[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----WASH., KAN., PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 25 08:11:06 CST 2004
Prosecutors in Wash. Won't Charge Snipers
Sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad and his teenage accomplice Lee Boyd
Malvo will not face charges for a slaying in Washington state months
before they went on their rampage in and around the nation's capital,
prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jerry Costello said there would little point in putting on an
expensive trial in Tacoma for the February 2002 shooting death of Keenya
Cook since the pair already face the death penalty or life in prison in
"We know Malvo killed Ms. Cook. We're convinced of that, and we're
convinced Muhammad was an accomplice," Costello said. "We would not be
able to obtain any punishment in Washington that would be greater than
life without release or the death penalty, which has already been
Cook, 21, was shot in the doorway of her aunt and uncle's Tacoma home.
Malvo told police and psychiatrists that the shooting was Muhammad's way
of testing him.
Investigators believe Cook's aunt, Isa Nichols -- who did some accounting
for Muhammad's auto repair business and sided with Muhammad's wife in the
couple's divorce -- may have been the intended target.
Muhammad and Malvo lived in the area before heading east and beginning a
terrifying string of random sniper shootings that left 10 dead in October
Malvo, 19, admitted being the trigger man and has been sentenced to life
in prison for 2 of the killings so far. He could still face the death
penalty in other prosecutions.
Muhammad, 43, is on Virginia's death row for his role in the slayings.
(source: Associated Press)
Ex - Convict Found Guilty in Kansas Slayings
A man was convicted Wednesday in a killing spree prosecutors said began as
retaliation for the robbery and beating of his mother.
Darrell Lamong Stallings, 34, was found guilty of 5 counts of capital
murder, 1 count of attempted murder and other charges stemming from the
June 2002 rampage. Another Kansas City man, 28-year-old Errik Harris,
faces the same charges; a trial date has not been set.
Prosecutors said Stallings fatally shot Trina Jennings, 26, who was seven
months pregnant, and wounded Anthony Jennings to avenge what Stallings
believed were their roles in the robbing and beating of his mother 2
months earlier. Prosecutors said the 3 other victims were killed because
they were witnesses.
Defense attorneys argued Stallings suffered from post-traumatic stress
Testimony included a recording of a jail interview Stallings gave by
telephone to KCTV in which he said he had snapped the morning of the
rampage, and that he didn't set out to kill anyone. He claimed he began
shooting in self-defense and that some of his victims were struck in the
Stallings was paroled less than a year before the shootings after serving
12 years for 2 2nd-degree murder convictions and aggravated assault
related to a botched drug deal in which two people were killed and 2
(source: Associated Press)
Judge asked to stay Banks' execution
4 days before George Banks is scheduled to be put to death, a Luzerne
County judge will be asked to stay the execution of the convicted mass
Banks' defense lawyer, Albert J. Flora Jr., filed an emergency petition
Wednesday in county court to stay the execution set for Thursday, Dec. 2,
at 7 p.m. at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, Centre
County. The hearing before President Judge Michael Conahan is set for
Monday, Nov. 29, at 1:30 p.m.
Banks was convicted and sentenced to death in 1983 for a 1982 shooting
rampage that killed 13 people, including 5 of his own children, in
Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township.
Flora claims Banks is incompetent and suffers from several mental
disorders sustained from years of solitary confinement, which aggravated a
pre-existing medical condition. He says the execution of a chronically
psychotic person violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,
Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution and International Law.
According to a Nov. 19 report written by Dr. Richard G. Dudley Jr., a
psychiatrist from New York City, Banks suffers from mixed personality
disorders, depression, schizoaffective disorder and paranoid
schizophrenia, among other disorders.
"Dr. Dudley's report ... makes clear that Mr. Banks' already serious
mental defect has grown more serious and debilitating with the passage of
time," Flora wrote in his petition. "Dr. Dudley concludes that Mr. Banks
is incompetent to be executed."
Flora said court rulings by appellate courts set precedence that prohibits
the execution of a mentally challenged person.
"A case that came down in 2002 (Atkins vs. Virginia) makes it
unconstitutional to execute the retarded," Flora said. "We want to go one
step further and argue people who are severely mentally ill should not be
Flora copied the opinion from the Atkins case in his petition filed in
It states: "People with chronic disorders, like Mr. Banks, share many
characteristics with people with mental retardation. Because of their
impairments, both groups have diminished capacities to understand and
process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn
from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and
to understand the reactions of others ... there is abundant evidence that
they often act on impulse rather than pursuant to a premeditated plan."
Banks is unable to comprehend and believes God has forgiven him and
vacated his conviction and sentences, Flora said.
His petition in Luzerne County follows a similar petition for a stay of
execution Flora submitted to the state Supreme Court last Friday.
Both were filed on behalf of Banks' mother, Mary Yelland.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, there was no word if the state Supreme
Court would re-hear Banks' latest appeal.
On Wednesday, Luzerne County District Attorney David W. Lupas filed a
brief with the state's high court in opposition to the "last-minute legal
maneuvers" by Banks' attorneys.
"This case is 21 years old, and we are looking forward to closure and some
sense of resolution in a matter, which involved the brutal, senseless
slayings of 13 innocent people. It is time for the jury's decision to be
carried out," said Lupas, the 6th district attorney to hold office since
Banks was convicted.
In his response to the latest appeal, Lupas wrote that Banks' mother "has
no standing" to file the appeal on his behalf, citing case law
(Commonwealth vs. Haag) that states a prisoner must be "incapable of
making a rational decision" to do so. The DA stated there has never been
formal finding of incompetence.
Lupas also wrote that Banks' execution would not violate the Eight
Amendment, barring cruel and unusual punishment, as argued by Banks'
attorneys. There is nothing to suggest Banks is insane or mentally
retarded, Lupas said.
"Justice in this case is long overdue, and an attempt to achieve finality
should not be further delayed ..." Lupas said. He asked the state Supreme
Court to deny the latest round of appeals.
Flora said he has plans to take defensive action if both his petitions for
stay of execution are denied.
If the state Supreme Court refuses to hear Banks' appeal, Flora said he
would file a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the county court denies his petition, Flora would file an appeal with
the state Supreme Court, which can refer it back to county court.
If the county court orders a stay, an evidentiary hearing would be held.
At that hearing, Dr. Dudley and other physicians would testify about
Banks' competency, Flora said.
Gov. Ed Rendell signed Banks' death warrant Oct. 5. It was the 26th death
warrant Gov. Rendell has signed since taking office in 2002. All but
Banks' warrant have been stayed, according to the state Department of
If it were carried out, Banks would become the 4th person executed in
Pennsylvania since the commonwealth reinstated the death penalty in 1978.
All 3 executed inmates ended their appeals voluntarily.
In an affidavit Flora submitted on his own behalf, he said Banks was not
competent during his trial 21 years ago. Flora said as Banks' defense
lawyer, he was constrained from introducing evidence.
Banks claimed during his 1983 trial that Wilkes-Barre police shot nine of
the victims in a conspiracy against him.
(source: The Citizen Voice)
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