death penalty news-----TEXAS, CALIF., S.C., USA, FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Mar 19 17:46:12 CST 2005
Students charged with capital murder
The district attorney's office has accepted capital murder charges against
2 Pasadena Independent School District high school students for allegedly
hiring 2 men to kill a classmate Wednesday.
The victim, Luan Cong Pham, 18, had filed separate court cases on each
student for assaults, according to S. Straughter, Houston police officer.
Thuan Vu, 18, a student at Dobie High School, allegedly admitted to police
that he took part in hiring the men to kill his classmate, according to
The other student , Huan Vudoan, 18, a student at The Summit, has not
admitted to hiring the men, but the district attorney's offices has filed
charges against him because of evidence brought forward by police.
Each of the students was taken into custody at his school by district
police for questioning on Tuesday, Straughter said.
On Monday, police arrested the 2 men who said that they were promised $450
together to kill the victim.
The suspects, Steven Tridung Trinh, 18, and Michael The Tran, 20,
reportedly admitted to killing the victim. Both of the men are former
Dobie High School students and knew the victim, according to Straughter.
The victim, who was in a half day school program, reportedly invited the
suspects into his home.
Pham was found dead on the couch by his parents on Feb. 23. He was shot 5
to 6 times, according to police.
All 4 suspects are being held without bond, Straughter said.
Police believe the incident occurred because the victim and one of the
students liked the same girl. A 5th person may be called as a witness in
the case, according to Straughter.
Police have not recovered the weapon used in the shooting, Straughter
(source: Houston Community Newspapers)
Oliver grapples with life's big issues through painting
This schmoozing business was uncomfortable territory for Kermit Oliver,
but he had agreed to do his best.
So there he was in a mezzanine gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts,
Houston, dapper in a dark blue blazer, dutifully making small talk against
the backdrop of a retrospective exhibition of his work.
Despite his insistence that art ranks no higher than No. 3 in his life
behind his wife and three children, even behind his day job at the Waco
post office - the courtly Oliver is in the midst of a string of public
events that undoubtedly will elevate his profile. In addition to the show
at the MFAH, which opened earlier this month, an exhibit opens Saturday at
the Hooks-Epstein Gallery, and he will be honored that evening by the
MFAH's African American Art Advisory Association.
Not that it will make much difference to Oliver.
"Kermit doesn't care if he's ever famous," said Geri Hooks, the art dealer
who has represented Oliver for almost 20 years. "I have begged him to
allow me to send slides of his work to other dealers I know would want to
do an exhibition. He's never allowed me to do it."
Fame, it seems, holds little allure. "My work has always been an adjunct
to my life," he said. "Its purpose was never to culminate in this."
But even as he downplays its importance, art is clearly the way in which
Oliver grapples with life's big issues - old-fashioned concerns such as
family, nature, death and redemption. He looks uncomfortable making small
talk with strangers. But through the art hanging on the walls, he has
addressed the worst thing that ever happened to him, and to the family he
Even for a shy man, a show at the MFAH has its rewards. Oliver's show has
brought out old friends from Texas Southern University who, like him,
studied with John Biggers, the renowned artist and muralist.
"It's Willie Moore, one of Dr. Biggers' stars," the 61-year-old Oliver
gently teased, flashing a relieved smile as he spied Moore's familiar
Next, the Rev. William Lawson, recently retired from the pulpit at Wheeler
Avenue Baptist Church, ducked in with his wife.
"Oh, it's good to see you," Audrey Lawson said, leaning in to hug Oliver's
The Lawsons have known Oliver and his wife, Katie, for 40 years, beginning
in the days when the civil rights movement raged across the TSU campus and
Oliver arrived at TSU in 1960, following his two older brothers from the
South Texas ranch town of Refugio, where they had grown up in a family of
Biggers introduced him to mythology and symbolism, the use of everyday
objects to illustrate grand themes. A few years later, Oliver discovered a
book that remains among his favorites: Carl Jung's Symbols of
"He was not the usual young man," Lawson said. "He was not the Saturday
Michelle Barnes, now an artist and co-founder of the Community Artists'
Collective, remembers the Oliver of those days as part of an attractive
young couple, noticed by all the younger kids.
"I would see him and Katie riding their bicycles," she said. "All of us
were looking forward to having cars, and they were satisfied riding
Then as now, Oliver remained somehow apart from the world around him.
After graduation, Oliver did what many artists do, taking a succession of
teaching jobs at TSU, the Art League and other schools. He also built
frames for other people's artwork, even as his reputation grew.
He was the 1st African-American artist in Houston represented by a
commercial gallery. By 1970, when he had a 1-person show at the DuBose
Gallery, his reputation seemed assured.
He and Katie had three kids: Kristy, Khristopher and Khristian. Katie and
the children appear repeatedly in Oliver's work, including some in the
MFAH retrospective. From 1971, there's a bust of pig-tailed Kristy,
looking upward, her eyes as blank as a statue from ancient Greece.
Khristopher appears as a toddler on a headboard with a zoo's worth of
animals in 1975. In 1978, he poses wearing a red paper hat.
That same year, Oliver painted his youngest son, still an infant, in Young
Mitras in Gown Designed for his Presentation to the Temple (Portrait of
Khristian). 5 years later, both boys - the dark Khristopher and the
lighter, blond-haired Khristian - appear in My Two Boys . They are naked,
astride a rearing pony. In an effect at once classical and warm, the boys
are symbols, but they are also just playful boys.
The Houston art world loved Oliver's surrealist images and Biblical
allegories. But in 1984, he left it all behind, moving with his family to
a rambling house in east Waco that Katie had inherited from her
His fellow artists puzzled over the decision.
"I thought, 'Someone with such amazing work and such a successful
career?'" said Bert Samples, a painter who studied with Oliver in the
Oliver went to work sorting mail at the Waco post office. "The choice was
extremely practical," he said. "I had a family."
The job gave him a paycheck, health insurance, a pension - and freedom
from worrying about selling his artwork. The monotonous routine, he
reasoned, would sap less of his creative energy than teaching had.
For the next few years, he ignored entreaties from galleries, focusing on
his family and accepting portrait commissions. In 1984, he became the
first, and only, American artist to design an Herms scarf. To date, he has
"I was not looking to show anymore," he said. "I had had that experience.
I think most artists show work for affirmation, but I didn't."
Years of persistence eventually paid off for Charles Hooks, who with his
wife, Geri Hooks, established the Hooks-Epstein Gallery. Oliver agreed in
1989 that they could represent him.
His work has been seen regularly since then, but he still is often
described as a recluse, shunning not only the limelight but most contact
with the outside world.
Oliver knows the stories - "They say I'm the best-kept secret in Waco," he
jokes - and he doesn't dispute them. "People think, 'You're an artist, and
you certainly want to have that public forum,'" he said. "That was not my
What Kermit Oliver cared about was his family and his art. But in 1998,
his world began to fall apart.
Khristian Oliver, then 21, and 3 juveniles were arrested in Waco in
connection with a burglary of a home in Nacogdoches. Khristian was charged
with capital murder, accused of shooting and beating the 64-year-old
homeowner, Joe Collins, who later died.
He was sentenced to death in April 1999.
"This was a crushing blow to Kermit," Lawson said. "I think he felt
somehow he and Katie had failed."
The Olivers traveled daily from their home in Waco for the trial in
Nacogdoches the following year. Geri Hooks was often there, too.
"I once said to Kermit, 'How are you really?' And he said, 'My needs are
simple. Give me a studio with good light. Give me my art supplies. Give me
my books, a bed, a bathroom, and slide a little food and water under the
door once in a while, and I would be the happiest man in the world.'"
But Oliver's art from that period is not that of a happy man. "It was very
dark," Hooks said. "It was so down, and it was obvious that his heart was
Khristian's conviction has been appealed, and no execution date has been
set. Now 27, he remains on death row in Livingston.
"It's surreal," Oliver said.
Almost 6 years after the trial, he still is reflecting on its outcome. "If
there is any comfort that I take from this tragedy," he said, "it's that
these are ideas I've been dealing with in my work - the idea of death,
The MFAH show includes a drawing from 2001, part of Oliver's preparation
for Resurrection , a 9-foot painting now hanging in a chapel at Trinity
Episcopal Church. In that painting, against a red background, in a
landscape full of symbols, the arisen Christ looks directly at the viewer.
He is a figure of indeterminate ethnicity, his face calm. He is naked, his
genitals covered by an odd floating burial cloth. The cloth twists, Oliver
explained, like DNA.
The figure, he said, is modeled on Khristian.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Scott Peterson's legal troubles resume
Scott Peterson' legal troubles are far from over, even as he begins
serving time on San Quentin State Prison's death row for the murder of his
wife, Laci, and her fetus.
As Peterson faces a maze of appeals to fight his criminal conviction, a
wrongful death civil lawsuit brought against him by Laci's mother is
expected to get underway in the next few months, Matt Geragos, Peterson's
civil attorney, said Friday.
A Stanislaus County judge put Sharon Rocha's December, 2003 lawsuit on
hold pending the conclusion of Peterson's murder trial, which ended
Wednesday when the former fertilizer salesman was sentenced to death.
"I now imagine the stay will get lifted and the matter would proceed,"
said Geragos, the brother of Mark Geragos, who defended Peterson in the
Redwood City criminal trial.
Rocha's suit seeks more than $5 million in damages. The Stanislaus County
Superior Court case claims Peterson's conduct was "willful, wanton and
outrageous beyond the ability of ordinary human beings to comprehend."
Rocha's attorney, Adam Stewart, did not return repeated calls for comment.
A Rocha family spokeswoman declined comment.
There may not be assets to collect from the defendant if Rocha wins
damages. Still, a judgment against Peterson might require him to surrender
profits from selling his story, which could fetch several million dollars.
Rocha wouldn't be the first person to file a wrongful death case against
the perpetrator of a crime.
Sharon Smith is suing Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, the owners of a
huge Presa Canaro dog who mauled to death Smith's partner, Diane Whipple,
in the hallway of a San Francisco apartment building 4 years ago. Knoller
and Noel were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the case.
Smith has said she doesn't expect to see a dime from Knoller and Noel if
she wins her wrongful death case, but hopes a judgment might make the pair
think twice about selling their headline-grabbing story.
"It's not about money. It's about seeing justice done," Smith said.
And 2 years after O.J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his
ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in a televised
trial that captured national attention, Goldman's parents, along with
Nicole Brown Simpson's estate, were awarded $33.5 million after a civil
jury found Simpson liable for the slayings.
That judgment has gone largely unpaid. Simpson has said he wouldn't earn
any money as long as he is required to pay the civil judgment he says was
Before the Peterson criminal trial, Rocha's attorney asked a Modesto judge
to place in trust any money Peterson may have made from his story.
While it has not been reported whether Peterson has profited, Stanislaus
County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne declined to create a trust.
The judge cited a 2002 California Supreme Court decision nullifying a law
that barred felons from profiting from the sale of their crime stories.
The 1983 statute, nicknamed the Son of Sam law, required convicted
criminals to give all money earned from book, movie or other deals to
their victims or the state. The justices ruled unanimously that the law
violated the First Amendment.
(source: Associated Press)
Experts: Peterson Has Psychopath Traits
Every day of his 6-month murder trial, Scott Peterson marched into the
courtroom with his head held high. He smiled at his family, took his seat
and paid close attention, often whispering to his lawyers or taking notes.
Given a chance to defend himself in the murders of his pregnant wife Laci
and their unborn son, the slick, handsome salesman with the megawatt smile
had nothing to say.
His demeanor seemed to infuriate jurors and many trial watchers, who came
to see Peterson as a manipulative, pathological liar with a grandiose
sense of self and an inability to empathize.
Experts say this absence of emotion is the hallmark of a psychopath.
"They don't have the internal psychological structure to feel and relate
to other people," forensic psychologist Reid Meloy said.
"Sometimes they can imitate it, so they can fool other people, but there
will come a point when they can't maintain it."
The times Peterson did display emotion were rare. He winced and put his
head down when prosecutors showed autopsy photos of his wife and their
fetus. He wiped tears from his eyes as his mother pleaded with jurors to
spare his life. He wept softly when his sister-in-law recounted the 1st
time she met his slain wife.
But passionate, angry and accusatory outbursts from Laci's family members
when he was sentenced to death Wednesday didn't appear to faze him.
Meloy said that fits with the inability of psychopaths to form truly
intimate bonds with others.
Such an absence of heartfelt emotion "gives the psychopath the ability at
times to kill without remorse and to kill for reasons filled with
banality," he explained. "Others' emotions of grief and rage and fury are
like water off a duck's back."
That apparent lack of emotion raised investigators' suspicions in the 1st
place, police and prosecutors said Thursday when they gave their first
news conference since the trial began.
"His major concerns weren't Laci at the beginning of this case," explained
Modesto Detective Al Brocchini. "He is very calm, cool, nonchalant,
polite, arrogant. He thinks he's smarter than everybody."
Peterson's half-sister, Anne Bird, said she thought his behavior was
strange when he lived with her family during the investigation of Laci's
"He is the most empty person. Everything he does seems to have been copied
from someone else," she said.
When she last visited Peterson at the San Mateo County Jail in January, he
seemed in utter denial as he talked about getting out of prison and
leading a quiet, simple life somewhere, she said.
"I was wondering if he really understood the extremity of the whole thing.
I think he's very bright, but he's kind of soulless. He's very empty.
Somehow he's been lost."
The jurors who attended the sentencing Wednesday said they, too, saw
something wrong with Peterson from the beginning.
"Scott came in with a great big smile on his face, laughing. It was just
another day in paradise for Scott. Another day he had to go through the
motions," juror Mike Belmessieri said. "He's on his way home, Scott
figures. Well, guess what, Scotty?"
Juror Richelle Nice interjected: "San Quentin is your new home."
Psychopaths need greater stimulation than most other people in order to
feel anything, Meloy said.
When Peterson arrived at California's death row at San Quentin State
Prison early Thursday morning, he told a guard he was "too jazzed" to
"The most intense emotion he's derived through his whole trial was the
excitement he received when he darkened the doors of San Quentin," Meloy
(source: Associated Press)
Proving the power of innocence----Activist law students use DNA, other
tools to free the wrongly convicted.
Peter Rose bolted through an emergency exit to shake the reporters and
camera crews, fed up with their demands to tell his story, over and over.
How did it feel, they asked, to be wrongly convicted of the lowest of
crimes? Would he carry a grudge for the 10 years he'd been branded a child
rapist? What would he do with the rest of his life?
He "just knew it was all going to work out," Rose said into the
microphones. He had no time for grudges. He would go fishing.
Then he jumped a rope barrier and was out the door to join his family,
muttering about the silence that had met his claims of innocence for
almost a decade - from the press, the police, even his court-appointed
"I believe lunch was more important to him than my trial," Rose said.
Once the Northern California Innocence Project took up his case, though,
Rose was being believed by the most persistent of advocates - a succession
of law students working under a pair of seasoned defense lawyers.
After 2 years of work, they were able to upset his conviction and get him
freed from prison. Then they cleared his name.
Innocence projects began opening prison doors for those wrongly convicted
about the same time that Rose began serving his 27-year sentence.
The 1st was founded in New York in 1992 to tap the potential of DNA for
proving people innocent. Today, 30 or so projects are operating out of law
schools and journalism schools around the country. Most aren't confined to
DNA work but consider any conviction that can be upended by new evidence.
It can be cut and dried, as in one Los Angeles robbery case. A
surveillance tape showed the 6-foot-6 robber walking past a ruler that had
been painted on the frame of the Office Depot entry door. The man
convicted of the crime, Jason Kindle, was a head shorter.
Or the evidence can involve a web of false confessions, coerced
accusations, eyewitness mistakes and laboratory blunders that can take
years to unravel.
2 California projects have won the release of Kindle and 6 other men since
2000. Dozens of cases are under investigation at the California Innocence
Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego and the Northern
California Innocence Project, based at Santa Clara University with a new
satellite office at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
The Rose victory was the 1st for Golden Gate.
Relatively crude tests performed on rape evidence in 1995 did not exclude
Rose as the possible rapist. Attempts to DNA-type the semen sample had
failed then. But after many advances in technology, a successful test
Former Golden Gate student Marilyn Underwood "pushed and pushed and
pushed," she said, until the state DNA lab confirmed it still had the
evidence and, yes, there was enough to do a DNA test.
2 other students with two supervising lawyers wrote the petition that
persuaded the judge to order testing. The results showed the evidence
hadn't come from Rose and led to his release on Oct. 29.
After the victim's recantation, followed by more DNA results in January,
another student team helped prepare a motion to have Rose declared
"factually innocent." Granted a month ago, it led to the clearing of his
The judge, a former county prosecutor, called the experience "an education
One student, George Derieg, who worked on the final phase of the case,
called it "exhilarating." Rose called the Innocence Project "the best
thing that's ever happened to the justice system."
But Janice Brickley, the lawyer who supervised the project's work, asked
in the court hearing for "a day of reflection" - on convicting an innocent
man, a father whose youngest child hadn't been born when he went to
prison, a son who couldn't support his mother when she went through cancer
treatments, a grandson whose grandfather spent his life savings on a
defense and died before seeing the exoneration.
Brickley told the judge she had received an e-mail from a correctional
officer, saying he felt "just terrible" that he didn't believe Rose when
he said he was innocent.
Innocence projects have been contributing to public acceptance of the idea
that the wrong people really do get convicted, said Kathleen Ridolfi, the
Northern California Innocence Project's executive director. There may be a
growing consensus, too, that prosecutors as well as defense lawyers have a
duty to find and free them.
"We have great respect for (the innocence projects)," said Karyn Sinunu,
assistant district attorney in Santa Clara County. "Our philosophy is, we
all have the same interest. If an innocent person is incarcerated or
convicted, it means the real culprit is free. We don't want that."
"Doing justice doesn't mean just winning cases," said San Diego District
Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "Our mission in our office includes vigorously
prosecuting those that commit crimes but not at the expense of those who
In San Diego, Ken Marsh was freed last summer after 21 years in prison for
the death of his girlfriend's toddler. When the Cal Western Innocence
Project produced medical evidence pointing to an accidental death, Dumanis
stipulated to Marsh's release and asked the court to dismiss the charges.
In the nation, thousands of criminals have been caught with the help of
DNA technology, and more than 150 innocent people have been released from
Few so far have been freed in California.
Under state law, DNA testing can be ordered after a conviction when it
could change the case outcome.
According to Rockne Harmon, an Alameda County DNA expert who chairs the
Forensic Evidence Committee of the California District Attorneys
Association, judges have granted testing in about one case a year - an
indication, he said, that while many California inmates say they're
innocent, few really are. He said prosecutors have other priorities than
to look for "needles in haystacks."
Try telling that to John Stoll.
In 1985, Stoll, a carpenter and gas plant supervisor who'd never been in
trouble before, was sentenced to 40 years. He was among those caught up in
a frenzy over alleged sex rings targeting youngsters in Kern County.
No physical evidence showed the children had been abused. The prosecutions
ended when the children's stories escalated wildly. Most of the 40 or so
convicted defendants were freed.
Yet Stoll remained in prison. Abandoned by family and community, he
thought he'd been forgotten - until an exonerated defendant persuaded his
lawyer to do something for Stoll.
The lawyer contacted the Innocence Project. Cal Western and Santa Clara
students and lawyers worked on the case.
Soon, Stoll said, "people started to visit. I started thinking of them as
2 law students - of the dozen who worked for Stoll, along with 7 lawyers
and an investigator - stayed with the case through their summer vacations
and a year past their project courses.
The defense team tracked down Stoll's now-grown accusers. Ridolfi
personally paid to fly in witnesses for hearings.
4 of the 6 men recanted. They said they never had believed their
accusations but had been coerced by law enforcement and social workers.
The fifth said he had no memory of the time. Only Stoll's 6th accuser -
his son - stuck to his original story, though he could offer no details.
Stoll was released last spring, nearly penniless. Ridolfi and her partner,
Innocence Project legal director Linda Starr, invited him to stay in their
guest cottage for a year to get his bearings.
He lives there today, surrounded by photos of friends but none of his son,
his wife or his former Bakersfield home.
On a balmy winter day, an investigator drops off a used motorcycle for
him. His new neighbors wave. He smiles back, showing a set of teeth
donated by a team of local dentists who saw him on television.
The interviewer had asked Stoll what he wanted most. His 1st choice was
his son, the 5-year-old who ran to him in his dreams when he was in
prison. His 2nd choice was being able to smile.
"I didn't know there was that much kindness in the world," Stoll said of
He does landscaping in the San Jose neighborhood, but his search for
steady work hasn't panned out. Determined not to overstay his welcome in
the guest house, Stoll, 61, worries about the future.
"When they turn you loose, there's nothing there for you," he said, not
even a letter to potential employers explaining the 20-year gap in his job
Stoll has applied for state compensation that's available to innocent
people who've lost money through wrongful imprisonment. It can amount of
$100 for each day of loss, but it's rarely granted and never yet to
someone exonerated through the Innocence Project.
Peter Rose, who now lives on the north coast, also will apply. With his
judge's finding that he's "factually innocent," his case may be stronger
He's stronger in other ways.
At 37, he walked out of prison and into the arms of an extended family
that never doubted him. He went to work as a tender on sea urchin boats
operated by cousins in Point Arena and Bodega Bay.
He hopes to own his own boat some day.
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Allen sentenced to death for 2 Richland murders----Judge orders his
execution for killing Jedediah Harr, Dale Evonne Hall in 2002
Quincy Allen believed fate alone determined whether someone lived or died
during his 2002 crime spree that left 4 dead in 2 states.
But Circuit Judge G. Thomas Cooper on Friday said it was Allens free will
- not fate - that led him to become a quadruple murderer.
In a packed Richland County courtroom, Cooper sentenced the 25-year-old
Allen to death for the slayings of Dale Evonne Hall and Jedediah Harr in
Northeast Richland. Allen earlier admitted to their murders.
"What is fate about shooting a defenseless woman in the back or putting a
shotgun to her mouth and pulling the trigger?" said Cooper, who previously
had never imposed a death sentence. "Fate cannot be a scapegoat."
Allen was sentenced last year in North Carolina to life in prison after
pleading guilty to killing 2 men in a convenience store robbery, which
occurred while he was on the run from S.C. authorities.
Relatives of Hall and Harr looked upward as Cooper announced Fridays
verdict, releasing sighs and tears.
A smiling Scott Farwell, Harrs brother, quietly pumped his fist in
"Tit for tat, man," Farwell said afterward. "You kill somebody, you should
be put to death. ... I think this is going to set precedence."
"May he rot in hell," Anthony Pressley, Hall's brother, said afterward.
Allen, of Columbia, became the 1st person in Richland County in 10 years
to receive the death penalty. He joins about 70 other S.C. death row
inmates; the average stay on death row is about 8 years, state corrections
A shackled Allen, who bragged to a television station after Harrs death
about being a serial killer, nervously jiggled his legs and rubbed his
fingers as Cooper began speaking but quit as it became apparent he was
going to be sentenced to death. He showed no emotion when the verdict was
announced and was quickly led out of the courtroom.
"Mr. Allen murdered 4 people ... all of them very brutally,- 5th Circuit
Solicitor Barney Giese said afterward. "I believe the facts of this case
sealed his fate."
Giese said Thursday that Allen would serve his sentence in South Carolina
instead of North Carolina if sentenced to death.
Allen admitted to murdering Hall, 45, on July 10, 2002, by shooting her
several times with a 12-gauge shotgun in a remote spot on Oakway Drive off
Two Notch Road. She begged for her life before he shot her, and he later
returned to burn her body, prosecutors said.
Allen fatally shot Harr on Aug. 8, 2002, in a car outside the Texas
Roadhouse restaurant on Two Notch Road during a confrontation between
Allen and Harr's friend, Brian Marquis, who worked at the restaurant with
"Thank God, Jed, we finally got him for you," Harrs mother, Joanne Harr,
said, repeating what she said was her first thought when she heard Fridays
Under the watchful eyes of several dozen Richland County sheriffs
deputies, relatives of Harr, Hall and Allen were kept separated in the
courtroom during the sentencing. On Thursday deputies broke up a near
scuffle between the two sides outside the courtroom during a break in
Allens lawyers contended that Allen suffered from schizophrenia at the
time of his crime spree. The sentencing phase, which began March 7, was
largely a battle of medical experts.
But Cooper didnt find the defense experts persuasive. He pointed out that
Allen's several hospitalizations from 1997 through 1999 were short with
"no recognition of mental illness that required treatment."
"I have not seen convincing evidence that Mr. Allen had a major mental
illness at the time of the crimes committed in 2002," he said. "If he had
a major mental illness ... then the mental health community failed him and
failed this community."
Prosecutors claimed Allen faked or grossly exaggerated mental illness
symptoms after his arrest to escape the death penalty.
Allens lawyers had described a horrible childhood in which Allen was
neglected, abused and shuffled among relatives and numerous schools. His
mother once left him in a trash can; to cope with stress, he would vomit
and eat his regurgitated food, a defense expert testified.
But Cooper said while Allen experienced a "very poor and destructive home
life," he believed his crime spree was the "result of his desire to be
noticed and respected."
Besides imposing the death penalty, Cooper also sentenced Allen to a total
of 70 years in prison on 3 arson charges and one count each of assault and
battery with intent to kill and pointing and presenting a firearm. Allen
admitted to shooting and wounding a homeless Columbia man before killing
Hall and Harr, and setting fires to a home and 2 cars afterward.
(source: The State)
Man convicted of killing 4 sentenced to death in South Carolina
A man who shot 4 people during a killing spree across the Carolinas in
2002 was sentenced to death Friday after a judge rejected arguments that
the defendant is mentally ill.
Quincy Allen, 25, pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to the July 2002 shooting deaths
of Jedediah Harr, 22, and Dale Evonne Hall, 45. Allen's attorneys argued
his life should be spared because he has been diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic and has other mental disorders.
"I have not seen convincing evidence that Mr. Allen had a major mental
illness at the time of the crimes in 2002," Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper
Jr. said. Instead, the crimes stemmed from Allen's "poor and destructive
home life" during his upbringing, the judge said.
His crimes "were, I believe a result of his desire to be notice and
respected and if he had a major mental illness in 2002, no one -- not even
his psychiatrists -- seemed to notice," Cooper said.
"May his soul rot in hell," Dale Hall's older brother, Anthony Preston,
said outside court.
Harr's mother recalled being grateful after the sentence, while thinking:
"And Jed, we finally got him for you."
"Our lives were torn apart. Pieces of our hearts were torn out of us,"
Joanne Harr said, her eyes filling with tears.
In North Carolina, Allen avoided the death penalty after pleading guilty
in February 2004 to killing convenience store clerk Richard Hawks, 53, and
customer Robert Shane Roush, 29, in Dobson, N.C., in August 2002. During
his North Carolina sentencing hearing, the death penalty was off the
table, Cooper said.
"I'm hesitant to speculate, but I suspect that hearing was not in the
least comparable" to what this court experienced during the two weeks of
witness testimony, Cooper said.
Families of the victims urged a life in prison term for the defendant in
Allen began his crime spree in July 2002 when he shot and injured a
homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Days later he shot Hall and burned
her body. He killed Harr while shooting at the car of a co-worker's
Allen left the state en route to New York. The North Carolina shootings
occurred on Aug. 12, 2002, while Allen was headed back south. He was
arrested two days after those shootings in Colorado City, Texas.
"Mr. Allen murdered four people within a month's time, all of them
brutally," prosecutor Barney Giese said.
(source: Sioux City Journal)
Mixed messages----Yanking around the World Court puzzles friends and foes
>From the "Huh?" department comes this sequence of events. First, the Bush
administration finally agreed to abide by a World Court ruling that
noncitizen criminal suspects have the right to seek help from their
governments. Then it promptly said it would no longer recognize the
court's jurisdiction to rule on such matters.
How does that make sense?
Last month, President Bush instructed the Justice Department to tell
states to comply with a ruling last year by the World Court (formally the
International Court of Justice). That ruling said that 51 Mexicans on
death row in several U.S. states - most of them in California and Texas -
were entitled to reviews to determine if they had been denied consular
access and, if so, whether that lapse might have affected the outcome in
court to the point that would justify a new trial.
Critics of the administration's repeated flouting of international
treaties were delighted. Some state officials, however, objected, arguing
that the federal government has no authority under the Constitution to
order such reviews by the states. How that dispute turns out remains to be
seen. But immediately after Bush's order, the State Department said the
United States had withdrawn from an optional protocol to the 1963 Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations that vests jurisdiction in the World
Legal experts wonder what that means. Our guess is that the administration
is saying it will go along with last year's World Court ruling because
it's required by the treaty, but that it won't recognize the court's
jurisdiction the next time another country complains - as Mexico did over
Mexicans facing the death penalty in this country - that one of its
citizens was not told of the right to contact a consular official.
Also of concern is whether, having acknowledged that it is obliged to
abide by the Vienna Convention, the federal government will take steps to
ensure that in the future local police inform foreigners they arrest - for
murder or any other crime - of this right and, if they fail to do so, act
to correct that error.
Informing a noncitizen of his or her right to consular assistance would
change neither the facts in a case nor its outcome, assuming due process,
which consular officials could try to assure. One Mexican who had no
consular contact, now on death row in Texas, had a court-appointed
attorney who had been suspended for ethics violations and who called no
witnesses at trial.
But if it's right for the United States to abide by a treaty it says it
supports, it's equally right to recognize the World Court's jurisdiction
to enforce it. By rejecting that, the Bush administration has not only
muddled the issue, but put at risk Americans arrested abroad. It also has
reinforced the widespread view that it regards international law as a
malleable thing subject to its own whims.
(source: Fresno Bee)
Bullet wanted from suspect
Prosecutors are asking a judge to compel a murder defendant to undergo
surgery to remove a bullet that could link him to the 2003 killing of
Coconut Grove businessman Jose Calvo.
State prosecutors want to dig a bullet out of murder suspect Anthony Lee
that may have been in his shoulder for 18 months since the driveway
shooting of Coconut Grove businessman Jose Calvo.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernndez Rundle filed a motion this
week asking Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez to compel Lee to be X-rayed to
determine if a bullet is in his shoulder. If so, Fernndez Rundle wants a
surgeon to retrieve the bullet so it can be used as evidence in the
upcoming murder trial.
Prosecutors are seeking the judge's order so Lee can't argue his
constitutional rights were violated. Police said Lee had a gunshot wound
when he was captured in South Carolina in November 2003.
Lee's lawyers said Friday that they will not object to the operation.
Attorney Robert Barrar said his client did not have the bullet removed
sooner as a matter of strategy -- and economy.
"We were biding our time," Barrar said. "This way the state pays for it,
and we don't have to."
According to the state's motion, the bullet might help answer 2 questions:
whether Lee was present at the murder scene and whether the bullet came
from the same gun as the one that killed Calvo.
Fernndez Rundle would not elaborate Friday about what her prosecutors hope
to learn from the bullet, except to say, "If this bullet has any
information or provides new leads into what happened that night, we need
Prosecutors declined to explain why they did not ask for the bullet
earlier, saying they do not discuss strategy in the ongoing case, which
began Sept. 18, 2003, in the driveway outside Calvo's upscale Grove home.
MASKED MAN DID IT
His wife, Denise, told police that a masked gunman killed her husband
during a botched Rolex-watch robbery after they arrived home. She said she
pulled a handgun from under the seat of their Mercedes-Benz and fired
several shots at the fleeing gunman.
Police identified Lee as a suspect through DNA tests on blood found in the
Investigators later called Denise Calvo -- who they say regularly bought
drugs from Lee's mother before the murder -- a suspect in the case, though
she has not been charged. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights and would
not testify at a bond hearing for Lee last April.
Lee's attorneys have said Denise Calvo was responsible for shooting her
No intact bullets were recovered from the scene of the crime, and a murder
weapon has not been found, according to published reports.
Denise Calvo's father, Michael Caligiuri, discovered a bullet fragment in
But its value as evidence may have been diminished because Caligiuri wiped
it clean before he turned it over to police.
On Friday, Barrar said two detectives involved with the case have
testified in depositions that on the night of the murder they overheard
Denise Calvo say she thought she had killed her husband.
Calvo has repeatedly denied having anything to do with her husband's death
and said she didn't know Anthony Lee before the killing.
(source: Miami Herald)
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