[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, ALA., TENN., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 28 11:42:11 CDT 2005
Prosecutors want death penalty in killing of pregnant woman, boy
County prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case of a Fort Worth
man accused of killing a pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son and then
burying their bodies in nearby Denton County.
Prosecutor Kevin Rousseau made his intentions public Wednesday, shortly
after Stephen Dale Barbee, 38, was indicted on a capital murder charge in
the Feb. 19 deaths of Lisa and Jayden Underwood.
Holly Pils, who co-owned Boopa's Bagel Deli with Lisa Underwood, read a
statement from Sheila Underwood, the victims' mother and grandmother.
"I am absolutely confident that Assistant District Attorney Kevin Rousseau
will ensure that justice is served and that my babies Lisa, Jayden and
Marleigh Underwoods' deaths will be avenged," Sheila Underwood wrote.
Marleigh is the name of Lisa Underwood's unborn baby.
Bill Ray, who is representing Barbee with attorney Tim Moore, promised a
"As soon as we get a chance to look at the facts, we'll go to work," Ray
Barbee remained in the Tarrant County Jail Wednesday with bail set at $2
Last week, Ron Dodd, 33, Barbee's co-worker and friend, was indicted in
Denton County on 2 counts of tampering with physical evidence. He is
accused of helping Barbee conceal the bodies.
Because Dodd has a felony conviction, he could be sentenced to a maximum
of 20 years in prison.
Barbee was arrested Feb. 22 in Tyler in east Texas by investigators who
said he confessed to the killings. Barbee told authorities that he killed
Underwood, whom he had dated, after they argued in her home over his
refusal to leave his wife. Underwood was seven months pregnant.
Jayden, Underwood's son from a previous relationship, ran into the room
screaming, and Barbee used his hand to cover the boy's mouth and nose
until he was dead, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Afterward, police reported, Barbee loaded the bodies into the back of
Underwood's sport utility vehicle, drove to a rural area in Denton County
and buried them together.
Barbee later led investigators to the shallow grave.
(source: Knight Ridder Tribune)
Centobie wants execution tonight
Convicted cop-killer Mario Centobie is set to die by lethal injection at 6
tonight, despite efforts of anti-death penalty activists to save his life.
In an affidavit this week, the 39-year-old condemned man lashed out at a
Montgomery attorney who is challenging his execution and asked a federal
judge to let it move forward.
"I know when the date of my death is going to happen. That is a luxury to
me because I can prepare for this event," Centobie wrote. "I had planned
to mail letters to my family and friends (Monday) because I knew that I
would die on Thursday. Now, it's torture and stress."
Centobie spent most of Wednesday visiting with his mother, Tracy Centobie,
brothers Jeff Moore and Clifton Moore, and 2 members of a prison ministry
He made no special request for a last meal for today, but instead said he
will eat from vending machines in the visiting yard.
A Mississippi native and former decorated firefighter, he is set to die
for the 1998 murder of Moody police Officer Keith Turner. Turner's death
was part of a high-profile crime spree that included a dramatic escape
from a Mississippi prison, the wounding of a Tuscaloosa police officer,
the carjacking of a Moody man and a week-long hunt that brought hundreds
of law enforcement agents from around the Southeast.
Katherine Puzone, an assistant federal defender in the state's middle
district, is challenging the execution. The U.S. District Court for the
Northern District issued an opinion Tuesday blocking her efforts. The case
was pending Wednesday at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Centobie disputed the lawyer's claims that he is mentally ill and not
capable of deciding his own fate.
"The only kind of mental condition that I may be suffering from is
depression. ... If I wasn't on Death Row, I would not have any depression
whatsoever," he wrote. "The crimes that I have committed have also caused
me to have some depression."
Centobie said he met with Puzone because he thought she would help him
find his son, Dominic, now 17. Before his convictions, Centobie was known
in his community as a doting father to his only child. He rummaged through
trash bins to raise money to buy him toys, and once shoplifted a video
game his son had wanted for a year.
"I thought she was trying to help me find my son and that she wanted to be
my friend," Centobie said. "I now know that she only wanted to get close
to me to pursue her own anti-death penalty agenda."
Efforts to reach Puzone for comment were unsuccessful. In his Tuesday
ruling, U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor said that Puzone's
well-intentioned actions were viewed as "legal `meddling' by an
Centobie said he doesn't want to live the rest of his life in prison,
burdening his family and taxpayers.
"The money that could be spent on me could be better spent on somebody
else," Centobie wrote. "I know that I could live in prison and be
assistance to other inmates, but I don't care to do that. I don't want to
have life in prison because it's not much of a life."
(source: Birmingham News)
Death penalty upheld in stabbing death of tow truck driver
The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence a
Missouri man in the killing a Dyer County tow truck driver.
Steven Ray Thacker was convicted of first-degree murder for the Jan. 2,
2000, stabbing death of Ray Patterson. Thacker had called Patterson to tow
his car after it broke down as he was driving from Missouri to Dyersburg.
Patterson towed the car to a service station, and Thacker tried to pay for
the service with a stolen credit card. When the card was rejected, Thacker
stabbed Patterson because he knew Thacker was wanted in other states.
Thacker also was convicted of killing two others as part of a 3-state
crime spree that began in December 1999 with the stabbing of Laci Dawn
Hill of Bixby, Okla. She had advertised a pool table for sale at her Tulsa
County home and Thacker answered the ad.
On New Year's Day, Thacker stole a car from Forrest Boyd's home in rural
Polk County, about 20 miles north of Springfield, Mo., and stabbed Boyd to
death. A credit card belonging to Boyd was used the following morning in
Tennessee, where Thacker killed Patterson.
Thacker stole money, a gun and credit cards from Patterson before going to
a local restaurant and eating a hamburger. He later checked into a Union
City motel, where he was arrested.
Justice William M. Barker, writing the majority opinion released
Wednesday, said issues raised by Thacker in his automatic direct appeal
are without merit.
Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr. wrote a separate opinion in which he agreed
that Thacker's conviction should be upheld but disagreed with the death
The court scheduled a Sept. 8 execution date for Thacker, who has state
and federal appeals remaining.
(source: Associated Press)
Prosecution Hits Snags at Hearing on Iraq Killings
Prosecutors in the case of a marine accused of murdering 2 Iraqis advised
one of their own witnesses on Wednesday that he could face charges for
talking to reporters, and vigorously cross-examined another who praised
The developments came at a preliminary hearing that will determine whether
the marine, Second Lt. Ilario Pantano, will face a court-martial in the
deaths of Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil, who were shot in the
back on April 15, 2004, near Mahmudiyah, Iraq.
Under questioning from a civilian defense lawyer for Lieutenant Pantano,
one witness, Sgt. Daniel Coburn, acknowledged that he had violated orders
not to discuss the case with the news media. The admission came after the
lawyer, Charles Gittins, quoted what appeared to have been transcripts of
conversations Sergeant Coburn had with a New York Magazine writer.
During a break, prosecutors advised Sergeant Coburn of his right against
self-incrimination and advised him to seek legal counsel because he could
be criminally charged.
The sergeant was 1 of 2 servicemen with Lieutenant Pantano when the
shooting occurred, and the defense has suggested that he was disgruntled
with the defendant and tried to portray a combat shooting as a murder. The
defense argues that the lieutenant acted in self-defense.
Before being warned that he could face charges himself, Sergeant Coburn
gave the most detailed testimony to date about what happened that April
day after his platoon stopped a car leaving what was believed to be an
He told a hearing officer that Lieutenant Pantano was angered when he
learned that intelligence officers had decided not to detain Mr. Kareem
and Mr. Hanjil.
"These 2 were going to be let go because there was no proof they had
anything to do with the house," Sergeant Coburn testified, adding that the
lieutenant "looked a little upset that these guys were going to get off."
He said Lieutenant Pantano was "mumbling to himself" and told the 2 Iraqis
to go back and search their own vehicle, though it had already been twice
searched by a Navy corpsman, George Gobles.
Lieutenant Pantano ordered that the detainees' plastic handcuffs be cut
off, the sergeant testified, and that the lieutenant then ordered him and
Corpsman Gobles to take positions facing away from the car.
The 2 detainees, Sergeant Coburn said, were on their knees searching the
inside of their car when staccato bursts of gunfire caused him to turn
around, and he saw Lieutenant Pantano firing at the detainees.
"He was still firing," the sergeant said. "I was trying to figure out when
he was going to stop."
Corpsman Gobles, who testified earlier in the day, gave a similar account,
but also said Lieutenant Pantano had told the 2 men to "stop" in Arabic
"And I heard shots fired," Corpsman Gobles said, testifying, as did
Sergeant Coburn, that the men were shot in the back.
During a lengthy cross-examination by the defense, Corpsman Gobles lauded
Lieutenant Pantano's service in combat.
"He was a damned good leader," Corpsman Gobles said. "I felt the safest
with, you know, this platoon, because more than anything because of
Lieutenant Pantano, his leadership."
When prosecutors questioned Corpsman Gobles once again about that
statement and others, Mr. Gittins said they could not cross-examine their
But Maj. Stephen Keane, the lead prosecutor, said he could do so under
military rules, because Corpsman Gobles had become a defense witness.
(source: New York Times)
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