[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS., MO., KY., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Apr 27 11:46:05 CDT 2005
Society can survive, even thrive without death penalty, says organizer
David Atwood, founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,
(TCADP) speaks to a group at Incarnate Word Academy High School library
March 16. He was there to help the group organize a local chapter.
When David Atwood stood up to speak at an organizational meeting to start
a local chapter of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
(TCADP), the first words he spoke to the group who turned out were, "You
can't get a guy like me any happier."
He said he was glad to see the local interest at the March 16
organizational meeting held at the Incarnate Word Academy High School
"Just being in Houston isn't enough" said Atwood, who lives in Houston and
is the founder of TCADP.
He told of his own initial interest in the death penalty when a Catholic
sister approached him for help in 1990 to start a paper focusing on the
death penalty. He was involved with the Catholic Campaign for Human
Development at the time.
"If you don't think this issue is important, visit a prisoner on death
row," he told the group at the Corpus Christi meeting. That's exactly what
he began doing about 15 years ago and it changed his life.
"When you meet them you realize, no matter what they've done, they are
human beings," said Atwood. At the same time he discouraged people from
giving death row inmates a martyr status. The ones that are actually
guilty have committed some horrendous crimes and inflicted great pain on
the victims of loved ones. "We're not for releasing dangerous criminals in
He presented a series of House Bills that will come before this year's
Texas legislative session and he also presented facts about the death
penalty, stressing that education is the key.
One fact was that every western democracy except the USA has abolished the
He said that overall support for the death penalty has declined and that
any group working to abolish the death penalty must be active in reaching
out to the victims' families.
"We could have a wonderful society without the death penalty," said
For more information about upcoming meetings of the TCADP, contact Jean
Adams at 882-1133 or Sister Rosa Ortiz at 882-5413.
(source: South Texas Catholic Newspaper)
Atascosa man returns after stint on death row
A man accused of being an accomplice in one of South Texas' deadliest
police ambushes has been released from death row and is back in Atascosa
County Jail, awaiting a possible new trial, his attorney said.
"His family is glad to have him back," attorney Alan F. Futrell said of
Kenneth Vodochodsky, who became only the ninth person to be exonerated
from Texas' death row during the modern era of capital punishment.
Vodochodsky, 24, spent 4 years and a little more than a month there.
But he could see death row again.
He was returned to Jourdanton after the state's highest criminal appeals
court rejected an appeal last month from prosecutors asking it to
reconsider its ruling overturning his 2001 capital murder conviction.
Although he wasn't the triggerman, Vodochodsky was convicted for the Oct.
12, 1999, death of Atascosa County Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Monse Jr. under
a Texas law that states anyone who encourages, assists or tries to help
someone commit murder is equally culpable of the crime.
2 other officers, Deputy Mark Stephenson and State Trooper Terry Miller,
also were killed in that night's attack near Pleasanton.
But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 6-2 last April that the
circumstantial evidence against Vodochodsky was "so weak as to undermine
confidence in the jury's determination."
The actual killer, Vodochodsky's roommate, Jeremiah Engleton, committed
suicide after a long standoff with authorities.
Ren Pea, district attorney for the 81st Judicial District, requested
Vodochodsky be returned to Atascosa County after obtaining warrants that
once again charge him with capital murder. This time, the charges are in
connection with the deaths of the two other officers.
Vodochodsky is being held without bond.
Futrell said Vodochodsky's initial court appearance on the charges will be
May 16 in Karnes City, where his 1t capital murder trial was held.
Prosecutors could seek a trial on one but probably not both capital murder
charges, Futrell said. He said he doesn't know if they will again seek the
Pea did not return repeated calls for comment.
Futrell has said prosecutors would have a hard time sustaining a future
capital murder conviction of Vodochodsky if it's based on the same
evidence and testimony used in his 1st trial.
The lawyer who successfully argued Vodochodsky's appeal, Richard Langlois
of San Antonio, also will help defend him at his next trial, if it is
held, Futrell said.
"We're just going to have to wait and see what they are going to try to do
with him," Futrell said.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
Governor's Stance On Executions Criticized
A death penalty opponent says Governor Matt Blunt has left himself almost
no reason to ever intervene to stop an execution. Blunt has said he won't
step in and stop an execution unless evidence is presented him that has
never been reviewed by a court or jury - a very rare occurence. Jeff Stack
with Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty speculates as to what might
have to happen for Blunt to halt an execution. Stack says he's
disappointed that it appears Blunt takes the same stance on the death
penalty that Governor Bob Holden did. Holden never stopped any executions
during his 4-year tenure.
Executions trigger protest----Despite calls for an end to the death
penalty, Donald Jones was executed this morning.
Missouri has executed 63 people, all by injection, since the death penalty
was reinstated in 1989.
The states last execution was Stanley Hall, who had been convicted in the
1994 murder of a St. Louis woman, on March 16 at the Potosi Correctional
This mornings execution was the first in the new facility in Bonne Terre.
Vernon Brown, who was convicted of strangling a 9-year-old girl to death
in 1986, is scheduled to be executed May 18.
The 2nd execution in as many months, after more than a year without one,
has some Columbia protestors discouraged about their attempts to end
capital punishment in the state.
20 people showed up at the Boone County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon to
hold signs protesting the execution of a man who was convicted of killing
his grandmother for drug money. It was one of many demonstrations
scheduled around the state.
Donald Jones, 38, was executed early today at the Eastern Reception,
Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.
Jones was convicted of killing his grandmother, 68-year-old Dorothy
Knuckles, in St. Louis in 1993.
The execution came a week after the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of
Reconciliation announced that 50 local businesses had joined them in
asking the Missouri General Assembly to consider placing a moratorium on
Early Tuesday, Gov. Matt Blunt - for the 2nd time in little more than a
month - refused to grant clemency despite a recommendation to do so by the
state parole board. The Republican expressed sympathy, but he described
the murder as "terrible."
Jones was the 63rd inmate put to death by the state since Missouri
reinstated the death penalty in 1989, but only the second prisoner
executed since 2003. On March 16, Stanley Hall was put to death for
murdering a woman and throwing her into the Mississippi River in St. Louis
in 1994. Another execution is scheduled for next month.
Jeff Stack, coordinator of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation,
said he is scared that the state is returning to the old way of handling
"This pace of once a month was sadly the norm a couple years ago," Stack
Protestor John Schuder said that though every execution saddens him, he
will continue to show up and protest every one.
Tuesday was the 1st time Ivy White had joined the group to demonstrate.
She said she hopes people driving and walking by gained a different
"Maybe someone will have an 'ah-ha' moment," White said. "That would be
Jones family had hoped Blunt would commute the prisoners sentence to a
life term without parole, arguing that Knuckles would not seek vengeance
against her grandson.
"We don't have the death penalty so that families can feel a sense of
vengeance," Blunt said. "We have the death penalty because we believe as a
society, we believe as a state and we believe as a people that some crimes
are so horrific that the only appropriate punishment is the death
Jones said he was high on PCP-laced crack cocaine when he went to his
grandmothers St. Louis home in March of 1993 to ask the woman for more
money for drugs. After she refused, Jones first beat her with a butchers
block of knives, then repeatedly stabbed her.
Jones took the grandmothers videocassette recorder, some money and the
keys to her car, then sold the VCR and rented out the vehicle to get 2
pieces of crack cocaine.
(source: The (Columbia) Missourian)
New rape charge lets prosecutor seek death penalty
Boone Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith will seek the death penalty
against a Covington man charged with killing a woman just 4 months after
he was released from prison for killing a teenage girl.
Smith said she can take the action now that a Boone County grand jury has
indicted John Wesley Snow on a charge of first-degree rape. Coupled with a
previous indictment for murder, the two charges provide the aggravating
circumstances state law requires for death penalty consideration.
Snow, 33, is charged with killing Patricia Volpenhein and leaving her body
in a Boone County field, where it was discovered Sept. 12. She had been
shot twice in the head and stabbed several times, police said.
Additional physical evidence now shows Volpenhein was raped before she was
killed, Smith said.
In 1992, Snow, then 21, pleaded guilty to killing Wendy Castleman King,
his pregnant, 15-year-old girl- friend, by shooting her in the head in a
Covington stairwell. He served 11 years of a 15-year sentence and was
released from prison in May.
"He was only out of the penitentiary 4 months for killing one woman when
he killed another," Smith said. "We want to do everything that's in our
power to make sure he doesn't get that chance again."
Smith said she plans to file the formal notice either today or Wednesday.
Sanitation workers found Volpenhein's body about 4:30 p.m. on Sept 12.
Police said she has been killed elsewhere in the previous 24 hours, and
her body dumped in a field near the Ohio River, wrapped in a tarpaulin.
An autopsy showed the cause of death was a single shot to the temple from
a small-caliber handgun.
Snow was the last person seen with Volpenhein, according to her family.
Police said that some two weeks before she was shot, Volpenhein told her
sister that Snow had brought her to an undisclosed field along Ky. 8,
pulled a gun and put it to her temple, asking, "Does this scare you?" a
detective testified at an earlier hearing.
Snow is currently being held in the Boone County Jail without bond. His
attorney, public defender Rhonda Lause, has said she wants him to undergo
a psychological evaluation to help determine whether he is mentally
competent to stand trial, and whether he has any mental defects that may
limit his criminal responsibility.
Circuit Judge Tony Frohlich has approved those evaluations.
(source: Kentucky Post)
Centobie to be executed Thursday
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Mario Centobie, who confessed to killing Moody police
officer Keith Turner in 1998, will die by lethal injection.
Centobie was sentenced to death in 1999 for the June 27, 1998, murder of
Turner. He was also sentenced to 3 life sentences for the wounding of a
Tuscaloosa police officer.
According to St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor, the federal
court on Tuesday denied a motion filed Friday to stay the execution. He
said Centobie also filed an affidavit in response to the motion saying he
did not authorize the stay request and he was ready to die.
"His execution will bring a sense of closure and some relief for the city
of Moody, the county, and law enforcement officers," Minor said. "It will
also serve as a reminder to families of law enforcement now that we're
there for them, God forbid it happen again, and will ensure anyone who
kills a police officer in the line of duty receives the ultimate penalty,
which is the death penalty."
Minor said fewer than 10 people will witness the execution, but he will be
among them, as will former Moody Police Chief Bobby Clements and Turner's
widow, Brandy Phillips.
Current Moody Police Chief John Kile was the shift supervisor the night
Turner was killed and said he plans to take about 6 other officers with
him to Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore Thursday, where the
execution is scheduled to take place.
"It'll give us final closure to a certain degree," he said. "If we can
ever get a final closure because someone in our life is still missing."
Kile said that by sending uniformed officers to the prison he hopes to
show support for Turner and his family.
"This is a final gesture of respect for his family," Kile said.
He said Turner's murder was devastating to the department and the
community and it serves as a reminder to young police officers that it can
"It was very traumatic to us. It eases over time, but it always stays with
you," Kile said. "Some details you remember like yesterday. He (Centobie)
is getting what he justly deserves."
Centobie and 19-year-old Jeremy Granberry escaped custody while being
transported from Parchman Prison in Mississippi to a court hearing June
25, 1998. They stole a sheriff deputy's patrol car and handgun and headed
toward Tuscaloosa, where they were stopped on Interstate 359 by Tuscaloosa
Police Capt. Cecil Lancaster.
Lancaster was shot twice by the suspects but was able to return fire,
preventing them from running him down with the stolen car.
After stealing another car, the two continued on Interstate 20 until they
reached the Moody exit.
At approximately 10:29 p.m. June 27, 1998, Turner stopped to check a
suspicious vehicle. After speaking with Turner, Centobie reached back into
the car as if to retrieve his drivers license. Instead, he pulled the
deputy's stolen handgun and shot Turner three times one bullet hit his
bullet resistant vest, another entered his hip, and the last struck the
back of his head.
Former Moody police officer Chris Long was working patrol that same night
and heard Turner tell his dispatcher where he was and that he was checking
a suspicious vehicle.
"I was only a few seconds away," Long recalled. "I heard the shots. In
just a few seconds your whole world can turn upside down."
Long, who now works for the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, said he
remembers every detail of that night. He was the first on the scene of the
shooting and exchanged gunfire with Centobie.
He said Tuesday he was glad to see the day coming when the murderer of his
friend will be executed.
"I'm glad it's coming quickly," he said. "I didn't figure it would happen
until about 20 or 30 years from now."
Long said he believes Centobie's death will also bring him personal
closure on one of the worst nights of his life.
"I've kind of got mixed feelings, but I'm relieved it's finally here," he
said. "Even though he'll be executed, it wont bring Keith back. I still
lost a friend."
For 8 days after Turner's murder, more than 750 lawmen from across the
nation descended upon the Moody community in one of the largest manhunts
in state history.
Granberry was quickly found, still in the Moody area. He was convicted in
1999 of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.
He is serving his time at Holman Correctional Facility - the same prison
where Centobie is to be executed.
Centobie was not captured until July 5, 1998, near Biloxi, Miss. He was
still carrying the gun used to kill Turner.
Sheriff's deputy Roy Mullins was on duty the night Turner was killed and
remembers spending more than seven days working 20-hour shifts.
"I was on a call at the dead end of Shoal Creek Valley Road when the call
went out," he said. "I dropped everything and went straight there. They
set me up on a roadblock, and I stayed there for 15 hours.
"I worked every day looking for the men who killed Keith. Finding them was
just something you don't give up on. When they found Granberry, I thought,
'We're halfway there.'"
Mullins said he is also glad to see the execution date looming.
"It is different when it's someone you work with and whos gotten you out
of tight spots before," he said. "Justice will be served."
(source: Daily Home)
Federal judge rejects motion to stop Centobie execution
Alabama Corrections officials are preparing for tomorrow's scheduled
execution of convicted murderer Mario Centobie.
On Tuesday, Mobile Federal Judge David Proctor refused to block the
execution set for 6 p.m. at Holman Prison near Atmore. The motion was
filed Friday by a Mobile lawyer without Centobie's permission. He
previously waive his rights to all appeals.
The 39-year-old Centobie was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the
slaying of Moody police officer Keith Turner in June 1998. Turner had
stopped Centobie and another inmate who fled a Mississippi Prison in a
Centobie was also sentenced to 3 life prison terms in the wounding of a
Tuscaloosa police captain during his crime spree across Alabama.
(source: Associated Press)
Court sets June 2 execution date for Henderson in Talladega case
The Alabama Supreme Court has set a June 2 execution date for Jerry Paul
Henderson, convicted in a 1984 murder-for-hire killing in Talladega.
A court spokesman announced Tuesday that Henderson had been given a date
to be executed by lethal injection at Holman prison near Atmore.
Henderson, now 58, was convicted of capital murder in the 1984 shooting
death of his sister-in-law's husband, Jerry Haney, 33.
According to court records, after a fight with her husband Judy Haney told
her sister, Martha Henderson, and the sister's husband, Jerry Paul
Henderson, that she would give them all the money she had if they would
make sure Jerry Haney wouldn't bother her anymore.
Henderson was accused of shooting Jerry Haney to death on Jan. 1. He and
Judy Haney were arrested more than 3 years later when Martha Henderson
agreed to wear a wire and get her husband to talk about the murder.
Judy Haney was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death,
but her sentence was reduced in 1997 to life in prison without parole
under an agreement with state prosecutors and the family of the victim.
Her husband remained on death row, where his lengthy appeals have included
claims of ineffectiveness of counsel and mitigating circumstances not
being brought out at his trial.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty