[Deathpenalty]death penalty news---TEXAS, USA/ILL., KAN., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 18 09:16:57 CST 2004
Convicted killer speaks out the night before his execution
20 years ago, he murdered a father of two and Thursday night he is set to
die for his crime. Hours before his execution, Troy Kunkle sat down to
speak for the 1st and only time since his arrest.
Kunkle has spent more than 7,000 nights on death row, but Wednesday will
be his last. On Wednesday, he gave a glimpse into the mind of a murderer
before his execution.
Kunkle says he has never stopped fighting for a chance at life, even after
spending 19 years on death row.
"Hope is really something that's kept me going the last 20 years," Kunkle
said. "Somebody who doesn't have hope I guess wants to die."
On the night of August 12, 1984, Kunkle, then 18, wanted to kill. Drunk
and high, the former Roosevelt High School student and 4 friends drove to
Corpus Christi. Kunkle robbed 31-year-old Stephen Horton of $13 and put a
bullet in his head.
He gained infamy afterwards as "the killer with no remorse," after
reciting lyrics from the song "No Remorse" by Metallica after he committed
Asking him if he has remorse now, Kunkle says, is saying that he didn't
have remorse then.
"Well to be honest with you, it was basically a situation where a juvenile
mistake made with juvenile peer pressure," Kunkle said.
It's that argument Kunkle's defense attorney made after his conviction.
They say the jury never had a chance to consider his troubled childhood
with abusive and mentally ill parents.
He doesn't believe he was given a fair trial.
"Honestly, no I don't, really," he said.
Right now, Kunkle's hope comes from experience. This will be his second
date with death. In July, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an eleventh-hour
stay of execution.
But that stay was lifted in October, and Kunkle is now out of appeals.
As he looks toward the death chamber, he reflects on an adult life spend
entirely behind bars.
"I have to look at myself in the mirror every day. I have to look at my
mother's tears when she comes to visit," Kunkle said. "There's nothing
about this to be proud of. Really, it's a shame and embarrassment, to be
honest with you."
And for the inmate who says he's reformed and found God he knows what his
final thought will be.
"I'm hoping that I will be forgiven," Kunkle said.
The Horton family says they will not attend the execution, but say it is a
just price and that they have no remorse.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
In death chamber, inmate says truth will come out some day
Anthony Guy Fuentes, 30, was put to death Wednesday evening at the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville "Walls" Unit for the shooting
death of a Harris County man in 1994.
Fuentes, 30, was convicted and sentenced to die in 1996 for the capital
murder of Robert Tate, 28, during a Houston convenience store robbery.
In his last statement from the death chamber, Fuentes said he had found
peace, but professed his innocence in his final words.
"And to the family, the truth will come out, and I hope you find peace,"
Fuentes said. "I got my peace."
Through a shaky voice and some tears, he told his family he was sorry for
putting them through "this."
"I love you all," he said. "To everybody else, the truth will be known. It
didn't come out in time to save my life. ... But when it comes out, I hope
it stops this."
Fuentes was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. His grandfather, Guy Landrum, who
witnessed the execution, spoke to a TDCJ employee as he departed the
"He was innocent. I'll prove it some day," he said.
According to the Texas Attorney General's office, Fuentes and three other
men robbed the Handi Food Mart in north Houston on Feb. 18, 1994. Fuentes
apparently shot Tate, who chased one of the bandits when he left the store
with two cases of beer.
Tate grabbed the man, and the robber dropped the beer. Just then, Fuentes
came running out of the store and shot Tate twice in the chest. Tate died
in a ditch across the street from the store.
A witness at the trial identified Fuentes as Tate's murderer.
When asked in an interview last week, Fuentes would not admit he was even
at the scene, and all he would say about his guilt or innocence was, "I
never killed anybody."
He was the 23rd Texas prisoner to receive lethal injection this year and
the 1st of 2 on consecutive evenings this week.
Tonight, another Texas inmate, Troy Kunkle, is set to die for fatally
shooting Stephen Horton, a Corpus Christi man, during a robbery more than
20 years ago when Kunkle was an 18-year-old high school student in San
In July, Kunkle received a reprieve from the Supreme Court the same day he
was supposed to be executed. The court last month refused to review his
case, lifting the reprieve and setting the execution date.
According to the Texas Attorney General's office, on Aug. 11, 1984, Kunkle
and three companions drove from San Antonio to Corpus Christi. They saw
Horton walking along a road and offered him a ride. They demanded his
Kunkle then told one of his cohorts to kill Horton. When he refused,
Kunkle took the gun and stuck it up against Horton's head and said he
would kill him. After one of his companions drove the car behind a skating
rink, Kunkle shot Horton in the back of the head. They opened the car
door, pushed the body out and took Horton's wallet.
Kunkle reportedly married his German wife, Christa Haber, in October of
this year. Kunkle's case has been a big topic in Germany, where he was
In an interview with the German newspaper Abendzeitung, she relayed his
last thoughts on execution.
"Killing is (wrong)," he reportedly said. "I never intended to take a
person the life. This deed was not planned. ... We were all very young,
simple-minded and wanted to live. ... We were (high on) alcohol and drugs.
That entire day was only nonsense. It was an uncontrolled moment in my
"I find it bad that my country, in the name of God, and as an extended arm
of revenge, kills its citizens," Kunkle added. "I had not the right to
take a person the life, a country to be sure should not. Only God has the
(source: Huntsville Item)
Death penalty numbers going in right direction
The good news from the nation's death rows is that death penalty sentences
were at a 30-year low last year and fewer people are being executed.
And, for the 3rd straight year, the number of people sitting on death row
declined, according to the Department of Justice. Illinois has something
to do with that, of course, as former Gov. George Ryan cleared this
state's death row just before he left office in January 2003, after he
became persuaded that the system was badly flawed.
At least 13 innocent people had been sentenced to die in Illinois, an
unacceptable margin of error by anybody's standards.
A state commission appointed by Ryan determined that the death penalty is
handed down unevenly, and in fact, it may be impossible to ensure the
death penalty is implemented fairly and impartially. Factors such as race,
gender and income level of the victims and the accuseds affect the outcome
of criminal cases. So do the qualities of the defense and prosecution. The
death penalty is sought frequently in some jurisdictions and seldom in
Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in 2000 that still is in effect.
We hope it stays in effect.
Another factor in the reduction of death sentences may be the increasing
use of DNA evidence, which has repeatedly been used to exonerate innocent
people. Judges and juries are showing appropriate reluctance to impose the
ultimate penalty without absolute proof of guilt, and that sometimes is
difficult to come by.
In 2003, the death sentences of 260 inmates were overturned or reduced,
the highest number since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the
Still, the numbers are astounding from the 38 states that have the death
penalty option on their books. As of December 2003, California had 629
death row inmates; Texas was 2nd with 453; and Florida came in 3rd with a
Those states are not hesitant to use the penalty, either. Across the
country, there were 65 state-administered executions last year. Anything
over zero is unacceptable in a civilized society, but it was the smallest
number since 1996.
Ryan had his flaws, certainly. He faces racketeering charges in federal
court over a state contract scandal when he was secretary of state.
But he was right on the death penalty issue. He faced the issue squarely
and was forced to honestly conclude that he could not be a party to such a
People in other states have gradually come to the same realization, and
the numbers are going in the right direction because of it.
(source: Opinion, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star)
Death penalty rejected for trial
In Addison, DuPage County prosecutors have decided not to seek the death
penalty for Kenny Williams, 36, of Addison if he is convicted of the 2003
murder of his girlfriend's former boyfriend.
Assistant State's Atty. Tim Diamond told Judge George Bakalis on Wednesday
about the decision. Williams' trial for the June 16, 2003, death of Gerald
Stokes, 26, of Oak Park is set to begin March 22.
Stokes and Williams are alleged to have had a confrontation in the lobby
of Williams' apartment in the 600 block of Swift Road, resulting in Stokes
receiving fatal stab wounds to the throat.
Williams faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
(source: Chicago Tribune)
KANSAS----new death sentence
Ultimate penalty----Judge approves death sentence for Douglas Belt in 2002
Randy Baldonado called the man convicted of killing his sister a monster
and an animal, as he asked a judge to approve a jury's sentence of death
for Douglas Belt.
Sedgwick County District Judge Rebecca Pilshaw followed the jury's verdict
and on Wednesday affirmed Belt's death sentence by lethal injection for
the 2002 decapitation of Lucille Gallegos.
Wednesday's hearing drew emotional appeals from Gallegos' family,
including Baldonado, a younger brother.
"Douglas Belt had the audacity to ask the jury to spare his life,"
Baldonado said. "Is his life any more precious than hers?"
Belt interrupted: "I didn't kill your sister."
Pilshaw told Belt to be quiet. He earlier had declined to address the
Lucille Gallegos, 43, was the sixth of 12 children. Her headless body was
found in a vacant apartment in west Wichita, where she worked as a
"I will never understand the mind of someone who kills -- and kills with
such cruelty," said Baldonado, who serves in the Army in Fort Carson,
Earlier this month, when asking the jury to spare his life, Belt said some
jurors probably thought him a "monster."
"You're much more than a monster, to use your own words," Baldonado said.
"You're an animal."
Baldonado also criticized the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which
mislabeled a sample of Belt's blood in the early 1990s in connection with
a series of rapes in Kansas and the Midwest. Belt's DNA later tied him to
those rapes, when it was identified by Wichita police at the apartment
where Gallegos died.
"Had the KBI not mislabeled that sample, my sister would still be alive,"
Herman Gallegos, meanwhile, said he shared the grief he felt over his
mother's death with the families of six women who testified during the
murder trial about being raped. Belt's DNA was found in each of those
"This man has caused so much pain for our family and others across Kansas
who will have to live with their nightmares," he said.
"Our mother was a great mother, grandmother, wife, sister and aunt,"
Herman Gallegos said.
McPherson Police Chief Dennis Shaw was at the sentencing. He said he
expects prosecutors in his county to pursue rape charges against Belt.
After the sentencing, Belt was taken to state prison in El Dorado. Since
Kansas reinstituted capital punishment in 1994, eight men have been
sentenced to death. 4 of those sentences have been reversed by the state
Supreme Court; action on re-sentencing is pending.
The Belt case took investigators six months to unravel. They had
originally suspected Gallegos' abusive boyfriend. But led by Police
Detective Tom Fatkin, the DNA testing eventually pointed to Belt.
"You have to give the police credit for keeping an open mind," prosecutor
Barry Disney said. "They used experience and patience to solve this case."
(source: Wichita Eagle)
Judge gives Douglas Belt the death penalty
A judge Wednesday agreed with a jury and sentenced Douglas Belt to die.
Belt beheaded Lucille Gallegos in June of 2002. The jury took only 4 hours
to find him guilty and then later decided he should die for the crime.
Despite the jury's ruling, the final decision in capital murder cases in
Kansas rests with the judge. However, because of state law, there is an
automatic appeals process in all capital murder cases.
(source: KBSD News)
Man's Death Sentence Converted To Life In Prison
A judge has spared the life of local man convicted of murdering a
Last year, Tony Powell's death sentence in the 1986 attempted rape and
murder of Trina Dukes in Over-The-Rhine was thrown out.
A judge has resentenced him to life in prison, with the possibility of
parole in 20-years.
(source: WCPO News)
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