death penalty news----FLA., W. VA., GA., KAN., ILL., LA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 5 11:26:25 CDT 2005
Woman's killer scheduled for execution, wants no appeals
An inmate who pleaded guilty to strangling a woman who gave him a ride
home from a bar and dropped his legal appeals faced execution Tuesday at
Florida State Prison.
Unless his execution is stayed, Glen Ocha, 47, is scheduled to die at 6
An anonymous executioner, who is paid $150 for his services, was hired to
inject a lethal cocktail of chemicals to stop Ocha's heart and his
Ocha, who changed his name in prison to Raven Raven, asked for a final
meal which was scheduled to be served to him Tuesday morning.
Ocha received final visits from 2 Catholic priests, the Rev. Dale
Recinella of Macclenny and retired Bishop John Snyder from Jacksonville,
plus a visit with his brother, Martin Ocha, said Sterling Ivey, a
spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
Defense attorney Greg L. Hill, and Carolyn Snurkowski, a capital appeals
attorney for Attorney General Charlie Crist, said there are no appeals
pending to stop his execution. Ocha pleaded guilty to the Oct. 5, 1999,
killing of convenience store employee Carol Skjerva, 28.
He met her at a bar in Kissimmee, where he engraved beer mugs. He was
drunk and high on Ecstasy when she drove him home and they had sex. He
said he became enraged when Skjerva told Ocha she was going to tell her
boyfriend and made fun of his anatomy.
He made her sit in a chair, got some rope from his garage and strangled
her 3 times until his arms got tired. He hanged Skjerva from a kitchen
door and drank a beer while she died.
After hiding her body inside a home entertainment system in his garage,
Ocha took Skjerva's car and drove to Daytona Beach. He confessed to the
killing when he was arrested for disorderly intoxication.
Ocha would not let a public defender present evidence to avoid execution.
After the state Supreme Court affirmed his conviction in 2002, Ocha filed
a motion with the trial court to drop his appeals and dismiss his
In May, the Supreme Court ordered the trial court to hold a hearing on his
mental competency. He Ocha discharged his state lawyer, Mark Gruber, when
he was ruled competent June 11.
Ocha has warned that he will kill again if he does not receive the death
"He had demonstrated the kind of behavior that was at times erratic," said
Gruber, who fought to get Ocha ruled incompetent.
In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Stephen D. Ake, Ocha asked that
his execution be carried out without delays. "Sir I wish for my execution
to come swift and unhampered."
Court records show Ocha has exhibited suicidal behavior since 1978 when he
asked police to shoot him. He once tied his jacket to his jail bars and
attempted to hang himself. He has a long history of drug and alcohol
After a 2-year stint in the Army, he was given a general discharge for
Snurkowski said Ocha's case was recently reviewed by Osceola Circuit Judge
Margaret Waller, who agreed to allow the 10th-grade dropout to end all of
Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death
Penalty, claims the execution of Ocha is another case of "suicide by
governor." Of the 16 inmates executed under death warrants signed by Gov.
Jeb Bush, 7 have dropped appeals and did not fight their execution.
"This was a very heinous crime," Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said after
the governor signed the death warrant. "After a thorough and thoughtful
appeals process, that was the end of it."
Ocha will be the 60th person executed in Florida since the 1976
reinstatement of the death penalty and the 1st since May 26, when John
Blackwelder who was so intent on being executed that he killed a fellow
inmate and pleaded guilty.
On the Net:
Florida Department of Corrections: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: http://www.fadp.org
Jacksonville man convicted of killing three in drive-by shooting
In Jacksonville, a man was convicted Monday of the drive-by shooting
murders of a woman and her two young nephews September 2002.
Carlton Lumpkins, 39, was found guilty of 1st-degree murder for the deaths
of Deon Kirkland, 13, and Christopher Kirkland, 12, and their aunt,
Johnnie Gatlin, 46.
More than 24 bullets were fired at the 3 people as they sat in a car,
which was outside Gatlin's Jacksonville house. She had just picked the
boys up from football practice.
Circuit Judge Henry Davis said the penalty phase would begin April 22.
State Attorney Harry Shorstein will try to persuade the jury to recommend
the death penalty, while Lumpkins lawyers Quentin Till and Refik Eler will
ask that his life be spared and request a sentence of life in prison
"This has been hell for me," said Leon Kirkland, the boys' father.
Lumpkins is one of three men charged the murders. Another man charged,
Maurice Silas, is a key witness against Lumpkins. Silas pleaded guilty to
3 counts of 1st-degree murder in the case. Shorstein also told the jury he
will ask that Silas be sentenced to death. Latroy Bouknight has not yet
(source for both: Associated Press)
Lumpkins guilty----2 boys, aunt slain while sitting in a car in '02
Leon Kirkland looked straight ahead stoically as the court clerk read the
verdicts late Monday afternoon.
Carlton Lumpkins, 39, was guilty of 1st-degree murder in the brutal
shooting deaths of his 2 boys, Deon Kirkland, 13, and Christopher
Kirkland, 12, and their aunt, Johnnie Gatlin, 46.
More than 2 dozen bullets were fired from semiautomatic weapons at the 3
as they sat in a car in front of Gatlin's Jacksonville residence in the
1800 block of West Third Street after football practice on Sept. 26, 2002.
Lumpkins, sitting between his lawyers Quentin Till and Refik Eler, also
showed no emotion as he heard the verdicts. Circuit Judge Henry Davis told
the jury to return to court April 22 for the penalty phase of the trial.
Jurors will hear arguments from State Attorney Harry Shorstein on why they
should recommend the death sentence for Lumpkins. Till and Eler will ask
the jury to spare his life and recommend a sentence of life in prison
without parole. Whatever the jury decides in the penalty phase, it is only
a recommendation to the judge, who has the final say.
Kirkland sat through every day of the 8-day trial, sometimes shedding
tears as graphic testimony about his sons' numerous gunshot wounds was
Around his neck he wore a small silver plaque engraved with a picture of
himself with his boys.
"This has been hell for me," Kirkland said while awaiting the jury's
verdict Monday. "But I don't have a choice. There are some things a father
must do and I know what I've got to do. My boys are here with me now."
Deon was a student at Southside Middle School where he was a member of the
baseball team. Christopher was a student at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary
School. Both played football for the Sweetwater Pop Warner Association.
"You can't dare to start to feel the pain I am feeling," Kirkland said.
Meredith Gatlin, the boys' mother, declined to comment after the trial.
Lumpkins is one of three men charged with the Kirkland-Gatlin murders. A
key witness against him was Maurice Silas, who has already pleaded guilty
to 3 counts of 1st-degree murder in the case. Silas testified that he has
not been promised any concessions for his testimony. Shorstein told the
jury he intends to ask that Silas be sentenced to death.
Yet to be tried in the case is Latroy Bouknight.
During his summation to the jury, Shorstein reviewed the explicit and
sometimes emotional testimony from investigators who were called to the
Noting that Till had criticized photographs of the death scene as being
too graphic, Shorstein said, "Mr. Lumpkins created those photos. Children
are not supposed to die that way."
Till told the jurors they could consider a lack or insufficiency of
evidence during their deliberations. He said he saw what he called
barricades to his client's conviction as he enumerated what he termed the
state's failures: investigators didn't follow up on Lumpkins' alibi, they
rushed to judgment in arresting someone for the crime because the
community was outraged, and they ceased their investigation once they
"And Mr. Silas took two years to change his plea to guilty," Till said.
He also said his client's confession to the murders came only after police
used psychological inducements and questioned him for more than 14 hours
in a 10-by-10-foot room.
"These barricades I've mentioned have a name," Till said. "The name is
(source: The Times-Union)
Tri-State residents, courts split over death penalty
Once again this legislative session, a bill to reinstate the death penalty
in West Virginia was introduced. And once again, the bill is going
That will leave the Mountain State among only 12 states and the District
of Columbia without the death penalty. Both Ohio and Kentucky have it, and
death penalty cases are scheduled later this month in Ironton and in June
The number of executions in America peaked at 98 in 1999, the highest
since the Supreme Court declared death penalty laws unconstitutional in
1972, requiring the states to write new laws. Texas led the nation last
year with 23 executions.
Do you support the death penalty?
"I do not support the death penalty mainly because if it could turn up
later that the person was not guilty, they would not be able to redirect,
to incriminate someone else and that person would never be able to brought
to life again."----Julie Barker, 25, Coal Grove, Ohio
"I dont believe in it. Somebody could go and just have a whole massacre
and just wipe out half of a country, but they are still a creation of God
and no one should be killed. I guess Im a little bit religious on
that."----Damartae Wiggins, 19, Huntington
"I dont support it because, generally, I think life in prison is more of a
punishment. If youre wrong, you can always release someone from prison.
You cant resurrect them."----Travis Conner, 25, Huntington
"I guess Im pro-life, and I think to be consistent as a person that
supports life, even if a person is a criminal, their life still has
value."----Richard Dixon, 42, Huntington
"I support it because I think if youre going to take somebodys life,
tit-for-tat. I mean it should come back to you."----John Trippe, 21, MU
student from Jackson, N.C.
"Its tit-for-tat. I believe it should only be for the death of another
person."----Katie Garrison, 19, MU student from Jackson, N.C.
Ohio put 7 people to death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at
Lucasville. That caused the Buckeye State to have the 2nd highest number
of executions in the country last year. There were none in Kentucky last
year, but there are 36 on death row in the Bluegrass State while there are
more than 200 on death row in Ohio.
Mike Bellomy, a former Lawrence County resident currently living north of
Indianapolis, supports the death penalty. It wasnt an option when the man
who killed his brother was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison in 1987
but was released from prison last year and has returned to Lawrence
"We werent given the option for the death penalty," Bellomy said
Wednesday. "It should be used more often. Instead of the death chair, they
should use a couch and do 4 or 5 at a time."
Charles "Chuck" Knight, a Meigs County lawyer who represented Leon Aliff
several years ago in a death penalty case in Ironton will represent Roger
K. Marshall, an Ironton man charged with setting a fire last year that
killed 3 people in an Ironton motel.
Knight, a former Meigs County prosecutor, has handled 17 death penalty
cases as a defense attorney. None have resulted in the death penalty.
"Life in prison without the possibility of parole has allowed a number of
defendants in Ohio to avoid the death penalty," he said.
Even though hes among a handful of lawyers in southeastern Ohio qualified
to be lead counsel in death penalty cases, Knight believes it should be an
option only in certain cases.
"Not every murder case is a death penalty case," he said. "There have to
be aggravating circumstances. You cant get the death penalty for murder,
but for aggravating circumstances. I believe the law was designed
appropriately in Ohio."
For most cases, though, life in prison is an appropriate punishment, he
"Life in prison isnt an easy punishment," he said. "West Virginia would be
wise not to get into the death penalty."
Dudley Sharp, a death penalty proponent from Houston, disagrees. He
believes West Virginia juries should have the same death penalty option as
do juries in Ohio and Kentucky. A victims rights advocate for a dozen
years, Sharp said the majority of Americans still support the death
penalty. Last summer, a poll showed 74 % approved of the death penalty.
"Virtually every argument against the death penalty is false," he said. "I
studied the issue for 2 1/2 years. The pro death penalty arguments are
stronger. It is a significant deterrent."
An argument that death penalty prosecutions can cost $2 million dont take
into the factors the cost of the trial, appeals process and geriatric
costs which can reach $69,000 annually, he said.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information
Center, an anti-death penalty group, said the attitudes about the death
penalty are changing in America. 10 years ago, polling data showed 80 % of
Americans supported the death penalty. Recent polls show that number has
declined to 65 %, he said.
"Theres more skepticism about the death penalty," Dieter said. Advances in
DNA evidence have exonerated 13 people on death row, he said. The number
of executions are going down, too. In 1999, there were 98. Last year, the
number was 59, he said.
"No state has added the death penalty since 1995," he said. "The outlook
is toward less use of the death penalty."
Jeff Gamo, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Ohio,
called the death penalty "morally reprehensible. The government shouldnt
be in the business of killing its people. There are no reputable studies
showing it deters crime."
Many murders are done in the heat of passion and people arent thinking of
consequences, Gamo said.
"The death penalty doesnt make (victims) families feel better," he said.
"It doesnt bring back their loved one. It doesnt bring closure and it cost
a fortune. Its far more expensive to kill someone that put them in prison
Another reason against the death penalty is that mistakes sometimes can be
made and innocent people are convicted to die, he said. "Were human," Gamo
said. "We make mistakes. If we kill enough people, were going to kill
innocent people. The United States is the only western democracy that
continues to execute people. Every other one has stopped."
Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles has been prosecuting murder cases
for more than 20 years and, of the estimated 30 to 50 hes been involved
in, he would have sought the death penalty only in less than a handful if
West Virginia had had the death penalty.
"Just because someone commits murder doesnt automatically mean they
qualify or deserve the death penalty," he said. "West Virginia has the
option to give life in prison sentences without the possibility of parole.
While death penalty cases are costly, "expense shouldnt be a factor, but
in reality money is always a factor."
Commonwealths Attorney J. Stewart Schneider withdrew from prosecuting a
death penalty case in Boyd County last year citing his religious beliefs.
The Boyd County prosecutor is a licensed minister for the Disciples of
Christ, a Christian church in Ashland.
When it comes to the death penalty, hes a minister first and a prosecutor
second, Schneider said.
"I cant get up and say Ive decided you no longer have the right to share
in Gods creation," he said.
While several Kentucky prosecutors have called for him to resign,
Schneider said, a number of people have been supportive. He cited
religious reasons, cost and ethical consideration for his decision not to
prosecute the death penalty case in Catlettsburg later this year.
West Virginia House of Delegates member Don Perdue,D-Wayne, hopes the
death penalty bill stays bottled up in the House judicial committee this
session. About 2,000 to 2,200 bills are introduced in each 60-day
legislative session, and about only 400 are passed, he said.
"Im philosophically opposed to it," he said. "Too many mistakes are made.
No one has shown me its an effective deterrent."
To kill an innocent person is a mistake government cant take back, he
"I anticipate it staying in committee," Perdue said. "Cost is a factor. We
need to do what is reasonable."
If the death penalty is to be approved, it would take money from other
needed programs, he said.
Del. Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, has mixed emotions about the death penalty.
"Its a contentious issue," she said. "Im undecided. The bill is in
committee and it may not come out this session. Its been introduced for
the past 20 years or so and never seems to get out of committee."
"I can see both sides of the issue. Its not on my radar screen right now.
Ill reserve judgment on it" for now.
Hearing starts death penalty process -- Gordon DA plans to seek the death
penalty against Jerry Jones, who is accused of kidnapping, murders
Attorneys for Jerry William Jones were in Gordon Superior Court on Monday
to schedule motions related to his death penalty case.
A number of preliminary motions must be filed under Georgias unified
appeals process for death penalty cases, said Rodney Mathis, the Calhoun
attorney originally appointed to defend Jones for the January 2004 murders
of Tom and Nola Blaylock, their daughter, Georgia Mae Bradley, and Jones
10-month-old daughter, Jerri Georgia Jones.
Judge Carey Nelson has scheduled an arraignment hearing for June 3.
"Todays hearing was a 1st proceeding," Mathis said. "There are numerous
motions that must be filed before the trial can begin."
Jones defense has been turned over to attorneys Michelle Drake and Chris
Adams with the Georgia Capital Defenders Office, Mathis said.
District Attorney Joe Campbell announced in January that he will seek the
death penalty in the case.
Jones was in court Monday, but he did not enter a plea, Mathis said.
The former Rome resident is accused of killing former girlfriend Melissa
Peelers mother, stepfather and sister at their home in Ranger as well as
his infant daughter with Peeler. Authorities believe the murder spree was
committed in a jealous rage on Jan. 7, 2004, shortly after Peeler left
Police said Jones then took off with Peelers 3 surviving young children -
2 of them his own - and fled just across the border to East Ridge, Tenn.,
where he was caught after a car chase the following evening.
The girls, now 11, 5 and 4, were recovered safely in Jones car and are
living with Peeler in Calhoun.
Jones was indicted last September on a number of charges, including malice
murder, kidnapping, criminal violations of interstate interference with
custody, 1st- and 2nd-degree cruelty to children, motor vehicle theft,
burglary, concealing a death and various firearms violations.
(source: Rome News-Tribune)
Witness to execution -- Prison director Charles McAtee recalls killers
Charles McAtee's phone rang about 2 p.m.
It was April 13, 1965, and Truman Capote was calling to say he wouldn't be
visiting condemned killers Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith
on the eve of their executions.
Capote had spent the past 4 years documenting the brutal murders of a
rural Kansas family and the lives of the killers for what would become the
book "In Cold Blood." He said the emotional buildup to the execution would
be too much to bear.
The next 10 hours would change McAtee's life. He would spend every minute
with the killers, getting arare glimpse into their personalities in their
most vulnerable moments -- scenes that never made it into Capote's book.
"I got to know them as human beings," McAtee said, "And I got to know them
as people who committed an absolutely horrendous, horrific crime that
killed four innocent, beautiful people who had a great deal to contribute
to their community and this state."
McAtee's position as director of Kansas state penal institutions required
him to be at the Kansas state penitentiary at Lansing the day of the
executions. Capote's absence leaves him as one of few witnesses to the
killers' final hours.
[Charles McAtee has a photo of a painting of Jesus that Smith made while
in the Kansas state penitentiary at Lansing. The prison chaplain, James
Post, had the original painting of Jesus.]
For the past 40 years, McAtee's public identity has been defined by that
moment in time. Rather than just lawyer Charles McAtee, he became the man
who "oversaw the hangings of the Clutter family killers." But unlike many
affiliated with the case who refuse to relive the past, McAtee, now 76,
accepts that the case changed his life and made him a living link to
history, an experience he feels obligated to share.
When he is asked to do so,
McAtee pulls out a white storage box inside his home near Topeka. Among
the items are telegrams Capote sent while he was writing the book and
postcards the author later sent from his winter home in Switzerland.
He also has photos of sea scenes Smith painted from death row on bed
sheets with water colors and gave to prison chaplain James Post.
Each time he opens the box, memories flood back, memories not of
characters in Capote's book, but of real people he came to know and
experiences he had in the first half of the 1960s.
Letters from the killers
McAtee's position as a pardon and parole attorney and special assistant to
the governor, and later director of penal institutions, allowed him to
receive and send uncensored letters to the killers on death row.
>From the spring of 1961 until their execution in April 1965, Hickock and
Smith frequently wrote to him because he was one of the few people who saw
their uncensored letters. Letters the killers wrote to the governor
crossed McAtee's desk.
Once he became director of penal institutions in early 1965, the letters
went directly to McAtee. The killers wrote together at first but then
started sending individual letters. Hickock often denied that he'd killed
the Clutters. Sometimes they just wrote to complain about the food.
McAtee said many of the letters are stored at the Kansas Historical
Society in Topeka. One of the more memorable ones came just weeks before
The killers wrote to McAtee asking for radios in their cells. Although
prison officials initially refused the request, McAtee OK'd transistor
radios and headphones to help break the tension and isolation on death
"Their letters really hit me,"
McAtee said. "I couldn't live without music, and the thought occurred to
me that these guys had been over there since the early '60s, and to have
never heard music?"
About this series
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Truman Capote's
"In Cold Blood," considered one of the 20th century's great works of
literature. It also was among the 1st books in which the reporting
techniques of journalism were assembled with the flair of traditional
The book is set in the community of Holcomb in 1959, when 4 members of a
prominent farming family were killed in a fruitless robbery. Herbert and
Bonnie Clutter and their children Nancy, 16, and Kenyon, 15, were shot by
Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. The book details the crime, the lives of
the 2 paroled criminals and law enforcement's search and eventual capture
of the men.
A class of 7 reporting students, a photography student and 4 documentary
film students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln spent the fall
studying Capote's work and its impact on literature and journalism, the
community where the story unfolded and some of its principal characters.
The students obtained exclusive interviews from people who had refused to
talk publicly about the crime or the book, including Nancy Clutter's
boyfriend, Bobby Rupp, who was the last to see the family alive and was
initially questioned about the murders; Walter Hickock, Richard Hickock's
younger brother, who describes for the first time the agony the family
endured after the crime and publication of Capote's book; and the family
that lives in the former Clutter home as well as exclusive photographs
from inside the house.
Because the nationally renowned book is set in Kansas, it seemed natural
to publish the students' work in a Kansas newspaper. The results are part
of a 4-day series that begins today in the Journal-World.
Wednesday: --The family that lives in the former Clutter home is witness
to the book's enormous impact still today.
--Holcomb has changed much from the time Capote wrote his book.
--The death penalty has divided Kansas many times.
--See the documentary "In Cold Blood: A Legacy" at 11:30 p.m. on Sunflower
Broadband Channel 6.
McAtee was a casual acquaintance of one of Hickock's childhood friends, a
common point of discussion when he saw Hickock on death row.
His memories of the afternoon before the executions include Hickock's
visitors and what both killers talked about. The 2 men had very different
demeanors in those final hours. Hickock was more jovial and talkative,
telling stories about his childhood; Smith thought deeply about the
meaning of life.
Hickock told of a 1949 Packard he and some friends covered with purple
house paint. When they hit 60 mph on the highway, the paint started to
peel off the car.
McAtee saw Hickock say goodbye to his ex-wife, who had come to pay her
respects and apologize for a sharply worded letter she'd sent weeks
before. Hickock told her to tell his children goodbye. After she left,
McAtee said, Hickock was aware of the pain his crimes had caused.
"He said, Mr. McAtee, I should've had my neck broke long ago, before we
pulled that caper out in Kansas for what I did to that woman and my
kids,'" McAtee recalled Hickock as saying.
While Hickock was busy telling stories, Smith pondered life and death. He
quoted several passages from Henry David Thoreau's "On Man and Nature" and
showed signs of remorse that some said had never come from the convicted
"Perry did say, 'Mr. McAtee, I would like to apologize to someone, but to
whom? To them? To the relatives? To their friends and neighbors? To you?
To the state of Kansas? But you know you can't undo what we did with an
apology,'" McAtee recalled Smith saying.
Final hours of Smith, Hickock
McAtee's recollection of Smith -- as the more intelligent, sensitive
killer -- mirrors Capote's descriptions of him in the book. Capote saw
Hickock, though, as crude and uneducated, while McAtee said he developed a
different view of Hickock because of their common acquaintance, Don
"I gained a better insight into Hickock than Capote did," McAtee said.
That Capote and McAtee held somewhat similar views of the killers should
come as no surprise. They corresponded frequently while the case threaded
its way through the courts.
McAtee first met Capote in 1961 as the author was trying to gain
visitation and unfettered letter-writing privileges with Hickock and Smith
-- rights usually reserved for family members and significant others,
rights Capote eventually gained.
Although many have disputed the truth of some of Capote's book, McAtee
said he thought Capote's version of the Clutter case closely mirrored the
actual events. His insight made McAtee a popular public speaker about the
book and case. Because he didn't know the family, he said, it's easier for
him to talk about the case.
"It was a part of my life and part of my career," McAtee said. "It was
just part of my official duties, and I became personally acquainted with
(Smith and Hickock)."
After McAtee left his job with the Kansas Penal System in 1969, he became
a successful attorney and in some ways is better known in Kansas for his
work in the courtroom than the murder case.
For years he was associated with one of Kansas' oldest and most respected
law firms, Eidson, Lewis, Porter & Haynes. In 2002, he ran an unsuccessful
grassroots campaign for Kansas attorney general while also continuing to
McAtee was diagnosed with leukemia almost two years ago, and the disease
and treatments have taken their toll. He has lost 62 pounds and undergone
more than 40 blood transfusions.
"I'm still trying to practice law, though I don't make it to the office
often," he said.
Complex feelings about justice
Although McAtee developed a rapport with the killers, he hasn't softened
his stance on the death penalty.
He said he still supports capital punishment, though not in its current
form. He said capital punishment isn't a deterrent to capital crimes and
that standardizing the requirements for capital punishment would be a good
first step to fixing the problem.
"They're standing around the penitentiary with their candlelight vigil,
mourning the poor soul of the inmate, but they've forgotten the victim,"
McAtee said of death penalty opponents.
As he sits on a brown vinyl couch in his basement, he plays a DVD of a
Feb. 26, 2003, speech he presented to the Downtown Topeka Rotary Club.
On the video he recalls his discussion with Smith on the day of the
murders and the moment when Smith recited a poem he wrote called "Eternal
One of Smith's 5 original copies is scrawled on a frail paper wrapped in a
plastic cover and stored in the white box with the newspaper clippings and
"Perry Smith was a very bright guy and had a lot to offer; there was a lot
of depth to Perry Smith," McAtee said. "You couldn't have talked to Perry,
can't have heard Perry recite these excerpts of Thoreau 'On Man and
Nature' or read Perry's poem, or look at his paintings without realizing
there was some innate talent or ability and a depth of soul that he never
really had an opportunity to work through."
The poem doesn't read like the prose of a man convicted of brutally
murdering a family of 4. Its lines are filled with the introspection of a
man coming to terms with his imminent death -- each alternating rhyme
written in perfect script on the yellowing page.
But he who thinks man is bare
Discarded of pride by force.
Has not the depth of soul to share
Emotions at its source
Perhaps my eyes shall never reach
The light of freedom's skies
But forever my hopes will span the breach
To keep my human ties.
"And with that," McAtee said, "an hour later, we took him to the Kansas
gallows and hanged him."
(source: Lawrence Journal-World)
Convicted killer asks judge to review death sentence
A lawyer for a man convicted of killing his estranged wife and her child
filed a motion Monday asking a Cook County judge to reconsider the death
sentence he imposed last week.
The sentence for Jesus Alvarez-Garcia, handed down by Judge Thomas Sumner,
was the seventh in the state since clemency was granted to all Death Row
inmates in 2003. Alvarez-Garcia, 41, had been convicted of shooting and
killing his estranged wife and her infant daughter in 2002.
Alvarez-Garcia's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Woodward Jordan,
wrote in the motion that two mitigating factors should have taken capital
punishment off the table.
Alvarez-Garcia had no criminal background and he was under extreme mental
duress because of the breakup of his marriage, Jordan wrote. Argument on
the motion was scheduled for April 14.
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Court upholds death sentence in Plain Dealing slaying
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal of a man sentenced to die in
the kidnapping and killing of a 62-year-old Plain Dealing woman in
Without comment, the nation's highest court announced Monday that it
declined to review the 1st-degree murder conviction of Jeremiah D. Manning
in the slaying of Mary Ann Malone.
But Manning likely will not be executed anytime soon. Defense attorney
Marcia Widder of Capital Appeals Project said she might ask the Supreme
Court for a rehearing.
If she does not or if a rehearing is denied, there can be no death warrant
signed in the case until Manning has been assigned a post-conviction
attorney by the state. That could take a while because there are too many
death cases involving indigent defendants for the number of defense
lawyers Louisiana pays to handle them, Widder said.
"Jeremiah is entitled to appointment of counsel. ... And I couldn't tell
you when that will happen. The state needs to give a lot more money to
fund capital post-conviction."
Bossier District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said he would push for a death
warrant as soon as possible. Capital Defense Project's claim of a backlog
in death cases is "a convenient ploy to avoid the death penalty," he said.
"Obviously, our evidence was real strong. I didn't expect the U.S. Supreme
Court to tinker with it any. And I'm glad they didn't. I want to see the
jury's verdict carried out."
Prosecutors said Manning, who had done yard work for Malone, kidnapped her
from her home, forced her to drive to a remote area then beat her and slit
her throat. Authorities arrested Manning as he ran along a highway after
crashing Malone's car into a ditch.
In his appeal, Manning argues that his low IQ and his drinking on the day
of the killing made it impossible for him to knowledgeably waive his right
against self-incrimination before he made statements to investigators.
Those statements should have been thrown out, his appeal contends.
Manning also complained that pretrial publicity made it impossible for him
to get a fair trial in Bossier Parish and that prosecutors failed to prove
he had committed aggravated kidnapping, a compounding felony that
qualified him for the death sentence.
The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction in October, rejecting
all of Manning's contentions and leading him to appeal to the U.S. Supreme
(source: Associated Press)
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