[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.C., ORE., CALIF., FLA., VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Mar 31 10:58:36 EST 2006
Death Penalty Sought
Prosecutors said Wednesday that they plan to seek the death penalty in the
case of a man charged with killing and raping an 80-year-old Robbins
Johnny Cletas Maness was initially charged with murder in the Jan. 10
stabbing death of Ruthie Jane Morgan.
The Moore County Grand Jury indicted Maness Feb. 27 for 1st-degree murder
and added charges of 1st-degree rape and 1st-degree sex offense.
Investigators said Maness sodomized Morgan.
The 47-year-old Maness, with gray hair and a beard, shuffled into the
courtroom shortly after 10 a.m. He was wearing a striped orange and gray
Department of Corrections jumpsuit.
He had one long blue sleeve on his left arm - which, according to Sheriff
Lane Carter, contained a remote-control Tazer-like device designed to
shock and immobilize its wearer in the event of an outburst in court.
His defense attorney, Craig Blitzer of Greensboro, revealed later that
Maness had been receiving threats from other inmates at the Moore County
jail who had heard about the murder and the events surrounding it.
Blitzer asked that Maness be kept in state custody instead of the county
jail. The judge agreed.
At the beginning of the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Alan Greene
said there were three aggravating factors that the state would argue
warrant the death penalty, though he did not present any evidence. He said
the murder occurred while Maness was committing another felony (robbery),
that the murder occurred for pecuniary gain and that it was especially
heinous and atrocious.
The state must prove only one of the aggravating factors for a jury to
apply the death penalty.
Blitzer asked the judge to limit the state to these three factors once the
case goes to trial. Judge L. Todd Burke chose not to limit the
Because Maness was in state custody, the Grand Jury indictments were not
served until Tuesday, when Maness arrived in Moore County.
Investigators found Morgan's body Jan. 11 in the woods behind her home on
N.C. 24-27. By that time, they had already begun searching for her pickup
truck, which was missing. Sheriffs deputies said that they believed the
killer took the truck.
Investigators found her truck in a parking lot near Georgetown, S.C., 5
days after the murder. They publicly named Maness as a suspect soon after.
Maness remained on the run until the end of January, when U.S. Marshals
picked him up in Mauriceville, Texas. He was living under an alias and
staying with someone who had picked him up hitchhiking.
(source: Southern Pines Pilot)
Supreme Court upholds death penalty for killer -- Justices reject
challenges by Martin Allen Johnson, who murdered a Tigard girl The Oregon
Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of an Aloha man
convicted of drugging, raping and strangling a 15-year-old Tigard girl
whose body washed up on a Clatsop County beach in 1998. In their automatic
review of his capital case, the justices unanimously denied the September
2005 arguments of Martin Allen Johnson.
A Washington County jury took two hours in August 2001 to decide that
Johnson, now 49, should be put to death for the aggravated murder of
Heather Fay Fraser.
The jury heard testimony that Johnson met underage girls at nightclubs and
by getting them to sign a petition to lower the drinking age that he
circulated at concerts and the Rose Festival center.
Many girls testified that he gave them drugs and alcohol, slipped morphine
into their drinks or knocked them out with rags soaked in ether. They said
they regained consciousness and found Johnson sexually assaulting them.
A friend of Fraser's testified that the victim said she was going to
Johnson's house about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 23, 1998, to play on his computer.
Her body was discovered tne next day on a beach near Warrenton, with
enough morphine in it to have knocked her out before she was strangled.
Among other things in his appeal, Johnson said Washington County Circuit
Judge Michael J. McElligott should not have allowed such hearsay and
testimony about prior bad acts.
Eric Johansen, state public defender, also argued that police illegally
seized evidence, including blood from Johnson's hatchback that matched
Fraser's DNA and computer spreadsheets that listed the names and personal
information of nearly 200 girls.
The Supreme Court rejected all of Johnson's 48 challenges.
There are 30 convicts on Oregon's death row, including 4 from Washington
(source: The Oregonian)
Jury hears tape of Nut Case member's confession to killing ---- Victim's
stunned father says: 'It's so cold and calculated'
The Oakland jury that will decide whether a gang member convicted of four
slayings should be sentenced to death heard a recording Wednesday of the
defendant calmly telling police how he killed a 5th victim as a favor to a
The death of Joseph "Doc" Mabrey was the first of five that investigators
said came during a 10-week crime spree committed by the Nut Cases, a gang
that, according to members' own confessions to the police, killed for
thrills. Demarcus Ralls' taped confession to the Mabry killing stunned the
victim's father, who sat in the back row of the courtroom.
"I can't belive anyone can be so cold and heartless," Ted Mabrey, 66, said
outside court. "It's like they were talking about going and getting a
burger. It's so cold and calculated. ... He really killed my son for no
reason. It doesn't seem real. It sounds like a fairy tale."
Although Ralls, 21, was convicted last week of four killings and a dozen
robberies and attempted robberies, he has not been tried in the Mabrey
That charge was not among those brought to trial last month because Ralls
was 17 at the time of the October 2002 killing and ineligible for the
death penalty. But prosecutors can introduce evidence in that killing
during the penalty phase of Ralls' trial.
Ralls is the first of six members of the Nut Cases to be tried for five
murders and more than 20 robberies during a crime spree that ended with
their arrest in January 2003. The other defendants are expected to be
tried later this year.
Just before his death, Mabrey, 36, had a brief affair with Aminah "Nay
Nay" Dorsey-Colbert. She broke it off when her husband, Greg Colbert, was
released from prison in October 2002. Although the affair was over, Ralls
said Greg Colbert wanted Mabrey killed.
"He thought Doc was spying on him," Ralls said.
According to his taped confession, Colbert, Ralls and Dorsey-Colbert lured
Mabrey to his death by asking him for a ride home.
Mabrey led Ralls to a neighborhood near Mills College. As Ralls exited the
car, he asked Mabrey for "a light." When Mabrey leaned forward for a
match, Ralls shot him "just once" in the back of the head, he told
Homicide investigator Sgt. Gus Galindo, who testified about the
confession, was followed on the witness stand by Douglas Ware Sr., whose
son Douglas Ware Jr. was slain on Dec. 18, 2002, by Ralls and the Nut
Ware told jurors that when he learned that his son had been shot, he ran
to see for himself but police would not let him hug Douglas or see his
"When I got there, he was lying on the ground," Ware said. "This is
something I never thought I'd see. I just stood there. I couldn't move. I
couldn't do nothing."
Ware testified that in the 3 years since his son's death he has never
recovered from his grief. He said he blames himself for not protecting "my
"I'm hurting every day," Ware said. "I tried to get help. I couldn't get
help. I just have to deal with this by myself."
Testimony continues today.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Death penalty request appealed in BSO deputy killing
Lawyers for a man accused of killing a Florida deputy asked the 11th
Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to throw out the government's request
for the death penalty, saying they were not given sufficient notice.
Jeffrey Lamken, an attorney for Kenneth Wilk, asked a 3-judge panel to
throw out the request because the government informed Wilk and his defense
team it would seek the death penalty less than 2 months before Wilk's
scheduled trial date last April.
"An indictment was released 6 months before the trial date, yet the
Justice Department did not sign off on the death penalty," Lamken said.
Wilk, 43, is charged with killing Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Todd
Fatta, 33, by using a high-powered hunting rifle with a bullet that
pierced the officer's protective vest when deputies raided Wilk's home in
August 2004. A 2nd officer, Sgt. Angelo Cedeo, was shot in the hand and
lost a finger.
Federal law requires the government to inform defendants of its intent to
seek the death penalty in "a reasonable time before trial." In previous
cases, the government has provided notice about 11 months before trial,
Assistant U.S. Attorney E.J. Yera told the panel the 58-day notice was
sufficient. The government filed the request Feb. 18, 2005. The trial had
been set to begin April 18, 2005, and is expected to be held after the
panel issues its opinion.
Federal death penalty cases are not common. There are 43 federal inmates
now on death row, but more than 3,300 nonfederal inmates were on death row
in the 50 states as of January, according to the Washington-based Death
Penalty Information Center.
Currently the government has 65 death penalty cases pending or in trial,
said Kevin McNally of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Council in
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had to sign off on federal
prosecutors' request for the death penalty in the Wilk case. Prosecutors
previously listed 11 factors warranting Wilk's execution, including
premeditation and his risk for causing future danger. The government has
filed for the death penalty 10 times in Florida cases, but has not won a
death verdict from a jury.
A unanimous jury is required for a federal death verdict; a majority vote
is sufficient in Florida's state death penalty cases. Wilk could face a
murder charge in state court regardless of what happens in the federal
The anti-pornography task force of federal and local officers who raided
Wilk's home didn't know of a Fort Lauderdale police computer notice
warning officers "to use extreme caution" when approaching the house
because of previous threats to officers and a ready-made SWAT raid plan.
Wilk once listed "hunting cops" as a hobby on an Internet profile, and
city police had noted seeing rifles and handguns in the house. His
partner, Kelly Ray Jones, already was jailed on pornography charges.
The government currently is seeking the death penalty against confessed
al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. A jury in Alexandria, Va.,
resumed deliberations Thursday in his case and must decide if Moussaoui is
a terrorist responsible for the deaths of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.
Convicted murderer to be sentenced today
Dwight T. Eaglin will find out today if he will be sentenced to death for
the murders of a corrections officer and a fellow inmate.
Circuit Judge William Blackwell is scheduled to sentence Eaglin at 9 a.m.
today at the Charlotte County Justice Center.
In February, a jury of 12 found Eaglin, 30, a former welterweight boxing
champion known as the "Fighting Irishman," guilty of 2 counts of
1st-degree murder for his role in the deaths of Charlotte Correctional
Institution officer Darla Lathrem and inmate Charles Fuston as part of a
failed prison escape in 2003.
The jury voted 8-4 to recommend the death penalty on Feb. 27. Blackwell,
who makes the final decision, told the jury he will take their
recommendation "very seriously."
Families of both victims have expressed the hope that Eaglin receive the
death penalty for his crimes, which he confessed to after the trial in a
televised news broadcast.
State Attorney Steve Russell said he couldn't comment as to which sentence
he thinks the judge will impose.
"It's up to him (Blackwell) now," he said.
Eaglin was found guilty of beating Lathrem to death with a sledgehammer
and leaving her body in a broom closet. Fuston was also attacked and died
several days later from severe head trauma.
Eaglin's co-defendants, Michael Jones, 49, and Stephen Smith, 45, each
face 2 counts of 1st-degree murder for their alleged roles in the deaths.
Eaglin, Jones and Smith had planned to escape on the night of June 11,
2003, while they were working a construction detail at the prison,
authorities said. Lathrem was the only officer assigned to guard the men
as they worked with sledgehammers and other tools.
The escape attempt failed, and all 3 men were captured on prison grounds.
Lathrem was later found dead in a broom closet. Fuston was found in his
Lathrem was the 1st female corrections officer to be murdered in Florida.
A Department of Corrections internal investigation released in 2004 showed
numerous instances of CCI officials failing to adhere to basic safety
procedures and policies. As a result of the department's findings, several
CCI officials were demoted.
Fuston's and Lathrem's families filed lawsuits against the DOC, alleging
the department violated its own rules and policies.
Eaglin, Smith and Jones had been serving life sentences at CCI -- Smith
and Eaglin for murder, Jones for sexual battery and burglary -- when they
tried to escape.
Despite Eaglin's confession on television last month, Russell said the
charges against Smith and Jones have not changed. Smith and Jones also
face the death penalty if convicted.
Jones' trial is set for April, Smith's for June.
Moussaoui Case Tests Judge's Patience
Normally reserved, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema shoved her chair
back from the bench, visibly angry about what she was being told. A
government lawyer who had coached key witnesses had been deeply involved
in the case against confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
"This attorney has been at the CIPA hearings?" she asked incredulously
after learning that Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla
Martin had attended the classified pretrial hearings that dealt with many
of the most sensitive issues of Moussaoui's trial.
It was among the first of many subsequent revelations about Martin's
conduct that tested the patience of a judge in the middle of a case that
has given her fits for years.
After more than 4 years of wrangling that included an appellate court's
reversal of a key pretrial ruling, the case finally went to trial March 6.
Since then, it has had more than its share of the unexpected, forcing
Brinkema to handle delicate situations on the fly.
Among the surprises was Moussaoui's testimony in his own defense --
against the advice of his court-appointed lawyers -- that he was to have
piloted a fifth plane and attacked the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.
Brinkema then allowed testimony from a previously off-the-record meeting
in which Moussaoui had offered to tell the same story as part of the
prosecution case. In that interview, an investigator said, Moussaoui said
he wanted to help secure his own execution, that he did not want to spend
the rest of his life in prison.
Brinkema, a graduate of Rutgers and the Cornell law school, has a
reputation for fairness and a direct, no-nonsense style in court.
She has also shown a willingness to second-guess herself, as she did when
she revised an earlier ruling in the Moussaoui case and allowed
prosecutors to present some key evidence at trial.
Ahmed Davis, a law clerk for Brinkema in 1999 and 2000, said she "is one
of the most fair and impartial individuals I have come across." He said he
is not surprised by how she handled the recent bombshells in the Moussaoui
"She didn't rush to judgment. She took her time," Davis said, noting that
she held an evidentiary hearing to uncover the problems created by
Martin's actions. "She said, 'This is a serious issue and I need time to
reflect on this.'"
Since her appointment by President Clinton in 1993, Brinkema, 61, has
tried to avoid the spotlight. She even declined to make a mugshot of
herself available to the news organizations.
Brinkema is particularly protective of her juries -- she has kept the
names of jurors secret in the Moussaoui trial and in other terror cases.
She makes more than the usual effort to explain various legal asides to
the jury to assuage their curiosity.
On several occasions she has described the panel weighing evidence in the
Moussaoui trial as "a good jury" for the case. She made a point of
maintaining eye contact with jury members throughout the trial, even
arranging seating so that a tall juror wouldn't block her view of others.
She even inquired, unsuccessfully, about obtaining HOV lane passes for
jurors who were worried about getting to court on time.
Her reputation for fairness is such that 5 defendants in a high-profile
terrorism prosecution opted for a bench trial rather than a jury trial.
Defense lawyers normally opt for a jury trial on the theory that it's
harder to convince 12 people of a defendant's guilt than it is to convince
a solitary judge.
But the 5 defendants in what prosecutors called "the Virginia jihad group"
-- a loose affiliation of young Muslim men who played paintball in the
Virginia woods as a means of training for holy war around the globe --
figured they would get a fairer shake from Brinkema than a jury.
Brinkema convicted three and acquitted two on all charges.
Brinkema has lived through the many twists and turns of the Moussaoui
case. She endured Moussaoui's self-representation for nearly a year and a
half, during which time he filed a stream of handwritten motions deriding
his own lawyers and calling Brinkema a "death judge."
At one point in 2002, Brinkema essentially talked Moussaoui out of
pleading guilty after advising him that such a plea would be admitting
culpability in the Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui eventually pleaded guilty
in April to nearly identical charges. During the April plea hearing, he
explicitly denied a role in 9/11, claims he contradicted with his trial
testimony early this week.
Moussaoui's exact role in the 9/11 plot has been the focus of his
sentencing trial. Prosecutors must prove that Moussaoui's acts resulted in
at least one death on Sept. 11 to obtain the death penalty.
Brinkema's handling of the trial has drawn some criticism.
The judge has "has gone out of her way to do strange things to help
Moussaoui" over the years leading up to trial, said Ronald Rotunda, a law
professor at George Mason University and a fellow at the Cato Institute.
"The judge doesn't seem to want the death penalty, either generally or in
this case," Rotunda said.
In particular, he cited Brinkema's decision to punish the government by
taking the death-penalty off the table in 2003 for the government's
refusal to allow defense questioning of key al-Qaida witnesses in U.S.
custody. An appellate court overturned Brinkema and reinstated the
Rotunda said if she felt strongly that the defendant's rights were being
violated, she should have dismissed the case entirely and let the issue be
settled in appellate courts.
Her desire for compromise resurfaced in the Martin affair. Brinkema
initially considered dismissing the government's death-penalty case, then
decided to bar it from presenting any aviation testimony. Then she finally
allowed substitute aviation witnesses after the government complained that
her ruling had gutted their case.
"Judges aren't supposed to compromise," Rotunda said. "They're supposed to
(source: Los Angeles Times)
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