[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., ILL., KY. LA., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 6 23:07:06 CDT 2008
Supreme Court lets stand death sentence after Bible reading----A death-row
inmate claimed the jury foreman violated his fair-trial rights by reading
out loud from Romans.
A Texas death-row inmate has lost his bid for a new sentencing hearing
after complaining that the jury foreman at his capital murder trial read a
Bible passage aloud to the entire jury before the panel returned his death
Lawyers for Jimmie Urbano Lucero had asked the US Supreme Court to take up
the case to examine whether reading Bible passages aloud during jury
deliberations violates fair-trial rights guaranteed by the Sixth
On Monday, the high court declined to take up the case. The justices
offered no explanation. The action lets stand decisions by the courts in
Texas affirming Mr. Lucero's death sentence.
Lucero was convicted of carrying out the shotgun murder of three of his
neighbors in 2003: a husband, wife, and their daughter. 2 other children
escaped during the attack and testified against Lucero.
During the penalty phase of the 2005 trial, the jury was asked to decide
whether Lucero should receive punishment of life in prison or a death
sentence. During an initial straw vote, 10 members of the 12-member jury
voted for death. 2 jurors opposed a death sentence.
At that point in the deliberations, the jury foreman produced his personal
Bible and read a passage aloud to the 11 other jurors. He read from Romans
13: 1-6 in the New International Version of the Bible.
It says in part: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing
authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has
established.... For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do
wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's
servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."
The Bible reading took about two minutes. The jury continued to deliberate
for several hours. When a new vote was taken, the panel decided 12 to 0 in
favor of death.
At issue in the appeal was whether reading the Bible aloud during jury
deliberations violated the defendant's right to a fair trial. The precise
question was whether the Bible introduced unauthorized materials and
extraneous considerations into the trial process.
Courts in both the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, the Fifth
Circuit in New Orleans, and the 11th Circuit in Atlanta have ruled that
the introduction of a Bible into jury deliberations violates the right to
an impartial jury, the right to confrontation, and the right to a fair
trial. But courts in the Fourth Circuit in Richmond and the Ninth Circuit
in San Francisco have ruled that the presentation of specific Bible verses
during jury deliberations does not violate the Sixth Amendment because the
Bible's teachings are a matter of common knowledge in American culture.
"This case provides an excellent opportunity for the Court to resolve the
split [among federal circuit courts] by reaffirming its longstanding
precedents that the Sixth Amendment guarantees that jury verdicts in
criminal cases will be based on the evidence developed at trial, and
nothing else," wrote Lucero's lawyer, John Mathias of Chicago, in his
brief urging the court to take up the case.
The Texas attorney general's office holds a different view. Courts must
protect an impartial jury from outside influences that might corrupt the
deliberation process, but in the Lucero case the influences were internal
to the jury itself, lawyers for Texas said.
"The Bible had no evidentiary relationship to the jury's punishment
deliberations," said Edward Marshall, chief of the postconviction
litigation division of the attorney general's office, in his brief. "The
Biblical passage from Romans in this case bears no relationship to the
factual issues facing the jury."
Mr. Marshall said that rather than corrupting the deliberations, the Bible
reading reinforced the judge's jury instructions and was harmless to the
outcome of the trial. "It duplicates the trial court's own charge
authorizing the jury to make this moral judgment," he wrote.
Lucero's lawyer, Mr. Mathias, said in his brief that a reasonable
interpretation of Romans 13: 1-6 is that it instructs jurors to engage in
"passive obedience to the state's call for punishment."
He added, "It cannot be said that the passage was harmless beyond any
(source: Christian Science Monitor)
Fla. Supreme Court delays Tompkins' execution
A man sentenced to die for strangling a teenager 25 years ago will avoid
execution for at least 3 weeks while his appeal of lethal injection
procedures is considered, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Wayne Tompkins had been scheduled to die Oct. 28, but the high court
issued a stay until Nov. 18. Tompkins is appealing a March ruling by
Circuit Judge Daniel H. Sleet. He rejected claims that the state's lethal
injection procedure is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment
because it creates an unnecessary risk of pain.
The state justices and U.S. Supreme Court have since rejected objections
to the procedure on behalf of Florida 2 death row inmates executed earlier
Tompkins, 51, was convicted of murdering Lisa DeCarr, the 15-year-old
daughter of his girlfriend, in March 1983 in Tampa.
Gov. Charlie Crist signed a 3rd death warrant for Tompkins last week. He
also had been scheduled for execution in 1989 and 2001, but those were
also delayed by appeals.
A notice of the latest appeal was filed in May, but the Supreme Court has
not yet received any written arguments.
The justices have ordered Tompkins' lawyers to file their initial brief by
noon Oct. 20. The state's reply is due 4 days later, and Tompkins'
response must be in Oct. 27. Oral arguments will be held Nov. 3 if
necessary, the justices wrote.
Chief Justice Peggy Quince recused herself from the case. Quince once
worked in the attorney general's Tampa office, where she handled criminal
Tompkins was jailed in neighboring Pasco County on unrelated rape and
kidnapping charges when the victim's body was found under her mother's
home 14 months after she disappeared.
Tompkins' death warrant is the third Crist has signed since lifting a
moratorium on executions last year. The moratorium was ordered after a
botched lethal injection in December 2006.
Mark Schwab was executed July 1 for the 1991 murder of an 11-year-old
Cocoa boy. Richard Henyard was executed Sept. 23 for killing 2 young girls
in Eustis after raping and shooting their mother, who survived.
(source: Associated Press)
Appeals Court: Ex-Death Row inmate can't collect jury award
An ex-Death Row inmate and former Chicago cop -- whose fate took a drastic
turn when he won a $6.5 million judgment against the FBI -- just had the
rug pulled from under him.
A federal appeals court ruled that Steve Manning cannot collect any of his
The panel held up a lower court's ruling that barred Manning from
collecting the 2005 jury award.
After the jury decided in Manning's favor, he could have taken the money.
But he decided to have a judge decide additional claims against the
government, which put his jury award in jeopardy, the three-judge panel
explained in an 18-page opinion.
The judge, Matthew F. Kennelly ruled against Manning and, under law, that
in effect vacated the jury award.
On Monday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held up Kennelly's
"We are not blind to the fact that this interpretation of [the law]
results in a significant reversal of fortune for Manning," the appeals
panel wrote. "But we are bound by the plain language of the judgment bar."
Manning was given the death penalty on a murder conviction in Illinois and
a life sentence for a kidnapping in Missouri. Both convictions were
He subsequently filed suit against the FBI, saying he was framed. The jury
award was among the largest ever in an FBI frame case.
Kennelly's ruling raised questions about the agents at issue in the case.
But Kennelly also raised questions over Manning's overturned convictions,
writing at the time: "There is significant and credible evidence
indicating Manning's actual involvement in the murder."
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Ex-death row inmate reaches deal, get 55 years
A former death row inmate pleaded guilty and received 55 years in prison
for the 1981 murder and robbery of an eastern Kentucky man.
Hugh Marlowe, who spent 19 years on death row, accepted the deal on Friday
in the death of 78-year-old Henry Hamblin of Dartmont on Nov. 13, 1981.
The deal came after nearly a year of legal wrangling that promted Special
Judge Cletus Maricle to set an Oct. 3 deadline for prosecutors and
Marlowe's attorneys to reach a deal, the Harlan Daily Enterprise reported.
Marlowe was convicted in 1982 of murdering Hamblin, who was shot with a
pistol and beaten to death. Maricle ordered a new sentencing hearing for
Marlowe in August 2001, a decision upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court in
2007. Maricle rejected a motion for a new trial.
(source: Associated Press)
High Court Rejects Execution Appeal By Death Row Inmate----Man Convicted
In 2 Slayings
A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court brings a man convicted in Louisiana
killings one step closer to execution. Derrick Todd Lee is suspected in at
least seven slaying investigations in Louisiana, most of them in or near
Baton Rouge. He has been convicted in 2 of those cases, WDSU NewsChannel 6
Lee's most recent appeal to the nation's high court was turned down Monday
when justices ruled a jury did not need to be unanimous in all criminal
trials. A separate appeal on unrelated grounds was denied in January.
2 states, Louisiana and Oregon, allow people to be convicted of some
crimes despite disagreement among jurors.
The court held 36 years ago that nothing in the Constitution bars states
from allowing some convictions by non-unanimous jurors.
1st-degree murder, which may be punishable by death, requires a unanimous
verdict in Louisiana. Federal criminal trials must have unanimous
verdicts, the court said in 1972.
(source: WDSU News)
US Supreme Court won't hear death row appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Mississippi
death row inmate Thomas E. Loden Jr.
The Mississippi Supreme Court in 2007 rejected Loden's claims that he
relied on faulty advice from his attorney when he pleaded guilty to
capital murder and was unexpectedly sentenced to death.
The Mississippi court held because Loden pleaded guilty, the validity of
that plea can't be appealed. The nation's high court declined to hear the
Loden, a former Marine recruiter, was sentenced to death in 2001 in
Itawamba County for killing 16-year-old Leesa Gray. He was also sentenced
to 30 years on kidnapping and rape counts.
Gray was found dead in Loden's van in 2000 a day after leaving work,
according to court documents.
(source: Associated Press)
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