[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, UTAH, MO., KY.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Nov 8 15:38:41 CST 2008
TEXAS----new death sentence
Game warden's killer should die, Wharton jury decides----James Garrett
Freeman has been sentenced to death for killing Texas game warden Justin
Hurst after a police chase in March 2007.
After a Wharton County man was sentenced to death Friday for killing a
state game warden, the parents of both men embraced and cried, sharing the
enormity of their losses with each other.
Condemned killer James Garrett Freeman's mother and father crossed the
wide gulf of the courtroom to console game warden Justin Hurst's parents
and express remorse for their son's actions. And Hurst's parents hugged
them back tightly, making clear they did not hold Freeman's family
"They expressed to us how sorry they were for all of this," said the slain
game warden's mother, Pat Hurst of El Campo. "It was a sharing of the
Jim and Lori Freeman declined to comment as they left the courtroom, but
told Hurst's parents the man seen on police video firing nearly 40 shots
at law enforcement officers was not the son they raised.
"We wanted them to understand there were no winners here," Pat Hurst said
of the condemned man's parents. "Both families suffered losses. In no way
do we want them to feel we held them accountable for what he did that
The conversation ended an emotional 3-week trial in which the jury
convicted the defendant, a 27-year-old man from Lissie, of capital murder.
After more than 13 hours of deliberations over 2 days, jurors concluded
Garrett Freeman, an unemployed welder, would pose a future threat to
society and found no mitigating circumstances sufficient to spare his
Defense attorneys Stanley Schneider and Lee Cox had argued that Freeman
had problems with alcohol and depression. They also said he had no record
of violent acts before the fatal shooting.
But Wharton County District Attorney Josh McCown and special prosecutor
Kelly Siegler said Freeman has a smoldering temper that he cannot control.
Hurst, 34, was killed March 17, 2007, as he and 6 other officers closed in
on Freeman after a 90-minute chase through Wharton and Colorado counties.
After Freeman's tires were punctured, he bailed from his truck at the
Lissie Cemetery and fired nearly 40 shots from a Glock pistol and an AK-47
rifle in less than a minute, striking Hurst twice.
The chase started when another game warden tried to stop Freeman to ticket
him for illegally hunting an animal at night.
Freeman later told a Texas Ranger he didn't know why he shot Hurst.
Most jurors filed back in to the courtroom later Friday to watch Hurst's
widow and parents read victim impact statements to Freeman, even though
the jury had been excused.
One female juror closed her eyes and cried quietly, clasping the jury
foreman's hand as Hurst's father spoke directly to Freeman for the 1st
"I had a son whose life was taken by a poacher for reasons that only that
person will ever know," Allen Hurst said. "Yes, I had quite a son. God,
how I miss him."
Amanda Hurst, 32, of El Campo, told her husband's killer she prays for him
and his family daily because of the anguish he has caused his loved ones.
"Justin was considered a hero by his comrades," she said of her husband.
"Against all training, he chose to leave his cover and expose himself in
this horrific event."
Freeman sat quietly, watching each of Hurst's family members intently as
they spoke. He showed no reaction when state District Judge Randy Clapp
sentenced him to death.
The case was the first death penalty trial in Wharton since 1979.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Overshadowed and lost in the excitement and optimism of Obama's recent
election victory is the stark and brutal reality that Texas in particular,
and the nation in general, continues its barbaric practice of executions.
Texas has already carried out 15 of the nation's 31 executions this year,
and has many more set for this month and beyond.
The President-elect continues to motivate and inspire many with a
far-reaching vision of a better nation and a better world. This will not
be possible as long as we hang, gas, shoot, electrocute or chemically
poison people in the name of the law. The death penalty must be ended if
we are truly to advance as a people.
Hopefully, Obama has the capacity and willingness to learn that
state-sanctioned killing has no place in this or any other society, and
that the death penalty remains an inherently flawed and racist
Human rights, like human deceny, begins at home.
Rick Halperin, President, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
(source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)
Justices concerned-----Utah's high court issues death-penalty warning;
Lack of qualified defense lawyers could unravel capital sentences
Concerned about the lack of qualified lawyers willing to represent
indigent death-row inmates, the Utah Supreme Court warned Friday it might
be forced to reverse capital sentences.
In the case of condemned killer Michael Anthony Archuleta, a unanimous
court said low pay and the complexity of such cases have shrunk the pool
of Utah attorneys who will accept them. Associate Chief Justice Michael
Wilkins wrote the justices may soon be "forced" to rule a lack of able and
willing attorneys is grounds to reverse a death sentence and impose life
without parole instead.
State lawmakers have the duty to provide adequate resources to train and
compensate death-penalty lawyers, the high court said.
"It falls to us, as the court of last resort in this state, to assure that
no person is deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due - and
competent - process of law," Wilkins wrote. "Without a sufficient defense,
a sentence of death cannot be constitutionally imposed."
Friday's ruling involved a request by lawyers with the Utah Attorney
General's Office for sanctions against 2 appellate attorneys for
Archuleta, who tortured and killed Gordon Ray Church, a 28-year-old
Southern Utah University theater student in 1989.
Thomas Brunker, an assistant state attorney general, alleged the two
misstated the law and the evidence in some of the claims in Archuleta's
post-conviction appeal, then refused to correct the misinformation. The
appeal contained about 120 claims, some of which had previously been
rejected by the Supreme Court, he said.
Attorneys Ed Brass and Lynn Donaldson have responded they simply were
providing aggressive and responsible representation of Archuleta. At
arguments before the Supreme Court in September, Brass pointed out that if
defense attorneys fail to raise all possible claims in an appeal, those
claims could be barred in later proceedings.
Fourth District Judge Donald Eyre found there was no unethical behavior
and declined to impose sanctions. The Attorney's General's Office appealed
that decision, which led to Friday's ruling upholding Eyre.
Brunker said he viewed Friday's decision as a win: He had asked for a
ruling that court rules barring attorneys from pressing claims with no
evidentiary support applied to lawyers in capital cases. The high court
affirmed it did.
Archuleta, whose conviction has already been upheld, has claimed previous
lawyers were ineffective and is seeking a new sentencing hearing.
Justice Ronald Nehring recused himself from hearing Friday's case and was
replaced by 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan.
(source: Salt Lake Tribune)
Death-row attorneys won't be fined for delays
A pair of attorneys representing a death row inmate won't be fined for
filing pages of frivolous legal claims delaying the execution of Michael
The Utah Supreme Court turned down a request from state attorneys for the
sanctions, but criticize defense attorneys Edward K. Brass and Lynn
Donaldson for contributing in appeals to delays that have consumed more
than 14 years.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker wanted sanctions against Brass
and Donaldson for making about 40 claims that weren't supported by fact or
law or had already been decided by the courts.
The Supreme Court upheld 4th District Judge Donald J. Eyre, who declined
to impose the sanctions.
(source: Associated Press)
Deck gets death sentence for 3rd time
Convicted murderer Carman L. Deck has been sentenced to death.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Gary Kramer went with the jurys
recommendation given in September.
"This is the 3rd time 12 jurors have recommended a death sentence and I
have concurred with them each time," Kramer said.
Deck, 43, of St. Louis County, was successful in getting two previous
death sentences overturned on appeal. Deck was convicted in the 1998
execution-style murders of an elderly De Soto couple.
Although his conviction has always been upheld, Decks death sentence was
overturned 1st in the Missouri State Supreme Court on the grounds of an
instructional error and he was granted a new penalty phase of the trial.
In 2003, Deck was sentenced to death a second time, but that sentence was
overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court 7-2 because Deck had appeared before
the jury in shackles, which the court deemed unconstitutional.
Justice Stephen Breyer said "shackling implies to jurors that the
defendant is a danger to the community, thus affecting their perception of
him as they decide his fate."
According to court documents, in July 1996 Deck and his sister, Tonia
Cummings, who was sentenced to 70 years for her part in the murders,
knocked on the door of Jim Long, 69 and his wife Zelma, 67, under the
pretense of asking for directions.
The Longs let Deck and Cummings into their home.
Deck pulled a .22 caliber pistol from his waistband and ordered the Longs
to lie face down on their bed, demanding them to give him money. They gave
him money from a tin on top of their television and Zelma Long gave him
about $200 that was in her purse, along with jewelry and papers from a
safe in the couple's home.
Deck then stood over the couple for about 10 minutes trying to decide what
to do with them.
Cummings, who had been posted as a lookout at the front door, became
nervous and left.
Deck shot Jim Long twice in the head before doing the same to Zelma Long.
(source: North County Journal)
DNA-based Death Row appeal denied
A Kentucky death row inmate has lost his bid to use DNA testing to
overturn his conviction and sentence after a judge ruled that the tests
were too inconclusive to overcome the other evidence.
Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake ruled Friday that because DNA tests in
the case of Brian Keith Moore were not definitive, there's nothing to
undercut the evidence presented at his trial for the 1979 murder of Virgil
Harris in Louisville.
Moore, 50, was convicted based in part on dirt and blood found on a set of
clothes prosecutors said were worn by the killer.
DNA tests were conducted on a jacket and shirt. The testing found samples
from at least three people, but could not exclude Moore as one of the
donors. Shake turned down requests for more specific testing after the
initial tests were inconclusive.
In the ruling, Shake listed a litany of evidence presented at trial tying
Moore to Harris' death, including Moore's fingerprints on the victim's car
and on a coin wrapper, as well as four witnesses who saw him in Harris'
"Even if it were demonstrated that another individual contributed DNA to
the 'murder clothes,' the probative value of the trial evidence is
undiminished," Shake wrote.
Judge: death row inmate probably is competent
A Kentucky death row inmate who is pushing to be swiftly executed most
likely will be found competent to fire the public defenders who have been
fighting his death sentence, a judge and attorneys said at a hearing
The finding could clear the way to executing 36-year-old Marco Allen
Chapman, who is scheduled for lethal injection on Nov. 21.
Even though Chapman dismissed his lawyers in 2004 before pleading guilty
to murder and asking for a death sentence, public defenders have continued
to file motions on his behalf and have questioned his competency.
Special Judge Roger Crittenden has scheduled another hearing next week to
hear testimony from a doctor who examined Chapman. The judge said he would
probably declare Chapman competent.
Chapman admitted to killing 2 children and attacking their sister and
sexually assaulting their mother in 2004 in the Northern Kentucky town of
Public defender Heather McGregor said that if an order declaring Chapman
competent is issued, defense attorneys will hold up their end of a deal
made with the inmate and withdraw 2 pending motions in the Kentucky
Supreme Court trying to stop the execution.
"If he's found competent, we will voluntarily withdraw from the case,"
Chapman told the court Friday that once those motions are withdrawn, he
wants the execution to go forward.
(source for both: Associated Press)
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