[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 30 11:46:16 CST 2004
TEXAS----impending female execution
Parole board recommending delaying execution of woman in family's deaths
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted today to recommend Gov. Rick
Perry delay the scheduled execution this week of condemned inmate Frances
Newton for 120 days.
Newton, 39, is set for lethal injection Wednesday for the 1987 shooting
deaths of her husband and two children at their Harris County apartment.
In Texas, she could become the 1st black woman executed and only the 4th
woman executed since the Civil War.
In a 5-1 vote, the board agreed with Newton and her attorneys that she
should be given the extra time so her attorneys can investigate claims
that she may be innocent, that evidence against her should be retested and
that she had poor representation at her trial.
Perry can agree with the board or ignore their recommendation and allow
(source: Associated Press)
U.S.: Halt Execution of Texas Woman----Conviction Rests on Evidence Tested
by Discredited Houston Crime Lab
The state of Texas should halt the execution of Frances Newton, scheduled
to be put to death on Wednesday for a triple murder in 1987, Human Rights
Watch said today. Newton, a 39 year-old African-American woman, was
convicted largely on the basis of evidence tests conducted by the widely
discredited Harris County crime laboratory in Houston.
"Governor Perry and the Texas parole board should stay the execution to
allow Ms. Newton's attorneys to investigate new evidence that she may be
innocent," said Wendy Patten, U.S. advocacy director at Human Rights
Watch. "Considering the controversy surrounding Houston's crime lab, it is
the only reasonable choice to avoid sending a possibly innocent woman to
Earlier this month Houston's chief of police, Harold Hurtt, called on the
state to delay all executions in cases where the troubled lab's evidence
was used. The Harris County crime lab, responsible for investigations in
Houston, has been surrounded by controversy since early 2003, when
hundreds of missing boxes were found that pertained to 8,000 criminal
cases. An independent audit also revealed alarming defects in the crime
lab's DNA analysis.
The Houston Police Department is still reviewing the evidence uncovered in
2003. Recent cases have shown that the problems at the crime lab include
missing evidence, defective DNA analysis and inaccurate ballistic
analysis. Already one Harris County case has been overturned based on the
prosecution's use of incorrect DNA evidence and in a 2nd case a weapons
examiner from the lab admitted the wrong bullet was tested. Many other
cases are under appeal or are being investigated by the district
The case against Frances Newton rests largely on ballistic evidence tests
conducted in the Harris County lab. From the outset, Ms. Newton has
maintained her innocence, and there were no eyewitnesses to the crime.
Without the ballistic evidence, it is unlikely that Ms. Newton would have
been convicted of these murders.
Ms. Newton, like so many on death row in the United States, suffered from
ineffective assistance of counsel. Her state-appointed trial attorney
failed to conduct even a basic investigation on her behalf and presented
no witnesses at trial in Ms. Newton's defense.
Texas state law gives the governor the power to grant a 30-day reprieve to
those facing execution, regardless of the recommendation of the Board of
Pardons and Parole. The Board can also recommend clemency or, in
exceptional circumstances, a longer period of reprieve. If the state
grants the 120-day reprieve requested by Ms. Newton's attorneys, they
would have time to conduct a thorough investigation of her case, a right
she has been denied thus far, including new ballistic testing in a
reliable lab. If Newton's death sentence is carried out, she would be the
3rd woman put to death in Texas since the state resumed executions in
Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances. The
death penalty is a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and finality.
The intrinsic fallibility of all criminal justice systems assures that
even when full due process of law is respected, innocent persons may be
For more of Human Rights Watch's work on the death penalty in the U.S.,
(source: Human Rights Watch)
Killer's in-laws reject claims----Latest round of denials from condemned
woman reopens family's wounds
Virginia Louis does not want to see her daughter-in-law executed on
Wednesday night, but she said there is no question in her mind that
Frances Newton murdered her family in 1987.
"I know she's guilty; there is no doubt in my mind," said Louis, a
61-year-old retired North Forest school bus driver and mother of the man
Newton was convicted of killing.
Newton, 39, is scheduled for a lethal injection Wednesday for the April
1987 murders of her husband, Adrian Newton, and her 2 children, 7-year-old
Alton and Farrah Elaine, 21 months.
Frances Newton has repeatedly denied killing her family, saying a drug
dealer named "Charlie" may have been responsible. She said her husband
owed the man money.
State and federal courts have dismissed Newton's claims, and for the
family of Adrian Newton, the latest round of denials has been frustrating
"My son didn't use drugs. Why does she keep saying this Charlie? Who is
Charlie? There ain't no Charlie. She's Charlie," Louis said in an
The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals on Monday rejected Newton's 11th-hour
appeal, and a similar effort remains pending before the U.S. Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals. Her petition for a 120-day reprieve is also pending
before the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Prosecutors said Newton killed her family to claim $100,000 in life
insurance money. Evidence at the 1988 trial showed Newton forged her
husband's signature on life insurance policies bought several months
before the deaths.
In the weeks before the slayings, Frances began to use drugs and date
another man, and the 2 together may have plotted the deaths in her north
Harris County apartment, family members said.
"I think there was a second person involved, and it was that guy she was
dating," Tom Louis of Houston, Adrian Newton's brother, said Monday.
"My instincts tell me that she didn't kill the kids. She killed my
brother, and then the other guy killed the kids because they saw the whole
thing," Tom Louis said.
Adrian Newton's family members did not testify at the 1988 trial.
Prosecutors said the murder weapon was a .25-caliber automatic pistol that
was found in a blue bag in an abandoned house near her apartment. A
witness saw Newton hide the gun in the house.
Newton said she had found the unfamiliar gun at home and removed it as a
Key evidence at Newton's trial included ballistics evidence linking the
gun to the murder. Newton's attorneys have raised questions about the
reliability of testing by the Houston Police Department crime lab, which
have come under scrutiny in recent years for providing inaccurate evidence
at criminal trials.
Newton has lodged numerous complaints about Ron Mock, her court-appointed
defense attorney. Catherine Coulter, the attorney appointed to work with
Mock, signed an affidavit last week agreeing with Newton's attorneys that
she and Mock provided ineffective legal assistance.
Prosecutors say state and federal appeals courts have thoroughly reviewed
all of Newton's claims and have no doubt of Newton's guilt.
Several of Adrian Newton's cousins may attend the execution, but his
immediate family will not.
"We're all opposed to the death penalty," Tom Louis said. "In my opinion,
if someone commits a crime, they should have to live with their mistakes."
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Woman scheduled for execution in Texas
Time may be running out for a woman on death row in Texas.
Frances Newton is scheduled to receive a lethal injection tomorrow evening
for the 1987 shooting deaths of her husband and 2 small children.
The 39-year-old is counting on federal appeals courts and the Texas parole
board to delay the execution. A state appeals court turned her down
Newton tells The Associated Press she's innocent of the killings.
Her appeals attorneys want time to conduct new tests on the pistol
prosecutors say was the murder weapon and chemical analysis on the
clothing she was wearing that night.
They also argue her trial lawyers were incompetent.
Preparations are already under way for the execution. Newton's turned down
a last meal.
She'd be only the 4th woman executed in Texas in nearly 150 years.
(source: Associated Press)
Texas woman faces death despite doubt
If Texas executes Frances Newton as scheduled on Tuesday, she would become
the 1st woman put to death in 2 years, despite serious doubts about a
botched defense and a poor investigation.
Only 10 women have been suffered the death penalty since it was reinstated
in the United States in 1976, out of a total of 944 executions.
The most recent was Aileen Wuornos, in October 2002, a prostitute and
drifter, accused of having killed a number of men.
The macabre odyssey inspired the film Monster, starring Charlize Theron,
who won an Oscar for the role.
Newton, 39, was charged in April 1987 with the murder of her husband and
her 2 children. Her husband was found on the living room sofa with a
bullet in the head, while her son and daughter were found in their beds,
each with a bullet to the chest.
During the trial, prosecutors said Newton had killed her family in order
to collect $100 000 dollars in life insurance indemnification, although
the children were not covered.
The defendant, who has claimed her innocence for more than 17 years, had
no alternative explanation for the killings, but said they could have been
a vendetta, because her husband had been a drug addict for some time.
The prosecution's case rested heavily on ballistics evidence, which was
provided by the Harris County crime lab. The lab is so mired in
controversy that Houston's police chief, Harold Hurtt, has asked Texas to
delay any execution.
"Considering the controversy surrounding Houston's crime lab, it is the
only reasonable choice to avoid sending a possibly innocent woman to her
death," Wendy Patten, US advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in
Newton's lawyer, David Dow, of the Texas Innocence Network at the
University of Houston Law Centre, has been working "actively on the case
The group has filed a petition before the Texas Board of Pardons and
Paroles asking for a 120-day stay of execution to allow further
investigation of the case.
The board must give its answer before 6pm (11.59pm GMT) Tuesday and its
decision will be sent to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has the final
The Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas' highest criminal court, has already
denied the delay. The same petition is pending in federal court.
"I am never optimistic, but always hopeful," Dow said.
Steve Hall, director of StandDown Texas, which fights for a moratorium on
the death penalty, held out little hope of a stay in Texas, which executes
more prisoners than any other state.
"In spite of questions, it is likely, given this is Texas," he said. "This
case never received a proper investigation. The defence attorney is
notorious for ineffective assistance to defendants, led no investigation,
and has been sanctioned by the Bar on multiple occasions," he said.
"There are contradictions that frankly should have been examined years
ago. What happened is what often happens: It's only at the last minute
that a good lawyer gets involved in a case."
Several groups, such as the ACLU and the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, are in the last-minute effort to save Newton.
(source : Mail & Guardian)
Attorney says slain baby's mom is disoriented
In Dallas, the attorney for a woman who admitted killing her baby daughter
by severing the child's arms says his client is disoriented.
Dena Schlosser of Plano is charged with capital murder. Her 11-month-old
daughter, Margaret, died last week after her arms were severed.
David Haynes, Schlosser's court-appointed attorney, said he visited his
client on Sunday.
She is being held without bail at the Collin County Jail infirmary.
"She's very confused about her situation," Haynes said in Monday's edition
of the Dallas Morning News. "I don't think she's presently competent to
Earlier this year, Schlosser was treated for postpartum depression. She
also has a history of brain injuries and had 3 surgeries for fluid in the
brain between the ages of 8 and 13.
A private graveside funeral was to be held on Monday for Schlosser's
(source: Associated Press)
Massacre Trial Begins -- Suspected gang member could receive death penalty
Juan Raul Navarro Ramirez raised his eyebrows with apparent interest
Monday as he watched a police video showing the grisly, bloody aftermath
of an Edinburg shooting massacre that left 6 men dead.
The video, shown during the 1st day of Ramirezs capital murder trial,
displayed images of the corpses of the 6 men, several of whose faces were
severely disfigured from bullet wounds to the head.
Facing the death penalty, Ramirez, 20, of Donna, is one of 11 alleged
Tri-City Bomber gang members charged with capital murder in connection to
the Jan. 5, 2003, shootings at 2915 E. Monte Cristo Road in Edinburg.
Ramirez's trial began Monday morning in front of a jury in Judge Noe
Gonzalez's 370 th state District Court in the Hidalgo County Courthouse in
Edinburg. 18 years old at the time of the shooting, Ramirez is the
youngest of the accused and is the 1st to go to trial.
Ramirez has pleaded innocent to the 2 counts of capital murder. One of
Ramirezs defense attorneys, Alma Garza, asked jurors to keep their minds
open during the trial.
The only person to testify Monday, Ramiro Ruiz, an Edinburg police
detective, described the crime scene to jurors and identified the victims
shown in both the police video and in several dozen pictures.
Jimmy Edward Almendariz, 22; brothers Jerry Eugene Hidalgo, 24, and Ray
Hidalgo, 30; brothers Juan Delgado Jr., 32, and Juan Delgado III, 20; and
Ruben Rolando Castillo, 32, were killed in the attack. The sole survivor,
the mother of the Hidalgo brothers, had been tied up with a telephone cord
and left alive, according to police testimony.
Arrests of the alleged Tri-City Bomber members came several weeks after
the incident, after the brother of Marcial Bocanegra, now charged in the
shootings, contacted Edinburg police and told them of a conversation he
had with Bocanegra the night of the shootings.
During his opening arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Cregg Thompson told
jurors that the motive for the deaths of the 6 men stems from a rivalry
between the Tri-City Bombers and a separate gang carrying the same
initials, the Texas Chicano Brotherhood. Several of the victims in the
Monte Cristo killings had ties to the Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang,
The 2 gangs had at one time been affiliated, but had splintered, Thompson
"At first, it seemed like an attempted robbery gone bad," Thompson said.
However, "there were drugs left there at the house," he said.
Jerry Eugene Hidalgo, who had a "TCB" tattoo representing the Texas
Chicano Brotherhood on his chest, had just been released from state prison
2 days before his death, according to Monitor archives.
Thompson did not identify Ramirez as one of the shooters but rather told
jurors that he had gone along with plans to conduct a home invasion-type
raid on two adjacent homes with several other gang members. However,
Thompson had previously told The Monitor that he believed Ramirez was one
of the shooters.
Texas state law allows for a person to face the death penalty if he or she
conspires or participates in a killing that leaves more than one person
dead or involves 2 or more felonies, such as an armed robbery that ends in
Ramirez gave to Ruiz a 20-minute audiotaped statement on Jan. 29, 2003,
the date of his arrest, implicating himself in the home invasion raid.
Ramirez had testified during a pretrial hearing last month in which his
attorneys attempted to suppress his statement that he was under the
influence of up to 15 Roche pills, a sedative, when he spoke with police.
The statement in question, in which Ramirez describes planning and
participating in the raid but does not admit to shooting anyone, was ruled
admissible by Gonzalez.
Members of the Tri-City Bombers have been connected to a separate multiple
homicide in which 4 Donna women died on Sept. 5, 2002.
Investigators from the Hidalgo County Sheriffs Department and prosecutors
theorized that the gang members shot the 4 after they mistook them for 2
other women who had been called to testify against a now-incarcerated gang
Another Tri-City Bomber gang member, Robert Gene "Bones" Garza, 21, was
sentenced to death last December for his involvement in the Donna
Garza is also charged in the Monte Cristo massacre.
Charged alongside Ramirez and Garza with capital murder in the Monte
Cristo slayings are Humberto "Gallo" Garza, 30; Marcial Mata Bocanegra,
27; Juan "Juanon" Arturo Villarreal Cordova, 35; Roberto "Robbie" Cantu,
25; Salvador "Little Sal" Solis, 27; Jorge Norberto "Choche " Martinez,
39; Reymundo "Kito" Sauceda, 29; Rodolfo "Creeper" Medrano, 25; and
Jeffrey "Dragon" Juarez, 29.
A 12th man, Juan Miguel "Perro " Nuez, 29, is still wanted by Edinburg
police for capital murder charges in connection with the shootings.
Testimony will continue today in Ramirezs trial.
(source: The Monitor)
2 arrested in deaths of four people in Bell County
Authorities have arrested 2 men they believe killed 4 people in recent
days and planned to kill as many as 9 more.
Richard L. Tabler, 25, of Killeen, and Timothy Doan Payne, a Fort Hood
soldier whose age wasn't available, are suspected of killing 4 people, all
of them connected to the strip club from which Tabler was recently fired,
said Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith.
The victims are alleged Teazers Gentlemen's Club owner Mohamed-Amine
Rahmouni; his associate, Haitham Frank Zayed; and 2 dancers at the Killeen
club, Tiffany Loraine Dotson, 18; and an unidentified 24-year-old woman.
Zayed, 28, and Rahmouni, 25, were found shot to death Friday on a dead-end
street just north of the 6000 block of Old Copperas Cove Road. Rahmouni
allegedly recently fired Tabler from the club and threatened to kill him
and his family, Smith said in a written statement.
After plotting to kill Rahmouni, Tabler lured the 2 men to the remote
location by telling them he had stolen property for them to buy, Smith
Tabler then continued what Smith called "his fixation on other club
employees" and arranged to meet Dotson and the 24-year-old woman at a
remote location about 1 mile south of U.S. Highway 190, telling them he
had crack cocaine for them.
"When they arrived at the scene Tabler executed both girls by multiple
gunshots to the head and torso," Smith said.
The 2 women were found at about 9:40 p.m. Sunday.
Tabler had made a hit list of as many as 9 other club employees he planned
to kill before Wednesday, Smith said. Tabler also allegedly threatened
investigators working the case as well as a call-taker at the Bell County
The 24-year-old woman was not on Tabler's hit list, but was in the wrong
place at the wrong time, Smith said.
Tabler was initially arrested Sunday night on a felony theft warrant
obtained by the Killeen Police Department. Payne was arrested Monday
morning after Tabler told investigators about his role in the shootings,
Smith would not comment on how investigators believe Payne was involved.
Both men have confessed to the killings and the hit list, he said. Smith
stressed that the people on the hit list and their families are no longer
Both men were being held in the Bell County Jail Monday night, awaiting
Trial starta in robbery case; brother on death row could be called as
Testimony is set to begin this morning in the trial of a 34-year-old man
charged in the Christmas Day 2002 robbery of a Waco hospital employee.
Jimmy Earl Parr, brother of Texas death row inmate Carroll Joe Parr, is on
trial in Waco's 19th State District Court on robbery charges that have
been enhanced because of his 2 prior felony theft convictions.
Prosecutors Crawford Long and Mike Freeman and defense attorney Abel Reyna
spent most of Monday selecting a jury of 7 women and 5 men to hear the
Parr and a co-defendant, Christopher Darrel Jefferson, were arrested after
Juli Ivy reported to police that she was robbed at gunpoint by 2 men at
her Waco apartment. She said Parr put what she thought was a gun to her
head and the men took her wallet and some household items from her.
Ivy gave a description of the car the men drove away in and Waco police
stopped the pair a short time later. Long said police recovered Ivy's
property and a BB pistol, which they believe was used in the robbery.
Jefferson, 23, pleaded guilty to robbery in the incident and is expected
to testify against Parr. He has not been sentenced.
Reyna has obtained a bench warrant to have Carroll Joe Parr brought back
to Waco from death row as a potential witness in his older brother's case.
The younger Parr, 27, a former Waco drug dealer known as "Outlaw," was
sentenced to death in May after a McLennan County jury found him guilty in
the January 2003 shooting death of Joel Dominguez during a drug-related
Reyna declined comment Monday about the possibility of Carroll Joe Parr's
testimony in his brother's case.
"We look forward to presenting our case to the jury over the next few
days," Reyna said. "We are pleased with the makeup of the jury."
Robbery is a 2nd-degree felony. However, the charges against Parr have
been enhanced to 1st-degree status because Parr has felony theft
convictions in February 1994 and in June 1994.
If convicted, Parr faces from 5 to 99 years or life in prison.
(source for both: Waco Tribune-Herald)
Store owner's killer is spared death penalty
The killer of a popular South Side grocery store owner was spared the
death penalty Monday after a jury took less than an hour to hand him a
The earliest that Joe Louie Glover, 25, would be eligible for parole is in
On Nov. 18, he was found guilty of capital murder and attempted capital
murder in the Oct. 9, 2003, robbery of the Wah Lee Food Market on Mission
Road across from the Riverside Park Municipal Golf Course.
During the robbery, store owner Larry Eng was killed when he was shot
twice and his wife, Lai-Chun, who was operating the cash register, was
wounded by 2 shots.
Eng's relatives said they were content with the jury's decision.
"I am satisfied," said Bill Lew, Eng's uncle, who had attended the trial
every day with his brother, Jimmy Lew, and other relatives.
"With the death penalty, he got off lucky. With at least 40 years in
prison, he'll have a long time to think about what he did wrong. He'll
know what it's like to suffer," Bill Lew said.
After 144th District Judge Mark Luitjen read the jury's verdict, Glover
took a deep breath as he stood beside defense attorneys Ray Fuchs and Joel
Prez, then he briefly turned his head to look back at his wife, Marie
Sanchez, and their 4 children.
Outside the courtroom, Marie Sanchez declined to comment.
During the punishment phase of the trial, jurors heard from the
defendant's mother, Irma Glover of Stockdale, who testified that her son
was not a troublemaker.
She related a story of how her son blamed himself for the murder of his
father 11 years ago. In that incident, Joe Louie Glover had decided not to
return home after school and his mother had called her divorced husband to
help get her son home.
At the time, her ex-husband, Johnny Glover, was living with a girlfriend,
whom Irma Glover described as an extremely jealous woman. During the call,
Irma Glover said, the couple got into an argument that led to Johnny
Glover being shot to death by the girlfriend.
"One day, he told me he thought it was his fault," Irma Glover testified
in tears, referring to her son.
The 5-day trial, held the week before Thanksgiving, pitted one of the
county's most experienced capital murder prosecutors, Mary Green, against
Fuchs, considered one of the county's most experienced capital murder
After the sentencing, Fuchs credited Glover's lack of a criminal
background for the jury's verdict.
"Those people (the jury) said he was not a future danger (to society). I
think that has more to do with his lack of a criminal record. If you take
a look at him, he doesn't look like he will be a future danger," Fuchs
said of his client.
Although Green and co-prosecutor Samantha DiMaio argued for giving Glover
the death penalty, Green said she was not disappointed with the outcome.
"I think justice was done. Mr. Glover was removed from our society and I
don't have any complaints," she said.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
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