[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----N.J., PENN., W. VA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Mar 13 21:12:33 CST 2005
Woman wants to represent herself in capital murder sentencing retrial
A woman whose death sentence for killing a police officer was overturned
twice now wants to represent herself at her sentencing retrial.
Leslie Ann Nelson, 47, will have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation
before a judge determines whether she can be her own attorney at her third
The evaluation may delay the beginning of the sentencing trial. Jury
selection was set to begin April 4, with testimony to start May 16.
Nelson, born Glenn Nelson before having a sex-change operation, pleaded
guilty to killing John McLaughlin, an investigator for the Camden County
Prosecutor's Office, and John Norcross, a Haddon Heights patrolman, during
a standoff at her parents' house on April 20, 1995.
Nelson is being tried a 3rd time to determine the appropriate penalty. The
1st jury sentenced her to life in prison for McLaughlin's killing and
ordered her executed for Norcross' death.
The death sentence was reversed on appeal, and a 2nd penalty trial
produced the same verdict. The New Jersey Supreme Court nullified that
death sentence and ordered the 3rd penalty trial.
Nelson told Judge Samuel D. Natal that she "absolutely" wanted to
"I think I know quite a bit about the case," Nelson said.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty sought for elderly woman accused of killing neighbor
Prosecutors filed court papers Friday indicating that they will seek the
death penalty against a 70-year-old woman accused of killing her
84-year-old neighbor with a hammer.
Prosecutors allege that Kathy MacClellan killed Marguerite "Tutti" Eyer by
means of torture, an aggravating factor that allows them to pursue a death
"The defendant didn't just strike the victim once, causing her immediate
death," Northampton County First Deputy District Attorney Paula A.
Roscioli said. "She struck her at least 37 times with the claw end of the
hammer, and this victim lived for a significant period of time in
Eyer was found Feb. 7 covered in blood in her home in the Hickory Hills
development in Moore Township. She died about an hour and a half later
after being airlifted to a hospital. She allegedly told a police officer,
"Kathy did it with a hammer."
Police said they found a bloody hammer and Eyer's wallet, driver's license
and checkbook in MacClellan's home the following day.
Defense lawyer Anthony Martino, who represents MacClellan along with
attorney Mark Minotti, declined comment Friday afternoon.
A database kept by the Death Penalty Information Center of all executions
in the United States since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 shows
only one person executed above the age of 70. James Barney Hubbard was 74
when he was executed Aug. 5 of last year for the 1977 murder of
62-year-old Lillian Montgomery of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; he was in his 40s when
he killed her.
According to the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Hubbard was the
oldest person executed in the United States since 1941, when James
Stephens of Colorado was executed at age 76.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Penalty Coming Back?
Governor Manchin says he won't rule out capital punishment in the Mountain
Will West Virginia bring back the death penalty? Governor Manchin... says
he won't rule out signing it back into law. The Democratic governor... did
say... he's not yet laid out an agenda on that issue... and doesn't plan
to. He says any decision on whether to sign a death penalty bill would
depend on what's in the bill. Legislative leaders... on both sides of the
aisle say it's not likely the House of Delegates or the Senate would pass
a death penalty bill. State lawmakers... put an end to the practice...
back in 1965.
(source: Associated Press)
'Vigilante' not guilty of murder
The 3rd time really was a charm for Gary Smith.
After initially being indicted for charges that could have sent him to
death row, Smith had three trials on the murder and other charges. The 3rd
trial ended Friday with Smith being found not guilty.
Smith, 54, was arrested May 14, 2001, when, in his own form of vigilante
justice, he shot 4 men in Over-the-Rhine, killing one, Jimmie Gordon.
Smith called police days before the shooting to complain that "crack head
punks" dealt drugs outside his Over-the-Rhine home, urinated on his stoop,
killed his cat, slashed his tires and threatened him.
Smith was arrested and said he was seeking revenge against 3 men who
robbed him by killing Gordon and wounding 3 others.
Smith initially was convicted of murder for killing Gordon and for
felonious assault for wounding the 3 others.
That jury, some of whom later received collect telephone calls from Smith
while he was in jail awaiting sentencing, allowed Smith to escape death
row. He later was sentenced to 47 years to life.
The conviction and sentence, though, were overturned when an appeals court
ruled that Smith's constitutional rights were violated when a judge
wouldn't allow Smith to act as his own attorney in the 1st trial.
Smith went on trial again on the same charges. While that jury convicted
him of felonious assault for wounding the 3 men, it was unable to
unanimously rule on the murder charge.
Smith was sentenced to 55? years last October for the felonious assault
convictions and ordered to strand trial -- again -- on the murder charge.
How can one jury find Smith guilty of shooting 3 people and another jury
acquit him of murder in the same incident?
"I guess it is two different groups of people looking at it 2 different
ways," assistant Hamilton County prosecutor David Prem said Friday.
Jurors said after Friday's verdict they believed Smith was acting in
self-defense when he killed Gordon.
"The last jury had trouble with whether or not Gary intended to kill the
guy," Prem said of the jury unable to render a verdict last time on the
murder charge. "The last jury didn't believe self-defense."
Murder, he noted, requires that the accused be found to have intended to
kill. Felonious assault, though, requires a finding only that the accused
knowingly cause physical harm.
Smith's attorney couldn't be reached Friday.
In the 2nd trial, Smith openly and repeatedly displayed his resentment
over his case.
In that trial, Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker was so
frustrated by Smith's outbursts, even from the witness stand, that he
threatened to gag Smith. While he was testifying, Smith, in front of the
jury, asked the judge, "Did you really think I was going to do anything
you told me to?"
The only thing Smith is doing now that the judge told him to is the
55?-year prison sentence for the felonious assault convictions. Smith is
appealing that sentence and conviction.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
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