[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, S.C., TENN., FLA., ARK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Dec 5 17:02:41 CST 2008
Historic low number of death sentences in Texas
Texas juries have sent 9 people to death row this year, the fewest in the
state for 1 year since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital
punishment to resume, according to a report Thursday from an anti-death
An annual review of capital case developments by the Austin-based Texas
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty also called 2008 notable for
executions that didn't occur, saying 6 lethal injections were stopped by
last-minute reprieves because of questions about possible innocence, trial
fairness or issues related to mental retardation or mental illness.
At the same time, 18 condemned inmates went to the nation's busiest death
chamber this year, down from 26 a year ago. No executions were carried out
until June, however, because of a de facto nationwide moratorium on
capital punishment while the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether lethal
injection methods were unconstitutionally cruel.
2 other prisoners, whose death sentences were overturned, were returned to
death row by juries at new trials.
"2008 can only be characterized as yet another roller coaster year for the
death penalty in Texas," said Kristin Houle, the coalition's executive
director. "The state carried out a 'typical' number of executions in a
record amount of time averaging nearly 1 per week over a 5-month period.
"Yet officials' zeal for executions was not matched by public desire for
new death sentences, as evidenced by the continued steep decline in the
number of new inmates arriving on death row."
Juries in Harris County, long the state's top contributor to death row,
have condemned no one in 2008, a first in more than three decades. Most
notably, a man convicted of killing a police officer was given a life
sentence rather than death.
"A lot of it can be attributed to life without parole and people who
plead," Roe Wilson, a Harris County prosecutor who handles capital case
appeals, said Thursday.
Harris County accounts for 118 of the state's 354 condemned inmates.
Dallas County is second with 40.
According to the coalition report, Texas was one of nine states to carry
out executions this year but the only one to do more than 4. 7 Texas
inmates were removed from death row with sentences commuted to life.
Since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in December 1982,
420 men and three women have been put to death.
The final execution of the year in Texas took place Nov. 20. At least 10
prisoners have execution dates already scheduled for next year, including
at least 6 in January.
(source: Associated Press)
SOUTH CAROLINA----impending execution
16 years later, killer of local couple's daughter faces execution
Missy McLauchlin was murdered in South Carolina in 1992. The man who shot
her will die today at 6 p.m.
When an 11-year-old girl in their hometown of Belding, Mich., was raped
and murdered, her body dumped along the roadside, Clair and Pat McLauchlin
responded by helping start a neighborhood watch program in the community.
The McLauchlins gave presentations at civic clubs and other organizations.
Their daughter Missy, 10 at the time, helped get the word out. They'd use
a slide show of Missy and her friend Daphney to illustrate different forms
of unsafe behavior.
"I'd get to the one where they were playing on a railroad trestle and I'd
say, 'And then you'll notice these kids on the railroad trestle,'" Missy's
mother, Pat said. "I'd do a double take and say, 'That's my daughter up
there.' I'd get a laugh from the audience and I would say, 'I've got to
talk to her.'"
Fifteen years later Missy would suffer the same fate as the young girl
whose death prompted the McLauchlins to start that program. On Dec. 30,
1992, Melissa Ann McLauchlin was raped by 5 men in North Charleston, then
taken to Summerville, S.C., where she was shot six times and left for dead
along the roadside.
Joseph Gardner, the gunman, has been on death row since 1995. Barring last
minute appeals, he will be executed today at 6 p.m. by lethal injection.
The McLauchlins, now of Live Oak, remember well the day a sheriff's deputy
came to their Detroit home with the news. It was New Year's Day and Clair
and Pat were watching the Rose Parade together on television. It was a
family tradition. Their daughter Mandy, 12, was watching at a friend's
house, and their son Richard, 21, was surely watching as well. After what
happened next, it would be years before Pat could watch the Rose Parade
Pat said when the deputy entered her home he said, "I would rather be
watching that parade."
"I said, 'I'm not going to like what you have to tell us,' and he said, 'I
just wish you'd get your husband out here,'" she recalls.
The deputy handed the couple a card with the name and number of a coroner
in South Carolina.
"I wanted to hit that deputy. I knew it wasn't his fault but I wanted to
hit him," Pat said.
Pat wanted to see her daughter.
"'No, identification is definite and you really don't want to see her,'"
Pat remembers the coroner saying.
The McLauchlins were in disbelief.
Details of the case unfolded over the course of several days.
"Every time the phone rang it was a little more gruesome," said Missy's
Missy had been shot five times in the face and once in the shoulder.
During an interview with a news reporter, Pat was interrupted by a phone
call. It was the girl who had identified the body. She was relaying even
more details about Missy.
"I got up. I raced to the bathroom and started throwing up," Pat said. "I
think that's when it finally hit me."
Pat collapsed and her husband took her to the emergency room.
The McLauchlins worked closely with law enforcement and the news media in
an effort to locate the suspects. They were interviewed by every major TV
station in their area and also got invitations to Oprah, Montel Williams,
Inside Edition and America's Most Wanted.
Matthew Carl Mack, a co-defendant in the case, fled to Detroit but was
captured six days later. Gardener remained a fugitive.
The case quickly took on racial overtones, as all the defendants were
African American men.
As details of the case emerged, racial tensions rose. African American
churches in South Carolina were threatened and the KKK petitioned the
McLauchlins to lead a protest. Nonetheless, the McLauchlins urged
residents to remain calm and refrain from any violence or retaliation.
During the broadcast of the Montel Williams show, Williams asked Missy's
sister Mandy, 13 at the time, how she and her friends felt about her
sister having been murdered by an African American man.
"She said, 'We've been brought up to understand people are people, that
color doesn't make any difference,'" Clair recounted his younger daughter
A few days before he turned 62, Pat asked Clair what he wanted for his
"He said, 'The only thing I want for my birthday is news that they caught
this man,'" Pat recalls Clair saying.
The Dorchester County sheriff called the day after Clair's birthday with
news that Gardner had been apprehended. He was arrested in Philadelphia in
1994 after a woman at a post office saw his photograph. Gardner was
arrested the Wednesday before a segment they had taped for America's Most
Wanted was to air.
The McLauchlins sat through 2 trials -- Gardner's and Mack's. Other
co-defendants were given plea deals for their roles in the crime.
"I've still got fingernail prints in my hand," Clair said of Pat's
clenching his hand during trial.
Pat remembers when the jury returned a guilty verdict for Gardner.
"It had been raining," she said. "We were sitting in court waiting for the
verdict. The minute the jury came in and (read the verdict), it stopped
raining and the sun started shining through the courtroom."
Gardner eventually received the death penalty for his crimes.
"He was given a death sentence ... but when he took Missy's life, he gave
us a life sentence because it will never be over for us," Pat said.
The McLauchlins have lasting memories of their daughter.
Clair remembers Missy's boredom on camping trips in northern Michigan.
"She would say, 'Another dirt road? When are we going to get off this dirt
road?'" he remembers.
Pat recalls Missy's taking her grandfather literally when he told her to
shake a leg. They were at her aunt's house playing cards.
"She stood there and started shaking her leg," Pat said of Missy, who was
7 at the time.
Pat said though Missy didn't like to cook, she enjoyed guiding her brother
Richard through the kitchen.
"She'd be standing around in the kitchen and saying 'You need to do this,'
or 'You need to do that,'" Richard, who lives in North Port, Fla.,
remembered. "Though she didn't like to cook, she'd say, 'Make me
something,' then tell me how to do it."
Missy loved to sing in the choir and she wanted to be a beautician.
"She was always practicing on her younger sister Mandys hair," Pat said.
Gardner, 38, will be put to death at Broad River Correctional Institution
in Columbia, S.C.
Clair and Pat will not attend the execution, but will be represented by
one of the lead detectives in the case.
"Once the execution is over," said Clair, "justice will have been served."
(source: Suwannee Democrat)
Execution set for man convicted of 1992 murder
A man convicted for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 25-year-old woman
in 1992 is facing execution.
Joseph Gardner is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Friday.
The 38-year-old Gardner was a Detroit native and 1 of 5 men convicted in
the death of Melissa "Missi" McLauchlin and the only one sentenced to
Gardner would be the 40th person executed in South Carolina since the
death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and the 3rd inmate put to death in
the state this year.
(source: Associated Press)
Prosecutor seek death penalty in Memphis murders
Prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty for a Memphis man charged
with killing 6 members of his family, including 2 young children.
District Attorney General Bill Gibbons announced Thursday that his office
will seek the death penalty for 33-year-old Jessie Dotson.
He was arrested after his brother, Cecil Dotson, 3 other adults and 2 of
his brother's children were found shot or stabbed at Cecil Dotson's
residence in March. 3 other children were critically injured but survived
Dotson has been held without bond since a few days after the killings. He
was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on 6 counts of 1st-degree murder and
three counts of attempted murder.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Penalty Sought for Lester Street Murder Suspect Jessie Dotson
The Shelby County District Attorney says he will pursue the death penalty
against Jessie Dotson, the man accused in the murder of 6 people --
including 2 children -- in a home on Lester Street. The District
Attorney's Office made the announcement after a grand jury indicted 33
year-old Dotson on 6 counts of 1st degree murder, 3 counts of attempted
1st degree murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun,
Thursday morning, December 4, 2008.
According to authorities, 4 adults and 2 children were found dead inside a
home in the 700 block of Lester Street in March 2008. Police say 3 other
children, who were stabbed, were taken to the hospital in extremely
critical condition. All 6 of the murder victims were either stabbed or
shot to death.
Jessie Dotson is accused of killing his brother, Cecil Dotson Sr., Marissa
Williams, Hollis Seals, Shindri Roberson, Cecil Dotson II and Cemario
Williams. Police say the children he is accused of stabbing were
identified as Cecil Dotson Jr., Cedric Dotson and Ceniyah Dotson.
According to investigators, one of the injured children, while still in
the hospital, told detectives that his uncle Jessie Dotson stabbed him and
committed the murders.
The following statement was issued by the Shelby County District
"In the case of Jesse Dotson, we have identified 7 different factors which
qualify him for the death penalty under our state law. Thats pretty
extraordinary. The correct course of action is to give the jury in the
trial of Jesse Dotson the option of imposing the death penalty," said
District Attorney Gibbons.
The 7 specific aggravating circumstances under state law include:
The murders were committed against victims less than 12 years of age and
the defendant was 18 or older;
The defendant was previously convicted of one or more felonies involving
use of violence (Jessie Dotson pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder on
November 21, 1994 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison);
The defendant knowingly created great risk of death to 2 or more persons,
other than the victims murdered, during the act of murder;
The murders were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel in that they
involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond necessary to produce
The murders were committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with
or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of the defendant;
The murders were knowingly committed by the defendant while he had a
substantial role in committing the other crimes (attempted murders);
The defendant committed "mass murder," which is defined as the murder of
three or more persons.
First degree murder is a charged covered by the D.A.'s "No Deals" policy
on violent crimes. Exceptions are made to the policy for legal or ethical
reasons. First degree murder is punishable by life in prison with the
possibility of parole after 51 years, life in prison without parole, or
Fla. justices reject another Tompkins appeal
Florida's only inmate under a death warrant has lost another appeal.
Wayne Tompkins, 57, was convicted of killing his girlfriend's daughter in
Tampa 25 years ago.
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday rejected another request from Tompkins
to let his lawyers investigate and present constitutional challenges based
on a new sworn statement by a key witness.
A former inmate who testified Tompkins admitted to him he was the killer
now says a prosecutor told him to give the jury false information. The
justices offered no explanation for their decision Friday but previously
called the false testimony a harmless error.
A new date for Tompkins' execution has not yet been set. He also has
federal court appeals pending.
(source: Associated Press)
Will Suspect in Pressly Case Get the Death Penalty?
Capital murder is the charge against a Marianna, Arkansas man accused in
the brutal killing of Little Rock news anchor Anne Pressly.
Little Rock Police say Curtis Vance beat News Anchor Anne Pressly to death
in her bedroom.
Monday, on NBC's Today Show, Pressly's parents noted he could get the
"The prosecutor has not yet indicated whether he's going to seek that or
not," Pressly's father, Guy Cannady said.
Pulaski County District Attorney Larry Jegley said Wednesday he can't
determine if he'll seek the death penalty until he sees Pressly's file.
But the D.A. is an elected position, so public pressure could force his
According to death penalty expert Robert Hutton, a person must first be
proven guilty or innocent. Then, prosecutors must prove the murder
happened amid at least one of ten aggravating circumstances.
"If there are prior convictions," he said. "I don't know if there are. Or
a rape-murder, (if) she was murdered in the course of a rape, or the
murder being especially heinous, atrocious and cruel."
In this case, the Rhodes College graduate was sexually assaulted, her face
beaten beyond recognition, and personal items were stolen from her home.
Also, Vance has a history of burglaries, and Marianna Police charged him
with raping a school teacher there.
Hutton believes Vance's defense will argue for a sentence less than death
because of mitigating circumstances.
"Childhood issues, the way somebody was raised as a child, mental illness
issues, remorse," Hutton said.
If the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances, a
jury will choose the death penalty.
(source: KAIT News)
More information about the DeathPenalty