[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----ILL., IOWA, ALA., IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 29 12:31:39 CDT 2005
Death penalty considered in college student killing
Prosecutors said Thursday that they may seek the death penalty in the
April 8 kidnapping and killing of an Elgin college student.
Kane County State's Atty. John Barsanti said he is considering seeking
that penalty for the 2 men charged with killing David Steeves, 19, of
Elgin, if they are convicted.
Steeves, whose body was found in Rockford in the trunk of a car, was shot
to death. His body was found eight days after he made a frantic, pleading
911 call, apparently from the trunk of a car. Police had thought the call
was a prank.
Armin V. Henderson, 25, and Robert Guyton, 23, made their 1st court
appearance Thursday before Judge Grant Wegner. They were arrested April 18
by Elgin police and charged with 27 counts of armed robbery, kidnapping
and 1st-degree murder.
Their next scheduled court date is May 12.
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Federal Death Penalty Bill
Debate over the death penalty was blocked in the Iowa legislature, but sex
offenders who murder their child victims could soon face that punishment
on the federal level.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley introduced new federal
legislation in the name of 10-year-old Cedar Rapids murder victim Jetseta
Gage. It pushes the death penalty for sex offenders like Roger Bentley,
who is charged with Gage's kidnapping and murder. The bill would also
create tougher penalties for people convicted of child sex offenses.
(source: KWWL News)
Johnson's trial over drug murders could start next week in Sioux City
The judge in Angela Johnson's murder trial said Thursday that opening
statements could come as early as next week in federal court.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett said a jury pool sufficient
to select 12 jurors and six alternates could be seated today or early next
week. Testimony could then begin.
Johnson, 41, formerly of Klemme, faces 10 federal charges of helping her
boyfriend, Dustin Honken, kill 5 North Iowans during 1993. If found
guilty, she could face the death penalty or life in prison.
This week the court changed its initial plan to select 34 potential jurors
for future consideration, decreasing the number to 28.
When they reach that point, the prosecution and defense will be allowed to
strike 5 jurors each and the 12-person jury and 6 alternates will be in
Bennett said the court may take a day off between jury selection and
On Thursday, 4 potential jurors were selected, increasing the jury pool to
The court was scheduled to continue selection today and Monday.
The case is being prosecuted in federal court in Sioux City. It is only
the second death penalty case in Iowa in the past 40 years.
(source: The Globe Gazette)
Rescue Diver Turned Cop Killer Executed
Without saying a word or even glancing at the witnesses to his execution,
a one-time rescue diver who was convicted of killing a police officer was
put to death Thursday.
Mario Centobie stared at the ceiling before the execution, witnessed by
his mother and brother, the victim's friends and family and eight
uniformed police officers. He was executed by injection at 6:22 p.m. CDT.
"He chose his path," said St. Clair County District Attorney Richard
Minor. "He got his just punishment."
Centobie's mother sat in front of the viewing window with another of her
sons, who kept one arm around her as her body trembled slightly. They
declined to comment on the execution.
Centobie, 39, of Biloxi, Miss., opposed efforts to block his execution. He
was convicted of killing Moody police officer Keith Turner in 1998. A
fugitive when the shooting occurred, he became the focus of a huge
manhunt; he was captured on the Mississippi coast but escaped again from
an Alabama jail before being recaptured in Atlanta.
Centobie, a former firefighter, won accolades in 1993 from Mobile County
sheriff's officials when as a diver he helped rescue victims of an Amtrak
disaster on Bayou Canot that killed 47 people.
A year later, however, he kidnapped his estranged wife and 6-year-old son;
he began serving a 40-year sentence in Mississippi in 1996.
He and another inmate escaped in 1998, overpowering 2 officers who were
taking them to a court appearance.
After shooting and wounding a Tuscaloosa police officer, Centobie made it
to Moody, near Birmingham's eastern border, and shot Turner, who had
stopped to investigate a suspicious vehicle.
Centobie, captured near Biloxi several days after the slaying, escaped
again with help from a female guard he had charmed. Love letters to the
guard, who received prison time for her role, helped authorities recapture
him in Atlanta.
Katherine Puzone, a federal public defender, tried to get a court order
blocking the execution, claiming among other things that Centobie was
mentally incompetent. A final appeal was denied Thursday by the Supreme
Centobie opposed Puzone's efforts, saying he was sane but preferred death
over a life in prison.
(source: Associated Press)
Inmate requests death sentence from judge
Convicted killer Charles Roche Jr., who has been returned to Lake County
to be resentenced for the 1990 deaths of 2 men in Hammond, told Lake
Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. Thursday he wants to be
Prosecutors and Roches defense team agreed to postpone Roches June 6 jury
trial to determine his sentence. Stefaniak gave both sides until June 23
to weigh Roches request to let Stefaniak, instead of a jury, decide his
In an April 20 letter to the judge, Roche urged Stefaniak to "please let's
speed this up." In court, the bearded 41-year-old Roche said he was burned
out and had had enough. "I've not gotten any bad vibes from you. You don't
seem vindictive. You dont seem like you're out to get somebody," Roche
told Stefaniak. Roche said he didn't want to put his 63-year-old mother
and the rest of his family through another court proceeding.
"Do I take that to mean you want to be put to death? Stefaniak asked
"That's exactly what I want. I've been trying to say this for the longest
time," Roche said.
With prisons and jails being filled with crack addicts, Roche said he's
afraid he'll end up dead or kill someone else. "I don't want to cause
anybody elses family hardship," he said.
Roche and another death row inmate were charged with assaulting a
correctional officer in January 2001, and Roche and 3 other death row
inmates also attempted to escape from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan
City in 1994.
Stefaniak said he wants to ensure Roche is competent to decide whether to
waive having a jury sentence him. Roche had an execution date in 1998, but
concerns by his attorneys over mental competency to waive his appeal
rights postponed his execution.
Roche was given the death penalty for the May 11, 1990, shooting deaths of
Ernest Graves, 22, of Calumet City, Ill., and Daniel Brown, 25, of
Louisville, Ky. Lake Superior Court Judge James Clement, the presiding
judge on the case, had Roche shackled during the trial. Roches death
penalty was overturned but his conviction was upheld, and Roche was
sentenced to life without parole in the 1990 case. A problem arose,
however, because the life without parole sentence didnt go into effect in
Indiana until 1992.
As a result, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the life
sentence. The case was returned to Stefaniaks courtroom.
(source: Gary Post-Tribune)
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