[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 3 00:04:54 CST 2008
Dallas man on death row gets 4th trial after review----Man first
sentenced in '75 to have fourth chance in court
Ronald Curtis Chambers, who has been on death row longer than anyone in
state history, will receive yet another sentencing trial - his 4th
under an order issued by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ronald Curtis Chambers The U.S. Supreme Court had previously ordered the
lower court to review the case because the jury in Mr. Chamber's 3rd
death penalty trial may have received faulty instructions before rendering
Defense attorneys hope to be able to negotiate a life sentence for the man
who murdered 22-year-old Mike McMahan and left Deia Sutton to die in the
Trinity River bottom in 1975.
"The important thing to consider is Mr. Chambers' age, as well as the
extraordinary expense of seeking another death verdict," said attorney
Jordan Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas.
Mr. Chambers was 20 when he committed the crime and has spent almost 32
years on death row.
"It's hard to imagine that the Dallas taxpayers would want to spend
millions more," Mr. Steiker said.
Another attorney for Mr. Chambers, James W. Volberding of Tyler, added,
"It seems unfair to put the victim in this case through another trial."
But Ms. Sutton, who now goes by her married name of Roberts, remains
resolute about her desire for the death penalty. She has testified against
Mr. Chambers in each of his three previous trials.
"I never will be done," she said. "I'm still holding out for the death
Last year, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins indicated he
would pursue the death penalty again if another sentencing trial were
ordered. But on Wednesday, spokeswoman Jamille Bradfield said it was
"premature for us to comment at this point."
Mr. Chambers was first convicted and sentenced to death in 1975, after he
and two accomplices abducted the couple at gunpoint as they were leaving a
Dallas nightclub. Ms. Sutton was shot, beaten and choked but managed to
Mr. Chambers was tried a 2nd time 10 years later, after courts
determined he was not warned that information from a psychiatric interview
could be used against him. Mr. Chambers received a 3rd trial in 1992
after courts determined that jury selection had been racially tainted.
Each time, he was sentenced to death.
Mr. Chambers was scheduled to die last year but received a reprieve from
the U.S. Supreme Court a few days before the date. Several months later,
the case was sent back to the 5th Circuit for review because jury
instructions in his 1992 trial did not allow jurors to properly consider
mitigating factors that might have made the death penalty inappropriate.
The factors include "his exposure to violence and drugs, his lack of role
models, and his lack of economic opportunity while being raised in the
projects of west Dallas," according to the 5th Circuit ruling.
The faulty jury instructions have since been changed, but some inmates
sentenced at that time remain on death row.
(source: Dallas Morning News)
More information about the DeathPenalty