[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----KY., FLA., PENN., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jul 8 16:28:46 CDT 2005
Kentucky's lethal injection process upheld
In Frankfort, a state judge Friday upheld the use of lethal injection in
Kentucky, saying it was not cruel and unusual punishment.
Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden said the method of execution
should be changed to rule out one painful step, which the state says it
has already done.
"The execution protocol adopted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with one
exception, complies with the constitutional requirements against cruel and
unusual punishment," Crittenden wrote.
The case was brought by condemned prisoners Thomas Clyde Bowling and Ralph
Baze. They argued that Kentucky's process of administering the lethal
cocktail to death row inmates violated the U.S. Constitution, which
prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
While upholding lethal injection, the judge said the state should not be
allowed to administer the fatal drugs through an intravenous catheter
stuck into the prisoner's jugular vein, in the neck, if no suitable veins
can be found in the arms or legs.
He said it was unconstitutionally cruel and should be removed from the
process. Officials said they had already removed that step as an option.
Bowling was scheduled to be executed last November for the killing Edward
and Tina Earley and shooting their 2-year-old son outside the couple's
Lexington dry-cleaning business in 1990. His execution was delayed pending
the outcome of the challenge.
Baze was convicted of killing Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and a
deputy Arthur Briscoe during an attempted arrest in 1992.
The state has executed one person by lethal injection, Eddie Lee Harper,
(source: Associated Press)
Rolling loses death sentence appeal; more likely to come
Convicted killer Danny Rolling, who was sentenced to death in the 1990
murders of five Gainesville college students, has lost another in a line
of appeals to overturn his sentence, but more appeals are likely.
State Attorney Bill Cervone said he learned of U.S. District Judge M.
Casey Rodgers' ruling from the Florida Attorney General's Office Thursday.
The decision denying Rolling's petition for a writ of habeas corpus had
been filed July 1 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of
Rolling had raised issues over the constitutionality of Florida's death
penalty and that his sentencing was held in Alachua County, where the
crimes occurred, arguing he could not get an impartial sentencing jury in
the Gainesville area, Rodgers' order states.
"It speeds it up in the sense that we finally have resolution at that
level adverse to him," Cervone said. "It's what we expected, and we're
very satisfied and glad to be finally getting some movement in things."
Rolling's petition was filed in federal court in August 2002 after the
Florida Supreme Court, two months earlier, rejected his appeal for a 2nd
But, Cervone said, "It does not mean that there will be a death warrant
signed next week. It's one more hurdle that's been crossed."
Rolling has two higher courts that could still hear appeals in the federal
court system, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit in
Atlanta and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Carolyn Snurkowski, assistant deputy attorney general for criminal
appeals, described the decision as a "pretty significant event."
"The fact of the matter is he's lost his 1st round in federal court," she
Cervone said, "He now not only has to convince the next appellate court
that he's right but that all of these other judges were wrong."
Rolling has 30 days to file a notice that he will appeal to the Atlanta
court. Snurkowski said she expected that would happen but could not say
how long before that court returns with its decision on his appeal.
After hearing about the judge's decision, George Paules, the father of one
of the murdered students, said he couldn't get too excited over the
ruling, although it does limit Rolling's legal options.
"It's gone through so many stages," said Paules, 70, who also said he's
tired of trying to answer people's questions over why Rolling's death
sentence hasn't yet been carried out.
"We're just very sad that it's taking so long," he said.
In the years since Rolling's conviction, relatives of the murder victims
have expressed frustration that the case remains under appeal even though
he didn't contest his guilt and entered a guilty plea in 1994.
The murders occurred at the start of the 1990 fall semester in
Gainesville. Rolling's victims were Sonja Larson, 18, of Deerfield Beach;
Christina Powell, 17, of Jacksonville; Christa Hoyt, 19, of Archer; Tracy
Paules, 23, of Miami; and Manuel Taboada, 23, of Miami.
After Rolling entered his plea, the case moved into the sentencing phase.
An Alachua County jury heard aggravating and mitigating factors before
reaching an unanimous advisory recommendation he should be executed.
Circuit Judge Stan Morris then held a final hearing and imposed the death
Rolling's guilt has never been a question for the appellate courts.
Circumstances surrounding his death sentence have.
Rolling has repeatedly argued he was denied a fair sentencing trial by
impartial jurors because he was sentenced in the same county where the
crimes occurred and that the case should have been moved out of
In his petition in federal court, he also challenged the constitutionality
of Florida's death penalty, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that
juries, not judges, should decide whether a defendant gets the death
Rodgers found that the concerns raised by that Supreme Court decision
don't apply, in part because Florida has a hybrid system where a jury
gives an advisory verdict and a judge makes the ultimate determination.
Rolling, 51, is being held on death row at Union Correctional Institution
in Union County.
(source: The Gainesville Sun)
Accused to face death penalty----The suspect faces murder and kidnapping
charges as well as charges of murder solicitation.
In Tarpon Springs, prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a
Turkish man accused of murdering his uncle and kidnapping his cousin last
Sitki Ozkardes, 33, is charged with 1st-degree murder and kidnapping in
connection with the shooting death of Safa Gul, 50.
Ozkardes also faces 3 charges of murder solicitation because authorities
say he tried to arrange the murders of 3 more family members while he was
A family member found Gul shot in the head and chest with a small-caliber
pistol on Aug. 18. Gul's 16-month-old grandson, who Gul was babysitting,
Police issued a statewide missing child alert for the toddler. He was
found unharmed about 8 hours later in an Oldsmar shopping plaza parking
Tarpon Springs police arrested Ozkardes about 2 weeks later.
The shooting and abduction are thought to have stemmed from family
problems, including a dispute over a large sum of money, police said.
The case qualifies for the death penalty because of heightened
premeditation, assistant state attorney Bill Loughery said.
"It was essentially an execution," he said.
Ozkardes remains in the Pinellas County Jail without bond. He has a
pretrial hearing scheduled for today.
Ozkardes and Gul are part of a large immigrant family from Turkey.
Family members could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Loughery
said the family supports prosecutors seeking the death penalty.
(source: St. Petersburg Times)
Top court OKs murder conviction
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the conviction of Robert
Eugene Hendrix, who is on death row for the 1990 murders of a Sorrento
Authorities say Hendrix killed Elmer Scott Jr. and Scott's wife because
Scott was planning to testify against him in a burglary case. Scott was
According to court records, Hendrix shot Scott, 25, and then Michelle
Scott, 20, in their home. When the couple didn't die immediately, he used
the pistol as a club, smashing Scott in the head, authorities said.
Hendrix, who had been living in Apopka, cut Scott's wife with a kitchen
knife numerous times, the records show.
Hendrix, now 38, had said in a written motion amended in 2003 that his
former lawyers were wrong for not retaining the services of a
mental-health expert who could have helped with his defense.
He said evidence should have been presented regarding his drug-abuse
history. He also said the court should have been told that a trial witness
had a prior record of being a confidential informant. In addition, he
wrote that the shackles he wore during the 1991 trial might have had a
negative impact on the outcome.
The points were argued in a subsequent evidentiary hearing, and Circuit
Judge Mark Hill of Lake County denied the claims.
Hendrix appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, but the justices agreed
"Hendrix failed to demonstrate that his counsel was ineffective," the high
court's ruling reads.
According to the ruling, the jury in Hendrix's case was told about the
confidential informant who said he heard Hendrix's confession while in
prison and then contacted the state because he was seeking a deal. "Thus,
Hendrix is not entitled to relief on this claim," it says.
Also, the fact that Hendrix has now found mental-health experts who have
more favorable testimony does not invalidate the testimony of those
experts his lawyers relied on previously, the ruling says.
As for the shackles, a judge, bailiff and witness all testified that the
jury would not have been able to see Hendrix's ankle shackled to an anchor
near the floor underneath a table. And because he had been implicated in
an escape plot with another prisoner 3 weeks before trial, the lower court
determined the shackling was necessary.
The Supreme Court agreed.
"The court undertook very careful methods to ensure that the jury was not
aware of the shackles," the ruling reads. "No testimony was presented to
show that the jury or anybody else even heard Hendrix's shackles during
(source: Orlando Sentinel)
Prosecutor to seek death penalty in stabbing death case
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for a man charged in the
death of a neighbor stabbed 37 times.
Fredil Omar Rodriguez-Fuentes, 23, also faces charges of aggravated
assault and criminal trespass. He pleaded not guilty during his
arraignment Thursday in Northumberland County Court.
District Attorney Anthony Rosini said he will try to prove that the death
penalty is warranted in the June 10 slaying of 20-year-old Carly Snyder
because torture was involved and other crimes were allegedly being
committed at the same time.
Rodrigiez-Fuentes lived next door to Snyder. Rosini on Friday said he
couldn't reveal any more details of the crime or if there were any other
connections between the suspect and victim.
Police have said that Snyder was slain in the early morning hours of June
10 and that her body was found in her home.
The case will likely go to trial late this year or early next year, Rosini
(source: Associated Press)
Man charged with shooting wife and himself could face death penalty
A Bethany man accused of fatally shooting his wife last month and then
attempting to kill himself could face the death penalty, prosecutors said.
Keith Alder Wade, 57, is charged with 1st-degree murder in the shooting
death of Nancy Wade, 56, who was found in the family's home on June 19
with a small-caliber bullet wound to the chest.
Harrison County Sheriff George Martz said Keith Wade then took the
.38-caliber pistol and shot himself in the chest.
Keith Wade was taken to North Kansas City Hospital and was transferred to
the Harrison County Jail after being released on June 29. County
Prosecutor Richard Turner said Wade hasn't given an explanation for the
Turner said Wednesday that he hasn't ruled out pursuing the death penalty
against Wade. He said he plans to notify the Missouri Attorney General's
office and ask for help later.
Wade is being held without bond and will next appear in court on July 20.
He had not hired an attorney by Wednesday.
(source: Associated Press)
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