[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----IND., CALIF., FLA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 29 12:34:46 CDT 2005
Indiana Schedules 3rd Execution This Year
The state Supreme Court has scheduled a May execution date for a man
condemned for the 1985 beating death of an 82-year-old Anderson woman.
40-year-old Gregory Scott Johnson is scheduled to be put to death by
chemical injection May 25th for killing Ruby Hutslar during a burglary.
She suffered 20 fractured ribs and her larynx and spine also were
If Johnson is killed May 25th by lethal injection, he would become the 3rd
person executed by the state of Indiana this year. Indiana hasn't executed
3 people in a year since 1949.
State officials have said as many as 8 Indiana death row inmates could be
executed this year.
(source: Associated Press)
No date selected for execution----San Nicolas has appeal pending in 1990
slaying of woman, niece
About a dozen people who knew and loved Mary and April James came to
Stanislaus County Superior Court on Thursday to observe as a judge set an
execution date for Rodney Jesse San Nicolas.
They weren't surprised when retired Judge Glenn A. Ritchey delayed the
matter, because San Nicolas - convicted 13 years ago of killing his wife
and niece - still has an appeal making its way through the court system.
"He didn't give them a choice if they wanted to live or die," said Shirley
Cummins of Modesto, a family friend who attended every day of San Nicolas'
trial. "He shouldn't be given a choice."
Authorities put San Nicolas in San Quentin State Prison in 1992 after a
jury concluded that he murdered 35-year-old Mary James and raped and
murdered 9-year-old April.
They were killed on May 6, 1990, at Mary James' two-bedroom home on Midway
Avenue in Modesto.
Family members discovered the bodies the following day. Mary James had
been rolled in a blanket, and hidden behind a folding bed. April's body
was hidden behind boxes in a bathroom cupboard.
The case returned to Superior Court following the state Supreme Court's
December affirmation of San Nicolas' conviction and death sentence.
The next step is the setting of an execution date. But Ritchey, who
presided over San Nicolas' trial, put off that decision. He did so because
a separate appeal, known as a habeas corpus petition, is pending before
the state Supreme Court.
But the judge said he was concerned that the petition had been pending for
more than 2 years without action from the high court.
"It seems to me, logically, that if there was much merit to it they would
have acted by now," Ritchey said.
In an interview, attorney Wesley Van Winkle of Berkeley said his petition
argues that San Nicolas should not be put to death because brain damage
keeps him from controlling impulses.
In court, he said, death row appeals often involve long waiting periods.
"It's not uncommon, given the fact that there are 630 individuals on death
row," he said.
12 men have been executed since California reinstated capital punishment
27 years ago, according to the state Department of Corrections. The 1st
execution was in 1992, and the last in January.
The state pays for the lengthy appeals, which are aimed at ensuring that
courts do not make irreversible errors. Attorneys can take their cases to
the federal court system if they lose in state courts.
Deputy Attorney General Angelo Edralin said the state has no problem with
Van Winkle's request for a delay in setting an execution date. The judge
said he will consider the matter again Sept. 23.
Linda O'Neal, the mother of April James and sister of Mary James, said she
has mixed feelings about the death penalty, but believes it is the
appropriate punishment in San Nicolas' case.
She said she attended the hearing, and encouraged friends and relatives to
join her, to show the court that people still care about her sister and
"It's time to put him to death," she said. "It's time."
(source: Modesto Bee)
Judge may throw out prosecutors----Fears DA's actions generated bias
A judge on Thursday said she is leaning toward removing county prosecutors
from the case against an inmate accused of murdering a Chino prison guard.
Judge Ingrid Uhler ruled that the San Bernardino County district attorney
illegally obtained and reviewed Jon Christopher Blaylock's confidential
psychological files before filing criminal charges against him. She said
she feared the information may have prejudiced prosecutors against
Blaylock early in the case, even before they made their decision to seek
the death penalty for him.
"They thought they were doing the right thing,' Uhler said in court on
Thursday. "But unfortunately, in my opinion, it was the wrong way of doing
Although the judge hinted at her leanings, she assured attorneys she will
not make up her mind until after listening to arguments from both sides
during a hearing set for June 3 in West Valley Superior Court.
Prosecutors said afterward they are confident the judge will not remove
them from the case. Deputy District Attorney Mark Vos said the judge has
thus far heard arguments only from Blaylock's lawyers, and he believed she
will be swayed after hearing the District Attorney's version.
"The court has not yet seen the evidence and the court has not yet been
briefed on the case law,' Vos said.
Blaylock, 35, is accused of fatally stabbing Correctional Officer Manuel
Gonzalez inside the California Institution for Men in Chino on Jan. 10.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos announced he was
seeking the death penalty for Blaylock on Feb. 18, the same day criminal
charges were filed.
Blaylock's lawyers have accused Ramos' office of bias. They claim Ramos
made a rushed and politically motivated decision to seek the death penalty
because the victim was a peace officer.
Defense attorneys protested last month after learning the Department of
Corrections had given Blaylock's confidential records to Ramos' staff
without an appropriate court order or permission from Blaylock.
Defense attorneys asked the judge to order that the files be returned,
that prosecutors provide an accounting of what was done with them and,
finally, that prosecutors be tossed from the case for having seen the
Prosecutors claimed they needed the records to help them determine, among
other things, whether Blaylock is mentally retarded or otherwise unfit for
the death penalty.
Uhler took custody of the records earlier this month pending her ruling.
After reviewing the files, the judge on Thursday said the documents appear
to be confidential, and she ruled prosecutors obtained them illegally.
The judge then ordered the District Attorney's Office to turn over any
handwritten notes taken by anyone who reviewed the files.
She said her common sense told her the information in the files was likely
to have prejudiced the District Attorney's Office, although she promised
to "keep an open mind.'
Deputy Public Defender Joe Canty said the judge's ruling supported his
claims of bias.
"We feel this shows the district attorney is not capable of behaving
fairly,' he said.
Prosecution of the case would most likely fall to the California Attorney
General's Office if county prosecutors are recused.
Blaylock has not yet entered a plea. He will not do so until after the
recusal motion is litigated, his lawyers said.
(source: Whittier Daily News)
David Westerfield's Letters From Death Row
For the 1st time since his arrest, David Westerfied is sharing his
thoughts with a LOCAL 8 producer about his life in prison and his death
LOCAL 8 first heard from Westerfield in January, after 1 producer sent him
a letter, asking him about life on death row.
He wrote back, sending two letters. His first is typed on holiday
In the letters, Westerfield gives some insight about his life in prison,
but he is nowhere near to admitting guilt in Danielle's murder.
San Quentin's death row is where 53-year-old David Westerfield spends his
days and nights, since his conviction for kidnapping and killing his
neighbor seven-year-old Danielle Van Dam.
Now, for the 1st time since his arrest, Westerfield corresponds with a
LOCAL 8 producer about life on death row and the evidence presented
against him at his trial.
In the 1st letter dated, January 5, Westerfield writes:
"The loss of freedom and the loss of direct contact with others has been
one of the most difficult circumstances I have been forced to deal with.
Much of my time is spent reading or watching TV."
Westerfield also says the guards at San Quentin are abusive. He writes:
"...we employ correction officers who take great delight in trying to
torture and demean inmates..."
In a 2nd letter, dated March 6, Westerfield suggests he was framed and
evidence was planted by the detectives. He writes:
"...didn't you find it odd that the "lead detectives" in the case never
testified in front of the jury? Didn't you find it odd that the only that
evidence was found was in areas of investigation where detectives... had
direct access to prior to the San Diego crime lab personnel?"
He suggests Danielle's blood was planted in his RV and on his jacket.
Jeff Dusek was the lead prosecutor in the case.
"Every single piece of physical evidence, circumstantial evidence, pointed
to David Westerfield. There is no reason to believe anyone else committed
this crime," explained Dusek.
And Dusek has no interest in hearing Westerfield's theories. He says the
convicted child killer had his chance to voice them in 2002.
"He had a trial, two very fine attorneys. The opportunity to evidence he
wanted at trial, where it could be challenged by everybody. He chose not
to do so," continued Dusek. "He has no viable creditable evidence that
says he did not do this crime."
Westerfield also suggests that we investigate a handwritten confession
letter about Danielle's murder.
LOCAL 8 News obtained a copy of that letter that was sent to San Diego
police nine months after Westerfield was sentenced.
It's written by someone who claims to be James Selby, who is a convicted
rapist, linked through DNA to dozens of sexual assaults, including some in
San Diego. His victims around the southwest include women and at least two
The letter sent from a Colorado prison says:
David Westerfield was not responsible for Danielle Van Dam's murder. I
was.... (james selby) you have other cases against me and are waiting for
me to be sent to you."
Through DNA, 36-year-old Selby was linked to a series of San Diego sexual
assaults in 2001. He was dubbed the Banker's Hill rapist.
Dusek says the DA's office thoroughly analyzed the confession letter, and
he's not buying it.
"Mr. Selby is a quack," said Dusek. "I would characterize it as completely
false...absolutely, no truth, no merit to his sketchy acknowledgement he
claims he did this crime. He did not!"
Dusek says his office sent the letter to Steven Feldman, David
Westerfield's defense attorney.
Feldman told LOCAL 8 News he won't comment on anything about the
So LOCAL 8 talked to Public Defender Gary Gibson. He says any defense
attorney would take a good look at a confession like this.
"The first thing you're going to look at is who is sending me this
letter...what is their background..is this an out right "kook," or is this
someone who has the credentials who could have committed this crime,"
Selby may have a criminal background, but Dusek says the confession wasn't
seen as legit because Selby was unstable and confessed to other high
profile murders, including Jon Benet Ramsey's in Colorado.
And after reading the confession, Gibson wasn't impressed either.
"I've had a chance to look at the letter and the letter doesn't add very
much...very barebones," explained Gibson. "Then there's another problem.
The gentlemen that wrote the letter is dead."
That's right. Selby committed suicide last year in an Arizona jail, while
awaiting sentencing for multiple rapes.
As David Westerfield awaits his fate on death row, he writes letters that
question his conviction, but in the 2 typed messages LOCAL 8 received, he
never said he didn't do it.
He ends his last letter with a p.s. that says:
"Remember our word and our personal ethics are the only thing we have in
"All my best, David."
(source: KFBM---TV News
Man Convicted for 2002 Kidnap-Murder of Girl, 5, in Calif.
A jury convicted a factory worker Thursday of kidnapping and murdering
5-year-old Samantha Runnion, an Orange County girl whose 2002 death
prompted widespread heartbreak, outrage and stronger efforts to rescue
After deliberating for less than 9 hours over 2 days, jurors convicted
Alejandro Avila, 30. The penalty phase opens Wednesday, with the jury
deciding whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without
Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, cried silently as verdicts were read.
As the 1st verdict was read, someone in the audience said, "Yes, yes."
Avila showed no emotion.
Samantha was abducted, kicking and screaming, from outside her home in
Stanton on July 15, 2002. Her body was found the next day in mountains 50
So many were moved by the young girl's killing that more than 4,000 people
attended her funeral. After her death, then-Gov. Gray Davis (D) ordered a
statewide expansion of child-abduction alerts posted on electronic
(source: Washington Post)
Mickel to die for killing cop
The family of slain Red Bluff police officer David Mobilio was united in
its belief that Andrew Hampton MIckel should be executed, Mobilio's father
said after Mickel was sentenced to die.
"We're all in full support of the verdict and the outcome," Richard
Mobilio said Wednesday as he left Colusa County Superior Court.
Judge S. William Abel handed down the sentence Wednesday after Mickel was
convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances. Mickel freely
admitted he killed David Mobilio in November 2002, shooting the officer in
the back and head as he refueled his patrol car at a Red Bluff gas
The family is gratified that Mickel received "the full measure of
justice," the officer's father said, but regrets that convicted murderers
live an average of 23 years on San Quentin's death row before being
His leg shackles rattling, Mickel rose from his chair after being
sentenced and apologized to members of Mobilio's family, calling them by
their 1st names. He also apologized to Mobilio's fellow officers and to
the children in the anti-drug class that the dead officer taught.
"I am truly and deeply sorry for all the pain I caused," said Mickel, who
offered to apologize individually to any family member who would come
forward. None did.
Mickel said it may take 40 or 60 years for family members to forgive him,
if ever. He asked them to "let go of their hatred, because hatred destroys
all it touches."
He did not apologize for the shooting itself, which he earlier called an
act aimed at preserving liberty. At the murder scene he left a homemade
flag bearing the words, "Don't tread on me," and announced the killing on
Mickel's trial was transferred to Colusa from Tehama County because of
intense pretrial publicity. Tehama County Deputy District Attorney Lynn
Strom said Mickel's apology "meant nothing" to the family, to her or to
Red Bluff Police Chief Al Shamblin said the apology meant "a little" to
him, calling it "the right thing for him to do." But the apology hardly
was commensurate with killing a police officer, he added.
A jury of 6 men and 6 women recommended April 8 that Mickel be put to
When Abel asked Mickel if there were any reason why the sentence should
not be pronounced, such as an insanity claim or a request for a new trial,
Mickel named none. Mickel's parents said their son was insane, though
Mickel himself did not make the claim.
Mickel represented himself in the trial, admitting on the first day that
he killed Mobilio. Abel did not allow Mickel to make a political argument
in his defense, though he was allowed to state his beliefs during the
sentencing phase of the trial.
Strom said it will take 5 or 6 years just to appoint an attorney for
Mickel in his automatic appeal to the state Supreme Court.
(soure: The Appeal-Democrat)
Avila Guilty of Abduction and Murder of Samantha Runnion - O.C. jurors
deliberated 9 hours. They'll vote on sentencing the Lake Elsinore man next
Alejandro Avila was convicted Thursday in the kidnapping, sexual assault
and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, whose 2002 disappearance drew
national attention during a wave of child abductions.
The case was built mostly on DNA evidence, including what prosecutors said
might have been tears that the Stanton girl shed in her killer's car.
The 8-man, 4-woman Orange County Superior Court jury reached its decision
after almost 9 hours of deliberations that stretched into a 2nd day. It
will reconvene Wednesday to vote on whether Avila, a 30-year-old
assembly-line worker from Lake Elsinore, will be executed or spend the
rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, gasped and began sobbing after the court
clerk read the verdicts. 2 jurors cried, one of them rocking back and
Avila sat hunched in his chair between his attorneys, showing no reaction
as isolated sniffles and sobs pierced the silence in Judge William R.
Froeberg's packed 10th-floor Santa Ana courtroom.
After the jurors filed out, dozens of supporters surrounded Runnion. She
was embraced by relatives, Sheriff Michael S. Carona and then for a long
minute by her husband, Kenneth Donnelly.
During an emotional news conference at which she called her daughter by
her nickname, "Mantha," Runnion thanked the jurors and Sheriff's
Department for doing "so much to make sure that this creep gets off the
"He is guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!" she said, her voice crescendoing.
"And that feels really good, because nobody should get away with this."
The verdict tells other pedophiles, Runnion said, that Samantha's death
was not in vain.
"To every pedophile out there, you better stop it now," she said. "We're
not going to give you an opportunity to get away."
She paused, then stamped her foot in exultation. "I'm so happy," she said,
a sob contorting her smile.
As Runnion spoke, she clutched the notebook she had been scrawling in
throughout the trial.
Samantha was kidnapped July 15, 2002, as she played with a friend near her
family's condominium in Stanton. The playmate told police that a mustached
man in a green car had approached them, asking for help finding a lost
puppy, then pulled Samantha into his car.
Her nude, beaten body was found the next day at a popular hang-glider spot
near Lake Elsinore. She had been sexually assaulted, then suffocated as
someone pressed on her chest. Her body was positioned with her legs
"What kind of animal poses someone like that?" Assistant Dist. Atty. David
Brent had said in his closing statement.
During the trial, prosecutors painted Avila as a twisted pedophile who
killed Samantha so she could not accuse him of molesting her, as two girls
had previously done.
He was acquitted of those charges in 2001, but the girls were allowed to
testify against him in the murder trial.
DNA provided the most powerful evidence of Avila's guilt. Tests showed an
overwhelming likelihood that his DNA was present in material found under
the girl's fingernails, which prosecutors theorized got there as she
fought him during the attack. Tests also suggested that Samantha's DNA was
on the passenger-side door of Avila's 1994 Ford Thunderbird, presumably
from her tears, prosecutors said, as he drove her around Southern
Avila's attorneys had said he was in a Temecula motel room all night,
hoping that a girlfriend he had been fighting with would stop by to
reconcile. Crime lab scientists misinterpreted the DNA evidence, the
lawyers said, and they contended that Samantha's genetic material had been
planted in their client's car.
Prosecutors dismissed the defense's claims as "distractions."
After her daughter was kidnapped, Erin Runnion appealed to her abductor on
television, pleading with him to bring back the girl she had nicknamed "mi
cielito linda" (my pretty little sky) and "tigrita" (little tiger).
Samantha would have turned 6 a week after the kidnapping, and her mother
had already bought most of her presents: a dinosaur puzzle, Lincoln Logs
and new dresses for her Barbie dolls.
Samantha's slaying occurred amid a series of incidents involving children,
including the murder of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam of San Diego and the
abduction of 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Utah. After Avila was
arrested, CNN interviewer Larry King dubbed Carona "America's sheriff,"
and President Bush credited him during a public appearance with finding
More than 4,000 people attended Samantha's memorial service at the Crystal
Cathedral in Garden Grove. After her death, then-Gov. Gray Davis ordered a
statewide expansion of child-abduction alerts posted on electronic
billboards along freeways. Since then, all of the 47 Amber alerts have
resulted in safe homecomings for the children involved, Carona said
As he stood with Erin Runnion after the verdict, Carona's voice broke when
he thanked her for "not holding it against us for not bringing her
daughter home alive, for believing in us and becoming part of our family."
His voice was stronger as he lauded the jury, harking back to the
confident statement he made to the media when Avila was arrested four days
after the kidnapping.
On Thursday, he said: "Today I can stand before you because 12 people
looked at all of the evidence and have made that same decision: They are
100% sure that that man, Alejandro Avila, committed that crime."
Avila's court-appointed attorneys declined to comment after the verdicts
During the sentencing phase, expected to last less than two weeks,
Samantha's relatives are expected to describe the effects of her murder.
Avila's friends and family will also have the chance to tell jurors why
they think his life should be spared.
"We've gone a long way toward justice at this point," said Dist. Atty.
Tony Rackauckas, "but we have another step to go."
The guilty verdict ensures "that there will never be another child victim
of Alejandro Avila," he said.
Carona praised Runnion for turning her grief and anger into action to help
other families keep their children safe.
Runnion has co-founded the Joyful Child Foundation, a nonprofit child
safety advocacy group. In January 2004, the organization launched
Samantha's Pride, a program that relies on parents and other caretakers to
take turns supervising children and keeping an eye out for predators.
"One little girl gave her life to make it all happen," Carona said.
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Man faces death penalty in stabbing of Connecticut woman
A jury in Florida has convicted a man of killing a Danbury woman who had
gone to the state to arrange for her father to be placed in a nursing
The jury in Fort Pierce, Fla., Thursday convicted Andrew Michael
Gosciminski of 1st-degree murder, robbery and burglary in the Sept. 24,
2002, beating and stabbing death of Joan Loughman.
Gosciminski could get the death penalty.
The prosecutor said the motive for the killing was $40,000 in jewelry
Loughman owned, including a 2-carat antique diamond ring she inherited
from her mother.
Loughman's husband, Thomas and a daughter, still live in Danbury. Another
daughter resides in Virginia.
Loughman was in Florida for several weeks before her death, arranging for
the care of her 87-year-old father, Frank Vala.
Gosciminski, 51, was employed by Lyford Cove, the assisted-living facility
where Loughman eventually placed him, and where Vala died the day after
his daughter was killed.
Gosciminski was the community outreach director, whose duties included
visiting health care centers and churches to let potential residents know
about the facility.
Loughman's body was found in her father's home by her brother and sister
several hours after she failed to keep an appointment at Lyford Cove
relating to their father's care.
(source: The News-Times)
State high court says no part of Ring ruling applies in Florida
A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that cast doubt on some death sentences
across the country 3 years ago has no application at all in Florida, the
state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Florida's high court upheld the state's death sentencing law a few months
after the 2002 ruling but left open the possibility that the federal
decision might help some inmates. That opening was shut Thursday.
In June 2002, the nation's high court ruled that a jury, not a judge, must
decide the facts used to justify death sentences. The decision came in an
appeal by an Arizona death row inmate Timothy Ring.
In Florida, juries in capital cases recommend sentences but judges make
the final decisions.
Thursday's ruling came in the appeal of Terrell Johnson, sent to death row
for the December 1979 murders of a bartender and a customer at an Orange
County tavern. James Dodson and Charles Himes were fatally shot.
The Ring decision "cast doubt upon the constitutionality of the death
penalty laws of many other states, including Florida, where judges are
partially or entirely responsible for deciding whether to sentence
defendants to death," Thursday's decision said.
Although Florida's high court earlier upheld the state's capital
punishment law in the face of a challenges based on the Ring ruling, it
didn't speak definitively - and virtually every capital appeal has
included an argument based on Ring.
"We repeatedly have denied such requests for clear lack of merit, while
reserving judgment on whether Ring even affects Florida law or applies
retroactively to postconviction cases," Thursday's unsigned decision
The appeals were rejected because of other circumstances in the cases, the
court said, adding that the same was true for Johnson.
"We choose to use this opportunity, however, to answer one of the
underlying questions on which we have previously reserved judgment:
whether Ring applies retroactively in Florida to defendants, such as
Johnson, whose convictions already were final at the time of that
decision," the court wrote.
It doesn't, a majority of the justices agreed.
They were Chief Justice Barbara Pariente and Justices Charles Wells, Peggy
Quince, Raoul Cantero and Kenneth Bell. Justice R. Fred Lewis concurred
with the majority in the result only, not the opinion.
Justice Harry Lee Anstead dissented
"Today, the majority acknowledges that in Florida a number of persons may
be put to death in violation of their right to a trial by jury under the
Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; yet, the majority nevertheless
concludes that we are not going to do anything about it," he wrote.
(source: Associated Press)
Sniper's mother offers tearful testimony about son's mental illness
In her 2nd turn on the witness stand, the mother of admitted highway
sniper Charles McCoy dabbed away tears as she apologized to her sons'
victims for a shooting spree that killed 1 person and terrorized motorists
in Central Ohio for four months.
"I felt such utter grief for the Knisley family," said Ardith McCoy,
referring to the fatal shooting of 62-year-old Gail Knisley. "These were
two tragedies in one; I can't express how sorry I am."
Following the defense's opening statements Thursday morning in Franklin
County Court of Common Pleas, Ardith McCoy was the 1st witness to testify
in a bid to save her son's life on 24 charges stemming from 12 shootings
from October 2003 to February 2004.
The defendant faces the death penalty if found guilty of aggravated
After repeating statements from the prosecutor's opening about freedom of
choice, defense attorney and former Franklin County prosecuting attorney
Mark Collins told jurors that his client's actions were dictated by a
mental illness that he did not choose and had no control over.
"Our evidence will show you he did not have the same ability to make free
choices as you or I do," Collins said.
The defense has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges,
claiming McCoy was not receiving proper treatment for his paranoid
schizophrenia during the time of the shootings and could not distinguish
between right and wrong.
As the 1st witness to testify in her son's defense, Ardith McCoy described
for jurors how her son, once a boisterous and outgoing high school
football star, began to withdraw from friends and isolate himself after
graduating from Grove City High School in 1994.
A series of bizarre incidents began to follow, she testified, including
occasions in which her son removed panels and mirrors from the walls and
punched holes in the their home in search of hidden cameras.
Finally, Ardith McCoy testified, a doctor diagnosed McCoy with paranoid
schizophrenia in 1996. He was deemed permanently disabled and began
receiving SSI benefits in 1997, she testified.
Her testimony was significantly longer and evoked more emotion than in her
first go-around for prosecutors earlier this week, in which she described
finding several guns belonging to her son, including the 9 mm Beretta
police linked to all 12 shooting incidents.
With controlled composure, as she described her failed marriage and guilt
over her son's illness, she elicited the most emotion from the defendant
yet in the trial.
McCoy wiped away tears when she testified to threats she made to kick him
out of the house if he did not take his medication.
She described the "episodes" he experienced when he would "cheek" his
medication, or pretend to take it, because it made him bloated and caused
muscle spasms and diarrhea.
"We could usually tell it in his eyes. They would not be focused, or he
would be confused and had trouble remembering things. You would say
something to him and there'd be a pause," she said. "You could tell there
were visual things going on in his eyes ... he was seeing things that
we're not seeing."
On cross-examination, Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien drew
attention to the fact that none of the strange behavior described by the
witness was evident during the time of the shootings.
"During time frame of shootings, were any panels removed from walls, or
did you observe any tampering with the panels?" O'Brien asked.
"No," she said.
The witness deflected further questioning about her son's finances,
treatment and behavior during the time of the shootings to her husband,
Charles McCoy Sr., who divorced her in November 2002 after expressing a
desire "to start a new life" with a former girlfriend, Ardith McCoy
"Chuck always dealt with that stuff. Even after we divorced, I was still
used to him being the boss of the house," she said. "Charles never talked
to me about hearing voices, he was more comfortable talking about that
with his father, male to male."
She insisted she never suspected her son was involved in the shootings,
even after she began finding guns in the home.
"We were concerned he would use them to commit suicide," she said when
asked why she and her husband took away the guns from their son.
She also testified that since her son has been in jail, where he receives
daily medication at 400 times the dosage he was originally prescribed, she
has noticed a positive change.
"He's able to smile now, for the 1st time in a long time," she said,
herself smiling. "He was recently able to have a little bit of a giggle,
also for the 1st time in years.
Defense attorney Andrew Haney elicited similar testimony about the change
in McCoy's demeanor from the defendant's brother-in-law, Tye Walton, who
met McCoy when he began dating his older sister, Amy, more than 10 years
"When we first began visiting him, Charles would be very listless and
non-responsive," Walton said. "Now, we're able to have lot more logical
Walton also told jurors of his brother-in-law's appeal for assistance in
rooting out the imaginary surveillance cameras reporting his every move in
the late 1990s.
"He told me a story about wearing a bandana one day, and then watching
Regis and Kathie Lee the next day and seeing Regis wearing a bandana,"
Walton said. "The bandana sent a message to him that someone watching
Walton also testified that his brother-in-law was a popular young man who
grew reclusive after high school.
When asked about McCoy's behavior around the time of the shootings, Walton
said that even after he went to Chuck E. Cheese with McCoy and his family
an hour after one of the shootings, he did not notice anything unusual.
"Did his actions appear that he was oriented in time and place and
circumstance?" Haney asked.
"No," Walton said, adding that McCoy gave him his credit card and asked
him to place the order. "Him not wanting to interact with people was
The defense will continue its case Friday. The trial is being aired live
on Court TV.
(source: Court TV)
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