[Deathpenalty]death penalty news---ORE., NEB., N.C., MD., UTAH

Rick Halperin rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Mar 19 15:14:13 CST 2005







March 19


OREGON:

RHS grad's killer to stay on death row


The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the murder convictions and
death sentence of Robert Acremant, who admitted killing a former Roseburg
woman and her lesbian partner in 1995 for money.

Acremant pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery in
the Dec. 4, 1995, slayings of Roxanne Ellis, 53, and Michelle Abdill, 42,
formerly of Roseburg, after they refused to give him money from their
property management business.

Prosecutors said Acremant killed the women in a desperate attempt to rob
them of money he wanted to spend on a Las Vegas stripper whom he called
his girlfriend.

Acremant made conflicting statements about why he killed the women. He
told police at one point that, while he did not like lesbians, he killed
the women for money.

The murders alarmed the gay community because Ellis and Abdill had worked
on the campaign that defeated a statewide measure to limit the rights of
homosexuals.

Abdill was born in Roseburg in 1952, graduated from Roseburg High School
in 1971 and lived here until 1980, according to friends. Her father George
Abdill was the 1st director of the Douglas County Museum from 1969 until
his death in 1982. Abdill and her mother owned Abdill Real Estate School
in Medford, which had an outlet in Roseburg until 1995.

Acremant lured the women to a Medford duplex apartment, where he tied and
gagged them with duct tape. He shot them twice in the head after forcing
them to lie in the back of a pickup truck, which was discovered with the
bodies in a Medford parking lot 3 days later.

Acremant also was convicted of murder in California for the 1995 slaying
of Scott George of Visalia, the son of a friend of Acremant's mother.

The Oregon Supreme Court rejected various claims by Acremant in the
appeal, including that he should be granted a new sentencing trial because
a court reporter accidentally erased 90 minutes of the tape of his trial.
He claimed that made an insufficient record for the appeal.

The Supreme Court said the erased part of the tape accounted for only a
very short part of the trial and that the lower court was able to
reconstruct much of the missing record from affidavits and other
materials.

Acremant "fails to make a persuasive argument that the missing transcript
will prevent review by this court of any error or miscarriage of justice,"
the Supreme Court said.

Death sentences by law are automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Acremant left his $50,000-a-year job with a trucking company to start his
own software business, which failed, according to evidence in the case.
Prosecutors said his downfall began with his interest in the stripper.

Managers at the Rodeway Express trucking company testified they were
impressed with Acremant, who became a district operations manager working
on efficiency improvements.

Alla Kosova, the Las Vegas stripper whom Acremant said was his girlfriend,
testified that their relationship was based only on money.

She said he spent about $3,000 a weekend on her at the strip joint, gave
her diamond earrings and took her out to an occasional movie or dinner but
that they never had sex.

Acremant wrote a letter to his hometown newspaper, The Record of Stockton,
Calif., several weeks before he pleaded guilty to the murders, saying that
he killed the women out of hate for homosexuals.

He said he invented the robbery motive because he was nervous about how
other jail inmates would react "in that, they were hate crimes against bi-
and homosexuals.

"Now I just don't care what people think, including the jury," the letter
said. "They can kill me for all I care. I've never liked life anyway."

A prosecutor said he believed Acremant was "grandstanding" and "publicity
hungry."

(source: The News-Review)

********************

Murderer of lesbians has death sentence upheld


The Oregon supreme court on Thursday upheld the murder convictions and
death sentence of Robert Acremant, who admitted killing a lesbian couple
in 1995 for money prosecutors say he wanted to use to rekindle a
relationship with a Las Vegas stripper. Acremant pleaded guilty to
aggravated murder, kidnapping, and robbery in the December 4, 1995,
slayings of Roxanne Ellis, 53, and Michelle Abdill, 42, after they refused
to give him money from their property management business.

Prosecutors said Acremant killed the women in a desperate attempt to rob
them of money he wanted to spend on a stripper whom he called his
girlfriend. Acremant made conflicting statements about why he killed the
women. He told police at one point that, while he did not like lesbians,
he killed the women for money. The murders alarmed the gay community
because Ellis and Abdill had worked on the campaign that defeated a
statewide measure to limit the rights of gay people.

Acremant wrote a letter to his hometown newspaper, The Record of Stockton,
Calif., several weeks before he pleaded guilty to the murders, saying that
he killed the women out of hate for gays. He said he invented the robbery
motive because he was nervous about how other jail inmates would react "in
that, they were hate crimes against bi- and homosexuals." "Now I just
don't care what people think, including the jury," the letter said. "They
can kill me for all I care. I've never liked life anyway." A prosecutor
said he believed Acremant was "grandstanding" and "publicity hungry."

(source: Associated Press)






NEBRASKA:

Court rejects appeal from condemned inmate


Condemned double-murderer Arthur Lee Gales' comprehensive attack against
his sentences and the state's new death penalty law failed Friday with a
Nebraska Supreme Court decision.

Gales, sentenced to death for the murders of an Omaha girl and her
brother, had raised a wide range of claims on appeal, including the method
used to select sentencing judges, the role of jurors in sentencings, and
the fairness of the death penalty.

The Supreme Court denied each claim in the 33-page decision that marked
the court's first thorough review of Nebraska's new death penalty law.

"The key finding is that LB1 ... is constitutional," Nebraska Attorney
General Jon Bruning said in an interview Friday. "This was the 1st
opportunity of this court to look at all aspects of LB1."

Gales' attorney, Susan Bazis of Omaha, could not be reached Friday.

A 3-judge panel sentenced Gales, 39, of Omaha, to death in 2001 for the
November 2000 rape and murder of Latara Chandler, 13, and the drowning
death of her brother, Tramar, 7.

Gales also received a sentence of 50 years for the attempted second-degree
murder of the children's' mother, Judy Chandler, with whom Gales had a
romantic relationship.

In 2002, while Gales' direct appeal pended before the state Supreme Court,
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an Arizona case that juries, not judges,
should decide whether capitol murder cases had aggravating circumstances
which would justify the death sentence.

Nebraska was among a handful of states where judges decided the
aggravators.

Aggravating circumstances include whether the murder was especially
heinous, was committed to conceal another crime, or was committed together
with another murder.

In late 2002, then-Gov. Mike Johanns called a special session of the
Legislature to make the state's death law comply with the federal ruling.
The resulting legislation, LB1, provided for an "aggravation hearing'" at
which a jury determines if the aggravators exist.

The new law also required that three-judge panels, rather than single
judges, weigh the aggravators and decide the sentences.

Because Gales' sentences had not yet been finalized with a decision in his
direct appeal, the state Supreme Court ruled the Arizona case applied to
him and ordered that he be resentenced for the murders.

At the end of Gales' 2003 aggravation hearing in Douglas County District
Court, a jury found against him four aggravators, including that the
girl's murder was "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel."

A 3-judge panel later sentenced Gales to two death sentences.

On appeal, Gales raised a variety of claims challenging his sentences and
the death penalty law.

Among them, he argued the new law was "ineffective" because it does not
require the aggravators be listed in the formal charges against
defendants.

Judge John M. Gerrard, writing for the court, said Gales knew from the
court's ruling in his initial direct appeal what were the alleged
aggravators.

"Thus, to the extent Gales is arguing that he was not afforded the notice
necessary to allow him to prepare a defense, we find such argument to be
without merit," Gerrard wrote.

The judge also rejected Gales' contention that he had a right to select
and question his sentencing panel.

Gerrard called the contention a "rather remarkable proposition" akin to an
argument in favor of "'judge-shopping.'"

He also rejected Gales' claim that Chief Justice John V. Hendry did not
follow state law and randomly select the panel. And, he said, contrary to
Gales, there was no evidence the prosecutor in the case abused his
discretion by seeking the death penalty.

"In our criminal justice system, the State retains broad discretion as to
whom to prosecute and what charges to file," he wrote.

Gerrard also dismissed the claim that the death penalty is bad public
policy because it is irrational, causes violence and does not deter crime.

"(I)t is the function of the Legislature ... to declare what is the law
and public policy of this state," he wrote.

He continued: "Our responsibility, in this context, is to ensure that the
Legislature has, in promulgating public policy, acted within
constitutional boundaries.

"It is well established that imposition of the death penalty is not, per
se, cruel and unusual punishment."

Gerrard rejected Gales' claim that the "heinous" aggravator was
unconstitutionally vague, as well as his contention that he had a right to
individually question jurors at the 2003 hearing.

Gales argued some jurors might know about his original sentences and,
thus, be biased against him.

Gerrard noted that the judge asked the potential jurors as a group what
they knew about the case and whether they could be impartial.

In addition, he said, Gales' attorney had the opportunity to ask the pool
what they knew of the case and whether they could be fair.

"(E)ven if some of the jurors where aware that Gales had previously been
sentenced to death, there is no evidence to overcome the presumption that
they faithfully followed the instructions they were given," Gerrard wrote.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)






NORTH CAROLINA:

Execution Date Set For Man Who Killed 3 People


A former drill sergeant who brutally murdered a Cumberland County woman
and her two children a few months after killing an Army clerk will face
execution in May.

Earl Richmond Jr. is scheduled for execution at 2 a.m. May 6 at Central
Prison in Raleigh.

Richmond was sentenced to death in 1995 for the November 1991 murders of
Helisa S. Hayes, her son Phillip and her daughter Darien. He also received
a life sentence for 1st-degree rape.

Richmond was separately sentenced to life in prison without parole for
killing Lisa Ann Nude, a Fort Dix, New Jersey, payroll clerk.

In July, a federal appeals court rejected arguments that Richmond was
denied adequate legal representation.

(source: Associated Press)






MARYLAND:

Judge Denies Request To Postpone Evans Execution


It's a legal setback for defense attorneys trying to block next month's
scheduled execution of convicted killer Vernon Evans.

Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull refused a request
yesterday to postpone the execution.

Evans attorney, Julie Dietrich, says lawyers will quickly appeal the
denial to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The defense wants the execution postponed while they use the findings of a
University of Maryland death penalty study to appeal the death sentence.

Evans is schedule to die by lethal injection during the 5-day period that
begins April 18th. He was 1 of 2 men convicted in the April 1983 killings
2 people at the Warren House Motor Hotel in Pikesville.

The university study 2 years ago documented racial and geographic
disparities in the application of the death penalty in Maryland.

(source: Associated Press)




UTAH:

Woman's plea ends threat of execution ----Husband slain: She admits
plotting and her guilt in an aggravated murder case


A woman who orchestrated the slaying of her ex-husband at a North Logan
home to collect life insurance benefits is no longer facing a possible
death penalty.

Tamara Rhinehart - who quietly cried throughout an hourlong hearing on
Friday - pleaded guilty to aggravated murder for her role in the July 2003
shooting death of 47-year-old plumber Michael Boudrero in July 2003.

In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against the
46-year-old mother of 2.

During a 2-day hearing scheduled to begin April 28, 1st District Judge
Gordon Low will decide whether Rhinehart is sentenced to life in prison
with or without the possibility of parole.

The man who actually shot Boudrero, Rhinehart's boyfriend, Craig Duncan
Nicholls, 40, pleaded guilty in 2003 and is serving life in prison without
parole.

Rhinehart admitted Friday she wanted her ex-husband dead to collect Social
Security and life insurance benefits for herself and her children.

Rhinehart also admitted she asked her boyfriend to carry out the slaying,
which occurred July 8, 2003, at a home under construction.

Nicholls - a South African native whom Rhinehart met on the Internet -
lured Boudrero to his death by pretending to be a building contractor in
need of a plumber.

Police tied Nicholls to the murder through a pre-paid calling card he used
to call Boudrero's cell phone.

Utah authorities have never executed or sentenced a woman to death, but
Cache County prosecutors had been keeping that option open in Rhinehart's
case.

Said chief prosecuting attorney Scott Wyatt, "Had this gone to trial, we
would have asked for the death penalty, we would have felt good about
asking for the death penalty, and we would have felt comfortable about
whatever verdict the jury gave."

On the other hand, Wyatt said he was "delighted" with the plea, which was
proposed 2 weeks ago by Rhinehart's defense attorneys.

"I'm grateful [Rhinehart] has finally gotten to the point where she can
stand up, admit what she did and be responsible for it," Wyatt said. "It
takes all the uncertainty about the trial away.

"And Mike Boudrero's family won't have to sit there and listen to as much
testimony," Wyatt said. "They will be able to start putting all this
behind them."

Wyatt said the county also had avoided the expense of a costly five-week
trial. Defense attorney Mary Corporon did not return a phone call from The
Salt Lake Tribune.

At the April sentencing, Low will hear testimony to help him weigh
aggravating and mitigating factors of the crime.

In a separate prosecution, Rhinehart was convicted by a jury in January of
burglary and theft for a June 2003 break-in at the Providence home of
Rhinehart's aunt, where cash and jewelry was stolen. Sentencing in this
case has been suspended pending sentencing in the murder case.

(source: Salt Lake Tribune)






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