[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, ALA., ARK., TENN., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Feb 4 01:25:23 CST 2005
Condemned killer didn't violate `murderabilia' law, Texas official rules
The Texas killer executed last year for the 1985 killing of a store clerk
was not violating the state's law against profiting from his crimes when
he sold artwork from Death Row over the Internet, the Texas attorney
general has ruled.
Crime victims' rights advocates were livid last summer when they learned
that James Vernon Allridge IV was selling drawings of flowers, animals and
landscapes for as much as $465. His client list included Oscar-winning
actress Susan Sarandon and rock `n' roller Sting.
"Our bottom line is that there shouldn't be any market for this so-called
art from Death Row. Period," said Dianne Clements, who heads Justice For
All. "Let's face it. No one's going to buy those inmates' paintings
because they were done by great artists. They buy them because some killer
drew them, and that's disgusting."
Allridge was executed Aug. 26 for killing 21-year-old clerk Brian
Clendennen - himself an aspiring artist - during the February 1985 robbery
of a Circle K convenience store in Fort Worth.
When Allridge's attorneys petitioned the Texas Board of Pardons and
Paroles to recommend a sentence commutation, they attached samples of
Allridge's drawings, including floral arrangements, a surreal seascape and
a regal lion.
Clements and other victims' rights advocates said that by offering the
artwork for sale, Allridge was violating the ban on selling
"murderabilia." Attorney General Greg Abbott said in an opinion released
last week that simply selling art did not violate the law.
But Abbott also said that it would be up to the courts to determine
whether the value of any art was unduly inflated because it was drawn by
someone condemned to death.
In the days leading up to Allridge's execution, his attorney, Jim Marcus
of Houston, scoffed at the notion that his client was peddling
murderabilia. The law was intended to stop notorious criminals from
selling book and movie rights or their personal effects.
"James is not notorious," Marcus said at the time.
Andy Kahan, who runs the crime victims assistance office in Houston,
disputed that stance, pointing out that Allridge was visited by Sarandon a
few weeks before his execution date.
Sarandon won an Oscar for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean, a
Catholic nun who aids a condemned killer in the movie "Dead Man Walking."
(source: Knight Ridder Tribune)
Lawyer: Mom tried to cut off own arms----Woman accused in infant's death
is not fit for trial, her attorney says
The Collin County homemaker accused of killing her infant daughter by
severing the child's arms turned the knife on herself and apparently tried
to cut off her own arms, a defense lawyer said Wednesday.
Jail records show Dena Schlosser, 35, was treated at a Plano hospital for
a deep, 3-inch knife wound on her left shoulder in the hours after the
Nov. 22 incident. Her attorney, David Haynes, said he saw the wound, which
was closed with stitches, when he first visited Schlosser in jail.
He said his client tried to commit suicide by cutting herself last
January, the day after her 3rd child was born. Schlosser was diagnosed
with postpartum psychosis.
In November, Schlosser was in a daze when police arrived at her Plano
apartment. She told an officer she cut off her 10-month-old child's arms
because "I felt like I had to." The child was killed in a crib in a back
bedroom and pronounced dead at a hospital. Schlosser was charged with
Haynes said he is gathering evidence about his client's mental state that
day. "Everyone assumes we're preparing an insanity defense. It may very
well be our defense, but it's way too early for that," he said. First, he
said, Schlosser must be found competent to stand trial.
"We don't believe she is," Haynes said. "She is often confused and the
thing I notice most when I see her is she is more or less unresponsive.
Sometimes she is completely unresponsive."
State District Judge Chris Oldner has scheduled a Feb. 14 jury trial to
determine whether Schlosser is competent, which is defined as having the
ability to understand the proceedings, identify the participants and aid
in one's defense.
Haynes said the judge insisted on a trial and said he would not consider
any agreements worked out between the 2 sides.
It is unclear what stance prosecutors have taken on the issue.
A court-appointed expert, Dr. David Self, in a report delivered to the
court last month found that Schlosser suffers from bipolar disorder
brought on by childbirth and is not competent, Haynes said.
Self's report was sealed, so it could not be learned how the senior
psychiatrist at Rusk State Hospital reached his conclusion.
If Schlosser is found incompetent, she could be committed to a state
hospital for between 120 and 180 days for treatment.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Jury recommends death for husband convicted in double murder
In Huntsville, a jury recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of
double murder in the slaying of his wife and an acquaintance.
Circuit Judge Laura Hamilton set Mohammad Sharifi's sentencing for March
10. Hamilton could override Wednesday's 10-2 vote and sentence Sharifi,
38, to life without parole. Sharifi, an Iranian native, told Hamilton
through a translator that he is innocent and said he continues to pray the
real killer is found.
The victims' families said they were pleased with the jury's decision. The
jury convicted Sharifi of capital murder Wednesday in the shooting deaths
of Sarah Kaye Smith Sharifi, 47, and Derrick "Rick" Brown, 47, both of
Huntsville. He was already a suspect in the pair's disappearance when his
wife's body was found on the north bank of the Tennessee River on Dec. 26,
Authorities arrested Sharifi in Los Angeles 2 days later. He was fighting
extradition to Alabama when Brown's body surfaced on New Year's Day 2000
about 5 miles farther down the river. Both victims were shot in the head,
bound and wrapped in black plastic garbage bags.
(source: Associated Press)
Officials: Newman Case Close To Resolution
Officials said that a hearing Thursday in Van Buren might have cleared the
way for a convicted murderer to be put to death.
Ricky Dale Newman told a Crawford County judge he did not want to be
represented by federal attorneys and asked that every motion filed by
government lawyers to be struck down.
The judge agreed and sent a request to Attorney General Mike Beebe, who
will lift the stay and reset an execution date.
Newman is to be put to death for the murder of Marie Cholette, whose body
was found near a Crawford County camp for homeless residents in 2001.
Attorneys argue over Pike's sanity in death penalty case
Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued Thursday over the sanity of death
row inmate Christa Gail Pike in a State Supreme Court hearing.
Pike was condemned to die for the 1995 murder of a fellow student at the
Job Corps Training Center in Knoxville.
She had convinced a judge in 2002 that she wanted to drop her appeals, but
she has changed her mind since then.
Defense attorney Donald Dawson said Pike was psychotic and mentally ill at
the time of her original decision. He also contended that a
court-appointed psychiatrist was advised not to present evidence of Pike's
mental state before her previous hearing.
State prosecutors said, however, that Pike was able to make a rational
decision and even conferred with family before dropping the appeal.
The hearing Thursday was over whether she can keep appealing. There's no
word on when a ruling might come down.
(source: Associated Press)
2 Ohio death row inmates try to escape
2 convicted killers tried unsuccessfully to escape Ohio's death row prison
Thursday by climbing out of a caged outdoor recreation area, officials
Richard Cooey and Maxwell White climbed a pile of snow in the recreation
area at the Mansfield Correctional Institution Thursday afternoon and
lifted the top off the cage, said Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the
Alarms started going off as soon as the inmates started climbing the
perimeter fences. Officials said neither inmate was able to scale the last
of 2 razor wire fences before being caught by guards. The inmates suffered
Cooey, 37, is on death row for raping and killing 2 college students in
1986. White, 39, was convicted of killing a state highway trooper in
The State Highway Patrol is investigating the incident, and the 2 men
could face charges for the escape attempt.
Dean said the escape attempt was the 1st since Ohio's death row was moved
in 1995 to Mansfield, about 65 miles north of Columbus.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Penalty Possible In Rape, Murder Of Girl
A 20-year-old man is facing the death penalty on accusations of murdering
and raping his 3-year-old step-sister.
Police say Jeff Bailer killed Cameron Stull inside their their Covington
home Wednesday afternoon.
The girl's father, Jason Stull, and his girlfriend also live at the home,
along with 10 children.
Stull says Jeff Bailer, the oldest step-brother, was home watching the
family's 3 youngest children while the parents were at work Wednesday
afternoon, when the incident happened.
Attorney Bill Crockett says Bailer did confess, to a detective, that he
suffocated and raped the little girl.
"If a murder happens to a 3-year-old child, that in and of itself is not
sufficient to seek the death penalty," said Crocket. "And, if rape happens
to a child, that's not enough for the death penalty. But together it may
be enough," he said.
Crockett says it will be a complicated case, and if he decides to ask for
the death penalty, it could be years before this case would go to trial.
Jeff Bailer's only other run-in with police, Crockett says, was just a
month ago, when he was charged with burglary. He was out on bond when this
most recent incident took place.
Investigators are now looking into any possibility that Bailer could have
hurt any of the other young children in this home.
Throughout the day Thursday, family and friends stopped by to offer their
condolences to the family.
Bailer is being held at the Kenton County Jail, without bond.
(source: WCPO News)
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