[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KAN., FLA., N.C., IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jan 14 20:03:03 UTC 2007
Death penalty opponent to speak at university
Bill Lucero, an opponent of the death penalty, will speak at 7 p.m.
Tuesday at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union.
Lucero, founder of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, will
talk about the planned execution in Virginia of Justin Wolfe. Lucero said
another person has claimed to have committed the crime.
"No matter if one favors or opposes capital punishment, all of us agree
that no innocent person should face the death penalty by the state. Since
1973, 123 innocent individuals have been exonerated from death row," he
The event is free and open to the public.
(source: Lawrence Journal World)
Rolling judge put on death penalty panel
Circuit Judge Stan Morris of Gainesville - who sentenced serial killer
Danny Rolling, executed last year for the Gainesville student murders - is
among those who will serve on the Governor's Commission on Administration
of Lethal Injection.
Morris, appointed by state Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis, is
the only local person among 11 who have been named to the panel, which
will study the state's lethal injection procedure following the botched
execution of Angel Nieves Diaz on Dec. 13.
It took about a half-hour, or twice as long as normal, for Diaz to die. He
grimaced and was given a second dose of fatal chemicals.
Doctors later concluded needles had been pushed through his veins into
soft tissue, delaying the flow of chemicals into his blood stream and
possibly causing pain. Gov. Jeb Bush created the panel in response to the
On Friday, Gov. Charlie Crist named former Florida Department of
Corrections Secretary Harry Singletary and four others to the panel.
Singletary headed the agency for eight years, and the electric chair was
used for executions throughout his tenure.
Crist's other appointees are:
Rodney Doss, Tallahassee, director of victim services for the attorney
Bill Jennings, Tampa, capital collateral regional counsel for the Middle
District, representing death row inmates in court.
Dr. Peter Springer, Ormond Beach, Volusia County Emergency Medical
Services medical director and an emergency medical physician.
Dr. David Varlotta, Tampa, an anesthesiologist.
They will join 5 other appointees.
Attorney General Bill McCollum previously named three members: Federal
Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin, Assistant Deputy Attorney
General Carolyn Snurkowski and Dr. Steve Morris, a physician and project
director for bioterrorism and disaster training at the University of South
Florida's nursing school.
Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, has appointed Sen. Victor
Crist, R-Tampa, who chairs the chamber's Civil and Criminal Justice
Appropriations Committee. House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Coral Gables, has
yet to announce his selection.
(source: The Gainesville Sun)
How homicide series unfolded
There were several unusual aspects to the development of the week-long
series about homicides, which begins today and will dominate the front
page and several inside pages during the coming week.
Numbers tediously gleaned from hundreds of case files drove the series to
an unusual degree; the graphics-rich presentation is unprecedented for
such a project at this newspaper; and a judge's unusual order made it
possible for reporters to get many of the numbers to start with.
Early last year, Metro Editor Marilyn Young called meetings and assigned
several enterprise stories after year-end statistics showed Duval County
leading the state in murders - again - and after January got off to an
especially bloody start.
While several reporters and photographers contributed to an ongoing "Crime
Around Us" series, 3 reporters were assigned to break away from daily work
to look at bigger issues. That led to a significant investment of newsroom
resources and to this week's series.
Editors wanted to examine who was doing the killing and who was being
killed. What were their backgrounds, which neighborhoods did they come
from and how had the criminal justice system dealt with them? Questions
such as, since so many killers had criminal records, why weren't they in
jail at the time of the crime?
The three reporters are veterans: Jim Schoettler, 45, has been at the
Times-Union for 16 years; Paul Pinkham, 47, has been at the newspaper 17
years; and Steve Patterson, 44, has been here 19 years.
They started by requesting to see the state attorney's files and the
sheriff's reports on all homicide cases since July 1, 2003.
An initial list of questions was put into a database created by Patterson.
The questions would grow and change once reporters got into the files.
Ultimately, Patterson's database contained about 80 fields to capture data
about 348 cases involving 364 victims and 265 killers or suspects.
Pinkham and Schoettler spent three months at the courthouse reviewing
It quickly became apparent that understanding the homicides meant learning
about juveniles, since so many victims and killers were juveniles or had
been juveniles when they first got into trouble.
Juvenile records are sealed, though. Only by court order could they be
opened to a newspaper.
It fell to Pinkham to ask Chief Circuit Judge Donald R. Moran for
permission to see all of the juvenile files on killers for the last three
years. The judge's response surprised him.
"The judge didn't think enough was being done, but he thought such a
series might help move things forward," Pinkham said.
"This appears to be a worthwhile, intellectual analysis and a study that
could benefit our entire community," the judge wrote in his May 31 order
releasing the files for statistical purposes only. He later allowed
similar access to pre-sentence investigation reports.
As the database got populated, trends began to emerge, suggesting areas
for further inquiry. Some prisoners and their victims were more
representative of the trends than others.
Even before the database was complete, the reporters began traveling about
the state to interview convicted killers.
"We were surprised at how open they were," Schoettler said of the inmates.
He researched Thomas Bevel's background extensively before interviewing
the Death Row inmate three times for today's story.
As the project grew, Young recruited Charlie Patton to write about
unsolved murders, Jeff Brumley to assist with the story on juveniles and
Mark Woods to write about one city block heavily impacted by crime.
The findings were surprising even for veteran reporters who have logged
years covering violent crime and its consequences.
"To me, the findings about who has guns and how they acquire them is just
very interesting," Pinkham said. He learned guns are hoarded in "stash
houses" for quick access and that the bad guys will "rent you a gun for a
couple of hours."
"It reinforced for me just how mean the streets are," Schoettler said. He
learned drugs are being sold within one mile of every home in the county
and those dealing with the drug problem are not encouraging.
"They make it clear they are not making any headway with drugs," he said.
Woods made many trips to an area identified by the database as having the
city's highest number of felony violence incidents.
"They're scared," he said of the people he met there. Scared to be seen
talking to a white stranger, scared of getting their name in the paper,
scared about safety for themselves and their children.
"I'm somewhat skeptical," Woods said of what the future holds for that
area, "but I want to believe something can happen."
What do you think?
Editors would like to know what you think about the series, as well as how
those responsible are dealing with homicides in Duval County. Please call
(904) 359-4289 or e-mail marilyn.young at jacksonville.com to share your
(source: The Times-Union)
Webster may face death penalty
Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. is seeking the death
penalty in the murder case against Stacey Maurice Webster. Webster, 31, of
3871 Parkway Vista in Greensboro, is charged with the 2004 murder of
Jonathan Lanier Blackwell.
Blackwell was considered a missing person for more than 2 years until his
remains were found in December. He was 32.
Berger filed paperwork Friday for a Rule 24 hearing. The hearing,
scheduled for Feb. 8, will decide, among other things, whether the death
penalty can be considered during the sentencing phase of the trial if
Webster is found guilty.
Webster was arrested Dec. 15 and indicted earlier this month.
Blackwell was last seen leaving work at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
in Danville, Va., on Oct. 7, 2004. His family reported him missing four
days later. On Oct. 15, authorities found the charred ruins of his car in
a densely wooded area off Berry Hill Road north of Eden.
Investigators found Blackwell's remains Dec. 16 in an overgrown field off
U.S. 29, about three miles south of the Rockingham County line in Guilford
The remains were found about 30 yards south of a barn where authorities
for the Rockingham and Guilford counties sheriff's offices searched for
several hours earlier that week based on a tip made to the State Bureau of
Little was released about Webster. The sheriff's office said he was
self-employed as a long haul truck driver. Blackwell was a father and
Marine Corps veteran. His mother and grandparents care for his 3-year-old
The discovery closed a long and painful chapter in the lives of
Blackwell's parents, Mary and Robert.
Webster's lawyer, Richard Panosh, declined to comment on the pending case
and the Rule 24 hearing.
"That is the next step in the process," Panosh said.
Berger also declined to comment on the case. The case would be the 1st
death penalty trial for Berger. The district attorney was sworn into
office this month. He spent the first part of his career in private
practice with his father, state Sen. Phil Berger.
Berger's office will also try Brian Timothy Wilson on murder charges.
Former district attorney Belinda Foster won the right to pursue the death
penalty in the case against Wilson in August before losing to Berger.
Wilson is accused in the beating death of his 71-year-old grandmother,
Rebecca Isley, in April of last year.
(source: The Reidsville Review)
Pursuing parole: Muncie man who received death sentence wants out of
prison----The Muncie man received the first death sentence in Delaware
County history nearly 46 years ago; it was commuted to a life sentence in
Jay Dull, who observed his 70th birthday last month in the Indiana
Reformatory in Pendleton, wants to experience freedom for a 3rd time since
he robbed and murdered a Muncie cab driver 46 years ago.
Dull, who in March 1961 became the first man in Delaware County history to
receive a death sentence, is scheduled to ask the Indiana Parole Board for
his release at a Jan. 26 hearing at the reformatory.
The Muncie man -- who was granted his freedom in 1983, only to return to
prison eight years later for parole violations -- won't be going anywhere
if the son and daughter of his victim, James Tricker, have anything to say
"I know he has never made any attempt to change," said Rebecca Tricker
Miller, who was 10 when Dull and accomplice Walter Line hijacked her
father's taxi cab to an isolated area east of the city on Dec. 23, 1960.
"I have every faith that (the parole board) will make the right decision."
Authorities said Dull -- who would be captured during a shootout with
police 3 weeks later -- first shot the 35-year-old Tricker in the wrist
with a sawed-off shotgun, then used the weapon to fracture his victim's
skull. The robbery netted Dull and Line $20 in cash.
Tricker's body was found in a snowdrift along Delaware County Road 400-E a
few hours later.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the early 1970s that revoked all pending
death sentences spared the life of Dull, who had spent more than a decade
on Death Row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. His sentence
was formally commuted to life in prison in 1975.
Tricker's children weren't informed before Dull was granted parole in
1983. Since his 1991 return to prison, however, they have expressed
opposition to his bids for release.
"His past record shows he can't follow the rules," James Tricker's son,
Richard, told the parole board at a June 2001 hearing. "Please don't be
fooled by him again. ... What contribution to society could this animal
Dull -- at that time sporting a long beard and shoulder-length white hair
-- appeared startled to find his victim's survivors at that 2001 hearing.
He abruptly announced he was postponing his bid for release until a new
parole board member was appointed, and then was led from the hearing room.
Interviewed last week, Rebecca Miller said as she and her brother have
grown older, becoming parents and more recently grandparents, they've
become increasingly aware of the impact her father's slaying had on the
"More than anything, we remember our grandmother," Miller said. "She never
got over it."
Miller and her brother recently appeared before the parole board to
discuss Dull's most recent bid to be released, and they will also be on
hand for the Jan. 26 hearing, at which the convicted killer is expected to
While Dull's 2nd taste of post-sentence freedom lasted 8 years, his first
was considerably briefer -- less than 20 minutes.
With his death sentence still in place, Dull returned to Delaware County
for a series of court hearings in late 1971, and was made a trusty at the
county jail by then-Sheriff James P. Carey.
On May 19, 1972, Dull gained access to a handgun in the jail and fled from
the building, accompanied by two fellow inmates and three hostages -- two
deputies and a reporter from The Muncie Star.
The condemned killer and his cohorts were quickly recaptured, and Dull in
May 1973 was convicted of kidnapping the reporter, drawing a life
Later that year, however, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that
conviction and sentence, ruling Dull hadn't been brought to trial in a
(source: The Star Press)
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