[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, US MIL., MD., ILL., IDAHO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Aug 12 14:47:00 UTC 2006
State funds to aid search for girl's body
Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez secured $100,000 in state funds
Thursday afternoon to search a city-owned landfill for the body of Joanna
The search - which Gutierrez said could begin in "weeks or even days" -
will be conducted using a specialized search team and some county
It will cost an estimated $74,000. But the price of the search could run
higher with the additional costs of fuel and personnel.
"We have had very generous support," Gutierrez said from Austin minutes
after receiving a commitment from the state.
Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, said the money would
come from a state fund set aside to assist counties.
The Sheriff's Office planned to present a proposal to Lubbock County
Commissioners on Monday, requesting funding to search the landfill for the
body of the missing girl.
That item will remain on the county agenda when it is released Friday, but
it is unlikely that county funds will be used to pay for the search.
"We will still have to run the money through our account," Lubbock County
Commissioner Patti Jones said. "But the money will offset the expenses."
Joanna Rogers has been missing since 2004, when the 16-year-old
disappeared from her Lubbock County home, leaving behind her purse, keys
and cell phone.
Sheriff's deputies issued Lubbock's first Amber Alert in connection with
Joanna's disappearance and have continued to look for any information that
may lead to her whereabouts.
In December, investigators linked Joanna's disappearance to Rosendo
Rodriguez III, a 26-year-old jailed in Lubbock on capital murder charges.
No formal charges have been filed against Rodriguez in Joanna's
But Rodriguez is accused of beating to death 29-year-old Summer Baldwin,
whose body was discovered in September at the West Texas Region Disposal
Facility, located about 15 miles north of Lubbock.
A sanitation worker discovered Baldwin's body folded into a suitcase. She
was 5 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
Detectives tracked the suitcase back to Rodriguez through purchase
records, according to police reports. Witnesses had also seen Baldwin and
Rodriguez together the night before her body was discovered.
During the investigation into Baldwin's death, police uncovered
information on Rodriguez's computer that linked him to Joanna and
subsequently named him as a suspect in her disappearance.
Joanna's mother, Kathy Rogers, said that Rodriguez had also confessed on
tape to killing her daughter and that the body may have been placed in the
The Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney's Office and Rodriguez's
attorneys have been unable to comment on the existence of a taped
confession, citing a gag order issued in the case.
Sheriff's Office officials have also remained tight-lipped, saying only
that they had received "new information" in Joanna's disappearance and
that they were following up on that information.
Initial cost estimates for searching the landfill ran into the millions,
but officials with the Sheriff's Office were able to eliminate much of the
landfill area as a possible location of the body, reducing the size and
cost of the search.
Deputies plan to search a 200-by-200-foot area of the landfill to a depth
of about 25 feet.
"We couldn't have afforded the other," commissioner Jones said. "There is
just no way."
Gutierrez said his office would like to bring the search to a conclusion
as soon as possible.
"This has been a long, complex ordeal for us and the family," he said.
(source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
UPSHUR COUNTY JURY INDICTS THREE SHOOTING SUSPECTS
In Gilmer, an Upshur County grand jury indicted three Gilmer men this week
on capital murder charges in connection with last October's shooting of a
Louisiana man, authorities said.
The suspects, who were indicted Tuesday, are David Ross Sterling Jr., 22;
James Earl Buchanan Jr., 19; and Lajerrius Denard Jackson, 18, said Upshur
County District Attorney Mike Fetter's office. The office announced the
The trio is charged with killing 40-year-old Jerry Bittle of Haynesville,
La., during an Oct. 9 robbery at a west Gilmer housing project, said
Gilmer police Detective Sgt. Scott Richardson.
Sterling and Jackson remained in Upshur County Jail Friday under
respective bonds of $1 million and $50,000, while Buchanan was released on
a $50,000 property bond Monday, said the Upshur County sheriff's office.
Fetter said Friday his office unsuccessfully opposed lowering Buchanan's
and Jackson's bonds from their original $1 million levels. Court records
weren't immediately available late Friday to show which judge or judges
reduced the bonds.
Fetter said the 2 oldest suspects are eligible for the death penalty, but
that Jackson isn't because he was only 17 when the shooting occurred.
However, Fetter, who leaves office Jan. 1, said he wasn't ready to
announce whether he would seek death by lethal injection for Sterling and
In Texas, capital murder is punishable only by death or by life
imprisonment for those who were at least 18 when they committed the crime.
Sterling turned himself in to authorities July 5, while Jackson was
arrested June 30, the day the warrants for the three suspects were issued,
said Richardson. Buchanan was already in jail on drug charges June 30, the
Richardson said recently that "there were narcotics involved" in the
robbery-shooting last autumn at the Sorrells Park housing project.
Gilmer police responded at 4:50 a.m. to a report of shots fired at 110
Sorrells Street, Richardson said. The sergeant, who said he was the 1st
officer to arrive, said he found Bittle lying at the front door. Bittle
was in Gilmer to do construction work, Richardson said.
Saying the case was still under investigation, Richardson declined to
identify the type of gun used in the shooting, or the number of times
Bittle was shot.
(source: Tyler Morning Telegraph)
Death-row inmate returns to Pendleton for new sentencing
In Oceanside, a Marine convicted and sentenced to die for the 1996
shooting death of his executive officer is back at Camp Pendleton for a
new sentencing hearing.
Former Sgt. Jessie A. Quintanilla - who has been confined in the U.S.
Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since his conviction -
was recently placed in the Camp Pendleton brig after the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in March that a new sentencing hearing
should be held.
On March 5, 1996, Quintanilla shot and killed his executive officer, Lt.
Col. Daniel Kidd, and wounded his commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Heffner, with
a .45-caliber pistol after he barged through the offices of his helicopter
squadron at the Camp Pendleton air station. He shot at and missed another
Marine, a gunnery sergeant who tackled him and took his weapon.
A 12-member jury convicted Quintanilla of murder, sentencing him to death
and reduction to private and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
A unanimous decision by the military's appellate court agreed with
Quintanilla's attorneys that errors by the military judge during the
general court-martial and misconduct by prosecutors in the case required a
new sentencing. The court overturned a decision last year by the
Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals that would have ordered a new
No date for the sentencing hearing has been scheduled.
Quintanilla could be re-sentenced to death or to life in prison with the
possibility of parole, said Maj. Jason Johnston, a 3rd Marine Aircraft
Wing spokesman at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
Quintanilla is being held in a solitary cell - what officials call
"special quarters" - and is shackled at the wrist and legs whenever he is
outside his cell.
"When the Marine leaves his cell, he is under escort and restrained as a
safety and security precaution," said 1st Lt. Amanda Freeman, a Camp
(source: Marina Corps Times)
Relatives listen to litany of brutal crimes, voice mixed feelings about
Hopewell's plea deal
Sons and daughters, grandchildren and nieces, they filled the courtroom
benches yesterday, steeling themselves to hear about the anguished last
moments in the lives of the aged relatives whom they loved.
"Remember us," one lady hissed as Raymont Hopewell entered the courtroom
in shackles and chains. Her family shushed her.
Hopewell had come to this Baltimore Circuit Court hearing to admit his
guilt in a series of crimes that spanned from 1999 to last September. It
took 3 prosecutors and 45 minutes to describe the rapes, murders,
robberies and assaults.
Some relatives sat with their heads bowed and hands folded. Some relatives
trained their eyes on Hopewell, trying to assess his stoicism.
Prosecutors described the deaths of Constance Wills, 60; Sarah Shannon,
88; Sadie Mack, 78; Carlton Crawford, 82; and Lydia Wingfield, 78. 3 of
the women had been raped. All had been strangled or smothered.
Hearing the recitation of his mother's rape and death was "painful, in a
way," said Jerrold C. Wingfield. "But I felt a source of some kind of a
relief. Now he has answered to his crimes instead of saying 'not guilty.'"
Next, a prosecutor recounted the Sept. 2 rape of a 63-year-old woman in
her West Baltimore home. The victim prayed aloud for her attacker.
"You wouldn't want this to happen to your mother," the prosecutor said the
woman told the attacker.
Hopewell's final crimes, police believe, were a pair of terrifying
home-invasion robberies Sept. 8 and 10.
A 55-year-old woman and 61-year-old man went inside their Spaulding Avenue
home after an evening on their front porch to find a man hiding in the
The couple tried to barricade themselves in the bathroom, but the man
stuck his foot in the door to keep them from closing it. He stabbed both
of them in the hands and stole money and credit cards. The husband had a
heart attack, the prosecutor said.
2 days later, Hopewell used one of the stolen credit cards in a ruse to
talk his way into the Fernhill Avenue home of a 76-year-old woman, who had
had 2 recent strokes, and her 80-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer's
He stabbed the woman's hand, and when a 67-year-old woman who also lived
there returned home, he stabbed her, too.
Prosecutors gave details about the DNA evidence Hopewell left behind -
semen in the bodies of his rape victims, saliva on cigarette butts and
soda cans, skin cells on a shoelace used to tie up Mack.
The defense attorney said he had "no additions or corrections" to what
prosecutors had recited.
Hopewell, a 35-year-old whose short dreadlocks are specked with gray, made
no statements yesterday, giving just yes and no answers to questions by
the defense attorney and judge.
He said he understood when his lawyer told him the plea "in all
circumstances is going to result in your incarceration for the rest of
Hopewell could have faced the death penalty in 4 of the killings because
they were committed alongside other felonies, such as rape and burglary.
Instead, he will receive four consecutive terms of life without parole and
other prison time.
When the hearing was over, sheriff's deputies and correctional officers
escorted Hopewell outside to a waiting prison van. He has been behind bars
since his arrest in September.
The victims' relatives - about two dozen of them - streamed into the
courthouse hallway. Some said they had wished for a trial, and for the
death penalty. Some said they were glad of the finality.
"Now he can't hurt any other families," said Lolita Horton, Wills'
granddaughter. "We're just so happy that it's over."
The Wills children and grandchildren had known Hopewell as a child, when
he was considered part of their family. They hadn't seen him in years.
Horton said the death penalty would have been pointless: "His life is gone
Added Cecelia Smith, who found the body of her mother, Constance Wills:
"I'm satisfied. This gives me closure. I'd rather have him suffer in there
with no light than get the death penalty."
Jerrold Wingfield, who also knew Hopewell as a child, said he felt no
closure because his mother had died "at the hands of a predator." But he
took a small measure of peace in knowing Hopewell "will not be able to
John Mack said he had hoped for a trial to find out more about how and why
Hopewell had picked his mother. She had lived in her house for 50 years,
and for a time, Hopewell had lived just 2 blocks away. But nobody in the
Mack family had ever met him, John Mack said.
"A trial would have answered some of our questions," he said. "I don't
feel like this is the best for our family, but I guess this is what had to
Reached yesterday evening at home, Ivan Wingfield, who found his mother's
body, said he had been too upset about the plea deal to come to court.
Wingfield said it is unfair that Hopewell had the choice to live when his
5 murder victims had no such choice.
"He should suffer," Wingfield said. "He shouldn't have even had the right
to a plea bargain."
Hopewell is to be sentenced Sept. 14.
The relatives will return to the courtroom in which they sat somberly and
quietly yesterday. But this time, it will be their turn to talk.
(source: The Baltimore Sun)
Ryan ordered to give reasons for pardons
Despite his objections, former Gov. George Ryan must answer why he
pardoned 4 former death row inmates who are now suing Chicago Police for
torture, a federal judge ruled.
In a decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown, the Illinois
Prisoner Review Board must also make available to lawyers its formal
recommendations to Ryan before he pardoned the men in 2003. Ryan issued
the pardons at the same time that he commuted 167 death row sentences to
life terms, citing a flawed criminal justice system.
Soat Brown said Ryan must sit for depositions before Sept. 30. Ryan, who
was fighting the subpoena claiming "executive privilege," is likely to
appeal. Ryan was convicted on federal racketeering charges in April and is
scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 6.
The pardoned men, Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Stanley Howard and
Leroy Orange, are suing police detectives led by former Cmdr. Jon Burge,
saying they were tortured into making false confessions. The men are using
Ryan's pardon as a basis of innocence as they sue the city and officers.
City Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said the city wants Ryan to
talk about why he issued the pardons and what he referenced in making the
decision. That includes findings of the prisoner review board, which have
never been made public.
"We feel we have to explore the reasoning behind the pardons," Hoyle said.
Because plaintiffs say that Ryan pardoned them on an innocence basis: "we
should be able to ascertain if that's accurate." Ryan publicly cited that
DNA tests and court decisions went into his reasoning. But city lawyers
argue that DNA didn't factor into those cases and courts convicted the
Prior to Ryan's clearing of death row, the review board held hundreds of
hearings to determine whether inmates were properly sentenced to death
row. They made confidential recommendations to Ryan. Ryan ended up
commuting all of the sentences.
Ryan said he shouldn't have to talk about the reasons behind the pardon
because it would "chill" the pardoning process for future governors. But
Soat Brown needled Ryan because he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to
talk about the cases in 2003.
The plaintiffs' lawyers also opposed the subpoena.
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Ex-prison staffers say helping inmates brought reprisals ---- Correction
director says he, too, has seen evidence of retaliation
Last year, Correctional Sgt. Renee Bevry was named employee of the year at
the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. 3 weeks ago, she
sent off a heated resignation letter to 50 people and left her job with
her daughter, Correctional Officer Sylvia Henry, in tow.
The two women, known to inmates and staff as Ma Bev and Baby Bev, said
they quit after four years at the department because they faced
retaliation for standing up for inmates. New Correction Director Vaughn
Killeen said Friday that he, too, has seen evidence of retaliation at the
department and begun an internal audit.
"I am not going to tolerate any wrongdoing by any employee that engages in
retaliation," Killeen told the Idaho Statesman through a spokeswoman.
Killeen's comments were general and not in response to Bevry and Henry,
the spokeswoman said.
This fall, Bevry and Henry plan to launch a nonprofit organization, called
Scorpions, to help keep inmates from re-offending and to help ex-convicts
counsel schoolchildren against committing crimes.
"The people we left behind need to know that we left so they can be
empowered, and we appreciate the overwhelming response we've gotten from
staff," said Bevry, 40. "I wanted to leave while I was still balanced,
while I still had my integrity."
Bevry and Henry, 24, declined to discuss exactly what led to their
resignations, saying they are still talking to the department, but said it
involved retaliation against inmates and employees. They said their work
environment had become unsafe.
Retaliation against employees may come as demotions or reassignments, and
retaliation against inmates may mean being moved to a higher security
level or to another prison, they said.
The spokeswoman for the Correction Department said it could not comment in
detail on Bevry and Henry's allegations while an investigation is under
"The Department of Correction is currently conducting an internal
investigation regarding issues surrounding their complaints," spokeswoman
Melinda Keckler said. "However, it appears that their summation of events
may not be accurate."
Problems with retaliation
But Killeen said he had announced this week to department management that
he would conduct a cultural audit of prisons statewide, involving
interviews with supervisors and employees to determine whether retaliation
is taking place. Killeen said he needs time to ferret out the truth, but
said he had heard enough to merit concern.
Andrew Hanhardt, president of the local chapter of the National
Association of Government Employees, which represents correctional
employees and other state workers, said department employees live in fear
"They're pretty spooked over at corrections," Hanhardt said. "I've had
employees who have been subjected to involuntary demotions and transfers
for filing grievances."
Hanhardt said he knows Bevry to be honest, though he hadn't spoken to
Bevry and Henry about their cases. "If Bevry is telling you that, I'd take
it to the bank," he said.
Rep. Debbie Field, R-Boise, chairwoman of the House Judiciary, Rules and
Administration Committee, said employee fear of retaliation was once high,
but she hadn't heard complaints in recent years.
"People would call me in the middle of the night and wouldn't give me
their names," Field said. "I hope if people were feeling that way ... they
would call again."
>From 2002 to 2006, 35 employees filed grievances against the department,
according to the state Division of Human Resources. The vast majority were
employees challenging dismissals, demotions and suspensions, though state
hearing officers found for the department in nearly every case. Bevry and
Henry have not filed a grievance but are consulting a lawyer.
Working to empower inmates
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bevry said she told her two children
they needed to be in uniform. For son Robert, that meant joining the U.S.
Air Force and fighting in the Iraq war. For single mom Henry, that meant
training to become a correctional officer. After training, she began work
at the department in May 2002, and her mother followed soon after.
The women said they liked the groups of officers they were working with,
and they felt encouraged to do things they believed in. Henry married the
department's captain of security in 2004, though they have since divorced.
In 2005, Bevry was promoted to sergeant and received the
employee-of-the-year honor for superior supervisory abilities.
In their four years with the department, the women worked at ISCI, the
Idaho Maximum Security Institution and the South Idaho Correctional
Institution, overseeing inmates in community custody, minimum security,
medium security, maximum security and death row.
At ISCI, Henry supervised a work crew of inmates in the kitchen. She said
she was able to create a functioning work environment that included white
supremacists and Mexican-American gang members.
When the men made progress in that environment, she said, she wrote
positive reviews allowing them to be released on parole earlier than they
might have otherwise.
"I worked with everybody from murderers to child molesters to robbers, and
I treated them all the same," Henry said. "Our goal in life was to make
sure these guys knew how to act when they left."
Many inmates have been in prison their entire adult lives and are clueless
about what to do when they get out, Henry said. She said she made the men
checklists of what to do on the outside, including how early to get up for
work and how to treat their wives. Their work supplemented the work of
parole officers, who are tasked with reintroducing inmates to the
Helping inmates outside prisons
Bevry spent much of her time coordinating the department's Speak-Out
program, bringing children into prisons to hear inmates' stories. Sylvia
Olvera, an adviser to the Future Hispanic Leaders of America at Caldwell
High School, said she brought 62 students to Bevry's Speak-Out - and it
saved some of their lives.
"I think she's doing an outstanding job," Olvera said. "When they hear it
and they see a person behind bars and they see the consequences of what is
happening, they get it."
The program helped the inmates as much as the students, Bevry said. She
also worked to remind imprisoned men of the value of their families. She
spoke often of her husband and worked to revamp the family visiting center
at ISCI, donating books and commissioning inmates to create a mural. They
used coffee from the prison cafeteria to stain the wood.
But Henry and Bevry said they were criticized by other officers and
staffers for helping offenders. They said they were called "hug-a-thugs"
and accused of sexual impropriety when they advised inmates or wrote
reports praising inmates who made progress.
Now that they're no longer in the department, they said, they can help
inmates once they leave prison - contact forbidden to correctional
officers. Bevry and Henry said they know how to talk to inmates and what
"It was really my son's visit home a few weeks ago that gave me the
confidence to leave the department," Bevry said, recalling her son's
bravery in Iraq. They took the name Scorpions in honor of a base where her
Bevry and Henry hope to work with local and state agencies and community
organizations to help keep people out of prison. They're exploring a
possible collaboration with Healthy Families Nampa.
"I come head to head with these guys, and I change them," Bevry said.
"Since they're all going to get out and be your neighbor, you tell me what
kind of mindset you want that inmate in."
(source: Idaho Statesman)
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