[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, WASH.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 8 09:13:44 CST 2004
Apologetic killer Robert Brice Morrow was executed today for the fatal
beating and slashing of a 21-year-old Nevada college student who was
abducted while home in Texas on spring break.
In a last statement, Morrow addressed the parents of his victim by name
and told them, "I would like to tell you that I am responsible and I am
sorry for what I did and the pain I caused."
He expressed love to his friends and said he had been blessed that they
stood by him. Morrow urged them to stay strong.
"Set me free warden," he said. "Father, accept me."
As he waited for the lethal drugs to take effect, he turned again, looking
through a window at his victim's relatives and added, "I do hope my death
brings you all some closure."
Then he blurted out, "I feel it" and gasped slightly three times. He was
pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. CST, 8 minutes after the drugs began flowing.
The execution was delayed briefly as prison officials had difficulty
finding suitable veins in the former drug user's arms. Instead they
selected veins at the top of each hand for the needles.
Morrow, 47, a former oilfield roughneck with a criminal record in at least
three states, was condemned for the 1996 slaying of Lisa Allison, who was
taken from a car wash near her home in Liberty, about 45 miles east of
Houston. Her body was found the next day in the Trinity River. Authorities
determined she had suffered 42 injuries.
No last-day appeals were filed to try to block the punishment. The U.S.
Supreme Court two weeks ago refused to review his case.
"I still can't believe that there are people that walk the earth like this
man," Mike Allison, the victim's father, said after watching Morrow die.
"He paid a price tonight, a price I wanted him to pay, that he's just
beginning to pay. and he'll be paying it for eternity.
"I hope now some of the anger can come out of my body so I can reflect
back on the memories, the sweet memories of Lisa, and enjoy the life and
accomplishments of my other daughter."
Lisa Allison had cheated death once, getting a clean bill of health months
earlier after surviving thyroid cancer. She was looking forward to a hotel
management career after graduation from the University of Nevada-Las
A witness told authorities he saw a man fitting Morrow's description lying
on top of Allison in the passenger side of a car at the car wash. She
didn't appear to be struggling and he dismissed the activity as nothing
more than boyfriend and girlfriend, then saw them drive away in the
direction of the river.
The car later was found abandoned. Morrow, who had previous convictions
for burglary, weapons possession and larceny in South Carolina, Louisiana
and Texas, was arrested nearly 4 months later walking near a crack house
A computer check revealed he was wanted for the slaying.
At his trial and in interviews with reporters, the 10th-grade dropout gave
multiple stories about his case, including acknowledging involvement in
her death, claiming a relationship with her and blaming someone else.
Prosecutors called Allison the victim of a random crime and disputed some
of Morrow's comments.
"I caught him in several lies," said Mike Little, the Liberty County
district attorney who prosecuted Morrow. "I think the jury saw through
what he was saying very quickly."
After a 10-week trial, the jury took 13 minutes to decide he should be put
"I wish it didn't happen, but I can't change it," Morrow said recently
from death row. "When you do drugs, there's no telling what can happen. I
did that night and it got out of hand."
Blood samples from the car matched Morrow's blood and the victim's.
Witnesses testified he previously had talked of how easy it would be to
abduct a woman from the car wash, rob her and use the money to buy drugs.
Witnesses also said he had bloody clothing and scratches on his arms when
they saw him the night of Allison's disappearance.
Morrow becomes the 20th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 333rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982.
Morrow becomes the 94th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas since
Rick Perry became governor in 2000. Texas has 5 more executions scheduled
Morrow becomes the 55th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 940th overall since America resumed executions on January
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
****************** Rosales' case tests Supreme Court ruling on executing
A Lubbock murderer is back in local federal court trying to save his own
A stay of execution for convicted murderer Michael Rosales came earlier
this year after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, La.,
allowed him to pursue an appeal based on what he says is his limited
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court barred executions for the mentally
retarded. Texas and 19 other states were subsequently forced to review
death penalty cases where mental re tar dation was an issue.
Rosales' case is a last grab at staying out of the death chamber following
a failed 1999 appeal claiming his Fifth Amendment rights were violated
when 364th District Judge Bradley Underwood would not allow Rosales access
to the crime scene.
Claiming Rosales is mentally retarded, attorneys closed arguments in a
pretrial evidentiary hearing that will form the basis for what a jury
hears when his case convenes some time later. U.S. District Judge Sam
Cummings also will rule on whether certain evidence may be presented to
Attorneys closed arguments Wednesday afternoon following the examination
of a witness for the state who also is the defendant in Rosales' civil
suit to overturn his death sentence.
Roger Saunders, who tested Rosales' mental capacity, told the court he did
not believe Ro sales could be considered mentally retarded based on the
tests. He instead classified him as having a conduct disorder.
Based on interviews and test ing with Rosales, Saunders said he determined
several is sues could precipitate subpar responses. According to Saunders,
Rosales first smoked marijuana at age 10. In addition, he dropped out of
school in the 8th grade.
"(Rosales' mental capacity) is consistent with the formal education that
he got," said Saunders.
But that does not make him mentally retarded, he said.
Rosales' attorney, Michael B. Charlton of Alvin, grilled Saunders,
questioning his experience in determining a person mentally retarded.
Charlton submitted evidence in the case based on the testimony of Rosales'
family members and former employers, building a groundwork to save
"Michael (Rosales) was a nice guy but not very sharp," said former
co-worker Frank Castaneda in a written statement.
"He had a rough time in school," said brother Joseph Rosales.
Rosales was convicted in 1999 for the 1997 murder of 60-year-old
Lubbockite Mary Felder, who lived in the same apartment complex on Sixth
Street as Rosales. A Coloradonative, Rosales was just 23 when he killed
Rosales did not know she was home when he started robbing her home.
Rosales stabbed Felder 137 times before hitting her with a hard object.
(source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
High court OKs new penalty trial for death row inmate
In Olympia, the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the death
sentence for a murderer, sending the case back to Pierce County for a new
The 8-1 ruling came in a case involving Cecil Emile Davis, who was
convicted in 1998 of the premeditated murder of Yoshiko Couch. Davis
repeatedly raped the 65-year-old Couch in her home on Jan. 25, 1997, and
killed her by placing her in a bathtub and suffocating her with a towel
soaked in a household solvent. He also used a steel-wool cleaning pad to
scrub evidence from her body, tearing off pieces of skin.
The jury found aggravating circumstances of rape, robbery and burglary
that made him eligible for the death penalty. The jury recommended that
leniency not be shown and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frederick
Fleming sentenced him to death.
The high court upheld his conviction and sentence in 2000, but later
accepted a new appeal based primarily on his contention that his lawyer
didn't effectively represent him. Davis also challenged the
constitutionality of the death penalty and the state's post-conviction
procedures for handling capital cases.
The high court, in an opinion written by Justice Faith Ireland, affirmed
the Court of Appeals regarding the guilt phase of his trial, but took up
17 separate arguments about the imposition of the death penalty, primarily
regarding the effectiveness of counsel.
Davis said his lawyers should have objected to him being shackled during
the trial and should have raised the issue of racial prejudice against him
as a black man involved in a crime against an Asian woman. He also
complained that his counsel didn't move for a trial separate from a
co-defendent, didn't give an opening statement and didn't object during
the prosecutor's closing argument.
The court didn't buy any of his various arguments. The justices said there
was overwhelming evidence of his guilt and that there was no reason to
believe that it would change the verdict if his lawyer had objected to the
But the possible prejudice during the sentencing phase of the trial can't
necessarily be overcome by "objective and overwhelming evidence," so a new
penalty phase will be granted, the court said.
The only 2 possible sentences for aggravated 1st degree murder are death
or imprisonment for life without possibility of parole.
Justice Richard Sanders, in a dissent, said the conviction and sentences
should be thrown out.
The case is Personal Restraint Petition of Cecil Davis, No. 70834-7.
On the Net: Washington Supreme Court: http://courts.wa.gov
(source: Associated Press)
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