death penalty news-----N.J., CALIF., FLA., ALA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 22 10:24:44 CDT 2005
2 COULD FACE DEATH PENALTY -- Armanious murder suspects indicted
The 2 men accused of killing a Jersey City family of 4 in their home
during a robbery in January are facing possible death sentences, officials
A grand jury handed up capital murder charges this week against Edward
McDonald, 25, and Hamilton Sanchez, 30, both convicted drug dealers.
They have been in jail since their arrest in March in the murders of
Hossam Armanious, 47; his wife, Amal Garas, 37; and their daughters,
Sylvia, 16, and Monica, 9, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said
All 4 were bound and stabbed to death inside their Oakland Avenue home on
the night of Jan. 11, officials said.
The indictments charge each man with 2 counts of murder and give a future
jury the options of convicting them of capital murder, murder, or felony
murder, DeFazio said.
Both also are charged with armed robbery, armed burglary, weapons
offenses, theft by deception and fraudulent use of the family's ATM card,
At the time of the murders McDonald was the Armanious' upstairs tenant and
Sanchez was living in a Newark halfway house. Security video at a Jersey
City Heights bank captured images of McDonald's mother's car in a
drive-through ATM lane while the Armanious card was used, officials said.
Investigators brought McDonald in on March 3 and he confessed while being
interviewed and hooked up to a polygraph machine. McDonald's statement led
to Sanchez's arrest the next day, officials said.
The murders drew international attention and caused tensions between
Jersey City's Egyptian Coptic Christians and Muslims when it was believed
by some in the community that there was a religious motivation behind the
slayings. The Armanious family were Coptic.
Each defendant is being held on $10 million bail and they are expected to
be arraigned on the charges next month, DeFazio said.
New Jersey has not imposed the death penalty in more than 4 decades,
(source: The Jersey Journal)
Laci Peterson's Mother to Get Insurance Benefit
A judge has ruled that the $250,000 life insurance policy that Scott
Peterson took out on his wife will go to her mother.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne said Friday that
because Scott Peterson was convicted of killing his pregnant wife, Laci,
and the fetus she carried in 2002, he is not entitled to collect the
benefits of her life insurance.
The judge said the money should go to the executor of her estate, who is
her mother, Sharon Rocha.
Scott Peterson was sentenced to death earlier this year.
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Jury Recommends Death for Fla. Cop Killer
In Pensacola, a jury recommended the death sentence Friday for a man who
said he shot a retired policeman because he believed the University of
Alabama "A" on the victim's baseball cap signified he was the Antichrist.
Ryan Thomas Green, 22, was convicted Thursday of 1st-degree murder and
attempted murder. Green, who has a history of mental illness, pleaded
Circuit Judge John Kuder is not bound by the jury's recommendation and
didn't set a date for the sentencing hearing. The only other sentence for
1st-degree murder is life in prison without parole.
Retired Pensacola Sgt. James Hallman, 59, was shot to death while taking a
walk in 2003. Housepainter Christopher Phipps was wounded and is now in a
Green testified that a talking bull, religious signs, colors and symbols
led him to shoot the 2 men.
But prosecutors argued that Green was sane and that he shot the retired
officer because he wanted to steal his car and gun. They said he shot
Hallman because the victim had witnessed Green shooting a bull in a
Green's trial was delayed more than a year after he was declared mentally
incompetent. He later was found competent for trial after undergoing
(source: Associated Press)
Boy's killer sentenced to death----Jacksonville man shot, killed father
and son, injured woman
A Jacksonville man convicted of killing his roommate and the man's
13-year-old son to eliminate a witness was sentenced Friday to death, the
first death sentence imposed here in 2 years.
Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Haddock issued 2 death sentences for Thomas
Eugene Bevel, 24.
A jury found Bevel guilty of 1st-degree murder in the Feb. 29, 2004,
shooting deaths of Phillip Sims, a student at Mayport Middle School, and
his father, Garrick Stringfield, 32, at the Colchester Road home where
Bevel lived with Stringfield.
Bevel also received a consecutive life sentence for attempted first-degree
murder in the shooting of Stringfield's girlfriend, Felitta Smith, who
suffered life-threatening injuries and was left for dead by Bevel.
"This was a senseless and brutal murder of an unarmed 13-year-old boy,"
Haddock said. "The defendant made a cold and deliberate decision that his
escape from the murder of Garrick Stringfield outweighed the taking of a
life of an innocent child."
The judge noted that Smith was "an innocent victim who will have to live
the rest of her life with the physical and emotional scars of the
During the trial in August, jurors heard that the boy's mother, Sojourner
Sims Parker, took her son to his father's house on the Northside for a
The boy was on the living room sofa playing video games when he was shot
with the AK-47 automatic rifle Bevel had just used to kill Stringfield and
Bevel then locked the burglar bar door of the home and fled in
Stringfield's car, the jury heard. When Smith was able to call 911,
emergency personnel had to break down the door to get inside.
During the penalty phase of the trial, the jurors voted 12-0 to recommend
the death penalty for the boy's murder and 8-4 for death in his father's
After the death sentences were imposed Friday, Assistant State Attorney
Bernie de la Rionda told the victims' relatives, "It won't bring them
back, but at least you know that justice was served."
The prosecutor termed the crimes "the most horrific murders, especially
the murder of a child shot twice in the head."
"I'm glad it is over," said Parker, the boy's mother. "I will hold on to
the good memories, the fun times we had together."
Stringfield's mother, Priscilla Frink, said she was relieved that the long
process of justice was over.
"He was my baby," she said. "He didn't deserve what happened."
(source: The Florida Times-Union)
Taped phone call: Jones admits killing Mobile County woman
The jury in the capital murder trial of accused serial killer Jeremy Bryan
Jones heard a recorded telephone conversation Friday in which he admitted
killing a Mobile County woman while high on drugs.
"It was like a nightmare, I was in a movie," Jones said in the Dec. 10,
2004 recorded conversation from jail. After hearing it played to the jury,
Jones wiped his eyes with a handkerchief as the courtroom fell silent.
In the taped call, Jones told Mark Bentley, a former friend and a neighbor
of the slain woman, Lisa Marie Nichols, that he needed prayer.
"Pray for you?" asked Bentley. "Do you think it will do any good?"
"Yeah, it can't hurt, can it?" Jones said.
Bentley, a prosecution witness, testified Friday morning that he had
allowed Jones, a 32-year-old construction worker from Miami, Okla., to
stay in Bentley's home when Jones arrived unannounced days before
Hurricane Ivan struck in September 2004.
Jones had worked for Bentley several years earlier.
Nichols lived alone in a mobile home near Bentley in the rural Turnerville
community, which lost electrical power during the hurricane.
Nichols, 44, was raped and shot three times in the head on Sept. 17, 2004.
Her body was burned and later found by her two daughters and a son-in-law.
In testimony, Bentley described how they entered the smoke-filled home
with a flashlight and discovered the body.
"I was freaked out," Bentley said. "She was burned up. It just about
Jones had remained behind in the Bentley home and didn't go to the crime
"He asked me what did it look like over there," Bentley recalled.
In the Dec. 10 taped statement, Jones said he didn't know why he did it.
"I was higher than I had ever been in my whole life," Jones said.
Bentley told Jones, "I thought I knew you, but I don't."
"You knew me. You just didn't know me on drugs," Jones replied.
When arrested Sept. 21, 2004, Jones was using the alias John Paul Chapman,
later determined to be Missouri prisoner.
Jones' attorney has conceded that Jones had a history of abusing
methamphetamines, but argued that police had arrested the wrong man.
Jones' girlfriend, Vicki Freeman of Douglasville, Ga., his mother, Jeanne
Beard of Miami, Okla., and several other relatives attended Friday's court
Jones mouthed "I love you" to his mother seated in the courtroom for the
first time Friday. Beard said she believes her son is innocent. "I only
have 2 sons," she said. "He's a good boy."
Jones has also been charged with murder in separate slayings in Georgia
and New Orleans. An investigator said Friday that about 10 other unsolved
slayings have possible links to Jones and the number could be 20.
Mobile County sheriff's detective Paul Burch said some of the other cases
without charges apparently involve slain Atlanta prostitutes.
Jones is charged with murder in the death of Amanda Greenwell, a
16-year-old in Douglasville, Ga., whose remains were found in April 2004,
and Katherine Collins, a 45-year-old New Orleans woman whose body was
found in February 2004.
Authorities have said Jones confessed to or is being investigated in the
deaths of a couple and the disappearance of two teenage girls in Oklahoma,
as well as the killing of another woman in Georgia.
Testimony will continue Saturday and Sunday afternoon in a rare weekend
session because the jury is sequestered.
(source: The Tuscaloosa News)
Drug evidence used by lawyer----Defense attorney says Trimble was under
influence and unable to form intent to commit capital murder
James Trimble was under the influence of drugs the night and morning
prosecutors say he killed three people, one of his attorneys told the
Defense lawyer Dennis Day Lager, in a procedural move, read into the court
record what he said was intoxication evidence that indicated Trimble
became violent when on the drugs. Consequently, he said, Trimble couldn't
have formed the necessary intent to commit capital murder.
The jury did not hear Lager's claim. Ohio does not allow voluntary
intoxication as a defense to Trimble's alleged crimes.
If Trimble is convicted of aggravated murder, however, the defense could
use Thursday's evidence during the sentencing phase. Drug use could be a
mitigating circumstance to keep Trimble from being put to death.
Trimble, 45, faces 3 counts of aggravated murder; each of them carries the
possibility of the death penalty.
He is accused of shooting his 42-year-old girlfriend, Renee Bauer, and her
7-year-old son, Dakota, on Jan. 21 in the Sandy Lake Road home they
Police say he then roamed the Brimfield Township woods, shooting at them
with an AR-15 assault rifle, before taking 22-year-old Kent State student
Sarah Positano hostage in her Ranfield Road apartment. He killed her just
after midnight, prosecutors say.
Lager said methamphetamines and a "cocaine derivative" were found in
Trimble's hair from a test taken in April. Lager said his expert would
testify that if the drugs were found then -- after Trimble had been in
jail for three months -- then it was in his system in very high doses the
night of the shootings.
Lager also said that on June 25, 2004, Brimfield safety forces came to
Trimble and Bauer's Sandy Lake Road home because Trimble had overdosed on
When he was taken to the hospital, Trimble became so violent that the
doctors had to paralyze him and hook him up to a ventilator, Lager told
The jury will take the case after closing arguments Monday. Portage County
Common Pleas Judge John Enlow said he expects to have his jury
instructions completed today.
(source: Beacon Journal)
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