[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, IND., FLA., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 24 21:22:09 UTC 2007
Ohio executes man who gunned down ex-wife
A man who lost attempts to challenge the state's lethal injection method
was executed Tuesday for chasing his ex-wife into a neighbor's house,
dragging her into a bedroom and fatally shooting her in the head 13 years
James Filiaggi, 41, a death row volunteer who had given up his appeals in
2006 to speed up his sentence, reconsidered late last week and tried
unsuccessfully to get the courts to delay his execution.
He died at 11:23 a.m. by injection, a process he had argued amounted to
torture. The execution happened about an hour and a half later than
scheduled at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility because prison
officials had waited for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The high court and three other courts ruled against Filiaggi within the 24
hours before his execution. He had sought to join other Ohio inmates in a
lawsuit over the constitutionality of lethal injection, contending that
the method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
In he final statement, Filiaggi took a shot at the death penalty, saying
many innocent inmates are on death row.
"For me - it's fine," he said.
He gave a thumbs up to his family as he was being strapped to a table and
later smiled and repeated the gesture with his spiritual adviser, a Roman
"I want to say thanks to my family for all the support," he said. "I'm
sorry I flipped up the world."
Filiaggi had a strained relationship with Lisa Huff Filiaggi, whom he
married in 1991. She filed for divorce 9 months later and received custody
of their 2 young girls when the divorce was granted in 1993.
James Filiaggi, who has a history of domestic violence, chased his ex-wife
through her Lorain neighborhood on Jan. 24, 1994, then followed her into a
neighbor's house and shot her.
Attorneys for Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,
arguing that a brain disorder made him unable to control anger-filled
outbursts. Prosecutors said he knew right from wrong. A 3-judge panel in
Lorain County convicted him of aggravated murder and other charges in
The victim's mother, cousin and fiance at the time of her death witnessed
Legal challenges to the use of lethal injection have been filed in several
states with mixed results. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the
execution of another inmate in Ohio after he joined the same lawsuit.
Other executions in Ohio have been delayed in the past year because of the
suit, although a former cult leader also was put to death despite his
This was the 1st execution carried out under Democratic Gov. Ted
Strickland, who took office in January. Strickland denied clemency last
week, even though Filiaggi didn't ask for his life to be spared.
Filiaggi was the 25th inmate that Ohio put to death since resuming
executions in 1999, all under former Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican.
The Filiaggi's daughters, now 16 and 14, are being raised by James
Filiaggi's younger brother, Anthony, in Elyria.
In a note to the Ohio Parole Board, 14-year-old Jasmin Filiaggi wrote that
she had no sympathy for her father.
Filiaggi becomes the 14th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1071st overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Death row inmate's fate with Daniels, courts
The life of an inmate on Indiana's death row is now in the hands of Gov.
Mitch Daniels after the state Parole Board voted unanimously Monday to
recommend against clemency.
David Leon Woods faces execution sometime before sunrise May 4 at the
Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.
Clemency: Gov. Mitch Daniels has until the execution hour to grant or
deny clemency to Woods.
Courts: Woods and 2 other death row inmates are challenging Indiana's
lethal injection procedures in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. A
hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday on Woods' motion for a
preliminary injunction on claims that Indiana's system constitutes cruel
and unusual punishment.
His attorneys also plan to request that the U.S. Supreme Court review the
Indiana Supreme Court's ruling that Woods is not mentally retarded. Mental
retardation would make him ineligible for execution.
David Leon Woods, 42, admits he stabbed a 77-year-old neighbor multiple
times during a 1984 robbery that netted him a TV and $130. Unless Daniels
or a court intervenes, Woods will die May 4 by injection.
His attorneys argued the five-member Parole Board should spare his life
because of his limited mental capacity, horrific upbringing and inadequate
All are invalid excuses, several board members said.
"This brutal murder was committed by a man who fully had the mental
capability of understanding the difference between right and wrong," said
Thor Miller, reading from his letter to Daniels. "David Woods showed no
mercy to the victim."
Several members also bridled at suggestions from Woods' attorneys, Linda
Wagoner and William Van Der Pol Jr., that the crime didn't rate among "the
worst of the worst."
Woods stabbed Juan Placencia, who was his mother's former boyfriend, after
he walked into the man's apartment in Garrett, a town north of Fort Wayne.
Woods went there to retrieve his mother's belongings. Before leaving, he
stabbed Placencia 20 more times in the head, neck and torso. Woods
received the death penalty, and two accomplices got lighter sentences.
The Parole Board interviewed Woods on Friday at the Indiana State Prison
in Michigan City. He told the board his mother sent him to Placencia's
home and didn't expect the man to be there.
During testimony Monday in the auditorium of the Indiana Government Center
South, half a dozen of the victim's relatives described the effect of
Placencia's absence at seminal moments and in their daily lives. He left
behind 11 children and, were he still living, would have 76 grandchildren.
"I have to pray that you deny clemency to David Leon Woods," said his
daughter Catherine Placencia, 63, Garrett. "He is the one who did this to
my father and our family."
Earlier, family members and supporters of Woods' described a childhood of
beatings, torment and neglect by their mother, Mary Pilkinton, and men in
her life. In adulthood, Woods and some of his five siblings have begun to
repair their relationship with their mother.
Pilkinton, 64, told the board she testified against her son at his trial
because a prosecutor misled her. Woods' attorneys also cited a February
American Bar Association report in which a panel, including former Gov.
Joe Kernan, recommended a moratorium on executions in Indiana. The panel
asserted that greater safeguards for fairness and accuracy are needed in
meting out the death penalty. "It seems sad that we're going to execute a
fundamentally flawed and injured individual who committed a crime when he
was barely 19 years old," Van Der Pol said after the hearing ended.
Other death row inmates look up to Woods, an ardent Christian. 20 of his
fellow inmates signed a letter asking the Parole Board and Daniels to
grant clemency to a man they see as a peaceful, stabilizing influence.
Prison is the first place Woods has ever felt safe, said the Rev. Wanda
Callahan, 82, a Goshen pastor who ministers to death row inmates,
Placencia's family members said Woods needs to be held fully responsible
for his crime.
"It is now necessary and just to see that David Woods fulfills his
sentence," said Tonya Hoeffel, 43, Garrett, a granddaughter.
Daniels, in office since January 2005, has received five clemency requests
and rejected three. He overruled the board's recommendation once, in the
case of Arthur Baird II in 2005. Daniels cited support for clemency for
the mentally ill prisoner from some jurors and family members of the
In another case, the board in January declined to recommend clemency for
Norman Timberlake. But before Daniels could issue a decision, the Indiana
Supreme Court halted the execution pending the outcome of a similar U.S.
Supreme Court case dealing with a mentally ill inmate.
(source: Associated Press)
Ex-State Prisons Chief To Be Sentenced For Taking Kickbacks
As head of the Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary James Crosby
seemed to be above the fray as guards ran rampant. Some sold and used
steroids, fought, hired ringers for the employee softball team and
allegedly committed sexual assault, but Crosby clung to his job.
But Crosby, and his friend and protege, Allen Clark, had a nasty secret.
Despite their generous state salaries, they were on the take. They
admitted last July that they received $130,000 in kickbacks from a company
that supplied potato chips, soft drinks and other snacks to weekend prison
Both are scheduled to be sentenced this week -- Crosby on Tuesday, Clark
on Wednesday -- and will probably receive federal prison time. Federal
officials have said Crosby could receive up to 8 years in prison.
Crosby's attorney Steve Andrews said his client has been working with
investigators looking into the kickback scandal. Andrews hopes U.S.
District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington will give the 54-year-old
Crosby less than the maximum 10 years in prison.
"Mr. Crosby has cooperated and we hope the government recognizes the
extent of his cooperation," Andrews said in a telephone interview. He said
he could not comment on how long a sentence he believes Crosby will
Crosby did not respond to a requests from The Associated Press seeking an
interview. When he pleaded guilty in July, Crosby said he was ashamed. He
blamed alcohol abuse and said he was getting treatment.
Since taking over the prison system with 92,000 inmates and 28,000
employees 14 months ago, Secretary James McDonough has fired several
prison administrators and corrections officers and implemented a strict
code of conduct.
Crosby and Clark, formerly one of the department's regional directors,
pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from American Institutional Services.
Both have agreed to pay $130,000 in restitution, which is the total amount
of the kickbacks. Prosecutors have not said how much each received, but
under federal law both are responsible for the total amount.
They also lost their state retirement funds. Crosby received a lump-sum
retirement payout of $215,000 and received a $66,000 annual pension.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush forced Crosby to resign in February 2006 after vowing
support for Crosby several times. Prosecutors said Clark would accept
kickbacks and deliver part of those payments to Crosby. The kickbacks
totaled up to $12,000 monthly. Clark made $94,300 annually as regional
director and Crosby earned about $124,000 a year as prisons chief.
Crosby stopped receiving his portion of the kickbacks after Clark resigned
in 2005, but Clark continued taking money until 2006, court documents
American Institutional Services, based in Gainesville, was a subcontractor
of Keefe Commissary Network in St. Louis, which had the contract to supply
commissary services to inmates. At Clark's and Crosby's urging AIS was
hired by Keefe to handle the cash weekend sales to prison visitors.
Federal and state agents searched AIS offices in Gainesville in early
June. After the search, McDonough canceled the AIS contract. McDonough is
scheduled to give an impact statement at Crosby's sentencing.
Crosby joined the prison system in August 1975 and became the warden of
several facilities. He was a popular choice when Bush tapped him to take
control of the department in 2003.
During Crosby's tenure at Florida State Prison, death row inmate Frank
Valdes died after a severe beating in July 1999. Crosby was on vacation at
the time. He and other guards recently settled a lawsuit with the family
for $737,500. Several of the guards were acquitted in trials in Bradford
County and prosecutors dropped charges against other corrections officers.
Raised in Bradford County in area known as "the iron triangle" because of
its multiple prisons, Crosby received a journalism degree from the
University of Florida. He was also interested in politics, serving as
mayor of Starke and working as a local volunteer for George W. Bush's 2000
presidential election campaign. He was a delegate to the Republican
Ron McAndrew, a former warden at Florida State Prison and a critic of
Crosby, said his complaints about Crosby to officials were ignored.
"For over four years, I beat on the doors of the FBI and Gov. Bush's
office in an attempt to show that Crosby was a dishonest person entrusted
with too much of the public's money."
"If Crosby gets anything less than 8 years, we'll know that back-room
politics did the sentencing and not the judge," McAndrew said.
Wanda Valdes, Frank Valdes' ex-wife, had mixed feelings about Crosby's
"Personally, I feel that Mr. Crosby has been humiliated and punished
enough. The higher you are in life, the harder the fall. He was certainly
one of the good ol' boys," Valdes said. "Mr. Crosby was an unjust man. I'm
not a hateful person or a vengeful person, but one day he and his good ol'
boy friends will face God."
(source: First Coast News)
ABA: Extend Tennessee death penalty moratorium
In this earlier report on an investigation into the application of the
death penalty around the South, we noted that Tennessee's death penalty
came under fire when it was discovered that the procedure manual for
lethal injection advises executioners to have fire extinguishers at the
ready and has instructions to "engage the automatic rheostat" and
afterwards to "disconnect electrical cables" before allowing a doctor to
examine the inmate to determine if the lethal injection was successful.
Legal challenges which exposed these bizarre procedures prompted Tennessee
Gov. Phil Bredesen to declare a moratorium on executions until a review of
the state's lethal injection procedures could be conducted. The moratorium
is set to expire on May 2nd.
Yesterday, the American Bar Association issued a finding of more serious
problems and recommended that the moratorium be extended and that the
review of Tennessee's death penalty should be expanded:
A team of Tennessee legal experts, working under the auspices of the
American Bar Association Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project,
today cited problems in the state's use of capital punishment that range
from excessive caseloads and inadequate standards for defense counsel to
racial disparities and inadequate review of death row inmates claims of
The team concluded that Tennessees death penalty system is so flawed that
a temporary halt in executions should be continued to permit a thorough
review of every aspect of capital punishment administration in the state.
It urged Gov. Phil Bredesen to continue past May 2 a stay he initially
imposed on Tennessee executions to examine protocols for administering
lethal injection, the execution method used in the state.
"Gov. Bredesen clearly has given sober consideration to how executions are
carried out in Tennessee," said American Bar Association President Karen
J. Mathis. "Now it is time for him, and for the state as a whole, to
devote even more thorough analysis to how the state reaches the decision
to sentence someone to death. The families and friends of capital crime
victims in Tennessee, the people accused of committing those crimes, and
the citizens who place their trust in their legal system deserve better
justice than they are now receiving," she said.
According to their press release, the ABA takes no position on the death
penalty or the method of execution, but they "urge a moratorium on
executions in each jurisdiction until fairness and due process are assured
in death penalty cases."
Concluding a 3-year study of Tennessee's death penalty according to ABA
protocols for "a fair and accurate capital case system that complies with
constitutional standards," legal experts found that "Tennessee meets only
seven of the standards, partially meets 31 of them, and fails to comply
with 26 of them." There was not enough information available to assess
compliance with 29 of the protocols.
The report urges Tennessee to extend the moratorium and to expand the
scope of its review of the death penalty and makes the following specific
Create an independent commission to review claims of factual innocence,
with power to investigate, hold
Create an independent statewide authority to appoint, train and monitor
defense, appellate and post-conviction lawyers in capital cases
Require preservation and storage of all biological evidence in capital
cases as long as defendant remains incarcerated
Develop statewide protocols to standardize decisions about which cases
are charged as capital crimes
Increase qualification standards and monitoring procedures for defense,
appellate and post-conviction lawyers in capital cases
Provide a right to post-conviction counsel before, not after, filing of
post conviction petitions
Amend court rules to allow defendants to obtain expert and investigative
services at any time after being charged, providing an opportunity to
demonstrate why a capital charge may be inappropriate
Include in proportionality review cases in which the death penalty could
have been sought but was not, and cases in which the penalty was sought
but not imposed
Require judges presiding over trials resulting in 1st degree murder
convictions to file complete proportionality reports
Assure each death row inmate an opportunity for a hearing before the
Board of Pardon and Parole
Redraft capital jury instructions to prevent misunderstandings
Sponsor a state study to determine if there are disparities in capital
sentencing based on race, socio-economic status, geography or other
Exclude from eligibility for execution people with serious mental
Adopt a uniform state standard to determine defendants competency through
trial, appeals and post-conviction proceedings.
These findings and recommendations are similar to the findings of a recent
three-part investigative report by the McClatchy Newspapers into dozens of
death penalty cases around the South.
The ABA is studying the death penalty in eight states, including Georgia,
Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
(source: Facing South)
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