[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Sep 28 00:29:11 CDT 2007
Supreme Court halts Texas execution
A man condemned for killing his parents avoided the nation's busiest death
chamber Thursday night when he won a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court,
which had already agreed to review another state's lethal injection
Attorneys for Carlton Turner Jr., 28, had appealed to the high court
hoping that its planned review of lethal injection procedures in Kentucky,
the same process used in Texas, could keep him alive.
His case is being watched as an indicator of whether executions in Texas
could be halted until the court rules on the Kentucky case next year.
In a brief order, the court said it had granted his stay of execution but
made no mention of its reasons for stopping the punishment. The order came
less than 2 hours before the death warrant would have expired at midnight
"All I can say is all glory to God," Turner told prison officials as he
was being returned to death row, in another prison about 45 miles east of
The order followed a decision earlier in the day by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley
to stay the execution of a contract killer hours before it was to have
been carried out, so the inmate could be put to death using a new lethal
injection formula the governor had ordered just a day before.
Turner would have been the 27th Texas inmate to be executed this year and
the second this week.
After state courts earlier Thursday refused to halt the punishment,
Turner's lawyers went to the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday agreed to
review an appeal from two condemned inmates in Kentucky who argued that
the 3-drug process used in lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel.
The same procedure is used in Texas.
"The inmate will be forced into a chemical straitjacket, unable to express
the fact of his suffocation," the appeal in Turner's case asserted.
Turner's lawyers went early Thursday to his trial court judge with a
request to withdraw the execution order. When that failed, they went to
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which voted 5-4 to refuse to stop the
punishment. The case then went to the Supreme Court.
Turner was 19 when authorities said he shot Carlton Turner Sr., 43, and
Tonya Turner, 40, several times in the head. He then bought new clothes
and jewelry and continued living in the family's Irving home.
>From death row last week, Turner told The Associated Press he didn't find
the prospect of death frightening but was concerned about possible pain
from the lethal injection.
"The only thing I worry about is when the process is starting, the
suffocation and pain if the anesthesia doesn't work," he said.
In Alabama, Riley said he issued the 45-day stay of Tommy Arthur's
execution only to allow time for the new lethal-injection procedures to be
put in place. The changes are designed to make sure the inmate is
unconscious when given drugs to stop the heart and lungs.
Riley said evidence is "overwhelming" that Arthur is guilty "and he will
be executed for his crime." The governor encouraged the attorney general's
office to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to set another execution date "as
soon as possible."
Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said the request would be filed
with the court Friday.
Before Riley issued his stay, state officials had said they intended to
execute Arthur at 6 p.m. Thursday, even though the changes Riley ordered
could not be implemented by then.
They said the procedures already in place were constitutional, though
Arthur's attorney, Suhana Han, contended that Riley's order to change the
protocol amounted to the state conceding that its execution procedure was
deficient. Han did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment
Arthur, 65, was sentenced to death for the Feb. 1, 1982, killing of Troy
Wicker, 35, of Muscle Shoals. The victim's wife, Judy Wicker, testified
she had sex with Arthur and paid him $10,000 to kill her husband, who was
shot in the face as he lay in bed.
Arthur was visiting with his daughter when he learned of the stay in a
call from his attorney, prison system spokesman Brian Corbett said.
Like Turner, Arthur had asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay pending
its ruling on the Kentucky case. The Alabama Supreme Court had declined to
grant a stay Wednesday.
The wife of Arthur's victim was given a life sentence for her part in the
murder and paroled after 10 years behind bars.
In a statement, Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, urged
Riley to use the next 45 days to allow DNA testing on evidence from
"Gov. Riley said last week that DNA testing was only a tactic to delay
this execution. It's not. Now that the execution is delayed for other
reasons, DNA testing should be started immediately," Neufeld said.
Another lethal-injection lawsuit, filed by a convicted ax murderer on
death row on Delaware's death row, had been scheduled for trial Oct. 9. A
federal judge postponed the trial Wednesday, citing the pending Supreme
Jailer arrested in escape of Nacogdoches County jail inmates
A jailer was arrested Wednesday for helping in the escape of 3 inmates
from the Nacogdoches County Jail this week, the sheriff said.
Hector Navejar, 24, was in jail on a charge of facilitating an escape.
Bond has not been set. It was unclear whether Navejar had an attorney.
Navejar, who has been fired, will be arraigned Thursday morning. He is not
believed to be related to the inmates.
"We believe that Navejar knew that the inmates were not in the jail for
several hours and made no effort to report the escaped inmates," Sheriff
Thomas Kerss told Houston television station KRIV. "Navejar made false and
misleading statements indicating the inmates were in the jail when they
The escapees from Tuesday have been identified as Marcuese Eugene Tyler,
24, of Lufkin; Jose Guillermo Portillo, 32, of Russellville, Ark.; and
Antonio Martinez, 20, of Nacogdoches.
Martinez had been arrested in connection with the November street racing
deaths of 3 people, authorities said. Tyler was jailed on 3 charges of
aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, evading arrest
and probation violations. Portillo had been charged with possession of a
controlled substance, records show.
(source for both: Associated Press)
Alleged torture by police is now a federal matter----U.S. also probing '87
fire that killed 7
After years of listening to calls for a federal investigation into the
Chicago police torture scandal that allegedly ran from the 1970s into the
early 1990s, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald announced Wednesday that his
office is engaged in a criminal investigation of the matter.
Without using the names of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge or the
detectives who worked under him, Fitzgerald said his office would look
into whether any of the officers lied under oath or obstructed justice as
part of the civil litigation resulting from allegations that police
tortured dozens of suspects.
Fitzgerald also confirmed a surprise disclosure earlier Wednesday from the
Daley administration's top attorney that federal prosecutors have launched
an investigation into the fatal 1987 fire that led to the conviction in
state court of Madison Hobley, an alleged victim of Burge's torture.
Hobley and four other former Death Row inmates have sued Burge and more
than 20 officers who worked with him, mostly at Area 2, alleging that they
were coerced into falsely confessing to murders. Attempts to reach a
settlement between the city and three of the plaintiffs ran aground,
renewing calls by community groups and politicians for a federal
Fitzgerald said he would not speculate on the possible outcome of either
probe. A special prosecutors' report paid for by the county and released
last year concluded that dozens of suspects had been tortured but that no
one could be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.
"We're not going to prejudge what will happen," Fitzgerald said at a news
conference called to announce an unrelated arrest. "We're not going to
predict whether there will be charges or anything beyond that, but we do
want to make clear that we're very, very serious about this
Flint Taylor, an attorney with the People's Law Office who has represented
some of the plaintiffs in the Burge suits, said Burge denied any torture
took place while answering written questions in 2003 as part of the
lawsuit filed by Hobley. By contrast, in deposition testimony since then,
Burge has consistently invoked his 5th Amendment right against
self-incrimination, Taylor said.
If federal prosecutors conclude that Burge lied in his 2003 answers, that
would fall within the statute of limitations, Taylor said.
One of Burge's lawyers, James Sotos, declined to comment but said he
believes that Burge only has answered questions in the 2003 sworn written
Reached in Florida, Burge declined to comment on Fitzgerald's disclosure
of a criminal investigation.
"I am not at liberty to discuss the situation," Burge said. "I'm sure you
Earlier Wednesday, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges released a letter from
Gary Shapiro, Fitzgerald's top assistant, formally disclosing that the
Justice Department is investigating the events surrounding the 1987 fire
that killed seven people. Hobley spent 16 years on death row for the crime
before he was pardoned by Gov. George Ryan in early 2003.
In his Sept. 17 letter to Georges, Shapiro noted he had asked her earlier
to keep the information about the investigation confidential because
public disclosure could have jeopardized the probe.
"We no longer believe that to be the case," he wrote without further
elaboration in the two-paragraph letter.
The investigation, which Georges said was disclosed to her last fall,
explains why the city backed away last November from a proposed $14.8
million settlement with Hobley and two of the other alleged torture
Taylor called Georges early release of that information troubling and said
it was a preemptive strike by the city to get ahead of Fitzgerald's
Taylor also noted that two depositions of former officers in the Burge
lawsuits were abruptly canceled Wednesday as well.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen on Tuesday suggested a proposed figure to
settle the lawsuits, according to Taylor and Georges. Taylor would say
only that it was no lower than $14.8 million.
Fitzgerald said that his office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms are actively investigating the 1987 fire. Although Fitzgerald
wouldn't name the target of the probe, Georges earlier made it clear that
Hobley is the focus.
State prosecutors such as Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine could
not charge Hobley again for the same offense due to the Constitution's ban
on "double jeopardy." But federal prosecutors would not necessarily have
the same restraint.
"I will say this," Fitzgerald told reporters. "If we file charges ... if
we believe there's evidence sufficient to prove that they carried out this
murder, it would be irrelevant legally whether or not that person was
charged or convicted or pardoned in the state system. ... There is a
federal statute that makes arson by murder a federal offense."
Attorney Steven A. Miller, a former federal prosecutor, agreed that Hobley
has no protection from the federal government.
Ryan pardoned 4 of the men, including Hobley, after Burge's alleged
wrongdoing came to light.
(source: Chicago Tribune
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