[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----GA., N.C., WASH., OHIO, CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Mar 31 16:26:42 EST 2006
Jasper man could face death penalty in wife slaying
A Jasper man charged with murder, kidnapping and concealing the death of
his estranged wife Sueann Ray will face a possible death penalty at trial,
said Pickens County District Attorney Joe Hendricks Jr.
Quinton Ray, 27, was arrested Feb. 8, about an hour after his 26-year-old
wife's body was found buried in rural Cherokee County near his father's
home in Ball Ground. Harold Danny Ray, 54, faces charges of tampering with
evidence and hindering the apprehension of a felon.
The Rays had been separated for seven months. Quinton Ray told police he
last saw his wife on Aug. 26 when she came to his home to have him work on
Hendricks said Ray will return to court for pretrial hearings on April 12.
(source: Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Misconduct alleged against N.C. prosecutor in 2nd death case
A former Union County prosecutor already under investigation for
obstructing justice in a death penalty case is accused of withholding
evidence during another mid-1990s capital case, according to The Charlotte
Lawyers representing death row inmate Darrell Strickland have asked the
North Carolina State Bar to discipline Scott Brewer for withholding
evidence during Strickland's 1995 trial, the paper reported Friday.
A judge ruled after the trial that Brewer improperly kept information from
lawyers for Strickland, who was sentenced to die for the shotgun slaying
of acquaintance Henry Brown. However, the judge did not find sufficient
grounds to give Strickland a new trial.
Complaints to the bar about lawyers are common; the association receives
an average of 1,600 grievances a year, though few result in
recommendations for criminal charges.
In January, the bar issued a memo accusing Brewer and fellow former Union
prosecutor Ken Honeycutt of not telling a trial judge or defense lawyers
about a key witness' testimony deal in the 1996 death penalty trial of
John Gregory Hoffman. The association accused the men of committing felony
obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury, which means pressing
another person to lie under oath.
Evidence about the deals has led to Hoffman's removal from death row and
the granting of a new trial.
Union County's district attorney, Michael Parker, has said he is reviewing
the bar's findings and will decide whether to charge Brewer and Honeycutt.
At issue in the case of Strickland, now 47, are statements the victim's
wife made to investigators. Gail Brown was the only eyewitness to the
killing and when defense lawyers asked during Strickland's trial for any
statements she had made, Brewer said there were none.
Lawyers who took up Strickland's case after his conviction later found
three statements by Gail Brown in the prosecutor's files. An appeals judge
ruled in 2001 that Brewer should have turned 2 of the 3 over to the
defense, but said their omission didn't justify a new trial.
According to The Observer, the withheld material contains information that
contradicts what Gail Brown said in court, suggesting the killing was not
premeditated. Strickland's current attorneys say he might not have been
sentenced to death if Brown's conflicting statements had been known.
Strickland was found guilty of shooting Henry Brown after a night of
drinking at Strickland's Marshville home. Gail Brown and Strickland's
live-in girlfriend were also there.
According to court records, the group started passing around Strickland's
shotgun and joking about shooting each other. At one point, the 2 women
went into the kitchen to fix a meal. From the kitchen, Gail Brown saw
Strickland shoot and kill her husband, she testified.
The status of the complaint to the bar about Brewer's conduct in the
Strickland case was not known because the bar does not comment on
complaints unless they result in charges by the bar.
(source: Associated Press)
Death sentence affirmed for Dayva Cross----Court rules inmate can be
executed despite life for Ridgway
Murderers who ended far fewer lives than the notorious Green River Killer
can still be put to death in Washington even though he escaped that fate
to spend life in prison, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
In the widely watched case, the sharply divided court found that "horrific
aberrations" such as Gary Ridgway do not mean the death penalty should be
The 5-justice majority ruled that Dayva Cross, who stabbed to death his
wife and her 2 teenage daughters in their Snoqualmie rambler 7 years ago,
was fairly sentenced to die.
Yet the other four justices said Washington's death penalty is "like
lightning, randomly striking some defendants and not others" as it spares
some of the state's worst mass murderers.
King County prosecutors let Ridgway trade a detailed confession about the
48 young women he strangled for his own life -- a 2003 deal that left some
legal observers suggesting it could end capital punishment in Washington.
The question was whether it upended the scale for what justices must
decide in each death penalty case: whether the sentence is proportionate
to the punishment in similar cases.
Cross' case was the first time the high court considered whether someone
could be sentenced to death when the state's most prolific serial killer
was allowed to live.
Justices took nearly 2 years to decide.
"Gary Ridgway is but a single case, an instance of what we hope were
unique and horrible crimes," Justice Tom Chambers wrote for the majority.
"Ridgway's abhorrent killings, standing alone, do not render the death
penalty unconstitutional or disproportionate. Our law is not so fragile."
While some might oppose a life sentence for Ridgway, who "brutally
murdered at least 48 women ... over decades, often returning to rape their
corpses," Prosecutor Norm Maleng's decision to give him a plea deal was
"highly rational," the majority wrote.
"It resolved the tragedy of many unsolved deaths and disappearances that
probably would have otherwise remained unsolved forever. Families were
spared the agony of unknowing and the rigors of testimony."
The court said the "moral question" of whether other killers can still be
executed is best left to state lawmakers or the people of Washington.
Maleng said he was pleased the court found that Cross had a fair
sentencing trial and rejected the 46-year-old man's attempts to have the
death penalty declared unconstitutional.
In a written statement, Maleng said the court "recognized that each
aggravated murder case is unique" and that the outcome of any single case
"should not invalidate the entire death penalty statute."
But dissenting justices said Ridgway's case reveals a broken system: "When
Gary Ridgway, the worst mass murderer in the state's history, escapes the
death penalty, serious flaws become apparent."
Ridgway does not stand alone, Justice Charles Johnson wrote in the
dissent, "but is instead symptomatic of a system where all mass murderers
have, to date, escaped the death penalty."
Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak and Benjamin Ng, who were convicted of 13
execution-style killings at Seattle's Wah Mee gambling club in 1983, are
also serving life sentences.
A plea deal in Spokane County spared the life of Robert Lee Yates, who
pleaded guilty to killing 13 people, most of them prostitutes -- though
Pierce County prosecutors later won a death sentence for two people he
The court has long struggled with how to decide whether someone's death
sentence is proportional and has decided it in inconsistent ways, Johnson
Comparing cases has become even murkier, he said, because 19 of the 31
people given a death sentence in Washington during the past 25 years have
gotten their sentences overturned.
Cross' attorneys, Todd Maybrown and Kathryn Ross, said they were reviewing
the ruling and their options, which could include bringing a new petition
to the state Supreme Court or to the federal courts.
Ross said Ridgway "was just one example of many, of why the death penalty
has not been applied proportionately. It wasn't just a 1-case situation."
"On any scale, Ridgway's crimes are exponentially worse" than the slayings
committed by any of the seven men now on Washington's death row, Maybrown
said. "He got the benefit of the fact that he killed more people, he
killed so well and he knew where the bodies were."
But Deputy Prosecutors James Whisman and Lee Yates, in their arguments
before the high court in June 2004, said the notion that the case of a
killer such as Ridgway should absolve all other convicted murderers seemed
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington argued that capital
punishment has not been fairly applied -- especially in the way killers
with more victims have been able to avoid it.
"It doesn't seem reasonable for them to get life sentences and someone who
committed 3 murders to get the death penalty," ACLU spokesman Doug Honig
In Washington, a county's elected prosecutor decides whether to seek the
death penalty in each aggravated murder case. It takes a unanimous jury to
The state Supreme Court has found the state's death penalty constitutional
time and again.
In March 1999, Cross stabbed to death his new wife, Anouchka Baldwin, 37,
and her daughters, Salome Holly, 18, and Amanda Baldwin, 15. He then held
his youngest stepdaughter, Mellissa Baldwin, hostage for hours as he drank
wine, smoked and chuckled at a movie.
The 13-year-old girl ran to a neighbor's when he dozed.
Cross -- who became partially paralyzed after slamming himself headfirst
into the floor and walls of his cell in a suicide attempt -- entered a
modified guilty plea to the killings. A jury concluded in June 2001 that
he should die.
Deputy Prosecutor Tim Bradshaw, who handled Cross' case in Superior Court
5 years ago, said, "There are few cases that present the quantum of horror
that existed in this case," Bradshaw said, "and today the state Supreme
Court recognized that."
>From the majority opinion, by Justice Tom Chambers and signed by Chief
Justice Gerry Alexander, Justices Bobbe Bridge and Mary Fairhurst and
former Justice Faith Ireland:
"Since Cross's trial, the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, was caught,
prosecuted, and sentenced to life in prison. We cannot begin to calculate
the harm his abhorrent murders caused. The fact he will live out his life
in prison instead of facing the death penalty has caused many in our
community to seriously question whether the death penalty can, in
fairness, be proportional when applied to any other defendant.
"We do not minimize the importance of this moral question. But it is a
question best left to the people and to their elected representatives in
the Legislature. Under the United States Constitution ... Washington's
death penalty is constitutional and nothing about Gary Ridgway changes
"It may be that there will always be aberrations like Ridgway. We do not
believe that these horrific aberrations make a statute unconstitutional.
We look at the entirety of 1st-degree aggravated murder prosecutions, not
just at whether any particular case is within an order of magnitude of the
worst we have known. ...
"We do not agree with those who say that no rational explanation exists
for Gary Ridgway escaping a death sentence and Dayva Cross not. ...
Ridgway was spared because a highly respected, honorable and thoughtful
prosecutor made the decision to stay the hand of the executioner in return
for information that would otherwise have died some midnight within the
walls of the state penitentiary.
"The information received in return for a life sentence allowed so many
families to, at long last, know what happened to their loved ones. While
many may disagree with that prosecutor's decision, no one should deny that
it was highly rational."
>From the dissenting opinion, by Justice Charles Johnson and signed by
Justices Barbara Madsen, Richard Sanders and Susan Owens:
"When Gary Ridgway, the worst mass murderer in this state's history,
escapes the death penalty, serious flaws become apparent. The Ridgway case
does not 'stand alone,' as characterized by the majority, but instead is
symptomatic of a system where all mass murderers have, to date, escaped
the death penalty.
"The death penalty is like lightning, randomly striking some defendants
and not others. Where the death penalty is not imposed on Gary Ridgway,
Ben Ng and Kwan Fai Mak (the latter two convicted in Seattle's 1983 Wah
Mee massacre), who represent the worst mass murders in Washington's
history, on what basis do we determine on whom it is imposed? No rational
explanation exists to explain why some individuals escape the penalty of
death and others do not."
(source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Death Row Inmate Speaks Out 1 Month Before His Execution
A convicted killer from Toledo is speaking out, 1 month before his
scheduled execution. Joseph Clark is on death row for the 1984 murder of
David Manning. He spoke one-on-one with News 11's Shelley Brown from the
prison in Youngstown where he's living out his last days.
Clark has been on death row for 21 years. Brown says he was very
emotional, and at one point broke down, saying he made a mistake and he's
sorry. "I get emotional sometimes, but that's about it," said Clark.
Lately, he says he's been thinking a lot about his life and some of the
horrible mistakes he's made. "I just had a drug problem, a heavy drug
problem. I wasn't working, and I needed the money. The best way to get it
was to rob," said Clark.
On January 13, 1984, Clark robbed 22-year-old David Manning of his money
and his life. Manning was working inside a Clark Oil gas station on
Airport Highway when Clark robbed him, the shot him in the chest, killing
him. "I still feel the same way I felt back then. I was sorry about what
happened," said Clark. "I wasn't trying to take anybody's life. It's just
something that happened."
Clark talked about his 21 years in prison, but in his words, he's hoping
to "get a break." He has a clemency hearing April 11th and could face
execution May 2nd. "Whatever happens, happens, and if it's that time, I'm
ready. If not, I'll continue to do what I've been doing."
Joseph Clark was the 1st person in Lucas County to receive the death
penalty after it was reinstated by the Ohio state legislature in the early
(source: WTOL News)
Judge Visits San Quentin Execution Site----The jurist who ordered changes
in the lethal injection method tours the death chamber.
In a highly unusual move, a federal judge on Thursday personally examined
the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison as part of a legal
challenge to the state's lethal injection procedure.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, whose rulings on the lethal injection
challenge triggered an 11th-hour halt to Michael A. Morales' execution in
February, told attorneys who accompanied him that the tour was "very
useful to me."
Fogel made no rulings, but spent about 3 1/2 hours at the prison with
prosecutors, defense lawyers, prison personnel and two journalists.
Morales has been on death row since 1983, when he was convicted of
torturing, raping and murdering Terri Winchell, a 17-year-old Lodi high
His lawyers argue that California's three-stage cocktail of a sedative, a
paralytic drug and a heart-stopping chemical - the same protocol used in
37 of the 38 states with lethal injection - could mask, rather than
eliminate, an inmate's pain during execution.
Earlier this year, they presented evidence that six people executed at San
Quentin might not have been fully unconscious when the final lethal
chemical was injected into them. The heart-stopping drug can cause intense
pain. The issue has been raised in other states, temporarily halting
several other executions. But no court has banned the procedure.
Fogel in February agreed that the state's methods could inflict an
unconstitutional level of pain and said prison officials would have to
modify the procedure or submit to a full-blown court hearing. Fogel urged
the state to use 2 anesthesiologists to make sure that Morales was
unconscious before the 2nd and 3rd drugs were administered.
The state lined up 2 anesthesiologists, but on the eve of the execution
they backed out, citing medical ethics codes that bar physicians from
participating in executions.
Fogel then ordered the state to find a licensed medical professional to
administer the drugs. But prison officials could not find one, and the
execution was called off.
The judge has scheduled 2 days of hearings starting May 2 on lethal
injections and pain.
In early March, the state submitted a new lethal injection protocol to the
judge under seal and then released an edited version to the public March
That 32-page protocol describes the type of leather restraints and leg
irons that are used but does not explain how prison personnel will monitor
whether the condemned inmate is fully unconscious and therefore
insensitive to pain, Morales' attorneys say.
Court papers submitted by the California attorney general's office say
state officials have changed the process to ensure that the inmate
receives a constant flow of a barbiturate "until death is pronounced." And
they say a state physician will use heart-monitoring equipment to assess
when the condemned inmate is dead based on "a flat-line EKG."
At San Quentin on Thursday, Fogel spent about an hour and a hllf looking
at the execution chamber and the anteroom where the drugs, syringes,
intravenous lines and other equipment were laid out just as they would be
on the night of an execution, according to two reporters who joined the
Deputy Atty. Gen. Dane Gillette spent about an hour questioning the leader
of the execution team, who has taken part in 9 executions, said Howard
Mintz of the Mercury News in San Jose, 1 of the 2 reporters who attended
the hearing. Mintz said the bulk of the questions dealt with the logistics
of the execution process.
"It was all focused on the mechanics." It was how they would administer
the [drugs]." There was no discussion of the medical impact on the
inmate," Mintz said.
Mintz said that, whenever a defense lawyer attempted to ask anything about
the background or qualifications of members of the execution team,
Gillette objected and the judge upheld those objections.
Los Angeles attorney David Senior, one of Morales' lawyers, said in an
interview afterward that he still hoped to probe these areas in the coming
weeks. Senior said he would attempt to take depositions of members of the
execution team before the May 2 hearing.
Senior's co-counsel, San Francisco attorney John R. Grele, said he
believes that the state's new protocol has not solved the problems with
the lethal injection procedure.
"I think we have all of the same problems we had before," Grele said. He
said the state could solve the problem by using a fatal dose of 1 sedative
in place of the three-stage drug protocol.
(source: Los Angeles Times)
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