death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., TENN., CALIF., OHIO, IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 1 11:49:35 CDT 2005
Oct. 20, 2005
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On Oct. 20, 2005 Luis Ramirez, a Hispanic man, will be executed for hiring
Edward Bell to kill 19-year-old Nemicio Nandin, another Hispanic man, on
April 8, 1998. Ramirez's conviction is largely based on the testimony of
Tim Hoogstra who claims that Bell informed him of the murder and of
Ramirez's role in the murder. Nandin was dating Ramirez's ex-wife, Dawn
Holquin, at the time of the murder.
Ramirez's attempts to appeal his conviction and sentence have been halted
by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Under
the AEDPA, Ramirez must obtain a Certificate of Appealability in order to
appeal a denial of his habeas petition. Federal courts are required by
the AEDPA to give deference to the lower court in considering habeas
Additionally, under the AEDPA Ramirez must prove to the Fifth Circuit Court
of Appeals that the lower court's ruling was unreasonable. Effectively, the
AEDPA requires that Ramirez prove to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that
the lower court, to which the United States Court of Appeals is required to
give deference, ruled unreasonably. Naturally, Ramirez has been unable to
overcome this burden of proof.
Ramirez also has been denied the opportunity to confront Edward Bell in
person, although Bell's out-of-court statements to Hoogstra, implicating
Ramirez in the murder, were admitted in court. This denial violates
Ramirez's Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser.
Finally, a potential alibi witness for Ramirez was not heard at trial.
Ramirez contends that this constitutes a failure on the part of his
court-appointed trial counsel. Ramirez holds that he informed Rios of the
existence of a possible alibi. Unfortunately such a contention becomes a
question of Ramirez's word versus his trial lawyer's. Under Texas law the
state court may choose to disbelieve Ramirez without any further proof than
his former attorney's claim of competence.
Please contact Gov. Rick Perry to ask him to stop the execution of Luis
Oct. 25, 2005
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Pedro Solis Sosa, a Hispanic man, faces execution on Oct. 25, 2005 in Texas.
Sosa was convicted and sentenced to death for the Nov. 4, 1983 shooting
death of 55-year-old Ollie F. Childress Jr., a white man and a Wilson County
deputy sheriff. According to authorities, Sosa and his nephew abducted
Officer Childress and had him get into the trunk of his own patrol car.
The two then reportedly drove Childress' patrol car to a local bank, robbed
that bank, and then returned to where their own car was parked. It is then
that Sosa is said to have shot Officer Childress before getting back in
his own car to leave the scene.
Pedro Solis Sosa has no prior criminal record. Also none of the
fingerprints at the bank or in the patrol car match Sosa's. Additionally,
though Sosa did sign a confession, in light of his limited education and his
incomplete command of the English language, there is question as to his
ability to understand what he was signing.
The death penalty is an arbitrary, but final punishment. When mistakes are
made there is no bringing the deceased back to life. Because the justice
system is run by human beings and is therefore not 100 percent accurate, we
cannot allow state-sanctioned executions to continue. Furthermore,
statistics relating to the deterrence effect of the death penalty are
inconclusive at best. Instead, by condoning the death penalty as a
legitimate form of punishment,
the government may actually be encouraging society's desensitization
thereby increasing other instances of violence. Finally, executing Pedro
Sosa will not bring Officer Childress back to life.
Please write to Gov. Rick Perry requesting that he stop Pedro Solis Sosa's
(source for both: NCADP
New information in capital murder case
There's new information in a first of its kind capital murder case here in
Nueces County. Police charged 24-year-old Bruce Wayne Gerard with capital
murder, after allegedly stabbing 17-year-old Stephanie Reyes inside her
Reyes, who was pregnant at the time survived, but her 6 week old fetus did
not. The new information is contained an arrest affidavit, and it details
some of the events leading up to, and during the stabbing.
According to the document, on August 30th, Gerard came to Reyes' home.
That's when Ms. Reyes told the suspect that she was about 6 weeks
pregnant. According to the document, the suspect was happy about this and
wanted to have a 2nd baby.
2 days later on September 1, Gerard came to Reyes' Mary Street home around
9:00 p.m. Police said the suspect kicked open the door and started
stabbing the victim with a butcher's knife from the kitchen. The suspect
stabbed Ms. Reyes in the back, head and in her stomach. That's when the
victim stated to the suspect, "What about the baby?" and he stated, "Who
gives an...expletive, expletive..." Investigators said Gerard continued to
stab Reyes until the neighbor across the street come over. Reyes was
eventually released from the hospital, and was able to talk with
investigators. Meanwhile Gerard remains in the Nueces County Jail on a one
million dollar bond.
District Attorney Carlos Valdez said this is the first time his office
will be going after someone for capital murder for killing a fetus.
There's no word yet on whether or not the death penalty will be sought in
Killer remains on death row ----Kevin Brian Dowling killed a woman who was
to testify against him at trial.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied Kevin Brian Dowlings latest
appeal, a ruling that keeps the convicted killer on death row.
A Bucks County jury brought to York County because of pretrial news
coverage found Dowling guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting
death of Jennifer Lynn Myers in November 1998.
Dowling was arrested in December 1996 on robbery and attempted rape
charges when Myers, 43, of Thomasville, spotted him working in a Hanover
convenience store. Myers had been attacked in her West Manchester Township
gallery in August of that year.
On Oct. 20, 1997, 2 days before Myers was to testify against him at trial,
Dowling, then 39 and wearing a long, black wig, entered her relocated shop
in Spring Grove and killed her, shooting her 3 times in the chest, left
shoulder and left eye.
Dowling was quickly identified as a murder suspect and was arrested at his
East Petersburg, Lancaster County, home.
Despite Myers' absence as a witness, Dowling was convicted of robbery and
attempted rape in April 1998.
Dowling had offered a videotape he took of himself fishing from a rowboat
on a Lancaster County lake as an alibi for the day of the shooting.
Authorities determined the video had been faked.
After his murder conviction, he contended he had been railroaded by a
massive conspiracy involving witnesses, police, courts, the district
attorneys office, defense attorneys and his own family.
In his appeal to the state Supreme Court, he argued several points
unsuccessfully, including that his attorneys were ineffective; that his
13-year-old daughter, who testified against him, was incompetent; and that
the "finality of the death sentence will prevent (him) from any
possibility of ever benefiting from the rapid progress of technology" that
has resulted in the exoneration of other death row inmates.
The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Russell M. Nigro,
found that the trial record supported Dowling's conviction. All of
Dowling's appeal issues were denied, determined to be improperly raised or
(source: The Daily Record)
Police Chief to Stand Trial for Murder
A police chief accused of killing his ex-wife was in court Friday. The
shooting happened last month in Northumberland County and outraged dozens
As Richard Curran was taken from the Northumberland County Jail to the
court house in Sunbury, armed guards kept watch from a nearby rooftop and
on the ground. Authorities explaines these precautions are sometimes
necessary in homicide cases.
Curran, from Shamokin, is accused of gunning down hi ex-wife Tina Curran
It happened outside the Shamokin Area Community Hospital, where Tina
worked. Persecutors think Richard Curran had a a clear intent to kill.
"We don't have someone who actually saw him shoot the gun, however we have
a lot of circumstantial evidence that he is the person that committed the
shooting, and I think that is what we showed during the course of the
hearing," said Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini.
Curran's attorney, Karl Rominger, dissagreed.
"The problem with circumstantial evidence is this; if you all remember the
ad from the super bowl, where the woman comes home and the guy has
spaghetti sauce on the floor and the cat in one hand and the knife in the
other, it looks really bad but it doesn't mean that's what actually
happened," Rominger said.
During the hearing, the Mount Carmel police chief revealed that on the
morning of the shooting, Tina could have had Richard arrested for
"If it was up to me I would've arrested him right there," Chief Brian
But, he said, Tina didn't want him arrested. About an hour later she was
Richard Curran pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a judge decided
there was enough evidence for Curran to stand trial for murder.
He was taken back to the Northumberland County jail. His next scheduled
court appearance is scheduled for November. District Attorney Rosini has
until then to decided whether or not he will seek the death penalty.
Defendant deserves new trial
A potential miscarriage of justice can be put right by the U.S. Supreme
Court next term, which begins Monday. A man who has been on death row in
Tennessee for the last 20 years has demonstrated that body fluid evidence
found on the murder victim is not his. Still, a federal appellate court
has denied him a new trial.
The fact that the semen found on the clothing of the victim did not belong
to Paul Gregory House does not necessarily mean he is innocent of her
murder. But since the motive attributed to House for the kidnapping and
murder of Carolyn Muncey was rape, a new trial is certainly in order. The
high court will hear House's appeal next term. It will be an opportunity
for the court to clarify rules as to when capital defendants should be
allowed to reopen their cases to raise claims of innocence.
When Muncey was found murdered in 1985, the investigation quickly focused
on House, who was a prior sex offender and a newcomer to the area. House
asserted his innocence but there was plenty of circumstantial evidence
pointing to him as the perpetrator. A jury convicted House and sentenced
him to death in light of his previous conviction and the attendant rape or
But DNA tests later determined that the semen found on Muncey's clothes
was that of Hubert Muncey, her husband. There was no rape. In the interim,
two female acquaintances of the victim's husband came forward to say that
soon after the time of the murder, he tearfully confessed to them that he
had accidentally killed his wife. And another witness said that Muncey
tried to get her to be an alibi for him. These witnesses did not come
forward to testify at House's original trial, although one claimed she had
gone to the sheriff's office early on, but no one seemed interested in her
The weight of this new evidence should have been enough to win House a new
trial. It is possible and maybe even likely that House is innocent. But
the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sitting as a full court ruled 8-7
that House failed to show that no reasonable juror would have convicted
him; therefore his conviction stands. Despite all the new evidence
pointing away from House, the court cared more about the finality of the
process than finding the truth.
Also distressing was the politicization of the court - all eight of the
judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents and all
seven dissenters were appointed by Democrats. How sad that party
affiliation seems to have a bearing on the dispensing of justice.
The Supreme Court should not only grant House a new trial, it also should
relax the standards for death row inmates to return to court when new
evidence of innocence emerges. If a case like House's doesn't pass muster,
the bar is set too high.
(source: Editorial, St. Petersburg Times)
Death penalty study's findings aren't complete
In the Santa Clara Law Review, anti-death penalty supporters believe they
have been dealt some sort of trump card that will save death row inmates
from the ultimate punishment in California.
A new study has reviewed all California homicides committed from 1990
through the end of 1999. It claims that bias is running rampant when it
comes to sentencing someone to death for murder. The report says the
murder of a white person in nonsuburban counties is far more likely to
result in a death sentence than urban crimes against minorities.
Now, if we're just playing percentages, the evidence mounts. Eighty-two
percent of those executed were convicted of killing white victims while
only 27.6 percent of murder victims are white. In addition, killers of
white victims are twice as likely as slayers of Latinos to get a death
sentence and three times more likely than if the victim is African
The numbers from the study, claim death penalty opponents, are good enough
to, at the very least, suspend the death penalty, if not wipe it off the
True, the numbers are strong - until you consider that only 11 men have
been executed since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978.
California also has the most inmates sitting on death row - 647. It's not
like there is a huge parade into the chamber.
While both sides make their points, this looks to us more like "How to
Twist the Numbers," especially from the death penalty foes.
In the 1st place, the study is vague and incomplete. The focus is on
victims and excludes the race of perpetrators. What are the circumstances
of the crimes? There are no details or context as to why a person was
given or not given a death sentence. Obviously, not all the crimes were
It would have been nice to break down the facts to include the race of the
person convicted for the crime and what the crime was. That would have
told us if the crime was black-on-black, black-on-white or vice versa.
Santa Clara law school Dean Donald Polden told the California Commission
on the Fair Administration of Justice that the study "raises significant
questions about whether the death penalty is being administered fairly in
For now, we disagree. The data raises questions, but without additional
information those facts aren't compelling enough to suspend the death
penalty. And let's be honest: Several executions were of white men, and 39
percent of those on death row are white.
The commission is to report its finding on wrongful convictions and
executions to the governor and Legislature by the end of 2007. In the
interim, more homework must be done, and the facts more detailed, before
the report is complete.
Then, we might get the whole picture and better determine whether the
system is as biased as some believe.
(source: Inside Bay Area)
Slaying suspect will not face death penalty----VICTIM'S FAMILY SAYS SHE
WOULDN'T WANT IT
The Texas man charged with the 1988 murder of Palo Alto attorney Gretchen
Burford will not face the death penalty when he comes to California for
trial, Santa Clara County prosecutors said Friday.
Burford's children said she would have wanted it that way, and so do they.
"Our mother had a strong opinion against the death penalty," said
Burford's son Peter. "I have a visceral response against the death
penalty. I don't agree with it at all."
Until June, the killing of Burford, a respected criminal defense attorney
known for representing clients with troubled and impoverished backgrounds,
had gone unsolved for 17 years. Investigators took a fresh look at
evidence and matched DNA to identify Tyrone Hamel as the person who
allegedly hid in Burford's car, forced her to drive to a bank in Mountain
View and then stabbed her in the heart.
Investigators tracked Hamel, now 39, to a Texas prison, where he is
serving a long term for multiple rapes and robberies in Fort Worth.
Prosecutors could have sought the death penalty, considering the nature of
the crime and the man's criminal background, said Deputy District Attorney
Cameron Bowman. But, he said, "something that weighed very heavily with us
were the wishes of her family and friends."
The death penalty, said Burford's eldest child, Maureen, now a mother
herself, "is not something I believed in anyway." And Hamel's troubled
upbringing and family history, in particular, were other reasons "it's
just not right," she said.
Hamel's early life in the Bay Area was chaotic. His mother was convicted
of killing his father. As a teenager, he molested a young relative, and
eventually, according to prison records, other members of his family would
When he was 20, Hamel committed his first major crime as an adult after he
had moved to Texas. He jumped a woman in a parking lot, forced her at
knifepoint into a vehicle and then robbed her. He went to prison, and a
few weeks after his release committed a series of robberies and rapes in
Fort Worth, court records show.
Then he traveled to California for a family friend's funeral. During that
trip, police say, he killed Burford.
Arrest in Texas
Texas police arrested him within days of his return from California for
the rapes -- but Burford's killing remained unsolved. It was featured on
an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries."
The case is not likely to come to court for a year, Bowman said.
That will be enough time for Maureen Burford to complete the letter she
said she is writing to Hamel.
"I do want to communicate to him that my mother would have been willing to
represent him, and that she believed that everybody can turn their life
around, that I know he doesn't have a lot to look forward to in prison,
and I would be rooting for him to find something worthwhile to do there."
She also wants him to know: "My mother would forgive him."
(source: Mercury News)
William James Williams Jr.
Oct. 25, 2005
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William James Williams Jr., a black man, faces execution on Oct. 25, 2005
for the deaths of Alfonda Madison Sr., Eric Howard, Theodore Wynn Jr., and
William Dent in the home of Madison and Howard on the morning of Sept. 2,
1991. Williams's girlfriend, Jessica Cherry, her brother, Dominic Cherry,
and his friend, Broderick Boone, all testified to their involvement in the
deaths. The three were tried as juveniles in exchange for their testimony
Williams raised a number of issues during his appeal to the Supreme Court of
Ohio that he believed should lead to a new trial. Although the majority
disagreed with Williams' contentions, Justice Moyer wrote a compelling
dissent that was joined by Justice Pfeifer. According to Moyer "the trial
court failed to adequately protect appellant Williams's constitutional right
to be tried before an impartial jury." Moyer states that "Vigilance is
required to protect the integrity of the jury from infirmities that may sap
and undermine it. Such infirmity is present in the composition of the jury
that sentenced Williams to death. I would therefore vacate the conviction
and sentence and grant Williams a new trial."
The transcript of the prospective-juror-questioning clearly shows evidence
that the seated jurors may not have been impartial. John Gombaski, later
excused as a prospective juror, raised concerns that other prospective
jurors were concealing possible prejudice. Gombaski explained that he was
prejudiced by what he heard and believes that others also heard what he did.
Additionally, Gombaski admitted to telling two other jurors what he heard.
The trial judge erred by not further investigating Gombaski's statement.
Furthermore, the questioning of the prospective jurors plainly confirms
Williams's contention that he was not protected from juror bias in favor of
the death penalty. Juror Eddleman was seated on the jury regardless of her
repeated statements that if parole was a possibility she would automatically
"go with the death sentence." In Williams's case the choices of sentences
were in fact various lengths of life sentences, all including the
possibility of parole, or death. Undoubtedly Eddleman was biased in favor
of the death penalty in this case.
Because William James Williams Jr. was not tried by an impartial jury
capable of sentencing him according to the law he certainly should not be
executed. As Moyer points out in his dissent "This case represents a test
for the criminal justice system." If Williams is executed, considering the
problems with his trial, the criminal justice system will have failed the
Please contact Gov. Bob Taft to request that William James Williams Jr.'s
execution be stopped.
Board unanimously votes not to spare killer ---- Man who murdered 4 in
Youngstown didn't seek clemency
Willie "Flip" Williams Jr. is scheduled to be executed Oct. 25 in
Lucasville for killing 4 men on Sept. 1, 1991.
Guilty of the "wanton, calculated, horrific, cold-blooded, execution-style
killing of 4 defenseless young men," Willie "Flip" Williams Jr. does not
deserve mercy, the Ohio Parole Board decided yesterday.
By a 7-0 vote, the board recommended to Gov. Bob Taft that he reject
clemency for the Youngstown drug lord-turnedkiller.
The board said it found "nothing in Mr. Williams' history, character or
background" that warranted clemency.
In fact, Williams did not request clemency and directed his attorney, Joe
Wilhelm, of the Ohio Public Defender's office, not to make a presentation
on his behalf at his parole board hearing Monday.
Taft has unlimited authority in clemency matters. He can accept the
board's recommendation and allow the execution to proceed, grant a
temporary reprieve as he did recently in the case of John G. Spirko Jr.,
or halt the execution.
At the clemency hearing, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains called
Williams "unsalvageable." Ken Bailey, a former Mahoning County prosecutor
now in Trumbull County, said Williams wanted to be "the black godfather of
Youngstown" and was responsible for killing as many as 14 people.
Williams, 49, is scheduled to be executed Oct. 25 at the Southern Ohio
Correctional Facility near Lucasville. His would be the 3rd execution this
year, following Herman Dale Ashworth, of Newark, who was put to death
Williams committed one of Youngstown's most infamous crimes on Sept. 1,
With the help of three juveniles he had recruited as accomplices, Williams
concocted a plot to regain control of the drug trade in Kimmel Brooks
housing project. He bought walkie-talkies at an electronics store so
members of his team could communicate.
They trapped Alfonda Madison, 21, in his apartment, then lured 3 other men
- William Lamont Dent, 23; Eric Howard, 20; and Theodore Wynn, 23 - to the
Williams handcuffed his victims, strangled them with electric cords and
suffocated them with plastic bags, then used Madison's gun to shoot each
in the head.
Later, after the juveniles were arrested and began telling officials about
the Kimmel Brooks murders, Williams armed himself with weapons and
explosives and assaulted the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center in an
effort to silence his former accomplices.
He eventually surrendered, however, and was subsequently tried, convicted
and sentenced to death for all 4 murders on Aug. 11, 1993.
Williams has a long criminal record, including aggravated murder, bank
robbery, felonious assault and possession of cocaine.
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
Time running out for Bieghler
Marvin Bieghler has been on death row for 22 years, awaiting his date with
death in the Michigan City state prison.
The 57-year-old was sentenced to die March 25, 1983, for murdering a
No execution date has been set, but with the rate of executions this year,
it could be soon, according to Lorinda Youngcourt, Bieghler's attorney.
On Wednesday, the state executed Alan Matheney, 54, for killing Lisa
Bianco in 1989 outside her Mishawaka home, just east of South Bend.
Matheney's death was the state's 5th this year, the most since the death
penalty was reinstated in the '70s.
The state attorney general's office has said that Bieghler and Michael
Lambert, was convicted in the 1990 shooting death of a Muncie police
officer, could be the next death row inmates to be put to death this year.
Both have appeals pending in federal courts.
According to Youngcourt, Bieghler was denied a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus in 7th U.S. District Court in Chicago in 2003, leaving him
with one last appeal, which was filed earlier this year.
"We're done with the 7th Circuit, now we are preparing writ of certiorari
with the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., the last step on his
appeal's process," she said.
A conference is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Bieghler is the only Howard County man on death row.
"It's quite tiring, emotionally and professionally," Youngcourt said of
fighting the death sentence. "It's quite a drain. Marvin Bieghler always
has been my favorite client and one of my longest clients."
Bieghler was convicted of the execution-style shooting deaths of Tommy
Miller, 20, and his pregnant wife, Kimberly Jane (Wright) Miller, 19, who
were found dead Dec. 11, 1981, in their mobile home near Russiaville. The
ruling in Howard Superior Court 1 has left him on death row since 1983.
Judge Dennis Parry, ordered Bieghler to die after jurors convicted him of
2 counts of murder and recommended the death penalty.
John Sissom, jury foreman in the Bieghler trial 22 years ago, said he is
still convinced Bieghler is guilty and should be put to death. As jury
foreman, the Delco Electronics engineer signed the written recommendation
for the death penalty.
"I think it's a shame it's taken so long," Sissom said.
Fellow juror Jeffrey W. Berry said Bieghler's life is now in the court's
"We did our job as jurors," said Berry. "It's been more than 20 years --
it's been a long time. [Bieghler] put himself in that position and
whatever the court's decide is his fate."
Tommy Miller was shot in the chest 6 times. His wife, who was 4 to 8 weeks
pregnant, was shot 3 times in the chest. Bieghler dropped a dime on each
of the dead bodies, according to court records.
By dropping the dimes on the bodies, authorities said that Bieghler was
sending a message to other possible informants that snitches die and that
they won't be tolerated.
Bieghler, a reputed supplier and dealer of marijuana in Howard County, was
convinced Tommy Miller told police about his drug operation, according to
court documents. He also claimed Tommy Miller owed him a drug debt.
Authorities said the man was not a police informant.
According to the Supreme Court, Bieghler's drug-dealing partner, Harold K.
"Scotty" Brook, also testified at Bieghler's trial that someone had
"dropped a dime" on Robert Nutt Jr., one of Bieghler's main distributors.
Nutt was arrested prior to the shootings, resulting in the seizure of a
large amount of marijuana supplied by Bieghler.
Brook also testified that he was with Bieghler the night they drove to the
couple's mobile home. He also said he saw Bieghler pointing a .38-caliber
handgun into one of the rooms. He said he did not hear any shots while in
the trailer nor the crying of the Millers' child, who was in a crib
nearby. According to police records, Bieghler then ran from the trailer
with Brook in tow. The gun was not found, but 9 spent .38-caliber shell
casings were found at the scene, which matched casings found at a shooting
range where Bieghler fired his .38 for target practice.
Brook made a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for his
testimony. He was convicted on unrelated charges and was sentenced to less
than 10 years in prison.
Nutt also testified at the trial for the state in exchange for probation.
Youngcourt, who has been fighting for Bieghler's life for 14 years, said
there's still some unanswered questions in the case.
"It's a troubling case," she said. "There are guilt, innocence questions
in the case that the appellate courts can't quite reach. There were 2
other people [Brook and Nutt] that had just as much a motive to kill them
as Marvin did. They just got to the prosecution first."
(source: Kokomo Tribune)
Why 1 inmate lived and the other died----Both claimed mental illness;
Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday he spared the life of Arthur P. Baird II,
but not Alan Matheney, because jurors and family members in the Baird case
made a "clear expression" that they supported clemency.
"The Baird case had some very unique features," Daniels said in his 1st
public comments on the recent death penalty cases, both of which involved
inmates who said they were mentally ill.
Baird was sent to Death Row after the 1985 stabbing deaths of his parents,
Kathryn and Arthur Baird, in Montgomery County. The day before Baird
killed his parents, he strangled his pregnant wife, Nadine, killing their
unborn child. A psychologist hired by the Indiana Parole Board before
Baird's scheduled execution said he appeared to be psychotic.
Daniels said he was convinced in the Baird case that the families of the
victims, and the jurors in the case who were located, would have chosen
life in prison without parole over the death penalty, had that been an
Even the prosecutor in the case at the time offered Baird a term of years
that essentially would have kept him in prison for life. But because of
his mental illness, Daniels noted, Baird rejected that offer.
"To me, that was a very unique circumstance, and I tried to make clear
that was the governing factor," said Daniels, who granted Baird clemency
Aug. 29 but has been careful not to wade into the issue of whether the
mentally ill should be executed.
In the Matheney case, there were no such beliefs expressed openly by the
family, or jurors, that he deserved life without parole and not death.
Matheney was executed early Wednesday morning for the 1989 beating death
of his ex-wife, Lisa Marie Bianco, 29.
At the time of the crime, he was on an 8-hour furlough from the
Correctional Industrial Facility near Pendleton, where he was serving a
7-year sentence for beating her and trying to abduct their 2 daughters.
Though mental health experts testified at his trial that Matheney was
delusional, his attorneys were unable to prove insanity to the jury.
Daniels denied him clemency without a written explanation.
(source: Indianapolis Star)
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