[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----TEXAS, ALA., VA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 22 22:59:43 CST 2005
Colorado halfway house escapee set to die for 1989 slaying
As nearly three dozen employees and customers were held at gunpoint at his
Fort Worth restaurant, manager Bob Readvolunteered to accompany the
robbers if they would spare everyone else.
The heroics cost him his life.
More than 15 years later, Steven Kenneth Staley, one of the men involved
in the botched holdup of a Steak and Ale restaurant, was set to die
Wednesday for Read's fatal shooting.
Staley and two other people were arrested after a police pursuit around
Fort Worth ended their four-state crime spree. Officers summoned to the
restaurant gave chase after Read was led away at gunpoint and was forced
into a car the robbers hijacked.
As they fled, police heard several shots.
"I remember this one cop testifying how he ran up to the car, hoping,
hoping, hoping to find the man in there alive," said Terri Moore, a former
Tarrant County assistant district attorney and one of the prosecutors at
Staley's capital murder trial. "But there he was. A big old gunshot wound
to the head."
Staley, 42, would be the 5th Texas inmate executed this year and the 2nd
Lawyers seeking to block the lethal injection contended Staley, who was an
escapee from a halfway house in his native Denver, was mentally
incompetent to be put to death.
"This guy is nuts," said Staley's attorney, Jack Strickland. "He's just
too nuts to be executed."
Staley was examined last week by psychiatrists who determined he was aware
of his punishment and why he was being put to death. Those are the
criteria the U.S. Supreme Court established in 1986 as the standards for
allowing execution of people whose competency is at issue. Strickland went
to federal court seeking a hearing to have the execution date withdrawn
and for a court to rule on Staley's competency.
"He was an odd person, but I didn't see anything that made him
incompetent," Moore said, describing Staley at his trial as quiet and
brooding but appearing able to assist his lawyers.
Staley did not take the stand in his own defense.
Witnesses said it was late in the evening in October 1989 when Staley and
accomplice Tracey Duke ended their meal by pulling semiautomatic weapons
from the purse of Duke's girlfriend, Brenda Rayburn.
They herded customers and employees to the back of the restaurant, then
forced Read to open cash registers and the safe, witnesses said, before
stuffing money into a briefcase.
In the confusion, an assistant manager slipped out and call police, who
surrounded the place. When an officer knocked on a door, Read responded
that everything was OK. The tone of his voice, however, indicated
The robbers panicked and decided to use the group as hostages for a
getaway. Read, married and the father of 3, urged them: "Don't take my
customers," Moore recounted. "Take me."
Officers watched as Read walked out the door of the restaurant, guns poked
in his ribs. The gunmen then hijacked a car waiting at a red light. As
Read struggled when they were forcing him into the back seat, police moved
Evidence would show Staley then shot Read, then Read and Duke fired on the
officers, who sought cover as the robbers sped away. The ensuing chase
covered about 20 miles and ended with the gunmen trying to flee on foot.
Staley gave a written statement implicating himself in the fatal shooting,
was convicted and given a death sentence.
Evidence showed Duke, a probation violator from California, also shot
Read. Duke, 38, is serving 3 life sentences in Texas and has a 30-year
sentence in Colorado for murder and armed robbery. Rayburn, now also 38,
took 30 years in a plea bargain.
Investigators tied the trio to a series of robberies, assaults and at
least one other murder during a spree across Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma
after Staley escaped from the Denver halfway house.
In 1994, Read's wife, mother and 3 daughters accepted a $1 million
settlement from the operators of the halfway house. It was about 1/3 the
amount the family had sought in a civil suit.
(source: Associated Press)
Mother, 1 of 2 survivors, recalls Edinburg massacre
Jerry Eugene Hidalgo spent Jan.4, 2003 - his 1st day after 3 years in
state prison - buying new tennis shoes, eating at a Chinese buffet and
playing dominoes with his mother.
The 24-year-olds 1st day of freedom would also be his last.
Shortly after midnight on Jan. 5, 2003, Jerry Hidalgo and 5 others - his
brother Ray Hidalgo, 30; half brothers Juan Delgado Jr., 32, and Juan
Delgado III, 20; Ruben Castillo, 32; and Jimmy Almendariz, 20 - were shot
multiple times by masked men armed with powerful assault rifles.
The Hidalgo brothers mother, Rose Gutierrez, was 1 of only 2 survivors of
the attack. On Monday, she struggled to hold back tears as she recounted
how the intruders burst into her home at 2915 E. Monte Cristo, demanding
drugs, money, jewelry or guns.
The men tied her and Jerry Hidalgo, with extension and phone cords, then
carried Jerry Hidalgo into the next room, where they fired 10 bullets into
him. Gutierrez told her story to the jury in the capital murder trial of
one of the 13 men charged in the slayings.
Humberto "Gallo" Garza, 30, is accused of organizing the raid on the
Gutierrezes property, where members of the Tri-City Bombers gang allegedly
believed a large stash of marijuana was stored in the smaller of two homes
at the address. Garza - who police say was then a captain in the gangs
military hierarchy - pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if
Judge Noe Gonzalez is presiding over the trial in the 370th state District
Earlier in the trial, Edinburg police officers testified Garza told them
he drove other gang members to the property and dropped them off, waiting
inside a stolen truck while others went to steal the drugs.
Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorneys Joseph Orendain and Murray
Moore argue Garza is guilty under the law because he recruited the other
gang members, armed them, and should have anticipated the killings.
But defense attorney Ralph Martinez said there is no evidence linking
Garza to the crime scene and no testimony that the murders had ever been
discussed before the men left the vehicle.
Gutierrez told jurors that on the night on Jan. 4, 2003, she was playing
dominoes with her sons and Juan Delgado Jr.
After midnight, Ray Hidalgo and Juan Delgado Jr. left the house and went
to the smaller home on the property, while Gutierrez and Jerry Hidalgo
continued to play dominoes.
Jerry Hidalgo then took a phone call while Gutierrez began watching
television in the same room. Gutierrez said she remembered hearing a loud
noise, which sounded like fireworks, but did not pay much attention to it.
Then, someone began to bang on the door.
"I said, Wait, Mijo wait. Let me help you get the door, thinking it was
Ray (Hidalgo)," Gutierrez said.
Then she said men wearing ski masks and carrying large guns barged in the
home. The man with the largest gun began giving orders to tie up Jerry
Hidalgo and pointed a gun to Gutierrezs head.
The men began to hit Jerry Hidalgo with the gun, and then they took off
his tennis shoes and ripped off the necklace he was wearing. The men
carried Jerry Hidalgo into the kitchen and then left, Gutierrez said.
A second later, the man with the largest gun came back in and ransacked
the living room.
"I didnt move, but I was seeing him; he came across and kicked the center
table and went to the kitchen. Then he shot Jerry. I saw smoke," Gutierrez
said, struggling to hold back tears.
After the men left, Gutierrez untied herself and called 9-1-1. Gutierrez
said she was not able to recognize any of the men later, only remembering
that they wore dark colored clothing, and some of the shirts said
Jurors also heard from Edinburg police dispatcher Dalinda Garcia, who
answered Gutierrezs 9-1-1 call. Prosecutors played a tape recording of the
call, where a frightened Gutierrez begs for police to hurry. Jurors heard
her scream as she stepped over her sons dead body to exit the home.
Gutierrez also testified that she knew her two sons were members of the
Texas Chicano Brotherhood. The gang is a hated rival of the Tri-City
Bombers, the gang which most of the men charged in the case are alleged to
be members. Autopsy photos showed Jerry Hidalgos tattoos of the initials
TCB on his chest and the word Chicano on his neck.
Tim Counce, a firearms expert with the Texas Department of Public Safety
state crime lab, testified that all of the bullets fired at the scene came
from 4weapons -2pistols, which fired 4of the recovered shell casings, an
SKS assault weapon that had fired 1of the recovered shells and an AK-47
that had fired 17 recovered shells.
Jerry Hidalgo received the most bullet wounds of the 6victims, testified
Dr. Fidencio Salinas, who performed the autopsy on the men.
All died from multiple gunshots and all tested positive for traces of
cocaine and some had marijuana or alcohol in their system, Salinas said.
Garza is the second of 13 men charged in the case to stand trial for the
slayings. In December, a jury convicted Juan Raul Navarro Ramirez, 20, to
die for his role in the slayings.
Garzas trial will reconvene at 10 a.m. today with closing arguments.
(source: The Monitor)
Court upholds reversal of Vodochodsky verdict----District attorney has
until mid-April to request review
A state appeals court last week upheld its previous decision to overturn
the conviction of a Pleasanton man accused of assisting in the 1999 ambush
that left 3 Atascosa County peace officers dead and two others wounded. In
an opinion dated March 16, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals determined
the evidence presented at Kenneth Vodochodskys capital murder trial in
2001 was "factually insufficient" to convict. The opinion, which reversed
Vodochodskys conviction and remanded the case back to the 81st Judicial
District, replaced the courts initial opinion dated April 21, 2004.
The court also denied the prosecutions motion for a rehearing, according
to court documents.
The ruling leaves District Attorney Ren Pea in the position of trying to
figure out what to do about the case, which was prosecuted by Peas
predecessor, Lynn Ellison.
Pea said Friday he has 30 days from March 16 to decide if he will request
a discretionary review of the court's opinion.
Vodochodsky, 24, was convicted in February 2001 of the capital murder of
Atascosa County Deputy Thomas Monse Jr.
Monse, Atascosa County Deputy Mark Stephenson, and Department of Public
Safety Trooper Terry Miller were lured by a bogus 9-1-1 call to an ambush
at a home outside of Pleasanton, where they were shot and killed by
Jeremiah Engleton, 21.
Engleton also shot and wounded Pleasanton police Officer Louis Tudyk and
retired U.S. Border Patrol Agent Carl Fisher. The shooting ended three
hours later, when Engleton committed suicide.
Vodochodsky, then 19, was Engletons roommate at the time. He was charged
with a total of three counts of capital murder and five counts of
attempted capital murder in connection with the Oct. 12, 1999, massacre.
Although it is uncertain whether Vodochodsky was present at the time of
the ambush, he was charged under the states "law of parties," which
replaced the "accomplice" law.
Prosecutors brought only the Monse case to trial in 2001. They argued that
even if Vodochodsky was not present during the ambush, he had helped
Engleton plan the attack.
The appellate court reviewed Vodochodskys case as part of the automatic
process of appeals that occurs in all cases involving the death penalty.
Pea now will have to decide if he wants to request the discretionary
review, re-try the Monse case, or prosecute Vodochodsky on one of the
other indictments that are still pending.
"We're re-assessing each of the cases," Pea said. "We may try one of them,
or all of them, or a combination of them. We will proceed accordingly."
On the night before the ambush, Engleton was arrested on a charge of
domestic violence. Vodochodsky bailed Engleton out of jail. The 2 men went
to a Pleasanton gun shop just hours before the shooting began, where
Engleton bought several boxes of ammunition, according to witnesses
testimony during the trial.
Jurors convicted Vodochodsky of capital murder based on evidence presented
during a 12-day trial.
As part of Vodochodskys subsequent appeal, attorneys asserted that the
evidence was "legally insufficient" as well as "factually insufficient" to
support the jurys verdict.
In overruling the assertion of legal insufficiency, the court said that "a
rational jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Vodochodsky
acted with an intent to promote or assist Engleton in committing this
But the court upheld Vodochodskys attorneys' 2nd point regarding factual
"In this case, the overwhelming weight of the evidence mitigates against
the conclusion that Vodochodsky solicited, encouraged, directed, aided, or
attempted to aid Engleton in committing the offense," the appellate
court's opinion said. "All of the evidence that could legally support a
rational jurys conclusion is nevertheless so weak that our confidence in
the jurys verdict is undermined.
"There is no evidence that Vodochodsky actually did any affirmative act to
assist Engleton with the plan," the opinion said. "Instead, Vodochodsky
had the bad luck of being the friend and roommate of a man determined to
kill police officers and himself.
"We conclude that proof of Vodochodsky's guilt was so weak as to undermine
confidence in the jury's determination," the opinion said. "This evidence
was factually insufficient to convict. We reverse the judgment of the
trial court and remand this case for Vodochodsky to answer the charges in
(source: Wilson County News)
Don Erler claimed in his March 8 column ("Disorder in the court's
thinking") to provide facts about the Roper juvenile death penalty case
decided by the Supreme Court. The important facts are:
Before this decision, the United States was the only country in the world
to officially sanction executing minors. Not Iraq. Not North Korea. Not
Cuba. Not Libya.
Since the original ruling on juvenile death sentences in 1989, several
states have eliminated the practice. Some states with the death penalty no
longer execute minors, including New York and Ohio.
The Eighth Amendment forbids punishment that is both cruel and unusual.
Since the 1960s, the Supreme Court has been deciding whether the death
penalty is unusual. The justices believe that killing a person is cruel,
but it isn't necessarily unusual. The high court has determined that
juvenile death penalties are both cruel and unusual.
Society has chosen to create an arbitrary line for adulthood at 18. Minors
aren't allowed to vote, be put into military combat or enter into
contracts, regardless of maturity.
The only justice who has taken an inconsistent position in the Roper case
is Antonin Scalia. In a previous case, Sandra Day O'Connor argued for a
maturity line dependent on individual behavior, but Scalia and Anthony
Kennedy argued for a fixed age of majority. Now Scalia accuses Kennedy of
legal games, even though Scalia is arguing that there should be a moving
line for maturity.
Erler is wrong. The Supreme Court's decision is consistent with both the
Constitution and precedent.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Assistant Professor Corey Ditslear,
Department of Political Science, University of North Texas, Denton)
In Texas, Critics Question Bush's 'Life' Culture
President Bush's intervention for Terry Schiavo has opened old wounds in
Texas where death penalty opponents say his words of support for a
"culture of life" ring hollow after so many executions during his time as
governor of the state.
Bush said he stepped into the Schiavo case because the United States
should have "a presumption in favor of life," but there were 152
executions in Texas during his administration, including some in which the
convict's guilt was in doubt, critics said.
"It's hypocrisy at a thousand levels," said University of Houston law
professor and death penalty defense attorney David Dow.
"I saw many, many cases where there was substantial doubt about whether
someone was guilty or whether the death penalty was the appropriate
sentence, but he never said anything," said David Atwood, head of the
Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. "I really can't say he cares
"We all recognize there is a difference between an innocent person and
someone who has committed a heinous crime, but to say one life is
important and one isn't, that's politics," Atwood said.
Bush has defended the high number of executions by saying he was confident
everyone put to death in Texas was guilty because they had had a fair
hearing in the courts he believed capital punishment was a deterrent to
He interrupted a Texas vacation and flew to Washington to sign an
emergency law passed by Congress Monday that forced a review of the
Schiavo case in federal court.
Schiavo, 41, has been in a vegetative state since a heart attack in 1990.
Last week, a Florida court, at her husband's request, ordered the removal
of the feeding tube keeping her alive, but her parents argued it should
stay in place.
"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial
doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in
favor of life," said Bush, who has spoken often of creating a "culture of
life" by limiting such things as abortion and stem cell research.
Death penalty opponents said Bush did not give the same presumption to
death row inmates in Texas, where he used his power to grant an execution
stay only once while governor from 1995 to 2000.
In 2000, the state set a U.S. record with 40 executions, including that of
Gary Graham, whose guilt was hotly contested and became an international
"In the face of pretty substantial evidence that Gary Graham was not a
murderer, George Bush didn't say anything about a 'culture of life,"' Dow
Legal experts say Bush has not been totally consistent on the
"right-to-die" issue because in 1999 he signed a Texas law similar to the
Florida law under which a judge ordered the removal of Schiavo's feeding
The Texas law allows for life support to be stopped under certain
circumstances at the request of a family member or other appropriate
"If this case had been in Texas the same thing would have happened as
happened in Florida," said John Robertson, professor at the University of
Texas law school and author of a book on bioethics called "The Rights of
the Critically Ill."
But, he said, Bush's support of the emergency bill for Schiavo was not "a
direct contradiction" of the Texas law.
"He's saying he thought it was good enough from the state's perspective at
the time, and now he's saying there may be cases that might need a second
look," he said.
Diane Clemens, head of the Houston-based Justice for All victims' rights
group, said death penalty opponents were not making legitimate
"This woman is an innocent, brain-damaged individual who has harmed no
one. Killers are convicted murderers who have harmed many people. They
have had a fair process," she said.
"They have had the very process these people would try and deny Schiavo --
and that is a request for life at the federal level, in the federal
Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president's
decision was based on principle, not politics.
"It (Schiavo case) is a complex case, where serious questions and
significant doubts have been raised," he said. "And the president is
always going to stand on the side of defending life."
Another Execution For Widow Of Slain Officer To Go Through
The nightmare is almost over for the wife of an Opelika police officer
killed in the line of duty. The man convicted of killing officer Roger
Motley has exhausted all of his appeals.
After eleven years on death row, it may still be months before we know
George Sibley's execution date. But, the woman left behind is anxious for
it all to come to an end.
She's been through an execution once, and now Juanita Kirkwood is about to
go through it all over again. "I do dread that part of it because I think
it's very sad that they chose a route that brought them to this," she
George Sibley and his common-law wife Lynda Lyon were on the run from a
charge in Florida when they stopped briefly in Opelika at a shopping mall.
Sgt. Roger Motley arrived answering a disturbance call.
According to court testimony, when he asked Sibley to see his driver's
license Sibley pulled out a gun and started firing. Linda Lyon was on the
telephone and started firing too. They say they fired in self defense, and
no one knows whose bullet hit Motley.
"I don't think that matters. They were both responsible," Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood's life has been a series of ups and downs these past 12 years.
First, learning about her husband's death, then sitting through not 1 but
2 capital murder trials, and there was Lyon's execution 2 years ago.
Her's was the last one done in the electric chair, and Kirkwood could not
watch it. "The longer I stood there with the blinds closed, I just thought
I was going to faint and there was a row of prison guards right behind
me," she remembers. "I turned around and I simply said please get me out
However, Sibley's execution will be done by lethal injection, and she
plans to witness that one because she says she wants it all to come to an
"Roger was my life, and I loved him and still love him very much, but I
believe he would want me to go on," Kirkwood says. "He always called me a
survivor anyway. So, I guess I have to live up to it."
Kirkwood has moved on with her life. She got married again a year and a
half ago, but even that she says has not erased the memories. "My husband
now, I can sit down and talk to him about Roger," she says. "I can sit
there and cry and he'll hold me and it's fine.
Kirkwood says she's still a part of the Motley family. She's invited and
attends their family reunions and also goes to the memorial services the
Opelika Police Department holds for Motley and other slain officers every
Once the state Supreme Court decides on a date for George Sibley's
execution, it will take place 30 days later.
(source: WSFA News)
Man Charged in Va. Slay of Pregnant Twin
In Danville, a pregnant woman was fatally stabbed in her home by her twin
brother, police said.
Larry Ray Nielson, 28, was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the
death of Tabitha Nielson Bonaparte, who was stabbed in her chest, back,
stomach and arms.
Marlene Starkey, the siblings' mother, said her son had been drinking when
he arrived Sunday night at the home where Starkey, Bonaparte, her 6
children and Bonaparte's boyfriend live.
She said Bonaparte tried to make Nielson leave around midnight and they
began to argue. When Bonaparte threatened to call the police, Nielson said
he would leave.
Starkey said she then heard her daughter scream and ran to her side. "He
tore her to pieces," Starkey said.
Bonaparte was about 3 months' pregnant; the fetus did not survive.
Nielson was being held in the Danville City Jail.
(source: Associated Press)
State says death row moving to supermax prison in Youngstown
The state will move Ohio's death row to the supermaximum security prison
in Youngstown in a bid to save millions of dollars in tight budget times,
prison officials said Tuesday.
The move, scheduled for sometime this summer, is unrelated to an attempted
escape from the death row unit at the prison in Mansfield last month or
any general security concerns, said Terry Collins, deputy director of the
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown already has staff and space to
handle the additional inmates, Collins said. Ohio had 198 men on death row
Tuesday at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. One woman who has been
sentenced to death is housed at Ohio's women's prison in Marysville.
Collins said the move could save "millions of dollars" but had no specific
figure available Tuesday. The state will close the Mansfield prison's
death row unit, where about 100 people work.
The prisons department is discussing the fate of those jobs with the state
employees' union but no layoffs are planned, Collins said. The prison also
houses about 2,200 other inmates.
About 50 positions are open at the Mansfield and nearby Richland
correctional institutions, and another 10 to 20 at the Youngstown
facility, said Sally Meckling, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service
Collins said the state is still evaluating whether any death row employees
would be needed in Youngstown.
Ohio has put 16 men to death since resuming executions in 1999, including
seven last year, second in the nation only to Texas, which executed 23.
The state's public defender slammed the announcement, criticizing the
Youngstown facility as overly harsh and saying it will hurt efforts to
represent the inmates in court.
The move will force public defenders from Columbus to nearly double their
driving time to meet with clients at Youngstown in northeast Ohio, said
State Public Defender David Bodiker.
Inmates in the Youngstown facility are restricted to individual cells 23
hours a day. The U.S. Supreme Court will review an appeal this year over
the assignment of inmates to Youngstown. Civil rights groups filed a
class-action lawsuit against the state on behalf of prisoners in 2001,
claiming that the inmates were not given a chance to prove they didn't
belong in the Youngstown prison.
"We try to keep the morale of the people on death row up and try to do
what we can," Bodiker said. "They're sitting there anticipating execution.
They're probably going to think execution is welcome if they have to stay
Ohio moved death row to Mansfield from the Southern Ohio Correctional
Facility in Lucasville after the 1993 riots that killed a guard and nine
inmates. The state will continue to execute condemned killers in
Lucasville, Collins said.
Two inmates tried unsuccessfully to escape from death row last month.
Several administrators were reprimanded and two officials were demoted and
received pay cuts after the attempted escape, in which inmates hit a
homemade ladder under a pile of snow in an outdoor recreation cage.
ON THE NET----Ohio State Penitentiary:
(source: Associated Press)
'85 murder conviction dismissed
A capital murder charge was thrown out Monday by a Hamilton County judge
after prosecutors admitted their star witness couldn't remember anything
about the 20-year-old crime. "Case dismissed," Hamilton County Common
Pleas Court Judge Richard Niehaus said.
The dismissal of the capital murder and robbery charges means Derrick
Jamison, on Death Row for 17 years following his 1985 conviction for
stomping a bartender to death, won't face the possibility of execution in
Jamison, 44, was convicted of stomping Gary Mitchell to death in one of
the violent "Downtown Robberies" in the mid-1980s. Jamison was convicted
and sent to death row largely on the testimony of Charles Howell, who with
Jamison robbed the Central Bar in 1984.
Both sides came to court Monday expecting to retry Jamison for capital
murder. His conviction was overturned in 2002 when an appeals court
ordered the new trial, saying police erred by not presenting all of their
evidence to prosecutors before trial.
Among the evidence prosecutors didn't get -- and thus not provided to the
defense -- were witness accounts that someone other than Jamison was the
Because of the case's age, prosecutors have struggled since the retrial
was ordered to find witnesses.
Initially, they wanted to present transcripts from the original trial. But
a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year noted the accused has the right to
cross-examine a witness, and reading transcripts wouldn't allow that.
"This trial would have been the reading of transcripts," Assistant
Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier admitted.
Last summer, police found Howell and thought he might testify again, but
Cincinnati Police homicide Detective Robert Randolph located Howell over
the weekend and served him with a subpoena to be in court Monday.
"He showed up but said he couldn't remember a thing," Piepmeier said.
"He's had some alcohol problems over the years."
Because of that, Piepmeier asked the judge to legally declare Howell
unavailable for the trial and allow prosecutors to use transcripts of his
testimony from 1985. But Jamison's attorney, Elizabeth Agar, objected.
"We have an absolute right to cross-examination," she told the judge. "We
have no way to establish (Howell's) credibility at the time."
Howell, she added, had reason to lie because one witness told police he
left the bar carrying a pipe. That seemed a more likely murder weapon than
Jamison's shoes, Agar said.
"I can't let the witness testify though his former testimony," Niehaus
Piepmeier was frustrated by the problems the 20-year gap between trials
"Retrying this case is like calling up Sparky Anderson and saying, 'Hey,
they botched a call in the '76 World Series, and you need to get your team
together again," Piepmeier said.
While Niehaus dismissed the murder and robbery charges against Jamison, he
hoped the convict stayed imprisoned.
"I certainly would not be in favor of his early release because he is very
dangerous," the judge said of Jamison, who is serving a 30-to-105 year
prison sentence for his role in robberies" in which several victims,
including at least one elderly woman, were pistol whipped.
Agar said that the sentence from a separate conviction should ensure that
Jamison won't be freed.
"I don't see him getting out," she said.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
Ohio Inmate Becomes the 119th Innocent Person Freed from Death Row
On February 28, 2005, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus dismissed
all charges against Derrick Jamison for the death of a Cincinnati
bartender after prosecutors elected not to retry him in the case.
(Associated Press, March 3, 2005). The prosecution had withheld critical
eyewitness statements and other evidence from the defense resulting in the
overturning of Jamison's conviction in 2002. Jamison was convicted and
sentenced to death in 1985 based in part on the testimony of Charles
Howell, a co-defendant who had his own sentence reduced in exchange for
his testimony against Jamison.
The prosecution withheld statements that contradicted Howell's testimony
and that would have undermined the prosecution's theory of how the victim
died, and would have pointed to other possible suspects for the murder.
Two federal courts ruled that the prosecution's actions denied Jamison of
a fair trial. (Jamison v. Collins, 291 F.3d 380 (6th Cir. 2002)).
One of the withheld statments involved James Suggs, an eyewitness to the
robbery. Suggs testified at trial that he had been unable to make a
positive identification when the police showed him a photo array of
suspects. In fact, police records show that Suggs identified two suspects,
neither of which was Derrick Jamison. Additional withheld evidence
consisted of a series of discrepancies between Jamison's physical
characteristics and the descriptions of the perpetrators given to police
investigators by eyewitnesses.
The co-defendant Howell recently testified that he could not remember
anything about the crime, and state prosecutors decided not to proceed
against Jamison. He remains incarcerated on other unrelated charges. (See
also, K. Perry, "'85 Murder Conviction Dismissed," Cincinnati Post, Mar.
Jamison is the 119th innocent person to be freed from death row since 1973
and the 1st to be exonerated in 2005.
(source: Death Penalty Information Center)
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