[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----IDAHO, NEB., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Feb 9 21:33:35 CST 2008
Ruling in death penalty case could set precedent
The state of Idaho is arguing that a jury's finding of aggravating
circumstances in a death penalty case meets a U.S. Supreme Court standard
that juries must decide capital cases.
Arguing before the Idaho Supreme Court on Friday, deputy attorney general
LaMont Anderson said that the jury in Darrell Payne's 2002 trial found the
same aggravating circumstance needed for the death penalty as did Fourth
District Judge Thomas Neville when he sentenced Payne to death.
Neville later set aside Payne's death sentence to comply with the Supreme
Court's 2002 ruling.
Payne was convicted of the July 2000 rape and murder of Samantha Maher of
His defense lawyer, Paula Swenson of Idaho's public defender's office,
told the justices that members of the jury weren't "death qualified"
because they weren't questioned during jury selection about their feelings
on the death penalty.
She says jury members also did not weigh mitigation evidence which might
have persuaded them to spare Payne's life. That is now required under
(source: Associated Press)
Norfolk Bank Victim's Son Upset By Decision----Bill Sun Lost Father In
Reaction to the Nebraska Supreme Court's ruling to end use of the electric
chair on Friday hurts a man waiting for his father's killer to be put to
The Nebraska Supreme Court in a 6-1 ruling has struck down the state's
sole means of execution, ruling that electrocution is cruel and unusual
Bill Sun lost his 50-year-old father, Samuel, on Sept. 26, 2002, when
gunmen opened fire in a US Bank in Norfolk. Samuel Sun was among 5 killed.
In January 2005, Jose Sandoval -- the ringleader of one of the deadliest
bank robberies in U.S. history -- was sentenced to death. Jorge Galindo
and a lookout, Gabriel Rodriguez, were each found guilty of 5 counts of
1st-degree murder for the killings. A fourth suspect, Erick Vela, pleaded
guilty to the same charges.
"It still hurts," Bill Sun said on Friday, reacting to the court's
decision. "For me, it's not about redemption. I came to grips with that a
long time ago. It's about justice."
Sun said he believes that since his father's killers were sentenced to
death and they should be put to death.
The defense lawyer for death row inmate Raymond Mata Jr., who argued the
case before the Nebraska Supreme Court, is Jerry Soucie. He said the
method of death must be considered, and he believes the electric chair is
cruel and unusual punishment.
"I think it's barbaric," Soucie said on Friday. "The Supreme Court says it
belongs in the lab of Baron Frankenstein. I think they nailed it."
Soucie said he hopes Friday's ruling will give new impetus to repealing
the death penalty. At the very least, he said, it will delay the
executions of 10 inmates on Nebraska's death row.
That's exactly what Bill Sun is worried about. He's doubtful the
Legislature will come up with an option in time to execute the men who
took his father's life.
"It doesn't matter to me the method, so long as it is carried out, that
there is a conclusion to all of this that's it's not left open-ended," he
Senators will not have to grapple with how to put inmates to death in
Nebraska. There is no current legislation the deals with the question. A
proposal by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers would put an end to the death
(source: KETV News)
Lawyer: Death penalty out----Defense says slaying suspect younger than
prison records show
Sharrod Ray Moore's age at the time of Jackson police officer Robert
Washington's slaying will keep him from facing the death penalty, if
convicted in the case, his attorney said Friday.
"The problem is that people have his age wrong," said attorney Chuck
Mullins, who was appointed Moores attorney Friday during his arraignment
on a capital murder charge.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said Washington's widow
had asked that the death penalty be sought.
Officer Washington was found Nov. 15, 1995, shot multiple times in the
head in a field off Whiting Road and U.S. 80 in west Jackson.
Police accuse Moore, 32, of being a serial killer, having allegedly killed
seven people, including Washington, in 3 separate shootings. However, he
has been convicted of killing only 2 people and is in prison now.
Mullins said he alerted the district attorney's office that Moore was one
month shy of his 18th birthday when Washington was killed in 1995.
Based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a person has to be at least 18 at
the time of the offense to face the death penalty.
Hinds County Circuit Court records list Moores birthday as Dec. 9, 1975.
His correct birthdate, according to his attorney, is Dec. 9, 1977, which
is reflected in Mississippi Department of Corrections records.
During his two-minute arraignment Friday in Washington's slaying, Moore
pleaded not guilty in Hinds County Circuit Court to killing Washington.
In another development, a man with a lengthy police record has been
charged as an accessory in Washington's killing and Mullins speculates the
defendant might agree to a plea deal and testify against Moore.
Shawn Burton, 36, was indicted the same time as Moore.
Washington's widow had appealed to the public for help for years in
finding her husband's killer. More than $10,000 in reward money had been
offered for information leading to an arrest.
Mary Washington has been unable to get benefits because there have been
questions surrounding her husbands death. The U.S. Department of Justice
had withheld more than $100,000 in benefits because the office had
believed Washington contributed to his own death. But Jackson police had
concluded he was killed in the line of duty.
Mary Washington hopes with the arrest of Moore she will finally get
benefits for herself and the couple's now 19 year-old son.
"I haven't filed a (renewed) request yet," said Mary Washington, whose
initial request was denied in 1998. "I am waiting to find out exactly what
needs to be done."
Police won't say what new evidence led to Moore's arrest in the cold case.
Moore's mother, Linda Moore, said late Friday via telephone, "Sharrod
hasn't done nothing. It's going to come out. The boy didnt do nothing."
Linda Moore said her son is being railroaded.
Former Jackson Police Chief Robert Johnson, who was in office when
Washington was killed, said Friday that Moore was developed as one of the
potential suspects from day one, but there was insufficient evidence to
"There was scant physical evidence and some witness statements, but none
of them was reliable," Johnson said. "Barring any new evidence, I just
have a little worry that this guy could beat the rap. ... I just have a
big fear. Lord knows, I hope I'm wrong."
During the 1990s, Burton was charged with receiving stolen goods, house
burglary, motor vehicle theft and armed robbery of a Jitney Jungle store.
The majority of the charges were dismissed or remanded to file.
In 1994, Burton pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to 5
years in prison.
In 2000, Burton was sentenced in federal court to 105 months in prison on
a weapons charge under Operation Ceasefire, a federal program intended to
imprison felons caught with weapons.
Burton was released in May 2007.
Moore is being held in a maximum security unit at the South Mississippi
Correctional Institution in Greene County.
No trial date was set Friday by Circuit Judge Swan Yerger for Moore's
trial. Mullins said his next move will be to file a discovery motion to
see the prosecution's evidence.
During a news conference last week, authorities said JPD and others had
worked on the case for months, leading to the indictment against Moore.
Mullins has raised concerns about the news conference called before his
client was served with the indictment.
"That's a no-no," Mullins said.
State law says it's a $200 fine for violating the statute.
It is left up to the district attorney to pursue any charges, but Smith
took part in the news conference. Smith has said he didn't call the news
conference and doesn't know exactly what time Moore was arrested by MDOC.
But during the news conference, officials said they were looking for
Moore turned himself in to the MDOC probation office after being told to
come down to the office because of a possible parole violation.
Moore had been on supervised release since October. He pleaded guilty in
November 2005 to 2 counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years on
each count in the 1996 killings of Samuel King, 68, and Mary Donaldson,
The owners of the Morocco Club on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Jackson
were killed during a botched robbery. The sentences were concurrent.
Charges were dropped in the other 4 slayings for lack of evidence. 4 men
were shot and killed at a Jackson duplex in 1998.
(source: Clarion Ledger)
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