[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, CALIF., USA, S.C., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Aug 27 09:32:59 CDT 2007
Governor Perry Greeted By Protestors At Church Today
A group hoping to change Governor Rick Perry's mind about an execution,
met him at his Tarrytown church today. Ariel Kay with 'We The People' says
Kenneth Foster should not be executed for driving a car during a botched
robbery in 1997. Kay says Foster was sentenced to death under the Law of
Parties - because he was present during a crime, he was just as guilty as
the person who actually committed the crime. Fosters' family is
participating in today's protest. He is scheduled for execution by lethal
injection August 30th.
(source: KLBJ News Radio, Sunday, Aug. 26)
Brown has singular style, renewed drive as attorney general----Ex-governor
Jerry Brown is attorney general of California.
8 months into his new job, Attorney General Jerry Brown of California has
embarked on two major crusades that hark back to his past political roles.
The former governor who passionately guarded the environment is hammering
local governments to take heed of climate change as they plan for rising
growth. "Global warming, next to nuclear war, is the most significant
long-term threat to the United States and the world," he says.
The former Oakland mayor who struggled for years to combat violent crime
is pressing a statewide campaign against street gangs. "They have become
almost a form of domestic terrorism," he says.
After 4 dizzying decades in public life, Brown has brought a bit of his
unorthodox and unpredictable style to his new role as the state's top cop.
His unpaid chief adviser is his wife and former campaign manager, Anne
Gust Brown, who helps him run the $800-million-a-year law-enforcement
And, although he is the California politician most closely associated with
opposition to capital punishment, Brown elevated his office's death
penalty chief to lead the entire criminal division.
The product of a Democratic family dynasty, a Jesuit seminary, and the
tumultuous 1960s, Brown swung to the left as a reformist secretary of
state and governor, then toward the center as a crime-fighting mayor and,
now, as head of an agency armed with 1,100 prosecutors and other lawyers.
At 69, Brown is demonstrating both a streak of pragmatism and the
smaller-is-better approach that marked his governorship. But he also is
riding two timely political issues toward, some think, yet another
"His ambitions are not limited," said Bruce E. Cain, director of the
Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California,
Berkeley, who has known Brown for years. "It does not sound to me that he
is going to be AG and retire. I think he has in mind something else,
whether US senator or the governor's office." His father, the late Pat
Brown, was attorney general before becoming governor. Jerry Brown served
as secretary of state before his two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983.
He won the governor's office as a reformer in the first post-Watergate
election and gained national attention for his then-futuristic notions and
his friendship with singer Linda Ronstadt. He was reviled by many for
naming Rose Bird to the state Supreme Court, where she served as chief
justice until she was recalled after consistently blocking the death
After 3 failed presidential bids and a political hiatus that included work
with Mother Teresa in India, Brown landed in the Oakland mayor's office in
1998, espousing get-tough crime measures.
When he ran for attorney general last year, law enforcement associations
Although still opposed to capital punishment, Brown said he is sworn to
uphold the law. He also indicated that his perspective on crime has
"I have learned and seen life," he said. "I live in a neighborhood with .
. . murders. I talk to criminals almost every day when I leave my loft. I
see methamphetamine people . . . sleeping in the bushes next to my
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Alberto Gonzalez resigns----Gonzales has been loyal voice for
administration----Attorney general has long history with President Bush
-Gonzales was born in 1955 and grew up poor in Houston, Texas
-As a Texas Supreme Court justice, he earned the ire of his party
-Working in the White House, he has been a protector of the administration
President Bush has placed a lot of faith in Alberto Gonzales over the last
12 years. Gonzales' resume glistens with appointments and nominations made
by the 43rd president: Texas gubernatorial counsel, Texas secretary of
state, Texas Supreme Court justice, White House counsel, U.S. attorney
general -- the post he is now leaving.
In a 2005 interview, Gonzales, the nation's 1st Latino attorney general,
recalled how he initially garnered Bush's attention when Bush's father,
President George H.W. Bush, asked him to come work in the White House in
At the time, Gonzales was an attorney with Vinson & Elkins, a massive
Texas law firm that boasted Enron and Halliburton among its clientele, and
Gonzales was ready to excel in the private realm.
"I wanted to stay and make partner, and so I said no," Gonzales told the
Academy of Achievement of his encounter with the elder Bush.
Five years later, he was approached by the son. "I first got on his radar
screen because I had turned his old man down for a job," Gonzales recalled
to the academy.
The son of migrant workers, the 52-year-old attorney general has admitted
he wanted to be a pilot until heavy math and science course loads at the
U.S. Air Force Academy made him think about a career in law or government.
Gonzales' foray into the public sector provided a career in both, and he
has demonstrated unflinching loyalty to the man who led him there, despite
not always brandishing his own conservative credentials.
As a Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales earned the ire of his party
when he voted with a 6-3 majority in 2000 to overturn a Bush-backed law
that prohibited minors from having abortions without notifying their
He later told Texas Monthly magazine that he had an obligation "to
impartially apply the laws of this state without imposing my moral view on
the decision of the Legislature."
His moderate voting record proved to be a millstone around his neck, as
both liberals and conservatives attacked him when mutterings of a U.S.
Supreme Court nomination arose years later.
One legal conservative told The New Republic in 2002 that Gonzales "was a
very workmanlike judge who was not likely to rule on either extreme."
Similar reports prompted the magazine to declare that Gonzales was "too
liberal to be nominated and too conservative to be confirmed."
Once White House counsel, however, Gonzales' priorities seemed to turn to
protecting the administration. When the General Accounting Office wanted
information about Enron officials meeting with Vice President Dick
Cheney's Energy Task Force, Gonzales was there to say no way.
He later insulated Bush from congressional records requests and publicly
defended the president's order making non-American terror suspects
eligible for military tribunals. He also advised Bush to refuse to give
prisoner-of-war status to suspected al Qaeda prisoners held at Guantanamo
After his 60-36 confirmation as the 80th U.S. attorney general in 2005,
Gonzales continued his role as protector, defending the National Security
Agency's wiretapping program and, more recently, taking responsibility in
the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, some of whom claim they were
The grandson of Mexican immigrants, Gonzales was born August 4, 1955, and
grew up poor in Houston, Texas, with seven brothers and sisters. His
parents, Pablo and Maria, were migrant workers with elementary school
Though his father had "a terrible drinking problem" and Gonzales recalls
"severe arguments" between Pablo and Maria, Gonzales told the Academy of
Achievement in 2005 that no matter how much his father had to drink, he
always woke up for work.
"My father worked six days a week for most of his life, harder than any
person I've ever known," Gonzales once said at a White House event.
An excellent student, Gonzales spent his free time goofing off at the
construction site where his dad worked and playing baseball with his
brothers. Like many children, he had dreams of becoming a pro ball player.
When he was 12 or 13, Gonzales got a job selling soft drinks at Rice
University football games.
"And I would watch the students stroll back to the campus, their dorm, and
I would dream about what it would be like to be a student there," Gonzales
told the Academy of Achievement.
Little did he know he would be attending Rice years later.
After high school, Gonzales joined the Air Force and was stationed at Fort
Yukon, Alaska, where the Texas native passed the time playing midnight
softball and enjoying the Northern Lights.
There, he met two Air Force Academy graduates who stoked his interest in
the lofty military school. In 1975, Gonzales began attending classes, but
he struggled with classes like physics and engineering.
After learning his eyesight would never pass pilot muster, Gonzales
decided to enroll at Rice, where he earned a bachelor's degree in
political science in 1979 before going to Harvard Law School. He graduated
from Harvard in 1982, the same year his father died.
Gonzales had clerked for Vinson & Elkins while in school and went to work
for the firm after graduation. He stayed there 13 years before being lured
away by Bush when he was Texas governor.
Solidifying his conservative credentials shortly after joining the White
House team in 2001, Gonzales took a shot at affirmative action while
conceding it may have gotten him where he is today.
"I know that I've been helped because of my ethnicity," Gonzales told the
Los Angeles Times. However, he added, "Hispanics should expect nothing
more than an equal opportunity. For us to now say that we should be given
an opportunity because of our ethnicity, irrespective of our competence,
means that we'll be discriminating against someone else who doesn't happen
to be Hispanic."
Death penalty sought in brutal 2003 killing----Security guard was shot,
burned to death at Solectron plant
After he was shot in the face during a botched robbery, Walter Sykes Sr.
was doused with fuel from a red gasoline can and set on fire in an attempt
to destroy evidence.
But the security guard was still alive.
The 56-year-old retired military man, widower and father of 4 got up
bleeding and burning ran out of his office at the Solectron electronics
manufacturing plant and collapsed on the front lawn to die.
Instead of only hearing about Sykes' horrifying death, jurors in Ron ONeal
Finkleas death penalty murder trial, which begins today, will see it for
Solectron security cameras captured it all on tape.
The man prosecutors say is in that 2003 video, 33-year-old former
Solectron employee Finklea of St. Matthews, is a former military man
himself whose wife was stationed in Iraq.
The tape shows that Sykes let someone into the plant to use a cash machine
a common practice by security guards as a courtesy to employees.
As Sykes returned to the security office, the first man let in another
man, who was carrying a gasoline can. The tape then shows the shooting and
The 2 men then went to a cash machine nearby and pried it open. But they
fled empty-handed after apparently becoming spooked when they heard
another security guard walking toward them.
Prosecutors say Finklea's brother-in-law, Theodore Davis Jr., 30, of St.
Matthews, was the 2nd man in the videotape. He is charged with murder,
arson and related conspiracy charges but is not on trial this week.
Finklea's attorneys told a judge Friday that it is likely a jury will
convict Finklea based on the evidence. The legal fight, however, will be
over whether Finklea should die for the crime.
Prospective jurors, who report to the Lexington County courthouse at 9:30
a.m. today, will decide.
It has taken 4 years to bring the case to trial, partly because Finklea's
appointed defense attorneys, Melissa Kimbrough and Stephen Soltis Jr.,
couldn't get money from the state to pay for his defense, they said.
And Finklea hasn't been much help in his defense because of what he says
is amnesia the result of a botched suicide attempt at the Lexington
County Detention Center two days after his arrest.
Doctors, including one who testified for prosecutors, can't say for sure
if Finklea's memory loss is real.
Finklea hung himself by a bed sheet in his cell, cutting off the oxygen
supply to his brain. He spent a weekend in the hospital on life support.
When he recovered, after developing an involuntary twitch in the cheek
muscles under his left eye, Finklea said the last thing he remembered was
buying something at the Fort Jackson commissary for his wife, who was
stationed in Iraq.
Thats about a months worth of memory loss, including Sykes killing on Aug.
There is no accurate test for amnesia, Dr. Richard Frierson testified
during a competency hearing Friday at the Lexington County courthouse.
Defense attorneys have complained that because Finklea couldn't remember
anything, he couldn't help them with his defense.
In response, Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman ordered prosecutors to
give defense attorneys a timeline of the events leading up to the murder.
That wasn't good enough for Kimbrough and Soltis.
"I don't think their investigation or trial preparedness has been done
with an eye to assist Mr. Finklea," Kimbrough said Friday in court. "Quite
frankly, they want him dead."
Newman ruled that it didn't matter what Finklea could remember as long as
he could understand the charges against him and the court procedure for
Finklea can do both of those things, Newman said, so the trial is set to
It's Lexington County's 2nd death penalty trial this year, and the 42nd
death penalty trial for 11th Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers.
Of the 41 prior death penalty trials, Myers has secured the death penalty
35 times, putting a total of 26 people on death row. Reversals and
retrials mean that Myers has gotten the death penalty for some defendants
more than once.
Verdicts and sentences in Myers' death penalty cases have been reversed on
appeal 22 times.
(source: The State)
Death row Scot's mum tells of delight at retrial news
The Edinburgh mother of death row Scot Kenny Richey today welcomed the
news that he is to face a retrial.
US prosecutors have revealed they will not challenge a decision to
overturn his murder conviction, it emerged today.
Richey, who has spent more than 20 years on death row in Ohio, will now be
moved to an ordinary county jail. He will be able to apply for bail and,
if successful, he will be set free until his new trial begins.
His mother, Eileen, who lives in Dalry, said: "I'm very pleased. It's what
he wanted. He really wants a retrial so he can clear his name.
"I spoke to him last week and he seemed fine. He was quite cheery. I told
him to wait and see what happens. It's been a very long time, but we feel
it's all coming to an end now.
"I don't know what's going to happen now - I'll wait till I speak to him
tonight. I want to hear it from him. We've had so many false hopes before
- it's hard to believe he could be out soon."
Raised in Sighthill, he moved to America at 18 to live with his father,
where he joined the US Marines. The 43-year-old Scot was sentenced to
death in January 1987 after he was convicted of starting a fire in which a
two-year-old girl died in Ohio in 1986.
He has always protested his innocence and the Sixth Circuit Federal Court
of Appeal in Cincinnati overturned Richey's death sentence for a 2nd time
on August 10. The new trial is expected to begin early next year.
Mrs Richey said it would still be several months before she saw him, as
she would not be able to travel to America. His legal team are expected to
seek bail as soon as he is taken off Death Row. If successful, he could
stay with his brother Steven, who lives close by in Ohio.
She said: "He wants to come back to Scotland as soon as it's over. He's
certainly not going to stay in America."
She has raised concerns about her son's deteriorating health, as he has
suffered three heart attacks.
State prosecutors will now be preparing the new case over the next 2 or 3
months. They could have gone to the US Supreme Court to try to have the
appeal decision overturned, but instead decided to stage a new trial.
Brian Laliberte, Ohio deputy first assistant attorney general, said: "We
have decided not to appeal the decision of the court. Mr Richey will be
moved off death row and taken back to the Putnum county jail. He will now
be able to apply for bail."
Reprieve, which fights for prisoners on death row, welcomed the move.
Legal director Clive Stafford Smith, who has assisted Richey's case for
almost 2 decades, said:
"Once the prosecution sit down and start to prepare their case for trial,
they will realise that they don't have one.
"The only decent thing to do here is drop the charges and send Kenny home
Richey's lawyer Ken Parsigian said: "Kenny has always wanted a chance to
prove his innocence and a new trial will give it to him."
(source: The Scotsman)
Ohio police officer could face death penalty
Ohio will seek to execute a police officer in the death of his pregnant
girlfriend, and prosecutors want statements made by the couple's
2-year-old son to be used against him at trial.
Bobby Cutts Jr. was indicted Thursday on three counts of aggravated murder
in the June death of Jessie Davis, whose disappearance drew national
attention as thousands gathered to search for her near her northeast Ohio
The couple's son Blake provided authorities with the first clues, saying:
"Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in rug."
The three aggravated-murder indictments allege that Cutts, 30, killed
Davis, terminated her pregnancy and caused the death of a viable unborn
child, "baby Chloe." Authorities have not said how she was killed.
Cutts, 30, also faces 2 counts of gross abuse of a corpse and one count
each of aggravated burglary and endangering children.
(source: Seattle Times)
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