[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GA., USA, FLA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Apr 28 12:39:39 CDT 2007
Unholy hands; David Rose's Violation chronicles a vain 30 year search for
justice in Georgia, says Jay Parini
Violation: Justice, Race and Serial Murder in the Deep South by David Rose
350pp, HarperCollins, 16.99
In the Deep South of America, there is nothing more traumatic than the
killing of a white woman by a black man. As one Southern woman wrote in
1897: "The black fiend who lays unholy and lustful hands on a white woman
in the state of Georgia shall surely die!" David Rose uses this hysterical
quotation to set the scene in his second chapter, and it's a grisly scene.
Seven elderly white women from the higher echelons of society in Columbus,
Georgia were raped and murdered, with singular brutality, in an
eight-month spree that began in mid-September 1977. It took a full 9 years
to win the conviction of Carlton Gary, a young black man, who remains on
death row to this day.
Gary was just the sort of man who might arouse suspicion. A classic
hustler, he habitually broke the law by dealing in drugs or selling stolen
goods, some of which he stole himself. He had worked as a model of sorts,
appearing in local TV ads. Women fell at his feet, enthralled, often
frustrated. As Rose notes: "Trouble was never far away" whenever Gary drew
The case against Gary remains strong, despite the noble efforts of Rose on
his behalf. He was in the vicinity of the crimes when they took place. He
had, in fact, also been on the spot - in Syracuse, New York - when not 1
but 2 eerily similar murders were committed (in 1970 and 1977
respectively). Powerful evidence linked him to these crimes. The same
could not really be said of the Columbus murders, as the police bungled
the investigation, suppressing or losing exculpatory evidence as well as
manhandling what decent evidence for the prosecution they actually
possessed. Justice was ill served, to say the least. There is, as Rose
notes, that "golden hour" in the immediate aftermath of a crime when
evidence is fresh. It quickly loses its shine, and Rose had no easy task
before him here: to resurrect this cold case, seeking to make up for the
bad police work of many years before.
Given the historical climate of prejudice in Columbus, which Rose
establishes quite dramatically, it is clear that one thing working against
Gary in court was his sexual appetite. His preferences were never
abnormal, however. Gary may have been a robust serial romancer of women,
but he was no sadist. One friend recalls: "Over the years I knew him, he
had many girlfriends." But these were young and pretty girls. "The idea
that he would leave this club with a beautiful girl and then leave her to
go and rape an old woman - it just don't add up. I always knew he was some
kind of hustler ... But he wouldn't have messed with a 90-year-old woman
at all - let alone rape her."
Rose quotes experts who agree that the sexual needs Gary so compulsively
fulfilled were inconsistent with the usual profile of a serial killer. Yet
it was easy for the prosecution to create a sense of Gary's overbearing
sexual drive, thus playing into the jury's unconscious fears of black men.
All they really had to do was to present a sex-obsessed convicted criminal
who had been around at the time of the murders. Gary's link to the
Syracuse murders probably clinched the deal.
The key witness at the trial was Detective Sergeant Michael Sellers,
portrayed here with novelistic skill. Sellers had traced one murder
weapon, a stolen automatic, "to Jim Gary in Phenix City and thence to his
nephew Carlton". The bizarre details of Sellers's detective work include a
phone call from God. But then, this is the Deep South, where God
intervenes regularly, often with messages that shift the outcome of human
activities. In this case, God pointed a finger at Gary.
Sellers interrogated Gary under conditions that, in retrospect, appear
unduly coercive: the young man was kept up late, given only "some water
and crackers". Sellers claimed that Gary's testimony was not actually
recorded, as tape recorders were "not available". Nor did he take notes.
The only document presented in court was a "conglomeration" of
recollections put down after the fact, unsigned as well as undated. To say
that the police work in this case was sloppy is to put it mildly.
Important evidence was "unintentionally or intentionally withheld", as one
former district attorney who dealt with the case admits to Rose.
Rose is a remarkable journalist, shrewd and hard-working, and he devoted
years to unravelling this case, interviewing many of the principal
figures, including Gary himself. At one point, he actually smuggled a
sample of Gary's semen out of the prison in a smelly bit of clingfilm for
DNA testing. This involvement put him in an odd position with regard to
his story, as he admits. But a hatred of injustice fuels this writer, as
we have seen from his previous books, such as his excellent expos of the
US prison at Guantnamo Bay.
Rose brings fresh forensic evidence to bear on Gary's case (about shoe
sizes and teeth-marks on the victims) that suggests that the wrong man may
have been put on death row. Nevertheless, he still cannot answer with any
certainty the question of his subject's guilt or innocence. He regards
this as the wrong question, and to an extent he is right. By framing
Gary's story against a dark history of racial prejudice, which includes
the horrendous lynching in 1912 of a black boy who accidentally shot a
white boy from an influential family called Land, Rose makes a larger
point. (The white boy was an ancestor of the judge who tried Gary.)
Indeed, the ideology of racism in the South obscures access to truth. In
the case of a black man on trial for murdering a string of wealthy white
women, one can assume that justice will not prevail.
At the end of this riveting book, readers are left to judge for
themselves. I was not convinced of Gary's innocence, though (like Rose) I
assume that the courts have so botched and mishandled the evidence that
Gary deserves a fresh trial. That is unlikely to happen, as the courts
have thus far resisted all attempts in this direction.
(source: The Guardian)
What Level Of Mental Illness Should Preclude Execution And How To
The American Psychological Association has teamed with the National
Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Psychiatric Association to
present a brief as Amici Curiae to the U.S. Supreme Court, providing
expertise on appropriate standards for determining the level of mental
illness that should preclude execution. Arguments on the case, Panetti v.
Quarterman, will be heard by the court today.
Scott Panetti, the defendant in the case, was sentenced to death for the
1992 murder of the parents of his estranged wife. In 2003, Panetti
petitioned the Texas state court to determine his competency for
execution. The Texas state court ruled him competent. Panetti next
petitioned the federal district court. The district court found fault with
the earlier ruling and held an evidentiary hearing at which four mental
health professionals (three psychologists and a psychiatrist) all agreed
that Panetti suffered from some degree of mental illness, characterized by
impaired cognitive process and delusions, and consistent with
schizoaffective disorder. The district court nevertheless held that
Panetti was competent to be executed because he understood the state
intended to execute him.
On appeal to the Fifth Circuit, Panetti argued that the district court
employed the wrong legal standard to evaluate his competence to be
executed. Panetti argued that an earlier Supreme Court standard
established in the seminal case of Ford v. Wainwright required that
Panetti not only be aware of the fact of his impending execution but also
have a rational understanding of why he was to be executed. Panetti
believes he is to be executed because he preached the gospel, not because
he murdered his in-laws.
The central question before the Court is whether a defendant must have a
rational understanding of the reasons for his execution, beyond the mere
fact that he will be executed, in order to be competent to be executed?
The APA brief provides guidance to the Court in developing a meaningful
standard of competence for execution, including bringing scientific
knowledge to the Court on such issues as the ability of a prisoner with
serious mental illness to understand the reason for the execution.
"The law-psychology field has been attentive to the law's distinction
between 'factual' and 'rational' understanding for many years, and across
a variety of legal questions," according to Kirk Heilbrun, PhD, a forensic
psychologist who served as one of three APA representatives to the
American Bar Association's Task Force on Mental Disability and the Death
Penalty. "Factual understanding is about information. Rational
understanding allows us to place that information in a meaningful context,
without gross interference caused by certain symptoms of severe mental
illness, or very serious impairment of intellectual functioning."
The APA brief will seek to bring to the Court information about serious
mental illness and how it can manifest in particular individuals - such
-- Individuals who, like Panetti, suffer from severe psychotic disorders
frequently suffer from bizarre delusions that disrupt their understanding
-- Individuals with serious mental illness may be unable to connect events
or understand cause and effect - for example the connection between
criminal acts and punishment.
-- Mental health professionals can reliably assist the courts in
identifying prisoners with mental illness who suffer delusions that
preclude them from understanding the actual reasons for their punishment.
The foundation for the APA brief was work done by an interdisciplinary
task force established in 2003 by the American Bar Association. The
interdisciplinary group brought together experts from the Bar Association,
the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric
Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to craft a joint
policy statement calling for the establishment of limits on the use of
capital punishment for those with severe mental health disabilities.
(source: Medical News Today----The American Psychological Association
(APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional
organization representing psychology in the United States and is the
world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes
more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and
students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and
affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial
associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a
profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human
Do We Need the Death Penalty?----Yes, It's Ethical and Effective
Across the country, support for the death penalty has dropped from 80 % to
65 % in the past decade. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) recently
asserted that "the facts are on the side of those" who say the state's
death penalty does not deter murder.
Really? Retired British prison psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple has pointed
out that after Britain abolished capital punishment in 1965, its homicide
rate doubled. The types of killings that once would have led to the death
penalty, such as murders by those on parole for lesser crimes, "increased
disproportionately." Further, improved trauma medicine has reduced
fatalities from violence by up to four-fifths. So, Dalrymple has said, in
effect "the rate of homicidal violence has increased by up to 10 times."
Maryland has executed 5 convicted murderers since the Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1976. In 2005, the state recorded 522
murders. With a population of 5.6 million, that meant a homicide rate of
9.9 per 100,000 people.
Virginia has executed 98 convicted murderers since 1976. In 2005, it
recorded 461 homicides in a population of 7.6 million, 6.1 per 100,000 --
nearly 40 % lower than Maryland's.
The District of Columbia has no death penalty. Its last execution occurred
in 1957. In 2005, the District endured 195 murders, 35.4 per 100,000, a
rate more than 5 times higher than Virginia's.
It seems premature, at least, to insist that the possibility of capital
punishment has no effect on public safety. And deterrence does not have to
mean absolute prevention. Even a 10 % decrease in Maryland's homicide
rate, for instance, would save more than four dozen lives annually.
Despite what some opponents say, capital punishment is not a euphemism for
state-sanctioned murder. Ethically, murder and execution are antonyms, not
synonyms, based on the original Hebrew sense of the Sixth Commandment,
which is "thou shall not murder" and not the often-mistranslated "thou
shall not kill."
As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once explained, "in part, capital
punishment is an expression of society's moral outrage at particularly
offensive conduct. This function may be unappealing to many, but it is
essential in an ordered society that asks its citizens to rely on legal
processes rather than self-help to vindicate their wrongs . . ."
But "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" leaves the possibility of executing
someone wrongly convicted, some argue. Should not life imprisonment be
2 examples suggest the answer is no.
- In 2005, Germany freed Mohammed Ali Hamadi after the terrorist had
served 18 years for murdering Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem. Press
reports said that "a life sentence in Germany ranges between 20 and 25
years, with the possibility of parole after 15 years."
When California executed Clarence Ray Allen, 76, last year, it wasn't for
the 1974 murder he'd arranged, but the 1980 triple killing he instigated
from behind bars.
Justice demands equity, as much as possible. In some murder cases, that
means the death penalty.
Eric Rozenman----Fairfax; The writer is a Washington-based news media
No, It's Morally Indefensible
Our nation appears to be in the midst of a much-welcomed soul searching
regarding the use of capital punishment. We only wish Virginia would take
Perhaps our commonwealth's 400th anniversary will provide a moment to
reflect -- not only on our storied contributions to this nation, but also
on the fact that, since Jamestown, our state has executed nearly 1,300
people, the most of any state; and that since the reinstatement of the
death penalty in 1976, our state has executed 98 individuals, 2nd only to
We need look no farther than our neighbors for signs of growing skepticism
about capital punishment.
To our north, a committee recently came within 1 vote of sending
legislation to repeal the death penalty to the floor of the Maryland
To our south, executions are on hold in North Carolina -- one of 11 states
in which capital punishment recently has been suspended.
Here in Virginia, some leaders seem intent on the exact opposite. Earlier
this year, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislative provisions
that sought to expand the state's death penalty statute. Commendably, Gov.
Timothy M. Kaine (D) vetoed each of those provisions. Regrettably, the
legislature overrode some of those vetoes.
We readily acknowledge the need for our criminal justice system to ensure
that one who has been convicted of a heinous crime be rendered incapable
of repeating it. At the same time, we believe the death penalty must be
viewed as a "last resort," to be used only when -- in the words of Pope
John Paul II -- "it would not be possible otherwise to defend society."
No matter how horrendous the crime, if a society can protect itself
without ending a human life, it should do so.
With Virginia's life-without-parole sentence and modern incarceration
system, that protection is provided. The life-sentence alternative is
unique in its ability to protect state residents while upholding the
dignity of every person, even the one convicted of a brutal crime.
Accordingly, we are convinced that -- in our time and place -- the death
penalty is unnecessary and inappropriate, and that death sentences should
no longer be imposed or carried out in Virginia. Whenever an execution is
scheduled in Virginia, we have called for a commutation of the death
sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
To those who do not share our conviction, we would hope to agree on this
much: Given Virginia's unusually frequent recourse to the death penalty,
the last thing needed is to widen its scope.
On April 4, this point seems to have resonated with the 14 members of the
Virginia Senate who were responsible for upholding the governor's veto of
the most far-reaching death penalty expansion to reach his desk.
This action is at least 1 small step in the right direction. May it lead
our commonwealth on the road to more sober reflection on its past use of
capital punishment and to a new direction for its future.
Francis X. DiLorenzo----Richmond and Paul S. Loverde----Arlington; Francis
DiLorenzo is bishop of the Catholic diocese of Richmond. Paul Loverde is
bishop of Arlington)
(source: Op-Ed Columnists, Washington Post)
Lethal injections may be ruled as unconstitutional----Researchers say
executions cause painful, slow death
Cruel and unusual punishment may be the cause of death for those who are
subject to lethal injections, as a recent study on prisoner execution
showed that the current drug protocol could cause suffocation. On Apr. 24,
researchers at the University of Miami Miller School Of Medicine reported
their findings that lethal injections in the United States may lead to
death by chemical asphyxiation.
According to researchers, the chemicals that are currently used to execute
prisoners on death row subject offenders to a death that can be ruled as
inhumane - as opposed to quick and painless. The three chemicals used in
lethal injections include substances that induce anesthesia, paralysis and
respiratory arrest, or stopping of the heart.
Teresa Zimmers, research assistant professor of surgery at the University
of Miami and head author of the report, said in a press release that the
drug combination in lethal injection executions does not hold any clinical
precedence, was not sufficiently tested on lab animals before official use
and has led to delayed executions - making it a possibly insufficient
means for implementing the death penalty.
"We concluded that the original design of the lethal injection drug
protocol itself is flawed," Zimmers said. "The drug protocol is based on
little clinical and scientific data and contradicts clinical veterinary
The study also indicates a problem with the delivery of the injections,
citing that doctors and nurses do not perform the procedures, but rather
volunteers with unreleased qualifications.
Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, associate professor of surgery at the University of
Miami who is also a senior author of the research findings, said those in
favor of the death penalty or lethal injection are misled into thinking
that the procedures are unproblematic.
"The reason that people support lethal injection is because they perceive
it to be a humane medical procedure," he said. "Here we provide more
evidence that it is anything but that."
Dr. Jeffery Uppington, anesthesiologist for the UC Davis Health System,
said the state of California wishes to employ board-certified
anesthesiologists for the executions in order to ensure the inmate is
unconscious when injected with painful drugs. He said the
constitutionality of such a topic is a question that should be left to the
"It's a hugely controversial subject when it comes to a physician's
involvement in lethal injections," Uppington said. "There have been many
ethical debates about it." The report indicates conclusions that the
researchers may view as unlawful and in violation of the Eighth Amendment,
which bans cruel and unusual punishment.
"Our findings suggest that current lethal injection protocols may not
reliably affect death through the mechanisms intended, indicating a
failure of design and implementation," the study stated. "Potentially
aware inmates could die through asphyxiation. Thus, the conventional view
of lethal injection leading to an invariably peaceful and painless death
(source: Courtney Burks, The California Aggie)
State opts to keep list of private attorneys
State lawmakers decided to keep a registry of private attorneys who
represent inmates sentenced to death in North Florida despite Florida
Supreme Court justices' request to scrap the pilot program initiated by
Gov. Jeb Bush 4 years ago.
The Senate originally agreed with Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred
Lewis, who asked Senate Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee Chairman
Victor Crist to restore the northern Capital Collateral Regional Counsel,
the office of state-employed lawyers and investigators who represent
inmates on death row.
The Court unanimously believes that the state offices are "far superior to
the private attorney registry approach," Lewis wrote last month.
More than 2 years ago, Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, a Bush
appointee, told the Commission on Capital Cases the work of the private
attorneys handling the final appeals for Death Row convicts was "some of
the worst lawyering I've seen."
The Florida House refused to recreate the northern regional office, and on
Friday, Senate Budget Chairwoman Lisa Carlton agreed to maintain the
"I don't know the details of the issue, to be honest with you," said
Carlton, R-Osprey. "It was an important issue to the House that they
maintain their policy on that, and I agreed with them."
Gov. Charlie Crist questioned the lawmakers' decision, saying he preferred
the regional counsels.
"I think they do that job very well. I'd love to hear the arguments as to
why we would want to hire private lawyers to perform that function," Crist
Bush created the privatization pilot program to save money and expedite
the lengthy death row appeals process.
Instead, the project had the opposite effect, Cantero told the commission.
Registry attorneys' sloppiness and ineptitude bogged down the court and
"creates a lot of inefficiencies and makes us spend a lot of time on these
cases that we could spend on other cases," he testified.
Rep. Dan Gelber, a former prosecutor who supports the death penalty,
objected to the registry when it was established in 2002.
The shoddy representation could cause longer stays on death row and worse,
said Gelber, who sits on the commission.
"The reason you want (lawyers) to have a certain level of competence is so
they can efficiently move through the system. This may have the exact
opposite effect," said Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat.
(source : Palm Beach Post )
A dose of cruel reality
As it turns out, one of the major problems with drugs that help people
also is a problem with drugs that kill people.
This week, the online journal of the Public Library of Science published a
study challenging the conventional wisdom that the combination of drugs
used for lethal injections renders a relatively painless death. 7
researchers, most from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine,
analyzed data from several states, including Florida. They concluded that
because Florida and other states administer the same dose of drugs to each
condemned inmate, no state can be sure that the anesthetic - administered
first - remains effective through the final, fatal dose of potassium
chloride. As with beneficial drugs, the effect from lethal drugs can
depend on weight, age and other factors.
Teresa Zimmers is a research assistant professor at UM who led the study.
She graduated from MIT and the Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine. Without more evidence that the lethal injection drug cocktail
works as advertised, she said, "You wouldn't be able to use this protocol
to kill a pig at the University of Miami."
At this point, some might say that a pig deserves better than a murderer,
so what's the problem? The inconvenient problem is the U.S. Constitution,
which says that the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment
applies even to killers of the innocent. The added problem for Florida is
that it is 1 of 11 states to have suspended executions because of problems
with lethal injection.
In December, the botched killing of Angel Nieves Diaz caused first Gov.
Bush and then Gov. Crist to halt all executions. A special panel found
problems with the state's system. One is that because medical ethics
prevent physicians from helping with executions, it's hard to guarantee
that executions are carried out correctly. In Diaz's case, drugs were
injected into soft tissue, not his veins. As for verifying that no
executed person suffers, that's obviously beyond the reach of the best
"In stark contrast to animal euthanasia," the study said, "lethal
injection for judicial execution was designed and implemented with no
clinical or basic research whatsoever." Again, the reaction may be that a
beloved pet deserves a gentler departure from this world than a murderer.
But selective enforcement of the Constitution isn't on the menu.
Death penalty supporters criticized the study's methodology. Still, more
and more studies undercut the claim that lethal injection lives up, or
down, to its billing. It just got a little harder for Florida to defend
(source: Editorial, Palm Beach Post)
Fresh Off Death Row, a Man Fights For a Cause
A former death-row inmate who was exonerated after almost 18 years in
prison described his experience and called for the abolition of the death
penalty in a speech yesterday in White Gravenor.
Juan Melendez spent 17 years, 8 months and 1 day on death row in Florida
after being convicted of the 1983 murder of Delbert Baker. There was no
physical evidence linking Melendez to the crime and another prisoner,
Vernon James, had admitted to murdering Baker a month before the trial
began. James invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying at the trial,
and his taped confession was ruled to be hearsay evidence and not shown to
Melendez was released on Jan. 3, 2002, after a transcript of James
confession was discovered and a new trial ordered.
In the speech, sponsored by Georgetown's Prison Outreach, Melendez said
that his time spent languishing in prison was the darkest period of his
"Imagine yourself arrested and charged with murder, for a crime you didn't
commit," he said. "I am no killer. My momma didn't raise no killer."
Melendez said he often dreamed of his native Puerto Rico during his nearly
20 years on death row, and relied on support from his family and from God.
He said that some days, when confined to a 54-square-foot cell infested
with rats and roaches, suicide seemed like the best option.
"If you kill yourself, you are dead but free," he said. "A condemned man
needs something more powerful than the system to sustain him."
Upon his release, all Melendez owned was $100 and the clothes on his back.
"I kissed the ground," he said. "I wanted to see the moon and the stars,
walk on grass and dirt, hold a baby in my arms, talk to a beautiful
Melendez now works for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty, an organization formed in 1976 that advocates for the elimination
of capital punishment. He hopes that the death penalty, which he described
as a cruel, expensive and racist practice, which pains families, will be
banned during his lifetime.
"I am a dreamer," he said. "Always have been."
Melendez said he believes education is the key to abolishing the death
"We can always make progress," Melendez said. "I had to get on death row
before I became active with this cause, but it doesn't have to be that
(source: The Hoya (Georgetown University)
2nd man cleared in 1988 killing----All charges dropped against Robert
Gondor in death of woman whose body was found in Troy Township
All charges against Robert Gondor have been dropped in the 1988 murder of
Connie Nardi, his attorney Steven Bradley said Friday.
17 years after Gondor, 43, and his lifelong friend Randy Resh, also 43,
were convicted of various charges in connection with the murder, they are
both free men, Bradley said.
Gondor said he was going to celebrate by visiting his father's grave site
with his brother. His father died in 2002, while Gondor was still in
prison. "It feels like a lot of stress has been lifted," Gondor said.
The announcement ends nearly 2 decades of scrutiny that began when Nardi,
31, of Rootstown, was found strangled in Troy Township in 1988.
Gondor and Resh, both of Mantua, and Troy Busta of Hiram were all
implicated in the murder. Gondor was convicted of involuntary
manslaughter, kidnapping and obstructing justice; Resh of attempted rape
and murder; and Busta of aggravated murder.
Busta was the prosecution's key witness against Gondor and Resh in their
1990 trials, but Busta's story changed several times during the course of
the investigation, according to court records. Busta's plea bargain
allowed him to avoid the death penalty.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that Resh and Gondor deserved new
trials, in part because their attorneys had been ineffective.
Resh was retried first and found not guilty April 18 in Portage County
Court of Common Pleas.
Gondor was scheduled to appear May 14 before a jury and Portage County
Common Pleas Judge John Enlow, but Friday morning, the charges were
"Today is the day it finally comes to an end," Bradley said.
Bradley noted he has represented Resh and Gondor for the last 4 years. "I
can't wait to see (Gondor) as a free man for the 1st time ever," he said.
Of the long road to exoneration, Gondor said, "If you fight for something
hard enough - and if you know what you're fighting for is right - you can
win, even if it takes a long time."
Gondor thanked his family, Resh's family, friends, attorneys and other
"It's just mind-boggling to know our lives have affected so many
individuals," he said.
"Once again, I'd like to reaffirm Randy Resh and I are innocent. We didn't
participate in this crime whatsoever."
(source: The News-Herald)
Death-row convict's attorneys ask state to conduct DNA tests
In an attempt to exonerate their client of two Canton murders and the
shooting of a third person in 1985, attorneys for John Gillard formally
requested the Ohio attorney general to conduct DNA testing.
Randall Porter of the Ohio public defender's office said the blood found
on the clothing of William Gillard, John's brother, "is consistent with
the blood of all 3 victims."
The request, which was filed in Stark County Common Pleas Court on Friday,
comes in the aftermath of a decision earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme
Court that ended John Gillard's appeals to have his conviction overturned.
That could mean the Ohio Supreme Court will set an execution date for
Gillard this year.
"In 1985, DNA testing was not available," Porter said.
says he is innocent
Gillard, who has maintained his innocence, was convicted in the
execution-style murders of Denise Maxwell and Leroy Ensign after a New
Year's Eve party in the 200 block of Kennet Court NW. The 2 victims and a
3rd, Ronnie Postlethwait, spent the night at the home where the party was
held. Postlethwait was shot in the head but survived and later identified
Gillard as the shooter.
During the party, witnesses said, William Gillard fought with Ensign.
After the fight broke up, William Gillard returned and was seen firing a
gun into the air outside the home. Shortly after that, the back door burst
open, then Ensign, Maxwell and Postlethwait were shot. After also being
charged with the murders, William Gillard eventually pleaded guilty to
aggravated burglary and testified against his brother.
Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero said Friday he has not seen the
DNA motion, but called it a stalling tactic.
He said his office will see how the motion "is styled and confer with the
attorney general's office."
"It's getting near the end, and they're pulling out every stop," he said.
"They had opportunities earlier to make the request."
Ferrero said he's sticking with Postlethwait's eyewitness account and
other evidence that convicted John Gillard.
Shirley Ison, the mother of Denise Maxwell, said she remains convinced
John Gillard committed the crimes and "all he's doing is prolonging
punishment. It's way past too long."
"Billy is not that aggressive," said Ison, who lives in Arizona. "It never
seemed he would do (the shooting)."
Ison said she remembers the day 22 years ago she got a call asking her to
go to the Canton Police Department. "I had an eerie feeling," she said.
In another DNA case, the state has delayed the execution of John G. Spirko
Jr. seven times over several years to examine DNA evidence in his 1982
murder trial in Van Wert County.
(source: Canton Repository)
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