[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----USA, VA., WIS., KY., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Oct 22 23:42:38 UTC 2006
Wronged right----Habeas corpus safeguards freedom of individuals
It is Latin for "you have the body." To prisoners within the American
legal system, a writ of habeas corpus means that it must be proven in
court that they are being held justly.
The actual right of habeas corpus is not stated in the Constitution or the
Bill of Rights, whose authors presumably believed it to be such a
fundamental concept that it wasn't necessary to codify. The only mention
in the Constitution relates to when habeas corpus can be taken away from
In a section limiting the powers of Congress (Art. I, Sec. 9), the
Constitution states: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not
be suspended, unless when in causes of rebellion or invasion of the public
safety may require it."
In the 1969 decision Harris v. Nelson, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that
the writ of "habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding
individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action."
On Oct. 17 that basic American right, which was carried over from British
law, was obscured by a bill President Bush signed into law, what he called
a "vital tool" for the war on terror. The bill denies terror suspects the
writ of habeas corpus and furthers the interrogation techniques used to
glean information from them.
What if someone who is deemed an enemy combatant is just an unfortunate
person who has the same name and perhaps even resembles an actual
terrorist? Is it fair that this person cannot demand that the courts
produce evidence that there is a just reason for his incarceration? Isn't
that precisely what the Supreme Court was warning about in 1969?
Yes, the war on terror is different from past wars in that there is no one
discernable state called al-Qaida. At the same time, our Constitution must
not be allowed to be molded to the needs of the administration in power.
We've gotten through several wars, including 2 worldwide conflicts,
without the need to eliminate this right.
True, Abraham Lincoln suspended the right during the Civil War -- a
decision roundly criticized then and down through history. Lincoln's
argument was that people opposed to the Union endangered public safety,
and he said regular civilian courts were inadequate during a rebellion.
The only solution, he said, was to suspend the writ and lock up the
troublemakers until the war ended.
We're not in the midst of a rebellion, however, and heaven help the nation
if that standard is ever applied to anti-war demonstrators.
Habeas corpus has saved many innocent lives from execution, when death row
inmates were given a second chance in court to have new evidence such as
DNA reviewed. Although some argue that federal use slows up the court
system, incurring needless costs, for any innocent life saved that is not
too great a price.
Shame on Congress and shame on the president for allowing the Great Writ
to be unwritten.
(source: Editorial, (N.Y.) Press & Sun-Bulletin)
Reconsidering the Death Penalty
For as long as I can remember I have opposed the death penalty and have
opposed it under all circumstances.
Let's take a stroll down amnesia lane. In the mid-1980s, there were more
than a dozen police officers killed in the line of duty in Canada. This
prompted calls for the restoration of the death penalty in Canada which
had been formally abolished in 1976 (the same year it was restored in the
United States). I remember being the only person in my seventh grade class
that was willing to speak out against the death penalty during a class
debate we had on the issue. More than twenty years after that debate I
still remember being mocked by both my classmates and my teacher for the
position that I took. I must admit that I felt some vindication when
Canada's House of Commons ultimately voted against restoring the death
penalty in June 1987.
There are compelling reasons to oppose the death penalty incompetent or
inadequate legal representation for the accused, police and prosecutorial
misconduct and poor management of forensic evidence. In other words, what
if the wrong person has been convicted? Ask most Canadians about David
Milgaard, Guy Paul Morin and Donald Marshall, Jr and they will tell you
about three men convicted for murders they did not commit. Indeed, the
Government of Canada is close to completing a public inquiry into the
wrongful conviction of Milgaard.
There are also compelling philosophical reasons to oppose the death
penalty. There is the most basic consideration that the killing of another
human being is wrong and immoral. Even if one human being takes the life
of another what gives the state the right to execute any human being, no
matter how vile their acts? I have long believed that when the state
executes someone that they are no better than the person who committed the
Then there is also the argument that death is the easy way out. One
certainly hears the sentiment that death is too good for someone and that
is isnt really punishment at all. Real punishment is dispensed by allowing
the murderer to live the rest of his life in prison and being forced to
think about what he did every day for the rest of his miserable life.
In November 2003, I wrote a review of former Los Angeles Police Detective
Mark Fuhrman's book Death and Justice: An Expos of Oklahomas Death Row
Machine.(www.americandaily.com/article/2308) Fuhrman was critical of the
overzealous behavior of the Oklahoma City District Attorney and the
incompetence of the forensic chemist at the Oklahoma City Police
Department. He argued that the combination of these two factors led him to
conclude that the death penalty was not being administered fairly and
justly and ultimately forced him to abandon his support for the death
penalty. At the time I reviewed Fuhrman's book, Massachusetts Governor
Mitt Romney had established a Governor's Council on Capital Punishment for
the purpose of restoring the death penalty to the Bay State. I implored
Romney, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and the members of the Council to
read Fuhrman's book and consider his findings. It is worth noting that the
Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected Romneys effort to restore
the death penalty in 2005.
But I have begun to reconsider my opposition to the death penalty under
all circumstances. There are some circumstances where the death penalty is
the only appropriate remedy.
On October 13, 2006, a family of four was found murdered on an isolated
stretch of the Florida Turnpike in Port St. Lucie. Deceased are Jose Luis
Escobedo, 28, his wife, Yessica Guerrero Escobedo, 25 and their 2 sons
Luis Julian Escobedo, 4 and Luis Damian Escobedo, 3. What struck me about
this heinous crime was that the mother was found clutching her 2 sons
apparently in an effort to shield them from the bullets as she was shot
numerous times. The father was found a short distance away. They were
starting a new life in Florida having just moved there from Brownsville,
Texas this past June.
3 days later the Escobedo family vehicle, a black Jeep Cherokee, was found
in neighboring Palm Beach County. As of this writing, there have been no
arrests made. However, the St. Lucie County Sheriff believe the killer or
killers were known to the Escobedo family and that it was not a
What kind of human being executes children? What kind of human being
executes a mother clutching her children? Can anyone tell me why the
person or persons who did this deserve to walk another day on this earth?
The fact that the person or persons who did this are still at large means
they represent a clear and present danger to the public.
Of course, I must ask myself why isnt life in prison sufficient for those
responsible for this cowardice. After all, since 1995, Florida has had
truth in sentencing. In other words, life in prison means life in prison.
One can argue that a life sentence would be assurance enough that the
person or persons guilty of this crime are no longer a threat to public
safety. I could also go back to my argument that a life sentence would
force the person or persons who did this to think about what they did for
the rest of their lives.
Of course, there's a good chance they might watch cable TV 23 hours a day.
This is what Paul Bernando does. In 1995, Bernardo was convicted for the
rape, murder and dismemberment of 2 teenaged girls in St. Catharines,
Ontario that took place in 1991 and 1992. Bernardo was sentenced to life
in prison and was deemed a dangerous offender so he will never be
released. He serves his time isolated from the rest of the population at
the Kingston Penitentiary spending 23 hours a day in his cell and one hour
a day exercising in a walled yard. Shortly after he was sentenced,
however, a videotape was leaked to several news organizations showing him
watching TV in his cell. Many Canadians wondered what kind of punishment
was actually being meted out to Bernardo.
There is also a good chance that the person or persons who killed the
Escobedos are sociopathic. While some who commit murder are capable of
remorse many derive sick pleasure from their actions. Charles Manson,
Richard Ramirez and Clifford Olson come to mind. Americans are familiar
with Helter Skelter and the Night Stalker but are likely unfamiliar with
the self-described Beast of British Columbia. In the early 1980s, Olson
killed 11 children. Olson owned up to his culpability in 1982 when B.C.
authorities agreed to give Olsons wife $10,000 for each child he killed in
exchange for telling them where their bodies and personal effects were. In
1997, Olson applied for early release under what is known as Canadas faint
hope clause. At the hearing, Olson displayed a pornographic picture of a
child and grinned at the families of the victims. As a result of that
hearing, the faint hope clause was amended making those who commit
multiple homicide ineligible for applying for early release. Over the
years, Olson has taunted the families of the victims by sending them
taunting letters. Now in the 25th year of his sentence, under Canadian
law, Olson automatically became eligible for parole. Olson was denied
parole this past July. Although it is unlikely he will ever be released,
Olson is eligible for a parole hearing every 2 years.
The point here is if the Escobedo's killer or killers are as devoid of
remorse as Olson the Escobedos relatives can look forward to have their
suffering compounded. Under those circumstances, only the death penalty
would be the appropriate remedy. There is no doubt that the District
Attorney for St. Lucie will seek the death penalty for the individual or
individuals charged with this crime.
Let me clear here. If the St. Lucie Sheriffs Department arrests someone in
connection with this multiple homicide the person or persons are, of
course, to be presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt. They ought have competent legal representation that will fight for
their client or clients zealously. Their legal representation must have
full access to the District Attorney's evidence so it can be scrutinized
and cross examined. Every effort must be made to ensure forensic evidence
is collected in a transparent manner and that DNA testing also be done by
a laboratory outside Florida. Although it would be no doubt expensive it
would ensure veracity of the forensic work done locally. Simply put if DNA
evidence finds them guilty in Florida it must also find them guilty in
Vermont or Oregon and everywhere else in the United States. Any
confessions obtained must be videotaped so as to avoid any appearance of
Provided that all of those conditions were met I believe that the death
penalty would be the most appropriate sentence to remedy the murder of the
(source: The American Daily----Aaron Goldstein was a card carrying member
of the socialist New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP). Since 09/11, Aaron
has reconsidered his ideological inclinations and has become a Republican)
Safeguards needed on death penalty
A new report on the death penalty in Virginia ought to be mandatory
reading for legislators, judges, attorneys and all those determined to
ensure that Virginia executes only the guilty.
A team of Washington, D.C., attorneys, led by former U.S. Sen. Joseph
Tydings, D-Md., has produced perhaps the most comprehensive report to date
on the shortfalls and strengths of Virginia's death apparatus, from arrest
to lethal injection.
This is serious business in a state that ranks 2nd to Texas in executions
over the past 3 decades. In fact, Texas (376) and Virginia (97) account
for almost 1/2 of the 1,047 executions nationwide during that period.
After comparing Virginia laws and procedures with 85 recommendations
developed by the gold-standard Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment,
the lawyers identified worrisome shortcomings in police and pretrial
investigations, widespread inequity by region in prosecutors' pursuit of
the penalty, insufficient warnings to juries about the limits of
eyewitnesses and informant testimony, and a variety of other weaknesses.
Lest the report be dismissed as one-sided, however, it took note of
substantial improvements in Virginia law in the wake of a wave of national
death-row exonerations, including that of Earl Washington Jr.
In seven other cases over the past 15 years, Virginia governors commuted
death sentences to life without parole.
Since then, the Virginia DNA lab has become more independent and better
funded, and substantially improved, though still imperfect. Procedures
have been adopted for reviewing post-conviction evidence of innocence, the
The Illinois standards grew out of a 2-year study by a blue-ribbon group,
including both supporters and opponents of the death penalty, appointed
after 13 death-row prisoners were exonerated in that state. To their
credit, Virginia death-penalty critics long have urged a similar review.
After the state failed to provide one, the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro
agreed to perform the study pro bono for Virginians for Alternatives to
the Death Penalty. Tydings, a former federal prosecutor, urged Virginia
judges, prosecutors and law-enforcement leaders "to assume real
responsibility and exercise wise and enlightened leadership" in
Videotape key interrogations in homicide cases.
Insist on careful, uniform standards in police lineups.
Better train police to identify mentally retarded suspects and false
Create a 5-member statewide review committee - including 4 prosecutors -
to review decisions to bring capital charges.
Create a rule specifying that prosecutors have an obligation to disclose
any evidence that tends to negate guilt or mitigate a capital sentence.
In all, the report said, Virginia met 35 of 85 recommendations in whole or
That's not nearly good enough in a state where executions are part of the
Virginia citizens would be best served if the death penalty were
abolished, as has occurred in most developed nations. State-sponsored
killing, as a way of teaching that killing is wrong, makes no sense. But
surely, so long as the penalty remains, every Virginian will want to
insist on careful, uniform procedures to protect against wrongful
The VADP report points the way.
(source: Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot)
DEATH PENALTY: Tying DNA to the needle
The judge called it one of the most brutal, premeditated crimes he'd ever
Prosecutors said Derek Anderson bludgeoned his father, then drove the body
from Wisconsin to North Carolina and dumped it in a forest.
When Anderson was sentenced to life without parole in Jefferson County for
murder earlier this year, Judge William Hue said he would have invoked the
death penalty if Wisconsin had it.
State residents will get to weigh in Nov. 7 on whether they want
prosecutors and judges to have that option - with a hitch.
The nonbinding ballot question asks voters whether Wisconsin should bring
back the death penalty in first- degree intentional homicide cases "if the
conviction is supported by DNA evidence."
The wording of the resolution has shone the spotlight on the usefulness of
DNA evidence - raised the question of whether executions should be tied to
Many people on both sides of the death-penalty debate agree that the
existence of DNA evidence in a case shouldn't determine whether a convict
"It needlessly limits the application of the death penalty," said John
McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette
University who supports capital punishment.
McAdams said a death penalty with a DNA requirement would result in few
executions because DNA evidence is available in only a fraction of murder
cases - estimated at about 10 percent by experts. In the Anderson case,
for instance, prosecutors had only circumstantial evidence, and no DNA
McAdams calls the DNA qualifier "silly" but hopes the resolution passes.
"Some death penalty is better than no death penalty," he said.
If the resolution were to pass and state politicians were to take action
and adhere to its wording, Wisconsin could become the first state to limit
the death penalty to DNA cases. No other state has such a forensic
restriction, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty
Information Center in Washington, D.C., which opposes the death penalty.
One might think his organization would welcome the DNA qualifier. Not so.
"It creates the assumption that if there's DNA evidence, there's no
doubt," Dieter said. "Labs make mistakes."
Don't take it literally
Sen. Alan Lasee, R-De Pere, the referendum's lead sponsor, cautioned
against reading too much into the resolution's wording.
Lasee said the ballot question with its DNA clause is meant to poll voters
on a general concept - how would they feel about the death penalty if
safeguards could be built in to avoid convicting innocent people? It has
never been his intent to limit the death penalty to convictions involving
DNA evidence, he said.
He included the DNA clause to defang opponents.
"It was my hope that this would dispel some of the fence-sitters from
saying that the sky is falling and that someone is going to be wrongly
convicted," he said.
Asked how seriously voters should take the resolution's language, Lasee
said, "Voters can read into or out of it whatever they want. The bottom
line is, 'Should the death penalty be reinstated, with or without DNA
Such wiggle room has led opponents to deride the resolution as
meaningless. Democrats have called the referendum a political stunt by
Republicans to get conservative voters to the polls during a competitive
Lasee brushes off such criticism, noting he's been working on the issue
"I just believe there are some murders so gruesome they cry out for
justice," he said, mentioning serial killer David Spanbauer, convicted of
killing two girls and a woman in the 1990s in central Wisconsin.
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, a board member of the
Wisconsin Coalition Against the Death Penalty, said the DNA clause
underscores a larger problem with the resolution - it isn't well thought
It makes no sense to reserve the executions only for those convicted on
DNA evidence, he said.
"There are very weak cases that have an element of DNA evidence and
extremely strong cases with no DNA evidence," Blanchard said.
Marshall Dayan, a coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union's
capital punishment project, calls the DNA clause "a red herring" that
gives people a false sense of security. He points to shoddy DNA work at
the Houston police crime lab 3 years ago that has cast doubt on evidence
in thousands of criminal cases.
Even backers of the death penalty say it would be highly unusual to find
someone among them who wants to link capital punishment to DNA evidence.
"I probably know the top 30 pro-death penalty experts in the country, and
none of them would support a DNA qualifier," said Dudley Sharp, a death
penalty advocate and founder of Justice Matters in Houston. "You'd rule
out Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber). You'd rule out half the
serial killers in the country."
A new tool
DNA evidence, which has come to prominence in just the last decade, often
is as closely associated with freeing people from death row as putting
The Death Penalty Information Center lists 123 people on its Web site
freed from death row since 1973 due to their "innocence," including 14 in
which DNA "played a substantial factor in establishing innocence."
The figure is hotly contested.
"It's a complete fraud," Sharp said.
He rips the list for not distinguishing between death row inmates who were
later found to have had no connection to a murder and those who got off
for some other reason, such as an inability on the part of prosecutors to
make a case. It's the difference between being legally innocent and
actually innocent, he said.
"There is probably credible evidence that 20 of them on the list are
actually innocent," Sharp said, adding that his research shows only 5 were
released from death row due to DNA evidence.
Dieter, whose organization compiled the list, said he could not pinpoint
how many are "actually innocent" - only the defendants themselves truly
know that, he said. However, all of the defendants on the list were either
acquitted at a retrial, pardoned by a governor based on new evidence or
cleared after all charges were dismissed.
"The only objective criteria we have is the court system, so that's what
we use," Dieter said.
What is DNA?
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the fundamental building block for an
individual's entire genetic makeup. It is a powerful tool because each
person's DNA is different from every other individual's, except for
identical twins. DNA is contained in blood, semen, skin cells, saliva,
hair and perspiration - any number of which can be left behind at a crime
scene. [SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice]
(source: Wisconsin State Journal)
Dont vote to reinstate death penalty
Wisconsin voters will be asked in an advisory referendum whether they
favor the return of the death penalty to this state.
Wisconsin has not had the death penalty in about 150 years. It would be a
mistake to reinstate it. We dont need the death penalty for public safety
life without parole can keep the most dangerous criminals locked up.
The death penalty is expensive, because of the appeals that take place
when the ultimate penalty is applied. In addition, many of those court
costs might fall to local property taxpayers. People voting for the death
penalty might find out that they are voting for the mother of all unfunded
If the accused do not qualify for a state-funded public defender, because
the income guidelines have not been adjusted in years, county taxpayers
could still end up paying for a court-appointed local lawyer. Local
taxpayers could be responsible for security and other court-related costs.
There is no evidence that the death penalty actually deters criminals.
Texas leads the nation in executions but still has a higher murder rate
The last time a prisoner was executed in Wisconsin was 1851. John
McCaffary was hanged before a crowd of 2,000 spectators.
After dangling from the end of a rope for eight minutes, McCaffary still
wasnt dead. He finally died after another 10 minutes. Voters were repulsed
by the brutality of the execution, and the death penalty was abolished in
The death penalty has also been applied unevenly with poor people and
minorities more likely to be executed than wealthy white people charged
Wisconsin doesnt need the death penalty to assure that its citizens will
be safe if laws provide for life without parole, as they do.
Lets not approve the death penalty for Wisconsin, even in this advisory
referendum. Vote no.
(source: Lacrosse Tribune)
On death penalty, vote 'No' on Nov. 7
With our schools and health care system in dire straits and taxpayers
burdened by increases in fees for everything, it seems a wonder that we in
Wisconsin need the added cost of the death penalty.
If taxpayers were aware of the actualities of prosecuting a capital crime,
they would find:
It costs taxpayers several million dollars to conduct a death penalty
Politicians pass a death penalty law but county taxpayers have to cover
the costs of such cases brought before their courts, and some counties
have faced near bankruptcy in that process.
In states with the death penalty, the homicide rates are higher than those
In states with the death penalty, millions have been spent on prosecution
while police services have been cut and prison inmates have been given
early release because of a lack of funds to build new prison space. If
voters examined studies of the death penalty, they would find significant
error factors that, at times, put the wrong person on death row. They
would find that it has been most certainly race based and certainly no
deterrent to others.
If voters gave global thought to the matter of resurrecting the death
penalty in Wisconsin, they would find that it would be in opposition to
the justice practiced by every civilized, educated, democratic and
advanced nation in the world. They would find that it eats up a tremendous
amount of their tax dollars and provides them with no real protection, no
real improvement in their way of life, no real future for their children,
no real comfort.
In short, they would find that a death penalty law is a luxury they could
well do without and will have a wonderful opportunity to express that this
Jon Flood ---- Fond du Lac
(source: Letter to the Editor, Fond du Lac Reporter)
An eye for an eye and killing the innocent
The discovery of innocent people on death row has slowed the pace of
executions across America. Three states have declared moratoriums on
capital punishment. The latest was New Jersey, which freed a wrongly
condemned man last spring, after DNA evidence cleared him.
A movement is afoot to get Wisconsin to buck this trend and to bring back
the death penalty, which a wise Legislature abolished in 1853. The
strategy entails asking voters their recommendation in a referendum on the
Nov. 7 ballot. Voters should check the "no" box.
Yes, the idea of a life for a life has appeal - in the abstract. But
society is just too human to put that idea into practice. To be human, of
course, is to err. To be human is to fall woefully short in designing The
justice system will on occasion put an innocent person to death. The
system will let a diabolical, homicidal mastermind live while putting to
death a less culpable defendant. The biases that already mar the criminal
justice system - which favors the rich over the poor, whites over blacks -
will also mar the system for deciding who lives and who dies.
What's more, the human race is evolving beyond capital punishment, which
reduces society to the level of a killer. Wisconsin does have an
alternative to the death sentence: a life sentence without the possibility
of parole. Capital punishment does not deter any more effectively than
does life imprisonment, ample research shows. Finally, the death penalty
would cost the state of Wisconsin a ton of extra money.
The referendum's authors do try to account for recent developments by the
insertion of a safeguard, requiring DNA evidence. The referendum question
in full: "Should the death penalty be enacted in the State of Wisconsin
for cases involving a person who is convicted of first-degree intentional
homicide, if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence?"
The requirement may imbue the system with the appearance of infallibility,
but it's a mirage. For one, crime labs have botched DNA evidence. Perhaps
the most notorious is a particular Houston lab. Shut down in 2002 because
of shoddy work, it reopened only this June. The lab's findings had led to
two wrongful convictions, it has been determined, and many others are now
A Virginia lab botched post-conviction DNA testing for an innocent death
row inmate who came within hours of execution. What's more, errors with
DNA testing have been surfacing all over the country.
The DNA requirement also won't stop intentional deception by, say, dirty
cops who plant evidence. Such deception is, presumably, rare, but it's not
And the DNA requirement fuels another problem: inconsistency. A
professional killer skilled at not leaving behind DNA evidence would
escape the death penalty. But not so the slob who reaches for a gun in the
heat of a quarrel and kills his buddy, leaving DNA evidence all over the
place precisely because he's not the cold-blooded killer the professional
The answer is not to eliminate the DNA rule. The answer is to defeat the
The human race is moving beyond the death penalty - a trend Wisconsin
spearheaded and much of the world has adopted.
Like slavery in antiquity, like the second-class status women long held,
the death penalty was perhaps an understandable phase in human
development. But the race now has the capability to mete out an alternate
penalty: life in prison. And awareness is growing that the death penalty
debases society, making a killer of it.
Yes, people may feel a desire for revenge, but Wisconsin learned in the
19th century to rise above that desire. Nothing humans do can right the
wrong of murder. But people should strive not to compound the wrong by
playing God and putting somebody else to death. The proper course is to
let killers stew behind bars, meditating on their crimes for the rest of
What's more, the authors of the referendum ought to explain where they're
going to get the extra money. Death penalty cases are much costlier than
other cases. Keep in mind the state will likely be paying for both the
prosecution and the defense. And to ensure fairness and avoid reversals,
the defense lawyers must be of quality. Death penalty cases entail more
time to prepare, more motions, more experts, more attorneys, longer
trials, a greater likelihood of sequestering juries and more appeals.
Wisconsin would have to build a death row and a death chamber. True,
expenses stop after execution. But that's many years after conviction.
Besides, most condemned people aren't put to death. They get new trials
and receive life sentences or are acquitted. Or they die of natural causes
Don't advise lawmakers to put Wisconsin through that turmoil. Vote "no" on
(source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Man Sentenced to Life in Store Worker's Killing
A man convicted of murdering a Lexington music store employee was
sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.
A jury had recommended the death penalty.
The sentence was imposed after an unusual legal move that included
lawyers' withdrawing a request for a new trial for Taquan Neblett, who
waived his right to appeal.
Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson asked Circuit Judge Gary Payne
to set aside the jury verdict and grant a new trial so he could seek the
death penalty again. Payne refused but will allow Larson to submit a legal
brief in support of his motion.
Juror Gayla Webb was at the center of Neblett's motion for a new trial.
Payne found her in contempt of court for failing to disclose during the
trial that she had knowledge of Neblett's prior murder conviction at age
16. Payne fined Webb $250 and ordered her to perform 60 hours of community
In August, a jury found that Neblett robbed Sami's Music store in
Lexington in July 2004, murdered Derek Elam, 22, by shooting him in the
back of the head and shot store owner Sami Hajibrahim.
(source: Louisville Courier-Journal)
Teen convicted in beating death
A teenager was convicted Friday of capital murder for beating a man with a
baseball bat and leaving him to die in a burning trailer after stealing
his baseball card collection and $350.
Evan James Miller, 17, was sentenced to life in prison without parole and
has 42 days to appeal his conviction. The death penalty did not apply
because of his age at the time of the slaying.
Deliberations started about 11 a.m. after Circuit Judge Philip Reich
instructed the all-female jury on the law in the case against Miller.
On Thursday, the youth's mother, Susan Miller, testified through tears
that her son attempted suicide multiple times, lived in foster care for 3
years and had been in and out of psychological programs before the killing
in 2003, when he was 14.
Miller testified that the teen's father abused him before leaving in 1999.
Miller was on trial on capital murder charges in the death of Cole C.
(source: Montgomery Advertiser)
DA asks for death penalty
District Attorney Greg Gambril yesterday asked Circuit Judge Ashley
McKathan to sentence Oscar Roy Doster to death, arguing that Doster's
history suggests he could continue to be harmful to society.
Doster, who was convicted of three counts of murder last month, has twice
escaped from the Covington County Jail. In September, a jury found him
guilty of three counts of murder in the death of Gantt resident Paul
LeMaster. Doster escaped again in 2005, and is a suspect in a Texas murder
for which he has not been charged.
Gambril called James Darren Harnage, who escaped with Doster in 2005, to
the stand. Harnage had agreed to testify in the sentencing hearing, but
once he was read his Miranda rights on the stand, stated, "I refuse to
Instead, Gambril called law enforcement officers who interviewed Doster
and Bobby O'Lee Phillips, during the investigation of LeMaster's 2002
death. Phillips also is charged with murder in that case. Also admitted
was testimony about Doster's capture in California in the 2005 escape.
Gambril argued that, while the jury recommended on a 12-0 vote that Doster
be sentenced to life in prison, that the jury wasn't privy to information
about the defendant's criminal history.
"He was the one who came up with the idea (to kill LeMaster), loaded the
gun and gave it to Phillips," Gambril said. "They didn't know about his
prior criminal history and that the murder occurred while he was under
prison sentence for child sexual abuse."
Gabril also argued that both in the 2002 and 2005 escapes, Doster
demonstrated that he would go to great lengths to be free from
imprisonment and that, therefore, a life in prison sentence wasn't good
enough to protect society from him.
Doster's attorneys, Al Smith and Will Carr, argued that Doster was found
guilty of murder even though all in the court agreed that he did not pull
They also submitted Doster's medical and psychological records for
Judge McKathan directed attorneys on each side of the case to prepare
drafts of the orders they would like for him to make and present them to
him on disk.
"I understand that the judgment in this case has to be mine," he said,
adding that this case had already taken more than a month of his time.
Judge McKathan set sentencing for the day before Thanksgiving, Wed., Nov.
(source: Andalusia Star News)
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