[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, COLO., PENN., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jun 7 10:55:18 CDT 2005
Texas Prepares For 9th Execution Of The Year Tuesday
Texas death row inmate Alexander Martinez, 28, is scheduled to die just
after 6 p.m. Tuesday for the 2001 stabbing death of a woman in Houston.
He has asked that no additional appeals be filed.
His execution would be the 1st of 2 scheduled this month and the 9th of
the year in Texas.
Martinez was condemned for the robbery and stabbing death of Helen
Oliveros, who was a 45-year-old prostitute.
Authorities say the former fast-food worker was out of prison only three
weeks on an attempted murder conviction when he telephoned an escort
service that was a front for prostitutes.
They discussed payment and he said he agreed to pay $300.
Oliveros then showed up at the Houston house where Martinez was staying.
He didn't have the money and the 2 got into a fight during which Oliveros
was stabbed to death.
(source: KWTX news)
No death penalty for Bergerud
Allen Bergerud will not face the death penalty again when he is retried
for double murder, Weld District Attorney Ken Buck said Monday.
Buck's decision reverses 2 1/2 years of strategy at the district
attorney's office, which under Buck's predecessor, Al Dominguez, spent 3
weeks prosecuting Bergerud in a death penalty case last fall. The
proceedings ended in a mistrial and Bergerud must have a new trial.
Because Buck is not seeking death, the new trial might happen sometime
this year. If the death penalty had been on the table, a new trial might
not have happened for 1 or 2 more years, Bergerud's defense attorneys and
prosecutors both agreed.
Buck is expected today to formally file his intent to seek life in prison
for Bergerud, saying he is not convinced a jury would send the Johnstown
man to death row.
"I think it's very unlikely that we would get a death verdict," Buck said.
The possible shortened time frame is another reason Buck cited for his
"This case is growing whiskers," Buck said. "After a certain period of
time, the memories of witnesses fade and the case in chief becomes
Bergerud, 51, is diabetic, and his defense lawyers have said his health is
declining. That's another reason not to expend up to 2 years and costly
resources to seek a death penalty conviction, Buck said.
"I think that he may very well have cheated the hangman," Buck said. The
appeals process for death penalty cases could take a decade, and Bergerud
isn't expected to live that long, Buck said.
The families of victims Lon Yeaman and Linda Cooper didn't agree about the
death penalty among themselves, Buck said. That split also factored into
When Bergerud was assigned a new defense team early this year, Chief
Deputy Public Defender Brian Connors said there was no way Bergerud would
face trial anytime soon if Buck pursued the death penalty.
Connors and his co-counsel, Tamara Brady, said they didn't want to comment
on Buck's decision.
With the arrest last Wednesday of Giovanni Lopez-Silva, 20, and Johnny
Acosta-Trejo, 32, the Weld County Jail has 18 inmates incarcerated on
homicide charges. Some have already been found guilty and are waiting for
a spot at the state Department of Corrections; others are awaiting trial.
Buck said he would use the same judgment in deciding whether any of those
cases -- including the murder of a 79-year-old Platteville woman and the
murder of a 52-year-old Greeley man -- would be suitable for seeking the
death penalty. He hasn't decided yet.
"I may very well do that. I just didn't think we could get a jury to give
us the death penalty in this case," Buck said. "The death penalty is
typically used for a stranger-on-stranger crime; it's typically used for
monsters, the Charlie Manson type who go out and kill strangers and
continue killing until they are stopped."
The death penalty in Weld County
District Attorney Ken Buck's decision not to seek the death penalty for
Allen Bergerud continues Weld County's record of no death row convictions
in almost 25 years. One person has been executed in Colorado in 38 years.
In 1981, Weld was the site of Colorado's first two death penalty sentences
after the U.S. Supreme Court re-established the practice's
constitutionality in 1976.
Johnny Arguello was convicted of murdering Rodney Russell, a 20-year-old
University of Northern Colorado student, and sentenced to die in the gas
chamber. Arguello hanged himself in his jail cell about a week after the
sentence was handed down.
In addition to the Arguello case, Edgar Lee Durre was sentenced to die in
1981, but a jury's split decision later caused the sentence to be
Another murder case in the 1980s led prosecutors to seek the death
penalty, but the defendant got life in prison instead.
On October 13, 1997, 53-year-old Gary Lee Davis became the 1st person
executed in Colorado in 30 years, and the 1st to be executed by the
current method of capital punishment, lethal injection.
2 others are on death row in Colorado:
* Edward Montour, 37, convicted of killing a corrections officer in 2003.
* Nathan Dunlap, 30, convicted of killing 4 employees of a Chuck E. Cheese
restaurant in 1996.
(source: Greeley Tribune)
Denver DA to work within Mexico's extradition restrictions----Death
penalty and life with no parole aren't options
The only option for successfully extraditing Raul Garcia-Gomez to Colorado
is if he is spared the death penalty or life in prison without parole if
convicted of killing a police officer, Mexican officials said Monday.
"If the petition goes 'life in prison without parole' or 'death,' it will
be denied for sure," Mexican Consul General Juan Marcos Gutierrez Gonzalez
said during a news conference at the consulate in Denver.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, intent on trying Garcia-Gomez in
Colorado, will work within those guidelines, a spokeswoman said.
"The death penalty is not available for consideration" under a bilateral
agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said.
"Mitch is going forward fully committed to bringing Mr. Garcia back to
Colorado to be prosecuted," she said.
Garcia-Gomez, 20, is accused in the May 8 fatal shooting of Detective
Donald "Donnie" Young and the wounding of his partner, Detective John
"Jack" Bishop at a west Denver baptismal party.
He was arrested by a special extradition task force at 7:15 p.m. Saturday
in a grocery store in Culiacn, a town near Mexico's west coast.
Bishop released a statement Monday through the Denver Police Department in
which he and his family praised the agencies that helped apprehend Garcia-
"We are relieved and incredibly thankful with this news and have gained a
great sense of satisfaction knowing that he is in custody. There has not
been a day that has gone by since May 8 that I haven't thought about this
tragic event," Bishop said.
Early Monday, the district attorney's office said Morrissey filed charges
against Garcia-Gomez under seal on May 16.
"We are not at liberty right now to talk about what specific charges have
already been filed," Kimbrough said. "But the case was filed back on May
16 to enable us to pursue and have the authority to pursue" extradition.
A warrant was issued May 17 out of Denver for Garcia-Gomez's arrest. 3
days later, Mexican officials issued a detention order against
"The district attorney has been aware of both Mexican law and Mexican case
law and has been approaching the case with those limitations in mind,"
Denying extradition based on a possible execution was part of a bilateral
agreement with the United States, Gutierrez Gonzalez said, and a 2001
Mexican Supreme Court decision stated that extraditing a suspect who faces
life without parole was unconstitutional.
"This does not mean that Mexico does not want justice," he said. "It's
just a different conception of punishment."
And while the extradition petition process could be resolved in a matter
of months, he said, Garcia-Gomez's attorney could wage a lengthy appeal.
Early Monday, Morrissey said he would take the matter to a grand jury in
hopes of expediting the extradition process. He backed off later in the
day after learning that a grand jury indictment would not necessarily add
weight to the extradition request, Kimbrough said.
Prior cases point in the favor of extradition, with the number of
criminals extradited from Mexico to the United States doubling between
2001 and 2004.
"I would like to put him on trial for the death penalty," Gov. Bill Owens
said Monday, "but if we can't do that, assuming he's convicted, put him
behind bars as long as possible."
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard appealed to U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice to intervene with the Mexican government to bring
Garcia-Gomez back to Colorado.
"I urge you to make this case a top priority and to use whatever
diplomatic tool at your disposal to secure as quickly as possible the
extradition," Allard, R-Colo., wrote. He added that many of his
constituents see this case as "a test of our nation's ability to hold
accountable illegal immigrants who commit crimes in the United States."
>From 2001 to 2004, Mexico turned over 72 fugitives to the U.S., starting
with 17 in 2001 and then reaching a high of 34 - half of them narcotics
defendants - last year.
But extradition isn't the only way for U.S. authorities to pursue justice.
In certain circumstances, Article IV of the Mexican Federal Penal Code
allows for the prosecution of Mexican citizens under Mexican law.
The Colorado attorney general's office established an Article IV
prosecution unit in 2001 after stories in The Denver Post explained that
many of the state's law enforcement officials were unaware of how the law
can work to apprehend and punish dozens of fugitives who fled across the
In 2002, the attorney general's office estimated that about 1/4 of
Colorado's roughly 200 active murder warrants for fugitives involved
Mexican nationals who returned to their homeland after the crimes.
(source: Denver Post)
DA justifies death penalty in Ross case
The Blair County district attorney said Monday that homicide victim Tina
Miller of Hollidaysburg was in so much pain last year as she was being
attacked at Canoe Creek State Park that she bit her tongue.
District Attorney Dave Gorman went into a description of the many injuries
suffered by 26-year-old Miller to show a defense attorney for suspected
killer Paul Aaron Ross, 32, why he is seeking the death penalty.
Attorney Phillip Robertson, representing Ross of Hollidaysburg RD, stated
last week in a court petition that Gorman was not giving him the
information he needs to prepare Ross' defense if the case comes down to a
question of life or death.
(source: Altoona Mirror)
Death Penalty: "freakish, arbitrary, and discriminatory"
A recent study of almost 2,000 death penalty cases in Ohio between 1981
and 2002 shows that race and geography played strong roles in determining
the imposition of capital punishment.
According to the survey published by Associate Press early last May, a
person convicted of killing a white person was more than twice as likely
to receive the death penalty as a person who was convicted of killing a
In fact, defendants who had killed a white person were the most likely of
any defendants to receive the death penalty, whereas defendants who had
killed a Black person were the least likely of any capital punishment case
defendant to be sentenced to death.
Observers argue that this result indicates that the Ohio criminal justice
system places a much higher value on the lives of white people than it
Further, defendants tried in Hamilton County (which includes Cincinnati)
were 5 times more likely to receive the death penalty than defendants in
Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland).
In addition to racial and geographical biases, the Associated Press report
documented the use of plea bargains to change the likely sentence from
capital punishment to a prison term. AP concluded that Ohios system as
"uneven" and arbitrary."
This startling evidence has provoked a call for a moratorium on the use of
the death penalty in Ohio by many organizations and individuals. Ohioans
to Stop Executions is one of those organizations and it has joined more
than 100 small businesses, faith communities, local governments, and other
Ohio organizations in support of a moratorium.
They are urging Republican Governor Robert Taft to implement the
Alice Gerdeman, President of Ohioans to Stop Executions, described Ohios
use of the death penalty as "simply an inaccurate lottery of geography and
"Ohioans are outraged that a system with peoples lives on the line keeps
getting it wrong. They are demanding that our state suspend executions
immediately while these issues are addressed," Gerdeman continued.
"An independent, thorough and balanced review is a necessary 1st step in
starting to address the problems in Ohios death penalty," said Gerdeman.
"Ohioans will simply not stand for executions moving forward when the
system is so clearly getting it wrong time and time again."
ACLU Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso agreed with this sentiment saying, "The
death penalty in Ohio is imposed and carried out in freakish, arbitrary,
and discriminatory fashion."
Not calling for a permanent ban on the use of the death penalty, Gamso
said that a moratorium is needed to examine closely "what we do and why we
do it to make sure that our decisions about whether and who to kill are as
fair and accurate as humanly possible."
A bill calling for a review of the use of the death penalty was introduced
in the state legislature last week. Similar legislation passed by a wide
margin last year.
Ohio isnt unique. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty, Ohio death penalty percentages reflect similar racial biases
nationally. Comprising only 12% of the total US population, African
Americans number 42% of death row inmates and 43% of total executions
In North Carolina, a defendant who killed a white person is 3.5 times more
likely to receive the death penalty than a defendant is with a Black
In Philadelphia, Black defendants in capital cases are 38 % more likely to
be sentenced to death than are white defendants in capital cases.
Still further, the four leading jurisdiction with a disproportionate
number of Black prisoners waiting execution are the US military (86% of
its death row population is Black), Colorado (100%), Louisiana (72%), and
(source: Political Affairs Magazine)
Death Row relocation delayed by lawsuit
The state has agreed to delay moving Ohio's eeath row from Mansfield to
Youngstown while a lawsuit to stop the move proceeds.
The prison system announced in March that it wanted to move Ohio's
approximately 200 condemned killers to the supermaximumsecurity Ohio State
Penitentiary in Youngstown this summer to save money.
But the American Civil Liberties Union sued, saying the move would deny
inmates their right of due process.
The civil-rights group argues that a past court ruling forbids inmates
from being sent to the Youngstown facility unless they pose a security
The state agreed to the delay in a document filed Friday with U.S.
District Judge James Gwin in Cleveland.
The move should still happen by year's end but no date has been set, said
Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Ohio moved death row to the Mansfield Correctional Institution from the
Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville after the 1993 riots.
The Youngstown prison is designed for the most-dangerous inmates.
(source: Associated Press)
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