[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----IND., TENN., OHIO, CONN., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jun 9 12:24:57 CDT 2005
2 accused of killing relatives attend hearings
A brother and sister accused of murdering their mother and grandparents
appeared for pre-trial hearings Wednesday in Marion Superior Court.
Kenneth Lee Allen and Kari Allen are accused of murder, conspiracy and
robbery in the slayings of their mother, Sharon Allen, 53, and
grandparents, Leander Bradley, 91, and Betty Bradley, 75. The 3 bodies
were entombed in concrete in the basement of an Eastside home.
The Allens' jury trial is scheduled for Oct 23, 2006. If convicted,
Kenneth Allen, 29, could face the death penalty.
On Dec. 30, prosecutors say, Kenneth Allen killed his mother because she
refused to help him steal his grandparents' $200,000 nest egg. He killed
his grandparents Jan. 3, prosecutors say.
Kari Allen, 18, served as a lookout, prosecutors say. She won't face the
(source: Indianapolis Star)
Was Isaac Jones Insane When He Killed A Police Officer?
Prosecutors called witnesses Wednesday to say Isaac Jones was in a fit of
rage, rather than insane as his defense team argued, when he admittedly
killed Chattanooga Police Officer Julie Jacks.
Just before the shooting May 6 2002 Jones was under the care of Doctor
John Besing at Parkridge Medical Center. He was taken there for a mental
evaluation because people were concerned he acted "like a lunatic" when he
took an exam at Chattanooga State Technical College, according to
Dr. Besing said lab tests showed Jones had marijuana in his system. In a
taped confession played earlier this week in court Jones is heard saying
that after smoking marijuana two days earlier, "my brain wasn't right
man...I ain't never smoked no weed like that."
The emergency room physician said aside from being jittery Jones did not
appear to be having hallucinations and was able to carry on normal
conversations with nurses.
Dr. Besing said after an hour and a half had elapsed in the emergency room
Jones' handcuffs were removed and he was taken to a private room for
further evaluation. He said about 1:25 p.m. that day he saw Jones leaving
the hospital through a set of doors.
Earlier evidence shows shortly after Jones left the hospital police were
alerted and within minutes Officer Julie Jacks spotted Jones at the
intersection of Kilmer and Vine Streets. A scuffle began and Jones grabbed
Jacks gun and fired seven shots at Jacks.
Jones was taken into custody seconds later when back up officers arrived,
and now retired Sergeant John Spain kept Jones in custody inside a police
car. Spain recorded conversations he had with Jones for about an hour and
That tape was played for the jury Wednesday, and during numerous occasions
was paused so that Spain could clarify what was said in the sometimes
Jones can be heard screaming and demanding Spain take him away from the
scene. Jones is heard on several occasions saying something about "having
keys to heaven," and "the light." Later Jones said a woman "put salt in
As time passed Spain is heard having more normal conversations with Jones
as they sat in the car at the crime scene. On one occasion Jones is heard
screaming "the pig, the pig." Jones also tells Spain "that white b---- can
suck my ----."
Jones defense team wants the jury to believe Jones was insane at the time
and his condition may have been enhanced by smoking pot. Prosecutors say
Jones was sane and fully aware of his actions and their consquences.
According to Hamilton County Executive Assistant District Attorney General
Barry Steelman, the jury could return several different verdicts; guilty
of first degree murder, not guilty of 1st degree murder by reason of
insanity or guilty of a lesser crime.
Steelman said the state should wrap up it's evidence Thursday afternoon,
at which time the defense team will present their case.
The defense plans to call several "expert" witnesses, including doctors
and mental health experts to testify.
The sequestered jury hearing the case is from Nashville, and it's possible
the trial will continue through the weekend or possibly into next week.
Court officers say if the case continues through Monday, Judge Doug Meyer
will recess early in the afternoon so that the numerous officers working
security and observing the court proceedings can assist with the massive
security detail for the Bessie Smith Strut Monday night.
(source: Channel 9 News)
The Tennessee Supreme Court is weighing whether there is enough risk of
unnecessary pain and suffering involved in the state's lethal injection
process to change steps and drugs used by an overwhelming majority of
Associate deputy attorney general Joe Whalen told the five justices
yesterday that the state's death penalty protocol is sound, a point
challenged by lawyers for condemned killer Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman.
"It's a protocol designed to render a condemned inmate unconscious within
seconds and induce death within five minutes," Whalen said.
Abdur'Rahman's attorney, Bradley MacLean, said the process, which includes
Pavulon, a drug forbidden by the American Veterinary Medical Association
for the euthanasia of animals, is irrational because of its risk of
causing needless pain and suffering.
"No medical or scientific expert has testified that this protocol makes
sense," he said.
MacLean is asking the court to force the state's Correction Department to
come up with a new way of executing inmates that eliminates Pavulon and
simplifies the process.
Tennessee has used lethal injection only once, when in 2000 it put Robert
Glen Coe to death in 4 minutes - the state's only execution in 45 years.
The lethal injection mixture Tennessee uses involves 3 drugs.
The 1st is an anesthetic, known by the generic name sodium thiopental, to
put the inmate to sleep.
The 2nd is Pavulon, or pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscle
system. The 3rd drug, potassium chloride, stops the heart.
The U.S. Supreme Court has never found a specific form of execution to be
Of the 38 states that have death penalty statutes, lethal injection is an
option in every one but Nebraska because it is considered more humane than
options like the electric chair or gas chamber.
The overwhelming majority of states that allow their protocols to be
viewed use the 3-drug mixture.
Whalen told justices that Abdur'Rahman, 54, should not be allowed to
dictate the terms of his death when an execution date is scheduled in his
"We are not talking here about putting to sleep the family pet after years
of faithful service," he said.
"It's the height of absurdity for a condemned inmate convicted of murder
to determine what the state can do to execute him."
Justice Adolpho A. Birch questioned if the court would overstep its
boundaries by acting as a quasi-medical board, while Justice William M.
Barker asked MacLean how he knew the process was inhumane and what the
court should do to change it.
(source: Associated Press)
Tennessee woman faces death penalty in slaying
Prosecutors have notified the court they intend to seek the death penalty
for a Tennessee woman charged with killing a passenger in her car on
Interstate 95 in Jacksonville during a standoff with police.
Melissa Ferris, 27, was charged with 1st-degree murder in the May 9
shooting of Jeffrey Opp, 38.
The 2 were wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a Memphis,
Tenn., dancer when they were stopped for speeding in Jacksonville by the
Florida Highway Patrol. After fleeing a patrol officer, Ferris stopped on
the interstate a few miles south, prompting the standoff with police.
After her arrest, Ferris provided police with a map that led them to the
remains of Corie Duckett, 22, in Panola County, Miss, about an hour south
Ferris hasn't been charged in Duckett's death. She was last seen partying
with Ferris and Opp at a Memphis strip club on St. Patrick's Day.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said prosecutors filed the
death penalty notice last week after Ferris was indicted in Opp's death
but could back off before trial if the evidence merits such a move.
(source: The Florida Times-Union)
Co-defendants testify in execution-style shooting case
A Liberty Township man was shot execution-style for allegedly stealing
$4,000 from his accused killer, the prosecuting attorney said Wednesday.
Assistant Prosecutor Craig Hedric told jurors that Chad Re, 25, begged for
his life and promised to return the money before being shot in the back of
the head at close range by Craig R. Anderson in the basement of Anderson's
Liberty Township home.
Anderson, 37, of 7430 Cedarcrest Drive, is on trial this week in Butler
County Common Pleas Court. He could face the death penalty if convicted of
aggravated murder, kidnapping, complicity to tampering with evidence and
unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance.
According to the prosecution, on May 11, 2004, Anderson forced Re at
gunpoint into the basement of the Cedarcrest Drive home, then made him lay
on his stomach while yelling at him about the stolen money.
Anderson then shot Re in the back of the head with a "38 special"
according to the prosecution.
Re was found still alive in Monroe, and was transported to the hospital
where he died the next day.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations this afternoon and will be
sequestered until they reach a verdict. If Anderson is convicted, the
sentencing phase will begin next week.
During his opening statement Wednesday, Hedric said Anderson told police
he was going to show Re "some Chicago style mafia (expletive)."
When told he was being charged with aggravated murder, Anderson said "I
can live with that," Hedric said.
Anderson's attorney, Greg Howard, agreed his client caused Re's death.
"The evidence will show Anderson was not a nice person. He was a bad ass,"
Howard told jurors during his opening statement. Howard said Anderson and
others often "partied" and smoked crack cocaine at the Liberty Township
But he said the evidence will not prove Anderson is guilty of aggravated
4 other people who were in the house the day of the shooting have also
been charged in connection to the crime.
One of them, Thomas Cottle, testified Wednesday that he and Anderson had
smoked crack earlier on May 11 at a hotel. He said Anderson went to the
Cedarcrest Drive house with the intention to scare Re.
Cottle said Anderson pushed the gun into Re's back and ordered him to go
to the basement.
Anderson handed Cottle a sawed off shotgun and instructed him "to blow
(Re) away," if he moved, Cottle said.
"Next thing I see was he had the gun at the back of his head and it just
went off," Cottle said.
On cross examination, Cottle said he told others the shooting was an
Cottle also said he was told by his attorney that his charges - which
include murder - might be reduced if he testified at Anderson's trial.
Another co-defendant, Demetrius Brazile, testified Re was walking around
and talking after being shot.
Brazile said Re begged him for help so he drove him to an auto shop in
Monroe and called 911.
Brazile then returned to the house, put the blood-stained area rug
outside, and spent the night in the basement, as he had done the last few
days, he said.
Brazile is charged with tampering with evidence.
Butler County Sheriff's deputy Dennis Eberle testified that six days
before the shooting, Anderson told authorities Re stole his Harley
"He said the sheriff's office had seven days to find his motorcycle or hed
take care of it himself," Eberle said.
The motorcycle had been retrieved by the time the shooting occurred,
according to testimony Wednesday.
(source: Hamilton Journal News)
Judges agree on death sentence for Rizzo in fatal beating
A 3-judge panel ruled Wednesday that convicted killer Todd Rizzo should be
executed for bludgeoning a 13-year-old boy to death with a sledgehammer in
The judges will sentence Rizzo to death by lethal injection on June 23 and
set an execution date, which will automatically be stayed for the appeals
Rizzo, 26, pleaded guilty to capital felony in 1999. He told authorities
he murdered Stanley Edwards IV because he needed to know what it felt like
to kill someone.
A jury sentenced Rizzo to die, but the state Supreme Court overturned the
sentence in October 2003, ruling that jurors had not been properly
instructed before deliberations.
Rizzo was the first person to be sentenced to death under a 1995 law that
allows jurors to weigh aggravating factors, such as the brutality of the
crime, against mitigating factors, such as Rizzo's upbringing and church
The high court found the jury should have been told to find "beyond a
reasonable doubt" that aggravating factors outweighed mitigating factors
before recommending death.
This time, Rizzo opted to have his case heard by the three-judge panel _
Superior Court Judges Salvatore C. Agati, Thomas V. O'Keefe Jr. and
William T. Cremins. They ruled that aggravating factors outweighed
mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors applauded their decision.
"You look at all the factors, the way he violated the trust of this
13-year-old boy. He tricked a vulnerable kid, so he could fulfill his
lifelong desire to kill," said Assistant State's Attorney Maureen Keegan.
Rizzo, an ex-Marine, was 18 on Sept, 30, 1997, when he persuaded Edwards
to go snake hunting with him. He told police he straddled the 13-year-old
boy "like a horse" and hit him 13 times with a three-pound sledgehammer as
the boy begged him to stop.
Rizzo's lawyers tried to convince the judges that his troubled childhood
should spare him from the death penalty. Public defenders David Channing
and Ronald Gold argued Rizzo was largely unsupervised as a child, watched
violent movies at a young age and was the victim of bullies.
"We're very disappointed," Gold said. "The evidence, we thought, spoke for
itself. Other than the crime, which was obviously a horrible crime, there
was absolutely nothing negative to say about Todd Rizzo."
Gold declined to comment on whether an appeal was planned.
At the end of his penalty hearing Tuesday, Rizzo apologized.
"I am to blame for what I did with Stanley Edwards' life," Rizzo said. "I
don't know why things affected me the way they do, feelings, and different
people. No one can change overnight, especially me. But it's been 8 years,
and I am sorry, sorry for killing Stanley, and making him suffer, and that
is what I wanted to tell you. Thank you."
Rizzo becomes the 7th inmate facing a death sentence in Connecticut. One
other, Ivo Colon, also had his death sentence overturned by the Supreme
Court. He's still being housed on death row pending the outcome of new
Last month, serial killer Michael Ross became the 1st Connecticut inmate
executed since 1960.
(source: Associated Press)
N.C. crime lab falling behind----Backlog is delaying trials a year or
more, keeping jails packed
A backlog at the state crime lab is delaying arrests, convictions and
trials, authorities say.
Eric Hicks, the State Bureau of Investigation's only computer forensic
technician, is in such high demand that he handles only murder or child
exploitation cases. He still has a backlog of about 50 cases, which equals
a year's work.
The 17 geneticists have 36,000 DNA samples awaiting analysis and review
before they can go into a database. The 19 drug chemists who travel to
methamphetamine lab busts have a backlog of 15,000 cases.
That backlog has delayed trials a year or more, left jails packed with
defendants awaiting the lab's work, and a smaller pool of suspects when
investigators use the DNA database to try to identify a rapist or killer.
Police and district attorneys across North Carolina say the bottleneck at
the crime lab, which is both an investigation and prosecution tool, is
delaying arrests and convictions.
And the General Assembly for now has no plans to address these needs.
State Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the crime lab, has been
unable to persuade the state Senate to fulfill a $4.4 million expansion
budget request to pay for more agents. The Senate's $17 billion budget
included none of it. The House plans to draft its budget bill this month,
and a final spending plan will be worked out after that.
Lawmakers say they have helped in past years, finding money for 6 more
geneticists and to outsource DNA testing of rape kits. And, they say, the
General Assembly provided $4.5 million for an addition to the lab that has
yet to be built.
(source: Charlotte Observer)
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