[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Apr 23 06:11:07 UTC 2007
DA may seek death penalty in Evans case
Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe said he will need additional
time before deciding whether to seek the death penalty against a capital
murder defendant accused of brutally stabbing a 27-year-old Palestine man
to death last summer.
Jeramy Lee Kennedy, 29, of Palestine was arrested April 3 and charged with
capital murder in connection with last June's stabbing death of
27-year-old Jarod Lee Evans.
An autopsy performed on Evans' body at the Southwestern Institute of
Forensic Sciences in Dallas showed he sustained a total of 57 sharp force
injuries of the head, neck, upper chest, hands and left side of the chest.
One of the wounds penetrated 6 inches into the left side of Evans' chest,
perforating part of the lung and the heart, according to the autopsy
Under state law, a person convicted of capital murder is either sentenced
to death or life in prison. The district attorney would have to file
notice at some later date if he chooses to seek the death penalty against
Kennedy who was formally indicted on the capital murder charge earlier
"I want to spend some time seriously deliberating the appropriateness in
this case of committing the county's resources to the extreme effort a
death penalty case requires," Lowe said. "The victim's coordinator and I
will visit with the victim's family to get their input. And sometimes
justice can be served by sentencing a person to prison for the rest of
Kennedy is currently being held at the Anderson County Jail in lieu of a
$1 million bond set by 349th State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher. A
bond reduction hearing was held Friday at the request of the defendant's
attorney, Stephen Evans, but the judge did not lower Kennedy's bond.
Shortly after Kennedy's arrest, Palestine Police Det. Nick Webb told the
Herald-Press that authorities chose to charge the suspect with capital
murder because he allegedly stole a "small amount of money" from the
victim during the commission of the murder.
Autopsy results showed that Evans had multiple controlled substances and
other drugs in his body at the time of his death. Although no testing was
performed on Kennedy, police said other evidence supported that the
suspect also was using drugs around the time of the alleged offense.
Authorities have said Evans was found deceased at his Westwood residence
on Ferguson Road during the early afternoon hours of June 24, 2006 by a
"There was a large volume of blood in the dining room and kitchen area (of
the residence)," Webb told the Herald-Press earlier this month.
"A DNA standard" was obtained from Kennedy shortly after the discovery of
Evans' body, police have said. That evidence, along with many other items,
was sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety crime laboratory in Waco
for analysis, according to authorities.
Police have described the suspect and victim as "longtime friends,"
adding, however, they had been involved in some type of ongoing
disagreement immediately prior to Evans' death.
The district attorney took time to laud the efforts of local police in the
"I want to publicly acknowledge the hard work of the investigators,
(Palestine Police) Detective James Muniz, who was the lead investigator,
and detective Nick Webb, who provided invaluable assistance," Lowe said.
(source: The Palestine Herald)
Ending capital punishment
The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board has reversed its century-old
position on the death penalty, now arguing that the system is too flawed.
What do you think?
After Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, I became a strong opponent of the
death penalty because the system fails to spare those who reform , almost
always with God's help. However, I am now convinced that the death penalty
serves a purpose in focusing death-row inmates on their impending meeting
with the ultimate judge, and thus can promote profound reformation.
F.M. Richbourg III, Arlington
I also am a convert on this issue. I have always believed in the death
penalty, but in light of the recent flood of cases overturned due to DNA
tests, I can no longer support it. God gives us life and He has the sole
power to take it away. As humans we are too imperfect to handle something
that requires perfection.
Dan Franklin, Highland Village
Death is the only punishment fit for some of the inhuman acts done to
victims in the news. When there is 100 % proof, with eyewitnesses and DNA,
I am for the death penalty. Rather than the citizens bearing the monetary
burden of a trial and years of appeals in open-and-shut cases, swift
punishment is best.
Sharon Burns, Mineral Wells
Yes, Texas should do away with the death penalty, at least for the time
being. Especially since Texas ranks the highest in overturned sentences
due to DNA evidence.
Kelley McElreath, Grand Prairie
The death penalty will always be a very controversial subject. Although I
have my reservations on some issues with this matter, when it comes to
people who take the life of a child, I say, fry 'em.
Karen Harmon, Irving
I think that Texas should reserve the death penalty for the most heinous
crimes: multiple murders, murder of children, murder of police officers
and potentially even for multiple rapists. If prosecutors are thorough and
the appeals systems work as designed, we can avoid the death of innocent
people, just as we see happening here in Dallas.
Hayden Chasteen, Grapevine
It is a given that nobody wants to risk executing an innocent person .
However, heinous, senseless, sick crimes and the criminals who commit them
are deserving of the ultimate penalty. The obvious compromise is to make
the death penalty an option if, and only if, DNA evidence identifies the
defendant as the guilty party.
Taryn S. Williams, Denton
Texas should not abandon the death penalty. I believe the death penalty is
the right thing to do to criminals who have committed heinous crimes. It's
not perfect, it isn't a perfect world; but, it assures that person won't
take another innocent life.
Loretta Spaulding, Lewisville
I have long been a staunch supporter of the death penalty. However, there
have been so many cases of prosecutors seeking convictions for their own
aggrandizement in recent times, many illustrated by reversed convictions
years after the fact, that I have been forced to reverse my stand. It is
better that 100 guilty persons escape punishment than for one innocent
person to be executed.
Robert J. Wild, Flower Mound
The death penalty is a feel-good ending for those who value vengeance and
retribution under the guise of closure and justice. Let's end it now!
Paul Heller, Farmers Branch
Voices: The following residents are regular contributors to this forum.
Mansfield Timberview High School senior
Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Unless Texas
wants to continue being blind, we need to abolish the death penalty. The
cons to the death penalty far outweigh the good.
Arlington retired GM assembly plant worker
Nothing justifies abandoning the Texas death penalty. No one defends the
victims' right to live. No one is concerned that victims' family members
have had a loved one taken from them and will suffer for years to come.
It's much harder to bury an innocent family member than it is to bury a
Mary Ellen Gherardi
Coppell business owner
In light of the people we have wrongly convicted, I am sure Texas has
executed innocent people. I think we should dump the death penalty, for
the absurdity of a legal system that forbids murder, but justifies its own
killing when it sees fit. Plus, it makes Texas seem backward; late-night
comedians are having a field day with us.
Hooray for The Dallas Morning News. I think this is the most important
position The News has ever taken. Regardless of the numerous tangible
reasons to reconsider the death penalty, if we want a more civilized
society we must, at some point, begin making it more difficult to kill.
This is a step in the right direction.
Flower Mound organizational development consultant
I am absolutely in favor of abolishing the death penalty. We struggle
deciding which Idol to vote for and which potato chip is better for you,
yet we are willing to determine a person's life? We may be created in
God's image, but we are not blessed with His wisdom.
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Russeau To Die For Beating Death
Gregory Lynn Russeau was again sentenced to die by lethal injection Friday
for the 2001 robbery and beating death of a 75-year-old Tyler man.
The defendant showed no emotion as 114th District Judge Cynthia Stevens
Kent assessed the death penalty, after the 7-woman, 5-man jury deliberated
for about 30 minutes.
Russeau, 37, laughed at times during testimony in the two-week trial,
which required extra security in the Smith County Courthouse.
He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2002 for the
May 30, 2001, slaying of James Syvertson, 75. The victim was found beaten
to death in his auto repair shop on Vine Avenue. Russeau was found the
next morning driving the victim's car in Longview.
Russeau's 2002 death sentence was overturned so a second Smith County jury
was selected to assess his sentence.
"Nothing I can say will make me feel better," the victim's son David
Syvertson told Russeau during victim impact statements Friday. "The only
thing that will make me feel better is watching you die like you watched
my father die. Hopefully, my face is the last one you'll see."
The victim's daughter-in-law, Kathy Syvertson, told Russeau that he
destroyed her family - her husband, who is ruined emotionally, her
daughter who no longer gets to see her grandfather and her 2 children who
never met him. She said she has never received an apology from Russeau,
who has only laughed at her.
After 8 days of testimony by the prosecution, defense attorneys put on one
witness Friday - a police sergeant who testified twice for the state about
fingerprints she took from the crime scene.
3 mental health experts testified Russeau would continue to commit acts of
violence and be a continuing threat to society.
Nearly 30 prison and jail guards testified about alleged offenses
committed by Russeau since he's been in and out of jail beginning in 1988.
The jurors answered three special issues that resulted in the death
sentence - that there was a probability Russeau would commit criminal acts
of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society; that
Russeau caused, intended to cause or anticipated Syvertson's death; and
that there were no sufficient mitigating circumstances that warranted a
life sentence over the death penalty.
"This is one of the most senseless, horrific, brutal, heart wrenching
crimes you're going to hear," Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham
told the jurors during closing arguments.
"Is this defendant going to get a life sentence where he is eligible for
parole 40 years from now?" he asked, adding that it would risk the lives
of prison guards and other inmates.
"He's shown you want he's capable of," Bingham said.
He said Russeau would be a continuing threat to society and would commit
acts of violence in the future. The evidence of the murder showed that,
without considering his prior criminal history. He said there was no
evidence of mitigation in the case that would warrant a life sentence.
Prison and jail disciplinary records showed Russeau would never change his
conduct and would never follow the rules, he said.
Bingham said it was Syvertson's day for justice, which "has been a long
Defense attorney Brandon Baade said nothing would minimize the death of
He said the incident reports on Russeau from the jail and prison were not
acts of violence because no one was physically hurt. In Russeau's prior
criminal convictions, which include burglaries and thefts, no one was
physically harmed, he said.
Baade said the jurors were not asked to make a prediction about whether
Russeau would commit acts of violence in the future, only to assess a
He said a mitigating circumstance in Russeau's case was that he was a
child of God, as everyone was.
Bingham said everyone was a child of God, which by law, was not mitigating
circumstances. If it was, he said, jurors would never be able to fulfill
their jobs and the death penalty could never be assessed.
"In essence, you have set before you in these special issues life or
death," Baade said. "Choose life."
Lead defense attorney Clifton Roberson agreed with Baade, telling the jury
that Russeau's past crimes never placed physical violence on anyone.
He said most of the bad acts committed by Russeau in prison and jail were
when the defendant was about 19 years old. He used a lot of profanity and
called people names but there were no acts of violence, he said, adding
that Russeau was a trusty in the Smith County Jail.
Roberson said the evidence did not show Russeau would be a future danger.
First Assistant DA April Sikes pleaded with the jury to remember they were
in court for Syvertson, who woke up at 5 a.m. every day to read his Bible
and pray before going to work by 7 a.m. She said working on cars was his
love and he passed out Bible verses to people he met.
On May 30, 2001, Russeau picked up a hammer, one of the victim's tools,
and beat Syvertson to death because he wanted money to get high. She said
Syvertson would have probably given Russeau money if he would have asked
for it, along with one of his beloved Bible verses.
After the killing, Russeau bought crack cocaine and was caught in the
victim's car, she said.
Mrs. Sikes said there was no doubt Russeau would be a future danger.
"Nothing will ever make Gregory Russeau conform his conduct ... because he
doesn't want to."
She called him a "cold-blooded killer" who would do anything. She said
there was no evidence that lessened his blameworthiness. "Gregory Russeau
has actually spent his lifetime to receive this verdict," Mrs. Sikes said.
"And James Syvertson spent his lifetime earning to be remembered ..."
Russeau was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 for capital murder,
but the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in 2005 that Russeau receive a new
The court found his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against
him was violated because the trial court admitted into evidence jail and
prison disciplinary reports containing statements written by officers, but
no one who saw the alleged offenses testified.
Before 2004, records could be admitted under the business record exception
to the hearsay rule. But Crawford v. Washington, a case decided by the
U.S. Supreme Court that year, found it was unconstitutional. The ruling
was retroactively applied to Russeau's case.
His 2nd death sentence will automatically be appealed.
(source: Tyler Morning Telegraph)
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