[Deathpenalty] [POSSIBLE SPAM] death penalty news----USA, ILL., CONN., LA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Aug 15 17:39:27 CDT 2011
USA (NEW YORK):
Death penalty: Executing a killer continues cycle of senseless violence
The senseless violence that killed 19-year-old Kihari Blue and 20-month-old
Rashaad Walker Jr. shook the Syracuse community.
Kahari Smith, a member of the V-Not street gang, is accused of killing Blue, a
former Henninger High School star athlete, in a drive-by shooting Nov. 26.
Blue, 19, was home from college and was riding in a car on Interstate 81 with
several members of the Bricktown gang.
2 days later, members of Bricktown targeted a gang called 110, who they wrongly
assumed was responsible for Blue’s death. Rashaad Walker Sr., a reputed member
of 110, was the target. He was unhurt, but a bullet killed his toddler son.
Saquan Evans, 21, is accused of 2nd-degree murder in the child’s death.
Smith, 26, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal
possession of a weapon in Blue’s shooting. He also faces 2 federal charges.
One, murder in aid of racketeering, triggers an analysis that could make Smith
eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
New York has not had the death penalty since June 2004, when the state Court of
Appeals ruled it unconstitutional. (Gov. George Pataki had signed it back into
law in 1995.) But any federal murder charge triggers a death penalty review,
regardless of local law.
A death penalty review committee will consider New York’s laws and Smith’s
criminal background. The policy is applied consistently nationwide and cases
are ultimately approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. That removes
emotion and public pressure from the decision.
But the death penalty remains a bad solution, even in horrendous cases like
this. Killing Smith won’t bring back Blue, or innocent baby Rashaad, killed in
the violent cycle of retaliation. If convicted, Smith should get life without
The death penalty does not deter crime. It has been disproportionately used in
cases involving minority or poor defendants. It’s been used on people later
found to be innocent. And it violates the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel
and unusual punishment.
The government should not be in the business of killing people. The old bumper
sticker philosophy says it perfectly: Why do we kill people who killed people
to show that killing is wrong? In this sad case, executing the killer would add
one more turn to the cycle of violence.
(source: The Post-Standard Editorial Board The Post-Standard)
Dublin man watched execution of deserter----A few unlucky men served as public
examples of the guilty thousands
Desertion is a barometer of an army's morale -- and common in the Civil War.
The Roman historian Vegitus almost 2,000 years ago stated that the desertion of
an enemy's soldiers had a greater effect on its army than battlefield
casualties because it not only depleted the numbers, it also severely
Though desertion was less common in the South because the Confederates were
fighting a defensive war on their own ground, both sides were susceptible. The
reasons for these defections were poor food, boredom, unhealthy camp
conditions, enforced marches, fear of death and homesickness. Estimates place
Union desertion at 200,000 and Confederate desertion at 104,000.
During the first 2 years of the war desertion was treated with leniency since
public opinion did not tolerate the execution of volunteers. A deserter might
be branded on the hip with a letter "D" and sentenced to a period of hard
labor, or subjected to forfeitures of pay and the right to a furlough. Some
were dismissed from service while others were sentenced to wear a humiliating
placard marked "Deserter."
Executions were rare.
To suppress desertion the death penalty was eventually applied, which meant a
few unlucky men served as public examples out of the many thousands who were
equally guilty. As a result, more soldiers were executed during the Civil War
than in all other American wars combined. Approximately 500 men representing
both North and South were shot or hanged during the 4-year conflict, 2/3 of
them for desertion. "The General Orders of War Department" for the Union (1861,
1862, 1863) directed that those men convicted of desertion were "to be shot to
death with musketry, at such time and place as the commanding General may
Despite the rising number of executions in the war's final two years,
relatively few deserters were sentenced to die, but when the supreme penalty
was called for, executions were generally carried out. Here is a letter from
Samuel Huddleston from Dublin, an enlistment in the 84th Indiana Regiment that
had formed in Richmond, who witnessed an execution at noon on a Friday -- May
"We were called upon to witness the sad fate of Julius Milike, a private of the
10th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, who deserted his regiment twice. ... He was
arrested at Louisville, Ky., and brought to Nashville sometime before his
execution, where he was tried and found guilty. The sentence of the court
martial was carried out at noon on that day, one mile and a half southwest of
the city, in the presence of a large number of troops and other spectators. ...
The prisoner Milike arrived on the ground at half past eleven. A line was
formed on 3 sides with side arms and without colors. The condemned, under
escort, followed the officer of the day. The brigade played the 'Dead March' as
he walked. The bearing of the doomed man was calm and self-possessed; he trod
to the place of his execution with a step as accurate in its cadence as that of
the guard who conducted him. He was escorted by a squadron of cavalry and
attended to by a Minister. ... After kneeling in prayer with the Rev. Eggers,
he arose and shook hands with the officers and escort, then took his seat upon
his coffin in front of his open grave. ...
The hundreds of spectators around the victim stood paralyzed. His comrades,
used as they were to such blood and carnage on the battlefield, beheld with
uncontrollable emotion the sedate and weighty preparation for the execution,
and seemed penetrated by the solemnity of the religious services which were
being carried out. ... The doomed man was blindfolded to shut out the sight of
the muzzles of the muskets leveled not more than 10 paces from him. He broke
out into a loud lamentation and quivering, and wailed frequent appeals to the
Almighty to have mercy on his soul and to pardon his sins. ...
The Lieutenant gave the command, 'Ready!' and the clicking of the locks alone
broke the silence that prevailed; 'Aim!' and the muzzles of the guns were
pointed with unerring aim at the breast of the miserly man; the very breathing
of the crowd seemed stopped in terrible suspense. The ill-fated man cried out,
'Take good aim boys; all is over now!' -- then the command was given, 'Fire!'
-- and the fatal shots instantly sent him into the presences of his Maker, his
young corpse hanging in the air as if suspended, and then flopping back in that
horrible relaxation of death, to which he now was forevermore pinioned.
All was quietus; not a breeze stirred. ... His shattered body was therein
positioned properly in his coffin, to be hid from mortal eye. It is not in the
power of my tongue to tell or the pen to write the feelings that shook the
hearts of the hundreds of soldiers that were present. The deep silence that
prevailed did not terminate in length for some time. No sound was heard except
the slow and solemn tread of troops as they marched away. ... So perish those
who would betray their country in its hour of need and peril."
Written by Samuel Huddleston of Dublin, Company C, 84th Indiana Volunteer
Infantry, May 15, 1864. (Note: 11 months later the war would be over.)
(source: Steve Martin is a reference librarian at Morrisson-Reeves Library and
a member of the Palladium-Item editorial board)
The Death Penalty Is a Miscarriage of Justice: It Should Be Abolished
"The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery. It is a
punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and
local politics."--Bryan Stevenson, death row lawyer
"Imposition of the death penalty is arbitrary and capricious. The decision of
who shall live and who shall die for his crime turns less on the nature of the
offense and the incorrigibility of the offender and more on inappropriate and
indefensible considerations: the political and personal inclinations of
prosecutors; the defendant's wealth, race and intellect; the race and economic
status of the victim; the quality of the defendant's counsel; and the resources
allocated to defense lawyers."--Gerald Heaney, a former appellate judge
There is nothing moral or just about the death penalty--certainly not the way
it is implemented in America, and anyone who says otherwise is either deluding
themselves or trying to get elected by appearing tough on crime. Take Troy
Davis, for example, a 43-year-old black man from Georgia who has spent the past
20 years of his life on death row for allegedly shooting and killing a white
off-duty police officer--a crime he very well may not have committed.
According to Amnesty International, the case against Davis consisted entirely
of witness testimony, which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the
trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the
trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses
have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police
into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis. One of the two
witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles -- the
principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is
new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed
affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.
Despite the fact that the case against Davis has largely fallen apart, the
courts have not been inclined to grant Davis a new trial or evidentiary
hearing. At a minimum, there's enough doubt as to Davis' guilt to commute his
sentence. And even with prominent politicians and public officials such as
former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Desmond Tutu lobbying on
his behalf, Davis continues to languish on death row at a Georgia prison.
Unfortunately, Davis' journey to death row and his impending execution are
indicative of the many failings of the capital punishment system in America, a
system sorely lacking in justice and riddled by racial prejudice and economic
inequality, not to mention outright corruption.
As it now stands, America's Western allies have abolished the death penalty,
leaving America as one of only three industrialized democracies still carrying
out capital punishment. Internationally, the U.S. ranks fifth in terms of the
number of prisoners put to death, putting America in such ill-esteemed company
as the regimes of China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen. In fact, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, wasted no time in pointing out the
hypocrisy of the U.S. executing Teresa Lewis last year while criticizing Iran
for stoning a woman convicted of adultery.
Within the U.S., 14 states and the District of Columbia have done away with the
death penalty. Execution remains an option in 34 states and for federal
inmates. Of the states still actively putting prisoners to death, Texas and
Virginia rank highest for the number of executions carried out since capital
punishment was reinstated in 1976. Indeed, Texas Governor Rick Perry has
presided over more than 200 executions during his time in office, more than any
other governor in U.S. history, while Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been
an outspoken, staunch supporter of the death penalty. Contrast this with
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn who, on March 9, 2011, signed a law banning the
death penalty, saying it was impossible to fix a system that had wrongly
condemned at least 20 innocent men to death (138 death row inmates have had
their convictions overturned since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976).
New York, New Jersey and New Mexico have also done away with capital punishment
in the past 2 years.
Thus far, the greatest argument in favor of a moratorium on the death penalty
rests in the overwhelming evidence that the system is consistently error-bound
and flawed. In a Columbia University study on 5,760 capital cases, the report
found an overall rate of error of 68 percent. In other words, courts found
serious reversible errors in nearly 7 out of 10 capital cases. The most common
errors included egregiously incompetent defense lawyers, prosecutorial
suppression of evidence and other misconduct, misinstruction of juries, and
biased judges and juries. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
once observed, "I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the
Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was
well represented at trial... People who are well represented at trial do not
get the death penalty."
In the Columbia University study, the team of legal analysts concluded that the
death penalty system was "collapsing under the weight of its own mistakes. They
reveal a system in which lives and public order are at stake, yet for decades
has made more mistakes than we would tolerate in far less important activities.
They reveal a system that is wasteful and broken and needs to be addressed."
The racial disparities in sentencing are well known. For example, there are
1,371 blacks on death row (42% of the total death row population) despite the
fact that blacks only make up 12% of the U.S. population. Indeed, blacks are
40% more likely to be sentenced to death than a white defendant who has
committed the same crime. Class and wealth are also a factor in who receives
the death penalty. In fact, almost all death row inmates could not afford their
own attorney at trial and there is a significant disparity in wealth between
murderers who live and those who are executed.
Those who end up on death row are also often the products of extreme abusive or
abject poverty. "In the US the overwhelming majority of those executed are
psychotic, alcoholic, drug addicted or mentally unstable," said George Ryan,
former Illinois governor. "They frequently are raised in an impoverished and
abusive environment. Seldom are people with money or prestige convicted of
capital offenses, even more seldom are they executed."
Rejection of the death penalty arises from many practical considerations as
well. Abolishing the death penalty would save money to fund public works
programs to reduce poverty and child abuse, or simply to reduce taxes and put
more money in the pockets of Americans. The death penalty, however, costs the
state a great deal of money. Some studies estimate that states spend 48% to
300% more prosecuting cases in which the death penalty is an option versus
cases in which it is not. In North Carolina, it costs more than $2 million to
execute just one person. There are a myriad of ways to better utilize the money
presently being spent on prosecuting, sentencing, and appealing death penalty
As for the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent to future violent
crimes, there is no convincing evidence to support that claim. Indeed, 67% of
U.S. police chiefs do not believe that the death penalty significantly reduces
the numbers of murders. One study determined that there was no appreciable
difference in murder rates before and after states had either reinstated or
abolished the death penalty. Due to the slow process and infrequent occurrence
of death sentences being carried out throughout the United States, most
regression analysis studies are unable to prove the efficacy of the death
sentence. As Gregory Ruff, a police lieutenant in Kansas, noted, "I have never
heard a murderer say they thought about the death penalty as consequence of
their actions prior to committing their crimes."
Furthermore, the death penalty allows government officials, who are often
corrupt or misinformed, to pursue an irreversible policy of killing with
imperfect information. Consequently, police officers, prosecutors, juries, and
judges have sent many innocent men to death row. Since 1973, 138 people have
been released from death row after evidence of their innocence was brought to
light, each person spending an average of 9.8 years in prison. That amounts to
one in every ten prisoners condemned to die since 1976 being innocent. Yet
human nature and the law of averages decree that if more than 100 individuals
have prevailed in proving their innocence, there must be many more who have not
been able to do so. Whether through lack of resources, opportunity or time,
these individuals go to their deaths innocent of the crimes for which they were
One such person is Cameron Todd Willingham, accused, tried, and convicted of
setting a fire that killed his three children in 1992. He was put on death row
and executed in 2004. However, since his death there has been a rigorous
investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire that suggests
Willingham was, in fact, innocent.
Even if most of those condemned to die prove to be guilty, if just one innocent
person is wrongly executed, that is still one too many. No matter what our
individual views on the death penalty, its application clearly deserves closer
scrutiny. "Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error," Governor
George Ryan once said, "error in determining guilt and error in determining who
among the guilty deserves to die." The inconsistency and utter randomness of
imposing the death penalty by any governmental body should give even the most
hard-line death penalty advocate pause.
(source: Rutherford Institute)
Attorney sheds light on one of America's most hated
John Wayne Gacy was put to death in 1994 for killing 33 young men and burying
most of them in the crawl space of his home in unincorporated Norwood Park
However, there was a 34th victim, Gacy told his attorney, Sam Amirante.
“There was one more,” Amirante said during a recent interview in his Palatine
law office. “He said he dumped 5 bodies in the Des Plaines River, but we only
found 4 bodies.”
Despite an extensive search, the unidentified 34th victim was never found.
Because there was no body, Gacy was never charged with that death.
Speculation still lingers as to whether Gacy killed more men during his
notorious murder spree in the late 1970s, but Amirante insists the total number
of murder victims is 34.
Amirante said the investigation was so thorough, and Gacy talked so much to so
many people about his crimes, they would have known if there were any others.
In his new book, “Defending a Monster,” ($24.95, Skyhorse Publishing) Amirante
describes his bond with Gacy and tells what it was like to be the attorney —
and close confidante — for the most hated man in America during what was, at
the time, the trial of the century.
Written in a conversational and John Grisham-like style, the book gives some
insight into Gacy’s personality. He could be a regular guy at a neighborhood
picnic one minute (when he lived in Springfield, he was named the Jaycees Man
of the Year for 1965) and transform into a coldblooded killer the next, the
“There was a lot (Amirante) was privy to when Gacy was alive that we weren’t,”
said Rolling Meadows attorney Terry Sullivan, who prosecuted Gacy and published
“Killer Clown,” a New York Times best-selling book about the case. “It’ll be a
testament to this part of history.”
“Defending a Monster” is packed with fascinating, horrifying and even funny
behind-the-scenes stories about the case, as well as graphic crime scene
photos, newspaper clippings, and personal letters written by Gacy.
Specific suburban locations are mentioned throughout the book, including the
Des Plaines pharmacy where Gacy picked up his last victim, Maine West High
School student Robert Piest, 15. The pharmacy has since closed and the building
is now a day care center.
Amirante, a retired Cook County circuit court judge who now lives in
Barrington, was a 30-year-old lawyer when the Gacy case fell into his lap. He
had just left the Cook County Public Defender’s office and was starting his
private practice when Gacy called him and asked, “Sam, can you do me a favor?”
He wanted to know why the Des Plaines police were tailing him.
Amirante knew Gacy from Norwood Park political circles, where Gacy was a
Democratic precinct captain. Amirante figured he’d make a few calls to the Des
Plaines police department and that’d be that. But it became immediately
apparent this was a major case. Gacy paid Amirante a $3,000 retainer, and
became his first private practice client.
One late night before Christmas 1978, Gacy demanded to meet with Amirante.
Tired and irritated by Gacy’s rambling, Amirante slammed a Daily Herald story
about the missing Piest boy on his desk and pointed at it, demanding that Gacy
tell him what he knew.
“He’s dead,” Gacy told Amirante, and then unloaded a startling confession.
“Defending a Monster” details the personal struggles Amirante faced during this
time, and his fierce determination to provide Gacy with a fair trial despite
the heinousness of the crimes and the countless death threats Amirante and his
family received for representing the madman.
“It’s a story about Sam more than it is about Gacy,” said Danny Broderick, the
former defense attorney and Lake Zurich resident who co-authored the book. “The
Constitution is one of the characters. The Constitution wins in that book. Sam
While there are several other books about Gacy, Amirante said he wanted to
write this one to set the record straight and show people another side of Gacy.
“It’s Gacy’s story, in some ways. People looked at him as a monster. I looked
at him as a pathetic, broken man,” Amirante said. “I wasn’t looking at him as a
guy who killed all these boys. I was looking at him as my client. My job was to
Amirante hardly saw his family during the 15 months he handled the case —
something he deeply regrets to this day — but being Gacy’s attorney also
changed his life in positive ways. He said it made him more compassionate and a
better judge, taught him how to deal with the media, and inspired him to write
legislation, quickly passed into law, that required police to immediately begin
searches for missing children rather than waiting 72 hours.
That program, called I-Search, helped find more than 3,000 children in its
first year alone and was the precursor to the Amber Alerts we have today,
When asked if Gacy deserved the death penalty, Amirante, who mounted an
insanity defense for the killer, paused and thought.
“Probably,” he said, hesitantly, “but he shouldn’t have been sentenced to
death. They could have studied him, and find out why he did what he did ... so
this doesn’t happen again.”
Amirante and Broderick, who are working on two other books, have already
jokingly speculated who would play Gacy (Ed Norton) and Amirante (Shia LaBeouf)
if “Defending a Monster” becomes a movie.
“Joe Pesci can’t play me because he’s too old. Danny DeVito can’t play me,
because he’s too short,” said the 5-foot-tall Amirante, laughing.
One thing’s for sure: Gacy’s story is still big news in the suburbs of Chicago.
Broderick says he was amazed how many people knew the serial killer through his
work in local politics, his home remodeling business or his volunteer work as
Pogo the Clown.
“You cannot throw a rock in this town without finding one or two or three
degrees of separation from him,” Broderick said. “But it was a huge news story
all over the world. It still is.”
(source: Associated Press)
Let Lawyers Speak: What Is Komisarjevsky's Side?----Judge Should Let Lawyers
For Accused Cheshire Killer Respond To Depictions In The Media
Joshua Komisarjevsky's lawyers petitioned the court the other day for
permission to speak out on what they perceived to be unfair comments in the
press about the guilt of their client. As expected, the judge refused to allow
it and scolded them in the bargain.
I think they should be able to speak. If they want to hold a press conference
and quote from Shakespeare (as they did in their motion) or Dante or Kafka, I
think that would be just fine. Let them.
(source: Mark Dubois, Letter to the Editor, Hartford Courant)
7th Ward double homicide will finally get its day in court
The 1900 block of Duels Street is a post-Katrina blend of restored and
ramshackle, high weeds and clipped lawns, occupied and empty.
Gone for now is the close community that once filled the 7th Ward block and
those around it.
Gone forever is the 90-year-old woman who lived at what is now a bare corner
lot, a famed seamstress of ball dresses described by one neighborhood admirer
as "St. Francis of Duels Street." Gone, too, is her 67-year-old daughter, a New
Orleans educator, Carnival lover and fashion maven.
The double murder 7 years ago of Durelli Watts and her daughter, Ina Claire
Gex, shook the neighborhood and beyond, both for the status of the victims --
elderly members of a prominent New Orleans family -- and for the stunning
violence behind it.
The June 14, 2004, slayings will be revisited in a New Orleans courtroom this
week, with jury selection slated to begin Monday in a trial that Orleans Parish
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro hopes will produce the first death penalty
conviction to stick on his watch.
Prosecutors claim Darrill Henry stabbed Watts 14 times in the head, face and
chest, breaking 3 ribs, her sternum and her jaw. While she remained alive,
police say, he set her body aflame.
Gex, a former principal of Lafayette Elementary School and St. Mary of the
Angels Catholic School, had come in response to her mother's calls for help. A
witness said the killer brushed past her on his way out of the house, turned
around and shot her once, then again. He then knelt down as Gex lay on the
porch, placed the barrel to her head and fired.
Police, acting on tips that the killer went by "Short Story," arrested Henry
three weeks later. Now 35, he has since remained jailed without bond.
'Doesn't make any sense'
The languishing case, first set for trial three weeks before Hurricane Katrina,
has tested the patience of the victims' family.
Gregory Gex, a 52-year-old Las Vegas doctor, said he can't help but fret as he
awaits a trial and "the fact we have to relive this entire incident again."
Gregory Gex and his two brothers -- their father, Robert Gex, died in 2006 --
believe Henry committed the murders, perhaps during a robbery.
"But we really don't understand the extent of the rage. That's the part that
really doesn't make any sense to us," Gex said.
"These are 2 old women. My grandmother was very frail and old. She had her wits
about her but she couldn't hurt you," he added. "To stab her that many times
and then shoot my mother, who also was elderly, just seems cowardly."
Prosecutors believe Henry did odd jobs or ran errands for Watts, a contention
that Henry has disputed. Four people fingered him in photo lineups, but not all
4 were eyewitnesses to the murders. There appears to be no usable DNA linking
Henry to the murder scene.
In court filings, Henry's attorneys appear ready to mount an alibi defense that
Henry was out job hunting at the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street in the hour
of the murders.
They plan to call several potential witnesses, some under subpoena, to account
for his activities that day, before and after the murders.
They also point to other possible suspects and suggest witnesses were steered
toward Henry in the lineups, court filings show.
Henry's attorneys, Michael Rocks and Nick Trenticosta, did not return calls
Prosecutors Laura Rodrigue and Blair Berthelot face a taller hurdle than for
2nd-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Rather
than 10 of 12 jurors, they must win over them all, in both the trial and the
penalty phase, to get a death verdict.
The last person on death row out of Orleans Parish arrived there 13 years ago,
according to the Louisiana Department of Corrections. A jury sentenced Phillip
Anthony to death for a triple killing at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen in the
Cannizzaro has shown he's willing to seek the death penalty regardless of the
stiffer challenge, the added cost to defend convictions and widespread
perception that the odds are long that a group of 12 parish jurors will
unanimously endorse it.
The DA has tried 3 men in capital cases since he took office in early 2009. 2
ended with juries choosing life in prison.
In April 2009, a jury convicted Barry Ferguson of 1st-degree murder for the
2003 rape and murder of his mentally disabled teenage daughter, but they gave
him a life sentence rather than death by lethal injection.
A unanimous jury in December 2009 found Tyrone Wells guilty of 2nd-degree
murder in the fatal stabbing of Jose Vazquez Jr., in a July 2003 armed robbery
In the 3rd case, an Orleans Parish jury handed Michael "Mike-Mike" Anderson a
death sentence in 2009 on 5 counts of 1st-degree murder for gunning down 5
people in a June 2006 Central City rampage.
But Judge Lynda Van Davis last year overturned the conviction. She found that
Cannizzaro's office failed to provide Anderson's attorney with a videotaped
interview of its sole eyewitness, in which the witness partially contradicted
her trial testimony.
In a deal worked out between the DA and the feds, Anderson pleaded no contest
to manslaughter in March, while agreeing to serve life in prison rather than
face a federal death penalty trial.
The case against Henry meets several conditions for the death penalty. Among
them, he is accused of intentionally killing more than 1 person, killing
elderly victims, and killing while engaged in or attempting other crimes --
namely armed robbery and arson.
The decision to seek the death penalty isn't automatic, said a Cannizzaro
"We reserve the death penalty for those egregious cases where the criminal
conduct shocks the conscience," said Christopher Bowman, an assistant district
Judge blamed for delays
For the Gex family, it wasn't their choice to make, said Gregory Gex. But they
support the decision, originally made by former DA Eddie Jordan and carried
through by Cannizzaro. Gex said he doesn't think the decision to try it as a
capital case led to any of the delays.
Instead he blames District Court Judge Terry Alarcon for stalling, saying the
judge has made it known he has no interest in presiding over a capital case.
Alarcon, in a court filing, credits delays by lawyers and a parade of attorneys
who have come and gone in what he called "the tortured history of this case."
Retired Judge Dennis Waldron, not Alarcon, will preside over the trial.
Over 7 years, the case has reached court 180 times for hearings and other
matters, court records show. Officially, those dates were continued fewer than
10 % of the time, on motions split evenly between the state and the defense.
In the meantime, nearly 20 prosecutors have been assigned to it.
"I've been angry, but you kind of get numb after a while and all you want to do
is to get it done," Gex said.
He said the brothers would likely be satisfied if the jury ultimately sends
Henry away for life.
"It's gone on for so long, and it's been very, very trying for everyone," he
said. "So if it happened that way, I think justice would have been done. I
don't think we would be too upset about that."
(source: The Times-Picayune)
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