[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., ARK., USA, ALA. PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Aug 28 10:34:25 CDT 2007
TEXAS----3 impending executions
Inmate set to die Tuesday for bar shooting
DaRoyce Mosley overcame the odds of growing up in his poor black enclave
to become an honors student at Kilgore High School, won a seat on the
student council and was a starter on the basketball team.
But what he insists was his desire to win acceptance from others in that
same impoverished neighborhood in the East Texas town led him to a cell on
death row and an appointment Tuesday in the Texas death chamber.
"Peer pressure," said Mosley, 32, set for lethal injection for the
shooting death of a woman during a robbery at a Kilgore bar, one of four
people he was accused of gunning down 13 years ago.
Attorneys arguing that Mosley was innocent were in the courts trying to
keep him from becoming the 22nd inmate executed this year in Texas. He
would also be the 1st of 3 set to die this week on consecutive nights in
the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
"When you grow up in that kind of neighborhood, you don't want to be a
punk," Mosley said in a recent interview, referring to the predominantly
black area of Kilgore known as Goat Hill and the sissy reputation he was
trying to avoid. "And just to show I'm not, I go along with the robbery."
Mosley contended he was involved only in the robbery, not the killings. He
said he wrongly confessed to police that he and an uncle with a criminal
record, Ray Don Mosley, burst through the door of Katie's Lounge just
before midnight on July 21, 1994, demanded cash from a tackle box that
contained the night's receipts, then shot 5 people, 4 of them fatally.
"After the first shot, I ran," he said from the visiting area outside
death row. "I turned around and ran out."
That shot, he said, came from his uncle.
Questioned by police, the 19-year-old told a similar story, then wilted
and eventually acknowledged he was the shooter as detectives "kept at it,
kept at it, kept at it," he said.
"It was stupid, just silly," Mosley said. "It's easy to look back now and
realize the mistakes I made. That was mainly my downfall. You had that
Four bar patrons were killed: Patricia Colter, 54; her husband, Duane, 44;
Alvin Waller, 54; and Luva Congleton, 68. Bartender Sandra Cash, then 32,
was shot in the spine but was able to make a 911 call to summon police.
Cash survived but was left paralyzed. Ballistics tests showed the 4 people
killed were shot with the same weapon and Cash with a different gun.
Ray Don Mosley, now 44, took three life terms and testified against his
nephew. Evidence showed they split $308 taken from the bar among
themselves, a 16-year-old friend of DaRoyce Mosley's who accompanied them
that night, and a wheelchair-bound friend who was related to the juvenile.
The juvenile who authorities determined left before the gunfire was given
a 2-year jail sentence. DaRoyce Mosley got the death penalty for Patricia
"We'll never know why he did it," Virginia Hutsell, Colter's sister, told
the Longview News-Journal. "But we'll know he'll never be able to do it
She and another sister planned to be among the people to watch Mosley die.
"What's so sad and unusual about this case is that DaRoyce came from a
really awful background," recalled Cynthia Orr, one of his trial lawyers.
"His uncle had spent most of his life in jail. They lived in dirt floor
shacks. DeRoyce started working at 8 to take care of his brothers and
sisters, yet he managed to do extremely well in high school and got
himself into college.
"But his uncle was a horrible influence in his life."
Orr said the trial was held amid threats and rumors about Ku Klux Klan
violence. Mosley is black. All the victims were white.
"It was a very highly charged environment, not a comfortable trial," she
said. "All the people who died were wonderful and it was a horrible shame.
The reaction in the community, it became a thing itself."
Gary Bledsoe, who also defended Mosley, said the confession was bogus.
"The confession he gave was shown to be absolutely untrue," he said.
"DaRoyce didn't know what happened. His uncle is the one who committed the
Clement Dunn, one of the prosecutors in the case, said the right person
"In this case, I think we can all be very confident in the work law
enforcement did, and I feel good about being able to say that," said Dunn,
who also downplayed any racial tensions.
"I think there's been too much successful interaction between and among
all ethnic groups in this community for us to say that this case, or
anything else, has really created a huge division," he said. "I just don't
think that happened."
On Wednesday, John Joe Amador, 32, was set to die for the 1994 shooting
death of a San Antonio taxi driver. Then on Thursday, Kenneth Foster, 30,
faced lethal injection for his role as the getaway driver when a San
Antonio man was gunned down on his driveway in 1996.
(source: WFAA News)
Jury Considers Death Penalty For Child Killer
A South Florida jury will soon be asked to decide whether a man found
guilty of trying to kill a young mother and leaving her 5-year-old
daughter to die along an alligator-infested highway deserves the death
The sentencing phase for Harrel Franklin Braddy began Tuesday in a Miami
Dade courtroom. Last month, a jury took just 2 hours to convict Braddy on
7 counts including 1st-degree murder, attempted murder, kidnapping,
burglary and escape.
During his trial, jurors learned that Braddy was a convicted felon
released early from prison when he befriended Shandelle Maycock and her
daughter. Maycock testified Braddy came to her home in November 1998 and
grew enraged when she asked him to leave. He choked Maycock until she was
unconscious and then forced her and Quatisha into his car.
At one point, Maycock gained conscious, grabbed the child and jumped out
of the moving vehicle. Braddy stopped, choked her again and put her in the
trunk. Maycock never saw her daughter again.
Prosecutors said Braddy then drove to Alligator Alley where he dropped
Quatisha in the water. She was alive when alligators bit her on the head
and stomach, a medical examiner said.
Authorities found the girl's body 2 days later floating face up in the
alligator infested waters, her left arm missing and her skull crushed,
Maycock woke up bleeding and disoriented, in a cane field miles from her
Miami-Dade County home. The single mother said she had met Braddy through
a friend about four months before the crimes. At that time, Braddy had
served 13 years of a 30-year prison sentence for attempted murder before
being released early on "gain time," which reduces sentences for good
His trial had been delayed for nearly 9 years because Braddy has fired
several attorneys and even represented himself at one point.
(source: CBS News)
*************** Lightbourne attorneys will attack execution
protocol----DOC officials could be called as witnesses
Attorneys for convicted murderer Ian Lightbourne will continue to attack
the Department of Corrections about the state's lethal injection procedure
today during the last week of hearings prompted by the botched Angel Diaz
The hearings, which are scheduled to last through Friday in Ocala, will
look at the updated lethal injection manual to determine whether enough
changes were made to avoid problems in future executions.
"CCR's job is to attack the changes in the protocol. ... and that those
changes aren't enough to protect from another botched execution," said
Assistant State Attorney Rock Hooker Monday, referring to the Capital
Collateral Regional Counsel's office that represents dozens of death row
Dozens of DOC officials involved in the lethal injection process were
subpoenaed, along with medical professionals. It is not clear which
witnesses will be called today, but Hooker said he expected DOC officials
to be asked about execution procedure in light of the recently updated
The litigation is the result of the December 2006 execution of Diaz. It
took 34 minutes - twice as long as normal - for Diaz, 55, to die after an
unusual second injection of the 3 chemicals used in the procedure.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all Florida executions later that month after
a medical examiner said prison officials botched the insertion of the
Last month, 5th Circuit Judge Carven Angel, of Ocala, ordered DOC
officials to rewrite portions of Florida's execution protocol manual.
Angel criticized the vague nature of the manual and asked officials to
spell out detailed information about the execution team, its members and
their training, among other items.
Those updates are the items that will be addressed this week. CCR
attorneys will argue those changes don't guarantee another execution like
Diaz's will occur.
Attorneys for CCR could not be reached for comment.
Hooker said DOC officials are trying to ensure against another botched
"What happened in Diaz is not good," Hooker said. "There were mistakes and
it was bad ... And DOC is making sure that it doesn't happen again."
A day after the Diaz execution, the CCR office, which represents dozens of
death row inmates, filed petitions on behalf of all their clients claiming
the penalty was cruel and unusual. The same day, on Dec. 14, the court
chose the Lightbourne case to argue the issue.
Last month, Gov. Charlie Crist cleared way for Florida executions to
resume. He signed a death warrant for Mark Schwab. Schwab, 38, was
sentenced to death in 1992. He kidnapped, raped and killed 11-year-old
Junny Rios-Martinez, of Cocoa, by smothering or choking the boy.
Lightbourne, 47, was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Marion
County horse breeder Nancy O'Farrell, the daughter of a prominent horse
Schwab is scheduled to die in November. The Supreme Court will hear
arguments in the Schwab and Lightbourne cases in October.
Angel is expected to rule in September on whether the current execution
method is "cruel and unusual." His ruling will be forwarded to the Supreme
Court who will study Ocala hearing transcripts and hold a hearing of its
Lawyers for White Supremacist On Death Row Want New Trial
Lawyers for a white supremacist convicted and sentenced to die for the
1996 murder of a Pope County family say a new DNA analysis negates a piece
of evidence that prosecutors used to tie Danny Lee to the crime.
Defense lawyers say a DNA test shows a hair that allegedly linked Lee to
the killings doesn't belong to him. They say Lee's conviction should be
thrown out and he should be tried again.
Lee was convicted with Chevie Kehoe in federal court in May 1999. A jury
found that the men killed Tilly gun dealer William Mueller, his wife
Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell. Their bodies were found
in a backwater of Illinois Bayou north of Russellville.
Prosecutors say Lee was convicted on overwhelming evidence. A federal
appeals court in 2004 upheld Lee's convictions.
(source: Associated Press)
Competent defense on death row----A federal law to improve state-provided
counsel for death-row inmates will do the opposite.
Capital cases are notorious for bad defense lawyering. Author John Grisham
underscored that in his real-life story of Ron Williamson, the innocent
death-row inmate who was cleared by DNA evidence on federal appeal.
Alarmingly, a law meant to help such inmates will do just the opposite.
The problem goes back to a 1996 law passed by Congress. It was based on a
quid pro quo to encourage states to provide competent defense counsel in
death-penalty cases. If the states stuck to the quid part and delivered on
able defense lawyering, they'd get a valuable quo in return: a quicker
federal appeal process (by way of more Latin here a writ of habeas
States have an interest in speed. Some death-penalty cases can take
decades to resolve, and housing for death-row inmates can cost much more
than for the general prison population.
Several states have attempted to earn the fast-track option. But none has
fully satisfied a federal court that the state has a system in place to
properly assist those charged with capital crimes. Consequently, no
speedier federal appeal process yet.
This frustrated several members of Congress. So last year, as part of the
renewal of the USA Patriot Act, they inserted a provision that switched
the decisionmaker. Instead of federal courts deciding whether the states
are up to snuff, it's the US attorney general.
That's a real mistake.
The attorney general, regardless of who holds that title (Alberto Gonzales
announced his resignation Monday), is hardly an unbiased judge concerning
the death penalty. That office represents the highest prosecutor in the
land, and it files briefs on behalf of prosecutors in death-penalty cases.
Also deeply troubling: New federal regulations pending a period of public
commentary that ends Sept. 24 don't specify what constitutes competent
defense counsel. The concern is that the attorney general will take
advantage of that loophole and certify states that so far have not
Congress needs to undo this switch. It's a clear conflict of interest.
Lawmakers should also reconsider the fast-track option, which would reduce
the time an inmate has to file a federal appeal to 6 months from a year,
and would also shrink the time federal courts have to decide such
For one, that enticement is obviously not having the intended reforming
effect of improving defense counsel. More important, it would speed up the
appeals process just when caution is to be advised.
In recent years, more than a dozen innocent death-row inmates have had
their convictions overturned on federal appeal with DNA forensics playing
a critical role. The reversals have created a growing national unease
about the fairness of the death penalty, which this newspaper opposes on
Lastly, the fast-track option is misdirected. The greater source of delay,
says Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, is
at the state level. Poorly defended cases result in retrial. And large
numbers of death-row inmates (California has more than 600) create
The remedy is for states to provide the resources for competent defense
enticement or not. A life is on the line. It deserves the extra mile, not
a shorter mile.
(source: Christian Science Monitor)
Gonzales' legacy of controversy----Questions linger about limits on civil
liberties and influence of politics on justice.
As Alberto R. Gonzales closes the door on his Washington career, he leaves
an enduring legacy: a Justice Department mired in controversy over the
firing of U.S. attorneys and a series of legal and moral challenges to his
post-Sept. 11 policies on presidential power, torture and domestic spying.
"This resignation is not the end of the story," Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday in a statement that indicated Democrats'
intent to continue probing Gonzales' tenure. "Congress must get to the
bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White
The controversies lingering beyond Gonzales' scheduled departure next
month fall into two broad categories: whether he went too far in abridging
civil liberties in the name of safeguarding the nation against terrorist
threats, and whether he and his subordinates allowed political
considerations to intrude improperly on the administration of justice.
During his service as White House counsel from 2001 to 2005, Gonzales
wrote a memo saying that anti-torture laws and the Geneva Convention could
be waived for some prisoners. He approved or oversaw the drafting of rules
for military tribunals that limited the rights of detainees, and he pushed
for expanded government power to engage in domestic spying. Then came the
firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
Gonzales' actions reflected his loyalty to George W. Bush and Vice
President Dick Cheney but drew heated criticism from others -- including
Congress and, in the case of military tribunals, the Supreme Court.
History will render final judgment on the controversies in Gonzales' wake,
but even some Republicans agree that the Justice Department's morale and
credibility have been damaged as it faces mounting challenges.
Defense lawyers around the country are contesting indictments based on
alleged politicization of the department. The administration's treatment
of detainees in its war on terrorism is under attack in federal courts.
And several senior department officials have left or have announced their
intention to depart, including the chief of the civil rights division,
whose record also has drawn fire from Democrats.
A Gonzales defender, Viet D. Dinh -- who served as assistant attorney
general from 2001 to 2003 and was the architect of the Patriot Act -- said
Monday that Gonzales' accomplishments were obscured by a personal style
that often clashed with Capitol Hill.
"It's ironic. But you look back at his record, he's actually done a pretty
damn good job," said Dinh, who credited Gonzales with establishing the
department's national security division, creating the Project Child Safe
anti-exploitation initiative and pioneering new techniques for prosecuting
"All of these show very strong leadership and substantive achievements,"
Dinh said. "The problem is that his inability to cut through the political
process really shortchanged the department's accomplishments and made him
unable to do his job."
Of all the battles that swirled around Gonzales, the most far-reaching may
prove to be his role in asserting broad new claims of executive power in
connection with the war on terrorism.
He approved or supported White House policies on the secret detention of
terrorism suspects; the practice of "extraordinary rendition," under which
prisoners were transferred to countries known to engage in torture; and
the use of the military system to hold detainees indefinitely without
access to due process under U.S. law.
Gonzales signed off on CIA interrogation techniques such as
"water-boarding" -- a technique in which a prisoner is strapped to a board
and doused with water to simulate the sensation of drowning -- that the
United States long had considered torture.
His department refused to rule out the use of controversial methods that
included subjecting prisoners to temperature extremes and sleep
The administration defended these and other related policies on the
grounds that, as "enemy combatants," detainees were not subject to the
rules governing prisoners of war or persons held in the regular criminal
In a Jan. 25, 2002, memorandum to Bush, as White House counsel, Gonzales
said the "new paradigm" of the war on terrorism renders obsolete the
Geneva Convention's "strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners,
and renders quaint some of its provisions."
That memo drew strong and immediate objections from then-Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell, who said it would "reverse over a century of U.S.
policy and practice." But Gonzales' view became administration policy.
Gonzales also opposed efforts by other Bush administration officials to
close the U.S. military's detention center for suspected terrorists at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In the area of domestic spying, Gonzales and his Justice Department
subordinates approved secret eavesdropping and other forms of spying by
the National Security Agency, FBI and Treasury Department that skirted
some traditional checks and balances.
"The central legal and policy issue facing us today is, When . . . should
the government be allowed to conduct large numbers of national security
wiretaps for long periods of time without prior findings of probable cause
by judges?" said David Kris, a former senior Justice Department lawyer in
the Bush and Clinton administrations who recently co-wrote "National
Security Investigations and Prosecutions," a book on surveillance law.
The department and the Bush administration have suffered serious legal
setbacks, including two Supreme Court rulings rejecting their policies at
Many of the arguments about Gonzales-led policies are just now coming to a
head in courtrooms, in the halls of Congress and on the pages of law
journals. They are not likely to be resolved soon.
Gonzales' efforts to push the boundaries on behalf of administration
security priorities were captured memorably in the Senate testimony of
former Deputy Atty. Gen. James B. Comey, who described how Gonzales
approached then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft in the hospital a day after
Ashcroft had gallbladder surgery in March 2004. Comey was acting as
attorney general while Ashcroft recuperated.
According to Comey, Gonzales lobbied the seriously ill Ashcroft to
reauthorize a domestic wiretap program that granted the government broad
authority to monitor the electronic communications of people in the United
The effort failed when Comey raced to Ashcroft's bedside, at the urging of
Ashcroft's wife. Ashcroft told Gonzales that Comey was in charge. Gonzales
denied pressuring Ashcroft.
Although Ashcroft and Comey refused to support the program, it was
certified anyway, prompting both of them to threaten to resign, along with
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and other officials. Bush agreed to
restructure the program.
Gonzales was criticized for providing evasive testimony to Congress about
that incident, and about the surveillance program in general.
Comey, during his testimony, offered praise for most of the nine U.S.
attorneys the department had fired under Gonzales.
As lawmakers investigated the firings and Gonzales' role, the attorney
general lost support from nearly all congressional Democrats and an
increasing number of Republicans.
In June, 53 members of the Senate voted for an expression of "no
confidence" in the attorney general.
Seven Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the nonbinding
resolution, which never came to a final vote.
2 of the prosecutors have said they believe they may have been terminated
because they did not investigate allegations that would have been helpful
to GOP electoral goals.
Speaking to reporters Monday about Gonzales' resignation, Bush said it was
sad that the attorney general had had his "good name dragged through the
mud for political purposes" during the hearings on his tenure.
Democrats had led the charge against Gonzales and rushed to the cameras to
herald his resignation.
But numerous Republicans had called for him to leave as well, including
Sens. John E. Sununu of New Hampshire and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, both
of whom are to run for reelection next year.
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, ranking member of the
Judiciary Committee, had harshly questioned Gonzales' judgment and
described his continued presence at the Justice Department as "very, very
Specter told reporters Monday that he would not criticize the attorney
But he added that he hoped the department would "regain functionality."
lement is expected to follow policies of Gonzales, Ashcroft----The acting
attorney general, a longtime Republican, vigorously defends Bush's war on
terrorism and limitations on due process.
2 summers ago, Paul D. Clement stood before a federal appeals court in
Richmond, Va., defending the Bush administration's much-maligned policy of
indefinitely holding "enemy combatants" in this country as part of the
government's war on terrorism.
The case involved American-born Jose Padilla. Clement, just one month into
his new job as U.S. solicitor general, argued that people like Padilla
were trying to bring jihad home to this country -- even if they were U.S.
citizens and did not wear enemy uniforms.
Judge J. Michael Luttig stopped him. "Those accusations don't get you very
far," the judge said, "unless you're prepared to boldly say the United
States is a battlefield in the war on terror."
Clement did not miss a beat. "I can say that," he said, "and I can say it
Named Monday as the acting U.S. attorney general to temporarily succeed
Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, Clement is likely to closely follow the
principles of his predecessors -- Gonzales and former Atty. Gen. John
Ashcroft. Like them, he has embraced the White House's mandate of waging
war on terrorists in this country, even if it means diverging from
longtime legal precepts of due process. He strongly believes in supporting
case statutes and administration policy, whatever the consequences.
"Your job is to marshal the best argument for the defense of the statute
or the policy that gets the job done," he said in an interview with Legal
Times in 2004. "That's the way I approach all the cases."
His supporters, including Washington lawyer Carter G. Phillips, see
Clement as bright and hard-working, a steady hand to settle the uneasiness
of Gonzales' tenure, marked by the furor over the abrupt firing of a
number of prosecutors. "Institutionally, there's no awkwardness" with
Clement, Phillips said.
But detractors see Clement, a longtime Republican who donated to Bush's
2004 reelection campaign and has given to the Republican National
Committee, as just another hard-right conservative unwilling to consider
the other side.
"Paul Clement's views are in lock step with this administration," said Nan
Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, an association of liberal
advocacy groups. "He has been a vigorous advocate for this
administration's expansive view of executive power, turning back the clock
on civil and women's rights, as well as denying due process protections to
Clement, 41, was born in Cedarburg, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb. His father
was an accountant.
His first verbal battles were on the high school debate team. He earned a
bachelor's degree in international affairs at Georgetown University, a
master's degree in economics from Cambridge University, and a law degree
from Harvard Law School, where he was the editor for the Supreme Court
section of the law review.
He is married and has 3 sons.
He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and federal appellate
Judge Laurence H. Silberman, both Reagan appointees. After working in
private practice and teaching law at Georgetown, Clement joined the
Justice Department in 2001 in its solicitor general's office. He applied
for a federal appellate judgeship in 2003 but was passed over.
He has argued for Bush policies on several key enemy-combatant cases such
as Padilla's -- all touchstones on the administration's domestic war
against terrorism. He also handled appellate arguments before the trial
last year of Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to
life in prison as a Sept. 11 collaborator.
Clement's adversary in that case was Frank W. Dunham Jr., one of
Moussaoui's lead attorneys, who died last year. "I felt he did an
excellent job," Dunham once wryly noted. "He can make the unreasonable
(source for both: Los Angeles Times)
Lawyers await decision on convicted killer Whisenhant
A Mobile County man who confessed to murdering 4 women in the 1960s and
1970s remains on Alabama's death row, nearly 18 months after his case
reached a federal appeals court.
Tommy Whisenhant, first convicted in the murder of 23-year-old Cheryl
Payton in 1976, has been on death row for nearly 3 decades as arguments
have continued over his mental competence.
Attorneys on both sides said they have not received any indication of when
the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rule.
"I honestly do not know," said Rhonda Brownstein, an attorney with the
Southern Poverty Law Center, who argued on behalf of Whisenhant before the
court in January 2006. "I've had several non-death penalty cases in the
11th Circuit, and they've really varied on their decisions."
Alabama Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said he had no idea,
either. "Everyone is waiting," he said.
Whisenhant has been on death row since 1978 and is currently the
longest-serving inmate slated for execution, according to the state
Department of Corrections.
Whisenhant, who raped and murdered Payton, a wife and mother of 2 small
children, confessed to murdering 3 other women after his conviction.
Whisenhant mutilated the bodies of 2 of his victims, including Payton.
Defense attorneys argued that while Whisenhant should remain in prison,
the mutilation of the victims' bodies suggest that he was insane at the
time of the murders.
Prosecutors said that Whisenhant could determine right from wrong at the
time of the murders.
Whisenhant's case could still go to the U.S. Supreme Court if the 11th
Circuit appeal is rejected.
Stepfather denied new trial
A former Ligonier Township resident serving a life prison term for
torturing and killing his 3-year-old stepson 9 years ago lost another bid
for a new trial on Monday.
Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec denied a defense request to vacate
a guilty plea entered by Steven Sistek in 2003, in which he admitted to
dragging Lonnie Biedrycki Jr. down a hallway and bouncing him repeatedly
off a bathtub.
In the years since, Sistek has contended he was coerced into pleading
guilty and that he never intended to kill the boy.
Should Sistek ever be successful in having his conviction vacated,
Westmoreland County prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty
"The whole reason to not seek the death penalty is that the defendant
pleaded guilty. We told him we would definitely seek the death penalty if
he was successful in reversing the plea or if he got a new trial," said
Assistant District Attorney Wayne Gongaware.
Prosecutors agreed in 2003 to pull the death penalty off the table in
exchange for Sistek's guilty plea to a general charge of criminal
homicide. Blahovec, after hearing evidence in the case, found Sistek
guilty of 1st-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison without
the possibility of parole.
A key piece of evidence against Sistek was a handwritten, 22-page letter
written from his jail cell in which he described in vivid detail numerous
attacks and torture he imposed on the boy. The letter also included
drawings and diagrams of the attacks.
It was that letter and details of the torture that led to the prosecutor's
decision to seek the death penalty against Sistek.
But Sistek, after his plea, contended unsuccessfully that the letter was
nothing more than a ruse to delay his trial. The state Supreme Court last
December denied Sistek's appeal seeking a new trial on that issue.
Defense attorney Scott Avolio said yesterday that Sistek knows that any
successful appeal would put him at risk for the death penalty.
"He feels that if he gets the opportunity to dispute the veracity of that
letter the jury would understand it was not his intent to kill Lonnie.
He's looking for manslaughter," Avolio said.
Sistek's latest appeal, heard in court yesterday, focused on a claim that
his defense attorney should have disclosed a conflict of interest. Sistek
contended his former lawyer, Brian Aston, had formed a friendship with the
fiance of Biedrycki's mother.
Sistek provided no evidence to support that claim, and Aston testified he
never met the man in question.
(source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
More information about the DeathPenalty