[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, ARK., CALIF., USA
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Apr 27 17:52:35 CDT 2012
Texas Rapper Loses Death Row Appeal
San Antonio rap musician Ray Jasper, who was sentenced to death for the
stabbing death of an engineer at a recording studio more than 13 years ago,
lost a federal court appeal Thursday.
Jasper argued a potential juror at his trial in January 2000 improperly was
excluded because, like Jasper, he was black and race-based jury selection is
Jasper's lawyers also raised several other claims to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals, including the contention he had poor legal help at his trial and
that the Texas death penalty statute is unconstitutional.
The New Orleans-based court Thursday rejected all the arguments, moving Jasper,
32, closer to execution for the November 1998 slaying of David Alejandro, 33.
The victim was killed while recording music for Jasper and equipment from his
studio was stolen.
(source: KWTX News)
Death-Row Inmate Wins New Hearing
The state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new hearing in the case of a man
sentenced to die for a 1997 double homicide in Little River County.
The court sent Timothy Lamont Howard’s case back to Little River County Circuit
Court for an evidentiary hearing to consider Howard’s claim that prosecutors
withheld key evidence from his lawyers before and during his trial.
Howard was convicted of two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Brian and
Shanon Day. The three were friends and were all involved in using and selling
illegal drugs, mainly methamphetamine, according to court filings.
Brian Day’s body was found in a U-Haul trailer in Ogden on Dec. 13, 1997, and
his wife’s body was found in the closet of the couple’s home in Ashdown later
the same day.
At Howard’s trial in December 1999, jurors heard a DNA analyst testify that
boots found 2 1/2 miles from the murder scene contained hairs that were a
likely match with Howard, and that blood on the boots was a likely match with
Howard, now 42, argued on appeal that the DNA analyst’s handwritten notes
showed that errors occurred during testing of the evidence, but prosecutors
withheld those notes from the jury and the defense.
Howard also argued that the state did not provide the defense with a police
report detailing an incident of abuse that he suffered as a child — a report he
claimed would have shown he had a violent childhood and could have been
considered by the jury as a mitigating circumstance that weighed against
imposing the death penalty.
The state attorney general’s office argued that the lab notes would not have
changed the outcome of the trial and that if Howard wanted to introduce the
police report during his trial he could have done so himself.
In its unanimous opinion Thursday, the Supreme Court said Howard’s claims merit
an evidentiary hearing in circuit court.
“The DNA evidence from the work boots was all-important in linking Howard to
the murder of Brian Day, and so the possibility that the DNA testing was flawed
would support his contention at trial that he did not commit the murders,”
Justice Robert Brown wrote in the opinion.
The court also said that a defendant has the duty to investigate matters
relevant to his or her defense, but the state also has a duty to provide the
defense with relevant evidence to which it has access.
The police report on the incident from Howard’s childhood was in the possession
of the same agency that investigated the murders of Brian and Shannon Day, so
Howard’s claim that prosecutors had access to it “appears, on its face, to be
reasonable,” Brown wrote.
Justice Donald Corbin recused himself from the case. Little Rock lawyer Ronald
Hope served in his place as a special appointed justice.
(source: Arkansas News Bureau)
S.C. Upholds Death Sentence in Compton Murder----Unanimous Court Says Admission
of Videotaped Witness Statement Was Harmless Error
The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the death sentence
for a Compton gang member convicted of killing two security guards at the New
Wilmington Arms apartment complex in 1999.
Justice Ming Chin wrote that the single error identified by the court, the
erroneous admission of a videotaped statement by a witness who died before
trial, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the tape was a minor
piece of evidence that had no apparent effect on the jury.
David James Livingston was convicted of the murders of Remigio Malinao, 49, and
Roderico Paz, 62, and of 3 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of possession
of a firearm by a felon. 2 of the attempted murder counts involved other
security guards wounded in the January 1999 assault and stemmed from a separate
incident the prior year, in which a rival gang member was shot.
Special circumstances of multiple murder and lying in wait were found true.
Witnesses testified that the guards were in a shack at the 600-resident complex
when Livingston opened fire about 5 a.m. Prosecutors argued that Livingston, a
white member of the Parks Village Crips gang, attacked the guards for one or
more of several reasons—as an assertion of the gang’s control of the complex,
to enhance the gang’s reputation, or to retaliate because another guard had
identified his car to police investigating the 1998 gang-related drive-by
shooting that resulted in the other attempted murder charge.
Court-appointed defense attorney Robert Wayne Gehring of Beaverton, Ore. argued
that there was insufficient evidence of lying in wait to support the
special-circumstance finding, but Chin disagreed.
“Defendant concealed his purpose and, during the time just before the actual
shooting, his physical presence until he suddenly appeared at the door of the
guard shack and began shooting at his victims,” Chin wrote. “The evidence also
showed substantial waiting and watching for an opportune time to act.”
Livingston testified, saying he was a gang member but was not involved in
either of the shootings. He acknowledged owning the Cadillac that the shooter
had been identified as driving, but said he was elsewhere on both occasions.
Chin acknowledged that it was error, based on subsequent U.S. Supreme Court
rulings, for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jack W. Morgan, since retired, to
allow the jury to view a videotape of an interview of Markius Walker, who said
he saw the Cadillac, then heard seven shots coming from it, and identified a
photograph of the defendant as being that of the driver. The interview was
clearly part of a criminal investigation focusing on Livingston, and was thus
“testimonial” hearsay whose admission violated the Confrontation Clause.
But there was plenty of other evidence that Livingston was the shooter, and the
fact that jurors did not ask to take a second look at the videotape after the
case was submitted indicated that they did not view the tape as a particularly
significant piece of evidence, the justice said.
Deputy Attorney General Daniel Chang argued for the prosecution.
The high court yesterday also affirmed, on a 7-0 vote, the death sentences
imposed on John Myles by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith
for the murders of Ricky Byrd and Fred Malouf. Byrd was killed in a drive-by
shooting in San Bernardino on April 11, 1996, and Malouf, a retired Colton
police captain, during the robbery of a Colton restaurant 9 days later.
Smith bifurcated the trial, so that the Malouf murder was tried to verdict
first, followed by the trial for the Byrd murder, and then the penalty phase,
all before the same jury.
Among the arguments raised by the defense was that jurors may have been
affected by emotional reactions, and head-nodding during testimony, by Malouf’s
widow, who was present when he was shot and who was herself assaulted, and who
was allowed to remain in the courtroom after she testified.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, writing for the court, cited the trial
judge’s statements on the record that he had observed Donna Malouf as she sat
in the courtroom’s and that while she was upset, her reactions were not
unusual, she did not cause a disturbance, and that there was nothing to
indicate the jury was influenced.
“Having observed the courtroom proceedings firsthand, the trial judge was in
the best position to evaluate the impact of Donna’s conduct in front of the
jury,” the chief justice wrote.
The cases are People v. Livingston, 12 S.O.S. 1909, and People v. Myles, 12
(source: Metropolitan News Company)
US to screen Guantanamo arraignment at 8 sites
The arraignment for the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and
4 other Guantanamo Bay prisoners will be broadcast by closed-circuit television
to 8 sites in the eastern United States, a military judge ruled Thursday.
Army Col. James Pohl said in his ruling that remote viewing locations are
necessary because of the significant public interest in the trial of Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed and his 4 co-defendants.
Dozens of journalists as well as relatives of Sept. 11 victims are expected to
attend the hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba on May 5 when Mohammed and the
others are to be arraigned on charges that include murder and terrorism.
The government began showing closed-circuit TV coverage of Guantanamo
proceedings in Fort Meade, Maryland, last year but has never before broadcast
tribunal proceedings so widely from the base.
Pohl’s order sets aside 5 viewing sites for families of Sept. 11 victims,
survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attack. Those will be at
Fort Meade; Fort Hamilton and another site to be announced in New York City;
Joint Base McGuire Dix in Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Fort Devens,
There will be three other viewing sites for the public, journalists and
government officials, two at Fort Meade and one in Washington.
Lawyers for some defendants opposed the closed-circuit broadcast on the grounds
that the proceedings should be open to anyone to see, not just broadcast by
closed-circuit TV at certain locations.
“We want it more transparent and more open,’’ said Cheryl Bormann, a lawyer for
defendant Waleed bin Attash. “We believe that the world needs to see what’s
This is the 2nd time that the U.S. is attempting to prosecute the five
prisoners at Guantanamo.
President Barack Obama’s administration withdrew the charges and sought to move
the case to a civilian court in the U.S. as part of an effort to close the
prison on the base in Cuba. But the administration was forced to reverse course
because of opposition in Congress and by New York City officials who said the
case posed too great of a security threat.
The 5 men could get the death penalty if convicted at the military trial.
(source: Associated Press)
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