[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., USA, FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jul 30 11:45:01 CDT 2005
3 arrested in connection to weekend murder
Authorities arrested two teens and a 23-year-old man all accused in a
murder and attempted murder last weekend.
Police say the three suspects, who robbed the 2 teens, were after a yellow
sports car; instead, they got a black pick-up truck and now a chance at
the death penalty.
Fernando Almaguer-Martinez, 19, was laid to rest Friday in Mexico, the
same day authorities arrested the three suspects accused of killing him.
Family members say Martinez came to the United States looking for a better
"He worked and that's it...he didn't drink or do drugs or hit the streets
...he just had 2 jobs. For some reason, I don't know why, that day he went
over there," Mari Martinez, the victim's family member said.
Investigators say Martinez and his friend Andres Torres-Trujillo, 15, were
lured to an apartment in South San Antonio by Shannon Kalka, 18, Michael
Montez, 23, and his cousin Jason Montez, 18.
Documents say Kalka met the two victims back in March. Last Saturday she
called wanting to see them. Martinez was told to bring his yellow sports
car, but authorities say the teens showed up in a black truck.
They were tied up, taken to Interstate 37 South near Priest Road and shot
at close range.
Martinez was shot in the chest and died at the scene. Trujillo was hit
once in the upper left leg.
If convicted, all 3 suspects could face the death penalty or life in
Trujillo could get out of the hospital early next week.
(source: KENS 5 Eyewitness News)
A lawyer sheds his defenses after fighting the good fight
As Michael Travaglia's death penalty trial neared its end, his lawyer,
Dante Bertani, surprised his client, his co-counsel, Ned Nakles Jr., and
probably himself, by getting a haircut.
Throughout the 2 weeks of jury selection and testimony, Bertani, who first
represented Travaglia in 1981, after what became known as the "Kill for
Thrill" murders, slumped at the defense table, gray hair tumbling over his
collar and onto the back of a sports jacket.
When it was time to ask jurors to look past the drug-and-liquor fueled
miscreant who had killed four people a quarter-century ago, and to spare
the life of the born-again Christian Travaglia had become, Bertani showed
up for court no longer resembling the Wild Man of Borneo.
"I was trying to make a point," he said. "When Michael Travaglia got into
all these things, he was kind of long-haired and wild-looking." Bertani
wanted to signal jurors that people change. Possibly there was a bit of
superstition there, too.
"I'm not sure," Bertani said. "It was futile, whatever it was."
For a second time since he shot a young single mother, killed 2 men
shanghaied from a Pittsburgh bar -- drowning one -- and then gunned down a
rookie policeman, jurors sentenced Michael Travaglia to die. 25 years ago,
it was to be in the electric chair. Since then we have progressed. He is
to be given a lethal injection.
As Bertani settled in to a riotous-looking desk in the public defender's
office, sheriff's deputies perp-walked his client past cameras and into an
awaiting van. Travaglia had asked to be returned to death row in Greene
County as soon as possible.
"His work's there," Bertani explained.
Michael Travaglia's work, such as it is, consists of cleaning floors in
various cell blocks, where he also offers advice from the Bible and daily
prays for the salvation of his soul. A parade of witnesses, including
corrections officers impressed with their ward's self-redemption, took the
stand on his behalf. Jurors were impressed, to a degree. Some loud
argument was heard emanating from the jury room in the hours leading up to
In the end, descriptions of Travaglia and his cohorts, John Lesko and
Ricky Rutherford, locating a large rock and then tying it to a terrified
church organist they deposited into a frozen lake, seem to have proved
more than a counterweight to assurances Travaglia is a new man. He will
rejoin Lesko on death row. Rutherford, who was a juvenile at the time and
a star witness against the other two, is currently attending school in
Pittsburgh and testified under oath that he plans to become a drug and
Court appeals have allowed Lesko to elude four death warrants and
Travaglia 2, and gave both men a new sentencing trial because their 1st
took place in an atmosphere akin to 17th century Salem. Bertani
represented them back then and he has stayed with the case and in the
public defender's office even though he was planning to leave it in
January of 1980, just as Travaglia and Lesko were being pulled out of
their hideout at the Edison Hotel.
"That kept me from retiring then," Bertani said. He put off retirement for
another decade then told his wife, Joan, it was time to move into a more
lucrative, exclusively private practice.
"That's when Joan got sick," he said. "She ended up passing away and I had
no reason to retire."
Since then, Bertani has found himself ideologically cornered. He was
Democratic chairman in Westmoreland, a once reliably liberal county that
has gone from industrial Democrat to white-collar Republican in its voting
habits the past 2 presidential elections. Pennsylvania, which went 33
years without executing someone has now killed three men -- 2 of them
demonstrably mad. Travaglia, when returned to Greene County, became Number
232 on death row. Once he was Number 8.
Travaglia had hoped to lose his place in line altogether. Bertani thought
there was a chance.
"I thought we'd made the case he was a different guy," he said. When
prosecutor John Peck walked Rutherford through his memories of the
kidnapping, beating and then drowning of William Nicholls, a church
organist, in the hours leading up to Officer Leonard Miller's killing,
jurors had pretty well been reminded of what Travaglia once was and what
the man was seemed too vivid to overcome what he has become.
"That's asking people to get over a lot," Bertani said.
Downstairs the camera crews were catching their last footage of Michael
Travaglia under natural light. Before leaving, he told Bertani the
sentence might be God's will. The lawyer doesn't buy it.
"God put us here," Bertani said. "It's up to him to take us away in his
own good time. You don't solve killings by killing the killer. You lower
society to the same level."
He began planning the appeals that day. His client's soul is saved.
Bertani is working on the rest of the world.
(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
White House Memos Offer Opinions on Supreme Court
For those seeking clues to the judicial philosophy of John G. Roberts,
documents from his years as a lawyer in the White House counsel's office
during the Reagan administration provide revealing evidence.
In early 1983, Mr. Roberts was asked to analyze a proposal pushed by
Warren E. Burger, then the chief justice, to create a new, national-level
federal appeals court to relieve some of the Supreme Court's workload.
Mr. Roberts wrote in a memorandum to his boss, Fred F. Fielding, the White
House counsel, that he thought creation of the new court, known as the
intercircuit tribunal, was a "terrible idea." Mr. Roberts, who is
President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, said the court had only
itself to blame for its burden of cases.
"If the justices truly think they are overworked, the cure lies close at
hand," Mr. Roberts wrote. "The fault lies with the justices themselves,
who unnecessarily take too many cases and issue opinions so confusing that
they often do not even resolve the question presented."
He wrote that if the court took fewer death penalty and prisoner-rights
cases, the docket would be cut by at least a half-dozen cases a year. He
added a comment that may signal his view of the Supreme Court's proper
"So long as the court views itself as ultimately responsible for governing
all aspects of our society, it will, understandably, be overworked," Mr.
Roberts wrote. "A new court will not solve this problem."
Mr. Roberts worked in the Reagan White House counsel's office from 1982 to
1986. The files were among papers the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential
Library has released over the years in response to requests for material
from the Reagan White House about administration of the courts.
Mr. Roberts's views on the intrusiveness of the Supreme Court appear to be
a product of his consistently conservative beliefs and in part a
reflection of his service as a clerk to Justice William H. Rehnquist, who
succeeded Justice Burger as chief in 1986. Chief Justice Rehnquist has
presided over a significant reduction in the number of cases the court
hears each term, to roughly 80 a year compared with 150 a year under Chief
Mr. Roberts, in a 2nd memorandum on the proposed new appellate court,
wrote somewhat tartly that he was glad that the Supreme Court did not take
"The generally accepted notion that the court can only hear roughly 150
cases each term gives the same sense of reassurance as the adjournment of
the court in July, when we know that the Constitution is safe for the
summer," he wrote.
Elsewhere in the memorandum, he noted that the main reason cited for a new
appeals court was to relieve the high court's workload.
"While some of the tales of woe emanating from the court are enough to
bring tears to the eyes," he wrote, "it is true that only Supreme Court
justices and schoolchildren are expected to and do take the entire summer
He estimated that the new court could potentially relieve the Supreme
Court of 40 cases a year. But he suggested that the justices would respond
by taking 40 new cases.
The idea of a new appeals court just below the Supreme Court was kicked
around in Congress and the judiciary for several more years after the
Burger proposal, but was never adopted.
Later in 1983, Mr. Roberts addressed a proposed constitutional amendment
setting a 10-year term of office for federal judges. The Justice
Department opposed the measure on the ground that life tenure was critical
to judicial independence. Mr. Roberts did not disagree, but noted that the
framers had adopted life tenure at a time when life expectancy was
significantly shorter. He then made an argument in favor of limited terms.
"Setting a term of, say, 15 years would ensure that federal judges would
not lose all touch with reality through decades of ivory tower existence,"
Mr. Roberts wrote. "It would also provide a more regular and greater
degree of turnover among the judges."
He went on to argue that lifetime tenure was more defensible when judges
limited themselves to strict application of the Constitution. When judges
strayed into social policy-making, he said, they made a case for limited
terms. "The federal judiciary today benefits from an insulation from
political pressure even as it usurps the roles of the political branches,"
On another issue involving court administration, Mr. Roberts reviewed a
proposal by Chief Justice Burger for a new administrative officer at the
Supreme Court called the court chancellor.
"Title VII, perhaps the silliest of the provisions of the bill, would
create a new office with the Anglomaniacal title of 'Chancellor of the
United States,' " Mr. Roberts wrote in 1983. "The proposal is another of
the chief justice's pet projects, so it is not surprising that the new
American chancellor would be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the
chief, and have the duty of assisting the chief in the performance of his
Chief Justice Burger did establish an administrative office to handle
nonjudicial matters, but the officer does not carry the title of
(source: The New York Times)
Jurors Vote To Send Killer To death row
Charles Peterson, a robber turned rapist and killer, should face execution
for the murder of a St. Petersburg man on Christmas Eve 1997, jurors (in
Clearwater) said Friday.
Jurors, who this week found Peterson guilty of first-degree murder in the
slaying of John Cardoso, voted 8-4 to recommend that Circuit Judge Linda
Allan impose the death penalty.
Peterson, 45, who had been paroled from a life sentence for robbery when
he shot Cardoso through the back of the neck, offered no reaction when the
recommendation was announced.
By law, Allan must give "great weight" to the jury's recommendation. She
said she would schedule a series of sentencing hearings next week.
Jury forewoman Necole Tunsil said afterward that the panel was virtually
unanimous in the opinion that Peterson deserved the death penalty. Those
who voted otherwise had religious or moral reservations about making that
recommendation to the judge, she said.
"Under no circumstances was it easy at all," said Tunsil, a schoolteacher
and basketball coach.
"Many of us had gone to tears," she said. "I think for the most part,
everyone thought the death penalty was [warranted]. Some struggled for
religious reasons or moral reasons. That's a huge hurdle to ask people to
During the guilt phase of the trial, jurors heard testimony not only from
Cardoso's co- workers at a St. Petersburg Big Lots store but from workers
at 2 other Tampa Bay area discount stores that Peterson robbed.
They learned how Peterson would case a store, then return at closing time
and hide. He would emerge later armed with a chrome, semiautomatic handgun
and wearing a stocking mask over his head and gloves on his hands to
Jurors also learned that Peterson had been tied through DNA to a holdup on
Valentine's Day 1997 in Tampa at a Family Dollar store on Gandy Boulevard
and to a holdup in August 1998 at a St. Petersburg Phar-Mor store.
On Friday, they learned that the DNA from the Family Dollar holdup was
left behind when Peterson repeatedly raped the two women who were working
that night. The DNA at the Phar-Mor was from one of Peterson's hairs that
was found on duct tape used to bind his victims.
Jurors also learned Friday that Peterson had been sentenced to life in
prison for a long series of armed robberies in the early 1980s and was out
on parole when he again began committing armed robberies in the 1990s.
In his defense, psychiatrist Michael Maher testified Friday that Peterson
had the mental age and maturity of a teenager when Cardoso, 48, was
Peterson initially was arrested and charged in the Tampa rape case in late
1998, after a tipster prompted detectives to put him under surveillance.
They positively linked him to that crime after a detective saw him spit on
the ground and was able to collect a sample of DNA that proved a match to
that left at the rape scene.
He later was tried in Tampa on 8 charges, including 2 counts each of
robbery with a firearm and false imprisonment and4 counts of rape. He was
convicted and sentenced to 8 concurrent life sentences.
Peterson was charged with Cardoso's murder in 2001, after the Tampa case
(sourc: Tampa Bay Online)
Law firm's free help deserves a hurrah
A lot of bad things have been written lately about Holland & Knight, one
of the nation's biggest law firms. You might say the firm got what it
deserved when newspapers disclosed its clumsy handling of a sexual
But there are also some good things to talk about around Holland & Knight.
This Holland & Knight story begins in a Hyde Park bar in Tampa on a night
in late 1989.
Steve Hanlon, the lawyer telling the story, was at home fast asleep one
night about 11 when a few politically active lawyers called him and urged
him to join them for a late-night conversation.
"I said it's late at night, and I'm married to a very traditional Italian
woman," Hanlon recalled recently. "They said it was important."
So Hanlon got up, dressed and joined Holland & Knight lawyer Steve Powell
and a few others in the bar. The others had just come from a Democratic
Party meeting and wanted Hanlon to run against U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons, a
Hanlon had no interest in running for office, but he told Powell and the
others he really would be interested in heading up a pro bono section at
Holland & Knight if the firm would be willing to create it.
30 days later, Hanlon was running the firm's community services team.
Today Hanlon is based in Washington, and the pro bono section is the
largest in the country. Hanlon and 5 other very good lawyers are full-time
do-gooders, and other lawyers in the firm are asked to contribute at least
50 hours a year.
With 1,200 lawyers in the firm, that adds up to 60,000 hours of free legal
help to people and causes in need.
That's a lot of hours in a land where the Florida Bar urges its members to
donate a measly 20 hours a year.
The full-time lawyers include George Kendall, a death penalty expert in
the New York office; Robin Rosenberg, who supervises the firm's Florida
work from his office in St. Petersburg; Chris Nugent, an immigration
specialist in Washington; Buddy Schulz, an experienced trial lawyer in
Jacksonville; and Bob Feagin, a former managing partner who works out of
A sample of their work was outlined last week at a reception in
Tallahassee, where some of the lawyers who have donated their time and
energy gathered to talk about their cases and causes.
Katy Parker, a commercial litigator, racked up the most hours donated to
free cases for her defense of a Blackshear, Ga., newspaper publisher who
was being sued for libel by local land developers who obtained a gag order
to keep the newspaper from publishing anything about the lawsuit. Parker
spent more than 235 hours on the case, which earned the law firm a huge
thank-you in the tiny Georgia newspaper.
Sara Butters, another Tallahassee lawyer, spent more than 200 hours
representing an inmate sentenced to life in prison for a rape, robbery and
kidnapping in 1984. Eddie Williams spent more than 110 hours helping a man
get his child support modified. Susan Kelsey spent more than 100 hours
handling appeals for other pro bono cases. Kelsey's husband, Mark Holcomb,
spent more than 80 hours helping Healthy Start children.
Others in the firm joined to help an entire village in Guatemala fight the
forced condemnation of their land by a dam construction company. Some
helped residents gain more handicapped accessibility in a small North
Florida town, while others helped children who need guardians, the Girl
Scouts mentoring program and a student expelled from school.
All of the lawyers who volunteer their time in addition to their regular
caseload get internal credit for the billable hours they spend helping
Many of their cases come from citizens who go to legal aid offices seeking
help. Hanlon says he has a 2-pronged test: If it seems wonderful and
impossible, it's likely to be accepted.
"We are dealing with a serious culture of greed in our profession," Hanlon
It's the kind of program you wish all law firms would establish.
Funny how one firm can give us the best and worst of what can happen when
lawyers gather under one roof.
(source: St. Petersburg Times)
Killer may be spared death----Deal being worked in 30-year-old racial
3 decades after one of Jacksonville's most notorious murders, killer Jacob
John Dougan could be getting off death row.
Under a deal being worked by his lawyer and prosecutors, his sentence
could be converted to life in prison.
Prosecutors and the parents of Dougan's 18-year-old victim said any deal
would have to include a guarantee he never be paroled or otherwise
released from prison, even if that means indicting him in another murder
for which he was never prosecuted.
"We would rather see him executed, but ... we want some kind of
resolution," said Everett Orlando, father of victim Stephen Orlando. "I
would like to have some closure."
Orlando's vicious murder was a racially motivated crime that shocked
Jacksonville in 1974.
Numerous appeals of Dougan's conviction have centered on technical facets
of the case, including questions about the competence of his attorneys.
Through the years, he has gained support from some who have said his
actions were those of a misguided young activist.
"It's sad that something could languish this long," State Attorney Harry
Shorstein said. "After 30 years, there is little if any possibility that
there will ever be a death sentence carried out."
Shorstein stressed that no decisions have been made but said he approached
Stephen Orlando's father and mother, Marian Mallory, in an effort to bring
"closure and finality for the family's sake, as well as the system's
The case has been the subject of numerous appeals since Dougan's
1st-degree murder conviction in 1975 and will be back before a
Jacksonville judge Sept. 9 on an ineffective assistance of counsel motion.
Shorstein said both parents agreed with the proposed deal, provided he
could guarantee no possibility of parole. Mallory couldn't be reached by
Warfare on whites
In 1974, Dougan and his handful of accomplices, who called themselves the
Black Liberation Army, declared open warfare on young whites.
Their first murder came to light when Orlando's tortured, shot and stabbed
body was found on a dirt road at a trash dump in St. Johns County, now
part of Marsh Landing Country Club. The Jacksonville Beach youth, who had
been hitchhiking home from his job because his car was not working, was
picked up because the Dougan and the others were looking for a white
victim to kill.
Orlando was stabbed 12 times in the chest, stomach and back, and then
Dougan placed his foot on Orlando's neck and pumped 2 bullets into his
Before they left the dead youth, they pinned a note to his body declaring
war on whites. Dougan and his followers also sent tape recordings to
Orlando's mother and media outlets, describing how Orlando begged for his
life, to Dougan's delight.
"You should be proud your son was the 1st to die for our black cause," the
tape to the mother said.
Before the week was out, the slain and mutilated body of a second white
youth, Stephen Lamont Roberts, also 18, was found behind an industrial
plant in the 1600 block of East Seventh Street. Roberts also had a note
from the Black Liberation Army pinned to his body. Similar tapes bragging
about the brutality of Roberts' murder were made and sent to the media
warning, "More white devils will die."
"This is the worst case of premeditated murder I ever worked and is the
case most deserving of the death penalty," former Jacksonville Detective
Thomas Reeves, who solved the Orlando case, said Friday.
Over the years, Dougan has been resentenced to death three times. But he
also picked up support from black community leaders and former Florida
State University and American Bar Association President Talbot
In a 1987 interview with the Times-Union, Dougan expressed confidence his
sentence would someday be converted to life in prison.
Dougan's attorney, Mark Olive of Tallahassee, didn't return phone calls
No one has been on Florida's death row as long as Dougan and been
executed, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. Amos King
was executed in 2003, 25 years after receiving his death sentence. Prison
records show only 2 people on death row longer than Dougan.
Shorstein said he met with Everett Orlando and his current wife more than
a month ago, and a lawyer on his staff met with Mallory this month.
Shorstein said he and the family are adamant there not be any possibility
of Dougan ever leaving prison.
But legally, that may be easier said than done. The law in 1975 guaranteed
that first-degree murderers not sentenced to death were eligible for
parole after 25 years. Even if Dougan agreed not to seek parole, the deal
might be unenforceable.
If that's the case, there won't be a deal, Shorstein said.
"If I can't do everything, then I'm not going to do it," Shorstein said.
One answer might be to seek a grand jury indictment against Dougan for
first-degree murder in Roberts' death, then get Dougan to plead guilty in
exchange for life sentence, said Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel,
who is handling the case with Shorstein.
Dougan was never prosecuted in Roberts' slaying.
Sentence not enforced
Siegel said there are concerns in the State Attorney's Office about having
to retry the Orlando case should the courts ever order a new trial. But
the main reason for the negotiations is to provide closure to the family
by ending Dougan's appeals and ensuring he stays in prison.
"The choice now is do you wait and wait and wait for the death penalty to
be administered," Siegel said. "All we're doing is giving up a death
sentence that hasn't been enforced in 30 years for a life sentence that
will ensure he spends the rest of his life in prison."
Former State Attorney Ed Austin, who prosecuted Dougan and the other Black
Liberation Army killers, said: "The miscarriage of justice is that
Dougan's death sentence has not been carried out, that he was not executed
in a timely fashion."
But, Austin added, because the sentence has not been carried out after
this length of time, it seems "immaterial" if the sentence is commuted to
life with no chance for parole.
(source: The Florida Times-Union)
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