[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----CALIF., MONT., USA, FLA., ARK.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Apr 13 17:49:20 CDT 2012
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for stabbing suspect
The Riverside County district attorney has decided to seek the death penalty
for a 19-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing a Murrieta Valley High School
senior in her Murrieta home late last year.
William Gary Simpson of San Bernardino is facing a murder charge in the death
of 18-year-old Saskia Burke. He also is charged with two counts of attempted
murder in connection with the stabbings of Burke's father, Paul, and her
boyfriend, Connor McCormack, 17, early the morning of Dec. 20.
Prosecutors also have alleged that the murder was committed during a burglary,
a special circumstance that makes Simpson eligible for the death penalty if
jurors convict him of 1st-degree murder.
Simpson has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail at
Southwest Detention Center in French Valley.
John Hall, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said District Attorney Paul
Zellerbach made the decision last week to seek the death penalty for Simpson
after consulting with senior members of his staff.
The decision came as somewhat welcome news to Catherine Burke, the victim's
mother who was also in the family's home on Milkwood Way that night.
"I've done a lot of research on this, and the truth comes down to how long
he'll actually live if he gets the death penalty," Burke said. "If he's
sentenced to death, he'll probably live a lot longer than he would if he's
sentenced to life. There are too many bleeding hearts in California who oppose
the death penalty."
Burke added that if Simpson is convicted and gets the death penalty, she'll
accept a lengthy wait for his sentence to be carried out.
But, Burke said, she wants him to spend every day isolated on death row
thinking about the pain her whole family is dealing with.
"I want him to be safe (from other prisoners) and to live with the horror and
pain that we have to live with," Burke said.
On that December night, Burke and her husband were awakened by the screams of
their daughter, the middle of their 3 children, coming from the 1st floor of
their 2-story home.
When police arrived, they found a bloody scene, with Saskia dead inside the
McCormack and Paul Burke, who rushed to help the girl, were also found with
The suspect left the house through a back door, police said, and was the
subject of a manhunt that ended four days later, when Simpson was arrested at
the home of a relative in Hesperia.
Since that night, Catherine Burke said, life in their house has never been the
The family, which includes a younger daughter and older son, doesn't sleep
through the night. They are continually haunted by Saskia's death.
"My husband desperately needs to find a job, but who would hire someone who's
been through something like this?" Catherine Burke said. "This has destroyed
virtually every aspect of our lives."
Burke declined to comment further, saying it increases the likelihood that
Simpson's attorney will seek a change of venue.
"And we can't afford that," Burke added.
Simpson had lived off and on with the Burke family at their Murrieta home as
late as November 2010, authorities have said.
Hall said that counting Simpson, 26 cases are pending in Riverside County in
which the death penalty is being sought against a total of 32 defendants.
Among them are 7 cases with 10 defendants in Southwest County.
(source: North County Times)
DA Seeks Death Penalty in Murrieta Stabbing -- News that Riverside County
District Attorney Paul Zellerbach will seek the death penalty for William Gary
Simpson, 19, was welcomed by the mother of slain 18-year-old Saskia Burke.
The mother of a Murrieta teen stabbed to death in December 2011 expressed
approval of a recent decision by the Riverside County District Attorney to seek
the death penalty against her accused killer.
Catherine Burke, mother of slain 18-year-old Saskia Burke, was on hand for a
brief court appearance Friday by her daughter's alleged murderer, 19-year-old
William Gary Simpson.
It was just 4 days after learning the DA would seek the death penalty against
"We got the call Monday," Burke said, as she waited outside the courtroom
Friday. "We were concerned that politically they would take it off the table."
Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach made the decision April 6,
according to John Hall, spokesperson for the DA's office.
"He made that decision himself after looking at the evidence and speaking with
senior staff," Hall told Patch.
Simpson sat in a red jail outfit behind a glass enclosure Friday at Southwest
Justice Center while Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer
confirmed the prosecution would seek the death penalty. The prosecution and
defense agreed to keep a scheduled June 15 preliminary hearing in the case. The
hearing is expected to last 1 day.
Members of Simpson's family were present Friday. They declined to speak with
Patch about the possibility of him receiving the death penalty.
Hall said a special circumstance allegation against Simpson of committing
murder in the commission of a burglary was one of a list of penal code charges
that can qualify defendants for the death penalty.
Simpson is accused of breaking into the Burke's Milkwood Lane home early Dec.
20, 2011, and stabbing Saskia, a Murrieta Valley High School senior, to death.
Simpson also allegedly attacked Paul Burke, her father, and Connor McCormack,
her boyfriend. Simpson lived with the Burke family on and off about a year
He was quickly identified as the suspect in the killing, and located at his
mother's home in Hesperia after a four-day law enforcement manhunt.
In an arraignment Jan. 13, Simpson pleaded not guilty to the charges.
"(Simpson) now has to be convicted of first-degree murder and the jury would
have to also find the special circumstance to be true," Hall said.
He explained there are two parts to a death penalty trial: the guilt phase and
the penalty phase. If the jury finds him guilty of both charges, it moves to
the penalty phase, he said.
"The same jury will hear evidence factors from the prosecution, and the defense
will produce mitigating factors of why he shouldn't receive the death penalty,"
Oftentimes, he said, the defense's argument has to do with the defendant's
background, such as their mental health history and other contributing factors.
"It then has to be a unanimous vote by the jury that the person be put to
death," he said. "If they can't come to a unanimous vote, the only other option
would be life without the possibility of parole."
The judge then has legal authority to overturn their decision if he or she
feels the jury did not make the right one, he said.
"That is extremely rare," Hall said.
With what could be construed as unconventional reasoning, Burke was hopeful the
death penalty would prevail against Simpson.
"I have done extensive research on both sides," Burke said. "First and
foremost, I want the death penalty because I do not want my children in 25
years to have to revisit any of this. When you are given life in prison without
the possibility of parole there is always the chance that with our political
system the way it is, it could be reduced. And then consequently in 25 to 30
years they will start having parole hearings and my children would have to go
(to those hearings)."
The Burkes have two other children, a son in college and a daughter in middle
"As a mother I feel this has been enough. My children do not to deserve to have
to ever revisit any of this ever again."
Burke fears if Simpson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole,
he would still be able to take phone calls from and have visits with his
family. Death row prisoners do not get those privileges, she said.
There have been 13 executions of death row inmates in California since 1976,
according to Deathpenaltyinfo.org, a website that tracks executions in the U.S.
That is compared to 481 in Texas, the state with the most executions, according
to the website.
California has the largest death row population in the U.S., the website
reported. The last execution in the state was in 2006 under Gov. Arnold
Since then, a state moratorium was placed on capital punishment while
procedures are reviewed, an Internet search revealed.
"I want him to get the death penalty because I want him in a box," Burke said.
"I don't want him to die soon. I want him to live a long time. Because to die,
that's the easy way out and I don't get that option—that is what he has done to
us. This box that we have been placed in because of Gary is an unfair place to
As for waiting for court proceedings to take their course, Burke said: "We have
to do what we have to do. I don't really see a choice in it. Because it is all
(source: Murrieta Patch)
Fate of Canadian on death row up to ‘relevant U.S. authorities,’ Foreign
The Canadian government will not be voicing its opposition to the death penalty
during a clemency hearing next month in Montana for Alberta-born Ronald Smith,
the only Canadian on death row in the United States.
The May 2 hearing will be the only public opportunity for supporters of Smith’s
last-ditch bid to avoid execution to try to convince the state’s parole board —
and ultimately Gov. Brian Schweitzer — to commute the Canadian’s death sentence
to life imprisonment for the gunshot killings of 2 U.S. men in 1982.
And while a senior government official told Postmedia News on Thursday that
Canada “will be sending an observer” to Smith’s hearing, the Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade has made it clear the government will
not make any special submissions to the parole panel to support the clemency
“Ultimately, decisions regarding Mr. Smith’s case lie with the relevant U.S.
authorities,” said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aliya Mawani. “Mr. Smith
pleaded guilty and was subsequently convicted of murdering two people. These
were admitted crimes.”
Ms. Mawani added, however, that Smith would “continue to receive consular
assistance” from Canadian diplomats in the U.S. and that the government —
through a letter sent to Montana authorities in December that stated it is
legally obliged to support the clemency effort — “has complied” with a 2009
Federal Court of Canada decision ordering Ottawa to help Smith.
The letter stressed the Canadian government “does not sympathize with violent
crime” and that the country’s formal request for clemency “should not be
construed as reflecting a judgment on Smith’s conduct.”
That Dec. 5 letter, signed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, was later
denounced by opposition critics as the weakest possible expression of Canada’s
official rejection of capital punishment and as a bare-minimum gesture of
compliance by the Conservative government with the 2009 Federal Court decision.
(source: National Post)
More Evidence Against the Death Penalty
Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state without the death penalty and
the 5th in 5 years to abolish it. Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to sign the
repeal bill approved by the Legislature in recent days.
Connecticut is part of a growing movement against capital punishment, with
repeal measures now proposed in California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky
and Washington. Other states like Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania are reviewing
their death penalty laws.
This shift comes at a time when new analyses of capital punishment show gross
injustice in its application and enormous costs in continuing to impose it. In
Connecticut, a powerful, comprehensive study provided evidence that state death
sentences are haphazardly meted out, with virtually no connection to the
heinousness of the crime.
In California, 2 former death penalty proponents — a prosecutor who drafted the
1978 ballot initiative that expanded the state’s death penalty and a leading
supporter of the 1978 law — are now championing a new ballot measure to repeal
the penalty. They point to a study showing that, since 1978, California has
spent roughly $4 billion on the death penalty to carry out 13 executions. “The
cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that
could be obtained from it — and I now think there’s very little or zero benefit
— is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose,” Donald Heller,
the drafter of the 1978 measure, said recently.
Decades of research show that racial bias pervades death penalty cases.
Minority defendants with white victims are much more likely to be sentenced to
death than others; 35 % of those executed nationally since 1976 were black,
though blacks currently make up 12.6 % of the population. The problem of
inadequate counsel permeates the system, with many indigent defendants
sentenced to death after major blunders by court-assigned lawyers. And a
horrific number of innocent people have ended up on death row: 17 convicts with
death sentences have been exonerated with DNA evidence since 1993, 123 with
other evidence since 1973.
Any careful evaluation leads to what the American Law Institute concluded after
a review of decades of executions: the system cannot be fixed. It is
practically impossible to rid the legal process of biases driven by race, class
and politics. The growing number of states reconsidering this barbaric system
is a welcome sign. Capital punishment, by overwhelming evidence, should be
abolished throughout the United States.
(source: Editorial, New York Times)
Guantánamo war crimes tribunals 'transparently unfair'----The Guantánamo war
crimes tribunals are “transparently unfair” and will be the only court in US
history where the rights of the US Constitution do not apply, the lawyer
charged with defending the alleged Al Qa’eda mastermind behind the USS Cole
bombing claimed last night.
In a furious broadside against the military tribunal that will also be used to
conduct the September 11 trials, the lead defence lawyer for Abd al Rahim al
Nashiri said the US government was seeking to kill their client 'on the cheap’.
“This will be the only court in the history of America, in our view, since the
founding of the United States, where the constitution of the United States
didn’t apply,” said Richard Kammen, one of America’s most experienced death
Mr Kammen was speaking at a press conference after the conclusion of 2 days of
pretrial hearing for Al Nashiri, a 47-year-old Saudi man accused of
orchestrating the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that killed 17 US sailors.
During the hearings, the defence complained they were locked in a grossly
unequal contest with the US Government, being left short of resources for
translators and blindsided by rules governing the disclosure of classified
Mr Kammen objected strenuously to being asked to submit an outline of defence
arguments without seeing summaries of secret documents. Originals cannot be
shown to the defence because of national security concerns.
“It is the equivalent of me saying to a member of the press, tell us what is in
this brief case and you’d better get it right, because if you don’t, we will
kill you, because this document may be the critical piece of evidence that the
government uses to try and kill Mr Al Nashiri,” Mr Kammen said.
The defence hinted it was anxious to see original, non-summarised medical
records from Al Nashiri’s detention in a series of CIA black prisons in
Afghanistan, Thailand and Poland where he was subjected to hours of “enhanced
interrogation” techniques widely condemned as torture after his arrest in 2002.
The judge also rejected a request by Mr Kammen for additional manpower to
translate up to 150,000 pages of “discovery” evidence into Arabic, to enable Mr
Al Nashiri to read through all the evidence being presented against him.
“It was extraordinarily frustrating to us … that the judge ruled that Mr Al
Nashiri, who speaks very little English, and reads none, is not entitled as a
matter of law to translations of the documents underpinning the evidence that
the government uses to try and kill him,” he added.
“The subtext of all of this seems to be the cost. It seems to be the attitude
of the military that we can kill him [Al Nashiri] and do it cheaply. We think
that is transparently unfair.”
The prosecution denied Mr Kammen’s characterisation of the Guantánamo courts,
which were reformed in 2009 by the Obama administration to reduce the use of
hearsay and rule out evidence obtained under duress or torture.
Brigadier-General Mark Martins, the court’s chief prosecutor, said he was
“unapologetic” that Mr Al Nashiri was being submitted to US justice.
He added that the reformed Guantánamo courts were transparent, fair and
contained the same “fundamental guarantees of fairness and justice” required by
regular US courts, including the defendants right to testify in his own
He also dismissed Mr Kammen’s claims that the Al Nashiri defence team was
under-resourced, saying they had six translators at their disposal and had been
granted funds to send a private investigator to Yemen to research the case.
He added that resources already provided were in excess of $100,000, not
including lawyers’ fees, travel and logistics, a sum that was “comparable to,
or in excess of, those provided the defence in civilian court and court-martial
However international human rights groups, several of which were in Guantánamo
Bay to watch proceedings, continue to remain highly sceptical of the Guantánamo
Reed Brody, a legal counsel for Human Rights Watch, said the accoutrements of a
regular court visible in Guantánamo – such as defence lawyers, juries and a
judge – were akin to “putting lipstick on a pig”.
“What we have seen today is the gross inequality of what both sides know,” he
said, “The defence has one arm tied behind its back as it goes up against the
might of the US government, with all the resources it has at its disposal.”
Among the main concerns is the impossibility of independently verifying whether
evidence submitted in “summaries” was obtained by proper means.
“The prosecution can present summaries of information, but in many cases we
will never know the actual source of the information, or whether the
information was obtained by hearsay or torture,” he explained, “they are trying
to make the process look fair, when it is not.”
The case was adjourned until July and is scheduled to go to full trial in
November this year at the very earliest.
(source: The telegraph)
David Alan Gore executed: Gore tells family, 'I don’t fear death,' 'I am sorry'
and 'forgive me'
David Alan Gore’s eyes wandered around the execution chamber. At the ceiling,
the walls and, occasionally, toward the 34 witnesses staring at him through a
As the 1st vial of death serum entered his veins, the pale man blinked and took
a heavy breath, flaring his nostrils.
Gore closed his eyes for the last time at 6:10 p.m. Thursday. He was pronounced
dead 9 minutes later at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was 58.
His last hand-written statement: “I want to say to the Elliott family I am
sorry for the death of your daughter. I am not the man I was back then, 28
years ago. I’m a Christian. Christ lives within me. I hope you can all find
David Alan Gore said to the witnesses while he was strapped to the gurney
before being executed. “I hope they can find in their hearts to forgive me. I
don’t fear death. Thank you.”
Gore’s execution was the culmination of 28 years on death row for the
1st-degree murder of teenager Lynn Elliott of Vero Beach. He also confessed to
killing 5 other woman and girls in Indian River County.
Those 28 years changed him, Gore said in his final statement.
“I want to say to the Elliott family I am sorry for the death of your daughter.
I am not the man I was back then, 28 years ago. I’m a Christian. Christ lives
within me. I hope you can all find peace today,” he said to the witnesses while
he was strapped to the gurney. ”I hope they can find in their hearts to forgive
me. I don’t fear death. Thank you.”
Gore delivered a handwritten statement before the execution process started,
which was similar to his final verbal statement.
“I wish above all else my death could bring her back,” the statement said. “I
am not the same man today that I was 28 years ago. When I accepted Jesus Christ
as my savior, I became a new creature in Christ and I know God has truly
forgiven me for my past sins.”
Carl Elliott, Lynn Elliott’s 81-year-old father, and his ex-wife Jeanne were
two of the witnesses who sat in the front row. He reflected on Gore’s late
“You know, he said he was a Christian,” said Carl Elliott, about Gore’s last
words. “And you know what I said to myself, ‘I condemn your soul to hell, sir.’
Gore’s execution, he said, didn’t come close to the death his daughter
“He had it easy compared to my daughter,” Carl Elliott said.
Gov. Rick Scott signed Gore’s death warrant Feb. 28, and the execution was
administered without delay. The U.S. Supreme Court denied all of Gore’s final
appeals less than 2 hours before the scheduled execution.
The condemned man woke up at 4:10 a.m. Thursday. He ate a last meal.
Gore spent 1 hour with his mother, Velma Gore, who traveled to Starke’s Florida
State Prison from South Carolina. Gore also spent another hour with Gloria
Coleman, 1 of his 3 ex-wives.
A Baptist religious adviser met with Gore during the afternoon.
In the evening, about 40 anti-death penalty protesters gathered outside the
prison and rang a loud metal bell at 6:10 p.m.
Just minutes earlier, the brown curtains inside the death chamber’s witness
room clicked and rolled up slowly, revealing Gore strapped to a gurney under a
The only noise was that of the Frigidaire air conditioning window unit, set to
Watching were the family and friends of at least 4 of the women Gore killed.
“It was a long wait, and I’m so glad I was here and I came for my daughter and
all the other victims,” said victim Barbara Ann Byer’s mother, Nancy Byer,
after watching Gore being pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. “He can’t hurt anyone
else, ever, and it’s over and I’m glad I came.”
It wasn’t just the Elliotts daughter whose life Gore took.
Before his 1984 murder trial for Lynn Elliott, Gore confessed to killing a
total of 4 teenage girls and 2 women with the help of his cousin, Fred
Waterfield, who now is 59 and serving multiple life prison sentences.
There was Judy Kay Daley, a 35-year-old visiting Fort Pierce from California.
On July 15, 1981, Gore was working as an auxiliary deputy with the Indian River
County Sheriff’s Office when he disabled Daley’s car and pretended to come to
her aid at an isolated beach parking lot.
He raped and strangled her. Gore directed lawmen to her dismembered body parts,
found in a garbage bag in a citrus grove near Vero Beach.
At another citrus grove, officers found the body parts of Taiwanese immigrants
Hsiang Huang Ling, 48, and her daughter Ying Hua Ling, 17. Gore said he stalked
Ying Ling on Feb. 19, 1981, as she stepped out of her school bus.
He then abducted, raped and shot them. Gore stashed their remains in 2
30-gallon, white metal pesticide drums as well as in a plastic bag he buried in
a different citrus grove.
Then, Gore confessed, came the murders of Barbara Ann Byer and Angelica
LaVallee. The 14-year-old girls were, in 1983, hitchhiking along Interstate 95
in Brevard County. Gore and Waterfield pulled over to pick them up.
Byer’s partial skeleton and skull were found in a citrus grove west of Vero
Beach, where Gore had dumped her dismembered body after killing her. LaVallee’s
body, which Gore said he threw in a canal off I-95 west of Vero Beach, never
For those murders, Gore received five life sentences on top of his death
sentence for Lynn Elliott’s killing. Gore was 29 on July 26, 1983, the day he
was arrested and charged with Lynn Elliott’s killing. A teenage boy witnessed
the then 6-foot-tall, 240-pound nude man chasing the slender, 17-year-old Lynn
Elliott down Gore’s vacationing parents’ driveway in Vero Beach.
The girl, also nude, was trying to flee from Gore’s rape and torture. Gore
caught up to Lynn Elliott and shot her twice — in the back of the head and near
the jaw. She wasn’t fast enough.
(source: WPTV News)
Jury to consider sentence in Arkansas church death
A jury in northeastern Arkansas will deliberate Friday on whether a man
convicted of beating an elderly woman to death should receive the death penalty
or a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Jurors deliberated about 3 hours Thursday before convicting Rene Bourassa Jr.
of capital murder. He admitted beating 80-year-old woman Lillian Wilson with a
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Bourassa showed no emotion as the
verdict was read. The jury also convicted him of aggravated robbery, theft of
property, fraudulent use of a credit card and commercial burglary.
Both sides agreed that Bourassa killed Wilson, but defense attorneys urged the
jury to consider a lesser charge. The only possible sentences for a capital
murder conviction are life in prison or the death penalty.
(source: Associated Press)
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