death penalty news----OKLA., TEX., ORE., N.C., TENN., WIS., GA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 7 16:47:48 CST 2006
OKLAHOMA----new death sentence
Jury Recommends Death Penalty For Convicted Killer
In Tulsa, a jury has recommended the death penalty for a man who was
convicted of murdering a bank teller during a robbery. Jurors had found
Jeremy Williams guilty of 1st-degree murder for the death of Amber Rogers,
Prosecutors said Williams, armed with a .45-caliber revolver, and Alvin
"Tony" Jordan, who had a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, were the masked
gunmen who held up the First Fidelity Bank on June 22, 2004.
Bank President Mark Poole and customer Howard Smith survived
life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Deborah Mizell, Amber Rogers' mother, said she thinks Williams "got what
"I think Jeremy Williams is a continuing threat to all of society," she
During closing arguments, First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond
said the bank "looked like a war zone" after the robbery.
"You had 3 people left for dead -- left in pools of blood. You had every
other employee terrorized," Drummond said.
Harris said Williams and Jordan "didn't try to leave one corpse there;
they tried to leave 3 corpses."
Defense attorney Carla Mullins Root urged jurors to spare Williams' life,
saying he would end up in prison for the rest of his life. Williams denied
any involvement in the fatal robbery.
Trials have not yet been held for Alvin Jordan and his cousin, Chris
Jordan, who allegedly drove the getaway car.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Penalty for Repeat Child Molesters Wins Approval in OK Senate---SB
1747 Could Be Signed into Law in Matter of Days
A bill aimed at creating a safer Oklahoma by giving juries in Oklahoma the
option of sentencing repeat child molesters to life without parole or the
death penalty received approval of the full Senate today.
The bills author, Senator Jay Paul Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, explained
Senate Bill 1747 passed with a bi-partisan majority vote with the title
on; meaning the bill could be signed into law as early as next week if the
House agrees to fast track the measure.
"By keeping the title on the bill, we are sending it to the House in hopes
of getting the bill to the Governors desk with rapid speed," Gumm said.
"We as a Legislature should leave no stone unturned in our effort to
protect the children of Oklahoma."
The Senator said government has to greater moral obligation than to ensure
the safety and well being of its citizens.
"Those who repeatedly prey on our children in this unspeakable manner
should face the most severe penalties allowed under our justice system,"
said Gumm, who also serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate.
Senate Bill 1747 would make repeat child molesters subject to the death
penalty or life without parole. That, Gumm said, would let the justice
system better protect children from those sex offenders who never will be
"There are too many stories of child molesters who are set free only to
shatter the life of another innocent child," he said. "I want to make
certain that in Oklahoma we are doing everything we can to ensure that
never happens here in our state."
Gumms bill expands on the new Oklahoma law making the most heinous repeat
offenders subject to the death penalty. The lawmaker noted that child
sexual abuse has lifelong ramifications.
"We allow the death penalty for those who kill the body," he said. "Why
wouldnt we have the same penalty for someone who kills a soul?" Gumm said
as a parent and lawmaker, he wants the strongest laws possible on the
books to protect Oklahomas children.
He thanked Senator Jonathan Nichols for working with him to ensure the
bill that passed off the Senate floor today was the strongest bill
possible to protect the lives of Oklahoma children.
"By sending a message to those who repeatedly prey on our children that
Oklahoma will not tolerate this sort of horrible crime, we are doing our
part to create a safer Oklahoma for all our citizens." Gumm concluded.
(source: KTEN news)
S.A. man asks jury for sentence of death
In another surprise move, capital murder defendant Joe Michael Luna took
the witness stand Monday and asked jurors to sentence him to death.
"One reason I believe a death sentence would be appropriate is because
prison does not rehabilitate a person. If I go to death row, I will be
able to get right with God. I'm not afraid of death.
"In fact, I kind of want it. I'm tired of hurting people because of my
addiction," said Luna, who is in the sentencing phase of his trial after
pleading guilty last week to capital murder.
His testimony came during a 25-minute soliloquy in which he admitted to
breaking into the Potranco Road apartment of Michael Paul Andrade, 21, on
the morning of Feb. 17, 2005, robbing him at gunpoint and then strangling
the St. Mary's University student.
Among other revelations:
- He committed the 4 home invasion-style robberies in which the victims
testified earlier in trial that the defendant terrorized them.
- He committed statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl living in his
neighborhood in June 2004.
- He asked his sister, Brandy Luna, to arrange an alibi for him with a
cousin, leading the grand jury to indict her on a charge of witness
- It was his dream to rob a bank and he was plotting such a robbery when
he was arrested Feb. 21, 2005, on a tip from Crime Stoppers.
The chilling admissions paled in comparison to Luna's detailed description
of Andrade's robbery and death, under cross-examination by prosecutor Mary
During the testimony, the victim's sister, Stephanie Andrade, cried
softly, along with Luna's mother, Josie Luna, on the other side of the
"A lot of the things he said in there were a real dark secret to his
mother and me," said Josie Luna's fiance, Robert Belle, who added, "From
the bottom of our hearts, we are very sorry for any and all of the events
that have taken place, and especially for the family of Michael Paul
Luna testified he lived with his girlfriend, Maria Solis, in the same
apartment building as Andrade, and he gained access to his apartment
through the attic common to both units.
After dropping into Andrade's bedroom closet, Luna said, he listened for a
few minutes to determine if there was anyone in the apartment. Then he
opened the closet door and found Andrade still in bed, awake and staring
Luna said Andrade was cooperative from the moment he was ordered at
gunpoint to lie face down on the bed. Luna said he then tied up Andrade's
hands and feet with sheets and went about the task of emptying the
apartment of all its valuables, including a computer.
When it was all packed away in one of Luna's vehicles, he said he kept
worrying that police would be able to tie him to the crime through his
girlfriend's apartment on the other side of the 2-story building.
"Something in me said, 'You gotta do it. You gotta do it.' (God) allowed
me to be given over to Satan," Luna testified, explaining he wasn't in his
right mind when he decided he had to kill Andrade to cover his tracks.
"I told him to take 10 deep breaths, and when he got to the seventh or
eighth breath, that was when I put my arm around his neck. He didn't
struggle. He just went weak. When I thought he was dead, I let go," Luna
Even after that, Luna said, he feared leaving a trail that would lead
police to his girlfriend's apartment and her toddler son, whom Luna said
he loved. So he vacuumed Andrade's apartment to rid it of attic
insulation, wiped away his fingerprints and set fire to it in three
places, including Andrade's bed.
Testimony continues today.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
A killer's death: Faith in 'God's justice' comforts victim's family
My cell phone rang just as I walked into the office Monday and it was my
old high school friend, Tracey, with some stunning and emotional news.
The man who was on Texas death row for the 1988 murder of her father, a
federal agent, had died over the weekend of natural causes. Anibal
Rousseau's execution date was nearing before his premature death at age
Reporters were calling my friend, who is skeptical of media types. It was
from a Houston Chronicle reporter that she learned of the killer's death.
I looked on The Associated Press wire and found one of the stories. And
that made it all the more real.
Tracey and I talked briefly several times over the course of the day, as
she processed the whole ordeal in a way I found truly remarkable.
"It's over," she said. "God is the final authority and final justice, and
it's in his hands."
As you can imagine, my friend and I had previously discussed many times
the issue of capital punishment, her father's slaying when she was 19, and
what lies ahead. She had even asked me to accompany her to the upcoming
execution, which had not yet been scheduled but was expected within the
next year or so.
Her father, former federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent David
Delitta, had just switched over to the Environmental Protection Agency at
the age of 38 for a safer job environment before being gunned down by
Rousseau in a Houston robbery.
Losing her father to such an act of violence was heartbreaking. But Tracey
at least took comfort in the fact that the killer was quickly apprehended,
convicted and sent to death row.
For many years now she has waited for the one who took her father's life
to face justice. Numerous appeals and court proceedings took place and
questions were later raised about the murder weapon. The process was
stressful, emotionally draining and drawn out for way too long.
After all, her father's killer had been on death row since 1989. During
that time, Tracey grew up, got married and had 4 children. But it was a
burden and pain she carried all along.
For her to say "it's over," surely had to be a great relief and comfort.
It blessed my heart.
But the irony of the man dying while waiting for lethal injection is still
difficult to swallow.
It makes me wonder, too, how effective is capital punishment when we have
people on death row for 17 or more years, growing old and in some cases
waiting around just for natural causes to claim their lives.
Does it bring some closure to victims' families once the murderer is dead?
I asked my friend and was in awe with her reply, as she explained her
philosophy on justice.
"It's not about revenge, which is delivered by emotions like hate and
bitterness," she said. "Justice is driven by a sense of fairness and God's
Now the judgment is where it best belongs.
And that is in the hands of Almighty God.
(source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
Judge sends serial killer back to death row
A judge confirmed Tuesday that Dayton Leroy Rogers should die for killing
Judge Ronald Thom heard testimony from families of some of the victims.
Then he sent Rogers back to death row.
It may be a decade before Rogers is executed. There's anautomatic appeals
process that takes years.
Rogers is Oregon's most prolific serial killer. He was convicted of
torturing and raping 8 women in 1987.
He's been sentenced to death twice before, and the Supreme Court has
overturned the sentences. He's been in prison 18 years and claims he's a
changed man. The decision by the jury last week and the judge Tuesday
rejects that claim.
(source: Associated Press)
Anybody know where to get a gavel fast?----Want a job where you can sit
around in a robe all day? Act fast.
Longtime Multnomah County Circuit Judge David Gernant announced his
intention to step down from the bench late last week, leaving would-be
replacements only a few days to file before todays deadline.
Gernant, 62, has found his role diminished since May 2004, after he
accused prosecutors of "inexcusable neglect" while throwing out a death
penalty case against a man believed to be a serial killer. Multnomah
County District Attorney Michael Schrunk began refusing to hear criminal
felonies in front of Gernant, saying he was unfair.
Last year, the Oregon Supreme Court sided with Schrunk, saying Gernant
goofed in his ruling. Gernant did not return a call from Sources Say by
(source: Portland Tribune)
Clemency hearing held in Thomasville case
A man set to be executed next week should be spared because there are
questions about his mental capacity and the lighter sentence given to his
girlfriend for the 1994 killing of her husband in Thomasville, defense
attorneys told Gov. Mike Easley during a clemency hearing Tuesday.
Attorneys for Patrick Moody, 39, have also filed an appeal in federal
court arguing the state uses an inhumane method of lethal injection. The
U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider in a Florida case if the drugs
used during injection executions resulted in unconstitutionally cruel
punishment, but a California judge has agreed to review that state's death
penalty system after no doctor or nurse would administer a fatal dose of
A favorable decision from Easley or the courts could block the execution
scheduled for 2 a.m. on March 17 at Central Prison in Raleigh.
"We're very concerned about the degree of the punishment," Charlotte
Blake, an attorney for Moody, said after the closed-door hearing. "You
have a little less confidence in a death sentence when you don't go to
Moody was sent to death row in 1995 after interrupting his murder trial to
plead guilty in the Sept. 16, 1994, slaying of Donnie Robbins in
Thomasville. Moody had been having an affair for several months with
Robbins' wife, Wanda. She persuaded Moody to shoot her husband so they
could have proceeds of a $5,000 insurance policy.
Wanda Robbins was sentenced to life plus 65 years after pleading guilty to
second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and insurance fraud.
Blake has said that while Moody pulled the trigger, Wanda Robbins devised
the scheme to kill her husband and even called the insurance company
seeking a payment at 5:30 a.m. the day after her husband was killed. Moody
has "very limited skills," Blake said.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank said after Tuesday's hearing
that any question about Moody's possible retardation "was fully litigated"
and lacks merit.
He also said Moody's case was different than that of Wanda Robbins because
Moody had a criminal record in Florida, had pulled the trigger to kill
Donnie Robbins and sought monetary gain from the crime.
"It seems to be a purely solid capital case," said Frank, who didn't
In Florida, Moody attempted a similar crime - killing a person for a woman
- and was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted murder and
Blake argues that Moody was susceptible to manipulation by women because
of his marginal intelligence. Evidence at his trial showed he had an IQ of
81, but he had scored in the mid-60s on previous tests, low enough to
qualify for exemption from the death penalty, she said.
An abusive father once hit him in the face with a shovel, Blake said.
She argues that Wanda Robbins used Moody's aversion to physical abuse to
lure him into her scheme by telling him her husband hit her. She painted
fake bruises on her body and tore her clothes to help persuade him.
Blake also says Moody didn't have decent legal help and waited 6 months in
jail before meeting with a defense lawyer.
(source: Associated Press)
Wrongfully Convicted: Seventeen Years on Death Row
Juan Melendez who spent seventeen years on Floridas death row will speak
on Wednesday, March 8, at 7:00 pm in the Bishops Common large lounge in
Sewanee. He will talk about his wrongful conviction, the torturous years
on death row awaiting execution, the trauma of re-adjusting to life in the
"free" world, and his crusade to abolish capital punishment. Melendez was
sentenced to death in 1974. At the time of his trial, it was known by at
least four people, including the prosecutor and his own defense attorney
that the real killer had confessed.
Melendez was released in January of 2002, when a tape-recorded confession
by the real killer surfaced. The judge who overturned his conviction sited
the prosecuting attorney at his original trial with 4 Brady violations for
withholding evidence that would have proved his innocence. Melendezs
presentation is being jointly sponsored by the Cumberland Center for
Justice and Peace and the School of Theology.
A panel discussion addressing the question "Death Penalty: Yes or No?"
will be held on Thursday, March 9, at 7:00 pm in the Bishops Common large
lounge. Panelists include Regina Hockett whose 12-old-daughter was gunned
down in the parking lot of a Nashville area mall; Juan Melendez who spent
17 years, 8 months and 1 day on Florida's death row before being proved
innocent; Michael Taylor, District Attorney General for the Tennessee 12th
Judicial District; Rev. Bill Carroll, theologian, essayist, and School of
Theology faculty member; and Randy Tatel, executive director of the
Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing.
A showing of the video The Empty Chair will precede the panel. The
compelling, yet disturbing, documentary features four murder victim
families, who have widely diverse opinion on the death penalty, some
staunchly opposed to and others adamantly pro capital punishment.
The event is being jointly sponsored by the Cumberland Center for Justice
and Peace and the School of Theology. For more information phone
(source: University of the South Campus; Sewanee, TN)
Green Campaign: Calls for Wisconsin to Add Death Penalty
Option----Gubernatorial hopeful wants death penalty for vicious murderers.
In Green Bay, Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Congressman Mark
Green renewed his long-standing call for adding capital punishment to
Wisconsin law. Green believes juries in Wisconsin should have this option
available to them when sentencing murderers convicted of a "vicious,"
1st-degree intentional homicide, provided that conviction is backed up by
"I believe that in certain rare occasions, the only just punishment for
the barbarian and inhumane actions of a murderer is the death penalty,"
Green said. "As I traveled the state the past few days, time and again I
was asked the same question: when is Wisconsin going to allow the death
penalty as an option? I think that time has clearly come."
Green has been a long-time supporter of capital punishment for crimes such
as the intentional murder of a child or police officer. As governor, Green
said he would push the Legislature to take up and pass legislation putting
in place the death penalty for those crimes, along with those involving
aggravated sexual-assault, torture or other "vicious circumstances."
Noting he respects all points of view on this sensitive issue, Green said
that by requiring DNA evidence for capital punishment to be considered,
"we can be certain that the convicted person is indeed guilty."
38 states and the federal government currently allow for capital
"While I believe the death penalty should rarely be used, there are
certain evil-doers whose sadistic actions demand the ultimate punishment,"
said Green. "In those most unthinkable, senseless cases, I think most
Wisconsinites would agree that those killers dont deserve anything but the
fate they imposed on their victim."
Green has been a leader on criminal justice issues in both the State
Assembly and then in Congress. His accomplishments include authoring state
and federal "Two Strikes and You're Out" for child sex offenders laws, and
he was the lead author of the legislation to reauthorize the federal
Violence Against Women Act.
(source: Wisconsin Politics)
Think hard on how, whether you could use deadly force
The state Senate recently passed a NRA bill that would expand the law that
now allows Georgians to use deadly force in their homes and vehicles. This
will spawn a lot of debate; some by people who take the time to look up
some facts, but mostly from people dealing strictly from emotion and
Sen. Regina Thomas of Savannah was quoted as saying the bill would
increase the number of crimes in Georgia.
Crimes committed on the street in this area have already risen. Pedestrian
robberies are up. The bad guys already have guns. Theyre using them to
commit the robberies and in some cases, even when the victim complies,
they shoot them.
The proposed legislation is a clear indication that violent crimes are up
and your chances of being caught in the middle are better than they were a
few years ago. "Wrong place at the wrong time" can play a major role in a
situation of deadly force. In such a situation, (such as on a sidewalk or
parking lot, as the bill allows) having a weapon would give you the
opportunity to save your own life. Your fate would not completely be in
the hands of the bad guy.
There are some things that you need to accept.
First, crime happens. It happens to good people who step into a bad
situation. Secondly, it happens more than it used to. Thirdly, it doesnt
just happen in the urban, inner city areas. It happens in the suburbs. The
more population, the more crime.
You need to know that guns and violence are not as they are on TV.
Everything is different from what you may think. Bad guys don't spin
around a few times and then fall over. Bullets are designed to enter the
body and then tumble around to maximize the damage to the organs before
exiting. Its not pretty and there are no commercials.
The other thing most people dont realize: Targets, even close targets, are
difficult to hit in traumatic, deadly force situations. It's not easy to
shoot something when your body and your brain are in life-preserve mode.
Bullets, shot from guns, go somewhere and dont stop until the energy
moving them has totally expended or they hit something.
A fairly accurate assumption is that given a situation where the victim is
put in the position of defending himself or her, and shots are fired; the
first few will most likely miss.
Dont be fooled into thinking that just because you have a gun in your
possession that youre safe. The bad guy still has the advantage of
surprise. Your life depends on how you respond. If the cards arent in your
favor, dont play Wild West with a quick draw. Remember, you dont want to
be the guy who finishes second in a gunfight.
Be smart and do your homework. You have a great opportunity to control
your fate by thinking about what youre doing ahead of time. For example, I
still see people walking up to ATM machines at midnight and never even
A lot of folks, targeted for robbery in this area, are approached while
getting into or out of a car in a parking lot of an apartment complex or a
large commercial lot. Look and see whats around when you pull in. Check
for people just sitting in cars or loitering around. In other words, dont
put your prevention options on the shelf.
Be familiar with what you have. If you own a weapon, practice with it.
Most police-related shootings are at close range, say 7-10 feet. We
practice all the time from 15 feet in and you have to constantly work on
centering your accuracy at hitting targets that arent shooting back. Clean
the weapon and use it at the range. Speak to someone, for example, a
shooting instructor, and pick up some tips on shooting; things that you
would not normally assume, so that your aim is more consistently accurate.
Sounds like a doomsday plan right? In some respects it is. Depending on
how you think, it either makes sense or disgusts you. There are 2
situations that I know of where I was targeted for a crime.
Once was in a parking lot downtown, about 9 p.m. A man walked up to me
while we were leaving the circus at the Omni. He just walked up, looked
around, and started asking why we left the circus so early? I wanted to
thank him for looking around because it very quickly tipped me off that he
was up to no good and it allowed me time to react.
I can still remember the look on his face when he turned back around and
met my agent, Mr. Beretta. Mr. Beretta, who represented me for a few
years, said we were too busy to be robbed that night, but thank you
anyway. Mr. Beretta asked the man to run very fast in the opposite
direction. The man ran and then jumped over the wall at the edge of the
parking deck. As we drove out, I realized we were on the third floor of
the parking deck. He was pretty young so he probably had some bounce in
The 2nd time was in the car. Long story short, I had no doubt that I was
being car-jacked. Again, Mr. Beretta mediated a short, 2-second meeting
and the young man changed his plans.
Here is a question for you: Given this situation and the crime progressed,
what would you do? You have to determine if or not the person was a
threat. All that first guy needed to do was look around and I knew he was
looking for witnesses. If thats not your interpretation in that two-second
time frame, he may have had a gun on you before you could react. The game
is over at that point.
Hopefully hell take your wallet and be gone. Its not an easy situation and
it will, trust me, happen much faster that you think.
Ive worked cases where the victim had access to the weapon but failed to
use it because of a lack of clarity or commitment. In that case the gun
was, and could be, used against the victim. In traumatic situations, when
ones adrenalin goes into hyper-mode, some people have total clarity of
mind and others turn to Jell-O.
If youre a Jell-O person, owning a gun may not be in your best interest.
You need to feel out what your personal decisions would be about using
deadly force. Its only on paper that we say you can do something but its
you, all alone, when the decision has to be made.
Does this deter crime? Lets say you shoot someone who pulled a gun or
knife on you. Did you deter him or her? I think yes. Criminal will tell
you; they tell me when I see them at our class reunions, that there is an
effective sub-culture and communication among them. From what I can tell,
they dont like to get shot. This is evident by a temporary drop in crime
stats in the area where a bad guy gets shot.
Can this legislation be abused? Definitely. There is no open season on
shooting crooks. We dont have a fleeing-felon law, yet Im sure there are
some who look at this as a good opportunity or even worse, an excuse to go
to Dodge City. Its a defensive action meant to allow you the chance to
save your own life or the life of your family or whoever is in immediate
danger of being injured or killed. It does not mean you can snipe someone
stealing your mail. Believe me, there are people out there who need to
have this explained to them.
I think it's sad that we have arrived at this type of legislation but I
also think it's sad to see victims and families of victims. I'm amazed at
how we like to focus on bad people who did bad things and totally
disregard the impact they had on others. If I'm on death row, I'll be the
next Mister. Rogers to avoid the ultimate end. I'll write anything I can.
(By the way, if I'm looking for celebrity representation, I plan to do
better than Mike Farrell. Im thinking Walter Cronkite or that guy who
hosts "America's Funniest Videos.")
There's nothing really good about any of this - but guess what? We don't
live in Mayberry, folks. Crime is a major factor in any large city and its
surrounding areas. We live in one.
There is no easy answer to any of this. Even if we OK using Bradley
Infantry Vehicles as a means of protection, don't forget the best weapon
is between your ears. Learn and read and ask and find out ways to be
effective in staying out of trouble. Know when you're vulnerable and have
(source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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