[Deathpenalty] [POSSIBLE SPAM] death penalty news-----TEXAS, FLA., ALA. CALIF., UTAH
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 12 18:17:38 CST 2008
Harris County man to die for slaying 14 years ago
Apparently irate over his girlfriend leaving him, George Whitaker III
showed up at her parents' house brandishing a .45-caliber pistol and
demanded to get in.
His ex-girlfriend, Catina Carrier, wasn't at the home in Crosby, east of
Houston in Harris County. But by the time he left, the woman's sister was
fatally shot and her mother and another sister were seriously wounded.
On Wednesday, Whitaker was set to die for the slaying of 16-year-old
Shakeitha Carrier more than 14 years ago.
Whitaker, 36, would be the 16th Texas inmate executed this year and the
1st of 2 scheduled to die on consecutive nights this week in the nation's
most active death penalty state.
Whitaker's conviction and death sentence for the 1994 fatal shooting was
upheld in the appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court last year refused
to review his case.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week unanimously
rejected a clemency petition asking the former mechanic's death sentence
be commuted to life in prison.
Whitaker declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared.
Evidence showed Catina Carrier met Whitaker in high school, began dating
him after graduation and then the two lived together and became engaged at
Christmas 1993. She decided to leave him by the following April because he
became abusive and often took the money she was making. She went to live
in secret with another friend because she feared Whitaker.
On June 15, Whitaker retrieved a .45-caliber pistol he had pawned and
drove with friends to her home under the guise of returning some of her
He pulled the gun on Mary Carrier, the mother of the girls, after she
refused to let him in the house. Testimony showed he forced his way in,
shot her, pistol-whipped her 5-year-old daughter, Ashley, then ran
upstairs and fatally shot Shakeitha, known as Kiki, in the head.
Mary Carrier was shot a 2nd time when she tried to flee the home, but she
and Ashley survived although they both suffered permanent injuries. Mary
Carrier lost the use of her right hand. Ashley Carrier, whose skull was
fractured in two places, remains brain damaged, authorities said.
Whitaker was shot and wounded the next day by Harris County deputies
trying to arrest him at an apartment where he was drinking beer with
another girlfriend. Authorities said he had jumped from a window and was
shot in the hip as he appeared to be reaching for a pistol.
Mary Carrier testified against him at his trial. Catina Carrier also
testified how she was mentally and physically abused by him. One of her
friends testified how she was abducted a few days before the shootings and
forced at knifepoint to call Catina Carrier as Whitaker attempted to lure
his ex-girlfriend to a meeting place.
Whitaker's mother testified his father was a strict disciplinarian, that
her son never was violent in her presence and that Whitaker twice had
tried to kill himself when he was 20. He had no previous prison record.
Whitaker's earlier appeals argued his trial lawyer was ineffective in not
calling a mental health expert to testify, that jurors should have been
told a life sentence would have ensured him at least 40 years in prison,
and that his death sentence was unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Denard Manns, 42, faced execution for the 1998 fatal shooting
of Michelle Robson, 26, at her apartment in Killeen. Robson was a Fort
Hood soldier living off the base.
3 more Texas prisoners are set to die next week.
(source: Associated Press)
7 US executions scheduled in next 10 days
Over the next 10 days, 7 death row inmates are scheduled to be executed in
the United States. 5 of these condemned men are in Texas, a state that has
carried out 15 of the 31 executions in the US so far this year.
Barring a last-minute reprieve, George Whitaker III will die by lethal
injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Texas execution chamber in
Huntsville, north of Houston. The next day, prisoner Denard Manns is set
to be put to death.
3 more Texas executions are planned for next week: Eric Cathey on Tuesday,
November 18; Rogelio Cannady on Wednesday, November 19; and Robert Hudson
on Thursday, November 20.
2 executions are scheduled in other states: Gregory L. Bryant-Bey in Ohio,
and Marco Allen Chapman in Kentucky. Chapman would be the 1st person put
to death in Kentucky in 10 years.
George Whitaker, 36, was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1994
murder of Shakeitha Carrier, his ex-girlfriend's sister. His former
court-appointed lawyer, retired state District Judge Jay Burnett,
petitioned the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that
Republican Governor Rick Perry commute his sentence to life in prison or
grant a 30-stay so that his petition could be reviewed.
In his petition to the pardon board, Burnett argued that his client was
unjustly condemned to death because the presiding judge in his case,
Caprice Cooper, prevented the jury from being told that the alternative
sentence would have been 40 years in prison with no possibility of parole.
Burnett said he was reasonably certain that the jury "believe[d] in the
popular myth that convicted defendants serve only short terms before being
released from prison."
Burnett also contended that Whitaker received poor legal representation
because lawyers did not present expert testimony regarding lingering
effects of a childhood brain injury. He also maintained that the crime did
not meet the criteria for the death penalty in Texas, which requires the
prosecution prove that a murder occurred during the commission of another
felony offense. Prosecutors argued that the murder took place while
Whitaker burglarized the family's home, but Burnett argued that the
defendant had not entered the house to steal anything.
Earlier this week, the pardon board recommended that Governor Perry reject
Burnett's petition, making it increasingly likely that Whitaker's
execution will go forward. Texas governors rarely act against the
recommendations of the board. Rick Perry has presided over 181 executions,
more than any other governor since the US Supreme Court reinstated the
death penalty in 1976.
Perry took over as Texas governor in December 2000 from George W. Bush,
who left the office to assume the US presidency. Bush presided over the
152 executions during his 5 years as Texas governor, commuting only 1
As governor, Rick Perry has taken a fervently pro-death-penalty stance,
and has signed death warrants for the mentally retarded, foreign
nationals, those convicted for crimes committed as juveniles, and many
condemned prisoners whose guilt was in reasonable doubt. In June 2002,
Perry vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates.
On May 28, 2002, Texas executed Napoleon Beazley, who was convicted for a
murder committed when he was 17 years old. Perry refused to issue a 30-day
stay of execution when the pardon board voted against granting Beazley
commutation of his sentence or a reprieve. (See "Texas executes man for
crime committed at 17" )
The European Union, the American Bar Association, Amnesty International
and other human rights groups opposed the execution, and called on Texas
to stop it. As protesters demonstrated outside the governors mansion as
the execution approached, Perry commented, "To delay his punishment would
be to delay justice."
The US and the state of Texas in particular have continually flouted both
world opinion and international law in relation to its death penalty
practices. On July 16 of this year the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) ordered the US to stay the imminent executions of 5 Mexican
nationals on death row in Texas.
The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, signed by the US,
mandates that local authorities inform all detained foreigners "without
delay" of the right to have their consulates notified of their detention.
Governor Perry said of the ICJ ruling, "The world court has no standing in
Texas and Texas is not bound by a ruling or edict from a foreign court."
Less than a month later, Texas carried through on its defiance of the
international court. On August 5, Mexican-born Jose Ernesto Medellin died
by lethal injection at the Huntsville prison; and on August 7, Honduran
national Heliberto Chi was put to death. (See "Texas executes Mexican and
Honduran nationals" )
Condemning the executions scheduled in the US during November, Amnesty
International stated, "It's only a week since Barack Obama's historic
election win, but with a spate of executions scheduled in the USA this
month we already have a chilling reminder of how much needs to be done to
improve the countrys human rights standing in the world
"The death penalty is always cruel and unnecessary and carries the
inescapable risk of irreversible error. We urgently need a US president
prepared to speak out against executions."
The new resident in the White House, however, will not champion this
cause. In his book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama made clear his support for
the death penalty in principle, writing: "I believe there are some
crimesmass murder, the rape and murder of a childso heinous, so beyond the
pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of
its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."
During the presidential campaign, Obama denounced the June 24 US Supreme
Court decision barring the death penalty for child rape, siding with the
extreme-right justices dissenting in the ruling. His position on this case
was one indication of his rightward political trajectory, and a
demonstration of his efforts to assure the ruling elite that he is fit to
govern and will represent their financial and political interests. (See
"Obama attacks US Supreme Court decision barring death penalty for child
Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling at a Chicago press conference, he
said, "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should
be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes.
I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous
crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited,
well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially
applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution."
If George Whitaker is executed tonight, he will be the 32nd person
executed in the US this year and the 1,131st since the US reinstated the
death penalty. His would be the 421st carried out in the state of Texas.
The world looks on with horror as the US continues a practice that has
been condemned and outlawed by the vast majority of the world's
(source: World Socialist Web Site)
Popular softball player's killer pleads guilty, avoids death penalty
Jason Shenfeld, the 27-year-old facing a possible death penalty in the
strangulation death of softball player Amanda Buckley, pleaded guilty this
afternoon in exchange for life in prison without parole.
Shenfeld made no statement as his lawyers entered pleas of guilty on
1st-degree murder, kidnapping and 2 sexual battery charges.
And Circuit Judge Krista Marx minced no words in sentencing him.
She told Shenfeld she thought he might get to prison and regret his plea.
But based on the atrocity of the crime, "I sincerely believe you have
saved yourself from death row," Marx said.
Buckley, a standout softball player from Palm Beach Gardens, was found
dead in the closet of Shenfeld's bedroom in July 2007. The 18-year-old,
headed to college on a softball scholarship, was found beneath bedsheets
and clothing, strangled, bruised, with trauma to her private parts,
according to the autopsy.
The ferocity of the attack led prosecutors to seek the death penalty for
the crime. Shenfeld also had been accused of sexual assault in 2 previous
cases that had been dropped.
Buckley's parents, Tory and Barb, did not attend the plea conference.
They wrote in a statement released to media that they believe Amanda would
not want them to carry hatred in their hearts or have anything to do with
the death of any creature.
"Amanda left so much for all of us to hang on to until we see her again.
We will not dignify nor desecrate the wonderful memories we all possess by
aligning ourselves with the hateful doctrine of death," her parents wrote.
They have since established a foundation "Give a Smile To A Child" in her
name, and a softball field in Palm Beach Gardens has since been
refurbished and named the Amanda Buckley Memorial Field of Dreams.
Outside court, Assistant State Attorney Jill Estey Richstone said defense
attorneys approached her asking for life-in-prison deal, which is also a
"Now he is going to die in prison," she said. "We firmly believe he's a
sociopath and there's no reasonable explanation for this."
Now, Richstone said, instead of focusing for years on the death penalty
appeals, the family can focus on Amanda's foundation.
Shenfeld's plea Wednesday also negates the need for a public and painful
trial of the evidence.
His defense attorneys, Brian Gabriel and Bryan Raymond, at one time sought
Buckley's MySpace and cellphone records, telling the court there were
looking for evidence that Shenfeld and Buckley had had consensual sex and
that she was aware he had been accused before of sexual assault.
Gabriel and Raymond declined to comment as they left court.
(source: Palm Beach Post)
Man convicted of killing Ala. motel owner
Jurors in Mobile convicted a drifter of capital murder in the Dec. 2003
slaying of a motel operator.
On Monday, 34-year-old Donald Dewayne Whatley was found guilty of the
robbery-murder of 43-year-old Pete Patel, who owned the Budget Inn on
The victim's body was found near the Cochrane-Africatown U-S-A Bridge.
Jurors return Tuesday for the penalty phase. They could recommend Whatley
be sentenced to death or serve life in prison without parole.
Circuit Judge Joseph Johnston is not bound by the recommendation.
(source: Associated Press)
Bought courts not fair or impartial
The president of the American Bar Association is an Alabamian and he is
appalled at the $5 million plus spent this year on a race for state
Supreme Court associate justice.
Appellate Judge Greg Shaw edged out Deborah Bell Paseur in what was
probably the most expensive judicial race in the country.
The spending started over something called "jackpot justice," or big jury
verdicts. But the jackpots today go to winning candidates. The candidate
spending the most money usually has the edge in these court races. Judge
Shaw won, barely, because they each spent in excess of $2 million.
Judge Shaw's money came from Republican business interests; Judge Paseur
found trial lawyers to be her best friends.
That's been the recent history of Alabama Supreme Court races. Alabama led
the nation in Supreme Court campaign spending, with $54 million raised by
candidates from 1993 through 2006.
As president of the American Bar, Thomas Wells Jr. wants a May summit to
address this shameful buying of court seats. Hes urging judicial,
legislative and executive branch officials from each state to gather in
Charlotte, N.C., in May to talk about courts and who they should be
He noted that more money went to the Alabama court race than goes to
providing access to the courts for people of limited means. The goal, he
said, is to find a plan for promoting fair and impartial courts.
His will be a difficult assignment as long as both sides that finance
these campaigns want neither fair courts nor impartial courts. Also,
national polls show that more than 3 in 4 Americans believe contributions
affect judges' decisions.
(source: Editorial, Decatur Daily)
Abolish death penalty and preserve life
In the October edition of California Lawyer, Tulare County was featured in
making the point that the death penalty returns little benefit for the
expense incurred. The article noted that sentencing someone to die in
California costs the state at least $1.1 million more than the cost of
life imprisonment until death by natural causes.
The article noted that counties don't get much crime deterrence for their
money saying, "For example, Tulare County, which delivers the most death
sentences per capita of any county in California, also has the highest
The article also noted that statewide data shows no correlation between a
county's murder rate and the number of criminals that that county
sentences to death.
Based on these facts, a very high cost and the lack of a valid purpose,
the sanctity of human life should prevail and the death penalty should be
(source: Letter to the Editor, Visalia Times-Delta)
WSU students hear from death row innocent
States that still practice the death penalty must rethink that practice.
That's what a man who endured more than 17 years on death row before being
exonerated told a group of students at Weber State University on Tuesday
as part of the school's Social Justice Week.
Juan Melendez waited those many years in a Florida prison before a break
in his case provided convincing evidence of his innocence. Melendez, who
was only one appeal away from being executed, now lectures against the
death penalty at college campuses in the United States and in Europe for
the nonprofit Witness to Innocence, with the hope of saving more innocent
prisoners convicted to die.
"I'm not a killer," Melendez said. "My mama didn't raise a killer."
But Melendez was convicted for murder in 1984. He had spent years in
prison hoping for a break in his case that would finally prove his
innocence, but he was continually denied a new case. In the meantime, he
could sense his time was running out, as he watched several friends take
their last walk through the cell block.
Melendez and other inmates always knew when an execution had been carried
"The lights go on and off in death row when they burn the life out of
them," he said.
His attorney had told him that if his last appeal failed, it wouldn't take
more than a few years before he would be executed.
But on his last appeal, an investigator found evidence that had been
overlooked, including a recorded interview with a man who had confessed to
the crime and statements from witnesses linking that man to the murder.
Melendez said the day he was released from death row was a new birth for
him and a time to be grateful for freedom. But his release was bittersweet
-- Melendez knew that other innocent inmates might not be so lucky.
Now he has dedicated his life to speaking out against the death penalty,
which he says does not deter crime and costs states more money per
prisoner than life sentences.
"It will always be a risk," he said. "You can never release an innocent
man from the grave."
Melendez will speak again today at 11 a.m. in Ballroom C in the Student
Union at Weber State. The event is free and open to the public.
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