[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, TENN., MISS., USA, ARK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 28 17:03:11 CDT 2005
Senators would boost payments for people wrongly convicted----WRONGFUL
CONVICTION----Senators would boost payments
People who are wrongfully convicted and spend time in prison would receive
more money under legislation tentatively approved Tuesday in the Senate.
Right now, people who are wrongly convicted can receive as much as $25,000
for every year they were imprisoned.
Under the bill by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, they could receive $50,000
for every year they spent behind bars. Those who were on death row could
receive $100,000 for every year they were on death row.
(source: Austin American-Statesman)
Killer of Friendswood woman gets death date
Robert Alan Shields date with death is set.
Shields, 30, has been on death row for nearly 10 years. A jury condemned
him in the death of Paula Stiner in October 1995.
Barring an executive-level pardon, he will die by lethal injection on Aug.
23 in the Huntsville prison where he has spent most of the last decade.
Shields exhausted the last of his appeals in January, leaving nothing to
bar the issuance of a death warrant, which State District Court Judge
David Garner signed Tuesday.
Stiner, 27, had been Shields neighbor in Friendswood.
On Sept. 21, 1994, he broke into her home and waited for her. When she got
home, he beat her with a hammer and stabbed her to death.
Former Precinct 8 Constable Daniel Cooper arrested Shields 3 days later in
The Woodlands. Shields was driving Stiners car and wearing bloodstained
clothes at the time of his capture.
Shields was the last person in Galveston County to be sentenced to death.
(source: Galveston County Daily News)
Mother charged in childs death----Supplemental autopsy shows 2-year-old
son died of trauma
A municipal judge Wednesday charged a 26-year-old woman with capital
murder for the death last year of her 2-year-old son.
Judge Hector "Tiger" Huerta set a $250,000 bond for Erica Kendall after an
investigation into the Oct. 11 death of Adam Roldan.
If convicted of capital murder, Kendall could face the death penalty,
District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said.
Kendall remained in the Willacy County Jail Wednesday after police
arrested her at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday at her home on Charles Street,
detective Samuel Adame said.
Authorities charged Kendall about 3 weeks after a supplemental autopsy
showed the child died as the result of trauma, Guerra said. The report
ruled out illness and other natural factors as the cause of the brain
hemorrhage that led to the childs death, he said.
"She was the last person with the child and this child had been to the
hospital with similar injuries," Guerra said.
About 2 months before his death, the boy was hospitalized for a brain
hemorrhage, court records said.
Kendall, who took the boy to a hospital emergency room, "stated that (the)
child had fallen while they were at a park," records said.
Court records said the boy died as a result of "massive - hemorrhage in
But "there were no outward signs of trauma," records said.
An autopsy showed an "abrasion on his left cheek," records said.
Kendall "did not have an explanation as to how the child may have
sustained any type of injury," records said.
On Oct. 12, Child Protective Service removed Kendalls 3 children from her
home, records said.
(source: Valley Morning Star)
TENNESSEE----new execution date
Tennessee Court Sets Execution Date For Steven Thacker
The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence
of Steven Ray Thacker.
Thacker was found guilty of 1st-degree murder for the January 2000,
stabbing death of tow truck driver Ray Patterson. Thacker also was
convicted of killing 2 others on a 3-state crime spree. He murdered Bixby
resident Laci Hill in December of 1999, and also killed Forrest Boyd after
stealing his car near Springfield, Missouri.
The Tennessee court scheduled a September 8th execution date for Thacker,
pending state and federal appeals.
(source: KOTV News)
Death row inmate denied retrial----Attorneys argue police withheld tapes
that would have helped defense
A circuit judge in Oktibbeha County has ruled against Willie Jerome
Manning's motion for a new trial in the 1992 murders of 2 Mississippi
State University students.
Manning was convicted in 1994 for the deaths of Tiffany Miller of Madison
and Jon Steckler of Natchez.
In 2004, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a hearing into Manning's
claims that prosecutors withheld evidence from his defense attorneys
during his initial trial. All evidence gathered by the police and
prosecution against a defendant is required to be made available to the
defense under state law.
Circuit Judge Lee Howard ruled Friday that no new trial was warranted and
that evidence was not improperly withheld from Manning's defense team.
Manning was convicted in 1994 of two counts of capital murder in the
deaths of Miller and Steckler and was sentenced to death. He is currently
on death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
At the center of Manning's claims were two taped recordings of
conversations between him and his then-girlfriend, Paula Hathorn.
During a January hearing before Howard, defense attorney David Voisin
claimed the tapes were inadvertently left out of the main body of
collected evidence kept by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department.
Since Hathorn was one of the major witnesses against Manning, Manning's
legal team believed the recorded conversations could have aided
significantly in their defense, Voisin argued.
Howard disagreed, ruling that "no factual basis exists to prove that the
state suppressed the existence of tape-recorded telephone communications
between the petitioner and his girlfriend, Paula Hathorn."
The tapes in question were included with all the evidence turned over to
Manning's defense team, according to testimony from Oktibbeha County
Sheriff Dolph Bryan, but the attorneys chose not to use them, Howard
Howard said the statements made by Hathorn in the taped conversations
would have been of little use to challenge Hathorn's trial testimony.
Howard said taped conversations would not be sufficient to result in a
different verdict in Manning's original trial.
On Dec. 11, 1992 the bodies of Miller and Steckler were discovered in
rural Oktibbeha County. Both students had fatal gunshot wounds. Miller's
car was found the next morning.
(source: Associated Press)
The Northeast's executioner
Serial killer Michael Ross's on-again, off-again date with Connecticut's
death chamber sometimes seems a made-for-TV drama, including a memorable
supporting player: Ross's spiritual adviser, Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J.
In anti-death penalty circles, Sister Helen is something of a celebrity.
She's the author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, a chronicle of
her experiences counseling 2 killers on Louisiana's death row, and their
3 years after its initial publication, in 1993, the book was made into a
movie of the same name. The 2 death-row inmates were fused into a single
murderer, played with Mephistophelean oiliness by Sean Penn. Susan
Sarandon portrayed Sister Helen in what would be an Academy Award-winning
Sister Helen's book brings to mind another nonfiction account of capital
punishment as seen from inside prison. Robert Elliott's autobiography,
Agent of Death, is one of the most unusual views of the death penalty
revealed to the public. The author was for some 20 years the state
executioner not only in New York, but in New England and New Jersey, too.
Published in 1939, shortly before Elliott's death at 65, Agent of Death is
a compilation of his journals about his official duties. Elliott used the
electric chair. He was by trade an electrician, in a small upstate New
He was also a family man and churchgoer. Photos in his book show him
strolling a suburban street, his grandchildren in tow, and smoking a pipe.
But there were many nights when Elliott would drive off in his Ford sedan
to a world he kept secret from everyone but his wife; his book is a
chilling and meticulous account of that netherworld.
Over the his career, Elliott dispatched nearly 500 people. Moreover, he
was something of an "Executioner to the Stars," having thrown the switch
on killers Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in Massachusetts; Bruno
Hauptmann, convicted of kidnapping and killing Charles Lindbergh's baby
(though some still say Hauptmann was innocent); and Ruth Gray, the 1st
female in the United States to be electrocuted (1926). Elliott devotes
chapters to each case.
He discusses the demeanors of the condemned as they were marched to the
chair; their defiance, penitence or protestations of innocence.
Elliott recounts his thoughts at the moment he applied the lethal current
to Hauptmann. "I remember," he writes, "thinking of [Hauptmann's] mother,
sitting in Germany not knowing what happened to her son."
The similarity of Agent of Death to Dead Man Walking lies in glimpses each
book gives into the private side of a death sentence -- a before and after
of the execution process.
But that's where the analogy ends. Sister Helen is a healer, with the
daunting task of comforting not only the condemned but the families of
those he murdered. Elliott, on the other hand, was a wraith-like
functionary who was paid a flat fee ($300 an execution) to carry out the
will of John Q. Public. He merely saw himself as he was: a cog in the
machinery of the criminal-justice system. He apparently soothed his
conscience with that logic.
Yet before closing his book, Elliott faults capital punishment as a failed
deterrent to murder. Perhaps for him it was a deathbed confession.
(source: Providence Journal)
Judge Rules Against Lawyers, Says Killer Competent
A Crawford County judge Wednesday shot down requests from attorneys
seeking to stop Rickey Dale Newman's execution.
Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell denied motions to reconsider a February action
where he dismissed motions for DNA testing and a new trial.
He turned back attorneys for the federal public defender's office in
Little Rock, whom Newman fired in February.
Also, Cottrell refused to allow Newman's aunt, Betty Moore of Van Buren,
to intervene in the case.
Federal Public Defender Bruce Eddy said the question of Moore's
intervention is moot since Cottrell has ruled Newman is mentally
The only way Moore could intervene, Eddy added, would be if Newman was
The public defenders had sought new DNA testing on evidence collected
after the 2001 murder of Marie Cholette. They questioned the effectiveness
of Newman's counsel at his 2002 trial. The death row inmate served as his
own attorney at trial.
The public defenders were seeking a hearing to determine Newman's
competency and to see whether evidence would show he is innocent.
They claim Newman wants to be executed as part of an "incompetent,
illness-driven desire to die." He falsely confessed to Cholette's killing
in an attempt to cover up his mental retardation, they said.
Assistant state Attorney General Clayton Hodges argued Wednesday questions
of Newman's competency should have been brought at trial.
Hodges said the public defenders violated court rules by filing the motion
Newman said he did not want the attorneys to try to stop the execution,
delayed last September when the public defender's office first intervened
in the case.
Newman has repeatedly said he wants to die. He said he hoped Cottrell's
ruling left further appeals "dead in the water."
He has requested the Arkansas Supreme Court dissolve a stay of execution.
Newman asked Cottrell whether Wednesday's decision ended the appeals
"Your guess is as good as mine," Cottrell said.
The shackled, handcuffed inmate was escorted by 2 armed guards to the
Newman requested not to be transported from prison in southeast Arkansas
to Van Buren on Wednesday. A letter to Cottrell was prepared by the public
defender's office and signed by Newman.
Cottrell refused to lift a transport order, though, unless he heard
specifically from Newman. The judge did not receive a letter from Newman
When asked why he did not want to appear at the hearing, Newman said he
thought his presence would hurt Moore.
"It's hard to give up on somebody being put to death," Newman said. "I
appreciate her standing up for me, but it's time for justice to be done."
Before Cottrell refused to give Moore standing in the case, she wrote
Crawford County Public Defender Bob Marquette that she would stop trying
to prevent Newman's execution.
"I thought I was trying to help him, but he don't want or need my help
anymore," Moore said in the letter.
(source: Fort Smith Times Record)
More information about the DeathPenalty