[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------OHIO, IND., MO., CALIF., IDAHO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jan 10 22:48:28 UTC 2007
Strickland gets 1st death penalty case from parole board
In the 1st death-penalty case to reach him, Gov. Ted Strickland today
received a recommendation opposing clemency for a Trumbull County killer.
The Ohio Parole Board voted unanimously against sparing the life of Ken
Biros, 48. He is scheduled for execution on Jan. 23 for the Feb. 7, 1991,
dismemberment slaying of 22-year-old Tami Engstrom.
The board said that the brutality and violence of the offense outweighed
any arguments in favor of clemency. Further, there was no manifest
injustice or fundamental unfairness in the case, the board concluded in a
recommendation sent this morning to the new governor.
Biros' execution is already on hold by order of a federal judge. However,
the last execution also was on hold, but a federal appeals court ruling
reversed the decision overnight, allowing the lethal injection of Jeffrey
Lundgren to proceed on Oct. 24.
Strickland, a Democrat who supports capital punishment, has indicated he
will likely order a delay in Biros' case and perhaps the scheduled
execution of James Filiaggi on Feb. 13 to give him more time to review the
Under Ohio law, once the governor has a parole board recommendation, he
has unlimited power to grant clemencies, reprieves or allow the execution
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
New appeal planned for condemned man
A death row inmate's attorney plans to appeal a federal ruling that has
denied him a stay of execution.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young's written decision Tuesday
dismissed the claim that Norman Timberlake, 59, is too mentally ill to be
executed. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection Jan. 19.
Brent Westerfeld, Timberlake's attorney, said his client is "severely
mentally ill" and plans to appeal Tuesday's ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The Indiana attorney general's spokeswoman, Staci Schneider, declined to
comment on the ruling.
Timberlake has another lawsuit pending before Young. It argues that
Indiana's lethal injection procedures could cause unnecessary pain,
amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
Timberlake was convicted in the 1993 shooting death of Indiana State
Police Master Trooper Michael E. Greene during a traffic stop on I-65 in
A psychiatrist hired by the Indiana Supreme Court last year found
Timberlake likely suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, including
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the execution of insane people is
unconstitutional. But Young deferred to the Indiana court's evaluation,
which also showed Timberlake understood that he would be executed and the
reason why -- a common guideline used by courts.
Young's ruling doesn't take into account the U.S. Supreme Court's decision
last week to hear arguments in a similar execution case that could settle
the debate over what "insanity" means, Westerfeld said. That case was
brought by a Texas inmate, Scott Panetti, who also is mentally ill.
"I'd say that by the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a
definitive opinion on what the correct test is," Westerfeld said.
Timberlake has petitioned Gov. Mitch Daniels for clemency. The governor
will decide after the state Parole Board votes on a recommendation
(source: Indianapolis Star)
Sister Prejean: Even Saddam's death offends dignity----Death penalty
opponent to speak here Friday
Sister Helen Prejean says a lot of people miss the point in Saddam
"They're making a huge deal that they (the executors) weren't respectful,"
she says. "To me, they were all talking about the icing on the cake ...
that they (executors) should not have taunted him."
The "the ultimate indignity," Prejean says, is the decision to execute --
regardless of how bad the character -- a decision that means, "I just so
disrespect your life that I am going to kill you."
The Roman Catholic nun is the death penalty opponent made famous by the
1995 movie "Dead Man Walking."
She will speak at 7 p.m. Friday at Little Flower Catholic Church, 54191 N.
Ironwood Drive, South Bend, in line with events to mark the Martin Luther
King Jr. holiday. That is free to the public.
She spoke by phone Monday with The Tribune (it just so happens that her
voice does resemble that of the actress who portrayed her, Susan Sarandon,
at least a bit). That morning, she says, the English-language version of
Arab network Aljazeera interviewed her on the death penalty globally.
Prejean has accompanied six people to their execution. Those on Death Row,
she says, often hope that they don't faint before they reach their
execution, asking her, "Please pray that God holds up my legs because I
want to die with dignity."
It doesn't matter to her how many people died because of Hussein.
"One human being lost is a whole universe lost," she says.
She says the Catholic church long upheld the "dignity of innocent life,"
but only innocent life. Then Pope John Paul II took it a step further when
he wrote what she calls a loophole. He wrote that a government may execute
in rare cases of "absolute necessity."
But, she says, some countries may interpret "absolute necessity" to be
violation of adultery laws.
After she and other church members spoke with him in 1997, the pope
removed words in the church's official catechesis that said execution was
OK in "cases of grievous crimes."
The number of death sentences given in the United States fell from 128 in
2005 to 114 or fewer in 2006, according to the Death Penalty Information
Center, based in Washington, D.C.
And there were a total of 53 executions in 2006, down from 60 in 2005.
Prejean, like many critics and attorneys, says the numbers dropped because
folks are questioning the guilt of those on death row, pointing out how
123 have been exonerated since the Supreme Court reinstated the death
penalty in 1976.
Also, she says: "People are looking at Iraq. Killing and violence leads to
more killing and violence."
(source: South Bend Tribune)
Execution debate hits Missouri court today
Missouri has botched its execution process and tried to hide its failures,
attorneys are expected to argue today in a federal appeals court on behalf
of the next killer scheduled to die.
In effect, the lawyers will argue for all the state's condemned prisoners,
whose hopes ride on preserving a judge's finding that state procedures
pose too great a threat of cruel punishment.
Lawyers from Attorney General Jay Nixon's office, representing the
Department of Corrections, will try to put the executions back on track.
At immediate issue is the case of Michael A. Taylor, one of two men with
similar names on death row. This one was to have received a lethal
injectio last Feb. 1.
According to the case against him, Taylor helped another man abduct, rape
and stab 15-year-old Ann Harrison to death in Kansas City in 1989.
The central issue for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis
is not whether Taylor deserves to die but the way Missouri's executions
are carried out.
Principals in the case declined to comment in advance of the hearing, but
court documents lay out the generalities of both sides.
Since the early 1990s, Dr. Alan Doerhoff has injected three drugs: a
solution containing 5 grams of sodium thiopental followed by pancuronium
bromide and then potassium chloride. In order, they cause unconsciousness,
paralyze breathing and stop the heart.
Doerhoff testified last year that he had trouble getting the full amount
of thiopental to dissolve, and - improvising - he decided to halve the
He also admitted that he is not good with numbers because he is dyslexic
and sometimes makes mistakes. Doerhoff said there are no records that
document how much of each drug was used in past executions.
Corrections Department officials have said that the procedure was quick,
painless and efficient. Even 1/2 or 1/3 as much thiopental is sufficient
to render an inmate unconscious long enough for the other drugs to take
effect, they say.
Taylor's lawyers and other critics say the condemned might remain awake
enough to feel extreme pain.
State officials say the complaints are no more than a delaying tactic, the
latest in a long string of attacks aimed at ending the death penalty.
After hearings, U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan Jr., in Kansas
City, ruled last June that the state's procedures left an "unnecessary
risk" of unconstitutional pain and suffering and halted executions.
Gaitan said he was "gravely concerned" about Doerhoff's "confusion with
regard to numbers."
Doerhoff's identity had been secret until the Post-Dispatch reported his
name last summer and revealed that he had been reprimanded by the state
Board of Healing Arts and denied staff privileges at 2 hospitals.
Gaitan told the state to stop using Doerhoff and ordered other changes.
In reponse, Corrections Department officials established written
procedures for the 1st time. Changes must now be approved by the director.
For future executions, prisoners will receive about twice the amount of
sedative, and injection of the 2nd drug will be delayed to ensure the
inmate is unconscious.
Lawyers for the Corrections Department say that should be enough, but
Gaitan was not persuaded. So they appealed.
They also claim Gaitan's legal reasoning is wrong. Officials would have to
intend to inflict pain for the execution to be unconstitutionally cruel,
they said. Moreover, they said, "risk" of cruelty has never been an issue
in past cases.
There is no pain from the 2nd drug and the third would cause pain similar
to a heart attack for about 10 seconds, they say.
The appellate court's decision is not expected for months.
(source: St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Death penalty sought for man charged in murder of 3-year-old
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a man charged with
murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old son, who authorities allege was
tortured before he died.
Alex Kermith Mendoza, 28, has been in custody at Robert Presley Detention
Center since August 2005.
Michael "Mikey" Vallejo-Seiber died Aug. 29, 2005, during surgery a day
after his mother and Mendoza brought the boy's lifeless body to the
An autopsy showed Michael had a lacerated liver, broken ribs, burns to his
feet, injuries to his rectum and genitals and bruising on his body.
Mendoza was charged with murder with the special circumstance of torture,
and assault on a child under 8 years old likely to produce great bodily
injury resulting in death. He has pleaded not guilty.
Ingrid Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County district attorney's
office, said a decision was reached to seek the death penalty in the case.
"The decision has been made and we have filed a document notifying the
court of our intention," she said.
Mendoza is also charged with elder abuse in the alleged mistreatment of
his 87-year-old father, who was under his care. He has pleaded not guilty.
Calls to Mendoza's attorney were not returned.
(source: Associated Press)
Duncan Death Penalty Trial Site Not Determined
Many members of the media reported the Joseph Duncan death penalty trial
would be held in Boise. But according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, no
such decision has been made.
Mark Haws, with the U.S. Attorney's Office, says there has to be a grand
jury indictment in order for a case to go forward in federal court unless,
and until an indictment is returned in a case, no judge is assigned. There
must be a judge assigned in order to know when and where a trial will take
place. Once that happens, there are a few factors to consider when
selecting a site.
"The judges will usually listen to our recommendation and we always factor
in considerations such as security, convenience to witnesses,
transportation and transportation costs," said Haws.
All those factors will be weighed when deciding the issue of when or where
a trial may take place.
(source: Fox 12 News)
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