[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, CALIF., GA., N.C., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Feb 9 00:45:12 CST 2008
Victim's Family Helps Keep Killer Off Death Row
A man convicted of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl will not die for
his crime, thanks in part to the girl's family.
Christopher Ballard admitted last month that he sexually assaulted and
beat Tina Dykes to death in October 1987.
In court on Friday, Dykes' family asked the three-judge panel to spare
(source: WLWT News)
ACLU: Take death penalty off table----DA researching death sentence in
Civil-liberties advocates are urging Boulder County District Attorney Mary
Lacy to declare that the death penalty is "off the table" for a man
suspected of killing University of Colorado senior Susannah Chase.
Lacy has said her office is researching whether a death sentence is an
option in the case against Diego Olmos Alcalde, 38, who was arrested Jan.
27 on suspicion of beating Chase, 23, to death a decade ago.
Because Alcalde must be tried under the laws that existed at the time of
the crime -- and Colorado's death-penalty statute from 1997 has since been
deemed unconstitutional and amended -- Lacy said prosecutors are unsure if
they can push for a death sentence if Alcalde is convicted.
Now, she said, her office is focused on the homicide investigation and
isn't yet researching sentencing options.
"It's not a high priority right now," she said.
Judd Golden, director of the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union, said in a letter sent to Lacy on Friday that his
organization "opposes the death penalty in all situations" and that
capital punishment is "the ultimate denial of civil liberties."
Alcalde was arrested last month in connection with Chase's homicide after
his DNA -- which was entered into a national database -- matched evidence
recoveredfrom Chase's body.
She was found nearly dead early Dec. 21, 1997, in an 18th Street alley
between Pearl and Spruce streets. Police said she had been brutally beaten
with a baseball bat across the street from her 1802 Spruce St. home,
dragged down the sidewalk and sexually assaulted. She died the next day.
Alcalde is expected to be charged Wednesday in Boulder County District
Court with 1st-degree murder, felony murder, second-degree kidnapping and
first-degree sexual assault.
In the ACLU's letter to Lacy, Golden said research indicates race and
gender play a role in which cases prosecutors choose to pursue the death
penalty. According to one analysis cited in the letter, 123 death-row
prisoners have been released since 1976 because they were innocent.
Lacy said her office will treat the letter "the same way we treat all
letters from members of the community who are expressing their opinions."
"We read them and take into consideration what the community has to say,"
Lacy said. "But we don't change our process based on pressure from
Denver defense attorney David Lane said he thinks Lacy will find that the
financial costs associated with a push for the death penalty far outweigh
the odds that a jury in Boulder County will sentence a person to death.
"It's virtually impossible to convince 12 jurors to sentence someone to
death," he said. "And in Boulder, it's probably harder than impossible."
(source: Daily Camera)
Death-penalty defendant sues judge
A death-penalty defendant in Pike County has filed a lawsuit against his
trial judge over the judge's decision to replace his lawyers with local
The suit was filed Thursday against Pike County Superior Court Judge
Johnnie Caldwell by Jamie Ryan Weis, accused of killing a woman in her
home on Feb. 2, 2006.
Late last year, Caldwell removed lawyers Bob Citronberg and Tom West, who
had been appointed to Weis' case and were billing their work at hourly
rates to the cash-strapped state agency that funds capital defense.
Caldwell said he wanted to prevent the case from being stalled if the
Georgia Public Defender Standards Council ran out of money.
Caldwell replaced them with two state-salaried public defenders, who
quickly filed motions to withdraw on the grounds they do not have the
resources to defend a death case on top of their ongoing case loads.
The standoff comes at a time when the state defender council is asking the
Legislature for emergency funding to keep the agency from running out of
money to defend capital cases before the end of the fiscal year, which
ends June 30.
The unusual lawsuit was filed on Weis's behalf by Atlanta lawyers Stephen
Bright, Ed Garland and Don Samuel. They contend Caldwell violated Weis's
right to counsel by replacing his long-standing attorneys.
"We believe he has that right, notwithstanding any budgetary problems or
any legislative wrangling that might be going on," Samuel said Friday.
"The Sixth Amendment's right to effective assistance of counsel,
especially in a death penalty case, trumps."
Citronberg and West represented Weis for more than a year. They filed
scores of motions and spent considerable time on the case, including
travelling on numerous occasions to West Virginia to investigate Weis's
background, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks a court order directing Caldwell to reinstate Citronberg
and West back into the case.
Caldwell, who could not be reached for comment, canceled a hearing
scheduled for Monday to address funding issues and the motions to withdraw
from the case by public defenders Joseph Saia and Tamara Jacobs.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Democratic Lt. Gov. Hopefuls Want Civil Unions, Death Penalty Stay
3 Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor are offering similar
policy visions for North Carolina.
Winston-Salem city councilman Dan Besse, Durham attorney Hampton Dellinger
and Canton Mayor Pat Smathers participated in a forum Thursday night in
The candidates said they support a death penalty moratorium and agree that
same-sex couples should be permitted to enter civil unions. They said
reducing the school dropout rate also is a priority.
Besse and Smathers questioned Dellinger's background, saying the former
aide to Gov. Mike Easley has never held an elected office. Besse and
Dellinger also clashed over fundraising practices.
State Sen. Walter Dalton, another Democratic candidate, did not attend the
debate.<> Current Lieutenant Gov. Beverly Perdue is running for governor.
(source: Associated Press)
Jury finds Cunningham death penalty eligible
Matthew Cunningham is one step closer to death row after Thursday
afternoons jury verdict found that his murder of Robert Barker and
Katharine Spain justified the death penalty.
Next week, the jury of 6 men and 6 women will begin to hear testimony
before deciding if Cunningham is sentenced to death by lethal injection or
life in prison for the 2004 stabbing deaths at the Andante apartment
In reaching their decision the jury only needed to find that one of three
scenarios, called "aggravators," existed to meet the legal requirements
for the death penalty.
Last week, the jury found Cunningham guilty of the 1st-degree murders of
Barker and Spain, as well as 2 counts of aggravated assault and burglary.
The trial began with opening statements Nov. 26.
(source: Ahwatukee Foothill News)
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