[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 13 12:22:24 CDT 2007
TEXAS----stay of impending execution
Execution set for Thursday stopped by court order
The scheduled Thursday night execution of a Texas prisoner for his part in
the slaying of 2 workers during a robbery was stopped after the Dallas
County district attorney's office asked that the execution order be
Joseph Lave, 42, would have been the 25th inmate given lethal injection in
Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state.
In an order signed late Wednesday, a state district judge in Dallas agreed
with the request from District Attorney Craig Watkins, Texas Department of
Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Thursday.
Lave was convicted of being 1 of 3 robbers involved in the beating and
slashing deaths of Justin Marquart and Frederick Banzaf, both 18, on the
night before Thanksgiving in 1992.
(source: Associated Press)
Prison Officials Halt Scheduled Thursday Execution
The state prison system has stopped Thursday night's scheduled execution
of death-row inmate Joseph Lave.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice took the stunning action after
the Dallas County district attorney's office asked that the execution
order be withdrawn.
A prison system spokeswoman says a state district judge in Dallas issued
an order late Wednesday, agreeing with District Attorney Craig Watkins'
Lave was to die for the Thanksgiving eve 1992 robbery of a Dallas-area
sporting goods store in which store employees Justin Marquart and
Frederick Banzaf were murdered.
Police say both were found bound with duct tape with their heads battered
with a hammer claw and their throats slit.
Assistant store manager Angie King survived a similar attack and managed
to call 911 and identify another store worker, James Langston, as an
Police fatally shot Langston outside his Dallas apartment about 5 hours
later as he tried to use his truck to run over an officer seeking to
His death led to the arrests of Lave and Timothy Bates.
Bates agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and is serving a life prison
Lave's attorneys were asking the US Supreme Court to halt the execution,
contending that Lave participated in the holdup but was not the actual
In a similar case involving the state's law of parties, under which all
co-conspirators share equal culpability if the outcome of the crime was
foreseeable, Gov. Rick Perry decided last month to accepted a
recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the
death sentence of Kenneth Foster to life in prison.
Foster faced execution for being the getaway driver in the 1996 attempted
robbery and murder of Michael LaHood in San Antonio.
In a statement, Perry said he believes "the right and just decision is to
commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment."
Records show one of Foster's passenger, Mauriceo Brown, demanded LaHood's
wallet and car keys and then opened fire when the victim couldn't produce
them. Foster was tried with Brown and received the same sentence. Brown
was executed last year.
Foster's supporters argued that he had no way of knowing that Brown
planned to kill 25-year-old law student.
In his statement, Perry said he's "concerned about Texas law that allowed
capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously."
He said he thinks the Legislature should examine that issue.
Lave would have been the 25th inmate executed this year in Texas.
(source: KWTX News)
Lawyer confronts clients' sentences ---- Barring reprieves, 2 prisoners
defended by same attorney will soon be executed
Attorney Richard Franklin has defended 30 clients charged with capital
crimes across more than 3 decades. Seven got the death penalty. Today, for
the 1st time, one will die.
Mr. Franklin won't be there.
"I'm going to try to ignore it," he said.
Barring a last-minute reprieve, Joseph Lave will be administered a lethal
injection about 6 this evening in Huntsville for his role in a double
murder at a Richardson sporting goods store in 1992.
Carlton Turner, another of Mr. Franklin's clients, is scheduled to die
Sept. 27 for shooting his father and mother in their Valley Ranch home in
Mr. Franklin is one of about 15 veteran attorneys who handle more than 90
percent of all the capital cases tried in North Texas. Several of his
capital-crime defendants had their charges dismissed or reduced and some
received lesser sentences.
Sometimes it's less about guilt than fairness in assessing punishment.
Often, anything less than the death penalty is a victory.
"Most of them we're able to help somehow," Mr. Franklin said. "I believe
in the death penalty, but not for my clients."
Five men from North Texas have been executed since October James Clark,
Christopher Swift and Gregory Summers from Denton County; and Charles
Nealy and Robert Pereze from Dallas County.
Mr. Lave will be the 1st of Mr. Franklin's clients to be executed. Mr.
Turner will be the 2nd.
Mr. Lave, 42, a former delivery driver, was convicted of participating in
the Nov. 25, 1993, armed robbery and double murder at Herman's World of
Sporting Goods in Richardson.
After the store closed the evening before Thanksgiving, Mr. Lave and 2
other men 1 who worked at the store used a key to get inside.
The robbers bound store employees Angie King, 22, Frederick Banzhaf, 18,
and Justin Marquart, 18, with duct tape on their wrists, mouths and eyes.
All 3 were beaten with a hammer, fracturing their skulls, and had their
Lt. Mike Scott of the Richardson Police Department was one of the first
officers on the scene.
"The thing I remember most was all the blood," said
Ms. King survived her wounds, worked free of her bindings, and called
Hugh Ashburn, a paramedic, was quoted in a newspaper account: "I just had
a feeling of evil in the whole building. I wanted to get the hell out of
Mr. Banzhaf and Mr. Marquart died.
Asked how he felt about Mr. Laze's pending execution, Lt. Scott said he
thought it "closed the chapter."
Ms. King identified the employee, James Langston, 26, and police killed
him in a confrontation the next day. They found a phone number in his
clothing for the 3rd robber, Timothy Bates. Mr. Bates, who pleaded guilty
and was sentenced to life in prison, led them to Mr. Lave.
Efforts to reach members of Mr. Lave's family were unsuccessful.
Ms. King is not easy to find these days. Her foster father, who lives in
East Texas, hasn't heard from her in 10 years.
The Banzhaf and Marquart families had little to say about the case at the
time of the trial, and recent attempts to locate them were unsuccessful.
Mr. Franklin insists that Mr. Lave thought he was in on an after-hours
burglary and blames Mr. Langston for the murders.
Mr. Turner, 28, shot his adoptive father and mother in their home in
August 1998. He dragged them into the garage, where police found their
decomposing corpses days later.
Prosecutors said Mr. Turner used his parents' cash and credit cards to
party and buy jewelry, and that he may have entertained friends at his
home while their bodies lay in the garage.
Rick Harrison, former prosecutor and defense attorney and now district
attorney of Kaufman County, was "2nd chair" with Mr. Franklin in the
defense of Mr. Turner at trial.
"That was the one I thought there was a chance of maybe getting a life
sentence," Mr. Harrison said. Their defense was based on evidence that Mr.
Turner's father had anger-management problems and had abused him for
Mr. Turner claimed he had bought a pistol for protection against people
who were harassing him and his father found him with the gun and attacked
him. He claimed self-defense for shooting his father, but that didn't
explain killing his mother.
His lawyers argued that he shouldn't get death because the relationship
with his parents was a uniquely volatile situation unlikely to recur
during a lifetime in prison, which they said made him a low risk for
future violence if incarcerated.
Mr. Turner didn't help his case when he went against their advice and
testified in his own defense.
"When he took the stand and said he didn't care if he died or not, that
was it," Mr. Harrison said.
Mr. Harrison, who has tried about 40 capital cases as either a defense
attorney or a prosecutor, said Mr. Turner will be the 1st of his clients
to be executed.
"I'm for the death penalty," he said. "But now that we have life without
parole, you're not going to see as many death penalty death penalty
When an unrelated case took Mr. Harrison and Mr. Franklin to death row at
the Polunsky prison unit in Livingston later, they saw Mr. Turner.
"We were maybe the only visitors he ever had," Mr. Harrison said. "He's
written me a few times. If he asks me, I probably would attend [his
Members of Mr. Turner's adopted family were not available to comment.
Mr. Franklin said he thought Mr. Turner was doomed from the time he was
adopted by a couple with problems of their own.
If asked, what epitaph would he write for Carlton Turner?
"A wasted life," Mr. Franklin said. "He never had a chance."
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Texas prepares 2nd of 5 executions this month
A Texas man faces execution Thursday for his role in the murder of one of
two men killed during a store robbery. Joseph Lave would be the 25th
inmate executed in Texas, the United States' busiest death penalty state,
this year and the 2nd of 5 set to die this month.
2 workers died in the robbery nearly 15 years ago, and one of the
attackers was soon shot dead by police as he tried to run over an officer.
The 2 companions in the robbery were Lave, now 42, and Timothy Bates, who
agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a life prison term.
He refused defense requests to testify at Lave's trial.
"I don't think he should have gotten death when the other guy didn't,"
said Richard Franklin, Lave's trial lawyer. "They were just about equally
guilty. But that's not the way ultimately it all worked out."
Lave was convicted and condemned under the Texas law of parties, which
makes a co-defendant equally culpable even if he was not the actual
2 weeks ago, another Texas inmate condemned in a law of parties case was
spared by Governor Rick Perry after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
recommended his sentence be commuted to life.
But a commutation request to the board for Lave was rejected Tuesday by
the panel in a 7-0 vote. The lawyer who filed the request, Walter Long,
would not discuss details of his petition.
Lave's lawyers were arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court the lethal injection
should be stopped because Lave's trial attorneys were unable to challenge
damaging statements attributed to Bates since they came from a police
officer who interviewed Bates and not from Bates himself.
Also in Texas on Wednesday, the state's highest criminal appeals court
said a man's conviction and death sentence 4 years ago for killing and
beheading his common-law wife's 3 children were improper because
statements from his common-law wife erroneously were allowed into
The court said John Allen Rubio's lawyers were not allowed to challenge
the woman's statements by cross-examining her because she refused to
Angela Camacho, also accused of strangling and decapitating the children,
avoided a possible death sentence by taking a plea agreement 2 years ago
that sent her to prison with 3 life terms.
Rubio admitted to killing the children but pleaded not guilty by reason of
With the appeals court ruling, his case has been returned to the trial
The court also threw out the death sentence and ordered a new sentencing
hearing for convicted killer Raymond Deleon Martinez, saying jurors did
not have proper instructions to consider mitigating evidence when they
decided he should die for fatally shooting a bar owner during a robbery.
(source: Associated Press)
Inmate loses bid to halt meds
A Fort Worth man on death row on Wednesday lost his bid to overturn a
court order forcing him to take medication to make him mentally fit to be
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals told Steven Kenneth Staley in a
unanimous ruling that it would not consider overturning state District
Judge Wayne Salvant's ruling ordering Staley to take drugs for
But the court's action does not immediately set the stage for Staley to be
executed for his role in the shooting death of Robert Reed, who was held
hostage after a robbery attempt at a Fort Worth Steak and Ale on Oct. 14,
"We have to go back and start the process all over," said Chuck Mallin,
the Tarrant County assistant district attorney who heads the office's
"We'll have to get a new competency hearing, and Mr. Reed's family will
have to continue to suffer."
Staley's lawyer, Jack Strickland of Fort Worth, said he intends to file an
appeal in federal court on whether condemned inmates can be forcibly
medicated to get around the Supreme Court's ban on executing the mentally
"There's very little doubt that this guy is flat insane," Strickland said.
Twice in the past 2 1/2 years, courts have intervened to stop Staley's
execution. Each time, the move met with protests from Reed's family.
Tarrant County prosecutors contend that Staley was sane at the time of the
slaying and that he is capable of understanding why he has been sentenced
According to testimony, Staley and friends Tracey Duke and Brenda Rayburn
had finished a meal at the west Fort Worth restaurant when they brandished
semiautomatic weapons and demanded access to the cash registers and safe.
As patrons and employees were ordered to the rear of the restaurant, an
assistant manager slipped away to call police. As law officers set up a
perimeter around the restaurant, Reed, 35, offered himself as a hostage to
spare his customers.
The robbers took Reed from the restaurant at gunpoint and tried to force
him into the back seat of a hijacked car.
Reed struggled and was shot and killed. The robbers began firing at police
before speeding away in what would become a 20-mile chase that ended with
the robbers trying to escape on foot.
Also on Wednesday, a sharply divided criminal appeals court overturned the
conviction of a Rio Grande Valley man who had been sentenced to die for
killing and beheading his wife's 3 children.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said John Allen Rubio's conviction and death
sentence four years ago were improper because statements from his wife,
Angela Camacho, were erroneously allowed into evidence. The court said
Rubio's lawyers were not allowed to challenge Camacho's statements by
cross-examining her because she refused to testify.
3 statements Camacho made about the slayings -- 2 in writing and one on
videotape -- were offered into testimony at Rubio's trial. The trial
judge, over objections from Rubio's lawyers, allowed the testimony.
"Given Camacho's unique position as both accomplice to the crime and
direct witness to [Rubio's] motivations, her specific, detailed testimony
obviously had great significance," the court said.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
*************** death sentence overturned
Murder Conviction Overturned
An appeals court overturned the conviction of a man, who confessed to
beheading three young children.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4 in the case of John Allen
He was on death row for the 2003 killing of his common-law wife's 3
children. In his trial, Rubio had pleaded not guilty by reason of
But today the court said Rubio's conviction and sentence were improper
because statements from Angela Camacho, his common-law wife, were allowed
Rubio is expected back in Cameron County in a couple of months. We're told
a new trial could possibly start next year.
The case against Rubio and Camacho started in March 11, 2003. That's when
police found the bodies of their children -- 2 girls, ages 3 and 2 months,
and a 1-year-old boy. All 3 were stabbed and beheaded.
Officers say they found their bodies in the family's Brownsville
apartment. The girls were reportedly stuffed in plastic bags.
The next day on March 12, Rubio and Camacho confessed to the crime and
were arrested on 3 charges of capital murder.
Rubio was sentenced to death on November 7, 2003.
His common-law wife pleaded guilty on July 1, 2005. She received 3 life
sentences and will be eligible for parole in 2045.
Residents have speak out following appeals court ruling.
Most residents were upset to hear about the appeals court reversing the
conviction and death sentence of John Alan Rubio.
One man who went to the funeral, remembers the day.
"It was sad to see 3 kids for no particular reason" says Juan Salinas.
Catalina Sarinas says "If they retry him, I believe they'll find him
Christina Castillo says "I think they need to conduct a more thorough
investigation, this is very serious. If they let him go, he could do the
same thing again."
No date has been set for Rubio's return to the Valley, or for the start of
his new trial.
(source for both: KRGV News)
2nd jury pool called for KFC murder trial
Jury selection for the capital murder trial of Romeo Pinkerton, who is
accused of killing 5 people abducted from a Kentucky Fried Chicken
restaurant in Kilgore nearly 24 years ago, is moving slowly but surely
with 32 prospective jurors selected for the jury pool from the initial
jury call of 350 Bowie County residents.
District Judge Clay Gossett called an additional 550 residents to appear
on Monday, since the 1st panel was insufficient. More than 200 of the 550
have already contacted the courthouse in New Boston to claim legal
exemptions such as being over age 70 or a full-time student. Approximately
150 prospective jurors simply did not show up and Gossett has issued writs
of attachment for them, mandating that they appear in the courthouse
Wednesday or face contempt of court charges.
The process of selecting a jury in this case differs from the selection
process utilized in most criminal cases in Rusk County and is projected to
take up to 2 months to complete.
"Jury selection in capital murder cases is different," Gossett said. "In
capital murder cases in which the state seeks the death penalty, the law
requires individual voir dire. That means we talk to each juror
In the trials usually seen in the Rusk County courthouse, attorneys will
assemble the prospective jurors and ask them if they know any of the
parties involved in the case, if they know anyone associated with the
trial and any number of other questions to try to determine who is best
suited to hear the evidence. Attorneys for either the prosecution or the
defense may eliminate a potential juror for a wide range of reasons as
long as the reason is not race-related.
"Each side has an unlimited number of strikes based upon legal reasons.
This is a challenge for cause," Gossett said. "Each side also has 15
peremptory strikes. These can be exercised for any reason except race."
As soon as the required number of jurors - usually 12 plus 2 alternates -
has not been eliminated by either side, the selection process ends and the
But in capital murder trials, especially one as high profile as the KFC
case, the selection of a jury is much more involved when attorneys agree
to use the pool method.
"In the pool method, you qualify 46-50 jurors and then the parties make
peremptory challenges," Gossett said.
Prospective jurors were given a lengthy questionnaire to complete, which
covers their personal and work history, their views on law enforcement and
the death penalty, rehabilitation of criminals, the effectiveness of the
criminal justice system in general, their religious preference and
activity, their volunteer activities and what they've heard or think about
this case in particular. It is 118 questions covering both the possible
juror as well as his friends, family and acquaintances.
Attorneys for both sides and the judge made a first sweep of the jury
prospects, eliminating those who could not serve for work, health or other
permissible reasons. Those remaining will meet individually with the
attorneys and the judge and discuss the answers provided on the
questionnaire. Attorneys may challenge any number of jurors for cause
during the initial voir dire and the time-consuming process will continue
until 46 or 50 prospective jurors have been added to the jury pool.
"This case is very complex because of multiple victims, multiple alleged
perpetrators, the age of the case and the publicity. Therefore, it takes
up to 2 hours per juror. We explain the law, legal issues and then seek
their opinion," Gossett said. "Once we get our pool, each side gets to
make peremptory strikes - 16 for 14 jurors."
That will leave 12 jurors and 2 alternates who will then hear the evidence
presented in the long-awaited trial.
"We take our time because of the importance of getting the case right,"
Gossett said. "We are being cautious to avoid making mistakes which would
require us to retry the case."
(source: New Boston Daily News)
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