[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, LA., FLA., WASH., GA., N.H., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 2 17:01:16 CST 2008
Edinburg Massacre convict loses death row appeal
An inmate convicted for providing assault weapons to gang members lost his
case in state appeals court last week.
Rodolfo Alvarez Medrano, 29, was convicted for providing assault weapons
used by fellow members of the Tri-City Bombers gang to kill 6 men during a
pair of marijuana robberies at homes in Edinburg in 2003, the Associated
Medrano, also indicted for the slayings of 4 women in Donna in 2002, was
not present at the Edinburg murder scenes and was convicted under Texas'
law of parties.
Medrano's case went before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Nov. 26.
In his appeal, Medrano, known as "Kreeper," raised 34 challenges to his
conviction and sentence, including questions about whether the evidence
was sufficient to support his conviction, that his rights were violated by
a conspiracy charge, and that evidence of the Donna murders improperly was
admitted, the Associated Press reported.
No date has been set for the execution of Medrano, who has sat on death
row since Sept. 8, 2005.
(source: The Monitor)
High court upholds woman's death sentence
The Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a woman
convicted of killing a retired minister after invading his home in
Blanchard for a holdup in 2003.
A Caddo Parish jury convicted Brandy Holmes of 1st-degree murder of Julian
L. Brandon Jr.
The high court upheld that conviction and sentence Tuesday, in a 5-2
Chief Justice Pascal Calogero and Justice Bernette Johnson wrote separate
dissents focusing on arguments that Holmes was mentally retarded and
therefore could not be sentenced to death.
The trial lawyer did not ask jurors for a verdict on retardation or ask
the judge to instruct jurors that a finding of retardation would rule out
the death penalty.
(source: Associated Press)
FLORIDA----new death sentence
Death Sentence Levied In '02 Pasco Slaying Of 16-Year-Old
In New Port Richey, convicted killer Phillup Partin was sentenced to death
this afternoon in the 2002 slaying of 16-year-old Joshan Ashbrook.
A Pasco County jury found Partin guilty of 1st-degree murder in March. The
same jury then voted 9-3 to recommend he be sentenced to death; Circuit
Judge William Webb handed down the death sentence at a 2 p.m. hearing
According to trial testimony, Partin picked up Ashbrook as she was
hitchhiking along U.S. 19 on July 31, 2002. Partin and Ashbrook spent the
day fishing and swimming with Partin's daughter, Patrisha, then 7, before
returning to the New Port Richey house where he and his daughter were
Partin, his daughter and Ashbrook remained at the house until that night.
Prosecutors think Ashbrook was killed between 9 p.m. and midnight. The
next morning, workers found Ashbrook's body in woods off Shady Hills Road.
Partin dropped his daughter off in Wauchula nine days later and left the
state. Investigators tracked him to Fayetteville, N.C., where he was
arrested in October 2003.
(source: Suncoast News)
Vigil at Capitol tonight to oppose death penalty
Opponents of the death penalty plan a vigil on the state Capitol steps
tonight even after state corrections leaders canceled the execution of
Darold Ray Stenson.
"We're opposed to the death penalty in all cases," activist Glen Anderson
of Lacey said. Anderson is with the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation's
Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. The Washington Coalition
to Abolish the Death Penalty is a co-sponsor.
The event described by Anderson as a "somber vigil" is scheduled to run
from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Legislative Building steps. "The death penalty
perpetuates the cycle of violence," Anderson said in a news release.
"Murder is wrong, whether committed by an individual or by the government.
Two wrongs don't make a right."
Anderson said 137 nations have abandoned the death penalty, but the U.S.
remains one of the few to use it extensively.
Corrections canceled the execution planned Wednesday at the Washington
State Penitentiary after the state Supreme Court refused to lift a stay.
Stenson, 56, is convicted of 2 counts of aggravated murder in the killing
of his wife and a business partner in Clallam County in 1993.
Activists also have sought relief from the states clemency and pardons
board, which postponed a decision Monday on whether to ask Gov. Chris
Gregoire to grant relief to Stenson. New questions have arisen in the case
after an inmate came forward with some possible new evidence, according to
this Associated Press story.
(source: Associated Press)
Witness says Nichols was model employee at H-P
A defense witness who testified Tuesday that Brian Nichols was a good
employee when she worked with him at Hewlett-Packard and deserved mercy
from the jury turned her head and shut her eyes when a prosecuting
attorney showed her a close-up photograph of a bullet wound to the head of
one of the 4 people Nichols killed on March 11, 2005.
"Do you know if mercy was shown for her?" asked prosecution attorney
Michele McCutcheon as she showed the witness, Amanda Grihm, an autopsy
photograph of the bullet hole in the head of court reporter Julie Brandau.
"No," said Grihm.
Nichols defense team is calling witnesses to testify in the third week of
the sentencing phase of the trial to convince jurors, who convicted
Nichols of the murders on Nov. 7, that Nichols should be spared the death
Nichols was convicted of the March 11, 2005 murders of: Judge Rowland
Barnes, and Julie Brandau, in Barnes courtroom at the Fulton County
courthouse where, later that morning, Nichols was to stand trial for rape.
He was also convicted of the murder of Fulton County Sheriffs deputy Hoyt
Teasley on the street outside, and, later that night, the murder of U.S.
Customs agent David Wilhelm.
Grihm testified that Nichols was a model employee when they worked nights
together at Hewlett Packard.
"He had a very high work ethic, very dedicated, good at what he did, good
with customers, very even tempered," she testified under questioning by
defense attorney Penelope Marshall.
Grihm said she was so impressed by Nichols she recommended to one of her
co-workers who had a "terrible" boyfriend to consider dating Nichols.
"I said, 'You should really look at Brian,'" she testified.
She said she learned from her own life experiences, including the death of
a sister in an on-the-job accident that could have been prevented, that
people should forgive and move on. "I just feel that mercy should be
extended to him [Nichols] because that wasn't the Brian I knew," she said.
McCutcheon, doggedly closing in, won the concession from Grihm that, yes,
she knew Nichols on the job, but, no, she didn't know anything about his
life outside of work. She peppered Grihm with questions about whether
Nichols, the murderer, had shown any mercy on any of his victims.
Again and again Grihm answered no, Nichols had shown no mercy that she
knew of when he gunned down 4 people. When she turned her head and closed
her eyes, appearing physically repulsed by the gruesome photograph of the
wound to Brandau's head, she conceded again to McCutcheon this was not the
work of a man she knew at the office.
"All of the things that you show me, I know nothing about Brian outside of
work," she said. (source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Defense Wants Jury Tossed In Capital Case-----Man Convicted In N.H. Police
The prosecution in the Michael Addison case has rested and the defense
will soon present evidence as to why it believes Addison should get life
in prison instead of death.
But, in a late development, the defense hopes the jury is thrown out
before the trial gets to that point.
Addison's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the jury on Tuesday, saying an
order from the judge contradicts instructions jurors were given earlier in
the trial. According to court documents, jurors were told they could
consider the circumstances of other murder cases when deciding whether to
give Addison the death penalty or life in prison. A later court ruling,
however, prohibits the defense from mentioning other cases.
Addison was convicted of killing Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs
in October 2006.
(source: Associated Press)
Lawyers in Carson case seek records
Defense attorneys for the suspects accused of killing UNC-Chapel Hill
student body president Eve Carson want complete access to Crime Stoppers
files -- a request that gives police pause about the long-term effect on
In North Carolina, state law requires prosecutors and police to share with
the defense all evidence they gather. But Crime Stoppers organizations are
private, and in the minds of some law enforcement officers that means not
all their tips have to be handed over to the defense.
In Chapel Hill, Crime Stoppers workers forward information they gather to
police, who decide what goes in the investigative file that ultimately
should be released to defense attorneys. The defense attorneys, however,
want access to all tips that are phoned in, in an effort to see what leads
police did not pursue.
Crime Stoppers doesn't take names and phone numbers from callers, but some
fear information on tip sheets could lead to the identification of
sources, especially in cases where only a few people might know the
details of a crime.
"If the defense were successful in getting that information released it
could have a chilling effect," said Brian Curran, the Chapel Hill police
It was a Crime Stoppers tip that led investigators to the 2 men accused of
kidnapping and killing Carson, who was found shot to death in a Chapel
Hill neighborhood less than a mile from campus.
A tipster called Crime Stoppers on March 11, according to court documents,
and told the person taking the call that she had spoken to a man she knew
as "Rio," who told her that he and someone else had taken Carson to an ATM
and planned to obtain her bank card PIN before killing her.
The information from that call led investigators to Demario Atwater, 22,
one of the suspects accused of murder in the case. Laurence Alvin Lovette,
18, also is accused of murder in the fatal shooting.
But dozens of other Crime Stoppers tips were received in that case, and
only the one that led to the arrest of Atwater and Lovette is part of the
James Williams, Jonathan Broun and Karen Bethea-Shields, the attorneys for
Atwater and Lovette, have refrained from discussing their strategy except
in the courtroom and in motions.
Jim Woodall, the district attorney for Orange County, also has declined to
comment about the case outside the courtroom.
But a motion filed by the defense attorneys asking for access to law
enforcement files, including all Crime Stoppers information, sets the
stage for a hearing in the coming weeks that gets at how much leeway Crime
Stoppers has in refusing to reveal, even in court, information from a tip.
"It's something that ought to get some scrutiny, and it ought not to be an
automatic disclosure," said Colon Willoughby, the Wake County district
When a tipster calls Crime Stoppers, he or she is immediately given an
identifying number, said Tommi Bridgeman, president of the N.C. Crime
Stoppers Association and vice president of the Southeastern Crime Stoppers
That number then stays with the caller as the information is put on a tip
sheet that will be forwarded to law enforcement and eventually to the bank
if a cash reward is provided for the tip.
"The good thing about Crime Stoppers is we don't know the caller's
identity," Bridgeman said. "We don't have call tracers, and we don't have
caller ID. Nothing on the tip sheet indicates whether the caller is a male
or a female. I don't think the defense will have anything helpful on the
Some in law enforcement worry that tipsters inadvertently give identifying
information. Sometimes only a few people know the details of a crime.
"Sometimes they can make mistakes," Curran said.
Tips that give law enforcement crucial leads usually end up in case files
to which defense attorneys should have full access, prosecutors say.
But defense attorneys say that logs of calls that officers do not follow
up might help them prove a client's innocence. Some tips, defense
attorneys say, could have led investigators down a different path to a
different suspect, a scenario that might bolster a defense argument that
someone other than their client committed the crime.
"The key to open-file discovery is all information that flows to police
and the prosecution in the course of an investigation and prosecution
should be disclosed to defense," said Brad Bannon, one of the defense
attorneys on the Duke lacrosse case who has advocated for open-file
discovery laws in North Carolina.
Prosecutors who are worried that disclosure of the Crime Stoppers tip
sheets might endanger a tipster can ask a judge for a protective order. A
judge could review the files behind closed doors and decide whether the
defense should have the information, defense attorneys say.
"You want everything because the statute says you're entitled to
everything," said David Teddy, a defense attorney from Shelby. "The days
of trial-by-ambush where prosecutors are able to decide what is and is not
favorable to the defendant are over. That's been one of the most
significant changes in the law since I've been in criminal practice."
Tom Kern, chairman of Crime Stoppers USA, says there is a push nationwide
for states to adopt laws to protect the disclosure of such information.
HISTORY OF PROGRAM
The 1st Crime Stoppers program dates back to Sept. 8, 1976, when a
detective from Albuquerque, N.M., was concerned about the number of
unsolved cases he and fellow detectives had been working, according to the
national program's Web site. They were particularly frustrated that they
had run out of leads in their investigation into the killing of a college
Members of the local community, media and law enforcement came together to
begin the effort to provide crime-solving assistance.
A cash reward was offered to individuals who provided anonymous tips that
would lead to an arrest in the case. Within 72 hours, investigators
received a call that led them to the three suspects accused in the
Since then, similar programs have been started across the nation and
world. Each program is independent and operates under its own bylaws and
board of directors.
The N.C. Crime Stoppers Association was formed in 1991 as an umbrella
organization for Crime Stoppers programs in this state.
CRIME STOPPERS USA; THE N.C. CRIME STOPPERS ASSOCIATION
(source: News & Observer)
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