[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 21 00:14:31 UTC 2007
Execution nears for Texas man on death row for killing East Texas couple
The execution nears for a man convicted of murdering an elderly East Texas
The execution for 30-year-old Newton Anderson is set for Thursday.
8 years ago next month, Frank and Bertha Cobb were tortured, shot and
killed in their home in New Harmony.
A reminder of that crime is in downtown Tyler at the victims' memorial,
where their names are etched in granite. Their family says it has been a
long road to the killer's execution date.
Carolyn Sanders will remember March 4, 1999, for the rest of her life.
That's the day her parents Frank and Bertha Cobb were found dead in their
New Harmony home.
Sanders said, "It's always there and it's always brought up. It's not as
frequents as it used to be, but it's still brought up."
Anderson is on death row for the murder. Smith County district attorney
Matt Bingham says Anderson tied the couple up, raped Mrs. Cobb and shot
them both. He then stole $100, clothes along with other property and drove
off in the Cobb's car.
Bingham said, "His motive was not just to take the property but was also
to torture them and ultimately kill them, and that's what he did. And he
deserves exactly what he's getting."
Anderson's execution is set for Thursday. Sanders says she will join
several of her family members to witness the lethal injection.
"I've always believed in the death penalty, and now I know why," Sanders
The execution date was scheduled last November. Anderson's attorney, Scott
Smith, talked with KETK then and told us his client knew avoiding the
death penalty was nearly impossible.
Smith said, "He's accepted the fact this may be the actual day he will be
There are no more state or federal appeals. Smith has filed a stay of
execution with the U.S. Supreme Court.
"I'll be honest with you, those are a long shot," Smith said.
The latest court docket shows that no decision has been made yet. Sanders
says Andersons death will bring some closure to years of pain.
"We're hoping that this will be the end of it and then we can close and go
on with the rest of our lives," Sanders said.
Sanders told KETK 56 News Monday afternoon she's always wondered why
Anderson did what he did.
Meanwhile, Andersons execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday night.
(source: KETK News)
Victim's children witness retrial of slaying suspect----Grandfather says
they haven't had contact with father since he was put on death row in plot
13 years after Farah Fratta was gunned down, her 3 children are watching
the death penalty trial of the man accused of being hired to shoot her.
The trial of Howard Paul Guidry continues today, as prosecutors work to
piece together the lives of Robert Fratta and his wife, Farah, and her
This is Guidry's 2nd trial. In 1997, Guidry was convicted as the man who
shot Farah Fratta twice in the head. He was sentenced to death in the 1994
murder-for-hire plot concocted by Robert Fratta, a former Missouri City
public safety officer.
Robert Fratta hired Joseph Prystash, who hired Guidry, prosecutors said
Monday. Fratta and Prystash have been convicted and sentenced to death. In
2004, a federal judge ruled that Guidry deserved a new trial because he
was tricked into confessing. The judge also said hearsay testimony
contributed to his conviction.
Because some of the 1997 trial's evidence has been excluded, this trial
will have different evidence, including tapes of jail phone calls Guidry
made and testimony by a prison informer.
A more striking difference is the presence of the Fratta children, who are
planning to watch segments of the trial.
The couple's 3 children, now 16, 18 and 20, sat with Farah Fratta's
parents, who raised them after her death. They were 3, 6 and 8 when their
mother was killed.
"This is the opportunity for them to find out," Lex Baquer said of his
grandchildren's attendance. "They asked us many times (what happened)."
Baquer said the children haven't had any contact with their father since
he was put on death row. He said a family law judge determined that it
wouldn't be in the children's best interest. Baquer said the children were
particularly interested in seeing Guidry's trial, because he is accused of
being the gunman.
Prosecutors quietly asked the children and their grandparents to leave the
courtroom before graphic photos of Fratta's body were shown.
The children declined to comment on the case, except to say they were
curious about the details.
And although this is the 1st time the children have heard evidence that
their father hired someone to kill their mother rather than face a custody
hearing in a messy divorce, this is the 4th trial Baquer has watched.
Monday morning, tears welled in his eyes as he talked about his daughter.
"Their mother was a beautiful lady. She loved the children," he said.
"When she walked into a room, it just lit up."
Testimony Monday included 3 men from Robert Fratta's gym and tanning salon
who said Fratta asked them if they knew anyone who could kill his wife.
Police who responded to the scene and processed the evidence and witnesses
to the gunshots also testified.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler told jurors in
opening statements that Guidry killed Farah Fratta for the love of money.
"Today, all these years later," Siegler said, "he's as guilty now as he
was back then."
Siegler said Fratta's offer for the shooting was $1,010, a Jeep and the
(source: Houston Chronicle)
LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD ---- Austin, Texas
FISCAL NOTE, 80TH LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION
February 20, 2007
TO: Honorable Aaron Pena, Chair, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
FROM: John S. O'Brien, Director, Legislative Budget Board
IN RE: HB8 by Riddle (Relating to the prosecution, punishment, and
supervision of certain sex offenders and to certain crimes involving sex
offenders.), As Introduced
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated for the
first 5 years following passage of the bill.
The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure by: 1) changing the
statute of limitations so that a felony indictment may be presented within
20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim of a sexually violent
offense, if the investigation of the offense shows that the victim is
younger than 17 years of age at the time of the offense; 2) making changes
in procedures in non-death penalty capital cases; and 3) providing for
penalty and procedure changes if the victim of a sexually violent offense
was younger than 14 at the time of the offense.
The bill would amend the Government Code by eliminating the possibility of
mandatory supervision release for all persons convicted of the offense of
indecency with a child and for persons convicted of a first degree felony
for the offense of sexual performance by a child.
The bill would amend the Health and Safety Code by requiring a tracking
service to track the locations of outpatient civil commitment patients.
The tracking service would periodically provide cumulative reports of
locations of the civil commitment patients to case managers.
The bill would amend the Penal Code by: 1) adding a definition for the
offense of "sexually violent offense"; 2) enhance the punishment for
certain repeat sexual offenses to that of a capital felony if the offenses
are committed against a child younger than 14 years at the time of the
offense; 3) enhance the punishment of the offense of indecency with a
child punishable from a 2nd degree to a first degree if the victim of the
offense is younger than 14 years of age at the time of the offense; 4)
enhance the punishment of the offense of sexual performance by a child
from a 2nd degree to a first degree if the victim of the offense is
younger than 14 years of age at the time of the offense; and enhance the
punishment for behavior related to the offense of sexual performance by a
child, currently punishable as felony of the third degree, to a felony of
the first degree if the victim of the offense is younger than 14 years of
age at the time of the offense.
The Act would take effect September 1, 2007 and would only apply to
offenses committed on or after that date.
Given the proposal would apply to offenses committed on or after September
1, 2007, and that under current law and policy, individuals convicted of
sexually violent offenses serve a very high percentage of their sentence,
the full impact of this proposal will not be realized in the first 5 years
of implementation. Many of the provisions of the bill are not anticipated
to have a significant fiscal impact because they either impact a small
percentage of persons convicted of sexually violent offenses, or because
under current policy and under the proposal the individuals are expected
to be incarcerated for a period of time close to their maximum term (85%).
The Department of State Health Services has stated that they anticipate no
fiscal impact from the provision of the bill further specifying tracking
services for civil commitment outpatients. The provision of the bill that
is expected to have the largest and most immediate impact is the provision
that would enhance the punishment of the offenses of indecency with a
child, and sexual performance by a child, from a felony of the second
degree to a felony of the first degree if the victim of the offense is
younger than 14 years of age.
For fiscal year 2006, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
received 633 offenders for the offenses of indecency with a child, and
sexual performance of a child, where the offense was punishable as a
felony of the second degree. Based on a sample of fiscal year 2006 TDCJ
intakes for sexually violent offenses committed against children, it is
estimated that 537 (84%) of the 633 second degree offenders committed
their offense against children under the age of 14 (633 X 84% = 537). The
537 offenders are then placed in a discrete event simulation model that
calculates the difference in sentencing and release policy based on
whether the offenders are treated as second degree felons or first degree
felons. The simulation model indicates that the impact of this particular
provision of the bill would not be significant in the first five years
following passage; however, the additional time served requirements of the
bill would likely result in the need for an additional 489 beds by fiscal
Local Government Impact
No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is
Source Agencies: 537 State Health Services, Department of, 696 Department
of Criminal Justice LBB Staff: JOB, ES, GG
Attorneys begin search for jury in Tabler trial
In Belton, attorneys will begin separately interviewing more than 100 Bell
County residents today as potential jurors in the death penalty trial of a
27-year-old Killeen man accused of slaying four people over Thanksgiving
weekend in 2004.
The arduous, but necessary, task began last Monday with 150 individuals
filling out a 23-page questionnaire as part of an effort to find 12
impartial residents. The jury will be asked to sentence Richard Lee Tabler
to death if he is found guilty.
Tabler is on trial in Judge Martha Trudo's 264th District Court on a Nov.
26, 2004, charge of capital murder in the deaths of Haitham Zayed, 28, and
Mohamid-Amine Rahmouni, 25.
He also is indicted, along with Timothy Doan Payne, a former 4th Infantry
Division soldier, on a charge of capital murder in the Nov. 28, 2004,
deaths of Tiffany Lorraine Dotson, 18, and Amanda Benefield, 16.
Jury selection is expected to last about three weeks with opening
statements beginning on March 19.
Jury selection in a death penalty trial is a lengthy process because
attorneys speak with each potential juror individually. Each interview
lasts between 45 and 90 minutes.
Before handing out the questionnaire, both the prosecution and the defense
urged everyone to answer each question honestly and completely.
"No case is more serious when someone's life is on the line," Prosecutor
Paul McWilliams said. "We need a fair and impartial jury."
At the moment, capital murder is the only offense for which the state can
seek the death penalty.
The last death penalty case tried in Bell County was February 2002. A jury
found Dernard Manns guilty of capital murder in the November 1998 shooting
death of a 25-year-old Army medic.
He was sentenced to death on March 1, 2002, and is awaiting an execution.
McWilliams was the prosecutor in the case, and ironically, the defense
attorney was John Donohue of Waco, who also is one of Tabler's attorneys.
If Tabler is found guilty of capital murder, the punishment phase of the
trial will begin on March 26, when the jury will be asked to choose
between life in prison or the death penalty.
The state is not seeking the death penalty for Payne. He will go to trial
after Tabler's case is disposed of.
According to police reports, Zayed, Benefield and Dotson were employees at
Teazers Gentlemen's Club in Killeen. Rahmouni was a friend of Zayed's and
worked at Mike's Auto Sales in Killeen.
Tabler said he met Zayed and Rahmouni on the pretense of buying stolen
items, admitting that he shot the 2 men while Payne videotaped the
incident. Both men said they searched the bodies of Zayed and Rahmouni,
looking for money.
In a separate affidavit, Tabler said he enticed the 2 dancers to a remote
area of Simmons Road on the promise of crack cocaine, stating he shot
Benefield because she made comments about the earlier shootings of Zayed
Police believe that Dotson was killed because she was at the wrong place
at the wrong time.
Both men allegedly told investigators the killings were part of a
revenge-based plot to kill at least 12 people who worked at the
gentlemen's club, people whom Tabler believed had wronged him.
(source: Killeen Daily Herald)
Beds for heads----Medicaid cuts eliminate 20 % of Houston's scarce
hospital beds for mentally ill patients.
40 years ago, admission to a psychiatric hospital often meant admission of
despair. A Houston resident suffering a mental breakdown could be housed
for years in a facility in Arkansas. That's how few the placement options
were in these parts and how weak the tools for treatment.
This scenario helps to explain the 1960s law banning Medicaid payments for
stand-alone psychiatric hospitals. Stays were too long and medical success
too rare for Medicaid to fund.
Now revolutions in medication, brain science and understanding of mental
illness have transformed that landscape. It's urgent that Congress
acknowledge these tectonic changes and swiftly update the Medicaid rule
now creating chaos in Harris County.
Why the sudden sense of crisis over a law established 40 years ago? Until
this year, Harris County had a waiver that allowed companies to use
Medicaid funds to pay for hospital care at psychiatric facilities. But in
January, Medicaid ended managed care's role in paying hospitals.
On Feb 1, Medicaid stopped reimbursing free-standing psychiatric hospitals
for inpatient care. The cutoff hits all of Houston's six psychiatric
hospitals, which treat an estimated 75 patients every day.
In all, the cutoff will whisk away 85 psychiatric beds in Harris County.
The outcome, mental health advocates, psychiatric and surgical hospitals
say, is nothing short of disastrous.
The cutoff comes at a time when successes and needs for treating mental
health have never been greater. Timely professional treatment can return
patients with major illnesses to their families and former lives, and it
does so in much less time: Area mental hospitals treat their inpatients an
average of 8 days.
Yet even before the Medicaid cutoff, 76,000 adults with severe mental
illness were unable to get the treatment they needed in 2005, according to
the Mental Health Needs Council. For those patients unable to get access
to treatment, prospects may be as bleak as they were back in the 1960s.
The situation is cruel and dangerous. Because many untreated sufferers
will end up in jail, the Medicaid law burdens local taxpayers with the
expense and occasional danger of picking up where mental hospitals were
forced to leave off.
According to state officials, stand-alone psychiatric hospitals are for
Medicaid. The federal government, though, says past payments through
managed care violated Medicaid policy and can't continue.
In the end, sorting through the nuances of legislation from another era
misses the point. The effectiveness and need for mental health care can't
be disputed. Medicaid exists to make sure poor Americans get health care
to keep both them and those around them safe. Mental health is part of
Congress needs to update its Medicaid provision for psychiatric hospitals
immediately. Until it does, many Harris County residents run risks that
properly belong in the last century.
(source: Editorial, Houston Chronicle)
Unretrieved cocaine limits crime lab case----Worker admits to several
thefts, but faces only one charge because sold drugs missing
A Department of Public Safety crime lab technician confessed to stealing
cocaine from the lab on several occasions, but he will face drug charges
based on only one theft because officers cannot retrieve the sold
narcotics and verify the past crimes, District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal
"We don't indict people here in Harris County unless we have a lab
analysis that shows that a controlled substance was in a person's
possession," Rosenthal said.
About 26 kilograms of cocaine are believed to be missing from the local
DPS lab in Jersey Village. Jesus Hinojosa Jr., 30, a technician, was
charged last week with intent to deliver cocaine in connection with the
theft of one kilogram.
"There is no reason to believe that anyone else at DPS is involved," said
Julian Ramirez, a prosecutor from the special crimes unit.
But the district attorney's office and the Texas Rangers, a division of
the DPS, continue to investigate how many thefts occurred, how Hinojosa
stole the drugs and how many cases are missing evidence, Ramirez said.
Rosenthal said his office sent only a small percentage of evidence to the
lab because it generally took too long to provide results.
"The DPS lab is fine, and I think it is competent. But they are
overworked, and they are slower at getting results," Rosenthal said.
3 made admissions
The DPS lab does work for other southeast Texas counties and law
Rosenthal said he didn't think the thefts would jeopardize many cases
because Hinojosa was a technician, and a senior lab worker above him would
have analyzed drugs handled by him. He said he doesn't believe Hinojosa
testified about lab findings.
Hinojosa, Roberto Reynoso, 35, and Tommy Norris, 33, were charged with
possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine with intent to sell. All 3
made admissions while being interviewed by the Texas Rangers, their
Hinojosa's friendship to Reynoso is at the heart of the case. They
befriended each other about three years ago when Reynoso was Hinojosa's
downstairs neighbor at an apartment complex, said James Stafford,
They became close after Hinojosa was injured in a motorcycle accident and
couldn't work for a time, Stafford said.
Reynoso's criminal record includes a federal conviction for selling
marijuana in the Rio Grande Valley, but he has become a successful
construction contractor since then, Stafford said.
"He's got a great wife and kids and a real active construction business,"
Reynoso lined up a buyer or buyers for the cocaine, and he would sell a
kilogram for $11,000, about $4,000 less than the wholesale rate in
Houston, his lawyer said. He would keep $1,000 and give Hinojosa $10,000,
Norris took the packages that the bricks of cocaine had been stored in,
and made look-alike bricks out of other substances, said Bill Taylor, his
lawyer. Hinojosa would sneak the packages back into the lab, Rosenthal
Norris is a registered sex offender who served four years following a 1994
conviction for a sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, the state sex
offender registry indicates.
"These 2 other people he was involved with manipulated him," said
Hinojosa's lawyer, John Petruzzi. "I think he was very naive. He didn't
make as much money on this deal as people expect."
(source: Houston Chronicle)
New Dallas D.A. bringing a new approach for a 'failed system'
Craig Watkins became Texas' 1st black district attorney when he was sworn
in last month in Dallas County. A little more about him:
Background: Ran a defense and bail-bond practice out of a small office in
Goal: To place a renewed emphasis on drug treatment, training and job
placement for those who commit lesser offenses.
When DNA evidence exonerated James Waller last month, freeing him from the
crushing and false accusation that he raped a 12-year-old boy in 1982,
newly installed District Attorney Craig Watkins was in the courtroom to
express his regret.
"When you send someone to prison for something they didn't do, you go down
there and apologize, and you don't let it happen again. I don't want to be
apologizing 20 years from now," Watkins said in an interview last week.
The soft-spoken 39-year-old former defense lawyer, who led a Democratic
sweep of Dallas County offices in November, became Texas' first black
district attorney when he was sworn in last month.
By all accounts, he represents a sharp break from the law-and-order
conservatives who have held the office for decades, starting with Henry
Wade, who retired in 1986 after 36 years in office.
Wade prided himself on a high conviction rate and stiff sentences, but
along with the office's hard-nosed reputation came accusations of a
win-at-any-cost attitude and a history of wrongful convictions that
shadows it to this day.
In addition to Waller, 11 others have been exonerated since 2001 through
new DNA testing, more than in any other U.S. county. Nine of those date to
"I'm not part of that failed system," said Watkins, who twice tried for a
job in the office. "I'm fresh. I have nothing to protect."
Watkins, who grew up in the city's middle-class Redbird area, the son of
college-educated teachers, ran a defense and bail-bond practice out of a
small office in South Dallas.
With a staff made up of friends and family, he campaigned on a platform of
fairness, justice and a new accent on rehabilitating low-level offenders.
In his first weeks on the job, he has worked to assure a skeptical public
that his new approach does not mean he is soft on crime in the nation's
most crime-plagued major city.
Watkins said he is seeking the death penalty in the retrial of Thomas
Miller-El, a case that shed light on the office's one-time practice of
excluding minorities from juries.
Miller-El was sentenced in 1986 to die for the robbery and murder of an
unarmed Irving motel clerk, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the
conviction in 2003 because the jury selection was "suffused with bias."
"This person who killed 2 people heinously, who should have been dealt
with a long time ago, he's getting a break because those prior
administrations didn't see fit to do it right," Watkins said as he leaned
over his desk in a spare office, its walls filled with bare spots and
empty picture hooks. "We're going to do it right."
"You have to know who needs hammering, and you hammer them," said Terri
Moore, a former Tarrant County prosecutor Watkins hired as his first
assistant. "There are scary people out there, and you take them off the
street. You also reach out to some of those nonviolent people who are
running up the crime rate with their recidivism. Doing things differently
does not mean you are weak. It means you are smart."
Watkins said he will need help from Austin and elsewhere, but he wants to
place a renewed emphasis on drug treatment, training and job placement for
those who commit lesser offenses.
"We have the 7th-largest jail in the country, we're No. 1 in terms of
crime (among major cities) for the past eight out of 10 years, and, of the
five major cities in Texas, we have the highest incarceration rate of
low-level, nonviolent offenders," said Dallas County Commissioner John
Wiley Price, a fellow Democrat. "It has everything to do with that office
and its attitudes."
Attractive plea offers
To solve jail overcrowding that has recently drawn scorn from state and
federal regulators, Watkins' office is making more attractive plea offers
to the lowest-level felons, attempting to prompt suburban jurisdictions to
lower bails in misdemeanor cases and taking other steps to free beds.
A 2,300-bed jail addition being built should solve the short-term crisis,
Inside his office, Watkins dismissed eight supervisory-level prosecutors,
and 9 veterans left voluntarily, including Toby Shook, a veteran of more
than 20 years and head of the office's felony trial bureau. Watkins beat
Shook, a Republican, in the November election.
When Watkins' predecessor, Bill Hill, retired after two terms, the 13 top
administrative positions in the 230-lawyer office were held by whites.
Watkins appointed minorities to 4 of those and said he would have made
more changes if the office's minority lawyers had more experience trying
Robert Udashen, president of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers
Association, said Watkins has instituted a change in procedures allowing
defense lawyers to review prosecutors' files that signals "he's going to
bring a greater sense of fairness."
"You don't have this hide-the-ball mentality," the defense lawyer said,
explaining that in the past, prosecutors were required by law only to turn
over exculpatory evidence but not evidence of guilt. "When you don't know
what's coming, you get trial by ambush," he said.
He also said he welcomes Watkins' receptiveness to post-conviction DNA
testing. The office is cooperating with the Innocence Project of Texas in
a review of several hundred felony convictions to determine which might
He raised just over $35,000 before Election Day. But he has seen more than
$143,000 pour in since, including checks from lawyers who supported his
"That's politics," he said.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Interview with Ronald Chambers, conducted the day before he was scheduled
to be executed
Q: Has [execution] ever come this close?
A: I did have a date one time in the early 80s, but 2 weeks later I got a
Q: Did you get the point of picking your last meal this time? What did you
A: Sirloin, fried shrimp and German chocolate cake ... It's a meal that
I'm glad I never did get to eat. How do you prepare yourself for stuff
like this? You don't. But then again, you know how things are going in
Texas, too, right? So...You don't prepare, but I was prepared. Do you
understand that? It ain't nothing I can do about it, right?
Q: Were you sleeping OK leading up to it?
A: I got to the point where I didn't want to go to sleep too much. I
wanted to see everything I could see, hear everything I could hear.
Q: How do you get through all of your time here?
A: I have met some beautiful people during this time ... your pen friends,
they share their lives with you. You live through them somewhat. They tell
you about what they did and you can see it. They send you pictures.
Q: Is there a particular picture that you like to look at a lot?
A: I've got one where a little girl, she's standing there and this peacock
came up. You know how innocent children are. For a bird like that to come
up on them and they're all surprised. The peacock, he's just cool, he
doesn't know what's happening.
Q: Tell me more about that picture of the peacock.
A: She's a little blond girl, a little bitty blond girl. She's got her
back to you, right, the peacock just walked out of some bushes or
something, and she's just standing there, looking at the peacock. That's
the good thing about pictures. You can't really see her face, but you know
she's in awe. She's got on...a blue coat. And the peacock's taller than
Q: You escape into the pictures.
A: Yeah. And then the next day I look at it, even though I already said,
'That's what's she's thinking,' You can change it up the next time you
look at it. That's why I read, too to escape. If you just started telling
me about Canada, by the time I get back to the cell, I could sit and
think, I could see what you saw.
Q: What do you do in your cell all day?
A: Well, you know, a lot of people get books and they pass the books
around. Play chess. You can call out the spots. They have a board and you
have a board.
Q: Have you lost some good friends in here over the years?
A: People that write, they ask me, what about your friends? I've been here
for every execution, right? It used to be where the person who was going
to be executed, he could have us talk to him for the last time. I had seen
so many of them, I stopped.
Q: You stopped saying goodbye?
A: I stopped going to see them, because I couldn't help my friends ... I
should be balding and grey by now, that's what I'm thinking
Q: What does the future hold for you? You don't have a date, you're just
here indefinitely now. That's a big relief.
A: That's an understatement, you know what I'm saying? Simply put, it's a
big relief. I can handle it. I can handle the empty time. I can handle not
having books right now. I can handle nothing to do right now. It's good to
have nothing to do right now, you know what I'm saying? Because I feel
blessed that I'm still alive.
Q: If you could walk out those doors today, what is the first thing you'd
want to do the most?
A: I'd like to be somewhere like at the beach, or at the park, where
everybody is at, just watching them. Just watching the people. All the
different colours the clothes, the faces, the hair, the eyes all of it.
Q: Do you think that you will be put to death at some point?
A: Ma'am, we're talking Texas. We're talking Texas. I think the whole
world can have a moratorium, and Texas would be the only one that's
fighting against it ... The courts have to force Texas to stop.
Q: So you think that one day, this is going to be the way that you go.
A: One day...not necessarily. Well, I mean, like I was saying before, this
is Texas. Any other state, you might have a better chance of getting out.
Here, the percentage of being executed is greater than any other state
that has the death sentence. You can hear in Texas that the teachers got a
pay cut, they had to cut the teachers' payroll, they had to cut the
policemen's payroll, but they had to cut everybody's payroll. But they
never lose funds for executions...so executing one of your citizens is
more important than educating one of your citizens. That's the way I be
looking at it.
Q: Some people believe that life parole is a worse sentence than death,
because the person has to live with knowing they're going to be locked up
for the rest of their life. What do you think?
A: Being incarcerated like this with life without parole, you can still be
a positive influence to somebody. I have schoolchildren from England
writing to me. They want to know what not to do. They basically know, but
at the same time, a person that actually went through those bad
experiences, they'll listen to more. There is a possibility that your
words may inspire somebody out there, just if it's one person, not to hit
that crossroad to destruction.
Q: What do you tell the schoolchildren?
A: I try to tell them to slow down. We speed, we speed, we speed. We have
to be the quickest. Once you slow down and think about it, smell the
coffee, it gets better. I really like to tell them just to slow down.
Listen to Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad be telling you a lot of right stuff.
You don't realize it until you get to be 21.
Q: Do you think you deserve to be in the circumstance you're in?
A: Let's deal with the trials and the tribulations of life. Everybody's
going to have hardship. Sometimes some people think they're having it much
harder than others. There is always somebody who needs more help than you.
With that said, I believe if God puts trouble in your life, he may be
giving you something you can handle. He may be giving you something that
you can build from. It may mean it's not necessarily about you, but for
someone else to see and learn and build from.
Like I said, when certain unpleasantries come into your life, it builds
character. It shows you how to deal with it. Most of the time, you should
become a better person, even from the good experiences. You learn how to
appreciate life a little bit more. Every step is a good step, it's a
positive step. It's a step that you can give to others. Good is as much as
a cycle as bad.
Q: Let's go back to 1975 for a minute. It's a very different world now.
What were the things you were interested in back then, and what are you
most interested in knowing about how the world has changed? Are there
things you're curious about?
A: The technology. I don't appreciate it more than you all do. When they
were talking about that....when everybody thought the computers were going
to go bad?
A: Yeah. I just seen a laptop the other day. A lawyer [who came to see me]
had a laptop, and I'm like, is that what you call that? You don't have TV
over here. You've all got those phones now, where you take pictures with
the phones? I think you're making life a little too easy. You don't have
to think anymore. Just press a button and add up this and that.
Q: When is the last time you got to watch television?
A: I became a diabetic about five years ago, I don't even remember. But
when I did, they sent me to [the] hospital. They had a TV in there. So I
got a chance to watch a couple football games. The nurses made me put on
the soap operas.
Q: If you could get out, how do you think you'd do out here?
A: I'd go get one of my young cousins. Let them go wherever I go. So
whenever it would come to one of those computers and things, the kids,
they know about the computers, so they're going to teach me how to make my
desposits and use the phone and the gas tank. I don't know where the put
the gas tank anymore, on the car. I don't know where they put them
anymore. Last time I was out there, they put them in the back of the
trunk, under the license plate. I know that's changed.
...There weren't computers when I got locked up. Even the officers, they
always call me, 'Hey, Old School.' I'm glad to be Old School. What you've
got to understand is, I'm trying to get older. I want to live to be like
Jiminy Cricket said, 99 years old, you know what I'm saying?
Q: There is an argument that keeping you here this long is cruel and
unusual punishment. Do you agree with that?
A: Yes... The death penalty is supposed to be an impact experience, but
don't it use the impact after 30-something years?
Q: Do you feel like you've paid enough for your crime?
A: Technically, I've been done 2 life sentences already. You don't think
(source: National Post (Canada) )
Capital murder trial set to begin
The trial for the murder of Chad Allen Stephen is set to begin today in
the 163rd District Court with Judge Dennis Powell presiding.
Geroid Janice, 23, faces capital murder charge. His co-defendant Conrad
James Pitre, 23, accepted a plea bargain agreement of 20 years in the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice system. Pitre will have to serve at
least half his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
The 3rd co-defendant, Howard White, 25, was being held in the Calcasieu
Parish Jail on federal charges of being a convicted felon in possession of
a firearm. White will face federal charges before he is released to Orange
County authorities. Officials with the U.S. Marshals office stated Whites
warrant was issued before he allegedly committed the murder.
According to police reports in January 2006 officers responded to the 1500
block of Main Street in Orange where Stephens was found with a gunshot
wound to his chest.
Stephens financ, Latisha Runnels, was at the house when two men came to
the door. Another man, allegedly Pitre, remained in the car.
The couple was going to buy a car for $800 from the men. After the men
entered the house they followed Stephens, 26, and Runnels to the bedroom.
Runnels also reported the men held a gun to her head and tried to take her
Stephens attempted to stop the gunmen and was able to successfully
distract them from Runnels. However, all parties left the bedroom and were
going outside to the front yard when Stephens was shot, according to
Runnels said she was standing behind Stephens as they reached the front
porch and after being shot he managed to go back into the house.
Stephens instructed Runnels to call 911 and lock the door. Afterwards, he
laid down on the couch where he died.
If the jury finds Janice guilty of the capital murder charge he faces a
mandatory sentence of life in prison or the state could ask for the death
(source: Orange Leader, Feb. 18)
More information about the DeathPenalty