[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ILL., USA, VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Mar 2 10:54:11 CST 2006
ILLINOIS----new death sentence
Jury recommends death sentence in Runge killings
It took a Cook County jury less than 2 hours Monday afternoon to decide
that Paul Runge, 36, should be sentenced to death in the rape and murder
of a Northwest Side woman and her daughter.
Runge was found guilty Feb. 10 in the February 1997 slayings of Yolanda
Gutierrez, 35, and her 10-year-old daughter, Jessica Muniz, who shared a
small studio apartment on the 3100 block of North Laramie Avenue. The same
jury found him eligible for the death penalty 4 days later.
Runge was as expressionless as he had been throughout the trial. When the
jury's recommendation was read, he stared down at the table in front of
him, said Gutierrez's father, Ramon Rivera.
After the trial, Ramon Rivera said "There can never be closure for us,
because I don't have my daughter right now. I don't have my granddaughter,
at least justice is done ... He'll never be able to harm anyone again. I
guess he got what was coming to him. I know he is going to burn in hell.
He has to."
Prosecutors said Runge went to the apartment Jan. 31 of that year
pretending to be interested in buying a set of "Hooked on Phonics" tapes.
When he returned the following Monday, he sexually assaulted the mother
and daughter at knife-point and then slit their throats. Runge then poured
a flammable liquid over their bodies and set them on fire.
Rivera said the family spent four years wondering if someone would be
charged. Runge, who was in jail on a parole violation, was formally
charged in 2001 after police told him that a DNA sample taken from Muniz
matched his DNA. He confessed to their murders and to raping and killing
five other women between 1995 and 1997. His 1st victim, Stacey Frobel, was
murdered a few months after Runge was released on parole after serving a
sentence in the 1987 rape of a 14-year-old girl.
After the hearing, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Bernard Murray
told reporters: "Paul Runge, for us, redefined the death penalty in Cook
County. A serial killer of this magnitude has not been seen in the
Chicagoland area for quite some time."
A moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois has been in effect since
Gov. George Ryan halted executions in the state shortly before he left
office. Prosecutors were later allowed to resume seeking the death penalty
in criminal cases, but the state legislature has not lifted the ban on
carrying out a death sentence.
Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine said that his office and the
DuPage County prosecutor's office will be working to make sure Runge is
"I think this should be a message for the governor and the legislature
that we should take a look at the moratorium and seriously decide what we
are going to do with the death penalty in this state...." Devine said.
"This case will bring into focus the need for this state to make a
decision on where we are going."
The sentencing hearing played out like a trial that covered the five other
murders, with police, assistant state's attorneys, and family members of
the victims testifying about the crimes.
In addition to the killing of Frobel, Runge confessed to raping and
murdering Dzeneta Pasanbegovic, 22, and her 20-year-old sister, Ameal, in
Runge's Glendale Heights residence. Prosecutors said he dismembered the
bodies of the three women and discarded the body parts.
Runge is also accused of raping and strangling Dorota Dziubak, 30, of the
7500 block of West Touhy Avenue in January 1997 and Kazimiera Paruch, 43,
of the 4700 block of North Kenneth Avenue two months later. Both women had
their residences up for sale. Their burned bodies were discovered after
firefighters extinguished separate fires in their homes.
The defense in the Runge case argued that he was insane and should be
found innocent. A specialist in neurology and psychiatry had testified
that Runge suffered from brain damage that caused him to become a sexual
sadist, and he wasn't in control of his own actions.
The defense also told the jury that Runge's ex-wife participated in the
murders of Frobel and the Pasanbegovic sisters. Murray, in an interview,
said Charlene Culnan, who married Runge in January 1995, confessed to
playing a role in the killings, but she was granted immunity from
prosecution if she promised to cooperate.
Rivera said he wished Culnan would have gotten the same justice Runge did.
But Rivera took solace in his belief that God would be the ultimate
arbiter for Runge.
Rivera, his wife, and other surviving family members planned to visit the
gravesite of Gutierrez and Muniz on Tuesday.
Runge is due in court before Judge Joseph Kazmierski Jr. in March, where
he will decide whether to validate the jury's decision.
Rivera said he plans to return to Illinois when - and if - Runge's
sentence in carried out.
"If the good Lord will give me enough time on this earth, I would like to
be there when they put him to death," Rivera said.
"Paul Runge, for us, redefined the death penalty in Cook County. A serial
killer of this magnitude has not been seen in the Chicagoland area for
quite some time."
(source: Pioneer Press)
Death penalty racially biased
February was Black History Month, a time for us to reflect on the great
achievements of the black community and the immense strides we have all
made toward racial equality. However, now is a time for us to consider
what else needs to be done.
America is still struggling with racism. One of the problems is the death
penalty. Study after study has shown that capital punishment is a highly
racially biased institution. African-Americans make up only 12.9 % of the
United States population, yet 42 % of inmates on death row are black. That
is only 4 % less than whites on death row; who make up 81.7 % of the
United States population.
How is it that such a small percentage of our population can make up such
a large percentage of death row inmates? It could have to do with the fact
that between the years 1977 and 2003 1 in 5 African-Americans sentenced to
death was convicted by an all-white jury. Or perhaps the 1998 study that
showed a defendant's race was considered to be the 3rd-strongest
aggravating factor when determining a death sentence.
The leading factor when determining whether the death sentence is
applicable is the race of the victim. In fact, over the same period of
time that 183 blacks were sentenced to death for killing a white person,
only 12 white people were sentenced for killing blacks. Why is it that the
American judicial system values a white life more than a black life? Even
the U.S. government in a 1990 study admitted that there was "a pattern of
evidence indicating racial disparities in the charging, sentencing and
imposition of the death penalty."
Why is it that we allow an unjust and flawed system that literally has the
power of life and death to continue? After working so long to achieve
civil rights for all, why do we still subscribe to the ultimate denial of
Jana Olsen----Sophomore, New College (source: The (Univ. Alabama) Crimson
Defendant forgoes N.C. trial, asks for death penalty
A man charged with killing an Edenton woman in 2004 unexpectedly pleaded
guilty at a Chowan County Superior Court hearing Monday after dismissing
his court-appointed attorney.
William Joseph Moore of Winfall pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder
without arranging an agreement with prosecutors, said Michael McArthur,
Chowan County clerk of Superior Court. Moore also requested that he still
face the death penalty, McArthur said.
Monday's hearing was expected to be a routine one, in which a defendant
would typically enter a plea through an attorney and a trial date would be
set, McArthur said. Judge J. Richard Parker presided at the hearing.
"Judge Parker asked him if he intended to plea," McArthur said Wednesday.
It was a big surprise when Moore immediately pleaded guilty, he said.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for late March or early April,
McArthur said. In capital cases, a jury decides whether the defendant
receives life in prison or the death penalty.
Prosecutor Michael Johnson said he had never seen a defendant dismiss an
attorney and plead guilty to a capital offense.
Moore, 46 at the time of the crime in August 2004, was arrested after
police found the body of Pamela Virzi, 47, on a handicap ramp at the house
next to her home on Twiddy Avenue in Edenton.
Moore had been under a court order for more than 2 weeks to avoid contact
with Virzi. Witnesses told police that a man approached Virzi as she was
mowing the grass. After an argument, the man stabbed Virzi as she tried to
Police found her body on the ramp at her next-door neighbor's house with a
knife still in her back. Moore was arrested minutes later and charged with
(source: The Virginian-Pilot)
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