[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, GA., UTAH
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 6 17:22:36 CST 2008
Wharton game warden's killer could get death sentence
James Garrett Freeman could be sentenced to death for killing game warden
Justin Hurst in Wharton County.
A Wharton County jury has begun deliberating on whether a convicted
murderer should be put to death or spend life in prison without parole for
killing a state game warden during a shootout with police.
James Garrett Freeman, 27, of Lissie, was convicted of capital murder on
Monday for fatally shooting Justin Hurst, 34, after a lengthy police chase
that meandered around Wharton and Colorado counties last year.
Video recorded by police cars' dashboard cameras showed Freeman fired
nearly 40 shots in less than a minute at 7 officers who closed in on him
after his tires were punctured during the pursuit.
Jurors must decide whether Freeman is likely to commit violent acts in the
future. During closing arguments this morning, defense attorneys pleaded
for Freeman's life, emphasizing that the unemployed welder had no history
of violent crimes, but only alcohol-related and traffic violations before
the shootout on March 17, 2007.
Defense attorney Lee Cox said Freeman has been a model prisoner since his
arrest and would pose no threat to other inmates or prison officials.
Cox's co-counsel, Stanley Schneider, said a death sentence for Freeman
also would amount to a death sentence for his parents and brother.
"How do we stop the pain for this community? A life sentence without
parole stops the pain, starts the healing, now," Schneider said.
Prosecutors, who have alleged that Freeman intended to commit a massacre
when he opened fire on the police officers, said he poses a future threat
to society because of his bold actions and a smoldering temper.
"When will he erupt again?" Wharton County District Attorney Josh McCown
asked the jury. "How it will manifest itself in prison, we can't be
certain of. But we can be certain that it will happen."
Special prosecutor Kelly Siegler said there are no mitigating
circumstances that justify sparing Freeman's life. She scoffed at
Schneider's assertion that a life sentence would stop the pain felt by
those close to the case.
"How rich. How dare he? Do you really think their pain is ever going to
stop?" Siegler said, pointing to Hurst's parents sitting in the audience.
"That kind of pain never stops."
Jurors began deliberating about 11:45 a.m. They will be sequestered at a
hotel each night until they reach a decision on Freeman's sentence.
Hurst, who was shot twice while taking aim at Freeman, was the 1st Texas
Parks and Wildlife game warden shot to death in the line of duty since
Freeman led officers on the 90-minute chase that preceded the shooting
when another game warden tried to stop him and ticket him for shooting at
an animal from the road at night.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Courthouse shooter's fate in jury's hands
Jurors on Thursday began their first full day of deliberations in the
capital murder trial of a man accused of escaping from custody and killing
four people more than 3 years ago.
Brian Nichols could face the death penalty if the jury finds him guilty of
murdering 4 people.
The jury picked a foreperson Wednesday night and ended its day, officials
said, resuming deliberations about 9:30 a.m.
They are deciding the fate of Brian Nichols, 36, who faces 54 charges
including murder, kidnapping, robbery and escape in the March 2005 rampage
that began at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Nichols, who has pleaded
not guilty by reason of insanity.
He is accused of overpowering Fulton County sheriff's deputy Cynthia Hall
on March 11, 2005, as he was being led into a courtroom where he was
facing a 2nd trial on rape charges.
Officials say he took Hall's gun from a lockbox and fatally shot 3 people
at the courthouse: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes,
court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Fulton County sheriff's Sgt. Hoyt
Teasley, who attempted to apprehend him outside the building.
Nichols is also charged with killing David Wilhelm, a federal customs
agent, hours later at Wilhelm's home in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
He was arrested 26 hours after his escape in suburban Gwinnett County,
where authorities say he held a woman hostage in her apartment, following
the largest manhunt in Georgia history, one that triggered panic in the
Prosecutors have said Nichols confessed to the shootings shortly after his
arrest. The defense has not disputed whether he was the gunman, focusing
instead on his mental state and claiming that he suffers from a disorder
that "overmastered" his will to refrain from criminal acts.
The jury is made up of 5 African-American women, 2 white women, 3
African-American men, a white man and an Asian-American man, court
officials said. Their options are to convict Nichols, find him guilty but
mentally ill, acquit him or find him not guilty by reason of insanity.
If Nichols is convicted, the penalty phase of the trial will begin
immediately, according to Fulton County courts spokesman Don Plummer. In
that phase, jurors would hear impact statements from the victims'
relatives and decide whether to spare Nichols' life.
Nichols' trial has been plagued by delays. In October 2007, Judge Hilton
Fuller of DeKalb County, who was appointed to hear the case, abruptly
halted jury selection on what would have been its third day, accepting a
defense motion to stop the trial until questions of funding for Nichols'
lawyers were resolved.
In January, Fuller recused himself from the case after a New Yorker
magazine article written by Jeffrey Toobin, who is also a CNN senior legal
analyst, quoted him as saying the "only defense" open to Nichols was
insanity, "because everyone in the world knows he did it."
Also in January, Nichols' defense attorneys said in court filings that
they intended to utilize a mental-illness defense, claiming that Nichols
suffered from a "delusional compulsion" at the time of the slayings.
They said he has been diagnosed with a disorder that involves delusions
that he is persecuted, as well as grandiose thinking. Those suffering from
such a disorder may function normally and behave rationally, defense
attorneys said, but when they encounter circumstances that "touch their
delusions, the delusional disorder will preoccupy them and instruct their
thinking and actions."
The Gwinnett County woman Nichols was accused of taking hostage, Ashley
Smith, has written a book and spoken publicly about how she kicked her
addiction to methamphetamine after the ordeal. During their seven hours
together, she has said, she gave Nichols drugs but refused to use them
with him -- and has not used them since.
In a October 2005 appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," Smith said she
was able to gain Nichols' trust and persuade him to surrender quietly
after reading passages to him from Rick Warren's best-selling book "The
Purpose-Driven Life" and calling on God for help.
Smith, who has married and is now known as Ashley Smith Robinson,
testified at Nichols' trial.
FBI fights order for deposition of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator,
The FBI is appealing an order that allows a Utah attorney to conduct taped
depositions of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and a
Salt Lake City lawyer Jesse Trentadue believes that the two inmates have
valuable information about his brother's death in a federal prison - and
about the FBI's alleged withholding of many of the relevant documents
requested in his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit.
Authorities say the August 1995 death of Kenneth Trentadue in a cell at an
Oklahoma City federal prison was a suicide, but the inmate's family
believes he was mistaken for a bombing conspirator and that guards
strangled him with a set of plastic handcuffs in an interrogation that got
out of hand.
To support that theory, Jesse Trentadue has filed 3 FOIA lawsuits. As part
of one of those suits, he requested an order allowing the depositions from
Nichols and David Paul Hammer, who now is on death row at the federal
penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind.
Lawyers for the FBI objected, saying the agency has made appropriate
searches for documents.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball granted Trentadue's request last year. He
reaffirmed that order in September after the FBI asked him to reconsider.
On Tuesday, nov. 4 the FBI filed a notice that it is asking the 10th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to reverse the order.
The body of Kenneth Trentadue, who had served time for bank robbery and
was being held on an alleged parole violation, was found hanging in his
cell on Aug. 21, 1995.
Nichols and Hammer already have supplied Jesse Trentadue with written
affidavits concerning Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the bombing and was
executed in 2001.
Nichols - who is serving a life sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary
Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo. - claims a high-ranking
FBI official "apparently" was directing McVeigh in the plot. Both Nichols
and Hammer, who says he had lengthy conversations with McVeigh while the
two were both housed at the Terre Haute facility, say McVeigh claimed to
be an undercover operative for the military.
The FBI has denied any role in the bombing.
(source: Salt Lake Tribune)
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