic Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, the chief proponent of the
moratorium bill in the House, said he's not aware of any agreement between
the co-speakers to bring the bill to the House floor.
(source: Associated Press)
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