[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., OHIO, N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jul 1 11:04:05 CDT 2005
Wesson's Death Sentence May Take Decades
Marcus Wesson is headed to death row, but most agree it could be decades
before he actually dies by lethal injection.
According to the California Prison System it takes an average of 20 years
for an inmate to be put to death.
Many believe something needs to be done to speed up the process.
Next month, Wesson will join 15 other Fresno County Defendants awaiting
death at San Quentin Prison. But the likelihood of Wesson receiving the
jury's judgment of death by lethal injection anytime soon is doubtful.
Defense Attorney, Ernest Kinney says there aren't many qualified appellate
attorneys to handle cases like this.
"For 5 years nothing happens then you get a lawyer then you get the
transcripts that takes another 5 years then there's writs and motions
that's another 5 years and pretty soon it's 20 to 25 years," says Kinney.
Wesson is 58-years-old and Kinney doesn't believe Wesson will live long
enough to receive the ultimate punishment.
Kinney says allegations of possible juror misconduct and the fact no
African Americans were on the jury are just some of the reasons Wesson
could get a new trial.
Kinney doesn't believe California's appeals system needs to be
"Maybe all the appeals can be done in five years I think within 5 years
people can get that sense of justice at least closure so they can move
on," says Kinney.
Wesson is set to be sentenced next month. At that time, the judge will
rule whether he agrees with the jury's judgment.
Legal experts say it's doubtful he will overturn their decision.
(source: ABC News)
Lammers said he will attempt to retry Richey
Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers said Thursday his strongest evidence
to prove Kenneth Richey started a fire that killed a 2-year-old girl 19
years ago is witness statements.
At least some of those statements and other evidence will be put before a
grand jury in the next 45 days to determine whether Richey should be
retried on new charges in the June 30, 1986, death of Cynthia Collins at a
Columbus Grove apartment complex. Those charges will carry the possibility
for the death penalty, he said.
"We will seek whatever charges the facts will support," he said. "The
evidence supports that Mr. Richey set the fire that callously ended this
little girl's life."
Lammers announced his decision Thursday to attempt to retry Richey saying
he has sufficient evidence to seek new charges. His decision comes after a
federal appellate court overturned Richey's conviction in January and
ordered his retrial or release.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed Richey's conviction in January
saying his trial attorneys did not provide an adequate defense, and under
Ohio law at the time, prosecutors needed to prove he intended to kill the
young girl, to convict him of capital murder.
Richey will remain on Ohio's death row until either the grand jury returns
new charges or refuses to charge Richey. If there are new charges, Richey
would be returned to the Putnam County Jail. If the grand jury refuses to
indict Richey, he would be set free, Lammers said.
Richey's attorney, Ken Parsigian, of Boston, said he was not surprised by
Lammers' decision and will prepare for trial. Parsigian said any attempt
to retry Richey on any murder charge would be double jeopardy and violate
Richey's constitutional rights, and he would fight it.
"You don't get to pick a charge, take that charge all the way through to
the end, keep some-body in prison 19 years, take it through the federal
court and try it all over again," he said.
Parsigian is confident he and other members of Richey's defense team will
win and prove Richey innocent, he said.
Parsigian said he and two other experienced attorneys from his law firm
will defend Richey. He also will obtain local attorneys to help with the
case, he said. P> That team will begin preparing immediately for trial. If
there's a trial it will be to a jury, not a judge or panel of judges, he
"We will line up witnesses including the best forensic chemists and fire
recreation experts in the world," he said.
Parsigian plans to continue his push to have Richey returned to the Putnam
County Jail saying no one is held on death row without a capital murder
Once Richey is returned to jail, Parsigian then will push to have Richey
released on bail pending trial, he said.
Parsigian said he spoke to Richey on Thursday to inform him of Lammers'
"He was disappointed, but he was not surprised. He's gotten used to that
kind of behavior from the state after this many years," Parsigian said.
There's part of Richey that welcomes a new trial and is ready to start as
soon as possible, he said.
"Kenny has always wanted a fair opportunity to vindicate himself,"
Parsigian said. "He's ready to go and fight and win."
Richey's fiance, Karen Torley, said she and Richey are relieved that some
type of decision has been made. Richey has wanted a retrial for many years
and now gets his wish, she said.
"Now Kenny finally gets his day in court. A day that is 19 long years
overdue," she said.
Torley said freeing Richey is not enough, though. Her efforts and Richey's
desire have been to prove his innocence, she said.
"Kenny's original trial was a farcical. This time the record will be set
straight and Kenny's entire defense will be heard in court for the 1st
time," she said.
Lammers said the evidence he has is the same from the 1987 trial. He may
have a new wit-ness or two, but there will be no surprises, he said.
Lammers declined to characterize the strength of his case.
"Strength of evidence would always be up to the tryer of the fact, whether
that's the jury or judge and I leave it up to them," he said.
When asked if he expected problems with evidence such as the carpet pulled
from the apart-ment that was taken to the dump and later was removed for
evidence, Lammers said the admissibility of any evidence will be up to a
judge to decide.
Lammers said there wasn't 1 specific reason that convinced him to attempt
to retry the case. He said he reviewed the transcripts from Richey's 1987
trial, the evidence, spoke to members of the victim's family and looked at
weaknesses in the case before making his decision.
Lammers would not say what Collins' family said other than they want
justice to be served.
When asked what obstacles he will have with the case, he said the fact the
case is 19 years old is the biggest. On top of that is finding and using
witnesses. One witness is dead and another is ill, he said.
Another obstacle is the worldwide attention the case has received and
intense media coverage, he said.
"It's a distraction," he said.
When asked if he would offer Richey a plea, Lammers said he does not have
charges to ex-tend an offer. He did say whether there's a plea would be up
to Richey to accept if one is offered.
Lammers will ask the Ohio Attorney General's Office for assistance, he
"Given their expertise and my current case load, I think it would be
beneficial to my office, my case and myself," he said.
Lammers said the 90 days the appellate court set for retrial means the
process toward a re-trial must begin in that time, not the trial. Both
sides need time to prepare, he said.
Lammers would not offer a guess on when he thought the case could go to
Parsigian disputed Lammers' interpretation of the 90 days period saying
the trial must begin in that time, which about Sept. 1. "The order is
crystal clear," he said. "It doesn't say talk about trying, it doesn't say
announce that you're going to retry, it says you have to retry."
If the state fails to retry within 90 days from the June 3 order Parsigian
will fight it.
Lammers said he anticipates Judge Randall Basinger will step aside and
another judge be ap-pointed to handle the case since Basinger was part of
the prosecution at the 1st trial.
In his announcement and in a written statement, Lammers stressed that the
case is about justice for Collins and her family. It also was a topic he
talked about several times during an interview Thursday.
"No matter what happens in this case, the end result will never change
that Cynthia Collins was the victim and lost her life because of it. That
should never be lost as we go through the process," he said.
KENNETH RICHEY CASE TIMELINE
Dec. 24, 1982: 18-year-old Kenneth Richey moves from Scotland to the
United States with his family.
June 30, 1986: Cynthia Collins, 2, dies in an apartment fire at the Old
Village Apartments in Columbus Grove.
July 10, 1986: Richey is indicted on charges that carry death penalty. He
is accused of starting a fire that killed Cynthia.
Jan. 8, 1987: A 3-judge panel finds Richey guilty of aggravated murder,
aggravated arson, child en-dangering, and breaking and entering.
Jan. 26, 1987: Panel sentences Richey to death.
Jan. 27, 1987: Richey arrives at death row.
Dec. 28. 1989: The 3rd District Court of Appeals upholds Richey's death
Aug. 12, 1992: The Ohio Supreme Court upholds Richey's death sentence.
April 3, 2001: U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan upholds Richey's death
Jan. 25, 2005: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals tosses Richey's conviction
and orders he be retried or released within 90 days.
June 3, 2005: U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan signs off on the ruling
by the 6th Circuit, starting the 90-day clock to retry or release Richey.
Thursday: Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers announces he will retry
Richey and seek the death penalty.
(source: Lima News)
OUR LIVES----Brother awaits killer's execution
On the day Michael Reeves finally dies, Mike Thomas will be at home, far
away in Harrisburg, or maybe at work, cutting hair. He will not drive to
Raleigh to see his sister's killer one more time. He will not let the man
take another moment of his life. "Not another day," he says.
It is a day, this execution, that's been coming for 13 years now, since
Reeves was sentenced to death for the 1st-degree murder and rape of a
homemaker in rural North Carolina. They were crimes to which he admitted,
acts he likely will die for -- although no one is sure when.
This session, state legislators are contemplating a 2-year moratorium on
executions, to study how North Carolina carries out the death penalty. The
moratorium is, some believe, a way to assure the public that the
punishment can be administered fairly. Others worry the bill is merely a
1st step for death penalty opponents.
Mike Thomas knows only this: Before we come to grips about the potentially
innocent on death row, we need to first decide how we feel about the
Susan Thomas Toler was a married mother of 2 in rural Ernul, about 15
minutes north of New Bern. She was 26 years old, a Sunday school teacher,
a nursing student. On Feb. 6, 1989, she was at home with 2-year-old
daughter Lisa, while 8-year-old daughter Angela was at school. Sometime
that day, a man knocked on her door.
Michael Reeves, out of prison less than a year for rape, forced his way in
the door. Court records show that Reeves told Toler to send her daughter
from the room, then raped the woman, then sexually assaulted her with a
screwdriver, then put a pillow over her face and pressed the barrel of a
gun hard against it, and fired.
The killer was caught months later, after another murder in Virginia and
another rape near the Tennessee border. Police backtracked to the New Bern
area, where Reeves had lived, and they connected their evidence with Susan
Toler's death. In the face of that evidence, Reeves pleaded guilty to
first-degree murder. Jurors did not reward him for saving them work; he
was quickly sentenced to death in May 1992.
"I was satisfied," says Thomas now, his arms folded firmly. "It was
relieving to know he wasn't going to be around."
Thomas is a large man, but soft-spoken, and in that quiet voice he says he
is not angry, but that the hurt is still there. "My mother was never the
same," he says. "But she got Alzheimer's, which allowed her to forget
everything." She died last September.
Reeves has filed the inevitable appeals, including one now in state
courts, with no quick resolution in sight, state officials said. The
appeals have included concerns about allowing Susan Toler's younger
daughter to testify at the sentencing hearing, and about the judge's
subsequent instructions to the jury.
No appeal has asserted that Reeves is innocent.
So what do we do with the killer?
Thomas understands the moratorium supporters, but he believes that death
row inmates have more than enough time to exonerate themselves.
He understands there are more of us who are just unsure about death as
punishment, more of us who reside in the uncomfortable middle, believing
that the most hellish might deserve to die, but that we wouldn't want to
be on a jury pointing the way.
For those he offers Susan Toler, a sister, a mother, a victim who makes us
confront the death penalty moratorium by confronting death first. Do we
ever want a killer to die?
It's an easy answer for Thomas, who has taken in his sister's older
daughter -- who has a 4-year-old son and is now attending college in
Charlotte. "I see my sister every day in them," he says.
Then, of Reeves, bluntly: "If they need someone to administer the
punishment, I would be glad to."
But he will not. On the day Michael Reeves finally dies, Mike Thomas will
stay far away, finally content.
He will not let the murderer waste another moment of his life. Not another
Neither, he says, should we.
(source: Peter St. Onge, Charlotte Observer)
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