[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.H., FLA., TENN., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 18 22:35:55 UTC 2006
Police officer dies of gunshot wound
In Manchester, police officer Michael Briggs, shot Monday while
approaching a suspect in a dark alley, died Tuesday afternoon at a
hospital where dozens of fellow officers stood vigil.
Hours later, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said she plans to charge his
accused killer with capital murder and seek the death penalty. New
Hampshire's last execution was 67 years ago and no one is on death row.
Elliot Hospital officials announced Briggs' death a day and a half after
the 35-year-old officer, who was married with 2 sons, was shot 15 minutes
before his shift ended at 3 a.m. He and another officer responded by
bicycle to a report of a shot fired during a domestic disturbance in the
inner city. Another officer later joined them.
Privately, officers doubted from the beginning he would survive. Briggs
was pronounced dead at 1:31 p.m.
"Our hearts are broken by the loss of Michael. He was a wonderful son,
husband, father, brother and friend," his family said in a statement
through the hospital.
"It is a great honor to know that he was loved by so many."
At a late afternoon news conference, authorities said they found the
handgun used to kill Briggs near the scene. Police Chief John Jaskolka
said Briggs' gun was still in its holster, but two other officers returned
Briggs knew the area from patrols and he and Michael "Stix" Addison
"weren't strangers," senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said.
Briggs, a former Marine and corrections officer, was the first Manchester
police officer killed in the line of duty in 30 years and the 1st in the
state since Epsom officer Jeremy Charron was gunned down in August 1997.
Briggs, then a part-time Epsom officer, was a pallbearer at Charron's
Addison, 26, of Manchester, has been implicated in several recent violent
crimes. Addison was arrested Monday evening in Boston and arraigned
Tuesday in Dorchester District Court. He was ordered held on $2 million
bail while he fights his return to New Hampshire.
In announcing her decision to seek the death penalty, Ayotte said Briggs
"deserves our respect and ... the full protection of our laws." Gov. John
Lynch expressed "full support" for the decision.
The last person charged with capital murder was Charron's killer, who
avoided the possibility by pleading guilty to 1st-degree murder.
At the police station named for the last slain Manchester officer, Ralph
W. Miller, someone left a red candle, a stuffed puppy and a handwritten
sign: "My family is praying for you, Officer Briggs, and your family."
About 100 officers saluted as the flag outside was lowered to half-staff.
Inside the station, as Briggs' fellow bicycle patrol officers were
preparing to start work, they remembered him as a dedicated father and
respectful officer of the law.
"Everybody knew Briggsy," said Officer Anna Martin, who also worked with
Briggs at the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections. "Mike was
just a good man. He was just a good man. There's nothing to embellish or
take away, he was just a good man."
On patrol in Manchester's inner city, "even former inmates absolutely
would approach him, and talk to him respectfully because of how he did his
job here, and there and in the military," she said.
Nate Linstad, Briggs' partner, was off the night of the shooting. Officers
woke him early Monday and took him to the hospital. Tuesday, as Linstad
prepared to return to work, he said he didn't expect to feel any different
on the streets.
"It's our job," he said. What was different, however, was the absence of
the partner, who teased him and started every shift with an update about
"Every night when we came on together he would talk about his kids,"
At the crime scene Tuesday, firefighters washed blood from the street
while federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents with dogs
searched for evidence.
Briggs, a city police officer for five years, was honored with 3 other
officers for rescuing 19 people from a burning apartment building fire in
2004 only blocks from where he was shot. He also had worked as a
Police arrested another man at the shooting scene on unrelated charges.
They said the man, Antoine Bell-Rogers, 21, had gone with Addison to an
apartment building Sunday night and fired shots at it repeatedly.
Neighbors said the shots narrowly missed a father and son.
According to arrest warrants, the alleged shooting stemmed from threats
made by a resident of the building. Both Addison and Rogers were charged,
but neither had been arrested when Briggs confronted them.
Police were looking for a 3rd person, Angela Swist, who, with Addison, was
the target of the alleged threat.
Addison also is charged with robbing a Hudson convenience store at
gunpoint last week. Authorities are investigating whether he committed 2
other armed robberies, in Manchester and Milford, last week.
Addison was arrested in Manchester in 2002 and 2004 for being a fugitive
from justice in Massachusetts, where he was wanted for assault and
aggravated assault. In 2003, Addison himself was the victim of a shooting;
his assailant was sentenced to jail.
Police officers, including about a dozen from Manchester, packed Addison's
arraignment, which he listened to from a holding area. His cousin, Tia
Wilson, 26, said he has 2 young daughters with his girlfriend in New
Hampshire, The Boston Globe reported on its Web site.
"He is a good person. He takes care of his kids," Wilson said. "He's
innocent until proven guilty."
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty code raises ire----Lawyers say they weren't told about a
document that details how the state executes.
In August, the Department of Corrections issued a 9-page directive
detailing exactly how to execute death row inmates.
On Tuesday, defense attorneys for a man scheduled to die this evening saw
the document for the 1st time. They said it came as a complete surprise.
The lawyers launched 2 11th-hour appeals that they hoped would become the
latest obstacle in Floridas long and troubled history of putting criminals
Both appeals were denied.
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court gets involved, which is unlikely, the
execution of convicted killer Arthur D. Rutherford will go forward
It also becomes more likely that Danny Rolling, the Gainesville serial
killer and perhaps Florida's most notorious death row inmate since Ted
Bundy, will be executed next week.
Still, the execution procedure document prompted a flurry of motions for
much of Tuesday.
Lawyers for Rutherford, who is condemned for the 1985 murder of a Milton
woman, said the document improperly altered the lethal injection protocol.
Worse, the defense lawyers said, the state never revealed those changes to
defense lawyers who were challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual
punishment. Marty McClain, one of Rutherford's lawyers, plans to add the
issue to appeals that he has made to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This is unethical. Its unacceptable. It's outrageous," McClain said.
"They have made changes in secret. I would like to think that this would
shock the courts."
But state Department of Corrections spokesman Robby Cunningham said no
changes were made to the lethal injection protocol since the state
switched from the electric chair to lethal injection in 2000.
He said the new document simply "spells out the procedure that already
existed into writing."
"It's just a document that really is a compilation of all the procedures,"
he said. "The bottom line is nothing has changed."
McClain said the document, which DOC Secretary James McDonough signed Aug.
16, calls for 2 syringes filled with 2.5 grams of a painkiller to be
administered to the inmate.
The documents outlining the procedures before Aug. 16 didn't give an exact
amount, though the courts have understood it to be at least 2 grams.
Defense lawyers have argued that the painkiller wears off before the
inmate dies, causing excruciating pain.
Cunningham said the department always has used that amount.
"Nothing has changed; protocol has not changed," he said. "Why should
there be cause for alarm?"
Death penalty defense lawyers have been fighting lethal injection in
several states, including Florida.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay for convicted
Florida cop-killer Clarence Hill while he was strapped to a gurney, just
minutes from death.
The high court agreed to hear arguments about whether Hill could challenge
lethal injection in a federal civil rights lawsuit.
The justices unanimously agreed that Hill could pursue that avenue of
appeal, though a lower federal court later denied the argument.
Gov. Jeb Bush re-activated Hills death warrant Aug. 17, the day after
McDonough signed the execution procedures document. Hill was executed
Hills lawyer, D. Todd Doss, learned of the Aug. 16 document on Tuesday.
"I'm pretty irate about it," he said. "They changed it the day before they
sent out the new execution date and they didnt tell anybody? Once they
changed it, they have an obligation to come and tell the court. And now
Clarence Hill is dead. I have some righteous indignation going on today."
6 of the 7 state Supreme Court justices agreed Tuesday night that there
was nothing in the Aug. 16 document that would cause them to believe the
procedures were unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. Justice Kenneth Bell
However, Justice Harry Lee Anstead expressed some displeasure with the
"I am troubled by the fact that the State has not at all times made its
execution procedures and protocols a matter of public record," Anstead
wrote. "There has been no public evidentiary hearing focused on the
purpose and effectiveness of the States procedures, and on what actually
takes place during the course of an execution by lethal injection."
Baya Harrison III, Rollings lawyer, said Friday afternoon that he was
keeping a close eye on Rutherford's case.
"We're going to follow this very carefully," Harrison said.
(source: St. Petersburg Times)
State To Execute Vietnam Veteran Wednesday
The state is preparing to execute Vietnam veteran Arthur Rutherford for
the 1985 murder of a woman in her Milton home as his attorneys turn to the
courts to try to spare him.
Rutherford is expected to be executed Wednesday at 6:00pm.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Rutherford's death earlier this year after
he claimed the state's lethal injection procedure is cruel and unusual
punishment. The stay was later lifted.
Rutherford was convicted of the 1985 robbing and killing Stella Salamon
where the handyman had installed sliding glass doors.
The woman was severely beaten and drowned or asphyxiated. Her body was
found in a bathtub. 4 witnesses testified that Rutherford either told them
that he was planning to kill her or admitted it afterward.
(source: The Associated Press)
Death Row Inmate Files For Stay Of Execution
A death row inmate scheduled to be executed next week has filed for a stay
with a federal appeals court, claiming lower courts were wrong to
previously dismiss his arguments for new counsel. Donnie E. Johnson, 55,
was convicted in Shelby County of killing his wife in December 1984 at the
camping equipment center where he worked. Authorities say he suffocated
her by stuffing a plastic garbage bag into her mouth.
On Oct. 6, Tennessee's high court rejected his arguments claiming that he
needed new legal representation, and set an Oct. 28 execution.
On Monday, Johnson's attorneys filed a motion for a stay with the 6th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Among other arguments, Johnson says a previous lower federal court
decision also failed to properly consider his allegations that prosecutors
committed perjury in proceedings against him.
The motion cites previous cases in arguing for a stay until all pending
issues in his case can be resolved.
Johnson claimed he needed new counsel because former Attorney General Paul
Summers joined the Nashville law firm that represents Johnson on a pro
During Summers' 8-year tenure as attorney general, he argued death penalty
cases for the state and 2 prisoners were executed for the 1st time since
Johnson wanted the Tennessee Supreme Court to appoint the Office of the
Post-Conviction Defender to represent him in clemency hearings with the
governor and give the new counsel time to take on his case.
But the court ruled it cannot appoint the office to represent Johnson at
clemency proceedings and that if he needed more time to pursue clemency,
he should request a reprieve from the governor.
(source: Associated Press)
Judge dismisses Alabama inmate's bid to halt execution
A federal judge has dismissed Alabama death row inmate Larry Eugene
Hutcherson's bid to halt his execution set for next week in the 1992
killing of an elderly woman in her Mobile home.
Hutcherson's complaint, which moved Wednesday to the 11th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Atlanta, challenges Alabama's death penalty law,
partly on grounds that it fails to require lawyers to be trained in the
capital punishment law when representing capital murder defendants.
State's attorneys said Hutcherson, who confessed to the crime and thanked
the jury for the death sentence, was simply trying to delay the execution.
Without elaboration, U.S. District Judge William H. Steele dismissed
Hutcherson's complaint Tuesday, granting a motion by state prosecutors who
argued the court no longer had jurisdiction because the inmate had
exhausted his appeals.
Hutcherson, 37, faces lethal injection at Holman Prison on Oct. 26 for the
June 26, 1992, slaying of 89-year-old Irma Thelma Gray of Mobile. She was
nearly decapitated in the attack, prosecutors said.
According to the trial record, Hutcherson said he had taken six Valium
tablets and consumed a lot of liquor before killing the woman. Prosecutors
said he broke into Gray's home and beat and sodomized her along with
cutting her throat. He left his driver license and other evidence at the
"There is absolutely no public interest to be served by allowing a
convicted murderer to re-litigate the exact claims that have already been
dismissed by this court in a previous hearing," Assistant Attorney General
James R. Houts said in a court filing Monday.
U.S. Chief District Judge Ginny Granade of Mobile on Dec. 8, 2005
dismissed Hutcherson's first petition, ruling Hutcherson had waited too
late to file it. Then on March 17, the 11th Circuit denied Hutcherson's
Houts said Hutcherson's conviction became final on June 19, 1999, and
wasn't appealed in a timely manner. He said Hutcherson would need
permission from the 11th Circuit to file a second petition at this point.
Hutcherson attorney Al Pennington on Oct. 12 asked for a federal court
hearing and an order to block the execution, claiming Hutcherson was
denied his constitutional rights to due process, equal protection and
effective defense counsel.
The complaint claims Alabama's death penalty statute "fails to assure that
properly trained counsel will be provided to indigent defendants charged
with capital offenses at all critical stages, including but not limited
to, trial, appeal and post-conviction (collateral relief) in both state
and federal court."
Houts responded that by providing appointed attorneys for discretionary
appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, the state already provides more
assistance to inmates than required by the Constitution.
In any case, he contends, that's not a reason to block the execution.
"Nowhere in his complaint does Hutcherson allege that he is actually
innocent or that he was denied relief from a substantive error as a result
of Alabama's post-conviction system," the state's motion says.
It calls the inmate's complaint "theoretical in nature" and filed "solely
in an attempt to delay execution of his lawful sentence."
After the Alabama Supreme Court reversed Hutcherson's 1st conviction, he
pleaded guilty to capital murder in 1996 and a Mobile County jury
recommended the death penalty by an 11-1 vote. Then-Circuit Judge Braxton
Kittrell adopted the jury's decision, and Hutcherson thanked the judge for
Alabama's last execution occurred Sept. 22, 2005 when John W. Peoples died
by lethal injection at Holman Prison. There are currently 192 inmates on
death row in Alabama.
(source: Associated Press)
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