[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N. MEX., GA., KY., S.C., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 10 01:58:58 UTC 2007
Jurors deliberate death penalty for Hobbs man
A 26-year-old Hobbs man who was convicted last month of 2 counts of murder
and 1 of criminal sexual penetration could learn soon whether he will face
the death penalty.
Monday morning, Paul Lovett was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the
murder of Elizabeth Garcia in January of 2002 and 18 years for the rape of
Patty Simon in May of 2003.
Jurors Monday afternoon were to begin begin deliberating whether Lovett
should face the death penalty for the murder of Simon.
It took jurors less than 5 hours to find Lovett guilty of the murders and
rape on March 16th. Simon disappeared from the department store where she
worked, and Garcia was working the graveyard shift at a convenience store
when she disappeared.
Prosecutors say both woman had their throats slit and were found in
relatively remote areas.
(source: KOB TV News)
Judge Says Death Penalty Still A Possibility in Case of Slain Deputy
A Bibb County Judge denied a defense counsel motion aiming to take the
death penalty off the table for suspect Antron Fair. Senior Judge Tommy
Day Wilcox says he denied the defense motion and Fair will still face the
death penalty in the murder case of Bibb County Deputy Joseph Whitehead.
Deputy Whitehead was shot in March 2006 during a drug raid on Atherton
Street in Macon. He was the 1st officer to be killed in the line of duty
in more than 80 years. Initial reports indicated the suspects may have
killed Deputy Whitehead thinking he was an intruder.
In February, Antron Fair's attorney went before the judge to file several
motions that cleared the way for his team to gather evidence. The judge
agreed to compel law enforcement officers to provide interviews and share
The 5 suspects accused of killing Deputy Whitehead remain in jail. 3 are
facing drug charges in federal court: Cynthia Greene, Thomas Porter, and
Hassan Harclerode. Damon Jolly also faces murder charges.
Judge Wilcox says an evidentiary hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am
on Wednesday. The Bibb County District Attorney hopes to start at least
one of the trials by the end of this year.
(source: WMGT News)
Judge denies request to scrap death penalty in deputy slaying case
A judge denied a defense request this morning to remove the possibility of
the death penalty in the case of a Bibb County deputy's slaying.
Antron Fair is accused of shooting Bibb County sheriff's deputy Joseph
Whitehead during a drug raid March 23, 2006. Evidentiary hearings were
scheduled to begin this morning but have been delayed until at least this
Fair's attorney, Doug Ramseur of the Office of Georgia Capital Defender,
said his publicly-funded office lacked the money to prepare to argue some
of its motions this morning in Bibb County Superior Court. He argued that
because of the "funding crisis," it should no longer be a death penalty
"My feeling is if the state can't afford to defend the case, it can't
afford to prosecute the case," he said.
Senior Judge Tommy Day Wilcox decided to continue the case at the capital
level and allowed Ramseur and his co-counsel, Brian Steel, to interview
some law enforcement officers in the case before court reconvenes at noon.
(source: Macon Telegraph)
Accused Child Killer Asks for Death Penalty
The Kentucky Supreme Court will consider a Northern Kentucky child
killer's request to die. Marco Chapman admitted to brutally stabbing
7-year-old Chelbi and 6-year-old Cody Sharon to death inside their Warsaw
home in 2004.
He is also accused of stabbing 10-year-old Courtney Sharon and their
mother, Carolyn Marskberry, and leaving them for dead.
Chapman's attorney wants to save him from what is known as "suicide by
This is an unprecedented case in Kentucky.
Justices will hear arguments April 12.
(source: WCPO News)
Death penalty request unprecedented in Ky.
Marco Allen Chapman wants to die by lethal injection after admitting he
brutally killed 2 children and left their sister and mother for dead more
than 4 years ago in Warsaw.
Now, the Kentucky Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the legality
of Chapman's request.
The case is unprecedented in Kentucky - posing the question of whether a
defendant can waive all his rights and request an execution. It also has
the unusual twist of putting prosecutors and Chapman on the same side -
arguing for the death sentence to be upheld, while Chapman's
court-appointed defense attorneys seeking to save Chapman from committing
what they call "suicide by court."
"This is a defense lawyer's worst nightmare," said Michael Mello, a
University of Vermont law professor and former lawyer for death row
inmates in Florida.
The Kentucky Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the
automatic appeal Thursday. Chapman, who has declined multiple interview
requests, pleaded guilty in December 2004 to killing 7-year old Chelbi
Sharon and 6-year old Cody Sharon in their home in Warsaw. Chapman also
admitted attacking 10-year-old Courtney Sharon, who played dead after
being stabbed several times, then raping and trying to kill their mother,
Carolyn Marksberry, during the August 2002 assault. A judge granted his
request to be sentenced to death.
It is a policy of the Associated Press not to name victims of sexual
assault in most cases; however, Marksberry has discussed her ordeal in
local and national television broadcasts.
Immediately after the attacks, Chapman fled to West Virginia, where he was
arrested later that day.
Volunteering for a death sentence is not new. Since 1977, when Gary Mark
Gilmore waived his appeals and stepped before a firing squad in Utah, 124
inmates in 26 of the 38 states with a death penalty law have waived
appeals and asked to die. Nevada has had a dozen executions in that time,
with 10 of them being inmates who volunteered. Texas, with 26 people
volunteering, leads the nation in inmates giving up the fight against a
death sentence, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in
1 of the 2 people executed in Kentucky since 1976 - Eddie Lee Harper -
waived the remainder of his appeals and was executed in 1999.
A 2nd Kentucky death row inmate, Shawn Windsor, is attempting the same
thing as Chapman. Windsor pleaded guilty in 2006 to killing his wife and
son and asked for execution. He is on Kentucky's death row, but Chapman's
case is further along in the automatic appeals process granted in all
death penalty cases.
What makes Chapman's case groundbreaking, lawyers said, was his decision
to waive trial, sentencing by a jury, and nearly beg to be sentenced to
death. Professors who teach criminal law have found Chapman's case - and
it's potential implications for future defendants - disturbing.
Michael Hoffheimer, a criminal law professor at the University of
Mississippi, said a ruling giving deference to a client's decision to seek
a death sentence could be troubling because it would take away multiple
legal safeguards to ensure that a competent, guilty person is put to
death. Without those safeguards, there's a chance someone who is not
guilty, but suicidal, could be executed, Hoffheimer said.
"Permitting defendants to make decisions that increase the risk of
wrongful convictions is bad policy," Hoffheimer said. "The rights to life
and liberty are unalienable. They should be accorded greater weight than
the right to control one's legal defense."
Cornell University law professor John Blume, who authored an analysis of
death penalty volunteers for the University of Michigan Law Review, said
attorneys have no obligation to aide a client in dropping appeals. But,
Blume said, a court must make sure there are no issues about the
defendant's guilt and that they are competent and "the desire to drop the
appeals is not a desire to end their life but rather they are motivated by
an acceptance of responsibility for their crimes."
Mello, who once represented notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, said the
decision should remain that of the man on death row, provided he is
competent. The reasons for the decision aren't as important as the
decision being made rationally, Mello said.
"The heart of the matter is, whose life is it?" Mello said. "I'm not one,
who as a consequence of his actions, is going to spend his life in a tiny
Chapman's court-appointed attorneys, Donna Boyce and Randall Wheeler,
declined interview requests. Vicki Glass, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky
Attorney General's Office, declined comment because the case is pending.
Chapman has said several times that he is waiving his appeals and wants to
In 174 pages of briefs with the high court, Boyce and Wheeler argue that
the trial judge mishandled the case and that Chapman was depressed and
seeking to use court proceedings to commit suicide. They want a new
sentencing hearing for Chapman after he's been treated for depression.
"Marco Chapman is committing suicide. He said he is," Boyce and Wheeler
wrote. "This court must not allow this to happen."
Because Chapman was found competent multiple times, prosecutors said in
briefs, his plea and sentence should be allowed to stand.
"The fact of the matter is that preferring death over life imprisonment is
not state assisted suicide, just because death penalty abolitionist like
to call it that," Assistant Attorney General David Smith wrote.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
SC court: No death penalty for 74-year-old mother in cop slayings
In Columbia, the state Supreme Court today ruled that the mother of a
South Carolina man sentenced to death for murdering two law enforcement
officers is --not-- eligible for the death penalty.
The court upheld a lower court decision that 74-year-old Rita Bixby could
--not-- face the death penalty in the officer's death. The ruling says the
death sentence only applies when a person is convicted of or has pled
guilty to the crime of murder.
Rita Bixby has been charged with accessory to murder, not murder itself.
39-year-old Steven Bixby was sentenced to death in February for the
shooting deaths of 2 Abbeville County law enforcement agents.
Prosecutors said the officers were killed over a 20-foot patch of land the
state wanted to take for a highway project.
(source: Associated Press)
Convicted killer of 4 should be spared death penalty, defense says
In Bartow, an Ecuadorean businessman convicted of killing 4 people should
be spared the death penalty because of a lack of prior criminal history,
his age and a lifetime of positive characteristics, his attorney argued
Circuit Court Judge Susan Roberts will rule on the sentencing of Nelson
Ivan Serrano, 68. By law, Roberts is required to give the jury's
recommendation of a death sentence great weight when she rules.
"Given his age right now, incarcerating him on death row would not best
serve society,'' said Serrano's defense attorney Bob Norgard.
Serrano also was a successful immigrant who excelled as an engineer and
salesman, Norgard said.
"He is someone who achieved a lot for himself and his family in the United
States,'' Norgard said.
During the hearing, State Attorney John Aguero asked for restitution of
more than $22,000 for the victim's family funeral expenses and
"When the court has a mass-murderer sitting in the courtroom, 4 dead
people, that just has tremendous weight,'' Aguero said.
The same jury that convicted Serrano on 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in
October recommended on a 9-3 vote that he be sentenced to death for the
fatal shootings of a former business partner and three bystanders at a
Bartow garment conveyor factory.
A jury found Serrano guilty of 4 counts of 1st-degree murder for the Dec.
3, 1997 slayings of George Gonsalves, 69; Frank Dosso, 35; Diane Patisso,
28; and George Patisso, Jr., 26. Gonsalves, Dosso's father, Felice Dosso,
and Serrano were business partners until a dispute over finances led to
Serrano's firing as company president in the summer of 1997.
Serrano has denied involvement in the killings, telling investigators he
was in Atlanta on business at the time. Defense attorneys said there was
no physical evidence connecting Serrano to the slayings and no proof he
was even in Polk County on the night of the slayings.
Prosecutors told jurors rage over being ousted from the business drove
Serrano to mastermind an elaborate plot to kill Gonsalves and leave
himself with an alibi almost 500 miles away. Dosso and the Patissos were
killed because they got in the way, prosecutors said.
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