[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., IOWA, OHIO, IND., UTAH
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 23 16:02:55 CST 2005
Accused Killer Pleads Not Guilty----Man facing retrial in the death of an
O.C. girl is charged with 4 murders in the 1970s.
An accused serial killer who has been behind bars for 25 years for
allegedly killing a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl pleaded not guilty
Tuesday to slaying four women in Los Angeles County.
Rodney James Alcala, 62, was indicted on the charges in September after
detectives said they had linked him to blood and DNA evidence from the
Jill Barcomb, 18, was found bludgeoned and strangled Nov. 10, 1977, 3
weeks after she moved to California from Oneida, N.Y.
Nurse Georgia Wixted, 27, was beaten and strangled Dec. 16, 1977, in her
Legal secretary Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica was strangled with a
shoelace and found June 24, 1978, in the laundry room of an El Segundo
Keypunch operator Jill Parenteau, 21, was found on June 13, 1979,
strangled in her Burbank apartment, pillows propping up her nude body.
All 4 women had been sexually assaulted.
Robin Samsoe, who lived in Huntington Beach, was kidnapped as she bicycled
to a ballet class a week after Parenteau's death.
Her body was dumped in the Angeles National Forest.
Alcala was arrested soon after Robin's slaying and was convicted and
sentenced to death twice.
Both convictions were overturned on appeal, and he has remained behind
bars awaiting a 3rd trial.
A hearing will be held Jan. 13 in which an Orange County judge will decide
whether the charges for all 5 victims will be consolidated into 1 trial.
Lawyers for Alcala have asked that he be tried separately on the murder
charge involving Robin.
Barbershop Regulars Take Sides Over Tookie----Should Tookie die?
It was the question of the day at L.T.'s barbershop in South Los Angeles,
and there was no shortage of sermons, many of which were shouted loudly
enough to rattle the photos of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson
"These are my heroes!" bellowed shop owner Lawrence Tolliver, who doesn't
have much use for four-time killer Clarence Tookie Williams, co-founder of
the Crips gang - even if he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The
barber thinks he should be executed as scheduled on Dec. 13.
Tolliver, facing fierce opposition from regular patrons of his clip joint,
wasn't buying their argument that Williams had somehow redeemed himself
with the anti-violence books he penned on death row. A man on death row
would write or say anything to keep alive, Tolliver said.
"Changed, redeemed, found God - it doesn't matter," he insisted, scissors
in one hand and comb in the other. "When you're sentenced to die, you're
supposed to die."
Ordinarily, Tolliver would have had at least one vote of support, but his
80-and-then-some partner Eddie Ford was off duty at the moment.
"You know what Mr. Ford would say," Tony Wafford said. "Eye for an eye,
tooth for a tooth. I'll kill him myself."
That wasn't how Tolliver's customers saw it.
Fred McDaniels, whose wife was murdered 15 years ago by a man now serving
a life sentence, said he wanted his wife's killer put to death at the time
of the crime. But he has since softened on the death penalty, and in the
case of Williams, McDaniels has doubts about his guilt.
"If there's doubt," McDaniels said, "you can't kill a man."
Fair enough, Tolliver said. But the murders were not exactly whodunits.
Williams has lost all appeals in the 1979 shooting deaths of a 7-Eleven
clerk and a motel owner, his wife and their daughter. In the first case, a
witness said Williams had smoked PCP before the crime and "laughed
hysterically" at the groans of the dying man.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's the only one who could save Williams now, and
he hasn't tipped his hand yet on whether he'll grant clemency.
Kevin Pickett was among those in the barbershop jury with doubts about
Williams' guilt. He used to lift weights in the same gym as Tookie
Williams 30 years ago.
"It's difficult for me to believe he killed four people in that manner,"
said Pickett, who recalls Williams as an iron-pumping behemoth who didn't
need a gun to intimidate or hurt anyone.
Forget his guilt or innocence in the murder cases, argued Wafford, adding
that as a gangster, Williams didn't do the damage that mobsters Meyer
Lansky and John Gotti did. Williams shouldn't be killed, Wafford said,
because the government shouldn't be in the business of executing people,
particularly when black men are disproportionately represented on death
Gender, race, social standing, money - that's what decides whether an
accused person lives or dies, Wafford argued loudly enough to be heard in
Even Tolliver had to admit he had a point. "The downside of capital
punishment," he acknowledged, "is that all you do is kill black people."
But speaking of statistics, Tolliver said, the customers in his shop
shouldn't forget that they are more likely to be killed by a black man
than anyone else. Tookie apologized for all the decades of mayhem, death
and suffering in Los Angeles caused by street gangs, Tolliver went on, but
he hasn't apologized for the murders of those 4 people.
If Williams confesses and apologizes, Tolliver said, then he'll support
Wafford listened patiently, then weighed in against the death penalty for
Williams or anyone else.
"Is that the best we can do in so-called civilized society, in this great
Christian nation?" he asked. "What we're missing is the problem. Kids
don't have simple stuff. Do you remember music in the schools? They've got
no books now, but they've got metal detectors. Killing Tookie doesn't
change a thing."
"All the jobs are gone," Pickett said. "All of our fathers had jobs."
One patron, who didn't take a stand on the execution, did complain about
the cost of keeping Tookie alive nearly 25 years after he was sentenced to
die. This drew a sneer from Wafford, and then Tolliver went ballistic.
"We are not monolithic," he roared. "You say everybody who doesn't agree
with you thinks like a white man. I want [Tookie] to be a man and say he
did it. 'I am responsible for my actions.'"
To test the purity of the arguments, one patron tossed out a question:
If a white man killed 4 little black girls, should he be executed?
Wafford's answer was quick.
No, he said flatly.
Tolliver nearly blew a gasket.
"Put down from all of us," Tolliver instructed me, "we say he's a liar."
"It's wrong to kill a man," Wafford insisted. "I stand on that."
What about Saddam? I asked.
Wafford paused ever so briefly before repeating his stand on the death
What about Osama bin Laden?
A longer pause by Wafford; same answer. But McDaniels - the man whose wife
was murdered - said yes, if they ever find him, Bin Laden should get the
"I'd rather execute O.J. than Tookie," one man offered.
I suggested that Tolliver might not be the lone holdout for execution if
Rev. Roger Smith, a regular contestant in the daily wrangling, were there.
Tolliver managed to reach him by phone just after he'd finished a round of
"I believe in redemption," Rev. Smith told me, "but if you run afoul of
man's law, you have to pay the price even if you're redeemed."
2 votes for execution.
At least a dozen for clemency.
Wafford grabbed the phone and said to Smith:
"Jesus wouldn't do that, pastor."
(source for both: Los Angeles Times)
INSIDE DEATH ROW -- At San Quentin, 647 condemned killers wait to die in
the most populous execution antechamber in the United States
Death Row at San Quentin State Prison is an antiseptic form of hell,
nearly devoid of the things, like intimacy and love, that give life value.
Living here is a numbing gray slog for the 647 condemned killers who sit,
year after year, waiting to die on the nation's most populous death row.
Behind the prison's granite walls, quarried by inmates more than 150 years
ago, is a stark environment of concrete floors and clanging cell doors. It
is a monotonous, controlled, alternately boring and spooky place that
echoes with the shouts of lost souls.
This world, with its lime green execution chamber looming in everyone's
consciousness, is the destination for those deemed unsuitable to ever
again step foot in the civilized world. Yet, there is a civilization
inside San Quentin, where hopes still survive amid the hopelessness.
"Human beings will always make the best situation that they can for
themselves in any kind of situation," said prison spokesman Vernell
Crittendon, who has spent 29 years as an officer at San Quentin.
The scheduled execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams on Dec. 13 has
focused international attention on San Quentin's death row and the battle
over its replacement. The California Department of Corrections wants to
spend $233 million on a new facility with 768 cells, a project death
penalty opponents and Marin County officials would like to prevent.
Williams, 51, a co-founder of the Crips gang in Los Angeles, was sentenced
to death for murdering a convenience store clerk in Whittier (Los Angeles
County) and two motel owners and their daughter during robberies in 1979.
After 8 years on death row, he renounced gangs and wrote the 1st of 9
books warning children against the gang life. He has been nominated
repeatedly by supporters for Nobel Prizes.
His case has become a rallying cry for those who believe rehabilitation
should count for something, preferably a commutation of his sentence.
Williams is 1 of 3 death row inmates whose executions are anticipated this
winter. Fresno County crime lord and white supremacist Clarence Ray Allen,
who is the oldest condemned prisoner, has a tentative execution date of
Jan. 17, the day after his 76th birthday. Michael Morales, a convicted
murderer from Lodi, is expected to be given an execution date soon.
Execution is not the usual fate of death row inmates. On average, those
who are executed spend 16 years in prison before they get a date with "the
needle." So far, there have been 11 executions since the death penalty was
reinstated in 1978. 12 condemned inmates have committed suicide and some
30 have died of natural causes during that time.
"I've found that living a life of inactivity and non-productivity makes
some inmates desire the sweet taste of death," Crittendon said. "I've
talked with several who have said they would not appeal their death
The death row population is increasing by about 30 inmates a year. The
quality of their lives is dictated by a prison caste system unique to San
There are, in actuality, 3 death rows. About 68 condemned inmates are
housed in the original death row, built in 1934. Called North-Segregation,
this quiet cell block houses the privileged class, those inmates who get
along with other prisoners and don't cause trouble.
Williams is a North-Seg resident. So is Richard Wade Farley, the
bespectacled 57-year-old convicted killer of 7 people during a 1988
rampage in Sunnyvale.
"This is my retirement plan," Farley said wryly, as he sat behind a wire
mesh fence playing chess in the cell block hallway with another inmate
About 415 less fortunate condemned inmates live in the East Block, a
crumbling, leaky maze of a place built in 1927. It is a giant 5-story
cage, echoing with the incessant chatter and shrieking cacophony of
David Carpenter, the infamous "Trailside Killer," is an East Block
inhabitant. At 75, Carpenter, a convicted serial killer who terrorized
hiking trails in Marin and Santa Cruz counties in the early 1980s, is the
2nd-oldest prisoner on the row.
"We have people here who slit their children's throats, banged their kids'
heads against the wall and killed them," Crittendon said, describing the
types of people who inhabit the cells.
But even among the condemned, moral distinctions are made.
When Robert Alton Harris was being led away to his execution in 1992,
Crittendon said, the inmates yelled "baby killer," and taunted him with
references to his decision to eat the unfinished hamburgers left behind by
his murder victims.
The prison code exists even in the Adjustment Center, where the "worst of
the worst" are held under heavy guard and in isolation. These inmates get
their exercise in 8-by-10-foot cages watched over by gun-wielding guards.
The Adjustment Center is where Richard Allen Davis has lived since he was
convicted for the kidnap and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in Petaluma
in 1993. Davis has been assaulted and spat upon by other inmates at least
3 times. Besides killing a child, many inmates blame Davis for the 3
"He's very well aware that any inmate, if they get a chance, will attempt
to kill him," said Lt. Michael Barker, who is in charge of the unit.
Richard Ramirez, the satanic killer known as the "Night Stalker," is also
in the Adjustment Center, where he has continued to receive fan mail from
adoring women even while exposing himself to children in the prison's
visiting area, according to Barker.
Details like that quickly spread among the inmates on death row, where
there are few secrets. Prison officials marvel at the ability of inmates
to pass on even the tiniest bits of overheard conversation from guards,
prisoners and guests.
"The inmate network system is incredible," Barker said. "They are
ingenious in the way they get information."
Despite the bleakness, humanity is still evident on Death Row. The inmates
spend most of their time reading, playing chess or basketball, going to
church or taking college courses.
"I have a lot of hope," said 39-year-old double murderer Richard Moon
during a rare tour of death row last year. "They could abolish the death
Many condemned inmates actually have Web sites from which they solicit pen
pals, including Moon, who claims on his Web site to have found God and
San Quentin was completed in 1854 as California's first penitentiary. It
was built on land purchased for $10,000 just 30 years after a Licatuit
Indian chief named Quentin was defeated there by Mexican soldiers.
The rudimentary prison, complete with a dungeon and whipping post, was
soon overcrowded with 300 swindlers and cutthroats drawn to San Francisco
by the Gold Rush. The 1st hanging at San Quentin was in 1893. A total of
215 people were hanged there until 1937, when the Legislature approved
lethal gas in place of the noose as the state's official method of
execution. From then on, San Quentin was the only place in California
where executions could occur.
During the next 6 decades, 196 prisoners were gassed. That unfortunate
group includes one of the inmates who helped weld the gas chamber together
when it arrived in pieces from the manufacturer 68 years ago.
The inmate, who welded the chamber's roof and side walls, was released and
eventually got himself arrested for murder. In 1945, he was marched into
the chamber he had helped build, his expert welds plainly visible as he
took his final breath, Crittendon said.
It wasn't long after that execution that a double-jointed inmate wriggled
free of his restraints inside the gas chamber. Crittendon said the warden,
fearing what might happen next, ordered the execution to continue. As
horrified witnesses watched, the man ran around frantically inside the
chamber trying to escape the lethal fog before he finally collapsed and
died, curled up in a corner, Crittendon said.
9 people have been executed by lethal injection since 1995, when the gas
chamber was ruled cruel and unusual punishment. But "the big jab," as the
inmates call it, is still carried out inside the gas chamber, its infamous
welds visible to this day.
Many of San Quentin's original buildings are still in use, including the
old dungeon, where the torturous isolation cells are now used for storing
Corrections officials insist the prison is so dilapidated and overcrowded
that a new death row must be built if California is going to continue
holding condemned inmates at San Quentin.
As it is, the inmates are so dispersed around the prison that double or
triple escorts are sometimes needed to move inmates from one place to
another, often around blind corners and through less-secure areas,
increasing the likelihood of trouble.
A few years ago, gang members were foiled in an elaborate plan to take
over the Adjustment Center. One of the leaders, Paul "Roscoe" Tuilaepa,
reportedly told prison officials after he was captured that the intent was
never to escape. "We just wanted to kill every guard we could get our
hands on," he said.
Safety measures have been taken since then, such as the implementation of
an inmate classification system and a program that places prisoners in
compatible groups during exercise.
Although the prison is safer than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, according
to Crittendon, death is always lurking.
"Human life is very fragile," he said, defining the one overriding fact of
life on death row.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 20)
Death Penalty Case----Jesse James Hollywood will face the death penalty
for his role in the murder of Nick Markowitz.
The announcement came today in a Santa Barbara County Superior Courtroom.
Hollywood is accused of ordering the kidnap and murder of then 15-year-old
Nick Markowitz. After 5 years on the run, Hollywood was caught hiding out
in Brazil in March.
Hollywood's story is the basis for a new film due out in February called
"Alpha Dog" starring Justin Timberlake. The Defense wanted Deputy District
Attorney Ron Zonen off the case, claiming an improper relationship between
Zonen and the movie writer. The Judge, however, denied the recusal motion.
"You're asking a hometown judge to dismiss a hometown D.A. and it's very
difficult. Although there's reasons for it, it's very difficult, and you
can't divorce yourself from that fact," said Defense Attorney Alex Kessel.
Hollywood is due back in court on December 13.
(source: KSBY News)
Culver wants to reinstate death penalty
Secretary of State Chet Culver, who is seeking the Democratic
gubernatorial nomination, on Friday outlined his plan to reinstate the
death penalty for "the most heinous" crimes, such as the kidnapping and
murder of a child.
However, Culver said he opposes the Senate Republican plan for the death
penalty - which would apply to offenders who kidnap, rape and murder a
child - because it does not include strong enough provisions to protect
against wrongful conviction.
"I do believe that in the most heinous situations involving the most
heinous crimes, that the death penalty is warranted," he said, during the
taping of the Iowa Public Television program "Iowa Press."
Culver said he would support reinstating the death penalty for people
convicted of three crimes or combinations of crimes: murdering a police
officer, certain terrorist acts and kidnapping and murdering a child.
His plan also would include a guarantee of the right to adequate appeals,
access to DNA testing, and other elements intended to assure that an
offender is guilty.
Culver is the only one of the leading Democratic candidates who supports
the death penalty. This has led to attacks from other candidates who say
he is out of line with the party's tradition of opposing capital
The candidates on the other side of the issue include former Iowa
Department of Economic Development director Mike Blouin, Rep. Ed Fallon
and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge.
"Mr. Culver does not seem to understand that Iowa already has the
equivalent of the death penalty. It is life in prison without the
possibility of parole," said Blouin campaign manager Tim Gannon.
Gannon said the current system means offenders die in prison, but allows
for the reversal of wrongful convictions. Also, he said a life sentence
costs taxpayers less than the cost of setting up and administering the
While giving new details about his death-penalty plan, Culver also sought
to downplay the issue. He said reinstating the death penalty would not be
a high priority if he is elected, ranking behind his plans to boost the
economy and improve schools.
"It's not on the top of my list of things to do," he said.
Senate Republicans proposed this year to reinstate the death penalty, but
the plan was blocked by Senate Democrats, who share control of the chamber
in a 25-25 tie.
(source: Quad City Times, Nov. 20)
Ohio Supreme Court strikes one of man's 2 death sentence
In Columbus, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down a death sentence on
Wednesday for a man convicted of killing a 3-year-old girl but the ruling
doesn't remove him from death row.
Cleveland Jackson Jr. was sentenced to death for shooting both 3-year-old
Jayla Grant and 17-year-old Leneshia Williams in the head in a January
2002 robbery in a Lima apartment.
6 other victims were wounded after being herded into the kitchen. The
shootings stopped when the two robbers ran out of bullets, the ruling
said. Jackson's half brother, Jeronique Cunningham, also was sentenced to
The justices let stand the death penalty for killing Williams, saying the
multiple shootings outweighed any evidence in support of his character.
Jackson's attorneys should have been able to tell prospective jurors
Jayla's age during questioning to find out if that would make them more
likely to impose the death penalty, said the 6-1 ruling by Chief Justice
The case was returned to Allen County Common Pleas Court for a new
sentence on her death only.
Some jurors wrote in their questionnaires that they don't think penalties
are strong enough for people who hurt children.
"The trial court here was on notice that some prospective jurors harbored
a strong bias in favor of imposing death for murderers of children," Moyer
wrote. "If an issue of bias surfaces before trial, it is the trial court's
responsibility to conduct an adequate inquiry."
Justice Alice Robie Resnick disagreed only with the part of the ruling
overturning the death sentence for Jayla, saying she believed the
questioning was thorough enough to seat a fair jury.
On the Net: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us
(source: Associated Press)
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Tuesday that
John R. Hicks, convicted of killing his mother-in-law and stepdaughter in
1985 in Hamilton County, is scheduled for execution by lethal injection on
Hicks, of Westwood, strangled his mother-in-law, Maxine Armstrong, 56,
bought cocaine with money he stole from her, then returned to her
Cincinnati apartment and killed his 5-year-old stepdaughter, Brandy Green.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
Ohio Sup Ct decision summary in Cleveland Jackson case
MEDIA RELEASE -- DECISION SUMMARIES
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005
Court Affirms One Death Sentence in Lima Murders, Remands Second for
Resentencing state v. jackson, case no. 2002-1604 allen county common
The Supreme Court of Ohio today unanimously affirmed the aggravated murder
convictions of Cleveland Jackson of Lima for the January 2002 shooting
deaths of 3-year-old Jayla Grant and 17-year-old Leneshia Williams.
The Court voted 7-0 to uphold Jackson's death sentence for the killing of
Williams. A 6-1 majority, however, vacated a 2nd death sentence for the
killing of Grant and remanded that portion of the case to the trial court
for resentencing. The Court said resentencing was necessary because the
trial judge erred when he denied a pretrial request by defense lawyers to
inform prospective jurors that one of the murder victims in the case was a
3-year-old, and did not allow them to question jurors during voir dire
about their potential bias in favor of the death penalty for a defendant
convicted of killing a child.
Williams and Grant were killed and 6 other adults and teenagers were shot
during a drug-related robbery committed by Jackson and his half-brother,
Jeronique Cunningham. The Supreme Court affirmed Cunningham's convictions
and death sentences for the murders of Williams and Grant on Dec. 30,
2004. According to trial testimony in the case, Jackson and Cunningham
both armed themselves and went to the home of Shane Liles, an acquaintance
from whom they had purchased crack cocaine earlier the same day. While
Jackson took Liles aside to discuss a purported drug purchase, Cunningham
pulled a gun and forced the other 7 victims into a small kitchen where he
made them crouch or sit on the floor against a wall and demanded their
money and jewelry.
After Jackson robbed Liles of a small amount of drugs and $400-$500 in
cash, Liles denied having any other drugs or money in the house. Jackson
brought Liles into the kitchen with the others, and when Liles again
denied having any more money, shot him in the back. Survivors testified
that both robbers then emptied their guns into the seven remaining victims
crouched on the floor, killing Grant and Williams and severely wounding
most of the others. One of the wounded lost her left eye, another lost the
use of his right arm and a 3rd suffered profound brain damage and was in a
coma for 47 days.
The survivors identified Cunningham and Jackson as their assailants and
the two were arrested shortly thereafter. The defendants were tried
separately. In June 2002, three weeks after Cunningham was found guilty on
all charges and sentenced to death in a highly publicized trial, an Allen
County Common Pleas Court jury was empanelled to try Jackson. Following a
trial at which all of the survivors testified and several were in the
courtroom during the sentencing phase, the jury convicted Jackson of 2
counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications. He was also
convicted of aggravated robbery and 6 counts of attempted aggravated
murder. After hearing aggravating and mitigating evidence during the
penalty phase, the jury recommended and the court imposed separate death
sentences for the murders of Williams and Grant.
In today's decision, written by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, the Court
rejected 11 of 12 assignments of legal and procedural error advanced by
Jackson's attorneys as grounds to reverse his convictions or reduce his
Among the rejected arguments was a claim that the trial court erred by
immediately excluding 4 prospective jurors who expressed reservations
about the death penalty, without giving defense counsel an opportunity to
establish by questioning that they could follow the law in passing
sentence on Jackson.
"The trial court dismissed prospective jurors Nos. 222, 228, 300 and 301
without giving defense counsel an opportunity to inquire into their views
on capital punishment," wrote Chief Justice Moyer. "Although it might have
been preferable for the trial court to permit defense counsel to question
these jurors, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Each juror
unequivocally stated that he or she could not fairly consider imposing the
Thus, in each instance, there was a sufficient basis to support the trial
The justices also denied a claim by Jackson's attorneys that the trial
judge improperly restricted their questioning of prospective jurors about
prior exposure to media coverage of the case, and especially to coverage
of Cunningham's trial for the same crimes, which had attracted extensive
media attention just a few weeks earlier.
The Chief Justice noted that "The voir dire in this case was not cursory:
it lasted 5 days and covered nearly 1,300 pages of transcript." He wrote
that: "The court, as well as counsel, individually questioned prospective
jurors regarding the source of their knowledge of the case, whether they
had formed any fixed opinions regarding appellant's guilt or innocence
because of their exposure to pretrial publicity, whether they could decide
the case solely on the evidence presented at trial, and whether they could
deliberate in a fair and impartial manner. Following thorough questioning,
the trial court readily dismissed members of the venire (prospective
jurors) who had formed fixed opinions due to pretrial publicity or were
The Court did find reversible error, however, in the trial court's denial
of repeated defense motions to inform prospective jurors that one of the
victims in the case was a 3-year-old, and to allow voir dire questioning
about jurors' views on imposing the death penalty on the killer of a
child. Even without the court identifying one of the victims as a young
child, Chief Justice Moyer pointed out that several prospective jurors in
the case made voluntary statements during voir dire indicating that they
were disposed to favor the death penalty in cases involving the murder of
"Protecting children from harm is a common human characteristic, and many
people harbor strong feelings and emotions whenever a child is a victim of
a violent crime," wrote Moyer. "Some prospective jurors, when presented
with this fact, may have been unable to remain dispassionate and impartial
when deciding whether the death sentence should be imposed. The
possibility that one juror might not have fairly considered sentencing
options and may have voted for the death penalty solely because appellant
murdered a three-year-old child is too great a risk to ignore."
Holding that, "in a death penalty case involving the murder of a young
child the defendant is entitled, upon request, to have the prospective
jurors informed of that fact and to ask questions that seek to reveal
bias," the Court ruled that the trial court in this case abused its
discretion by denying Jackson's motions to conduct such questioning.
Accordingly, while affirming both of Jackson's aggravated murder
convictions and his death sentence for the killing of Williams, the Court
voted 6-1 to vacate the separate death sentence for the killing of Grant
and remanded that issue only to the trial court for a new sentencing
Chief Justice Moyer's opinion was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer,
Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O'Connor, Terrence O'Donnell and Judith
Justice Alice Robie Resnick entered a separate opinion in which she
concurred with the majority's affirmance of Jacksons aggravated murder
convictions and his death sentence for the killing of Williams, but said
she would also affirm the trial courts death sentence for the killing of
Citing a number of past state and federal court decisions that have
deferred to the broad discretion of trial courts to set parameters for
voir dire, Justice Resnick wrote: "My review of the record (in this case)
convinces me that appellant's voir dire of the jury was not unduly limited
and that voir dire resulted in a fair and impartial jury. Every juror
seated indicated that he or she would not automatically vote for the death
penalty upon a finding of guilt, that he or she would fairly consider
mitigating evidence and life-sentencing options, and that he or she would
follow the court's instructions on the law. I believe that these
considerations outweigh any possible prejudice that may have occurred from
the trial court's denial of appellant's request that voir dire focus
specifically on the age of Jayla Grant."
(source: Ohio Supreme Court)
Man pleads guilty in execution-style slaying of 3
In Crown Point, an Iowa man has pleaded guilty to the execution-style
slayings of 3 people during a robbery in a northwest Indiana home.
27-year-old Kirby Oliver of Burlington has also agreed to testify against
his 2 co-defendants -- 23-year-old Sajjad Rasheed and 25-year-old Carl
Major, both of Gary, Indiana.
Oliver is pleading guilty to 3 counts of murder in the April 5th shooting
deaths of 19-year-old Andrew Espinoza, 19-year-old Brittney Hott and
20-year-old Lindsay Davidson at a home in Hobart.
Oliver will get 45 years in prison when he's sentenced in March.
Oliver and Major have fingered Rasheed as the triggerman. Oliver said
Rasheed demanded money and drugs from the victims.
Hobart police said all 3 victims were shot in the back of the head.
(source: Associated Press)
Murder Suspect Faces Death Penalty Trial
A man charged with strangling, stabbing and beating a 75-year-old woman to
death will face a death-penalty trial.
After one day's worth of preliminary hearings, a 3rd district judge said
she's heard sufficient evidence to try Floyd Eugene Maestas for capital
murder and 1st-degree felony aggravated burglary.
Maestas may face a 3rd charge for forcible sexual abuse. The judge wants
lawyers from both sides to argue their positions on whether accusations
against Maestas fit the legal definition of abuse.
Maestas is accused of hitting and strangling Donna Lou Bott during a
robbery in September of last year.
Maestas has a history of violent crimes, especially against elderly
(source: KSL News)
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