[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----N.C., OHIO, IDAHO, N.Y.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 11 22:58:33 CST 2004
NORTH CAROLINA----impending execution
Easley denies clemency for Chandler, condemned for killing elderly woman
Condemned inmate Frank Ray Chandler lost his bid for clemency Thursday
night, hours before his scheduled execution early Friday for killing an
elderly woman during a robbery.
Chandler is not pursuing any court appeals and Gov. Mike Easley turned
down his request for clemency shortly after 8 p.m., saying he saw no
compelling reason to overturn the decision of the jury that sentenced him
Chandler requested a last meal Correction Department spokeswoman Pam
The condemned man spent Thursday receiving visits from his attorneys and
family members including his brother, sisters and parents, Walker said.
Chandler, 32, was convicted by a jury in the Dec. 11, 1992, death of Doris
Poore, 90, who lived alone in Mount Airy and whose body was found the
following day by a housekeeper.
Chandler's fingerprints were found in the house and he was arrested less
than a month later.
He testified at his trial that he broke in looking for marijuana and
thought the house was the dwelling of drug users.
State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, a death penalty supporter, has
been a unexpected champion of efforts to stop Chandler's execution.
Orr, who stepped down from the court in July, has urged Easley to stop the
execution on the grounds that Chandler's death sentence was legally
"There's no question that he's guilty," Orr said Thursday. "There are some
cases that merit the death penalty. I don't think this is one of them."
Chandler's jury agreed with prosecutors that he killed Poore "for
pecuniary gain" during his attempted theft. The felony burglary was the
"aggravating factor" that made Chandler eligible for the death penalty.
Orr contends that Chandler shouldn't be executed since he didn't kill
Poore for money. Chandler killed Poore by swinging his hand and hitting
her head when she startled him by screaming in the dark. Poore died as a
result of her head injury.
"Mrs. Poore's death is a tragedy, and the circumstances surrounding it are
egregious and disturbing," Orr wrote in a dissenting opinion in 1996 while
he was on the state Supreme Court.
None of the other 6 Supreme Court justices agreed with Orr.
He made the same argument to Easley, a Democrat and former district
attorney, during a Nov. 3 meeting.
"I think the whole pecuniary gain aggravator has been stretched well
beyond the intent of the law," Orr said Wednesday. "This case stretched it
Mount Airy police Maj. Gray Shelton, who helped investigated the slaying,
was scheduled to be a witness at Chandler's execution. He said the
community was outraged by Poore's death.
Poore's daughter, Lucy Browne, said her mother couldn't drive but took
frequent trips with friends and was active in church and senior citizen
"She was such a nice lady," said Poore's son-in-law John Browne.
"Everybody knew her."
(source: Associated Press)
Paw Paw native faces execution Friday---Received death sentence in North
Carolina for murder of 90-year-old.
The sun has risen and set more than 4,000 times over Central Prison since
Frank Chandler was brought there July 20, 1993, as a death row prisoner.
Unless Gov. Mike Easley grants clemency today, the 32-year-old, who was
born in Paw Paw, Mich., will not see another sunrise.
Chandler is scheduled to be executed by injection at 2 a.m. Friday. He was
sentenced to death for the Dec. 12, 1992, murder of Doris Poore, a
90-year-old woman whom Chandler said he killed by accident when she
startled him in the darkness during a burglary of her Surry County, N.C.,
Last Sunday, Chandler received a surprise visit from 3 half sisters, who
drove to Raleigh from Michigan.
Evelyn Elkins and Rhonda Starrett, both of Dowagiac, and Julie Aguilar of
Covert, saw Chandler for the first time since he was sentenced to death.
"I'm really trusting in God for a miracle," Elkins said. "I am hopeful."
On Monday morning, Chandler came to the maximum-security prison's visiting
room to talk about his plight.
Chandler, who stands 5-foot 9-inches tall and weighs about 300 pounds, is
a large man, who resembles television's Beaver Cleaver. Despite his
appearance, in his trial 11 years ago prosecutors presented him as
Chandler wears his blondish-red hair in a crew cut. His hairline is
slightly receded and his huge arms have several visible tattoos, including
a well-drawn barbed wire bracelet on his left wrist, which Chandler said
he did himself.
"I've pretty much, you know, grown used to the idea that I'll die here,"
Ken Rose, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Death
Penalty Litigation, a Durham, N.C.-based group that handles legal appeals
in capital cases, said he remains hopeful that Easley will spare
"This is a very strong clemency case," Rose said.
Chandler's defense attorney at trial, Terry Collins, now disbarred,
allegedly had previously used illegal drugs with the state's key witness,
jailhouse informant, Jeffrey Kyle Wilson, who once shared a cell with
Wilson provided testimony that led to Chandler receiving a death sentence.
In exchange for his testimony, Wilson was given relief in his own case and
paid a reward from the state, information that was not shared with the
In 1995, the district attorney who prosecuted Chandler, James Dellinger,
was removed from office because of improprieties in office, a fact defense
attorneys said "strengthens the claim that Mr. Chandler's conviction
resulted from prosecutorial misconduct."
Chandler said he moved with his family to Mount Airy, N.C. when he was in
sixth grade. Mount Airy, the home town of actor Andy Griffith, was used as
a model for the fictitious Mayberry of "The Andy Griffith Show."
"I'm regretful that it happened," Chandler said. "I'm very sorry. I'm
sorry for the loss for the family members. I've caused them a lot of pain.
It's something I wish I had never done, but it's not something that you
can take back."
Chandler, the youngest of Franklin and Lorene Chandler's 12 children, said
he is being treated well by his fellow inmates on "the row" and by prison
In the last week, Chandler has received visits from seven of his sisters.
6 drove and another took the bus to Raleigh from Michigan. He will be
permitted his 1st contact visits with family members today. None of his
family members plans to witness the execution.
Aguilar said many people are praying her brother's life is spared.
Spending more than 11 years on death row may be terrible, but Chandler
said he decided to make the best of it when he got there. To pass the time
Chandler said he does "a whole lot of reading," everything from religion
and history to fiction.
(source: South Bend Tribune)
Ohio House approves bill for study of death-row cases
In a surprise move yesterday, the Ohio House approved a bill requiring an
in-depth study into the 200-plus cases on death row that could lead to
recommendations for possible changes in the judicial system.
The bill would not enact a moratorium on executions, which would likely
continue over the 12 to 18 months that the 18-member panel of lawmakers,
judges, psychologists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and others would
Rep. Tom Brinkman, a highly conservative Cincinnati Republican, stunned
some members of his own caucus when he offered the amendment to a bill
increasing mandatory sentences for certain sexual predator crimes.
The amendment passed 64-30, and the final bill was approved 85-8. It drew
votes from people on both sides of the capital punishment debate.
Time is running out, however, for Senate passage. The chamber has just 6
to nine legislative days before the current session ends. Senate President
Doug White (R., Manchester) had yet to review the bill and declined to
comment on its chances.
"I wouldn't deny it if people thought I was trying to get the camel's nose
under the tent," said Mr. Brinkman. "I am against capital punishment. This
is the type of thing that exposes it. I think one of the things they need
to look at is how much it costs to kill these guys. It's cheaper to keep
them in prison for the rest of their lives."
The content of the amendment was initially proposed as a bill by Rep.
Shirley Smith (D., Cleveland). It calls for a study of both the imposition
and administration of the death penalty, including whether defendants had
adequate legal representation.
Rep. Jim Hughes (R., Columbus), a former prosecutor, voted against the
amendment but ultimately in favor of the final bill with its increased
sentences for serious sex offenses. "This is the first wedge in getting
rid of the death penalty," he said. "Don't be fooled. Yes, I'm very much
pro-death. I have seen the victims' families, and I've seen the pictures
of what these people do to these people."
Since 1999, when Ohio resumed carrying out the death penalty, the state
has executed 15 men. There are now 203 men and 1 woman on death row.
"Politically, the best in this General Assembly that we can get is a
study, not a moratorium," said Jim Toban of the Ohio Catholic Conference
and Ohioans to Stop Executions.
Yes votes from northwest Ohio included Reps. Jeanine Perry (D., Toledo),
Edna Brown (D., Toledo), Peter Ujvagi (D., Toledo), Lynn Olman (R.,
Maumee), Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island), and John Willamowski (R.,
Regional lawmakers opposing the amendment were Reps. Bob Latta (R.,
Bowling Green), Jim Hoops (R., Napoleon), Mike Gilb (R., Findlay), Stephen
Buehrer (R., Delta), Jeff Wagner (R., Sycamore), Kathleen Walcher (R.,
Norwalk), and Stephen Reinhard (R., Bucyrus). None voted against the bill
on final passage.
(source: Toledo Blade)
Prosecutor won't seek death penalty in drive-by shooting
Canyon County prosecutors say they don't intend to seek the death penalty
against 2 Caldwell men accused in a drive-by shooting that killed a
21-year-old in October.
Sigmund Goode was killed during a daylight drive-by shooting in Caldwell
29 year-old Ismael Tovar is accused of killing Sigmund Goode in front of a
downtown Caldwell home about 1 month ago. He faces a 1st-degree murder
Police also say 23-year-old Lucio Esparza was driving the car.
Esparza is charged with aiding and abetting 1st-degree murder.
Both men entered pleas of not guilty Wednesday to Third District Judge
Canyon County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Virginia Bond says the
circumstances surrounding the shooting death were not sufficient to
(source: Associated Press)
NEW YORK----federal death penalty to be sought
Feds to seek death penalty in Massino case
Federal prosecutors will announce Friday that they will seek the death
penalty against Bonanno crime boss Joseph Massino in another racketeering
trial next year, according to his attorney.
Massino's attorney, David Breitbart, declined to comment further. A court
hearing on the death penalty issue is scheduled for today in U.S. District
Court in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors yesterday declined to discuss their decision.
Massino would be the 1st major New York mobster to face possible execution
since the 1940s.
Massino, 61, of Howard Beach, was convicted in July of running the crime
family and playing a role in the gangland execution of 7 mobsters. He
faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced in January.
But Massino is also on tap for another racketeering trial later in 2005
that alleges he played a role in ordering the 1999 murder of Bonanno
family captain Gerlando "George" Sciascia. It is for the Sciascia killing
that the death penalty could be an option if Massino were convicted.
At Massino's trial in July, his brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale testified
that the Bonanno boss ordered Sciascia's slaying by saying "George has got
to go." Sciascia's body was dumped on a Bronx street and his shooting was
made to look like a drug killing, Vitale testified.
If Attorney General John Ashcroft authorizes Brooklyn prosecutors to seek
capital punishment, any jury that was to convict Massino of the Sciascia
killing would then determine if death was an appropriate punishment.
Historically, Brooklyn federal juries have turned aside prosecutors in at
least 3 attempts to seek executions, the most recent following the
December 2003 drug murder conviction of Emile Dixon. He received a life
The last major organized crime figure executed in New York was infamous
labor racketeer Louis Lepke Buchalter in 1944. Buchalter also ran the
notorious "Murder Inc" organization that reportedly carried out hundreds
Buchalter was convicted in state court for the 1936 slaying of a store
owner and was finally electrocuted in 1944.
In another Bonanno crime family case scheduled for today, a defense
attorney is expected to try to convince U.S. District Judge Nicholas
Garaufis that his decision to reject the plea deal of reputed Bonanno
captain Robert Lino was wrong.
Last week Garaufis tossed out a deal that would have netted Lino, 38, a
27-year prison sentence for his complicity in 2 gangland killings.
Garaufis said the sentence was too low and wanted to give Lino 37 years to
life. Lino was prepared to reject that and go to trial.
Defense attorney Barry Levin will likely ask Garaufis to reconsider the
rejection of the plea bargain on the grounds that federal court rules did
not allow it. A legal source familiar with the case said Garaufis' action
has prompted other reputed Bonanno crime family defendants to reconsider
cooperating with prosecutors.
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