[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----WASHINGTON
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Nov 30 12:40:33 CST 2008
The Kitsap Prosecutor's Call: When They've Sought the Death Penalty
In 1981, the Washington State Legislature enacted a new capital punishment
law following a 4-year suspension of the death penalty by the U.S. Supreme
Court that ended in 1976. The law stated that defendants could be
sentenced to die in aggravated 1st-degree murder cases.
The following is a summary of cases in which the Kitsap County prosecutor
C. Dan Clem until 1995 and Russell Hauge thereafter chose to seek the
death penalty in the time since the law was enacted.
The defendant's ages are from the time of the crime.
James J. Daugherty, 33
The case: Convicted of shooting to death Vicki Perrault in December 1983
during the course of a robbery at her South Kitsap home.
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty but the jury opted for life
Brian Keith Lord, 26
The case: Lord offered to give victim, Tracy Parker, 16, a ride home, but
instead abducted, raped and murdered her in September 1986. Her body was
found alongside Central Valley Road several days after her disappearance.
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty. The jury returned a verdict for
death, but a federal court hearing the appeal voided the penalty and threw
out the conviction because some witnesses hadn't been interviewed
Lord's attorneys. Before a retrial in 2002, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ
Hauge chose to seek life imprisonment over a death sentence, and in 2003,
he was retried and sentenced to a life term.
Daniel Joseph Yates, 32
The case: Yates was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing
13-year-old Bunnie Lee Brown in Central Kitsap in September 1987. Yates
had picked up Brown and 2 other teens and eventually tied them up and
raped them. He then strangled, stabbed and shot all 3. The 2 other victims
were severely injured and Brown died from the injuries.
Death?: Clem sought death, but the jury was hung on the penalty, and chose
instead to give him a life sentence.
Michael M. Furman, 17
The case: Furman was convicted by a jury of the 1989 bludgeoning to death
85-year-old Anne Presler, who'd hired him to do various jobs around her
Brasch Road house.
The aftermath: Clem sought the death penalty, and the jury returned a
sentence of death. But the state Supreme Court vacated the death sentence
and he was resentenced to life imprisonment.
Timothy Eric Caffrey, 24
The case: Caffrey shot and killed Dennis Spriggs while robbing a Navy Yard
City gas station in March 1990, and shot another clerk at a Tracyton
grocery store in the face.
Death?: Caffrey pleaded guilty, and Clem sought the death penalty, but the
jury was hung on whether he should receive death, so he received a life
Jonathan Lee Gentry, 32
The case: Gentry was convicted following the June 1988 bludgeoning to
death of 12-year-old Cassie Holden with a rock near Rolling Hills Golf
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty, and the jury returned with a death
verdict. Now the longest serving member on Washington's death row,
Gentry's latest appeal is heading to the federal Ninth U.S. Circuit Court
Steven McCord, 21 and Ernest Dale Benson Jr., 21
The case: McCord and Benson were convicted of shooting to death Silverdale
residents Gerald McCord, 51, and his girlfriend Connie Case, 42. The 2 men
were burglarizing the 51-year-old's home when they killed the couple in
October 1994. They fled the area but were arrested in Las Vegas.
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty against both, but incoming
prosecutor Hauge believed the jury was unlikely to deliver such a
sentence. The 2 ultimately pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder and
received life terms.
Roderick Shawn Selwyn, 26
The case: Selwyn was convicted of beating and suffocating to death
13-year-old Jerry Lee Wagner on a Central Kitsap schoolyard in August
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty but the jury was unable to deliver a
unanimous verdict for death. He received life imprisonment as a result.
Steven Richard Morgan, 36
The case: Morgan was convicted in the October 1994 stabbing deaths of
33-year-old Kelliyn Uhl and Uhl's 4-year-old daughter, Melissa, at a Woods
Road home in South Kitsap. He was arrested after he was found later in his
attic smoking crack.
Death?: Clem sought the death penalty but the jury, unable to reach
verdict, came back with a life sentence.
Brodie Edric Walradt, 28
The case: Walradt was convicted of beating to death 22-year-old Beth
Kennard and the manslaughter of her unborn baby in Central Kitsap in 1999.
The aftermath: Death was sought by Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge.
The jury came back with a life sentence after a 6-6 split on whether
Walradt should get death, and thus, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
[sources: Kitsap County Court Documents and Kitsap Sun archives]
Appeals Keep Death Row Inmates Fighting for life
By Washington's standards, the death chamber at the state penitentiary in
Walla Walla could get busier.
While judges on Nov. 25 stayed the execution of Sequim man Darold Ray
Stenson, convicted in 1994 of the shooting death of his wife, Denise Ann,
and business partner, Frank Clement Hoerner, the cases of the seven other
men on Washington's death row continue to work their way through a complex
system of appeals.
Stenson was the closest, defying death by just eight days and should his
stay be lifted by the judges before Wednesday, the sentence would still be
Lawyers for the state attorney general's office say Cal Coburn Brown,
convicted in King County in the carjacking and killing of Holly Washa, 21,
may have his stay of execution lifted in the spring.
And Jonathan Lee Gentry, convicted in Kitsap in the bludgeoning death of
12-year-old Cassie Holden in East Bremerton in 1988, is "more than one
year and as much as three" years away from execution, barring any judicial
reversals, Assistant State Attorney General Paul Weisser said.
But since the state hanged a record 23 men in the 1930s, use of the death
penalty in Washington has dwindled, and Stenson's death by lethal
injection would only mark the 5th in 45 years.
The rarely used penalty was last carried out in 2001, when James Homer
Elledge, 58, was executed following the stabbing and strangling of Eloise
Fitzner, 47, in Snohomish County.
Elledge sought death, however, and only one inmate since Washington's new
1981 capital punishment law triple murderer Charles Campbell was
executed in 1994 despite his continued barrage of appeals.
Stenson, too, continues to fight.
He has always denied he committed the killings and argued that his
business partner killed his wife and then himself.
Prosecutors argued his partner owed him money and that he was looking to
collect on his wife's insurance policy.
Over the last 14 years, he's appealed to the state Supreme Court, U.S.
District Court in Seattle, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and
finally the U.S. Supreme Court.
2 courts granted his current stay of execution one the original court he
was tried in and the other a court that's never heard his case.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Williams stayed his execution
on the grounds further DNA testing is needed in his case.
Lonny Suko, a U.S. District Court judge in Eastern Washington, issued a
stay in a conference call after Stenson's lawyers filed a civil rights
lawsuit to examine the legalities of lethal injection and whether it's
cruel and unusual punishment for Stenson, who has Type 2 diabetes.
Finally, the Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board will hear a
petition for clemency by the Washington State Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty at 9 a.m. on Monday.
"Every other avenue of appeal has been exhausted, and even though the U.S.
Supreme Court has already ruled on the question of lethal injection's
constitutionality, he's making this argument anyway in a last-ditch effort
to avoid execution," Attorney General Rob McKenna said Wednesday.
Any End in Sight?
Eventually, such appeals in death penalty do end, either with an overturn
of the death sentence in exchange for a life sentence, or execution.
Meanwhile, it's likely that millions of dollars have been spent along the
Such a process seems gratuitous to Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge.
"The arguments that determine whether the death penalty should go forward
have reached the point of absurdity," Hauge said. "The defense is doing a
good job, but some of the judges forget, I think, that there are real
people involved in these cases."
He believes that a case's appeals through Washington's Supreme Court
which generally take 2 to four years are sufficient in investigating any
errors the trial court and attorneys involved made.
Following that review, "I'm confident that person's received a fair
trial," he said.
Hauge has even put a stop to a death penalty case because he felt the
appeals would simply never end.
A jury chose death for Brian Keith Lord, convicted of raping and murdering
16-year-old Tracy Parker in 1986. But eventually, a federal court hearing
an appeal voided the penalty and threw out the conviction because some
alleged witnesses hadn't been interviewed by Lord's attorneys.
When the case returned to Kitsap for retrial, Hauge decided against
"In terms of justice, the worst thing that could have happened in that
case is the death penalty," Hauge said, "It would've started another cycle
and perhaps 20 more years of appeals, forcing the victim's family to keep
revisiting this tragedy."
Ron Ness, a Port Orchard attorney who has specialized in death penalty
defense since 1980, believes such an appeals process is necessary to
safeguard the system.
"Mistakes can be made," Ness said, "And with the death penalty, there's no
way to turn it around. You should have every opportunity to make sure it's
the correct verdict, even if it takes 10 to 15 years."
He also fundamentally disagrees with the penalty itself.
"I don't think the state should be in the business of killing people, when
in many cases it's purely for retribution," he said.
Ness handled one of Stenson's appeals to the state Supreme Court. In it,
he argued that Stenson's attorney provided ineffective counsel. Ness
recalls that the attorney and Stenson didn't get along, and Stenson wanted
to represent himself.
Ness argued that should grant Stenson a new trial.
"We thought it was a winning issue," Ness said. "But we were wrong."
With each new appeal comes a new attorney. Ness has now moved onto
representing serial killer Robert L. Yates Jr., the newest member of
Washington's death row, who was sentenced to die in Pierce County earlier
The 'Ultimate' Responsibility
Hauge, and the 38 other county prosecutors around the state, are the only
ones who can start the death penalty process.
The decision "weighs very heavily" on Hauge's mind, she said. He's pursued
the penalty once: in the murder of 22-year-old Beth Kennard and the
manslaughter of her unborn baby in Central Kitsap in 1999.
Jurors, however, split on death for Brodie Edric Walradt, 28, in the case,
and he received a life sentence. In cases where the death penalty is
sought, all 12 jurors must support the punishment.
Hauge enlists help from his top deputies, talks to police and other
victims and witnesses involved in the case, and even consults the clergy
for advice, he said. He also receives what's called a "mitigation package"
from defense attorneys that includes evidence the defendant's life up
until the alleged crime, for instance aimed at dissuading a death
But, "ultimately, the decision is mine and mine alone," Hauge said.
"It's the ultimate responsibility of an elected prosecutor," echoed Mason
County Prosecutor Gary Burleson. "There isn't any decision of more
importance that we have to weigh."
For Burleson, who last sought the death penalty 20 years ago, it means
making a decision that will place a weighty financial burden on a small
county because of the lengthy and expensive appeals process.
Burleson adds, however, that "the financial issue is not a consideration
that I would weigh," Burleson said.
Challenges to the Penalty
In recent years, the argument of "proportionality" has emerged in legal
challenges to Washington's death penalty cases.
State Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, says an inmate on death row can ask:
"How come I get the chair and Ridgway didn't?'"
Gary Ridgway, the so-called "Green River Killer," killed 48 people and was
given a life sentence in exchange for guiding victims' families to their
loved one's remains.
So far, death row inmates arguing that they've had far fewer victims than
Ridgway and therefore shouldn't be put to death haven't won. Davya Michael
Cross came the closest. Cross, convicted of killing his wife, Anouchka
Baldwin, 37, and stepdaughters Amanda Baldwin 15, and Salome Holle, 18, in
Snoqualmie, had his case go before a kind of Ridgway review before the
state Supreme Court in March 2006.
In a 5-4 decision, the justices upheld the death sentence, but Justice
Charles Johnson wrote in the dissent, "When Gary Ridgway, the worst mass
murderer in this state's history, escapes the death penalty, serious flaws
become apparent." The majority opinion stated that the decision of
executing others while a serial murderer is given a life sentence is best
left to lawmakers or the people of Washington.
In the Legislature, 2 lawmakers have begun efforts to change the penalty
or at least keep the discussion on the table.
Kline, along with Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, submitted a bill last
year and is planning the same one this year to create a death penalty task
force to conduct a top-to-bottom review.
Kline, a death penalty opponent, believes it's too expensive and hasn't
lowered violent crime rates in the states that use it.
"It has no deterrent effect, zero," he said. "And its damned expensive."
He files the bill each year with not much confidence that it will pass,
but to keep the discussion alive.
The public must undergo a "sea change," about the death penalty, but for
now, they seem willing to pay for it, he said. A Gallup poll this year
showed 64 % of Americans support the death penalty.
He believes that life inside a correctional facility is, in fact, a fate
worse than death.
"If you want maximum punishment, the death penalty is 2nd most effective
thing," Kline said.
Defense attorney Ness, however, disagrees, but believes such comparisons
"The death sentence is worse," Ness said. "But life in prison is no
picnic. There's no future and it's bleak."
As more death cases move through the appeals system, the discussion will
continue. By comparison, it could be worse the appeals of California's
more than 600 death row inmates are clogging that state's supreme court.
Because of the death appeals Washington has, each case will live on for
years even decades.
"You're not going to see any expansion of it," Hauge said of the death
But, he said of the appeals process: "I think we're going to continue to
live like this."
2 Kitsap Men Have Hanged from Walla Walla's Gallows
2 men have been executed in Walla Walla for crimes tried in the Kitsap
County Courthouse, according to state Department of Corrections and Kitsap
County Clerk's Office records.
Joe Niculas, 22, and Leo Hall, 34, were both hanged at the state
Fewer details are known about Niculas, sent to the gallows on April 16,
1909, than are Hall, convicted in perhaps the most infamous crime in
Kitsap County history: the so-called Erland's Point Massacre.
Niculas was a Filipino immigrant who worked as a saw mill operator at the
Port Blakely Saw Mill Company. He'd also worked at the mill in Port
He was charged on Dec. 29, 1908, with the murders of Ramone Santos and
George A. Brown and the prosecutor, C.D. Sutton, said he "purposefully,
feloniously" and with deliberate and premeditated malice "did kill." He
added Niculas had shot the pair with a revolver.
Niculas pleaded innocent by reason of being "mentally irresponsible,"
though, his lawyer said, such mental irresponsibility no longer existed in
his client after the crime.
Bail was set in the case at $500.
Following his conviction in Kitsap County Superior Court, he was sent to
Corrections' documentation of his execution showed the 22-year-old was
asked some assuming questions, such as "At what age did you commence the
use of liquors or opiates?" (He answered at 15.)
Juana San Niculas, the 22-year-old's sister-in-law, wrote letters from San
Francisco to the prison in Walla Walla asking about him. The
superintendent, who didn't sign his name, replied:
"Your brother is receiving spiritual encouragement and advice from our
prison chaplain and also from the Catholic Priests here, one of whom
served in the war in the Philippines and is able to speak some of their
language. He seems resigned to his fate."
Niculas was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m. and "buried immediately
afterward," according to a state clerk.
Leo Hall was convicted of six murders that became notoriously known as the
"Erland's Point Massacre." Hall, however, insisted all the way to the
gallows that he was "unjustly framed," corrections documents show.
Prosecutors accused Hall, from Boston, of carrying out a robbery at a home
on March 28, 1934, and then killing the victims "namely with a hammer."
But other weaponry was also apparently involved.
Hall, an ex-prizefighter and Todd Shipyard worker, was found to have
killed Frank Flieder, 45, Anna Taylor Flieder, 51, Ezra M. Bolcom, 56,
Eugene A. Chenevert, 51, Margaret Chenevert, 48, and Magnus Jorden, 62,
according to Kitsap Sun archives.
In the wake of regional, and even national media scrutiny, no arrests were
made until October 1935, when a barmaid and former boyfriend of Hall's,
Peggy Paulos, 27, came forward. She told authorities she and Hall had
planned to burglarize the Flieder's home, but they'd arrived to find a
party in full swing. After binding and tying up the six, Hall realized one
of the victims recognized Paulos, and that's when he carried out the
vicious attack, she told the police.
Paulos testified against Hall and was subsequently acquitted and the
34-year-old was sentenced to death after a jury deliberated 17 hours in
He appealed, but was executed in Walla Walla's death chamber a month later
on Sept. 11, 1936.
The hanging was well-attended and was witnessed by the biggest crowd more
than 100 ever for a Washington execution in the 1932-built chamber.
"I was called to the house and when I saw the bodies lying there I made
the remark that I would like to see the dirty ----- that did it hung,"
John A. Martin, a Bremerton Police Department employee, wrote to the
prison's superintendent. "From all indications he will be hung soon and I
am still in the same frame of mind. I would like to see Leo Hall dropped
thru the trap."
James W. Tribble, chief of police, also personally witnessed the
Corrections staff asked Hall in a questionnaire shortly before his death:
"To What Do You Attribute Your Present Trouble?"
His response was simple: "Unjustly framed."
(source for all: Kitsap Sun)
More information about the DeathPenalty