[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----PENN., CALIF., OKLA., VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Aug 25 15:36:37 UTC 2006
SUPREME COURT----Frey death penalty upheld
The state Supreme Court has upheld the imposition of the death penalty in
James Frey's case, Northumberland County District Attorney Anthony Rosini
Mr. Frey pleaded guilty to murder in Northumberland County on Feb. 8,
2005. He was sentenced to death by Robert B. Sacavage, president judge,
after a sentencing hearing on Feb. 22, 2005, at which time Mr. Frey
admitted that the slaying of his wife, Debra, was committed during the
course of a kidnapping.
Judge Sacavage found that there was an aggravating circumstance that the
crime was committed during the course of another felony and that there
were no mitigating circumstances.
Under the law, when there is an aggravating circumstance proved and no
mitigating circumstance, the death penalty must be imposed.
Sentences of death are subject to automatic review by the Pennsylvania
Mr. Frey attempted to file an appeal to raise additional issues on his
guilty plea and sentence in June of 2005, but Mr. Rosini filed a motion to
strike the appeal, which was granted by the Supreme Court.
Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote the Supreme Court's opinion after
reviewing the facts of the case and found that there was sufficient
evidence to sustain the conviction.
"The facts with which the trial court was presented leave little, if any,
room for inference to the contrary; in fact, appellant cites none in
support of his contention," she wrote.
Mr. Frey also alleged he was incompetent to enter a guilty plea or to
stipulate to the aggravating circumstance or to direct his attorneys not
to present mitigating evidence. The Supreme Court noted that Judge
Sacavage appointed a psychiatrist to examine Mr. Frey and that the
psychiatrist testified Mr. Frey was competent.
"This defendent now has the opportunity to file a PCRA (Post-Conviction
Relief Act) petition in which he can allege violations of his
constitutional rights," said Mr. Rosini, "such as ineffective assistance
of counsel. He may also file a habeas corpus petition to challenge his
guilty plea and sentence in federal court."
Mr. Rosini added: "Even though Mr. Frey originally asked for the death
penalty, he still has the opportunity to have his case reviewed by the
courts. This ruling is just the first stop along the way."
(source: The Daily Item)
Death Sentences Upheld for 2 in '89 Slayings at Church
The California Supreme Court on Thursday upheld death sentences for 2
half-brothers convicted of murder in a 1989 Southeast Los Angeles church
shooting that left 2 worshipers dead and a 3rd wounded.
The 7 Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that the men had received
a fair trial.
"We have found no reversible error in any particular instance," Justice
Marvin R. Baxter wrote.
Albert Lewis, 50, and Anthony Oliver, 44, were sentenced to death in 1993
for the murders of Patronella Luke, 35, a cousin of Lewis' wife, and
Eddie-Mae Lee, 76, a family friend.
Luke's husband, Peter, was seriously wounded in the shooting.
Authorities said Oliver, hooded and dressed in black, stormed into Mount
Olive Church of God and Christ looking for Lewis' estranged wife as Lewis
stood lookout. Oliver opened fire with a shotgun when he reached the pew
where Luke and Lee were seated.
Trial errors, prosecutorial misconduct and violations of due process were
cited in the appeal of Lewis' and Oliver's death sentences.
(source: Associated Press)
Jury Gives Trailside Killer The Death Penalty
A Contra Costa County Superior Court jury chose Thursday to recommend the
death sentence for Robert Ward Frazier because they felt his rape and
murder of Kathleen Aiello-Loreck on a Concord walking trail in 2003 was a
brutal, premeditated attack for which Frazier did not appear to feel any
remorse, the jury forewoman said.
Heather Burrows said jurors spent 17 hours in the deliberation room in
Martinez and went over all of the evidence offered by the defense as
mitigating factors before making their decision. In the end, she said,
they found no evidence that Frazier had been in a psychotic state when he
attacked the 49-year-old Antioch mother.
"Many of us struggled with it," Burrows said. "This was very, very
Outside the courthouse, Aiello-Loreck's family members hugged jurors and
thanked them for their verdict.
"I feel that it was the right decision," Aiello-Loreck's son Eric Lyon
said. He said that his mother had been "the best" and that she was missed,
but he did feel that justice had been served.
Frazier's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Wendy Downing, said that when
the verdict was read, Frazier had been more concerned with how she was
doing than with his recommended sentence.
The 41-year-old Indiana man showed little emotion in the courtroom as the
verdict was read and afterward, he whispered to his attorneys, took a
drink of water and checked on Downing, who had momentarily dropped her
head to the defense table.
"This is a man who had a mental health issues that went way, way back. He
was very damaged from the beginning," Downing said outside the courthouse.
She described how Frazier has frontal lobe brain damage and had been
physically, emotionally and sexually abused as a child. At the age of 12,
he began huffing gasoline daily until he passed out to escape his pain. He
never received the treatment he needed, she said. She wiped tears away
when she said that after 3 years of getting to know Frazier, she believed
there was goodness in him.
Downing described Frazier's attack on Aiello-Loreck as a loss of control
consistent with frontal lobe damage, not a sophisticated, premeditated
attack that would merit the death penalty.
The jury could also have recommended that Frazier spend the rest of his
life in a maximum-security prison without the possibility of parole.
(source: KTVU News)
High court upholds death sentence for murderer ---- Claim of racial bias
in Oakland man's jury is rejected
The state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence Thursday of an Oakland
man who fatally stabbed a man during a robbery, seriously wounded another
robbery victim and committed five more holdups over 20 days in 1988-89.
Darren Stanley, 40, was convicted by an Alameda County jury of murdering
Rudy Rubalcava, a bartender who was pumping gas at a service station at
Seventh and Market streets in Oakland on his way home from work when
Stanley attacked him in January 1989. 4 eyewitnesses, including Stanley's
older brother, identified him as the killer.
Stanley also was convicted of attempting to murder Mitchell Fakoury, who
was robbed and stabbed 12 hours before the gas-station killing, and of
robbing 3 cab drivers and 2 other men before his arrest 3 days after
Rubalcava's death. The court said he had repeatedly assaulted and fought
with sheriff's deputies while in jail awaiting trial.
Defense witnesses said Stanley had been neglected as a child, had stolen
things and sold them as a youth to buy food for his mother, and was a
crack addict who had been under the influence of the drug when he killed
In Thursday's ruling, the court rejected Stanley's claim that prosecutors
had shown racial bias in removing five African American women from the
jury panel. One black juror ultimately served on the panel that convicted
Stanley, who is African American.
The court said Deputy District Attorney Ted Landswick had satisfied the
trial judge that he challenged the women because they showed sympathy to
the defendant, in their comments or their body language, and not because
of their race.
Defense lawyer Richard Rubin said he would ask the court to reconsider the
ruling and, if rejected, would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He said the trial record showed no evidence of sympathy for Stanley by
several of the excluded jurors. Rubin also noted that Landswick was
disciplined by the Alameda County district attorney's office in 1994,
after Stanley's trial, for using racial slurs while handling another
The case is People vs. Stanley, S022224.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Death sentences upheld
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld 3 death sentences for a
Canadian County man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her 2
Michael Edward Hooper was given 3 sentences of death for the 1993 murders
of his ex-girlfriend, Cynthia Jarman, 19, and her 2 children, Tonya, 5;
and Timmy, 3.
The death sentences were imposed by Canadian County District Judge Edward
C. Cunningham in 2004 and affirmed by Court of Criminal Appeals Aug. 18.
"It has been 13 years since this mother and her 2 young children were
murdered, and I am pleased that our appellate court has once again
determined that these death sentences are appropriate," said District
Attorney Cathy Stocker, who is DA for Canadian County as well as Garfield
County. "This decision is an important step toward achieving justice for
Cynthia and her children."
Hooper was tried by a jury in June 1995 and convicted of three counts of
Cunningham followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Hooper to
death in all 3 counts. Hoopers convictions and sentences were affirmed by
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in October 1997.
In June 1998, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear Hooper's
A federal district court subsequently upheld Hoopers convictions but
granted him a new sentencing hearing because he was denied his right to
effective assistance of counsel during the sentencing stage of the trial.
The district court rulings were affirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals in December 2002.
When Hooper's attempt to appeal his convictions to the United States
Supreme Court failed in October 2003, the case was remanded to the
District Court of Canadian County for a re-sentencing hearing.
Hooper waived his right to have the re-sentencing hearing conducted as a
During the re-sentencing hearing, he waived his right to present any
evidence on his behalf. After reviewing evidence presented by the state
and hearing arguments, Cunningham imposed the death sentences.
At the formal sentencing hearing, Hooper waived his right to a direct
appeal from the re-sentencing proceedings.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals conducted a mandatory sentence
review to determine whether the death sentences were imposed under the
influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor and if the
trial courts findings were supported by evidence.
The court found Hooper knowingly waived his right to jury trial, to
present mitigating evidence and to appeal his sentences.
The court ruled Cunningham's imposition of the death penalty was properly
based on the law, facts and circumstances of the case and was supported by
(source: The Enid News)
New hearing ordered for death-row inmate
The federal appeals court in Richmond yesterday ordered a hearing in U.S.
District Court that might bring a new trial for Darick Demorris Walker, a
death-row inmate from Richmond.
A 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, voting 2-1, said
there should have been an evidentiary hearing held by the district judge
who dismissed Walker's appeal claiming the prosecution had improperly
withheld information from the defense at trial.
Judge Roger L. Gregory of Richmond wrote a separate concurring opinion in
which he said Walker's claim was "such that we can remand for a new trial
without need of an evidentiary hearing."
Henry F. Floyd, a U.S. District Court judge from South Carolina acting as
a substitute, wrote the majority opinion. Judge Karen J. Williams of the
4th Circuit dissented.
Walker was 26 in 1998 when a Richmond jury convicted him of 2 murders --
those of Stanley Beale in 1996 and Clarence Threat in 1997. Both killings
were in the presence of the men's families.
The charges included two counts of capital murder because he allegedly
killed twice with premeditation within three years. His appeals in the
state court system failed, and he next filed an appeal on constitutional
grounds in U.S. District Court.
One of his claims was that the prosecution withheld potential evidence
that it legally should have turned over regarding a key witness in the
Beale killing -- Bianca Taylor, one of Beale's children. The appeal was
rejected in 2002.
Walker's case went twice to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2nd time, the high
court sent it back to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration of the evidence
The majority opinion found that the prosecution "knew of, but failed to
disclose, police reports that contain evidence which challenges the
credibility of Bianca Taylor's alleged eyewitness testimony."
Bianca Taylor, 13 at the time, testified at the trial that she saw a man
kick in the front door and enter the apartment with a gun to confront
Beale, who was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. She said she knew
the gunman as Todd and identified him as Walker in court.
But police reports and notes indicate she told officers different stories
that night and later -- including that she did not see the shooter but
heard his voice and was sure it was a man she knew named either Todd or
In her dissenting opinion, Williams said she found there was sufficient
information about Bianca Taylor's testimony in the pre-sentencing report
that Walker's lawyers could have raised the same disclosure-of-evidence
issue on direct appeal and should not get the chance now.
(source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
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