[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CONN., N. MEX.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Feb 24 10:36:24 CST 2005
Death penalty bill faces obstacles
A bill discussing the abolishment of the death penalty will probably not
make it past the Judiciary Committee, senators and lobbyists said
yesterday at the General Assembly.
Sen. Andrew McDonald (D-Stamford) the co-chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, said although he is not in favor of the death penalty, it will
remain. He also said that from the most recent polls he saw, there is a
"clear majority of people in favor of the death penalty."
According to the Connecticut General Assembly web site, the bill will
"repeal the death sentence as an authorized penalty for persons who commit
certain murders." The bill stated instead of the death penalty, the
criminal will serve life in prison without any possibility of release.
Kim Harrison, a contracting lobbyist who presents legislation for many
non-profit organizations, said she is not in favor of the death penalty
and is hoping the bill will get passed, but admits it will not happen.
"I need 76 votes to pass the bill, and one year I got 58," Harrison said.
"I will miss it by a little this time, but will have some small success in
the Judiciary Committee."
Harrison also said those working with her against the death penalty are
very smart and compassionate, but there are not a lot in the General
"The General Assembly isn't made up of compassionate people," Harrison
Sen. David Cappiello (R-Danbury) said in contradiction to his colleagues
that this bill has more of a connection to a current case.
"This bill has everything to do with the Ross execution," Cappiello said.
"He is the epitome of why we should have the death penalty."
Cappiello said he does not feel the death penalty is an "easy way out" for
prisoners like Ross. Cappiello said he thinks about the victims and their
families and wonders why Connecticut should not execute those who have
committed such heinous crimes. He is confident the Connecticut government
is good enough to make the right decisions if someone should be executed.
Mike Clark, an 8th-semester journalism major, said the bill will not pass
and he is okay with that.
"I think it is obvious the bill won't pass, which is good because I think
that Michael Ross deserves to die," Clark said.
Chief State's Attorney Chris Morano said this issue of the death penalty
is a very serious matter and he is uncertain of how he stands. But, if
they are going to change the law, then do it now. He said there are very
few people on death row in Connecticut because there is a careful process
to make sure the people there are guilty.
"I am conflicted when looking at the families of the victims, sometimes I
am for the death penalty and sometimes I am not," Morano said. "There are
very few people on death row because a government's biggest horror is
executing someone who is not guilty."
According to McDonald, the bill should be moved out within the next five
to seven days without passing.
(source: The Daily Campus)
House panel approves death penalty repeal
A bill to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico flew through a committee
and is headed to the House floor for a vote.
The measure would replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life in
prison without parole.
The Judiciary Committee passed the bill Wednesday on a 6-to-3 vote
following a long public hearing. The committee heard testimony on both
sides of the issue from murder victims families and their advocates.
Its the first time the full House will vote on a death penalty repeal
since opponents geared up about 8 years ago to try to overturn the law.
Similar repeal bills have reached the Senate floor but failed -- most
recently in 2001 by one vote.
There are 2 men on New Mexicos death row. If the repeal were enacted into
law, it would not affect their sentences.
(source: Associated Press)
Area dealing with large number of death-penalty cases
As debate over the death penalty rages in the New Mexico Legislature, the
Santa Fe district attorney's office is seeking or might seek that very
fate in a relatively large number of cases, said DA Henry Valdez.
"(The large number) is absolutely unusual," Valdez said. "If we have one
every couple of years, that's more what we're used to."
Valdez and his staff attorneys are looking at possibly pursuing the death
penalty in 3 cases and are actively seeking the death penalty in 2 other
cases. Before last summer - when both of the current death-penalty cases
were filed - it had been nearly 6 1 /2 years since the Death and the
district attorney The Santa Fe district attorney's office is seeking or
might seek the death penalty in 5 cases involving 8 people: Repeal
wouldn't spare 2 on row.
A repeal of the death penalty in New Mexico would not affect the sentences
of the 2 men currently on death row:
Timothy Allen of Bloomfield , convicted in December 1995 of killing and
raping 17-year-old Sandra Phillips.
Robert Fry of Farmington, convicted in June 2000 of the death of Betty Lee
in remote San Juan County.
Execution dates for both men are a long way off while the cases undergo
appellate review, said Tia Bland, spokeswoman for the New Mexico
The last man executed in New Mexico was Terry Clark in 2001. The ranch
hand convicted of killing 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore of Artesia and was the
first person put to death in the state in more than 40 years. DA's office
had last sought the death penalty and more than 10 years since anyone was
sentenced to death in the 1st Judicial District.
"I take (the death penalty) seriously," Valdez said in a recent interview.
"It is a difficult decision, and that's why it takes so long. "Personally,
I think there are some crimes that deserve the death penalty. I have no
qualms either professionally or personally telling jurors they ought to
impose the death penalty."
Sentence a possibility
The DA's office is considering filing the death penalty in the following
Derrick Lane, 21, of La Madera, is charged with the murder, rape and
kidnapping of Ariana Rendon, 25, of Dixon. Rendon was seen with Lane at
the Club Tropicana pool hall in Espanola the night of Oct. 28, 2003, and
early the next morning, police have said.
Rendon's friends told police the woman left the pool hall with Lane and a
friend around closing time. The friend asked to be let out of the van
along Paseo De Onate in Espanola , because Lane was behaving strangely and
"making weird comments," police have said. The friend got out, according
to police, but Rendon remained in the van.
Rendon's body had been severely beaten when it was discovered, and some of
her clothing was found along U.S. 285.
Valdez said his office is close to deciding whether or not to seek the
death penalty against Lane.
Jonathan Dick, 26, was kidnapped , punched, kicked, hit in the head with a
rock and a tire iron, strangled and finally stabbed during a heroin-fueled
orgy of violence that ended with his death in an arroyo near Chili in last
March, according to court documents.
In that case, Donald Hamilton, 27, of Los Alamos, John Knight, 21, of
Espanola and Dion Martinez, 29, of Alcalde are each charged with an open
count of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, possession of
heroin, aggravated battery and 4 counts of tampering with evidence.
Hamilton is also charged with 1 court of criminal solicitation.
Jorge Serrano, 20, was initially charged in the case but agreed last fall
to plead guilty to kidnapping and second-degree murder in exchange for a
12-to-18-year sentence and will testify against the others in the case. A
5th man - 22-year-old Juan Ignacio Sanchez of Ojo Sarco - also was charged
in the case but hanged himself in his jail cell soon after his arrest.
Before deciding whether to pursue the death penalty against 1 or all 3
remaining defendants, prosecutors are waiting for the court to rule on
what evidence will be allowed at trial, Valdez said.
A decision is imminent on whether to seek the death penalty against Karen
Smallwood in the killing of a 19-year-old Santa Fe mother last year,
The body of Ursula Duran was found last Oct. 13 at the southeast Santa Fe
home of her aunt and uncle, where she'd been housesitting. Duran - the
mother of a 2-year-old boy - was shot numerous times.
Smallwood, 59, was arrested near Orlando, Fla., last November after a
monthlong, multistate investigation that involved 36 law-enforcement
Smallwood was a former housesitter for Duran's aunt and uncle and was
characterized by her family as a drifter.
Smallwood is charged with 1st degree murder, aggravated burglary with a
deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and 2 counts of unauthorized
"We're real close (to deciding) on Smallwood," Valdez said.
The 2 death-penalty cases already being pursued by the DA are:
Jesus "Chuy" Aviles-Dominguez , 28, and Daniel Good, 31, both of Santa Fe,
are each charged with 1st-degree murder and a slew of other counts in the
beating death of Dickie Ortega in the Santa Fe County jail last June.
Ortega was accused in June of being a "snitch" by others who lived in his
same jail pod, then beaten with fists and feet in the shower portion of
the living area, according to court records. When a corrections officer
finally noticed Ortega's labored breathing, he was taken to the medical
Ortega suffered head trauma, a torn liver, an injured kidney, broken ribs,
a broken nose and numerous contusions and bruises on his torso,
prosecutors have said.
The case is just beginning to wind its way through the court system. Both
Aviles-Dominguez and Good appeared Wednesday at a motions hearing, where
Aviles-Dominguez said he and his codefendant were innocent and the victims
of "malicious prosecution."
Christopher McClendon, 40, was linked to the 1989 rape and killing of a
Santa Fe woman by a DNA test in early 2004.
The convicted serial rapist is serving two life sentences for kidnapping
and raping a 24-year-old waitress from the Cowgirl Hall of Fame Restaurant
in 1999. He was also convicted of rape and kidnapping in San Juan County
in 1985, but was paroled in 1989.
McClendon now faces the death penalty for allegedly raping and murdering
Tracy Barker, 22. Barker, a supervisor for Pizza Hut at Villa Linda Mall,
was beaten and strangled May 2, 1989. Her body was found near Richards
The last time the DA's office sought the death penalty was in February
1998, when Robert Bryant was accused of killing an Albuquerque woman.
Bryant was convicted in November 1999, but a jury decided to impose a life
sentence in prison rather than the death penalty.
The last person sentenced to death in the 1st Judicial District was Jerome
Martinez in April 1994, though he died in prison of an illness before he
could be executed. Martinez was convicted in April 1994 of murdering
9-year-old Venessa Valerio during a burglary of her Rio Chama home. He
died in March 1996.
(source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
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