death penalty news----TEXAS, N.C., OHIO, USA, VA., KY., KAN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 7 23:58:30 CST 2005
TEXAS----death row inmate commits suicide
A death row inmate was found hanging in his cell last week.
Christopher Wade Britton, 30, was found dead Friday, Texas prison
officials said Monday.
Guards found Britton about 17 minutes after a security check, shortly
after noon Friday. They cut him down, placed him on a gurney and attempted
CPR, but could not revive him.
Prison officials said the state Office of Inspector General is looking
into the death.
Britton was convicted of fatally shooting a Hemphill County sheriff's
deputy who was trying to serve an arrest warrant in June 2001. He arrived
on death row in August 2002.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
NORTH CAROLINA----new death sentence
Man Gets Death Sentence In Deputy Shooting
A man who pleaded guilty to murder in the death of a Randolph County
sheriff's deputy was sentenced to death on Monday.
Alexander Polke pleaded guilty last week to 1st-degree murder in the 2003
shooting death of Deputy Toney Clayton Summey, of Trinity.
Summey was shot 3 times with his own gun as he and a 2nd deputy attempted
to serve misdemeanor warrants on Polke at his mobile home. The 2nd deputy
was shot in the arm.
Jurors were selected last week for the punishment phase of the case after
Polke elected to plead guilty and bypass his trial.
The sentence came down at about 3:30 p.m. Monday.
(source: WXII News)
Attorney general wants federal court to review overturned death sentence
Ohio's top legal officer wants all 12 active judges of the 6th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals to review a 3-judge panel's ruling that
overturned the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a 2-year-old
girl in an apartment fire.
Attorney General Jim Petro filed the motion Monday asking for the full
court to review the panel's Jan. 25 ruling, which directed a lower court
to order Ohio to retry or release Kenneth Richey.
Richey, 40, who holds dual U.S.-British citizenship, has maintained that
he did not start the fire that killed Cynthia Collins in the northwest
Ohio town of Columbus Grove.
Prosecutors said Richey started the fire hoping to kill a former
girlfriend, who lived in the apartment below the one where the blaze
The 3-judge appeals court panel, in a 2-1 ruling, said Richey had
incompetent representation at his trial, that information vital to his
defense was overlooked, and that Richey was convicted under the wrong
The panel's mandate to the lower court which would order the state to
schedule a new trial within 90 days or release Richey was expected to be
issued this week, attorney Kenneth Parsigian said.
In his motion, Petro asked for an additional 14 days for the state to
prepare arguments for review.
Parsigian has urged the state to release Richey rather than try him again.
The 6th Circuit is not obliged to grant the state's request for a full
(source: Associated Press)
>From death row to TV 'Makeover'
Ray Krone's crooked front teeth helped land him on Arizona's death row
after a police dentist wrongly linked him to unusually shaped bite marks
on a murder victim.
Now, with the help of reality television, Krone is hiding the evidence
Krone, once described in Phoenix newspapers as the "snaggletooth killer,"
was exonerated in 2002 after DNA tests matched another man to the murder
of a Phoenix barmaid. He has had his 5 front teeth replaced courtesy of
ABC's Extreme Makeover.
For kicks, the program's doctors threw in some corrective eye surgery, a
chin tuck, hair transplants and a laser-driven repaving of decades-old
The new and revised Krone is set to be unveiled on an episode Thursday at
8 p.m. It was filmed last month in Dover, Pa., Krone's hometown, after he
had spent 2 months having surgery in Los Angeles. The program's producers
won't say, but Krone's lawyer, Christopher Plourd, estimated that the bill
for all his repairs topped $200,000.
"I know inside it's still me and nothing has changed," says Krone, 48.
"But I look in the mirror and say, 'Wow, I look 15 years younger. I'm
really starting to grow on myself.'"
In Krone's case, it's fitting that the odometer be rolled back.
The former postman spent 10 years in Arizona prisons, including 3 on death
row, for a murder in 1989 for which he was wrongly convicted. Krone was
retried after an appeal, then convicted again and given a life sentence,
in part based on testimony that his jagged front teeth matched a bite mark
on the victim's body.
Since his exoneration, Krone has been writing and lecturing against the
death penalty and working odd jobs. He says that he would like to settle
down but that dating has proven difficult because of his long absence from
society and "frankly, my teeth."
"It works on my self-confidence, especially since I can't forget that they
had something to do with what happened to me," Krone says. "It's like, 'So
what do you do?' And I'm like, 'Well, I've been working on getting
exonerated from a murder I didn't do.'"
Extreme Makeover, which began in 2003, generally lavishes its gifts on
frowzy women and nerdy guys. The program was drawn to Krone, executive
producer Lou Gorfain says, because he is "articulate" and his story draws
attention to injustices in trials and sentencing.
"Who's more deserving of a makeover?" Gorfain asks. "We want to give him
back some of the time he lost in prison."
To Prejean, death penalty system is guilty as sin
During the summers of the 5 years it took Sister Helen Prejean to write
The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions
(Random House, $25.95), she sought refuge in a place called Prayer Lodge
on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.
The 65-year-old nun gave herself the playful nickname Prairie Dog Woman.
"I had to be in my burrow," she says, referring to her writing quarters, a
3-bedroom, one-bath apartment with a spectacular view of ponderosa pines
and the Rosebud Mountain range.
"She could rent a house overlooking the beach in Oregon, but it's the
world that's here," says Sister Marya Grathwohl, one of the Sisters of St.
Francis nuns who runs Prayer Lodge for Cheyenne and Crowe Native American
women. "There is a deeper awareness of the depth of the universe. That's
what this is about."
As Prejean observes in her book: "Writing is like praying, because you
stop all other activities, descend into silence, and listen patiently to
the depths of your soul, waiting for the true words to come. When they do,
you thank God because you know the words are a gift, and you write them
down as honestly and as cleanly as you can."
The Death of Innocents is about the death penalty and justice, a subject
she also visited in Dead Man Walking, her 1st book, which was published in
1993. 2 years later, it became the basis for a major film with the same
title. Susan Sarandon, who played Prejean in the movie, won an Oscar.
Prejean, a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in New Orleans,
joined the convent at 18 and taught English and religion for 11 years, 4
in the classroom and 7 in adult education. It was in the 1980s that she
began working with prisoners on death row.
Her job now, she says, is to "get people reflecting. ... It's about
discourse." Originally, she planned to title her new book "Impossible
Burden" because, she says, when it comes to the death penalty, "who has
the wisdom to say who should live and who should die?"
Prejean is, at heart, still a teacher. In Innocents, she says she wants to
bring readers to a place where they can emotionally experience the
executions of two men: Dobie Gillis Williams in Louisiana and Joseph
O'Dell in Virginia, both of whom she believes were innocent. She then
wants to bring readers to the logic of the death penalty itself, to study
The judicial system, she writes, is filled with flaws, citing the
"astonishing admissions of errors by state and federal courts forced to
free 117 people from death row since 1973." She points out the disparity
in meting out the death penalty in the 38 states where it is allowed
especially in the South.
Race, she says, is one factor: "Overwhelmingly, when people are selected
for the death penalty, it is because they killed a white person."
Another factor, she says, is politics: Winning the death penalty is a way
to further a legal career.
Poverty, too, plays a role. Prejean, in her work in the St. Thomas Housing
Project in New Orleans, recalls an axiom from there: "Capital punishment
means 'Them without the capital get the punishment.'"
"The Supreme Court can tinker with the death penalty guidelines all it
wants," she writes, "but patterns of implementation clearly show that who
is killed and who is spared is determined largely by local culture - 'our
way of doing things' - and not by law."
(source for both: USA Today)
Jury Selection Continues in Death-Penalty Case
Jury selection in the federal death-penalty trial of a man who killed two
James Madison University students in 1996 will likely last through today,
according to court officials.
The trial of Brent K. Simmons, 31, in U.S. District Court in Abingdon is
scheduled to last 3 weeks once a jury is seated. Jury selection began
Simmons pleaded guilty seven years ago in state court to killing his
former girlfriend and her boyfriend. He could be released from prison in
Federal authorities decided to pursue a death-penalty case against Simmons
last year after a diver swimming in a lake near Simmons' hometown of
Carlisle, Pa., found a gun like the one used in the double homicide.
A federal grand jury indicted Simmons in March on 2 counts of using a
firearm in the commission of murder and on an interstate stalking count.
The charges were brought under the federal Violence Against Women Act,
which means Simmons could face the death penalty if convicted.
(source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
KENTUCKY----new death sentence
Noble Receives 2 Death Sentences
Sitting in a wheelchair in Jefferson Circuit Court, his left arm wrapped
in a bandage after he tried to cut his wrist this morning, Sherman Noble
received 2 death sentences in the 1987 deaths of 3 men.
Noble initially refused to come to his sentencing this morning or talk to
his attorney, Ramon McGee, prompting Noble and McGee to request that
sentencing be delayed so Noble could be mentally evaluated.
But Jefferson Circuit Judge Stephen Ryan refused, saying Noble has claimed
he was mentally fit since he was arrested and charged with the murders of
three men during one week in 1987.
"He was competent up until today," Ryan said from the bench. "Now his day
of reckoning has arrived, and he's claiming to be incompetent. I think
he's faking it."
Ryan followed a Jefferson County jury's sentencing recommendation from
December that recommended Noble be be executed for the murders of Charles
Thompson and Lorenzo Harris. The jury also recommended he receive a life
sentence for the murder of Walker Ison.The 3 men were beaten to death in
separate incidents during in March 1987. Noble was declared incompetent to
stand trial in 1988 and has spent much of the time since in a mental
hospital. In 1997, however, he was found competent.
Sherman Noble receives death penalty in 2 murders, life in prison for
A Louisville man received the death penalty Monday in connection with 3
1987 murders. 51-year old Sherman Noble was convicted in December after
years of trial delays.
Sherman Noble's trial was delayed for nearly 18-years because of questions
about his sanity. When Noble went on trial in December, he was considered
mentally competent and even insisted on serving as his own attorney.
During this trial, Sherman Noble was alert and insistent he did not murder
3 West Louisville men in March of 1987. A very different Sherman Noble
appeared for sentencing. He entered the courtroom in a wheelchair after
cutting a wrist and refusing to talk to his co-attorney.
Judge Stephen Ruan turned down a request to delay sentencing say Noble was
"faking" to put off his day of reckoning. Sherman Noble's brother stormed
out of the courtroom to protest the Judge's comments.
But Judge Ryan went on to give Noble death penalties for 2 murders and a
life sentence for a third. When he tried to question his legal
representaion, Judge Ruan told Noble he cannot file a complaint against
The issue of whether Noble should have been allowed to serve as his own
attorney is sure to be a key to his appeals.
Sherman Noble will soon be transferred to the state prison system. But he
will return to Jefferson County in July. That is when he will face trial
for a 4th murder- the death of a west end man in July of 1985.
(source: Fox41 News)
Death penalty moves to full Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee didn't give any recommendations on the
bills. One would abolish the death penalty, the other would fix a
constitutional flaw. In December, the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the
death penalty law.
Members of Brad Heyka's family were at the hearing, but didn't speak
before the committee. Heyka, and 3 others were killed by Jonathan and
Reginald Carr in 2000.
(source: KWCH News)
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