[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.H., COLO., DEL., CONN.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Wed Feb 1 14:04:07 CST 2012
Death penalty expansion D.O.A.----Committee suggests House kill the bill
It's unlikely the state's death penalty law will be expanded to include murder
during a robbery or murders that are "especially heinous, cruel or depraved."
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously
yesterday to recommend the bill be killed. The recommendation still must go
before the full House.
Rep. Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, said the bill was so broadly written
that it could have made almost any murder a capital offense. "It was just a
poorly drafted bill," Shurtleff said. "It was very vague."
At a hearing yesterday, some questioned what murder wouldn't be considered
"cruel" or "heinous" as described by the bill.
Under the existing law, seven crimes are punishable by death: the murder of a
police officer; murder for hire; and murder during a kidnapping, rape, drug
deal or burglary. Murder while serving life without parole is also a capital
Burglary was added last year in response to a machete and knife attack that
left a Mont Vernon woman dead and her daughter badly injured. Rep. Ross Terrio,
a freshman Republican from Manchester, introduced his bill to expand it further
to close what he considered a "loophole" in the existing law.
Terrio told committee members yesterday that capital murder needs to be more
evenly applied to all murders that are particularly heinous or those involving
the torture of the victim.
The state attorney general's office estimated that 11 murders since 2009 would
have been capital offenses under Terrio's bill.
Anticipating objections from the religious community, Terrio cited the Old
Testament and said Moses spoke of offenses that should be punished by death.
That's not untrue, Rabbi Robin Nafshi testified yesterday. But more
importantly, she said, there are no examples in the Old Testament of the death
penalty actually being used. She said religious leaders set such a high
threshold that no offense qualified for capital punishment.
"I know many in the Legislature feel their religious laws guide them," she
said, urging the committee to defeat Terrio's bill.
Opponents yesterday also included Margaret Hawthorn of Rindge, whose daughter
Molly Hawthorn-MacDougall, 31, was murdered in her Henniker home in 2009. A
Haitian national, Roody Fleuraguste, is awaiting trial on a first-degree murder
charge for her death.
Hawthorn told lawmakers expanding the death penalty law would not make New
Hampshire safer or make justice more equitable. Prosecuting and defending a
death penalty case also consumes a lot of money that could be better spent, she
State officials said a death penalty case can cost millions, compared with a
first-degree murder case, which carries a life sentence without parole.
"The cost of receiving justice is priceless," Hawthorn said. "Please don't
impede justice by squandering precious resources on the cost of revenge."
Defense attorney Michael Iacopino, who sat on a state death penalty study
committee, urged lawmakers to consider the report his committee produced in
12 of the members voted to keep the death penalty and 10 voted to abolish it,
he said. "I can tell you that there was not an appetite (on that committee) to
expand the death penalty law," he said.
(source: Concord Monitor)
DA may seek death penalty in killing of 2 in Castle Rock home
Suspect in Douglas County murders asked cellmate to rough up
ex-girlfriend----An Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who admitted breaking into
a home near Castle Rock and then killing a man and a woman for money could face
the death penalty.
District Attorney Carol Chambers' office filed a notice of intent Tuesday to
seek the death penalty against Josiah Sher if he is convicted of 1st-degree
murder for the deaths last Feb. 23 of Amara Wells, 39, and Bob Rafferty, 49.
Christopher Wells, 49, Matthew Plake, 27, and Micah Woody, 30, also are charged
with murder and numerous related offenses.
Amara Wells was the estranged wife of Christopher Wells.
No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty against the
other defendants in the case, DA's spokeswoman Casimir Spencer said.
She declined to comment further about the case and said Chambers likewise would
not be making a statement.
Opponents of the death penalty said the decision will be costly and have a
marginal chance of resulting in a death- penalty verdict.
"It's certainly not a slam- dunk," said Michael Radelet, a professor at the
University of Colorado and opponent of the death penalty.
He said this is the 1st death-penalty case in Colorado in 6 years.
The bodies of Amara Wells and Rafferty were found in the blood-spattered
Rafferty family home southwest of Castle Rock.
Christopher Wells allegedly hired former associates at a Colorado Springs car
dealership to kill his wife while he was incarcerated for
The 4 men also are charged with child abuse. Amara Wells and her daughter had
been staying with the Raffertys.
At a preliminary hearing, authorities played videotaped confessions of 3 of the
suspects, including Sher, who said he was offered $20,000 — money he never got.
He was to get $5,000 each for killing Rafferty and his wife, Tamara, and
$10,000 for killing Amara Wells. At the time, Tamara Rafferty, who is
Christopher Wells' sister, was on an out-of-state trip.
Sher said he was hurting financially when Micah Woody asked him to do the
killing. A week later, he agreed to do it. He staked out the house once, and
Woody bought him an old handgun. He also armed himself with a revolver and a
Early that morning, he went through the front door of the house and went
downstairs. He shot Wells in the head twice, but 1 bullet grazed her nose and
the other didn't pierce her brain. Bleeding profusely, Wells ran into the
hallway. Sher admitted stabbing and slashing her throat, according to the taped
Sher said he heard noise upstairs and ran up the stairs. A man came out of a
bedroom holding a shotgun. He was loading the shotgun when he saw Sher. After a
struggle, Sher brought his gun around and shot Rafferty in the chest.
Radelet said the case is marginal for the death penalty because there were
other defendants who each shared partial responsibility for the murder.
Colorado has had many cases that were egregious but the death penalty was not
sought, including the case of Richard Paul White, a serial killer who stalked,
tortured and strangled 5 prostitutes and fatally shot his friend.
Currently there are 3 people on death row: Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan
Dunlap, who murdered four people in 1993 in Aurora; and Sir Mario Owens and
Robert Ray, who are on death row for the witness murders in Aurora of Javad
Marshall-Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, in 2005.
(source: The Denver Post)
Man facing death penalty dismisses attorneys
Just as a jury was about to hear evidence Tuesday on whether or not to impose
the death penalty on Luis Sierra for the 2010 slaying of Anthony Bing, Sierra
abruptly fired his 2 court-appointed attorneys.
The 25-year-old told Superior Court Judge Richard R. Cooch that he believed his
attorneys were "in cahoots" with prosecutors, said he wanted to represent
himself and demanded a new trial immediately.
When Cooch denied the request for a new trial, Sierra then declined to make an
opening statement and did not question any of the state's witnesses.
Last week the jury found that Sierra shot and killed 28-year-old Anthony Bing
during a drug buy that turned into a robbery on June 12, 2010, in the 400 block
of Allen's Alley. The panel convicted him on 7 criminal counts including 2
charges of 1st-degree murder. Witnesses said despite the fact that Sierra and 2
accomplices had gotten the drugs from Bing and were leaving, Sierra stayed
behind and shot Bing multiple times, apparently because he feared Bing would
Cooch told Sierra Tuesday that while he was allowed to dismiss attorneys John
Barber and Christopher Tease and represent himself, Cooch strongly advised
against it given the stakes involved, the complicated nature of the legal
proceedings and the research and preparation the attorneys had done.
Cooch then ordered Tease to outline the mitigation case -- detailing Sierra's
troubled family history and sexual abuse as a child, along with a diagnosis
that Sierra had impulse control problems -- but Sierra was unmoved. Sierra was
also clearly frustrated. At one point during the lengthy question-and-answer
session required to waive his right to counsel, Sierra said he was not going to
put on a mitigation case and neither were Barber or Tease.
"Just put me to death. I don't care," he said.
Cooch ignored Sierra and continued with the questions, prompting Sierra to
interrupt, "Did you not hear me? Just put me to death."
Cooch again ignored Sierra and continued with his questions, asking Sierra if
he felt competent to represent himself. Sierra then relented and said, "Yes."
(source: The News Journal)
Judge Blue: Death sentence is one Komisarjevsky wrote for himself
For a 2nd time, Dr. William Petit Jr. Friday read an emotional statement in
court about the murder of his wife and two daughters, a shattering event he
called “our personal holocaust.”
But this time, Petit walked out of the courtroom rather than listen to Joshua
Komisarjevsky protest he didn’t kill anybody.
The 2-hour session was a formality because Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue was
bound by a jury’s Dec. 9 decision that Komisarjevsky deserves to be executed
rather than spend his life in prison for the Cheshire home invasion.
But the hearing was every bit as sad and tear-filled as the sentencing in
December 2010 for co-defendant Steven Hayes. He, too, received the death
Blue imposed six consecutive death sentences for 6 capital felonies, plus 140
years in prison on the other counts. He told Komisarjevsky his crimes were
“horrific beyond imagination.”
“This is a terrible sentence,” Blue said. “But it’s one you wrote for yourself
with deeds of unimaginable horror and savagery.”
Echoing what he told Hayes as he sent him off, Blue said to Komisarjevsky: “May
God have mercy on your soul.”
Petit was gone by then, along with his fiancee, Christine Paluf, and his
sister, Johanna Petit Chapman. They apparently had sensed that, unlike Hayes,
who at his sentencing apologized and took full responsibility for his actions,
Komisarjevsky was not willing to show remorse or accept blame for the murders.
Although Komisarjevsky’s address to the court was the source of great
anticipation and speculation, it was Petit’s statement cthat mostaptivated
those in the crowded courtroom.
The lone survivor of the atlate-nighttack on his family and home read a 9-page
tribute to his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Michaela, 11,
and Hayley, 17.
As he described their years together, a slideshow of the smiling family in
happy times played on the courtroom screen.
“They were 3 special people,” he said, “as everyone who has a wife or husband
and children knows. Your children are your jewels.”
“I had 26 years with Jennifer, 17 years with Hayley and only 11 years with a
little girl, just turning into a beautiful pre-teen named Michaela Rose,” he
“I will never be able to walk Hayley or Michaela down the wedding aisle nor see
their children,” Petit said. “The world will never know how many more children
Jenna may have helped in some simple way,” he added. His wife was a nurse and
co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy.
Petit said the two men in masks “killed a defenseless, trusting mother with a
chronic illness (multiple sclerosis) and two helpless children in their own
private sanctuaries — their own bedrooms.”
Alluding to Komisarjevsky’s sexual assault of Michaela, Petit said he “violated
Michaela in a way that I am sure she never could imagine. Then, instead of
considering these three people God’s creatures, they killed them by
strangulation and burning them alive because they considered them evidence.”
Hayes admitted he strangled Hawke-Petit before the fire was set. Both men
spread gasoline throughout the house, including on the girls’ beds and bodies
as they lay there, tied up.
““I think it was by chance I was not murdered,” Petit said. “I was left for
dead in the basement and escaped only to find out later that it was minutes
before our house was set on fire.”I lost my past and what was to be my future,”
Petit said. “July 23, 2007, was our personal holocaust. A holocaust caused by 2
who are completely evil and actually do not comprehend what they have done.”
Chapman said in her statement that Komisarjevsky should stop blaming Hayes.
“Komisarjevsky is the one who set the tone, escalating it to a whole different
level by beating my brother bloody with a baseball bat, sexually molesting
Michaela and restraining and tormenting them all.”
WilIn a reference to the legal appeals which are expected to take up to 20
years, Chapman said, “The only thing that I care to hear from Joshua
Komisarjevsky is that he has decided to stop all appeals and that he will take
responsibility for what he has done. Either way, he will be damned to Hell for
what he did and that is where he belongs.”liam Petit Sr. choked on his words as
he recalled visiting his son in the hospital the day of the invasion. “He
lifted his head and asked about the girls,” Petit said. “We were all sobbing
and could only shake our heads. He began to sob, too. We held hands and said
the Lord’s Prayer together.”
Hawke-Petit’s parents, the Rev. Richard and Marybelle Hawke, gave their
statements via videotapes shown on the screen. Addressing Komisarjevsky, Rev.
Hawke said, “I know you have a 9-year-old daughter. You said you wanted to be a
good father. But after I heard what you did to my 11-year-old granddaughter, I
don’t think you really meant it.”
He also told Komisarjevsky, “You will now be known as a prison number, listed
in the book of death.”
When it was Komisarjevsky’s turn to speak, the 31-year-old defendant rose in
his orange prison jumpsuit and began to read from a printed statement. He spoke
in a low, emotionless monotone.
“It’s a surreal experience to be condemned to death,” he said.
Then he referred to his parents, Ben and Jude Komisarjevsky, who were not in
court, and to his daughter. “I, too, have a family, loved ones and friends who
do not want me to die. I’ve caused them hurt and disappointment.”
“I did not want those innocent women to die,” he said. “I did not rape. I
wasn’t the one who strangled Mrs. Petit. I did not strike that match; I did not
light that fire.”
Harkening back to his years of being sexually abused by a foster brother and
the deaths of his mentors, Komisarjevsky said he has long experienced “anger,
shame, rejection and betrayal.”
“I have built up a resentment that has left me cold and numb to emotion that
connects me to humanity,” he added.
In an apparent reference to the state’s plan to execute him, Komisarjevsky
said, “I wonder when the killing will end. When will enough be enough?”
As 5 of the 12 jurors listened, defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan said, “We
think a mistake has been made in this case.” He said Komisarjevsky did not
intend for anybody to die and “the deaths were caused by a Steven Hayes who had
Donovan said Komisarjevsky failed to stop Hayes because of a “neurological
deficiency that makes it impossible for him to act decisively in
rapidly-changing situations.”ovan, apparently referring to Petit, said if it
weren’t for the capital trial, “a man who had spent his lifetime saving lives
would not have been transformed into the most accomplished and acclaimed angel
of death in Connecticut history.”
Komisarjevsky’s uncle, Chris Komisarjevsky, who sided with the Petit and Hawke
families during the trial, said of his nephew after adjournment, “I didn’t see
any sorrow on his part. Just excuses. But we as individuals are responsible for
what we do.” State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, who prosecuted the case along
with Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Gary Nicholson, said afterward, “Any
sense of satisfaction is displaced with my regret that what is lost can’t be
restored.”ide on the courthouse steps, in a cold rain, Petit Sr. said he wished
his son could again be “the brilliant young doctor, the happy father and
husband. To see him after all this was just heartbreaking.”
But he said of his son, “He’s starting to come back a little bit to what he
(source: New Haven Register)
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