[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----IND., FLA., ARK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 15 12:24:49 CDT 2005
Prosecutor: Inmate's death 'poetic justice'
In South Bend, the prosecutor who sent a man to prison for fatally beating
and stabbing a 10-year-old boy says the inmate's death from a fight at the
Indiana State Prison was "poetic justice."
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against Jason Patrick for Evan
Parker's murder in 2002, but a judge ruled that Patrick was mentally
retarded and could not be executed.
Patrick, 23, was injured Sept. 2 during a fight in a disciplinary unit at
the prison in Michigan City and was taken by helicopter to Wishard
Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis, where he died Monday, prison officials
His death is being investigated by the Indiana State Police.
(source: Associated Press)
Defendant: Girl's mom is the killer
An accused killer said his ex-girlfriend's mother orchestrated the
home-invasion murder so that he would get enough money to 'purchase' her
daughter, who was then 16.
Gabby Tennis took the witness stand Wednesday and admitted to robbing an
old war veteran -- but said it was the mother of his ex-girlfriend who
committed the murder.
In testifying in his own defense, Tennis, a 25-year-old Hollywood roofer,
rejected his lawyer's advice, a move that could cost him his life. If
convicted of 1st-degree murder in the brutal beating of 91-year-old Albert
Vessella, he could face the death penalty.
In rambling, disjointed testimony, Tennis, 23, told jurors his former
fiance's mother killed the elderly Hollywood man during a botched home
invasion. He admitted he helped her commit the robbery, but contends he
didn't participate in the murder.
Vessella's neck was broken and bloody footprints were left on his face and
"I'm admitting to taking the man's money," Tennis told the jury, as he
clutched a pocket-sized copy of the Bible.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations this afternoon.
Since the beginning of the trial late last month, Tennis has railed
against the judicial system. He said Liza Boltos, the mother of his
ex-girlfriend, Sophia Adams, killed Vessella. Tennis said Boltos
orchestrated the June 1, 2003, home invasion so that Tennis would have
enough money to "purchase" Adams, then 16 years old.
Boltos used to clean Vessella's Hollywood home.
Last week, Adams testified that Tennis killed Vessella on his own. She
said her mother played no role in the murder.
Adams agreed in July 2004 to plead guilty to 2nd-degree murder in the hope
of receiving a lighter sentence. She is in Broward County jail, pending
sentencing. Boltos has not been charged in Vessella's death.
But, according to Tennis, Boltos pushed Vessella into a wall after the
victim picked up a gun.
Tennis said he intended to "take the man's money without him knowing."
But the prosecutor pointed out that, even if Tennis acted as he testified
he did, he was an accessory to the crime.
"If you believe Liza Boltos killed Mr. Vessella, under the law in Florida,
if he is one of her team members, he is just as responsible," prosecutor
Howard Scheinberg said.
Earlier this month, Boltos told jurors that she demanded $3,400 from
Tennis as part of a dowry for her daughter's hand. She had already "sold"
her for $9,000 when she was 14, but that marriage didn't last because the
man was physically abusive, Boltos said.
During closing arguments, Tennis' defense attorney, Patrick Rastatter,
reminded jurors that Broward Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said
Vessella's injuries could just as well have been inflicted by a woman.
"You have to believe Sophia Adams and Liza Boltos to convict Gabby
Tennis," Rastatter said.
(source: Miami Herald)
Victims' families describe their loss to jurors
In Bartow, last week a jury found Thomas Rigterink guilty in the murders
of Jeremy Jarvis and Allison Sousa. But the tears and drama in this trial
did not end there.
Now jurors must make a life or death decision. Does the former model
deserve the death penalty? On Wednesday, in making their case for "Yes,"
prosecutors emphasized the brutality of the 2003 murders.
Inside a Winter Haven office complex, Rigterink attacked both Jarvis and
Sousa with a 10-inch knife. Jarvis was stabbed 22 times.
Bob Antonello, Prosecutor:
"He intended to inflict pain on him, and stab him, and stab him, and stab
him, and stab him - again, and again, and again."
During the penalty phase, the victims' families also told jurors about
their loss. Alice Diggett, the mother of Sousa, talked about her grandson
Hunter, who will only remember his mom from a photograph.
Alice Diggett, Victims mother:
"What do you say to a 2 year old when he asks Wheres Mommy? Or when hes 4
and he misses his Mommy and wants her to come home?"
On Thursday, jurors will hear defense lawyers argue for a life sentence
and then jurors will make their recommendation to the judge.
(source: Tampa Bay 10 News)
Convicted Murder's Appeal Rejected----Appeals Court: Davis Not Entitled To
His Own Psychiatrist
In Fayetteville, a federal appeals court rejected on Wednesday a limited
appeal by convicted murderer Don William Davis, who argued he should be
been given money to hire an independent psychiatric expert.
Davis was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal
injection for killing Jane Daniel in 1990. Several items of jewelry and
other property were missing from the residence.
Wednesday's ruling is the latest in a case which has trudged slowly
through the system.
Davis was identified shortly after Daniel's death in her Rogers home.
Authorities said she was shot execution style. Police tracked Davis to New
Mexico, where he was arrested.
During his 1992 trial, evidence showed Davis moved often but during that
time period was living in the Rogers area. He admitted to a roommate he
Davis was sentenced to death and in 2001 told the courts he did not wish
to proceed with an appeal. He changed his mind within six weeks and told
the court he believed he would be executed sooner if he exhausted all his
Last year, court officials were expecting a quick resolution of the case,
but Benton County Circuit Court Judge Tom Keith said in a 2004 story about
the case Davis had manipulated the system and received another delay.
After exhausting his state court appeals, Davis appealed 17 separate
issues to a federal court, but the judge refused to hear the case.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals later agreed to hear 2 of the issues:
Davis was denied due process because the trial court refused his request
for money to hire an independent psychiatrist and his lawyer was
ineffective because he didn't argue state law required such funds be made
The court said Davis' request was beyond the trial assistance required by
state law, which says an indigent defendant is not entitled to choose his
own psychiatrist or be given the money to hire one. The court said a
court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Travis Jenkins, who examined Davis and
testified on his behalf, met the requirements a defendant is entitled to
"access to a competent psychiatrist who will conduct an appropriate
examination and assist in the evaluation, preparation and presentation of
Davis did not rely on an insanity defense and the state did not present
any psychiatric evidence or evidence regarding Davis' mental condition at
The court rejected the ineffective council argument, saying "no reasonable
probability exists" the trial outcome would have been different had Davis'
lawyer made the argument for a psychiatrist or the Arkansas Supreme Court
would have reversed the conviction if that argument was made.
The court also refused Davis' request to send the case back to federal
District Court for further proceedings. Davis argued he is mentally
retarded and cannot be executed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 the
mentally retarded cannot be executed.
The court said Davis should have raised the issue at the District Court
level. Since Davis chose not to he was barred from raising the argument.
(source: The Morning News)
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