[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TENN., OHIO, ARK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 29 23:10:40 CDT 2005
TCASK still opposes Thompson execution
Death penalty opponents are challenging the scheduled execution of a man
convicted for the death of a former Shelbyville Times-Gazette reporter who
was the niece of the police chief here at the time of the murder.
The Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killings on Wednesday quoted the
state Attorney General as saying in 2001 that Gregory Thompson is
incapable of making rational decisions, so a conservator was needed for
the man on death row.
Thompson was convicted of using a butcher knife in 1985 to stab Brenda
Blanton Lane to death in Coffee County after abducting her from the Big
Springs Shopping Center parking lot across Lane Parkway from the police
and sheriff's departments. He's confessed to doing so to get her car so he
and his girlfriend could drive to Georgia.
"According to the attorney general and the state's own expert, Thompson is
mentally ill," said Randy Tatel, executive director of the Tennessee
Coalition to Abolish State Killing. "People who are mentally ill should
not be subject to execution."
The death penalty opponents' announcement did not surprise Barbara Brown
of the Longview Community, sister of the slain reporter.
"I fully expected them to bring up the competency issue again, Brown said
this morning, calling it "irrelevant and really rather ridiculous."
Brown and at least one of the lawmen who brought Thompson back from
Georgia have said they don't believe Thompson was mentally ill at the time
of the crime. Brown went a step further this morning.
"As I understand it, all he has to understand is that he knows he's going
to be executed and why," Brown said. "I believe he knows that and has
demonstrated that he understands."
Brown bases her belief on a 2004 Times-Gazette report by Dea Demonbren who
quoted Thompson from a prison interview, and on information Brown received
from the Victims Liaison Office of the state Attorney General's office.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for Attorney General Paul Summers, this
morning said the office wouldn't have anything to say about the death
penalty opponents' criticism of Summers.
"We're going to argue the case in court," Curtis-Flair said. "This has
been reviewed by the courts which have upheld it."
The U.S. Supreme Court overruled a lower federal court judge's decision
that an Aug. 19, 2004, execution date should be stopped because an expert
witness' testimony wasn't properly documented.
Thompson is now scheduled by the state Supreme Court to be executed on
Feb. 7, 2006.
That and the death penalty opponents' announcement yesterday imply there
may be additional pleadings in Thompson's case.
"If there is any further argument, it will take place in the courts,"
Curtis-Flair said. "That's all we'll have to say."
"There is no doubt that the death of 28-year-old Brenda Blanton Lane was a
terrible tragedy," Tatel said. "However, our individual and collective
failure to adequately acknowledge, understand and respond to the
often-brutal tragedy of mental illness -- particularly severe mental
illness such as Thompson suffers -- is a crime we barely comprehend."
Tatel said the standard for incompetence is different from diagnoses of
even the most severe mental illness.
Tatel quoted now-former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Drowota as
saying it's been shown that Thompson is mentally ill, but documents to
that effect, don't raise the issue of competency.
Schizophrenia prevents Thompson from grasping the fact that the state is
about to execute him, the anti execution group leader said.
He says Thompson hears voices, is often suicidal, has eaten his own feces
and does not appreciate that Lane is dead or that he's about to be
(source: Shelbyville Times-Gazette)
State To Unveil Prison Riot Memorial
Darrold Clark still works as a guard at the southern Ohio prison where he
could have died 12 years ago.
"I still think about going to work at another facility, maybe move up or
relocate, but Lucasville's in my blood," said Clark, now a captain at the
prison. "I'll either die here or retire from here, 1 of the 2."
The state on Thursday planned to unveil a new memorial to the 1993 riot at
the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
The uprising left 10 dead, cost the state millions in compensation and put
5 inmates on death row.
The state already has a small memorial in front of the Lucasville prison,
about 90 miles south of Columbus.
The new memorial will be in a small employee recognition park at the
Orient Correctional Complex south of Columbus, and honors the riot's
impact on the entire Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
"Everything changed after Lucasville for this agency," said department
director Reginald Wilkinson. "Despite the tragedy that happened there, it
actually was a spark to a new era in Ohio corrections, and this memorial
was partly a tribute to what is now the future," he said.
The agency has become more professional, its policies and procedures have
been improved and its security measures are more advanced, Wilkinson said.
8 new prisons opened after the riot, helping ease overcrowding, though the
state has since closed 2 facilities to save money.
Lawmakers banned some weightlifting equipment in prisons after it was
found that inmates used weights to smash through stairwell walls.
The state also moved death row from Lucasville to the Mansfield
Correctional Institution, and transferred its most dangerous inmates to
the super-maximum security prison in Youngstown. Ohio spent $42 million on
renovations and upgrades to Lucasville, about $9 million more than it cost
to build the facility in 1972.
A 1997 settlement provided about $2.4 million to the estates of the 9
inmates who died in the riot.
Plans were made for the new memorial at the riot's 10-year anniversary and
donations raised from employees to cover the $60,000 cost.
The memorial consists of a pair of walls intersecting at an angle, topped
with a prism and centered on a brick walk.
Clark, 35, had worked for the prison system just less than a year when he
was seized by inmates at the beginning of the 11-day riot.
There was tension inside the prison in the days leading up to the riot
because some Muslim inmates claimed planned tuberculosis inoculations went
against their religious beliefs.
The only guard killed, Robert Vallandingham, was strangled on April 15,
1993, by two inmates under orders from Carlos Sanders, now on death row
for the crime, according to court records.
Clark was released on the 5th day of the siege in exchange for a radio
broadcast of prisoners' demands.
Clark returned to Lucasville in 1994 to ensure he had insurance for his
daughter, Olivia, who had cerebral palsy. She has since died. He also
underwent 2 heart surgeries caused by the stress of his ordeal.
Clark grew up in New Boston where his father was a police officer and is
now police chief. He said he stays at the Lucasville prison because he
knows and trusts his fellow guards, many of whom were there during the
He hopes the memorial will make people think about what it means to be a
prison guard. "It pays the bills. You've got a great foundation for your
family, but you've got to realize the seriousness of the business," Clark
said. "The best facility in the state can erupt at any given time."
(source: Ohio News)
ARKANSAS----new death sentence
Man sentenced to die for killing 2 women
Mickey David Thomas, accused of killing 2 women during a robbery at a
DeQueen, Ark., business, has been convicted and sentenced to die to the
Thomas, 31, of Broken Bow, Okla., is condemned to die for the murders of
Mona Lee Shelton, 46, and Donna Marie Cary, 45.
Shelton was beaten and then shot inside the office of Cornerstone Monument
Co. Carey was killed execution style after she apparently walked in on the
attack, prosecutors said.
The murders were discovered by a package delivery man, who gave a
description of a man leaving the business. That was a major break in the
case, attorneys said.
Thomas also is charged with killing Geraldine Jones of Broken Bow 2 days
before to the DeQueen murders. He probably won't be tried for that crime
because of the death sentence, prosecutors said.
The trial was moved to nearby Pike County because of publicity surrounding
the case in DeQueen.
(source: KTBS News)
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