[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, USA, ILL., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jan 22 23:40:34 CST 2006
Murder rate puts strain on DA's office
District Attorney Al Schorre has called it the most violent start of a
year Midland has ever seen, saying, "I cannot recall a period of more
violent crimes being this close together, ever. The homicide rate is just
through the roof for a city our size."
And it does seem that the number of homicide cases are running at a high
rate and it's obviously not a crime statistic that we like to see being on
the rise. Capital murder cases are supposed to be stories you read about
from somewhere else -- not in Midland. There have been 2 double murders
this month alone. That's a rough start to the new year.
The Midland County District Attorney's Office is currently looking at a
caseload of 3 capital murders in the deaths of 5 people, the most recent
being 2 homicides when Barbara Pacheco, 33 and Eric Wiggs, 39, were killed
by gunshot. The suspect, Aldo Pacheco, later attempted to take his own
That case garnered massive media attention because it involved 2 deaths,
the hostage taking of a 2-year-old boy, who survived the ordeal, and an
The rash of murder cases has naturally placed a strain on the DA's office.
With the caseload of murders higher than ever, Schorre and First Assistant
District Attorney Teresa Clingman may not be able to prosecute all the
capital cases themselves as is the usual practice. The cases may have to
be farmed out to some of the felony prosecutors even if the cases are
termed capital cases involving the death penalty.
Schorre says there are currently three capital murder cases pending and
Midland has never had that situation before. Prosecutors usually handle
only one capital case at a time.
While the surge in murder cases has hit Midland hard and has disrupted the
way these kinds of cases are handled, it also has hit Midlanders hard. We
are not used to reading about murder cases in our own backyard and would
just as soon not make a practice of it.
We wish there was an easy way to curb this dramatic rise in Midland
homicides. Easier answers might come if all the cases involved
gang-related actions, but most arise from domestic conflicts that rage out
of control or isolated disputes between individuals. It's very hard to
isolate these kinds of disputes.
It also confounds us that the homicide rate is surging forward during a
time of prosperity for the city. Usually, homicides rates climb during
downturns in the economy, not in times when unemployment figures are at
the lowest in the history of the community.
This is one tragic problem that has few answers. But we can't just afford
to scratch our heads while we have people killing each other. We are honor
bound to find some solutions.
(source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
He forgets victims, too
Re: "A deadly anniversary," by Rick Halperin, Wednesday Letters.
My brother was murdered 4 years ago. The assailant got 25 years; we got
life. If Mr. Halperin truly wants to end the death penalty, he should help
stop people from committing murder.
I bet he does not have any answers for that.
Michael Miller, Cedar Hill
(source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)
*** Jan. 18, 2006
A deadly anniversary ...
Tuesday was the 29th anniversary of America's resumption of executions,
the day Gary Gilmore was shot to death in the Utah state penitentiary in
1977. Almost three decades later, it is clear that America's lust for
state-sanctioned killing remains firmly intact, as a blind,
wheelchair-bound invalid died by injection in California. Seven more
executions are scheduled this month, including three in Texas.
We work for the day when such outrages will mercifully become an element
of our past, relegated to the trash bin of history, where the hateful
ideas and practices of executions rightfully belong.
Rick Halperin, president, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Meting out death: It's all connected
As I read the column by Leonard Pitts Jr. about Roger Coleman's guilt in
his sister-in-law's murder ("The truth hurts: Executed man guilty - this
time," Jan. 16), I recalled all the times I've thought "he deserves to
die" when reading about a horrible crime. And apparently, Coleman did
deserve to die.
The problem is, we shouldn't have killed him, and not only because
state-sanctioned killing makes mistakes, as Pitts points out.
It has been a recent awakening to the suffering and death we inflict on
non-human creatures that has brought me to a stance on the death penalty,
after years of wavering.
We squash a bug in our home because we've decided that this small life has
no significance. We eliminate a mouse with an excruciating trap or painful
poisoning. We keep some animals as beloved pets, and eat others. And we
expect our children to know where to draw the line. Which life is
precious, and which is OK to squash, trap, hunt, poison or slaughter for
fur, entertainment, research, or even food?
We have choices in all of these situations. But we like our lifestyle, and
we choose not to think about the suffering it requires.
What does killing animals have to do with meting out death to hardened
Well, if I had the choice I would kill the murdering human before the
innocent animal. But I have decided to kill neither (and, as a vegetarian,
to contribute to the killing of neither) because I have come to believe it
is all connected. This is what some of the world's greatest minds, from
St. Francis of Assisi to Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer, have tried
to teach us.
Ruthless murderers may or may not deserve our compassion. But if there
were a way to improve our lives or make them safer by taking any life, we
would have figured it out by now. I have come to believe that if we are to
come unstuck from this current place in our evolutionary progress, we need
to become more aware of how all of our decisions about life and death
And we need to start choosing life more consistently: using humane traps,
carting the bug or mouse to the woods, adopting a plant-based diet,
wearing cotton instead of leather, boycotting companies still engaged in
animal research, and perhaps by voting against killing even those humans
we think deserve to die. Maybe such a society would spawn fewer murderers.
(source: Cincinnati Enquirer - Gail Silver of the East End is a free-lance
Lawyer says Dugan case not worth the trouble
When Brian Dugan first talked 21 years ago about the murder of Jeanine
Nicarico, his public defender thought authorities should start taking
Dugan's story seriously.
Now, when officials finally have begun prosecuting Dugan for the crime,
that same lawyer thinks it's time to stop.
"Why would you want to spend all of the resources that this is going to
consume on a guy who isn't ever going to get out of prison anyway in a
state that doesn't have a death penalty reinstated at this time?" said
George Mueller of Ottawa.
Mueller was Dugan's public defender in 1985 after Dugan was arrested for
the murder of Melissa Ackerman, 7, of Somonauk. Five months after Melissa
was murdered, Dugan entered into plea negotiations. He admitted murdering
Melissa and Donna Schnorr, a 27-year-old Geneva nurse. He admitted 3 sex
attacks - and also said that he alone murdered Jeanine Nicarico, 10, of
Naperville, 2 years earlier.
Under the plea agreement, Dugan is serving 2 life terms in prison without
possibility of parole.
Dugan's plea was accepted by other jurisdictions, but DuPage authorities
responsible for the Nicarico case were not interested. At that time, two
other men, Aurorans Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez, were on death
row for the crime.
Because the other men were facing the death penalty, Mueller thought
Dugan's story should be investigated. Shortly afterward, the Illinois
State Police did begin a probe and concluded that Dugan was involved in
the murder. Dugan was not charged, however, until he was indicted last
November, 20 years later.
Cruz and Hernandez both ince have been acquitted and released from prison
after spending years on death row.
"I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't done what I did," said
Mueller, now a private attorney.
Wednesday, Dugan appeared in DuPage County Circuit Court for arraignment
in the Nicarico murder. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Mueller questions whether authorities now can use much of the information
against Dugan because it grew out of a plea bargaining process and
Moreover, if the case does proceed, it will have an "uncertain result," he
"What you do know is that the resources that this is going to consume are
enormous - financial, emotional and otherwise," the attorney said.
Feb. 25 - 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico is abducted from her Naperville
home. 2 days later, authorities discover her body along Illinois Prairie
March 8 - Aurorans Stephen Buckley Rolando Cruz and Alejandro "Alex"
Hernandez are indicted on charges of murdering Jeanine Nicarico.
July 15 - Donna Schnorr, a 27-year-old nurse at Mercy Center Hospital in
Aurora, is kidnapped, raped and murdered. Her body is found in a quarry in
Feb. 22 - DuPage County jury finds Cruz and Hernandez guilty of all
charges. Jurors cannot reach a verdict for Buckley. Cruz and Hernandez
later are sentenced to death.
June 2 - 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman of Somonauk is abducted while out
riding her bicycle.
June 3 - Brian Dugan is arrested and charged with attacks on women in
Aurora, North Aurora and Geneva. He is locked up in the Kane County jail.
June 26 - Dugan, still in the Kane jail is named as the suspect in the
Nov. 8 - While attempting to negotiate plea agreements over the
abduction-murders of Melissa Ackerman and Donna Schnorr, Dugan says
through his attorney that he alone killed Jeanine Nicarico.
Nov. 19 - Dugan is sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison for the
Schnorr and Ackerman murders.
March 28 - The Chicago Lawyer newspaper publishes a report claiming that
DuPage authorities believe Dugan kidnapped and murdered Jeanine Nicarico.
Jan. 19 - The Illinois Supreme Court overturns the Cruz and Hernandez
convictions. In trials over the next 2 years, both men are again found
Sept. 24 - In Cruz's third trial, defense attorneys say DNA tests show
their client did not rape Nicarico. The laboratory determines the sperm
probably came from Dugan.
Nov. 3 - Cruz is acquitted by a DuPage judge.
February - DuPage State's Attorney says he will present evidence against
Dugan to a grand jury.
Nov. 29 - Grand jury indicts Dugan in Nicarico murder.
Jan. 18 - Dugan pleads not guilty to murder of Jeanine Nicarico.
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Prosecutors seek death penalty in 2 murder cases
2 men accused of using shotguns to murder their victims could face the
death penalty when their separate cases go to trial, Assistant District
Attorney Glenn Perry said Thursday.
The prosecutors made the announcement that Hubert Delma Hines, 51, of
Fountain and Dallas Jermaine Williams, 23, of Greenville will face capital
murder trials during a 2 p.m. administrative hearing at the Pitt County
Hines is accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend, Vicky Meeks
Rodriguez, 46, of Walstonburg and shooting and injuring David Lee King
Jr., 42, of Farmville as they sat in a parked car along Allen Gay Road.
He was indicted Jan. 9 by the Pitt County grand jury of 1 count of murder,
one count of attempted murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon
with the intent to kill or inflict serious injury, 2 counts of discharging
a weapon into an occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Williams is accused of pulling a shotgun out of the trunk of a vehicle on
Oct. 22 and firing into a crowd, fatally wounding 27-year-old Albert Brown
He was also indicted on Jan. 9 by the grand jury on 1 count of murder.
Perry said Williams' administrative hearing was continued to March 23
after his lawyers' asked for more time to review the evidence.
Both men's next hearing is scheduled for March 23 at the Pitt County
Courthouse. Under state law, defendants being tried for capital offenses
must have a second lawyer to assist in their defense. If one cannot be
afforded, the court will appoint one.
Other decision made Thursday include:
The capital murder trial against Timothy T. Harper, 31, of 4611 W. Perry
St. is scheduled to begin April 24.
Harper is charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder, 1st-degree
kidnapping, 2nd-degree kidnapping, 1st-degree burglary, assault with a
deadly weapon with the intent to kill or inflict serious injury,
possession of firearm by a felon and violent habitual felon in connection
with the Jan. 1, 2005, shooting death of Craig Norvell Reid, 30, of 506
Barrett St., Farmville.
The trial against Jacobie Brockett, 16, of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive,
Apt. 4 is scheduled to begin Feb. 13.
Brockett is charged with 1st-degree murder, attempted murder and assault
with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury for the
March 6 shooting of 13-year-old Jahmel Rashad Little, of 1009 W. Third St.
and Donique Rich, 21, of Hempstead, N.Y. Little, a bystander, was killed
in the shooting.
The trial against Jay Mikal Brooks, 26, of 2700 Berkley Ave., Chesapeake,
Va., is scheduled to begin March 13.
He was arrested in connection with the shooting death of John Wesley
Harris, 22, in January 2004. Harris was gunned down while riding his
bicycle on Nash Street.
Brooks is charged with 1st-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a
Status hearings were scheduled for March 23 for Jashawn Gardner, 19,
Rakeen Gardner, 17, and William Bernard Jones, 18, in connection with the
June 4 shooting deaths of Malcolm Barnhill and Maurice Bennett. Jashawn
Gardner and Jones, are charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and face
the death penalty in their cases.
A status hearing was scheduled for March 23 for Jeffrey Alan Hill, 20,
1985 Buxton St., Kinston in connection with the Oct. 10 death of Yahya
"John" Albraidi. Hill is charged with 1st-degree murder and robbery with a
(source: The Reflector)
More information about the DeathPenalty