[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Sep 26 20:14:53 CDT 2007
Son who killed parents set to die Thursday
Carlton Turner Jr. says he "did and said some stupid things to make the
Now, Turner is to die in the state death chamber in Huntsville tomorrow
night for shooting his adoptive parents to death in their suburban Dallas
He was 19 when he shot Carlton Turner Sr. and Tonya Turner several times
in the head in 1998 at their home in the upscale Valley Ranch neighborhood
in Irving. Prosecutors say he bought new clothes and jewelry but continued
living in the house as his parents' bodies rotted in the garage in the
His lethal injection would be the 27th of the year and 2nd this week in
the nation's busiest death penalty state. It comes in the wake of
yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to review a Kentucky case that
challenges whether use of lethal drugs like the ones used in Texas are
That decision failed to keep Texas from putting Michael Richard to death
last night, even after his lawyer filed an appeal citing the Kentucky case
as reason to stop his punishment. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal
and Richard was executed.
On the Net: Texas Department of Criminal Justice execution schedule
Carlton Turner http://www.lampofhope.org/999321.html
(source: The Associated Press)
Murders bring plea for police in East Lubbock
Over the weekend, two more murders in Lubbock pushed the yearly total to
A third of the murders this year have happened in the east side.
Gunned down in East Lubbock Saturday night was John Wilkerson, 28. His was
the 5th murder this year in East Lubbock and the first since May.
Some East Lubbock residents believe if there was a greater police presence
in their community, a lot of the crime wouldn't go on. Others believe the
police need training to know how to deal with the population of blacks on
the east side.
Police say there's no way to know when, or where, a violent crime like
murder will happen.
Val Williams said it's rare to see the police on the east side unless they
are responding to something. The times they are seen during the day he
said, they just drive by and keep on going.
"If they would just get to know the people," Williams said. "Stop and talk
Eddie Richardson, co-publisher of the Southwest Digest, said the police
"aren't community minded enough."
The association many people in the east side, especially the children,
have with the police is minimal, he said. The children see them as the
enemy and not protectors.
"It's enough when you don't need them, but when you need them it's not
enough," Richardson said.
Floyd Price, city councilman for District 2, which includes East Lubbock
neighborhoods, said "murder has nothing to do with patrol."
Price, a retired Lubbock Police officer, said "murder has happened since
Cain and Abel."
"Any neighborhood has murders," Price said. "It's a choice people make to
"It's a bad thing that people are mean and vicious enough that they will
take a life and run," Price continued.
With three months left in the year, Lt. Scott Hudgens said he hopes there
are no more murders anywhere in the city. He said the police have no way
of knowing when a murder is going to happen and "the vast majority of
murders are spontaneous.
"In order to prevent a murder," Hudgens said, "we have to make sure there
is an officer present at the time someone decided to kill someone, and
there's no way to do that."
Price said he is concerned when something happens in his district, but
moreso with "anyone who loses their life."
He said he knew Wilkerson all his life and had talked with him last
Tuesday. He said just because there have been five murders in East Lubbock
doesn't mean it's a bad place.
"Several people have killed before when they were upset," Price said.
"It's hard to prevent a crime of passion when someone goes after someone
to kill them."
(source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Charges against escapees expected
An investigation continues today into a prison break that left one
corrections officer dead, two inmates on a wild chase, at least 4
different crime scenes and a litany of charges facing both escapees.
TDCJ spokesperson Michelle Lyons said that 59-year-old Susan Canfield was
killed when 2 inmates - both serving time for violent offenses - escaped
from an outside work detail at the Wynne Unit around 10:10 Monday morning.
The case now goes to the Special Prison Prosecution Unit and Walker County
Criminal District Attorney David Weeks, who is coordinating the
investigation and collection of evidence among the 7 police agencies
involved in the case.
Weeks hasn't decided what charges he'll present to a grand jury against
Jerry Duane Martin, 37, and his partner, John Ray Falk Jr., 40, but that a
long list of charges will more than likely ensue, including capital
murder, attempted capital murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated
"Other charges will be considered," Weeks said in a statement released to
In an interview Monday evening, Weeks said the capital murder charge will
preclude most other charges, and that his office will more than likely
seek death for both inmates.
"With this charge, with the murder of a correctional officer in this
community, I would expect in most every circumstance we would seek the
death penalty," Weeks said. "We'll be looking at numerous charges,
including capital murder. That's going to be a decision that we'll fully
make after we see everything."
The 2 inmates were working outside, along with more than 70 other inmates.
A group of 6 corrections officers and a supervisor - all armed - were
watching the inmates.
According to Lyons, the type of crime doesn't preclude inmates from
working outside the unit's fenced area. Any inmate classified as a
"minimum custody inmate" is required "and expected" to work at the unit,
However, Lyons said that inmates serving more than a 50-year sentence - as
were the 2 escapees - who have served at least 10 years of their sentence
and have clean disciplinary records are usually assigned to outside work
A release from Week's office said much of the evidence collected in the
case will go to the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab in Austin.
The Texas Rangers have taken jurisdiction over the criminal investigation
into the case.
As well, Lyons said TDCJ will conduct its own investigation into the
"(TDCJ) will be conducting a severe incident review to determine exactly
what happened," Lyons said.
In addition, TDCJ's Correc-tional Institutions Division will review
policies regarding assignments of prisoners to work outside of the
prison's heavily fortified core.
However, all inmates, save those inmates classfied with "trusty" status,
are required to work under direct, armed supervision.
"Minimum security inmates cannot work outside without direct supervision,"
Martin and Falk attacked and ran over Canfield, who was on horseback,
after stealing a flat-bed pickup truck from a City of Huntsville Service
The horse was struck and initially believed to only have cuts and bruises.
On closer inspection, a wound thought to have been a cut from skidding
along the gravel driveway turned out to be a gunshot wound, Lyons said,
and the horse was euthanized late Monday night.
Falk was captured just after 11 a.m. near Wal-Mart after the two fled on
foot from the second truck they had stolen in less than an hour.
In the second carjacking, the two took a hostage and eventually left her
unharmed, but shaken, near the disabled vehicle before they fled on
Martin was caught by police after search dogs from the Wynne Unit were
deployed to a wooded area near Farm-to-Market Road 1374, west of
Interstate 45. The dogs forced Martin into a tree and officers apprehended
Lyons said it was policy for guards overseeing inmates on horseback to be
a minimum of 30 feet from convicts.
It is unclear whether the policy spells out whether inmates and guards on
horseback can have direct, physical contact, however, there is no apparent
policy that allows for officers to break the 30-foot minimum.
Lyons said a male corrections officer took what appeared to be a watch
from 1 of the 2.
As the officer was taking the watch, one of the inmates pulled him from
the horse, taking his weapons. The other escapee grabbed Canfield, pulling
her from her mount and taking her weapons.
The 2 initially stole a City of Huntsville flatbed truck from the City
Service Center off Highway 75 North.
The 2 then ran over Canfield near the service center. Canfield, who was
trying to apprehend the two subjects, was on horseback at the time. Shots
were exchanged between corections officers and the two inmates, but no one
was injured in the gunfight. Canfield's horse was hit in the exchange.
TDCJ officials from nearly all departments will cooperate in the
investigation into the prison break, Lyons said, as part of the serious
The Special Prison Prosection Unit will work under the direction of Weeks,
said Gena DeBottis, the unit's chief prosecutor.
Falk had served 21 years of a murder charge after being convicted for the
death of a lawyer in Matagorda County.
Falk confessed to striking the man over the head with a piece of lumber
and cut his throat with a knife, according to an official with the
Matagorda Sheriff's Office.
Falk was up for parole in 2006, but was denied.
Martin had served 10 years for charges in Collin County on two counts of
attempted murder after a domestic dispute turned into a high-speed chase
in which Martin began to fire on Department of Public Safety troopers and
In all, he fired 7 rounds from a .38-caliber revolver at the negotiations
team and Collin County sheriff's deputies.
He was convicted in 1997 of the two attempted murder charges, along with a
charge of aggravated assault and a failure to appear charge a month later.
He was sentenced to 50 years for the charges, Lyons said.
The Unit Classification Committe is charged with assigning levels - from
the most restrictive, segregation levels to less restrictive designations
- at each unit.
The State Classification Committee, a central administrative committe,
oversees each unit's committee and makes final decisions on
classifications and to name prisoners to the least restrictive class:
Falk and Martin were not trusties, but rather general population inmates
working outside of the unit.
Falk and Martin were classified as G2 inmates, the 2nd of 5 general
population statuses given to inmates.
According to the TDCJ's "Offender Orientation Handbook," G2 status inmates
may live in dorms or cells inside the unit's security fence, but that they
can only work outside of that fence under direct, armed supervision.
The 2 were assigned to what Lyons called the "hoe" squad, or literally a
group of inmates using hoes to weed out farm areas.
(source: Hunstville Item)
Death sentence appeal rejected
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a 28-year-old Honduran man
who is scheduled to be executed next week for the 2001 robbery and fatal
shooting of a south Arlington clothing store manager.
Heliberto Chi was sentenced to die Oct. 3 by lethal injection for robbing
and killing Armand Paliotta, 56, at the K&G Men's Superstore in southwest
The nation's highest court rejected claims by Chi's court-appointed
attorney, Wes Ball, that Chi was not allowed to contact his country's
consular as prescribed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. That
1963 treaty was meant to allow foreigners who are arrested the right to
speak with their consulates.
"Nobody told Mr. Chi he had a right to a consular official, and it was
never brought to his attention," Ball said.
Chi's appeals through the state and federal courts have been rejected.
Death row inmates often submit last-minute appeals despite earlier rulings
by the courts.
Ball has also requested a 30-day reprieve from Gov. Rick Perry and asked
that the governor commute the sentence. The Texas Board of Pardons and
Paroles has made no recommendation on Chi's case to Perry.
During his trial, Chi's attorneys claimed that he was questioned by
deputies in Los Angeles without access to the Honduran consulate. But a
Tarrant County state district court judge ruled that statements Chi made
to police were admissible in court.
Chi was a former employee at the Arlington clothing store. Witnesses
testified that he entered the store after it closed at 9 p.m., robbed the
store and shot Paliotta in the back. Employee Adrian Riojas was also shot
in the back but survived and testified that Chi was the shooter.
Chi has rejected several requests for an interview by the Star-Telegram.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Supreme Court to review drugs used in lethal injections----At issue: Do
drugs inflict excessive pain?
The Supreme Court has agreed to review whether the current 3-drug cocktail
used in most lethal injections in the U.S. violates the constitutional ban
on cruel and unusual punishment.
The court's decision to examine lethal injection could still effectively
lead to a temporary nationwide moratorium on the death penalty if lower
courts decide to wait for a definitive ruling.
"In one sense, the case has extraordinary significance because it could
create a de facto moratorium on executions in the short term," said Jordan
Steiker, co-director of the Capital Punishment Center at the University of
Texas law school.
If the challenge to lethal injection prevails, the high court's review
would probably only change which chemicals are used in injections or
establish a consistent legal standard for lower courts to apply in appeals
concerning cruel and unusual punishment, the experts said.
In Texas, which leads the nation in executions and has allowed lethal
injections since 1977, Gov. Rick Perry said the state will continue to use
lethal injection until the court rules on its constitutionality.
"We'll go forward with our interpretation until the Supreme Court decides
otherwise," he said.
Texas has executed 26 death row inmates this year.
Tuesday's high court decision marks the 1st time in more than 100 years
the court has taken up the issue of whether a particular method of
execution causes excruciating pain.
Pressure for the Supreme Court to act has been mounting since early 2005,
when a British medical journal published a research article that concluded
that the anesthetic used in executions could wear off before death,
subjecting inmates to several minutes of pain.
Since then, there have been several problems with the administration of
the drugs, including executions in Florida and Ohio in which it took as
long as 2 hours for the condemned men to die.
The case that the Supreme Court accepted involves two inmates on death row
in Kentucky - Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. - who sued the state
Mr. Baze was convicted of killing a sheriff and deputy in 1992, while Mr.
Bowling was sentenced to death for shooting a 2-year-old and killing the
toddler's parents outside their dry-cleaning business in 1990.
Their attorneys argued that chemicals other than the ones currently used
in executions would be just as effective with less risk of pain.
They also argued that the flurry of legal cases in recent years has led to
various legal standards requiring "wanton infliction of pain," "excessive
pain," "unnecessary pain," "substantial risk," "unnecessary risk" and
"substantial risk of wanton and unnecessary pain."
"The court is eager to set a national standard," Mr. Steiker said. "The
lower courts are all over the map in terms of their resolution. I think
that fact has caused the courts to hear the issue."
Kentucky - like Texas and every other state other than New Jersey that
carries out lethal injections - uses a three-drug cocktail, with each drug
The process begins with the tranquilizer sodium thiopental, which sedates
the person. A muscle relaxer, pancuronium bromide, is then injected to
shut down breathing, followed by potassium chloride, which overloads the
heart and causes it to stop.
The Kentucky lawyers argued that pancuronium bromide could be eliminated,
sodium thiopental could be replaced by the anesthetic propofol, and
potassium chloride could be replaced by the seizure medication Dilantin.
Others have suggested pure nitrogen gas or a single overdose of
barbiturates. While the electric chair is still an option - a Tennessee
inmate chose to be executed by one this month - even death penalty
advocates doubt it will become standard again.
After the death penalty was reinstated in Texas in 1974, lethal injection
was widely regarded as the more humane alternative to the chair, hanging,
the gas chamber and the firing squad.
"There's probably not a humane way to take a human life, but it's a lot
better than to get the death penalty in the electric chair," said former
state Rep. Ben Z. Grant, who authored the first law on lethal injection in
Texas in 1977.
"There may be an improvement on this, but I think if it's administered
right, I don't think it's any more painful except maybe than a shot in the
arm," he said.
Since the first person was executed by lethal injection in 1982, nearly
1,100 people have been put to death, including 928 by lethal injection.
Torture not allowed
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the execution
process causes the inmate to appear to fall asleep and takes about 7 to 10
But opponents argue that despite the tranquil appearance, the inmates
actually suffer excruciating pain as one drug suffocates them while
another has been found to cause a burning sensation in the veins of people
who are conscious.
"As much as society would like to cause some murderers to feel great pain
in light of some of the heinous crimes they commit, the Eighth Amendment
allows the state to execute prisoners, but it does not allow it to commit
torture," said David Dow, a University of Houston law professor who
specializes in capital cases.
Mr. Dow was one of the lawyers for Michael Wayne Richard, 49, and helped
prepare the first petition asking the Supreme Court to stay an execution
in the wake of its plan to review lethal injection.
Mr. Richard's execution for raping and killing a nurse in her home in 1986
was delayed for more than two hours as his appeal made its way to the high
Mr. Dow, who works on behalf of the Texas Defender Service, said he and
other lawyers plan to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection
in 2 more cases in the next week.
Carlton Akee Turner is scheduled for execution Thursday for the 1998
murder of his adoptive parents in Irving. In another local case, Heliberto
Chi is set to die next Wednesday for a fatal shooting during the robbery
of a men's clothing store in Arlington.
But those efforts could stall because of procedural issues dictating how
and when someone can challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection.
Mr. Dow said lawyers have raised such claims on behalf of 20 to 25 Texas
inmates in the last 3 years - all unsuccessfully.
"The state rule says you cannot bring a challenge until you have an
execution date," he said. "The federal rule is that if you wait until you
have execution date, you've waited too long."
Method of appeal
While defense lawyers expect a flurry of challenges in almost every case
set for execution in the near future, a Collin County case will probably
set the standard for how claims of cruel and unusual punishment will be
handled in Texas.
The case involves John Alba, who was convicted of capital murder after
breaking into an apartment and killing his wife in 1991.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is expected to decide any day now
which legal method, such as a civil rights lawsuit or a writ of habeas
corpus, defendants must use to file such claims, said John Rolater, who
oversees the appellate division of the Collin County district attorney's
But he said it is unlikely that the Texas court will make any decisions
about lethal injection before the Supreme Court decides the Kentucky case.
While no one expects the high court to issue a blanket moratorium in the
meantime, several death penalty experts predicted that lower courts would
take Tuesday's decision as a directive.
"To me, it's almost automatic that it will have the same effect as a
moratorium, but it will have to be case by case," said Rolando del Carmen,
a Sam Houston State University criminologist, who wrote a textbook on the
But his colleague, Dennis Longmire, wasn't so sure.
"I don't think it's going to slow Texas down at all," he said. "The issue
has been raised before. Texas has reviewed its protocol, and Texas will
not hesitate until its protocol has been ruled unconstitutional."
In May 2006, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed an execution on
this very issue, but the court lifted the stay two days later after
reviewing the state's procedures.
Still, Texas increased the dosage of sodium thiopental this year to ensure
that the offender would lose consciousness before the other 2 drugs were
delivered, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of
The change came on the advice of a medical expert who said that while the
ingredients did not cause unnecessary pain, the increase would add a level
of certainty that the inmate is unconscious.
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Texas won't stop lethal injections while court decides if procedure is
Texas will not suspend use of lethal injection while the Supreme Court of
the United States reviews cases claiming it is cruel and unusual
punishment and therefore unconstitutional, according to an Associated
Press wire story.
But this probably won't have much effect on Southeast Texans on Texas'
death row at this point. Most of those cases still are wending their way
through the appeals process and no executions have been set.
It isn't the 1st time the Supreme Court has examined the issue.
In December 2003, the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution in the case
of a Louisiana man convicted of capital murder in Jefferson County for the
stabbing of a Silsbee man, according to The Enterprise archives.
With only 20 minutes left on the clock, Kevin Zimmerman won a reprieve
based on a lawsuit contending that the combination of drugs used to
execute criminals constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
5 days later the court rejected an appeal in Zimmerman's case and former
Criminal District Court Judge Charles Carver promptly set a new execution
Now the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of the
constitutionality of lethal injections in the cases of 2 Kentucky death
row inmates who sued the state and were denied.
Legal authorities involved in death penalty litigation in Southeast Texas
on Tuesday considered the meaning of the court's decision to hear the
cases and what the outcome could mean for the death penalty in America.
Jeff Feldman, an Anchorage, Alaska, lawyer who is representing death row
inmate Elroy Chester, killer of Port Arthur firefighter Willy Ryman, said
there is a good chance the Supreme Court could end up declaring the mix of
drugs used in the lethal dose is unconstitutional.
"They only take about 65 cases per year," he said. "They don't take cases
for the purpose of affirming lower decisions. ... The fact that they
agreed to review the case telegraphs that at least four members of the
court are troubled by the decision below and want to look at it."
Feldman said while it seemed clear the court still "philosophically seems
to support the imposition of the death penalty," at the same time, it has
kept close oversight over the means and methods states employ to carry it
Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens, who said he believes there is
a place for the death penalty in the criminal justice system, added it was
proper for the Supreme Court to review the case because of the serious
nature of capital punishment.
"I think it's one of the kinds of issues that should constantly be on the
table for debate," he said. "We are one of very few countries in the world
that still imposes the death penalty."
Stevens said although the most humane method of execution was at issue,
the fact that the Supreme Court was visiting the issue has larger
"This is a review for the legitimacy of the death penalty in general," he
said. "I think that's what most people believe."
Defense lawyer Doug Barlow, who has been involved in a number of capital
murder cases either at the trial or appeal level - and once even was
appointed as special prosecutor - agreed that a Supreme Court ruling
against the use of lethal injection could have far-reaching effects.
"(Lethal injection) is generally considered the most humane execution
method," he said. "I'm hard-pressed to think of a more desirable
alternative. So it could be the demise of the death penalty."
However, others felt a ruling against lethal injection as it has been
administered might only result in procedural changes.
Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness said although Supreme Court
decisions in recent years have chipped away at the death penalty, he
didn't think this would be the review to sink it.
"This issue has been floating around for the last five years or so, up and
down in some lower courts," he said. "I firmly don't believe it's going to
change the way executions are carried out.
"... If the death penalty is overturned it's not going to be over this."
He added if the court ruled against the lethal drugs used, states merely
would halt executions while devising a more humane alternative.
Maness was blunt about his opinion of lethal injection.
"Who cares?" he asked. "What, are they claiming that it hurts a little
bit? Who cares?"
On Tuesday night in Huntsville, the execution of Michael Richard for the
1986 Harris County slaying of 53-year-old Lucille Dixon progressed on
Allen Richard Ellis, appeal lawyer for John William King, convicted in the
dragging death of Jasper resident James Byrd, was surprised.
"I don't think any executions could proceed as long as this issue is under
review," he said.
Ellis said whatever long-range effects proceeded from any action the
Supreme Court might take, it would be an improvement if the court simply
made the method of execution more humane.
Ellis noted the lethal injection used by all death penalty states in the
nation was outlawed for animal euthanasia in Texas.
"It seems to me that if theses standards apply for animals, should we as a
civilized society ... be doing these procedures that inflict cruel and
unusual punishment?" Ellis asked.
"What does that say about us as a society?"
(source: The Beaumont Enterprise)
Supreme Court questions lethal injection
The Supreme Court is looking at whether or not death by lethal injection
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It's the 1st time in nearly 40
years, the use of the fatal, 3-Drug Serum has been questioned.
The Nueces County District Attorney said in the past, the high court has
always held that the method is constitutionally valid, but he also said
new medical research could always lead to change.
"New medical evidence that indicates that a person suffers in between the
time that the medicine is first injected in the body and the time they
finally die, there is some suffering and that suffering is curl and
unusual," District Attorney Carlos Valdez said.
He said he believes if lethal injection is found to be cruel and unusual,
the State of Texas will look for another way to execute prisoners.
(source: KRIS TV News)
Lethal Injection SC Case Could Affect Texas----Ky. Inmates Say Lethal
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could change the way
states execute inmates on death row. Two inmates in Kentucky are
challenging that state's use of lethal injections, which they claimed is
cruel and unusual punishment. They are appealing their cases to the U.S.
KSAT reported how the High Court's ruling could affect Texas' death
"There's no question in Texas. We run across people periodically that
deserve to be killed, we all agree on that," San Antonio's defense
attorney Jimmy Parks said.
Parks said he doesn't question the need for capital punishment but does
question whether the current preferred method of lethal injection, in
which a cocktail of 3 drugs is administered to a condemned inmate, is the
"Do these chemicals really let people die in an uncruel way? That seems to
be the question the Supreme Court will have to address immediately," Parks
The 2 Kentucky inmates said they maintain the third drug used in the fatal
cocktail can result in cruel and unusual punishment if not administered
properly, a violation of the eighth amendment.
It's the 1st time the justices have agreed to take up a case challenging
"There's a likelihood the Supreme Court will change that decision, and
maybe place a moratorium on the death penalty, until a less painful way is
discovered," Parks said.
In the meantime, Bexar County's district attorney Cliff Herberg said the
county will continue to ask juries to use the death penalty as a
"We're waiting to hear what the court rules regarding those issues of
cruel and unusual punishment, but if there is a change, that'll be up to
the legislature to change state law," Herberg said.
According to a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, Texas will continue to
carry out planned executions.
The spokeswoman said the state will monitor the Supreme Court's handling
of the Kentucky inmates' case but will not halt executions until ordered
to do so.
The justices are expected to begin hearing the case next January, with a
possible decision coming sometime next spring, officials said.
(source: KSAT News)
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