[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----OHIO, N.Y., LA., WIS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Mar 19 21:48:12 CST 2006
OHIO----new (federal) death sentence
Shooting at Bank--To familys relief, officers killer gets death penalty
After a judge announced Daryl Lawrence would face death for killing
Columbus Police Officer Bryan Hurst, the slain officers mother-in-law
leaned over to his mother.
"There is a God," Sherry Marzick said softly to Hursts mother, Carolyn
After nearly 2 days of deliberations, a federal jury voted yesterday to
give Lawrence the death penalty for murdering Hurst during a bank robbery
attempt last year.
Afterward, Hursts mother and stepfather said they were going to visit
Hursts grave in Delaware County.
They wanted to tell him what had happened.
Hursts stepfather, Ted Kaczorowski, said he and his wife felt "a
tremendous sense of relief" when U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost read
the death sentence.
"We need to send a message," Mr. Kaczorowski said. "A very good man died."
Hursts widow, Marissa, said the sentence not only brought some closure but
was a victory for police officers.
The death of an officer, she said, "is something that is not going to be
tolerated." Mrs. Hurst is a Delaware County deputy.
The death sentence is the 1st in the federal courts Southern District of
Ohio. If carried out, Lawrence would be the 1st person executed in Ohio
under authority of a federal court, according to the Death Penalty
The death sentence will be automatically appealed to the U.S. 6 th Circuit
Court of Appeals.
Before jurors voted for death for Hursts killing, they gave Lawrence a
life sentence for the Jan. 6, 2005, bank robbery attempt.
Hursts mother sobbed quietly when Frost announced the life sentence; she
later said she felt "disappointed." But she and other family members burst
into tears when the death sentence, which had to be unanimous, was read.
Lawrences attorneys, Kort W. Gatterdam and Diane Menashe, said they were
confused by the sentences because it appeared the jury considered
Lawrences rough upbringing when giving him the life sentence for the
robbery, but not when considering the murder.
"It defies logic," Gatterdam said.
The 7 men and 5 women in the jury had been told of Lawrences birth to a
heroin-addicted mother and his youth spent in poverty in an environment of
drug dealing and crime.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron OBrien, who tried the case with Assistant
U.S. Attorneys David DeVillers and Michael Burns, said he wanted the case
in federal court because Hursts family members were able to testify how
Hursts death affected them. They wouldnt have been able to do that in
Common Pleas Court.
Last week, the jury convicted Lawrence of murdering the officer and of
staging 4 bank robberies in 2004 and 2005. Hell be sentenced on the 3
remaining bank robberies at a later date.
Lawrence, 31, showed little emotion when he was sentenced.
He shot Hurst, 33, through the heart while trying to rob the Fifth Third
Bank at 6265 E. Broad St., where Hurst was working extra duty. Hurst fired
back, hitting Lawrence in the hand and shoulder.
"Bryan Hurst was a hero that day," said Columbus Officer Jim Gilbert, who
went to the police academy with Hurst.
"Ive always been proud of Bryan," Mrs. Kaczorowski said. "He was always a
wonderful son." Hurst also was a father. His daughter, Malia, turns 2 in
July. "Im pleased that justice is served," said Marzick, his
mother-in-law. "Bryan deserved it."
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
Not even police deaths change tone of death penalty debate
There's almost no chance a bill to reinstate New York's death penalty will
be revived this year.
Gov. George E. Pataki, a capital-punishment proponent, tried to raise the
issue last week after 2 police officers were shot dead by robbery suspects
in separate incidents; 1 in Chemung County, the other in Oneida County.
Immediately, Pataki called on legislators to allow the death penalty for
cop killers. The governor said, "We can and must do more, particularly in
regards to those who kill the brave men and women who dedicate their lives
to keeping us safe."
The Legislature and newly elected Gov. George Pataki enacted the
death-penalty statute in 1995, after Pataki ousted death-penalty opponent
Gov. Mario Cuomo. Killing a police officer was one of the conditions that
would trigger a possible death sentence under the statute.
7 men have been sent to New York's death row since 1995. All 4 who have
had their cases go all the way up the court system have had their death
sentences overturned because of different constitutional flaws in the law.
Finally, in 2004, New York's highest court effectively suspended the death
penalty, ruling parts of it unconstitutional. The court said that
jury-instruction provisions in the law could coerce jurors into voting for
Pataki and the Republican-led state Senate backed a quick rewrite of the
law, ordering a life-without-parole sentence when a jury is deadlocked on
But it was clear by early 2005 that leaders of the Democrat-led Assembly
were feeling differently. Several legislators who voted for the death
penalty in 1995 said they no longer supported capital punishment because
DNA evidence has cleared wrongly convicted people in the last decade and
because the state now has the option of sentencing murderers to life
without parole, something that didn't exist a decade ago.
Subsequently, the quick rewrite was defeated in the Assembly Codes
Committee, which weighs all criminal laws, and was effectively banished.
In December, the governor and state legislators passed two bills that
toughened gun-control laws and increased penalties for violence against
police officers - after two cops were killed downstate. But Pataki dropped
his proposal to include the death penalty as a possible sentence for cop
killers when it was clear Democrats wouldn't budge.
Tragedy often triggers new laws in New York. A mentally-ill man pushes a
woman under an oncoming subway, a cat gets tortured, a college student
gets abducted. This is often the stuff that triggers 180-degree political
turns. Or at least 90-degrees.
So if ever the Assembly leaders were going to shift on the death penalty,
it would seem that 2 police deaths in one week would be the impetus. Not
In fact, it didn't set off much conversation, said Joseph Lentol,
D-Brooklyn, chairman of the Codes Committee. "We haven't had any real
discussion and I think for good reason," Lentol said.
That reason: the option to sentence someone to life without parole. Now
that that's in place, many legislators feel a death penalty isn't a must.
"I think our conference reflects how the majority of New Yorkers feel,"
"I think we have dealt with it," added Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,
D-Manhattan. He said Republicans should join him to ban armor-piercing
bullets and reduce gun trafficking.
It also seems as though capital punishment advocates have recognized the
issue isn't going anywhere. Although they backed Pataki's call last week,
it was virtually forgotten when they came back to the Capitol this week.
(source: Opinion, Yancey Roy, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin)
Defense attorney cries foul in murder case----Prosecutor counters omission
of medical report was oversight
The attorney for a man accused in the beating death of a 13-year-old girl
and the rape of another juvenile said Friday that the girl in the 2nd case
has repeatedly recanted her accusations.
Herbert Lee Prejean's attorney, Jason Robideaux, also alleged at a Friday
court hearing that prosecutors withheld a medical report that stated the
girl who made the rape allegations showed no sign of physical trauma
associated with sexual assault.
"This is highly exculpatory and they didn't give it to me and I don't
think it's an accident," Robideaux told state Judge Marilyn Castle during
a pre-trial hearing.
The medical report, which Prejeans attorney is legally entitled to, was
prepared when the young girl made allegations against Prejean several
months after the alleged sexual assault.
The District Attorneys Office had maintained there was no medical report
in the case until Robideaux discovered it through his own research.
Prosecutor Pat Magee apologized for not locating the report beforehand and
told the judge the oversight was "not intentional."
Robideaux also alleged that the girl has recanted her rape allegations
three times in front of child welfare workers and told others that an aunt
had persuaded her to make the accusation.
Robideaux has requested any reports prepared by state child welfare
workers that detail the girl's statements.
Magee said that to his knowledge no such reports exist. He also said he
has no knowledge that the girl has recanted.
Castle cautioned Magee that he is responsible for giving defense attorneys
any evidence held by state agencies that is favorable to Prejean.
"You are responsible with knowing what's in their file that is
exculpatory," the judge said.
Prejean, 31, is accused of raping the girl at a motel where he had taken
her to swim in the summer of 2004, according to police.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case under a provision
that allows capital punishment in an aggravated rape case when the victim
is under the age of 12.
Police said the girl, now 8 years old, had initially not spoken of the
incident but came forward more than a year later.
The rape charge comes on top of a 1st-degree murder charge Prejean faces
in the October 2004 death of Alexuia Feast.
He and 2 other men are accused of beating to death the 13-year-old in 2004
after she refused to have sex with them.
Her body was discovered in a wooded area off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Joseph G. James, 38, and Thornton Gross, 35, also face 1st-degree murder
charges in the murder case.
Gross is set for trial in May, the 1st of 3 cases scheduled to come to
Prosecutors have commented little on the evidence in the case.
James told investigators that he allegedly saw Gross and Prejean beat
Feast to death but said he did not participate in the killing, according
to prior testimony in the case.
According to court filings, DNA tests have linked Gross to three blood
stains found on Feasts blue jeans, but no DNA evidence has been publicly
revealed that links Prejean to the crime.
Gross and Prejean have denied involvement, and Prejean's attorney has
alleged that James fabricated statements in order to secure a plea
Prosecutors have declined comment on what evidence they have in the murder
(source: The Advocate)
Bury death penalty for good
The trouble with the campaign to adopt a death penalty in Wisconsin is
that it keeps coming back to life.
That is why the state Assembly should drive a stake through the heart of
the latest effort: It should reject a proposal to send a death penalty
referendum to voters this fall.
Wisconsin should not waste its time with an idea that is so out of step
with modern standards of decency - and so just plain wrong.
Regrettably, backers of capital punishment persuaded the state Senate to
vote last week to put on a statewide ballot in September an advisory
referendum asking whether the state should enact a death penalty.
As if Wisconsin hasn't already answered that question.
Death penalty backers have tried to pass death penalty legislation or get
voters to support it through a referendum at least 59 times in the past 70
You would think that after so many rejections, lawmakers would get the
The new death penalty proposal would limit executions to cases of
"vicious" murder in which DNA evidence supported the conviction. However,
the boundaries hardly exonerate the plan.
All the Assembly has to do to understand how out-of-step a death penalty
proposal is, is to look around. Illinois has a death penalty but has for
the past five years had a moratorium on car rying out executions. The
moratorium followed a newspaper investigation showing that a third of
capital convictions over a 22-year period had been reversed because of
fundamental errors. 13 death row inmates were ultimately released.
Furthermore, in states from Maryland to Florida to California courts are
delaying executions and suggesting that death penalty laws are
For a broader perspective, look worldwide. If Wisconsin adopts a death
penalty, it will join such beacons of justice as North Korea, Iran and
Uganda. And the list of countries with the death penalty grows shorter
every year as more nations abandon the practice.
In short, time is running out on the death penalty.
And for good reason.
The death penalty is the ultimate act of big government. It is too often
applied unevenly, discriminating against the poor and minorities. It is no
better deterrent to crime than life in prison. And it is costly for
taxpayers, given the legal appeals filed to prevent it.
Wisconsin got rid of the death penalty in 1853, in response to public
outcry over the hanging of a Kenosha man for the murder of his wife.
Eliminating capital punishment was a good idea then. Keeping it eliminated
is a good idea now.
(source: Opinion, Wisconsin State Journal)
More information about the DeathPenalty