[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, CALIF., PENN., S.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jun 12 02:27:40 CDT 2005
Suspect says baby's death a 'reckless accident'
An East Dallas man is facing a capital murder charge after a 3-month-old
baby died in his care.
Police believe Marcus Jerome Hall killed Isabel Alverez; Hall said the
baby choked on milk.
"I shook her a little bit, then I stopped because I knew this wasn't going
to work," Hall said.
Soon, he said, the baby just stopped breathing. But the medical examiner
blames the death on homicidal violence - blunt force with head injuries,
and possible asphyxia.
"I did not do nothing to hurt the baby," Hall said.
He said he did try CPR, but when that failed he waited hours before
calling an ambulance. Why? Because 10 years before, he'd been arrested -
and eventually cleared - in the death of another baby.
"I got nervous and panicked, and said, 'Oh no here we go again, 10 years
later,'" he said.
Hall waited 3 hours before dialing 911, pretending to be calling for a
The operator asked, "Is she breathing now?
"No, this happened 30-40 minutes ago," Hall said. "He's afraid to call; he
don't want the police to come and accuse him because he's the only adult
in the house."
"I was afraid," Hall said later.
Now, he's facing the death penalty - but he's not accepting
"It was not my fault, this was a reckless accident," he said. "Reckless is
not calling when I was supposed to call."
Trailer park murder suspect appears in court
A Dallas man accused of killing an 11-year-old girl in a mobile home park
appeared in court Thursday.
Steven Long appeared in court to hear the evidence against him in the
murder of Kaitlyn Briana Smith. The judge presiding over the case found
sufficient evidence to keep Long in jail as the Dallas County district
attorney's office seeks a capital murder indictment.
A homicide detective testified the suspect blamed his actions on an alter
ego long referred to as "Pretty Boy."
"The defendant stated Pretty Boy had done something," said Dallas Police
Det. John Davison.
Police found Kaitlyn's body underneath a vacant trailer nearby. An arrest
warrant reveals Long told investigators Pretty Boy hid the child's body
after strangling the girl at a trailer across the street.
The defendant's attorney questioned why detectives failed to get Long
legal representation during the interrogation.
"Suspects frequently try to blame crimes on alter egos or other mental
defects," said assistant district attorney Toby Shook.
Some who live in the mobile home park have suspicions too. Jennifer
Meadows became acquainted with Long after the two tried to breed their pit
"When we met the dog, that was the name of the dog - 'Pretty Boy,'"
But detectives also testified they have physical evidence.
"A bloody fingerprint was lifted from inside the metal awning that went
around the bottom of the vacant trailer," Davison said.
The district attorney's office continues to build its case against Long,
and will attempt to seek the death penalty. In the meantime, the judge
kept the bond for Long at $750,000.
(source for both: WFAA-TV News)
Haskins is guilty of murder----Prosecutors seeking death penalty in case
Jurors deliberated for 5 hours Thursday before finding Leonard Ray Haskins
guilty of capital murder in the March 2004 stabbing death of James Timothy
The punishment phase of the trial begins today in 117th District Court.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Haskins, 21, stabbed Haynes, 44, of Dayton, during a struggle after Haynes
accompanied three women to Haskins' apartment on March 20, 2004.
During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Gail Gleimer said Haskins
and co-defendant Robert Clay attempted to rob Haynes after the struggle.
Haskins attempted to take Haynes' truck keys and stabbed him in the chest
with a kitchen knife when he wouldn't release them, Gleimer said.
Defense attorneys said the prosecution fell short of proving Haskins
committed the murder because Haskins' fingerprints and DNA were not found
on the murder weapon and the prosecution's key witnesses were not
One of the witnesses, Clay, has pleaded guilty to the charges against him
in Haynes' death and in an unrelated aggravated robbery. He will receive a
25-year prison term in exchange for his testimony.
"They will lie if it suits their purpose," defense attorney Mark W.
During the 3-day trial, another prosecution witness testified that Haynes
begged for his life as Haskins and Clay argued over getting the truck
Haynes crashed the pickup into a utility pole in the 2400 block of West
Broadway Street and was found slumped over the seat.
(source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
Ex-con in 'Onion Field' case arrested again in drug case
County prosecutors asked a judge to revoke parole for a man who served 19
years in prison for the infamous 1963 "Onion Field" case in which 2 police
officers were kidnapped and one was murdered.
Jimmy Lee Smith, 74, had been on parole in a drug case when he was
arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing heroin, Sandi Gibbons,
spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, said
The arrest is the latest in a series of troubles for Smith since his
release in 1982. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 3 years probation
after he pleaded guilty in May 2004 to possession of a controlled
substance, Gibbons said.
A hearing was set for June 27 in Superior Court.
Smith and another man, Gregory Powell, were convicted of kidnapping 2 Los
Angeles policemen from a Hollywood street on March 6, 1963. The officers
were driven 75 miles to an onion field south of Bakersfield where Powell
shot Officer Ian Campbell to death and fired at Officer Karl Hettinger as
The case was the subject of Joseph Wambaugh's 1973 best-selling novel,
"The Onion Field," which was turned into a movie in 1979.
Smith and Powell were sent to death row but their sentences were commuted
to life in prison in 1972 when the California Supreme Court ruled that the
death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
(source: Associated Press)
Folsom Prison----Gray granite edifice turns 125
Glare off tops of steel tables, squat and square-cut, dozens of them, each
bolted rigidly to a mopped cement floor, radiates through the sprawling
eating area where Johnny Cash killed 'em with his folk anthem "Folsom
As the song says, murder and a list of lesser crimes will bring a man
incarceration in the gray old lockup looming over the American River.
Folsom Prison turns 125 years old this year, as the Folsom History Museum
commemorates with an exhibit this month.
Time cannot have passed any more slowly for the old jail than it does
typically for its current 4,000 inmates, hundreds of whom have been locked
down all day every day these past weeks, most for no infraction other than
having skin color of black, or of white. The racial lockdown, a response
to some fights and beatings, might end this week, said Lt. Robert Trujillo
of the California Department of Corrections.
The lockdown sends an underlying message from the warden's office to
inmates - "No tolerance of prisoner violence."
The prison doesn't rely much on oral communication with inmates. On a
brief walk from cells in Five Building to the laundry-delivery area, or
heading out from Five to the main yard to throw a softball in the sun for
a time, prisoners learn from a posted sign that while in Folsom Prison,
their lives not only aren't their own, but also are in jeopardy, subject
to quick endings.
"Warning. Inmates moving toward any aircraft on or near institution
property may be fired on to prevent an escape - Warden."
In Two Building, domicile for 600 inmates stacked 2 by 2 in tiers of
5-by-12-foot cells, posted sentries can quickly grab 1 of 2 firearms
issued each guard, Trujillo said - 1, a rifle firing conventional rounds,
another firing rubber bullets intended as non-lethal, or as Trujillo
acknowledged, "less lethal."
Posted on a wall just inside the entrance to Two, prisoners who read
English or Spanish can discern a reason for the dual armament issued
"Attention - No warning shots in this area. No balas de aviso en esta
The message might take a while to sink in, but once it does, its import
cannot fail to stay with a man.
"The weapons are used very seldom," Trujillo said. "It's too dangerous
otherwise (with warning shots) - you'd get ricochets."
In A Block, the oldest prisoner domicile, cell doors are solid gray steel,
punctuated by rows of holes and fastened by a foot-long bar.
On Thursday, at the request of a jailer, a couple of American Indian
prisoners stepped out of an A Block cell whose walls were heavily collaged
with photos and posters unified by a Native American theme. A feeling of
darkness in the brightly lit cage seemed to come partly from the
building's great age.
Nearby, Old Condemned Row, 9 cells in all, shows the original granite
quarried by prisoners from the riverbank. The irregular, funky features of
the hand-hewn granite are among just 2 contradictions to a pall of
lifelessness in the chamber where the state hanged men until 1937 - the
other contradiction is a foot-wide splotch of bird dung that has come in,
over the months, through a window near the top of a stairway leading to
"They used to put curtains over that window, to block out the sun so they
couldn't see the light of day," Trujillo said. "I don't know why. Maybe it
was because they were on death row - they didn't deserve it."
Such is some of the tradition that the old institution carries forward.
It has changed some, however, with progressive projects being installed in
recent years, such as the manufacture in-house of Braille maps.
"Folsom Lake College has one," Trujillo said. "We've been building up the
program for the last 10 years."
State forms in Braille, books in Braille. Manufactured at Folsom Prison.
All added on to the long-running programs to manufacture license plates,
and to train inmates in the vocations of masonry, auto body work,
plumbing, electrician's work, auto mechanics and wood-working.
On July 1, just as have many other institutions and workplaces around the
state, the prison will tackle the health risk of second-hand smoke.
"No more tobacco," Trujillo said. "When I started here, in 1982, we used
to give the inmates tobacco."
The Folsom Historical Society Museum is at 823 Sutter St., Folsom. It
features, among other prison memorabilia, a replica of the spare, tiny
cell quarters used at the prison, and a dangling hangman's noose. For
information call (916) 985-2707.
(source: Mountain Democrat)
The Larry Peterson Story A case of justice denied
Larry Peterson has been locked in prison for so long that, when he lost
his freedom, a first-class stamp cost 22 cents. Congress was grilling
President Reagan's aides about the Iran-contra scandal, Paul Simon's
Graceland won a Grammy award, and the Edmonton Oilers defeated the
Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup.
The year was 1987. That's how long Peterson has been locked in prison for
a murder that new evidence overwhelmingly indicates he did not commit.
A judge in Burlington County could do the right thing today by granting
Peterson a new trial and setting bail for him to be released, based on DNA
tests that show he was wrongly convicted. But the Burlington County
prosecutor's office, which has been dragging its feet since receiving the
DNA test results in February, is likely to ask for more time to conduct
more tests. That would keep Peterson in prison and, in light of the new
evidence, compound an injustice.
A jury convicted Peterson of the rape and murder of Jacqueline Harrison in
1987 in Pemberton Township. The evidence presented to convict Peterson, in
retrospect, looks flimsy. Investigators testified in 1987 that hairs found
on the victim's body "matched" Peterson's hair. What they meant was that
the hairs found on the victim looked like Peterson's hair. DNA tests
conducted for the Innocence Project in New York now have proven those
hairs actually belonged to the victim, not to Peterson. None of the hairs
used as evidence in the trial could be tied through DNA to Peterson.
Prosecutors in 1987 said there was semen found on the victim's body and
her clothing. DNA tests discovered that the semen was from 2 different
men, neither of them Peterson. One man was her boyfriend; the other,
unknown man is likely her real killer.
Peterson had scratches on his arm that prosecutors in 1987 said could have
come from the victim's fingernails. DNA tests now show that blood under
the victim's fingernails came from the same man whose semen was in her
throat and vagina. None of it came from Peterson.
Three witnesses told police, during interrogations which were not recorded
in 1987, that Peterson confessed the slaying to them during a 10-minute
ride to work. Police had considered one of these witnesses a suspect in
the murder; another one was known as a "jailhouse snitch." In light of the
conclusive DNA evidence, their testimony doesn't hold up.
That's about all prosecutors had against Peterson. Shamefully, prosecutors
in 1987 felt this evidence was strong enough to seek the death penalty for
Peterson. The jury spared his life, but Peterson was sentenced to 40 years
Since 1994, Peterson had been trying from his prison cell to get DNA tests
on the evidence in his case. He finally won that right in court in
December 2003. The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic which has
used DNA testing to exonerate 159 people who were wrongfully convicted,
paid more than $20,000 to test 20 pieces of evidence in Peterson's case.
Months after learning of the DNA test results, the prosecutor's office
finally decided to conduct its own tests on a bloody stick that was found
at the murder scene. Those tests are said to be inconclusive. Prosecutors
are expected to ask a judge today for more time to test more evidence.
But the physical evidence that was used to convict Peterson has been
refuted. It's time for Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi and
his staff to admit the errors that were made more than 17 years ago.
Larry Peterson is 54 now. His mother is still living. He has 3 grown
children and 3 brothers.
"He wants to be home with his mom," said Vanessa Potkin, a lawyer with the
Innocence Project. "He wants to go fishing."
There has been another injustice done, to Jacqueline Harrison and her
family. Her killer has not been punished. The authorities now have his
genetic material on file. All they lack is his name. They should start
looking for him.
It's time to free Larry Peterson.
(source: Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer)
White-collar criminals should suffer, too
I have a radical idea.
Make death by lethal injection a viable option for the most egregious
white-collar crimes. It might improve our justice system.
Let's examine the logic:
Stephen Stanko is accused in 2 deaths and a rape that touched off a
nationwide manhunt and sent terror throughout the area. He's being held in
jail pending trial. He is accused of directly harming at least two
families and indirectly scarring untold others. He will face the death
penalty if found guilty.
Benedict Shogaolu, former chief executive officer of the Waccamaw Regional
Transportation Authority, also known as Lymo, has been charged with 4
counts of public corruption and a felony and a misdemeanor charge.
He's free on a $15,000 surety bond. The last we've heard, he was selling
The maximum penalty, which probably isn't likely given that those
convicted of white-collar crimes are given shorter sentences, is a 45-year
prison term, no possibility of lethal injection.
The effect of his alleged crimes? They directly put the livelihoods of 100
families in jeopardy and caused local and federal officials to distrust
the organization enough to cut funding, which in turn cut bus routes,
stranding countless low-income workers who now have to scramble for
transportation - low-income workers we depend on to keep our $5 billion
local tourism engine running.
Accused killers and rapists illicit instant blood thirst.
Those who defraud us of $40 billion every year - 4 times as much as street
criminals - get a relative pass from our anger because we see the street
thug as an unrepentant criminal and the corporate raider as an intelligent
man who succumbed to greed, not evil.
But who has had a more negative effect? The executives who caused the
largest bankruptcies in history, leading to tens of thousands of job
losses and billions of dollars in lost retirement savings - which probably
have led to more suicides and broken families than we care to admit - or
the D.C. snipers?
And what could be a bigger deterrent against those who feel emboldened
enough to rob us? The thought they might have to hide their ill-gotten
money in their wife's name or an offshore bank account or the thought that
they, too, can be sent to death row?
Extend the death penalty to all our worst criminals ... and let the debate
about it begin anew.
(source: ISSAC J. BAILEY, The Sun News)
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