[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----ARIZ., NEB., CALIF., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Apr 4 06:02:47 UTC 2007
High court receives execution warrant
The Arizona Supreme Court received a warrant for execution April 2 from
the Attorney Generals Office for Robert Comer, who was sentenced to die in
1988 for a violent crime spree at a campground near Apache Lake.
Comer was found guilty in 1988 of first degree murder, kidnapping,
aggravated assault, and sexual assault, and sentenced by Maricopa County
Superior Court Ron Reinstein.
Comer, a California native, will become the 1st inmate to be executed in
Arizona since Don Miller, whose death sentence was carried out in Nov. 8,
2000, for his role in the slaying of a woman to help a friend escape child
Under state law, the Arizona Supreme Court must issue a subsequent
execution warrant to the director of the Arizona Department of
Corrections. An inmates execution occurs 35 days after corrections
officials receive the warrant.
Arizona has executed 86 inmates since 1910, 28 by hanging, 38 by lethal
gas, and 20 by lethal injection, which became practice in when voters
approved the method in 1992.
Comer is dubbed Arizonas "most dangerous inmate," according to court
documents, prison officials and a court-appointed mental health expert. He
was recently granted the power to end his appeals by a 14-1 decision by
the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In Sept. 2006, a three-judge panel from the same court voted to overturn
his sentence because Comer was rolled into Reinsteins courtroom nearly
naked, bloodied and dazed in a wheelchair during sentencing, following a
battle with guards.
According to court documents, Comer barricaded himself in his cell and lit
a fire while armed with a 10-inch crudely fashioned knife. Guards
responded by blasting him with a fire hose and rushing into his quarters.
A doctor present later testified that Comer was "willing and able" to do
serious bodily harm to anyone within his reach, and that guards handled
the episode in a "very humane manner."
Comer has since been cited for 43 disciplinary infractions, including 11
charges of the possession and manufacturing of weapons.
He also served a sentence from 1979 to 1984 in Californias Folsom Prison
for rape and kidnapping.
The Supreme Court has not taken any action on the warrant yet and it is
not clear when prison officials will receive notice to execute Mr. Comer,
according to court spokeswoman Cari Gerchick.
"They all have to meet, they all have to sign it," she said, adding the
court will follow state law.
Comer is currently housed in the Special Management Unit II in Florence,
Arizona, a 23-hour-a-day lock down facility that houses Arizona's death
The warrant was signed by Assistant Attorney General John Pressley Todd
and defense attorney Barbara Lindsay.
(source: Arizona Capitol Times)
MORE LEGISLATIVE DEBATE COMING ON DEATH PENALTY
A legislative committee today voted to advance a bill (LB377) that would
make it more difficult to sentence people to death.
Juries and judges would have to conclude that murderers would pose a
substantial risk -quote- ``to the lives of others'' while in prison. Then
juries and judges also would have to determine at least one aggravating
circumstance existed in a crime before the death penalty may be imposed,
which is a requirement currently.
Governor Dave Heineman has called the bill a backdoor attempt at repealing
the death penalty. Supporters of the bill say it would reserve the
ultimate penalty for only the worst offenders, whose risks couldn't be
contained by imprisonment.
An attempt at an outright appeal of the death penalty failed last month.
(source: KOTA News)
Jurors weigh death sentence in sheriff's deputy shooting ---- Panel asks
to see video recording of defendant joking.
The jury weighing whether to sentence to death a gang member convicted of
gunning down a sheriff's deputy asked to see a video recording showing the
defendant joking and laughing about the publicity surrounding the
Jose Luis Orozco, 29, was found guilty last month for the murder of Los
Angeles County sheriff's deputy Luis Gerardo Ortiz.
After closing arguments Monday, the jury requested a DVD showing a
conversation Orozco had with 2 friends while they were in a holding cell
at the Bellflower Superior Court in July 2005, about 2 weeks after Ortiz
Orozco is heard laughing about the publicity surrounding the shooting,
including a segment dedicated to him on "America's Most Wanted," and his
photo being broadcast on jumbo video screens on the Las Vegas Strip.
Orozco also discussed destroying evidence in the case.
The DVD was featured prominently during the trial.
"What is the appropriate punishment for someone who not only doesn't show
remorse, he revels in his notoriety ... whose life is a moral failure (and
whose legacy is) so much destruction and pain?" asked prosecutor Lowell
Anger said the death penalty was an appropriate sentence.
But Orozco's attorney portrayed his client as a man who got mixed up with
the wrong crowd and was heavily dependent on drugs.
"We are in no way telling you that he is not an evil, bad (person)," said
attorney Stan Perlo. "But there are some things to be considered in
sparing his life."
Jury deliberations continued Tuesday.
Ortiz, 35, died June 24, 2005, outside an apartment in Hawaiian Gardens,
about 20 miles south of Los Angeles. A 15-year veteran, he was assigned to
the sheriff's gang enforcement unit and was investigating a shooting in
which a man was wounded while doing yard work. Orozco was a suspect in
that case, and was later found guilty of attempted murder.
Orozco, who has been jailed without bail since his arrest, was also
convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon. Jurors found true the
special circumstances of murder of a peace officer intentionally killed
while performing his duties, murder to avoid arrest, street gang murder
and lying in wait.
(source: Associated Press)
Bruce maintains innocence in death-penalty hearing
Convicted child killer Lindsey Bruce today maintained his innocence while
addressing jurors who will decide whether he lives or dies.
Bruce apologized to the mother of Emily Rimel, the 5-year-old girl he is
convicted of killing, and then told jurors he didn't do it.
"I maintained my innocence in the beginning of this trial, and I maintain
it now, and I'll maintain it until the day I'm called on," Bruce stammered
in a 3-minute statement in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. "If you
ever hear anything otherwise, it's a lie."
The jury of 7 women and 5 men convicted him on March 22 of aggravated
murder and tampering with evidence. They returned today to hear defense
witnesses and decide whether to recommend a life prison sentence or death
by lethal injection for the 25-year-old Bruce.
Bruce, who was wearing leg shackles, spoke to jurors while standing at the
Emily's mother, Jane Rimel, sat in the front row staring down her former
friend. Her daughter disappeared from their Madison Township apartment
while she was at work. Jurors believed the prosecution theory that Bruce
killed the girl after raping her.
The child's skull was found last year on a bank of Big Walnut Creek,
leading to the murder charge. Her body was never found.
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
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