[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, GA., PENN., OHIO, ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 6 18:01:17 CDT 2008
12 Texas death row inmates lose at Supreme Court
A dozen condemned Texas inmates, including 1 set to die next week and 1 of
the few women on death row in the state, lost appeals Monday before the
U.S. Supreme Court, moving them closer to execution.
Among the Texas cases the high court refused to review as it began its new
term was the appeal of Alvin Kelly, an East Texas man convicted of the
death of a 22-month-old boy in a shooting near Longview that also left the
child's parents dead. Kelly faces lethal injection Oct. 14, the 1st of 6
convicted killers set to die this month in the nation's most active death
Also losing Monday at the Supreme Court was Chelsea Richardson, convicted
of her involvement in the December 2003 slayings of her boyfriend's
parents, Rick and Suzanna Wamsley, at their home in Mansfield, near Fort
Worth. Richardson, 24, is among only 10 women on death row in Texas.
Charles Victor Thompson, who escaped in November 2005 while being held in
the Harris County Jail in downtown Houston, also had his appeal rejected.
Thompson, captured near Shreveport, La., after three days on the run, was
condemned for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and her new
boyfriend 10 years ago.
The appeals of Richardson and Thompson, however, remain early in the
process and execution dates for both are not imminent.
In addition, the high court refused to consider the appeal of Jimmie
Lucero, an Amarillo man convicted of killing 3 neighbors in 2003. Lucero
argued his sentence was improper because a jury foreman read passages of
the Bible to holdout jurors who subsequently voted to impose the death
penalty. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had found the introduction of
the Bible into the jury room to be "harmless error." The 2 jurors who
switched their votes said the reading of the Scripture and its content had
no impact on their votes.
In other cases, three inmates whose scheduled executions were stopped at
the last moment with court-ordered reprieves lost their appeals. They
include Curtis Moore, convicted of killing 3 people in Fort Worth; Jose
Rivera, condemned for the strangling of a 3-year-old boy in Brownsville;
and Kenneth Morris, convicted of killing a Houston man during a home
Moore's punishment in 2002 was stopped less than three hours before he was
scheduled for lethal injection when lawyers raised claims he was mentally
retarded and ineligible for execution. At the time, the high court was
reviewing whether mentally retarded people could be executed.
Similar claims of mental retardation halted Morris' punishment in 2003
within 2 hours of when he could have been taken to the death chamber and
stopped Rivera's execution, also in 2003. Rivera won a reprieve from a
federal appeals court 3 hours past the time he could have been executed.
The Supreme Court also turned down four others from Harris County,
-Shozdijiji Shisinday, also known as Danny Thomas, convicted of an
abduction-slaying 27 years ago;
-Derrick Jackson, convicted of the fatal stabbing of 2 people in 1988;
-Calvin Hunter, condemned for the slaying of a convenience store clerk
during a robbery 5 years ago;
-Ronald Prible, convicted of the 1999 slayings of a man and his girlfriend
at their home. Evidence showed Prible started a fire at the house that
also left their three children dead of smoke inhalation.
The court also rejected an appeals from a Dallas-area capital murder
convict, Roderick Newton, who was condemned for an abduction-slaying
almost 10 years ago in Mesquite.
Besides Kelly, Moore is the only other one of the inmates whose cases were
rejected by the high court Monday to have an execution date. He's set to
die in January.
They're among at least 17 Texas inmates with execution dates in the coming
months, starting next week with Kelly, 57. He's maintained his innocence
of the killing of Devin Morgan, the 22-month-old son of Jerry and Brenda
Morgan. Relatives discovered the bodies of the child and his parents at
their Gregg County home May 1, 1984. All had been shot. A number of items
were missing from the home, including a car, at least five guns and some
television and stereo gear.
The slayings went unsolved for 6 years until Gregg County authorities
received a call from a man who said his former wife had information about
the crime. At the time, Kelly already was serving a 30-year prison term
for an unrelated murder.
9 prisoners have been executed this year in Texas, tops among states with
Also Monday, prosecutors lost their attempt to reinstate the death
sentence of Charles Mines, convicted of the beating death of an
80-year-old woman at her home in Waxahachie 20 years ago. Mines earlier
this year won a new sentencing trial from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
(source: Associated Press)
Court to consider Davis' appeal in private----No indication how or when
Supreme Court will decide on cop killers case
The U.S. Supreme Court apparently needs more time to look at an appeal
from death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, whose claims of innocence have
attracted international attention.
The high court issued orders Monday addressing the appeals of numerous
cases, but none as to whether it will accept or reject Davis' appeal.
Instead, the court, in a listing on its docket, said it will meet in a
private conference on Friday to consider Davis' appeal.
On Sept. 23, the court halted Davis' execution less than 2 hours before it
was to be carried out. The court's 9 justices then met in conference on
Sept. 29 to decide whether to accept the appeal. Now, they will meet once
more to discuss the case.
The court did not say when it will issue a decision.
Davis, who claims he is innocent, is asking the court to order a judge to
grant him a hearing. Since Davis' trial, 7 of 9 key prosecution witnesses
to testify against him recanted their testimony.
Davis sits on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, murder of Mark Allen
MacPhail, a 27-year-old officer shot dead after he responded to the wails
of a homeless man being pistol whipped in a Burger King parking lot. The
father of 2 did not have time to draw his gun before being shot 3 times.
Davis is appealing a ruling by a sharply split Georgia Supreme Court. His
lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that the Eighth
Amendments ban on cruel and unusual punishment bars the execution of the
innocent and requires at least a court hearing to assess recantation
"It's obviously a very important case and the justices are still
considering it," Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor,
said. "Maybe the justices are split about it and want more time to
It is not unusual, Tobias said, particularly given the backlog of cases
appealed during the summer months, for the court to take several weeks to
decide whether to hear an appeal such as Davis.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
US Supreme Court rejects new trial for former Black Panther
The US Supreme Court Monday refused to hear arguments for a new trial for
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther accused of killing a police
officer, who has become an international symbol for the fight against
His lawyer Robert Bryan has already said he will seek to bring a 2nd
Supreme Court appeal for the 54 former radio journalist accused of the
1981 murder, this time for racism.
Abu-Jamal's death sentence was overturned in March by a federal court in
Philadelphia, which voted 2-to-1 to uphold his conviction, which now
automatically becomes a life sentence unless prosecutors bring him back
before a jury.
But Bryan has said he will not rest until client is freed. "Even though
the federal court granted a new trial on the question of the death
penalty, we want a complete reversal of the conviction," Byran said in
Abu-Jamal has argued he was denied a fair trial in 1982 because the
prosecution barred 10 qualified African-Americans from sitting on the
jury, which in the end consisted of 10 whites and 2 blacks.
The Philadelphia appeals court had rejected his arguments on lack of
evidence of any racist intent on the part of the prosecution.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Jury selection begins for death-penalty trial
Jury selection began Monday for a man accused of killing his girlfriends
infant son last summer, the 1st step in a trial slated to begin Oct. 20.
Lawyers for 31-year-old Michael Blakey joined prosecutors in Judge
Terrence Nealon's office starting Monday morning to question each
potential juror individually to determine if they should be placed in the
Last week, 102 people were summoned to the courthouse to be a part of the
inital pool. County Court Administrator Ron Mackay said more potential
jurors would be summoned later in the week.
Eventually, the group will be winnowed down to 12 jurors and several
alternates. The main reason for the lengthy selection process most juries
are chosen within a few hours for a case is that Mr. Blakey is facing the
death penalty if hes convicted of 1st-degree murder.
Mr. Blakey has been held at Lackawanna County Prison since early January.
He was arrested in North Carolina Dec. 31 after police there pulled him
over and discovered he was wanted in connection with the death of
7-month-old Khayr Cash.
(source: The Times-Tribune)
Death Penalty Cases Begin
Every other week, Mahoning County sends out notices to roughly five
hundred fifty residents requesting they serve jury duty in Common Pleas
court. But when the docket includes a pair of potential death penalty
cases, the jury pool gets much larger.
Both Michael Davis and Benny Adams are facing capitol murder trials this
week. Davis for the deaths of several members of an eastside Youngstown
family in a house fire in January and Adams for the twenty two year old
rape and murder of a YSU student. Jury Commissioner Bob Jackson admits
while many are summoned, some will have legitimate reasons why they can't
serve as jurors, especially in a case that could last for weeks.
To ensure other cases aren't delayed by the Davis and Adams trials, the
county's Assignment Office had to make special arrangements as well to be
sure court schedules don't come to a standstill.
That's not the case however for the lawyers who will handle these trials,
especially the defense attorneys, who often must temporarily set aside the
rest of their case load.
First News Legal Analyst, Attorney Mark Gervelis, who tried one death
penalty case himself years ago as a prosecutor, admits taxpayers often
foot the bill for these cases.
While the costs of prosecuting death penalty cases is Bourne by the budget
of the county prosecutor, or district attorney, defense lawyers handling
indigent clients, those who can't afford to hire their own attorney are
reimbursed for some of their expenses by taxpayers as well.
A team of 2 lawyers, who must first be certified to try death penalty
cases will split a maximum of $75,000 for their work which is a far cry
from what the case might actually cost them in time and expenses.
By the way, those who get summoned, and ultimately seated on a jury,
they'll receive just a stipend for their service. In Mahoning County that
amounts to ten dollars day, essentially to cover meals and parking.
That figure was established by County Commissioners, not the courts.
(source: WYTV News)
Defense raises questions about how Hill was found
Several Jo Daviess County Law Enforcement officials testified at the
defense's request this morning. Attorney Stephen Richards asked each of
the 4 officers if they noticed that the victim's shirt had been pulled up
around her shoulders.
Defense has said David Damm hired Bruce Burt to only help Donnisha Hill
run away and that something during the 3-hour car ride to Hanover
motivated Burt to kill the girl. They have implied that Burt might have
tried to sexually assault the 13-year-old girl.
However, the prosecution asked many of the witnesses another question
What did Hill's pants look like when they discovered the body?
The girls jeans were pulled up, buttoned and fastened around her waist
with a belt. Prosecution attorneys say this is not consistent with sexual
(source: TH Online News)
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