[Deathpenalty] [POSSIBLE SPAM] death penalty news----TEXAS, GA., KAN., CALIF.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Aug 29 22:46:43 CDT 2011
Roundtable to discuss Death Row minority defendants -- Roundtable to discuss
Death Row minority defendants
A panel of scholars and legal experts will discuss the impact of the death
penalty, particularly on minority defendants at a roundtable to be held 6-8
p.m. at the University of St. Thomas in the Jerabeck Center’s Scanlan Room,
3800 Montrose Blvd.
Topics to be addressed include capital punishment, disregard of Geneva
Conventions and other accords concerning consulates and detained nationals.
Ricardo Ampudia, a journalist, former Mexican Consul General of Houston and
author of “Mexicans on Death Row,” which explores the history and ethics of
capital punishment and how it affects the sentencing of Mexicans in the U.S.
Scott J. Atlas, a former litigation partner with Vinson & Elkins, who led the
legal team that won the release of Ricardo Aldape Guerra, an undocumented
worker who spent 14 years on Texas’ death row. He was the first Mexican
National ever released from Texas’ death row.
Nicole Casarez, attorney and UST professor, who teaches journalism, media law,
public relations and media ethics. Casarez’s affiliation with the Texas
Innocence Network has led to investigative work on several capital and
non-capital cases, including that of Texas death row inmate Anthony Graves.
David R. Dow, founder of the Texas Innocence Network, author of “The
Autobiography of an Execution.”
The event is free and open to the public, and is followed by a book-signing by
Arraignment of Jamie Hood postponed
A Clarke County Superior Court judge postponed this morning’s scheduled
arraignment of accused cop-killer Jamie Hood. Hood was supposed to have
appeared before Judge H. Patrick Haggard to plead guilty or not guilty to a
70-count indictment that accuses him of murdering Athens-Clarke Senior Police
Officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian in March and shooting to death another man,
Kenneth Omari Wray, in December.
Haggard put the arraignment on hold indefinitely after District Attorney Ken
Mauldin on Friday filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Hood.
With the death penalty now in play, the court must follow what’s called Unified
Appeal Procedure — a system that sets the order in which trial judges schedules
pretrial hearings before arraignment.
The process fast-tracks pretrial appeals to the state Supreme Court, such as
challenges to the makeup of the jury pool or arguments to suppress evidence.
A Clarke County grand jury indicted Hood in June, signing off on a long list of
charges, including murder, armed robbery, carjacking and kidnapping.
An arraignment like the one scheduled for this morning gives a defendant a
chance to hear the charges against him, but most waive that option.
(source: Athens Banner-Herald)
KANSAS----new death sentence
Kansas jury recommends death for Kahler
An Osage County District Court jury has recommended the death penalty for Kraig
Kahler in the slayings of 4 family members.
The jury agreed with an assistant attorney general, who on Monday urged them to
impose the death penalty, saying each of the 4 slaying victims died in anguish.
Kahler’s wife, 2 daughters and his wife’s grandmother “all died with an
awareness that gave them the torture of slow death,” said Amy Hanley, the
assistant attorney general.
They died with the awareness Kahler was armed with a gun, shooting at them and
that he intended to kill each, Hanley told the jury.
“This is the proper case,” Hanley said, to impose the death penalty, pointing
to 2 aggravating circumstances she said justified the death penalty.
More than 1 person was killed, and the 4 victims were murdered in a “heinous,
atrocious or cruel manner,” she said.
“He murdered them all, one-by-one,” she said.
The jury began deliberations at 2:30 p.m. on whether to recommend the death
penalty or life in prison without parole. On Friday, an Osage County District
Court jury convicted Kahler of capital murder, 4 counts of 1st degree murder
and 1 count of aggravated burglary, all tied to the Nov. 28, 2009, rampage in a
Burlingame home. Kraig Kahler is former director of the Columbia Water and
Before deliberations Monday, defense attorney Amanda Vogelsberg read 2 notes to
jurors from Kahler’s 12-year-old son.
“I do not want my dad to receive the death penalty because it would be hard on
my grandparents,” the 1st note said.
The 2nd note said, “I do not want my whole family gone.”
Defense attorney Tom Haney told jurors there were 12 mitigating circumstances
that outweigh the aggravating circumstances. Kahler had no criminal history, he
was operating under extreme mental and emotional stress, and he had a severe
mental illness that impaired his ability to think and control his actions,
Haney also noted the statement by Kahler’s son, the lone survivor of the
family, who submitted 2 notes to the court, asking his father not be put to
“Do you have mercy for him?” Haney said, referring to Kahler’s son.
In Kahler’s case, prison would be worse for him than the death penalty, Haney
said, noting his suicidal tendencies and a preference for being outdoors.
Throughout the trial, witnesses testified about Kahler’s love of hunting,
fishing and the outdoors.
Osage County attorney Brandon Jones asked jurors to think about the anguish the
victims felt as they listened again to recordings of one of Kahler’s daughters
screaming for help as her father walked through the home. In one recording, she
was comforted by an Osage County Sheriff’s officer.
“I don’t want to die,” the daughter told Deputy Nathan Purling.
Jones told jurors the number of aggravating circumstances don’t have to
outnumber the mitigating circumstances in order for them to impose the death
penalty. Haney told jurors if any one of them found the aggravating
circumstances didn’t outweigh the mitigating circumstances, there wouldn’t be a
unanimous vote to impose the death penalty.
If the jury doesn’t make a unanimous decision, the judge will impose a life
sentence without parole.
“In this state, we don’t kill the mentally ill,” Haney told the jurors.
(source: Columbia Daily Tribune)
Former Armenian soldier, 65, indicted on 4 counts of murder
A grand jury indictment was unsealed Monday against a former Armenian army
soldier accused of killing 4 people.
Those killed included the family of a woman he allegedly was obsessed with and
a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard.
Alberd Tersargyan, 65, was arrested last year shortly after the body of Karine
Hakobyan was discovered by her teenage daughter slumped in the front seat of
her car in Little Armenia. She had been shot at close range.
15 months earlier, the same daughter had come home to the family's apartment to
find the bodies of her father, Khachik Safaryan, and her younger sister.
The 4-count murder indictment returned Aug. 26 claims the daughter witnessed
her father's killing. The special circumstance makes Tersargsyan eligible for
the death penalty.
The indictment supersedes existing charges and avoids the need for a
Tersargyan once served in the Armenian army and fancied himself "a professional
killer," detectives said. He became a suspect in the slayings after police
received a tip from his employer.
Police and prosecutors claim Tersargyan killed Hakobyan's husband and child
after becoming obsessed with her.
Tersargyan and his wife became close friends of Hakobyan's family almost
immediately after they arrived in the country in 2003 and moved to Little
Armenia on the eastern edges of Hollywood, police say.
Safaryan had confided in Tersargyan that he was having an affair with an old
girlfriend he had known in Armenia, said LAPD Det. Mike Whale.
By then, Tersargyan had fallen in love with Hakobyan and tried to drive the
couple apart by helping Safaryan arrange his trysts while also telling Hakobyan
details about the affair, detectives said.
Hakobyan remained in the marriage, which appears to have angered Tersargyan and
led him to more drastic measures, detectives said.
Safaryan received an anonymous threat that he should leave the country quickly,
which detectives said they now believe was an attempt by Tersargyan to scare
the man off.
Within days of the threat, Safaryan and his daughter were dead.
During the investigation into those killings, Tersargyan fed detectives details
about the affair, which helped to turn suspicion on the mistress and her
In the months after the slayings, Tersargyan continued to pursue Hakobyan
without success. Police believe the constant rebuffs ultimately drove him to
kill her, as well.
Suspicion first fell on Tersargyan when his boss at a cabinet-making company
called an Armenian American police officer he knew in the Glendale Police
Department with concerns about one of his workers.
He told the officer that he had seen Tersargyan with a handgun and had talked
of his close relationship with the Safaryan family.
After his arrest, ballistics tests on a gun he owned showed it had been used to
fire the bullets that killed Hakobyan, Whalen said.
While searching Tersargyan's residence police found a beat-up gray van that
they connected to the killing of prostitute Julie Kates.
Kates had been standing alone at a bus stop in daylight on the corner of Sunset
Boulevard and Kingsley Drive when she suddenly fell to the ground.
When she was taken to a hospital, doctors discovered she had been shot in the
temple with a small-caliber weapon.
An acquaintance of Kates told detective that a man driving an old gray van had
angrily accused Kates of stealing a DVD player the day before she was killed
and threatened to harm her if she did not return it.
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Former LA prosecutor backs ending CA death penalty
A former Los Angeles County district attorney joined an effort to end
California's death penalty Monday, backing an initiative proposed for the
November 2012 ballot that would replace capital punishment with life prison
"The death penalty in California is broken and it is unfixable," Gil Garcetti
said at a news conference held to release details of the proposed ballot
measure. "It is more likely that the convicted murderer will die in prison
before execution is imposed."
A recent study estimated the state spends $184 million annually on death
penalty cases and incarceration above what it would cost to convert the terms
to life behind bars. The former prosecutor said the ballot measure would devote
$100 million over 3 years to law enforcement from money the state could save by
ending capital punishment.
The ballot measure would also require murderers to work in prison, with their
earnings going into a victim compensation fund, said Jeanne Woodford, a former
San Quentin State Prison warden.
Woodford, also a former California corrections secretary, now is executive
director of Death Penalty Focus, which works to eliminate executions.
Garcetti is 1 of 104 law enforcement officials who signed a support letter
after lawmakers last week shelved a bill by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, that
would have put a similar initiative on next year's ballot. Hancock's bill
failed to get enough votes to clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Garcetti served two terms as top prosecutor in the state's most populous county
before he was defeated in 2000.
Opponents say California's capital punishment system should be maintained but
can be made more efficient and less costly.
Proponents must get approval from the attorney general and secretary of state
before they can begin gathering signatures.
Campaign consultant Steve Smith said organizers began soliciting financial
support only last week, after Hancock's bill was shelved. He said he is
confident proponents can raise the $1.5 million or so they would need to get
enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
(source: San Jose Mercury News)
Proposed measure would ditch death penalty, redirect savings
With an East Bay lawmaker's death-penalty abolition bill withdrawn for lack of
legislative support, its backers Monday announced a 2012 ballot measure
campaign -- but with a new wrinkle.
In addition to abolishing the death penalty, the measure would draw $100
million from the state's General Fund over the next four fiscal years -- the
projected savings from ditching death row -- for a special fund that the
attorney general would disburse to local police to help solve more homicides
For example, the money could be spent on faster processing of rape evidence;
improving DNA testing capability; increasing staffing in homicide and sex crime
units; and relocation of witnesses, among other things. The proposed measure's
backers hope they will entice more conservatives by juxtaposing what they say
is a wasteful death-penalty system with a public safety priority on which the
money could be better spent.
"California has by far the largest and most expensive death row in the nation,"
Taxpayers for Justice spokesman James Clark told media members during a
conference call Monday. With 714 inmates, California's death row is more than
twice the size of the next closest state's and costs about $184 million a year
beyond the cost of life imprisonment.
The measure, called the "Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement for
California Act" or "SAFE CA Act," would replace the death penalty with life
without possibility of parole as the state's maximum punishment; the sentences
of those already on death row would be converted to life without parole. Senate
Bill 490, by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, would have done the same.
However, she withdrew it from consideration by the Assembly Appropriations
Committee last week, saying it lacked enough votes to pass.
With the November 2012 general presidential election expected to bring high
turnout, particularly among women and minorities, "it's time to put this issue
back before the voters," Clark said.
Critics of Hancock's bill include the California District Attorneys Association
and Crime Victims United of California. Scott Thorpe, executive director of the
district attorneys association, said Monday that his group does not take
stances on proposed initiatives until they qualify for the ballot.
Harriet Salarno, president and chairwoman of Crime Victims United of
California, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. However, she wrote to the
Assembly Public Safety Committee in June that Hancock's bill "is an insult to
murder victims. Such action says to victims that even though you have waited
decades for justice, that justice is too expensive and not important to the
state of California."
(source: Inside Bay Area)
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