death penalty news----TEXAS, OHIO, MISS., FLA., OKLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Mar 25 12:38:28 CST 2005
Sister city repeats death penalty request
City leaders are again at odds with their Italian sister city over Texas'
This month, Reggio Emilia officials asked Fort Worth leaders -- for at
least the second time -- to renounce the death penalty.
Mayor Mike Moncrief said Thursday that he has told Reggio Emilia Mayor
Graziano Delrio that capital punishment is a state issue that the City
Council does not intend to address.
"It's not an appropriate issue for us to be engaging in," Moncrief said.
"We're not going to do it.
"We have plenty on our plate without worrying about the death penalty."
Italian officials sent to the city and to Texas Gov. Rick Perry a request
to suspend 2 executions -- of Pablo Melendez Jr., convicted of killing a
man and wounding another in a 1994 Fort Worth robbery, and of Steven
Staley, convicted of a robbery-slaying at a Fort Worth Steak and Ale
restaurant in 1989.
Both executions were halted this month by the courts.
Councilman Clyde Picht took offense at the request from Reggio Emilia,
Fort Worth's oldest sister city.
"This is a sister city interfering in Texas politics, and I don't
appreciate that," Picht said. "They're complaining about our internal
politics in the state of Texas, and I don't agree with that.
"It shouldn't have come up a 2nd time."
Tensions between the cities peaked in 2001, when Reggio Emilia's
government threatened to sever its cultural ties with local officials.
At the time, the Italian city was protesting the state's execution of
David Lee Goff, a 32-year-old Fort Worth man convicted of the 1990
kidnapping, robbery and slaying of drug counselor Michael McGuire.
In the weeks before the execution, Reggio Emilia's mayor sent letters and
petitions condemning the death penalty to Perry and then-Mayor Kenneth
Years later, the officials stand by their position.
"We continue to look for a dialogue on this issue with friends of our
Texan sister city Fort Worth," Delrio wrote in a recent statement issued
through the local sister-cities office.
"We confirm our complete and absolute condemnation of the death penalty,
more than once reaffirmed by our City Council."
Fort Worth has 6 other sister cities: Trier, Germany; Nagaoka, Japan;
Bandung, Indonesia; Toluca, Mexico; Budapest, Hungary; and, most recently,
Italy does not have capital punishment, and the European Union routinely
condemns executions in the United States.
But the dialogue that Reggio Emilia wants isn't necessarily what that city
In 2000, Mayor Pro Tem Ralph McCloud and Councilwoman Wendy Davis voted to
support a council resolution calling for an open-ended moratorium on the
death penalty in Texas.
But the resolution, written by McCloud, was tabled indefinitely. Since
then, Fort Worth's council has refused to take a stand on capital
punishment, saying it is a matter for state and federal lawmakers to
McCloud said he won't bring up the issue again.
"I don't think there's support for it," he said.
Councilman Jim Lane believes the council should continue to leave the
"We handled it properly before, and we'll do it again," Lane said.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
State public defender apologizes for Youngstown death row comment
The state public defender apologized Thursday after angering Mahoning
Valley officials with a remark indicating he thought living in Youngstown
was worse than execution.
David Bodiker said he was referring to the Ohio State Penitentiary in
Youngstown when he made the comment to The Associated Press. He was
reacting to reports that the state is moving death row from the Mansfield
Correctional Institution to the Youngstown prison.
"They're probably going to think execution is welcome if they have to stay
at Youngstown," Bodiker said. He was referring to the harsh reputation of
the prison, the state's supermaximum security facility.
Youngstown television stations called to ask him about the comment, and a
representative of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber told Bodiker the
group was considering writing him a letter of complaint.
Bodiker says it's common in his office to refer to prisons by the city
they're located in.
"We were talking about the institution - I never talked about the city,"
Bodiker said. In his letter, he apologized "for any confusion this has
The apology was accepted, said Greg Sherlock, the chambers' vice president
of governmental affairs. Sherlock said Bodiker's comment may have been
taken out of context.
"We're sensitive to comments made pertaining to any area of the Mahoning
Valley because of the proactive approach we've taken in rebuilding our
area," Sherlock said.
Once a thriving steel capital, Youngstown also had a reputation as an
organized crime center. The steel industry collapsed in the late 1970s and
the city has struggled to make a comeback.
(source: Associated Press)
Miss. high court won't allow appeal of death row inmate
The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that death row inmate Steve Knox
cannot pursue a post conviction appeal because he has no new evidence that
might win him a new trial.
Inmates use post-conviction appeals to argue that they have found new
evidence that could overturn their convictions.
The justices on Thursday said Knox, of Amite County, only attempted to
re-argue many of the issues that had been rejected when the Supreme Court
upheld his conviction and sentence in 2002. The court also rejected Knox's
claim that his attorney did not do a good job.
Knox was sentenced to death in 1999 for the beating and strangulation of
Ellia Mae Spears of Liberty. He was convicted of capital murder.
Spears' body was found in the trunk of her car Oct. 22, 1998. Knox was
tied to the slaying with evidence such as clothing stained with the
woman's blood that was discovered in the home of his parents.
Knox, when arrested, also had in his possession Spears' car and house
(source: Associated Press)
Florida Court Strikes 1985 Murder Conviction of Death Row Inmate
The murder conviction that sent a man to death row 20 years ago was
vacated Thursday, with the Florida Supreme Court saying that evidence
withheld by prosecutors might have been enough to change the verdict.
James Floyd, now 45, was condemned for the fatal stabbing of Annie B.
Anderson of St. Petersburg in January 1984.
A neighbor, Tina Glenn, told police she was watching "All My Children"
when she saw a car pull up at the home of the elderly Anderson and saw two
white men go inside. She saw them leave, acting suspiciously, about an
2 days later police arrested Floyd, a black man, as he tried to cash a
check from Anderson's checkbook. Floyd said he got the checkbook from a
trash bin. A jailhouse informant testified Floyd confessed to the murder.
Prosecutors never told Floyd's trial attorney about Glenn's testimony.
In Thursday's 4-2 decision, Florida's high court said the state's failure
to provide the defense with that information and other, less significant
information "severely compromised Floyds constitutional right to a fair
The decision was supported fully by Chief Justice Barbara Pariente and
Justices Harry Lee Anstead and Raoul Cantero. Justice R. Fred Lewis
concurred in the result only; Justices Charles Wells and Kenneth Bell
dissented and Justice Peggy Quince did not participate in the case.
Bernie McCabe, state attorney in Pinellas County, said he didn't know if
the state would bring Floyd to trial again.
"We'll have to see what we can put together," he said.
But Martin McClain of Weston, a lawyer representing Floyd, said he didn't
think Floyd would be convicted again.
"I'm convinced that if they take it back to trial they cannot get a
conviction, based on what the neighbor lady saw," said McClain, a veteran
lawyer for death row inmates.
In Thursday's unsigned opinion, the high court noted that there was no
direct evidence against Floyd; no eyewitness or DNA evidence, or a
"Glenn's eyewitness account is unsettling, given the circumstantial nature
of this case," the court wrote.
It might have made a difference in the outcome, and that means the
conviction cannot stand, according to the opinion.
"We conclude that our confidence in the defendant's murder conviction has
clearly been shaken by the evidence that the State suppressed in this
case," the court wrote.
"While there is not a 'smoking gun' in the suppressed evidence that would
completely exonerate the defendant, there was also not a 'smoking gun' in
the State's case against him.
"Just as irrefutable evidence of guilt is not required for a conviction,
irrefutable evidence of innocence is not required for a conviction to be
In another capital case Thursday, the high court ordered a trial judge to
hold an evidentiary hearing in an appeal by Dwayne Parker, who is on death
row for the 1989 murder of William Nicholson, a bar patron who chased
Parker after a holdup at a nearby Pizza Hut in Pompano Beach.
(source: Associated Press)
Eizember Formally Sentenced To Death -- Family of Eizember's Victims Happy
With Death Sentence
Scott Eizember has been formally sentenced to death.
Eizember was convicted last month of 1st-degree murder in the killing A.J.
Cantrell during a rampage that left 2 people dead and 2 others injured.
According to those in the courtroom Thursday, Eizember was light-hearted
during the entire court appearance and laughed and shook his head. He wore
a bright orange jumpsuit and his head was closely shaved.
Eizember will remain in the Okmulgee County Jail for ten days, which is
the length of time his attorney has to appeal the non-death penalty
convictions. He will then be transferred into the custody of the Oklahoma
Department of Corrections.
Eizember was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Cantrell's
wife, Patsy. The 2 were killed on October 18, 2003, when Eizember broke
into their home, intending to confront his ex-girlfriend, Kathy Biggs,
whose mother lived next door. But, the Cantrells came home and confronted
After the Cantrells were killed, Eizember went next door and confronted
Biggs' son, Tyler Montgomery, and Biggs' mother, Karla Wright. Wright was
beaten severely by Eizember, who then shot Montgomery as he was trying to
leave the scene in his pickup.
Eizember led authorities on a 37-day manhunt that came to an end after he
stole a car from a Depew church pantry. The car ran out of gas in
Arkansas, where he then allegedly kidnapped a doctor and his wife at
gunpoint. But, his run came to an end near Lufkin, Texas, when the doctor
retrieved a concealed weapon and shot Eizember several times.
(source: KTUL News)
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