[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, LA., IDAHO, IND., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jul 27 14:31:02 CDT 2005
Texas inmate set to die for slaying of Minnesota student
When she last spoke with her sister, 24-year-old Kiersa Paul said she was
heading out on her bicycle to a popular Austin park to meet a guy she felt
sorry for and knew only as "Wolf."
The predator nickname turned out prophetic. The next morning, Paul was
found dead. She'd been raped, strangled, her throat cut at least 8 times
and an "X" etched into her chest.
David Martinez, known as Wolf, was arrested days after the 1997 slaying.
Travis County jurors deliberated only 15 minutes before convicting him of
capital murder. 2 weeks later, they decided he should be put to death.
Martinez, 29, was set for lethal injection Thursday evening. He would be
the 10th Texas inmate executed this year in the nation's most active
capital punishment state.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to review his conviction.
A petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles seeking to commute
his sentence to life or grant a 120-day reprieve was rejected Tuesday by a
Martinez declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his
In a late appeal filed this week, lawyers were challenging whether the
Travis County district attorney's office, at the time of Martinez's trial,
adequately investigated allegations Martinez was abused as a child.
Appeals attorney Gary Taylor argued that results of such an investigation
could have persuaded jurors to choose a life prison term rather than
Paul, whose family lived in Bloomington, Minn., was a sophomore art
student at the University of Minnesota who had come to Austin to visit a
sister. She decided to stay, finding work as a cashier at a bakery and
apparently meeting Martinez through mutual friends.
Martinez was on probation for a 1995 conviction for possession of an
explosive device, a homemade hand grenade police found in his car during a
Defense lawyers presented no witnesses at the guilt-innocence portion of
capital murder trial and focused on trying to save his life by showing he
had a mother who abused and neglected him in a home that was covered with
bird feces. When he left there to live with his father, his dad was in an
openly gay relationship and in the business of making homosexual sex toys,
according to an affidavit from defense attorneys.
"This was a young man who had a very difficult life," recalled Bill White,
one of Martinez's trial lawyers. "He couldn't stay with his mother, he
couldn't stay with his father, and he found people who would take him in."
At times, he lived on the streets.
"The facts of the case were pretty horrendous," White said. "This young
nice woman who agreed to go out and meet him and then have this happen ...
it was tragic all around."
Paul's body was found by a jogger on a greenbelt trail that runs along
When Martinez was arrested, he had her bicycle, her backpack and a book
bag. A roommate who saw Martinez's new bicycle had called police.
DNA tests showed her blood on his pocket knife and his hair and semen on
the woman or her clothes. Evidence indicated she had struggled.
Authorities found 8-inch-long strands of hair in her hands that had been
pulled from her attacker's scalp.
At least 8 other Texas death row inmates have execution dates, 2 in each
of the next 4 months. After Martinez, next on the schedule is Gary
Sterling, set to die Aug. 10 for the 1988 robbery and slaying of a Navarro
ON THE NET----Texas Department of Criminal Justice execution schedule:
(source: Associated Press)
One gunshot, two families in pain
In a matter of moments, the lives of 2 families were torn apart after a
toddler was shot to death and her neighbor was charged with capital
Amin Hussein came to America to find a better life. Now he is in jail,
charged with the capital murder of a toddler.
Just hours after Amin Hussein was charged on Monday, his apartment was
All the windows in his apartment were broken and the place was ransacked.
His family calls it retaliation. "It's been a nightmare trying to figure
out what to do, hoping the truth comes out," says Hussein's wife.
His wife and brother agreed to talk to 11 News only if their faces weren't
shown. "We've been harassed an abused and fearful. I mean, we are afraid,"
his wife says.
They say Hussein moved to America from Pakistan looking for a better life.
He and his wife came to Houston six years ago and settled into apartment
401. He was an electrician by trade until he fell through a ceiling and
shattered his elbow.
"He is a very kind gentle person, not into crimes. He has never been in
trouble with the law, not even traffic tickets," says his brother.
But now, Hussein's in jail, charged with firing one shot that struck
2-year-old Nyoshea Harris in the neck. She later died.
This happened after his apartment window was shattered with a football.
Nyoshea's grandmother, Toxie Harris, moved into her apartment with the
rest of her family just 3 months ago.
She says the move in specials were just too good to pass up
Now she wishes they would have never come here and while they have little
sympathy if any for Mr. Hussein, they tell us the young people that were
harassing him are partly to blame.
"Yeah, I blame the kids, the people that my sister associated with. I
blame them because this what all led up to," says the toddler's uncle.
It's the shot that won't soon be forgotten.
With that being said, they're still pleased with the capital murder
"All of us want the death penalty," says Harris.
No one knows how this will end, but at the moment, both families are
Nyoshea Harris's funeral will be held Saturday in the 4900 block of MLK.
Hussein remains in jail, being held without bond.
(source: KHOU News)
Witnesses say defendant killed bar owner
3 witnesses who were at a North Waco bar when the owner was killed during
a robbery identified Isaiah Paul Delao Tuesday as the assailant.
Delao, 21, who reportedly "has a long-standing history of mental
retardation and mental illness," according to his attorney, is on trial
for capital murder in Waco's 54th State District Court.
As testimony closed Tuesday evening, prosecutors Mark Parker and Beth
Toben played a videotaped confession from Delao to the jury of 9 women and
3 men in which he eventually admits that he robbed MC's Two-Five Bar and
Grill, 929 N. 25th St., on July 23, 2004, and "fired a shot into the
Donald Wayne Schrader, the 39-year-old co-owner of the bar, was shot in
the chest during the robbery after he resisted surrendering money from the
In the 60-minute taped interview with Waco police Det. John Rozyskie,
Delao had a hard time understanding his statutory warnings as the
detective slowly went over each one with him. Delao eventually asked that
his Mental Health and Mental Retardation center caseworker be allowed to
join him in the police interview room.
After the caseworker arrived, Delao initially denied the allegations,
saying he was home alone with his mother, took his medication and was
asleep by about 10:30 p.m. As the interview continued, Delao said that he
robbed the bar, but only after being threatened by five men with whom he
was riding around in a car.
In other testimony, 2 bar employees and a friend of one of the employees
who was waiting for her to get off work described the harrowing events
from the night they were forced to watch Schrader die on the floor of his
Benny Blankinship, a bar employee who said he had known Schrader since
Schrader was a small boy, told jurors that he was "100 % sure" that Delao
was the robber who shot and killed Schrader.
Blankinship said they were closing the bar at about midnight when the man
he identified as Delao came in, wildly flailing a silver revolver at the
people inside, and demanded money.
Blankinship said he ran into the kitchen, looking for something with which
to fight off the armed robber. However, he said he thought better of his
plan. He said he heard a gunshot and ran back into the area behind the bar
and saw Schrader lying on the floor.
He propped Schrader's head up on his knee and found a weak pulse in
Schrader's neck, he said. He held his friend like that until he died.
"I'll never forget his face," Blankinship said of the gunman.
Bar waitress Brieanna Amos said a defiant Schrader told the robber that he
wasn't going to give him any money and ordered him to "get out." She said
Schrader told her to call the police, to which the robber replied, "If you
call the cops, I'll shoot you," she said.
She said she dialed 9-1-1 on the cordless phone and dropped it to the
floor. Prosecutors played a tape of that 9-1-1 call, in which the jury
could hear the robber ordering Amos to give him the money and then Amos
and Blankinship pleading with Schrader to "hang on" until paramedics
arrived after the robber fled.
Amos began crying uncontrollably on the witness stand as the tape played
and some of Schrader's family members left the courtroom in tears.
Amos said the robber demanded that she put the money in a bag after he
shot Schrader. She said she didn't have a bag, so she wrapped up about
$300 from her tips and the register in a bar towel and handed it to him.
Jodi Powell, Amos' friend who was seven months' pregnant at the time, said
she ran into the restroom when she saw the gunman enter the bar but heard
the shot. Neither Amos nor Powell were able to pick Delao out of a police
photo lineup the way Blankinship did. However, both women pointed to Delao
Tuesday when asked if they saw the man who robbed and killed Schrader in
Defense attorney Richard Ferguson, who tried unsuccessfully to keep
Delao's videotaped confession out of evidence, told the jury in opening
statements that because of Delao's fragile mental condition, he questions
whether the confession was gained properly and voluntarily.
He suggested that what might appear at first to be a cold-blooded
intentional capital crime might actually be a reckless or accidental act.
Prosecution testimony resumes this morning.
(source: Waco Tribune-Herald)
Charges may be upgraded in smuggling
6 men arrested during a probe into a human smuggling ring waived hearings
for bail and probable cause Tuesday, but the charges against them may soon
be upgraded because a person who was allegedly part of the group's load
died en route to San Antonio.
The 6 suspects - who are being held without bond on a federal criminal
complaint charging them with transporting undocumented immigrants -
represent a tip of an ongoing probe into the alleged ring.
Authorities said the migrant died of undetermined causes when he and
another man were left behind in Duval County near Freer.
The pair were found the same day that Duval County sheriff's deputies
retrieved the skeletal remains of an unidentified person along a desolate
trail used by immigrants in the southern end of that county.
Officials said the 2 cases do not appear to be related, but both of the
dead were submitted for autopsies.
Juan de Dios Garcia Dimas, 23, of Mexico, was found dead by Border Patrol
agents along FM 2295, one mile east of Texas 16 on July 13, said Assistant
Chief Bill Jenkins of the Border Patrol's Laredo Sector.
Another immigrant, Alonzo Vasquez of Honduras, was rescued and had
blisters on his feet, Jenkins said.
Garcia and Vasquez were believed to have been left behind by a ring
allegedly headed by Hipolito Hernandez Pea, one of the 6 defendants. Also
charged in the case are Miguel Angel Rodriguez Leija, Sandro Cardenas
Silva, Ivan Rodriguez Ibarra, Alejandro Revilla Guevara and Jorge
Alejandro Ovalle Gallegos.
The charges against the 6 are expected to be upgraded to transporting
illegal immigrants resulting in death once the case is presented to a
federal grand jury in San Antonio in the coming 2 weeks. That charge
carries a maximum penalty of death.
The complaint said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are
investigating the ring, but the agency declined to provide details because
the probe is ongoing.
The complaint alleges Hernandez's group transported immigrants to San
Antonio from a staging house in San Ignacio. The complaint also said
Hernandez hired others to drive the vehicles, guide immigrants around
Border Patrol checkpoints, and to operate an apartment in Northwest San
Antonio where the migrants were housed until Hernandez was paid his
On July 13, agents watched an apartment in the 8700 block of Datapoint
Drive and saw some of the suspects arrive in trucks. Agents raided the
apartment and arrested the 6 suspects and nine immigrants who were inside.
The complaint said the immigrants admitted they paid $1,700 each to be
smuggled to different parts of the country.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
Family of victim of murderous cop doesn't want death penalty
The family of a woman whose murder was set up by a former New Orleans
police officer has asked the federal government NOT to seek the death
penalty against the ex-cop.
But the Justice Department is proceeding with a resentencing trial for Len
Davis with the object of obtaining the death sentence.
In a letter dated June ninth, the parents and 3 children of Kim Groves
asked prosecutors to halt the trial that began Monday. The family also
asked the government to forgo seeking the death penalty for co-defendant
Paul Hardy, whose resentencing trial is scheduled for October.
Family members said a death sentence only would prolong the decade-long
legal battle. Davis and Hardy, who was convicted of firing the fatal shots
in 1994, targeted Groves because of a brutality complaint she filed
against the officer. Both were originally sentenced to death in 1996, but
an appeals court nullified the sentence after 1 of the 3 counts they faced
was tossed out.
Although Davis' guilt is not in question, prosecutors will have to present
their entire case again to a jury. Hardy will be retried in the same
(source: Associated Press)
Montana doctor charged with murder will face Idaho bank robbery count
In Idaho Fallas, doctor suspected of robbing a Rexburg bank in March won't
be formally charged until his murder trial in Montana is over.
Idaho and Montana authorities have agreed to extradite James Stephen
Bischoff of Ennis, Montana to Madison County in southeastern Idaho after
his September 19th trial for the 2000 death of an 85-year-old patient in
Montana authorities say Bischoff administered the drugs that killed her
and are seeking the death penalty.
After Bischoff was released from jail on bond, he's suspected of driving
to Rexburg and robbing the US Bank Branch.
Police found a piece of luggage near the bank that carried the name of the
doctor's late wife.
(source: Associated Press)
Prison death-watch vigil continues despite rain
Lisa Williams passed out homemade brownies and chocolate cake as death
penalty opponents clustered under umbrellas and waited in cars during a
downpour outside Indiana State Prison on Tuesday night.
A member of the group held up a sign "The State is not the Angel of
About 20 people gathered in the parking lot across from the prison to
protest the execution of Kevin Conner.
Marti Pizzini, secretary of the Duneland Coalition Against the Death
Penalty, called the number "a marvelous turnout," with people coming from
New Buffalo and Hammond.
Had the rain abated, Pizzini said those gathered would have held a
candlelight vigil. Ducking into their cars for shelter still made a
statement, she said.
"What it accomplishes is faithful witness to a principle," Pizzini said.
The individuals gathered in the parking lot, awaiting the midnight
execution, for personal and religious reasons.
"My stepdad is behind the walls," said Williams, of Michigan City. She
added, "I don't believe in death row. I think it's cruel. The state locks
them up for murder. And the state wants to kill. There shouldnt be no
death penalty nowhere."
Retired Indiana State Prison corrections officer Martin Hayes knew Conner.
"Kevin Conner was my porter," he said, referring to a job in which inmates
hand out meals.
A lector at the St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic church in Michigan City,
Hayes said his religious beliefs influenced him to come to vigils for
"I've been coming since I retired," he said. "I'm Catholic. And I believe
in pro-life. When people hear pro-life, they associate it with abortion,
but Im also against the death penalty."
His wife Gwenda, a nurse for St. Anthony Hospice in Michigan City, views
the executions as needless.
St. Ann of the Dunes parish member Dick Vaneko said he cannot equate the
executions with his Catholic faith.
"I just don't see how anyone makes it fit the message of Jesus Christ, and
how people can call themselves Christians in a demonstrative way and
approve of killing people thought the death penalty. It doesn't fit. It
The vigil was the second for Andy Burd of New Buffalo, Mich. Before the
night was over he said he would walk over to the prison wall to pray for
peace for Conner and the victims' families.
"I believe that capital punishment is a dead end," he said.
"I'd really like to see us as a people move beyond it. It's immoral."
University of Notre Dame graduate and St. Mary of the Lakes Church (New
Buffalo) said, "This isn't what God wants."
A sign on the car of the Rev. Charles Doyle, retired pastor of St. Anne of
the Dunes, read "No vindictive justice." Inside his car, Doyle said he has
been at every vigil for an execution since the death penalty was
reinstated in 1976.
"I'm here because I believe in the dignity of human life," he said.
"I believe that it's the purpose of the government to protect and develop
human life. It distresses me that we are the only one of the civilized
nations that kills its own people. All of Europe, Canada and Mexico
rejected capital punishment years ago."
(source: Gary Post-Tribune)
Longest Serving Death Row Inmate
A federal judge in Toledo says he will not postpone the scheduled
execution of one of Ohio's longest serving death row inmates.
The conviction of John Spirko for the 1982 murder of Elgin postmistress
Betty Jane Mottinger has been upheld through several rounds of appeals.
Spirko's lawyers had sought to delay the execution while US District Judge
James Carr reviewed their claims that former Postal Inspector Paul Hartman
misled the court.
In the past year, he's told several people that he never believed a key
element of the case against Spirko and that he told prosecutors of his
doubts before the 1984 trial began. Hartman said last month those
statements to The Plain Dealer and Spirko's lawyers were deliberately
false and meant to be misleading.
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