[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----IOWA, OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Feb 2 10:13:00 CST 2006
Dems move to scuttle death penalty debate
In Des Moines, Democrats in the Iowa Senate tried to slam the door on the
possibility of a death penalty debate Wednesday by scuttling a special
committee assigned to take up the issue.
But Sen. Larry McKibben, R-Marshalltown, the Senate's top death penalty
supporter, accused Democrats of throwing up a "smokescreen" that would
anger Iowans who want an open debate on the controversial issue.
"They can blow all the smoke they want to blow, but Iowans understand
this. Iowans get it," McKibben said. "I'm not worried. My e-mails and
phone calls are overwhelmingly in support of having a debate on this."
The latest Capitol skirmish over capital punishment erupted one day after
a Davenport jury found Roger Bentley guilty of kidnapping, sexually
assaulting and murdering 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids. The
high-profile case sparked calls for reinstating Iowa's death penalty,
including from Gage's family.
McKibben and 16 other GOP senators are sponsoring legislation that would
apply the death penalty in cases where a child is kidnapped, raped and
murdered. McKibben had hoped a Senate judiciary subcommittee would
consider the bill on Tuesday.
But late Wednesday, top Democrats on the Judiciary Committee canceled the
subcommittee meeting. The Senate is split 25-25 between Democrats and
Republicans, so key lawmakers in both parties have the power to scrap
"We remain morally opposed to reinstating the death penalty in Iowa," said
Sen. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield, the Judiciary Committee co-chairman, and
Sen. Robert Dvorsky, D-Coralville, in a joint statement.
"We also reiterate that there are not enough votes to pass such
legislation in the Judiciary Committee or in the full Senate. ... Instead,
we hope the Senate will focus its attention on issues that unite us ...,"
the Democrats said.
McKibben disputed their vote count and called for an up-or-down vote on
the issue. If his bill ultimately dies without action, McKibben said he'll
try to attach the death penalty to other legislation.
If he doesn't get a debate, he vowed to take his case to Iowans.
"I will go to every corner of this state and tell Iowans what's going on
with Senate Democrats if I have to. If this subcommittee doesn't happen,
I'll be on the road next week," McKibben said.
(source: Sioux City Journal)
Court System Needs Change
Recently I had a long talk with Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers. The
most serious subject on my mind was the Michael Luebrecht case.
To refresh everyone's memory, the defense says this father had a mental
illness that caused him to kill son, Joel. Putting a mentally ill person
on death row definitely isn't the answer in this case. Lammers was out of
line when he said Luebrecht could get the death penalty. When I questioned
Lammers why, he said he was going by the Ohio Revised Code, which states
that anyone who kills a child under age 10 should get the death penalty.
Putnam County has many flaws in its judicial system. We the people who
live in Putnam County cannot expect any justice in our court system unless
there are changes made in our court system.
Barb Diemer, Ottawa
(source: Letter to the Editor, Lima News)
Death-row inmate cites Resnick's DUI in appeal
A condemned inmate has asked that his death sentence be overturned because
of comments made by an Ohio Supreme Court justice when arrested for
Maxwell D. White Jr., 40, sentenced to death for the 1996 shooting of
State Highway Patrol Trooper James R. Gross, claims in an appeal filed in
Ashland County Common Pleas Court that the comments show Justice Alice
Robie Resnick is biased.
During her arrest, Resnick told state troopers, "Don't you know I decide
all these cases in your favor and look at what you're doing to me,"
according to the dashboard camera transcript.
Ashland County Prosecutor Ramona Francesconi-Rogers said she isn't sure
the court has jurisdiction in the appeal case.
(source: Associated Press)
Beating death of toddler, 3, brings death penalty charge
A Carthage toddler's mother and her boyfriend are criminally responsible
for the boy's death: the man for fatally beating the 3-year-old, his
mother for letting the man near her son to begin with, prosecutors said
It's not the first allegation of abuse Lamont Hunter has faced involving
Trustin Blue, but no charges were filed previously, records show. A court
order, issued after the 1st allegation of abuse in 2004, is in place
forbidding Hunter from seeing the child.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters pledged to find out why Hunter was
not previously charged.
Hunter, 37, of College Hill, faces the death penalty after a Hamilton
County grand jury indicted him Wednesday on charges of aggravated murder,
rape and child endangering that allege he beat and raped Trustin on Jan.
19, causing the boy to die the next day at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Trustin's mother, Luzmilda Blue, was indicted on a charge of child
endangering. Prosecutors say she knew to keep Hunter away from her son,
but failed to do so.
"If your mom won't protect you, nobody will," Deters said.
Hunter told authorities that Trustin fell down the stairs.
Hunter's indictment is the fourth death penalty indictment returned by a
Hamilton County grand jury in the last 8 months involving the death of a
Blue's other son, 9, has been placed in protective care.
The abuse of Trustin dates to February 2003, when doctors discovered the
1-year-old had a broken leg, Deters said. Hunter said then, too, that
Trustin had fallen down stairs. No charges were filed.
Then in June 2004, the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family
Services removed Trustin from Blue's care after he came to Children's
Hospital bleeding from his penis, according to Deters and Juvenile Court
In that same visit, doctors discovered Trustin had healing fractures of
the right hand, left foot and left leg and an acute fracture in his right
hand, court records show.
At the time of the injury, Trustin had been in Hunter's care.
Again, Hunter was not charged.
Still, a judge ordered Hunter to stay away from Trustin and his brother.
Deters said Blue protected her boyfriend. She demanded a lawyer when
speaking with police and refused to cooperate.
Child protective services returned Trustin to Blue's care one year later
with the condition that Blue take parenting classes. Three months later,
Blue proved she was doing what was asked and supervision was terminated,
The protective order, though, remained in affect.
Trustin was so afraid of Hunter that he urinated in his pants every time
he saw him, Deters said.
According to prosecutors, Hunter was baby-sitting Trustin on Jan. 19 while
Blue worked. Paramedics were called to the home on West 68th Street and
took Trustin to Children's Hospital.
Trustin died the next day.
Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens ruled the death a homicide.
An autopsy report shows that Trustin Blue died as a result of blunt trauma
to the head and shaking "due to abuse."
When reached at work about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Blue did not comment. She
was arrested the evening of Jan. 27 and has been released with an
electronic monitoring unit.
Hunter is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a $520,000
bond. If convicted, a jury will decide if he should be executed. Blue
faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
"Mom had been warned by court authorities, and yet she continued to let
Lamont Hunter watch her kids," Deters said. "That shows an incredible
lapse in judgment.
"You would think children are more important than your boyfriend." Durrell
Bush, Trustin's godmother and Blue's best friend, said Blue never would
have purposely put her son at risk.
The night before he was beaten, Bush said Hunter and Trustin were getting
"She was overwhelmed that he and Lamont were getting along, she wanted
them to have a good relationship," said Bush, 30, of Walnut Hills.
The morning of the injury, Blue called from work and talked with her son,
determining everything was fine at home, Bush said.
Hunter called 20 minutes later and said Trustin was unconscious, Bush
"I'm upset at what he did," Bush said. "What he's saying is untrue. I
would like to know why and how."
(source: Cincinnati Enquirer)
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