[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, US MIL., CONN., VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Mar 20 12:45:28 CST 2006
Judge grants delay in Yates trial
State District Judge Belinda Hill postponed the retrial of accused
capital-murderer Andrea Yates today until defense psychiatric experts are
available to testify.
The new trial is expected to begin June 22 with jury selection. Testimony
should start by June 26, Hill said.
Jury selection in her trial had been scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
But Yates attorney George Parnham argued this morning before Hill that the
witnesses - neuropsychologist George Ringholz and psychiatrist Lucy
Puryear - would only be available for trial in 90 days.
Yates, 41, is accused of drowning her 5 children - ranging from 6 months
to 7 years old - in a bathtub at the family's home near Clear Lake in June
2001 while her husband was at work. She admitted to police that she
She was convicted of capital murder in three of the deaths and sentenced
to life in prison, but the 1st Texas Court of Appeals tossed out her
conviction last year, citing faulty testimony from the state's expert
witness, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz.
The delay is the latest development in the legal wrangling in the case,
which included Yates rejecting a plea deal that called for her to be
sentenced to 35 years in prison if she pleaded guilty or no contest to the
lesser charge of murder.
Parnham has said he wants Yates confined to a mental institution instead
After the hearing, prosecutor Alan Curry said the delay will not affect
the government's case against Yates and will allow prosecutors to further
prepare for trial.
Yates, her hair in a loose bun, sat in the courtroom this morning wearing
lavender pants and a sweater. At one point, she leaned back to the gallery
to talk with her mother, who was in attendance to watch the proceedings.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
2 murder trials begin
2 trials for murders that have prompted outrage and various forms of
protest from members of the community are scheduled to begin Monday in the
Nueces County Courthouse.
Jesus Sanchez Jr., 30, will face 1st degree felony murdercharges in
connection with the murder of 16-year-old Paula Gonzales in 2004. The
trial will be in the 347th District Court.
Paula, a Miller High School student, was found with a belt around her neck
in a field in the 1300 block of Morris Street on May 28, 2004. Police said
they connected Sanchez to the crime using DNA evidence.
Paula's death brought hundreds of mourners to her rosary and burial and
prompted tributes from the League of United Latin American Citizens,
Council No. 4444, angry letters from residents and contributions to help
Sanchez was arrested in September 2004 and released on a $150,000 personal
recognizance bond in June 2005 after spending 8 months at the Nueces
County Jail without being indicted. The bond meant Sanchez could leave
jail after giving his word to appear for trial.
If convicted, Sanchez could face five to 99 years or life and as much as a
$10,000 fine for the felony murder count.
The other trial for murder scheduled to begin Monday is in the 117th
District Court and involves a capital murder charge against Darrell Lee
Swearingen, who is accused in the January 2004 execution-style shootings
of Isaac Eli Maldonado, 18, and his girlfriend, Jenna Kay Patek, 19.
The 2 were killed while they were sleeping in a second-story bedroom of
Maldonado's mother's home in the 4900 block of Curtis Clark Drive.
Swearingen faces the death penalty.
The murders, and the conditions of the victims, led some of the residents
of the usually quiet neighborhood to request more police protection in the
The other defendant in the murders is Elijah Dupree Huff. Huff was
involved in 2 mistrials last year because of possible jury interactions
involving Huff in separate incidents, according to court records and
(source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Mar. 18)
'Fragging' hearing April 3
A hearing is scheduled next month for a former New York National Guard
sergeant already charged with the deaths of 2 officers in Iraq, the
The case was believed to be the 1st prosecution of allegedly killing a
superior officer - also known as "fragging" - while in Iraq.
The Article 32 investigatory hearing for Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez,
37, of Troy, N.Y., is scheduled for April 3 on Fort Bragg, where he is
stationed. A hearing officer will hear witnesses and review evidence
regarding additional charges filed last month against Martinez.
He formerly was a member of the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York
National Guard. He is assigned to a unit at the Fort Bragg-based 18th
Airborne Corps, whose commander was in charge of ground troops when
Martinez was in Iraq.
Officials said Martinez allegedly had a vendetta against the officers.
The additional charges against Martinez were 3 counts of failure to obey
orders against possession of a private firearm, alcohol and explosives and
1 count of giving military printers and copiers to an Iraqi.
An Article 32 hearing on murder charges was held last year in Kuwait.The
sergeant is accused of killing Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, 30, of Suffern,
N.Y., his company commander, and the companys operations officer, 1st Lt.
Louis E. Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa.
The officers died June 7 at a base near Tikrit, where Martinez allegedly
detonated a mine and grenades in their room.
The dead officers wives, who plan to attend the hearing, said Thursday
they hope the new charges will help get the death penalty for Martinez.
(source: Associated Press)
Chief Justice's Exit A Surprise -- Rell Quickly Picks Zarella To Take Over
Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice William "Taco" Sullivan suddenly
announced his retirement Friday, and Justice Peter T. Zarella was
immediately nominated for the chief's post by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Sullivan, a 67-year-old Waterbury Democrat, was hailed for his lengthy
legal career and for improving the functioning of the Judicial Branch
since taking over as chief in 2001.
"It is fair to say that Chief Justice Sullivan is one of the most
respected judges on one of the most respected courts in the country," Rell
said. "Our court has that reputation because of judges like him."
Sullivan's retirement takes effect April 15.
The nomination of the 56-year-old Zarella caps a meteoric rise, which in
less than 10 years has elevated him from a Republican lawyer in private
practice to the nomination as the state's most powerful judge. His
nomination requires approval by the General Assembly, which has not raised
major controversies in three previous votes on Zarella.
The timing of the announcement, coming on the afternoon on St. Patrick's
Day, stunned Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, the co-chairman of the legislature's
judiciary committee. Lawlor said the committee faces a March 27 deadline
for all judicial bills, and must now prepare for and conduct a thorough
hearing for Zarella, who as chief justice would head the judicial branch.
Committee members were also not consulted in advance, which Lawlor said
was highly unusual in his 12 years as co-chairman.
"For us, the timing could not be worse," Lawlor said Friday. "This is a
complete and total surprise."
Zarella cut his political teeth as the Republican town chairman in West
Hartford, gaining the attention of then-Gov. John G. Rowland. Zarella was
credited at the time with reinvigorating the GOP in a key Hartford suburb
that has long had a Democratic voter registration advantage.
During his five-year tenure, which ended in January 1996, Zarella helped
engineer Republican Allen Hoffman's upset victory over four-term
Democratic incumbent Richard Mulready, who had been one of the most
prominent members of the legislature as co-chairman of the tax-writing
finance committee. Zarella was rewarded by being chosen as a delegate to
the Republican National Convention in San Diego in August 1996. Rowland,
who led the convention delegation, nominated Zarella in December of that
year as a Superior Court judge.
Later, Rowland nominated Zarella to the Appellate Court in November 1999,
and then to the Supreme Court in January 2001, passing numerous judges who
had served for years, sometimes decades on the Superior and Appellate
A graduate of Northeastern University and Suffolk University Law School,
Zarella was a partner at Hartford-based Brown, Paindiris & Zarella before
his elevation to the Superior Court bench. He initially served in
Rockville and handled a wide range of cases, including a hotly disputed
battle over who should run the Stafford Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
Lawlor said that Zarella has performed well on the bench.
"Intellectually, he's a serious guy, highly respected and always has
been," Lawlor said. "He's a serious lawyer and a serious judge."
Reflecting on a nearly 3-decade judicial career Friday, Sullivan said he
simply decided to step down.
"I just felt it was time," said Sullivan. "I've been a judge for almost 28
years. I turned 67 last week, and I've got some grandchildren now. I just
want to have a little more time."
Sullivan will continue to hear cases as a judge with senior status and
said he intends to work "pretty much full-time."
He said one of the Supreme Court's most difficult cases was that of serial
killer Michael Ross, who in May 2005 became the 1st person executed in New
England since 1960.
"Obviously that was a tough case," Sullivan said. "It was a death penalty
case and the death penalty was used for the first time in 45 years. It was
very stressful. I voted to carry out the execution. It wasn't pleasant, I
didn't enjoy it, but I felt it had to be done. I felt it was a just
punishment for the crime."
Sullivan and Zarella were the 2 dissenting justices in 2004 when the
Supreme Court ruled that Rowland must testify before a legislative
committee considering impeachment. They wrote that it was premature for
the Supreme Court to intervene but said a lower court should dismiss
Rowland's claim that he should not have to testify. Rowland resigned
several days later, rendering the ruling moot. He later pleaded guilty to
a corruption charge and served 10 months in prison.
Some of the state's top defense attorneys praised Sullivan for his work,
saying that the courts are now clearly running more smoothly because of
his leadership as chief justice over the past 5 years.
"He was a roll-up-your-sleeves, get down and get-to-work type of guy,"
said William Dow III of New Haven. "Never stood on formality. Wanted to
get the job done and got his hands dirty solving problems. I think the
backlogs are down in large part because of what he did.
"Taco never stood on pretense. His attitude was get the job done. He knew
who he was. No airs. He prides himself on his informality."
Hartford lawyer Austin McGuigan, a former chief state's attorney, said,
"He is a distinguished member of the judiciary who never lost his common
R. Bartley Halloran of Hartford said that Sullivan was known for his
even-handedness and fairness at the Supreme Court.
"I think I was not the only one who was a little bit surprised when he was
appointed, but then, when he became the chief judge, the court system is
working better now than it ever has since I've been a lawyer," Halloran
said. "You get quicker trials, it's more open, I think it's fairer. ...
And I think it's due to his leadership."
John Connelly, the Waterbury State's Attorney who has known Sullivan since
1978, said he had extensive contact with Sullivan "in particular in
connection with getting warrants signed - days, nights, weekends. He was a
good judge. He did a good job. He was a down-to-earth guy and a regular
(source: Hartford Courant)
Moussaoui trial resumes after tumultous week----FBI agent returns to stand
to testify about arrest, interrogation
The first U.S. trial stemming from the September 11, 2001, attacks resumed
Monday where it left off, with an FBI agent who arrested and interrogated
Zacarias Moussaoui back on the stand.
Defense attorneys are scheduled to cross-examine Harry Samit about his
handling of Moussaoui on August 16 and 17, 2001, when the French native of
Moroccan descent was being held for an immigration violation.
During 3 1/2 hours of talks behind bars, Moussaoui told Samit he was in
flight school for fun and intended to visit New York as a tourist, the
agent told the jury March 9.
Prosecutors contend that Moussaoui contributed to 3,000 murders on
September 11 by lying to Samit to cover up al Qaeda's conspiracy to hijack
and crash planes into prominent buildings. They are seeking the death
Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges last year,
so his punishment is the only question before the jury in the trial that
began March 6.
If jurors don't vote unanimously to execute Moussaoui, then he will be
sentenced to life in prison.
There's no word yet on when the court might hear from Carla Martin, a
government lawyer who turned the sentencing trial upside down.
Moussaoui's attorneys and prosecutors want Martin to explain her actions
to the court.
Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, sent a series of
e-mails disclosing trial transcripts to aviation security witnesses who
were scheduled to testify.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema found that Martin violated her order
instructing witnesses to avoid following court proceedings or discussing
them with each other until they had testified.
After a hearing outside the jury's presence, Brinkema called in a
half-dozen witnesses to see how much they may have been "coached."
Most witnesses said Martin's communications had no impact, but Brinkema
struck them all as tainted, and initially barred any mention of aviation
security from the trial.
On Friday, following prosecutor pleas to reconsider, Brinkema settled on a
compromise, allowing the government to call "untainted" aviation witnesses
and present evidence not handled by Martin.
Prosecutors were expected to call the replacement witnesses by the end of
Brinkema said that prosecutors may ask the witnesses to describe "what the
United States government 'could' have done to prevent the attacks, had the
defendant disclosed in August 2001 the facts that he admitted in pleading
In their opening statement, prosecutors contended that if Moussaoui had
alerted law enforcement, FBI detective work could have identified 11 of
the 19 hijackers, and the Federal Aviation Administration could have
stopped some of them at airport gates by banning short knives or adding
conspirators' names to a "no-fly" list.
The witnesses may not testify "as to what the United States government
'would' have done with this information, as such testimony would be unduly
speculative and misleading to the jury," Brinkema said.
In a Friday closed-door teleconference restoring some aviation security
witnesses and evidence, Brinkema told attorneys that "I agree it would be
unfortunate if this case could not go forward to some final resolution,"
according to a court transcript.
Martin could appear Monday afternoon after the trial's main business
concludes for the day and the jury is sent home. But her attorney, Roscoe
Howard, has asked the court for more time.
She could be held in criminal or civil contempt or face witness-tampering
charges. Howard said last week that his client had been "viciously
vilified" by the prosecution and media pundits.
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