death penalty news----IND., PENN., KY., OHIO, S.C., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 18 22:37:19 CST 2004
County's Cash Crunch May Affect Death Penalty Case----Public Defender
Seeks To Change Nature Of Case
The attorney for a man accused of killing an area woman and her daughter
has filed a motion to drop the death penalty portion of the charge for
Authorities say Fedrick Baer, 32, killed Cory Clark, 26, and her
4-year-old daughter, Jenna, by cutting their throats Feb. 25 at their
rural home near Lapel, about 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
Public defender Douglas Long, who is representing Baer, said he filed the
petition because Madison County officials have been late in making
payments for his services, RTV6's Jeremy Brilliant reported.
Long said it would be cheaper to defend the case if the maximum sentence
Baer could receive if convicted would be life in prison.
"The county still has money problems and we're concerned that the county
may not have the money in the future to continue on paying us for our
representation in this case," Long said.
Madison County has already spent $130,000 on the case, a portion of which
goes to Long.
The county, like many others in Indiana, has been struggling financially,
A death penalty case could cost as much as $500,000, but Madison County
Prosecutor Rodney Cummings told Brilliant that there is enough money to
fund both the prosecution and the defense in a death-penalty case.
Blaine Coomer, the victims' father and grandfather, said he's "heartsick
over the situation that it's come down to money."
"The family has suffered and gone through hell with Fredrick Michael Baer.
Now we're going to through hell with the legal system to get justice for
the girls," Coomer said. "(Long's) job is to save his client's life, and
he's willing to go to any length, including scaring the family, to do it."
Long said he filed the motion based strictly because of the money issue
and nothing else, Brilliant reported.
Baer's trial is scheduled to begin in April.
(source: The IndyChannel)
Death row inmate earns new sentencing hearing
A death row inmate convicted of shooting 2 people to death - including a
promising rap artist - will get a new chance to avoid execution because a
prosecutor told jurors he had assaulted someone in prison.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for
Lawrence Smith but upheld his 1st-degree murder convictions for a pair of
2000 killings at an after-hours nightclub in Philadelphia, both committed
during separate robberies that occurred a couple of months apart.
Smith, 24, was convicted in the April 2000 shooting of 22-year-old Raeneil
"Q-Don" Quann, a member of the Philadelphia rap group NAAM Brigade,
outside Club Evolution in the city's Fishtown neighborhood.
Smith fired into a crowd, shooting Quann in the head, while Smith and
three others were attempting to flee after committing a robbery and
assault around 3 a.m., police said.
Two months earlier, Smith and an accomplice robbed Songha T. Willis, 27,
and two other men of jewelry and money outside Club Evolution before Smith
shot Willis twice in the back of the head as he lay face-down, police
"They were cold-blooded killings in which the defendant executed people
after robbing them," Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald
Eisenberg said Thursday. "In both cases, the robberies had already been
completed. The defendant was free to leave with his booty. But instead he
chose to turn around and fire."
A jury found Smith guilty of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder, attempted
murder, robbery, conspiracy and possessing instruments of crime. The only
penalties for first-degree murder in Pennsylvania are the death penalty or
life in prison without parole.
The Supreme Court said the problem arose during the sentencing phase, when
a prosecutor referred to the alleged prison assault to rebut a defense
psychiatric expert's claim that Smith presented no danger to other
inmates. The justices said testimony about the assault by a prosecution
witness, Dr. John O'Brien, was flawed.
"There is no indication that Dr. O'Brien was present at, or somehow
participated in, the alleged adjudication of (Smith) on the charge of
assaulting a prisoner," wrote Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy in a unanimous
Smith's lawyer, Gary S. Server, said Smith was never charged criminally
for the alleged assault. The prosecution's reference to the assault
constituted false evidence that was "very harmful" in efforts to defend
against the death penalty, Server said.
Smith was 1 of 6 inmates involved in a fight at the Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility in November 2001, said Bob Eskind, spokesman for the
Philadelphia prison system. As a result, all 6 inmates were placed in
punitive segregation, Eskind said.
Eisenberg called the ruling "just the latest example of the hypertechnical
review of death penalty cases for defendants who received an entirely fair
trial." A decision has not been made about whether to continue to pursue
the death penalty against Smith, he said.
On the Net:
(source: Associated Press)
Kentucky Governor, a Doctor, Risks License
When Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a death warrant for a convicted killer
this month, he may have done more than start the clock ticking on an
execution. Some say Fletcher, a doctor, may have put his medical license
American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part,
directly or indirectly, in executions. And Kentucky requires doctors to
follow AMA ethical guidelines.
"I think it's a clear violation," said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, an 86-year-old
retired psychiatrist in New York and an outspoken death-penalty opponent.
Zitrin is also challenging the license of a Georgia doctor accused of
helping nurses find a vein in a condemned man for a lethal injection.
A group of doctors is seeking an opinion from the Kentucky Board of
Medical Licensure on whether Fletcher can sign death warrants without
running the risk of having his medical license revoked. The board is not
scheduled to take up the matter until at least January, and would not
comment in the meantime.
On Nov. 8, Fletcher signed a death warrant for 51-year-old Thomas Clyde
Bowling, convicted of shooting to death the husband-and-wife owners of a
dry cleaning business outside their store in 1990. Bowling is set to die
by lethal injection Nov. 30.
Fletcher's executive counsel, John Roach, said the Republican governor did
not violate AMA guidelines or other ethical standards.
"By signing a death warrant, in no way is Gov. Ernie Fletcher
participating in the conduct of an execution," Roach said. "Gov.
Fletcher's role under the law is consistent with the roles of judges
fulfilling their legal duty and jurors fulfilling their legal obligations
regardless of their professions."
The AMA guidelines forbid doctors to actively take part in an execution or
to take any "action which would directly cause the death of the condemned"
or "which would assist, supervise or contribute" to the death of the
In a statement, Dr. Michael Goldrich, chairman of the AMA Council on
Ethical and Judicial Affairs, stopped short of saying whether the governor
violated the guidelines.
Goldrich said the code prohibits any role by a doctor, passive or active,
in an execution. But he also said the code "does not speak to individuals
with a medical degree who no longer maintain any involvement with medicine
and are engaged in activities that are outside the sphere of the medical
Fletcher, 52, earned his medical degree at the University of Kentucky and
was a family practitioner until he was elected to Congress in 1998. He was
elected governor last year and is still licensed as a physician in
The Federation of State Medical Boards said it has no information on any
doctors who may have been disciplined for taking part in an execution. Not
all states incorporate AMA guidelines into state law. For example, it
would not be illegal in California for a physician to participate in an
execution, according to Candis Cohen, spokeswoman for the Medical Board of
According to the National Governors Association, there have been three
other doctors who have been U.S. governors since the AMA guidelines took
effect in 1980. But none was in the position of having to decide whether
to sign a death warrant.
Dr. Otis Ray Bowen of Indiana left office in 1981 without signing a death
warrant. Vermont, where Dr. Howard Dean spent 12 years as governor, has no
death penalty. Dr. John Kitzhaber was governor during two executions in
Oregon before leaving office in 2003. But the Oregon governor does not
sign an execution warrant - a judge does. Kitzhaber could have granted
clemency to the condemned but chose not to.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., worked as a heart surgeon
before being elected to the Senate. Frist, who supports the death penalty,
had no comment on Fletcher's decision.
State Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat, said of the governor: "It's curious he
will keep his no-new-taxes pledge but will violate his Hippocratic oath.
I'm not sure how he sleeps at night with this kind of decision."
Kentucky Supreme Court to hear mental retardation arguments in execution
The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether to stop a
scheduled execution so doctors can determine if the condemned inmate is
In a 2-sentence order, the court set arguments for Tuesday, Nov. 23 in the
case of convicted murderer Thomas Clyde Bowling. The court issued the
order on Thursday.
Bowling, 51, is scheduled to die Nov. 30 for the 1990 killing Eddie and
Tina Earley, owners of the Earley Bird Cleaners, who were shot in their
car outside their shop. Their 2-year-old son, Christopher, also was shot
in the assault, but he survived.
Bowling's attorneys asked the high court to stop the execution, saying
Bowling is mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that
executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional.
The court on Thursday rejected Bowling's request to stop the execution
while his attorneys interview jurors from his trial in 1991.
Supreme Court upholds murder conviction of death row inmate
In Frankfort, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed Thursday with a lower
court's ruling that a death row inmate convicted of 2 murders should not
have a new trial.
In a 6-0 opinion, the court ruled Laurel County Circuit Court properly
denied Ronnie Lee Bowling's request for a new trial.
Bowling was convicted of murdering 2 people - Ronald Smith and Marvin
Hensley, both of London - during separate robberies in 1989. The victims
were both service station attendants.
Bowling was given 2 death sentences, which the Supreme Court has
In his appeal, Bowling maintained, among other things, that he was due a
new trial because he allegedly did not have an impartial jury. Bowling
also claimed the trial judge had improper contacts with some jurors and
alternates after they had been dismissed.
The court disagreed in refusing the new trial.
(source for all: Associated Press)
Court upholds death sentence -- DNA tests confirmed Stanley Adams raped a
Stanley T. Adams of Warren remains on death row after the Ohio Supreme
Court unanimously upheld Wednesday his conviction and death sentence for
the 1999 killing of a mother and her 12-year-old daughter.
"Adams chose to rape and murder an innocent 12-year-old child, who was the
half-sister of his own girlfriend," wrote Chief Justice Thomas Moyer in
the high court's decision. "His acts clearly demonstrate that the death
penalty is appropriate."
Adams, who had lived with the victims for several months earlier that
year, was convicted of the robbery and aggravated murder of 43-year-old
Esther Cook and the rape and aggravated murder of Ashley Cook.
Adams asked the trial court to spare his life on behalf of his sons, and
his brother told the court of the abuse Adams and other family members
suffered at the hands of their father.
"As to the aggravated murder of Esther Cook, we find beyond a reasonable
doubt that the aggravating circumstances of murder during a burglary and
as a course of conduct outweigh the mitigation presented in this case,"
wrote Justice Moyer in the court's decision. "Adams feloniously entered
Esther's home and savagely and brutally beat her to death, and he did so
as a part of a course of conduct involving Esther's murder and the murder
of her 12-year-old daughter.
"When considering Ashley's murder, we also find beyond a reasonable doubt
that the multiple aggravating circumstances, murder during a course of
conduct and murder during a burglary and during rape, as well as murder of
a child, outweigh the mitigating features that Adams presented."
On the night of the crime, Adams left a crack cocaine party and later
returned with a blood-stained roll of money and blood on his clothes,
according to Supreme Court documents.
The next day, neighbors admitted seeing the car Adams had been driving at
the home the night of the murders, according to Supreme Court documents.
DNA tests on semen found in the young victim's body were attributed to
Adams by several doctors in the field, according to court documents.
Adams denied committing the crimes, but admitted tripping over the bodies
and running out of the house without calling police.
A Trumbull County jury convicted Adams on multiple counts, and a judge
adopted the jury's recommendation of a death sentence.
Adams' attorney's claimed 17 errors in his case. The Supreme Court turned
down all but one.
The high court agreed his conviction and death sentence for the kidnapping
of Ashley should be set aside because there was no evidence he moved the
young victim from one location to another.
The court, however, denied the remaining 16 arguments, including the claim
Adams did not receive a fair trial because of extensive media coverage and
the judge's refusal to move the trial to a different location.
Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor LuWayne Annos presented oral
arguments on the case before the Supreme Court. She said that while the
ineffectiveness of counsel arguments were standard and necessary arguments
for Adam's attorneys to make, she did not believe there was an
ineffectiveness of counsel.
(source: The Youngstown Vindicator)
Sentencing delayed over mental abilities for convicted Spartanburg
The sentencing phase of a death penalty trial was delayed on Thursday
while psychologists determine the mental abilities of convicted killer
Judge Edward Miller told the prosecution and defense that their
psychologists had 48 hours to determine whether Evins is mentally
The US Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that mentally retarded individuals are
barred from execution.
Two psychiatrists testified Wednesday that they did not know whether Evins
is retarded and that his IQ is low.
Evins was convicted this week of murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual
conduct and grand larceny in the death of 32-year-old Rhonda Ward Goodwin.
Goodwin was raped and killed in February 2003 after being taken from a
convenience store parking lot.
Ward's nude body was found in an orchard in February 2003. Prosecutors say
she had been stabbed 12 times.
(source: Associated Press)
Former Death Row Inmate To Get Makeover
A former Arizona death row inmate is trying to put his life back together,
and he's getting some help from a TV show.
Ray Krone spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
His conviction was due in large part to his bad teeth. Bite marks on the
victim, experts testified, had to have been made by Krone, but DNA testing
proved he was not the killer, and he was released from a Yuma prison in
The reality show "Extreme Makeover" is fixing his teeth, and he's getting
some other cosmetic work done.
(source: KOLD News)
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