[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----VER., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jun 25 01:07:49 CDT 2005
VERMONT----federal death penalty trial
Jury convicts Fell in death-penalty trial
A Pennsylvania man was convicted Friday of kidnapping and killing a
Clarendon woman five years ago and now becomes the 1st person to face the
death penalty in Vermont in nearly 50 years.
Donald Fell was found guilty in less than 2 hours on all 4 counts against
him, which involved the kidnapping and carjacking that led to the death of
Terry King of Clarendon.
Jurors will begin hearing more evidence Tuesday in the penalty phase of
the trial and will decide whether Fell should be executed.
Fell showed no visible emotion as he stood and listened to the verdict.
Outside the courtroom, King's family said they expected the guilty
"It's what we've been waiting for for the last 4 years," said King's
sister, Barbara Tuttle of North Clarendon. "Now we hope they continue on
and decide to give him the death penalty."
Fell was convicted of carjacking with death resulting and kidnapping with
death resulting, both of which carry a potential death sentence. He also
was convicted of 2 less serious weapons charges.
The verdict came after Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow told jurors
in closing arguments that Fell made "cold-blooded, rational decisions" to
kidnap and kill King, a supermarket worker whom he and his late friend,
Robert Lee, carjacked as she arrived for work Nov. 27, 2000.
But Fell's attorney, while not arguing for his innocence, said Fell made
"a series of bad decisions that led to tragedy."
"This is not planning," attorney Alexander Bunin said.
Fell, 25, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is accused of joining Lee in
carjacking King of Clarendon, taking her across the state line to New
York, and beating the 53-year-old woman to death as she prayed. Lee later
died in prison.
The case was tried in federal court because the alleged crimes crossed the
lines. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft rejected a plea deal that
would have given Fell life in prison.
Vermont does not have a state death penalty and has not executed anyone
since the 1950s.
Authorities said Fell and Lee killed Fell's mother, Debra Fell, and her
friend Charles Conway in November 2000 after a night of drinking and crack
smoking, then set off on the journey that ensnared King.
In a taped confession that Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow played
during his closing argument, Fell said, "I didn't want her in the car
Darrow argued that the suspects' drinking and drug use of the previous
night had worn off by the time King was killed in New York state. Fell, he
said, "was not drunk. He was not impaired. He was making cold-blooded,
"What Donald Fell did to Terry King was one of the most cruel and
remorseless crimes one can imagine," Darrow said.
But Bunin urged jurors to listen closely to the taped confession: "Are you
listening to a robot or are you listening to a scared 20-year-old?"
If Fell is found guilty, a penalty phase would follow.
As the prosecutor spoke, King's family members occasionally wiped their
eyes, and Fell lowered his head toward the defense table.
Depending on the outcome of the federal case, Fell still could face state
charges in the other 2 deaths.
Vermont has not executed a prisoner since 1954. Another defendant was
sentenced to death in 1957, but the sentence was later commuted.
(source: Associated Press)
Alabama court upholds death sentences in Shelby, Macon counties
A state appeals court upheld death sentences Friday for the killing of a
federal drug agent in Shelby County and the murder and robbery of a man
who attended a birthday party in Macon County.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals rejected arguments from Eugene
Milton Clemons II that he is mentally retarded and shouldn't be executed
for the shooting death of federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent
Douglas Althouse. The agent was killed on May 28, 1992, during the theft
of his undercover car from a Shelby County convenience store.
The appeals court also ruled that Michael Irvin's capital murder
conviction and death sentence were appropriate for the robbery and
shooting death of Jackie Thompson in Macon County.
In Clemons' case, the Court of Criminal Appeals looked at his sentence in
2003, after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled against executing the
mentally retarded. The appeals court told Shelby County Circuit Judge Al
Crowson to review whether Clemons was mentally retarded and should have
his sentence switched from death to life in prison without parole. The
judge, after reviewing mental evaluations and school records, decided
Clemons did not qualify as mentally retarded.
The appeals court agreed in a 5-0 decision Friday. The court also rejected
arguments from Clemons that there were numerous errors in his 1994 trial
for capital murder.
In Irvin's case, Thompson, a construction worker from Eclectic, attended a
birthday party for Irvin in Tuskegee on Nov. 12, 1997. The next day,
Thompson's burned auto was found in a rural part of Macon County, but
there was no sign of Thompson.
In 1999, Irvin was arrested for another killing and confessed to being
present when a companion shot and killed Thompson. Irvin admitted they
took $3,000 from Thompson's body, burned his car and dumped his body in
another part of the county. He led investigators to the remains.
In a 5-0 ruling, the Court of Criminal Appeals said the death sentence was
appropriate for the crime because 2/3 of the death sentences imposed in
Alabama are for robbery-homicide convictions.
(source: Associated Press)
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