[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----S. DAK., MD., CALIF., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Aug 28 15:28:00 UTC 2006
SOUTH DAKOTA----impending execution
Page execution set for late Tuesday evening
South Dakota's 1st execution in 59 years is scheduled for late Tuesday
evening, according to a Department of Corrections news release giving the
public 48 hours notice.
Elijah Page, 24, of Athens, Texas, is scheduled to die by lethal injection
at about 10 p.m. CDT at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls.
According to state law, the execution must happen sometime during the
coming week, so it could be delayed and still fall within the legal time
And because Page asked to be executed, he could change his mind up to the
last minute and resume his appeals.
"The warden and penitentiary staff have spent countless hours preparing to
carry out this court order," Corrections Secretary Tim Reisch said in the
release. "A trip Warden Weber and select staff took to Texas led to the
development of long checklists of things that needed to be accomplished,
culminating with numerous rehearsals that select prison staff participated
Page and Briley Piper, 25, of Anchorage, Alaska, were sentenced to death
after they pleaded guilty to the 2000 torture slaying of Chester Allan
Poage, 19, of Spearfish.
Darrell Hoadley, 26, of Lead, opted to stand trial. He was convicted and a
split jury sentenced him to life in prison without chance of parole.
Law officers had been investigating Page, Piper and Hoadley for allegedly
planning to buy LSD and sell it in the Black Hills when they came up with
a plan to steal from Poage's house. They killed him so there wasn't a
witness, according to court testimony.
The trio took Poage to Higgins Gulch west of Spearfish, and as he begged
for his life, made him remove most of his clothing and forced him into the
snow and an icy creek.
Piper stabbed Poage 3 times in the head and neck, and Page kicked Poage 30
to 40 times in the head, tearing his ears off. The attackers then dropped
large rocks on Poage's head.
The torture lasted 2 to 3 hours.
Page has been housed in a newer wing of the South Dakota State
Penitentiary but prior to execution will be taken to a cell at the old
death row in an older part of the prison.
The chamber has been remodeled since the last execution in the state.
George Sitts was electrocuted in 1947 for killing 2 lawmen, also near
Page would be among just 8 inmates younger than 25 put to death since
capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. His case is also unique because
a judge, not a jury, imposed a death sentence and he has asked to die.
Page's lawyer, Mike Butler, has said the request might amount to suicide
because Page is depressed.
(source: Associated Press)
Execution Date and Time Set for Elijah Page----Murderer of Chester Allan
Poage to be executed Aug. 29.
As required in South Dakota Codified Law 23A-27A-17, Doug Weber, Director
of Prison Operations and Warden of the South Dakota State Penitentiary,
has set the date and time for the execution of Inmate Elijah Page for
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at approximately 10:00 p.m. CDT.
According to state law, in a capital punishment case the judge designates
a week for the execution to occur, and the exact day and time of the
execution is left to the warden's discretion. The warden is then required
by state law to publicly announce the day and hour of the execution not
less than 48 hours prior to the execution.
"The warden and penitentiary staff have spent countless hours preparing to
carry out this court order," stated Corrections Secretary Tim Reisch. "A
trip Warden Weber and select staff took to Texas, led to the development
of long checklists of things that needed to be accomplished, culminating
with numerous rehearsals that select prison staff participated in.
Throughout this entire process they have conducted themselves in the most
professional manner possible."
(source: Dakota Voice)
Elijah Page Execution Set
In 48 hours, South Dakota will execute its 1st prisoner in nearly six
decades. The Department of Corrections announced Elijah Page will die
Tuesday night at 10 at the prison in Sioux Falls.
Page will die for his role in torturing and killing 19-year-old Chester
Allan Poage of Spearfish in March 2000. He's given up on his appeals and
wants the death penalty. Until now, we only knew that the execution is
happening sometime this week. The exact time was kept secret, because the
Warden does not have to make the public announcement until two days before
In 2 days, 24-year-old Elijah Page will die by lethal injection.
It's the 1st execution in South Dakota since 1947 when George Sitts died
in the electric chair. Since no one has been given the lethal injection
since the state switched to that in 1984, Warden Doug Weber and some of
his staff went to Texas to learn from prison staff there how to prepare.
Texas has had nearly 400 executions in the last 30 years. After returning,
the prison staff has run through rehearsals of the execution.
Tomorrow, Page will meet with Pam Guettler. Page dated Guettler's daughter
Misty in the months leading up to the murder, and Guettler says they've
been the only family in contact with Page. Page is meeting with them
rather than his own mother.<>P> Guettler says Page's sister Desiree and
mother Michelle will both be present for the execution. She says Page's
father Kenneth Chapman will also be there.
Now the only way Elijah Page will live past 10 pm Tuesday is if he changes
his mind and decides to appeal.
Tuesday night we'll have live coverage before and after Page's execution.
That includes a live media briefing where we'll hear from Dottie Poage,
the mother of victim Chester Allen Poage, who is in favor of the death
penalty and will watch Page die.
(source: Keloland Television)
Son: Execution duty changed father
Arnold Veglahn was simply doing his duty as night captain at the state
penitentiary 59 years ago when he walked George Sitts to the electric
chair for South Dakota's last execution.
But Veglahn, a former sheriff and city police chief who worked for 30
years in South Dakota law enforcement, was never quite the same after that
experience, his son, Don, said Sunday.
"It was devastating on him; it really was," 72-year-old Don Veglahn said
Sunday as he stood across from the South Dakota State Penitentiary and
recalled his fathers role in the 1947 execution of convicted murderer
"He had been very proud to be in law enforcement. And after that, I never
sensed that again, that he was proud of it. He was never really the same
again. He was more somber."
Don Veglahn, a retired Methodist minister, predicts that if the execution
of confessed murderer Elijah Page proceeds as expected this week, it could
have the same kind of sobering effect on people who take part in and
witness Pages death.
"For them, it'll be an existential experience that will never leave them,"
Veglahn said. "To the rest of us, it'll be academic: Are you for or
against the death penalty? Is it right or wrong?"
For the record, Veglahn is opposed to state-sanctioned executions. He sees
them as legal-system failures that offer lots of official retribution,
little deterrence and no mercy.
Also for the record, he wants those who might label him a "pacifist
pastor" to understand that they are only half right. He's a pastor,
retired. But he's also a former gunner in a B-26 bomber who flew 20 combat
missions during the Korean War.
But the chaotic carnage of war, with its own set of life-altering
experiences, is still a form of national self-defense, and
state-sanctioned executions are something else, Veglahn said. That's true
even in this case, where the 24-year-old Page sentenced to death row 5
years ago for his part in the March 2000 torture and murder of 19-year-old
Chester Allan Poage of Spearfish has stopped his appeals voluntarily and
asked to die.
"It's really sort of a state-assisted suicide," Veglahn said.
Page's personal death wish spoke loudly to some of the people who came
Sunday to visit inmates at the prison, including a young woman who sat
smoking a cigarette as she watched a toddler in a parking area across the
street. The woman, who declined to give her name, said she hadn't heard
much about Page's execution and didn't know what he had done.
"If he wants to die," she said, then paused and shrugged. "He's going to
die in prison anyway."
A block or so southwest of the prison, several members of the Crossroads
Community Church were just leaving Sunday service. They also knew little
about the impending execution or any details about what Page had done. But
Pastor Nick Constant said there was plenty of biblical justification for
"All of us are responsible for our wrongs," he said, as listeners nodded.
In a garden plot on city land three blocks away a few minutes later, Rick
and Tami Jo Huffman took a few minutes away from their vegetables to
discuss the Page execution.
"I'm for the death penalty, especially since he wants to (die)," Tami Jo
Huffman said. Rick Huffman said he continued to support capital
punishment, applied wisely for the most heinous of crimes. But he doubts
the punishment has much effect on crime.
"I used to think it was a way to deter crime. But it hasn't turned out to
be that way at all."
Veglahn said he understands the other side of the capital-punishment
debate and respects those who differ with him. He acknowledges the Old
Testament support for the pro-death-penalty views of some ministers but
believes the New Testament holds the overriding truth.
"It's one of those 2-sided arguments. But the New Testament talks about
grace and forgiveness," he said. "I won't let the other side take the
moral high ground on this. I just don't see 2 wrongs making a right."
(source: Rapid City Journal)
Mr. Ehrlich and Clemency----Maryland's governor shows that being tough on
crime need not mean being heedless to the call of mercy.
WE HAVE our differences with Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). But
his record on clemency, the dispensing of mercy to those convicted of
crimes, is truly exemplary. Where many governors, and President Bush,
wield their power to forgive with great timidity -- seeing virtually any
substantial use of it as a potential political liability with no upside --
Mr. Ehrlich has been bold. In less than one term in office, his 190
pardons and commutations eclipse by far the sum of those issued in two
terms each by his immediate predecessors, William Donald Schaefer and
Parris N. Glendening. Other chief executives should take note.
Many of Mr. Ehrlich's clemency actions have not individually required much
political risk; they have been retroactive pardons of people who have long
since paid their debts to society. Still, the sheer volume is impressive.
And some have required real grit. Mr. Ehrlich reversed Mr. Glendening's
refusal under any circumstances to consider commuting sentences of life in
prison. He has since commuted five life sentences and three to inmates
serving 25 years with no parole. He has commuted 12 other sentences as
well. He clearly takes this duty very seriously -- as any governor should.
Mr. Ehrlich's spokesman, Paul E. Schurick, notes the governor's political
base "is not thrilled with his practice of an aggressive pardon and
commutations review." Perhaps not. But his pardons have not caused him to
be branded "soft on crime" either. And for a simple reason: His careful
and deliberative use of his constitutional powers has commanded respect.
With more than 2 million people behind bars in this country, the pardon
power at both the state and federal level should be a significant
instrument for correcting hiccups in a justice system that has to process
huge numbers of people. Unfortunately, the explosive rise in the prison
population has coincided with the decay of the executive power to correct
errors. Mr. Ehrlich deserves credit for reversing that trend in Maryland.
(source: Editorial, Washington Post)
Death row inmate knifed by prisoners
A death row inmate was nearly killed at San Quentin State Prison on Sunday
morning when three other prisoners attacked him in an exercise yard and
stabbed him repeatedly with a homemade plastic knife, authorities said.
The 59-year-old victim was stabbed in the throat, cheek and head, and may
have suffered severe eye damage. He was taken to a nearby hospital for
emergency surgery and was in stable condition Sunday night, said San
Quentin spokesman Lt. Eric Messick.
"It was a definite attempt to murder him, as the 3 of them did quite a
number on him," Messick said.
All 4 inmates are housed in the prison's Adjustment Center -- the cell
block where San Quentin's most dangerous prisoners live. There have been 2
attacks on guards there this year, Messick said. "It's always been a
sobering sound, when you hear an alarm go off in the Adjustment Center,"
Messick said. "It kind of raises the hair on the back of your neck."
Sunday's attack occurred about 11 a.m. Authorities found the likely weapon
-- a piece of plastic that had been crudely shaped into a knife and
wrapped with cloth at one end to make a handle -- on the scene shortly
after the incident.
Messick said the identities of all 4 inmates would be released today. All
of them are white, and authorities are investigating whether any of them
have ties to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.
The victim is from Humboldt County. He has been at San Quentin since 1986,
after being convicted of multiple murders while committing a robbery in
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Doster Capital Murder Trial Begins
The capital murder trial of an inmate who escaped twice from the Covington
County Jail is underway in Andalusia.
Oscar Doster is accused of killing a man to make his get-away the first
time he escaped, along with 3 others, in November of 2002.
Paul Lemaster was shot to death in his trailer near Gantt the next day.
Lemaster's pick-up truck was also stolen.
Doster was later recaptured.
Jury selection in his capital murder trial began Monday.
Doster will reportedly be held under a 24-hour guard at the Covington
County Jail until the trial is over.
He escaped from the jail again last year and managed to elude authorities
until he was finally caught in California.
(source: WTVY News)
Testimony slated to start today in Sharp murder trial----Prospective
jurors questioned about stance on death penalty
Testimony is scheduled to begin today in the trial of capital murder
suspect Jason Sharp.
The lawyers started picking the jury Monday in Circuit Judge Laura W.
Hamilton's courtroom and trimmed the panel from 80 prospective jurors to
Sharp, 29, of James Madison Road is charged with rape and murder in the
death of Tracy Lynn Morris, 33, of Sheri Drive.
When Morris failed to show up for supper with her parents on Jan. 2, 1999,
her mother went to her home and found her fatally stabbed.
Sharp was arrested on Jan. 16, 1999, and has been in jail without bond
ever since. A grand jury indicted Sharp on the capital murder charge in
Police said Sharp had an obsession with Morris, who had rejected him.
Sharp and Morris, a nurse, met when he washed and detailed her sport
utility vehicle several months before the murder, police said.
If convicted of capital murder, Sharp could be sentenced to life in prison
without parole or execution by lethal injection.
The 80 prospective jurors spent part of Monday afternoon filling out a
questionnaire. Several of 70 questions on the form asked them about the
Sharp's attorneys, Alan Mann and Barry Abston, and lead prosecutor Robert
Broussard questioned the jurors Tuesday.
The lawyers asked the prospective jurors if they could vote to invoke the
death penalty. About a dozen said they would not under any circumstances.
But the majority said they could vote to put Sharp to death.
Some said if they convict Sharp of capital murder, they would
automatically vote for the death penalty, regardless of the mitigating or
The lawyers also tried to determine if the prospective jurors had been
exposed to news accounts about Morris' murder and Sharp.
It's probably ridiculous to expect that prospective jurors would not have
some exposure to news accounts about high-profile cases, said Mark
McDaniel of Huntsville, a defense lawyer who has handled many such cases.
The lawyers probe to see what the jurors know, he said.
"You don't want jurors that have seen, heard or read so much about the
case that they have formed an opinion," he said. "The lawyers want to know
if the jurors can make their decision based on the evidence that comes
from the witness stand."
(source: The Huntsville Times)
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