[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TENN., PENN., LA., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jun 21 20:57:31 UTC 2006
Judge denies Reid's request to stay execution
A Montogmery County Circuit Court judge has denied a stay of execution for
convicted-murderer Paul Dennis Reid.
Linda Martiniano, Reid's sister, filed for the stay last week, just days
after Circuit Court Judge John Gasaway ruled Reid was ineligible for a
mental competency hearing.
In today's written order, Gasaway writes his court "has on authority to
grant such a stay," in part because Reid's execution date of June 28 has
been set by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
(source: The Leaf-Chronicle)
PENNSYLVANIA----female faces death sentence
An executive's path down the road to murder
If there's one thing lawyers on both sides of the Heather Lavelle case
agree on, it's this: The woman is smart.
Smart enough to breeze through college and score a degree in the
male-dominated field of agricultural engineering.
Smart enough to land a job as a vice president at an insurance firm where
she was lauded for her knowledge of environmental issues.
And, according to her own confession, smart enough to know that her DNA,
if found at a murder scene, would lead to her conviction. Smart enough,
prosecutors say, to cover her tracks.
But is she smart enough to persuade a judge to spare her life?
In a Bucks County courtroom in Doylestown today, county Judge Rea Boylan
must decide if Lavelle, 35, should be sentenced to life in prison or the
death penalty for her part in the slaying of Christian Rojas, 28, of
Lavelle and her former boyfriend, James Savage, 39, pleaded guilty last
week to 1st-degree murder in Rojas' Aug. 25 death. Boylan sentenced Savage
to life on Monday. She's hearing evidence in Lavelle's case.
Savage and Lavelle admitted that they killed Rojas in his apartment then
stole his car, $1,500 cash and numerous belongings. They fled to Nags
Head, N.C., where they were arrested following a high-speed police chase.
At his hearing, Savage said Lavelle tricked him into killing Rojas,
Lavelle's former boyfriend, because she told him Rojas had raped her.
In her initial statement to police, Lavelle blamed the murder on Savage,
saying she was not in the room when the killing occurred. She later
admitted holding a pillow over Rojas' face and smothering him while Savage
held the hog-tied victim still.
In court Tuesday, a new story emerged. Psychiatrist Richard Saul testified
that Lavelle told him during a prison interview that Savage had planted
the rape story in her head while they were smoking crack cocaine together.
She said Savage also told her that Rojas had taken nude photos of her, had
posted them on the Internet and was making money from them. Paranoid from
the drug, she believed him, the doctor said.
If Boylan imposes a death sentence for Lavelle, she will become the first
Bucks County woman on Pennsylvania's death row. No Bucks County judge has
imposed the death penalty since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977.
(source: The Intelligencer)
State-financed group to take new N.O. death-penalty cases -- Extra money
will help with parish caseload
New death-penalty cases in New Orleans will be handled by a state-financed
group that previously dealt only with cases in which the local public
defenders had a conflict of interest.
The Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board approved a proposal
Tuesday to give the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana
$460,750 for one year to hire more staff to handle the additional
caseload. The board that oversees indigent defense in Orleans Parish has
asked for the assistance so that local public defenders can deal with the
32 defendants who were indicted pre-Katrina and await trial, said Edward
Greenlee, director of the state board.
The extra money, which will be made available July 1, will allow the
southeast Louisiana defense office to get started on the cases of 8
defendants who have been indicted but do not yet have attorneys, said
Kerry Cuccia, director of the group. Death-penalty cases are usually for
The money comes from an additional $10 million allocated to the state
indigent defense board, doubling what it typically has to supplement the
budgets of local public defenders. Jancy Hoeffel, a professor at Tulane
Law School who sits on the state board, said the group will have to
determine how to divvy up the additional money for the 2006-07 fiscal
This likely will include considering any requests from the overloaded
Orleans Parish system struggling to become operational again after
The group also will consider a nearly $3 million proposal by the Juvenile
Justice Project of Louisiana and 2 other defender groups to help set up 3
model public defense offices in the state to represent young offenders.
One of the offices would be in Orleans Parish, and the others would be in
Shreveport and Lake Charles.
In other action, the state indigent defense board adopted tougher
performance standards for public defenders, which Hoeffel said will help
young attorneys hired to represent defendants better understand their
Along with caseload standards previously adopted by the board, Hoeffel
said these new guidelines will help the group hold local defense offices
accountable for the kind of representation they provide to defendants who
cannot afford to pay for private attorneys.
Wilcher case shows absurdity of process
Bobby Glen Wilcher, convicted of 2 Scott County murders back in 1982, is 1
of 70 Mississippi death row inmates.
I've written about all of them individually in the past. But Wilcher's
case is the one I know the most about and the one most compelling to me -
for I know the families of his victims and their friends.
Wilcher told U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate earlier this month that
he wanted to drop all his appeals and have the state proceed with his
Wingate granted Wilcher's motion. The state set a date for his execution
of July 14.
But despite Wilcher's expressed wish to be executed, his attorneys
interceded and have filed petitions with the state Supreme Court and U.S.
District Court asking the Supreme Court not to reset an execution date
while attorneys try to reinstate appeals for Wilcher in federal court.
Wilcher, 44, was sentenced to two separate death sentences in the March 5,
1982, killings of 2 middle-aged Scott County women - Velma Odell Noblin
and Katie Belle Moore. After meeting the women at a Forest beer joint,
Wilcher - then age 18 - persuaded the women to drive him home and diverted
them down a deserted road.
They gave him a ride because they knew his mother. Wilcher took the women
down a deserted U.S. Forest Service road where he robbed them and then
stabbed and slashed them over and over again. The medical examiner counted
47 stab wounds on the bodies of the victims.
In 1985, I interviewed Wilcher on death row at the Mississippi State
Penitentiary at Parchman. During that taped interview, Wilcher made a
graphic, detailed confession of the crimes. Here's an excerpt from that
Why did he stab the 2 middle-aged women? "It felt good," he said. "It felt
I can still hear the echo of his words on the concrete cell walls.
What were the mechanics of the crime? "(Victim No. 1) slapped me. When she
slapped me, I came out with a blade and I stuck her in the stomach and she
ran down the road," he said matter-of-factly.
"(Victim No. 2) came around the side of the car to see what was happening
and I stabbed her up close to the chest area. I kept stabbing until she
wasn't moving anymore. (Victim No. 1) was down there screaming she was
dead, she was dying' and I walked on down there," Wilcher said with no
hint of remorse.
"I put the knife behind my back and told her it was gonna to be alright,
it was gonna to be alright' - then I stuck her again. She tried to hit me
with her shoes, but I knocked them out of her hands and stuck her a couple
more times and pushed her off on the side of the road," Wilcher said in
the dank holding cell where I interviewed him 21 years ago.
I've seen the coroner's photos of the crime scene. What happened to Moore
and Noblin - between them the mothers of 14 children - is beyond the scope
of any Hollywood special effects I've seen in fright films.
Wilcher's been on Death Row for 24 years. He's been on death row longer
than he's been any place. Many of the relatives of his victims have died
in the interim awaiting justice.
The absurdity of Wilcher's case is that even he's tired of waiting for a
reckoning. Even Wilcher know that the revolving doors of the endless
appeals process need to close.
But at 24 years on death row, Wilcher's a veritable rookie. Fellow inmate
Richard G. Jordan, 60, has been on the row for 29 years for the January
1976 Jackson County kidnapping and murder of Edwina Marter, who was shot
in the back of the head when she tried to escape.
Wilcher's family has suffered right along with the families of his
victims. It's past time that Mississippi either move forward with this
execution or stop the ongoing death penalty charade in this state.
After 24 years of safeguarding Wilcher's rights, what about the rights of
his victims and their kin?
Wilcher wants the needle?
Give it to him.
(source: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)
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