[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, S.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Dec 8 21:22:38 CST 2008
Jury Gives Ramirez the Death Penalty
The jury that found John Henry Ramirez guilty of stabbing a convenience
store clerk 29 times back in 2004 took a little a less that four hours
Monday afternoon to decide on the death penalty for him.
Ramirez's grandmother, Maria Hinojosa, spoke to 6 News after the death
sentence was announced. She blamed an inadequate defense for the capital
murder conviction and for the maximum penalty given.
Hinojosa lamented, "There was no defense. There was an appointed lawyer
who just sat there okay, did nothing, rejected nothing." She continued,"If
we would have had $75,000 to pay for an attorney like Douglas Tinker, we
wouldn't be where we are right now, or Jerry Miller if we could afford it,
which no one has that kind of money right anymore."
During the morning's closing arguments, the defense kept things short and
sweet, hoping it would be enough to spare their client's life.
The prosecution, on the other hand, asked the jury to show no mercy.
Prosecutor Mark Skurka implored the jury, "Give Pablo Castro justice. Make
this road end in justice."
Castro was working at a Times Market convenience store on July 19th, 2004
when Ramirez walked in with intentions to the rob the store.
Instead, Ramirez stabbed Castro 29 times and robbed him of $1.25 - which
Skurka described as, "the death of one person - an innocent person - for
Skurka reminded jurors of Ramirez's actions after the murder, robbing 2
people at knifepoint. He went on to say that even police consider Ramirez
a troublemaker with a lengthy criminal history including drugs and weapons
Skurka continued, "Who could doubt that John Henry Ramirez has gone down
that road toward evil, toward death and destruction?"
And because of the facts and circumstances of the case, Skurka told jurors
it was their responsibility to make sure Ramirez does not hurt anyone
"He needs to be punished for what he did," Skurka emphasized. "Is it a
good punishment for the death penalty? In this case, yes, because the
facts and circumstances matter. Is there a chance, is there a probability
that he could hurt other people in the future and be a danger to our
society? The evidence is clearly that he could, clearly that he could."
The defense, on the other hand, kept its argument very brief. Attorney
Grant Jones only read scripture from Psalm 51, verse 3, "... for I know my
transgressions in my sin is always before me, Amen."
Ramirez's grandmother told 6 News it would be up to Ramirez whether to
appeal or not.
(source: KRIS TV News)
Man facing death penalty trial wants to represent himself
A Tampa man serving a life sentence for strangling an Anderson County
mother told a judge Monday that he wants to fire his lawyers and represent
himself in the death penalty trial of a second mother he's accused of
killing -- a request the judge set aside pending a mental evaluation.
However, one of Raymondeze Riveras defense attorneys told the judge that
the 30-year-old killer suffers delusions resulting from a mental illness
and could make a mockery of the court during a capital trial.
On Monday, Rivera sat in shackles at a separate table from his defense
team, reading from prepared notes as he complained about violations of his
constitutional rights, a poor relationship with his attorneys and trouble
sleeping because of an execution chamber nearby his jail cell.
If allowed to represent himself in the pending capital trial in the
killing of Kwana Burns, Rivera would engage in "not just undignified but
reprehensible conduct," said his Columbia attorney, John Delgado.
Circuit Judge Buddy Nicholson delayed ruling on Riveras motion to
represent himself until after an independent mental evaluation is
conducted to determine whether psychiatric medication Rivera is taking is
Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams told the judge that mental records
from Rivera's previous trial last February showed no signs of mental
In February, Rivera was convicted of strangling Asha Wiley inside her home
in December 2006, 2 days before Rivera said he killed Burns inside her
2 days before Burns was found dead inside her home, Rivera had strangled
Wiley, a woman he said he had met shopping in the department store while
stalking Burns. Rivera testified that he had also planned on killing the
friend who received the message.
Rivera alluded to having killed other people, though he didn't elaborate.
On Monday, Rivera complained that he had been brought to Anderson from the
Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia in an attempt to have him
cooperate in investigations into other alleged killings in 3 other states,
based on "some of the things I said on the stand at my last trial."
Nicholson told Rivera that he had been brought to Anderson because a death
penalty trial had been scheduled to proceed this month but was delayed
into next year.
Rivera said that he was upset that his defense team had talked with his
mother, whom he had wanted "keep out of it."
Delgado told the judge that Rivera suffers delusions that force him to
"look for ways manipulate, control and aggravate" the legal proceedings
involving his case and that he attempts to draw away from his attorneys
because he is angry and remorseful about his crimes.
Delgado said that Rivera has been taking an anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel,
to control the delusions.
However, Rivera objected to his attorneys characterization of the use of
the drug. Rivera told the judge that he takes Seroquel to help him sleep,
something he struggles to do because he said the execution chamber is near
his jail cell.
"That right there, your honor, kind of plays with your psyche," Rivera
told the judge.
Rivera said his counsel "is not a master over me" and that his attorneys
refused to file motions on his behalf. The judge told him the motions he
wanted filed were not appropriate until the trial begins and that Rivera
was exhibiting the dangers of an under informed defendant trying to
"A little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous," Nicholson told Rivera.
Rivera asked the judge to be moved to another prison facility, Kirkland
Correctional Institution, so that he could have easier access to visitors,
mainly a social worker assigned to him. Nicholson told him that the number
of available bed space was a constraint but that he would consider moving
(source: Greenville News)
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