[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, USA, ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Jul 26 17:02:49 CDT 2004
Punishment Phase Of Murdered Sisters' Trial Resumes--Jurors Convict Man Of
Killing 3 Sisters After Victims' Sibling Ends Relationship
In Houston, the punishment phase of a trial against a man convicted of
killing 3 young sisters will continue Monday.
Anthony Quinn Francois, 36, was convicted Thursday of killing 3 sisters in
September 2003 after the siblings' 16-year-old sister, Shemika Patterson,
broke up with him.
Patterson's sisters -- Britanny Patterson, 10; Ashley Patterson, 11; and
Nikesha Patterson, 15 -- were shot to death as they slept inside their
southeast Houston home.
Francois was also accused of shooting the 16-year-old girl and her mother,
Sheila Patterson, 34, in their heads and backs. They survived their
Police said Francois got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend, Shemika
Patterson, and then opened fire in the family's home in the 8100 block of
Rockrose around 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2003.
Prosecutors said Francois went into a violent rage after the 16-year-old
ended the couple's relationship.
Testimony began Monday in Francois' capital murder trial. Jurors got the
case Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and reached a verdict by noon.
Francois' videotaped confession was played during the trial.
In it, he said, "What was bothering me is that she had made up her mind
that she didn't want to be with me no more. I love her and I feel like she
was playing with me and she don't understand."
When asked about the gun and shooting the girls, Francois replied on the
tape, "I lost control. I had it in my hand and the room was dark. And then
it's like over and over, and some say do it, some say don't do it."
The victims' family was pleased with the guilty verdict.
"Justice has been served," said Tracy Jackson, the victims' aunt. "He
preyed upon a family of five females. There were no men living there and
that's what I call a coward. The fight wasn't between those children. It
was between him and Shemika."
"I feel really sorry for him. He just looked really pitiful now and I just
hate things got to work out the way it's working out, but justice is going
to be justice, regardless of what I say. It's going to be . whatever,"
said Dorothy Patterson, the victims' grandmother.
Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty.
Defense attorneys said Francois' life should be spared.
"We believe that there is a reason that there is some redemptive factors
in his life that would mitigate the punishment and that's what we're all
about," said Loretta Muldrow, Francois' defense attorney.
The punishment phase of the trial began Thursday afternoon.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Francois has been
in and out of the state prison system 5 times since 1988.
He was paroled after serving time for burglary with intent to steal,
possession of cocaine, and possession of a controlled substance between
1988 and 1991, but returned to prison on parole violations, the records
show. He served nearly an entire 10-year sentence handed down in 1992 for
robbery with a deadly weapon before being released in May 2001, and served
his full sentence of a year for car theft until his release in May, the
(source: KPRC News)
6.9 million in jail, or on parole or probation
A record 6.9 million adults were incarcerated or on probation or parole
last year, nearly 131,000 more than in 2002, according to a Justice
Department study. Put another way, about 3.2 % of the adult U.S.
population, or 1 in 32 adults, were incarcerated or on probation or parole
at the end of last year.
A record 4.8 million adults were on probation or parole in 2003, about
73,000 more than the year before. About 70 percent of adults involved in
federal, state or local corrections systems fall into this category. The
states of California and Texas together accounted for about 1 million.
The number of adults on parole after serving a prison sentence rose by 3.1
% from 2002 to 2003, to more than 774,500 people. That compares with an
average annual rise of about 1.7 % since 1995 for those on parole, a
figure that has been increasing at a much slower rate than those in jails
(4 % a year), in prison (3.4 %) and on probation (2.9 %).
Since 1995, states around the country have increased the use of mandatory
parole after prison release and cut down on use of discretionary releases
overseen by parole boards, the report says.
The report, released Sunday, focused most on the characteristics of those
on probation or parole. Its findings include:
-- Almost 1/2 of all probationers were convicted of a felony, with 25 %
convicted of a drug violation.
-- Washington state had the highest number of people on probation per
100,000 population, at 3,767. New Hampshire had the lowest rate at 426.
-- Of the 2.2 million people discharged from probation in 2003, 3 out of 5
met the conditions of their supervision. Another 16 % were jailed because
of a rule violation or a new crime, with 4 % becoming fugitives.
-- About 95 % of those on parole had been convicted of a felony.
-- Of the 470,500 parolees discharged from supervision last year, 38 %
went back to jail for a new crime or a rule violation, with 9 % becoming
On the Net: Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
(source: Associated Press)
A Chilling Look at the Death Penalty
I kept thinking of the Scottsboro Boys while watching "Deadline," a new
documentary by filmmakers Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson.
I sensed them looking on with approval as the film illuminated the
circumstances surrounding George Ryan's struggles with capital punishment
issues during his tenure as governor of Illinois. In January 2000 Ryan
imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in his state. He told CNN: "We
have now freed more people than we have put to death under our system --
13 people have been exonerated and 12 have been put to death. There is a
flaw in the system, without question, and it needs to be studied." He
appointed a panel to examine the issue.
"Deadline" will air July 30 on NBC's "Dateline" program. It includes
interviews with several opponents of capital punishment who argue
persuasively that such cases often involve race, poverty, bad lawyering
and police misconduct. The Scottsboro case had all of that in abundance.
The nine defendants, black and poor, were accused of raping two white
women on a Tennessee freight train in 1931. Representing them at their
Chattanooga trial were an alcoholic real-estate attorney who showed up
drunk on the 1st day and a forgetful septuagenarian who hadn't set foot in
court for years.
Despite the absence of supporting evidence, all nine defendants were tried
and convicted in 2 hours. 8 were sentenced to death. The youngest,
12-year-old Roy Wright, received life in prison. The Scottsboro Boys
eventually got better representation and, after 6 years of court battles,
were exonerated and finally regained their freedom.
For decades afterward, the Scottsboro Boys became synonymous with the kind
of gross miscarriage of justice that can place the wrong person on death
row. Their arduous experience was frequently cited by opponents of capital
punishment, who achieved a victory in 1972 when the Supreme Court called a
halt to government-sponsored executions. That triumph proved short-lived
when the court allowed the reinstatement of the death penalty in certain
states in 1976. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 921
people have been executed since then.
"Deadline" includes chilling interviews with men who came perilously close
to being part of that number. Anthony Porter, for instance, was 2 days
from death when a group of students from Northwestern University found
evidence that cleared him. Among the most compelling speakers is Gary
Gauger, a farmer who was convicted of killing his parents and sentenced to
death in 1993. He was cleared in 1996 when a 3-judge panel overturned his
Interspersed with such segments is riveting testimony from the 9 days of
clemency hearings held in Illinois in October 2002, during which a
prisoner review board evaluated the cases of 142 of the 160 inmates on the
state's death row. The comments from victims' families are heartrending
and, while helping to remind viewers that the inmates aren't the only ones
deserving of compassion, they also show why the issue of capital
punishment is so perplexing. It is possible, however briefly, to listen to
the agonizing speech of a bereaved individual and join them in their
desire for vengeance. But how to balance that genuine grief against due
process of law? And what if our all-too-human desire for vengeance targets
the wrong person? What if it targets the right person? Will executing them
bring our loved one back?
Attorney and best-selling author Scott Turow served on Ryan's panel. In
the film, he expresses little concern with executing someone such as
serial killer John Wayne Gacy. But, Turow asks, "Can we construct a
capital system that only executes John Wayne Gacy without also executing
the innocent or undeserving?"
Such questions show why capital punishment is a hot potato for both
liberal and conservative elected officials, none of whom want to be viewed
as soft on crime. As illustration of the death penalty's nonpartisan
significance, "Deadline" takes note of Bill Clinton's refusal to the stop
the execution of a mentally handicapped Arkansas man in 1992, and calls
attention to George W. Bush, who allowed 152 executions during his 6 years
as governor of Texas. Ryan, who had already decided not to run for
re-election, ultimately decided to commute the sentence of every death-row
inmate in his state.
Other politicians have considerably less latitude. While they dither, DNA
tests and other evidence continue to reveal the presence of innocent
people on death row. The latest and 114th inmate to be exonerated since
1973 is Gordon Steidl, released on May 28. His home state? Illinois.
(source: Column, Jabari Asim, Washington Post)
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