[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, COLO., ALA., N.C., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Aug 19 17:47:43 UTC 2006
Mom accused of failing to stop abuse
For 2 of her 7 months, Rayana Sloan suffered in the hospital with brain
damage, cuts, bruises, blindness, deafness in one ear, numerous fractures
and severe weight loss.
She died Tuesday. Her father, Quincy Ray Sloan, was charged with capital
murder the next day.
On Friday, police arrested Rayana's mother on accusations that she stood
by, said nothing and allowed her baby to be abused.
Mistie Ann Martin, 26, faces 2 counts of causing serious bodily injury to
a child by omission, officials said. Martin was being held in the
Arlington Jail on Friday with bail set at $50,000.
Sloan, Martin's fianc, has been in the Tarrant County Jail on $175,000
bail since his arrest July 21 on two counts of causing serious bodily
injury to a child and retaliation for threatening to hurt his other
children if they spoke out about the abuse, police said.
The family had moved to Arlington earlier this year. In April, CPS
officials received a complaint of neglect, but caseworkers could not find
evidence that Rayana was being abused, said CPS spokeswoman Marissa
Gonzales. 2 other children who lived in the Arlington home, but who are
not Sloan's children, are in their grandparents' custody, Gonzales said.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Martin told investigators that
she knew something was wrong with her child, but that she wanted to
believe that her fianc loved the infant and would not hurt her.
"The suspect broke down crying and admitted that Mr. Sloan had to be
injuring the victim since no one else cared for her," according to a
police interview quoted in the affidavit.
Rayana's weight loss was significant, according to police documents. The
baby weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces when she was born but gained less than 3
pounds in nearly 6 months. During that time, the baby dropped from a size
3 diaper to a size 1, the affidavit said. Rayana's parents told
investigators that they changed the infant's diet and began spoon-feeding
her cereal and green beans.
Rayana gained weight, Martin told police, though she could not say how
much. That was because Rayana's last doctor visit was in February, when a
cast was removed from an arm broken when she was 5 days old.
Martin told a police officer that she worked 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 to 6
days a week, leaving Rayana and her other 2 children in Sloan's care.
Because of her work schedule, Martin could not feed Rayana every day. That
task was usually left to Sloan, the affidavit said.
But during an interview, a police officer told Martin that Rayana's brain
damage was so severe that it was medically impossible for her to eat green
beans or cereal from a spoon. Martin did not believe him, the affidavit
Martin also told a police officer that she passed out one day while
holding Rayana and woke up on top of the infant. Martin said she examined
the baby and concluded that she was healthy, the affidavit said.
Martin also told investigators that Rayana sometimes fell out of bed.
Hospital officials described a bruise on Rayana's left cheek, a scab
several inches long on her neck, an open cut on her chin, several scabs on
her face and abdomen, and marks on her ankle that resembled burns, in
addition to severe malnutrition.
When asked about Rayana's cuts, scabs and scars, Martin told investigators
that the infant scratched herself with her nails all the time, especially
when she was taking out her pacifier. Martin said she scratched Rayana's
legs and stomach when she was changing the infant's clothes.
Sloan told police that he bounced the baby on his knee so hard that he
heard her leg break. But Sloan said he was too scared to take the girl to
the hospital because he had just been cleared by CPS over the broken arm.
"Mr. Sloan stated he was scared and splinted the victim's leg himself
instead of taking her to the hospital," the affidavit said. The affidavit
said Martin told investigators that her baby never cried, "but if she woke
her up and fed her, she would eat."
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
3 new prisons, more treatment programs are sought----Biggest expansion in
a decade proposed to keep pace with convict growth
Prison officials said Friday that they want to build 3 prisons and boost
drug- and alcohol-treatment programs in the biggest proposed expansion of
Texas corrections programs in more than a decade.
Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice, said the $520 million plan - part of a $5.6 billion, 2-year
budget being sought by the prisons agency - is designed to keep pace with
steadily growing numbers of prisoners that will require more than 11,000
additional prison beds in 5 years, according to official estimates.
"This is a multipronged approach designed to allow us to keep up with the
growth that is currently projected," he said. "In addition to hard beds
(prisons), we're requesting additional funding for treatment and diversion
The request comes as all state agencies begin crafting their requests for
the 2008-09 budget, which begins in September 2007. State parks officials
also submitted a budget request Friday that could lead to more cutbacks at
Texas tripled the size of its prison system in the early 1990s to keep up
with growing numbers of convicts that, at one point, required more than
30,000 prison-bound felons to be housed in county jails.
Since then, several thousand additional beds have been added in several
small projects that increased the system to a capacity of about 152,000
Drug treatment and community programs were also expanded, though funding
to some of those programs has been scaled back in recent years because of
budget cuts made by the Legislature.
In recent weeks, as details of the new expansion plans leaked out, Senate
and House leaders questioned whether building prisons is the answer.
Instead, they backed more treatment and community-based corrections
programs that are much cheaper to operate. Citing a continuing shortage of
guards, they also questioned whether enough workers can be found to
properly staff new prisons.
Livingston said Friday that public safety remains the priority. He noted
that the proposed budget, which must be approved next spring by the
Legislature, seeks a 3-% pay raise for prison employees that could help
the hiring problems when coupled with a similar raise workers will get
State agencies have been asked to submit budget requests that are 10 %
less than their current budget. In their budget proposal, prison officials
warned, however, that cuts would result in varied problems.
- 2,750-bed prison
- 1,330-bed prison
- 1,000-bed privately run prison, with 500 beds for a DWI treatment center
More treatment programs
- 250 additional beds in special drug-treatment prisons
- 200 additional beds in substance-abuse treatment centers for
- 150 additional beds in private halfway houses
- 250 additional beds in community-based specialized-treatment programs
designed to get low-level offenders the help they need without sending
them to a state prison
More money for health care
- $122 million to avoid a deficit in prison health care operations
- $434 million a year to pay for operating expenses
[source: Texas Board of Criminal Justice, Legislative Appropriations
(source: Austin American-Statesman)
Ramsey suspect not guilty - yet ----- As Amarillo proved, system has final
John Mark Karr is going to the slammer for the December 1996 murder of
JonBenet Ramsey, right?
U.S. law presumes he is innocent and forces the government to prove its
case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Karr was caught this week in Bangkok, Thailand, on suspicion of
kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering the 6-year-old child beauty
queen in her Boulder, Colo., home the day after Christmas 1996.
Friends of the Ramsey family say the case vindicates John and the late
Patsy Ramsey, whom many in the media and the public suspected of playing a
role in their daughter's death.
Enter the suspect, Karr, a formerly married father of three who reportedly
has confessed to being present at JonBenet's death in the basement of her
parents' home. He describes JonBenet's death as an "accident," despite the
presence of duct tape on her mouth, her fractured skull and a cord wrapped
around her neck.
So, this case will be disposed of and justice will come to John Mark Karr.
Seemingly sure-fire convictions can be elusive, as prosecutors learned in
1977 when a judge moved a highly publicized trial from Fort Worth to
Amarillo. Cullen Davis, the millionaire Fort Worth business tycoon and
socialite, was accused of killing his stepdaughter and his former wife's
A lot of folks believed that Davis would pay for the crime. The evidence
seemed to implicate him squarely. But a Potter County jury acquitted
Davis, much to the surprise of many courtroom analysts.
The media no doubt are going to feast on the publicity arising once again
from the JonBenet Ramsey case. Many so-called experts will pre-determine
the suspect's guilt and will sentence him long before a jury sees a single
stitch of evidence.
The arrest of a suspect in this case no doubt is a major surprise by
itself. Many so-called "experts" thought this case would wither away over
It has returned once more to the public's consciousness. Before we convict
this fellow, let us heed the lessons of drawing premature conclusions -
and let the system do its work.
(source: Editorial, The Amarillo Globe-News)
Grace declines life without parole
A convicted murderer brushed away nudges by a circuit judge, his attorneys
and his mother Friday afternoon during the penalty phase of his capital
murder trial, declining a 3rd offer from the prosecution for life in
prison without parole.
Ray Grace Jr., convicted Thursday for his part in the 2004 killing of
Prakash Shah at the Southeast Mini Mart in Dothan, said he wanted to take
his chances with a jury instead of giving up his right to an appeal, a
stipulation District Attorney Doug Valeska insisted on when offering the
deal. Because Grace has been convicted of capital murder, a jury can
recommend only life without parole or death.
"(Valeska) is trying to take away my rights, my right to appeal," Grace
told Circuit Judge Larry Anderson outside the presence of the jury Friday
after Anderson urged Grace to reconsider his decision. "I would take the
deal if I could still appeal."
Valeska offered the same deal to Grace 2 other times, once before the
trial and once after the conviction Thursday. He also said Grace would not
have to testify against 2 other codefendants accused of murder in
connection with the same crime.
"Mr. Valeska has a reputation for being a death penalty advocate,"
Anderson said while addressing defense attorney Eric Davis. "But in this
case, he has shown some ... understanding."
"I can only do so much," Davis replied. "Nothing anyone has said has been
lost on me."
At that point, Valeska left his chair at the prosecution table and walked
behind the defense table to address Grace's mother, urging her to speak
with her son.
"I'm trying to save his life, ma'am," Valeska told her.
She spoke briefly with Grace, as did Davis and co-counsel Kenneth Hogg,
but Grace declined the offer.
The 15-minute exchange highlighted the 5th day of the trial.
Grace was convicted Thursday after the jury determined he participated in
a robbery in which the victim was murdered.
Although Grace is not believed to have fired the fatal shot, Alabama law
allows accomplices to be tried for capital murder.
Most of the rest of the day was spent with witnesses offering evaluations
of Grace's mental ability. Defense witnesses told stories of a boy who
retreated into his closet with siblings and cried when his father
allegedly beat his mother, who was incapable of concocting a plan of his
own, who had trouble functioning socially and who was abused by his
Witnesses described him as mentally retarded as well as "weak", "gullible"
and "a follower." They said his living conditions at home in Abbeville
were "deplorable" and "third-world."
The prosecution however, asserted Grace had the mental capacity to plan
and carry out more than one robbery, that he knew the difference between
right and wrong because he ran from the crime scene and that he was
intelligent enough to formulate a false story to investigators during his
Dr. Mary Anne Rosenzweig, a forensic psychologist who testified for the
defense Friday, said her evaluations showed that Grace is mildly mentally
Her testimony resulted in an incident in which Davis asked for a mistrial,
but Anderson denied the request.
During cross examination by Valeska, an answer from Rosenzweig brought a
chuckle from assistant defense attorney Gary Maxwell. 2 jurors could also
be heard laughing. Anderson dismissed the jury to hear Davis' motion.
Jurors could still be heard laughing entering the jury room.
"That's prosecutorial misconduct judge," Davis said. "You can't un-ring
Anderson admonished Maxwell, but denied the motion.
Rosenzweig's testimony elicited another concern from Davis.
Jurors had been handed Rosenzweig's written evaluation of Grace and were
following her testimony. About 30 minutes into her testimony, Anderson
noticed one juror holding the evaluation above his head. He stopped the
testimony to ask the juror if he had a question.
"No, we've heard enough of this," the juror said.
That prompted Davis to argue that the jury had already formed a decision,
something that is not allowed until all testimony has been heard.
"What can I say?" Anderson said. "You're killing (the jury) with this
witness, but you can try the case the way you want to."
Another psychologist, Dr. Doug McKeown, testified for the prosecution and
said his evaluation revealed Grace is not mentally retarded.
The case is expected to end Monday. The jury must first determine if Grace
is mentally retarded. If it determines he is, then he is not eligible for
the death penalty. If it determines he isn't, then the jury can decide
between death and life in prison without parole.
(source: Dothan Eagle)
LabCorp to perform DNA test in N.C. execution case
Depending on who is asked, a DNA test on a death row inmate convicted of a
1990 rape and double murder doesn't clear him or could be enough to halt
A judge ultimately will have to decide. No hearing date has been set.
In May, a judge ordered that DNA testing be performed on Jerry Wayne
Conner, who was scheduled for execution May 12. The state Supreme Court
halted the execution so a DNA test requested by the defense could be
Conner was sentenced to death for the 1990 shotgun slayings of Gates
County store clerk Minh Rogers and her 16-year-old daughter, Linda, who
The test results sent to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham
appeared to show that one sample from the rape victim had a similar
genetic marker as Conner.
"Jerry Conner and his relatives cannot be excluded as the source of the
male DNA in this sample," said the report from LabCorp, dated Aug. 14.
Defense lawyer Mark Kleinschmidt said the report indicates "there still is
doubt" that Conner committed the crime. He said the genetic marker is the
same as carried by 62 % of men in a statistical sample.
Mike Johnson, an assistant district attorney in Elizabeth City, said the
testing "doesn't appear to clear him."
"It appears to be it's saying he's not being excluded, but it's not
conclusive," Johnson said. "That's what the situation was before."
District Attorney Frank Parrish, who wasn't available for comment Friday,
has said there was enough evidence to convict Conner without DNA.
Parrish also said Conner's shoe print was found in the blood of a victim
and a shotgun found in his bedroom was similar to the weapon used in the
Conner confessed twice, but the defense said he didn't sign the
confession. Kleinschmidt also said witness reports varied, with one
witness saying Conner was at the scene and another saying he wasn't.
(source: Associated Press)
Local man put to death----Flippen's parents, Britnie's family watch
Samuel Flippen told his parents that he loved them, thanked his lawyers
for their work and gave no public statement before being executed
yesterday morning for murdering his 2-year-old stepdaughter.
Flippen, a former Clemmons resident, was declared dead at 2:11 a.m. He was
Flippen never publicly admitted to the 1994 killing of Britnie Nichol
Hutton. Britnie, who had fresh bruises all over, died from a fatal blow or
blows that cut her pancreas in half against her spine and tore her liver.
Prosecutors said that Flippen beat Britnie because she would not stop
He said she had fallen from a chair that was about 18 inches tall.
Flippen's attorneys worked up until late Thursday night, trying to keep
Gov. Mike Easley announced after midnight that he would not grant
clemency, after appeals were denied by the U.S. and N.C. supreme courts.
"Having carefully reviewed the clemency petition, I conclude that there
are no compelling reasons to invalidate the sentence recommended by 2
juries and affirmed by the courts," Easley said in a statement.
About 100 anti-death penalty protesters were gathered outside Central
Prison at midnight Thursday, kept within an area enclosed by metal gates.
A row of prison and police officers stood next to them. 4 people were
arrested for trespassing.
Opposite the protesters at the entrance, members of Britnie's family stood
with their own signs. They said they wanted to be sure that her death was
not overshadowed by court filings and protests.
Chris Sealey, an uncle of Britnie's, said that his daughter, Kristin, is a
daily reminder of what Britnie's life could have been. Kristin was 4 when
Britnie died, and the two had been friends. "My daughter got to go to her
first prom. Britnie did not," he said.
Flippen's final hours included a last meal, about 5 p.m. Thursday. Hours
later, at 1:52 a.m., the curtain in the death chamber was drawn and
Flippen appeared on a gurney, a blue sheet covering everything but his
Flippen's close-cropped brown hair, goatee and moustache had gray
throughout, a sign of the 12 years he spent behind bars. He was no longer
the boyish 24-year-old sentenced to death by a Forsyth County jury in
1995, and then again in 1997 after the N.C. Supreme Court ordered a new
As Flippen glanced at his parents, Rita and Carl Flippen, he winked at
them, smiled and mouthed twice through the glass that he loved them. They
responded, "I love you, too."
Flippen was animated at first, as he awaited the syringes that would take
his life. He would look away, then at his parents, smile and occasionally
purse his lips. As the execution approached, he closed his eyes
periodically and let his head fall back on the blue pillow.
"He's at peace," Carl Flippen whispered to Rita Flippen.
About 2 a.m., Central Prison Warden Marvin Polk entered the witness room
and announced that he had spoken to Secretary of Correction Theodis Beck.
"If there are no further instructions, the execution will proceed as
scheduled," he said.
A short while later, the 1st of 5 pairs of syringes were pushed.
Flippen's head jerked forward and he grimaced. His chest rose, then fell.
His head rested on the pillow, his mouth half open and stayed that way.
"Is it done?" Carl Flippen asked his wife after about 5 minutes. She
nodded her head. Carl Flippen shook his.
After a few more minutes of looking at her still son, Rita Flippen asked a
prison official how much longer it would be. 5 to 10 minutes, the official
"But he's gone," Carl Flippen said.
Flippen's parents left the witness room early.
Britnie's mother, Tina Gibson, appeared calm during the execution. Her
sister stroked her arm, and her husband sat at her side.
Afterward, Flippen's family did not want to speak to reporters. They
hugged, joined by Flippen's sister, and Jill Wilkes, his former
high-school prom date and close friend.
Gibson said in a statement that "it is a shame that it all had to come to
this," and that Flippen could have kept his temper from destroying his
life. "Britnie deserved to live," she said.
Flippen's attorneys said that Britnie's death was tragic but that
Flippen's execution added to the tragedy.
His death is the state's 4th execution this year and 43rd since it resumed
executions in 1984. There are now 168 people on the state's death row.
Rick Greene, one of Flippen's attorneys, said he expected that in the
coming months, a challenge to the method of lethal injection would be
(source: Winston-Salem Journal)
Massey facing death penalty Clinton man stands accused of brutal murders
Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a man accused in
the July stabbing and slashing deaths of a pregnant Hallsville woman and
her 8-year-old son.
Arthur Thomas Massey, 37, of rural Clinton is charged with 6 counts of
1st-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child in the
deaths of Katie Griffieth, 28, and her son, Kendall.
Prosecutors say both victims were stabbed and their throats cut.
DeWitt County State's Attorney Jerry Johnson cited the number of victims,
the fact that one was a child and the brutal nature of the deaths in a
motion announcing that he will seek the death penalty.
"The deaths resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior
indicative of wanton cruelty," according to the motion, filed Friday in
DeWitt County court.
Authorities have declined to discuss a possible motive.
Springfield attorney James Elmore was appointed Monday to assist DeWitt
County Public Defender Richard Goff with Massey's defense.
Massey is entitled to 2 attorneys who are certified to handle capital
murder cases because death is a sentencing option.
Goff declined comment Wednesday and referred questions to Elmore, who was
out of the office and unavailable for comment, his secretary said.
Results of a psychiatric examination sought by the defense to determine
whether Massey is fit to stand trial are pending.
The victims' bodies were found July 11 in Griffieth's house in tiny
Hallsville, about seven miles west of Clinton, after two of Griffieth's
other children - both toddlers - were discovered unharmed in bloodstained
In addition to the murder counts, Massey also faces a charge of possession
of a weapon by a felon.
He was arrested on the weapons charge the day after the Hallsville
stabbings and was free on $2,500 cash bond when he was arrested July 20.
Massey is being held in the DeWitt County jail on $5 million bond.
(source: Lincoln Courier)
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