[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TENN., MO., S.C., ALA., FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Oct 26 01:30:04 CDT 2007
Reid asks for stay of execution----Serial killer set to die Jan. 3
Paul Dennis Reid, who want on a killing spree in fast-food restaurants in
the Nashville area in 1997, has asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to stay
his Jan. 3 execution date.
The death-row inmate previously stopped all of his appeals, but his sister
his resumed his legal battles for him after arguing he was incompetent to
give up his court fights.
In the request for a stay, the inmate's attorney argues that unlike other
prisoners, Reid still has plenty of legal avenues of appeal open to him.
The attorney notes that a federal court recently declared Tennessee's
lethal injection procedures unconstitutional and courts around the country
are awaiting a decision form the nation's highest court.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the 3-drug
cocktail used in lethal injection in Tennessee and many other states is
Reid was handed 7 death sentences-a record in Tennessee-for killing 7
people in restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville.
(source: Ashland City Times)
Death Sentence Sought for Mo. Woman----Prosecutor Argues for Death Penalty
for Convicted Killer Who Cut Baby From Woman's Womb
A federal prosecutor told jurors Thursday that a woman violated an
expectant mother in the "most wicked way possible" when she strangled her
in December 2004 and cut her baby from her womb.
"The death penalty is reserved for the worst crime," prosecutor Roseann
Ketchmark said in her closing argument during the penalty phase of Lisa
Montgomery's trial. "This is the worst crime."
Montgomery, 39, was convicted Monday of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, on
Dec. 16, 2004, in the victim's home in the northwest Missouri town of
Skidmore. She was arrested in Melvern, Kan., a day after the attack, after
she showed off the newborn as her own.
The same jurors who found Montgomery guilty will decide whether she should
receive life in prison or execution. They went home Thursday without
making a decision.
Defense attorney Fred Duchardt, who claims sexual abuse during
Montgomery's childhood led to mental illness, asked the jury to spare
Montgomery's life. He said emotional abuse from her mother and sexual
abuse from her stepfather "killed Lisa's soul."
"I'm not ashamed to ask you all for mercy," Duchardt told the jury. "I ask
for it on behalf of Lisa and all the people who love her."
Ketchmark said Montgomery deserved the death penalty because of the
heinousness of the crime and grave risk of death she posed to the baby.
She told jurors that after performing a crude Caesarean section on
Stinnett with a kitchen knife, Montgomery sought no medical care for the
Ketchmark showed jurors crime scene photos highlighting the blows to
Stinnett's head, injuries to her elbows, defensive cuts to her hands and
"Look at the ragged abdominal cuts," she said. "This is vicious. This
defendant mutilated her."
She also highlighted the premeditation that went into the killing,
including Internet searches on performing C-sections and e-mails she sent
to Stinnett to arrange the fatal meeting.
Earlier Thursday, Chicago psychologist Ruth Kuncel added her support to
defense claims that sexual abuse Montgomery suffered as a child led to her
mental illness. Defense attorneys have said Montgomery had a mental
condition that made her believe she was pregnant and was in a dreamlike,
dissociative state at the time of the killing.
Prosecutors contend Montgomery is faking mental illness to aid her
defense, but Kuncel said she concluded otherwise.
Kuncel said the abuse Montgomery suffered was especially bad because
Montgomery's shy personality caused her to become more withdrawn and that,
as the family moved often, Montgomery lacked a strong support system to
She added that Montgomery's stepfather abused her sexually while her
mother abused her emotionally.
Prosecutors have noted that few of the many people who have been sexually
abused go on to kill.
Under cross-examination, Kuncel refused to say if Montgomery had done
anything that showed premeditation, at one point forcing U.S. District
Judge Gary Fenner to warn her that she was being "extremely evasive."
As prosecutors listed several examples of evidence against Montgomery and
asked if it suggested premeditation, Kuncel repeatedly said, "It may or
may not be," even when asked about Montgomery taking a rope, a knife and
an umbilical cord clamp to Stinnett's house.
(source: The Associated Press)
State seeks death penalty against Shane Lawshe
Shane Earl Lawshe is charged with stabbing Blakeley then setting her home
on fire to cover up the crime.
Georgetown County authorities spend the week following Blakeleys murder
searching for Lawshe.
North Myrtle Beach police arrested Lawshe while he sat in traffic at the
Little River swing bridge.
Thursday afternoon, 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree informed a
Georgetown County judge and Lawshe that his office will seek the death
penalty against Lawshe.
"He stands before you charged with murder, arson 2nd degree, criminal
sexual conduct 1st, kidnapping and burglary first," Hembree told the court
as Lawshe and his attorney stood inches away.
Hembree served Lawshe and the court with notice that he intends to seek
the death penalty against Lawshe if he's convicted for the crimes.
Lawshe and his attorney asked the court to waive Lawshe's right to have a
bond set on the murder and first degree burglary charges.
"There is the existence of aggravating circumstances in the case;
kidnapping, burglary first, criminal sexual conduct 1st degree are all
statutory aggravators that would qualify the case for the death penalty,"
Hembree told News13 following the hearing.
Hembree says Lawshe carefully planned Blakeley's death and what Hembree
calls the brutal events that led up to the murder and the attempts to
cover it all up.
Because of that, Hembree says Lawshe should die.
"We've not had that discussion with the family and quite honestly, my view
of that is its my responsibility to seek the death penalty or not, but
it's also my burden. I don't want family members feeling like 10 years
later having regrets one way or the other that they may have wanted or not
wanted it and thats not a burden they should have to bear," Hembree said.
Soon, Shane Lawshe's guilt or innocence and his life rest in the hands of
12 Georgetown County men and women.
Hembree says more charges could come within the next couple days against
Hembree says Myrtle Beach and Georgetown County investigators have
informed his office that businesses were burglarized before and after
Blakeley's murder, which investigators say they've tied to Shane Lawshe.
Hembree says he hopes Lawshe's trial begins within the next year.
(source: South Carolina Now)
ALABAMA----stay of execution
Dying killer gets stay of execution
Daniel Siebert, a convicted serial killer who was scheduled to be executed
by lethal injection today for 4 1986 Talladega murders, was granted a stay
Wednesday by a federal appeals court.
A 3-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta
ordered Siebert's execution delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on
a pending Kentucky challenge of the constitutionality of lethal injection.
The ruling made Alabama the 11th state in which an execution has been
delayed pending the outcome of the Kentucky case before the high court.
Texas is the only state to carry out an execution since the Supreme Court
agreed to review the Kentucky case. Mississippi has scheduled one for
Tuesday, but attorneys for the condemned inmate, Earl Wesley Berry, have
filed separate but parallel requests to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
and the U.S. Supreme Court to try to stop his execution.
Alabama has no other executions scheduled, though Gov. Bob Riley last
month issued a 45-day stay to convicted killer Thomas Douglas Arthur to
give the Department of Corrections time to change its execution
procedures. Arthur was to be executed Sept. 27. It was not clear late
Wednesday what effect the 11th Circuit decision might have on that case.
Efforts to reach Siebert's attorneys for comment Wednesday were not
Siebert had appealed his death sentence, arguing that drugs he is taking
for pancreatic cancer could react with Alabama's three-drug execution
cocktail, causing him extreme pain, according to court documents. The
appeal also argued that lethal injection violates the U.S. Constitution's
Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the same
argument made in the Kentucky case before the Supreme Court, Baze v. Rees.
Riley earlier this week declined to halt the execution, saying that
allowing Siebert to die of natural causes "would be in essence commuting
his sentence to life in prison." Doctors have said cancer likely will kill
him within months.
Siebert was convicted of five Alabama murders and has confessed to as many
as 13 murders nationwide. Now 53, he was sentenced to death for the Feb.
19, 1986, strangulation killing of his girlfriend, Sherri Weathers, 24,
and her 2 sons, 5-year-old Chad and 4-year-old Joey. Weathers was a
student at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in Talladega. Siebert
also was convicted of capital murder in the death of Linda Jarman, another
resident of Weathers' apartment complex who was killed on the same day.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced separately, to life in prison, for
killing Linda Faye Odum, 32, also of Talladega. Police said he strangled
all five of his Alabama victims to death over a period of just a few
Siebert also pleaded guilty in Nevada to manslaughter, and was sentenced
to 10 years, for the murder of his lover, whom he stabbed 29 times.
Authorities have said he confessed to a number of other killings - the
exact number is unclear - from California to New Jersey.
Alabama doesn't release details about its 3-drug execution cocktail, or
how it is administered, but officials have said they added a step to the
execution procedure to make sure the condemned is unconscious when the
drugs that stop the heart and lungs are administered. Death penalty
opponents have argued that the condemned could be conscious and in
excruciating pain - but paralyzed by the 1st drugs in the cocktail - when
those drugs are administered.
Siebert, an Illinois native described by authorities as a drifter and a
freelance artist, came to Talladega in early 1986 to work at the Alabama
Institute for Deaf and Blind. He was tried for the killings of Weathers,
her children and Jarman in 1987.
He gained further notoriety in prison because gruesome drawings he made
while on Death Row were offered for sale on "murderabilia" Web sites that
specialize in drawings, letters and essays by convicted killers. Siebert's
drawings helped inspire a bill that would have made it harder for inmates
to sell their artwork. The bill was among several killed in last-minute
political wrangling at the end of the last session of the Alabama
At Siebert's trial for murdering Jarman, a police detective testified that
Siebert gave him a ring he said he took from a prostitute he tried to
kill, but who escaped. The detective asked Siebert why he killed.
"Who knows why?" Siebert answered. "God, I'd like to know why a lot of
things happened in my life."
(source: Birmingham News)
A rush to the needle: A decision overturned
In our opinion
Daniel Lee Siebert. What a horrible human being.
He is a killer of young women and children. May he go straight to meet his
He should go there, however, on his own, without our help.
Thankfully, a 3-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta may have just seen to that.
Late Wednesday, the court overturned a decision by U.S. District Judge
Mark Fuller and stayed Siebert's scheduled Thursday-night execution,
pending a lethal-injection challenge from Kentucky being heard by the U.S.
This surely is a disappointment to Gov. Bob Riley, who had declined to
delay the execution and seemed determined to make sure Siebert didn't
escape Alabama's death chamber. You see, Siebert doesn't have long to
live; in a manner of months, he'll likely be dead from pancreatic cancer.
If that were the only issue, however, Siebert's case might pass without
It is not so much his state of health that is in question, but the
constitutionality of this almost-execution.
At this moment, the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the constitutionality
of state-conducted executions by lethal injection. At the very least,
Riley should have been willing to wait until the high court issues its
decision. To do anything else simply shows extraordinarily poor judgment.
In essence, that is what the 11th Circuit Court said Wednesday.
It's obvious that politics are involved here. Our take-no-prisoners
attorney general, Troy King, catches loads of attention with addle-headed
speeches advocating the abolition of parole, for example.
The governor, too, wishes no one to think hes soft on crime, though there
is no chance of that. Alabama knows where the governor stands on crime.
He's tough, that's clear. Who isn't?
What Riley needed to show us, however, was where he stands on common sense
and the Constitution.
(source: Editorial, The Anniston Star)
Death row race against cancer
A DEATH row inmate is at the centre of a macabre race against time - with
prison authorities trying to have him executed before terminal cancer
takes his life.
For many of the 3300 US inmates languishing on death row, some as long as
20 and 30 years, old age and illness can kill them before their execution
That's why Alabama state insists on its right to execute convicted
murderer Daniel Siebert at 2300 GMT Thursday (9am AEST Friday), before the
53-year-old cheats the executioner and succumbs to terminal pancreatic
It's possible Siebert's lawyers will win a stay of execution with their
last minute appeals.
Numerous states have frozen carrying out capital punishment since late
September when the US Supreme Court took up the issue of whether the
lethal injection method of capital punishment is constitutional.
But not if Alabama Governor Rob Riley can help it. He has refused to
intervene to stop the clock on Siebert's execution by the same means.
"I would in essence be commuting his sentence to life in prison and that
is not the sentence he was given by a jury," Mr Riley said.
"His crimes were monstrous, brutal and ghastly."
Alabama has a record of upholding death sentences regardless of
In 2004, it executed convicted murderer James Hubbard, despite his 74
years and precarious health - medical certificates attested to his colon
and prostate cancers, hepatitis and senile dementia.
Oklahoma in June also put to death 49-year-old convicted murderer Jimmy
Bland who was suffering from advanced cancer of the lung. The state went
so far as to pay for Bland's chemotherapy to keep him alive.
Often, however, death does not wait for appeals, even excluding the many
suicides among death row inmates.
According to the Texas penitentiary administration, around 20 death row
inmates died in the state from natural causes, including cancer,
pneumonia, AIDS and heart attacks, in the past 3 decades.
In California, which houses the country's largest death row population, 13
inmates have been executed since the Supreme Court reinstated the death
penalty in 1976, but 38 died from natural causes.
Currently, 55 of California's inmates awaiting execution are over 60 years
old, and 2 over 70.
A Justice Department last year said there were 137 death row inmates over
60 across the country in December 2005.
The oldest prisoner awaiting execution is LeRoy Nash, who at 92 is in an
Arizona jail along with 2 other "senior" death row inmates: John Vining,
76, and William Cruse, who will turn 80 in November.
Born in September 1915 and sentenced to death in 1983 for a murder he
committed while on the run, LeRoy Nash is still waiting for his final
date. But he dares not hope, since neither age nor illness are guarantees
he will cheat the executioner.
In December 2005, Mississippi put to death John Nixon, at 77. A few weeks
later, in January 2006, Clarence Allen, blind, with a weak heart and in a
wheelchair, was put to death in California, the day after his 76th
(source: Courier Mail)
Courts ignore victims' rights:
The anti-death penalty advocates are blind to the consequences of their
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a person younger than 18 years old cannot be
executed. The number of murders by this group is on the rise as a result.
Juveniles know they will not be held responsible for their actions. Yes,
they may serve a few years, but no more. The courts are ruling in favor of
the criminals' rights over the rights of the victims of their crimes.
Look at the murders in Birmingham. How many have been committed by
juveniles? Criminals today have no fear of real punishment for their
crimes. They become bolder and bolder in their actions.
For all the bleeding hearts' cries against the death penalty, I don't see
them standing up for the victims of these criminals, demanding the
harshest of penalties: the shot of death.
Some criminals are like mad dogs; they must be removed permanently from
society. Otherwise, they will continue to be the mad dogs they are,
killing at will.
Donald Dunlap -- Irondale
Should we execute the sick?:
Is it normal to be a serial killer? Or is this kind of behavior so far
beyond the norm that it would have to be described as "sick?" Should we
euthanize the sick? How about the developmentally delayed or the old?
In fact, could we not save taxpayers a lot of money if we got rid of all
who don't conform to our vision of the average Joe?
No doubt, readers feel I am carrying things a little too far, but I saw
this happen more than 60 years ago.
There was a time when severe anti-social and aberrant behavior was seen as
being possessed by an evil spirit; nowadays, it is a clinical diagnosis.
What has remained the same is people have always understood the behavior
is not of the individual's choosing. It is a sickness and out of the
control of the individual.
That brings me full circle to the question: Should we kill the sick? Or
should we, in the 21st century, use more humane methods to keep them from
Esther Brown, Executive director, Project Hope to Abolish the Death
Penalty -- Lanett
Founding Fathers OK with executions:
The writer of the letter "Not the method: it's the madness" (The News,
Sunday) said our Founding Fathers would be horrified with our "barbaric
First of all, the Fifth Amendment, which was submitted for ratification on
Sept. 25, 1789, speaks clearly about double jeopardy for "life or limb"
and strictly proclaims no one should be "deprived of life, liberty or
property without due process." The fact these terms are written into the
Constitution proclaims their acceptance by the writers. This clearly
illustrates that capital punishment was acceptable, and I'm sure
executions today are more humane than they were in those days.
Second, the writer asserts all Christians should be against taking a life
and that only God can take a life. I would suggest reading the Bible. In
Genesis 9:6, God speaks to Noah and his sons: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood,
by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
Also, Exodus 21:14-27 states conditions that are punishable by death at
the hands of humans.
It is amazing how much of the Bible is overlooked or dismissed in the face
of personal biases in the name of Christianity. For the record, I am not
an atheist; I believe in God's grace and respect the printed word.
Herman Singleton -- Bessemer
Bible says respect our laws:
In "Not the method; it's the madness" (The News, Sunday) the letter writer
said: "I believe, as all Christians should, we have no right to take
another's life." If the writer meant we cannot take the law into our own
hands and take a human life, he is 100 % correct. But if he was referring
to the law (meaning our police, courts, judges and juries), then he does
not speak for all Christians.
The Bible plainly indicates civil powers are a must and that we are to
respect our laws and the right to deal with criminals in whatever way the
law sees fit. And that certainly includes executing murderers.
Bob Leonard -- Eldridge
Convicted killers claim cruelty:
I read reports about "cruelty" concerning 2 prisoners: Christopher Scott
Emmett, a prisoner in Virginia, and Eric Rudolph, imprisoned in Colorado
("Lethal injection cruelty claim studied" and "Clinic bomber mistreated in
prison, mother says," The News, Oct. 18). Both Emmett and Rudolph
committed very inhumane crimes.
If Emmett were to endure some pain during lethal injection, so be it. He
wasn't too worried when he beat his victim to death with the base of a
lamp or about the pain his victim's family continues to endure.
Rudolph killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse for life
during a bombing. Should we sympathize with him for possibly not getting
books to read and because his mail might be late? No.
Barbara Gamble -- Birmingham
(source: Letters to the Editor, The Birmingham News)
Supreme Court rejects DNA testing in 1966 Von Maxcy murder
DNA testing cannot be done in the contract killing of citrus and cattle
baron Charles Von Maxcy because evidence from the sensational 1966 case
apparently no longer exists, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The justices unanimously affirmed a trial judge's decision denying DNA
testing sought by death row inmate William H. Kelley. He was convicted of
killing Von Maxcy in 1984 - 18 years after the 41-year-old victim was
stabbed and shot to death at his Sebring home.
Von Maxcy's wife, Irene, had arranged through her lover, John Sweet, to
have Kelley, 64, of Brockton, Mass., kill her husband. Sweet, the state's
chief witness, testified the wife was afraid of being left out of Von
Maxcy's $1.7 million estate.
The Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion, noted a court ordered that
physical evidence be destroyed in 1976, nine years after Sweet had been
convicted for his role in the murder. He did not implicate Kelley until
"Kelley claims that the items he seeks were not included in the evidence
that was destroyed but wholly fails to substantiate his assertion," the
The 29 items Kelley wanted tested included Von Maxcy's hair and fingernail
scrapings, carpet fibers from the home, the victim's belt, socks and
shoes, his car keys and the vehicle's steering wheel.
At a Highlands County hearing on the DNA request before Chief Circuit
Judge Belvin Perry Jr., Kelley called 9 officials as witnesses who
testified that searches failed to turn up the requested items in evidence
vaults at offices of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the
sheriff, court clerk, 2 medical examiners and the state attorney.
Kelley also called Florida International University biology professor
Martin Tracey as an expert witness who discussed the accuracy of DNA
Defense lawyers said they have filed another motion before Perry arguing
the state violated Kelley's constitutional rights by failing to produce
receipts for some evidence or showing what became of it. The remedy may be
a new trial, said Mac Richard McCoy, one of Kelley's lawyers.
McCoy said officials may have been unable to find evidence because they
looked only for material in Kelley's case. The evidence they are seeking
may be in case files for Sweet or other suspects, McCoy said.
"We're still trying to find the items," said Kevin Jon Napper, another of
The high court also rejected Kelley's claims that Perry erred by denying
his requests for information about the evidence from the state before the
hearing and that he failed to receive adequate notice of the hearing.
The defense lawyers said the prehearing information may have helped find
Kelley earlier had been defended by famed lawyers William Kunstler and
Laurence Tribe. He has lost a series of appeals including one to the U.S.
Supreme Court. In those cases he argued that Sweet, who has since died,
had falsely accused him.
Sweet, a real estate broker, originally was convicted of murder and
sentenced to life in prison. A year later Irene Von Maxcy admitted she had
lied on the stand about his involvement and Sweet was freed. She was
convicted of perjury and served 4 years in prison.
In return for his testimony against Kelley, Sweet received immunity in the
Von Maxcy murder and in Massachusetts for charges including loan-sharking
(source: Associated Press)
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