[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., OHIO, PENN., N.H., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 6 18:16:12 UTC 2007
Return to death row is sought----Killer dumps lawyers, represents self at
new penalty trial.
A man who raped one woman and killed another 25 years ago in Placerville
could again face the death penalty in Sacramento County, this time acting
as his own attorney and insisting he wants to return to death row.
James Leslie Karis Jr., now in his 50s, was convicted in 1982 of abducting
2 county welfare workers at gunpoint as they took a walk during their
He drove them into the woods, raped one, shot them both and left them in a
hole, where he threw rocks on top of them.
One of the women died, but the other, who had pretended to be dead, later
identified Karis as her assailant. His trial was moved from El Dorado
County to Sacramento Superior Court, where he was convicted and sentenced
In 1998, appellate lawyers persuaded U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton
to overturn Karis' death sentence, and Karlton's decision was upheld by
the federal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Karlton concluded the jurors who sentenced Karis to death might have ruled
differently if his attorneys had presented evidence of his abusive
Leaving the convictions in place, the judge ordered Karis resentenced to
life in prison without the possibility of parole unless a new penalty
phase was initiated by prosecutors.
It was, and preparations -- including an intensive jury selection process
-- have been under way for months.
But Thursday morning, just as proceedings were about to start, Karis asked
Judge Trena Burger-Plavan for permission to dismiss his lawyers, Michael
Bigelow and Steven Bailey, and to represent himself.
Karis said he did not agree with Bigelow's strategy to present evidence of
his childhood traumas.
"He's going to drag out the defense for two months with all this garbage
about my family history, my background, and all that stuff which doesn't
really amount to a hill of beans, in my opinion," he said, according to a
transcript of the session. "And that's why I choose to defend myself."
Karis said he would rather return quickly to death row at San Quentin
Prison than spend more time in the Sacramento County jail.
"I want to get out of Sacramento as fast as possible," he told the judge.
"I want this trial to be as short as possible."
"I just want to get back to the row and do my time until they execute me,"
he said. "I don't really care if I get the death penalty."
The change in strategy promises a greatly shortened trial -- 2 weeks or
less, rather than 2 months or longer.
After the judge granted Karis' request, El Dorado County Deputy District
Attorney Joseph Alexander gave his opening statement.
He told jurors that on July 8, 1981, Karis abducted the 2 women, made them
undress, tied them up and then raped one. As they begged for their lives
and prayed aloud, he shot them multiple times from behind, and threw heavy
rocks on them.
Karis, who had spent time in prison for prior rapes, wanted to kill the
women to avoid being caught again, Alexander said.
As his two defense lawyers, appointed by the judge to act as advisers, sat
in the spectator seats and watched, Karis made a brief opening statement
"What Mr. Alexander told you is essentially correct," Karis told jurors.
Karis, with long gray hair and a beard and wearing a white shirt, khaki
pants and reading glasses, engaged on several occasions in polite
exchanges with the judge and prosecutor.
At one point, he objected to the prosecutor's plan to introduce autopsy
photos of the bloodied face, smashed skull and torn ear of the murder
victim, Peggy Doerkson Pennington.
He said the photos weren't necessary to prove anything.
"There's no argument she was dead," he said.
The judge warned Karis he could not appeal his sentence if he defended
He said he understood.
Karis' decision to defend himself could put him in the position of
questioning the woman that he raped and shot.
She is scheduled to testify Monday, but Alexander said the decision
whether she would testify, given the new circumstances, would be made over
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Death term sought for boy's uncle, aunt----Corona Killing; Ricky's sister
says such a penalty for a conviction would be "getting off easy."
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a husband and wife accused of
torturing and killing their 11-year-old nephew in a Corona duplex on
Christmas Day 2005, Riverside County's district attorney said Thursday.
Raul Ricardo Sarinana, 38, is charged with murder and a torture
enhancement in the death of Ricky Morales, who investigators say died in a
closet while others in the house had a holiday dinner. Sarinana's wife,
Cathy Lynn Sarinana, 29, is charged with murder and child endangerment.
Prosecutors say they also believe the two killed Ricky's brother, Conrad
Morales, 13, in August 2005 in Washington state. The day after Ricky died,
Conrad's body was found in a concrete-filled trash can outside the duplex.
"One cannot ignore the horrifying ordeal 2 young children were forced to
endure at the hands of the defendants," Riverside County District Attorney
Rod Pacheco said in a statement, explaining his decision to pursue capital
Washington officials have said they plan to try the couple in Conrad's
death after the Riverside County trial.
At a pre-trial hearing in December, Corona police testified that Raul
Sarinana confessed to kicking Ricky repeatedly and locking him in a closet
on Christmas Day because he was angry with how slowly Ricky cleaned a
When Sarinana checked on the boy later, he was dead, police said.
Through tears, the boys' mother, Rosa Morales, expressed relief that her
brother and sister-in-law would face the death penalty.
Raul Sarinana had always been the boys' favorite uncle, she said. She
recalled how excited Conrad was when his aunt and uncle in Washington said
they would take him in.
"He left very excited, with a smile from ear to ear," Morales said. "And
this is what happened."
Before moving to Washington, Conrad and Ricky had been living with
relatives in Los Angeles County because their mother could not care for
them. Ricky was sent to Washington later to get him away from an abusive
grandmother, according to public records.
The boys' sister, Vanessa Gallardo, agreed with their mother that the
Sarinanas deserved capital punishment.
"I still think they are getting off easy with the death penalty, the way
my brothers were tortured for so long," Gallardo said. "But to me, they
(the Sarinanas) aren't even family. I don't feel bad for them."
Public Defender Eric Keen, who represents Raul Sarinana, said the
prosecutor's decision surprised neither him nor his client. However, he
does not believe the death penalty is appropriate because Sarinana meant
to harm but not kill Ricky, he said.
"Try him, convict him, he'll go to prison. But he doesn't need to die,"
(source: The Press-Enterprise)
Jurors merciful, but did 2 lie?---- Bruce gets life in prison for killing
Prosecutor Tim Mitchell listens as Jane Rimel addresses the court before
the sentencing of her daughter's killer. "Fairness and mercy was never
shown to Emily," she said. Her sister, Carrie Colburn, is behind her,
wiping away a tear.
Judge Patrick E. Sheeran sentenced Lindsey Bruce to the longest term he
could -- life in prison with no parole.
At least 1 juror lied to the court when she said she was willing to impose
the death penalty, a fellow juror said yesterday after Lindsey Bruce's
life was spared.
And a second juror probably wouldn't have sentenced Bruce to death,
because she said later that she's also against capital punishment. She
said she believed Bruce killed 5-year-old Emily Rimel, but as an impulse.
A 3rd juror said that only 2 jurors, both men, were in favor of the death
penalty for Bruce
. Bruce was sentenced yesterday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to
life in prison with no chance of parole for the 2004 murder of Emily
Rimel. 12 jurors agreed unanimously to the sentence in just 2 hours.
Yesterday, three of those jurors agreed to talk about their decision. All
asked that their names not be used because they feared retaliation from
One male juror said he wasn't happy that Bruce won't be strapped to a
gurney for a lethal injection.
"Some woman bound in there today and said, 'Well, you know, I'm against
the death penalty,' " he recalled. "Another female said, 'If there's any
hope we can rehabilitate him, I would like to see him get out in 25 years
or so.' It was such bull."
The 7-woman, 5-man jury had convicted Bruce, who turns 26 today, of
aggravated murder and tampering with evidence on March 23. He was accused
of kidnapping Emily from her Madison Township home in December 2004 and
murdering her after raping her.
"I hope I never have to go through anything like that again," said another
male juror, who said the trial was especially difficult because he has a
The sequestered jurors spent Wednesday night in a hotel after beginning
deliberations late that afternoon. By yesterday morning, only 2 people
were voting for the death penalty. The compromise verdict came soon after.
"I'm proud of what we did as a jury, and I think we made the only decision
we could," the female juror said. "Lindsey Bruce had a crappy life and
that poor little girl had a crappy life. The two met and a bad thing
Jury selection began Feb. 23 with 105 prospective jurors. All were asked
individually whether they could impose the death penalty if necessary, and
all agreed they could.
But even if a juror lied about that, the sentence is likely to stand.
County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said prospective jurors fill out
questionnaires that ask about the death penalty. But there's no way to
make people tell the truth. "If we've met our burden of proof, we want all
the jurors to follow their oath and impose the appropriate sentence,"
What happened the night that Emily disappeared will remain a mystery
because Bruce maintains his innocence.
Emily's skull was found in Big Walnut Creek 17 months after she
disappeared, although the rest of her body has never been found.
Judge Patrick E. Sheeran imposed the longest prison term he could.
"You have committed an unspeakable act by purposefully murdering a
5-year-old," the judge said. "Yours was not only a wasted life, but a
horrible, destructive one."
Sheeran chose to run Bruce's sentence consecutive to a 5-year prison term
for the tampering charge, and to the current 10-year sentence Bruce is
serving for being convicted earlier of kidnapping Emily. It guarantees
time in prison if any part of his sentence is ever overturned.
"This should send a message to the parole board that you should never be
let out of prison," the judge said.
But the jury verdict didn't sit well with Emily's mother.
"There is no justice in this world," Jane Rimel said as she punched an
elevator button to leave. "I just want to be with Emily."
Defense attorneys Christopher M. Cooper, Donald C. Schumacher and Crysta
Pennington weren't so sure of the outcome when they walked into the
courtroom, they said.
"You think that a verdict that fast is not going to be good," Schumacher
"We saved our client's life," a relieved Cooper said.
Over the past 2 days, the jurors weighed whether Bruce's childhood
mitigated his crime. They learned that he grew up impoverished and
neglected. His mother abandoned him when he was 12 and left him with a
father he didn't know.
He was placed in a Columbus school for students with behavioral problems,
and his father was a crack addict. Bruce grew up a loner, the father
Yesterday, Jane Rimel spoke during the sentencing hearing.
"Fairness and mercy was never shown to Emily," she told the judge. "He's
already got more mercy than he deserves because he got his life."
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
PENNSYLVANIA----female to face death penalty
Prosecutors to seek death penalty in woman's shooting
In New Bloomfield, prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty
against a woman charged with killing a former lover.
Rochelle K. Laudenslager, 45, of Lower Paxton Township, pleaded not guilty
Thursday to charges of 1st-degree homicide, burglary and kidnapping in the
death of Elaine Pierson, 48, of Rye Township, Perry County.
Pierson was reported missing by friends in late December. Laudenslager
accompanied searchers who discovered Pierson's body, shot four times, on
Jan. 6 on the side of Blue Mountain about three miles from Pierson's Perry
Laudenslager told police she had a 4-year sexual relationship with Pierson
that ended in 2002, and wanted to revive the relationship but could not
because Pierson had a relationship with another woman. Her attorney,
George Matangos, said he and his client had expected Perry County District
Attorney Charles Chenot to seek the death penalty.
Chenot said the homicide took place during the commission of felonies,
including kidnapping. And, he said, "Our theory would be that (Pierson)
was not killed instantaneously."
(source: Associated Press)
N.H. should eliminate the death penalty
No one has been executed in New Hampshire since 1939. There are no
prisoners on death row.
The state does not even have a chamber in which to give a lethal
Yet, the death penalty remains as an option in state law because state
representatives, once again, voted last week to keep it on the books. And,
even if they had voted to change the law, Gov. John Lynch said he would
have vetoed it.
While the vote was surprisingly close, 185-173, there was little chance
that the bill, sponsored by Portsmouth Democrat Jim Splaine, would have
passed this year.
That's because a Manchester police officer, Michael Briggs, was shot to
death last fall and the suspect has been charged with capital murder,
something that was raised as part of the debate in the House. Opponents of
the bill said overturning the death penalty so soon after his death would
be an insult to the state's police officers.
The murder of a law enforcement officer is one of the few crimes in the
state that is punishable by death.
Splaine's bill would have changed the punishment to life in prison without
the possibility of parole, something he said is a fate worse than death.
The arguments for and against the death penalty have been repeated time
and again during debates for many years, and they were repeated again last
Those in favor pointed out that some crimes are so bad that the people who
committed them deserve to be put to death, that the penalty is just
retribution. Having such a penalty acts as a deterrent to those who would
Those arguments are understandable, but this newspaper has come down on
the other side of the issue.
We don't think that the state should put itself in the position of taking
a human life. Other states, such as Texas, have death penalties and they
use them. Yet crime has not stopped. Murders have not stopped.
We have come a long way since the Code of Hammurabi, which required the
death penalty for crimes as simple as theft. Today, we would look at that
Our system of justice today is much more sophisticated and fair. There are
checks and balances.
In New Hampshire capital punishment cases, 2 jury verdicts are required.
The 1st is the finding of guilt. The 2nd is to impose the death penalty.
Then the state Supreme Court must review the case.
But every system has flaws. Mistakes can be made and are made. How many
times have we read or heard of people being sent to prison only to find
out years later that they were innocent?
The same can be said of murder trials, only there is no coming back from
the death penalty.
According to a Michigan State University report, since 1973, more than 120
people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence
emerged. New Hampshire should not put itself in the position of killing an
We think that, some year, the N.H. Legislature will do away with the death
penalty and a governor will not veto the legislation.
But this was not that year. And that is understandable, too.
(source: Opinion, The Hampton Union)
Death penalty----We should examine our values
Winter quarter, the Ohio State Department of Theatre put on the play "Dead
Man Walking," based on the true story of a nun's experience counseling a
death row inmate in Louisiana. The main character of the play, Matthew
Poncelet, brutally murdered 2 teenagers.
He was undoubtedly guilty, showed little remorse and was hardly a likable
man. Still, the scene at the end of the play where he received his lethal
injections moved much of the audience to tears.
Yesterday, a jury that found Lindsey Bruce guilty of murdering a 5
year-old girl recommended a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
The jury took many factors into the recommendation, including Bruce's
Gov. Ted Strickland, an admitted supporter of the death penalty, earlier
this year came under fire for reviewing the death sentences of several
inmates, based on their low IQs, even though the Supreme Court has ruled
executing mentally reatarded individuals to be unconstitutional. Governors
of other states have drawn national attention for putting moratoriums on
the death penalty or examining how it is conducted in their states.
Strickland and others have taken criticism for their stands, but they make
a good point. We all need to look at the death penalty and ask 2
questions: What are we trying to accomplish with our criminal justice
system? And, are we accomplishing it?
Is the purpose of our criminal justice system to punish or to
rehabilitate? If the purpose is to punish, then death is surely a
punishment. Is death worse, however, than a lifetime spent behind bars
knowing there is no hope of freedom? If the purpose is to rehabilitate,
how does one go about integrating a dead body back into society?
There are many valid arguments for the death penalty. Aside from the
logical arguments are the emotional. Those who lost loved ones through a
violent act will naturally have a taste for blood. Still, the courts are
supposed to be objective and emotionless. This expectation might be
impossible to meet when emotional, subjective human beings are the ones
expected to make these decisions, but that does not mean we should not
strive for the best.
Many countries, including Great Britain, France and Canada, have abolished
the death penalty, and the United Nations has stated its abolition should
be an international goal. Currently, the United States stands with China,
Iran and Saudi Arabia among the countries that execute the most people
According to Amnesty International, costs of death penalty trials are much
higher than those of comparable non-death penalty trials, and costs would
still be higher if the post-trial appeals process was eliminated. These
extra costs mean funds are diverted from other, perhaps more important,
areas of crime prevention and apprehension.
In "Dead Man Walking," Poncelet spends much of the play keeping his
stone-cold facade, but in the end he is human. He has a mother and
brothers who visit him and love him no less because of the atrocity he
committed. Our society should spend more time making sure fewer Matthew
Poncelets are created. All the death penalty succeeds in doing is making
room on death row for the next inmates.
(source: Opinion, The Lantern)
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