death penalty news-----TEXAS, FLA., ALA., PENN., CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jun 16 10:51:25 CDT 2005
Supreme Court shows flaws with death penalty
The U.S. Supreme Courts most recent ruling overturning a death-penalty
case in Texas shows 2 things.
First, the Supreme Court has no confidence that the Texas judicial system
can handle capital cases fairly.
Second, it has no confidence that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
can police these problems with fairness.
The court overturned the conviction of Thomas Miller-El. He was convicted
of a horrific crime in Dallas County.
Miller-Els guilt or innocence wasnt the question before the high court.
The question is whether Texas was able to give him a fair trial.
The courts message: You cant have justice if your system of putting people
on trial permits racial discrimination.
Miller-El is black. Eleven people in the pool of potential jurors were
In a trial, each side is given a set number of peremptory challenges. That
means attorneys can challenge a prospective jurors ability to be fair
without giving a specific reason for striking him from the list.
Prosecutors used their peremptory challenges to strike 10 of the 11
prospective black jurors.
That might raise some red flags. It didnt in Texas judicial system.
To be fair, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did look at Miller-Els
appeal. It suggested that the trial court might want to look at new U.S.
Supreme Court ruling. That ruling banned any practice of disqualifying
jurors that is racially discriminatory.
But the trial court in Dallas didnt see any problem.
Just before Miller-El was to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to
review his appeal again. It sent the case back to the 5th Circuit Court,
broadly hinting that there were problems with the case and that the
appellate court should find a way to clean up the mess.
The appellate court didnt take the hint.
So on Monday, the Supreme Court simply tossed out the conviction.
In the majority opinion, Justice David Souter said the judicial systems
argument that there just werent any problems with this case were just too
weak to believe.
For decades, he said, prosecutors in Dallas County "had followed a
specific policy of systematically excluding blacks from juries."
That, obviously, is a problem.
Equally obvious are the other problems that the Supreme Court has cited
with the death penalty in Texas in the past.
Is it the right to execute people with serious mental illnesses or with
mental retardation? How about kids who commit crimes before they are old
enough to drink?
For a long time, The Daily News has asked the governor to declare a
moratorium on the death penalty.
The state should give itself a chance to study the problems and address
It shouldnt keep trying to defend a system when so many people, including
most justice on the Supreme Court, question its fairness.
(source: Galveston County Daily News)
Miami-Dade police: man charged with murder after baby dies
A man was charged with 1st degree murder in the punching death of a
2-year-old boy he was babysitting, Miami-Dade County police said
Sam Giullaume, 32, was jailed with no bail. He is charged with 1 count of
aggravated child abuse and 1 count 1st degree murder.
Toddler Nicholas Ryan was punched in the stomach after Giullaume became
frustrated, police said.
When the child did not respond afterward, Giullaume drove him to a
hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Investigators said Giullaume is the boyfriend of the child's mother.
(source: Associated Press)
Jeremy Jones denies killings in several states
Serial killing suspect Jeremy Bryan Jones denies killing anyone and said
during a television interview aired on an Atlanta station that authorities
in several states have made up alleged confessions.
Jones spoke to W-G-C-L in a telephone interview from the Mobile County
Jail, where he faces capital murder charges in the September death of Lisa
Marie Nichols. Her body was burned in a mobile home in north Mobile
In the interview broadcast last night, Jones cited the case of missing
metro Atlanta hairdresser Patrice Endres, who disappeared mysteriously on
April 15th, 2004, in Forsyth County. Earlier this year, authorities there
said Jones confessed to killing her and dumping her body in a creek.
Jones said authorities have records that he was working in Douglasville at
the time. He said that is why he has NOT been charged.
Jones is charged with killing a 16-year-old girl in Douglas County who was
reported missing in March 2004. He also is charged with a Louisiana murder
and has been named a suspect in at least 2 other slayings in Georgia, 2 in
Oklahoma and 1 in Missouri.
(source: Associated Press)
DA seeks death penalty
John C. Eichinger may die if convicted of the stabbing deaths of 2 women
who reportedly spurned his advances and two "incidental" witnesses - a
sister and a 3-year-old child - to one of those slayings.
Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. Tuesday announced
he would seek the death penalty for Eichinger, a 33-year-old Somers Point,
N.J., man who is charged with four murders in the county.
These killings include the three Good Friday murders of Heather Greaves,
27, her sister Lisa Greaves, 23, and Heather's 3-year-old daughter, Avery
Johnson, all of whom lived at the Greaves' family residence in the 500
block of Kingwood Road, King of Prussia.
Eichinger, a supermarket employee who engaged in role-playing games such
as Dungeons and Dragons, also is charged with the July 6, 1999, stabbing
death of Jennifer Still, 20, of Bridgeport.
That crime went unsolved until authorities, investigating the triple
murder, noticed similarities between the wounds of those 3 victims and
Castor described the stabbing deaths as "particularly brutal and grotesque
"Knife murders are generally much more personal because they require a
person to get right up close to the victim and multiple stabbings are very
bloody and messy, leaving grotesque crime scenes," said Castor.
He referred to Eichinger as a serial killer, explaining "every time you
have this jilted-lover situation he is likely to commit a crime and that
is the classic pattern for a serial killer." The killing of the young
child and Lisa Greaves were "incidental" to the murder of the main victim,
who was Heather Greaves, said Castor.
If Eichinger had not been apprehended following the triple stabbings, it
is likely he would have killed again the next time his romantic overtures
were spurned, according to Castor.
Among the aggravating factors that warrant the death penalty, are the
multiple killings, the killing of a child and the earlier Still murder
Castor's comments came during and after Eichinger's formal arraignment on
the charges against him.
Eichinger, sitting with his hands clasped in front of him and his eyes
downcast, did not speak nor did he enter any plea.
"My client stands mute at this time," said defense attorney William
McElroy. Judge William R. Carpenter subsequently entered a not-guilty plea
in Eichinger's behalf to keep the legal process moving forward.
McElroy, stating his client did not have to enter a plea, declined further
comment on that or Castor's intention to seek the death penalty.
Castor speculated that McElroy might be exploring options concerning
Eichinger's mental health.
The father of the 2 Greaves sisters discovered the bodies of his two
daughters and his granddaughter on March 25 when he returned from work at
about 4:30 p.m.
One of the neighbors told authorities that she saw Eichinger, whom she
knew as a co-worker of Heather Greaves at a nearby Acme supermarket, leave
the house earlier in the day wearing what appeared to be a blood-stained
shirt and holding a rag over his hand.
Questioned that night about the killings, Eichinger initially said he had
had no contact with Greaves. However, according to the criminal complaint,
he later admitted to the triple killings, explaining he had wanted to have
a romantic relationship with Heather Greaves but that she was becoming
serious with a new boyfriend, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators, prompted by the similarities in the distinctive and unusual
stab wounds and location of those wounds, also asked him about the Still
murder. Eichinger then confessed to that slaying, once again explaining
that he had wanted a romantic relationship with Still and became angry
when she spurned him for another man.
No trial date has been scheduled. Eichinger will remain in the county
prison without bail until his trial.
(source: King of Prussia Courier)
2 BAY AREA DEMOCRATS CO-AUTHOR BILL ON EXECUTION MORATORIUM
Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Jose, announced today that she is
co-authoring a bill calling for a moratorium on executions in California.
Assembly Bill 121 was introduced today by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West
Hollywood. The bill calls for a 2-year suspension of executions until a
bipartisan panel approved by the state Senate can provide a report on
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice was
established in 2004 to examine how the state's criminal justice system
could have failed in the past. If approved, the bill calls for the
commission to make reform recommendations to the state Legislature by
Lieber cited the possibility that innocent people have been incarcerated
and sometimes executed as the main reason for the moratorium.
"I support a death penalty that is imposed without prejudice and
administered fairly," Lieber said in a written statement. "Yet I also
believe that we must constantly examine the fairness of our criminal
justice system and ensure that the implementation of the death penalty is
Lieber also highlighted recent studies showing that federal courts have
reversed many death sentences affirmed by the California Supreme Court.
There are currently 640 inmates awaiting execution in California, the most
in any state.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, also co-authored the bill.
If approved, the moratorium would end on Jan 1, 2009. The 1st vote on the
bill is expected in January 2006.
(source: Bay City News Wire)
More information about the DeathPenalty