[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----FLA., MISS., OHIO, MD., CALIF.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 13 18:45:42 CDT 2008
FLORIDA----new execution date
Richard Henyard has been given a Sept. 23 execution date; it should be
Caz: Will killer grow old on death row?
About the time a man was attacking 2 women in their beach condo Tuesday,
13-year-old Melinda Denise Hinson was readying to take her neighbor's dog
for a walk at the Valu-Lodge on the west end of U.S. 98.
There are 2 things we know that happened before Tuesday turned to
Wednesday: Matthew Lee Caylor, 33, was arrested on a charge of assaulting
the beach women, and Melinda was murdered, her body hidden in Caylor's
room at the Valu-Lodge until a maid found it Thursday morning.
All of this was reported in Friday's News Herald, along with a story about
death row inmate James Card's latest appeal on a brutal Panama City murder
he committed 27 years ago.
You can only pray that if Caylor is held responsible for Melinda's murder,
her family doesn't have to agonize for 27 years as the man who took their
child plays our judicial system.
Sheriff's deputies said 2 women were attacked in their Beach condo around
4 p.m. Tuesday. Police said Caylor was invited inside. We don't know if
the women knew Caylor long, or at all, but likely did not know he was a
convicted sex offender from Georgia.
Caylor tried to lure one of the women to a back bedroom. She refused, and
Caylor, armed with an 8-inch knife, attempted to bind the women with duct
tape and demanded money, deputies said. The women yelled for help, and
It's not hard to imagine that their condo was a hive of law enforcement
activity as Melinda prepared to walk a neighbor's dog at the Valu-Lodge
just a few miles to the east to earn a few dollars.
Whatever the circumstances that led to Melinda living at the Valu-Lodge
with her parents, they likely were not pleasant. It is not where you would
aim to get in life, and it's not what you would consider pleasant, but it
is what people have to do to survive and do the best they can to provide
for their children.
Panama City police are familiar with the west U.S. 98 location, having
handled knifings and fights and various other nefarious activities that
are more indicative of that general area than the Valu-Lodge in
Melinda made the best of it and found particular joy in walking the dog
and taking advantage of the pool.
Caylor moved in about 2 weeks ago.
Everything else is supposition as this is written, but the mind heads down
frightening paths, picturing an agitated sex offender fleeing a failed
attack and arriving home to find Melinda out and about. She was reported
missing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, about 2 hours after the attack on the beach.
Police were at the hotel around 7 p.m. taking a report that is all too
common: A young teen wasn't where she was supposed to be.
The area was searched. A check of the hotel's registration, one presumes,
would have shown Caylor's name, and a check of that would've shown he was
a sex offender and a wanted felon in Georgia. We don't know, as of now, if
Melinda was already dead at that point, her body hidden in the room, or if
that would come later.
We do know that sheriff's deputies investigating the condo attack were
able, with help from one of the victims, to lure Caylor to a local
supermarket. When deputies tried to arrest him, he fled in a car that was
later learned to be stolen out of Georgia.
Investigators learned he was staying at the Value-Lodge, but this was
early Wednesday morning and a bulletin about the missing girl from the
same hotel had not yet been issued.
So Caylor sat in jail, Melinda's family wondered where their little girl
was, and a trucker was checking into the room at the Valu-Lodge where
Melinda's body had been hidden. He slept through the night and checked
out, with no idea.
Around 1 a.m. Thursday, Panama City police issued a news release about the
missing girl to get it on the early morning TV news and online. Later that
morning, a maid went into the trucker's room to prepare it for the next
Neighbors heard the maid scream.
For today, Card and Caylor sit in the Bay County Jail, the same place Card
arrived at 27 years ago after robbing, kidnapping and murdering Janis
Franklin at a Western Union office.
Franklin was 41, Card was 35. He has grown old on death row, and is now
He deserves no such stay, and neither does Melinda's killer.
(source: News Herald)
Death row inmate asks court to throw out sentence
A federal appeals court should throw out Paul E. Woodward's death sentence
because prosecutors plotted to keep blacks off a Jackson County jury,
according to Woodward's attorneys.
On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing on
the issue for Sept. 3 in New Orleans. The panel did not rule on any
Woodward, now 60, was convicted in 1987 of capital murder and sentenced to
death in the killing of Rhonda Crane. Crane was a volunteer worker at the
Jackson County Youth Court.
She was driving from Escatawpa on July 23, 1986, to join her parents at
Flint Creek Water Park in Wiggins when Woodward used his log truck to
force Crane to stop her car on Mississippi Highway 29 south of New
Augusta, prosecutors said.
Woodward kidnapped the woman and then forced her to have sex with him
before shooting her, prosecutors said. Her body was found the next day in
a wooded area.
Woodward also got 2 consecutive 30-year terms for kidnapping and sexual
The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Woodward's conviction in 1988.
In 1993, Woodward won a new sentencing hearing because of a faulty jury
instruction under what is known as the "Clemons rule." In 1990, the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled in the Mississippi death penalty case against Chandler
Clemons that describing a crime to juries as "especially heinous,
atrocious or cruel" without further definition was unconstitutionally
vague. The decision dealt only with the sentencing phase of a capital
murder trial, not convictions.
A Perry County jury in 1995 again sentenced Woodward to death.
Woodward contends that prosecutors kept blacks off the jury during that
sentencing hearing. Woodward, who is white, argued prosecutors' action was
unconstitutional and left him facing an all-white jury.
Under a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Batson v. Kentucky, lawyers are
not allowed to exclude people from a jury because of their race. Since
that ruling, lawyers must provide race-neutral reasons for excluding
Both the Mississippi Supreme Court and a federal district court ruled that
prosecutors did not discriminate against black jurors because of their
race. But Woodward argued to the 5th Circuit that the lower courts ignored
the cumulative effect of striking all the black jurors. He said the
exclusion of every black person from the jury panel appeared to be
"I think the 5th Circuit will find there were race-neutral reasons given
by the district attorney," Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said.
Attorneys for Woodward did not return telephone calls from The Associated
Press seeking comment on the case.
(source: Associated Press)
Ohio prosecutors seeking life without parole instead of death penalty
On the surface, Laqwan Scandrick seemed a perfect candidate for a charge
carrying the possibility of a death sentence - he shot a man to death
during a robbery in Springfield in 2006.
Under Ohio law, committing a homicide during an aggravated robbery is one
of several elements allowing the state to seek capital punishment.
Clark County Prosecutor Stephen Schumaker, however, took advantage of a
new law that allows prosecutors to seek the second-toughest punishment
available for aggravated murders - life with no chance of parole - without
first seeking a death sentence. Previously, the sentence was an option
only for jurors weighing an alternative to a death sentence.
Prosecutors around Ohio, citing the ability to pursue harsh punishment
without going through the complication and expense of a death penalty
case, are starting to take advantage of the 2005 law, according to a
review of state records by The Associated Press.
The number of death penalty indictments sought statewide dropped 32 % from
2004 to 2007, according to figures compiled by the Ohio Public Defender's
In contrast, the number of life without parole sentences rose by more than
2/3 in the 3 years since the law took effect compared with the 3 years
before, when 45 inmates entered prison with the permanent life sentence,
according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. 10 offenders
have received the sentence so far this year.
"Life without parole means it's over," said Don White, the Clermont County
prosecutor. "The only way they'll get out is in a pine box or if the
governor lets them out."
White used the new law last year in a plea deal that sent double murderer
Brian Adams to prison for life without resorting to a death penalty
Judge Douglas Rastatter of Clark County Common Pleas Court gave Scandrick,
27, the life sentence without parole for killing Tim O'Connor.
"I have no reason to have any mercy on you whatsoever," Rastatter said at
O'Connor's father, Bill, said he is a death penalty supporter but was
satisfied that his son's killer got what he deserved.
"I call that appropriate justice," he said, "because of his age and the
fact that the guy's going to have to live with himself the rest of his
North Carolina enacted a similar law in 2001. But Texas, which often
executes more offenders in a year than all other states combined, only
recently allowed life without parole as an alternate sentence in death
penalty cases. The state does not permit it in non-death penalty cases.
In Delaware County in north-central Ohio, prosecutor David Yost used the
new option when charging two men in April in the stabbing death of a
Delaware businessman in 2000. The move allows Yost to try William Allen
and James Brenson Jr. together to avoid holding two long and potentially
complex and costly trials back-to-back. Joint death penalty trials are
rare because of the cases' complexity.
"We can assure the family that if a jury convicts, that sentencing option
is available to the judge," Yost said, referring to life without parole.
In Franklin County, where the number of death penalty cases has plunged,
the law is one of several factors that prosecutor Ron O'Brien considers in
a new approach to capital punishment.
>From 2 dozen or more indictments a year for the past decade - including 34
in 2004, highest in the state that year - the number of death penalty
cases in the county dropped to 5 in 2005 and 3 last year.
"We want to try to focus on those cases that are the worst of the worst
homicide defendants that are death penalty eligible, and cases where we
believe a jury will return a death verdict," O'Brien said.
The new law is attractive to prosecutors because of the cost of capital
punishment trials and because juries increasingly prefer life without
parole as a death penalty option, said State Public Defender Tim Young.
A death penalty trial can easily top $100,000 for a county as extra staff,
investigators and psychological experts are hired by the defence and
prosecutors. It's not inexpensive for a large county but can drain the
annual budgets of smaller counties without help from the state.
"If you can come to a life without parole option without having to go
through that cost and it satisfies the public's need for safety and
punishment, then that makes a real reasonable outcome for everyone
involved," Young said.
Schumaker said the Scandrick case fit the requirements for bringing a
death penalty case but problems existed that would have made it difficult
for a jury to choose a death sentence. He wouldn't elaborate.
Not all prosecutors are changing their strategy. Hamilton County, which
accounts for one in every five of the state's approximately 180 death row
inmates, hasn't altered its approach. Nor has Cuyahoga County, which
indicted 31 capital cases last year, tied for the county's highest total
in the past 8 years.
"If a defendant is eligible for the death penalty, the defendant is
charged with the death penalty," said Ryan Miday, a spokesman for Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Bill Mason. The North Carolina law gives prosecutors the
option of seeking life without parole in first-degree murder cases.
Previously, all first-degree murder charges automatically carried the
possibility of a death sentence.
The state can't say yet what the law's effect is on death penalty cases.
But the number of death sentences there has dropped from 14 in 2001 to
three in 2007.
Colon Willoughby, prosecutor in Wake County, which includes Raleigh, said
the new option allows for speedier justice that saves money and protects
"Under the old law, I think prosecutors were sometimes forced to try cases
capitally in order to be able to get a life sentence, knowing that there
was very little chance a jury would render a sentence of death," said
Willoughby, a prosecutor for more than 2 decades.
No national data exists for the number of death penalty cases brought each
year. Last year, the number of inmates sentenced to death across the
country hit its lowest mark - about 110 - since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated capital punishment in 1976.
Sentences have been falling steadily as more states adopt life without
parole as an option and concerns continue about mistaken convictions and
whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Ohio had 5 death sentences in 2005, 2 in 2006 and 4 last year.
The change in Ohio law was inspired by the 2000 killing of a 15-year-old
boy whose killer pleaded guilty to avoid a death sentence and is now
serving 50 years to life with a chance of parole. The boy's mother pushed
for the change to allow the stiffer non-death sentence.
"It gives you more discretion in your charging decisions," Schumaker said.
"If the death penalty is not appropriate in a case, it's a way to deal
with it and not have it on the table early on."
(source: Canadian Press)
Feds wont seek death penalty in murder of federal witness
Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty in the July 2005
murder of David Wayne Lee Jr., according to the U.S. Department of
Spokeswoman Marcia Murphy said federal prosecutors are not obliged to
provide reasons for their decisions regarding the penalties they seek.
Learning by mail that the attorney general would not be pursuing the death
penalty, David Lee's mother was livid. Rebecca Lee said her family had
been promised a meeting with federal authorities to discuss the death
She was told they would be briefed on the case and the details of her
son's final moments.
"To this date, I have never been told," Lee said in a two-page prepared
She added that her entire family is a victim of government corruption.
Lee, 20, of Frederick, was shot in the head about 2 weeks before he had
been ordered to testify in a federal drug and weapons investigation.
4 men accused in the murder are set to go on trial Jan. 14 in U.S.
District Court in Baltimore.
Steven Stone, 23, of Frederick, and Jesse Dorsz, 27, of Walkersville,
could face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of federal
witness tampering, authorities said Friday.
Stone's father, Chester Stone, 41, and Randall Hildebrand, 21, both of
Frederick, also face federal prison time on lesser offenses.
Federal authorities offered no comment Friday about Eric Lee Campbell, 19,
of Gaithersburg, a fifth defendant, initially charged locally in the
murder. Campbell was 16 when Lee was executed near a driveway July 7,
2005, in the 9700 block of Reich's Ford Road.
In April, local murder charges against Campbell were dropped in Frederick
County Circuit Court after discussions with federal authorities. At the
time, federal authorities had a detainer for Campbell so that he would not
go free after the local charges were dropped.
Federal authorities do not acknowledge cases involving juvenile
According to court documents, Steven Stone and others operated a drug
distribution organization known as "B-6," short for "the bottom of Sixth
Street" in Frederick, where they sold their drugs.
On June 7, 2005, David Lee received a subpoena requiring his appearance
before a federal grand jury in Baltimore to answer questions about Steven
Stone and his involvement with drugs and guns.
16 days later, as ordered, Lee appeared at the United States Attorney's
Office, but requested a delay to obtain legal counsel. He received a new
subpoena to appear July 21, 2005.
Suspecting Lee was cooperating with law enforcement, Steven Stone directed
Dorsz and others to kill him, according to court documents.
Hildebrand and Campbell picked up Lee and Dorsz the evening of July 7,
2005, according to court documents. The four men drove to Reich's Ford
Road, and Hildebrand pulled over when Lee said he had to urinate; Dorsz
and Campbell also got out of the car and Lee was shot.
On Monday, the third anniversary of her son's murder, Rebecca Lee broke
her silence about what she believes is an inadequate investigation. She
has refrained from speaking until now to ensure a successful prosecution.
She believes a local law enforcement officer got her son killed by telling
others he was a snitch.
Federal and local law enforcement had promised her everyone responsible
for her son's death would be charged.
"It hasn't happened," Lee said.
5 have been charged, but at least a dozen more should be charged with
conspiracy, she said.
Others have hindered the investigation by making false statements to
police, Lee said. "These people are still on the streets, which poses a
safety risk for this community."
(source: Frederick News Post)
Your opinion: Is there bias in California in administering death penalty?
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice released a
report recently saying that capital punishment in the state is flawed and
called for legislation requiring prosecutors to report all information on
their decisions on whether to seek the death penalty. Readers responded to
last week's Forum story that delved into statistics relating to race and
the death penalty. The question: Do you think there is bias in
administering the death penalty?
Yes, overall, I believe that racial bias may play a role in deciding who
is prosecuted for the death penalty. But, I don't think that this will
ever be proven, in part, because the connection between the treatment of
race and the criminal justice system can be muddled by circumstances that
cannot be easily attributed to how one might feel about the color of
another person's skin. In a society as advanced as we have become, I truly
believe that any omissions of bias, racial or otherwise, would be cloaked
in terms that may sound more favorable or more professional.
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice has a tall
order to fill in determining whether race had been a factor in death
penalty cases. I imagine that bias is a tough argument to make and even
tougher when the parties under investigation are attorneys, people who are
trained to break down evidence on behalf of their clients. It's not a good
sign when the respondents of the survey - namely the district attorneys -
refuse to cooperate with the researchers from Pepperdine University.
What might be a more fruitful study to undertake is how there could be
different standards for evaluating murder cases across the state, and why
internal rules governing the procedures for evaluating murder cases could
be kept secret. Unless I'm mistaken, murder is murder no matter which
corner of the state it was committed in. I have confidence in the state's
criminal justice system. However, to build the public confidence among all
segments of the population, I think that having an open criminal justice
system - one that uses a uniformed set of rules for evaluating murder
cases and one that is more forthcoming in its practices - would be a great
-- Brason Lee, Sacramento
Yes, there is bias in administering the death penalty. Race, poverty and
quality of counsel play an overwhelming and unjust part in deciding which
citizens receive state-sponsored execution. The California Commission on
the Fair Administration of Justice report indicates 70 percent of
convictions are overturned in federal court, most based on ineffective
assistance of counsel at the trial level. Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los
Angeles, at the press conference receiving a copy of the commission's
report expressed her concerns after having visited California's death row
with the "blackness" of the face of death row. We not only need to
immediately implement the commission's recommendations on gathering data
on how the decisions are made and assuring quality counsel, we need to
remove our state's participation in this process which clearly cannot be
carried out justly.
-- Christine Hamel, Sacramento
I believe we have the best (although not perfect) justice system in the
The scales of justice are only as "unbalanced" as the statistical
representation in the article.
The general population does not all commit crimes, nor do they all go to
prison, nor do they all wind up on death row, therefore they are not the
basis of a statistical representation.
-- John Ryan, Reno
Do I believe there is bias in the administration of the death penalty?
Well, does the sun rise in the East and set in the West? The obvious
answer to both is "yes," based on data and experience. For decades I have
seen data that show that the poor and certain racial groups are given the
death penalty at a higher percentage rate than whites and the wealthy.
Likewise, the data shows a much higher rate of death penalty convictions
for blacks who have murdered a white person than for a white person who
murdered a black person. The data stand for themselves.
The explanations for that are probably many. The wealthy have resources
for good defense and the poor get what they get. Criminal defense
attorneys do not want to take capital cases, especially for the poor. It
takes too much energy; it is a lengthy, complicated process.
I am disappointed and saddened that prosecutors have refused to cooperate
with the state Senate appointed Commission on the Fair Administration of
Justice. I believe we all have biases and these tend to influence all that
We, the public, prosecutors and law enforcement must admit and face our
biases and try to negate their influence in our lives.
-- Bill Ruppert, Guerneville
The death penalty is sought by individual district attorneys from
individual counties, and as such, will vary county by county, depending on
the politics of the region. Race has been shown to be a factor; some
studies show that a black person convicted of killing a white person is
much more likely to receive the death penalty than if a white person is
convicted of killing a black person. But in addition, there is a great and
obvious disparity of social justice when it comes to the poor. Capitol
cases are extremely expensive, and often there just isn't enough in the
coffers to pay for adequate counsel. Poor defendants often get
insufficient and sometimes downright incompetent counsel, because there
just isn't enough money in it to pay a decent wage. The death penalty is
broken. Let's get rid of it.
-- Sally Norvell, Alameda
How horrible that life and death decisions can be based on skin color. We
have not really come that far since the days of slavery and lynching.
Prosecutors need to let the public know exactly how and why they decide
that some murder cases are prosecuted as death penalty cases while most
others are not. We need a transparent justice system and one that has
nothing to do with the color of one's skin.
-- Alison Pease, Davis
Life is sacred but somehow the attitude in favor of the death penalty
negates this belief. In reflecting on those who are prosecuted, we come
across a contradiction of our country, a country that claims to uphold
freedom and justice for all. This contradiction is "racism" as evidenced
in the predominance of minorities, blacks, receiving the death penalty
over others who have committed similar crimes. The evidence speaks for
Can we in (good) conscience continue to give support for the death penalty
and be at one with our own self respect and value as humans?
-- Sister Catherine Connell, Sisters of Social Service, Sacramento
I don't see how reasonable people can still ask this question. How much
evidence do we need? General observation and multiple studies have shown
the obvious: The death penalty has been used as a social and economic
replacement for Jim Crow type ideals and objectives. People of color and
poor people have been victimized by the legal community (police,
prosecutors and judges) by being sentenced to death in far greater numbers
and often with less credible evidence and coerced confessions for the same
crimes that whites and people of economic means get lesser sentences.
Juries, which are often, not representative of the person being tried, are
often too willing to be convinced to apply the death penalty by plays on
their emotions and fears, even with thin evidence.
Recently, there have been two episodes of vigilante justice in which two
older white men shot and killed people they say were either robbing a
neighbor's home or seemed to be ready to rob their home (at least the
homeowner say he thought they were). In both cases the men were not
charged even though one told a police dispatcher that he was going outside
to shoot the men. Talk about unneeded and excessive force. Had these
shooters been people of color, it is possible they could have received the
death penalty, given the right circumstances (town, judicial system,
social situation and spin). Instead, they were not even charged with
killing someone who was not immediately threatening them. This may seem
farfetched as an example but, not if you're from my town.
-- Raea Hutton, Oakland
The death penalty is a subject that when confronted is labeled with bias
after bias. The death penalty is no longer reserved for the "worst of the
worst," but the sentence is handed down to the poor who cannot afford
proper legal representation. More than 90 % of defendants charged with
capital crimes are indigent. They are forced to use inexperienced,
underpaid and overworked attorneys.
The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and the death penalty is
cruel and unusual punishment.
-- Christy Armell, Albuquerque, N.M.
There is no question in my mind that administration of state-imposed
murder (aka capital punishment and the death penalty) is biased.
Poor, uneducated people of color are more likely to be arrested for crimes
than others, whether or not they are guilty, or if there is any evidence
of guilt. They are far less likely to have adequate defense. They are far
less able to collect evidence to defend themselves.
The death penalty is racist and classist. Therefore the death penalty is
-- Rev. Bob Matthews, Oakland
(source: Opinion, Sacramento Bee)
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