[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., WASH., MD., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 8 09:34:20 CST 2004
Days are numbered for old Death Row at San Quentin
California prison officials are moving ahead with plans to build a $220
million Death Row complex on the grounds of San Quentin that would be more
secure inside and out.
Standing on the roof of California's Death Row, Warden Jill Brown looks
down at the exercise yards and sees troubling possibilities. An old
masonry wall with razor wire on top and a strip of grass are practically
all that stand between condemned men and San Francisco Bay.
"It's a little bit scary," she said.
Brown and state prison officials say the old and crowded Death Row at San
Quentin State Prison must be replaced, and soon. They are moving ahead
with plans to build a new $220 million complex on the grounds of San
Quentin that would be much more secure inside and out.
Outside the prison walls, opposition is mounting. "I would think that a
state that is in terrible fiscal condition like California would be very
careful about every expenditure," said state Assemblyman Joe Nation, a
Democrat. "I'm hopeful that they will take another look at this."
Many in liberal, well-to-do Marin County have also objected to the
project, either out of opposition to capital punishment or because they
believe the new building will be a brightly lit eyesore.
But the main contention, says county Supervisor Steve Kinsey, is that
spending millions to shore up a 152-year-old prison is a mistake. "You
take a rotten site and you put a new facility on it, what you're doing is
putting frosting on a rotten cake," Kinsey said at a recent public forum.
The current Death Row houses 629 inmates in three ramshackle
brick-and-stone buildings, two of them dating to 1934 and 1927. The 1927
building looks like something out of a Jimmy Cagney movie, with five tiers
of cells with open bars, and catwalks that run close to cells, and lots of
blind corners. Over the years, numerous guards have been attacked and
maimed. The last escape attempt was in 2001.
The building -- with capacity for 1,408 inmates -- would be surrounded by
a lethal electrified fence and would have remote-control locks and solid
doors that would minimize face-to-face contact between guards and inmates.
Construction, approved by former Gov. Gray Davis and supported by Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, could start in a year. The Legislature has already
approved the bond issue that will pay for the project.
(source: Associated Press)
Peterson Eligible for Death Penalty
It's a national story overshadowed in recent days by elections, but jurors
are deliberating in the Scott Peterson murder trial.
As Scott Peterson waits in a jail cell in Redwood City, California, a jury
of the nearby courthouse, a jury of 6 men and 6 women deliberated at a
nearby courthouse. They`re contemplating whether to find the 32-year-old
guilty of murdering his pregnant wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son.
"You will conscientiously consider and weigh the evidence, apply the law
and reach a just verdict regardless of the consequences," said Judge
Alfred Delucchi, who is presiding over the Peterson trial.
Delucchi has instructed the panel that they can choose between finding
Peterson not guilty, guilty of 2nd-degree murder, or guilty of 1st-degree
murder, which could carry the death penalty.
Court observers said it might be difficult for the jury to come to a
unanimous decision. "Jurors don`t like to leave a jury room with questions
unanswered, and there are questions they will never know in this case: how
Laci died, when she died, and even where she died, so I think that could
cause problems for some jurors," said legal analyst James Hammer.
During the 5-month trial the prosecution tried to convince the jury that
Peterson murdered his wife and dumped her body in the San Francisco Bay on
Christmas Eve 2002. The defense tried to persuade the panel that someone
else abducted the pregnant housewife then framed Peterson.
Now the sequestered jury is weighing all the evidence and sifting through
the testimony of nearly 180 witnesses, in hopes of determining what really
did happen to the smiling mom to be whose mysterious demise captivated the
Nearly 2 dozen deputies have been sworn in to guard jurors while they are
sequestered, until they have a verdict.
(source: NBC News)
Death penalty determination delayed in Schreiber case
Murder defendant Robin T. Schreiber won't know whether he faces the
possibility of the death penalty until early next year.
On Thursday, defense attorney Tom Phelan requested more time to prepare a
mitigation package for Prosecutor Art Curtis that will outline reasons why
Schreiber should be spared the death penalty if he is found guilty of
causing the death of Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Brad Crawford.
Schreiber, 44, pleaded not guilty Oct. 7 to aggravated murder.
Typically, prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to seek the death
"It's not unusual, in cases like this, to give the defense adequate
opportunity to conduct an investigation for a mitigation package," Curtis
Schreiber was allegedly fleeing his Brush Prairie home July 30 after his
girlfriend called 911 to report he was suicidal and armed. Schreiber's
vehicle crashed into Crawford's patrol car, a sheriff's report said.
Crawford died later that night.
If Curtis decides against seeking the death penalty, a conviction would
carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson extended the deadline to
Johnson rescheduled Schreiber's trial date from Dec. 6 to April 4, 2005.
(source: The Columbian)
County Judge Signs Death Penalty Papers
A Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge recently signed the death
warrant for Heath William Burch, a man on death row since 1996, for the
murder of an elderly Capital Heights couple. If executed the week of
December 6 as slated, Burch will become the 1st man in 50 years to be
executed in Prince George's County.
Judge Steven I. Platt on October 21 signed the death warrant at the
request of the Prince George's County State's Attorney Glen Ivey. The
Judge also gave Burch's defense team up until November 22 to file an
appeal on behalf of their client.
Burch's case revisits the controversy concerning the disparity that exists
between blacks and whites regarding the death row issue in the state of
Maryland, according to a study by University of Maryland Criminology
Professor, Raymond Paternoster. Paternoster was commissioned to carry out
the study by former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening.
Patenoster, whose study was based on a review of all homicide cases
between 1978 and 1999 in which the death penalty could have been sought,
found that although the race of a defendant in itself does not determine
the outcome of a case, the race of the victim does. Thus, a black
defendant and a black victim is less likely to face the death penalty,
while a black defendant and a white victim is more likely to face the
death penalty than any other racial combinations. Burch is black and his
defense team is expected to build their case for preventing his execution
on this premise.
On March 19, 1995, Burch broke into the home of Robert and Cleo Davis, an
elderly white couple who were his neighbors on Norfield Road in Capitol
Heights. When Mr. Davis held up a gun to Burch, Burch stabbed him
repeatedly and shot Mrs. Davis while she was trying to call the police. He
made away with four guns, $105 and their pick-up truck. Although Burch
claimed his actions were carried out under the influence of crack cocaine,
he was sentenced to death by a jury in 1996.
Neither Burch's attorney William Kanwisher nor State Attorney Ivey were
available for comment.
Ivey's communication director, Ramon Korionoff said, "Mr. Ivey has
considered all the evidence and circumstances surrounding the case."
Because the conviction and sentencing were carried out before Ivey came
into office, Korionoff said his boss is "enforcing the law as it stands
here in the state of Maryland." He also said Ivey has advocated for a
commission to study the death penalty and its application in the state.
Korionoff said Ivey understands why the defense will file an appeal
because they have to pursue any measure that will best serve their client.
However, to critics who say Ivey did not have to request a death warrant
or was not under any pressure to do so, Korionoff said, "He (Ivey) has
gone forward in this case as the jurors and the family [of the victims]
Peter Keith, a partner at Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, who specializes in
civil litigation, said this issue is a complicated and controversial one
that has attracted the attention of the State Legislature. From a legal
standpoint however, Keith said in a Supreme Court case that was decided
5-4, the court determined that unless evidence of discrimination can be
shown in a particular case, racial discrimination cannot be cited as
reason for avoiding the death penalty where it should apply.
Keith, who taught Pretrial Civil Litigation at the University of Maryland
School of Law, is glad the issue is being raised. "It's good it is being
raised," he said. However he cannot predict what the outcome will be for
Burch. "That decision is up to somebody other than me," he said.
(source: The Sentinel)
Death penalty for killer----Mother of victim in GNC murder expresses
sympathy to his family
In Gulfport, Harrison County jurors deliberated for less than an hour
Saturday before finding 25-year-old Jason Glen Taylor guilty of capital
murder, then sentencing him to death.
Jurors said Taylor is guilty of murdering 18-year-old Cynthia Michelle
Cazeaux during a robbery on Oct. 12, 2002, at General Nutrition Center on
"There was a lot of physical evidence that helped the jury to make a
decision," said Lisa Dobson, assistant district attorney. "We know the
jury had a difficult decision to make and we are very pleased with the
Following the guilty verdict, the 6 men and 6 women of the jury took up
the sentencing phase of the trial, imposing the death penalty after 75
minutes' deliberation. The trial was held in the court of Circuit Judge
The victim's mother, Judy, expressed well wishes and sympathy to Taylor's
family, because, she said, the trial affected both families equally.
"I spoke to his mother and father, and they said they were very sorry for
what (Jason) did to my daughter," Cazeaux said. "I hold nothing against
their family, because their hearts are broken just as mine is."
A call from a car-wash attendant, who said he noticed a red spot on the
passenger's seat of Taylor's car and then found two 9mm bullet casings on
the floor, along with evidence collected at the nutrition store, proved
vital in the investigation. 2 days after the murder, police arrested
Taylor, a former GNC employee, at his home in Ocean Springs.
During the 5-day trial, crime scene photos were shown on an overhead
projector as Rodney Fountain, a Biloxi investigator, recounted how he
found several barbells near Cazeaux's body.
Cazeaux was shot in the back, but an autopsy revealed the cause of death
to be severe head trauma. An employee arriving to open the store the next
morning found Cazeaux, the night shift clerk, lying in a back storage
At the time of Cazeaux's murder, Taylor was on probation for the 1996
kidnapping and robbery of a woman and her 6-year-old daughter, who were
carjacked from a St. Martin convenience store. The victims were found
handcuffed to a pine tree in a wooded area of Harrison County.
In February 1998, Taylor received a 10-year prison sentence, but was
released on probation after serving just 6 months, facts that prompted
doubt in the justice system from the victim's mother.
"I needed to get to the point where I could get rid of some of my
bitterness towards the justice system," Cazeaux said. "Today, I think my
faith in the system has been restored."
Because he was a 1st-time offender and only 16 when he committed the
crimes, Taylor was placed on the Regimented Inmate Discipline program or
RID, which allows a judge to suspend the majority of a sentence in
exchange for supervised probation.
Cazeaux said Saturday's verdict gives the victim's family a sense of
closure, and that she hopes to stay in close contact with Taylor's family.
"There is very little that you can say during a trial like this, but I
hope to keep in touch with them," she said. "No one wins or loses in this
(source: Sun Herald)
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