[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----GA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 28 16:59:38 CST 2005
Death row inmate says clemency bid tainted by tattoo claim
Lawyers for a man who killed a pizza shop manager during a 3-week crime
spree say their client should not be executed because the parole board
that denied him clemency relied on unsubstantiated claims about a tattoo.
Barring a successful last-minute appeal, Stephen A. Mobley, 39, will be
executed by lethal injection Tuesday for the Feb. 17, 1991, murder of John
Collins, 24, during a robbery at a Domino's Pizza in northeast Georgia.
It would be Georgia's 2nd execution this year.
Mobley's lawyers argue in a petition filed Monday that the parole board,
which denied clemency following a closed-door hearing on Friday, relied on
claims that while in jail Mobley tattooed his back with the word "Domino,"
hung a Domino's Pizza box in his cell and sexually assaulted another
The lawyers say there is no evidence of such a tattoo, the pizza box was
hung only to cover a vent and no charges have ever been filed regarding
the alleged assault. They also say that suggestions Mobley has since
covered up the tattoo with another tattoo amount to "wild speculation."
Court records say evidence presented during Mobley's sentencing hearing
included testimony that he did tattoo the word "Domino" on his shoulder,
sexually assaulted another inmate on two occasions while in pretrial
detention and threatened a guard by saying he "looked more and more like a
Domino's delivery boy every day."
Prison records indicate that Mobley has several tattoos, but give no
description. As to Mobley's alleged comments, defense lawyer Michael
Bowers said in a telephone interview that the issue is not what Mobley may
or may not have said but rather the fact it was never proven in court.
"The question is basically this, is the state of Georgia going to execute
someone rather than grant clemency largely based on rumor?" Bowers said.
The petition argued that the "consideration of and reliance on untruthful
and physically unsupported rumors" by the parole board violated Mobley's
due process rights.
The petition to the Georgia Supreme Court asks that a stay of execution be
granted to allow time for a new clemency hearing to be held. The court was
not expected to rule on the petition before Tuesday.
Parole board spokeswoman Kim Patton-Johnson said she could not comment on
what factors the board considered in making its decision to deny clemency.
"We'll just have to wait and see what the court says about this petition,"
she said. "We just assume that everything is going to go off as planned
until we hear otherwise."
Mobley's lawyers say the victim's family, the prosecutor who tried the
case and six of the 10 jurors who convicted him at trial would have
favored a sentence of life without parole for Mobley if it had been an
option in 1991. Two years after Mobley's trial, the state Legislature
passed a law allowing the sentencing option of life in prison without
parole instead of just the death penalty in the most heinous murder cases.
The victim's mother declined through a prison spokeswoman to comment
Mobley was convicted of murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and
firearm possession in the death of Collins at a Domino's Pizza in Oakwood,
45 miles northeast of Atlanta. After emptying the cash register and
shooting Collins in the head, Mobley committed 6 additional armed
robberies at restaurants and dry cleaners over a 3-week period, court
He was arrested following a high-speed chase as he fled the scene of an
attempted armed robbery, and the gun used in the murder was found along
the roadway, court records say.
Prior to the murder, Mobley had been convicted of at least 7 other crimes,
including credit card theft and burglary, that were committed between 1983
and 1986, prison records show.
(source: Associated Press)
OHIO----stay of impending execution
Federal judge halts Ohio's scheduled March 8 prisoner execution In
Cincinnati, a federal judge on Monday halted the March 8 execution of a
prisoner who claims an abnormality in his brain may have affected his
behavior when he raped and killed a woman in 1987.
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel said the claim of the prisoner,
William H. Smith, should be investigated.
Defense lawyers urged the judge last week to spare Smith's life. A CT scan
revealed an abnormality in a part of Smith's brain that can affect
behavior, defense lawyer Jennifer Kinsley said.
The scan was performed Dec. 29 at Mansfield General Hospital after Smith
complained of feeling ill.
Kinsley argued that the stay was necessary to allow time for a more
precise magnetic resonance imaging scan.
Lawyers from Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro's office will ask the judge
to lift the stay, said Kim Norris, a spokeswoman for Petro.
The judge stopped the execution before he could see the results of an MRI
taken Friday at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus,
Norris declined to discuss what the MRI showed.
Kinsley said she had received a one-page summary from the hospital of the
MRI test. She said, however, that she would not comment on the results
until after she receives film from the test.
Smith, 47, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection for the murder, rape
and robbery of Mary Bradford. Police said Bradford, 47, had been raped and
two televisions and stereo equipment were taken from her Cincinnati
apartment. Smith was convicted of aggravated murder, rape and aggravated
The Ohio Parole Board on Feb. 15 voted 8-0 to recommend denial of Smith's
request for clemency. Gov. Bob Taft has not yet ruled on the board's
(source: Beacon Journal)
Death Row Inmates Attempt to Escape
A new report says 2 convicted killers who tried to escape from Ohio's
death row hid a home-made ladder under a pile of snow in an outdoor
recreation area. The report released by the Department of Rehabilitation
and Correction blames the escape attempt on complacency and gross
deficiencies by prison staff.
The report says condemned inmates Richard Cooey and Maxwell White made the
13 and a half foot ladder from blankets. The report says the 2 inmates
also were wearing extra clothes and were carrying food, water, matches and
a home-made tool to break through fences. The DRC report says the escape
attempt happened even though the prison's security chief had been tipped
ahead of time by an informant.
(source: Fox19 News)
Murder conviction questioned
Sentenced to death following his 1985 murder conviction for stomping a
bartender to death during a robbery, a 2004 court decision could not only
save Derrick Jamison from his date with death but also could lead to
Jamison being acquitted.
Jamison, 44, was convicted and sentenced to death for stomping Gary
Mitchell to death as Jamison and Charles Howell robbed the Central Bar
downtown on Aug. 1, 1984.
On Death Row for 17 years, Jamison was granted a new trial in 2002 when a
court ruled Jamison didn't get a fair trial because police didn't provide
Jamison's lawyers with evidence that could have exonerated him.
Now, as Jamison's retrial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, the passage of
time and a law change have forced Hamilton County assistant prosecutor
Mark Piepmeier to find Howell or likely face having no witnesses who can
testify they saw Jamison kill and rob Mitchell.
"A lot of witnesses in this case are already deceased or don't have very
good recollections," said Elizabeth Agar, one of Jamison's defense
In the past, that wasn't a problem because courts often allowed testimony
from the 1st trial -- even if it was just the reading of the transcript of
testimony given at that trial -- in the 2nd trial.
But in Jamison's trial, that likely won't be the case for 2 reasons:
- Police didn't provide information to prosecutors in the 1985 trial --
and thus it wasn't given to Jamison's attorneys -- that could have helped
Jamison in his defense.
It wasn't discovered until after Jamison had served 10 years of his
sentence that police talked to witnesses who gave physical descriptions of
the killer that contradicted Howell's testimony that Jamison killed the
In fact, the descriptions of the killer given by those witnesses sounded
like they fit Howell, 44.
Howell's dramatic testimony -- that Jamison stomped Mitchell to death as
Mitchell begged for his life -- was prosecutors' key evidence that helped
win the capital conviction.
Those witnesses not known to the attorneys, Agar said, include one who
told police he saw someone who looked like Howell pushing his way out of
the bar at the time of the killing and carrying a metal pipe.
She argued that the bartender's fatal head injuries more likely could have
been caused by blows from a hard metal pipe rather than kicks from
Jamison's soft gym shoes.
- A 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminated many exceptions to the right
to confront and cross-examine witnesses.
That means trouble for prosecutors because the witness who testified at
the 1st trial he saw Jamison stomp Mitchell to death was Howell, convicted
with Jamison of robbing the bar.
Already having completed his prison sentence for that conviction, Howell
was found last year only when Piepmeier literally ran him down, chasing
him down a Cincinnati street.
Now, though, Howell has disappeared.
"He doesn't want to be found," Piepmeier said.
"I would think it would be rather difficult without (Howell)," Agar said,
"because he was the one who identified (Jamison) as the killer."
Without Howell, prosecutors likely won't be able to substitute the real
Howell for transcripts of his testimony from the 1985 case.
That's because last year's Supreme Court ruling found that Jamison has the
right to face and "substantially" cross-examine witnesses. Attorneys can't
cross-examine a transcript on evidence that wasn't presented in the 1st
trial about the other possible suspects, Agar noted.
Even if Jamison is acquitted of the murder charge, he won't be freed from
Because of his numerous convictions for his role in the "downtown
robberies," the 44-year-old still has more than 65 years to serve on the
That makes Agar question why this death-penalty trial is even happening.
"We have raised that question ourselves," she said. "The question is how
much of a return there would be given the situation.
"The difference will be where he sits (in prison), what cell he's going to
The difference is greater than that to Piepmeier.
"You just hate to give a guy a free pass on a murder," Piepmeier said.
The trial is before Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Niehaus.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
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