[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GA., KY., ILL., CONN., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 12 14:28:33 CST 2008
State asks court to reinstate death sentence in double killing
The attorney for a man convicted of killing 2 Mercer University students
more than a decade ago argued before the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday
that he should not be sentenced to death because of his history of mental
Andrew Allen Cook, son of former Macon FBI agent John Cook, was sentenced
to death in March 1998 after he was convicted of malice murder in the
shooting deaths of Grant Patrick Hendrickson and Michele Lee Cartagena.
Cook, then 21, did not know the couple and authorities said the killings
"This crime was inexplicable, it made no sense," said Cook's attorney,
Cartagena and Hendrickson were shot several times on Jan. 2, 1995, as they
sat in Cartagena's car at Lake Juliette in Monroe County. The
investigation lasted more than two years before Cook was arrested. He
confessed to his father, John Cook an admission that was used to
challenge his conviction and death sentence before the state Supreme Court
in 1999. The question then was whether the elder Cook was acting as an
agent or a father at the time. The high court upheld the verdict and
Cook again appealed his death sentence in 2000, arguing that his trial
lawyer failed to present evidence of his mental illness dating back to his
childhood. A Butts County Superior Court judge reversed the death sentence
The state argued Tuesday that although Cook was found to have mental
issues, those issues were not enough to offset a death sentence. Instead,
assistant attorney general Beth Burton told the high court, Cook's mental
history was thoroughly investigated and he was found to be troubled, but
not criminally insane or otherwise unable to be sentenced to death.
Further, contrary to the lower court's finding that Cook's upbringing was
"marked by abandonment, neglect and abuse," mental health experts who
examined him during his trial found that he came from "a typical,
American, middle-class family" that was supportive and loving, Burton
The state also countered the argument that Cook's father was inadequately
prepared to testify on his son's behalf. Burton said that when John Cook
pleaded with the jury to spare Andrew Cook's life, "there was not a dry
eye in the jury box at the end of his testimony," Burton said.
Andrew Cook's lawyer told the high court that Cook's mental illness was
not fully explored or understood by his original attorney. As Cook
prepared to go to trial he was diagnosed with major depression, Dunn said.
He added that Cook had been classified as depressed at the ages of 9 and
"This case is the result of a major mental illness ... that can only be
understood through the eyes of someone who is mentally ill," Dunn told the
(source: Associated Press)
Bobby Cutts Jr. Faces Possible Death Sentence if Convicted
Jurors in the Bobby Cutts murder trial may get the case on Feb. 12.
On Feb. 11, Cutts took the stand in his own defense, and admitted he had
killed his girlfriend, but by accident.
He was potentially pleading for his life.
"I didn't mean to hurt her."
The Feb. 12 closing arguments come after a dramatic day of testimony
Monday, with the former Ohio police officer sobbing on the witness stand.
30-year-old Bobby Cutts Jr. was married when his pregnant girlfriend went
missing last June.
He now says an argument and a scuffle, led to Jessie Davis' accidental
"She grabbed me and said I couldn't leave and I pulled my arm from her,"
"I pulled my arm and I threw my arm back and I swung my elbow so she
couldn't grab me anymore."
"And where did the elbow land?" asked a prosecutor.
"In her throat area," Cutts replied.
"What happened as a result of that?" the prosecutor continued.
"She hit the ground," said Cutts.
For nine days, Cutts helped in a massive search for Davis, before finally
leading authorities to her decomposing body.
The couple's 2-year-old son helped provide some of the first clues in the
case, mumbling to police, "Daddy mad, Mommy broke the table."
He was still mumbling days later.
Prosecutors say Cutts strangled Davis over mounting child support
They grilled him about spilled bleach found all over the bedroom floor,
about why he didn't call 911, and why he disposed of the body.
If convicted of aggravated murder, Cutts could be sentenced to death.
(source: WBKO News)
DuPage leaders revive death penalty debate
3 DuPage County Republican leaders today called on Gov. Rod Blagojevich to
lift the 8-year-old moratorium on executions in Illinois.
They do so, though, on the heels of a study that chronicled the high cost
of death penalty cases. The group that launched the study is lobbying
legislators to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.
And even the death penalty advocates -- State's Attorney Joseph Birkett,
Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst and Rep. Randy Ramey of Carol Stream --
acknowledged movement on the controversial issue may be slow, especially
in an election year. But they argue the death penalty still is law, and
noted the many reforms in place to improve the system.
"I favor an open and honest debate," Birkett said. "With the recent
slaughter of 5 innocent women in Tinley Park and similar cases, we, as a
society, must ask ourselves, 'Does a person who commits such a horrible
and atrocious crime, deserve to live, even in a penitentiary?'"
The group introduced other measures, such as making it a capital crime to
kill a child 16 or younger; the current law is age 12. Birkett also wants
to reduce the number of factors, from 21 to 9, that make a crime eligible
Others have joined the debate as well.
Anita Alvarez, the Democratic nominee for Cook County State's Attorney, is
calling for a statewide advisory referendum seeking opinions on the death
The last man executed in Illinois was Andrew Kokoraleis, put to death in
May 1999, after being prosecuted in DuPage County for his role in nearly
20 cult-like mutilation sex slayings of women in the 1980s.
Several death row inmates were exonerated early this decade following
reinstatement of capital punishment in the 1970s. Former Gov. George Ryan
cited those cases as an example of a broken system when he declared a
moratorium on executions. And later, on Dec. 19, 2002, he commuted all
death sentences to life prison terms.
An unofficial moratorium on executions remains in place today, but judges
and juries still hand out death sentences.
Of Illinois' 12 condemned inmates, Anthony Mertz, convicted of killing
21-year-old Rolling Meadows native Shannon McNamara is the next in line to
be executed, but even he's a decade away from exhausting his appeals.
Mertz, 31, in 2003 became the 1st person placed on the cleared-out
Illinois' death row for murdering McNamara in her off-campus apartment at
Eastern Illinois University in 2001.
On the other side of the debate, anti-death penalty groups are lobbying
just as hard for abolition. They favor expanding mandatory life without
parole sentences and reallocating some of the death penalty funds for
counseling ser-vices for crime victims.
The advocacy group, Abolition in Illinois Movement, recently released a
study that suggests Illinois has spent $148 million on death penalty cases
since a special fund was set up 8 years ago.
"We agree the moratorium is not good for prosecutors," said Elliot Slosar
of AIM. "We sympathize with the legal limbo it has placed them in, and,
while we concur that the moratorium needs to end, bringing executions back
is not the solution."
The debate has stirred many changes. For example, police must videotape
interrogations with murder suspects, and a judge must determine the
reliability of jailhouse informants before they are allowed to testify.
And, in the past few years, lawmakers gave the Illinois Supreme Court
greater power to toss out unjust verdicts, and offered defendants more
access to evidence and barred execution in cases that hinge on a single
Defendants in capital cases also now must be represented by at least two
lawyers at trial. The lead lawyer must be qualified by a special review
board. And a state fund, cited in the anti-death penalty cost study, was
estab-lished to ensure poor defendants facing possible execution can
afford a fair trial.
Other reforms include requiring police to preserve evidence in major cases
longer and to hand over all of their notes in homicide probes to
prosecutors, who in turn must share it with the defense before trial.
Birkett also helped expand convicted defendants' access to DNA testing on
appeal if it wasn't available at trial.
(source: Chicago Daily Herald)
Man Could Face Death Penalty In Killings----19-Year-Old Charged With
Capital Felony In Fatal Shooting Of 2 At Bar
The suspect charged with killing two men at a Cromwell bar over the
weekend was led into a courtroom crammed with emotional spectators Monday
and learned he could face the death penalty.
Antonio Inglis, a wiry 19-year-old and former high school football star,
stood before Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford, who told him one of
the charges he's facing capital felony carries a possible sentence of
life without parole or the death penalty.
Inglis is also charged with 2 counts of murder, illegal possession of a
firearm and 1st-degree assault.
A handful of Inglis' family and friends wept when judicial marshals
escorted Inglis, wearing a white jumpsuit, into the courtroom.
He appeared subdued as he stood between James McKay, the head of the
public defender's office in Middletown, and David Smith, also of that
office. He spoke only twice, both times answering "yes" in a soft voice to
questions posed by Clifford, who set bail at $5 million.
Cromwell police arrested Inglis Sunday afternoon in connection with a
shooting that left Tyrese Lockhart, 25, and Israel "DJ Boogz" Dandrade,
31, both of Middletown, dead.
The shooting occurred at Cocktails on the Green, a bar on Sebethe Drive,
during a reggae and hip-hop event about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Witnesses said
that Lockhart and Inglis were arguing on the dance floor and that
Dandrade, who was a DJ at the event, tried to break them up.
Lockhart was shot in the head and Dandrade was shot in the eye. A third
person, Kenneth Lewis, 24, of West Hartford, was grazed by a bullet.
Cromwell police say Inglis fled the bar and was arrested at the home of
Lisa Srams, 33, of 2 Chatham Court, Portland. Srams, a parolee who was
convicted of 1st-degree manslaughter, was charged with harboring a
fugitive and possession of crack cocaine.
Police also recovered a loaded handgun at Srams' house, though they said
they were unsure whether it was the one used in the shooting. Srams was
released after she posted $250,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in
Superior Court Feb. 19.
Some questions lingered Monday. Police are investigating, for instance,
how the underage Inglis entered a bar that clubgoers said usually had
security guards checking for IDs.
John Suchy, director of the liquor control division of the state
Department of Consumer Protection, said the division will wait until
police finish their investigation before it decides whether to take action
against the bar.
Police on Monday afternoon said they did not know Srams' whereabouts after
she posted bail. Srams knew Inglis, police said, through an acquaintance.
In May 1996, Srams was sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with
the fatal shooting of a woman in Hartford.
Srams was granted parole in January 2005. She had no further contact with
the law until her arrest Sunday. Portland police, who arrested Srams, said
they did not know that she was on parole at the time of her arrest.
Inglis was a star athlete at Vinal Technical High School in Middletown and
his attorneys said he had no prior run-ins with the law.
But at Inglis' next court date on Feb. 25, Middletown police plan to
charge him with 1st-degree assault in connection with an October shooting
at the Traverse Square housing development. Brian Lamont Hurst, 28, of
Middletown, was shot twice in that incident.
McKay, the public defender, argued during the hearing that Inglis' bail
should be reduced.
Clifford denied McKay's request for reduced bail, citing the seriousness
of the charges against Inglis. He also denied a request from McKay to
remove a TV news camera from the courtroom.
As Inglis was being led out of the courtroom, several of his supporters
called tearfully after him, "We love you, Antonio!"
After the arraignment, friends and family of the accused and the victims
were milling around the lobby when shouting broke out between the 2 sides.
They then spilled outside onto the courthouse stairs, where a group of
judicial marshals kept the 2 sides separated.
Inglis' family and friends, who declined to comment, quickly moved to the
parking lot. "What are they yelling about?" one of the victim's family
said loudly. "He shot 2 people."
Several of Dandrade's family lingered at the courthouse afterward,
remembering a man who they said started to DJ at 13 and dearly loved his 5
Melissa Brisman, Dandrade's sister, said she did not bear ill will toward
Inglis. "He's young. I know he didn't do it purposefully so there's no
harsh feeling," she said.
"But he killed my brother. He deserves anything he's going to get."
(source: Hartford Courant)
Hurdles Seen as Capital Charges Are Filed in 9/11 Case
Military prosecutors filed capital charges against a former senior leader
of Al Qaeda and 5 other Guantnamo detainees on Monday for their roles in
the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but the possible obstacles facing a death
penalty case in the Bush administration's military commission system were
Col. Steven David, the chief military defense lawyer for the Guantnamo
cases, who must provide detainees with military lawyers, said he did not
have six lawyers available to take the cases, which the Pentagon described
as a milestone in the war on terror.
In addition, he noted, a tangle of questions are unanswered in the
military commission system, which has yet to begin a single trial. They
include whether waterboarding constitutes torture, how statements obtained
by coercion are to be handled, whether detainees may be so psychologically
damaged that they may not be able to assist in their defense and exactly
what the rules of the trials are to be.
All of which, Colonel David said, means there are no answers to what
happens next in the most important case in the Guantnamo system, and how
long it will take.
"You're asking me to tell you how we're going to get to a place we've
never been, with a map I don't have," Colonel David said.
At the announcement of the charges in Washington on Monday, a senior
Pentagon official in the Office of Military Commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas
W. Hartmann, described the charges in sweeping terms. He portrayed the
Guantnamo system as a painstaking one that will, in the American
tradition, sort out conflicting viewpoints in the courtroom.
"We will follow the rule of law," General Hartmann said.
But some lawyers asked, precisely what law applies?
Neal Katyal, a Georgetown University law professor who represents a
Guantnamo detainee, said the Bush administrations decision to use a
military commission system, rather than civilian courts, meant that
standard procedures did not apply. That is a prescription for uncertainty,
"When you are using an untested system," Professor Katyal said, "every
single question is up for grabs and every issue is litigated."
It is not clear whether the government will apply civilian rules holding
that death penalty cases are to be treated with extraordinary care that
"death is different," as the legal maxim has it; or how a death penalty
might be carried out, or where. It is not even clear how much of the
proceedings may take place in sealed courtrooms.
Guantnamo cases are conducted under a 2006 law that assures detainees in
war crimes trials the right to a lawyer, the right to have charges proved
beyond a reasonable doubt and the right to appeal.
General Hartmann said Monday that officials were committed to conducting
fair trials, that resources would be provided to the military defense
lawyers and that trials would be closed as little as possible for national
Those charged Monday include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former Qaeda
operations chief who has said he was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks,
and five other men held at Guantnamo who are said to have played
supporting roles. The charges include conspiracy, murder in violation of
the law of war, attacking civilians, terrorism and providing material
support for terrorism.
Mr. Mohammed and most of the other detainees charged Monday are not
believed to have had any contact with a lawyer. Several experienced
Guantnamo defense lawyers said the task facing any lawyer who took their
cases would be so uncertain that no trial could begin for many months, or
Military judges in Guantnamo have acknowledged that basic legal concepts
require that defense lawyers review most of the governments evidence,
though the rules remain unclear and some material is to be kept from the
defense under national security rules.
In the case of Mr. Mohammed, some lawyers said, the government's file is
likely to be a vast pile of intelligence reports and interrogation
summaries that include the simulated drowning technique known as
waterboarding. The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged that Mr.
Mohammed was subject to the technique.
Some lawyers have said the obvious defense strategy at Guantnamo will be
to try to put the government on trial for its use not only of
waterboarding, but also of coercive techniques like keeping detainees in
cold rooms for hours and permitting sexually suggestive techniques by
Whatever the eventual courtroom strategy, the sheer volume of material to
be sorted means defense lawyers will need time, said Joseph Margulies, a
lawyer for detainees who teaches at Northwestern University School of Law.
"The government has devoted literally years and thousands of person-hours
to refinement of those charges," Mr. Margulies said.
But Colonel David, the Guantnamo chief defense lawyer, said it remained
unclear how the defense was to begin to close that gap. In all, he said,
he has seven lawyers available to handle cases, with many of them already
assigned to other detainees.
Though prosecutors are relying on evidence gathered by vast American and
foreign intelligence agencies, Colonel David said his office roster now
included one intelligence analyst and six paralegals. He said the defense
office had yet to have a secure room that was required to review reams of
In addition to Mr. Mohammed, each of the other defendants charged Monday
has a complex story that defense lawyers will need to unravel.
The others are Mohammed al-Qahtani, the man officials have labeled the
20th hijacker, who was denied entry into the United States in August 2001;
and 4 men who officials have said were logistical coordinators, Ramzi bin
al-Shibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi and Walid bin
The prosecutors' decision to seek the death penalty must be reviewed by a
Pentagon official with broad power over the military commission system,
Susan J. Crawford.
If Ms. Crawford refers the case for trial as a capital case, it will be
the start of a mammoth legal battle, said Neal R. Sonnett, a Miami lawyer
who has been an observer at Guantnamo for the American Bar Association.
Any life-or-death case would be complex, Mr. Sonnett said. But that would
be a special challenge for the Guantnamo system, which has not yet reached
even the 1st day of its first trial, he said.
"It hasn't been able to get over the small humps yet," Mr. Sonnett said,
"and this is a mountain."
(source: New York Times)
Trial of 9/11 Plotters Faces Hurdles
Nearly 6 1/2 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. is
preparing to prosecute 6 of the men it says are responsible. But the trial
and verdicts - not to mention justice - remain a long way off in the
Given the slow pace of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay,
verdicts on charges announced at the Pentagon on Monday are unlikely
before President Bush leaves office in January 2009. The trials themselves
may not even be under way by then - and the next president may be less
keen on the military tribunal system.
Throwing the process into further doubt, the Supreme Court is expected to
rule in a few months on whether Guantanamo detainees can challenge their
confinement in civilian courts.
Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser to the military
commissions, told a Pentagon news conference that the trial for the 6
Guantanamo detainees is at least 120 days away, "and probably well beyond
Critics of the untested military commissions system say the high-profile
trial will expose its flaws.
In 2006, a previous system was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme
Court. Months later, Congress and President Bush resurrected the tribunals
in an altered form under the Military Commissions Act.
The cases are also complicated by recent revelations that alleged Sept. 11
mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 1 of the 6 charged, was subjected to a
harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding - which critics say
is a form of torture.
Hartmann said it will be up to the military judge to determine what
evidence is allowed.
Pretrial hearings for 2 other Guantanamo detainees stalled last week over
secrecy shrouding government files on terror suspects.
Hartmann said the 6 defendants will get the same rights as U.S. soldiers
tried under the military justice system, including the right to remain
silent, call witnesses, and know the evidence against them.
But questions of due process could overshadow the proceedings, according
to Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights
"By trying these men before flawed military commissions in Guantanamo Bay,
the United States makes the system the center of attention rather the
defendants and their alleged crimes," Daskal told The Associated Press.
Steven Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union,
said in a telephone interview that "the administration now has placed
itself in terrible bind because it subjected at least some, if not all,
the 6 men to harsh interrogation techniques that the world regards as
Under the Military Commissions Act, statements obtained through torture
are not admissible. But some statements obtained through "coercion" may be
admitted at the discretion of a military judge.
The tribunal system requires that a panel of at least 12 military officers
unanimously find a defendant guilty in capital cases, Hartmann said.
A federal appeals court in Washington can hear appeals, but it can only
assess compliance with the standards and procedures under the 2006 law.
The Supreme Court may review that court's final judgment.
The charges against the 6 men reveal the meticulous planning that went
into the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Mohammed, who was among the six charged on Monday, and al-Qaida boss Osama
bin Laden discussed "the operational concept of hijacking commercial
airliners and crashing them into buildings in the United States" as early
as 1996, the charge sheet says.
In early 1999, bin Laden directed Waleed bin Attash, also among the 6, to
obtain a U.S. visa to go to flight training and participate in the
Bin Attash was allegedly prevented from a direct role in the attack when
he was arrested and briefly detained in Yemen in early 2001, but
investigators say he selected and trained some hijackers.
Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Mohammed's nephew, is accused of delivering money to
the hijackers and coordinating their travel plans. Just days before the
attacks, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi also among the group, allegedly
collected thousands of dollars in unused funds via wire transfers for the
plot, the sheet says.
"These charges allege a long term, highly sophisticated, organized plan by
al-Qaida to attack the United States of America," Hartmann told reporters.
He said 169 charges were pressed against the suspects.
The 2 other men charged are: Mohammed al-Qahtani, the man officials have
labeled the 20th hijacker, and Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the
main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of al-Qaida.
Mohammed was among 15 "high-value detainees" who were held at length by
the CIA in secret overseas prisons before being handed over to the
military. The 15 are kept separate from the other 260 detainees at
Guantanamo in a secret facility called Camp 7.
Officials plan to hold the trial in a specially constructed court at
Guantanamo that will allow lawyers, journalists and others to be present,
but leave relatives of Sept. 11 victims and others to watch the trial
through closed-circuit broadcasts.
Under the commissions system, the charges filed Monday will be forwarded
to the convening authority for military commissions, Susan Crawford. She
can refer some or all of them for trial.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the president and the White
House had no role in the decision to seek the death penalty.
"Obviously 9/11 was a defining moment in our history, and a defining
moment in the global war on terror," Perino said. "And this judicial
process is the next step in that story. The president is sure that the
military is going to follow through in a way that the Congress said they
(source: Associated Press)
OBAMA IN FAVOUR OF DEATH PENALTY WITH 'FLAWLESS TRIALS'
Obama Barack is in favour of the death penalty for the terrorists who
should turn out to be responsible for 9/11, but he also pretends flawless
procedures at the Guantanamo military commissions. 'Obviously, we need to
make sure that the organisers and executors of those terror attacks should
be brought to justice and death penalty is appropriate for such heinous
crimes,' said the senator of Illinois in order to comment the Pentagon
request for a death penalty against 6 Guantanamo prisoners. 'However,
these trials must be flawless.'
Hence the request that terrorists should not be judged by the
controversial Guantanamo military commissions: 'Those trials are too
important, the system of military commissions has many faults, all those
who have been condemned for 9/11 so far deserved an appeal.' John McCain,
the favourite Republican candidate for the White House, is tougher on this
issue. According to him, the trial involving the 6 people accused of being
responsible for 9/11 should have started long ago: 'I am sorry that it
took so long, let's get this trial started,' he said and reiterated in an
interview that - should he be elected - he will close the Guantanamo
detention centre and transfer prisoners to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
(source: AGI News)
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