[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.DAK., KY., CALIF., S.DAK., MD.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 27 22:33:18 UTC 2007
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. being moved to death row
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. began the journey to death row on Tuesday, checking
out of the Cass County jail at 8:16 a.m. after spending nearly 3 years in
a cell there.
The Crookston, Minn., man has been sentenced to death for the killing of
University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin. He will await his execution
at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
U.S. Marshal Dave Carpenter said Rodriguez would be driven from Fargo to
either Sioux Falls, S.D., or Rochester, Minn., where he would be put
aboard a government plane.
"Once we get them on the plane, there are many routes," Carpenter said.
"The plane may take them directly to their destination, or it may take
them to another detention facility."
Carpenter said he could not disclose the exact route Rodriguez would take.
He said he expected Rodriguez to arrive in Terre Haute within 3 days.
Rodriguez spent 1,022 days in the Fargo jail.
"By far that made Rodriguez the longest-serving person in the Cass County
jail ever," said Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson.
A federal jury in Fargo last September convicted Rodriguez, 54, of
kidnapping resulting in the 2003 death of Sjodin, 22, from Pequot Lakes,
Minn. The same jury voted unanimously for the death penalty.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson made the sentence official on Feb. 8.
Rodriguez's attorney, Richard Ney, filed an appeal shortly after the
Sjodin disappeared from a Grand Forks shopping mall parking lot 3 1/2
years ago. Her body was found nearly 5 months later in a ravine near
Crookston. Authorities said she had been beaten, raped and stabbed.
Rodriguez had been released from prison 6 months earlier for other crimes
that included rape and attempted kidnapping.
When Rodriguez was convicted he become the 45th federal prisoner on death
row in the United States. He is to die by lethal injection.
The average length of the appeal process in all death penalty cases in the
country - state and federal - is about 10 years, according to the
nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. In federal
cases, the process typically is a few years shorter, the center said.
North Dakota does not have the death penalty. Rodriguez faced capital
punishment in federal court because authorities said he crossed state
lines after kidnapping Sjodin.
(source: West Central Tribune)
Death penalty to be sought for man accused of killing 3 women, raping 4th
Prosecutors said Tuesday they will seek the death penalty against a man
accused of killing 3 women and raping another during a 14-year span.
Robert F. Smallwood, accused of being Lexington's 1st serial killer, is
charged with murder in the slayings of Doris Roberts, Sonora Allen and
Erica Butler from December 1999 to April 2006. He is charged in the 1993
rape of Viola J. Greene, 83, a retired schoolteacher who died in 1998 of
Smallwood also is charged with 1 count each of burglary, robbery, sodomy
and being a persistent felony offender, according to Fayette Circuit Court
On Tuesday in Fayette Circuit Court, Smallwood's attorney said she will
ask for separate trials on each of the murder counts. Trying them together
would be prejudicial, public defender Kate Dunn said.
Prosecutors said they will oppose Dunn's motion.
Circuit Judge James Ishmael set a tentative trial date of Oct. 29, though
that might change if he decides the cases must be tried separately. The
trial is scheduled to last nearly 5 weeks.
Smallwood's next court appearance is May 29.
Gag order issued for death penalty trial
A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge issued a gag order Monday,
banning attorneys, police and witnesses from talking with the media about
the anticipated death penalty trial of a Manteca man accused of killing a
A former pastor from Ripon who sold his church building without telling
his congregation and then spent time with the accused killer at the San
Joaquin County Jail may have prompted the judge's ruling.
Roy Gerald Smith, 45, faces the death penalty if convicted of luring Mary
Morino Starkey, 46, of Ripon from her home to kill her. Starkey was last
seen June 15, 2005, and her body has never been recovered.
Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Garber banned anybody involved in the
trial from talking to the media. Garber would not talk about the active
case, when asked outside of court to explain the gag order.
Prosecutors, who replied with "no comment" to questions Monday, have said
they are prepared to present DNA evidence from the jeans Smith wore when
he was arrested that links Smith to Starkey. Former pastor Randal Radic
will also be part of their case.
John Schick, a Stockton attorney who has defended 5 men charged with
capital crimes, said he believes Radic, 54, could be behind Garber's
"That's probably the 800-pound gorilla in the room," Schick said, who
isn't directly involved in Smith trial, but agreed to comment. "He's
probably going to be a central part of the case."
Schick said both prosecutors and Smith's defense attorneys may want to
keep Radic from talking to the media about his role in Smith's case. The
former pastor is likely articulate, but may not be very credible in light
of his own crime.
Radic pleaded guilty in January 2006 to embezzlement for selling the Ripon
church. He then spent six months at the county jail while awaiting
sentencing, but was released when he struck a deal with San Joaquin County
Radic claims Smith shared incriminating information with him while in
County Jail. Radic agreed to testify against Smith in a deal that keeps
the former pastor out of state prison as punishment on his own
It's not clear what Radic is expected to say during Smith's trial,
scheduled to begin in September. Only attorneys involved in the case know
that, especially prosecutors who will depend on Radic's credibility to
"I'm sure they want to keep that discussion in the courtroom only," Schick
said. "They probably don't want to have people reminded in great detail
what happened to his congregation."
(source: Stockton Record)
Death penalty measure signed
When death row inmate Elijah Page is executed the week of July 9, he will
be able to choose which type of drug cocktail is used in the lethal
Gov. Mike Rounds on Friday signed HB1175, the state's new death penalty
law, which will take effect July 1.
The old law called for a 2-drug cocktail. The new law is less descriptive
and says death shall be inflicted by the intravenous injections of a
substance or substances in a lethal quantity.
The law reads "any person convicted of a capital offense or sentenced to
death prior to the effective date of this act may choose to be executed in
the manner provided in this act or in the manner provided by South Dakota
law at the time of the persons conviction."
That gives Page the right to choose whether to use a 2-drug lethal
injection or the 3-drug one officials planned to use at his first
scheduled execution last summer.
The 2-drug cocktail would have used an ultra-short-acting barbiturate
intended to put the inmate into a deep sleep and a chemical paralytic
agent intended to stop his breathing.
The 3rd drug is potassium chloride, which induces cardiac arrest.
Rounds stayed Page's execution set for Aug. 28, 2006, just hours before
the lethal injection was administered because prison officials were
planning to use a 3-drug method, rather than 2 drugs as outlined in state
After Rounds halted the execution, South Dakota Attorney General Larry
Long said the standard protocol for lethal injections throughout the
country is to use the 3-drug method, which is believed to be more humane.
Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald, who prosecuted the Page
case, said Monday that the new law takes into consideration the
possibility of complaints by the inmate that the law was changed after the
"In essence, they really haven't (changed the law) because he still has
the option of having it done the way it was on the books when the sentence
was handed down," Fitzgerald said.
Page, 24, of Athens, Texas, pleaded guilty to murdering 19-year-old
Chester Allan Poage in March 2000.
Page and 2 other men took Poage to Higgins Gulch near Spearfish where they
beat and tortured him for hours before killing him by throwing large rocks
on his head.
Fitzgerald said having the execution carried out will provide closure for
"It's the completion of justice," Fitzgerald said. "It's not revenge. It's
justice being done for a horrible murder.
As the prosecutor who asked for a death sentence in the case, Fitzgerald
will be one of the people who watch the execution take place in July.
"It's my responsibility to be present when the law carries out that
punishment," he said.
Briley Piper of Anchorage, Alaska, also pleaded guilty in the murder and
was sentenced to death. He continues to appeal his sentence.
Darrell Hoadley of Lead was convicted by a jury and is serving life
(source: Rapid City Journal)
Maryland judge suspends lethal injection reports until death penalty
US District Judge Benson Legg Monday suspended a requirement that the
Maryland Attorney General [official website] submit proposals for using
medical professionals to conduct lethal injections until such time as the
controversy over the status of the state's capital punishment is resolved.
Maryland death row inmate Vernon Evans, Jr. had initially challenged the
constitutionality of lethal injections, saying that personnel are not
qualified to protect against the inmate's pain and suffering during the
procedure. Legg had previously ordered both the attorney general and Evans
to submit status reports every 90 days, including proposals from the state
on the feasibility of using medical professionals to perform the
injections. The state claims that lethal injection is not a medical
procedure, that executioners are qualified to perform it, and that using
medical professionals would be nearly impossible since the American
Medical Association discourages them from participating in capital
punishment. The judge plans to use the information to balance the harm to
Evans if he is forced to undergo an injection performed by executioners
against the burden to the state of Maryland if it is forced to recruit
In December, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the state's lethal
injection procedures are subject to the state's Administrative Procedures
Act (APA) and therefore must be developed under the guidance of the
Maryland attorney general, a legislative committee and with review and
comment by the public unless the legislature acts to explicitly exempt
lethal injection protocol from the APA. 2 bills currently before
Maryland's legislature, HB690 and HB239 [official synopses], seek to
exempt it from the APA. AP has more.
(source: The Jurist)
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