[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLA., N.C., OHIO, NEB.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Apr 23 19:07:13 UTC 2007
Community awaits justice----20 years after rampage, Cruse sits on death
2 decades ago today, William Byran Cruse killed 6 and wounded 14 during a
shooting spree in Palm Bay. 2 years later, he was sentenced to death.
But as Cruse, the oldest person on Florida's death row, turns 80 this
year, officials say it's unlikely he'll be executed before his natural
Despite an insanity defense at trial, it wasn't until 5 years ago that the
courts declared him incompetent, which stalled his execution.
"You can see he's a madman," said State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who
prosecuted Cruse in 1989. "Whether or not he will ever be competent to be
executed is questionable. Certainly I have my doubts that we will ever get
to that point."
That likelihood angers some, who think Cruse has lived too long since his
murderous rampage on April 23, 1987.
"Don't have a death penalty if you're not going to use it," said Satellite
Beach resident Ronald Grogan Sr., whose son was one of two Palm Bay police
officers killed by Cruse.
"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "When he was
sent to prison, he wasn't like he is now. But if you leave somebody in
there for 20 years, anyone is going to go bats."
But others, including the woman the killer took as a hostage, believe
Cruse was insane from the start.
"If he's not going to be executed, then it's a crying shame that he wasn't
found insane and hospitalized for the last 20 years," said Robin Mucha,
who still lives in Brevard.
Also adding to the possibility that Cruse's execution won't go forward: a
moratorium imposed on the Florida death penalty late last year because of
complications with an execution. The governor's office is reviewing a
report issued in March, and a decision is expected soon.
Late that Thursday afternoon 20 years ago, Cruse, a 59-year-old retired
librarian, stormed out of his home on Palm Bay's Creel Road to confront
teens bouncing a basketball in a neighbor's driveway. He was holding a
Police said he had run-ins with them before, and he fired and wounded a
14-year-old boy. Then Cruse went back inside and retrieved an assault
rifle. He continued to fire shots at his neighbors' homes as he drove
Cruse took his white Toyota Tercel to the corner of Palm Bay Road and
Babcock Street, where he opened fire on 2 Florida Tech students, killing
both. 2 other men were shot and injured as well.
Cruse then drove his car farther south. There he shot and killed
67-year-old Ruth Greene, who was leaving the Publix Supermarket. Cruse
drove across Babcock and stopped at Winn-Dixie.
Officer Gerry Johnson arrived at the store and was shot in the leg. He
emptied his revolver at Cruse, but missed.
Johnson scrambled from his car and tried to reload. Cruse stalked after
him and shot him in the head.
In the weeks before he snapped, police would learn that Cruse was taunted
by neighborhood children and often argued with them. There was an
indecency report filed, and Cruse, who hated homosexuals, later would tell
investigators that Publix employees thought he was gay.
'A little shootout'
Just before he killed the officer, Cruse took aim at Ruben Torres, a
39-year-old mailman at the time, who had stopped at Winn-Dixie to buy
shrimp for dinner. When Torres went to the front of the store to pay, he
saw employees and other customers on the floor and Cruse in the parking
"I looked toward the glass doors, and I guess William Cruse saw me because
he shot at me right through the doors and everything I had in my hand went
flying," Torres recalled. "After that I crawled up to the window and saw
him walking across the parking lot. I don't know where I got the strength
from, but I took the doors off the track and got out of the store."
As Cruse killed Johnson, Torres ran to his car and ducked.
"I got my gun out of my glove compartment and we started a little
shootout," he said. "I was shooting at him and he was shooting at me."
When Torres' went back to his car for more ammunition, a police officer
stopped him, thinking he was a 2nd gunman.
Originally criticized, Torres since has been credited with distracting
Cruse, which allowed people to escape from Winn-Dixie. He still has the
nickel-plated, silver-handled pistol he used that night.
"Nobody ever called me a hero, they called me a vigilante," he said.
Tear gas ends siege
When Officer Ron Grogan arrived at the scene, Cruse shot 8 times through
the windshield, killing him. The officer had been married only 2 months.
Cruse then ran into Winn-Dixie, firing at people fleeing through a back
exit. He shot 52-year-old Lester Watson in the back.
45 minutes after firing shots at his neighbors, Cruse found 2 women hiding
in the restroom. One he let go; the other, Robin Mucha, would become his
The siege ended 6 hours later when Cruse released Mucha and came out soon
after, as tear-gas canisters were shot into the store.
Cruse's defense from Day One was insanity -- something that Wolfinger, in
the last case he prosecuted himself before a jury, and his staff worked
hard to dispel.
"It was obvious that there's something wrong and that he wasn't operating
on all cylinders, but that's not insanity," Wolfinger said.
Cruse's next competency hearing is scheduled for July. He did not respond
to an interview request by FLORIDA TODAY.
No visitors in years
During his 18 years on death row, Cruse has spent 23 hours a day in his
cell, said Gretl Plessinger, Florida Department of Corrections
spokeswoman. He is allowed a shower every other day.
She said Cruse has had no visitors in years. His parents are listed as
dead, and his wife returned to her native Turkey after the killings. She
suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Cruse's sister in Kentucky, where he grew up and spent most of his adult
life, has not visited. He moved to Brevard in 1985.
Cruse has well surpassed the average length of stay for death row inmates
of nearly 13 years and he was older than the average age of a death row
inmate -- 44 -- when he was convicted in 1989.
Carolyn Snurkowski, spokeswoman for the state attorney general, said
execution is still a possibility.
"We have had individuals before who need help and get hospitalized and
then go back to being on death row," she said.
Uniformed police officers in Palm Bay wear a blue ribbon with the names of
the 2 fallen officers, credited with saving dozens of lives that night.
"It's a sad state for our society that you have a person seen by over 100
people commit this crime," said Palm Bay Deputy Chief Doug Muldoon, who
was an officer at the crime scene. "Here we are 20 years later, you have
family members that have been deceased that never saw justice done."
Capt. Doug Dechenne, the lead negotiator for Palm Bay's SWAT Team that
night, takes his frustration a step further.
"I think we'd all agree that there are persons who have committed such
heinous crimes that they no longer deserve to live amongst us," he said.
"Cruse is one of those that justice will be served if and when he is put
"I would put my name up to be the one that pushes the button."
(source: Florida Today)
Father wants killer to die----Murder victims' kin plan to push to restart
Billings is on death row for rape and murder of an 11-year-old.
Jackson says it doesn't make sense to delay executions because inmates may
Jackson explains why he thinks Archie Billings deserves to be executed.
Jackson scoffs at the idea that executions are supposed to be painless.
Robert Jackson cannot understand why anyone would care whether death row
inmates suffer when lethal injection is administered, especially if the
murderers tormented their victims.
Jackson's 11-year-old daughter, Amy, was raped and stabbed to death in
1995 by Archie Billings, who also tried to kill Jackson's son, Bobby,
stabbing him 23 times.
Billings is one of five inmates whose executions have been delayed as
courts struggle with whether North Carolina's method of lethal injection
is constitutional. The death penalty gridlock is the result of several
inmates suing over the chance they could suffer painful executions, which
would violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and
"The argument about whether lethal injection causes pain to the ones on
death row has really gone too far," Jackson said in a letter to Gov. Mike
This week, murder victims' relatives plan to lobby lawmakers to pass a
solution to the death penalty hiatus. So far, Easley and the Democrats who
control the legislature appear content to let the courts resolve the
matter, which could take years. As far as Jackson is concerned, Billings
is already guaranteed too pleasant a death. "For him to get nothing but
lethal injection is a cheap way out for what he did to Amy," Jackson said
in an interview last week. "He'll never go through the trauma that she
went through, never, not even close to it, not even a one percent chance."
Billings, 33, appears to agree. In an interview with Reader's Digest
published in 1998 he said, "This will be an easy out for me. What happened
to Amy was a lot more painful. If I should die, I guess I should be
tortured the way the evidence shows Amy and Bobby were."
One of Billings' lawyers refused a request to interview his client.
12 years ago, Jackson and his two children were living in a trailer on a
Caswell County dairy farm where Jackson worked. Billings, then 21, had
been hired to work there only months before. No one at the dairy suspected
Billings had a criminal record. He had been convicted of secret peeping
and faced assault charges in the shooting of his brother.
In the early morning hours of July 7, 1995, Billings sneaked into the
Jacksons' trailer knowing the children would be home alone because their
father would be milking the herd of Holstein cows.
Because of the noise from the fans and machinery inside the milking
parlor, Robert Jackson said he did not hear his children's screams or the
sirens of ambulances and police cars. He only found out what happened when
his boss came to the barn to tell Jackson that his son was hurt and his
daughter was missing.
Caswell District Attorney Joel Brewer said Bobby Jackson, then 13, awoke
to being repeatedly stabbed by Billings. As his sister was raped in his
father's bedroom, Bobby crawled into the kitchen, the prosecutor said.
Billings stabbed him again, and then Bobby decided to play dead.
Meanwhile, Brewer said, Amy would have assumed her brother was dead as she
fled across a bean field in the middle of the night, only to have Billings
catch up to her. The prosecutor said Billings plunged a knife into Amy's
throat and raped her again.
"For this to happen to an 11-year-old child, it's just as bad as any crime
could be," Brewer said.
Bobby was able to crawl to the phone in the kitchen and call 911. Brewer
recalled the scene inside the trailer: "This looked like it was a house
with blood for wainscoting. It looked like the bottom half of the trailer
had been painted red with his blood."
Amy's body was found later that morning. Bobby eventually recovered from
his stab wounds. A year later, Billings was sentenced to death.
Robert Jackson, 44, and his wife, Shana, have since moved to Broadway,
outside Sanford. Jackson and his wife were separated at the time of the
murder but have been back together ever since. Robert Jackson has given up
dairy farming -- a calling he misses -- and now works as a heavy machine
operator for a grading company in Garner.
His son, Bobby, now 24, is enrolled in a Job Corps program in Virginia,
studying to become a welder and an electrician.
In his letter to the governor, Jackson said his son may have recovered
physically, but the emotional pain will last a lifetime.
Meanwhile, Jackson noted, Billings has spent the last 12 years in prison
-- a year more than his daughter had to live.
(source: News & Observer)
Killer who terrorized and shot ex-wife faces execution
Before 27-year-old Lisa Huff Filiaggi was killed she was terrorized. Her
ex-husband raged against her and hunted her down.
James J. Filiaggi, who is to be executed by lethal injection Tuesday, made
it clear to her that she was going to die and shot her in the shoulder.
Then he cursed her as he fired into her head.
"It was an execution," said Cel Rivera, the Lorain police chief who was a
detective captain investigating the crime scene on Jan. 24, 1994. "I'm not
a big proponent of the death penalty, but I can't conjure up a whole lot
of sympathy for this guy. It was so calculated and brutal."
A 3-judge panel in Lorain County in July 1995 convicted Filiaggi of
aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, burglary, felonious
assault and domestic violence. His insanity defense, that a brain disorder
made him unable to control anger-filled outbursts, didn't work. A month
later, he was sentenced to die.
Gov. Ted Strickland on Thursday agreed with the Ohio Parole Board and
denied the 41-year-old Filiaggi clemency.
The state has put 24 inmates to death since resuming executions in 1999,
all under former Gov. Bob Taft. Filiaggi originally was scheduled to die
Feb. 13, but was given a reprieve along with 2 other condemned inmates
while the newly elected Strickland reviewed their cases.
Filiaggi had been considered a volunteer - a condemned inmate willing to
die. But a lawyer for Filiaggi on Friday asked the Ohio Supreme Court and
a federal judge to delay his execution so that he can join a federal
lawsuit brought by other inmates that argues death by injection is
unconstitutional and cruel. He had stopped his appeals in 2006.
The state attorney general's response was that Filiaggi waited too long to
join the lawsuit, which has been pending since 2004, and as recently as
Wednesday Filiaggi's attorneys told the state they didn't intend to file
further legal claims for him.
During a pool media interview in January at the Mansfield Correctional
Institute, Filiaggi said he never intended to kill.
"That wasn't my intention that evening," he said. "I was planning to put
my brains on her wall. With depression, you don't think straight.
"Like I said, if I could take it back, I would," he said. "Switch places?
Gladly. At least my girls would have their mom. If I could take anything
back, I would take it all back. It would never have happened and things
would have turned out a lot better. It's sad that it happened that way. I
mean I wish I could explain."
According to Rivera's account and investigative documents reviewed by the
parole board, the night of her death Lisa Filiaggi made a 911 call and
pleaded for police to help. She ran out of her modest, red-brick home's
front door as James Filiaggi bashed in the back door trying to get at her.
Their 2 daughters slept upstairs.
She pounded on the front door of her neighbor's home, but no one
responded. Terrified, not knowing where to turn next, she ran to the front
yard of the next house and frantically screamed, "God help me, someone,
please, help me! He's going to kill me!"
Robert Mutnansky heard her plea, opened his door and let her into his
house. Lisa ran to the back part of his home in the middle-class
neighborhood, and hid in a linen closet.
Mutnansky closed the front door and locked it, but that didn't matter.
Filiaggi forced it open with a couple of fierce blows.
Just 2 days before, Filiaggi had bought a 9 mm Luger pistol, the one he
pointed at Mutnansky and ordered him to help find Lisa. Mutnansky offered
no help, but Filiaggi searched anyway and opened the closet where she hid.
Married only 8 months when Lisa filed for divorce, she could not escape
her ex-husband's abuses.
"You're talking about someone who wanted to exercise total control,"
Rivera said. "He had a girlfriend of his own, and still wanted control of
his ex-wife's life."
Often, when Lisa would pick up their children after court-ordered
visitations, she was subjected to his threats, especially in the fall of
1993 when she got engaged. In 1 incident, he grabbed her neck and
fractured the face of her intended new husband, Eric Beiswenger.
Marilyn Zeidner, executive director of Genesis House, a shelter for
battered women in Lorain, said Lisa Filiaggi is remembered in Lorain as a
tragic example domestic violence.
"She did everything she was supposed to do," Zeidner said. "It didn't
matter, unless she had a body guard. A protection order is just a piece of
paper. Someone like him was not about to comply with it. He was
intimidating and bullying."
At Mutnansky's linen closet, Filiaggi grabbed his former wife's arm and
pulled her into a bathroom. He fired 2 shots. With a shoulder wound, Lisa
broke free and ran to a bedroom.
Filiaggi followed. Mutnansky heard Filiaggi shout and curse at Lisa. There
were 2 more shots, then the footsteps of someone walking out of the house.
Mutnansky found Lisa Filiaggi slumped against a bedroom wall, shot in the
The rampage didn't end there. Filiaggi went to the trailer home in nearby
Amherst Township of Delbert Yepko, Lisa Filiaggi's stepfather. He bashed
in that door and said to Yepko: "Are you ready to die?" Yepko pepper
sprayed Filiaggi's face.
What followed was a bizarre manhunt. Filiaggi fled to stay for a night
with friends near Athens, in southeast Ohio. Filiaggi graduated in 1992
from Ohio University with a business administration and accounting degree.
When his friends found out the next day that he was wanted for murder, he
He ended up at 2 ski resorts, in Pennsylvania and New York. He used a
credit card at one of them to buy flowers for his girlfriend in Ohio.
By the time a group of Lorain police started to search one of the resorts,
Filiaggi had returned to Lorain County and turned himself in at the
sheriff's department. Rivera said Filiaggi most likely had gone to ski
hoping to have one last good time, knowing he would soon be arrested.
2 lawyers represented Filiaggi at a clemency hearing in January offered
nothing on his behalf.
Jeffrey Gamso, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said Filiaggi did not
attempt then to be part of other death row inmates' lawsuit against
capital punishment by lethal injection.
Parole board member Trayce Thalheimer interviewed Filiaggi in prison.
Filiaggi told her the clemency process "is a farce."
During his media prison interview, James Filiaggi said: "The state's going
to make my daughters orphans in the name of justice. Like I said, I've
accepted my punishment, and they can bring it on."
Filiaggi's younger brother, Anthony Filiaggi, and his wife are raising
James and Lisa Filiaggi's daughters, now 16 and 14, in Elyria. Anthony now
considers them his daughters, although not officially adopted.
"I'm trying not to comment about my daughters, and I'm trying to protect
them from the media," he said. "He's my brother. I know he did something
wrong. Part of me is sad. He's my flesh and blood. I also still remember
Lisa and what happened."
Anthony Filiaggi said he has no plan to attend his brother's execution.
In a note to the parole board, 14-year-old Jasmin Filiaggi wrote about her
father: "He shot my mom. So I think he should be shot. I have no sympathy
for him, and what needs to be done is accepted by me. I agree with
ON THE NET----http://www.drc.state.oh.us/Public/Filiaggi_clemency.pdf
2 courts deny Ohio killer's request to delay execution
A condemned inmate's request for an emergency delay of his scheduled
execution was turned down Monday by the Ohio Supreme Court and a federal
judge, who refused to allow the man to join a lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of lethal injection.
James Filiaggi, 41, who gunned down his ex-wife 13 years ago in Lorain,
was driven about 140 miles from a prison in Mansfield to the death house
at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville earlier in the
day, ahead of his execution set for Tuesday.
Filiaggi, a death row volunteer who had given up his appeals to speed his
execution, reconsidered on Friday and asked for an emergency delay so he
can join a lawsuit contending that the lethal injection constitutes cruel
and unusual punishment.
The injection is unconstitutional because it will, in effect, cause him to
be tortured to death, Filiaggi argued in documents filed with U.S.
District Court Judge Gregory Frost.
But the judge ruled Monday that Filiaggi failed to follow state law by 1st
filing a grievance over lethal injection with the chief inspector who
oversees the state prisons system.
The Ohio Supreme Court did not release any written opinion with its 5-2
Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction, said Monday the state will go ahead with Filiaggi's execution
unless an appeals court intervenes.
A message seeking comment was left Monday with Filiaggi's attorney,
Jeffrey Gamso, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati handles death penalty
appeals for Ohio.
A look at Ohio's 6 volunteers for the death penalty
A look at the 6 death row inmates executed after dropping their appeals
since Ohio resumed executions in 1999:
- Wilford Berry, 36, of Cleveland, convicted of the shooting death of his
boss, Charles Mitroff Jr., in 1989. Executed Feb. 19, 1999.
- Stephen Vrabel, 47, of Struthers, convicted of the 1989 gun slayings of
his girlfriend Susan Clemente and their 3-year-old daughter, Lisa.
Executed July 14, 2004.
- Scott Mink, 40, of Union, convicted of bludgeoning his parents, William
and Sheila Mink, to death in 2000. Executed July 20, 2004.
- Herman Dale Ashworth, 32, of Newark, convicted of beating Daniel Baker
to death in 1996 in an alley in Newark. Executed Sept. 27, 2005.
- Rocky Barton, 49, convicted of the 2003 shooting death of his wife,
Kimbirli Jo Barton, 44, with a shotgun in 2003 outside their farmhouse in
Waynesville, about 35 miles northeast of Cincinnati. Executed July 12,
- Darrell Ferguson, 28, of Dayton, convicted of the Christmas Day, 2001,
killing of Thomas King, 61, and the slayings the next day of Arlie Fugate,
68, and his wife Mae, 69. Executed Aug. 8, 2006.
(source for both: Associated Press)
Electrocution protocol questioned
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is expected to formally respond
Monday to a state senator's argument that the state Department of
Correctional Services failed to follow Nebraska law when it adopted a new
death penalty protocol.
How Bruning answers the argument made by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers in a
memorandum last week could determine whether Carey Dean Moore's execution
will occur as scheduled on May 8.
Chambers said in the memorandum the department failed to hold a required
public hearing on the new protocol before adopting it in 2004.
Moore, set to die in the electric chair for the 1979 murders of two Omaha
taxi drivers, would become the first person executed under the new
protocol, which sets the amount of volts to be applied and for how long.
The protocol calls for the application of 2,450 volts of electricity for
15 seconds. The application is repeated if the inmate has a pulse or heart
sounds 15 minutes later.
The Corrections Department adopted the protocol after a state judge ruled
the old procedure was inconsistent with state law.
Under the earlier protocol, used in three previous executions, condemned
inmates received 2,450 volts for 8 seconds, followed by 480 volts for 22
seconds. The sequence was repeated after a 20-second pause.
Judge Robert Hippe of Gering said in a 2000 order that the protocol
created the "potential for the inmate to regain consciousness and
experience substantial and unnecessary pain."
He also said the protocol didn't jibe with state law, which called for the
uninterrupted flow of electricity until the inmate's death.
Some of Hippe's findings were echoed in a 2003 order by U.S. District
Judge Joseph Bataillon of Omaha in an appeal by then-death row inmate
Charles Jess Palmer.
Bataillon made the ruling after Nebraska contacted a Miami forensic
pathologist about the protocol.
In his order, Bataillon referred to coroner's reports on John Joubert and
Robert Williams that both had blisters on their bodies after being
executed in Nebraska's electric chair. Williams' body reportedly was
charred on both sides of a knee and the top of his head, the judge said,
and a witness to the 1994 execution of Harold Otey said Otey was still
breathing after the 1st 2 jolts.
Other testimony suggested a person could still be conscious even if his
heart stopped, said Bataillon, who wrote that "the pause in application of
the current is likely more painful than a continuous jolt would be."
The state, in consultation with Miami forensic pathologist Dr. Ronald
Wright, adopted the new protocol after the rulings.
Wright said in an interview last week that the new protocol was used in
the United States as long ago as the 1890s.
According to Wright, who has researched the effects of electricity on the
body, the current shuts down the brain so a person cannot feel pain. In
the report he submitted to the Corrections Department, Wright said that
even 125 volts have been shown to "produce instant loss of electrical
function" in the brain.
He said the 2,450 volts used by Nebraska is "somewhat higher" than the
voltage used in the first 7 electrocutions in the country.
"Thus," he wrote, "the effectiveness of the 2,450 voltage in producing
death cannot be doubted."
Wright, who said he reviewed about 1,200 articles in preparing the report,
said the application of 15 seconds of electricity, first proposed by a
researcher in 1890, should be sufficient to cause death.
But he cautioned against applying the voltage for more than 30 seconds,
saying it could cause burning or start a body on fire.
He also said the human heart can continue to beat even if it's removed
from the chest - Wright said he knew of one that beat for 18 minutes - and
thus recommended the department wait that length of time to determine
Jerry Soucie, an attorney at the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy,
criticized Wright for focusing on brain death.
Contrary to Wright's claim that electricity will cook the brain, Soucie
said there's scientific evidence that 2,000 volts raises brain temperature
2 degrees or less.
And, he said, there is simply no way to know "whether (a person in the
electric chair) is actually unconscious or feels pain."
Richard Moran, a professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College in
Massachusetts, agreed. Moran's 2002 book, "Executioner's Current,"
includes an examination of the early use of the electric chair in the
"A person could be brain dead before the pain impulse" registers, he said.
"That may be true, if everything is done properly."
But much, he said, can go wrong.
Even if electrodes are attached properly and voltage is calibrated to a
person's weight, resistance to electricity varies from person to person,
he said. And, like blood pressure, the same person's resistance to
electricity can fluctuate as well.
Perspiration is another variable, Moran said. If there's a lot of
perspiration, the electricity "stays on the salty skin," he said.
10 states have electrocution as a method of execution, but only Nebraska
relies on it exclusively.
Moran said the electric chair was once viewed as a humane alternative to
such other methods as hanging, but problems have always plagued the chair.
"(States) have always fooled around with protocols," he said.
"It's not that they need to simply kill the guy. They have to do it in a
way that it'll be OK for the witnesses to see."
Friends, family: Moore is changed person
The children of Maynard D. Helgeland will probably never meet the man who
murdered their father during a botched robbery 28 years ago.
If they did, they would see someone far different than the cold-blooded
killer who took the lives of Helgeland and Reuel Eugene Van Ness in August
1979, friends and family of Carey Dean Moore said.
Moore, 49, scheduled to die May 8 in Nebraska's electric chair, shot
Helgeland and Van Ness, both Omaha taxi cab drivers, in robbery attempts.
"I think Carey had a lot of hurt, a lot of anger inside," said Bonnie
Moore, one of his 11 brothers and sisters. "But people can change, and he
has. I hate to see him get the chair."
Bonnie Moore said her brother, as a young man, was the product of an
abusive father, who often brutally beat him and most of his siblings.
Norman Moore beat his children with extension cords, his fists, whatever
he could find, said Bonnie Moore, who said she suffered brain damage from
"He'd burn the boys' fingers, thumbs with a match or lighter," she said of
her dad, who died in 1984. "His anger would really set him off."
Bonnie Moore said her brother, now a born-again Christian, feels genuine
remorse for his crimes.
"He's a different person now," she said. "He's sorry for what happened. He
always will be."
Maynard Helgeland's children, Kenny and Steve Helgeland and Lori Renken,
said they know little about Moore, and they have little interest in
finding out about the man who took their father's life.
But all 3 questioned the need to execute him nearly 30 years after the
"I believed at the time that that's what he deserved," said Renken, 47, of
Mt. Vernon, S.D. "He felt no remorse. ... Now, I don't see the purpose of
Van Ness' stepbrother declined an interview. Other family members could
not be located.
Renken, who said she has mixed thoughts about the death penalty, said her
husband, David, will be the family's witness at the execution.
"I think he can handle it a lot better than we can," she said. "The family
decided, if it's going to happen, we should have someone there."
Steve Helgeland, 41, said he is not opposed to the death penalty but is "a
little ambivalent" about Moore's pending execution.
"It's not going to make any difference to me if it happens," he said.
"It's not going to give me a sense of completeness.
"It's just another man dying."
He said he's not sure if he will come to Lincoln for the execution. He
said he has no desire to meet Moore.
Kenny Helgeland, 51, who drove the same taxi as his dad, identified his
father's body for authorities.
"I took that day off to come to Lincoln to watch the horse races," he
He, too, said he has mixed feelings about Moore being executed.
"It's kinda hard to say, after all these years," he said. "My feeling is,
all the money spent on this case could have helped a lot of people."
Geoff Gonifas, who met Carey Dean Moore in 2005 as part of a prison
ministry and has become close friends with him, said Moore's personal
changes are genuine.
"He's quite an incredible person," Gonifas said. "He knows that he's been
forgiven. Now, he's not fearful at all.
"If people are skeptical of that, it's because they don't understand the
grace of God."
Another friend, George Eisele, said Moore understands he must be punished
for the murders.
"He's very concerned about the families" of his victims, Eisele said.
In February, Moore filed papers with the Nebraska Supreme Court stating he
would no longer fight the execution.
"He's not fearing death," Eisele said. "I would have to say he's more
excited about it. I think he's looking to be in a better place."
(source for both: Lincoln Journal Star)
More information about the DeathPenalty