[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----KAN., N.Y., OHIO, MICH.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Oct 23 10:43:04 CDT 2007
KANSAS----female faces death sentence
Woman who cut baby from mother-to-be's womb faces death penalty
A woman who strangled a mother-to-be before slicing her open and stealing
the unborn baby from her womb is facing the death penalty.
Lisa Montgomery, 39, choked her victim with a rope before using a carving
knife to take the unborn baby fron her victim.
She planned to pass the child off as her own.
A jury in Kansas found Montgomery guilty of kidnapping resulting in death
after 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett died.
At the time of the crime in December 2004, Ms Stinnett was 8 months
pregnant and Montgomery was pretending to family and friends that she was
The baby was found unharmed at Montgomery's home and was returned to her
father. Montgomery's lawyers argued during the trial that the Kansas woman
suffered from a delusional belief that she was pregnant, and said she may
have been unable to differentiate between right and wrong when she killed
The defence team portrayed her as a victim of severe mental illness whose
delusion of being pregnant was being threatened, causing her to enter a
dreamlike state when the killing took place.
They also argued that she had post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by
mental, physical and sexual abuse in her childhood.
But prosecutors said Montgomery carefully planned the fatal meeting at Ms
Stinnett's home in Skidmore, Missouri, pretending she wanted to purchase a
rat terrier puppy.
Montgomery tried to pass off Ms Stinnett's baby as her own, telling her
husband she had gone into labour while on a shopping trip and having him
pick her up near a Topeka health centre where she said she gave birth.
Montgomery had undergone a tubal ligation in 1990 after the birth of her
fourth child. But soon after, she began falsely reporting a series of
pregnancies. In 2004, she claimed to be due in mid-December.
Her husband, Carl Boman, had become suspicious of her latest pregnancy
claim and threatened to use it against her as he sought custody of 2 of
the couple's 4 children. A custody hearing had been set for January 2005.
Montgomery's mother and sister also had been telling Montgomery's husband
and his parents that it was impossible for her to carry a child.
Prosecutors said Montgomery used a rope to choke Stinnett, who was eight
months pregnant. But Ms Stinnett was conscious and trying to defend
herself as Montgomery used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the
womb, prosecutors said.
"The only good thing that comes from this tragedy is that little Victoria
is a healthy baby and is reunited with her family," US Attorney John F.
After initially denying the crime, Montgomery told investigators she had
taken a knife, rope and umbilical cord clamp with her to Ms Stinnett's
Jurors will begin the penalty phase of the trial on Wednesday, with a
choice between the death penalty or life in federal prison without parole.
Prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty.
(source: Daily Mail)
New York Court Blocks Death Penalty Exception
New York's highest court has refused to carve out an exception to its 2004
decision that found the state's death penalty law unconstitutional.
In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals said the death penalty for a
defendant in one of the state's most horrific murders was the result of a
"coercive" instruction to the jury that faced choosing a sentence of death
or life without parole.
The court was being asked to reconsider its landmark decision that
invalidated a crucial part of New York death penalty statute. The court
effectively halted death penalty prosecutions statewide when it found a
constitutional shortcoming in the provision of the law spelling out how
trial judges instruct juries during sentencing in capital cases.
But prosecutors who won a death sentence against John Taylor for the
murders of five Wendy's workers in Queens claimed that ruling did not
affect Taylor's sentence. Prosecutors said judge in that case was careful
not to violate the constitution -- an argument that would have opened an
exception to the court's 2004 finding.
Taylor, 43, has been the only person on New York's death row and will now
be re-sentenced to life without parole.
The court said New York's current death penalty statute is fatally flawed,
but the state Legislature could enact a law that is constitutional.
"We are ultimately left exactly where we were 3 years ago: The death
penalty sentencing statute is unconstitutional on its face and it is not
within our power to save the statute ... the Legislature, mindful of our
state's due process protections, may re-enact a sentencing statute that is
free of coercion and is cognizant of a jury's need to know the
consequences of its choice," wrote Chief Judge Judith Kaye in the majority
Taylor was sentenced to die by lethal injection after his conviction for
the execution-style killings of five employees of the Wendy's restaurant
in 2000. He and an accomplice forced seven workers into a walk-in
refrigerator in the basement, bound their hands, blindfolded them, forced
them to kneel and shot each in the head. Only two survived.
A co-defendant with mild retardation was sentenced to life in prison
The 6 other killers sentenced to die under New York's 1995 capital
punishment law had their sentences reduced after the Court of Appeals
overturned the death sentence against Long Island school teacher killer
Stephen LaValle. The judges found that part of the law was unfair to
defendants because it required judges to tell jurors that if they
deadlocked, the court would sentence the defendant to a parole-eligible
life term. Critics said the provision might make jurors more likely to
apply the death penalty.
The opinion can be found at
(source: Associated Press)
Local man avoids death penalty----Craig Daniels Jr. pleads guilty to
double homicide, burglary
A Bowling Green man pleaded guilty yesterday to killing two people and was
sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Craig Daniels Jr., who had originally pleaded not guilty to the murders of
his ex-girlfriend Alicia Castillon, 30, and her boyfriend John C.
Mitchell, 22, in March, changed his plea in a deal that allowed him to
avoid the death penalty.
Daniels and the victims' families agreed to the plea bargain in order to
spare Castillon's four children who were in their mother's home on Parker
Street at the time of the killings from having to testify at a trial, said
David Klucas, a defense attorney for Daniels. Two of Castillon's children
were fathered by Daniels.
Judge Reeve Kelsey of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas showed no
leniency in following the sentencing recommendations of prosecuting
Daniels received two consecutive life sentences without possibility of
parole for the murders of Castillon and Mitchell. He also received a
combined 18 years in prison for 2 burglary charges related to the murders.
At the hearing, assistant prosecuting attorney Paul Dobson outlined the
evidence that would have been presented against Daniels had the case gone
Daniels broke into Castillon's home through the kitchen window at around 3
a.m. on March 29, Dobson said. Fingerprints matching Daniels were found on
several windows where he tried to break into the house.
After entering the home, Daniels went to Castillon's bedroom where she and
Mitchell had been sleeping and shot each of them multiple times. As
Daniels left the house, he passed by Castillon's oldest daughter, Katie,
who had been startled by the killings. She called 911 to report the
"The horrendous nature of the crime is only exacerbated because the
children were made to participate by being in the house at the time,"
Following the murders, Daniels broke into an empty house a block away from
Castillon's where he watched police arrive at the scene, Dobson said. An
ashtray from Daniels' truck was found inside the house.
After that, he left in his truck and traveled to his mother's home near
Canton, Ohio. The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force apprehended Daniels
six days after the murders, who had been hiding in a hole under a large
pine tree on his mother's property.
The prosecution also pointed out Daniel's long history of violence against
In 1999, Daniels was sentenced to 3 years in prison for breaking into her
home, beating her and holding a knife to her throat.
Daniels was due to return to prison shortly before the murders for charges
stemming from a December 2006 incident where he tied Castillon up and
threatened her with a knife.
After Dobson finished outlining the case that would have been presented
against Daniels, members of the victims' families were brought before the
court to make statements.
Mitchell's mother, Angel Turpin, fought back sobs as she told the court
how close her son and Castillon had been.
"He had so much love to give and he wanted to be loved," Turpin said. "He
found that love with Alicia and her children."
Castillon's mother, Kathy Newlove, then addressed the court, but focused
most of her comments specifically at Daniels.
"The evil in your eyes, Craig, was always so apparent," Newlove said. "Why
didn't Alicia see it sooner?"
Newlove agreed to the plea bargain because she said capitol punishment
would be the easy way out for Daniels.
"He needs to sit there in prison for the next 50 years and think about
what he's done," she said.
Since the murders, Newlove has become an advocate for victims of domestic
violence. She created the organization Alicia's Voice to provide the
necessary services to Wood County women suffering from abuse.
Daniels declined to make any sort of statement in court, but his attorneys
said there were several mitigating factors that warranted life in prison
instead of the death penalty.
"This is not an exercise in generosity by the state," Klucas said.
Daniels' attorney said there are a number of "red flags" in his criminal
history that should have alerted authorities to the fact that Daniels had
mental health issues.
But Turpin said any circumstances in Daniels' past could not justify his
"Everyone has choices," Turpin. "I don't care what happened, there are no
excuses for what he did."
(source: Bowling Green News)
Death to fairness----Feds undermine justice by imposing capital punishment
The Bush administration doesn't care what you think. At a hearing in
Detroit last week, federal prosecutors sought the death penalty for three
men charged with murder in Michigan, a state that became the first in the
country to ban capital punishment in 1847. If they are convicted, they
will join another man the Bush administration put on death row by
aggressively pushing for the death penalty even though it undermines the
principles of Michigan law. This push to overrule state law showcases the
reckless disregard the current administration has for the principles of
human rights and fairness, within individual states and abroad.
>From 1988, when the federal death penalty was revived, to when Bush took
office in 2000, no death sentence was handed down in a non-death penalty
state. President Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, did seek the
death penalty under these circumstances in a handful of cases, but the
Bush administration's ceaseless pressure to force through death sentences
in states that ban them is certainly unique. According to The Detroit
News, there have been a total of eight death penalty verdicts in non-death
penalty states since 2000, and there will potentially be 3 more cases
added to that tally should the men from last week's hearing in Detroit be
Using federal law is simply a back-door way of imposing the death penalty
on states whose citizens are enlightened enough to have outlawed such
barbarity. Repeals of the ban in Michigan - which has stood for 160 years
- have repeatedly failed, including those proposed as recently as 1999 and
2004. Clearly, Michigan residents have a problem with capital punishment.
It is completely unacceptable for Bush to impose his own twisted, backward
ideology on states that rejected the death penalty long before he took
office - or was even born.
The federal government ignores the fact that the supposedly painless
practice of lethal injection can actually go very wrong. Recently, many
experts have argued that lethal injection is extremely painful to the
person being executed. In fact, their arguments are strong enough that the
U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case this term and will soon
decide whether or not death by lethal injection constitutes cruel and
Whether or not the death penalty is cruel and unusual, it is certainly
expensive for both the state and the defendant. A 2003 audit in Kansas
found that the investigation costs for capital punishment cases were about
3 times greater than for non-death cases. Trial costs were about 16 times
greater and appeal costs 21 times greater. It is even more expensive to
prosecute capital punishment cases in Michigan and other non-death penalty
states because death penalty lawyers must be brought in from other states.
Most significant, the states that banned capital punishment recognized
that killing criminals eliminates any chance of rectifying mistakes in the
legal system, which has proven all too flawed. With advances in
technology, evidence is frequently found that exonerates death row inmates
of their crimes. In 2000, Illinois Governor George Ryan suspended all
executions in the state because more of Illinois's death row inmates had
been exonerated than executed. Of the state's 25 prisoners on death row
since 1977, 13 were later proven innocent of their crimes. In one
instance, the evidence that led to proof of the inmate's innocence was
discovered just two days before the execution was to be carried out.
Cases like these are clear evidence that, more than simply not serving
justice, capital punishment actively threatens it. It has no place in our
country and certainly no place in Michigan.
(source: The Michigan Daily)
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