[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----MO., OHIO., WASH., ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jan 19 15:57:28 CST 2008
Inmates seek IDs of executioners
Lawyers for 5 death row inmates are pressing Missouri to provide the names
of members of its execution team after a Post-Dispatch investigation
revealed that one was a convicted stalker.
In papers filed last week in federal court in Kansas City, the lawyers
said the executioner's criminal record, detailed in a front-page story
Jan. 13, raises questions about his "temperament and suitability" to help
The newspaper reported that David L. Pinkley, a licensed practical nurse
then on probation, worked on Missouri executions and was permitted to join
a federal team that executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in
Indiana in 2001.
Pinkley, originally charged with felonies for allegedly stalking and
damaging the property of a man who had a relationship with his estranged
wife, pleaded no contest to misdemeanors and received a suspended
imposition of sentence. That cleared his record once he served two years
State and federal prison officials knew this background, according to
internal Missouri Division of Probation and Parole memos obtained by the
Those circumstances raise questions about the state's screening procedures
and desire to have qualified executioners, claimed lawyers for convicted
killers Reginald Clemons, Richard Clay, Jeffrey Ferguson, Roderick Nunley
and Michael Taylor.
Attorneys in Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office, which
represents the Department of Corrections, have argued against giving the
death row appellants more than general information about execution team
State lawyers have invoked a Missouri state law, enacted last year,
protecting the identities of current or former executioners, and making it
easier for them to seek civil damages if their names are exposed.
Lawyers for the condemned have argued that their right to information in a
federal suit supersedes state law. In last week's filing, they argued that
they should not have to rely on the news media for disclosures about
John Fougere, a spokesman for Nixon's office, said, "The issues raised in
this motion will be dealt with in the ongoing litigation with the
Department of Corrections."
The death penalty is on hold in 35 states and in the federal system while
the U.S. Supreme Court considers arguments in a Kentucky lethal-injection
case. The court is weighing arguments that the injection could inflict
extreme pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment freedom from cruel and
In interviews after the Post-Dispatch story, three St. Louis-area
legislators on a committee that oversees the Department of Corrections
criticized the agency for letting a probationer work at executions.
The legislators, Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis; Sen. Harry Kennedy,
D-St. Louis; and Rep. Belinda Harris, D-Hillsboro, said they would raise
questions within the committee, which has the authority to investigate the
department and compel testimony from officials.
But the chairman of the committee said he did not think there would be any
"If I would have proof that maybe the board of nursing took disciplinary
action on this person, I think it might be a different situation," said
Rep. Mark Bruns, R-Jefferson City. "Given the limited information I have
on it right now, I don't think it would be prudent for the committee to
launch an investigation into it."
A check of the nurse's license record showed no discipline.
Other members of the committee, which consists of 6 senators and 6
representatives, either said they had not read the Post-Dispatch story or
did not return a reporter's calls and e-mails.
Harris questioned the need for the state law protecting executioners'
identities, and said the newspaper's findings alerted her to a problem.
"I go to Bonne Terre all the time" to inspect the prison there, Harris
said. "I never knew that there was a person on the execution team who had
committed these violent acts."
When the Legislature passed a law protecting executioners' names, "this is
not what legislators had in mind," she said.
She noted that the Department of Corrections had made it seem that
anonymity for executioners was necessary to ensure it could attract and
retain people qualified for the job. But in comments to the Post-Dispatch,
agency Director Larry Crawford said its story in July 2006 identifying
another execution team member had actually helped the state recruit
Harris said Crawford's comments contradicted his justification for seeking
(source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Canada Could Become Involved In Man's Prosecution
Canadian officials could become involved in the case of a man accused of
killing his wife and children.
Michel Veillette is charged with stabbing his wife to death Jan. 11 and
setting fire to their home, killing the couple's 4 children inside.
Authorities in Warren County said they could seek the death penalty
against Veillette, who moved to the area from Canada with his family 18
Canada abolished the death penalty 3 decades ago and typically fights to
keep its citizens from facing execution in other countries, experts said.
Veillette's attorney said his client's version of the events leading to
his familys death differs greatly from the one investigators describe.
"Regardless of your feelings on the case, if you have someone charged, you
want your rights protected, too, and this man is innocent until proven
guilty," said attorney Tim McKenna. "Anything he may have said to police,
I would have to question the validity of, (because) he was heavily
medicated, very injured."
Veillette was released this week from a hospital for treatment of knife
wounds and other injuries suffered when he jumped out of a window from the
fire, and McKenna said the injuries left his client in bad shape.
"He had significant scarring and stab wounds all over this body and
burns," he said. "He was hurt pretty bad."
McKenna said he was not sure whether the wounds were self-inflicted, as
investigators have suggested.
Canadian officials said in a statement that they are aware of the case,
but declined further comment.
(source: WLWT News)
3 charged with aggravated murder in Tacoma slashings
3 men have been charged with 2 counts each aggravated murder in the
slashing of 2 men's throats at an apartment with a marijuana growing
operation in September.
Pierre Thelberg Spencer III, 26, pleaded innocent Thursday in Pierce
County Superior Court. Bail was set at $5 million, and the clock began
ticking on a 30-day deadline for prosecutors to decide whether to seek the
death penalty in his case.
The same charges were filed against Tyreek Deanthony Smith, 22, who was
arrested Wednesday in Georgia, and Darrell Kantreal Jackson, 21, who was
caught Thursday in Tacoma. A decision on the death penalty in their cases
will be due within 30 days after they are arraigned.
The only other penalty for aggravated murder is life in prison without
Spencer, Smith and Jackson are accused of killing Ruben P. Doria Jr., 24,
and Abraham "Warren" Abrazado, 22, whose bodies were found Sept. 23 in
Doria's apartment in the city's south end. Their throats had been slashed
and Doria had been bound with duct tape.
There were no signs of forced entry, but police said they seized 80 to 100
marijuana plants that were being grown in the apartment. Doria had a
prescription for medical marijuana, and authorities believe he also sold
large quantities of pot, according to documents filed in court.
The bodies were found a day before a planned birthday party for Doria, a
former Clover Park High School student who retired from the Air Force
because of a head injury, friends said.
(source: Associated Press)
Supreme Court sides with death row inmate on appeal issue
The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed a lower court decision that blocked
an appeal by a death row inmate.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals had rejected Jarrod Taylor's last
notice of appeal because it was signed by an out-of-state attorney not
authorized to practice in Alabama. In an 8-0 decision Friday, the Supreme
Court said the having the out-of-state attorney sign the notice of appeal
was not grounds for dismissal.
Taylor was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for the 1997
deaths of Steve Dyas and Bruce and Sherry Gaston by Dyas' car dealership
in Mobile. In his first round of appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld
his conviction and sentence in 2001.
Then he started a second round of appeals, with the notice of appeal
signed by a New York lawyer who was helping Taylor because he was
(source: Associated Press)
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