[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- IOWA, N.C., CALIF.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Sat Jul 24 11:22:10 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 24, 2004
IOWA --- federal death penalty trial
Judge: Limit mentioning death penalty during trial
When Dustin Honken's capital murder trial starts next month, his attorneys
must avoid making the death penalty a focus of their courtroom strategy, a
federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled this week on a variety of issues
attorneys sought to explore at trial, including statements made by two of
Honken's alleged murder victims and his attempts to flee prison.
Honken, 35, goes on trial Aug. 16 in Sioux City on charges he killed three
adults and two children in 1993, and then buried the bodies in fields
outside Mason City.
Iowa does not have capital punishment on its law books and has not put a
prisoner to death in more than 40 years. But because the trial is in
federal court and two of the victims were cooperating with agents who were
investigating Honken's multistate methamphetamine operation, prosecutors
are seeking the death penalty.
Although most of the major questions over facts and evidence have been
settled, Bennett's latest decisions focus on the nuances of legal strategy
or the details the jury will be allowed to learn about the past behavior of
Honken and witnesses.
For example, in a hearing last month, assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams
asked Bennett to restrain Honken's legal team from repeatedly mentioning or
presenting anti-death penalty testimony during the guilt phase of the trial.
Williams argued that would confuse or mislead the jury at a time when it
should be focused solely on the question of innocence or guilt.
Honken's attorneys sought permission to mention the death penalty only at
key moments, such as questioning a witness eligible for a reduced sentence
for cooperating in such a high stakes case.
Bennett agreed with Williams, but said defense lawyers could raise the
death penalty in limited circumstances.
Meanwhile, Bennett sided with prosecutors who want to use statements made
by two of the victims, Terry DeGeus and Greg Nicholson.
Both men were involved in Honken's drug ring, but had agreed to work with
agents investigating Honken's operation.
Their disappearance forced federal officials to drop charges against Honken
in 1995, but he was convicted two years later and is serving a 27-year
sentence in federal prison in Marian, Ill. Honken was transferred to the
Polk County jail earlier this month so he can help attorneys prepare for trial.
Nicholson disappeared in July 1993 along with his new girlfriend, Lori
Duncan, and her two children, Kandi, 10, and Amber, 6. Prosecutors say they
were beaten, tortured and shot at close range with a gun bought by Honken's
former lover, Angela Johnson.
Williams sought permission to use statements Nicholson made to agents and a
grand jury about his involvement in Honken's drug business.
DeGeus, 32, disappeared four months later, also the victim of an
Williams wanted to use statements DeGeus made the day he disappeared,
including telling his mother and a friend of his plans to meet Johnson.
Bennett also ruled in the government's favor by allowing prosecutors to
explore Honken's attempts to escape a county jail in 1997 with the goal of
The defense said the escape attempt is irrelevant to the first-degree
murder charges. But Bennett said it is intertwined with other charges
contained in the original indictment, including witness tampering.
"Evidence suggests that Honken pursued an escape attempt precisely for the
purpose of murdering or intimidating witnesses and to continue his drug
trafficking activities," Bennett wrote.
Death Penalty Case
It's been more than 40 years since a criminal was executed in Iowa. But
tonight two people face a possible death penalty for a mass murder that
happened 11 years ago, this Sunday. The case is set to start August 16th in
federal court in Sioux City.
When he laid his daughter and two granddaughters to rest in Mason City this
month, David Milbrath closed a sad chapter in his family's life. "There was
a long period of time that we waited, you know, knowing that something had
happened and not knowing where the girls were at for sure. Uh, they were,
you know, lost", says David Milbrath. The remains of Lori Duncan and her
two young daughters, Kandi and Amber were found, buried in a field, next to
the remains of two men. They were tortured and executed.
The Duncan's have been called the victims of circumstance, after Lori
allowed one of those men to move-in with them after he ratted-out Dustin
Honken, a convicted drug kingpin, to the authorities. After a prison tip
led police to the Duncans' remains, it took four years to give them a
proper burial. Four years the U.S. Attorney's office held on to the remains
to build a murder case against Honken, and against his former girlfriend,
Angela Johnson. She also faces the death penalty for her alleged
involvement in the killings.
It all ads up to what observers are touting as likely the longest and most
expensive trial in Iowa history. Judge Mark Bennett will preside over the
Honken trial, set to begin August 16th in Sioux City. It's expected to last
more than three months. The Angela Johnson will have her day in court, as
soon as Honken's trial wraps up.
The last federal execution in Iowa was back in 1963. Victor Harry Feguer
died by hanging at the Fort Madison prison. Feguer was convicted of
kidnapping and killing a Dubuque doctor. Two years after Feguer's death,
the state of Iowa abolished the death penalty.
Man could get death penalty in nurse's slaying
A Nov. 1 trial date was set Friday for one of two suspects accused in the
slaying of nurse Tia Monae Carroway, who was kidnapped and fatally shot
after she left her job at Durham Regional Hospital for lunch in July 2002.
The suspect, 21-year-old Anthony Patterson Jr., pleaded not guilty Friday
to a charge of first-degree murder. He also entered not guilty pleas on
charges of first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery and felonious possession
of Carroway's stolen car.
District Attorney Jim Hardin Jr. then announced officially that the death
penalty would be sought against Patterson.
According to Hardin, capital punishment is an option because at least one
so-called "aggravating factor" exists in the case. He declined to specify
what that is.
The only possible penalties for first-degree murder are death or life in
prison without parole.
Patterson rejected a proffered deal Friday that would have eliminated the
threat of execution, sources close to the case said. Under the deal,
Patterson could have pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and received a
life prison term, sparing court officials the time and expense of a lengthy
Because he turned the deal down, he stands a chance of becoming the first
person to receive the death penalty in Durham since the 1997 conviction of
Todd Charles Boggess.
Boggess was sentenced to die for fatally beating Wilmington honor student
Danny Pence in the woods of northern Durham County, off Terry Road. An
appeal is still pending.
Besides Boggess, only two people are on death row as a result of Durham
homicides. They are Isaac Jackson Stroud, who is facing execution for the
1993 slaying of Durham High School teacher Jocelyn Michelle Mitchell, and
Donald John Scanlon, convicted in the 1996 asphyxiation death of retired
schoolteacher Claudine Wilson Harris.
To vote for the death penalty, jurors must be convinced that at least one
aggravating factor exists in a case. They also must be persuaded that the
aggravating factor outweighs any offsetting factors in mitigation, and that
it is "sufficiently substantial" to merit capital punishment.
Carroway, 23, failed to return to her nursing job at Durham Regional after
she left for lunch on July 4, 2002.
The next day, police found her car on Roosevelt Street. Her body was
discovered in some woods near Hope Valley Farms in southern Durham. She
reportedly was shot in the back of the head.
Police said Carroway, the mother of a 2-year-old boy, apparently crossed
paths with Patterson and another man at a fast-food chicken restaurant. She
then was taken to Alben Street and shot, reports indicated.
The apparent motive in the homicide was to steal Carroway's 1994 Honda
Accord, police said.
According to reports, Patterson allegedly was caught with the car and the
suspected murder weapon.
A second suspect, 21-year-old Naeem Rasheed Mahmoud, also is charged with
murder in the case.
A possible Dec. 1 trial date was set Friday for Mahmoud. However, court
officials said the proceedings would have to be postponed if Patterson's
trial wasn't finished by then.
(source: The Herald-Sun)
Convicted Killer of Five Pleads for Death
A man convicted of murdering the daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop
and four other people in an extortion plot blurted out in court that the
jury need not deliberate his fate because he wants to die.
As opening statements were about to begin in the death penalty phase of his
trial Wednesday, Justin Helzer, 32, told the court that "I want this life
to be over. ... I want to die."
Helzer's lawyers attempted to calm their client, who had shown almost no
reaction during weeks of incriminating and sometimes graphic testimony.
Judge Mary Ann O'Malley told Helzer to be quiet and continued speaking over
him when he didn't immediately comply.
"I'm just being truthful. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be rude," Helzer
said. "I just want to be free. I want freedom or death."
Helzer's mother, Carma Helzer, burst into tears. Some jurors also wept
before the panel was hurried out of the courtroom.
When the jury was reseated about 20 minutes later, O'Malley told jurors to
disregard Helzer's words.
Helzer, his older brother, Glenn, and their former roommate, Dawn Godman,
killed five people, including Bishop's 22-year-old daughter during the
summer of 2000 as part of a scheme they devised to prepare for Christ's
return to Earth.
Before the same jury convicted him on five counts of capital murder last
month, Justin Helzer had pleaded guilty by reason of insanity, maintaining
his role in the multiple slayings was dictated by an older brother whom he
considered to be a prophet of God. Jurors rejected his insanity plea last
week, making Helzer eligible for the death penalty.
Glenn Helzer entered a surprise guilty plea just before his joint trial
with his brother began. He faces a death penalty hearing. Godman pleaded
guilty and testified for the prosecution under a plea bargain in which she
received a prison sentence of 38 years to life.
More information about the DeathPenalty