[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MD., ORE., S.C., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 4 09:15:44 CST 2004
No Death Penalty for Men Accused in Children's Slaying
2 men accused of killing three children in Baltimore in May will not face
the death penalty, according to defense lawyers who said they were told
that by prosecutors.
The city state's attorney's office will seek life without parole, said
James Rhodes, the lawyer for one of the accused, Adan Espinoza Canela.
Published reports say Canela, 17, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 22, are
scheduled to appear at a hearing Friday in Circuit Court, where
prosecutors are expected to say they will not seek capital punishment.
Canela is too young under Maryland law to face capital punishment, but
Perez could have been eligible.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors did not comment Wednesday.
But the city's top prosecutor, Patricia C. Jessamy, has said in the past
that her office would seek death for defendants accused of killing a
police officer or other "heinous" crimes.
Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr. and Lucero Solis Quezada, both 9, and their
10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, were found slain May 27 in
their Fallstaff apartment.
One child was beheaded and the others were partially decapitated.
Rhodes said the victims' families were told of the state's attorney's
decision not to seek the death penalty.
Noemi Quezada, mother of Ricardo and Lucero, has said that she believes
Perez and Canela are innocent and that police are not looking for the
Perez is Canela's uncle and an uncle of the dead children. Canela was the
Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said
Jessamy reviews factors in a potential death penalty case and consults the
victim's family before deciding what punishment to seek.
"Their feelings are a significant factor that weighs very heavily" in the
decision, Burns said.
Perez and Canela are scheduled for a jury trial Dec. 13, although defense
attorney Rhodes said it is unlikely that lawyers would be ready by that
Rhodes also said the men would probably be tried separately.
(source: WJZ News)
OREGON----new death sentence
Man who shot wife gets death penalty
A Columbia County jury has voted for the death penalty for a man convicted
in the 2002 shooting death of his wife, District Attorney R. Stephen
Atchison said Wednesday in St. Helens.
Allen "Gary" Zweigart, 55, was convicted Oct. 8 of aggravated murder,
kidnapping and other crimes in the killing of his 48-year-old wife, Hong
Ha Zweigart. She was found with at least 1 gunshot wound inside the
couple's home in January 2002.
(source: The Oregonian)
SOUTH CAROLINA----new federal death sentence
Madisonville Man Gets Death Penalty
A federal jury sentences a Madisonville man to death for the kidnapping
and killing of a South Carolina woman.
The jury deliberated about 6 hours in the case of Branden Basham. Basham
and Chad Fulks also are also charged with abducting and killing a
19-year-old college student from West Virginia. Fulks was also sentenced
The killings occurred days after the men escaped from the Hopkins County
(source: WFIE TV News)
Death penalty appeals process sparks debate
Some officials in the legal system want to change the appellate process
for Tennessee's death row inmates.
Some officials say the system needs to be streamlined, and Hamilton County
Executive Assistant Public Defender Karla Gothard said others are pushing
to exhaust all appeals within a year.
"That's usually not practical, but there are ways all of the system, from
the trial through the appellate process, can be made more efficient and
less costly," she said.
State Attorney General Paul Summers is among those who said that
Tennessee's death-row appellate process shouldn't be changed.
"It certainly works," he said. "It is replete with due process for the
criminally accused. It is a 13-step process at the bare minimum."
As of July 1, there were 100 inmates sentenced to death in Tennessee's
All are engaged in the appellate process except for Donnie Johnson, who
faces a Nov. 16 execution for the 1984 murder of his wife in Shelby
Nashville lawyer Bill Reddick, former head of the state's Capital Offender
Resource Center, said he believes many areas of the system are unfair.
He criticized the process in which a prosecutor decides whether to seek
the death penalty without review by another agency.
Reddick said it creates a process in which defendants charged with similar
crimes have vastly different punishments.
State Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr. has repeatedly made the
point in dissenting court opinions that Tennessee has no process to
protect defendants from disproportionate imposition of the death penalty.
"There are some prosecutors in Tennessee that never seek the death
penalty, and there are some that seek it anytime they can," Reddick said.
"It's a personal decision."
Summers denies the system is flawed.
"In any kind of system, someone will have to make that decision," he said.
"Under our law, (prosecutors) have the authority and the right to make
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty