[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KY., MO., ARK., N.H.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Aug 21 20:39:48 CDT 2007
Evidence wanted for DNA testing in old murder is missing
2 pieces of crucial evidence wanted for DNA testing by a Kentucky death
row inmate are missing.
A pair of black pants and black corrective shoes that prosecutors say
place Brian Keith Moore at the scene of a 1979 murder in Louisville cannot
In response, Moore's attorney has asked Jefferson Circuit Judge James
Shake to set aside the conviction and death sentence if prosecutors don't
find the items.
"In light of this, the risk that Moore is innocent currently exists and
will continue to remain," public defender David Barron said.
A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Thursday morning.
Four pieces of clothing - a shirt, a black jacket, the pants and the shoes
- were supposed to be taken to the crime lab for testing in May, but
employees could only find the shirt and jacket.
DNA evidence from the shirt and jacket could cast doubt on Moore's
conviction, but the loss of the shoes and pants could prevent him from
proving his innocence, Barron said.
The Attorney General's office listed the shoes and pants as available for
testing in an inventory submitted to a judge in May 2006. Corey Bellamy, a
spokesman for the Kentucky Attorney General, which is handling the case,
declined to comment.
Prosecutors across the country frequently report problems finding evidence
from old cases for DNA testing, said Vanessa Potkin, a staff attorney with
The Innocence Project in New York, a group that aids inmates in getting
Old evidence was found after multiple searches in recent cases in
Virginia, New Jersey and New York, Potkin said. In the New York case, Alan
Newton waited 11 years for a rape kit to be located and was released in
2006 after serving 21 years of a 40-year sentence.
Maryland's highest court last week ordered prosecutors to keep searching
for evidence that could be tested in a 33-year-old murder.
"Evidence just doesn't disappear," Potkin said. "You really need to be
diligent. In this case, the significance could be life or death."
Moore, 49, was condemned to death for kidnapping and killing Virgil
Harris, a Louisville man who was on his way to his 77th birthday party.
Moore is the 1st Kentucky death row inmate win DNA testing on evidence
stemming from a crime predating such tests. At least 3 other death row
inmates have petitioned for testing.
Kentucky's law is similar to statutes in 39 other states. It allows death
row inmates to request DNA testing on evidence as long as there haven't
been previous tests and they can convince a judge that the evidence would
have affected the outcome of their trial.
Similar tests have resulted in more than a dozen people around the country
being freed from death row.
Moore has claimed he was set up by another suspect in the killing, who
turned in Moore to reduce a pending sentence in another case. That person
has since died.
Shake found that the evidence in the case - the clothes, Moore's
fingerprints on several items belonging to the victim and Moore driving
Harris' car - could be consistent with Moore's claim. Shake ruled that
Moore made a compelling enough case to warrant DNA testing.
If the DNA on the clothes doesn't match Moore, the rest of the evidence
against him is weak and suspect, Barron said. The pants in question don't
- and have never - fit Moore, who weighs about 350 pounds, and nearly all
the evidence can also be tied to the other suspect, Barron said.
Kentucky has executed 2 inmates since the reinstatement of the death
penalty in 1976. Harold McQueen of Madison County was put to death in the
electric chair in 1997, and Eddie Lee Harper of Louisville became the only
inmate to be executed by lethal injection in 1999.
(source: Associated Press)
Supreme Court Overturns Death Penalty for Southeast Missouri Man
The state Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence for a September
1992 murder in southeast Missouri.
But today's decision does not mean Andrew Lyons will be moving off of
death row, because he still is under the death penalty for another murder.
Lyons was convicted of killing his 22-year-old girlfriend, Bridgette
Harris, and her 49-year-old mother, Evelyn Sparks, in Cape Girardeau.
Harris, her son, and Sparks were found shot to death in September of 1992.
Lyons was convicted of manslaughter in the death of his 11-month-old son
In 1996, a jury sentenced him to death for Harris' murder but could not
agree on a sentence for Sparks' murder. So a judge then imposed a second
The Missouri Supreme Court overturned that sentence imposed by a judge.
The ruling follows a 2002 precedent by the U.S. Supreme Court that the
constitution's right to a jury trial also applies to death sentences.
(source: Associated Press)
ARKANSAS----new execution date
Oct. 16 execution set for man convicted in bookkeeper's death
Governor Beebe has set an October 16th execution date for Jack Harold
Jones Junior who was convicted for raping and murdering a bookkeeper and
beating her 11-year-old daughter.
Jones, who is 43, was convicted in 1996 of capital murder, rape and
criminal attempt to commit murder in the killing of Mary Phillips and the
beating of her daughter, Lacy.
Jones' execution date is the 2nd set by Beebe since he took office in
January. Last month, Beebe set a September 18th execution date for Terrick
Nooner in the robbery and murder of 22-year-old Scot Stobaugh.
On June 6th, 1995, 34-year-old Mary Phillips and her daughter, Lacy, were
at a Bald Knob accounting office when Jones entered the office and robbed
them. Lacy lost consciousness and was left for dead. When she awoke,
police were taking photographs of her.
Mary Phillips was found nude from the waist down with a cord from a nearby
coffee pot wrapped around her neck. She also had been hit about the head
and had bruises on her arms and back.
(source: Associated Press)
No justice: A killer lives on
WE OFTEN refer to our courts as a "justice system." Sometimes, though,
justice is eluded even when the courts apply the law with swiftness and
On Friday, triple murderer Michael Woodbury was sentenced to life in
prison for shooting to death 3 men at the Army Barracks store in Conway on
July 2. There was no long trial because, mercifully, Woodbury pleaded
The store manager, James Walker, 34, of Denmark, Maine, was a husband and
father. William Jones, 25, of Walpole, Mass., and Gary Jones, 23, of
Halifax, Mass., were friends returning from a camping trip. With
cold-hearted brutality, Woodbury murdered all 3 of them for no better
reason than he thought they would turn him in to authorities. He was
returning home after a multi-state crime spree and they just happened to
get in his way.
At first Woodbury said he was trying to rob the store and the 3 men tried
to stop him. On Friday he said he never tried to rob the store. He just
thought Walker had recognized him and the other two had tried to keep him
from leaving after he shot Walker.
But the first story usually is the true one. The evidence suggests that
prosecutors had a good chance of convicting him of attempted robbery. And
that brings up the matter of justice.
Before imposing his sentence -- three consecutive life terms without
parole -- Superior Court Judge Edward Fitzgerald said, "For the family
members, I pray that you may have some peace and closure. I cannot do
That is true only because the death penalty was not an option. State law
restricts it to a very limited number of circumstances. One of those could
be, but is not, armed robbery. Nor is capital punishment available for the
simple and horrible act of murder alone. That fact was felt in the
courtroom on Friday.
"He killed my son, yet this monster sits here with a smirk on his face,"
Ken Jones, father of William Jones, said. "Our anger and frustration has
no place to go."
In New Hampshire, the relatives of murder victims must deal with their
anger on their own. The "justice system" only makes them more frustrated
by denying them justice.
New Hampshire never will allow capital punishment for murder without some
aggravating factor. But it might, if legislators are cajoled enough,
include armed robbery as one of those factors. The people should see that
The courts do not dispense justice; they apply the law. When the law does
not allow for justice, it does not occur. Including murder during the
commission of an armed robbery in the list of offenses punishable by death
would be one small step toward making our justice system more just and
giving the families of some murder victims a place to deposit once and for
all their anger and frustration.
(source: Union Leader)
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