death penalty news----KY., FLA., CALIF., UTAH, ALA., LA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Sep 20 10:43:24 CDT 2005
Life term backed for suspected gang boss ----Jury doesn't opt for death
Jurors who convicted Kenneth "Wee Wee" Parker of 2 murders spared his life
last night and allowed for the possibility that he could eventually leave
The Jefferson Circuit Court jury of 8 women and 4 men deliberated about 4
hours before recommending a life sentence without the possibility of
parole for 25 years.
The jury could have recommended a death sentence.
"It's a severe defeat for the prosecution," said David Mejia, Parker's
attorney, who noted that with time served, Parker could get out of prison
in about 20 years, when he is still in his 40s.
But Tom Van De Rostyne, a prosecutor with the commonwealth's attorney's
office, said that while prosecutors wanted a more severe penalty, Parker
still will spend many years in prison with no guarantee of parole. "I
would hope the parole board would have better sense," he said.
Parker, 26, may face additional charges.
After deliberating for about 15 hours over two days, jurors on Saturday
found Parker, the suspected leader of the Victory Park Crips, guilty of
murdering LaKnogony McCurley in 2000 and William Barnes in 2002.
McCurley, 18, had recently graduated from Central High School and had just
won a scholarship to the University of Louisville when she was killed in a
Barnes, prosecutors said, was a drug dealer from Chicago whom Parker shot
The jury also found Parker guilty of three attempted murders and one count
each of 1st-degree assault, second-degree assault, robbery, tampering with
physical evidence, trafficking in a controlled substance and criminal
But jurors could not reach verdicts on 5 other charges, including the 2001
killing of JaJuan Stephenson.
Van De Rostyne said last night that prosecutors had not decided whether to
retry Parker on those counts.
Parker did not react as Judge Stephen Ryan read the jury's recommendation
about 9:45 last night, though he smiled at his family and held up a V sign
with his fingers as he left the courtroom.
Some members of Parker's family bowed their heads and cried as Ryan read
the sentence recommendation, but they later expressed some relief to
"They didn't take his life, and that's the best thing," said Bridgette
Todd, a cousin of Parker's. "We can still communicate with him."
An aunt of LaKnogony McCurley's promised that her family would fight
release for Parker.
"Justice is served," LaKa Wilson said. "And in 25 years, we will be there
for parole. He will not get out."
Ryan set sentencing for Oct. 27.
Earlier yesterday, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ryane Conroy told
jurors that Parker was the "worst of the worst" and deserved to die for
But Parker's family and his attorney pleaded for his life, with Mejia
saying Parker could be punished and rehabilitated.
At one point during the five-hour sentencing hearing, Parker took the
stand and told the crowded courtroom that he was "not an animal" and was
capable of rehabilitation.
But the jurors did not hear Parker's short speech; they had been removed
from the courtroom at Mejia's request because any testimony in front of
them could have given prosecutors the chance to cross-examine Parker.
Parker was described yesterday as the eldest of 5 children, a smart
teenager who helped raise his siblings because his mother was addicted to
cocaine and his father was in and out of prison and mental institutions.
"He grew up in the streets and lived in the streets," Mejia said. "He's a
product of where he came from."
When Parker took the stand, he said he had led a rough life and made some
bad decisions but had matured and was learning to read and write.
He also apologized to the families who had lost loved ones and to his own
family, saying he had "let them down."
Parker said he was most sorry for how his actions will affect his 3
children, who will "live in the shadow my life has created for them."
But Conroy told jurors Parker was a killer responsible for multiple
shootings, murders, drug dealing and gang warfare from 1998 to 2002.
The case wasn't about Parker's situation growing up, Conroy said, "it's
about being evil, and that's what he is."
Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty Against Chip Carter
Over the next several days, prosecutors will try to convince a Duval
County jury that Pinkey "Chip" Carter is not only guilty of killing 3
people in an Arlington home in July 2002, but that he deserves the death
Carter, 50, is accused of shooting to death his former girlfriend, Liz
Reed; her 16-year-old daughter, Courtney Smith; and Reed's new boyfriend
After the murders, prosecutors said Carter fled Jacksonville, then swam
across the Rio Grand River to reach Mexico, only to be arrested on a
He allegedly paid $1,000 to bribe his way out of a Mexican jail, then
assumed a new identity, joined the circus and did roofing in a small town
in western Kentucky.
It worked for about a year, until an alert state trooper thought he
recognized a man charged with public intoxication in western Kentucky as a
fugitive wanted for murder in Jacksonville. Carter's flight from justice
Prosecutors said they will present the gun found with Carter as he entered
Mexico, along with testimony from ballistics experts that it was the
weapon that killed the 3 victims.
Carter Goes On Trial
More key pieces of evidence expected to be introduced are letters to
Carter's mother and sister found on the day of the murders. They both
read, "I'm sorry," and "I want to be cremated. Love, Chip."
Channel 4 reporter Jennifer Waugh, who followed Carter's trail to Mexico
and Kentucky, said Carter appeared much older as he entered court Monday
than the long-haired suspect brought to Jacksonville in handcuffs and leg
irons in January 2004.
Carter has pleaded not guilty to the 3 counts of 1st-degree murder.
Prosecutors expect to spend the 1st 2 days selecting a jury and the trial
is expected to take more than a week.
Ex-Death Row inmate indicted for '79 murder
26 years after Jill Mary Parenteau was strangled to death in her Burbank
apartment, a man in jail in Orange County has been indicted in her murder
and the slaying of three other women during the 1970s, prosecutors
Rodney James Alcala, a photographer originally from Monterey Park, is
accused of murdering the four women between 1977 and 1979.
He is in custody awaiting his 3rd trial in the death of 12-year-old Robin
Samsoe, who vanished near the Huntington Beach Pier as she rode her
bicycle to a ballet lesson. 2 previous convictions were overturned on
appeal, but not before Alcala spent 20 years on death row.
DNA evidence linked Alcala to 3 of the cold-case murders, prosecutors
said, although such evidence was not used in the Parenteau case. Parenteau
was killed on June 14, 1979, but police did not save evidence containing
DNA to make a comparison.
"We feel that there is sufficient evidence (to charge Alcala with
Parenteau's murder), including serology evidence that was obtained at the
time," said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District
Alcala was charged with Parenteau's murder soon after it occurred, but the
case was dropped because of a problem with a witness, Gibbons said.
"I thought the case was closed," said Jerry Parenteau, Jill's brother.
Alcala will be tried in Orange County for the Los Angeles County slayings,
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
Cooley and his staff met with Orange County District Attorney Tony
Rackauckas several months ago, and that they decided "the best place to
try these cases is in Orange County, where the defendant is facing retrial
on a similar murder," he said.
"Today's indictment is part of an effort to achieve a joint prosecution, a
consolidated trial, in one of those counties," Cooley said.
Alcala, 62, is awaiting what will be his 3rd trial - set to begin Oct. 3 -
on charges of kidnapping and killing Samsoe in July 1979. The youngster's
remains were found 12 days later in the foothills of the San Gabriel
Alcala's convictions each time were thrown out on appeal. But in all, he
spent some 20 years on death row in connection with the case.
Defense attorney George Peters said prosecutors apparently want to try all
the cases together, even though the 4 slayings of the women did not take
place in Orange County.
Peters said he would oppose a bid to consolidate the cases and move to
keep the Samsoe retrial separate.
Alcala already had been charged in one of the four Los Angeles County
murders - the rape and bludgeoning of Georgia Wixted, a 27-year-old Malibu
nurse killed on Dec. 16, 1977.
The indictment, returned Sept. 9 and unsealed Monday, also accuses Alcala
of the murders of Jill Barcomb, 18; Charlotte Lamb, 32; and Parenteau
between November 1977 and June 1979 in areas of Los Angeles County ranging
from El Segundo to Burbank.
The women - who were all sexually assaulted - were strangled or beaten to
death, according to prosecutors. Along with the murders, the indictment
alleges the special circumstances of torture, multiple murder, robbery,
rape, burglary and oral copulation.
"DNA is one of the major investigative tools of our time," Cooley said.
"The Alcala case shows that DNA evidence can stretch back into time to
help prosecute murders such as these that go back nearly a quarter of a
Prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek the death penalty
against Alcala for the Los Angeles County murders.
Alcala, who has been in Orange County awaiting a new trial in the Samsoe
case since 2003, has steadfastly maintained his innocence. The retrial was
delayed by the death of attorney David A. Zimmerman, who had represented
Alcala on his first appeal of the case.
While in Orange County, Alcala has sought to earn co-counsel status.
"He does have a degree from UCLA," Peters said. "He's not only educated;
he's intelligent and he's learned a lot over the years. So he has been a
(source: LA Daily News)
Man speaks of time on death row at UVSC
Before 1993, Gary Gauger had only a few minor run-ins with law enforcement
officials. Then he was arrested for the murder of his parents.
Twelve years later, another man has confessed to the murder and Gauger has
been pardoned. But he wants to make sure the 3 1/2 years he spent on death
row for their murders -- and the decades others have spent fearing their
lives would be taken for crimes they didn't commit -- doesn't happen to
Gauger spoke at Utah Valley State College on Monday as part of Ethics
Awareness Week, a series of speeches and forums at the college on topics
such as the death penalty, U.S. immigration policy, religion and sexuality
and endangered species.
In a packed room of about 150 people, Gauger told the events of the
morning he was arrested at his family's Richmond, Ill., farm. He woke up,
and not finding either of his parents, went out back to his dad's
workshop. There, he said, he found his father lying on the floor.
"I thought he had a heart attack," Gauger remembers.
But his father had been murdered.
His mother's body was later discovered in a locked trailer in front of the
home where he lived with his parents. Soon, Gary Gauger was arrested,
taken to a police station, and interrogated for 18 hours after refusing an
offer for an attorney to be present.
Months later, after a 2-week trial, a jury convicted Gauger after three
hours of deliberation. He was sentenced to death.
The willingness of a prominent lawyer who specialized in false convictions
to take on Gauger's case, and renewed interest in Illinois about false
convictions, saved Gauger's life, he said. He calls it serendipity.
He said although he believed in the criminal justice system before his
arrest, he came face to face with an "imaginary thin line of luck" between
innocence and pre-determined guilt.
"They'd already decided, for whatever reason, that I was the killer," he
said. "I was a family member, and I was at the scene of the crime."
On Monday, nine years after his successful appeal, Gauger said no crime
warrants the death penalty, even the bombing of the Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 people, including
"There's no reason to kill (Timothy McVeigh)," Gauger said. "I think we
can do better than that. We have to be able to raise ourselves above the
mentality of a killer. We should take that as a moral imperative as a
civilized society, if that's what we choose to be."
Instead, he advocates restorative justice, including therapy and
rehabilitation, to allow people convicted of crimes to serve shorter
sentences and re-enter society.
"He did not know how to handle his rage," Gauger said of McVeigh. "We
need, as a society, to teach people there's other ways to deal with their
He used Germany as an example, where he said very few offenders are
sentenced to more than 10 or 15 years in prison. "They do everything in
their power to rehabilitate these people and make them productive members
of society," he said. "That is just so civilized. I think we need to move
more in that direction in this country."
Gauger said law enforcement's systematic, endemic disregard for facts that
are at odds with the main theory about a crime "undercuts the fabric of
justice in our society," and something must be done to fix it.
Recognizing the criminally insane and treating them is imperative, Gauger
said. Speaking about Dennis Rader, who confessed to the BTK killings, he
said, "There's a man who's obviously criminally insane. This is not a
David Keller, director of UVSC's Center for the Study of Ethics, which
sponsored the event, said Gauger was asked to speak "because if innocent
people are on death row, then it's a serious public policy issue. Is the
death penalty ethical public policy? Some people would say yes, innocent
people die, and that's too bad, and as a whole society benefits. Other
people would say no, it's wrong and always wrong to kill an innocent
Derek Mickelson, a senior criminal justice student, said he supports the
death penalty but after hearing stories like Gauger's, would consider
"I don't really know what a better approach would be," he said, "but my
eyes have been opened to more of the philosophy."
(source: Daily Herald)
Death row inmate to get February evidence hearing
A convicted triple killer now on death row will get a federal court
hearing in February.
Walter J- Koon was convicted of killing his wife and her parents in March
1993 in Baton Rouge. He requested a new trial in May 2001, claiming an
Koon's new attorney, James Boren, says a 4-day hearing scheduled by U-S
District Judge James Brady will focus on evidence that should have been
presented in both the guilt phase of the trial and the punishment phase.
Boren said it will be the last evidentiary hearing to which Koon is
(source: Associated Press)
Execution Set For Man Who Killed Talladega Family
A man convicted of murdering 3 members of a Talladega County family and
then stealing their vintage Corvette is set for execution Thursday at
Holman Prison near Atmore.
John Peoples Jr. was convicted in 1983 in the murders of Pell City
businessman Paul Franklin Sr., his wife, Judy Choron Franklin, and their
10-year-old son, Paul Franklin Jr.
Peoples has asked the Alabama Supreme Court to block the execution, but no
ruling has been issued.
The boy and his mother were beaten to death with a rifle. Peoples led
authorities to the spot where their bodies were dumped in a field. The
man's body was too decomposed by the time he was found for investigators
to determine a cause of death.
Former District Attorney Robert Rumsey said Peoples killed the three
because he wanted the Franklins' 1968 red Corvette.
(source: Associated Press)
Trimble jury selection slow----Judge admonishes attorneys; process falls
behind after first day in trial of Brimfield Township man accused in 3
The 1st day in the capital trial of Brimfield Township triple murder
defendant James E. Trimble left both sides well behind schedule in
selecting a jury.
Portage County Common Pleas Judge John A. Enlow became so frustrated with
the pace of juror questioning Monday morning, he admonished defense
lawyers twice to limit their questions to 2 specified topics: pre-trial
publicity and individual views about the death penalty.
During Enlow's first warning, he called a conference at the bench, and
Portage County Prosecutor Victor V. Vigluicci could be heard complaining:
"At this rate, we're going to be here until October."
The original pool of 250 prospective jurors was cut during earlier court
proceedings to about 150.
>From that pool, Enlow set his schedule of juror questioning to 24 a day --
12 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon -- until both sides reach a
total of about 60 potential jurors.
However, even before questioning of the 1st group of 12 had been
completed, the judge announced that he was sending home 1/2 of the 2nd
group because he saw no sense in "having them sit here."
Ultimately, according to the schedule, both sides will have the chance to
ask general questions of potential jurors and dismiss a certain number for
whatever reasons they see fit, until they reach the final number of 12
jurors and 4 alternates.
The first area of questioning was the extent of pretrial publicity
potential jurors had read, seen on television or heard on radio, and
whether they could remain fair and impartial regardless.
The 2nd area was their views on the death penalty and whether they could
remain fair and impartial on that issue, as well as their willingness to
follow the judge's instructions on sentencing if the defendant is
convicted of the offenses.
Trimble, 45, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
He is accused in the shooting deaths of his girlfriend, Renee L. Bauer,
42, and her 7-year-old son, Dakota, on the night of Jan. 21 at his home on
Sandy Lake Road; and the death of Kent State University student Sarah A.
Trimble allegedly took the 22-year-old student hostage as dozens of state
and local officers converged at her Ranfield Road apartment in a heavily
wooded area of Brimfield Township.
If Trimble is convicted of aggravated murder for any offense, the jury
could vote to impose the death penalty.
He also will stand trial on 18 additional felonies, which could extend the
trial well into November.
If the final 16 jurors can be seated to hear evidence and testimony --
barring some sort of mistrial -- Enlow has said he will then rule on a
defense motion for a change of venue.
Trimble's lawyer, Portage County Public Defender Dennis Day Lager, has
asked for the trial to be moved to another county because of what he has
termed extensive pretrial publicity.
None of the potential jurors questioned Monday was dismissed because of
their moral or religious views on the death penalty, but three from the
1st group of 12 were still excused.
One man was excused for saying he was a Kent State teacher involved with
some of Positano's classmates who had been undergoing grief counseling.
A woman was dismissed for saying she could not remain fair and impartial
because of pretrial publicity, and another man was dismissed because of
confusing answers about the death penalty.
At one point, the man said what Trimble allegedly had done was "a bad
thing, a real bad thing'' and that, if he were to be found guilty, "you
must pay the price."
Under further questioning, however, the man repeatedly said he would
"listen to everything" and be willing to weigh the judge's instructions on
imposing the death penalty.
Finally, saying even he was confused, Enlow questioned the man and
dismissed him when he admitted there would be no departure from his view
on paying the ultimate price.
Enlow said juror questioning will probably last well into next week or
(source: Beacon Journal)
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