[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----N.C., LA., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 19 21:40:41 CST 2006
NORTH CAROLINA----impending execution
Court denies N.C. prisoner's appeal to stop execution
Perrie Dyon Simpson awaited a scheduled execution in Central Prison for
murdering a retired minister, his only hope of living a slim chance of
getting clemency from the governor.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Simpson's appeal that followed
a frantic course from state courts. Just hours earlier, the state Supreme
Court rejected Simpson, whose arguments a day earlier were nullified by a
lower state court.
Simpson's lawyers waited to hear from Gov. Mike Easley, who was asked in a
clemency petition to change the death sentence to life in prison. The
governor usually waits until all court action has been completed before
issuing clemency decisions.
Easley has granted clemency only twice in his 2 terms as governor.
Prison officials said Simpson visited relatives while the lawyers wrote
and transmitted legal arguments to court clerks.
Simpson, 43, was sentenced to death for the death of retired Baptist
preacher Jean E. Darter, 92, of Reidsville, on Aug. 27, 1984.
In the federal appeal, defense lawyers told the high court that Simpson
suffered from a severe brain disorder which went undiagnosed and untreated
and affected his ability to control impulses. Defense lawyers said if the
problem had been known at Simpson's original trial in 1985, the jury might
have been persuaded to sentence him to life.
The defense also said it learned in December that a judge entered the jury
room during deliberations in Simpson's 1993 resentencing trial and told
jurors that Simpson would be released in a few years if he was sentenced
to life in prison.
That claim was denied this week by another Superior Court judge.
Prosecutors said Simpson confessed to the crime and that his conviction
had been reviewed already by state and federal courts.
Prosecutors pointed out the gruesome nature of the murder - Darter was
found with his neck tied with a belt to the bedpost. A broken glass Tab
bottle was nearby and Darter had been beaten so severely with it that
there was glass in his eye. Blood was pooled by the bed and Darter had
been deeply cut from elbow to wrist on both arms with his own razor
A day earlier, the minister had given the pair food and $4 in cash and
allowed Simpson to use his telephone.
Simpson was 21 at the time and his girlfriend was 16-year-old Stephanie
On the day of the killing, the pair went back seeking more money and stole
a radio, 3 boxes of tissue, a flashlight and a laundry basket.
Eury also was convicted of murder and is serving a life prison sentence.
Simpson has since said in a video produced by the defense that he regrets
Defense attorneys argue Simpson suffered from a chaotic childhood after he
was placed in state foster care following his birth in Greensboro. His
mother had beaten an older brother severely and Simpson said in a video
recording provided by the defense that he never really knew his mother and
didn't feel accepted.
Darter was a minister known in Rockingham County for trying to help
troubled young people. Simpson and Eury had come to his house seeking
charity the day before the killing.
On the second visit, Darter told the pair as he was being killed that he
was going to heaven regardless of their actions, according to court
"We believe the death penalty saves lives," said Darter's grandson, Curtis
Faircloth of Savannah, Ga.
Faircloth said he hoped news coverage of the execution "will cause others
to think about the consequences of taking a life, respect the law, and
increase the value people place on the life of others."
(source: Associated Press)
DA considers death penalty against man charged in health-care workers
death ----Grand jury also hands down second murder indictment and child
Bossier District Attorney Schuyler Marvin is "leaning toward" seeking the
death penalty against a Plain Dealing man accused in the December shooting
death of a home health-care nurse.
Trill McKinney, 30, was 1 of 3 men indicted separately Tuesday by a
Bossier Parish grand jury.
McKinney, of the 100 block of Watson Road, is charged in connection with
the death of Betty Jean Sweet, 61, a home health-care worker who was found
dead Dec. 18 in her Plain Dealing home with at least 1 gunshot to the
chest. Her co-workers alerted authorities after being unable to reach her
by telephone and no one answered the door.
Investigators allege that McKinney broke into Sweets home on Dec. 14 with
the intention of robbing her but she panicked and screamed. Thats when she
was shot at close range with a shotgun.
McKinney had only been released from jail 10 weeks before Sweets death. He
had a criminal history that includes burglary and drug charges,
Marvin has not yet decided if hell ask for the death penalty against
Antonio Dewayne Hall, 21, of Shreveport. Hall, who was indicted on a
charge of 1st-degree murder, is accused in the shooting death of his
cousin, Oscar Youngblood IV, 26, on Jan. 5.
Youngbloods body was found in the front yard of his residence in the 100
block of Mayfield Road in Princeton. Bossier sheriffs officials said
Youngbloods death was the result of an ongoing dispute between the 2 men.
Hall and Youngblood were arguing when Hall reportedly pulled out a gun and
opened fire. Hall fled the scene in Youngbloods vehicle, which was found
at a Shreveport apartment complex.
The grand jury also indicted Karl Gilliard, 18, of the 100 block of
Covington Dr. in Benton. Gilliard is charged with 1 count of aggravated
rape for allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy.
The alleged offense happened in September. Gilliard signed the boy out of
Benton Middle School more than once and took him shopping and to a movie.
He is accused of sexually assaulting the boy at least once.
A bill of information also has been filed against Gilliard charging him
with possession of child pornography. The charge was added after
authorities searched his computer, Marvin said.
McKinney, Hall and Gilliard will be arraigned in Bossier district court
next month, Marvin said.
(source: The Shreveport Times)
Only woman on Miss. death row loses appeal before Supreme Court
The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied a petition from Michelle Byrom,
the only woman on the state's death row, who argued she had new evidence
that could win her a new trial.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected all of Byrom's post-conviction
claims. Inmates use the petitions to claim they have discovered new
evidence that would justify a new trial.
The Supreme Court upheld Byrom's conviction and death sentence in 2003. A
Tishomingo County judge turned down her post-conviction petition in 2004.
Byrom was convicted in 2000 of killing her husband of 20 years and
recruiting her son in the plot.
Edward Byrom Sr., an electrician, was shot to death June 4, 1999, with a
World War II weapon that had belonged to his father.
In a rare move at her 2000 trial, Michelle Byrom asked Circuit Judge
Thomas Gardner, instead of the jury, to decide whether she should serve
life in prison or be put to death. Gardner sentenced her to death.
Prosecutors said Byrom killed her husband for money. Defense attorneys
argued she had been physically abused as a child and by her husband.
Byrom raised seven issues in her post conviction claim - chief among them
was that her lawyers didn't do a good job in her defense.
Specifically, Byrom attacked her attorney's failure to put on any
witnesses during the trial or sentencing and failed to investigate her
background, which may have supported her innocence or helped her avoid the
Byrom also alleged that her attorneys never explained to her the possible
consequences of waiving her right to having a jury determine her sentence.
Justice George C. Carlson Jr. said Byrom's lawyers submitted a
psychiatrist's report made after her husband's death to the trial judge.
In that report, the psychiatrist mentioned Byrom's physical and
psychological problems as well as her drug and alcohol abuse. The
psychiatrist also said, according to the court record, that the
combination of those things led to a feeling of helplessness which
resulted in her believing that violence was a solution to her problems.
Carlson said her lawyers provided statements that said they thoroughly
discussed the sentencing issue with Byrom and Byrom agreed to let the
trial judge only determine her sentence.
The lawyers' statements, Carlson said, pointed to trial strategy as the
reason no witnesses were called during the sentencing phase. Carlson said
while such a strategy might be considered unusual, it was not grounds to
order a new trial for Byrom.
Justice Jess H. Dickinson, in a dissent joined by Justice James Graves
and, in part, by Presiding Justice Kay Cobb, said Byrom's attorneys did
nothing to help her avoid the death penalty.
Dickinson said the report from the psychaitrist raised issues that Byrom's
lawyers should have pursued with witnesses.
"I have attempted to conjure up in my imagination a more egregious case of
ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of a capital
case. I cannot," Dickinson wrote.
Dickinson also said there is nothing in state law that would allow a
defendant convicted by a jury to waive sentencing by a jury and be
sentenced to death by a judge.
"It is not only patently unwise and ineffective but also unlawful for an
attorney to recommend their client waive sentencing by a jury," he said.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty