[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----KAN., GA., CALIF., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Mar 6 17:57:49 CST 2005
KANSAS----federal death penalty possible
Kline Seeking Death Penalty in Sheriff's Death
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline says he's not opposed to letting the
feds try a man accused of killing Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels.
But that's only if federal officials agree to seek the death penalty
against murder suspect Scott Cheever.
Kline told about 100 Greenwood County residents that the state's death
penalty statute is in limbo, so there's no guarantee that convicting the
23-year-old suspect would result in his execution.
US Attorney Eric Melgren says a federal grand jury is considering the
case. He says he'll ask for permission to pursue the death penalty if an
indictment is handed down.
Cheever is accused of shooting Samuels to death when the sheriff tried to
serve a search warrant at Cheever's home to look for a suspected meth lab.
(source: Associated Press)
Vass: State correct to switch to lethal injection
Former Hall County Sheriff Bob Vass who now sits on the state Board of
Corrections says Georgia did the right thing when it switched from the
electric chair to lethal injection for executions.
Vass commented during an interview for a special edition of WDUN NEWS TALK
550's Northeast Georgia This Week titled "The Death Penalty in Georgia."
The program will be broadcast at 8:05 Sunday morning.
"I just felt like the state should be above how it executes people rather
than (stooping to the level of) the person you're executing," Vass said.
"It's completely painless. A person generally yawns and goes to sleep."
But what about the pain and suffering the condemn's victim may have been
"I think that we're going to leave that up to the good Lord in heaven,"
Vass said. "I don't know that man punishing man with pain is the way to
By executing murderers, Vass said, you're taking them out of society -
regardless of the means by which its done.
Vass said the execution of Stephen Anthony Mobley, 39, last Tuesday for
the 1991 murder of John Copeland Collins, 24, during the robbery of a
Domino's Pizza in Oakwood went "by the book."
Mobley was pronounced dead at 8:00 p.m. - 1 hour after he was supposed to
be executed and eight minutes after the process began.
The delay was the result of a request from the U.S. Supreme Court which
was considering a last-minute appeal from Mobley's attorneys.
Vass also says the time Mobley spent on death row - through the various
stages of appeal of his case - is about average in Georgia.
"The average length of stay on death row in Georgia is 13 years and 7
months and I think Mobley was there about that long."
Vass, who served as a federal probation officer before being elected Hall
County Sheriff in 1992, was appointed to the state Board of Corrections in
1991. His 5-year term expires next year.
The robbery-murder that sent Mobley to death row occurred before he took
office and he was already being held in the Hall County Detention Center
before Vass took office. Vass says he remained there for about 18 months
after he took over while awaiting trial and later transfer to the state
Asked what kind of a prisoner he was, Vass said "he was something of a
(source: Access North Georgia)
Behind the glass: Condemned killer seemed small, ordinary at execution
As a reporter, death is not foreign to me. I've seen the county coroner
and a half dozen firefighters hovering over the charred remains of a car
trying to extract the crushed remains of an alleged drunk driver. I've
seen photographs of a moldy corpse and heard prosecutors describe how the
man was poisoned, slowly, by his wife.
These are leftover images of death. Tuesday, I witnessed death itself.
As I waited nervously in a holding area behind bright yellow bars, unit
manager Dana Smith at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in
Jackson consoled me by saying that the execution would be nothing like
Stephen King's movie "Green Mile."
"I guess Hollywood wants it to be dramatic, and it's just not," Smith
When Stephen Anthony Mobley died, there was no gasping for air, choking
sobs or convulsions. A hooded executioner did not administer the seven
syringes of fluid. An unknowing child would have thought Mobley just fell
The entire experience was not what I expected. I thought this convicted
murderer would look like one, like the antithesis of the young man he
His victim, John Copeland Collins, was only 24 years old when he died at
the Domino's Pizza store he managed in Oakwood. A friend, Michael Ladanyi,
remembered Collins as an optimistic person who laughed a lot during the
lunches they shared. Young and naive, Collins likely brushed aside the
notion that the danger of working in a fast food restaurant is second only
to convenience stores, Ladanyi said.
"I would think John would be one of those people that would not expect
something like that to happen," Ladanyi said.
Twice while working at a fast food establishment, Ladanyi had a close call
with an armed man. Like Collins, he was in his early 20s and didn't think
anyone would shoot him.
Now, having lived 14 years longer than Collins, Ladanyi has a more cynical
view of the world. That's partially why he writes from home these days
instead of managing restaurants.
"Everyone that comes into the restaurant looks the same. You never know,"
He's right. Mobley didn't look like a monster. Where was the rumored
"Domino" tattoo? Where Mobley looked like any other 39-year-old guy that
would order a pizza.
It seems inappropriate now to call him "Mobley," after witnessing
something so personal as his last breath. He went by "Tony," a friend told
me, after I rode out of the prison in an ironclad minivan.
Tony must have been keeping the guards entertained as they fastened him
onto a gurney, palms down, in the shape of a broken cross. He would break
the tension by saying something, which I couldn't hear behind the glass.
He would smile and the pink-smocked nurse or the chaplain with his tiny
testament would chuckle.
But Tony was nervous. Every few minutes, he would bite his lower lip.
Once, he asked the chaplain to wipe his nose after his arms were
restrained. Again, he asked the chaplain to dry his left eye and cheek.
Tony burrowed his face playfully in the tissue, trying to make light of
his emotion. He was trying to be brave. I could identify in some small
way, as my leg jumped rapidly under my black skirt to distract from the
lump in my throat.
"Stephen Anthony Mobley shot an innocent man in the back of the head," I
kept reminding myself while I watched the affable killer being prepared
for his punishment.
Another reporter and I witnessed the preparations for the execution from
our seats on the front pew in the small viewing area. Behind the glass,
six guards and 2 nurses talked out loud with the condemned as they
fastened the black straps and inserted the tubes into the soft crooks of
his arms. On the other side, we could hardly whisper.
Prison officials stood against 3 walls like a barricade blocking the view
of the rest of the world. The air was stifled with tension and
anticipation though this was familiar territory for everyone else in the
room, including the more experienced reporter. I was in the wilderness,
just waiting for my big heart to trip me up and stain my professional
The few other witnesses were brought in after Tony was secured down to his
taped fingertips, hooked up to tubes and a heart monitor and covered up to
his waist with a sheet. Tony said his last words.
"Then, after the microphone was silenced, Tony mouthed, "Thank you" to his
two friends in the second pew of the audience.
Of the 2 friends, the Episcopal priest with a wild goatee remained stony.
He had given his friend his last rights hours earlier. His young-faced
counterpart beamed a smile to his departing friend. He cried quietly 8
minutes later when Tony's head drooped and his face lost its color.
So did I.
While the doctors checked for a heartbeat, I was brought coldly out of the
moment when a reporter leaned over to double-check Tony Mobley's last
(source: Nikki Youngs, The Gainesville Times)
National and international debate could affect local death penalty case
As an accused cop killer sits in a Vista jail awaiting his murder trial
later this year, there is a chance that legal decisions pending in the
nation's highest court ---- and opinions issued by a court halfway around
the globe ---- may trickle down into his local case.
Adrian George Camacho faces the death penalty if he is convicted of
gunning down rookie Oceanside police Officer Tony Zeppetella almost 2
Although he was raised in Oceanside and went to local schools, the
29-year-old Camacho is a Mexican citizen who illegally entered the country
as a baby.
Now, a national and international dispute over the rights of foreign
nationals in America facing capital charges could complicate Camacho's
case if he is convicted and sent to death row.
The International Court of Justice ---- the United Nations' highest
judiciary, which helps settle conflicts between nations ---- ruled last
March that the U.S. had violated an international treaty by sentencing
Mexican nationals to death without contacting the Mexican Consulate early
on in the cases.
The ruling came after the United States failed to convince the
international court to reject the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court is now trying to decide how the international
ruling should play into the case of Mexican nationals on death row.
Though Camacho has not yet been tried, Camacho's attorneys said in papers
filed with the local Superior Court in recent weeks that they anticipate
the coming Supreme Court decision could affect Camacho's case.
The Mexican Consulate in San Diego said this week it had contact with
Camacho after his arrest. What's at issue, Camacho's attorneys said, is
whether the contact came "without delay."
Camacho's attorney William Stone declined, however, to say what the delay
may have been, or why it would be an issue in the case.
National and international cases
The case the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in December to take on involves the
death penalty sentence of a Mexican national in Texas.
The inmate in question is Jose Medellin, who is sitting on death row for
his part in the brutal 1993 rapes and murders of 2 teenage girls he and a
group of friends happened upon. At issue is whether Medellin has a right
to challenge his conviction because he was not advised of his right to
speak with the Mexican Consulate prior to trial. He was sentenced to death
at age 19 before the consulate was notified.
The Supreme Court took on Medellin's case to determine if and how the U.S.
courts should use a recent ruling by the United Nations' highest tribunal,
which last year issued a ruling regarding consular communications by
foreign nationals facing death sentences.
Last March, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, commonly
referred to as the World Court, determined that the United States should
give 51 Mexican nationals on death row in America, including Medellin, a
"review and reconsideration" of their convictions and sentences to see if
consular notification would have made a difference in the case.
The World Court ruling came after Mexico sued the United States on behalf
of the 51 Mexicans ---- more than half of whom are on California's death
row, including two sent there by San Diego courts.
Mexico, which opposes the death penalty, alleged their countrymen were
arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in the United States
without being advised of their right to contact a Mexican Consulate, a
violation of the Vienna Convention of 1963.
The United States raised numerous objections, including an argument that
arresting, detaining, trying, convicting and sentencing a foreign national
was not in violation of the Vienna Convention.
The Vienna Convention ---- a treaty that the United States and Mexico have
signed ---- contains a provision to help consular officials get assistance
to their countrymen when they are detained in foreign countries.
Under the treaty, authorities who detain a foreign national must notify
that person of his or her right to get help from his country's consulate.
Authorities must also tell the consulate that one of their nationals has
The World Court ultimately found that the United States had not given the
51 defendants their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular
The World Court judgment is legally binding, but the international court
has no power of enforcement. The Supreme Court has taken Medellin's case
as a way of evaluating if and how the United States should apply the World
"The Supreme Court has seen fit to take the case because the issue is very
important," said Kathy Cannon, one of the two attorneys representing
Camacho. "It has world implications, and it has an effect on the specifics
of this (Camacho's) case."
The Supreme Court is looking at what should be done when the United States
fails to inform foreign nationals of their consular rights, said Mark
Warren, an international legal researcher specializing in consular rights.
Based in Ottawa, Warren served as an advisor to the Mexican government in
the World Court case.
He explains that Mexico wanted the United States to overturn the death
penalty in the cases at hand while the United States argued that it
shouldn't have to.
The World Court, Warren said, chose a "prudent and implementable middle
ground" in asking the United States to give a meaningful review to the 51
The Supreme Court is venturing into "uncharted waters," said Richard
Deiter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty
"You have a decision from a court outside of the U.S. which tells the U.S.
courts to do something. Whether they do it or not depends on what the
Supreme Court says," Deiter said.
Deiter said he believes the issue at hand may only apply to foreign
nationals already on death row, not those who have yet to go to trial,
such as Camacho.
Warren agrees that the focus of the Supreme Court case is for those tried
and sentenced to death, but said he believes the Supreme Court decision
will extend beyond foreign nationals currently on death row.
Both men said the pending Supreme Court case is attracting world
United States agrees to comply
On Monday, the United States filed a brief with the Supreme Court in the
Medellin case, telling the court that President Bush has determined that
the United States will comply with the World Court ruling and allow the 51
Mexican nationals to have their cases reviewed.
State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said it is the obligation of the
United States to comply with the World Court's judgment.
"While the U.S. had concerns about the reasoning underlying the judgment,
the president's determination fulfills our obligation to comply with the
judgment, Fintor said Wednesday.
Now, the issue for the state courts to decide is whether the failure to
provide consular notification caused actual prejudice to the 51 foreign
nationals either at trial or at sentencing, he said, noting that reviewing
the cases doesn't mean the outcome will be different.
And, in the event that a "new alleged violation" of the consular
notification comes up, Fintor said the State Department "will work with
the relevant author to investigate the allegations and take appropriate
Just what effect the Supreme Court case could have on Camacho's case
remains to be seen.
Defense attorneys Cannon and William Stone last week declined for the most
part to comment on specifics in Camacho's case. Prosecutor David Rubin of
the San Diego County district attorney's office also declined to speak on
Records indicate Camacho, a documented gang member, grew up in the
Oceanside area and attended local high schools, but was in the country
illegally. A spokesman with the Mexican Consulate in San Diego has said
Camacho, who does not speak Spanish, entered the United States when he was
11 months old.
Camacho is accused of shooting Zeppetella after Zeppetella pulled Camacho
over for a routine traffic stop on June 13, 2003.
Stone said that the issue at hand in Camacho's case is whether the Mexican
Consulate was contacted "without delay."
A few years ago, California passed a law that in many cases requires
police, when they arrest a foreign national, to notify that person's
consulate within a few hours.
Whether quick notification took place is unclear.
In November 2003, on the day the district attorney's office announced they
would seek the death penalty for Camacho, one of Camacho's then-attorneys,
Vic Eriksen, told the North County Times there were plans to file a motion
in Camacho's case alleging that Camacho was deprived of the right to
contact the Mexican Consulate. At that time, Eriksen said Camacho
responded "no" when police asked if he wanted them to contact the
consulate, but that he was under the influence of drugs and should have
been provided information in writing.
On Friday, Eriksen said he recalls being under the impression in November
2003 that Camacho had declined consular contact, but said he might be
Also on the day in 2003 when prosecutors announced they would seek the
death penalty, Alberto Lozano, a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in
San Diego, said Camacho was aware of his right to contact the consulate
and declined to do so.
But Stone, one of the attorneys who took over Camacho's case for Eriksen,
said last week he can find no evidence that Camacho declined his right to
contact the consulate.
Officials at the local Mexican Consulate have previously said they have
been in contact with Camacho and are tracking his case. They declined this
week to comment on the case or to say when Camacho and the consular
officials first spoke.
At a recent hearing, Camacho's attorneys told San Diego Superior Court
Judge Joan Weber that they plan to raise the issue of consular advisement
in Camacho's case.
Weber said she will hear arguments over the issue and its application to
Camacho's case this summer, with the hope that the Supreme Court will have
by then issued a ruling in the Medellin case.
The high court is set to hear arguments in the Medellin matter March 28.
(source: North County Times)
Jury Recommends Death Penalty For Bessemer Man
A jury has recommended the death penalty for a Bessemer man convicted in
the fiery deaths of a couple.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Teresa Petelos will sentence Aundra
Marshall, 31 on April 22. The judge could accept the jury's recommended
penalty or sentence the man to life in prison without parole.
Marshall was convicted late Thursday of capital murder in the February
2004 deaths of Clarence R- Kile, 48, and his wife Allison Kile, 39. A
Bessemer cutoff jury voted 11-1 for the death penalty Friday.
Prosecutors said the victims were burned alive in the trunk of their car
after Clarence Kile failed to pay a drug debt.
Defense lawyer Erskine Mathis said it was a very difficult case and he
will appeal the conviction.
Co-defendant Dionne Eatmon's trial is scheduled for April.
(source: Associated Press)
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