[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----N.Y., N. DAK., ALA., OHIO, N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 24 11:08:14 CDT 2007
Court decision continues to oppose death penalty
A divided New York Court of Appeals killed any hope for the death penalty
in New York when it refused yesterday to make an exception that would have
allowed for the execution of one of the men responsible for the slaughter
of five people in the May 2000 Wendy's massacre in Queens.
In a 4-3 ruling, the state's highest court said that it was sticking to
its 2004 decision that had found the state's death penalty to be
unconstitutional. In so doing, the court has allowed John Taylor, the man
convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the case, to spend the rest
of his life in prison without hope of parole.
The court, in a decision authored by Justice Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick and
joined by three other justices, including Chief Justice Judith Kaye, dealt
a blow to an attempt by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to find a
loophole in the law that would have allowed Taylor to face death by
intravenous injection. The court said that the "coercive effect" of an
instruction to the jury on the death penalty nullified the capital
Taylor, the only person on New York's death row, was found guilty in 2002
of various counts of first-degree murder. The jury ruled that he should be
executed on 3 of the 1st-degree murder charges.
The presiding judge at the trial told the jury that if they didn't agree
unanimously on the death penalty or life in prison without parole, he
could give Taylor a sentence that would allow him to be eligible for
parole in 20 or 25 years. But the trial judge added the caveat that the
maximum in Taylor's case would be 175 years to life because he could
sentence him to consecutive terms.
But the court yesterday refused, as prosecutors had wanted, to minimize
the coercive effect of that jury instruction. Keeping with its 2004
decision, which held that the state death penalty laws' "deadlock
instruction" violated the constitution, the Court of Appeals said it saw
no reason to make an exception in the Taylor case and invited the state
legislature to make changes in the law so that it passes constitutional
"The Court's decision, for all intents and purposes, closes the book on
the prosecution of those responsible for that which was among the most
brutal and horrific crimes that this city has ever seen," said Brown in a
prepared statement that emphasized that the court's ruling wasn't
Justice Susan Read, appointed to the court by former Gov. George Pataki, a
proponent of the death penalty, wrote a dissent joined by two other Pataki
appointments, Victoria Graffeo and Eugene F. Pigott Jr.
Kevin Doyle, a spokesman for the Capital Defenders Office, which handled
the appeal, said the ruling was the death knell in New York for its
capital punishment law. "That is the end of the death penalty," Doyle
But Benjamin Nazario, 53, of Flushing, whose brother Ramon Nazario, was
killed in the massacre, said he didn't like the decision.
"I want to know the people [judges] who voted against it [capital
punishment,] why they don't want the death penalty," Nazario said.
The victims at Wendy's
The 5 killed execution-style in the May 2000 Wendy's basement massacre
were all employees working late that night:
RAMON NAZARIO, 44, who was born in the Bronx, was the father of a
2-year-old son, Ramon Jr. He had been hired at the Flushing Wendy's, where
his sister Maritza worked, 3 months earlier. She happened to be off that
JEREMY MELE, 18, the youngest to die, lived in Queens but was a recent
graduate of Neptune High School in New Jersey, where he participated in
the school's ROTC program and fostered an interest in someday pursuing a
JEAN-DUMEL AUGUSTE, 27, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with family in
Amityville, was the manager that night. He immigrated with his parents and
siblings from Haiti in 1989. He became a U.S. citizen 2 years earlier, and
became engaged to be married about a month before his death.
ALI IBADAT, 51, an immigrant from Pakistan, did not socialize much, and
sent money he earned back to Pakistan to his wife and 2 children. He lived
alone in a basement apartment in Ridgewood, Queens.
ANITA SMITH, 22, was born in Queens Hospital Center, the same hospital
where she was pronounced dead. A 1997 graduate of Springfield Gardens High
School in Queens, she planned on becoming a social worker, and helped out
at the Quality Services for Autistic Children in Astoria.
THE INJURED The 2 employees who survived are: JaQuione Johnson, then 18,
who sustained a bullet wound to the back of his head, and Patrick Castro,
then 23, who was hit with a bullet through his cheeks, which shattered his
Death penalty law dead -- Queens killer avoids execution as high court
affirms 2004 decision halting capital punishment in state
The state's highest court Tuesday upheld a 2004 ruling that effectively
overturned New York's death penalty law, rejecting the final effort to
execute the gunman behind a Queens massacre more than 7 years ago.
In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals left it to the state Legislature
to fix a key portion of the law deemed unconstitutional -- or leave it off
As a result, John Taylor, 43, who murdered 2 workers and ordered the
slayings of five others inside a Wendy's restaurant in May 2000, will not
become the 1st person put to death in New York state since 1963.
"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," Associate Judge Carmen Beauchamp
The deciding vote came from Associate Judge Robert Smith, who voted
against the court's decision in 2004.
Smith didn't change his opinion, but said nothing has happened over the
last 3 years to change the context in which the Court of Appeals made its
"We are asked to revive the very same statute held invalid in (2004) --
not a theoretically impossible step, but a radical one," Smith wrote in
his decision. "So as far as I can tell, we have never done such a thing,
and the occasions on which other courts have done it are rare."
The Legislature can repair -- or scrap -- the death penalty if it chooses,
"In doing so, it would bring the capital punishment issue back into the
realm of democratic decision-making," Smith wrote, "where it belongs."
The Republican-controlled state Senate, as it has since 2004, passed a
bill earlier this year to restore capital punishment. The
Democrat-controlled Assembly -- which held hearings and called some 170
witnesses on the issue in 2005 -- has no plans to pass its own bill.
"I believe the death penalty is over in New York," said Kevin Doyle, who
heads the Capital Defender Office, which coordinates the defense of all
death penalty-eligible cases in New York.
Doyle, who argued before the Court of Appeals, said he believes a
"fundamental shift" in opposition to capital punishment will keep it off
the books. He anticipated closing his office.
Prodded by then-Gov. George Pataki, state lawmakers brought back the death
penalty in 1995. It was invalidated nine years later, when the Court of
Appeals vacated the death sentence for Stephen LaValle, who raped and
killed a jogger on Long Island in 1997.
Taylor was sentenced to death for the Wendy's slaughter but was spared by
the 2004 decision. He is now serving 15 consecutive terms of 25 years to
life at Clinton Correctional Facility. An accomplice, Craig Godineaux, who
is mentally retarded, pleaded guilty and is serving life without parole in
When the Court of Appeals rendered its 4-3 decision in 2004, it found that
instructions to jurors in capital cases were unconstitutional. Jurors were
given two sentencing options: the death penalty or life without parole.
But before deliberating, they were informed that should they become
deadlocked, the judge would be required to impose a sentence of 20 or 25
years to life that would include a chance for parole.
The Court of Appeals ruled that such instructions might persuade jurors to
impose the death penalty for fear a convicted murderer might walk the
In the case of Taylor, prosecutors argued the point was moot. They noted
that the Queens judge who oversaw his case, Steven W. Fisher, told jurors
that should they be deadlocked, he would "almost certainly" give Taylor a
sentence without parole eligibility for 175 years.
As such, the prosecutors argued there was "simply no reasonable
possibility that the deadlock provision could have coerced a death
"Today is a sad day for New Yorkers," said a statement from state Sen.
Dale Volker, R-Depew, who sponsored the 1995 law. He said the Court of
Appeals "placed the last nail in the coffin" of capital punishment in New
York, adding, "Sadly, political ideology has reared its ugly head on a
public policy matter that impacts all of our lives."
The court has two judges not around when the 2004 decision came down:
Pataki appointee Eugene F. Pigott and Theodore T. Jones Jr., who was
selected by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Pigott joined judges Victoria Graffeo and
Susan Phillips Read as dissenters. Chief Judge Judith Kaye, Smith,
Ciparick and Jones voted to uphold.
In the dissenting opinion, Read wrote that "no coercive instruction was
given in this case" to the jury. She added, "Fair minded citizens might
well be forgiven for wondering whether the Court of Appeals is simply
unwilling to uphold a death sentence, no matter how the law is written (or
may be rewritten), no matter how carefully the trial judge and jury carry
out their responsibilities."
Taylor, a former manager of the Wendy's, led seven employees into a
basement refrigerator on May 24, 2000, duct-taped their hands and mouths
and ordered them to face a wall with plastic bags on their heads. He
assured one former co-worker his life would be spared, then shot him in
him the head moments later. After a young employee screamed, Taylor shot
her in the head, too.
Taylor then asked Godineaux to "finish them."
Five of the victims died, including the 2 shot by Taylor. Two others
survived, found help and testified against Taylor.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown released a statement Tuesday saying
the decision "for all intents and purposes, closes the book on the
prosecution of those responsible for that which is among the most brutal
and horrific crimes this city has ever seen."
Neither Taylor nor Godineaux "will ever again see the light of day," he
Previously: Queens prosecutors hoped to impose death penalty on man behind
the Wendy's massacare, more than 3 years after the law was effectively
wiped off the books.
The latest: Court of Appeals upheld 2004 ruling on Tuesday, leaving it to
Legislature to make any change.
What's next: Barring legislative action, the state's Capital Defender
Office expects to close its doors.
(source: Albany Times Union)
Mob boss, Vinny Gorgeous, on own in death penalty trial
Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano will fly solo at his
federal death penalty trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.
4 members of his Bronx-based crew will be tried separately from Basciano
on racketeering and gang-related murder charges next year.
Basciano will go on trial in August for allegedly ordering from prison the
rubout of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo in December 2004, and putting out
a contract on prosecutor Greg Andres. He faces death by lethal injection
if convicted of Pizzolo's murder.
Then-acting Bonanno boss Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso and reputed soldier
Anthony (Ace) Aiello are charged with carrying out the hit on Pizzolo, but
former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declined to seek the death
penalty against them.
They will be tried in May, alongside reputed soldiers Anthony (Bruno)
Indelicato and Anthony Donato, who are charged with whacking junkie Frank
Santoro with Basciano in the Bronx in 2001.
Basciano was convicted last summer of killing Santoro for threatening to
kidnap his son. During a recent hearing, Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas
Garaufis noted it might be confusing in a single trial for the jury to
consider murder charges against two of the defendants and not Basciano,
who shotgunned the victim.
In a 17-page ruling issued yesterday, Garaufis concluded there should be
separate trials due to the possibility of antagonistic defenses among the
"The easier course for any judge is to have a joint trial and go through
it all once," said Mancuso's attorney, David Schoen. "The decision to
sever the noncapital defendants was right and legally sound."
Basciano's attorneys also sought a separate trial because informing the
jury that only Basciano was facing the death penalty would have been
(source: New York Daily News)
Death Penalty Exhibit causes a stir
In the Friday issue of the Spectrum, Nataleeya Baruwa wrote about the
exhibit that just ended in the Memorial Union Art Gallery. The exhibit,
created by Scott Langley documented an 8-year project from an artistic and
In response to Nataleeya's article, a death penalty advocacy group based
in Texas sent quite the cookie-cutter response. We chose not to run this
letter because the Spectrum is not an advertising conduit for advocacy
groups completely unassociated with the school. I don't feel like I need
to repeat the letter for those reasons. However, Dudley Sharp, of the
advocacy group Justice Matters did bring up an interesting point in his
letter to the spectrum staff, however. He cleverly stated that he would be
interested in seeing viewer reactions to the respective crime scene
Let me point out, Dudley Sharp is from Texas. In Texas, capital punishment
is held as sacred as prayer. According to Human Rights Watch, Defendants
in Texas are more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants in any
To contrast death with death is juvenile at most. Typically, punishment is
used as reinforcement to teach a point. How are you expected to learn from
your mistakes if youre dead?
You can't answer a life with a life. That mentality is the reason wars are
spawned and entire populations destroyed. Just look at the Iraq war and
how many billions we've funneled into that effort. It's disgusting.
Every living being has something to contribute to society. 'Justice' is
not an electric chair.
It should be noted to Death Penalty advocates that the punishment is not
always reserved for those who commit the most terrible crimes. Often
people are convicted to the death penalty for something as simple as
murder in the course of armed robbery. For many of those convicted there
isn't always 100% proof of their guilt. Over 120 death row inmates have
been released from death row since 1976 due to evidence supporting their
The Death penalty exhibit in the Union, which closed on Oct. 21, was an
excellent depiction of capital punishment. Combining photojournalism with
creativity, it was able to bring out the reality of such a heinous
punishment. If you support life, you should support all life. Criminals
are no exception.
If you'd like to see the death penalty documentary for yourself, it can be
viewed on his website at www.langleycreations.com/photo.
(source: Opinion Editor, Steve Boss, NDSU Spectrum)
Judge won't stop Alabama execution
A terminally ill killer scheduled for execution Thursday turned to a
federal appeals court Tuesday to try to delay his execution for murdering
4 people in Talladega.
Daniel Lee Siebert's attorneys filed an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Atlanta after U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller refused
Siebert's request to delay his execution.
Siebert had argued that Alabama's lethal injection procedure is
unconstitutional cruelty and that the drugs used for executions might
interact with his cancer medication, causing extreme pain.
The judge sided with the state attorney general's office, which argued
that Siebert didn't raise the lethal injection issues until he had
exhausted all other appeals and that was too long to wait.
The 11th Circuit gave attorneys until Wednesday morning to file papers in
Siebert's appeal, which means a ruling likely wouldn't come until
Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.
Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said he expects Siebert's case to
go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as the inmate seeks to avoid a
trip to the execution chamber at Holman Prison scheduled for 6 p.m.
Death penalty opponents had urged Gov. Bob Riley to delay the execution
because Siebert has terminal pancreatic cancer and is only expected to
live a few months, but Riley declined Monday. The governor said the state
should carry out the jury's wishes that Siebert die for murders that "were
monstrous, brutal and ghastly."
Siebert, 53, was sentenced to death for the Feb. 19, 1986, strangulation
deaths of Sherri Weathers, 24, and her 2 sons, 5-year-old Chad and
4-year-old Joey at their Talladega apartment. He was also convicted of
capital murder and sentenced to death for the slaying of Linda Jarman, a
neighbor of Weathers, who was killed the same night.
Weathers was a student at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in
Talladega. Siebert had started dating her after he was offered a job in
the institute's theater program as a set designer, according to court
Siebert also was linked to other crimes inside and outside Alabama.
(source: Decatur Daily)
Richey says he's always opposed death penalty
KENNY RICHEY, who spent more than 20 years on death row in the US, has
revealed he has always opposed the death penalty.
Richey, 43, said that even if a member of his family was murdered, he
would not want to see their killer executed.
Speaking from his cell at Putnam County Jail, Richey said: "I've always
been against the death penalty back as far as I can remember.
"It gives a person a chance to prove his or her innocence. If you execute
him, he's not got that chance."
Edinburgh-born Richey is currently awaiting a retrial over a fire in an
Ohio flat in 1986 which killed two-year-old Cynthia Collins. He added: "If
a man was 100 % guilty and there was no denying it, he couldn't get out of
it, I still wouldn't want him to get the death penalty.
"I would want him to spend the rest of his life in prison suffering every
single day. It's not a pleasant place, believe me."
(source: The Scotsman)
Prosecutors to seek death penalty in Kornegay case
Admitted killer Tommy Lee Holiday will be transferred from Nash County to
N.C. Department of Correction custody for safety and health concerns.
According to court documents, Holiday, 30, is deeply depressed, hears
voices and refuses assistance from medical staff at Nash Correctional
After a hearing Tuesday, the Nash County district attorney's office said
it will seek the death penalty for Holiday.
Holiday appeared without an attorney. Court documents indicated that a
public defender has not been appointed.
He is charged with 1st-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon,
attempted 1st-degree murder and larceny of a motor vehicle.
Holiday, a Rocky Mount homeless man, had sought the help of Debbie
Kornegay, 58, and Eve Beasley, 60, both of Rocky Mount, to find shelter
for the night.
Kornegay, director of the Meals on Wheels program, and Beasely made phone
calls in an attempt to aid Holiday.
On Thursday morning, Holiday allegedly attacked and then stabbed both
women at Lakeside Baptist Church.
Kornegay died of her wounds. Beasley was taken to Pitt County Memorial
Hospital in Greenville, where she remains in critical condition.
Court documents also indicated that Holiday "manifests behavior conducive
to self-harm and hyperventilates."
He is being held without bond.
N.C. District Court Judge Robert Evans in Nash County approved a request
that attorneys for the case be assigned from outside the district.
A spokesman for the Kornegay family issued a statement Tuesday but did not
comment on the announcement of the state's intent to seek the death
"Our family is deeply indebted to first responders and all other law
enforcement agencies, especially the Rocky Mount Police Department, for
their great work," the statement said. "We remain overwhelmed with the
outpouring of love from our friends and the community. We ask that our
privacy be respected at this time in our lives, and we will make no
further statements unless we feel it appropriate to do so."
Holiday is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 6 for a probable cause
(source: Rocky Mount Telegram)
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