[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----IDAHO, MD., VA., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jul 18 11:16:30 CDT 2008
Duncan team wants him to be found incompetent----Ruling will decide if
child killer can represent himself
The defense team for convicted child killer Joseph Edward Duncan III wants
him found incompetent, the attorneys revealed during a court hearing
Duncan, who faces the death penalty on three of 10 federal charges
stemming from the 2005 abduction of two northern Idaho siblings and the
murder of one of them, asked U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge earlier this
year to allow him to represent himself during the trial's penalty hearing.
Lodge ordered Duncan to be evaluated for his competency, and indicated he
would grant Duncan's request if he's found to be competent.
Since then, many of the court proceedings and documents filed in the case
have been sealed, and everyone involved in the case has been placed under
a gag order by the judge. But in an open status conference Thursday, Lodge
said he'd received Duncan's psychological evaluations and would make them
available to attorneys on both sides in the next few days.
Duncan, a convicted child molester from Tacoma, pleaded guilty in December
to federal charges related to the kidnapping of Shasta Groene, then 8, and
her brother Dylan, 9. The children were taken from their Coeur d'Alene
home in May 2005 after Duncan fatally bludgeoned the children's mother,
Brenda Groene, their 13-year-old brother Slade, and the mother's fianc,
Both children were sexually abused before Duncan shot and killed Dylan at
a campsite in western Montana. Shasta was rescued on July 2, 2005, when a
waitress spotted Duncan and the girl in a Coeur d'Alene restaurant.
It will be up to Duncan's penalty phase jurors to decide whether he gets
the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Duncan earlier pleaded guilty in state court to murdering McKenzie and
Slade and Brenda Groene before driving away with the 2 children.
Sentencing on those state counts is not at issue here.
Federal prosecutors contend Duncan is competent and should be allowed to
represent himself during the sentencing hearing. Duncan's attorneys say
he's not competent and hope to continue representing him in the case.
So far, Duncan has been evaluated by at least two psychologists -- Dr.
Robert Engle in Boise and a woman referred to in court only as Dr. Row. As
part of the evaluations, Duncan underwent brain scans and a
neuropsychological evaluation, Deputy U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said
Defense lawyer Thomas Monaghan said he didn't want some of the statements
Duncan made to guards or medical professionals to be used against him in
this case or any future proceedings -- including an upcoming death penalty
trial in Riverside, Calif., where Duncan is accused in the 1997 slaying of
10-year-old Anthony Martinez.
Olson said Lodge did not have the authority to order a California court to
disregard any information.
Lodge said he would consider the requests and make his rulings in writing.
He also said he hadn't yet decided if he would hold a competency hearing.
If Duncan is found incompetent, the court will have to determine if he is
so impaired that he cannot assist his attorneys in the sentencing case --
effectively delaying the sentencing until he is found to be competent
again -- or if he is simply too impaired to represent himself but still
functions well enough to be sentenced.
(source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Spying worried groups----Protesters often wondered about surveillance of
Max Obuszewski is a graying veteran of war protests. In his life, he
estimated yesterday, he's been arrested about 70 times for struggling to
make a point about critical issues, including the Vietnam War,
homelessness in Baltimore and the war in Iraq.
He also is one who knows history - and he believes in the potential for an
unchecked government to spy on people, particularly during times of war.
He and others in a local, loose-knit network of peace activists and
advocates had often wondered if their open gatherings had been infiltrated
by law enforcement.
Documents that he and others obtained through the Maryland Public
Information Act erased any doubt, the activists declared yesterday.
Over a 14-month period, the Maryland State Police had been "covertly
monitoring" a group of peaceful anti-death penalty advocates, according to
the documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued
the state to gain access to files that documented the tracking of death
penalty opponents and others.
Obuszewski is a fixture in a group of middle-aged men and women who have
spent all or part of their lives passionately protesting issues and
defending their right to organize peacefully without the fear of being
spied upon by the government. They look more likely to frequent
Baltimore's farmers' markets than behave as fanatical plotters of
They don't refer to their efforts as "civil disobedience."
Rather, Obuszewski and others describe what they do as "civil resistance"
- active protesting that provokes a response. Many knew and worked with
Philip Berrigan, a well-known Baltimore peace activist who was one of the
"Catonsville Nine" - a group of protesters who were arrested for burning
the draft cards of hundreds of Vietnam War draftees in 1968.
Obuszewski was among a group of five people who were arrested three years
ago for protesting the Iraq war at the National Security Agency. Some of
the people involved in war protesting in Maryland are also connected to
the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, a peace group; the Baltimore Coalition
Against the Death Penalty; and the Committee to Save Vernon Evans - a
convicted killer who was on death row at the time of the surveillance.
Terry Fitzgerald, a member of the Coalition to End the Death Penalty, is a
59-year-old physician who treats drug addiction. He said he's been
protesting in Baltimore against the death penalty for the past decade. He
grew up in Nebraska, where he protested with farmers in the 1960s, and
later protested against the Vietnam War. He's been arrested about 10
times, he said.
Ellen Barfield, 52, was one of several people arrested in a protest at the
National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade in 2004, which was
also monitored by local law enforcement agencies. She said she now wonders
about whom she bumps into at protests.
"It makes you go, 'Wow, who was that standing next to me?'"
(source: Baltimore Sun)
Death penalty sought in Newport News murder-for-hire case
Prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty for 1 of 3 people accused
of conspiring in a murder-for-hire plot.
Paperwork was filed in federal court Thursday in the case against David
Anthony Runyon, who is accused killing Corey Allen Voss in April 2007 near
a credit union.
Court documents also filed Thursday show prosecutors do not plan to seek
the death penalty against Michael Anthony Eric Draven, an accused
The victim's wife, Catherina Ross Voss, also faces conspiracy charges.
(source: WVEC News)
Bishop appeals to 2 courts to stop execution
Dale Leo Bishop, scheduled for execution July 23 for his role in a
Saltillo murder, says 2 recent developments in his appeals for a stay
deserve the U.S. District Court's attention.
In documents filed Thursday, Bishop alleges the misconduct of his 1st
state appeals lawyer and his own mental illness have put him facing lethal
He also insists Greenville-based U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper Jr.
should reconsider these facts, instead of throwing out his appeal on
procedural grounds, which Pepper did earlier this week.
Bishop's new attorney, James W. Craig of Jackson, on Thursday also asked
the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to stop Bishop's
execution, again raising issues with Mississippi lethal injection process.
In a 47-page document, Craig insists Pepper was in error when he denied
Bishop's appeal earlier this week.
Bishop claims the execution method is unconstitutional because it could
Tuesday, Pepper dismissed the lawsuit in a 15-page ruling, saying it was
barred by a statute of limitations.
Bishop's latest appeal to Pepper details his flawed representation during
his initial appeal, especially suppressed or incomplete information that
might have improved Bishop's chances, especially the strong possibility of
Craig described Bishop's 2003 appeal as "an embarrassment."
"In short, rather than have an attorney zealously representing him," Craig
writes, "Bishop had an attorney actively working to subvert his case and
ensure that he had no chance of success."
The attorney in question, Robert Ryan, has declined comment since the
allegations were made public a few weeks ago.
Bishop's new 5th Circuit appeal claims the state has withheld information
about the way it conducts lethal injections.
"It is important to understand that Judge Pepper did not rule that the
Mississippi procedure for lethal injections met constitutional standards,"
said Craig. "The ruling was strictly on procedural grounds."
The U.S. Supreme Court and Mississippi's highest court have denied
Bishop's appeals of his 2000 conviction and death sentence.
A Lee County jury sentenced Bishop to die for his role in the 1998 claw
hammer beating of a friend, Marcus James Gentry, in Saltillo.
The man who actually killed Gentry - Jessie Johnson - was convicted of the
murder but received a life sentence by a Tishomingo County jury.
Bishop would be the 2nd prisoner put to death in Mississippi since April,
when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection is an acceptable
method of execution in the United States. That ruling came after 2 death
row inmates in Kentucky challenged the procedure.
(source: The Daily Journal)
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