[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ILL., LA., N.J., S.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jul 23 10:59:56 CDT 2004
State to seek death penalty
Kane County prosecutors announced Thursday they will seek the death
penalty for Joseph Foreman, the Batavia man who is accused of leading
police on a manhunt after beating his ex-wife into a coma and kidnapping
and killing his former mother-in-law.
Foreman, 38, didn't bat an eye when prosecutors announced the decision.
It will be the fifth time in Meg Gorecki's tenure as Kane County State's
Attorney that she has given prosecutors the OK to seek the ultimate
penalty. So far, only one of those eligible for the death penalty, Luther
Casteel of Elgin, has actually made it to death row.
Defense attorney David Kliment tried to dissuade Gorecki from seeking the
death penalty by pointing out Foreman's history of drug abuse and
hospitalizations for bipolar disorder as recently as the early 1990s. He
also pointed to what he called an unusual childhood growing up with
grandparents in Florida and Kentucky. Kliment declined to say what was
unusual about Foreman's upbringing, but did say he was investigating to
see if there was abuse.
Kliment said he would not be seeking an insanity plea.
Prosecutor Bob Berlin said the decision to seek the death penalty was
based on a combination of factors from information gleaned by the county's
death penalty review board.
The board investigated things such as Foreman's criminal history,
education, family history and any discipline problems he had while staying
in the Kane County jail on $5 million bond.
The committee and prosecutors also talked with numerous family members of
the victim in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan before deciding to seek the
death penalty. Lisa Payne, Foreman's ex-wife who was injured in the
attack, supports the move to put Foreman on death row.
The moratorium former Gov. George Ryan put on executions in 2000 remains,
but individuals can still be sent to death row to await execution by
lethal injection in the event the moratorium is lifted.
Foreman is charged with 1st-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated
kidnapping and aggravated domestic battery for an April 9 attack in the
Lorlyn Circle apartment he shared with his ex-wife, Payne, and her
visiting mother, Linda Duchaine.
Police allege Foreman confessed to clubbing Duchaine, 49, of Aurora, Wis.,
and Payne, 32, in the head with an oak bookcase rail. Duchaine died and
Payne was temporarily in a coma. Foreman was found April 14 hiding in an
attic in an Aurora house.
Thursday, Foreman pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and requested a
jury trial. Death penalty trials typically move slowly, so officials don't
expect to go to trial for another 12 to 18 months.
If Foreman is found guilty of 1st-degree murder and the jury declines to
ask for the death penalty, life without parole or between 20 to 100 years
with parole are options.
(source: Daily Herald)
Lafayette Grand jury set in Gillis inquiry
A Lafayette Parish grand jury is set to hear evidence Wednesday in the
case of Sean Vincent Gillis, who is accused in a series of killings in the
Baton Rouge area and the death of an Acadiana woman. Gillis has admitted
killing 8 women from 1994 until his arrest by Baton Rouge authorities in
Days after Gillis was taken into custody, Lafayette Police said he
confessed to the October 2000 death of Marilyn Joyce Nevils. Police say
Gillis admitted that he had picked the woman up in Lafayette, killed her
and then dumped her body on a levee in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Prosecutor Keith Stutes says the case, as it stands now, is based largely
on Gillis' confession, but investigators have been working to corroborate
his statements with physical evidence.
Stutes says at least one piece of physical evidence has been found, but he
declined to comment on what it was.
District Attorney Mike Harson said his office is seeking a first-degree
murder indictment against Gillis. The charge carries a possible death
(source: Associated Press)
South Jersey Man Reindicted In Death, Burning Of Infant Son
A Burlington County father has been reindicted on a murder charge in his
infant son's death, a case taken back to the grand jury because of a state
Supreme Court decision regarding New Jersey's death penalty.
Kevin Abrahams, 27, of Burlington City was originally indicted last year
in the 2002 death of 8-month-old Sage Tyler Morgan-Abrahams, whose body
was subsequently burned in a fireplace.
Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi announced a year he planned to pursue the
death penalty in the case.
In February, the state Supreme Court ruled that grand jurors considering
homicide cases should decide if there are circumstances that could warrant
the death penalty. Before the ruling, prosecutors made the call on whether
to pursue a capital case.
The indictment returned Thursday charges Abrahams with capital murder and
hindering apprehension, Bernardi said.
Authorities allege Abrahams beat the infant in a fit of rage and that the
child's mother, Jessica Morgan, did not seek medical care for her injured
son, who died a day after the beating. Morgan also did not object when
Abrahams said he was going to burn the baby's remains in a fireplace.
Morgan pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and conspiracy to hinder
apprehension and is expected to be a witness against Abrahams, her former
The couple were arrested in Florida in July 2002, where they had gone
after the child's death.
Authorities began investigating when Morgan's mother contacted Burlington
City police to report the apparent disappearance of the baby.
(source: Associated Press)
Cheney to help DeMint in S.C. -- Quick visit shows that Bush camp is
confident president will win state
Vice President Dick Cheney will drop in on Myrtle Beach this afternoon,
but the only people who'll be able to see him are those who have paid
$1,000 to attend a fund-raiser on behalf of Republican U.S. Senate nominee
Some political observers say that his turning down the opportunity to do
some S.C. campaigning illustrates how confident the Bush-Cheney ticket is
of again carrying the state that gave them 59 percent of the vote in 2000.
"I don't think they're going to waste time hanging around South Carolina
when they have chores they've got to take care of in Michigan and Ohio and
West Virginia and Pennsylvania and whatever," said Neal Thigpen, a
political science professor at Francis Marion University in Florence and a
The vice president will campaign next week on the West Coast, while
President Bush is planning a month of intensive campaigning, beginning in
the Midwest. However, Cheney is scheduled to be back in South Carolina
Aug. 9 for another invitation-only fund-raiser, this time in Spartanburg.
Cheney's visit today to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center will be his 1st
trip to South Carolina since he spoke at a fund-raiser in Columbia on July
The vice president is scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m. Beforehand, he and
DeMint will attend a VIP reception, where donors must pay an additional
$2,000 to attend. According to Horry County Republican Party Chairman
Duane Oliver, the DeMint campaign expects to raise $700,000 by attracting
500 to 700 donors.
DeMint's Democratic opponent, Inez Tenenbaum, is showing no interest in
having either member of her party's national ticket come into the state
"That's really up to them," said Adam Kovacevich, Tenenbaum's campaign
spokesman. "If they decide to come to South Carolina, Inez will be there
with them. But that doesn't alter our approach to this race, which is that
people are looking for an independent-minded senator."
In keeping an arm's length distance from the national ticket, Tenenbaum is
following a familiar script for Democrats in the South, political experts
"DeMint will do his best to align himself with the Republican national
ticket and will try to tie Inez Tenenbaum to the national Democratic
ticket, which is just not that popular in the South," said College of
Charleston political science professor Bill Moore.
Tenenbaum, meanwhile, is trying to stake out the middle of the road. She
has said that she favors the death penalty, that she favors banning
late-term abortions unless the health of the mother is in danger, and that
she supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between
a man and a woman.
Moore said Tenenbaum "will emphasize her role as being basically a South
Carolina senator, as opposed to a national Democrat."
Although the Democrats' vice-presidential candidate, Sen. John Edwards of
North Carolina, is an S.C. native and won the state's Democratic
presidential primary in February, Moore said it's unlikely he could be
much help to Tenenbaum.
"You have John Kerry at the top of the ticket," Moore said, "and John
Kerry is not going to play well in South Carolina."
Although the Massachusetts senator is running neck-and-neck with President
Bush in national polls, virtually no one thinks he can carry South
"The fact is that South Carolina is the most Republican state in the Deep
South," Moore said. "The Republican Party has become dominant in statewide
elections. In presidential elections, it's only voted Democratic once
since 1960, and that was in 1976."
Even so, political analysts are expecting Tenenbaum, who is serving her
second term as South Carolina's elected state Superintendent of Education,
to run a strong race, by virtue of her political skill and her personal
In both the 1998 and the 2002 state elections, she received more votes
than any other candidate of either party.
(source: Charlotte Observer)
Death penalty to be sought against Mahdi----Officials building case in
slaying of S.C. police officer
Mikal Deen Mahdi, the man accused of killing an Orangeburg police officer,
could be back in South Carolina as early as this afternoon.
Prosecutors and various law enforcement agencies already are preparing a
capital murder case against Mahdi, charged in Sundays shooting death of
Orangeburg police Capt. Jim Myers.
Mahdi also is charged in the July 15 shooting death of 29-year-old
Christopher Jason Boggs, a convenience store clerk in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Who will prosecute Mahdi first has yet to be determined, but prosecutors
in South Carolina say they have decided to pursue the death penalty.
"We'd like to go 1st, and we've got our hands on him," said First Circuit
Solicitor Robby Robbins, who is prosecuting the Myers case.
Yet if North Carolina authorities can provide a persuasive reason for
Mahdi to be tried in Winston-Salem first, Robbins said, he would take that
Tom Keith, the chief prosecutor in Forsyth County, where Winston-Salem is
located, said he would like to meet with Robbins to determine which case
Robbins said he also plans to file charges of burglary, grand larceny and
use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime against Mahdi.
During a 1-minute hearing in a Brevard County, Fla., courtroom Thursday
afternoon, Mahdi said he would not fight attempts to return him to South
Carolina, said Assistant Florida State Attorney Michael Hunt.
Mahdi was not assigned an attorney because he is not charged in Florida,
Mahdi, who was the only defendant in the courtroom, was served the S.C.
murder warrant, Hunt said. He has not been presented North Carolina's
murder warrant, the prosecutor said.
South Carolina officers SLED agents and Calhoun County investigators were
in Brevard County to take custody of Mahdi.
Meanwhile, forensic agents with SLED were combing Myers' Dodge Ram pickup
truck for evidence, said Calhoun County Sheriff Thomas Summers.
Investigators with the sheriff's department also were in Florida
collecting evidence and interviewing Mahdi, Summers said.
Mahdi is to be held in a South Carolina prison, instead of the county
Lionel Cote, chief of the Satellite Beach police department, which caught
Mahdi Wednesday evening, called the arrest the biggest in his department
in the 19 years Cote has been chief.
He said officers did not know who Mahdi was when they made a traffic stop
and chased him as he ran away. A 125-pound police German shepherd named
Flex finally cornered Mahdi on a nearby condo's 5th-floor balcony.
They learned after the arrest that Mahdi was accused of killing an S.C.
police officer and an N.C. store clerk.
Because the legal case against Mahdi is moving forward, authorities
declined to go into details concerning Myers death.
However, Robbins said Myers was shot multiple times inside a workshop on
Investigators believe Mahdi began a crime spree sometime after his May 12
release from a Virginia prison on a 2001 conviction for malicious
Authorities said he stole a Mercury Sable in Virginia and drove it to
Columbia, where he ditched it Sunday and carjacked a Ford Expedition.
Robbins said he consulted with Myers' family and Orangeburg Department of
Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis before deciding to pursue the death
penalty against Mahdi.
Davis said Mahdis capture eased officers' grief.
"We're able to take another step in the grieving process. (Myers) will be
(source: The State)
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