[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., USA, OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Mar 30 13:10:45 CST 2005
State: Victim had defense wounds----Witness is better suspect, defense
Prosecutors in the capital murder trial of Bevy Wilson outlined their
evidence Tuesday, saying they intend to show Wilson savagely beat a
10-year-old boy and his father then went to a nearby bar and had a beer.
Defense attorneys, however, said the case against their client is full of
holes and prosecutors should be looking at their main witness as a
possible suspect in the killing.
Wilson, 46, went on trial Tuesday in the February 2003 killing of Richard
Carbaugh, 34, and his son, Dominic Carbaugh, 10. Testimony will continue
today in the 117th District Court.
The father and son were beaten to death with a claw hammer in their Barton
Street apartment in Flour Bluff. Their bodies were found next to each
other, propped up against a kitchen door. Prosecutors said they plan to
call a witness who will testify he saw the beating and heard Wilson before
the killing accuse Carbaugh of being a child molester.
In opening statements, First Assistant District Attorney Mark Skurka said
Wilson stabbed the elder Carbaugh 17 times and beat him with a claw hammer
before plunging a knife into his head. Skurka also said Carbaugh had
defense wounds on his arms, indicating that he had put up a fight to save
Dominic suffered 21 blows to his head and body with a hammer or steel bar
after he left a bedroom to help his father, Skurka said. Dominic had been
at a family member's home earlier in the day and had returned home just
before he was killed.
"What started as a boy coming home to his dad ended in tragedy," Skurka
Prosecutors intend to call a man who says he witnessed the killings,
helped Wilson clean up the crime scene and then called police from a
Skurka said the case is full of forensic evidence, including blood from
the victims that was found on Wilson's clothing, but defense attorneys
said they plan use that evidence to raise doubts about the case.
Attorney Scott Ellison said the prosecution's witness was himself covered
in the victims' blood. Ellison also said the witness's fingerprints were
found at the crime scene, while Wilson's were not.
"The issue in this case is who did it," Ellison said.
Wilson was on probation for an earlier aggravated assault charge at the
time of Carbaugh's death. He is being held in the Nueces County Jail on a
$1 million bond. If convicted, Wilson could face the death penalty.
(source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
State Supreme Court rejects new trial in first Spotz killing
Multiple murderer and death row inmate Mark Spotz will not get a new trial
in one of the four slayings for which he was convicted, the state Supreme
Court ruled Tuesday.
In 2001, the Superior Court ordered a new trial for Spotz, ruling that he
received inadequate counsel before being convicted in the death of his
older brother, Dustin.
Spotz, 34, was sentenced to 17 1/2 to 35 years in prison in that shooting.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Spotz needed to file a different
kind of an appeal if he was seeking to address claims of ineffective
Despite the ruling, Spotz's fate rests with the three death sentences he
received for killing 3 women in 3 days after shooting his brother.
Spotz, who is on death row at Graterford prison in Montgomery County,
fatally shot his brother at their Clearfield County home on Jan. 31, 1995,
and then fled, killing 3 women in Schuylkill, York and Cumberland counties
on successive days before surrendering to police in a Carlisle motel room.
He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in his brother's slaying and
sentenced to death for murdering the 3 women.
Death warrants signed by former Governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker
were stayed by appellate courts.
Two years ago, the Vatican asked Gov. Ed Rendell to commute Spotz's death
sentence, saying Spotz in prison has earned degrees in Christian
counseling and worked to help young people avoid lives of violent crime.
Rendell declined the request.
(source: Associated Press)
Boost for death penalty opponents
The consistent ethic approach to social issues in the Catholic world just
got a little more consistent with the U.S. bishops' "Catholic Campaign to
End the Use of the Death Penalty."
While it is clear that the church does not teach by consulting opinion
polls, it is nevertheless an advantage to have public sentiment moving
your way. And the bishops made no small use of a December poll by
Quinnipiac University that found more than 60 % of Americans supportive of
the death penalty, where a decade earlier, 80 % favored executing
Certainly, papal teaching on the matter has had some effect.
The pope has consistently spoken out against the death penalty and has
personally intervened on behalf of convicted killers in the United States
on several occasions.
It should be instructive to bishops as teachers, however, to note that the
public conviction growing around opposition to the death penalty is the
fruit of persuasion based on evidence: DNA testing that has exonerated
death-row inmates; state moratoriums on the death sentence; sentiment
around the rest of the globe; growing concern about the unevenness of
legal representation from one state to the next; and the recent Supreme
Court decisions forbidding execution of the mentally retarded and those
under age 18 at the time of the crime.
All of that can make an impression on Catholics who begin to see
executions as acts carried out not by individuals but by the state, with
their tax dollars, in their name and in the name of a brand of justice
that in modern society does not comport with the Gospels.
Across the wide range of theological and ideological views that make up
the church, no group is completely free of its "cafeteria" approach to
church teachings. We all have to figure out ways to deal with details of
teaching with which we might not fully agree. Certainly there are loyal
Catholics who will cling to the slightest loophole to maintain their
conviction that even in the face of repeated papal admonition, the death
penalty is justifiable. We understand.
The important thing here is that the bishops have given forces that oppose
the death penalty new impetus, not to mention language and authority with
which to carry on their campaign. It also brings some balance to the
Catholic social justice picture following a presidential campaign in which
Catholic "values" and concerns were too often construed in a distorted and
If the polls are correct, the Catholic community is out ahead on this
issue and that opposition to the state executions should deepen and become
more concerted as the campaign is carried to Catholic schools and parish
religious education programs.
(source: Editorial, National Catholic Reporter)
Supreme Court to review procedures for 'supermax' prison assignments
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide what procedures corrections officials
must follow before transferring inmates to super maximum-security prisons,
where the most dangerous prisoners are separated from other inmates. The
court was to hear arguments Wednesday in a case involving Ohio's super
maximum-security prison and inmates who complained that they were not
given a chance to prove they didn't belong there.
In the so-called Ohio "supermax," inmates are held in 23-hour-a-day
lockdown, in 90-square-foot cells built to prevent prisoners from
communicating with each other. Inmates also face tighter security, with
strip searches, and less access to telephones and personal items.
Most states and the federal government have similar prisons. The 500-bed
Ohio State Penitentiary near Youngstown opened in 1998 after a deadly
inmate riot 5 years earlier at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in
The state plans to move death row prisoners from the Mansfield
Correctional Institution to that Youngstown prison this summer.
Civil rights groups, which filed a class-action lawsuit against Ohio in
2001, say these prisons are extremely restrictive and inmates should be
given an opportunity to contest a state's decision to transfer them to
such a facility.
"It's accepted that within the prison system, prisoners can be moved
around and put in harsh or harsher circumstances, as deemed appropriate,
but the conditions at supermax prisons go beyond that," said Jeffrey Gamso
of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the case along with the
Center for Constitutional Rights.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled last year that
prisoners are entitled to hearings, with witnesses, before being assigned
to the prison. The state contends that this requirement makes it
impossible to neutralize the threats posed by dangerous inmates.
Ohio Attorney Jim Petro, who is running for governor next year, planned to
argue the case before justices. It would be the 1st time since the 1960s
that a sitting Ohio attorney general appears before the high court, said
Petro spokeswoman Kim Norris.
The case delves into whether inmates at super maximum-security prisons are
entitled to have the opportunity to argue why they should have the same
freedoms that prisoners in less secure prisons have. It also requires the
Supreme Court to revisit a 1995 decision that limited prisoners' rights to
have hearings before they lose privileges or are disciplined for
The case is Wilkinson v. Austin, 04-495.
ON THE NET----Center for Constitutional Rights: http://www.ccr-ny.org
Ohio Attorney General: http://www.ag.state.oh.us
(source: Associated Press)
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