[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----US MIL., VA., MO., S. DAK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jul 3 18:15:36 CDT 2007
Arrest of GI from Laredo stuns family
At Martin High School, Jorge Sandoval Jr. was known as one of the most
dedicated members of its JROTC unit - the type of kid who participated in
everything from the Color Guard to the Armed Drill Team.
But after last week, when Sandoval was arrested here and charged with
murder in the death of an Iraqi civilian and accused of trying to cover it
up by placing a weapon by the body, family and friends are trying to
reconcile the young man they know with the soldier accused of killing an
Sandoval and Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley of Candler, N.C., were charged the
same day with murder, obstruction of justice and planting a weapon,
according to a military news release.
Three Iraqis were killed in separate incidents between April and June near
Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.
The investigation stems from "three alleged unjustified killings during
recent military operations in Iraq," the Army statement said.
"He's just a straight-up guy," the accused Laredo soldier's sister Sandra
Sandoval, a specialist, had been back home on a 2-week leave from Iraq -
he celebrated his 22nd birthday and became a godparent to his baby niece -
before being arrested at his home and moved to Kuwait, the Army said.
Sandoval had never been in trouble with the law and had appeared to make
many right choices, his sister said, leaving those who know him scratching
their heads about what happened near Iskandariyah, Iraq.
The killings happened in that mostly Sunni Arab city south of Baghdad in
April and June of this year, officials said.
"When he would wear the uniform, he looked like he was already a seasoned
soldier," said Sgt. Maj. Velton Locklear, a JROTC instructor at Martin
High who admired Sandoval's "hard-charging" attitude in the program.
"I'm almost speechless" at the news, he said.
Meanwhile, on Sunday a third soldier from Sandoval's unit was arrested and
faces similar charges.
Sgt. Evan Vela, of Phoenix, Idaho, was charged with murder, making a false
official statement and obstruction of justice.
All 3 soldiers are assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st
Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry
Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
If convicted of murder, the trio could face the death penalty.
That possibility sounds incompatible with the reputation Sandoval earned
from his family and among his peers.
Sandoval had enlisted right out of high school and had started his 1st
tour in Iraq last September, Sandra Sandoval said.
"He does not deserve to be in custody," she said.
His parents were too distraught to speak - Jorge Sandoval Sr. became
physically ill as a result of the news - but the family believes Sandoval
"Deep down I would say I'm a little disappointed," Locklear said, but
added, "I don't think any less of Jorge."
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for former soldier from Texas
Federal prosecutors filed notice Tuesday that they will seek the death
penalty if former soldier Steven D. Green is convicted of killing an Iraqi
family and raping a 14-year-old girl.
The notice, filed in U.S. District Court, cites 12 alleged offenses
related to the slayings, including that the deaths were premeditated,
involved sexual abuse and were committed with a firearm.
Green, a former 101st Airborne Division soldier who grew up in Midland,
Texas, was indicted Nov. 1 in the rape and murder of the girl and the
slayings of three others in her family in March 2006.
Patrick Bouldin, the assistant federal public defender representing Green,
did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Green was charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to commit
murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual abuse, murder, aggravated
sexual abuse, aggravated child sexual abuse, obstruction of justice and 4
counts of use of a firearm in a crime of violence.
Green served 11 months with the 101st Airborne Division, which is based at
Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. He received an honorable
discharge and left the Army in May 2006. He was discharged because of an
"anti-social personality disorder," according to military officials and
He is being tried in civilian court in Paducah, Ky., because he was
discharged before he was charged. No trial date has been set.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford declined to comment on the filing.
Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said he could not confirm
whether any other soldier has been tried as a civilian for crimes
committed while serving in Iraq.
Green was arrested in June 2006 in North Carolina as he traveled after
attending the funeral of a soldier who was kidnapped and killed in Iraq,
investigators said. Since then, he has been held in Kentucky without bond.
Three soldiers already have been convicted in military court for their
roles in the attack in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of
Baghdad. A court-martial for a fourth soldier is scheduled July 30.
The rape of the Iraqi girl and the slayings of her and 3 family members
were among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other
abuses by military personnel in Iraq.
Investigators said the soldiers set fire to the girl's body to destroy
Soldiers have testified in military courts-martial and investigation
hearings that the 13-month tour for Green's unit, the 1st Battalion, 502nd
Infantry Regiment, was bloody and grueling.
Dozens were killed in the unit's yearlong deployment and half of the
battalion, including Green, sought help for combat stress.
An Associated Press investigation in January found that an Army psychiatry
team diagnosed Green as a threat to Iraqi civilians 4 months before the
rape and murders.
According to military documents, Green was treated with drugs to regulate
his mood before returning to duty in a violent stretch of desert in the
southern Baghdad suburbs known as the "Triangle of Death."
(source: Associated Press)
Holdout juror in Raver case could bring trial to a stop
The Virginia trial of a man convicted of killing Yorktown native Rachael
Raver and her boyfriend was thrown into turmoil yesterday by a holdout
juror who claimed his fellow jurors pressured him into convicting the
defendant of capital murder.
Now the prosecution is fighting to keep its conviction of Alfredo Prieto
as the defense seeks a mistrial because of the juror's allegations.
The jury has been deliberating since Thursday whether Prieto is mentally
retarded, a condition that would block its members from considering the
death penalty in the 1988 slayings of Raver and Warren Fulton III.
Jurors returned from a long weekend break yesterday and announced they
were at an impasse. The single holdout sent his own note to the judge
indicating he found Prieto was mentally retarded, that he would not budge
from his position and felt the other jurors were pressuring him.
Circuit Court Judge Dennis Smith instructed the jury to continue trying to
reach a unanimous verdict. But during a break for lunch - the jury is not
sequestered, even during deliberations - the holdout typed a letter to the
judge in which he claimed he never thought Prieto was guilty in the first
place and repeated his contention that the other jurors had pressured him.
Prieto, 41, is already on death row in California for raping and killing a
15-year-old girl there in 1990. But Fairfax prosecutors want him executed
for the double homicide in Virginia and believe that the commonwealth
would be able to carry out a death sentence long before Prieto's
California appeals are exhausted.
Yesterday morning, the prosecutors argued that the holdout should not keep
the trial from advancing to the death-penalty stage because it was the
defense's burden to prove Prieto was mentally retarded.
After receiving the juror's letter, Smith adjourned the case until this
morning, at which time he will hear from the lawyers and decide how to
(source: The Journal News)
Full appeals court asked to consider lethal injection case
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was asked Monday to consider whether
Missouri's lethal injection method is constitutional.
The request by attorneys for condemned prisoner Michael Taylor comes four
weeks after a 3-judge panel of the appeals court ruled the execution
procedure is not cruel and unusual punishment.
The full appeals court has 21 days to decide whether to hear the case. If
the court grants a hearing, the panel's earlier decision would be vacated.
Attorney General Jay Nixon's office declined comment on Monday.
Taylor's case prompted a federal judge last year to place a moratorium on
Missouri executions. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. said he
wanted to be sure that the 3-drug injection method did not cause risk of
pain and suffering.
Gaitan wanted the state to involve a doctor specializing in anesthesia,
but the state has been unable to find such a doctor willing to participate
in the executions.
The three-judge panel on June 4 reversed Gaitan's ruling, saying the
state's execution protocol "is designed to ensure a quick, indeed a
painless, death," eliminating the need "for the continuing careful,
watchful eye of an anesthesiologist or one trained in anesthesiology."
But Taylor's petition filed Monday argues the panel focused too narrowly
on the protocol rather than how it is implemented, and any accidents or
mistakes by staff that may result.
"The humaneness of executions depends as much on the Department of
Corrections' implementation of the protocol as on the protocol itself,"
Taylor's attorneys argued in Monday's petition.
The 3-court panel's decision allows the state to execute inmates using an
"inadequate protocol" and "wide discretion" to staff despite the
corrections department's inability to recruit doctors and other competent
personnel, the petition said. Taylor has no way of knowing what
qualifications and training his executioners have, it said.
The debate centers on how 3 drugs are administered in succession. If the
initial anesthetic does not take hold, a third drug that stops a condemned
prisoner's heart can cause excruciating pain, it has been argued. But the
inmate would not be able to communicate the pain because of a second drug
that paralyzes him.
Missouri is among at least 9 states that have put executions on hold as
they grapple with whether lethal injection is inhumane.
Gov. Matt Blunt privately signed a bill on Saturday making secret the
identities of people who carry out executions in Missouri. The signing was
made public Monday.
Taylor, convicted of killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas City in
1989 after kidnapping her from a school bus stop, was hours away from
being executed in February 2006 when the procedure was halted.
The debate over executions increased last year after it was learned that
Missouri's doctor responsible for overseeing administration of the lethal
chemicals, identified as surgeon Alan Doerhoff of Jefferson City, was
Doerhoff testified last year that he had overseen Missouri's executions
for years, and on occasion had altered the amount of anesthetic given to
On the Net: The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:
SOUTH DAKOTA----impending volunteer execution
Page Execution Could be Just a Week Away
In 1 week, South Dakota could carry out its 1st execution in 60 years.
Elijah Page has been sentenced to death for the torture and murder of
Chester Allan Poage in the year 2000.
He has given up his appeals and has asked to die for his crime.
Last year Governor Mike Rounds delayed Page's execution at the last
minute, citing a discrepancy in South Dakota's law governing lethal
On Sunday, priests around South Dakota read a statement to their Parishes
from the Bishops of the state's 2 Catholic Diocese.
"Bishop Cupich and I felt it important that the teaching of the Catholic
Church on the death penalty be part of the discussion that will be going
on the next week or so," said Bishop Paul Swain, Sioux Falls Diocese.
The Catholic Church believes justice should be done for the brutal murder
of Poage through prison time, but it doesn't feel capital punishment is
"This is a significant occurrence, the 1st time in some 60 years, and it
says something about who we are going to be as as state," said Bishop
Bill Harlan knows all too well the historic implications of Page's
As a writer for the Rapid City Journal, Harlan was selected as a media
witness to the execution last year.
He was chosen again this year.
"Last year I was ready to witness an execution and I have to say I was a
little bit relieved that I didn't have to, but I knew it would come back,"
Harlan expects the same protestors to be on hand as last time, but feels
this time the planned execution will have a different outcome.
"If I had to bet, I'd say they're gonna go through with it."
Bishop Swain is calling on Catholics to pray for all those associated with
He says the church's stance put it in the center of some controversial
issues, but he says that's where it ought to be.
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