[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, USA, MO., CALIF., ARK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed May 7 19:13:56 CDT 2008
Renteria resentenced to death
A jury sentenced David Renteria to death this morning in the 2001
abduction and slaying of 5-year-old Alexandra Flores.
After more than a day of deliberation, the jury unanimously decided that
Renteria posed a continuing threat to society and there were no mitigating
circumstances to spare his life.
"His death is not going to bring Alexandra back, but we'll be glad he's
not going to hurt another child again," Perla Sanchez, Alexandra's aunt,
said after the sentence was read.
Renteria was convicted of capital murder in 2003 and sentenced to death.
An appeals court later upheld the conviction but threw out the sentence
because the original jury might have been left with the impression that
Renteria did not express remorse.
The jury had been sequestered since the trial began April 22.
(source: El Paso Times)
Renteria Given The Death Penalty
A jury has sentenced convicted killer David Renteria to the death penalty
for the murder of Alejandra Flores.
The sentence came down just before 10 a.m. at the El Paso County
Courthouse. Jurors took about 20 minutes this morning to decide on the
Renteria was granted another sentencing trial after his original death
sentence was overturned by the board of appeals on a technicality which
involved Renteria's written express of remorse. (source: KDBC News)
The Death Penalty Returns
Roughly 15 death row prisoners are scheduled to be put to death between
now and October, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This
flood of executions is the result of the Supreme Courts ruling that upheld
the constitutionality of a troubling form of lethal injection. The next
few months, as states put their machinery of death into overdrive, are an
ideal time for the nation to rethink its commitment to capital punishment.
Last month, the Supreme Court upheld Kentucky's method of lethal
injection. Although there was convincing evidence that the three drugs
that Kentucky injects can cause excruciating pain and that there are not
proper safeguards to avoid needless suffering, the court ruled that it
does not violate the Eighth Amendments prohibition of cruel and unusual
After the court accepted the case last fall, many states halted
executions. Now, the Death Penalty Information Center projects that by the
end of the year, there could be 50 to 60 executions, which would make the
upcoming months one of the busiest in years on Americas death rows. A
disproportionate share of these will no doubt occur in Texas, which last
year carried out more than 60 % of the nations executions.
These scheduled executions come at a time when many Americans are,
rightly, turning away from capital punishment. We believe that the taking
of a life by the state is in all cases wrong, but it is particularly so
with the deeply flawed system that exists today. Many defendants lack
adequate legal representation at their trials, race distorts who is
sentenced to death for what crimes and juries are "death qualified"
jurors with moral objections to the death penalty are removed. As the
recent rash of DNA exonerations has shown, judges and juries too often
sentence innocent people to death.
In the Kentucky case, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a separate opinion
in which he enumerated the many problems with the application of the death
penalty and said that he decided that it is inherently unconstitutional.
He also expressed his hope that the case would generate debate not just
about lethal injection but about "the justification for the death penalty
itself." With executioners gearing up across the country to start putting
prisoners to death, state legislatures, governors, judges and ordinary
Americans should start that debate.
(source: Editorial, New York Times)
Pending executions in the United States
Georgia executed a convicted murderer on Tuesday, the first person to be
put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court ended a de facto
moratorium on capital punishment last month.
The execution is the first of a series of pending executions that were put
on hold. Following is a list of those due to take place in May and June.
May 27 - Kevin Green (Virginia) - Convicted of capital murder and robbery
after robbing a convenience store in 1998.
June 3 - Derrick Sonnier (Texas) - Convicted for the 1991 rape and murder
of a woman and the death by stabbing of her son in a Houston suburb.
June 10 - Percy Walton (Virginia) - Pleaded guilty to 4 counts of capital
murder. All of the victims were neighbors. Has been on death row since
June 17 - Terry Lyn Short (Oklahoma) - Sentenced to death in 1995 for
throwing a homemade bomb into an Oklahoma City apartment building,
resulting in 1 death.
June 17 - Charles Hood (Texas) - Convicted of murdering 2 people in 1989
in a Dallas suburb.
June 25 - Robert Yarbrough - (Virginia) - Convicted of killing a
convenience store owner during a robbery in 1997.
[sources: Death Penalty Resource Community and Death Penalty Information
[MY NOTE---Walter Berry has a serious execution date on May
More executions not the answer
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that lethal injection was
legal and could resume. States immediately rushed to begin killing
convicted murderers. Georgia was first in line. Georgia executed convicted
killer William Earl Lynd at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Good, many will say.
But something else happened last Tuesday, 3 days before the Supreme Court
ruling. James Woodward walked free. He was convicted of killing his
girlfriend in 1981. 27 years of his life was gone. His innocence was
finally proven. At least he's still alive.
Just last Friday, the state of North Carolina dropped all charges against
Levon Jones. He was sent free after spending 13 years on death row.
According to the latest count from the Death Penalty Information Center,
129 people have been convicted, sentenced to die and then released from
death row with evidence of their innocence.
That's just since 1973. Of those 129, 5 have been in Alabama. How many
more were innocent and put to death? The stakes are too high for mistakes
to be made or prejudice, power or personal incomes to play a role.
Not everyone can hire a "Dream Team" like O.J. Simpson. Simpson walked
free with the propensity of evidence against him. Others have been sent to
their death with much less evidence against them. Although the American
criminal justice system may very well be the best system in the history of
the world, it is, like all other man-made and human-operated instruments,
far from perfect.
Yet we, as a nation continue to kill in the name of justice, something
that is extremely rare among industrialized nations. One thing we share
with Iran is a willingness from our governments to kill criminal citizens.
There are lots of arguments both pro and con. Some rest on religious
beliefs. Others are based upon the simple yet powerful desire for revenge
against society's worst.
Those who cry for vengeance often do so pointing toward Bible verses that
they believe justify the death penalty, while they fail to recognize the
Bible also states "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." Others will say,
"An eye for an eye." But Jesus reminded us in John 8:7, he without sin
should cast the first stone." Then, there is the entire issue of whether
or not we as a society value the sanctity of all life.
There is no empirical evidence showing that the death penalty is an actual
deterrent to crime. All of those same arguments have been debated ad
nauseum. But before you cheer on the death penalty, ask yourself: Do you
trust your government to pave the right roads, tax equitably or always do
the right thing? If not, then how can you trust your government to kill
the right people?
We make lethal injection the desired method of execution because we
believe it's more clinical and seemingly less violent. It is easier for us
to accept and still think of the act as civilized. Each time a new method
of death is introduced, the courts go through the same exercises of
determining whether this method or that method is cruel and unusual
according to strict legal definitions. The issue isn't whether the method
is cruel and unusual. The issue is how many men and women will be killed
wrongfully, or needlessly when life without parole would do just as good
at protecting society.
Those who take comfort or rejoice in the news our states have resumed
capital punishment should pause and ask themselves if this is the moral
and just course of action. We hold firmly for many reasons that it is not.
For countless monsters, the argument can truly be made for the death
sentence. There have been scores of horrible people that have done
horrible things.. But what are we seeking other than vengeance by
eliminating that life? And doesn't that put us, as a society, down on
(source: Opinion, Joe McAdory, Auburn-Opelika (Ala.) News)
PACE President calls on the US to abide by its international obligation to
review cases of death row prisoners denied consular access
Llus Maria de Puig, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe (PACE), made the following statement today:
"I would like to express my dismay at yesterday's announcement of a recent
date for the execution of Jos Ernesto Medellin, the Mexican on death row
in Texas. Mr Medellin says that he was never given prompt access to
consular officials, as required by international law. Mr Medellin's
execution would be wrong morally, but it would also show a clear disregard
for international law and a lack of respect for the UN's highest judicial
body, which has ruled that the United States breached its international
obligations in this case and others and ordered it to review them.
I call on the US authorities to abide by their international treaty
obligations, and on Congress to intervene if necessary to ensure this
takes place. I also invite them to review the cases of Mr Medellin and 50
other Mexicans on death row who did not receive prompt consular access, as
is their right, and as ordered by the International Court of Justice.
I also deplore the execution yesterday of William Earl Lynd, ending a
7-month national suspension of executions following the Supreme Court's
ruling that lethal injection is legal. However it is done, the death
penalty is wrong, and my hope is that one day it will cease in the United
What next for the death penalty?
Georgia executed William Earl Lynd, who murdered his live-in girlfriend 2
decades ago, Tuesday night, ending a 7-month moratorium on the death
penalty in the U.S. The Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay an
hour before Lynd, 53, was put to death. The court last month cleared the
way for executions to resume after upholding the constitutionality of
What the commentators said
This is only the beginning of a "flood of executions," as states prepare
to execute roughly 15 death row prisoners between now and October, said
The New York Times in an editorial. "The next few months, as states put
their machinery of death into overdrive, are an ideal time for the nation
to rethink its commitment to capital punishment." The Supreme Court made
this possible by ruling that Kentucky's method of lethal injection did not
constitute cruel and unusual punishmentdespite "convincing evidence that
the three drugs that Kentucky injects can cause excruciating pain." The
bigger question is whether the death penalty can ever be justified.
That's an easy one to answer. Of course it is, said Adam T. Yoshida in The
Shotgun Blog of Canada's Western Standard. The death penalty "isn't merely
about the offender and the victimit is the recognition that there exist
absolute and unforgivable offenses which are not merely against human law,
but against natural law as well." In fact, the real tragedy is that we
don't have enough "confidence" in "our collective morality" to impose the
death penalty for more offenses, such as the case of Josef Fritzl, who has
been charged with keeping his own daughter as a sex slave in his basement
As long as we as a nation are going to continue putting people to death,
said anti-death-penalty lawyer Billy Sothern in The Nation online, "we
must be mindful of the fact that extinguishing the life of a healthy
person who wants to live cannot be done without violence. Whether Lynd
went "kicking and screaming to the gallows in a public square," or died
"quietly, without any expression of pain as he succumbs to the poison
flowing unseen in his bloodstreamhe has not died peacefully." And we
should acknowledge that"no matter the manner of executionnobody we kill
(source: Opinion, The Week Daily)
Death penalty to be sought in slaying of girl, 9
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for 2 men charged in the rape
and murder of a 9-year-old southwest Missouri girl.
Barry County prosecutor Johnnie Cox filed notice with the court Monday,
saying that he plans to seek the death penalty for Rowan Ford's
stepfather, David Spears, and Chris Collings, a friend of Spears.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to 1st-degree murder, forcible rape and
statutory rape in the girl's November death.
Because the state will pursue the death penalty, both Spears and Collings
will be appointed new public defenders. Spears' current public defender,
Michael King, declined to comment Tuesday and said the case hadn't yet
Ford disappeared from her home in the Newton County village of Stella
while her mother was working a night shift. An intensive weeklong search
ended when her body was found in a cave about 10 miles south in
neighboring McDonald County.
Both Spears and Collings have confessed to rape and murder, according to
prosecutors and court filings.
In Monday's filing, Cox said that the slaying was "outrageously or
wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman," involving torture or depravity of
The next court hearing in the case is scheduled for May 20.
Pro-Con: Should the death penalty be expanded to include people who rape
The Missouri Legislature is considering a bill, SB 1194, which would allow
the death penalty for individuals who commit acts of forcible rape or
sodomy of children.
On the surface, this seems to be a logical response to the most heinous of
acts perpetrated upon children, but further analysis will bring us to a
very different conclusion.
For a child to disclose abuse is nothing short of an act of heroism.
Adding the death penalty as a punishment for this crime would diminish the
rate at which it is reported.
There are many other ways to help these kids besides making them the
conduit for someone's execution. This only would add to the guilt and
trauma that these kids already face.
Let's do the right thing now not by passing this misguided legislation
but by working together to support victims and using the laws we have in
place to hold perpetrators accountable.
(source: Opinion, Tammy Gwaltney, the Southeast Missouri Network Against
Sexual Violence; Kansas City Star)
A death sentence voided----The Adam Miranda case shows that the California
death penalty costs too much in time, money and justice.
If a respected entertainment lawyer had not decided 20 years ago to devote
a substantial chunk of his life and work to helping a California death row
inmate -- for free -- Adam Miranda would be dead by now. A document that
could well have reduced Miranda's sentence had it not purposely or
accidentally been kept from defense lawyers never would have come to
light. Miranda's most recent petition for habeas corpus likely would have
been rejected, just like the ones in 1987, 1989 and 1993.
But George R. Hedges stood by Miranda for two decades and happened upon
evidence in the file of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office
that a different man stabbed a drug dealer to death in 1980. On Monday,
that changed everything, as the state Supreme Court threw out Miranda's
death sentence and ordered a new penalty trial.
Miranda had an attorney whose firm was willing to donate millions of
dollars worth of time to his case. Most of the 669 people on San Quentin's
death row aren't nearly as lucky. If they have lawyers at all, they're
usually harried, well-meaning professionals who do the best they can with
the limited resources the state gives them to pursue their appeals.
Earlier this year, one defense lawyer told the California Commission on
the Fair Administration of Justice that, in a single death-penalty case,
he typically must review 100 boxes of files and explore 40 areas in which
things may have gone wrong -- but must tell his clients that "maybe I can
only do 7 of them" because there isn't enough money to do the rest.
Confronted with the enormous cost of the death penalty in California, its
supporters argue that it would be cheaper if the process were sped up. Yet
Miranda's case shows how important those seemingly endless appeals can be.
Miranda is not a sympathetic symbol for abolishing the death penalty.
Jurors were presented with a videotape at trial that showed him killing an
Eagle Rock convenience store clerk; having committed such a brutal crime,
he should never again walk free. But his sentence -- death, and not life
without parole -- was based in part on another killing. The letter found
in the prosecutor's file, but never shared with the defense as required by
law and thus never considered by the sentencing jury, contained evidence
of another man's admission to that crime.
Other death row prisoners are entitled to the same chance Hedges won for
Miranda, but they won't get it. California's death penalty costs too much
-- in time and money, but mostly in its potential for injustice -- to be
(source: Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
Yolo jury votes for death penalty for CHP officer's killer
In a hushed courtroom Tuesday afternoon, Yolo County jurors recommended
the death penalty for Brendt Volarvich in the murder of California Highway
Patrol Officer Andy Stevens on a rural road near Woodland more than 2
The 22-year-old Volarvich, wearing a dark suit and sitting beside his
lawyers, nodded his head as the clerk read the verdict.
There was little show of emotion among the spectators in the crowded
Before the reading, Judge Stephen L. Mock warned the audience that there
should be no audible comments. After his clerk read the verdict, Mock
polled the jurors, then thanked them for their service and excused them.
He asked Volarvich if he agreed to postpone his sentencing until June 12.
"I guess," Volarvich said. "Yes, Your Honor."
Mock has the power to set aside the jury's verdict the first death
penalty recommended by a Yolo County jury since the early 1990s and to
sentence Volarvich to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jurors deliberated about 5 hours before reaching their unanimous verdict.
After closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial Monday, they met
for about an hour, then returned Tuesday morning to continue their
Word came that they had reached a verdict about 2 p.m. It was read 2 hours
Last month, the same jurors found Volarvich guilty of 1st-degree murder
with special circumstances for shooting Stevens in the face during a
traffic stop on County Road 96 on the clear autumn afternoon of Nov. 17,
Stevens, 37, died almost instantly. Photographs exhibited during the trial
showed his crumpled body lying in a pool of blood along the roadway.
A single bullet from a .357 Magnum revolver had pierced his sunglasses and
ripped through his brain.
Prosecutors had argued that Volarvich, a convicted felon in possession of
a firearm, murdered Stevens because he did not want to return to jail.
A second defendant, Gregory Zielesch, 50, of Woodland, also was convicted
of 1st-degree murder and conspiracy.
Jurors found he had given Volarvich the gun used to kill Stevens as part
of a murder plot against another man, Doug Shamberger, who was involved
with Zielesch's estranged wife.
Zielesch faces the possibility of life in prison when he is sentenced May
After Tuesday's verdict, jurors were escorted from the courtroom by Yolo
County sheriff's deputies and left the building without comment.
Lawyers in the case District Attorney Jeff Reisig, former District
Attorney David Henderson, and defense lawyers Clyde Blackmon and Fred
Dawson remain bound by a judge's gag order.
Volarvich's mother and other family members, who attended much of the
trial, were not in the courtroom for the verdict.
Outside the courthouse, Volarvich's younger brother sat weeping on the
steps of the nearby county administration building. When approached by
reporters, he walked away.
Shortly after the verdict, law enforcement officers and members of
Stevens' family gathered in the county building's atrium for a news
Michelle Stevens, the officer's widow, thanked her family and friends for
their support, and the prosecutors, judge and jurors for their work on the
case. With tears in her eyes, she thanked God "for strength."
Andy Stevens' mother, Pat Stevens, also thanked prosecutors Reisig and
Henderson. "They've shown us courage and dedication and hard work and
patience," she said.
She said God had supported her family during the ordeal. "His hands have
held us and secured us through this long and devastating time," she said.
Stevens' fellow CHP officers had shown the family "nothing but courage and
love," she said.
She said citizens should show their gratitude to law enforcement officers.
"If you see one, go up to them and tell them you appreciate their hard
work," she said. "I wish I told my son that more."
CHP Officer Robert Lagomarsino was a friend of Andy Stevens. He was with
Stevens when he met his wife, had lunch with him the day of his death, and
was among the first officers at the murder scene. Stevens, he said, was
"just a caring, nice person. He didn't have a mean bone in his body."
But, Lagomarsino said, he believed Stevens would have been satisfied with
Tuesday's verdict. "Justice was something he knew had to be served," he
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Former death row inmate leads capital punishment talk
After 5 years on death row, Greg Wilhoit was exonerated.
"For some reason, if we cannot lethal inject you, we'll electrocute you.
If the power goes out, we'll hang you, and if the rope breaks, my God,
we'll take you out behind the jail and shoot you," a judge told him during
his sentencing, he said.
Wilhoit was put on death row for the murder of his wife after being found
guilty by a jury of his peers.
He was one of the speakers at the anti-death-penalty event Tuesday in the
Student Union's Ohlone room.
Tim Cordell, a senior justice studies major, said he supports the death
"I think that death as an alternative punishment for certain criteria
fits," Cordell said. "I think it's a valid punishment for valid crimes."
Other students couldn't decide.
"I don't really have an opinion on it," said Dave Panlilio, a senior
pictorial arts major. "I'm in the middle."
Several students disagreed with the death penalty.
"Killing people is bad," said Trisha Vasquez, a sophomore hospitality
management major, "especially when you don't know if they're guilty."
"I don't want to play God," said Anthony Tsai, a senior kinesiology major.
During the event, Wilhoit said he wanted the death sentence.
"I wasn't going to give the state of Oklahoma the satisfaction of hearing
me, my family or anyone I know beg for my life," he said.
Wilhoit made the crowd laugh during his story.
"On death row you don't get out your cell under any circumstances," he
joked. "Handcuffs. Handcuffs and belly chains. You've got to walk around
like this. It's called the penitentiary shuffle."
During his first 3 years on death row, Wilhoit said he supported capital
punishment until his friend on death row was executed.
"One of the gentlemen would unwittingly prove to be the catalyst in my
transformation from someone who was adamantly pro-death penalty," Wilhoit
said, "into an individual who feels that capital punishment is
inappropriate under any circumstances."
Veronica Luna, a senior social work and sociology double major and member
of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, also spoke at the event.
"There is no right way to do the wrong thing," said Luna, whose uncle is
on death row.
Irene Rodriguez, a member of Families to Amend the Three Strikes Law, has
a son who is serving 25 years to life for nonviolent crimes.
"We have to do what is right to correct this law," Rodriguez said.
She said the group gathered signatures to get the amendment on the ballot
this year, but was not successful. The group may try again in 2010,
"As long as I have breath in my body," she said, "I will continue to fight
for my son."
(source: San Jose State Spartan Daily)
Fort Smith Murderer Granted Stay Of Execution
James Aaron Miller, who was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for
murdering his girlfriend and her 2 young children, has been granted a stay
of execution while the case is appealed.
In April, a jury convicted Miller on three counts of capital murder.
Miller was arrested in 2006 at the apartment of his girlfriend, Bridgette
Barr. Inside the apartment, police found Barr's body, along with the
bodies of her small children, Sydney and Garrett.
(source: KHBS News)
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