[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., COLO., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Aug 18 22:33:14 UTC 2006
Prisoner Gets 2nd Life Sentence For More Murders
A member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang who was already serving a life
term in prison for murder received another life sentence Thursday for 2
Javier "Gangster" Marquez, 33, was convicted of 1st-degree murder for the
August 1995 slaying of Alan Downey and the October 1996 murder of Randy
He was sentenced to another life sentence by Superior Court Judge Larry
Jurors convicted Marquez of committing multiple murders, murdering a
witness and having murdered previously, which qualified him for the death
But they opted to spare his life, even though he had previously been
convicted of murder in 1998.
Defense attorney Bob Schwartz said he believed "a combination of factors"
dissuaded the jury from recommending the death penalty.
(source: CBS News)
S.C. Upholds Death Sentence in Murder of Witness
The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the death
sentence for a man convicted of killing a gas station attendant whom he
had previously robbed, apparently to prevent him from testifying.
The justices upheld Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Paul R. Teilhs
imposition of the maximum sentence in the case of Fermin R. Ledesma, based
on a jury conviction. The high court affirmed convictions of 1st degree
murder, kidnapping, and one count of robbery, and findings of true to
allegations that Ledesma personally used a firearm in the commission of
the offenses and a special circumstance of intentional killing of a
witness, but reversed a second conviction of robbery and a robbery
The prosecutions evidence showed Gabriel Flores was working as an
attendant at a Hudson gas station in the City of San Jose in 1978 when
Ledesma and another man rode up on a motorcycle and robbed him at
gunpoint. Flores reported the robbery to the police and was able to give
them the motorcycles license number.
The motorcycle was registered to Ledesma.
When officers arrived at Ledesma apartment he was not home, but 2
visitors, 1 of whom was Millie Dominguez, let them in. While the officers
were there, the telephone rang and 1 of the officers answered it,
pretending to be Dominguez. The caller identified himself as Ledesma and
said he was hot, that the police were looking for him, and that Dominguez
should lock the apartment and the doors of his car and take a walk.
Three days after the robbery, Flores identified Ledesma in a police
photographic lineup. The police obtained a warrant and went to Ledesmas
apartment to arrest him.
Ledesma was not there, but his friend Jesse Perez was. Perez resembled
Flores description of the second robber, so the officers took him into
custody for questioning. After telling Perez about the lineup
identification of Ledesma and the warrant for Ledesmas arrest, they let
A few days later Flores disappeared. Three days later his body was found
in a ravine in the City of Gilroy with four gunshot wounds to his body and
two stab wounds to his chest.
No physical evidence connected Ledesma to the gas station robbery or the
murder, but a number of witnesses testified that he admitted committing
The death sentence imposed by Teilh was the 2nd Ledesma received for the
crime. The 1st was overturned in January 1987 on grounds of ineffective
assistance of counsel, one of the last decisions of the court under Chief
Justice Rose Bird, before she and 2 other justices left office after
having been denied new terms at the November 1986 general election.
In his second appeal Ledesma argued, and the Supreme Court agreed, that
Teilh erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of theft
regarding the 2nd robbery. The court found there was substantial evidence
from which the jury could have concluded that the intent to steal from the
Flores was not formed until after the murder, making the offense theft
rather than robbery.
The court rejected arguments that Ledesmas Fourth Amendment rights were
violated when the police entered his apartment and answered the phone
pretending to be Dominguez.
The court also held that Ledesmas claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel in a habeas petition after the 1st trial did not waive the
attorney-client privilege for purposes of the retrial, but that he did
waive the privilege during the retrial when he presented the testimony of
expert witnesses who had reviewed and considered privileged material.
The case is People v. Ledesma, 06 S.O.S. 4267
(source: Metropolitan News Company)
Why Make a False Confession?---Could John Mark Karr have lied about
killing JonBenet Ramsey?
Police arrested John Mark Karr on Wednesday in connection with the murder
of JonBenet Ramsey. Karr told both the police and the Associated Press
that he's responsible for the child's death in Boulder, Colo., 10 years
ago, but members of his family have their doubts. His ex-wife says he was
with her in Alabama at the time, and Karr's brother says he never spent
any time in Boulder. If he turns out to be innocent, why might he have
For notoriety, or because he'd become obsessed with the case.
Psychologists who study false confessions divide them into "voluntary" and
"coerced" admissions of guilt. Someone might make a voluntary false
confession if he wanted to be famous. Several hundred people claimed to
have abducted the Lindbergh baby, for example, and more than 30 confessed
to the Hollywood "Black Dahlia" murder in the 1940s. Just a few weeks ago,
a prison inmate named Robert Charles Browne confessed to murdering 48
people. Police were instantly suspicious, as this number just happens to
put him in the company of the notorious Green River Killer.
If Karr did lie to the police, it may be because he became so immersed in
the high-profile case that he started to think he'd committed the crime.
Reports say Karr had been working for several years on a book about
JonBenet's murder, and child murders in general. A similar obsession seems
to have led crime-novel buff Laverne Pavlinac to implicate herself and her
boyfriend in an Oregon murder in 1990. Both were convicted of the crime
but were released five years later when the so-called Happy Face Killer
admitted to being the true culprit. Pavlinac later said she'd made the
confession to escape an abusive relationship. Her boyfriend said he'd
confessed to avoid getting the death penalty.
Experts say that false confessions are much more often coerced than
voluntary. Police interrogations can lead innocent people-like Pavlinac's
boyfriend-to admit guilt so as to avoid harsher punishment. They can also
push a suspect to question his own recollection of events or to create
false memories. In general, young people with low IQs are considered the
most vulnerable to this kind of false confession. (In scientific terms,
they score the highest on the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale.) A classic
example is the Central Park jogger case, in which five boys with low IQs
confessed to rape but later turned out to be innocent. (The actual rapist
stepped forward 13 years later.)
Bonus Explainer: How do police know when a confession is real? They try to
connect it with physical evidence. When the Happy Face Killer confessed in
1995, he revealed the location of his victim's purse and ID card.
(Pavlinac hadn't been able to provide those details when she confessed
five years earlier.) In the Central Park jogger case, cops were able to
match a DNA sample to the man who eventually confessed.
Bonus Bonus Explainer: Is it illegal to make a false confession?
Technically, yes. In many jurisdictions, you're committing a crime when
you make false statements to the police. You're more likely to get charged
with that offense, though, if you're a third party who gives the cops a
false tip. (source: Slate - Explainer thanks Eric Ferrero of the Innocence
New death warrant may be blocked
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier that convicted killer
Clarence Hill can challenge Florida's method of execution, Gov. Jeb Bush
reinstated Hill's death warrant.
Gov. Jeb Bush reinstated a death warrant Thursday for condemned killer
Clarence Hill and prison officials scheduled his execution for next month,
although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the inmate can challenge the state's
method of lethal injection.
Hill was strapped to a gurney and his arms were attached to intravenous
tubes set to deliver a fatal cocktail of 3 drugs when the U.S. Supreme
Court in January intervened in the case and blocked his execution.
In June, the high court unanimously ruled Hill and other condemned inmates
could make last-minute claims that the chemicals used are too painful and
therefore amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Bush issued his new order to execute Hill after receiving a letter from
Attorney General Charlie Crist telling him Hill's stay of execution from
the Supreme Court had expired and he had no knowledge of any others.
Prison officials scheduled Sept. 20 as the date of the execution.
''I find it troubling,'' said D. Todd Doss, Hill's lawyer. "We have a
clear 9-0 opinion from the United States Supreme Court.'' The high court
returned the case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Doss said he expects the appellate court next to send it back to a federal
trial court to hear the lethal injection challenge.
Doss said he would ask the appellate court to issue a stay so the Supreme
Court's decision can be carried out.
In a letter to Florida State Prison warden Randall Bryant, Bush wrote that
the Supreme Court's stay was lifted when a 25-day period for rehearing the
matter elapsed. Doss said he was reserving comment on that issue.
Condemned inmates in Florida and many other states are injected with a
painkiller along with drugs to paralyze their muscles and cause a fatal
Lawyers for the inmates contend the painkiller can wear off too soon,
resulting in an agonizing death, yet the prisoners cannot react because of
the paralyzing drug.
Hill was convicted of fatally shooting Pensacola police officer Stephen
Taylor and wounding his partner during a 1982 bank robbery.
The Supreme Court also halted the execution of another Florida inmate,
Arthur Rutherford, who also sought to challenge the lethal injection
Rutherford, too, had been scheduled to die in January. He was convicted in
the 1985 drowning and asphyxiation of 63-year-old Stella Salamon at her
Milton home. He had worked for Salamon.
(source: Associated Press)
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