[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GA., DEL., ALA., PENN., CALIF., N.H.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Nov 7 23:47:12 CST 2008
Nichols jury to resume deliberations Friday
Jurors in the Brian Nichols murder trial went home without a verdict
Thursday after their 1st full day of deliberations in a trial that has
lasted 32 days. They are considering 4 killings that Nichols confessed to
committing on March 11, 2005.
Attorney wrapped the case Wednesday with closing arguments. The 12-person
jury 6 black females, 2 white females, 2 black males, 1 white male, and 1
Asian male listened to more than 90 witnesses and saw more than 900
pieces of evidence introduced in the more than 6 weeks of trial.
The case was tried in Atlanta Municipal Court. It was moved from the
Fulton County courthouse during jury selection this summer because the
courthouse was the crime scene.
Nichols escaped from a holding cell and shot and killed Superior Court
Judge Rowland Barnes and a court reporter, Julie Ann Brandau, in Barnes
courtroom, where he was to stand trial for rape later that morning.
He then shot and killed Fulton County sheriffs deputy Sgt, Hoyt Teasley on
the street outside the courthouse, and, while on the run, shot and killed
U.S. Customs agent David Wilhelm at Wilhelms Buckhead home.
Jurors will return at 8:40 a.m. Friday. If they do not reach a verdict
Friday, they will return Monday.
The 36-year-old Nichols, through his lawyers, claims a delusion that he
was leading a "slave revolt" against an unjust system made him believe his
actions were just and "overmastered" his will to stop. Prosecutors argue
Nichols is a vicious killer who made up stories of his delusions to try to
avoid a possible death penalty.
The jurors can find Nichols guilty of murder, not guilty by reason of
insanity, or guilty but mentally ill an unusual verdict that would
require the prison system to evaluate Nichols for treatment.
Either of the guilty verdicts would require the jury to then decide
whether Nichols should be executed for one of the most notorious multiple
murders in metro Atlanta history or be sentenced to life in prison.
Nichols, once an $80,000-a-year UNIX System administrator for UPS, did not
testify. The jury heard jailhouse recordings of phone conversations
between Nichols and his parents in which he mocked the idea that he
suffered from a delusional compulsion and plotted a public-relations
campaign using hip-hop artists to burnish his image.
His lawyers and a psychologist say those conversations are evidence of the
Nichols had a largely clean criminal history before being charged in a
bizarre rape of his former girlfriend in August 2004. He was awaiting
trial on that charge when the escape and four slayings occurred.
"This is a case where a man's own thoughts betray him that compel a
decent man to take uncontrollable actions," defense lawyer Josh Moore told
jurors in closing arguments Wednesday. "It robbed him of his ability to
distinguish right from wrong."
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Lawsuit over Del. executions advances----Deadlines should speed ruling on
A federal judge has set a series of deadlines that could soon lead to the
resolution of a lawsuit that has held up all executions in Delaware for
more than 2 years.
According to legal experts -- barring appeals -- a ruling from Delaware
District Judge Sue L. Robinson could clear the way for the state to resume
executions by lethal injection, possibly before the end of the year,
depending on when Robinson rules.
"I certainly think the judge is narrowing the issues and appears to be on
a path to try and resolve this without a formal trial," said Jules
Epstein, associate professor at Widener University School of Law.
Epstein's faculty colleague at Widener, Tom Reed, agreed. He described the
order by Robinson as giving the plaintiffs "one last chance" before she
rules on the case.
Late last month, Robinson ordered both sides -- public defenders
representing Delaware's death row inmates and the Delaware Attorney
General's Office representing the Department of Correction -- to file
briefs by the end of November to resolve any lingering issues.
Attorneys with the Federal Community Defender's Office in Philadelphia did
not return calls Thursday. The Delaware Attorney General's Office declined
The primary issues in the lawsuit, which was brought against the state in
May 2006 charging that its use of lethal injection was unconstitutional,
have largely been resolved.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April, in Baze v. Rees, that the use of
lethal injection as an execution method was constitutional. And after
briefly resisting changing its execution protocols, the state signaled in
July it would adopt standards approved by the high court in its ruling.
Public defenders also had argued that no matter what standard the state
adopts, there is still a problem because in the past Delaware has not
followed its own execution procedures. However, Robinson has indicated she
was not inclined to consider previous problems with Delaware executions.
Robinson called off a scheduled hearing in September. Following a
telephone conference that has not been made public, she ordered both sides
to mediation -- that also was closed to the public -- to resolve any
But according to letters filed with the court, the parties were unable to
So Robinson has now directed the public-defender plaintiffs to identify by
Nov. 12 what portions, if any, of Delaware's execution protocols are
substantially different from those approved by the Supreme Court.
She then gave Delaware until Nov. 26 to reply.
Reed said because of the Supreme Court ruling, the civil action is
Epstein said it is clear that Robinson is "moving the case forward."
And, Epstein said, if Robinson decides that the briefs give her enough
information -- and do not raise any new questions that she feels need to
be addressed -- it is likely she will make a ruling that would clear the
way for the state to resume lethal- injection executions.
However, Epstein said, an appeal of such a ruling by Robinson could result
in a continued stay on executions.
(source: News Journal)
Tuscaloosa man charged with capital murder
A Tuscaloosa man was arrested Thursday and charged with capital murder in
Hosea Johnson, 30, was arrested by Fayette police in connection with the
slaying of Casey OBrian "Tadpole" Rodgers, according to a news release
from Chris McCool, the 24th judicial circuit district attorney.
Rodgers, 27, of Fayette, was shot and killed during a robbery in the 200
block of Ninth Street Northwest on June 10, McCool said.
"It may have taken longer than some people wanted, but an investigation of
this nature takes time and patience," said Keith "Booty" Cox, Fayette
police's chief investigator who arrested Johnson, along with investigator
Johnson was placed in the Fayette County Jail without bond.
If he's convicted of capital murder, Johnson could face the death penalty
or life in prison without parole, according to the release.
(source: Tuscaloosa News)
Death penalty eyed in fatal assault on local infant
Indiana County District Attorney Tom Bianco may seek the death penalty for
a Black Lick man charged with allegedly beating his girlfriend's 19-month
Joshua Louis Turner, 18, has already been charged with 1 count of criminal
homicide for the death of Leonard William McIntire in his apartment on
Turner initially was charged with one count of aggravated assault for
allegedly beating, biting, shaking and punching the boy, but that charge
was upgraded to murder after the boy died of head trauma early Saturday at
Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Turner currently is being held at the Indiana County Jail without bond.
At a news conference Tuesday at the Indiana state police barracks, Bianco
said he will make his decision whether to seek capital murder charges once
he reads the final autopsy report on the boy's death and examines the
medical records from Children's Hospital.
He said the "nature and extent" of the injuries will be the determining
"I want to take a look at if we're talking about one blow to the head or
multiple blows to the head," Bianco said. "There was at least one broken
bone. I want to see if there were any other broken bones. The medical
records and autopsy report will give me an idea of exactly what took place
and the nature and extent of the beating the 19-month-old baby took."
Trooper Tim Lipniskis, the lead investigator for the case, said that the
baby had been shaken severely and punched, had a broken wrist and had bite
marks on his torso.
"It's unbelievable," Lipniskis said of the injuries. "I've never seen
anything like it in 18 years with the state police."
Lipniskis said Turner had been watching the boy while Kimberly Shirley,
the 20-year-old mother of the boy, was out running errands. Turner was
living with Shirley at the time.
After McIntire sustained the injuries, Lipniskis said Turner called
Shirley on her cell phone and she returned home and called 911. The boy
was taken to Indiana Regional Medical Center and then was airlifted to
Turner originally told Shirley and the investigators that McIntire had
injured himself in a fall.
Lipniskis said the medical evidence did not support that story, so the
police brought Turner into the station for a 2nd time.
When the investigators told Turner his story didn't match the evidence,
Lipniskis said Turner confessed to inflicting the injuries on the boy.
The police had not yet determined a motive for the crime, but, according
to Lipniskis, Turner stated that he gets angry on some occasions.
Lipniskis said Turner, who was born in Iowa and also lived in Kentucky,
has a small criminal record that included petty thefts.
Lipniskis said the mother is not a suspect in the case and will likely not
face any charges.
(source: Blairsville Dispatch)
Power Ranger Faces Death Penalty
A jury has recommended the death penalty for a former child actor who
murdered a couple for their yacht.
Tom and Jackie Hawks begged for their lives as Skylar Deleon bound them to
an anchor and hurled them into the ocean off California. The 29-year-old,
who appeared in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series, was convicted
of their murder last month. The jury urged a judge to sentence him to
death after two days of deliberation at Orange County Superior Court.
Deleon was convicted of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder - the killings of Mr
and Mrs Hawks in 2004 and of Jon Jarvi, who he met through a prisoner work
programme while serving time for burglary, in 2003.
Attorney Gary Pohlson had pleaded with jurors to help spare his client's
life, arguing Deleon was abused by a drug-dealing father and abandoned by
his mother, leaving him predisposed to violence.
He was disappointed. He was very hopeful he wouldn't get the death
Skylar Deleon's attorney Gary Pohlson
Jurors heard statements from victims' relatives, attorneys, Deleon's
family members and psychiatrists, who offered differing takes on the role
child abuse has on a person's development.
The former actor, who quit the industry as an adult because he couldn't
remember his lines, murdered the Hawks after pretending to be interested
in buying their yacht.
Prosecutors say he overpowered the couple on a test cruise, tied them to
an anchor and tossed them into the Pacific Ocean.
Deleon and his then-wife Jennifer Henderson later scrubbed the boat clean
with bleach wipes in Newport Harbour, prosecutors said.
The Hawks' bodies were never found.
Henderson was convicted in 2006 of murder and murder for financial gain
and was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole.
Judge Frank F Fasel will sentence Deleon on January 16.
(source: Sky News)
Jury seeks death for man who killed couple at sea
A jury on Thursday recommended death for a man convicted of murdering a
couple by binding them to the anchor of their yacht and throwing them into
the ocean off California as they pleaded for their lives.
Skylar Deleon, 29, sat motionless as the jury announced its decision
following nearly 2 days of deliberation in Orange County Superior Court.
"He was disappointed," Deleon's attorney Gary Pohlson said afterward. "He
was very hopeful he wouldn't get the death penalty."
Deleon was convicted last month of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder for the
2003 slaying of Jon Jarvi, who he met in a work furlough program while
serving time for burglary, and the 2004 slayings of Tom and Jackie Hawks
aboard their yacht.
During the trial's penalty phase, which took 6 days, jurors heard
statements from victims' relatives, attorneys, Deleon's family members and
psychiatrists, who offered differing takes on the role child abuse has on
a person's development.
Pohlson had pleaded with jurors to help spare his client's life, arguing
Deleon was abused by a drug dealing father and abandoned by his mother,
leaving him predisposed to violence.
Tom Hawks' son Ryan said he was pleased with the jury's recommendation.
"Skylar is going to be sitting in that jail cell, socializing with his
pals for 40 years before he is going to receive the needle, and my parents
are still dead."
Deleon killed the Hawks in 2004 after feigning interest in buying their
yacht. Prosecutors say he overpowered the couple on a test cruise, tied
them to an anchor and tossed them into the Pacific Ocean as they begged
for their lives.
According to prosecutors, Deleon and his then-wife Jennifer Henderson
later scrubbed the boat clean with bleach wipes in Newport Harbor.
The Hawkses' bodies were never found.
Henderson was convicted in 2006 of murder and murder for financial gain in
the Hawkses' deaths and was sentenced to 2 terms of life in prison without
3 other men are also charged with the Hawkses' murders, including two
allegedly on the boat at the time. They have pleaded not guilty.
Judge Frank F. Fasel will sentence Deleon on Jan. 16.
(source: Associated Press)
Mercy alone spares Brooks ---- Murderer will spend rest of life in prison
John "Jay" Brooks will die in prison, but not by lethal injection. Jurors
found yesterday that the state had enough evidence to put Brooks to death
for murdering Jack Reid Sr., but they showed mercy and gave him a life
Brooks, 56, didn't visibly react, but his wife, Lorraine Brooks, cried
when the sentence was announced. She left the courtroom without comment,
surrounded by family, her face covered.
Reid's family, which has maintained a daily presence at the two-month
trial, also declined comment. Family members will speak today at Brooks's
After court yesterday, Brooks's attorneys said they still believe Brooks
is not guilty of Reid's murder and will appeal his guilty verdicts to the
state Supreme Court.
Defense attorney Monica Foster, a death penalty expert from Indiana,
blasted Attorney General Kelly Ayotte for bringing 2 capital murder
charges against Brooks.
Foster said the charges were a waste of the state's money, since juries
don't "kill" people like Brooks, meaning someone without a criminal record
who had a successful business life.
Foster also called the charges political and suggested Ayotte brought them
against Brooks, a wealthy white man, to balance her death penalty case
against Michael Addison, a poor black man on trial now for the murder of
Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.
Ayotte rebutted both claims last night.
She said she charged Brooks with 2 counts of capital murder because the
evidence showed Brooks had hired men to kill Reid during a kidnapping,
which qualifies for the death penalty in New Hampshire.
Ayotte said last night that the jury supported the decision to bring the
capital murder charges by convicting Brooks last month of both counts. She
said jurors reiterated that support yesterday when they found the state
proved Brooks qualified for the death penalty.
The jury's decision to spare Brooks's life is not a reflection on the
strength of the state's case, she said. The law allows the jury to show
mercy even when death is justified.
"Our jury system is set up so the decision of whether someone gets the
death penalty is made by a jury, and we respect that decision," Ayotte
In response to Foster's other criticism, Ayotte said she never considers
the financial cost when deciding how to charge a case. Her job, she said,
is to enforce laws passed by the Legislature regardless of what
prosecution will cost.
"What would that say for public safety if I undertook that (financial)
analysis?" she said. "What would that say to the victims?"
Ayotte praised the work of the Brooks trial team, which included
prosecutors Kirsten Wilson, Karen Huntress, Janice Rundles and Michael
Lewis as well as victim advocate Jennifer Hunt. She also expressed
sympathy for Reid's family.
"I will never forget seeing the pictures of what happened to Jack Reid,"
Ayotte said. Reid's beaten and decomposing body was found abandoned in
Massachusetts days after he was murdered.
"It was horrible what happened to Jack Reid," she said.
The jury of 7 women and 5 men delivered Brooks's sentence about 3 p.m.
yesterday, after 8 hours of deliberation. Jurors had been working on the
case since testimony began nearly two months ago.
While jurors did not speak to reporters yesterday, the sentencing forms
they used during deliberations provided a glimpse into their thinking.
All 12 jurors found that state prosecutors had proven 9 of the 10
aggravating factors they alleged in arguing for a death sentence,
including that Brooks is dangerous and poses a future threat. The
exception was the state's claim that Reid had suffered serious physical
injuries in addition to the beating that killed him.
Jurors also concluded that those aggravating factors alone were enough to
give Brooks the death penalty.
Jurors were next required to evaluate the defense's mitigating factors,
elements of Brooks's life that his attorneys thought should spare him the
Here, the jury rejected half of the 14 arguments the defense made.
Brooks's reputation as a hard worker, his Navy service, his trumpet
playing and his business success did not strike the jury as meaningful.
But the other 1/2 of the mitigating factors did, according to the
sentencing forms. Those included the fact that Brooks's co-defendants
received lesser sentences and that he grew up with an alcoholic father.
Jurors also agreed that Brooks's life has value and that he can make a
constructive contribution from prison.
Jurors compared the 2 and found the aggravating factors outweighed the
mitigating factors. Their last decision was whether that meant Brooks
It's the hardest question on the form, and it takes just one juror to
reject death for a defendant to get a life sentence.
Jurors didn't reveal yesterday how many of them voted to give Brooks a
life sentence, but at least one did. Given how quickly the jury returned
its sentence, trial watchers speculated that the decision was likely
unanimous or close to it.
After receiving the sentence, Judge Robert Lynn thanked jurors and the
five alternates for their lengthy service.
"The parties could not have asked for a better jury," Lynn told them. "You
have been attentive, patient and thoughtful. I am keenly aware of the fact
that this has not been easy duty."
Attorneys on both sides also praised the jury's work.
"The jury made a factual finding that the (state's) aggravators outweighed
the (defense's) mitigators," prosecutor Wilson said. "Above and beyond
that, it's an individual moral judgment for each juror. The law is set up
in a way that makes it incredibly difficult to sentence someone to death,
and it should be that way."
(source: Concord Monitor)
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