[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., LA., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 5 17:50:11 CDT 2005
LACI PETERSON'S MOTHER TO SPEAK AT CONFERENCE
The annual Northeast Texas Crime Victims' Conference in Tyler next week
will present speakers involved in two national murder cases, one in which
a man has been sentenced to death for murdering his pregnant wife and
another who stands accused of killing his spouse.
The week of April 9-16 has been declared as National Crime Victims' Rights
Week. The Smith County District Attorney's Office and the Office of the
Attorney General's Crime Victims Services Division will sponsor the 2-day
conference held at Marvin United Methodist Church, 300 W. Erwin St.
Speakers will include Sharon Rocha, mother of Laci Peterson, who
disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002. Prosecutors said her husband, Scott
Peterson, killed her and then dumped her body in San Francisco Bay. The
badly decomposed remains of the victim and her fetus washed ashore 4
months later. Peterson was convicted of 2 counts of murder and sentenced
to death last month.
Mrs. Rocha will share the heartache of losing her only daughter and
grandson, Connor, said Betty Whitten, Smith County Crime Victims' Services
director, in a prepared statement.
Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold, from Modesto, Calif., who spoke
at the conference last year about the Peterson case, will return.
Senior Detective Kelly Kent of the Salt Lake City Police Department will
speak about the Lori Hacking murder case, which is expected to go to trial
The victim's husband, Mark Hacking, reported in July that she had failed
to return from a morning jog, setting off extensive searches by volunteers
and police. He later allegedly admitted to his brothers he shot her as she
slept and disposed of her body in a trash bin. Police found Hacking's body
Oct. 1 at a landfill.
Herman Millholland, director of the AG's Crime Victims' Services Division,
also will give a lecture, Ms. Whitten said.
The conference is scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday. For more
information call Ms. Whitten at (903) 535-0534, or Jean Frazier at the
AG's Office at (512) 936-1245.
(source: Tyler Morning Telegraph )
Reward offered for triple murder suspect
The University Park Police Department has announced a $10,000 reward for
the arrest and conviction of a murder suspect.
Authorities are looking for Israel Barretero - also known as Israel Gomez
- in connection with last month's fatal shootings of 3 men on the North
Central Expressway service road at Mockingbird Lane.
Police believe Barretro opened fire from the sunroof of a white Jaguar
after an altercation at a nearby bar.
The driver of the Jaguar, Jimmy Velasquez, 20, was arrested last month on
2 charges of capital murder and 1 charge of aggravated assault.
Barretero, 21, remains at large. Anyone with information about the case is
asked to call University Park police at 214-363-3000. (source: WFAA-TV
DNA evidence shows link--Analyst: Stain on boot was from victim's blood
A state scientist testified Monday that a stain found on a pair of boots
worn by capital murder defendant Bevy Lee Wilson was blood from Richard
Carbaugh, the man he is accused of killing.
Lisa Baylor, a DNA analyst for the Department of Public Safety crime lab,
also said a pair of pants found behind a neighborhood fence was stained
with blood from Carbaugh and his 10-year-old son, Dominic, and had
Wilson's semen stains on the pants. Baylor said she also found skin cells
from an unknown woman on the pants.
Wilson, 46, is charged with capital murder in the February 2003 deaths of
the elder Carbaugh and his son. They were found beaten to death in their
Barton Street apartment. Wilson could face the death penalty if convicted.
The stains were some of the roughly 250 DNA samples collected by police at
the crime scene and from clothing worn by Wilson and Thomas Sower, who
testified he was an eyewitness to the crime. DNA is the basic building
block of life and can be used to identify an individual. It is contained
in blood, semen and every cell in the body.
Defense attorneys have suggested that Sower also should be under suspicion
because of his presence at the scene of the crime.
Baylor said Monday that a long-sleeve shirt found in the bed of a pickup
had blood from both Dominic and Richard Carbaugh. Baylor also said she
found skin cells from Sower around the neckline of the shirt.
Several jurors leaned forward in their chairs as Baylor showed them the
articles of clothing she tested and several took notes on what they saw.
Wilson also took notes on a yellow pad.
The trial was delayed briefly after lunch because of concerns that one of
the jurors might have encountered Wilson while he was being escorted in
handcuffs and shackles. Defense attorney Douglas Tinker asked District
Judge Sandra Watts for a mistrial because of the impression of guilt the
encounter could have caused. It is a strict policy not to let jurors see a
Watts denied Tinker's request until she could research case law on the
matter. She said she would remain open to a re-hearing on the request at a
(source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
Gov. Bush Almost Delayed Execution Because of Pope's Death
Gov. Jeb Bush said he had considered delaying Tuesday's execution of a
convicted killer out of respect for Pope John Paul II's death, but changed
his mind out of sympathy for the family of the murdered woman.
Glen Ocha, 47, is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. EDT inside Florida State
Prison for the 1999 strangulation of an Osecola County woman he had met in
a bar. An anonymous executioner, who is paid $150 for his services, will
inject a lethal cocktail of chemicals to stop Ocha's heart and his
Bush is a convert to Roman Catholicism and the pope opposed capital
"I have a duty to carry out the law, and in this case I actually was
prepared to delay the execution out of courtesy for and respect for the
pope's passing," Bush told reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee. "But I also
have a duty to have sympathy for the victims, and so we checked with the
victims, and they were already prepared and ready to be at the execution
and to be there so they could have closure, and I decided to carry it out.
It was a grotesque crime."
Bush's decision drew criticism from Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians
for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, who had called Ocha's execution,
"suicide by governor." Ocha has dropped his appeals and fired his
"Instead of honoring Pope John Paul II, Gov. Bush has today chosen to mock
him. The pope has been outspoken about the value of all life, and
repeatedly called for the end to the use of the death penalty," Bonowitz
Greg L. Hill, who was appointed as a backup attorney for Ocha, met with
his client Monday evening at the prison and said Tuesday he will file no
last-minute appeal to block the execution.
"That's his desire to accept responsibility for his actions," Hill said
Ocha, who changed his name in prison to Raven Raven, received a final meal
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.
Ocha pleaded guilty to the Oct. 5, 1999, killing of convenience store
employee Carol Skjerva, 28 at his home in Osceola County.
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 choked her
three times until his arms got tired. He then 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
attorneys. 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
abuse. After a 2-year stint in the Army, he was given a general discharge
for drug use.
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
Of the 16 inmates executed under death warrants signed by Bush, seven have
dropped appeals and did not fight their execution.
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
(source: Associated Press)
Calcasieu district attorney elected judge
In Lake Charles, a district attorney who calls for the death penalty
whether the victim's family wants it or not has been overwhelmingly
elected a state district court judge in Calcasieu Parish.
Rick Bryant had 65 % of the vote in a race against attorney Maurice "Mo"
Tynes for the seat vacated when David Painter was elected to the 3rd
Circuit Court of Appeal.
Complete but unofficial returns gave Bryant 7,127 votes to 3,825 for Tynes
for the seat, which includes DeQuincy, Iowa, some of south Lake Charles
and north, east and south Calcasieu Parish east of the Calcasieu River.
About 18 percent of the parish's 60,431 voters went to the polls.
The turnout was 24 % in Lake Charles, where Mayor Randy Roach got 87 % of
the vote in his run for a 2nd term. His opponent, Shirley Minix Sam
Henderson, did not actively campaign.
Bryant said it will be hard to leave the district attorney's office, where
he has worked since 1979 and led the office since 1991, after Richard
Ieyoub was elected state attorney general.
"I hope I enjoy my future as a judge as much as I've enjoyed my past as
district attorney. I am looking forward to the challenge, though. It'll be
something new and exciting," Bryant said.
Bryant said he will remain district attorney for as long as possible
before taking his judge's seat. Once he joins the court, Ronnie Rossitto,
first assistant district attorney, will take over as interim district
attorney until an election can be held in the fall.
One piece of unfinished business is the retrial of Rickey Joseph Langley
for the murder of 6-year-old Jeremy Guillory of the town of Iowa. 2
previous convictions have been overturned. Guillory's mother, Lorelei
Guillory, has asked Bryant to accept a life sentence for Langley. Bryant
said he would never ask for less than the death penalty for someone who
kills a child - and besides, an uncle and aunt of the boy's wanted death.
Langley's 3rd trial is scheduled in late October.
Tynes was making his 2nd bid for a 14th Judicial District Court seat.
In 2003, he finished 3rd in a 4-person race that resulted in a runoff and
the election of David Ritchie.
"We think we offered the public a good alternative, but the public has
spoken and they seem to prefer business as usual - the same old politics
that we've had around here for a while," Tynes said.
Louisiana high court rules judges may block prosecution of poor defendants
In Baton Rouge, the state Supreme Court ruled judges can halt the
prosecution of poor defendants until there is money available to pay for
their defernse lawyers, scolding lawmakers for not providing a system to
defend the indigent.
Defense attorneys said the ruling could provoke a flurry of legal motions
on behalf of poor defendants around Louisiana, which critics contend has
one of the worst indigent defense systems in the nation.
"Hundreds of these cases are percolating their way up through the system,"
said defense lawyer and reform advocate Jim Boren.
Louisiana's constitution requires a defense lawyer be provided to a
defendant too poor to pay for one. Critics contend the state doesn't
provide enough funding, and that it is not unusual for a poor defendant to
spend up to nine months in jail before a lawyer is appointed.
In the ruling released late Friday, the state Supreme Court said the duty
of providing a working indigent defense system falls "squarely on the
shoulders of the Legislature," which hasn't come up with a way to pay for
"The Legislature may be in breach of that duty," the ruling said.
The decision concerned 2 1st-degree murder cases in Calcasieu Parish,
where the public defender said it had too many cases to take on 2 possible
death-penalty trials. The court ruled a judge should appoint a lawyer for
a poor defendant when he first appears in court. The appointed lawyer may
then file a motion to determine how he will be paid. If the money isn't
available, the defendant may ask to have the case halted until it is, the
Supreme courts in other states have gone further in similar rulings,
ordering charges against such defendants be dismissed, thus allowing them
to be released.
Louisiana's high court noted it is "very much cognizant of the lengths to
which other state courts have gone to ensure that the indigents'
constitutional rights are protected, in spite of legislative inaction."
Louisiana pays some money for defense of the poor, but most comes from
court costs added to some traffic fines.
(source for both: Associated Press)
Senator Links Violence To 'Political' Decisions 'Unaccountable' Judiciary
Sen. John Cornyn said yesterday that recent examples of courthouse
violence may be linked to public anger over judges who make politically
charged decisions without being held accountable.
In a Senate floor speech in which he sharply criticized a recent Supreme
Court ruling on the death penalty, Cornyn (R-Tex.) -- a former Texas
Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee -- said
Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by what he describes as
Judges who make "raw political or ideological decisions" are concern, said
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).
"It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use
the authority that they have been given to make raw political or
ideological decisions," he said. Sometimes, he said, "the Supreme Court
has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of
political decisions made by elected representatives of the people."
Cornyn continued: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection,
but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this
country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between
the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are
making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it
builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people
engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a
concern that I have."
Cornyn, who spoke in a nearly empty chamber, did not specify cases of
violence against judges. 2 fatal episodes made headlines this year,
although authorities said the motives appeared to be personal, not
political. In Chicago, a man fatally shot the husband and mother of a
federal judge who had ruled against him in a medical malpractice suit. And
in Atlanta last month, a man broke away from a deputy and fatally shot
four people, including the judge presiding over his rape trial.
Liberal activists criticized Cornyn's remarks, and compared them to House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay's comments last week following the death of a
brain-damaged Florida woman, Terri Schiavo. DeLay (R-Tex.) rebuked federal
and state judges who had ruled in the Schiavo case, saying, "The time will
come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."
Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, said last night
that Cornyn, "like Tom DeLay, should know better. These kinds of
statements are irresponsible and could be seen by some as justifying
inexcusable conduct against our courts." The Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee called the senator's remarks "an astounding account of
the recent spate of violence against judges, suggesting that the crimes
could be attributed to the fact that judges are 'unaccountable' to the
Cornyn spokesman Don Stewart declined to speculate on what instances of
violence the senator had in mind. "He was talking about things that have
come up and concerned him," Stewart said.
In his speech, Cornyn criticized the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision on
March 1 that said it is unconstitutional to execute people who were under
18 when they committed their crimes. "In so holding," Cornyn said, "the
U.S. Supreme Court said: We are no longer going to leave this in the hands
of jurors. We do not trust jurors. We are no longer going to leave this up
to the elected representatives of the people of the respective states."
In a recent New York Times article, John Kane, a senior judge in the U.S.
District Court for Colorado, wrote: "Since 1970, 10 state and federal
judges have been murdered, seven of them in job-related incidents. Those
who threaten judges are almost always disturbed individuals seeking
revenge. . . . Of the three federal judges killed in the last
quarter-century, all were killed by men disgruntled with their treatment
from the federal judicial system."
(source: Washington Post)
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