[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLORIDA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Dec 11 21:49:34 CST 2008
Death Penalty Decision Months Away in High Profile Murder
A judge said Thursday she would hold off for several months deciding
whether convicted killer Rhonda Norman should receive the death penalty or
life in prison.
Last summer a jury convicted Norman of beating and stabbing to death Jane
Tackaberry in her West Palm Beach home. Norman was also found guilty of
the attempted murder of Tackaberry's 6-year old grandson Elijah. In
November, by a vote of 9 to 3, the same jury recommended the death penalty
At Thursday's hearing, where lawyers made their final arguments on
Norman's sentence, Judge Sandra McSorley said she will wait until after
Norman's co-defendant Wes McGee goes on trial, before ruling. McGee's
trial is set for February.
Thursday prosecutor Craig Williams again played recordings of Norman's
statements to police, including portions which were not played at trial
for legal reasons. Norman told detectives she recruited an accomplice off
the streets she didn't even know, to get revenge against ex-boyfriend John
Tackaberry. Tackaberry's mother Jane had just weeks earlier told Norman to
move out of the family's home. In her taped statements, Norman coldly
described the attacks and told officers she didn't care Jane was dead, and
eventually admitted she wanted Elijah to die too.
As the recordings played, John Tackaberry, the boy's father and target of
Norman's attacks, sobbed uncontrollably at times. He ultimately walked out
of the courtroom. Afterward Tackaberry explained, "It's just so painful to
hear her talk about it so bluntly, like it's natural for her to take my
son while he was sleeping and cut his throat, and to beat my mom up and
kick her face in." Tackaberry said he'd written a letter to the judge
asking that Norman be given the death penalty.
During the hearing, one of Norman's lawyers, Gregg Lerman, told Judge
McSorley it was accomplice Wes McGee who actually committed the deeds that
led to Jane Tackaberry's death. For that and a list of other reasons,
Lerman said Norman does not meet the criteria for the death penalty.
(source: WPEG News)
Murderer's Death Penalty Overturned----Mark Poole to Get a New Hearing
Convicted murderer Mark Anthony Poole, who was sentenced to death in 2005,
is no longer on death row.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Assistant State Attorney
John Aguero erred when he asked witnesses about Pooles prior criminal
history during the sentencing hearing in Poole's trial.
The court upheld Pooles conviction on 1st-degree murder, rape and armed
robbery, but overturned his death sentence and sent the case back to state
The State Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty again.
Now the Circuit Court will schedule another hearing before handing down a
Poole was convicted of fatally beating 24-year-old Noah Scott with a tire
iron during a 2001 home invasion.
Polk Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance sentenced Poole to death for the
murder and four consecutive life sentences for related charges, including
the rape and attempted murder of Scott's 18-year-old fiancee, who was
pregnant at the time.
A jury spent about 30 minutes deliberating April 27, 2005, before
convicting Poole of 1st-degree murder, attempted 1st-degree murder, sexual
battery, armed burglary and armed robbery.
The same jury spent about as much time deliberating May 4, 2005, before
unanimously recomm-ending that Poole should die.
Prosecutors described the fatal home invasion as follows:
In October 2001, Scott and his girlfriend were living in the Orangewood
Village Mobile Home Park on North Florida Avenue.
The woman was about 5 months pregnant with Scott's child.
As the couple slept, Poole broke into Scott's mobile home late on Oct. 12,
2001, or early the next morning.
Using a tire iron, Poole hit Scott at least 13 times in the head as Scott
tried to save his fiancee from being raped.
Poole beat the woman with the tool, too. She sustained 9 cuts to her head,
some so deep they exposed her skull.
Poole rummaged through the house and stole some video games and game
equipment. Before leaving, Poole went back to again molest the woman.
The judge said that Poole's actions were so "conscienceless or pitiless
and unnecessarily torturous" that they rose to the level of "heinous,
atrocious and cruel" -- an aggravating circumstance that can provide the
legal basis for a death sentence.
Mitigating evidence presented by Poole's lawyers didn't outweigh the
aggravating circumstances prosecutors presented, Durrance said.
2 mental health experts testified that Poole isn't insane but does have a
low intellect, a substance-abuse problem and moderate brain damage.
Durrance said he considered that evidence.
The judge noted that Poole has criminal histories in Texas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Durrance dismissed the defense's claim that Poole was a religious person.
The judge pointed out that Poole didn't seize an opportunity to show
sorrow at a July 22 hearing.
"You offered no apology," Durrance said. "You showed no repentance, and
you demonstrated no remorse."
Instead, Poole expressed his dissatisfaction with Assistant State Attorney
John Aguero, his own defense lawyers and the makeup of the jury.
"He complained that the weapon should not have been called a crowbar
because it was only a tire iron, and he complained that the victim,
(Scott's fiancee), was provided tissues while on the witness stand,"
Durrance wrote in his order.
(source: Lakeland Ledger)
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