[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, MONT., OHIO, MD., IDAHO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Aug 12 07:31:52 UTC 2006
Isn't there a better way to treat our inmates?
I have a relative who has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for
drinking beer. There are some other factors involved, of course, but the
primary cause of his problem is addictions to beer and bars.
I think the sentence is unusually harsh. Anyone reading the docket in the
paper each week would marvel at the wide range of sentences meted out for
similar or much more severe crimes. In the newspaper docket call, where my
relative received 12 years for DUI (his third offense), another person
convicted of vehicular homicide got a probated sentence.
Random reading of the paper reveals no consistent pattern. A woman
convicted of murdering her boyfriend with a knife got 20 years. A U.S.
Border Patrol officer got 3 years for illegal-alien smuggling. Sworn law
enforcement officers should receive very harsh punishment when caught
breaking the law.
A woman involved in alien smuggling was accused of partial responsibility
for 19 deaths by allowing them to remain locked in a semi in the summer
heat of South Texas. Her sentence: 17 years.
In an Amarillo case that had extensive national coverage, Dustin Camp
received a probated 10-year sentence for killing Brian Deneke with his
mom's Cadillac. When his probation was revoked, the time he served was
Probably, this is the price we pay for our jury system.
A probable factor in the lengthy sentence for my relative had to do with a
new district attorney who needed to show the voters that he was going to
be tough on crime. (This happened shortly after Randall Sims replaced
Rebecca King as 47th District attorney.)
Like all bureaucracies, I suspect law enforcement is not immune from
"doing the easy ones first" syndrome. As an example of a crime too
difficult to solve is graffiti. I spend over $500 yearly on this problem.
I have given up on reporting the crime. Nothing ever happens. Nobody is
caught or prosecuted.
Texas has constructed a huge prison system. And it is full. The average
yearly cost per felon has reached $25,000.
What do we get for the money? According to my relative, an institution
loosely controlled, not by the guards and prison staff, but by gangs of
black and Hispanic inmates. They control the environment, such as TV and
It's dangerous to get on the wrong side of a gang member. Bodily harm can
result or simple harassment such as strange matter in your food.
Cigarettes and drugs are available for a price. Prison staff would have to
be involved in the smuggling operation.
Surely a more cost-effective prison system could be devised for
non-violent offenders. As an experiment, let's take a closed military
base. Lodging, kitchens, laundry and fences are already in place.
Let inmates who are obviously non-violent with histories of only alcohol
and recreational drug use be invited. The penalty for bad behavior would
be a return to the old system.
These more civilized inmates would be expected to grow and process most of
their own food. They could possibly be trusted to take responsibility for
some of their own governance reducing the need for paid staff.
It's difficult for those of us who have led a conventional life to fathom
the attraction of any addiction. We think that any rational person,
observing the devastation visited on them and those who love them could
change. Normal folk can calculate consequences and change behavior.
It may not be possible for some. My relative has pretty well ruined his
For him, it's 3 strikes and you're out.
(source: The Amarillo Globe-News--Virgil Van Camp, an Amarillo resident,
is a retired printer. Van Camp's column appears every other Friday)
Montana executes triple murderer by injection
Triple murderer David Dawson was put to death by lethal injection at
Montana State Prison at 12:06 a.m. on Friday.
Dawson, 57, had said he wanted to die and for 2 years disavowed all
efforts to postpone his execution or reduce his death sentence for the
strangulation murders of three members of a family in a motel in Billings,
Montana 20 years ago.
A coalition of the American Civil Liberties Union, church groups and
others made a last-ditch attempt to stop Dawson's execution, arguing in
state and federal courts that Montana's method of lethal injection is
cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the state and federal
Coalition lawyers argued the combination of the three drugs administered
in a lethal injection execution could cause excruciating pain because
Montana does not require the executioner to have medical training.
State District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock rebuffed the coalition on Thursday,
saying in a ruling he was "unfamiliar with any case where a court has
stopped an execution where the person who is about to be executed was not
involved as a party."
"If this case goes forward, resulting in the execution of Dawson,
plaintiffs will have suffered no real concrete injury," Sherlock wrote in
"They will be free to continue to challenge Montana's death penalty
The state supreme court declined to take up an appeal.
Dawson was convicted in 1987 and sentenced to death for kidnapping,
drugging and strangling to death David and Monica Rodstein, both 39, and
their 11-year-old son, Andrew, in April 1986. The couple's daughter Amy
Rodstein, then 15, survived after being held captive for 2 days.
She testified against Dawson in court.
' Dawson had no final statement.
Dawson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Montana this
year and the 3rd since the state resumed capital punishment in 1995.
Dawson becomes the 35th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1039th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Reuters & Rick Halperin)
Man convicted of 3 murders executed in Montana
After weeks of legal wrangling over whether lethal injection can cause a
painful death, 3-time murderer David Dawson took a deep breath early this
morning, snored once, and was pronounced dead 6 minutes after the drugs
that killed him began flowing into his veins.
To Bill Rust, Dawson's execution was a formality.
"He's been dead in my heart a long time," said Rust, who raised
then-15-year-old Amy Rodstein after Dawson killed her parents and little
brother in 1986, and who witnessed Dawson's death.
Dawson kidnapped the Rodstein family and strangled David and Monica, and
11-year-old Andrew, in his Billings, Mont., motel room. The family was
staying at the motel during a move. Police rescued Amy Rodstein from
Dawson's room 2 days later.
The execution took place against a backdrop of debates in courts around
the country about the constitutionality of lethal injection. Some states
have put executions on hold until it can be decided whether the lethal
injection, designed as a humane alternative to methods like hanging and
electrocution, poses too great a risk of a cruel death.
Rust said that court challenges during the last few days frustrated him.
"I think some of those activists out there should mind their own
business," he said.
She did not attend his execution, but sent a letter read by Dennis
Paxinos, the deputy Yellowstone County attorney who prosecuted Dawson's
1987 trial. Paxinos witnessed the execution.
"20 years ago I experienced a horrific event whose ramifications recently
came to a conclusion...I have chosen not to live life as a victim," she
wrote. In another letter, also read by Paxinos, she wrote that the best
way to honor her murdered family was to enjoy the day with her own husband
Dawson asked only one person to witness the execution on his behalf, Patsy
Golden of Missoula, a longtime family friend who corresponded with him
throughout his nearly 2 decades in prison. 2 years ago, Dawson fired his
attorneys and sought to end all appeals on his behalf.
Nonetheless, a coalition of civil liberties and religious groups tried
court after court in the weeks leading to his execution. The groups, led
by the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that lethal injection, if
done improperly, can cause an "excruciatingly painful" death.
But the courts, citing Dawson's wish to die, said the groups had no right
As a nearly full moon rose over the low hills surrounding the prison, and
heat lightning struck in the darkening sky, members of the groups held a
vigil on the windswept prairie. 2 people who support the death penalty
Inside the house trailer that serves as Montana's execution chamber,
Dawson lay on a gurney, his arms outstretched and an intravenous line in
each one. A white sheet covered his orange prison uniform.
At precisely midnight, Montana State Prison Warden Mike Mahoney entered.
He asked if Dawson wanted to say anything.
"No," Dawson replied.
The lethal injection was given and Dawson snored at 12:01 a.m. His chest
rose and fell; he lifted his right index finger. Then, his fingers curled
loosely into his palms and he was still.
(source: USA Today)
West Side man could face death penalty in murder of widow
A West Side man could face the death penalty after being convicted of
aggravated murder and other charges in the stabbing death of a North Side
widow in 2003.
The 10-woman, 2-man sequestered jury deliberated nearly 2 days in Franklin
County Common Pleas Court before convicting Fred Woodard, 35, formerly of
Schultz Avenue, of murdering Nancy Beamenderfer, 63. They found him guilty
of multiple charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated
robbery and kidnapping.
The penalty phase of his trial will begin Wednesday.
Fred Woodard, 35, formerly of Schultz Avenue, could face the death penalty
or life in prison after jurors hear more evidence in Columbus police built
a circumstantial case against Woodard, a cook and compulsive gambler, when
several people identified him from a video surveillance photo taken at a
bank ATM machine on March 5, 2003. It shows Woodard using the victim's
debit card to withdraw cash about 90 minutes after police believe she was
killed. Although police believe Woodard did not act alone, no one else was
charged in her slaying.
The victim's credit card was used by Woodard and his sister-in-law at a
local restaurant a day after her body was discovered. She told jurors
Woodard confessed to the murder. Two jail inmates also testified that
Woodard implicated himself in the robbery before his trial before Judge
Richard S. Sheward.
A coroner testified Beamenderfer was tortured, probably for her ATM pin
numbers, before her neck was broken and her throat was slashed twice.
(source: COlumbus Dispatch)
Judge to Decide on Death Penalty Motions for Brandon Morris
Prosecutors have rejected the motions brought forward in the death penalty
case against 20-year-old Brandon Morris.
Morris's attorneys filed 47 motions in Circuit Court two weeks ago
opposing the death penalty as a sentencing option in the case.
Prosecutors responded to the motions. State's Attorney, Charles Strong,
said he is aggressively seeking the death penalty for Morris. Morris is
charged with 1st degree murder in the death of Correctional Officer
A judge will decide whether to approve or reject the death penalty motions
in a hearing set for September 20th.
(source: NBC 25)
Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Killing 5
A 35-year-old man pleaded guilty Friday to murdering 5 older residents
during six years under a plea deal that let him avoid a possible death
Under a deal with prosecutors, Raymont Hopewell will receive 4 consecutive
terms of life imprisonment without parole in four of the deaths when he is
sentenced next month.
The 4 women and 1 man, who ranged in age from early 60s to 88, were found
dead in their homes between February 1999 and August 2005. The women had
been raped. DNA evidence led to Hopewell's arrest a month after the last
death, of Carlton Crawford, 83.
Hopewell, whose arrest record dates to 1989 and includes drug possession,
assault and battery, didn't speak during his court appearance.
Family members said they were appalled by his lack of remorse.
"He's just a wicked dude," said Robin Carter, the daughter-in-law of
78-year-old victim Lydia Wingfield. "He doesn't deserve to live one second
John Mack, whose mother Sadie was murdered by Hopewell in May 2005, said
he didn't mind that Hopewell avoided any chance of execution because such
a sentence would bring a long delay in justice.
"We'd rather him just rot in jail," Mack said.
Prosecution spokesman Joseph Sviatko said his office sought the plea
agreement with Hopewell to "get him off the street for the rest of his
Sentencing was set for Sept. 14.
Besides the consecutive life terms in the 4 murders, Hopewell also will
receive 5 other life sentences for crimes including rape and the 5th
murder. The deal also includes lengthy sentences for assault, robbery with
a deadly weapon and burglary.
(source: Associated Press)
Duncan defense eyeing argument against death penalty
The lawyer defending Joseph Duncan III, accused in the slayings of 3
members of a Coeur d'Alene family, has asked for details on Idaho's method
of execution in what could be a first step in challenging its
Public defender John Adams earlier this week requested the state's
protocol on the method of execution from Kootenai County prosecutors. He
wants to know what drugs the state would use during lethal injection and
how they would be administered.
"The prosecutor says that if they get a conviction they're going to seek a
sentence of death," Adams told The Spokesman-Review. "There's a question
of whether Idaho has a protocol that's constitutionally acceptable for
executing prisoners. We want to know the protocol so we can address that."
Duncan has pleaded not guilty to three counts of 1st-degree murder and 3
counts of 1st-degree kidnapping in the May 16, 2005, slayings of Brenda
Kay Groene, 40; her son, Slade Vincent Groene, 13; and Mark Edward
McKenzie, 37, at their Coeur d'Alene-area home.
Taken from the home were Brenda Groene's children, 9-year-old Dylan Groene
and 8-year-old Shasta Groene. Shasta was recovered when Duncan was
arrested at a Coeur d'Alene restaurant on July 2, 2005, while Dylan's body
was subsequently found at a Montana campsite.
Federal prosecutors say that when the state case is resolved, federal
charges will be filed in the children's abductions and Dylan's death.
Mark Vovos, a defense attorney in Spokane, said some questions surrounding
executions are whether the person being executed would be given
anesthesia, whether the person would feel pain, and whether the person
would be able to let someone know they were in pain.
"Any attorney who would be death-qualified is going to challenge every
aspect of the death penalty law, and he has an obligation to do that,"
Besides lethal injection, Idaho allows execution by firing squad when
lethal injection is considered "impractical." Since 1864, 27 people have
been executed in Idaho, the last in 1994.
(source: Associated Press)
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