death penalty news----OKLA., MO., PENN., N.C., CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 15 20:16:54 CST 2005
State executes man for double murder
The state of Oklahoma has executed a Guthrie man who was convicted of
murdering his ex-girlfriend and their 11-month-old child in 1991.
Jimmie Ray Slaughter was pronounced dead at 6:19 pm after receiving a
lethal mixture of drugs.
The 57-year-old Slaughter was convicted in 1994 of shooting, stabbing and
mutilating 29-year-old Melody Wuertz and fatally shooting their daughter,
Jessica, in Edmond.
Records show Wuertz was shot in the head and spine, her sexual organs were
slashed and there was a symbol carved on her stomach. Jessica was shot
Prosecutors believe Slaughter was angry over a paternity lawsuit against
The US Supreme Court rejected a request by Slaughter's attorneys for a
stay of execution earlier today. Appeals to the Tenth US Circuit Court of
Appeals and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals also were denied.
Four death penalty opponents were arrested after they entered the
governor's office this afternoon to ask that Governor Brad Henry stop the
Slaughter maintained his innocence.
Slaughter becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Oklahoma and the 76th overall since the state resumed capital punishment
in 1990. Only Texas (340) and Virginia (94) have more put condemned
inmates to death since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on
July 2, 1976.
Slaughter becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death this year
in the USA and the 955th overall since America resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Attorney's Turn To U.S. Supreme Court To Delay Execution
The U.S. Supreme Court could the best and final hope for a Missouri inmate
scheduled to die shortly after midnight Tuesday.
As the state continues preparations for its 1st execution in 17 months,
condemned killer Stanley Hall says he is at peace during what could be the
waning hours of his life.
Hall is scheduled to die 1 minute after midnight Tuesday night at the
Potosi Correctional Center for the 1994 murder of Barbara Jo Wood of St.
Louis County. The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering an
appeal, and Governor Blunt is weighing clemency.
Wood's brother, Mark Velcheck, says Hall should be shown no mercy.
State and federal law bars execution of the mentally retarded, and Hall's
attorney claims Hall falls into that category. But Attorney General Jay
Nixon says Hall's IQ indicates he is only borderline mentally retarded and
eligible for the death penalty.
Hall Could Be Missouri's 101st Execution
On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to halt the execution of
Hall, despite claims that the condemned killer is mentally retarded.
The court offered no explanation in its 1-line ruling.
Hall's attorney, Nelson Mitten, then appealed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Governor Blunt is also weighing a clemency
Hall is scheduled to die at the Potosi Correctional Center for the 1994
murder of Barbara Jo Wood of St. Louis County.
In 2001, the state barred the execution of the mentally retarded. A year
later, the U.S. Supreme Court did the same.
(source: Associated Press)
Judge stops execution of Philadelphia killer
A federal judge has stayed the execution of a man who had been scheduled
to die later this month for a murder in Philadelphia.
The order was issued last week in the case of Jose Uderra, 38, an inmate
at Graterford state prison. Uderra was convicted in 1993 of the
drug-related killing and robbery of Michael Sharpe.
Under terms of the court order, Uderra will receive help from the Defender
Association of Philadelphia in pursuing further appeals.
Three men have been executed in Pennsylvania since the early 1960s, most
recently in July 1999. Uderra is among 221 people on the state's death row
as of March 1.
(source: Associated Press)
Charlotte man on death row asks to live--Appeal claims lawyers handling
murder at Hardees not effective
A Charlotte man on death row for killing the manager of a Hardees where he
worked is in court this week trying to win a new sentencing hearing.
Melvin Jay Hardy, 27, convicted of killing 2 people, did not speak Monday
during the first day of the appeal hearing.
His lawyer, Henderson Hill, questioned experts he will use in attempting
to persuade the judge his clients original lawyers were ineffective.
In December 1998, Hardy was convicted and sentenced to death for killing
Andrew Ray during a late-night robbery at a Hardees near Cotswold Mall.
Hes also serving a life sentence in connection with the 1995 murder of
Kedrin Bradley, a teenager who apparently owed him drug money. When he
killed Ray, Hardy was out of jail on bond awaiting trial in the Bradley
Rays widow and Bradleys mother sat side by side in the courtroom Monday.
They declined an interview request.
During a break, Rays widow spoke kindly to Hardys parents, who sat behind
A jury spared Hardys life in June 1998 when it convicted him of murdering
Bradley by beating her with tree limbs and strangling her with a bandanna.
6 months later, another jury decided he should be executed for killing
This weeks hearing is an effort to get the judge to throw out that
decision and charge another jury with deciding whether Hardy should die or
spend the rest of his life in prison for killing Ray.
Hardy was accused of ordering the restaurant manager to his knees, then
shooting him in the face with a shotgun. 2 co-defendants testified against
On Monday, a clinical neuro-psychologist testified that she believes Hardy
suffers from a brain injury, possibly resulting from a wreck where he hit
his head on a windshield at age 4.
A former special education teacher and school administrator testified that
Hardy had behavior problems throughout school and may have benefited from
special education programs that were never offered to his family.
Hardy's lawyer told the court his clients original lawyers - Harold Bender
and Sharon Jumper - will testify later in the week. He also told the judge
he expects to question a juror. This is "Sunshine Week," when newspapers
and other media are emphasizing public access to government documents,
records and meetings.
Open Courts Law
The N.C. Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
guarantee public access to most court proceedings, except in rare
circumstances where a court determines that the interest in openness is
heavily outweighed by compelling factors.
SC Upholds Death Sentence in Rape-Murder of Valley Child
A death sentence imposed for the murder of an 8-year-old San Fernando
Valley girl was unanimously affirmed yesterday by the California Supreme
Court. Justice Carlos Moreno acknowledged that the defendant, Hooman
Ashkan Panah, "was a youth who, before this crime, had no prior record of
any serious offenses" whose "journey from his native land -Iran - to this
country was an arduous and perhaps traumatic one."
But those facts "pale in comparison to the gravity" of the killing of
Nicole Parker, who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted with tremendous
force, Moreno said. "We are unable to conclude that the penalty imposed in
this case is disproportionate to his culpability."
Nicole disappeared Nov. 20, 1993, while playing with a softball and mitt
outside her father's Woodland Hills apartment. Her body was found stuffed
in a suitcase in the close of Panah's bedroom in an apartment he shared
with his mother across the courtyard.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sandy Kriegler, who has been nominated
for elevation to this district's Court of Appeal, sentenced Panah to death
on the basis of a jury verdict rendered in Van Nuys in 1995.
Jurors found Panah, who was 22 at the time of the killing, guilty of 1st
degree murder with special circumstances, and of kidnapping a minor for
sexual purposes, kidnapping a child under the age of 14, child
molestation, forcible sodomy, forcible penetration of a child with a
foreign object, and forcible oral copulation of a child.
In the penalty phase, prosecutors presented evidence from the victims
parents and brothers as to the devastating effect of the crime upon their
lives. The defense argued that Panah should be spared because he was
The defendants mother testified that Panah had a difficult life, for which
she took a great deal of the responsibility. She recounted the turmoil
amid which he had grown up, as she moved from Iran to Germany to Mexico
and finally to the United States.
She had disciplined him harshly, she said, and had twice threatened to
commit suicide in order to get him to break off relationships with young
ladies of whom she disapproved.
The defense also called a former girlfriend of Panah, who testified that
she believed him to be the father of her infant daughter and that his
execution would leave her without a father. Prosecutors presented a
rebuttal witness who testified the woman had lived with another man for 10
years and had identified him as the father.
On appeal, in addition to attacking his sentence, Panah argued that
Kriegler deprived him of his right to counsel by replacing 1 of his 2
court-appointed attorneys rather than continuing the trial after the
lawyer was injured in an automobile accident.
Moreno pointed out that Judge Lance Ito, who had the case before Kriegler,
had specifically appointed the attorney, Syamak Shafi-Nia, as "2nd
counsel" to Robert Sheahen. Sheahen, the justice noted, is a veteran
criminal defense lawyer with prior death penalty experience, whereas
Shafi-Nia was not a criminal lawyer but was chosen because of a personal
relationship with the defendant.
Sheahen, Moreno noted, had acknowledged making "97 % of the decisions in
this case," and had analogized his co-counsel's "learning curve" as a
"50-pound weight that we are dragging around."
Moreno also pointed out that the trial judge had praised the work of
William Chais, who was appointed to replace Shafi-Nia. While Chais had
only been practicing for five years at the time and had not previously
tried a murder case, Kriegler said he had done an "outstanding job" that
was "far beyond what Mr. Shafi-Nia could have ever hoped to have added in
this case because of his complete lack of criminal experience."
Attorneys on appeal were Robert Bryan of San Francisco, who was appointed
by the court to represent the defendant, and Deputy Attorney General Ana
Duarte for the prosecution.
The case is People v. Panah, 05 S.O.S. 1231.
(source: Metropolitan News Company)
More information about the DeathPenalty