[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, GA., CONN., LA., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 6 03:27:52 UTC 2007
2 arrests made in slaying of Dallas couple
2 people have been charged with capital murder in the slayings of a Dallas
couple whose bodies were found in southeast Dallas after being missing
almost a month, Dallas police said Sunday.
The bodies of Luis Campos, 20, and Linoshka Torres, 18, who were expecting
their 1st child in April, were found Friday.
Jorge Guzman Banda, 51, who was being held in the Dallas County jail on
unrelated charges, has now been charged with capital murder in the deaths
Campos and Torres, police said. Bond is set at $1 million.
Frank Estrella, 20, was arrested Sunday morning in Anaheim, Calif., and
was charged with capital murder in the deaths, police said. He's also
being held on $1 million bond.
A kidnapping arrest warrant for a third suspect, 30-year-old Nicolas
Monarrez, has been issued. Dallas police say he's currently at large.
Campos and Torres were last seen on Jan. 6 in central Oak Cliff, an area
in south Dallas. Their unclothed bodies were found under a bridge near
Interstate 45. Authorities believe that they were killed the day they
disappeared and that they died of blunt force injuries.
The pair did not have criminal records.
(source: Associated Press)
Tough enough----Children's safety not emotion should govern the
punishment of sex offenders.
There is a difference between being tough on crime and talking tough about
crime. That distinction is in danger of being lost in the push to adopt
laws that would impose the death sentence for repeat child sex offenders
and a mandatory 25-year sentence for first-time offenders. The governor
and lieutenant governor of Texas each made passage of the so-called
"Jessica's Laws" prominent in his campaign. Legislators have filed more
than 30 related bills, most proposing to "get tough" on an offense no one
denies is devastating.
When proponents of these measures cite the psychological wreckage in a
child victim's life, they are not exaggerating. The damage can take years
to repair. Every child deserves laws that promote protection and
prevention as effectively as possible. Every offender deserves punishment
that matches the severity of the offense.
By most accounts, Texas already has some of the most stringent laws in the
nation to deal with sex crimes involving children. When asked if he had
the tools he needed to vigorously prosecute these cases, Harris County
District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said he did. Rosenthal is no softie.
But two years ago talk-show host Bill O'Reilly told Gov. Rick Perry that
Texas laws weren't tough enough. He told Perry Texas should join a
half-dozen other states that have added the death penalty and the 25-year
minimum sentence. At the recent inaugural ceremony, both Perry and
Dewhurst mentioned their commitment to these measures. Dewhurst told
listeners that there's tough and then there's Texas tough.
A society concerned about coping with this terrible and confounding crime
will disregard the tough-guy rhetoric and ask whether the proposed
measures will make children safer.
Proponents of high sentences presume that offenders will be convicted and
locked safely away. Rosenthal said that high penalties generally work
against the prosecution, and the stiffer penalty would result in fewer
families coming forward. Because child sexual abuse is overwhelmingly a
covert crime that occurs between a child and someone known to the child,
fewer cases prosecuted means more children remaining in abusive
Many victims' rights groups are particularly leery of the death penalty.
It puts the child and the family in the position of testifying in the
capital trial of another family member. The fear is that, rather than
deterring offenders, the death penalty would deter the family from
reporting the offense.
Imposing the death penalty for repeat offenders would mean that an
offender would receive the same punishment, regardless of whether the
victim was killed. This raises the specter of a "perverse incentive" for
the offender to kill the child to eliminate the witness.
State Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice
Committee, says the Texas penal code allows for long sentences, difficult
parole and civil commitment when child sexual offenders fail to comply
with the terms of their release. No one should mistake this state as weak
on offenders, he said. Yet he urges caution about the unintended
consequences of some of the measures being pushed this session.
Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District
and County Attorney's Association, outlines potential outcomes that
concern many prosecutors. These include the already mentioned reluctance
to report by families; jury nullification in cases in which an automatic
severe penalty seems excessive relative to the offense; and an
unmanageable number of cases going to trial because offenders will no
longer have an incentive to plead guilty.
It is tempting to believe harsher sentences might prevent offenders from
slipping through the system, but when seasoned prosecutors say otherwise,
politicians and the public should listen. These are difficult cases to
prosecute; replacing a range of penalties with mandatory sentencing is
only likely to increase the difficulty of obtaining convictions. Without
increased disclosure, without additional cases being prosecuted and more
success in gaining convictions, it is hard to see that tougher sentencing
laws are actually tough on crime.
Changing the Texas criminal code should not be based on the emotional
devastation of a family that lost a beloved child, or the urging of a talk
show host. Those who wish to benefit victims of childhood sexual offense
need to look beyond the quick fix of unrealistically harsh sentences. They
add little to the ability to prevent these horrific crimes.
(source: Editorial, Houston Chronicle, Feb. 4)
On Law and Justice
The Pacifica Board is also concerned about violence at homeincluding
police brutality and the death penalty.
In Georgia, an innocent Black man could soon be executed. The Pacifica
Board has resolved to report on Troy Anthony Davis. In 1991, a jury
convicted Davis for the 1989 killing of a white police officer. 15 people
testified against him at trial. Afterwards, 13 of these witnesses recanted
their testimony. Some admitted that they perjured themselves because of
police pressure, and some actually identified another man as the killer.
But the courts still want Davis executed.
Pacifica is calling on its listeners to stop wrongful executions and call
Troy Davis' sister, Martina Correia, at (912) 484-0344 to support his last
appeal. The Pacifica National Board also supports the demand by many
organizations and community activists nationwide for an end to police
There are many examples, including 2 recent extreme cases. In late 2006,
Sean Bell, an innocent and unarmed African American male, was killed in a
barrage of 50 bullets fired by 5 New York City police officers. 2 of his
friends, also African American and unarmed, almost died. In the same week,
Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old African American grandmother, was killed
by police in Atlanta in a botched drug raid.
The Pacifica Board condemns these and other police killings, and the
harassment of all those who have been victimized by police brutality.
Joining Congress members Cynthia McKinney and John Conyers, the Board
demands that Congress hold hearings on the state of U.S. law enforcement
agencies' use of force and deadly force against Black, Latinos and other
communities of color.
The complete texts of these motions can be found on Pacificas national
website: www.Pacifica.org. This commentary will be aired on all Pacifica
stations. We urge you to learn more and do whatever you can to make a
(source: Pacifica Radio, founded in 1949 by pacifist Lewis Hill, was the
first listener-sponsored radio network in the country. It operates
stations KPFA-FM in Berkeley, KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, KPFT-FM in Houston,
WBAI-FM in New York, and WPFW-FM in Washington, DC, and has more than 100
The Western states, and California in particular, have been home and
hunting ground to dozens of repeat murderers.
New England, on the other hand, has harbored relatively few.
A recently released study led by University of Connecticut Professor
Emeritus Jim DeFronzo seeks to explain the geographic contrast. Focusing
on 151 male serial killers active from 1970 to 1992, researchers found
that the states that spawned these killers and the states where they
killed most of their victims had greater percentages of city dwellers,
divorced people and people living alone.
"There are these social isolation factors that are higher in the West,"
DeFronzo said. "It affects both the vulnerability of victims and the
relative social isolation of potential perpetrators."
The study also linked serial killing demographics to unemployment, the
ratio of state-sanctioned executions to illegal homicides and the
classification of a killer's home state as Southern.
Connecticut was 30th in a ranking of states based on where serial killers
most often sated their blood lust. The Northeast, including New England,
was the least likely region for serial killings in the 22-year study
period, while the West ranked highest, followed by the South and the
"Experts traditionally have used psychiatric analyses to understand male
serial killer activity, but the approach has not been able to explain the
considerable geographic differences that exist with serial killings,"
DeFronzo wrote in a press release explaining the study. "This appears to
be the 1st study to show that both cultural and social structural factors
play a role in serial killings."
In a recent interview, the 60-year-old researcher said he has taught
criminology to a total of about 9,000 UConn students, many of whom were
fascinated by serial killers. They especially wanted to know what
circumstances formed a person who killed strangers to satisfy an urge, he
said. Was the conscience of such a person stripped, or absent from birth?
What broke the wall between evil thought and bloody deed?
Child abuse and neurological factors, including brain damage, have emerged
as common backgrounds of many serial killers, Defronzo said. He looked at
child abuse statistics by state and found connections to serial killer
distribution, but the data was incomplete. Much work remains on the
geography of serial killing, DeFronzo said.
Researchers assigned states to serial killers in 2 ways: the states where
they grew up and the states where they killed the most victims. In each
analysis, the study applied theories traditionally used to explain
One theory says violent subcultures help potential serial killers see
other people as objects that can serve elaborate fantasies. To measure
cultural support for violence, researchers used the numbers of homicides
in each state and a ratio of state-sanctioned executions to homicides.
"It has been hypothesized," the study says, "that rather than having a
deterrent effect, capital punishment may have a brutalization effect in
which the probability of additional violence is increased through an
implicit cultural message supporting the killing of those deemed
The study found a link between homicides and executions in the states
where subjects killed most of their victims, but not a strong link in the
states where killers grew up.
Researchers also used a state's classification as Southern to study the
distribution of serial killings. The South has always had a relatively
high homicide rate and a more militaristic culture, and the term "Southern
region" has been used in other crime studies as an indicator of a violent
The study found that the Southern variable was more strongly linked to
states where serial killers were raised, rather than where they killed.
The results, DeFronzo said, show a slight tendency for serial killers
raised in the South to kill outside their home states.
The other theory researchers employed centers on social structure and the
availability of victims. People who are divorced and those who live alone
are more vulnerable, according to the study, "because they often lack the
guardianship of a spouse or other person."
Divorce also can be a trigger for potential serial killers, said Ann
Burgess, a Boston College professor who is affiliated with a consulting
business called the Forensic Panel. Burgess, who co-authored a book about
serial homicides with members of the FBI's behavioral analysis unit, found
that many killers had absent fathers during the critical juncture of their
adolescence. For some boys, Burgess said, the breaking of emotional
attachments forms a cold, remorseless mind.
"It frees them up to go out and hurt others," she said.
The study led by DeFronzo says that cities provide serial killers with
more potential victims and the ability to melt anonymously into the crowd.
Although New England states have densely populated areas, divorce rates
have been among the lowest in the nation and the percentage of people
living alone also has been lower than in other regions. The study used
U.S. Census figures from 1980, about in the middle of the research period
of 1970 to 1992.
Researchers were able to establish home states for 120 serial killers,
about 80 % of the total. About half of those 120 men killed most of their
victims in the same states where the killers grew up, according to the
The study's key finding, DeFronzo said, is that regional contrasts in
serial killings and the formation of serial killers can be, at least
partially, explained by relatively high rates of divorce and one-person
households and people clustered in urban areas.
The findings indicate that social disorganization could be a factor in
creating serial killers, DeFronzo said.
A man who moves from his home state and lives alone, for example, may lose
the restraint imposed by family and friends and fall to indulging his
The next logical step is to add more specific cultural variables to the
mix: to learn, for example, whether distribution of pornographic and
violence-oriented magazines is related to the prevalence of serial killers
in certain areas, DeFronzo said.
"We need more varied cultural measures and we need to expand the size of
the sample of serial killers," he said.
The study was published in the professional journal Homicide Studies. It
is available online at http://hsx.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/11/1/3.
(source: Hartford Courant)
A Death In Destrehan
In Destrehan, on the afternoon of Oct. 7, 1974, a mob of 200 enraged
whites, many of them students, closed in on a bus filled with black
students that was trying to pull away from the local high school. The
people in the mob were in a high-pitched frenzy. They screamed racial
epithets and bombarded the bus with rocks and bottles. The students on the
bus were terrified.
When a shot was heard, the kids on the bus dived for cover. But it was a
13-year-old white boy standing near the bus, not far from his mother, who
toppled to the ground with a bullet wound in his head. The boy, a freshman
named Timothy Weber, died a few hours later.
That single shot in this rural town about 25 miles up the Mississippi
River from New Orleans set in motion a tale of appalling injustice that
has lasted to the present day.
Destrehan was in turmoil in 1974 over school integration. The Supreme
Court's historic desegregation ruling was already 20 years old time
enough, the courts said, for Destrehan and the surrounding area to comply.
But the Ku Klux Klan was still welcome in Destrehan in those days, and
David Duke, its 1-time imperial wizard, was an admired figure. White
families in the region wanted no part of integration.
When black students were admitted to Destrehan High, they were greeted
with taunts, various forms of humiliation and violence. Some of the black
students fought back, and in the period leading up to the shooting there
had been racial fights at a football game and inside the school.
While the Weber boy was being taken to a hospital, authorities ordered the
black students off the bus and searched each one. The bus was also
thoroughly searched. No weapon was found, and there was no evidence to
indicate that the shot had come from the bus. The bus driver insisted it
had not come from the bus, but from someone firing at the bus.
Doomed by impudence
One of the black youngsters, a 16-year-old named Gary Tyler, was arrested
for disturbing the peace after he talked back to a sheriff's deputy one
of the few deputies in St. Charles Parish who was black. It may have been
young Tyler's impudence that doomed him. He was branded on the spot as the
(Later, at a trial, the deputy, Nelson Coleman, was asked whose peace had
been disturbed by Tyler's comments. "Mine," he replied.)
Matters moved amazingly fast after the shooting. Racial tension gave way
to racial hysteria. A white boy had been killed and some black had to pay.
Tyler, as good a black as any, was taken to a sheriff's substation where
he was beaten unmercifully amid shouted commands that he confess. He would
It didn't matter. In just a little over a year he would be tried,
convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to death by electrocution.
The efficiency of the process was chilling. Evidence began to miraculously
appear. Investigators "found" a .45-caliber pistol. Never mind that there
were no fingerprints on it and it turned out to have been stolen from a
firing range used by the sheriff's deputies. (Or that it subsequently
disappeared as conveniently as it was found.) The authorities said they
found the gun on the bus, despite the fact that the initial search had
turned up nothing.
The authorities found witnesses who said that Tyler had been the gunman.
Never mind that the main witness, a former girlfriend of Tyler's, was a
troubled youngster who had been under the care of a psychiatrist and had a
history of reporting phony crimes to the police, including a false report
of a kidnapping. She and every other witness who fingered Tyler would
later recant, charging that they had been terrorized into testifying
falsely by the police.
A sworn affidavit from Larry Dabney, who was seated by Tyler on the bus,
was typical. He said his treatment by the police was the "scariest thing"
he'd ever experienced. "They didn't even ask me what I saw," he said.
"They told me flat out that I was going to be their key witness. They told
me I was going to testify that I saw Gary with a gun right after I heard
the shot and that a few minutes later I had seen him hide it in a slit in
the seat. That was not true. I didn't see Gary or anybody else in that bus
with a gun."
Paid with his life
Tyler was spared electrocution when the Supreme Court declared Louisiana's
death penalty unconstitutional. But in many ways he has in fact paid with
his life. He'll turn 50 this year in the state penitentiary at Angola,
where he is serving out his sentence of life without parole for the murder
of Timothy Weber.
(source: The Day; Bob Herbert is a columnist for The New York Times)
Federal Death Penalty Case Postponed----An update now on Chattanooga's 1st
federal death penalty case.
A judge today postponed the trial of Rejon Taylor, the Atlanta man accused
of killing Buckhead restaurant owner Guy Luck and dumping his body in
Collegedale in August 2003.
Attorneys told the judge they need more time to prepare.
21-year old Joey Marshall and 23-year old Sir Jack Matthews pleaded guilty
last year to carjacking, kidnapping, and using a firearm to kill the
Atlanta restaurant owner.
They're expected to testify against Taylor.
(source: WDEF News)
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