[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N.C., FLA., OHIO
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Feb 10 17:35:53 CST 2012
Death penalty, race divide NC House panel members
Sharp partisan differences surfaced once again as lawmakers considering changes
to North Carolina's Racial Justice Act held their first meeting Friday.
The House Select Committee on Racial Discrimination in Capital Cases met one
month after Republicans fell a few votes short of overriding Democratic Gov.
Beverly Perdue's veto of a bill that would have essentially repealed the 2009
law. House leaders sent the bill to the new committee to see if changes could
be worked out to avoid another veto or sway enough Democrats to secure an
Rep. Tim Moore, who chairs the panel, said he'll seek a consensus to address
concerns by prosecutors and others about how the law is applied. The law
creates a new legal process by which a judge must reduce a death sentence to
life in prison without parole if the judge determines race was a significant
factor in the sentencing. Defendants can use statistics to make their case - a
big hang-up for the law's opponents.
"Since the majority of both chambers passed this bill and it was kept from
going into law by the executive branch, the thought is to ... give it another
try and to hear from the folks who are actually having to deal with the
application of this law," said Moore, R-Cleveland. The committee aims to have
recommendations by May, when the next extended General Assembly work session is
Democrats on the committee questioned why the law should be altered when the
1st such case involving a death-row inmate is just beginning to make its way
through the courts. The 1st evidentiary hearing under the law continued Friday
in Fayetteville involving convicted killer Marcus Robinson.
House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, told Moore the Racial Justice Act
shouldn't be interfered with until at least after Robinson's case is resolved,
if it all, because there are no known unintended consequences. A death penalty
litigation lawyer estimated it would take a year for Robinson's case to be
completed given likely appeals.
"We have an active application of the act in court as we speak," Hackney said.
But Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, said there were already unintended
consequences. Nearly all of the 158 prisoners currently on death row have filed
papers seeking relief under the Racial Justice Act, including white defendants
convicted of murdering white defendants. Racial Justice Act supporters say
white defendants can also face discrimination if prosecutors deliberately
remove black citizens from jury pools as a strategy to seat a jury that will
sentence someone to death.
The state's district attorneys - nearly all of whom sought the override of
Perdue's veto - have said the requests by so many defendants show how overly
broad the 2009 law is and how it will extend a de facto death penalty
moratorium that has gone on for 5 1/2 years largely for other reasons.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby told the committee the use of
statistics to attempt to prove racial bias is too expansive. The 2009 law also
is vague on how judges should conduct a hearing, giving them room to "impose
their own political philosophy" and deny certain evidence from being heard,
Ken Rose, a senior attorney for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in
Durham, disagreed, saying "the courts are in the best position to sort out this
evidence, to interpret this law and to apply the law," pointing out that trial
judges already preside over murder trials that may end with a death sentence.
"If we can't trust them to interpret and apply this Racial Justice Act, why
would we trust these same judges in deciding important issues of who lives or
dies under our capital punishment law?" Rose asked the committee.
Committee members heard from other supporters and opponents of the Racial
Justice Act, including district attorneys and relatives of murder victims. The
speakers have given similar presentations to legislators in recent months as
the Racial Justice Act repeal was heard.
Moore said the committee would look at several ideas, including whether to
narrow the scope of the use of statistics in these evidentiary hearings.
The Racial Justice Act also applies to murder defendants who have not yet gone
to trial and are challenging a prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty.
Committee members also wanted more information on a Michigan State University
study that showed a defendant in North Carolina is 2.6 times more likely to be
sentenced to death if at least one of the victims is white.
(source: Associated Press)
FLORIDA----new death sentence:
Cop killer Delgado gets death sentence
Humberto Delgado never asked for mercy and he didn't get it Friday.
His victim's widow called him a cop killer and told him to choke on his own
There was no prelude from the judge, except just 6 words:
"All of this on your hands."
Delgado, 36, said nothing when he was condemned to death.
His family was not present.
They had been warned.
Dozens of officers left the courtroom in silence and lined up in the lobby,
flanking a pathway for Cindy Roberts, just as they had at the hospital the
night of Aug. 19, 2009, after the chief and the mayor took her into a room with
trauma surgeons and told her that her husband, 38-year-old Cpl. Michael
Roberts, had been shot dead on the streets of Sulphur Springs.
For more than 2 years, she had sat at court hearings, rows behind the gunman,
without saying a word. On Friday, she got a chance. She rose from her seat,
passed the chained inmate and stood at a lectern. She spoke to the judge, then
turned to Delgado, and jabbed her index finger in his direction.
"I want to speak to you. You...
"I will not speak your name. You are not worthy of such respect. You have been
given several opportunities to speak during this trial, and like a coward, you
have remained silent and you are not remorseful. I have seen the face of evil
and disdain. What bothers me the most is that was the last face my husband saw
on this earth...
"You coward. You murdered my husband in cold blood. You pistol-whipped him
until he was unconscious. He was no threat to you, but you intentionally and
willfully shot him anyway... through the lungs and the heart.
"I hope that when your time comes, you, too, will choke on your own blood...
"I lost my husband, my friend and my soulmate. My son lost his daddy, his role
"We did nothing wrong. You should get a more severe penalty, much more...
"I hope you receive the death penalty. So does Mike... He had no tolerance for
"You no longer have a name. You are just an inmate number. But to many of us,
you will just be known as Cop Killer.
"This case is not about an illness. This is pure evil and hatred. You should
not be here. When you finally leave this world... you and the devil can dance
in the pale moonlight, in the darkness, in hell, where all evil starts."
Moments later, Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles made his spare pronouncement:
"Mr. Delgado, for the murder of Cpl. Michael Roberts, this court sentences you
to be put to death in the manner prescribed by law."
Among those who embraced Cindy Roberts after the sentencing were Tampa Police
Chief Jane Castor and Kelly Curtis, the wife of Tampa Police Officer David
Curtis, slain in 2010.
In November, a jury voted 8-4 to recommend the death penalty for Delgado. Many
legal experts interviewed by the Times — but not all — believed Delgado would
get life in prison, that he did not meet the death penalty standard of "worst
of the worst."
Delgado was homeless and paranoid, pushing a shopping cart, when Roberts
approached him that night. At some point, Delgado ran, the corporal shot a
Taser and a scuffle ensued. Roberts was knocked unconscious before Delgado shot
him, took his radio and ran.
His primary defense, during a 3-week trial last November, was his mental
illness. He was diagnosed as bipolar, with psychotic features.
Before the sentencing, the defense offered more than 3 dozen additional reasons
not to kill Delgado, from his lack of prior crimes and former service as a
police officer and soldier to his three children, strong work ethic and even
his sense of humor. Battles said he gave most of those "little weight."
In his order, Battles expressed no qualms over the split jury vote and said the
defense's contention that Delgado is mentally ill does not mean he didn't
understand what he was doing.
"The court is reasonably convinced that the defendant was under the influence
of an extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time he killed Cpl.
Roberts," Battles wrote. "The court is reasonably convinced that the
defendant's ability to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was
impaired, albeit not substantially."
Under the law, Delgado is entitled to an automatic appeal. Hillsborough Public
Defender Julianne Holt said she could not comment for that reason.
If the death sentence sends a message, Chief Castor said, she is not sure those
who kill police officers will get it.
After the hearing, Cindy Roberts said she continues to worry about every
officer on the street.
"I say to them, 'Stay safe. You never know what's out there. Take care of each
When asked how long it took for her to compose her words to Delgado, she
responded, "2 1/2 years."
(source: Tampa Bay Times)
Ex-death row inmate files wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against Ohio,
A man who spent two decades on Ohio's death row before being released is suing
the state and a county prosecutor for wrongful imprisonment.
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland (http://bit.ly/zVCLaZ ) reports that former
inmate Joe D'Ambrosio is seeking money for lost wages as well as compensation
for being wrongly imprisoned.
He spent more than 21 years behind bars after being convicted of murder in
Cleveland. He was released in 2009 after a federal judge ruled that prosecutors
failed to provide evidence that could have exonerated him.
Prosecutors still don't think D'Ambrosio is innocent and are likely to contest
the suit that could net D'Ambrosio more than $1 million.
The suit comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision
preventing prosecutors from pursuing another trial against D'Ambrosio.
(source: Associated Press)
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