[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., MO., MD., NEB.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Feb 2 17:17:20 CST 2008
CALIFORNIA----new death sentence
Jury recommends death penalty for Lake Elsinore man
A jury Friday recommended a Lake Elsinore man get the death penalty for
the 2002 bludgeoning death of his neighbor during a burglary.
The jury's recommendation was announced in a hushed French Valley
Defendant Tony Ricky Yonko, 45, an American Gypsy, nodded his head up and
down then took a gulp of water from a paper cup. Defense attorney Erin
Kirkpatrick later put an arm around Yonko's shoulder.
The jury's finding caps a trial that began the 1st week of December at the
Southwest Justice Center in French Valley, 5 years after Paul Ngo's
grade-school age sons came home from school to find his blood-soaked body
on the hallway floor of their home.
Ngo, 41, was beaten in the head with a ball-peen hammer during a
home-invasion burglary on Oct. 22, 2002.
During closing statements earlier this week, prosecutor Stephen Gallon
wielded the same hammer and slammed it into the lawyer's table several
times. He asked the jury not to show Yonko mercy since he had shown none
Gallon also told the jury that Yonko was convicted of three residential
burglaries in 1997 and a judge warned that Yonko would be facing 40 years
to life in prison if he broke the law again.
During the defense's statement, attorney Elaine Johnson told jurors that
Yonko did not kill Ngo as part of some evil plot, but rather his death was
the result of a spontaneous eruption of violence.
She told the jury that Yonko deserved life in prison because there was
goodness in him.
The defense also called a forensic psychologist who testified that Yonko
is mildly mentally retarded. Yonko was raised in an isolated culture that
views mental illness as a taboo, Johnson said. He was not diagnosed until
last year, she said.
The jury took 6 hours in December to convict Yonko of first-degree murder
and spent two days this week deliberating a penalty. A female juror bit
her lower lip and her eyes welled with tears as she left the courtroom.
Jurors declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Johnson's eyes appeared to well with tears as she walked out of the
Kirkpatrick declined to comment on behalf of both defense attorneys.
Gallon said he was pleased with the jury's decision.
" I recognize the difficult decision they had to make," he said. "It was
the appropriate and necessary verdict in this case."
The attorneys will return to Superior Court Judge Judith Clark's courtroom
next week to iron out scheduling issues for the final phase of this case.
A new jury will be selected to determine if Yonko is mentally retarded. If
he were found mentally retarded he would not be executed, but sentenced to
life in prison without parole.
The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8.
Mumia Case...Speakers in SF on Sunday
Fed Court in Philly may come down with Mumia decison any day. Time to pay
attention. A special afternoon to free an innocent man on Pennsylvania' s
death row for 26 years... Honoring Mumia Abu-Jamal & his Friends
Dennis Bernstein, Producer, KPFA's Flashpoints
Pam Africa, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Lynne Stewart, attorney, falsely convicted of conspiracy to aid and abet
Jonathan Richman, singer/songwriter
Jack Heyman,on behalf of Internat'l Longshore &Warehouse Union
Barbara Lubin, Director, Middle East Children's Alliance
Aundre Herron, ACLU & comedienne, "Wonderwoman"
Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Carlos Villarreal, Exec. Dir., National Lawyers Guild Bay Area
Alan Benjamin, Exec. Board, SF Labor Council
Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10
Derrel Myers, Jo Jo White Solidarity Committee
Gloria LaRiva, International ANSWER/San Francisco
JR, POCC Block Report Radio; KPOO & KPFA Radio producer
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Prisoners of Conscience Committee
Noelle Hanrahan, Prison Radio
Laura Herrera & Jeff Mackler, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kiilu Nyasha, Free SF 8 activist; producer, SF Live's TV weekly, "Freedom
Is A Constant Struggle"
plus: Special video showing: NBC Today Show's incredible coverage of
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, 2:00 pm
ILWU Local 34 Hall, 4 Berry Street, San Francisco
(Near 2nd & King St. immediately to the left of AT&T baseball stadium)
Admission: $15-$10 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist & innocent Pennsylvania 26
year death row inmate. Framed by a racist criminal "justice" system in a
1982 trial that has been repudiated by Amnesty International, the European
Parliament, the California Labor Federation, SF Labor Council, AFSCME,
SEIU, ILWU, NUPW, Alice Walker, E.L. Doctorow, Nelson Mandela, Norman
Mailer, Angela Davis, the past French President Jacques Chirac and the
Detroit, SF, Berkeley city governments, Mumia's case is rapidly
approaching it's legal conclusion. He has defeated repeated attempts at
his execution by state authorities. After presenting to the courts and to
millions around the world the irrefutable facts proving his innocence, his
appeal for a new trial (that can only lead to his freedom) is pending. A
decision is imminent. While the state presses for his murder by lethal
injection we fight for his freedom. His struggle for fundamental human and
democratic rights, for civil liberties, and freedom is the struggle of all
those who cherish social justice. For additional information:
freemumia.org Sponsor: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 415-255-1085
or 510-268-9429 Benefit for: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Contributions to: P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610-0328
MISSOURI----new death sentence
Death penalty for man who killed suburban St. Louis office
A suburban St. Louis man was sentenced to death Friday for the 2005 murder
of Kirkwood Police Sgt. William McEntee.
Kevin Johnson, 22, of Kirkwood, was found guilty of 1st-degree murder in
November. The jury recommended the death penalty.
At his trial, Johnson testified that on the day of the killing he was
distraught over the death of his 12-year-old half-brother. Witnesses said
they heard Johnson say he blamed police for the boy's death.
Johnson testified he was in a trance-like state when he shot McEntee, a
43-year-old father of 3 and a 20-year veteran of the Kirkwood department.
At the sentencing hearing, Mary McEntee read a statement and explained how
her husband's murder has impacted her family.
"My daughter who just graduated from the 8th grade missed every
father-daughter event since 2005," she said. "Kevin Johnson has shown no
remorse. He murdered my husband by his own free will. Today we get
But defense attorney Karen Kraft said the community does not benefit by
having Johnson sentenced to death.
"The death penalty should be saved for the worst of the worst," Kraft
said. "Kevin Johnson is not the worst of the worst."
On July 5, 2005, McEntee was shot at close range through the passenger
window of his stopped patrol car while he was investigating reports of
The wounded officer's car rolled a short distance, striking a parked car
and a tree. McEntee was shot again after he stumbled out of the car.
His death came about two hours after Johnson's half-brother, Joseph "Bam
Bam" Long, 12, collapsed fatally in their home. An autopsy indicated the
boy died of a heart defect.
At the trial, prosecutor Robert McCulloch argued that Johnson had accused
police of not trying hard enough to save his half-brother and murdered
McEntee in revenge.
2 defense witnesses backed the Johnson family's claim that police didn't
try to help Joseph.
The trial was the 2nd for Johnson. A deadlocked jury in April prompted the
judge to declare a mistrial. (source: Associated Press)
Prosecutors drop death penalty, other charges against Terry A. Blair in
exchange for nonjury trial
At a pretrial hearing Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court, prosecutors
dropped the death penalty, 2 murder charges, 3 rape charges and an assault
charge against Terry A. Blair as he agreed to a nonjury trial on 6 other
murder charges. Nearly three years ago, prosecutors cited a "callous
disregard for human life" as one reason to seek the death penalty against
a convicted murderer accused of turning serial killer.
Friday, the death penalty, two murder charges, three rape charges and an
assault charge disappeared permanently from the case against Terry A.
Blair, 46, who authorities think coldly killed eight women from 2003 to
2004, mostly in the Prospect Avenue corridor.
In exchange, Blair agreed to a nonjury trial next month before a Jackson
County judge on the 6 remaining murder charges.
"Punishment is important, but as prosecutors we have to focus on
conviction first," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar. At a
Friday court hearing, Blair wore a tie, a white shirt and gray slacks and
said only that he accepted the deal. Judge John OMalley approved it and
set a March 10 trial date. Victim family members, defense lawyers and
assistant prosecutors in attendance declined to comment.
The 6 remaining murder counts are linked by anonymous 911 calls that
helped police locate the bodies in the corridor between July and September
Public court records say that victim Sheliah McKinzie was found with a
broken neck and that semen found in her matched Blairs DNA.
Little else of the evidence has been made public. Kanatzar described it
Friday as largely complex scientific evidence including but not limited to
DNA, and said that OMalley understands it better than jurors would.
Kanatzar said he also considered Blairs older age and the many years of
likely death penalty appeals and execution delays in dropping the death
penalty case that he announced in 2005.
At that time, Kanatzar cited 2 aggravating circumstances: The eight
murders in 2003 and 2004 occurred while Blair was either on conditional
release or on parole for a 1982 murder, and they showed a callous
disregard for human life.
The Friday deal is similar to what Kanatzar gave serial killer Lorenzo
Gilyard last year. Gilyard, whose case OMalley also tried, was convicted
of strangling 6 women in 1986 and 1987 and sentenced to life without
Based on DNA evidence, Gilyard originally was charged with murdering 13
women, but prosecutors elected to try only 7 cases. OMalley found there
was not enough evidence in one of those.
In Blairs cases, OMalley previously ruled that the 6 murders which are
connected by a 2004 time frame, the corridor locations and the 911 calls
would be tried together and the other cases separately.
The deal Friday forever eliminates charging Blair for the murders of
Nellia Harris, found at Eighth Street and Flora Avenue in September 2004,
and Sandra Reed, found in the corridor area in June 2003. It also
eliminates any charges against Blair for 3 separate rapes and an assault
charge involving 4 living victims.
Jackson County is still seeking the death penalty against 3 other
defendants, including Harrell Johnson, the man accused of murdering
3-year-old Erica Green, long known only as Precious Doe.
The other 2 are Richard Davis and Dena Riley, both charged in the death of
Marsha Spicer of Independence.
In recent years, Jackson County prosecutors seldom have sought death and
seldom gotten it when they did.
No one has been sentenced to execution in the county since December 1999,
and only a dozen have been since Missouri reinstated the death penalty in
(source: Kansas City Star)
Morris deserved death penalty
As a former juror for a death penalty case in Maryland, I was very
disappointed by Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck's reasoning in sparing the
life of Brandon T. Morris.
Based on The Sun's article "Guard's killer evades death" (Jan. 29), it
appeared that his primary reason for sentencing Mr. Morris to life without
parole instead of death was to spare the family of murdered correctional
officer Jeffery A. Wroten from "the most cruel and unusual punishment" he
assumes the family would go through if Mr. Morris spent at least the next
few years sitting on Maryland's death row as his numerous appeals made
their way through the legal system.
I realize that Judge Manck has some experience in this area outside of his
judiciary duties (tragically, his mother's life was taken in a 1995
murder); however, the judge needs to realize that the Wrotens did not ask
to be spared from anything.
Indeed, according to The Sun's account, they were hoping that Mr. Morris
would be sentenced to death.
To me, this is not justice or an example of a judge upholding the laws of
the state; it is judging from the bench with an agenda.
And if shooting a correctional officer in the face does not warrant the
highest form of punishment allowed in the state, then I guess, in Judge
Manck's eyes, nothing would.
I realize that every death penalty case is different and must be viewed
strictly on its merits.
However, as someone who was charged with the same humbling responsibility
Judge Manck was charged with, I am extremely disappointed that he chose
the easy way out.
Ken Rohrer ---- Halethorpe
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Death Penalty Debate Heats Up in Unicameral----Death Penalty Debated In
Term limits are forcing him out, but Ernie Chambers hopes to leave on a
high note. Once again he's trying to get rid of Nebraska's death penalty.
This time, he has some strong support.
"The death penalty is a very gloomy and solemn subject," said State
Senator Ernie Chambers, "The anger that any person might feel, should not
become the settle policy of a state, a person acts on emotions and the
emotions of a moment."
A packed house heard Friday's hearing on Chambers' latest bill. Most who
spoke out were against capital punishment. Curtis McCarty, against the
death penalty says, "We make mistakes, we do put innocent people in jail,
and we put them on death row."
Curtis McCarty was sentenced to die in Oklahoma in 1982. McCarty says,
"Confined 23 hours a day to this small cage with very little to do, no
social contacts, little contact with family and visitors."
After 19 years on death row, a judge made McCarty a free man. "Generally
you would feel elated that you were vindicated, but it was more sad then
it was anything," McCarty says.
McCarty hoped to give others on death row the same chance he had. He
wasn't alone, as his fight found some surprising support.
Miriam Kelle, another against the death penalty says, "The death penalty
is unfair, costs more, and causes innocent people to be executed." Miriam
Kelle's brother was murdered 23 years ago.
"When you think things through, you know that's not the right process, is
it smart for you to have that anger in you?" Kelle says.
No one testified in favor of the death penalty at Friday's hearing, but
there were two County Attorneys who wanted the bill to be
clarified,explaining the difference between a sentence of life or a
sentence of life without parole.
One attorney testified a death penalty case could cost a county more than
a half a million dollars after all the appeals.
Senator Chambers says, "The state should not kill anybody." For now,
Chambers is hoping for better luck than he's had in the past 3 decades.
The committee will look over the bill for the next couple of weeks before
voting on whether to send it to the floor for debate.
(source: KPTM News)
Prosecutors won't seek death penalty for convicted murderer
Prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty for the Omaha man
convicted last month of murdering 2 men.
The Douglas County Attorney's Office says it has withdrawn its request for
a hearing on a possible death sentence for 25-year-old Terry J. Sellers.
The victims' families did not want death for Sellers, which was 1 of the
reasons for the withdrawal.
As a result, he will likely be sentenced to life in prison during
sentencing in March.
Sellers was convicted in December of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder, 1
count of attempted murder and 3 weapons violations in a 4-day crime spree
in February 2005.
Sellers also faces charges in the November 2003 death of 24-year-old
(source: Associated Press)
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