[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, ALA., NEB., CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Mar 16 15:56:12 CST 2005
PRESS RELEASE from ANTI-DEATH PENALTY ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK IN AUSTIN
STUDENTS APPLAUD GOVERNOR'S ACTION
Planned Protest at Governor's Mansion Becomes Celebration
WHO: Students from across Texas
WHAT: Celebration of Governor's action on Death Penalty
WHEN: THIS EVENING AT 5:30 PM
WHERE: LAVACA STREET SIDE OF TEXAS GOVERNOR'S MANSION
High School and college Students from all over Texas and other states will
be gathered at the Governor's Mansion at 5:30 today to support Governor
Perry's call for the creation of a Criminal Justice Advisory Council to
study issues related to Texas' Death Penalty laws. The students had
planned to protest the execution of Pablo Melendez, however, with that
execution stayed, the protest has turned into a victory celebration.
"Yesterday Governor Perry finally agreed with us that the system is not
perfect and that we shouldn't be afraid to ask questions and make changes
that will lead to the creation of a more fair and accurate legal system,"
said Gaby Hernandez, a spokesperson for the group.
The students and other activists have been participating in a weeklong
Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break sponsored by the Texas
Moratorium Network. Instead of going to the beach, they have been spending
their break engaged in workshops and coordinating direct actions against
the death penalty.
"We were planning to protest an execution today," said Hernandez, "but
today at the Governor's Mansion we will applaud the Governor's action, and
celebrate the fact that the people of Texas will not be killing anyone
For Immediate Release:
We struggle on despite the heartache and tears,
despite the suffering
and our fears.
We struggle on even when doubt can be deceiving,
even through depression
just keep believing.
We struggle on through winter storms,
through summer heat,
so keep on keeping on
and we'll never know defeat.
March 7, 2005
Dear Friends & Supporters,
In a 5-4 decision on March 1, 2005, the United States Supreme Court banned
the execution of juveniles who committed crimes at the age of 16 or 17
years old. I heard the news as I prepared for a visit. When I heard the
news, I immediately hollered at a few guys, especially a few of the
juveniles whose lives literally hung in the balance. Technically, some no
longer had any pending appeals. I gave them the news with a smile. Shouts
started to ring from cellblock to cellblock. It became quiet shortly after
many tuned into their radio for confirmation, some contemplated their own
fate, while some found hope that change is coming. It was news that was
bittersweet. Some of the juveniles sighed with relief, yet refrained from
openly expressing their joy. Although twenty-eight juveniles here on Texas
death row would feel comfortable facing tomorrow, we all recognize that
everyone else around us still faced death. I immediately felt
out-of-place. My neighbors congratulated me as if I had won a prize, but I
didn't feel that way.
I don't want to minimize the ruling. It is a victory toward this country
evolving towards international standards of decency, morality, and towards
a growing sense of humanity. I am still not certain on how I feel. I have
been on death row for almost half of my life. At 30 years old, I am the
oldest amongst the juveniles from Harris County, the death penalty capital
of the world. The chaos of living life on death row is all I've known for
so many years. While my friends graduated high school, attended their
prom, went to college, and perhaps now have families of their own, I have
tried as best as I could to reach beyond the shackles, steel, concrete and
chaos to give a meaning to life. Over 70 juveniles lives will be spared
and given a second chance, a chance to look forward to the future. Many
may still live in the same solitary-like conditions for 23 hours a day but
there will always be hope that tomorrow brings something new. Many have
become grown men, and will grow into old men behind bars.
I was escorted to the visitation room and I sat in front of my visitors.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw the both of them. When I gave
the news to my mother, she started to cry. Although everyone had been
expecting a ruling soon, each day pushed the thought away. The years of
trying to spend as many moments with me as best she could while praying,
hoping, and fighting suddenly drained her. Then, a radiant smile appeared
on both their faces, while I stared on.
I picked up my bible after I was escorted back to my cell. I often times
wondered how a positive ruling would affect my appeals? I wondered would
they continue? I see no victory for myself in going from one cage to
another cage. With a life sentence, I would have to spend another 35 years
in prison before I would even be considered for parole. The thought of so
many more years in prison for a crime I did not commit is still a slow
death to me. Eventually I will be moved off death row, but when I don't
know. I know longer will have the death number of 9-9-9-1-6-3 but will be
replaced with another prisoner identification number. Although I will be
thrust among the general population prisoners, I would still see the faces
of the men I know here, the men who I have watched be led to the death
chamber. There have been close to a thousand U.S. executions but Texas
alone has executed over 300 people. Although the abolishment of the
juvenile death penalty is a triumph, the war still remains. We only won a
battle. Thousands still remain on death row across this nation, so the
fight goes on.
To my friends and supporters, my fight for justice and freedom will
continue!!! I will continue to fight to have a life without looking past
the steel and concrete. I will continue to write articles, books,
newsletters, and do the things that enriches life. I will pick up the
torch to fight for what is right, just as so many have picked up the torch
to fight for me, for us, for a better world. I will continue. We must
continue! As long as I never accept defeat, victory always remains in my
sight. The love you have given me has become my eyes, in mind, body, and
The Struggle Continues,
Nanon M. Williams
(source: Nanon Williams, death row, Texas)
Texas juries need 3rd option: life without parole
Texas needs a 3rd option when dealing with capital crimes: life without
If legislators lacked incentive to give Texas juries the option of
assessing life without parole sentences in the past, they now have plenty
with the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court banning states from executing
juvenile killers. Senate Bill 60 would establish a life term without
parole. We urge senators meeting today to consider the bill to pass it out
Death penalty proponents lobbied successfully to quash such legislation in
the past. They believe it would weaken the state's death penalty system -
the busiest in the nation. As it stands, Texas jurors now have just 2
sentencing options in capital crime cases: execution or life in prison,
which actually means a minimum of 40 years. After 40 years of a life
sentence, a convict is eligible for parole.
We have long argued that the death penalty is wrong because of the
potential of executing an innocent person. Moreover, the deck is stacked
against poor defendants. We've also complained mightily about the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals, which has acted as a rubber stamp for
prosecutors. The Texas appeals court didn't think it was a problem for a
defense lawyer to sleep through portions of his client's capital murder
Even so, it's understandable how jurors might opt for the death penalty
over a life sentence given the current sentencing choices. The possibility
of parole, however small, could mean that a violent criminal might one day
be set free. The death penalty ensures that a criminal won't be free
again. Life without parole would accomplish the same goal.
Momentum is building for the life without parole option, says the bill's
sponsor, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville. This month, the U.S.
Supreme Court left Texas with only one option in dealing with minors who
commit capital crimes: Life with the possibility of parole.
Thankfully, Texas no longer will be able to sentence 17-year-olds to
death, but the state should have the option of putting them in prison for
life without parole. Lucio's bill would not eliminate the death penalty
For years, the state has needed a 3rd option for dealing with people who
commit capital crimes. Texas and New Mexico are the only death penalty
states that don't offer jurors the option of sentencing criminals to life
without parole. The Legislature can and should change that.
(source: Editorial, Austin American-Statesman)
Lingo-Perkins murder trial underway in Rusk
Kevin McElroy watched silently Monday as 14 jurors - a jury of 12 plus 2
alternates - were chosen from 100 Cherokee County citizens - the 1st step
toward resolution of a five-year-old pain for the McElroy family.
Monday was the first and only day of jury selection for the capital murder
trial against Desiree Dawn Lingo-Perkins - the last of 4 people accused of
the murder of Kevin McElroy's son, Kyle.
The trial was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning in the district
courtroom at the county courthouse in Rusk.
District Clerk Marlys Mason said 400 had been called for the selection
Although Lingo-Perkins is charged with capital murder - an offense
punishable by the death penalty - the death penalty is not being sought.
If Lingo-Perkins is found guilty and sentenced to capital murder-life, she
will not be eligible for parole for 40 years.
Lingo-Perkins was captured Oct. 7, 2004, in Laredo when she was
apprehended through a cooperative effort between U.S. and Mexican law
Kyle McElroy was kidnapped on March 10, 2000, and, according to staff
reports from the time of the incident, was last seen at about 1 a.m. that
morning when he left McElroy Plastics, Kevin's company, in Troup.
In a videotaped confession, Ernesto Baylon, convicted of Kyle McElroy's
murder, claimed Kyle McElroy drove to a location in New Summerfield early
the day of the incident.
Baylon said he and 2 other men - Daniel Rios and Alfredo Ramero - bound
Kyle McElroy's hands, feet and mouth with duct tape, then pressed a
police-type baton to his throat until he stopped breathing.
Shortly after his disappearance, Kevin McElroy received a demand for
ransom in return for his son's safe return - a demand he reported to the
Some of the ransom demands were made via telephone calls by a woman,
believed to be Lingo-Perkins. The FBI later released an audio-recording of
one of the calls on the hopes someone could identify her by her voice.
Rios, the first of the three to be apprehended, was arrested at an
arranged drop site at which McElroy's father was to leave ransom money.
Less than 36 hours after his disappearance, Kyle McElroy's body was
discovered behind an abandoned house outside New Summerfield.
Lingo-Perkins fled the area when the first arrests for the murder were
Judge Bascom W. Bentley III of the 369th District Court will preside over
the trial; Assistant District Attorney Dave Sorrell will lead the
prosecution, and Jacksonville attorney Craig Fletcher was appointed to
(source: Jacksonville Daily Progress)
Trailer-deaths juror accused of obscenity
A woman claims a juror in the trial of a New York man who could be
executed for his role in the deaths of 19 undocumented immigrants made an
obscene gesture to her as she protested the death penalty in front of the
federal courthouse Tuesday.
Amelia Perez and 2 other immigrant activists who were with her said they
described what happened to defense attorneys, prosecutors and U.S.
District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, who is presiding over the trial.
Gilmore did not discuss the incident in open court Tuesday. Prosecutors
and defense attorneys declined to comment because of a gag order in the
Prosecutors say the defendant, Tyrone Williams, ignored the screams for
help of more than 70 immigrants whom he was transporting from South Texas
in his tractor-trailer in May 2003; 19 people died.
Testimony in the trial continued Tuesday and was to resume today.
Perez, 41, said she and the 2 other activists were standing in front of
the courthouse Tuesday morning holding anti-death penalty signs when 2 men
and a woman walked past.
One of the men angrily raised his arm up, bent it toward him and then hit
his biceps with his other hand as he passed by, Perez said.
"Other people have made the same gestures. But we have not paid attention
to it," she said. "But when we entered the courtroom and saw it was one of
the jurors, we became concerned."
(source: Associated Press)
Canary in a coal mine
It's a good thing Birmingham News editorial writers don't work for
Alabama's prison system. We might be placed on leave.
Obviously, a little explanation is in order:
Donaldson Correctional Facility Warden Stephen Bullard sent a memo warning
of "catastrophic circumstances" at the prison just a few days before being
put on mandatory leave.
"I am concerned that it is going to take a lawsuit, riot, death or serious
injury for anyone to take this crisis seriously," Bullard wrote in the
March 1 memo to his boss, Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell.
"I am of the opinion that the staff at Donaldson has been asked, no
ordered, to endure what equates to nothing more than taking advantage and
abuse of dedicated employees," Bullard wrote.
Donaldson, with space for 1,000 prisoners, houses 1,625, many of whom are
mentally ill and some on death row. The crowding has overloaded the
prison's sewage system.
Corrections officers have been forced to work as much as 32 hours of
overtime per week, the warden wrote. Some officers are refusing to work
mandatory overtime, routinely obtaining doctors' excuses restricting their
work hours. If an employee is injured or sues for harassment or unfair
employment practices, "the department would have no legal standing to
defend these charges," Bullard wrote.
March 4, Bullard was notified that Campbell had placed him on a mandatory
10-business-day leave. Tuesday, Campbell said he placed Bullard on leave
because of health concerns, which Bullard mentioned in his memo. But Mac
McArthur, executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association,
which is representing the warden, called the leave "a classic case of
shooting the messenger."
Let's hope Bullard's leave has nothing whatsoever to do with speaking the
truth about problems at Donaldson, specifically, and the prison system,
generally. This editorial page for years has written of problems in
Alabama prisons, such as overcrowding, understaffing and dangerous work
conditions. Campbell, himself, has acknowledged the problems, although not
in such strong language as Bullard's memo.
It shouldn't take a lawsuit, riot or deaths or injuries to get officials'
attention on prisons. But if it does, they can't say they weren't warned.
(source: Opinion, Birmingham News)
Former Death Row Inmate Sues Because He Can't Get Jobs -- Sheets'
Conviction Was Overturned In 2001
A former death-row inmate now living in Denver wants the city of Omaha to
seal or turn over his police records, saying his job options are limited
because of his murder conviction.
Attorney J. William Gallup filed a suit Tuesday on behalf of Jeremy Sheets
in Douglas County District Court. The city and Omaha Police Chief Thomas
Warren are named as defendants.
Gallup said that when he last spoke to Sheets, he was working as a
mortgage broker. Gallup did not know what his current job status was.
"He would at least like the opportunity to apply for other work if
necessary. It's only fair," said Gallup, who is based in Omaha.
Sheets, 30, spent three years on death row before a Nebraska Supreme Court
ruling freed him in 2001. He had been convicted for the 1992 murder of
Kenyatta Bush, a 17-year-old Omaha honor student. Police had no leads
until 1996, when Sheets' name turned up as a suspect. He was convicted in
Sheets is requesting that he either receive or officials seal a number of
records related to his arrest, including fingerprint cards, mug shots and
bank records. Sheets has given potential employers copies of the dismissal
papers, Gallup said, but they are still reluctant to hire him.
"When somebody hears you're convicted of murder, that's a pretty strong
deterrent to employment," Gallup said.
The city would not comment until first reviewing the lawsuit, said Tom
Mumgaard, deputy city attorney. Mumgaard said that such a suit is rare,
especially coming from someone whose conviction had been reversed.
In 2003, Sheets sued Omaha police, alleging that they framed him for the
murder. That suit was dismissed.
(source : The Associated Press)
Judge Sentences Scott Peterson to Die
A judge today imposed the death penalty against Scott Peterson for killing
his pregnant wife, who disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002 and washed ashore
4 months later.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Alfred A. Delucchi called the crimes
"cruel, uncaring, heartless and callous."
Peterson, 32, was convicted on two counts of murder in November in the
deaths of Laci Peterson and the fetus she carried.
The jurors then voted for death by lethal injection, a decision Delucchi
could have reduced to life in prison without parole. He followed the
jury's decision after hearing from about half a dozen of Laci Peterson's
Sharon Rocha, Laci's mother, was among them, addressing Peterson: "You
planned and executed the murders. You decided to throw Laci and Conner
away, to dispose of them as if they were just a piece of garbage. Your
arrogance led you to believe that you were more intelligent than anyone
else. You were dead wrong. You're stupid, you're stupid to believe you
could get away with murder."
She also called him "selfish" and a "baby killer."
The judge also rejected Peterson's attorneys request for a new trial.
Peterson still can appeal to a higher court.
Some of the jurors talked to reporters outside the court after sentencing.
One of them said closure would come for them only when they died. They
began the trial, he said, presuming Peterson's innocence. He said he
thought, "What's this poor kid doing here? Well, we found out what he was
doing there, didn't we?"
Another juror said Peterson's facial expression was the same as it was for
the last 7 months. Asked what that was, she demurred: "You don't want me
She noted that the Petersons and the Rochas lost children. "It was very
hard today. Facing death row, that's not easy."
A photo of Laci Peterson, dressed in Christmas red and sitting, smiling
broadly with her hands crossed over her bulging belly, became well known
and was one of the last images jurors saw before voting for the death
Their alternative was life in prison for the handsome fertilizer salesman
who sat expressionless through much of the trial - a trial that included
testimony about Peterson's good works as well as statements from Amber
Frey, who said Peterson repeatedly lied to her during their affair.
Peterson did not testify, and he did not speak today.
Prosecutors had argued that a future as a suburban father had haunted
Peterson. In 2002, Peterson and Frey began a relationship and, prosecutors
said, Peterson began plotting to kill his wife.
Peterson will be housed on death row at San Quentin State Prison, which
overlooks the bay where Laci Peterson's body was found.
It could be decades before Peterson would be put to death. In the 26 years
since California reinstated capital punishment, the state has carried out
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Judge: Death Penalty for Peterson
The judge in the Scott Peterson trial has said he will sentence Peterson
to death by lethal injection for killing his wife, Laci Peterson, and
dumping her body in a bay. She was 6 months pregnant at the time. The
judge was in agreement with the jury, which also recommended the death
The average appeals process in California death penalty cases is 18 years.
Peterson will join roughly 640 inmates who sit on death row.
The judge denied a defense request for a new trial Wednesday, clearing the
way for him to be sentenced to death or life in prison for the slaying of
his wife and her fetus.
Peterson, shackled at the waist and wearing a dark suit, was escorted into
court under heavy security Wednesday as he awaited Judge Alfred A.
10 of the 12 jurors who recommended that he be sentenced to death sat in
the jury box.
Hours before the hearing began, Peterson's former mistress, star witness
Amber Frey, said she stood by her decision to turn to police. Peterson's
lawyer is challenging the use of telephone conversations she recorded for
In asking for a new trial, defense lawyer Mark Geragos said Peterson's
telephone calls to Frey should not have been admitted. He said Peterson
never implicated himself in the crime during the calls and that
authorities should not have tapped his phone.
Geragos also said prosecutors withheld evidence that a state prison inmate
claimed he heard that Laci Peterson had interrupted a burglary at a
neighbor's home in Modesto on Dec. 24, 2002, the day she was reported
(source: WISH TV News)
More information about the DeathPenalty