[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, GA., N.H., FLA., WASH., ARIZ.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 8 08:49:51 CST 2009
Attorneys for death row convict want life sentence
Prosecutors continued to insist Wednesday that convicted killer Daniel
Wilson's death sentence should stand for the 1991 murder of an Amherst
woman he locked in a car truck before setting the vehicle ablaze.
But attorneys for the 39-year-old Wilson argued during a hearing before
Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge that because of an error in
how the jury was instructed during Wilson's 1992 trial, he should receive
a life prison sentence instead.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that jurors weren't
properly instructed on how to handle Wilson's defense that he was drunk at
the time of the killing. Wilson has never denied killing Carol Lutz on May
4, 1991, by locking her in the trunk of her own car, puncturing the gas
tank and setting the car on fire.
While the appeals court said it was an error, the federal judges also said
it wasn't bad enough to justify overturning Wilson's conviction. After the
U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, prosecutors asked for an
execution date for Wilson.
Alan Rossman said the mistake means that Wilson's sentencing was
"erroneous, unconstitutional and in violation of federal law."
Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said during the hearing that the
state doesn't agree with that assessment and that Wilson's sentence was
The 2 sides still have to file additional legal arguments before Burge
makes a decision.
SHOULD BRIAN NICHOLS BE TRIED IN A FEDERAL COURT? CON: It's unnecessary;
unlikely he'd be convicted
One hour after Brian Nichols was sentenced in Fulton County Superior Court
to serve consecutive 4 life sentences without possibility of parole, 7
life sentences with parole possible after 30 years and additional
sentences of imprisonment totaling 485 years, Fulton County District
Attorney Paul Howard suggested something stupendously stupid. He proposed
retrying Nichols, this time in federal court, for one of the murders for
which Nichols had just been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Capital punishment, like torture, is so corrupting that it deranges its
Even though Nichols' prosecution cost millions, even though the jury
convicted Nichols on all 54 counts, even though the judge imposed the
maximum punishment short of death, and even though Nichols will spend the
rest of his life miserably confined in a maximum-security prison, Howard's
death penalty fixation deludes him into thinking that executing Nichols is
so desirable that taxpayers should fund, and that witnesses, jurors and
court personnel should be subjected to, a 2nd capital trial.
Even if Nichols was tried in federal court, there is no assurance that he
would be convicted of the only arguably federal homicide he committed, the
murder of off-duty U.S. Customs Agent David Wilhelm, who was renovating
his home in Buckhead when Nichols shot him. To convict Nichols of
murdering Wilhelm, federal prosecutors would have to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that Wilhelm was killed while engaged in or on account of
the performance of his official duties. This would be difficult, as
several former federal prosecutors recently announced.
Even if Nichols was convicted in federal court of murdering Wilhelm, there
is no guarantee that he would receive a death sentence. Under the federal
death penalty statute, as under Georgia statutes, a death sentence is
barred unless the jury unanimously finds one or more aggravating factors
and also unanimously recommends a death sentence.
Like the state jury, the federal jury would be selected from Fulton
County, one of the least death-penalty-friendly areas of Georgia, and it
is reasonable to believe that, as was true of the state jury, 1 or more of
the federal jurors might hesitate to order a fellow human being executed -
especially now that the murderer is already imprisoned for life without
And even if Nichols was sentenced to death in federal court, there would
be appeals and possibly another trial or proceedings that might result in
a reduction of the sentence, all of which would consume still more time,
money and resources.
Furthermore, internal guidelines of the U.S. Department of Justice forbid
a federal prosecution of Nichols for murdering agent Wilhelm. Under these
regulations, a federal criminal prosecution, following a prior state
prosecution for substantially the same acts or transactions, is
If the state prosecution has resulted in a conviction, the only exception
to the policy is where the state sentence was "manifestly inadequate."
Nichols has been sentenced by the state court to life without parole for
murdering Wilhelm, and it is folly to deem that sentence manifestly
Paul Howard has repeatedly exercised poor judgment in the Brian Nichols
case. He refused Nichols' offer to plead guilty in return for a sentence
of life without parole. He wasted about $3 million futilely trying to get
a death sentence in a county whose citizens are wary of this uncivilized
sanction. His prosecution witness lists were document dumps that forced
Nichols attorneys to prepare for testimony of hundreds of people.
Now, taking it upon himself to arrange a federal prosecution of Nichols,
Howard's judgment has devolved from doubtful to doltish.
(source: Opinion; Donald Wilkes is a professor at the University of
Georgia School of Law----Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
New Hampshire reopens death row
For the 1st time since 1959, the state of New Hampshire has a prisoner on
death row--28-year-old Michael Addison, a Black man convicted of shooting
Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006.
The jury took two days to deliberate and unanimously voted to sentence
Addison to death on December 18. Earlier during the trial, the jury ruled
that Addison purposefully shot Briggs but did not purposefully kill him.
Compare this with another New Hampshire capital murder case decided weeks
before Addison's trial opened: the case of John Brooks, a wealthy white
New Hampshire businessman who was convicted of planning, along with 2
associates, the murder of handyman Jack Reid in 2005. Brooks received life
imprisonment and is seeking to have his conviction overturned.
The contradiction is not lost on Democrats in the state House of
Representatives, who have been behind legislative efforts to repeal New
Hampshire's death penalty laws. Those efforts, however, have been
frustrated by the veto of former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and a
threatened veto by current Democratic Gov. John Lynch.
What's more, the elections in November saw Republicans pick up 17 House
seats, making it highly unlikely that the death penalty laws will be
repealed any time soon.
On top of the costs that the state will spend on handling Addison's
appeals process, the state must now also set aside funds for constructing
and maintaining both a death row and an execution chamber, neither of
which have been in existence since the death penalty was overturned in
Anti-death penalty activists can't afford to wait for a friendly majority
in the New Hampshire state government. We need to organize a grassroots
campaign for a moratorium in New Hampshire and connect it with the
national anti-death penalty movement to bring pressure to bear from below.
This is the best way to make sure that New Hampshire's last execution--in
1939--remains just that: its last.
Bay County Death Row Inmate For 19 Years, Makes Another Appeal
Bay County killer asked the Florida Supreme Court to spare his life
Defense attorney Linda McDermott appealed on behalf of Mark Allen Geralds.
He murdered Cove housewife Tressa Pettibone at her home in February 1989.
McDermott argued the F-D-L-E lab testing notes were not made available to
the original defense lawyers. She claims those notes contained D-N-A such
as finger prints, hair and blood samples that didn't match any family
members or the accused killed, Geralds.
Her argument places an unknown person at the crime scene.
Geralds has made a number of appearances in front of the State Supreme
The justices took the latest appeal under advisement and did not issue a
timetable as to when a decision would be made.
(source: WJHG News)
Trial for Carnation murder suspects not likely until 2010
The trial for 2 people charged with killing 6 members of a family in
Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007 will likely not occur until next year.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor James Konat and defense lawyers
Kathryn Ross and Stephan Illa told King Superior Court Judge Jeffrey
Ramsdell on Wednesday that because of the complexity of the case, they
will not be ready for trial before 2010. The defense attorneys said they
are scheduling interview dates for nearly 200 witnesses.
Konat requested that Ramsdell carefully scrutinize how he and the defense
teams are handling the case to avoid lengthy appeals that are common in
The defendants, Michele Anderson, 30, and her former live-in boyfriend,
Joseph McEnroe, 29, are accused of fatally shooting Anderson's parents,
Wayne and Judy Anderson; Anderson's brother and sister-in-law, Scott and
Erica Anderson, both 32; and the younger couple's children, 5-year-old
Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.
King County sheriff's investigators say Anderson and McEnroe armed
themselves with handguns just before 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2007, entered her
parents' home and fatally shot the couple. Scott and Erica Anderson and
their children were shot when they arrived a short time later for a
Christmas Eve gathering.
If found guilty, Anderson and McEnroe face only 2 possible sentences for
the 6 counts of aggravated murder: execution, or life in prison without
the possibility of parole.
Anderson told The Seattle Times during a jailhouse interview in June that
she and McEnroe killed her family in a fit of rage, claiming she had
suffered years of physical and emotional abuse. But after King County
Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced in October that he would seek the
death penalty, Anderson's attorney said they would mount a vigorous
During the hourlong hearing Wednesday, Anderson and McEnroe sat by their
attorneys and didn't look at each other.
Ramsdell told the attorneys to return to court Feb. 24 for an informal
hearing to discuss the progress of the case. The judge is not expected to
set the trial date until later this year.
(source: Seattle Times)
Killer can present alibi evidence at resentencing----Slayings at Moon
Smoke Shop, Firefighters Union Hall
A man facing resentencing in a high-profile 1996 murder case will be able
to present alibi evidence at his death-penalty resentencing trial.
The Arizona Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review a lower court
decision allowing alibi evidence for Scott Douglas Nordstrom, 41.
Nordstrom was given 6 death sentences for convictions in the slayings at
the Moon Smoke Shop, 120 W. Grant Road, and the Firefighters Union Hall,
2264 E. Benson Highway, along with co-defendant Robert Glen Jones.
Nordstrom's convictions and sentences were upheld on appeal to the Arizona
Supreme Court, but the case was sent back for resentencing after the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that juries, not judges, should decide death
Nordstrom claims it was his brother David M. Nordstrom who actually
committed the killings and that he has witnesses to prove it.
The recent legal issue involves the "Enmund-Tison" phase of the
resentencing trial, named after Florida and Arizona cases, in which death
can't be imposed unless the defendant either actually killed, tried to
kill, intended a killing to occur or was a "major" participant in the
felony committed and acted with "reckless indifference" to human life.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols, who is presiding over
Nordstrom's resentencing, ruled in February that defense attorney David
Alan Darby could present alibi evidence.
Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay argued that allowing Nordstrom to
present alibi witnesses at the resentencing is tantamount to allowing his
residual doubt defense.
"Once he was found guilty, the remaining question is the degree of his
participation, not whether he participated," Unklesbay said last year.
Unklesbay appealed Nichols' ruling to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
A unanimous 3-judge panel at the appellate court ruled in September that
"although the (resentencing) jury could conceivably accept Nordstrom's
alibi evidence for the purpose of determining he had not been a major
participant in the underlying crimes," that doesn't affect the trial
jury's guilty verdicts.
David Nordstrom, 39, served a 4-year sentence for armed robbery in
exchange for his testimony against his brother and Jones.
Jones, 39, is appealing his convictions and death sentences in federal
(source: Tucson Citizen)
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