[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----VA, FLA., ILL., MO., MASS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 10 15:19:25 CST 2005
Inmate could be 1,000th US execution----State could be the spot of
post-1976 milestone for the death penalty
If a half-dozen executions in 4 states are carried out this month, a
milestone in the modern history of the death penalty in the U.S. may soon
take place in Virginia.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Virginia death-row
inmate Robin Lovitt could be the 1,000th person executed in the nation
since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Lovitt is set to be executed Nov. 30 at the Greensville Correctional
Center for the slaying of an Arlington pool hall employee during the
commission of a robbery. He has a clemency petition pending before Gov.
Mark R. Warner.
Lovitt was convicted of the Nov. 19, 1998, stabbing death of Clayton
Dicks. In 2001, the Arlington County Circuit Court ordered the destruction
of the evidence in his case contrary to a new state law that had just gone
Lovitt's lawyers contend new DNA testing on the evidence might have
cleared Lovitt or raised doubts about his guilt.
The Washington-based anti-death penalty organization says that 993
executions have been carried out in 33 states and by the U.S. government.
More than half have been carried out by just 3 states: Texas, 352;
Virginia, 94; and Oklahoma, 79.
Currently, 38 states have a death penalty and 12 do not.
Executions are set for Nov. 11 and 18 in North Carolina; Nov. 15 and 16 in
Texas; Nov. 28 in Arkansas; and Nov. 29 in Ohio, in addition to Lovitt's
on the 30th.
Jury says 2 killers eligible for execution----It must now decide whether
the penalty should be imposed
The federal jury that is choosing whether Peter Robert Jordan and Arthur
Lorenzo Gordon should live or die decided yesterday that the convicted
killers are legally eligible for the death penalty.
This morning, the trial of Gordon and Jordan resumes with fundamentally
one question remaining -- should the sentence be death? They were both
convicted Tuesday by a U.S. District Court jury of murder while engaged in
drug trafficking and related charges.
Yesterday's preliminary verdict on eligibility followed a brief hearing.
The jurors were asked to decide whether certain factors exist that are
required by federal law before the death sentence can be imposed.
They answered "yes," finding that the act of violence that killed Dwayne
Tabon in 2001 was intentional, that it was done to gain something of value
and that it was done in "an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner."
Gordon, 28, and Jordan, 54, stand convicted of murdering Tabon, 22, in the
course of stealing drugs from him on the night of Sept. 13, 2001.
They lured the young man to a South Richmond apartment after making him
think they were going to buy a dealer-size amount of crack from him. When
he arrived, they met him with guns, beat him, took the drug and tied him
up with duct tape. They loaded him into the trunk of a car and drove him
to a vacant house on Walmsley Boulevard.
At the rear of the house, they doused him with gasoline and set him on
fire. Tabon died 10 days later at VCU Medical Center of 2nd- and
3rd-degree burns over 90 % of his body.
Cary B. Bowen, one of Jordan's lawyers, told the jury yesterday that too
much of the evidence is contradictory for the jury to find the specific
He said the biggest contradiction is between the government's version of
what happened and what Tabon himself told a Richmond police officer that
Officer Anthony Coates was the police patrol officer who responded to the
911 call phoned in by a neighbor of the house on Walmsley Boulevard.
Coates testified that Tabon "was badly burned pretty much from his head
and neck down. His clothes were burned off. The tape he was bound with was
Coates, who is now a detective, said Tabon told him he was grabbed by some
people on Broad Rock Boulevard, bound and taken to the Walmsley Boulevard
location, beaten and burned. Coates said he asked who did it.
"He said for me not to worry about it," Coates said. "He said they will
get theirs and not to worry about it."
Later, at the hospital, Coates spoke again to Tabon. "I told him he wasn't
going to make it and I needed to know who did it," Coates said. "Same
Drug robbery said to precede slaying----2 are charged with killing man who
was burned by gasoline
"This is a case about drugs, greed and torture," Assistant U.S. Attorney
Roderick Young told the jury in a capital-murder case yesterday. "Those
were the motives that led Peter Robert Jordan and Arthur Lorenzo Gordon to
kill Dwayne Tabon."
Young's opening statement and those of the defendants in U.S. District
Court were followed by witnesses, many of them in prison stripes and
shackles. In the first day of the trial, they told parts of the
prosecution version of what happened to Tabon on Sept. 13 and 14, 2001.
The U.S. attorney's office is seeking the death penalty for Gordon and
Jordan, citing among other things "the especially heinous, cruel [and]
depraved manner" in which Tabon, 22, died.
The allegation is that Jordan and Gordon planned and carried out the
robbery of Tabon of a large amount of crack cocaine. They then abducted
him and took him to an abandoned house on Walmsley Boulevard, beat him,
poured gasoline on him and lighted it, prosecutors say.
Tabon suffered scalp lacerations, a fractured skull and second- and
third-degree burns over 90 % of his body. He died 10 days later at VCU
Claire G. Cardwell, one of Jordan's lawyers, told the jurors in her
opening statement that the horror of the way Tabon died "does not justify
making a case against anyone you can any way you can."
Paul G. Gill, a federal public defender representing Gordon, said in his
opening that a key prosecution witness -- Jacqueline A. Jordan, Peter
Jordan's sister -- is a "crack addict who will say anything to protect the
person who's most important to her, and that's Jacqueline Jordan."
Jacqueline Jordan and other convicts who will be testifying gain a chance
for sentence reductions by cooperating with prosecutors.
In part, she testified that her brother borrowed her car that night and
used it to transport Tabon, after he was bound with duct tape and
helpless, to the location where he was beaten and burned.
She said she saw her brother, Gordon and Hamadi "Money" Miller with guns
that night in the San Souci apartment where Tabon was lured.
She said Peter Jordan later admitted the crime to her.
Still to testify is Miller, who like Jacqueline Jordan has pleaded to
lesser related charges and is serving time in federal prison. Miller,
authorities have hinted, may be a witness to the entire assault on Tabon.
Cardwell's and Gill's openings indicated the defense will suggest that
Miller is a likelier capital murderer.
(source for all: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Court Puts Hold On Murder Trial----Moody's lawyer challenges firstdegree
charge in 1994 slaying.
A Lakeland-based appellate court Wednesday ordered a halt to the
approaching murder retrial of Darryl Earl Moody, which was to begin Nov.
The 43-year-old Lake Wales man was scheduled to go to trial for a 3rd time
in the 1994 shooting death of Scott Mitchell, a member of a prominent
Bartow citrus family.
The stay allows time to consider whether Moody can be charged with any
crime worse than 3rd-degree murder, of which he was convicted in a
troubled trial last year.
Allegations of jury misconduct led to the dismissal of that conviction.
It's been more than 11 years since Mitchell's body was found on May 16,
1994, in a grove maintained by his family near Alturas.
Mitchell, 32, had been shot twice in the head. He was slumped behind the
wheel of his Chevrolet pickup truck. Prosecutors claim Mitchell had
stumbled upon Moody who was stripping a stolen car in the grove.
In 1998, a jury found Moody guilty of 1st-degree murder and related
He spent about 4 years on death row before the Florida Supreme Court
overturned his conviction and sentence on Jan. 23, 2003, because of an
Moody's retrial ended last year with a second jury finding him guilty of
3rd-degree murder, but acquitting him of four related felonies.
Circuit Judge Susan Roberts granted Moody a new trial on Sept. 16, citing
jury misconduct in his 2nd trial.
She concluded that one or more jurors gained knowledge about the case from
outside the courtroom. She also found one juror resorted to bullying other
jurors and calling them racists if they wanted to convict Moody of
Prosecutors have argued that Moody can stand trial again for 1st-degree
murder because Roberts shouldn't give the second jury's 3rd-degree murder
verdict or acquittals any credibility because they were corrupted by the
Last week, Roberts agreed that prosecutors could once again seek a
1st-degree murder conviction against Moody.
Moody's lawyer, Robert Norgard, filed an emergency petition Tuesday with
the 2nd District Court of Appeal, claiming his client cannot be tried for
1st-degree murder because of double jeopardy -- or prosecuting a person
twice for the same crime.
The 2nd DCA ordered a stay of the trial and gave Florida Attorney General
Charlie Crist's office 30 days to provide a written response to Moody's
(source: The Lakeland Ledger)
Rape, Slay Suspect Confessed, Brother Says
The brother of a man accused of raping and strangling an 11-year-old girl
wiped his eyes Wednesday as he recounted how his sibling described
sexually assaulting and killing the girl.
John Smith testified that his brother, Joseph Smith, told him that he had
"rough sex" with Carlie Brucia and then strangled her. The abduction was
captured by a security camera at a car wash and broadcast worldwide on
The phone conversation took place four nights after Carlie was abducted,
while Joseph Smith was in jail and John Smith was leading detectives to
the location where his brother had told him the girl's body might be
found, John Smith said.
Joseph Smith, a 39-year-old former auto mechanic and father of three
daughters, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and capital
sexual battery in Carlie's death. He has pleaded not guilty; if convicted,
he may face the death penalty.
Joseph Smith met with his brother and their mother, Patricia Davis, in
jail shortly after his arrest on an unrelated charge four days after
He confessed to his role in Carlie's disappearance under their
questioning, John Smith testified.
Mumbling and occasionally closing his eyes on the witness stand, John
Smith recounted the jailhouse conversation. His brother told him he had
intercourse with the girl and made her perform oral sex. Davis left the
room crying, and the brothers cried and "were hugging each other close,"
John Smith said.
After leaving the jail, John Smith and Davis drove to a nearby church
where Joseph told him they might find Carlie. They didn't find the body
that day, and they didn't tell authorities about their conversation with
Joseph until later that night, when John Smith led investigators to the
scene. Carlie's body was found the next morning.
"I was thinking, maybe, the child was still alive," John Smith said.
Deputy Michael Davino, a Sarasota County corrections officer, told jurors
he overheard phone conversations Joseph Smith made from jail to his
brother and mother that night.
During one call, Davino testified, Joseph Smith told his brother, "She's
between 2 trees, not too far back, maybe around the tree line." Joseph
Smith also asked his brother to apologize to their mother for what he had
done and for "what he was putting his mother through," Davino said. John
Smith testified that he had recognized his brother in the videotape shown
to jurors Tuesday as the tattooed man in a uniform grabbing Carlie's arm
and leading her away. Several others, including Joseph Smith's business
partner, testified Tuesday they also recognized him on the tape.
Under questioning by a defense attorney, John Smith acknowledged he hadn't
talked to his brother in a couple of months at the time of Carlie's
disappearance because of a feud. He also conceded he asked investigators
about a reward, but said he was interested in it because his brother
wanted to use the money to set up a trust fund for his children.
Witness tells of screaming baby being stuffed into plastic bag
In Jacksonville, a 16-year-old admitted drug dealer calmly told jurors
Wednesday that he watched John Mosley Jr. strangle a woman, but he broke
into sobs when describing holding open a plastic bag while the man stuffed
her screaming baby into it.
Bernard Griffin's testimony came on the opening day of Mosley's trial on 2
charges of 1st-degree murder in the deaths of 40-year-old Lynda Wilkes and
her 10-month-old son, Jay-Quan Mosley.
Assistant State Attorney Libby Senterfitt told jurors in an opening
statement that Mosley strangled the woman and suffocated her baby to avoid
an upcoming hearing to determine if he was the infant's father.
Prosecutors want the death penalty.
Griffin said when Mosley picked him up on April 22, 2004, Wilkes and her
baby were in the passenger seat of Mosley's SUV.
The teenager, dressed in brown prison clothes and shackled at his hands
and feet, said Mosley drove to a deserted area, told the woman to get out
of the car and then strangled her with his hands.
"She was trying to defend herself. She was scratching," Griffin said.
"Then she stopped moving."
Griffin said he just sat there as Wilkes was killed.
"I've never seen nothing like that before," he said.
The teenager testified Mosley put a bag over Wilkes head and placed her in
the rear of the SUV.
Griffin said Mosley asked him to get a black plastic garbage bag and hold
it open. The screaming baby was placed in the bag, which was tied and
placed next to his mother's body.
At that point in his account, Griffin buried his head in his hands for
Griffin was asked why he didn't go to the police.
"I didn't know what he was capable of doing," Griffin said of Mosley. "I
didn't want to jeopardize my family."
Griffin also said he helped Mosley dispose of Wilkes' body near Waldo,
about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville, where Mosley set it afire. He
testified that the baby's body was placed in a trash bin in Ocala. That
information caused investigators to spend several days digging through a
landfill in Valdosta, Ga., but the baby's body was never found.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Richard Kuritz, Griffin
acknowledged selling drugs, which he said he was doing to help his mother
pay the bills.
The young witness reversed himself Wednesday and said he was lying or not
telling the entire story during his first talks with police detectives.
"I didn't know who to trust," he said.
Griffin, who faces two charges of being an accessory after the fact, said
he had not made any deals with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.
Prosecutors said they will connect Mosley to the slaying by blood found in
the back of his car, cell phone records, which allowed them to follow his
movements on the day of the slayings, and Griffin's testimony.
Kuritz questioned the prosecutor's theory about Mosley's supposed
motivation and said some of Griffin's statements to police were
The defense attorney said police were under extreme pressure to make an
arrest in the case and focused on Mosley.
"The family anointed Mr. Mosley as the easy target," Kuritz said. "They
made an arrest to fit into their theory."
After his arrest on the charges, Mosley denied any involvement in the
deaths and said he was not the infant's father.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.
(source for both: Associated Press)
Jurors Hear About Ryan's Role On Death Penalty
George Ryan's attorneys finally got to talk about the former governor's
leading role in death penalty reform at his political corruption trial on
Wednesday, but they could only skim over the subject and the judge barred
them from going into any detail.
Defense attorney Dan K. Webb was not allowed to ask any questions that
would tell jurors how Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in Illinois,
pardoned 4 condemned men and commuted the sentences of all 167 prisoners
on death row to life without parole.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer did let Webb ask former Ryan
staff aide Rich Juliano whether Ryan took action on the death penalty, but
not which action he took.
"Mr. Ryan did make policy decisions involving the administration of the
death penalty?" Webb asked.
Juliano answered simply: "Yes."
It was much less than defense attorneys had hoped for and Webb fought in
vain to squeeze in a little more detail. But it did serve to remind jurors
of the signature deed that Ryan supporters hope will paint him in positive
Pallmeyer agreed with prosecutors that Ryan's policy decisions on the
death penalty -- worthy or otherwise -- have no relation to the
allegations in the 22-count racketeering and mail fraud indictment under
which the former governor is charged along with lobbyist friend Larry
At the heart of the indictment are allegations that Ryan steered big-money
state contracts and leases to an elite group of friends while getting free
vacations and other gifts from them.
It was Juliano's fourth and final day on the witness stand -- far longer
than he had expected to spend there. Juliano, a University of Chicago law
graduate and former Bush administration official, said he was having to
work to concentrate after days of questioning.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys warned Pallmeyer on Wednesday that
the trial, now in its seventh week, has been creeping forward so slowly
that it is likely to go considerably longer than the 4 months initially
estimated when it got under way in September.
After Juliano was excused on Wednesday, a former Ryan bodyguard, Illinois
State Police Master Sgt. Todd Vorisy, was called to the stand and
questioned about the former governor's lifestyle.
Among other things, Vorisy testified that while Ryan was secretary of
state before becoming governor in 1999, he visited "fat farms" in both
California and Florida.
He also told how Ryan was guest of honor at a fundraiser aboard a boat
owned by racetrack operator Richard Duchossois, carried a wad of cash to
riverboat gambling casinos 3 to 6 times a month and raved about currency
exchange mogul Harry Klein's seaside estate in Jamaica.
"You gotta see this place," Vorisy quoted Ryan as saying after returning
from one of his annual January vacations there.
He said he once saw Ryan emerge from his Springfield office thumbing
through an envelope of cash but gave no indication of where the money
might have come from.
Vorisy said that he once heard Warner tell Ryan that low-digit license
plates were valuable "plums" and should not be given out to motorists
without keeping track of who got them.
But under questioning by Warner's defense attorney Edward M. Genson,
Vorisy said he could not remember exactly what he had said in three FBI
interviews. Vorisy also said "plums" was a word that he used to paraphrase
the conversation -- not one that Warner used.
(source: Associated Press)
Too Dim to Die?
Steve Parkus is now officially retarded, according to Judge Robert
Stillwell of the circuit court of Washington County in Missouri. The
Missouri Supreme Court had asked Stillwell to decide whether Parkus, a
death-row inmate at the Potosi Correctional Center, was indeed retarded,
as his attorneys had argued, or competent, as claimed by experts hired by
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon ("Blood Simple," June 9).
The answer would determine whether Parkus was mentally fit to be executed.
In 1987, a circuit court convicted Parkus in the murder of a fellow inmate
and sentenced him to death.
His current lawyers, a team from Kansas City's Public Interest Litigation
Clinic, appealed. Parkus is brain-damaged because his mother drank during
pregnancy. Medical records show signs of schizophrenia from a very young
age; he consistently scores in a mentally retarded range on IQ tests.
Records show that he was victimized by his mother, his legal guardians and
other residents of state mental-health facilities and correctional
institutions, says the PILC's Sean O'Brien.
But Nixon's hired expert, a psychiatrist from Florida named Wade Myers,
disagreed. As the Pitch reported earlier this year, Myers visited Parkus
in prison and concluded: "Mr. Parkus in some ways is functioning in the
average to high-average range of intellectual functioning." Myers did not
administer an IQ test; he reported that "no additional testing was
Parkus and his lawyers are appealing his death sentence in light of the
U.S. Supreme Court's 2002 Atkins v. Virginia ruling (and subsequent
rulings by the Missouri Supreme Court), which stated that executing
retarded persons constituted "cruel and unusual" punishment. For the
appeal, O'Brien was able to obtain Parkus' childhood medical records,
which had been unavailable for Parkus' earlier trials. The records contain
findings by many doctors and psychiatrists who examined Parkus from the
time he was 8 years old. After reviewing them, Stillwell concluded that it
would be "cruel and unusual punishment to inflict the death penalty as
declared in Atkins" and ruled that Parkus should spend life in prison
Contacted by the Pitch by e-mail, psychiatrist Myers declined to comment.
On the phone from the Potosi Correctional Center, Parkus said the decision
didn't matter to him. Parkus said his mind was on other things, such as
biblical prophecies and dreams and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "To
go over and invade that country for all their gold and diamonds? I know
that's what it is. I just can't prove it."
Nixon has appealed Stillwell's order. O'Brien expects the Missouri Supreme
Court to make a final ruling on Parkus' sentence next spring. "If Judge
Stillwell had said, 'Nah, he's not mentally retarded,' we'd be worried,"
O'Brien says. But with Stillwell's ruling, O'Brien adds, "it would be
extraordinary indeed if they [the judges on the Missouri Supreme Court]
say, 'Go ahead and execute him anyway.'"
(source: The Pitch)
House could debate Romney death penalty next week
The Massachusetts House could debate Gov. Mitt Romney's death penalty bill
as soon as next week, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi
Romney filed his legislation in April, seeking capital punishment for
"very, very rare circumstances," such as terrorism, serial killing and
torturing, or murdering police or other public servants.
Romney said his plan would have the nation's highest level of proof for
ensuring that only the guilty were executed, using scientific evidence
such as DNA and multiple checks and balances, including review by the
Supreme Judicial Court.
He estimated that only 1 or 2 people a year would face the penalty in the
state every year under the bill.
Critics say there's no way to craft a foolproof death penalty bill and
that innocent people could still be put to death.
Death penalty bills have faced increasing opposition from state lawmakers
in recent years.
Massachusetts is one of just a dozen states without capital punishment.
The last execution here was in 1947.
(source: Associated Press)
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