[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----ILL./USA, ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jun 1 15:38:04 CDT 2005
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FIGHTING THE DEATH PENALTY: A NEW CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE
CAMPAIGN TO END THE DEATH PENALTY'S NATIONAL CONVENTION
NOVEMBER 12-13, 2005 CHICAGO
Bryan Stevenson has agreed to be a keynote speaker at the Campaign's 5th
annual convention this year. Bryan is executive director of the Equal
Justice Initiative of Alabama (EJI)--a nonprofit organization that defends
the rights of the poor and people of color. He also teaches law at New
Bryan is well known to the abolitionist community and undoubtedly one of
its best spokespersons. EJI has fought and won important reversals in
many flawed death penalty cases in Alabama, where there is no public
defender system. Bryan speaks and writes about poverty and race in the
death penalty and continues to defend indigent defendants. We are
thrilled that he will be joining us at this year's convention.
In an interview with Bryan in 2000, he said, "I believe that capital
punishment will become a more prominent issue on the civil-rights and
peace-and-justice agenda. Today, a third of all Black men between 18 and
29 are in jail, prison, or some custodial status. In some urban areas,
that number is 45 or 50 %.
"There's a particular awareness within poor and minority communities that
the criminal justice system can be unbearably unfair and very unreliable.
And a system that's unfair and unreliable has no standing, no authority to
take another person's life. We just can't trust an unreliable system with
that sort of power. I think this idea resonates particularly within
communities of color in ways that may not be as obvious in other
To read the full interview, go to:
Other notable guests at this year's convention include:
-- Alan Gell, exonerated North Carolina death row prisoner
-- Shujaa Graham, exonerated California death row prisoner
-- Madison Hobley, pardoned Illinois death row prisoner
-- Darby Tillis, exonerated Illinois death row prisoner
-- Plus family members Monique Matthews, Phyllis Prentice, Gloria Johnson,
Robin Tompkins, Sandra Reed and others.
Registration details are still being worked out. If you need information
now, e-mail noreen at nodeathpenalty.org
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Equal justice issues raised
As the execution of a north Alabama man draws near, 2 other people
investigators believe to be involved in the case that landed him the death
penalty are either free or serving a lesser sentence.
Jerry Paul Henderson, now 58, is scheduled to die Thursday by lethal
injection. He was found guilty of shooting his brother-in-law on Jan. 1,
1984, in a murder-for-hire scheme arranged by the victim's wife, Judy
According to court records, Haney asked Henderson and his wife -- Haney's
sister, Martha Henderson -- to kill Jerry Haney, 33. Authorities arrested
Jerry Paul Henderson three years later after they persuaded Martha
Henderson to help them record her husband making incriminating comments.
Martha Henderson was never charged, but was regarded "only a witness"
according to a district attorney. Judy Haney is serving life without
The U.S. Supreme Court had refused to hear the appeal after the conviction
was upheld by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and
Alabama courts. The execution is set for 6 p.m. at Holman Prison near
Some are calling the case an example of the court system at its worst,
when others involved in the same cases receive radically different
Proponents of criminal justice reform say the issue is illustrated by oth
er Alabama cases, including a high-profile triple murder in Conecuh
Defense attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in
Montgomery said two factors contribute to the problem: counsel
under-representing defendants and prosecutors who are willing to trade
plea bargains for testimony in order to get one death penalty conviction.
Prosecutors say they are not fond of the deals either, but often that is
the only way to get corroborating testimony required by law to obtain
Wife wore wiretap:
The case of Jerry Paul Henderson turned on the testimony of his wife, who
wore a wiretap years after the 1984 shooting death of Jerry Haney. Martha
Henderson's testimony, along with the tapes she helped record, were enough
to convict her husband and her sister.
The quality of legal representation also is crucial, Stevenson said.
"I think a lot of it has to do with counsel," he said.
The Equal Justice Initiative is a nonprofit legal resource group that
represents defendants who are often victims within the justice system --
the poor, minorities or others who don't always get the best
representation or legal advice, Stevenson said. The group represented
Henderson at one point of his appeal, filing a claim that his trial
attorney had not properly represented Henderson.
"It makes a huge difference whether counsel has time to research cases and
investigate thoroughly," Stevenson said. "Many times, that's the
difference between appointed and retained counsel. Second, there is a
mind-set among prosecutors. Some believe it is better to cut a deal and
get one death penalty conviction than to get none at all. They will say
they had to cut deals. I generally don't agree with deals to get those
Stevenson said it better serves justice to "get all the people responsible
for crimes properly charged -- even if you don't get a death penalty
conviction. Cutting deals ultimately undermines the process. With those
deals, you don't get equal justice."
Investigators said Judy Haney approached her sister in 1983 after she and
her husband, Jerry Haney, had a fight. Court records state that Judy Haney
offered her sister and brother-in-law "all she had" if they could fix it
so Jerry Haney could never bother her again.
Shot to death in 1984:
On Jan. 1, 1984, Jerry Haney was shot to death. Three years later, Martha
Henderson wore a wiretap and helped investigators record her husband
making incriminating statements about the crime.
Judy Haney was tried and convicted of capital murder and sentenced to
death in 1987. She won an appeal claiming she had ineffective counsel. In
1997, her second trial ended in a sentence of life without parole.
A local attorney in Talladega, Steve Giddens, took over as Henderson's
counsel. Court records show that the motion regarding ineffective counsel
filed by Stevenson's group was dropped per Giddens' advice -- a move that
Henderson later tried unsuccessfully to take back.
Henderson's withdrawing the motion -- along with an extensive exchange
with the judge wherein the defendant explained he knew what he was doing
-- cost him grounds for appeal later on. Henderson later told a judge,
court records show, that Giddens' brother was an assistant prosecutor at
Henderson's trial. He is also a close friend of victim Jerry Haney's
brother, Giddens told a judge during a hearing. Steve Giddens is the
current district attorney for Talladega County.
Only a witness:
Giddens said in a recent telephone interview that Martha Henderson was
never a defendant in the case but rather "was a witness. She had
information and she testified at the trial."
Giddens said he was not the pros ecutor during the trial and was not
familiar with all the details. Giddens declined to answer questions
regarding the role of plea bargains to secure trial testimony.
Stevenson said the Henderson case is by no means the only example of
defendants facing life and death differences in punishment.
Roy Burgess Jr. was just 16 in 1993 when he was accused in the killing of
another teen, Kwin Gardner in Decatur. Investigators said Burgess stole
Gardner's car and with others, drove it to a Birmingham chop shop to sell
it, but later abandoned it in a nightclub parking lot.
Burgess was convicted of capital murder in 1995 and sentenced to death by
a judge overriding the jury's recommendation of life without parole. His
sentence was later reduced to life without parole. 2 young men who
investigators say were present at the shooting testified against Burgess.
They were never prosecuted.
Morgan County District Attorney Bob Burrell said several people were
involved in the killing and robbery though only one was prosecuted.
"We had to make plea bargains to be able to use some testimony," Burrell
said. "It was the only way we could get it. Juries hate it and we don't
like it either, but we have no choice."
In Conecuh County, the families of 3 people including a 13-year-old boy
who were shot and killed during a robbery at a remote store are still
struggling to make sense of the sentences meted out in their case.
2 defendants, Ethan Eugene Dorsey and Calvin Middleton, were arrested for
shooting store owner Richard Cary, his employee Donald Scott Williams and
13-year-old Timothy Bryan Crane during a robbery that netted $300.
Middleton's part of the take was $20, he testified.
According to trial testimony, Middleton shot Cary as the 2 struggled over
Middleton's shotgun. Dorsey shot the boy in the back of the head from
point-blank range as he attempted to run away. Then Dorsey shot Williams
and fled, leaving tens of thousands of dollars behind at the scene.
Middleton agreed to testify against Dorsey in exchange for prosecutors not
seeking the death penalty. He was tried and convicted of capital murder
and sentenced to life without parole. He remains in prison.
Dorsey was convicted of capital murder in a trial where Middleton's
testimony was key. Conecuh County Circuit Judge Sam Welch sentenced Dorsey
to death after sending jurors to deliberate three times. The first 2
verdicts were inconsistent with legal instructions, court officials said,
with the last verdict finding Dorsey guilty of intentional murder of Cary
and Williams and of capital murder in the boy's death.
In January, the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the verdict and
sentencing, saying Welch should have accepted the second verdict wherein
the jury found Dorsey guilty of the lesser charge of intentional murder
for all three victims. Welch was forced to vacate the death penalty and
sentenced Dorsey to life in prison. He is eligible for parole in 2007.
The decision evoked strong statements from victims families and from court
officials at the time of the hearing.
"Your client shot a 13-year-old boy in the back of the head from a
distance of less than three inches," Welch told Dorsey's attorney, Chris
King at the time of the hearing. "How any jury could say that is not
intentional murder in the course of a robbery -- I have no concept of.
"I have made my decision and the appellate courts have made theirs," Welch
said, "and they have the last word."
District Attorney Tommy Chapman said then that the case "is the worst
miscarriage of justice I have ever seen in this state."
Chapman stood by his statement in a recent interview. He said the result
of the trials left the defendants with glaringly unfair sentences
"It's unequal justice, definitely," Chapman said, "created by an idiotic
opinion written by the Supreme Court of Alabama. There were many remedies
aside from throwing out the capital murder conviction and sentence. They
could have had us retry it."
Chapman said the deals cut for testimony are a necessary evil in some
cases -- cases wherein no one would be held accountable without testimony
from people who were there and involved when crimes happen. Middleton's
sentence was appropriate, Chapman said, but Dorsey's was shamefully light.
"Dorsey was more culpable in terms of his role," Chapman said. "But
sometimes, prosecutors have no choice but to make deals."
Chapman said the Alabama Supreme Court has a panel of judges and court
officials to reviewing jury charges, and he is hopeful the committee will
make the instructions for jurors simpler statewide. Beyond that, he said,
there is little court officials could do to avoid similar problems in the
Ann Wilson, a central staff attorney for the Alabama Supreme Court Clerk's
office, said there are standing committees that review pattern jury
charges for civil and criminal cases in the state. She said the panel for
criminal patterns had not met "for some time" and recently reconvened to
review the standard charges. She said the patterns could be updated or
changed for future cases.
That brings little comfort to family members still grieving for those
"It seems ridiculous," said Charles Stone, grandfather of Timothy Bryan
Crane. "The one fellow that will be there from now on did the least. Why
have a jury if their decision is set aside and the defendant is just let
go one day?"
Carolyn Kennedy is the sister of store owner Richard Cary.
"There is nothing we can do about it," she said wiping tears last week.
"Our hands are tied. Nothing is right . Nothing is fair about it. Dorsey
planned the whole thing and killed 2 people and he's the one getting
leniency. We are victimized all over again."
(source: The Mobile Register)
Moore retrial called 'double jeopardy'--Report improperly withheld in
slaying, his attorney says
A newly appointed attorney for accused murderer Daniel Wade Moore has
asked the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to rule another trial would
place the defendant in double jeopardy
Attorney Tim Kyle, court-appointed to join Sherman B. Powell Jr. in
defending Moore, said in an appeal filed Monday that a 245-page FBI report
was improperly withheld from defense attorneys.
Last month, the state attorney general's office filed a brief with the
appellate court contending a new capital murder trial for Moore wouldn't
be double jeopardy.
Moore, 30, was convicted of the March 12, 1999, stabbing death of Karen
Tipton, 39, a mother of 2 young girls. She was slain at her southwest
Decatur home in an apparent robbery.
Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson imposed the death penalty but later granted a
defense motion for a new trial and ordered Moore's release from jail. That
ruling, however, was overturned by the appellate court and Moore was
ordered back to jail.
Thompson said the prosecution withheld evidence, including the lengthy FBI
report, from defense attorneys.
The judge said prosecutorial misconduct would make a second trial double
Thompson, in his ruling, stated "jeopardy terminates if a prosecutor
intentionally goads the defendant into successfully requesting a mistrial
before jury deliberations." He said prosecutors and Decatur police
willfully withheld evidence from Moore's attorneys that could have
resulted in a different verdict - not guilty.
He noted the FBI report was withheld from defense attorneys for seven
Kyle and Powell, in response to the state's motion for a new trial,
contend withholding evidence was part of "a grand scheme" to deny Moore a
They said because some evidence was destroyed "it is impossible for Daniel
Moore to ever receive a fair trial."
The motion says police and state attorneys went to trial "after having
deliberately concealed and destroyed an incredible amount of evidence,"
including when Tipton was last seen alive.
(source: Hunstville Times)
Riley won't block Henderson execution set for Thursday
Gov. Bob Riley said Wednesday he won't intervene to block the scheduled
execution of a Georgia man convicted in the 1984 murder-for-hire death of
his sister-in-law's husband in Talladega.
Jerry Paul Henderson, now 58, apparently has no further appeals that could
delay his death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Holman Prison
Riley said during a stop in Huntsville on Wednesday that he won't
intervene to grant clemency.
"The Supreme Court has refused to issue any kind of stay, so we will carry
out the wishes of the courts," he said.
Henderson, of Calhoun, Ga., was convicted of capital murder in the Jan. 1,
1984 shooting death of Jerry Haney, 33, a textile worker who raised horses
in Talladega County.
Henderson has been on prison's death row for more than 17 years.
According to testimony, after a fight with her husband, Judy Haney told
her sister, Martha Henderson, and the sister's husband, Jerry Paul
Henderson, that she would give them all the money she had if they would
make sure Jerry Haney wouldn't bother her anymore.
The payment was $3,000, according to court records.
Judy Haney was also convicted in the slaying. She's serving life without
parole at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.
(source: The Tuscaloosa News)
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