[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., ALA., US MIL., KY.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jan 23 10:23:34 CST 2009
TEXAS----death sentence overturned
Man's death sentence overturned
A Galveston man convicted of capital murder in the brutal killing of a
college instructor in 1993 will remain on death row while prosecutors
decide whether to appeal the reversal of his death sentence.
Gaylon George Walbey Jr., 34, was sentenced to die in the May, 4, 1993,
slaying of Marionette Beyah, who had been his foster mother in 1988 and
1989. Police found Beyah, 46, bludgeoned to death inside her island home.
Police said she interrupted Walbey's burglary of her residence.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion Monday
reversing Walbey's death sentence, citing ineffectiveness of council
during his punishment hearing. As the reason for the reversal, the court's
opinion states defense attorney Roger Ezell failed to investigate
mitigating circumstances of Walbey's mental state, childhood and a host of
other potentially mitigating circumstances.
Ezell, who works for the appellate division of the Galveston County
District Attorney's Office, said Thursday he disagreed with the court's
decision and would have no part in the state's proceedings regarding
Reasons For Reversal
The court stated Ezell waited until the week before the hearing to prepare
for Walbey's punishment phase and only skimmed the records provided by the
district attorney on Walbey's background.
Ezell failed to contact potential witnesses, namely Walbey's mother, and
others who had direct knowledge of Walbeys "troubled" childhood, the
Ezell also didnt probe Walbey's relationship to Beyah, even though there
were no impediments to conducting an investigation or to hiring a
mitigation expert, the opinion states.
The appeal of Walbeys death sentence has been ongoing for 14 years, and
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and a federal appeals court judge
upheld the death sentence, Ezell said.
Guilty Plea Withdrawn
Walbey originally agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence,
but changed his mind, Ezell said.
"There was a prisoner from death row at the court house for a hearing, and
they put him in the same holding cell with the prisoner," Ezell said. "The
guy talked him (Walbey) into rolling the dice. That prisoner now of course
has been executed."
The appeals court ordered a new punishment phase of Walbey's capital trial
or the imposition of the appropriate noncapital alternative sentence.
Joel Bennett, 1st-assistant criminal district attorney for Galveston
County, said no decision has been made on whether to appeal to the U.S.
The state has 14 days to decide whether to ask the appeals court to
reconsider its opinion or 90 days to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review
the case, said Tom Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General.
(source: Galveston Daily News)
Death penalty stays in play in stabbing
James Hower could face the death penalty even though preliminary evidence
shows he probably didn't strike the blow that killed David Kern 3 years
ago, the state Superior Court has ruled.
Hower, 24, and Roberto Laboy, 24, both of Lebanon, are accused of beating
and fatally stabbing Kern on Jan. 21, 2006, in a Lebanon alley while Kern
and a companion, Tina Garcia, walked home from a bar. An autopsy
determined Kern died from a knife blow that penetrated his heart.
Lebanon County Judge John Tylwalk ruled in 2007 that Hower should not face
the death penalty when he goes to trial for the killing, because it
appeared that Laboy wielded the knife that killed Kern.
Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold appealed Tylwalk's decision
to Superior Court.
In the Superior Court ruling, the judges noted that Hower's pants were
strained with Kern's blood and Garcia testified that both assailants
punched Kern in the face and the stomach. Evidence showed that "Hower was
a principal in the attack that caused the death of Kern," the judges
Laboy remains in Lebanon County Prison, and Hower is in the state prison
Downtown Mobile motel owner's killer gets death sentence
A Mobile judge Thursday ordered the execution of Donald Whatley for the
December 2003 slaying of downtown motel owner Pete Patel.
Circuit Judge Joseph "Rusty" Johnston read aloud from an 11-page order,
announcing he was following the "advisory verdict" handed down by a jury
After finding Whatley guilty of capital murder, the jury voted 10-2 in
favor of capital punishment.
No one spoke Thursday but Johnston.
In a previous hearing, Patel's relatives and prosecutors asked for the
death penalty and a sister of Whatley's asked that his life be spared.
Whatley, 34, who watched the proceedings through a pair of thick glasses,
declined to say anything Thursday.
As Johnston announced his decision, it appeared to take Whatley a moment
to absorb what the judge was saying.
Slowly, as he sat deathly still, Whatley's jailhouse pallor flushed into
Some members of Patel's family bore nearly imperceptible smiles as the
death sentence was announced.
On his way back to a holding cell afterward and with his back to the
gallery, Whatley waved his cuffed hands above his head as some members of
his family quietly wiped tears from their eyes.
With half a dozen security officers dispersed around the courtroom,
Johnston carefully took everyone through the course of Whatley's life and
Johnston noted that during the trial a pathologist described "19 pages of
injuries" inflicted on the diminutive, 43-year-old victim, including
beating, choking and being run over by his own car.
Whatley claimed he met Patel at a downtown bar and that they had gone
together to a spot beneath the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge to have sex.
During the trial, prosecutors inexplicably showed jurors a photograph of a
condom found near Patel's body but later acknowledged it was not used by
either Whatley or Patel.
Johnston noted Thursday that a cigarette found at the crime scene
contained Whatley's DNA.
After Whatley killed Patel and fled to Jefferson County, Texas, the judge
noted, a woman named Sheila Overstreet "provided him a roof over his head"
and Whatley "responded to Ms. Overstreet's kindness by ... cutting her
throat" and murdering her.
The judge also noted Whatley's claims to have "turned his life over to
If so, Johnston said, "this is miraculous and commendable and may assure
him everlasting life."
The judge said that while incarcerated in the Mobile County Metro Jail,
Whatley posed a constant physical threat to fellow inmates, whom the
convicted killer looked down on.
Johnston said he believed Whatley would always pose a danger to other
The "possibility of future crimes," the judge said, was "a valid factor"
in determining whether Whatley should live or die.
(source: Mobile Press-Register)
Death Penalty Sought in Marine Murder
In Riverside, California prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 4
Marines charged in the execution-style killings of a fellow serviceman and
Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said Wednesday that the men
are eligible for the death penalty because they face multiple charges of
murder with other special circumstances.
19-year-old Lance Cpl. Emrys John of Maryland; 21-year-old Lance Cpl.
Tyrone Miller of North Carolina; 21-year-old Pvt. Kevin Cox of Tennessee,
and 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Kesaun Sykes of California face 1st-degree
Investigators say 24-year-old Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his 26-year-old wife,
Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, were found bound and shot in the head Oct. 15 in
their Winchester home.
Supreme Court rejects appeal in Ky. murder case
A former Kentucky death row inmate convicted under an alias lost another
appeal Thursday in his ongoing efforts to have his conviction overturned.
The Kentucky Supreme Court denied the appeal from Jeffrey Leonard, a
convicted murderer who wants justices to reconsider his conviction based
on a claim of ineffective counsel, in part because his lawyer didn't know
his real name. Leonard was convicted under the pseudonym James Earl
The Supreme Court had denied a motion in 2007 to overturn Leonard's
conviction on his assertion that his defense attorney had not fully
investigated the case in order to defend him. Justice Mary Noble, writing
for a unanimous court, declined to reopen the issue.
Allison Martin, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said
prosecutors were pleased with the high court's ruling. Leonard's defense
attorneys with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy did not
immediately return calls Thursday seeking comment.
Leonard, a brain-damaged Louisville man, spent nearly 25 years on
Kentucky's death row for the 1983 murder of Esther Stewart, who owned a
consignment store in Louisville. Before leaving office in 2007, former
Gov. Ernie Fletcher commuted Leonard's sentence to life in prison without
the possibility of parole.
In commuting Leonard's death sentence, Fletcher cited concerns about
whether his lawyer had been ineffective.
Leonard was originally represented by former Louisville attorney Ferdinand
"Fred" Radolovich, who surrendered his law license after being charged
with perjury for claiming he had handled four death penalty cases before
Leonard's. Investigators found that he actually had no experience as a
lead attorney in a capital murder case.
In a separate case on Thursday, the Supreme Court reversed the convictions
of two Jefferson County men, Eddie Cardine and Michael Curry, for murder,
attempted murder and assault. In the 4-2 ruling, justices held that a 2nd
trial subjected the men to double jeopardy.
The 2, charged in 2004, were sentenced to 30 years in prison.
< Justices found that Cardine's and Curry's constitutional protection
against double jeopardy was triggered in the case when a Jefferson County
judge declared a mistrial and held a second trial. In the majority ruling
written by Noble, the Supreme Court held that double jeopardy arose
because the defendants didn't request or cause the mistrial.
(source: Associated Press)
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