[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OKLA., ILL., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Aug 21 20:41:03 CDT 2007
Welch executed for killing Norman woman
A career criminal who was convicted of raping and killing a young mother
more than 20 years ago was put to death Tuesday.
Frank Duane Welch, 46, was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. after receiving a
lethal mixture of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Welch was executed for the death of Jo Talley Cooper, 28, whose murder
went unsolved for nearly a decade.
Welch was serving time in prison for a kidnapping charge in 1997 when he
was linked by DNA to the killings of Cooper and Grady County resident
Debra Stevens, whose nude body was discovered in her family's home outside
Tuttle less than 3 months after Cooper's death.
"For the Cooper and Stevens families, there's nothing that can change the
horrible thing I've done," Welch said while strapped to a gurney. "I'm
truly, truly sorry for all the hurt and pain I've caused ya'll.
Welch becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Oklahoma and the 86th overall since the state resumed capital punishment
Welch becomes the 34th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1091st overall since the nation resumed executions on
Januar 17, 1977.
"I take full responsibility for what I've done. There's no excuse for it.
There never was."
As the lethal combination of drugs flowed into Welch's arm, one of Welch's
brothers, who was in a viewing room adjacent to the death chamber, began
having breathing problems and collapsed to the floor.
Prison medical personnel attended to him, but he refused to be transported
in an ambulance, officials said.
There were no appeals pending for Welch, who was denied clemency by the
Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Aug. 1.
Nearly 2 dozen members of Cooper's and Stevens' families witnessed Welch's
execution. "My sister Talley was a beautiful person and will always be
remembered for her friendliness, her laugh and her love and passion for
life," Cooper's brother, Jeb Anderson, of Franklin, Tenn., said after the
execution. "Now with the finality of the long legal process, it is our
hope that the memory of her horrible death will diminish."
Cooper, a Mississippi native who earned a master's degree in
communications at the University of Oklahoma, was three months pregnant at
the time of her death. She was tied up, raped and strangled while her
infant son slept in the next room.
Prosecutors believe Welch, who worked as a cable repairman in Norman for a
short time in 1987, used his old uniform to get inside the women's homes.
Her son, Travis, is now 21 and lives in Madison, Wis., with his father,
"None of this will ever bring my mom back," Travis Cooper said after
Tuesday's execution. "I miss my mom.
"We just want to remember all the good things about my mother."
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Former Illinois Governor's Conviction Upheld
In Chicago, a federal appeals court upheld former Gov. George Ryan's
racketeering and fraud conviction Tuesday and refused to grant a new trial
that could delay his 6 1/2-year prison sentence in the biggest political
scandal to rock Illinois in decades.
Ryan's attorneys immediately began trying to prevent the 73-year-old
former governor, once the state's most powerful Republican, from having to
report to prison immediately.
Tuesday afternoon, they were filing for a rarely granted ''en banc''
hearing that would have the entire U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hear
the appeal, said longtime Ryan supporter James R. Thompson, another former
Illinois governor whose law firm, Winston & Strawn, represented Ryan for
free. A three-judge panel had issued the split ruling rejecting a new
''Governor Ryan obviously is disappointed,'' Thompson said. But he said,
''No court ever deprived a defendant of his life and liberty under these
circumstances and that is an argument we will make if necessary to the
U.S. Supreme Court.''
Ryan was convicted last year of racketeering conspiracy, fraud and other
offenses for taking payoffs from political insiders in exchange for state
business while he was Illinois secretary of state from 1991 to 1999 and
governor for 4 years after that. Prosecutors said he had steered state
contracts and leases to insiders and used tax dollars in his political
In his appeal, Ryan's attorneys argued that the jury's deliberations were
U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer had replaced two jurors with
alternates after deliberations in the case had already started, and the
defense said unauthorized documents brought into the jury room poisoned
The 3-judge 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed Tuesday in a
''The fact that the trial may not have been picture perfect is, in itself,
nothing unusual,'' Judge Diane Wood wrote in the majority opinion, joined
by Judge Daniel Manion.
Judge Michael Kanne dissented and said Ryan and his co-defendant,
businessman-lobbyist Larry Warner, should get a new trial. He called the
jury deliberations ''dysfunctional.''
It wasn't immediately clear when Ryan would have to begin serving his 6
1/2-year sentence. He has been free on an unusual appeal bond granted by
the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court had said then that he
would have to report within 72 hours unless granted a new trial, said
former federal prosecutor Patrick M. Collins, who spearheaded the
''He can still appeal things, but even with those appeals pending, by
court order, he has to report,'' Collins said.
Ryan and Warner both maintain they did nothing illegal.
The investigation into the men began as a probe of bribes exchanged for
commercial drivers licenses in Illinois. It ballooned into a wide-ranging
investigation of corruption when Ryan was a major political power at the
Statehouse in Springfield and led to dozens of convictions of state
officials, lobbyists, driving instructors and others.
At the same time, Ryan was also being praised by capital punishment foes
for suspending executions in the state and clearing Illinois' death row.
Ryan's appeal of his conviction was largely based on the decisions by
Pallmeyer to replace the 2 jurors after deliberations had started. The
dismissed jurors had been found to have omitted mention on pre-trial
questionnaires that they had been in trouble with the police.
''The high profile nature of these proceedings gave rise to some unusual
problems with the jury, but we are satisfied that the court handled them
acceptably,'' the appeals court said.
(source: Associated Press)
***************** female may face death penalty
Death penalty sought in 3 child deaths
Tiffany Hall admitted drowning her longtime friend's 3 young children in a
bathtub where she'd already cut a fetus from their mother's womb,
Now prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty if the East St. Louis
woman is convicted of 1st-degree murder in the children's slayings.
Hall, 24, already faced a possible death sentence if convicted of killing
the children's mother, Jimella Tunstall. Prosecutors filed their intent to
seek the death penalty in the children's deaths in St. Clair County
Circuit Court on Wednesday.
One of Hall's attorneys, James Gomric, declined to comment Wednesday
Hall is charged with 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in the September deaths
of Tunstall, 23, and her children: DeMond Tunstall, 7, Ivan
Tunstall-Collins, 2, and Jinela Tunstall, 1. She also is charged with
intentional homicide of Tunstall's 7-month-old fetus, which Hall for a
time claimed was hers.
Hall has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Police have testified that Hall admitted to repeatedly clubbing Tunstall
on the head with a table leg Sept. 15, then cutting out the fetus in the
bathtub where she drowned Tunstall's 3 other children days later.
Police say they found the children in a washing machine and dryer in
Tunstall's East St. Louis apartment after Hall directed them there.
Tunstall's body was found among high weeds in a nearby park.
(source: Chicago Flame)
Ten years after new law, fewer state convictions ruled unconstitutional;
Vanderbilt study finds fewer convictions and sentences overturned
A new study led by Nancy King, Lee S. and Charles A. Speir Professor of
Law at Vanderbilt University, finds that fewer state convictions and
sentences are being ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.
The 2-year study was partially funded by the National Institute of Justice
and is the first to examine the effects of 1996 amendments to the habeas
corpus law that apply when state prisoners challenge their convictions and
sentences in federal court.
The research examined nearly 2,400 non-capital cases, randomly selected
from among the more than 36,000 habeas cases filed in federal district
courts nationwide by state prisoners during 2003 and 2004, and more than
360 death penalty cases filed in 13 federal districts between 2000 and
Before the 1996 law, known as the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act or "AEDPA," federal courts granted a writ of habeas corpus to
a state prisoner in about one of every 100 non-capital cases filed. A writ
of habeas corpus is a mandate from a court to a prison official ordering
that an inmate be be released from custody, re-sentenced, or retried.
King's research found that after the new law was enacted, the grant rate
was closer to one in every 300 cases.
"More than one in every 5 of these cases was dismissed because the
prisoner missed the new filing deadline," said King.
The study also found a federal court was much more likely to overturn the
conviction or sentence of an inmate on death row compared to other
prisoners. King found that in the capital cases that had reached
conclusion in federal court by the study's end, one of every eight death
sentences was invalidated.
Congress hoped to speed up federal habeas review when it amended the
habeas law in 1996, but this new research found that habeas cases now take
longer to finish. King said 1 of every 4 cases filed by death row inmates
between 2000 and 2002 had not been resolved by the end of November 2006.
"Capital habeas cases in Texas federal courts were processed much more
quickly than those in the other federal courts we examined," said King.
"In Arizona and Nevada, for example, less than a quarter of the cases
filed by death row inmates during the study period had been resolved."
Under regulations proposed earlier this summer by the Department of
Justice, some states may soon qualify for fast-track processing of capital
"Once a state meets the statute's standards for providing attorneys to
death row inmates in state court, the federal trial court must finish its
review of any capital case from that state in just 450 days," said King.
"We looked at the federal courts where most of the capital cases are filed
and none of them have been completing cases that fast."
Commenting on the pending regulations earlier this month, the United
States Judicial Conference warned that the processing deadlines for
capital cases would place a "significant burden on federal courts, not
only for the habeas cases in question, but for the entire criminal and
civil dockets of the courts, which must give precedence to the capital
In addition to timing and outcome, the new study tracked the different
constitutional claims and procedural defenses raised in habeas cases.
About 1 of every 10 petitions filed by death-row prisoners alleged that
new evidence would show that the inmate was innocent. This claim was
raised in 5 of the 33 cases in the study in which a federal court
overturned a death sentence.
King's research found that the most common reason for overturning a
capital case was the failure of the state to provide the inmate with
representation in state court that met constitutional standards.
Joining King on the study were co-authors Fred Cheesman and Brian Ostrom
of the National Center for State Courts. An expert advisory committee of
states' attorneys, petitioners' attorneys, as well as members of the state
and federal judiciary assisted with the research. The study was funded by
Vanderbilt Law School and the National Institute of Justice, the research,
development, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.
(source: Vanderbilt University -- The report is available at
www.law.vanderbilt.edu and www.ncjrs.gov. )
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