[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TENN., FLA., GA., MICH., ALA., N.Y.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Nov 8 15:45:51 CST 2008
Death Row Inmate Hopes DNA Testing Clears Him
A death row inmate in Tennessee will get another chance to prove his
DNA evidence could determine if William Glenn Rogers killed a little
Clarksville girl 12 years ago.
Rogers spoke exclusively with NewsChannel 5 from death row Friday.
A Montgomery County judge ruled DNA from the case can go back to the lab.
It is a decision Rogers hopes will get him off death row.
In the summer of 1996, police searched for months for 9-year-old Jackie
Jackie disappeared in July 1996 while picking blackberries near her home
Four months later, police found her body and later charged Rogers with
kidnapping, raping and murdering her.
"4,503 days," Rogers said.
That's how long he has spent on death row for the crimes a jury convicted
him of years ago.
But he believes DNA evidence will set him free.
"I'm hoping they'll prove that it's not mine. I mean, I know it's not
mine. I know it's not mine, that's the whole thing about it," he said.
During his trial in 2000, DNA from semen stains found on the girl's shorts
More advanced testing available today could clear his name.
"I just hope the DNA test go deep enough to find out, you know, separate
these two or three samples they said they've got that are mixed up. The
reason it was inconclusive to begin with, which would prove it's not
mine," he said.
Police said Rogers admitted to killing Beard, saying he ran over her
before disposing her body.
But he has since said he never admitted to any of that and that he didn't
kill the girl.
"I just want to prove I didn't do this. I don't want to die with a bad
name," he said.
The 45-year-old man was supposed to die for his crime in May, but Judge
John Gasaway ordered a stay of execution so Rogers' lawyers could plead
their case for the new round of testing.
A hearing to go over the results of those new, advanced, DNA tests is
scheduled to begin in April. Gasaway also ruled this week that the
original lab that performed those DNA tests in 2000 will conduct the more
advanced tests this time around.
Fla. justices deny condemned inmate's appeals
A death row inmate seeking to stave off execution for killing his
girlfriend's teenage daughter lost 3 separate appeals Friday in the
Florida Supreme Court.
Wayne Tompkins, 57, murdered Lisa DeCarr, the 15-year-old daughter of his
girlfriend, 25 years ago in Tampa. Tompkins is under a stay of execution
that's due to expire Nov. 18. A new execution date has not yet been been
Appeals by the convicted murderer included a claim the state's lethal
injection procedure is unconstitutional because it inflicts cruel and
unusual punishment. The state justices and U.S. Supreme Court rejected
similar appeals by 2 other Florida death row inmates, who were executed
earlier this year.
The high court unanimously denied all of his claims except one, which it
turned aside on a 4-1 vote. Chief Justice Peggy Quince and Justice Charles
Canady recused themselves from all 3 cases.
Justice Harry Lee Anstead wrote in dissent that he would have granted
Tompkins' request for an evidentiary hearing on a claim of prosecutorial
misconduct. Tompkins alleged a former inmate's trial testimony was tainted
because a prosecutor told him to give the jury false information.
A friend of the victim, Kathy Stevens, testified she saw Tompkins atop the
teen on a couch at the DeCarr home on March 24, 1983. DeCarr asked her to
call police as she struggled and hit Tompkins, who was trying to remove
her clothing. Stevens said she left but did not call police.
Tompkins claimed the teen ran away from home. He was charged with
1st-degree murder when her skeletal remains were found 15 months later,
buried under the house. DeCarr's bathrobe sash was tied around her neck
Kenneth Turco testified Tompkins confided details of the murder while they
were cellmates including that he buried the victim under his girlfriend's
house with some clothing and her pocketbook to make it appear she had run
Turco said in sworn statement last week that prosecutor Michael Benito
told him before he testified "don't forget the purse." Turco said his
testimony was truthful except for his statement about the purse.
The high court majority wrote in an unsigned opinion that even if the
state knowingly presented false testimony it was harmless error because
"there is no reasonable possibility that it could have affected the jury's
"Imagine here a jury already concerned with the credibility of a jailhouse
snitch now being told that a critical part of his testimony was fabricated
by the state's prosecutor," he wrote. "Surely, common sense would tell us
this is the kind of 'bombshell' disclosure that could change the jury's
entire evaluation of the case."
Capital Collateral Regional Representative Neal Dupree, whose office is
representing Tompkins, said he was disappointed and agreed with Anstead's
Another appeal is pending in U.S. District Court in Tampa. Dupree said
that court may be asked to also consider the issues in the state appeals
or they might be taken directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Other rejected claims included that Gov. Charlie Crist lacked the
authority to reset Tompkins' execution - originally scheduled in 2004 but
delayed by appeals - and the extra 4 years on death row were cruel and
(source: Associated Press)
Death row inmate, formerly of Sebastian, to get sentence hearing
Longtime death row inmate Rodney Lowe, formerly of Sebastian, will get a
new hearing on his death sentence dating back to a 1991 trial in Indian
But the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the 38-year-old's
conviction for the first degree murder during an attempted robbery of a
convenience store in July 1990. Donna Burnell, 30, of Palm Bay, was shot
twice while she and her 3-year-old son were in the Nu Pack Market on
County Road 512, Sebastian, court records show.
The Supreme Court took an unusually long time a year to rule on the
appeal, said Rachel Day, an attorney with the Capital Collateral Regional
Council-South that handled Lowe's appeal. The Supreme Court only
overturned the death sentence when it ordered the new hearing.
"The Supreme Court was troubled" by what Day said was the discovery of
evidence after trial that Lowe may not have acted alone.
"He had a minor role," she said. "He was not the shooter. What was
presented to the jury (in the original conviction) was misleading."
No one else was charged in the case.
In 1991, a jury found Lowe, then 21, guilty of 1st degree murder and
attempted armed robbery in the case. Burnell was shot in the head and
chest and died on the way to a hospital following the 10 a.m. robbery of
the store at 695 C.R. 512, according to police reports.
Attorneys for Lowe appealed. In 2005, Circuit Judge Robert Hawley upheld
the conviction, but agreed there should be a new hearing on his death
Again Lowe appealed. This week, the Supreme Court agreed with Hawley's
Lowe will return to Indian River Circuit Court for a new sentencing
hearing. A date hasn't been set. The State Attorney's office will have to
decide whether to continue seeking death or a lesser sentence, court
The state could not be reached for comment Friday.
At the time of Lowe's murder arrest, he was on community control after
serving a year in the Indian River Correctional Institution for a robbery
with a firearm in Brevard County in 1988, court files show.
(source: Vero Beach Press-Journal)
Atlanta man found guilty of murder in courtroom rampage----Jurors rejected
Brian Nichols' claim of insanity for the 2005 shooting rampage that left 4
dead. Nichols faces the death sentence or life in prison.
An Atlanta man who claimed the delusion that he was leading a "slave
rebellion" had launched him on a courthouse shooting spree was found
guilty of murder Friday.
Jurors, who rejected Brian Nichols' insanity claim, on Monday will begin
hearing evidence in the sentencing phase of the trial. They must decide
whether Nichols, 36, should receive the death penalty or life in prison
for the 2005 rampage that left four people dead -- including a judge, a
court reporter and 2 law enforcement officers. Another police officer
suffered serious brain damage.
Nichols, who had been on trial on charges that he raped his former
girlfriend when he broke out of a courthouse holding cell and launched his
attacks, sat impassively, his head bowed slightly, as the verdict was
read. The judge's widow and Nichols' father quietly wiped away tears.
Dressed in a gray pinstripe suit, Nichols did not appear to make eye
contact with the jurors, who found him guilty on 54 counts -- including
felony murder, aggravated assault, hijacking, escape, armed robbery and
Contrary to Nichols' claims of mental incapacity, a jailhouse informant
testified that his escape was carefully planned. And in a letter to a
woman with whom Nichols was corresponding, he appeared to believe jurors
who would acquit him could be selected.
"My goal is a not-guilty verdict," Nichols said in the letter, which the
prosecution read in court. "All I need is the right people on the jury and
I can go home."
"It didn't have anything to do with insanity or delusion," prosecutor
Clint Rucker told jurors in his closing argument. "The defendant was
angry, and he was frustrated. He is cold-blooded. He is vicious. He is
remorseless. And he is extremely, extremely dangerous."
But defense attorney Josh Moore said Nichols' letters from jail after the
shootings, in which he compared himself to Nat Turner, Nelson Mandela and
Malcolm X, proved he was delusional.
"This is a case about a broken mind," Moore told the jury.
After the verdict, defense lawyers raised concerns about some of Superior
Court Judge James Bodiford's rulings on testimony during the trial.
Bodiford said he believed that his rulings had been fair and that expert
witnesses had been given the full opportunity to present their findings.
"You thought I treated one side different than the other . . . so if you
want to blame me, OK," he said.
On March 11, 2005, Nichols was preparing to be escorted to Judge Rowland
Barnes' courtroom when he overpowered a guard, nearly beating her to
death. He seized her gun and went into the courtroom, killing Barnes and
his court reporter. Nichols then gunned down a sheriff's deputy who
attempted to stop him outside the Fulton County Courthouse, hijacked a car
and fled downtown Atlanta.
While on the run, Nichols killed an off-duty federal agent. He was
captured about 26 hours later after a young woman whose apartment he
forced himself into at gunpoint was able to escape and call 911.
Ashley Smith Robinson, a former drug addict, testified during Nichols'
trial that she gave him drugs, which seemed to calm him, and read to him
from "The Purpose-Driven Life," a Christian self-help book by mega-church
pastor Rick Warren.
A defense psychiatrist testified that Nichols saw Barnes as a slave
master, in part because the judge had on his office wall a portrait of
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and a comical picture of a cat facing a
jury of dogs. Barnes and his court reporter were white; both sheriff's
deputies attacked during the rampage were African American, as is Nichols.
According to his confession, Nichols told police that rather then spend
his life in prison for rape, "I felt that possibly I could use my talents
to do something noble, and I thought a slave rebellion was noble."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Exonerated death row inmate to speak at Olivet College Wednesday
Ray Krone, who is the 100th person to be exonerated from death row, will
speak as part of Olivet College's Lecture and Symposium Series Wednesday,
Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. in the college's Mott Auditorium. His presentation is
free and open to the public.
Krone was living a happy life as an Air Force veteran and mailman in
Arizona when, in 1991, his world was turned upside down after being
arrested for the murder of a woman named Kim Ancona.
Innocent of the crime, Krone refused to believe that the U.S. legal system
would convict him. When faced with the choice of selling his house to pay
for a lawyer, he opted to be represented by a public defender instead. But
Krone, who was a customer of the Phoenix bar in which Ancona was murdered,
was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an expert
witness who asserted that bite marks found on Ancona matched Krone's
teeth. In 1992, he was sentenced to death.
In 1994, after 2 years and 8 months on death row, Krone was granted a
retrial, convicted again, and sentenced to 46 years in prison. In 2002,
attorney Alan Simpson was able to convince an appeals court that DNA found
at the murder scene pointed to another man. When prosecutors dropped the
charges that April, Krone became the 100th person exonerated from death
row in the United States since 1973. He now serves as director of
communications and training for Witness to Innocence, an organization that
brings to light the crisis of wrongful convictions in death sentencing in
the United States.
(source: Battle Creek Enquirer)
Will Shipp prosecution seek death penalty? Defense asks state to disclose
its intentions in capital case
The lawyer for accused cop killer Kenneth Clarence Shipp Jr. has asked
state prosecutors to disclose whether they plan to seek the death penalty
against his client.
A Madison County grand jury indicted Shipp, 53, in September on a charge
of capital murder in the death of Huntsville police officer William Eric
Freeman late last year.
Robert Tuten, Shipp's lawyer, filed a request on Oct. 29 asking for the
prosecutors to disclose whether they intend to seek the death penalty.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Bruce Williams, who has not
scheduled a date for a trial. Tuten said it is critical to the preparation
of the defense of Shipp that the prosecutors disclose as soon as possible
whether the death penalty will be an issue.
Freeman and partner Kevin Lambert encountered Shipp when they answered a
call about a wreck on Bailey Cove Road in southeast Huntsville on Dec. 4.
Shipp's 1994 Dodge Dakota pickup truck had struck the rear of a Chevrolet
Tahoe. The drivers exchanged information and the police were called.
When the officers arrived at the wreck, Shipp was sitting on the curb and
told the officers he did not have a driver's license because of a previous
arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to police.
His right arm was in a sling because of surgery.
Police said Freeman and Lambert helped Shipp to his feet with the
intention of leading him to a police car. Shipp pulled a pistol from
inside a sling supporting his arm and shot Freeman in the face, police
Shipp, an engineer, is a former employee of the U.S. Army's Aviation and
Missile Command on Redstone Arsenal.
(source: The Huntsville Times)
NEW YORK----federal death penalty trial
Drug dealer spared death penalty
A Bronx drug dealer avoided the death penalty yesterday for the
dismemberment killings of 2 associates in the 1990s, including one whose
body parts were dumped in Yonkers' Tibbetts Brook Park.
Jurors in Brooklyn federal court decided instead for life without the
possibility of release for Humberto Pepin Taveras, 44, who once told a
Yonkers detective that he knew how to chop up the bodies because he had
worked as a butcher in his native Dominican Republic. The verdict, on the
3rd day of deliberations, was 8 to 4 in favor of execution, but a death
sentence required a unanimous verdict.
Defense lawyer David Lewis made an impassioned appeal for the jury to
spare Taveras' life in his closing argument Wednesday. He laid out the
monotony of prison life, and argued that the killings may have been
inexcusable but did not rule out the possibility that someday Taveras
could offer some benefit to society. He concluded by asking that even if
jurors believed Taveras should die, maybe they could show him some mercy.
"If you give (mercy) to him, it's not for him, it's for you," Lewis said.
"In this case, death is (the prosecutors') life's work, but it's not
Taveras shot Jose Rosario six times in his Bronx drug den in September
1992, then slit his throat because he wanted the blood to drain quicker
and went home to eat dinner. He returned to cut up the body and filled
garbage bags with the parts. He dumped them in Tibbetts Brook Park, where
two teenagers found the bags.
Three years later, while free on bail in a drug case, he beat Carlos
Madrid with a hammer and stabbed him before cutting up his body. He put
the body parts in Madrid's car, which he set on fire after parking it
along the Long Island Expressway in Queens.
The cases were unsolved until 2002, when Taveras confessed to the Yonkers
detective, John Geiss, during a series of conversations from an upstate
federal prison where he was held following a drug conviction.
Taveras was convicted of murder last month in the trial's first phase
after jurors rejected his lawyers' arguments that the killings were in
self-defense after both victims threatened Taveras or his family. At the
penalty phase, his lawyers conceded he had intentionally killed both men
but sought leniency as a result of a series of mitigating factors. They
introduced evidence that Taveras had been sexually, physically and
emotionally abused as a child; had cognitive limitations and learning
disabilities that made him unable to appreciate the consequences of his
violent behavior; and that he was beaten and stabbed in the late 1980s,
making him prone to react strongly to threats to his safety.
They also cited an account how a teenage Taveras swam through his flooded
town to save 2 people during Hurricane David in 1979.
Prosecutors countered that Taveras showed no remorse for the dead men,
that he was a "callous, sadistic" killer who once even threatened a
girlfriend by telling her that killing was as easy for him as drinking a
glass of water. "And no one expects him to stop drinking water," Assistant
U.S. Attorney Walter Norkin said.
They cited evidence that he has had razor blades and a knife while in
prison and has sought addresses for witnesses, victims' relatives and even
a prosecutor to suggest that he would remain dangerous to fellow inmates,
guards and others even if imprisoned for life.
"They're asking you to save the life of the defendant," Assistant U.S.
Attorney Lee Freedman said during his rebuttal to Lewis' closing
arguments. "We're asking you to save the life of his next victim."
The outcome was predicted months before the trial by U.S. District Judge
Jack Weinstein, when he urged Justice Department officials not to waste
resources and taxpayers' money pursuing the death penalty. He suggested
the chance a jury would vote to execute Taveras was "virtually nil." The
cost of the case is expected to be more than $2 million. The court clerk
said yesterday that the cost of the defense alone has been $1.23 million.
In 8 federal death penalty cases in Brooklyn over the past 2 years, the
only time a jury opted for the death penalty was for Ronell Wilson in the
slaying of 2 undercover police officers in Staten Island.
(source: The Journal News)
More information about the DeathPenalty