[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., IND., KY., VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 12 22:26:35 CST 2006
Federal Judge Refuses To Block Allen Execution
A federal judge in Sacramento Thursday turned down a bid for a stay of
execution by a 75-year-old inmate who claims it would be unconstitutional
cruel and unusual punishment to execute an elderly disabled person.
Clarence Ray Allen, who turns 76 on Jan. 16, is scheduled to be executed
by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison on Jan. 17 for
masterminding three Fresno murders in 1980 while he was in prison for
Allen suffers from serious heart disease, diabetes, near blindness and
difficulty in walking.
After losing a similar appeal in the California Supreme Court on Tuesday,
Allen's lawyers filed a habeas corpus petition seeking a stay of execution
in federal court in Sacramento on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell rejected the petition in a 14-page
Damrell wrote, "(T)here is no clearly established U.S. Supreme Court law
which renders petitioner's execution, at his advanced age and with his
current physical infirmities, a violation of the cruel and unusual
punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment."
The judge said Allen was a mature adult "who committed multiple murders
with cold-blooded calculation at age 50" and that his current age and
illnesses do not affect his guilt at the time of the crimes.
Michael Satris, a lawyer for Allen, said the inmate's attorneys will
appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on
Allen's lawyers also filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on
Wednesday, asking that court to overturn the California Supreme Court's
denial of his state habeas corpus petition.
Satris said, "I hope we do find one court somewhere that's going to
consider the decency of Ray Allen's execution."
In addition, Allen has a clemency petition pending before Gov. Arnold
Allen's lawyers say that if executed as scheduled, Allen would be the
second-oldest person put to death in the United States since the 1950s.
State prosecutors have argued that Allen has survived to his present age
only because he used a lengthy appeal process to delay his execution.
(source: Bay City News)
Court stays Baer's execution for appeal
The Indiana Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a man convicted of
killing a Madison County woman and her 4-year-old daughter.
The review of Fredrick M. Baer's death sentence by the Supreme Court is
mandatory, and the court stayed the execution on its own motion. His
execution date had been officially set for June 19, although such stays
A Madison Circuit Court jury in May convicted Baer, 34, of Indianapolis,
of 2 counts of murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury,
attempted rape and theft. Baer was convicted of killing Cory Clark, 26,
and her daughter, Jenna, 4, on Feb. 25, 2004, in their home near Lapel,
about 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
Circuit Court Judge Fredrick Spencer on June 9, sentenced him to die by
Because of the extensive amount of appeals that are made after a death
penalty sentencing, execution may not take place for at least 15 years,
according to Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.
No date has been set to hear Baer's appeal.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Row fear leads to plea deal
In an effort to avoid a trip to death row, a man facing the death penalty
is expected to plead guilty today to raping and killing a woman in Boone
John Wesley Snow, 34, is charged with killing Patricia Volpenhein and
leaving her body in a Boone County field, where it was discovered Sept.
Volpenhein was killed less than four months after Snow was released from
prison after serving 12 years for killing a 15-year-old girl in 1993. In
both cases, the women, who were dating Snow, were shot in the head.
Authorities said Snow raped Volpenhein before he fatally stabbed and shot
her twice in the head. He then dumped her body near the Ohio River in
Snow is expected to plead guilty to charges of murder, rape, tampering
with evidence and being a persistent felony offender. In exchange,
prosecutors will recommend a sentence of life without the chance of parole
for 25 years.
Boone Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith said she made the plea
agreement because it ensures that Snow will serve a quarter of a century
behind bars. Without the agreement, she said, any sentence that Snow
received - if he were to be found guilty - would be subject to appeals
that could last for years.
In addition, Snow's public defenders had filed motions saying they might
rely on a defense that he is mentally retarded or mentally impaired. Even
if found guilty, a finding of mental retardation would have kept Snow from
Doctors who examined Snow said his IQ is in the borderline range for
Boone Circuit Judge Tony Frohlich already has found that Snow is competent
to stand trial. But defense attorneys argue that he might have an organic
brain disorder, something that a battery of psychological tests were
unable to find.
(source: Kentucky Post)
STATEMENT ON COLEMAN BY JIM MCCLOSKEY
Press Release From James C. McCloskey, Executive Director of Centurion
Ministries, Inc. and Paul Enzinna, Partner, Baker Botts L.L.P. on the
Roger Coleman DNA Testing Results
The following statement can be attributed to James C. McCloskey, Executive
Director of Centurion Ministries, Inc.:
With Governor Warner's announcement, it has been established once and for
all, with absolute scientific certainty through unimpeachable DNA testing,
that the semen found in Wanda McCoy belongs to Roger Coleman. This means
that Roger Coleman is the killer of Wanda McCoy. We now know that Roger's
proclamations of innocence, even as he sat strapped in the electric chair
moments before his death, were false.
We, who seek the truth, must live or die by the sword of DNA. Through my
efforts, spanning from 1988 until the day of Rogers execution on May 20
1992, Centurion Ministries conducted an exhaustive reinvestigation of
Roger's conviction. Up until the Centre of Forensic Sciences issued the
most recent DNA results, I had always believed in Roger's complete
innocence. In my view, he had no motive, means, or opportunity to do this
crime. I now know that I was wrong. Indeed, this is a bitter pill to
Those of us who seek the truth in criminal justice cases must never be
afraid of finding it. If there is a means to discover the truth, we must
never shrink or shy away from using it in our search. We must never stop
the hard effort to touch the factual bottom of any case. The Truth can be
very elusive, and even illusory. Our search for facts can delude us into
thinking that what we have found is gold, only to discover that it is in
fact fool's gold. But once the gold of absolute truth is revealed, we must
embrace it, and be thankful that we have finally uncovered it.
Believing in Roger's innocence and even promising him on the night of his
execution that I would do all in my power to one day prove his innocence,
I have spent the last 6 years persistently pushing for the post execution
DNA testing that was just completed. Even though the results are far
different that I expected, and even though this particular truth feels
like a kick in the stomach, I do not regret that this effort has at last
brought finality to all who have had an interest in this matter. In
Socrates' Apology, he said that, "in doing anything, we ought only
consider if, in our doing, we are doing right or wrong." This arduous
journey was an honest and diligent search for the truth that I believe has
served the public interest.
The search for the truth in establishing Roger Coleman's innocence or
guilt is finally over. The controversy that has surrounded the Coleman
case for the last 25 years has now been put to rest, at least as far as I
am concerned. I'd like to thank Virginia Governor Mark Warner for
authorizing the DNA testing to proceed. Without his intervention, the
complete truth would never have been revealed.
I also want to thank Paul Enzinna, Esq. of the law firm Baker Botts in
Washington, DC for partnering with me in our 6-year effort to get the DNA
I trust that all those with the power and authority to do so throughout
the nation will follow in Governor Warners footsteps to have the courage
and vision to preserve all the biological evidence and allow post
conviction and even post execution DNA and other forensic testing to go
forward so that the absolute truth may be known to all. No one should fear
the truth. As Governor Warner did, let the DNA chips fall where they may.
Only then, can real justice be done.
The following statement can be attributed to Paul Enzinna Partner, Baker
Botts L.L.P. (Washington office):
The challenges - legal and logistical - that Centurion Ministries put in
front of us when we signed on to assist them in the Roger Coleman case 6
years ago were daunting. But as in all our pro bono efforts, we wanted to
make certain Jim McCloskey and Centurion Ministries had access to the best
legal counsel available to address the complex issues of this case.
Our work with Centurion Ministries is a continuation of our firm's more
than 150-year commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance on matters
of national and international import.
SOURCE Centurion Ministries, Inc.
Web Site: http://www.centurionministries.org
STATEMENT ON COLEMAN BY VADP
Statement of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
DNA Testing Sets Precedent
"We are thankful to Gov. Warner for his continuing efforts to advance the
cause of justice through the application of the latest scientific advances
in DNA technology. His order to test the existent DNA in the case of a man
who was executed in 1992, has set a precedent. Had he not done so, no
resolution of the persistent question of Mr. Colemans guilt or innocence
could have been achieved. In cases where issues of possible innocence are
unresolved that future scientific developments could lead to resolution it
is vital that the evidence be preserved. Virginias precedent of the
posthumous testing of existent DNA evidence underscores the necessity of
the retention of such biological exhibits so that further developments in
the testing of DNA evidence can be used to clear up questions of possible
innocence of executed individuals. It is now incumbent upon the
Commonwealth to enact statutes that require the post-execution
preservation of such testable evidence.
"In the vast majority of cases in which DNA is not available or part of
the case it is especially critical that the original trial be as fair,
complete, and vigorous as possible. In this case we finally can close a
chapter with certainty, but in so many cases in which DNA testing is
unavailable that certainty can never be attained. And, in too many cases,
lingering doubt about the guilt of the executed remains."
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