[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----TEXAS, MONT., WIS., PENN., VER.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 9 17:58:37 CDT 2008
Man accused of killing car salesman attacks Dallas jail guards
A 41-year-old man facing charges of capital murder and robbery for
allegedly killing a car salesman by forcing him out of a moving pickup
truck during a test drive attacked his guards during a jailhouse interview
with a Dallas television station.
James Thorpe, who has a history of mental illness, cut short a 10-minute
interview with WFAA on Wednesday by slamming down a phone and shouting
obscenities. He then shoved and scuffled with two guards before a door
closed, blocking the view of the camera operator.
Witnesses told police that salesman John Phinney fell from the passenger
side of the pickup during the test drive Tuesday night. It was unclear
whether Phinney was pushed from the truck, which was probably traveling
more than 50 mph, police said.
Thorpe was arrested later Tuesday and was being held Wednesday on a $3
million bond at the Dallas County jail. It was not immediately clear
whether Thorpe had an attorney.
Thorpe denied pushing Phinney out of the vehicle in jailhouse interviews
with Dallas-Fort Worth reporters. He said the car salesman jumped out
while the vehicle was going about 50 mph.
Thorpe referred to himself as the "anti-Christ" and said he had no remorse
over Phinney's death because the victim "was possessed."
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty opponents meet in Great Falls
A group of death penalty abolitionists are traveling across the state to
talk about the problems associated with capital punishment and on
Wednesday night the group spoke in Great Falls.
Some five speakers told their personal stories at Holy Spirit Catholic
Church, from a man who was released from death row after he was found
innocent, to a man whose only daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City
bombing, to the Unabomber's brother, David Kaczynski.
David talked about his hesitance to turn his brother Ted into the FBI due
to the fear that the action would cost Ted his life.
"We wanted to make a life affirming choice, and yet in this case it
appeared that the only, the process, for saving innocent lives might be
the life of my mentally ill brother" said David.
He added that one of the major problems with the capital punishment is
that it is not fair. His brother Ted was not sentenced to death, yet David
said others who have committed lesser crimes receive the death penalty.
David also said too many people innocent people are killed on death row
and that the money used to sentence and put people to death would be
better used in programs for healing for victims and also promoting safer
(source: KPAX News)
Kaczynski, others speak out against death penalty
With personal tales of anger, grief and forgiveness, David Kaczynski and
others with close connections to horrible crimes spoke out against the
death penalty Wednesday night at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Great
The speakers are part of a national group called Journey of Hope. They are
on an eight-day tour of Montana, speaking at churches, schools and
libraries across the state. The tour was organized by the Montana
Abolition Coalition, an anti-death penalty organization.
David Kaczynski, a former Great Falls resident, faced an agonizing choice
in 1996: risk his brother's life or take the chance that his brother would
Ultimately, Kaczynski chose to tell authorities he suspected his brother
was the Unabomber the man responsible for killing three people and
maiming others with mail bombs and Ted Kaczynski was arrested at his
shack outside Lincoln.
David Kaczynski's choice may have saved lives investigators found a live
bomb in his brother's shack.
Ted Kaczynski was sentenced to life in prison rather than the death
penalty. Things might have gone the other way, though.
"If anything could have deterred me from turning in my brother, it would
have been the threat of the death penalty," he said. "I thank God we had
the courage to do the right thing."
Since then, David Kaczynski has become an outspoken opponent of capital
"I think reasonable people could disagree about the death penalty as a
concept," he said. "What gets very hard to defend is the way it is
Problems with the death penalty include its uneven use among racial and
socioeconomic groups, the huge legal expense of its application, and the
ever-present danger that an innocent person will be executed, he said.
"The people who are getting the death penalty are not the ones who
committed the worst crimes," Kaczynski said. "They're the ones who had the
There is probably nobody in the world who can better relate to David
Kaczynski than Bill Babbitt, who joined Kaczynski as a speaker.
Babbitt also turned in his brother for murder.
Babbitt was promised his brother wouldn't face the death penalty, but that
promise was broken. Babbitt's brother, whose lawyer was later disbarred in
relation to another case, was put to death.
Babbitt still believes he did the right thing, even though it cost him his
relationship with some family members.
He couldn't risk his brother, who suffered from schizophrenia and
post-traumatic stress syndrome, killing someone else.
"I would have blood on my hands," Babbitt said. "Maybe there would be
another (victim). I couldn't live with that possibility."
The group also included a man who spent 18 years on death row for a crime
he didn't commit, and relatives of murder victims.
Juan Melendez was nearly put to death for murder and armed robbery, but
was released after nearly two decades in prison when authorities learned
another man committed the crimes. He believes the U.S. government has
probably already executed innocent people, and shouldn't risk doing it
"You can always release an innocent man from prison, but you can never
release a man from the grave," he said.
Speaker Bud Welch talked about his daughter, Julie, who was killed in the
Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 for his role in the attack. It
brought Welch no closure.
"There was nothing about that that gave me peace or made me feel good," he
said. "The death penalty does not bring peace to families. Anyone who
tells you it does it's nothing but a lie."
The Montana Abolition Coalition is urging the Montana Legislature to ban
the death penalty, and to replace it with a prison sentence of life
without the possibility of parole.
"The biggest message we try to get across is, our justice system is made
up of humans even with the best of intentions, mistakes can happen," said
Rachel Carroll, an organizer for the group. "How can we risk people's
(source: Great Falls Tribune)
Man accused in shooting asks for death penalty
Court records say that a northern Wisconsin man accused of shooting his
ex-girlfriend in the face and killing her mother told investigators he
deserved the death penalty.
The criminal complaint says 41-year-old Lames Lahoud agreed to be
interviewed while he was hospitalized in Eau Claire.
The complaint says Lahoud told investigators he killed 2 people. When he
learned Wisconsin doesn't have the death penalty, he said that "stunk" and
asked to be taken to jail.
Lahoud was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide and
attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the Sept. 11 shooting at a
rural Prentice trailer. The shootings killed 58-year-old Charlotte Engle
and wounded her 34-year-old daughter Sarah.
Price County District Attorney Mark Fuhr says Lahoud will make his first
court appearance Tuesday.
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty trial begins for Freeman May
Freeman May had a horrible childhood, his defense attorney said today
during the trial to determine whether May deserves life in prison or death
for the 1982 murder of Kathy Lynn Fair.
May was convicted of homicide in 1991 and twice before sentenced to death,
but those sentences were overturned. The last time, the state Supreme
Court said jurors had not heard enough about his abusive childhood.
Defense attorney John Kelsey said May's father beat him with a belt until
he bled, until his father's arm became too tired to hit anymore. His
father also sexually abused his mother and sisters in front of the whole
family, Kelsey said.
May was slow and did poorly in school, according to Kelsey. He wore shabby
clothes and wet his pants until he was a teenager, earning the ridicule of
To escape "the horror of his childhood," May started huffing glue and
gasoline when he was eight years old, perhaps leading to brain damage,
Kelsey said. Later he turned to marijuana and LSD.
For these reasons, according to Kelsey, May should not get the death
penalty, despite his horrendous attack on Fair and 2 other women he left
for dead near the spot Fair's body was found. He stabbed each woman
multiple times, Kelsey said.
District attorney Dave Arnold said May's history of felony convictions for
violent crimes means he deserves death.
May, 22 at the time, was a waitress and mother of a one-year-old son when
she disappeared in 1982. Her body was not found until 6 years later in a
remote wooded area of South Lebanon Twp.
Testifying this morning were Fair's mother and father, Marie and Roger
George, and her sister, Cynthia Rubendall. They all described May as very
responsible, a great mother and energetic, although she was grief-stricken
over the death of her boyfriend in a car accident four months before she
Rubendall said her sister's death has not gotten any easier over the
years. "There are a lot of dark years we've traveled through," she said.
(source: The Patriot-News)
Lawyers enter pleas of not guilty for uncle of slain Vermont girl
Michael Jacques, 42, accused in death of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett in
Prosecutors say Jacques coerced another girl into aiding his plot
Defense says strategy depends on whether prosecutors seek the death
Defense lawyers entered pleas of not guilty Wednesday for the uncle of a
slain Vermont girl and told the judge their strategy depends on whether
prosecutors choose to seek the death penalty.
Michael Jacques, 42, chose to skip the arraignment on federal charges that
accuse him in the death of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett in June. An
indictment last week charged him with kidnapping resulting in death --
with special circumstances that would make him eligible for the
death-penalty -- and 5 child pornography counts.
Brooke's stepmother, Janet Bennett, said outside court that she had mixed
emotions about the possibility of the death penalty.
"I don't know if the death penalty is what he deserves. I want to see him
suffer. That's what I want to see," she said.
Brooke, a 7th-grader from Braintree, disappeared June 25. Her body was
found a week later in a shallow grave. Prosecutors say Jacques, a
convicted sex offender, coerced another girl into aiding his plot by
claiming to be part of a child-sex club that sometimes chose girls for
In court, public defender Michael Desautels and co-counsel Jean deSales
Barrett, a New Jersey attorney who specializes in capital cases, told
Judge William Sessions III that their strategy in filing pretrial motions
would hinge on whether the case involves the death penalty.
Whether to seek it will be decided by the U.S. attorney general, but the
pending change in the presidency has cast uncertainty on how quickly the
decision will be made.
Barrett also said their strategy is linked to where Jacques is held,
currently in a corrections center in St. Albans, Vermont. The defense
attorneys said Jacques was about to be moved, but they didn't say where,
and they wouldn't comment after the hearing.
(source: Associated Press)
Jacques death penalty decision to wait
The outcome of the presidential race could influence whether Michael
Jacques faces the death penalty if hes convicted in the killing of
12-year-old Brooke Bennett of Braintree, a federal judge was told Tuesday.
"The process for submitting these cases to the attorney general takes at
least 6 months, sometimes a year," attorney Jean Barrett told federal
Judge William Sessions on Wednesday. "It's hard to tell with a new
administration what will happen with the process."
Barrett, a Montclair, N.J., lawyer with expertise in death penalty cases,
made the remark as she and local federal public defender lawyer Michael
Desautels entered not guilty pleas on Jacques behalf during his
arraignment at federal court in Burlington.
Jacques, in a 6-count indictment, is charged with kidnapping with death
resulting, plus production and possession of child pornography. Police
affidavits in the case allege he drugged, raped and then killed Brooke,
his niece, after kidnapping her on the morning of June 25.
U.S. Attorney Tom Anderson has yet to decide whether to ask the attorney
general to authorize him to seek the death penalty in the case but has
raised the possibility of doing so on several occasions.
Should Anderson pursue the death penalty, his recommendation will need
approval from the attorney general. Because the death penalty review
process will extend into 2009, the next presidents attorney general will
be the one to make the final decision.
Jacques earlier this week waived his right to attend the arraignment and
was not at Wednesdays court proceeding. His estranged wife, a stepdaughter
and family friends attended the session but declined comment.
Outside the courthouse, friends and teen supporters of the Bennett family
stood across the street holding a huge pink banner with black letters that
read Brookes Justice Begins Today. They were accompanied by Brookes
stepmother, Janet Bennett. Brookes mother, Cassandra Gagnon, did not
attend the hearing or the outdoor vigil.
"We wanted to make some kind of statement to keep the focus on Brooke,"
Janet Bennett said. "We know a lot of people are behind us who want to see
that justice is done."
Bennett said she was undecided on whether she wanted Jacques to face the
death penalty if he's guilty of killing Brooke.
"I want to see him rot in hell," she said. "But I also want to see him
suffer for what he did to Brooke."
She declined to say if Brooke's father, her husband Jim Bennett, wanted
Jacques sentenced to death if convicted for killing Brooke.
Mary Larson, a Bennett family friend standing next to Janet Bennett, said
she hoped the death penalty is invoked in the case. "He deserves this,"
Inside the courtroom, Barrett asked Sessions to assure her that Jacques
not be relocated to another jail as he awaits his trial. She said defense
preparations for Jacques' trial could be affected by where he is located.
"I don't really understand why it's significant where he's placed,"
Barrett said she was unwilling to provide an explanation in open court and
asked for a private meeting with Sessions to discuss the matter. Sessions
suggested she and Desautels try to resolve the issue with federal
"In the meantime, we ask that (Jacques) not be relocated in the next 2
weeks," Barrett said. "We understand his relocation may be imminent."
Jacques is being held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St.
Barrett, speaking with reporters outside the courtroom after the hearing,
declined to elaborate on her concerns about where Jacques is being held.
(source: Burlington Free Press)
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