[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----LA., FLA., PENN., KY., CALIF.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Thu Feb 2 16:32:21 CST 2012
D.A. seeking death penalty sentence for man who killed 2 teenagers
A jury found Kenneth Barnes, 25, guilty on Wednesday night of 2 counts of 1st
degree murder in the kidnapping and killing of 2 New Orleans teenagers.
If the defendant is to be sentenced to death, all 12 jurors must agree again.
Last week, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision of a
mistrial, allowing the trial to continue.
The defendant's 2 accomplices also testified that Barnes killed Fitzgerald
Phillips and Calissie Perkins back in 2009 when their families could not pay
his ransom demands.
Eyewitness News legal analyst, Donald "Chic" Foret, said last week that getting
a jury to decide to sentence a defendant to death can be a challenge.
"That's why it's so difficult to have a death penalty verdict in Louisiana,
because 12 of 12 must agree. That is the death penalty portion of the case,"
After the verdict, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro praised the work of the
NOPD in its investigation, as well as his staff in the prosecution of the case.
"This is an example of our criminal justice system doing what it is supposed to
do," Cannizzaro said, "This was an extremely brutal crime, and I will not
hesitate to seek the death penalty in cases such as this."
The D.A.'s office is set to present its case later Thursday morning to argue
that Barnes should get the death penalty.
(source: WWL TV News)
Killer asks for death
If the prosecution needed any help in trying to convince a judge on Wednesday
to give the death penalty to a convicted murderer -- it got plenty of
assistance from the defendant himself.
Bill Paul Marquardt, 36, a paranoid schizophrenic, returned to the same Sumter
County courtroom Wednesday to start his sentencing hearings where a jury in
October found him guilty in the 2000 killing of Margarita Ruiz, 72, and her
daughter Esperanza Wells, 42.
Judge William Hallman must decide whether to give Marquardt life or the death
penalty after the defendant opted against the jury making the decision.
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino began seeking the death penalty shortly
after Marquardt was indicted on the charges in 2006 while a patient at a
Wisconsin mental facility on unrelated charges.
On Wednesday, he argued in front of the judge that the killings were brutal and
any perceived mental illness and family problems -- as well as current good
behavior of Marquardt -- was not enough for the judge to keep the defendant
from getting the death penalty.
"The defendant has earned what he wants and what he deserve -- and that's the
death penalty," Magrino said.
And, Marquardt sided with Magrino.
Marquardt, who immediately asked for the death penalty in upon the jury's
verdict, acknowledged during his closing arguments Wednesday that he didn't
have any mental issues that the judge should consider.
He offered no opening argument, had only a couple questions for one the
prosecution's witnesses and didn't call any witnesses to the stand on his
Marquardt refused to allow his family members to testify on his behalf
Wednesday: The same father and sister whom the defendant failed to convince
Hallman to keep from testifying for him during the murder trial.
"I worked hard to keep them from not showing up," Marquardt told the judge.
"Any good things said about me would work in favor of me not getting the death
The judge did overrule Marquardt's request Wednesday to keep his stand-by
council from calling a private investigator to testify about his childhood.
Marquardt is representing himself against the repeated recommendations of the
Magrino has said with Marquardt asking to die, it might make it more difficult
to get him strapped to the table for a lethal injection because it could show
he suffers from some "mental disease or defect."
Hallman has set a sentencing date for Feb. 28.
2 family members of the murdered women, the husband and daughter in-law of
Ruiz, also testified for the prosecution.
The women were found dead in their Tarrytown home on March 15, 2000. Wells had
been shot once in the face and stabbed eight times in the neck; and Ruiz shot
three times and stabbed three times in the neck -- apparently as Wells 1- and
3-year-old grandchildren hid under a dining room table.
"It was cold, calculated and premeditated," Magrino told the courtroom of the
Sumter County sheriff's detectives worked the case for 6 years with no leads.
The break came after Marquardt was arrested and acquitted in his mother's death
in Wisconsin. Blood on a knife found on Marquardt during that arrest tied him
to the killings of Ruiz and Wells.
Detectives believe the murders were at random.
After his acquittal in his mother's death, Marquardt eventually was sentenced
to 75 years in the Wisconsin mental facility upon being found guilty of
burglary and animal cruelty in which in his own words Wednesday, he "gunned
down" a dog.
(source: The Daily Commercial)
Death penalty sought in elderly woman's killing
The Washington County District Attorney's office today announced it will seek
the death penalty against a 23-year-old man accused of stabbing an elderly
woman to death in her home last month.
At a formal arraignment in county Common Pleas Court this morning for Frank
Jones Jr., of Claysville, prosecutors notified the court that they would seek
the death penalty because they believed Mr. Jones killed 80-year-old Opal
Bedillion during the commission of a robbery.
Police in Washington apprehended Mr. Jones during a traffic stop Jan. 7 and
said they found several stolen items, including jewelry and a prescription pill
bottle for Ms. Bedillion.
Officers then asked Ms. Bedillion's relatives to check on her. When her nephew
walked into her home, he found Ms. Bedillion's body. Washington County Coroner
Timothy Warco said Ms. Bedillion died of knife wounds.
Prosecutors believe Mr. Jones targeted Ms. Bedillion.
"I don't think they had any sort of relationship, but he knew she lived there,"
said Steven Fischer, chief of staff for District Attorney Gene Vittone.
Mr. Jones was ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing Jan. 11 on
charges of homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and other offenses.
He remains jailed without bond in the Washington County Correctional Facility.
(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Escapee dealt his latest death sentence
Kentucky prosecutors have been working for 2 decades to make a death sentence
stick against Michael Dale St. Clair, 55. They succeeded Wednesday in
persuading a judge to apply that penalty one more time against St. Clair for
the 1991 kidnapping of a distillery worker who later turned up dead.
Special Judge Thomas O. Castlen ordered St. Clair to be executed for the 1991
kidnapping death of Francis "Frank" Brady of Bardstown.
Prosecutors had sought a death sentence in Hardin County because that's where
Brady was last seen. He was subsequently found shot to death in Bullitt County
— the last act of a multistate crime spree that began when St. Clair and a
fellow inmate escaped from an Oklahoma prison where each was serving time for
St. Clair and the other escapee, Dennis Gene Reese, were the subjects of a
nation-wide manhunt when they kidnapped and handcuffed Brady at a rest stop off
Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown. The 2 men took Brady's truck and drove to a
secluded area near Lebanon Junction. That's where St. Clair ordered Brady out
of the truck and shot him execution style, prosecutors said.
The judge set an execution date of March 30, but prosecutors said that probably
would be stayed as St. Clair appeals.
A jury on Jan. 23 convicted St. Clair of capital kidnapping in Brady's death
and recommended a death sentence, marking the 3rd time Hardin County jurors
have taken such an action against St. Clair. The jury was empaneled after a
reversal by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2010 on an evidentiary ruling. The
ruling marked the fourth time St. Clair's conviction or death sentence had been
St. Clair is also under a death sentence in neighboring Bullitt County. A judge
in November condemned him for murder in Brady's death.
Brady's widow, Merle Brady, attended the court hearing, watching as the
defendant insulted the court. She said later that the case was far from over;
she is expecting years of appeals by the man convicted in her husband's death.
"It's been a long journey, it really has," Brady said after the hearing. "This
is not the end. ... We'll hang in there. I'm not a quitter."
During the sentencing hearing, St. Clair vowed to make the court and everyone
else wait while he appealed, and he pledged to win a new trial from the
Kentucky Supreme Court.
"I've been waiting 20 years for a fair trial, judge," St. Clair told the judge,
who denied multiple requests for a new trial. "Of all the trials I've seen,
judge, yours is the worstest."
Merle Brady wasn't surprised by St. Clair's comments to Castlen.
"There's a lot of evil in this world," Brady said. "I think he's an evil man."
St. Clair has been convicted of murdering four people and suspected, but not
charged, in a 5th slaying.
Todd Lewis, director of special prosecutions for the Kentucky Attorney
General's Office, said he was confident that the latest trial would withstand
"I think this case is a perfect illustration why, as long as there is the
ultimate punishment in Kentucky, there are cases that call for it," Lewis said.
Until that punishment is carried out, Merle Brady said, she'll push on.
"God has been good to me," Brady said. "He takes care of the birds and he takes
care of me."
(source: Associated Press)
CALIFORNIA CHIEF JUSTICE SAYS DEATH PENALTY NO LONGER EFFECTIVE
The state’s top judge is taking on California’s capital punishment. Filipino
American Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, said the death penalty is no longer
“It’s no longer effective in a sense that it is the kind of program that needs
to be re-examined because of the fiscal arrangements facing the state,” said
Cantil-Sakauye. “And we don’t have the money to create the kind of change that
But the 53-year old chief justice said whether she believes the death penalty
should be replaced with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is
“I simply apply the law. It’s not important whether I believe in it or not,”
Capital punishment in California does not come cheap. According to a report
from the L.A. Times, taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital
punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million
for each of the 13 executions carried out since then.
Fil-Am reaction to the chief justice’s position
Filipino-Americans have mixed emotions about Cantil-Sakauye’s opinions about
the death penalty.
Dee Faraon, a teacher, said that despite the fiscal crisis, the government
should continue capital punishment.
“It has to be all about justice. That has to be served. That’s the most
important thing for me,” said Faraon.
But community leader Rudy Asercion, on the other hand, is against capital
punishment. He said the government should focus its resources on keeping
neighborhoods and children safe; away from prisons.
“Prevention is better. You’re preventing the child to be on the other side,”
More information about the DeathPenalty