[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----MD., PENN., GA., OHIO, FLA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Oct 28 19:49:43 CDT 2011
Death penalty possible for convicted Md. killer
A man convicted of killing a Towson gas station owner in a murder-for-hire plot
could face the death penalty.
The Baltimore Sun reports that jury decided Thursday that 29-year-old Walter
Bishop Jr. was eligible for the death penalty.
The sentencing portion of the trial continues Friday, and jurors will now
decide whether Bishop should be sentenced to death or life in prison, either
with or without the possibility of parole.
Bishop was convicted earlier this month of first degree murder in the death of
49-year-old William Ray Porter in March 2010.
In a taped confession he told homicide detectives he shot Porter in the office
of the gas station. He said Porter’s wife had promised him $9,000 for killing
(source: Associated Press)
Death Penalty Sought Against Man Accused Of Killing, Burning Parents----Colin
Abbot Accused In Butler County Murders
A prosecutor in Butler County will seek the death penalty against a New Jersey
man jailed on charges that he murdered his wealthy father and stepmother then
told relatives the couple died in a car crash.
Police say Colin Abbott shot and killed Kenneth and Celeste Abbott in early
July, before burning their bodies and scattering them in-and-around a pond in
Pennsylvania state police said Abbott used a cover-up story about the couple
dying in a fiery car crash in New Jersey, but witnesses testified previously
that the story just didn't add up and there were no reports of the crash in
After Celeste Abbott's daughter called New Jersey police with her concerns,
Pennsylvania troopers searched the Abbotts' 25-acre home in July and found
bones in at least 3 locations on the property near Slippery Rock.
(source: WTAE News)
Butler DA to seek death penalty in Abbott slayings
Colin Abbott will stand trial on charges he killed his father and stepmother.A
Butler County assistant district attorney filed notice this week that he will
seek the death penalty for Colin Abbott, a New Jersey man charged with killing
his father and stepmother.
Mr. Abbott, 41, of Randolph, N.J., faces 2 counts each of homicide and abuse of
corpse in the deaths of his father, Kenneth Abbott, 65, and stepmother, Celeste
Abbott, 55, who lived in rural Brady Township. Their 25-acre property was found
scattered with human remains in mid-July, about a month after they were last
On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Ben Simon filed a "Notice of
Aggravating Circumstances," which outlines why he believes Mr. Abbott should
face the death penalty if convicted.
The 1st is that he is accused of killing 2 people. The 2nd is that he is
accused of homicide while committing another crime.
Though Mr. Abbott is not charged with theft and though the criminal complaint
does not indicate he stole from the two, Mr. Simon said in the notice that he
believes Mr. Abbott killed them "in an attempt to conceal the theft of a large
sum of money" and "to attempt to ensure he would be the primary heir."
Mr. Abbott told family members in early June that the couple had perished in a
car crash, which authorities have said was part of a ruse concocted to conceal
the fact they had been killed.
Mrs. Abbott's daughter, Melissa Elich, became suspicious when she could find no
record of the crash, and on July 13, she called police in New Jersey. They
contacted state police in Butler County, and troopers went to the couple's
property and recovered human remains, burned clothing and other personal
(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
State Seeks Death Penalty for Cumming Man ---- Christopher Erdman of Cumming is
accused of fatally shooting a Canton woman in Milton.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case of a man accused of
shooting the mother of his 2 children during a June custody exchange.
Christopher Erdman of Cumming was arraigned today on 8 charges: murder, 2
counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated
stalking, 2 counts of cruelty to children and possession of a firearm during
commission of a felony.
Authorities said Erdman, 25, allegedly shot Shannon Lawrence of Canton 4 times
in the face and neck on June 5 as the 2 met in a bank parking lot across from
the Birmingham Crossroads shopping center in Milton. Erdman and Lawrence, who
never married, used the shopping center as the drop-off point when exchanging
their 2 children. Lawrence, 25, died at Northside Hospital-Forsyth in Cumming.
Lawrence's mother and father emailed separate statements to Canton-Sixes Patch
this afternoon. Diana Macksey said today's development "was a victory for my
"Domestic violence is rampant and an epidemic in our country. Our family, my
child and her babies are a victim of this violence. Today the Fulton County
Court system recognized this heinous crime against her."
Randall Lawrence said his "prayer is that Shannon's death and story will be
seen around the world and understood by other women that are being abused by
"It is ill-fated when a woman accepts abuse from a man of any kind, be it
verbal, emails, texts, or the most violent in physical abuse. I pray that these
women will reach out and be given the strength to recognize the signs of abuse
and to break the bond that endangers their lives and those they love."
(source: Cumming Patch)
Damarcus' dad may face death penalty----Mom also charged in toddler's fatal
Latasha Tye, the woman who fostered 2-year-old DeMarco Jackson almost all of
his short life, is consoled outside the Hamilton County Justice Center, where
she watched the arraignment of DeMarco's biological father, Antrone Smith, 29,
on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. Smith faces one count or murder in the Friday death
of his son.
A Hamilton County social worker tried to visit a 2-year-old shortly after he
was sent back to live with his biological family, but she was turned away and
told the toddler wasn’t there.
3 days later, on Oct. 21, Damarcus Jackson died of severe abuse that Hamilton
County Prosecutor Joe Deters said happened over a long period of time.
“This is one of the more heartbreaking things this office has ever seen in
terms of the suffering this little boy underwent,” Hamilton County Prosecutor
Joe Deters said. He was “subjected to abuse and torture you wouldn’t get at a
prisoner of war camp.”
A Hamilton County grand jury Friday indicted the boy’s father, Antrone Smith,
29, on charges of charges of aggravated murder and felonious assault.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The boy’s mother, Latricia Jackson, 22, who is pregnant with her sixth child,
was charged with felony child endangering for allowing the abuse to occur,
She told investigators she wanted Damarcus and his four siblings back because
“If I lose custody, I lose my check,” Deters said.
'He was probably stomped'
On Oct. 21 Smith called 911 to report an emergency at his Walnut Hills home,
saying a child was “not breathing.”
Damarcus died at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A medical examination after the boy’s death revealed injuries from head to toe:
Damarcus had bruising to his jaw, left eye, legs, arms and abdomen, cuts above
his penis, on the back of his neck, above his left ear and on his bottom.
He also had an untreated burn to his hand, which Deters said likely came from a
“He died because of trauma to his abdomen, he was probably stomped at one
point,” Deters said.
Grand jurors cried after seeing pictures of the abuse, Deters said.
Smith, he said, didn’t think the child was his biological child.
Damarcus’ four siblings, also sent back to live with Smith and Jackson, were
not harmed. They have seen been taken from Jackson’s care.
Deters likened the death to the death of 3-year-old Marcus Fiesel.
Three investigations have been launched into why those kids were put back in
Deters has launched an investigation in why Damarcus was returned home.
Public records requests unanswered
Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Greg Hartmann and JFS Director
Moira Weir has asked the county’s ombudsman to review the case. An internal
review is done any time a child has died while in Job and Family Services care
or after the agency has worked with a family.
Everything about the case isn’t publicly known yet. The Enquirer has made
several public records requests for information relating to Damarcus’ life.
Hamilton County Job and Family Services placed Damarcus in foster care when he
was eight days old. Deters said it was due to neglect in the home.
In August, a Hamilton County Juvenile Court magistrate – hearing no objections
for social workers or advocates for the children – sent the kids back to their
It also came over objections from Damarcus’ foster mother, Latasha Tye.
She told the Enquirer earlier this week she feared something bad would happen
“The county failed my baby,” she said in that interview. “I told them he wasn’t
ready to go.”
Death penalty indictment in death of toddler
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters announced on Friday morning the
indictment of Antrone Smith, 29, for aggravated murder in the death of his
2-year-old son, DeMarcus Jackson. Deters says this is a death penalty
Deters shared in a news conference at the prosecutor's office that a
Hamilton County grand jury indicted Smith on additional charges including
murder and felonious assault. If convicted on all of the charges, Deters
said that he will definitely seek the death penalty.
Deters showed a picture of a smiling Jackson, taken in July. He said he
considered showing a picture of what the child looked like when he arrived
at the hospital, on Oct. 21, but said it was too horrible. He said his
stomach was very distended from internal blood loss. He said the injuries
probably came from being stomped.
DeMarcus had extensive injuries including contusions to his jaw, eye,
legs, arms and midsection when he arrived at the hospital, Deters said.
DeMarcus also had lacerations on his genital area, his neck, ear and
buttocks, he added.
The medical examination, according to a release from the prosecutor's
office, states DeMarcus also had an untreated burn on his right hand.
Deters said it appeared as if his hand were held down on a stove burner.
"I am sickened to be announcing yet again a death penalty case involving a
little baby victim," Deters said. "Two-year-old DeMarcus suffered injuries
beyond horrific in nature. It is simply heartbreaking."
He said the child suffered horrific abuse and he said the child's mother
doesn't even care. His mother, Latricia Jackson, 22, was also charged in
this case. The grand jury charged her with endangering children. Deters
said Latricia knew about the abuse, but did nothing to stop it or report
9 News first reported this story as DeMarcus was just returned to his
biological parents in August. Prior to that, he was in foster care.
Deters said that a case worker from Hamilton County Department of Job and
Family Services checked on the child a couple of days before his death.
The worker was told the child was not at home.
Latricia Jackson, Deters said, has 4 other children ages 5 and younger.
Also, he said that she is pregnant again. He added that she told
investigators if she loses custody of her kids, she will lose her monthly
check. The four other children were removed from the home and are now in
the care of Job and Family Services.
On Oct. 21, Deters said Smith called 911 to report a medical emergency at
his home on Brackenwoods Lane. DeMarcus was taken to Cincinnati Children's
Hospital. Deters said he died a day later.
(source: Kentucky Post)
FLORIDA----new death sentence
Man gets death penalty for killing co-worker in 2009----Judge upholds jury's
A Wendy's employee convicted of killing one of his co-workers in June 2009 was
sentenced Friday to the death penalty.
A judge upheld a jury's recommendation for Thomas Brown, who was found guilty
in the shooting death of 22-year-old Juanese Miller at the fast-food restaurant
on St. Johns Bluff Road.
"If she was here, she would not want me to hate him, and I don't, and my prayer
is for, that it's somewhere in this thing that he's done that he finds peace,
that he comes to know and regret what he's done," said Deloris Frazier, the
Brown told reporters after his trial ended earlier this year that he had a
mental health problem and blacked out during the killing because he was not on
Brown never testified during the trial.
Prosecutors said Brown and Miller had a fight at work, prompting Brown to go
home, get a gun and then return to work around lunchtime, shooting the young
mother four times from behind and killing her. Prosecutors said Brown had a
vendetta against Miller.
Prosecutors said that after the shooting, Brown said, "I told you I'd kill
Prosecutors called 17 witnesses during the trial. The defense called none.
Shayla Mosley, a shift manager at the time, testified that she heard the
gunfire and that several shots were fired.
Prosecutors said Brown and Miller didn't get along because Miller was picking
on him. They said Brown took the issue to management, but neither was
reprimanded. Several employees testified that the two fought publicly.
Defense attorneys said Brown's hours had suddenly been cut. Witnesses testified
that the day of the shooting, Brown got into a heated argument with the manager
and was asked to leave. Prosecutors said he came back with a gun under his
shirt and went straight for Miller.
Defense attorneys argued that the killing was not premeditated but was in the
heat of the moment.
Brown was arrested at a Northside hotel the next day after a manhunt.
Prosecutors said investigators found the weapon and bullets in his room. They
said they also found a notebook in Brown's car in which he wrote an account of
Defense attorneys said the job meant a lot to Brown. They said he was
slow-learning and found it difficult to keep up, and they said the job was
important to him.
Brown's lawyers have claimed he is mentally disabled and shouldn't be subject
to the death penalty. Brown's mother said her son suffers from paranoid
schizophrenia and has a long history of mental illness.
The restaurant, which was on St. Johns Bluff Road, has since shut down and its
windows have been boarded up after what prosecutors said happened between the 2
Miller had only worked at Wendy's for a few months and was working to support
her 3-year-old daughter.
Death Sentences In Palm Beach County 'Rare'----Defense Attorney Says Jurors
Haven't Been Inclined To Recommend Death
A defense attorney who has represented clients in more than a dozen death
penalty cases said it's rare that anyone in Palm Beach County ever ends up on
The issue has become a hot topic after the state attorney's office agreed to a
plea deal with Paul Michael Merhige that spared the Thanksgiving massacre
killer of the death penalty. Instead, Merhige was sentenced to seven
consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Merhige shot and killed 4 relatives, including his 6-year-old cousin, Makayla
Sitton, after a 2009 holiday dinner in Jupiter.
Jim Sitton, Makayla's father, lobbied for the death penalty and criticized
state attorney Michael McAuliffe for making the deal.
"Apparently the state attorney Mike McAuliffe chose his own political ambitions
over justice for our daughter," Sitton told reporters after Thursday's hearing.
McAuliffe told WPBF 25 News' Cathleen O'Toole on Friday that he "won't engage
in a back and forth" with Sitton, but he understands the sensitivity of the
"One of the most difficult aspects is the victims all didn't agree on what they
wanted and needed as a resolution, and so by definition, whatever we did with
that offer (or) resolution would not meet some of the victims and family
members' wishes," McAuliffe said.
Attorney Gregg Lerman said death penalty convictions are difficult to get and
often overturned. He said very few of his clients have ever ended up on death
"No. It's rare, actually," Lerman told WPBF 25 News' Terri Parker.
The last person sentenced to death in Palm Beach County was Thomas Thibault in
2000 for killing 3 people during another Thanksgiving massacre in 1998. Lerman
represented a co-defendant in the case.
Both sentences were later reversed, and Lerman said that's part of the problem
with death penalty sentences. Lerman said each death sentence is automatically
appealed, and the defendant ends up on death row for years, ultimately costing
taxpayers much more than incarcerating them for life.
Thomas Thibault was sentenced to death for a Thanksgiving massacre in 1998, but
it was later reversed.
"It's costing millions of dollars for them to prosecute their appeals," Lerman
said. "It's costing millions of dollars to keep them on death row."
Currently, there are 8 people from Palm Beach County on Florida's death row.
According to the state Department of Corrections, the average stay is 14 years,
but some have been there for 3 decades.
Lerman said that even in the worst of crimes, it's difficult to get a death
sentence conviction because the defendants will often plead some type of mental
"In my experience in doing death penalty work, uniformly across the board,
everyone has had some mental health mitigation, some mental health issue,"
Although judges may be more likely to recommend death, juries in Palm Beach
County usually shy away, Lerman said.
"This county, for whatever reason, hasn't been inclined; on the times they have
been asked, the jurors haven't been inclined to recommend the death sentence,"
One of Lerman's clients on death row died of natural causes before he was ever
McAuliffe wouldn't say that a Palm Beach County jury doesn't have an appetite
for the death penalty, but he did say that since January 2009, his office has
sought the death penalty seven times. In none of those cases did the jury
choose to pursue a death sentence.
The murder of a teenager at a Chick-fil-A in 1999 is a good example of the
problems with death penalty cases, McAuliffe cited.
Jesse Lee Miller Jr.'s first trial ended in a mistrial. McAuliffe said one
juror refused to deliberate.
"This Merhige case is no larger statement; it's no referendum on the death
penalty as policy or as a sanction," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe, who is seeking re-election, said it's also not a bargaining strategy
to get plea deals.
"He is now going to be forgotten, I hope, by this community, and we can go on
and help the victims and the victims' families rebuild their lives and move
on," McAuliffe said.
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