[Deathpenalty]death penalty news---IND., CALIF., ORE.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Sep 22 10:57:53 CDT 2004
Accused killer could face death penalty
The state of Indiana will determine how best to charge Kerry C. Wilson
this week, hoping that this time he will stay behind bars.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson says he has not ruled out seeking
the death penalty for Wilson, 40, who was arrested Thursday for stabbing
his ex-girlfriend, Vicki Hunt, 38, and DaJuan Clark, 22, of Louisville.
Photo by Jeremy LyverseThis house is 1904 Hand Ave. in New Albany, Ind.,
where Vicki Hunt and DaJuan Clark were killed on Sept. 16.
New Albany Police said Wilson fled from Dismas Charities at 1501 Lytle St.
in the Portland neighborhood last Thursday morning. He was staying there
until he could appear at a probation revocation hearing in Clark County.
Dismas Charities, a private, not-for-profit organization, began housing
inmates from Clark County last year to ease the county jail's pervasive
overcrowding problems. It holds about 220 inmates and parolees from
Kentucky and Indiana.
Around 2:06 a.m., an alarm sounded inside the facility. Security guards,
who perform a head count every hour, immediately counted the prisoners
again and found Wilson missing. He escaped through a fire exit, said
Robert Lanning, director of Dismas Charities.
"I have never had a person from one of my centers do such a horrific act,"
he said. "I just couldn't believe it was correct."
That Wilson, who had three prior arrests for battery, was even staying at
Dismas angered Superior Court Judge Steven Fleece, who handled most of the
battery cases Wilson was charged with.
Hunt dropped a no-contact order against Wilson after he was arrested for
assaulting her in April. She had to attend classes on domestic violence
before a judge could approve her request, but Henderson said she "remained
steadfast" that she wanted the order dissolved.
He said it is not unusual in domestic violence cases for victims to
withdraw protective orders against their attackers. "That's part of the
cycle of domestic violence."
Even if the no-contact order had been in place, he said, "That piece of
paper would not have stopped a knife."
Sheriff Michael Becher would not comment. His spokeswoman, Lt. Racheal
Lee, said that the jail's classification officer decided Wilson was
non-violent and thus eligible to go to the facility.
In making its determination, Lee said, the officer reviews the inmate's
charges and disciplinary record. Wilson's was clean, and jail officials
did not receive any reports of Wilson causing problems at Dismas.
"Otherwise," Lee said, "we would've removed him from that facility."
At his press conference last week, however, Henderson said, "It is
unacceptable to release violent offenders into our community," but stopped
short of criticizing the Clark County Sheriff's Office. "They have some
serious overcrowding problems there," he said.
Lee took issue with the media's characterization of Dismas as a "halfway
house," saying the building has sufficient security.
"For me to get through the front door, I have to be buzzed through and
prove to them who I am."
Lanning said Dismas does house felony offenders who are out on parole, but
they stay for a limited time only. "They are expected to get a job, save
money; then they find a place to live," he said.
Only inmates who are "community-level status" can perform community
service and can stay at Dismas, he said. The community service privilege
does not apply to Indiana inmates.
In taking inmates, Lanning said, Dismas officials rely on the judgment of
jail officials to turn over parolees and offenders who are non-violent.
"They've dealt with these people not just one time, but many times," he
said. "They know more about the individuals than we do."
But he said he would not rule out seeking more information from the jails
about inmates headed for Dismas. "I guess that's something we would
consider," he said.
Wilson's case was unusual in that most of the time, security officers at
Dismas hear about planned escapes before they happen, Lanning said. In the
past, inmates planning to flee have been taken into custody.
With Wilson, "There was nothing to indicate that the individual was acting
in a bizarre way ahead of time," Lanning said. "I don't know what
Cops had 41 reasons to think Laci Peterson's body was in bay/Detective
says all evidence pointed to spot where Scott went fishing
Less than a month after Laci Peterson disappeared, police had 41 reasons
to believe her body would be found at the bottom of San Francisco Bay, the
lead detective in the case testified today.
Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan said that by Jan. 21, 2003, all
evidence pointed to the bay and the spot where Peterson said he went
fishing on the day his wife disappeared.
Grogan is using his testimony to carefully string together the long
laundry list of evidence that led police first to suspect and later arrest
Peterson in the murders of his 8-months-pregnant wife and the couple's
-- Peterson's alibi changed. He initially told neighbors he'd been golfing
on Christmas Eve, 2002, the day his wife disappeared, but later told
family, friends and police he'd been fishing that day.
-- Peterson told police he had a parking stub from the Berkeley Marina
dated Dec. 24, 2002.
-- Concrete debris was found at Peterson's warehouse, which police believe
was left behind after the suspect made anchors to pin his wife's body to
the bay floor. Circular rings found in the debris, suggested that Peterson
made more than just the one anchor he told police he had made.
-- No one other than Peterson knew that he'd bought a new fishing boat,
which he paid for with $1,400 in cash.
-- Peterson bought a 2-day fishing license for Dec. 23 and 24, 2002.
Although he told police he fished in the bay, almost all of the tackle
found in his boat was for fresh-, not salt-, water fishing. Salt water was
found in the boat and its motor.
-- A search dog tracked Laci Peterson's scent from a parking lot to a boat
launch at the Berkeley Marina.
-- A wiretap on Jan. 11, 2003, caught Peterson whistling in apparent
relief after listening to a voice mail saying a search of the bay yielded
a large anchor, but no body. Peterson, who knew police were searching the
bay, was tracked to Berkeley that day. The tracking device on his car also
picked up erratic driving patterns that day.
-- Peterson's repeatedly paid brief visits to the marina on several
occasions using different cars.
-- Peterson's phone records showed almost no calls on the morning of Dec.
24, 2002, when he said he last saw his wife at home. The lack of phone
calls was unusual for Peterson.
-- A boat cover that had been in the back of Peterson's pickup truck on
Christmas Eve, later turned up in a shed at his house.
"The ultimate conclusion was that Laci Peterson's body was in the San
Francisco Bay and that we needed to search there and focus our efforts
there," Grogan testified.
In April, 2003, it was dog walkers strolling on the Richmond shoreline,
not police dive teams, who found Laci Peterson's body and that of the
couple's son. The bodies had washed up less than 2 miles from the spot
where Peterson said he launched his boat four months earlier.
Prosecutors say that rather than fishing that day, Peterson's sole purpose
for his trip to the bay was to dispose of his wife's body. Peterson
maintains his innocence and his lawyers say the real killers placed the
bodies of Laci Peterson and the couple's baby near where his client went
fishing in an effort to frame him. Throughout the trial, prosecutors have
tried to paint Peterson as a pathological liar who fabricated a web of
lies for police, family and friends.
This morning, prosecutors used Peterson's own words to catch him in more
apparent contradictions. After playing a secretly taped conversation of
Peterson apologizing to Grogan for not telling police about his
extramarital affair with Amber Frey, prosecutors then showed jurors a
television interview conducted a day later saying he told police about the
affair on the day his wife disappeared.
"I told the police immediately," Peterson said in response to a question
"You told them about her?" Sawyer asked.
"Yeah, from December 24th on," Peterson replied.
On Monday, Grogan testified that Peterson didn't tell police about the
affair. Even after being confronted with a picture taken of him and Frey
at a Christmas party, Peterson said the picture wasn't him and that he
didn't recognize Frey.
Peterson also told Sawyer that his wife knew about the affair and,
although not happy about the news, she was at peace with it.
"There wasn't a lot of anger?" a seemingly disbelieving Sawyer asked.
"No," Peterson replied.
A male juror in the front row appeared to be rolling his eyes and shook
his head while watching the Sawyer interview. An alternate the back row,
the mother of 4 boys, wiped tears from her eyes throughout the interview.
Testimony with Grogan was to resume this afternoon.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Father faces death penalty
The Hillsborough man who allegedly stabbed his 17-year-old son to death at
a Montara beach early Saturday faces the death penalty if convicted of the
charges filed against him yesterday.
Charles Loo, 50, was formally slapped with 1st-degree murder, the use of a
knife and lying in wait. The last special allegation makes the case
eligible for the death penalty. It also means prosecutors believe Loo
planned to kill his son, Benson, and waited for the opportunity to pounce.
"We think there is evidence of what we commonly call an ambush which is
watching and waiting," said Deputy District Attorney Martin Murray.
Few details have emerged about the crime since sheriffs deputies found
Benson Loo dead and his injured father hiding in nearby bushes at Montara
State Beach about 7:37 a.m. Saturday. Charles Loo was treated for
self-inflicted knife wounds but was quickly released to the custody of the
county jail on suspicion of murder. As late as yesterday, the District
Attorneys Office did not expect to file the lying in wait charge but
prosecutors are staying mum on what specifically changed their minds.
"We think he lured the boy when he convinced him to go into the wooded
area. We think he planned to kill the boy," Martin said.
Sheriffs deputies are still trying to piece together what brought the Loos
to the coastal town at that hour and what exactly transpired between them.
Sheriffs Lt. Lisa Williams referred all questions to the District
Autopsy results on Benson Loo have still not been released.
The Loo residence on Homeplace Court has no history of disturbances or
police calls, said Hillsborough Capt. Mark OConner.
Loo did not enter a plea to any of the charges and the case was continued
until Oct. 4 so he can hire his own attorney. Loo, dressed in a
mustard-yellow jail jumpsuit and with disheveled salt-and-pepper hair,
spoke in halting English yesterday during the brief arraignment. However,
Judge Barbara Mallach ordered a Mandarin interpreter for future court
Members of Loos family, but not his wife, appeared at court but did not
Loo remains in custody on no-bail status. Meanwhile, Aragon High School is
providing grief counselors and peer helpers for Benson Loos classmates.
(source: Daily Journal)
Prosecutors plan to charge man with murdering University of Oklahoma
Prosecutors charged a man Tuesday with raping and murdering a 21-year-old
college ballet dancer nearly 8 years ago.
District Attorney Tim Kuykendall said DNA evidence linked Anthony C.
Sanchez, 25, to the death of Jewell "Juli" Busken.
Sanchez, who had already been imprisoned for unrelated convictions
including burglary, also was charged with sodomy and kidnapping.
Kuykendall said he would seek the death penalty.
Investigators had entered DNA evidence from the crime scene into a
national database of DNA profiles. Last year, a DNA sample was taken from
Sanchez under a state law requiring inmates convicted of sex crimes,
burglary and assault to give a DNA sample.
The 2 matched.
According to police, Busken had just finished her last semester earning a
dance degree at the University of Oklahoma and was preparing to travel
home to Arkansas for Christmas break when she was abducted Dec. 20, 1996.
Police believe Busken had returned to her apartment after dropping off a
friend at the airport in Oklahoma City. A neighbor in the apartment
complex -- about a mile from where Sanchez lived at the time -- called
police after hearing a scream and a car door slam.
Busken's body was spotted by a fisherman that evening in at a lake in
Oklahoma City. She had been raped, bound and shot in the head. Mary Jean
Busken, Juli Busken's mother, said she wants the person responsible for
her daughter's death to be isolated and unable to hurt anyone else.
The Arkansas woman thanked law enforcement officers for not giving up on
the case and residents for praying for the family.
"I think what we did was decide God was in control," she said.
(source: Associated Press)
Weaver is expected to avoid death row---Murder suspect likely to plead
guilty today as part of agreement
2 years after FBI agents found the bodies of two girls in Ward Weavers
back yard, lawyers appear to have agreed to a plea deal that would spare
Weaver is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing and sentencing in
Clackamas County court today, a clerk for Judge Robert Herndon said.
Sources familiar with the case said that Weaver will plead guilty to
murder and spend life in prison but will not face the death penalty.
His defense attorneys could not be reached for comment. Greg Horner, a
Clackamas County deputy district attorney, said he could not comment about
a possible plea deal.
If the plea goes ahead as expected, it will mark the second such agreement
this week to avoid trial in a high-profile murder case in Oregon. On
Monday, Edward Morris of Portland pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant
wife and their 3 children and accepted a life sentence without the
possibility of parole.
Weaver was facing charges including aggravated murder, rape and abuse of a
corpse and could face the death penalty if convicted by a jury.
The body of Ashley Pond, 12, was found in a barrel under a slab of
concrete in Weavers yard. The body of Miranda Gaddis, 13, was found in a
cardboard box in a shed.
Michael Wise, an attorney for Miranda Gaddis mother, Michelle Duffey, said
his client supports the plea deal.
Weaver became a focus of attention after he told several journalists that
he was a suspect in the case, leading reporters to his back yard, where he
offered interviews standing on the concrete slab under which Ashleys body
later was found.
(source: Associated Press)
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