[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS., IND., FLA., GA., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Mar 7 16:38:30 CST 2005
Execution set for Tuesday in complex Dallas murder case
A man convicted of strangling and shooting the wife of a suburban Dallas
physician is set to die, closing a chapter in one of the area's most
complex and prolonged murder cases.
Former auto insurance appraiser George Anderson Hopper faced lethal
injection Tuesday for the 1983 slaying of Rozanne Gailiunas, 33, who was
choked with pantyhose and shot twice in the head. The mortally wounded
woman - raped, tissue stuffed down her throat, tied to a 4-poster bed -
was found in her Richardson bedroom by her then 4-year-old son. She died 2
Hopper, 49, who evidence showed received some $1,500 for the killing,
would be the 4th Texas inmate executed this year if his appeals fail.
Defense attorneys argued Hopper's confession was obtained improperly
because detectives continued questioning him after he asked to be returned
to his jail cell to think about what he wanted to do.
"Any reasonable interpretation of the English language clearly indicated
that (Hopper) invoked his constitutional protections," Roy Greenwood said
in his petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hopper's initial
trial lawyer also offered little help, the appeal contends.
Hopper is the last link in a complicated chain that prosecutors said was
initiated by Dallas socialite Joy Aylor. She wanted Gailiunas dead because
Gailiunas was dating Aylor's estranged husband, testimony showed.
Gailiunas and her husband, Peter Gailiunas Jr., were separated, as were
Aylor and her husband, Larry Aylor, a Dallas home builder. Rozanne
Gailiunas planned to marry Larry Aylor, according to testimony.
"Unfortunately, there's not anything that's ever going to undo or be able
to repair the heartache and grief that this act has caused so many of us,"
said Dr. Gailiunas, who has remarried and practices in Dallas. "But
nevertheless, to the extent this will at least start that healing process,
we'd like to get it over with."
Joy Aylor fled to Canada with $200,000 and her new lover, a Dallas
attorney, on the eve of her 1990 murder trial. After the lawyer was
arrested in remote western Canada on a drug charge, Joy Aylor disappeared
For two years she assumed a false identity as Elizabeth Sharp, living in a
villa outside Nice. She was located after her lover's a rental car was
involved in a minor traffic accident.
Joy Aylor was imprisoned for 2 years while prosecutors negotiated with the
French government. After she was returned to Texas, she was convicted and
sentenced to life in prison in 1994. Under terms of the extradition,
prosecutors agreed to not pursue the death sentence, which is illegal in
Hopper, who has been on death row since 1992, and Aylor, imprisoned near
Gatesville, declined recent interview requests.
Others related to the case also are in prison.
Buster Matthews was sentenced to life for trying to kill Joy Aylor's
husband in a separate 1986 sniper attack financed by Joy Aylor.
Bill Garland, a former pest control contractor, pleaded guilty in 1995 to
accepting money from Joy Aylor to arrange that unsuccessful murder
attempt. Garland also pleaded guilty and received 30 years in prison for
using money from her to hire Hopper.
Brian Lee Kreafle, a former auto mechanic, was sentenced to 30 years after
pleading guilty to soliciting capital murder and admitting to transferring
instructions and money to Hopper.
Authorities said Joy Aylor contacted Garland about arranging the slaying.
Garland hired Kreafle, who hired Hopper.
It was Carole Garland, his wife and Joy Aylor's sister, who tipped police
about the plot and helped detectives by recording conversations
implicating Joy Aylor.
When Hopper initially was questioned, he fled police during an interview
under the guise of needing a drink of water. He was picked up six months
later, amid a nationwide manhunt.
"Most crimes happen in a few moments of time," recalled Kevin Chapman, the
lead prosecutor in the trials of Hopper and Aylor. "This one the crime,
the coverup - spanned 5 years. I had a notebook with 60 pages of dates,
just dates of events, a ton of bank records, phone records, file cabinets
full of stuff."
Chapman, now in private business in Austin, said it was remarkable the
principles all had jobs and came from good families with solid
backgrounds. Joy Aylor, who worked as a decorator, had wealth and social
He said Hopper, married and the father of two daughters, was likable and
"I viewed it as a thrill killing," Chapman said. "He stripped her, tried
to have sex with her, for $1,500. It was a power thrill deal.
"It should have been a lot different. He should have been a productive
member of society."
Man convicted of capital murder in girl's death
A man accused of killing his estranged wife, 4-year-old son and 1-year-old
daughter was convicted Monday of capital murder.
A Grayson County jury took just 35 minutes to find Andre Lee Thomas guilty
in the death of the girl. The jury began deliberating Thomas' punishment
Thomas was accused of stabbing 20-year-old Laura Christine Thomas, Andre
Lee Boren and Leyha Marie Hughes in the woman's Sherman apartment in March
2004. The victims' hearts were cut out, and two of them were found at
Andre Thomas' house.
Thomas walked into the Sherman Police Department afterward and said he had
killed his wife. He underwent surgery for his stab wounds and was jailed
after he was released from the hospital.
While confined in the county jail last year, Thomas ripped his right eye
out of its socket.
(source for both: Associated Press)
----execution date changed----
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reports that Alexander Martinez,
who was scheduled to be executed in Huntsville this Thursday, has received
a new execution date for June. The date should (still) be considered
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
Officials to seek death penalty in slaying--Jeffrey Voss is accused of
abducting and strangling 12-year-old girl on Christmas Eve.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is seeking the death penalty against
a man accused of killing a 12-year-old girl on Christmas Eve.
New forensic tests determined that Jeffrey Voss, 39, sexually assaulted
Christina Tedder, Brizzi said.
"A person who would steal the innocence of a 12-year-old is deplorable,"
Brizzi said, describing Voss as "among the worst of the worst."
In January, Voss was charged with murder, three counts of criminal
confinement and obstruction of justice. Brizzi said he intends to file an
additional charge of child molesting.
Voss was on probation for an April 1990 armed robbery at a Cloverdale
restaurant when, Marion County sheriff's deputies say, he strangled
Christina about 8:30 p.m. at a home in the 10500 block of Folsom Drive.
At the home, police found what they believe is Christina's hair in a trash
can and in snow near the garage. Police found Christina's clothing where
Voss told them he tossed it -- in a trash bin outside of Wal-Mart at 30th
Street and Mitthoefer Road.
(source: Indianapolis Star)
Death penalty sought in strangulation death
In Bradenton, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a
35-year-old man accused of strangling woman to death in her east Manatee
In a Feb. 24 letter filed at the Manatee County courthouse, Assistant
State Attorney Art Brown notified Assistant Public Defender James Slater
that he will seek the death penalty against Darrell W. Mitchell.
Authorities say Mitchell strangled Susan Tharp, 48, to death in her
Briarwood home last July. Deputies found Tharp's body stuffed under a
water bed after friends and family became concerned about her whereabouts.
A trial date has been set for March 14, according to court records.
(source: Bradenton Herald)
Lena Baker remembered
The only woman ever to be executed by electrocution in Georgia is
remembered this weekend.
Lena Baker was convicted of shooting Ernest B. Knight, a mill owner she
was hired to care for. While Baker claimed it was self defense, the jury
of 12 white men found her guilty.
Saturday, about 30 death penalty opponents gathered at Baker's grave
outside Cuthbert to remember her death.
Baker's family has formally requested a pardon for Baker, but posthumous
pardons are rare in Georgia, and the request is still being considered.
(source : WALB-TV)
A phony 'consensus' on youthful killers
Now that the Supreme Court has rendered its decision in Roper v. Simmons,
the debate over capital punishment for murder committed by juveniles is
In the 20 states whose laws didn't previously rule out the death penalty
for juvenile killers, the laws will be changed. Around the country, 72
convicted capital murderers who were not yet 18 when they committed their
crimes are being removed from death row. When the Supreme Court speaks,
the legal system falls in step.
The United States has not reached anything like a settled view on this
subject, but that no longer matters. Five justices have declared that the
Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" forbids the
execution of murderers who were juveniles when they killed. And that,
under our system, is that.
A good thing? Not when it comes to an issue on which public opinion is as
fluid as capital punishment. The Roper majority purported to ground its
ruling in the nation's "evolving standards of decency," which it says have
led to a "national consensus" against the execution of juvenile murderers.
Even if there were such a consensus -- and there clearly is not -- there
is no reason to believe that it is chiseled in granite.
But by deciding that public opinion has moved decisively on this question,
then grafting that decision onto the Constitution, the court has stripped
lawmakers of the right to someday change their minds. Yet when has
legislative support for capital punishment ever been static? As Justice
Antonin Scalia notes in his dissent, it "has surged and ebbed throughout
our nation's history."
In the years after World War II, for example, there was a dramatic
fall-off in executions, as many states went through a phase of abolishing
or restricting capital punishment. For several years beginning in 1968, in
fact, executions came to a halt. By the logic of the Roper majority, the
Supreme Court could have declared back then that "evolving standards" had
reached a "national consensus" in favor of eliminating the death penalty
once and for all.
In hindsight, we know that any such declaration would have been ludicrous
-- within a few years, support for the death penalty had soared. "But had
this court then declared the existence of such a consensus, and outlawed
capital punishment," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a 1988 opinion
quoted by Scalia last week, "legislatures would very likely not have been
able to revive it. The mistaken premise of the decision would have been
frozen into constitutional law."
Of course, standards of decency do evolve. There are punishments, once
common, that a true national consensus now firmly rejects -- public
flogging, debtor's prison, the stocks.
But the court's evidence for a consensus against the death penalty for
those who murdered before their 18th birthday is pitifully thin. In recent
years, it notes, executions of juvenile murderers have been few and far
between, and five states that used to allow it no longer do.
That's a "national consensus"? Executions of any murderers are few and far
between -- of the more than 15,000 homicides committed each year, no more
than a few dozen result in a death sentence. And if 5 states recently
raised their death penalty age to 18, 4 other states, as the dissent
points out, recently set theirs at 16. The bottom line hasn't changed:
Fewer than half of the states that permit capital punishment restrict it
to killers who were 18 or older.
It is hard not to conclude that five justices ruled capital punishment of
juvenile murderers unconstitutional simply because they personally oppose
it. Their arguments are the familiar ones: Juveniles tend to be more
immature and irresponsible than adults, they are more susceptible to bad
influences, their character is less well formed. All obviously true -- as
But just as obviously true is that there are exceptions to the rule. The
average 17-year-old criminal may be less culpable than the average adult
criminal, but who would deny that some 17-year-olds can act with depravity
and ruthlessness far beyond their years? The 17-year-old in Roper v.
Simmons, for example, who bragged in advance that he could commit murder
and ''get away with it" because of his age. He and his accomplice broke in
on Shirley Crook in the middle of the night, hog-tied her with duct tape
and electrical wire, then threw her off a bridge, still conscious, to a
terrifying death in the river below.
Youthful savages like Simmons may be rare, but they exist. Nothing in the
Bill of Rights requires us to pretend otherwise. In almost every state,
16- and 17-year-olds can be treated as adults when it comes to noncapital
crimes -- up to and including homicide. Whether capital murder should be
an exception is certainly a debatable issue. It should never have been a
(source: Jeff Jacoby, Column, Boston Globe)
If the death penalty is in place, everyone should get to play
The United States Supreme Court recently decreed that the execution of
persons under the age of eighteen is unconstitutional, a decision that
directly affects New Hampshire. We are one of 19 states in the nation that
condone the death penalty (even though it hasnt been invoked here since
1976). The courts decision to give a bye to youthful killers is a slap in
the face to states rights as defined in the tenth amendment, and a
reflection of the growing tendency of lady justice to peek out from behind
The Supreme Court has superseded New Hampshire voters wishes through this
shameful decision. It has said that 5 robed ninnies know better than you
and I what is good for this state and for the citizens of 18 other states
that have made plain their views on capital punishment.
The death penalty makes theoretical sense to me from a deterrence point of
view, though as it is currently applied, the practicality of that argument
is rendered moot. Given the lengthy requisite appeals process and the
overall unlikeliness of a one way ticket across the River Jordan, no
would-be assassin stops to consider state-sponsored fatal retribution as
he is squeezing the trigger.
The vengeance factor resonates with me as well, but again, given the
massive prophylactic between murder and execution, fifteen years of
appeals drains execution of much of its relish. Shakespeare has suggested
that vengeance is a dish best served cold, a quaint notion aptly put, but
for your average citizen suffering the loss of a loved one at the hand of
a murderer, theres no time like the present.
I think that if the death penalty is in place, everyone should get to
play. The young, the old, the retarded, the infirm. In addition, it should
be a horrifying death, and not this candy-ass lethal injection that is
currently Americas preferred means of dispatch into the everafter. If the
death penalty is a deterrent, that component of its logic should be
maximized both in the swiftness and brutality of its application.
I have previously endorsed revival of the electric chair and the
guillotine, though I would ideally prefer putting a pillow case over the
condemneds head and letting a bunch of Irish and Italian kids from Bostons
north end finish him off with chains and baseball bats, but that is not
the primary thrust of this essay.
Allowing the Supreme Court to micromanage states rights as it has is an
affront to the Constitution, the upholding of which is the Supreme Courts
sole function. It has shirked this duty, and done so at least in part due
to international public opinion.
The majority opinion acknowledged that "the overwhelming weight of
international opinion against the juvenile death penalty" had some
influence on the courts decision. Since when does the United States allow
France, Germany, Senegal, the friggin Netherlands and other nations to
influence US domestic policy?
If an individual has the imagination to conceive a murder and the will to
carry it out, he is in the big leagues and should be afforded all of the
arrows in the penal codes quiver. This terrible decision to take execution
off the table by virtue of adolescence is an elitist insult. Anyone who
doesnt like the way New Hampshire runs its court system is free to move to
Vermont. For most Granite staters, its less than 200 miles away. The
Supreme Courts ruling erases the death sentences imposed on 70 defendants
currently on death row who were juveniles at the time of their crimes.
As far as my own reality goes, the ruling doesnt matter a bit. The
Columbine copycat who murders my niece or nephew will not enjoy the bogus
protection recently afforded him by the five robed ninnies. He will
instead eat a slug delivered via an AK-47 with a scope from the courthouse
roof, that is if I dont get him with a Kimber assault revolver during the
Citizens less inclined to take care of such matters in-house are the ones
who stand to suffer from this abominable decision. I view the societal
option of executing teenagers the way the NRA views firearms: its better
to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
(source: Seacoast Online)
More Death-Penalty Revisions Needed
The U.S. Supreme Court made the death penalty stronger last week. It
trimmed some of its fat, so to speak. That leaves more prominent muscle.
Death-penalty opponents celebrated the 5-4 ruling outlawing the death
penalty for offenders younger than 18, a barbarism permitted in 19 states,
but hardly anywhere else in the world.
These abolitionists were fully entitled to celebrate, considering that
this was a victory for humanity and compassion and reason. But they were
wrong to assert, as some did, that this is another step in the steady
erosion and inevitable demise of the death penalty in America.
Quite to the contrary, the Supreme Court seems to be systematically
destroying the politically unpopular applications of the death penalty,
thus leaving only the popular ones. That would mean that while executions
might become less numerous, theyd also become less troubling to the
That would give us a death penalty that would be anything but weaker. It
would be entrenched.
2 years ago, the high court ruled that mentally retarded people may not be
executed. That satisfied a voting public that surely thought mentally
retarded people were spared already. Now, the court has removed another
source of squeamishness, meaning the executions of children who surely
cannot be held as responsible for their actions as adults.
Combine those developments with the universal availability of DNA evidence
and continued scientific advancement, and this is what you get: A death
penalty well on its way to being applied only against a certifiably
competent and responsible adult whose guilt is an empirical and absolute
The only grounds for opposing that would be to oppose the death penalty
altogether, which at least 3/4 of the American public does not. If,
indeed, thats where were headed, then the Supreme Court needs to trim 2
more layers of fat:
- It needs to overturn the conviction of a Tennessee man named Paul
Gregory House, whose guilt in a rape-murder from 1985 has been seriously
called into question by new evidence showing the relevant DNA to be that
of the victims hard-drinking husband. To do so, the high court would need
to rule, in effect, that it must reserve the right to correct simple bad
judgment by an appeals court. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Cincinnati voted 8-7, purely along partisan lines, with Republican
nominees in the majority, to uphold Houses conviction and permit no new
trial despite the new evidence.
- It needs to take a case allowing it to say that death row inmates who
become certifiably psychotic cannot be executed. The currently operative
case is a 6-5 ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis
in an Arkansas case. The appeals court said, by that narrowest majority,
that it is perfectly appropriate for a state to ply a medically certified
mentally ill inmate with anti-psychotic medicine to mute his symptoms and
make him appear sufficiently competent to meet the legal requirement that
he understand why hes being put to death. Medicate in order to kill, in
other words. The Supreme Court declined to accept the appeal, and the
inmate, Charles Singleton, was put to death in January 2004.
Unless the Supreme Court speaks on those 2 points, we will continue to
have a death penalty that lends itself occasionally to error, meanness
and, as a result, public squeamishness.
Beyond that, there will always remain one underlying injustice in the
American death penalty: its varying and unequal application from state to
state and from judicial district to judicial district. Two guys commit the
same brutal crime. One gets the death penalty because his prosecutor and
jury are tough. The other gets life in prison.
The Supreme Court has essentially condoned that inequality, saying only
that the death penalty is not unconstitutionally cruel and unusual and
that it is a function of the states. States are forever different. Their
own subdivisions are forever different.
(source: Opinion, John Brummett is a columnist and reporter for Stephens
media groups Arkansas news bureau in Little Rock)
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