[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., OKLA., CALIF., USA, UTAH, IDAHO, COLO.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Sat Feb 11 10:40:04 CST 2012
Texas Ranked Top Exporting State for 10th Consecutive Year
Texas has been ranked the top exporting state in 2011 for the 10th year in a
row, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, a sign of
Texas' continued role as a leader in the global marketplace.
"For a full decade now, Texas has been the nation's epicenter for international
trade thanks to the continued strength of our state economy and the
opportunities created by our business climate," Gov. Perry said. "We remain
committed to the bedrock conservative values of low taxes, reasonable
regulations and fair courts that attract and keep employers in Texas, and we
will continue to develop the world-class workforce necessary to meet the
demands of any 21st century employer."
Texas' exports in 2011 totaled more than $249.8 billion, up 20.7 percent from
$206.9 billion in 2010, outperforming overall U.S. exports, which grew by 15.8
percent in 2011. The state's top export recipients were Mexico, Canada, China,
Brazil and the Netherlands, which respectively imported $86.6 billion, $21.9
billion, $10.9 billion, $9.9 billion and $9.0 billion in Texas-manufactured
goods. Texas' top exporting industries in 2011 were petroleum and coal
products, chemicals, computer and electronic products, non-electrical
machinery, and transportation equipment.
In 2011, Site Selection Magazine, DCI and Area Development Magazine each ranked
Texas as the best business climate. Additionally, Texas won Site Selection
Magazine's 2010 Governor's Cup for the most new and expanded corporate
facilities announced over the year. According to USA Today, Texas has moved
past New York as the nation's second largest economy, and the Wall Street
Journal has credited the state's low taxes and employer-friendly environment
with helping make Texas the job creation capital of the nation. Additionally,
Texas consistently ranks among the top states for Fortune 500 headquarters.
For more information on 2011 export data, please
(source: Press Release, Governor's Office)
Outside jury slated for death penalty trial in slaying of central Pa. wildlife
A jury from another county will be brought in to hear the death penalty trial
of a central Pennsylvania man accused of having gunned down a wildlife
An Adams County judge agreed to a defense request for a jury to be chosen in
another county and brought in for the trial of 28-year-old Christopher Johnson
Johnson is charged in the November 2010 shooting death of wildlife conservation
officer David Grove outside Gettysburg.
Officials said Grove was patrolling on his own along a dark stretch of rural
road when he confronted a poacher and was shot 4 times.
Chief Public Defender Kristin Rice argued that pre-trial publicity had been "so
pervasive and sustained" that her client would have been unable to get a fair
(source: Associated Press)
Oklahoma governor halts executions set for next week
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin granted a 30-day stay of execution on Thursday to
a convicted murderer scheduled to be put to death next week so that state
attorneys could study whether he should be granted clemency.
Garry Thomas Allen, scheduled for lethal injection on Wednesday, pleaded guilty
to 1st-degree murder in the 1986 shooting death of his estranged girlfriend.
But the state's pardon and parole board recommended his death sentence be
commuted to life in prison.
Brad Henry, Oklahoma's Democratic governor at the time of the recommendation,
never acted on it, leaving Republican Fallin as the condemned man's last hope,
said Alex Weintz, the governor's spokesman.
The 30-day reprieve will give state attorneys time to study the "unique legal
circumstances" of the case, said Weintz.
"We are dealing with a man's life and she takes it seriously," Weintz said.
Allen was convicted of killing Gail Titsworth in the parking lot of a day care
center while she was picking up the couple's 2 young sons, according to court
After shooting the woman 4 times in front of shocked witnesses, Allen was
wounded in the head by an Oklahoma City police officer while the 2 men
Allen lost his left eye and suffered permanent brain damage from the head
wound, according to court records, but a jury found him competent to stand
trial in 1987.
Allen then insisted on pleading guilty because he did not want to put his
family or the family of his girlfriend through any more hurt, appellate court
More than 10 years after his guilty plea, the issue of competency was raised on
appeal by a clinical psychologist who testified Allen's brain injury made him
unable to understand or assist in his legal appeals, according to court
If Allen is not granted clemency by Fallin, the governor's order calls for him
to be executed on March 16.
Oklahoma has the highest rate of executions per capita of population of any
state in the nation since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 by the U.S.
Supreme Court. The state has executed 97 people since 1976, the latest of which
was Gary Welch on January 5, 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information
Serial killer’s tip leads to remains of 2nd body
Information provided by a California death row inmate who was 1 of the 2
notorious “Speed Freak Killers’’ led to the discovery Friday of a 2nd set of
human remains, this time believed to belong to a 16-year-old girl who went
missing nearly 3 decades ago.
Specially trained dogs led authorities to a partial human skull and bones
buried on a remote Calaveras County property, said Deputy Les Garcia, spokesman
for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the search.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Row----(Documentary -- U.S.-U.K.-Austria)----By Justin Chang
A Creative Differences and Skellig Rock production in association with Spring
Films and Werner Herzog Film. Produced by Erik Nelson. Executive producers,
Dave Harding, Henry Schleiff, Sara Kozak, Andre Singer, Nick Raslan.
Co-producer, Amy Briamonte. Directed, written by Werner Herzog.
Portrait: James Barnes
Running time: 47 MIN.
With: James Barnes, Ted Goodyear, Jeannice Barnes.
Portrait: Hank Skinner
Running time: 47 MIN.
With: Hank Skinner, David Bowser.
Portrait: Joseph Garcia and George Rivas
Running time: 47 MIN.
With: Joseph Garcia, George Rivas, Norvell Graham, Joey Contreras.
Portrait: Linda Carty
Running time: 47 MIN.
With: Linda Carty, Chris Robinson, Connie Spence, Jouvelle Joubert, Michael
The critique of capital punishment Werner Herzog initiated with "Into the
Abyss" comes to riveting fruition in "Death Row," a weighty and probing look at
the practice of legally sanctioned execution. More humane treatise than searing
polemic, this powerful companion work offers 4 criminal case studies that will
conveniently fill broadcasters' slots at an absorbing 47 minutes apiece. Viewed
together in one 3-hour-plus sitting, however, they build a stealth argument
about the humanity of the accused and the potential pitfalls of due process
that, given Herzog's rep, could merit select theatrical and festival attention
following the docu's Berlinale premiere.
Each segment begins with a shot that moves from an empty prison cell to an
adjoining death chamber with an awaiting lethal-injection gurney, over which
Herzog solemnly intones that he respectfully disagrees with the practice of
capital punishment. Viewers may recall the words and images from "Into the
Abyss," which blended interviews with 2 Texas convicts and the family members
of their alleged victims, placing crime and punishment in a disturbing context
of everyday violence and tragedy.
The portraits in "Death Row," devoted to four men and one woman awaiting
execution, are not only shorter and narrower in focus but also more pointedly
shaped and structured to interrogate the morality of the death penalty.
Herzog's personal views notwithstanding, however, the films are strikingly
undidactic and, as one would expect from the director, as invested in eccentric
human details as in questions of law and order; it's up to discerning audiences
to see the implicit parallels and contrasts and grasp the director's
Convicted of the 1998 murder of his wife, James Barnes was serving his sentence
in Florida State Prison when he admitted to killing another woman under even
more brutal circumstances, a confession that landed him on death row.
Intercutting conversations with Barnes and with his twin sister, Jeannice,
Herzog doesn't soft-pedal the ghastly nature of his subject's crimes, clearly
rooted in an abusive upbringing that led to drug use and arson. Yet the
filmmaker's larger point is that even someone with Barnes' rap sheet is
entitled to due process of law, a principle not especially evident in the
state's eagerness to expedite his execution, even when details surface that
suggest future trials may be in order.
Unlike Barnes, Texas death-row inmate Hank Skinner maintains his innocence,
despite having been convicted of a 1995 triple homicide on strong evidence.
Easily the film's most Herzogian figure, Skinner is funny, articulate and well
read, dropping out-there references to Gilgamesh and at one point delivering a
fascinating speech on the subject of one's last meal. Indeed, he's one of those
lucky souls who has enjoyed this privilege and lived to tell about it, having
received a last-minute stay of execution -- a process that throws into stark
relief the swift, arbitrary manner in which life can be either spared or taken
by the state.
The fairness of certain death-penalty practices is further explored in the
third and meatiest chapter, devoted jointly to Joseph Garcia and George Rivas.
Both were members of the notorious Texas Seven, a group of prisoners whose
meticulously rigged 2001 breakout from a Texas maximum-security prison was
documented in the 2007 docu "The Hunt for the Texas 7" and is so entertainingly
recounted here that it begs the question of why a feature hasn't been developed
yet. Far less diverting, however, is this segment's grim focus on Rivas'
senseless, unpremeditated killing of a cop, which landed him and his five
surviving cohorts on death row. The law that binds all accomplices under one
death sentence comes in for considerable scrutiny here; so does Rivas himself,
the one inmate here who acknowledges his actions with deep remorse.
Linda Carty, by contrast, denies any involvement with the crime of which she
was convicted, the 2001 murder of her neighbor Joana Rodriguez. Carty insists,
none too convincingly, that she was framed by drug dealers, though one of her
accomplices, Chris Robinson, chillingly paints her as the mastermind of a
scheme to steal Rodriguez's infant son. Their competing testimonies, and the
fact that Carty's British citizenship entitled her to certain legal rights that
went unmet at the time, add layers of ambiguity to a case that features by far
the film's least sympathetic culprit.
Viewer perceptions of guilt or innocence, indifference or remorse, are of
course beside the point, even if they're an essential component of "Death
Row's" cumulatively overwhelming emotional impact. "He does not appear to be a
monster," Herzog says of the bright, highly articulate Barnes, a statement so
plainly true that it takes a moment to grasp what the director no doubt knows,
that appearing and being are 2 different things.
At every turn, Herzog makes as clear as he can how he went about interviewing
his subjects, reminding them and the audience that his films are not intended
to facilitate their exoneration. Yet the fact that no execution dates have been
set for Barnes, Skinner, Garcia, Rivas and Carty as of 2012 (another telling
contrast with "Into the Abyss") creates an unmistakable sense of lives hanging
in the balance, upping the urgency of the film's rigorous moral inquiry.
Camera (color, HD), Peter Zeitlinger; editor, Joe Bini; music, Mark Degli
Antoni; sound, Eric Spitzer, Jeff Duncan, Randy Foster, Michael Lile, Al
McGuire, Steve Osmon. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale Special),
Feb. 8, 2012. Running time: 188 MIN.
Utah allows firing squad request to avoid execution delay
Utah prosecutors have reluctantly allowed a condemned killer to seek execution
by firing squad rather than by lethal injection, saying they want to avoid
further delays in putting him to death.
The request by Michael Archuleta, 49, convicted of the 1988 slaying of a
college student, follows recent talks among state lawmakers and criminal
justice officials about possibly returning to firing squads as an execution
option in light of the current shortage of lethal-injection drugs.
If Archuleta gets his way, he would ultimately become only the fourth to be
executed by shooting in the United States -- all of them in Utah -- since the
U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. The last was in June
Utah, the last state to carry out executions by rifle volley, officially did
away with the practice in 2004 under pressure from death penalty opponents and
human rights activists who vehemently opposed firing squads as barbaric.
But the statute to abolish firing squads carved out an exemption for those
death row inmates, like Archuleta, who had already requested it as their
preferred manner of execution.
Approving Archuleta's request on Wednesday, state District Court Judge Donald
Eyre Jr. signed an execution warrant ordering him to be put to death by firing
squad on April 5.
Archuleta was convicted in 1989 of 1st-degree murder for the 1988 beating death
of Gordon Church, who was kidnapped and sexually abused during the slaying.
Thomas Brunker, capital case coordinator for the Utah State Attorney General,
said on Friday his office disagreed with Archuleta's request for a firing squad
but opted not to challenge it for practical reasons.
"Our view was that was legally not appropriate," he said. "If we had to
litigate that, it would push everything back."
Archuleta's reasons for seeking death by firing squad remained murky. "I
haven't really talked to him about why, and that's just his expressed method of
execution," his attorney James Slavens said.
Despite prosecutors' decision to go along with the mode of execution sought by
the inmate, Archuleta's execution is likely to be delayed beyond April 5 due to
appeals his lawyers plan to bring in the federal courts, Brunker said.
All 3 inmates last executed by firing squad in Utah had requested that manner
of death, including Gary Gilmore who became the 1st person put to death after
the Supreme Court's landmark 1976 ruling.
Gilmore's 1977 death, the subject of Norman Mailer's bestseller "The
Executioner's Song," gained nationwide attention and sparked anguished debate
about capital punishment. The American Civil Liberties Union fought
unsuccessfully to block it.
The Utah statute that did away with firing squads for new death row inmates
still contains language that would permit the general reinstatement of the
practice if lethal injection were to one day be found unconstitutional, Brunker
Oklahoma law, likewise, would allow for execution by firing squad only if
lethal injection and electrocution were ruled unconstitutional, according the
Death Penalty Information Center.
Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU's capital punishment project, which opposes
all U.S. executions, noted that in past executions, Utah authorities placed a
blank round in the chamber of one of the rifles used so that each gunman was
able to believe he did not fire the fatal shot.
"If there's nothing wrong with this, how come we're allowing this little out,
this little moral out for people who are actually doing the shooting," she
Officials with the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice have
recently held discussions with state legislators about the possibility of
relying on firing squads if drugs for lethal injection cannot be obtained.
Executions have been delayed in some states in recent months by a shortage of a
key anesthetic used in the lethal injection "cocktail" to render a prisoner
unconscious before another drug to stop the heart is administered. The scarcity
occurred after the main U.S. manufacturer ceased production of the anesthetic
"The issue has been discussed," said Ric Cantrell, chief of staff of the Utah
Senate. "But there is no bill file for it, there is no sponsor, there is no
20 years since Robin Row killed her husband, 2 kids
Exactly 20 years ago, Robin Row set fire to her Ada County home, killing her
husband and 2 children. She is the only woman on Idaho's death row.
It was early morning on February 10, 1992 when Robin Row set her home on fire.
The carbon monoxide killed her husband Randy Row and her 2 children 10-year-old
Joshua and 8-year-old Tabitha.
Row was sentenced to death, and she continues to appeal that decision. In
August 2011, a federal judge dismissed her entire appeal, but cleared her to
ask a higher court to consider some other issues in her case, including whether
her attorneys were ineffective and whether she was forced to wait too long to
Randy Row's sister: "I don't think she deserves to be alive"
Now 20 years after the shocking triple murder, the victims’ families are
waiting to see if Row's death sentence will be carried out.
"She did get the death penalty, and it's just being dragged on and on and on at
the expense of everybody," Randy Row's older sister Chris Danielson said. "I
could understand them saying, well, we gotta give her a chance or whatnot, well
she didn't give them a chance. They [the victims] didn't get 20 extra years on
Danielson says hearing of each of Robin Row's appeals makes waiting even more
"It's almost like pouring salt into your wounds. Like, is it ever going to get
over? Is it ever going to get over? It's like c'mon, what was all that stuff we
went through when we went to trial and they found her guilty?" Danielson said.
Lead investigator: 'She is an extreme psychopath'
Current Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney was the lead investigator on this case in
1992. He was the detective who made the arrest.
"This was probably the most premeditated, in some ways, premeditated for gain
murders that I've seen," Sheriff Gary Raney said.
Robin Row had taken out life insurance policies on her family; there was a
quarter million dollars covering her children. The most recent policy had been
taken out just a couple weeks before their murders.
"For her, it was a matter of would I rather have this money or would I rather
have my husband and my 2 kids. She's a sociopath, so she could make the
decision, I'd rather have the money," Raney said.
Sheriff: Robin Row likely killed her 2 other children
Raney believes Robin Row also killed her other 2 children, but was never caught
"As I investigated it and learned... I believe, that she killed a 15-month old
daughter in New Hampshire in 1976 and her 6-year-old son in California in
1980," Raney said. "So she had killed 2 of her children before, without being
caught, and I was determined that if in fact this was murder, that I was going
to do everything I can to collect the evidence and make sure she didn't get
away with it again."
Raney says the New Hampshire case involved a daughter who's cause of death was
listed as SIDS, but now he says evidence shows children that age do not die
from SIDS. He believes Robin Row smothered the baby. "She was in a situation
where the child was a burden to her, so she was looking for other
opportunities, again a matter of convenience," Raney said.
In 1980, Raney says Robin Row was staying in a borrowed cabin with her
6-year-old son Keith when a fire broke out and killed him. He says forensics
suggest the boy's bedroom door was locked and an electric heater was pushed up
against his bed blankets. Raney says the boy probably tried crawling to the
door, couldn't get out, and died trying to get to the window.
Raney believes Keith's murder is chargeable, and that Robin Row could have been
accused of that murder if the Boise case hadn't gone forward. He says Robin Row
collected $28,000 in life insurance from Keith's death.
'I think she deserves the death penalty'
"For me understanding her personality and what she did, I think she deserves
the death penalty," Raney said. "But every day up until that day, she's not
able to manipulate other people, she's not able to get anything out of her web
of lies, she's not going to kill anymore children. So she sits there 23 hours a
day on death row and waits for that day to come, then there's probably some
justice alongside that."
Raney says Robin Row has exhausted what could be considered her significant
appeals, though no timeline can be certain for her case.
"I know that she has lost her final, significant appeals," Raney said. "She's
on the, what might be classified as 'grasping at straw' appeals, the final
opportunities. I don't expect those to go anywhere. As to what the timeline
would be for those to be exhausted and what ultimately will be decided about
serving the death warrant..."
If Robin Row is ever issued a death warrant, she would be brought from the
Pocatello women's prison to the maximum security prison in Boise to await
Row is represented by the Federal Defender Services of Idaho.
(source: KTVB News)
Murder-for-hire suspects plead not guilty, may face death penalty
Prosecutors are considering whether to seek the death penalty against 3
suspects in a Douglas County murder-for-hire plot after the 3 men pleaded not
guilty to 1st-degree murder charges Friday.
The man accused of carrying out the murder plot, 26-year-old Josiah Sher,
already faces the death penalty for his alleged role in the killing of Amara
Wells and her brother-in-law Bob Rafferty in Feb. 2011.
The district attorney's office indicated it will make the decision on seeking
the death penalty against the 3 suspected co-conspirators within 60 days.
“The decision to seek the death penalty in any case is probably the most
difficult decision that a prosecutor has to make," said Karen Steinhauser, a
University of Denver law professor and former Denver assistant district
The Douglas County double-murder is considered especially heinous.
Sher, a former Army sergeant, allegedly carried out the brutal killings for
$20,000 at the request of Wells' estranged husband Christopher Wells. The
couple was reportedly going through a bitter divorce at the time.
The bodies of Amara Wells and Bob Rafferty were found shot, stabbed and burned
inside Rafferty's home in Keene Ranch.
Four men are accused of orchestrating the murder-for-hire plot.
Prosecutors say Christopher Wells hired Sher and 2 former co-workers to kill
his wife Amara, his sister Tammy Rafferty and her husband Bob Rafferty. Wells'
sister Tammy wasn't at the home the night of the murders.
Micah Woody allegedly was in charge of hiring Sher as the group’s killer,
buying Sher a gun and giving him instructions on when and where to carry out
Matt Plake is accused of helping Sher plan the crimes and driving him to the
Keene Ranch home. Plake allegedly helped dispose of evidence, including guns
and bloody clothing.
"The prosecutor has to decide whether to seek the death penalty against people
who didn't actually pull the trigger," said Steinhauser.
Jurors would be asked to consider the brutality of the crimes and each man's
level of participation.
“What was their involvement, how much involvement did they have (and) what is
their background," Steinhauser pointed out.
Prosecutors would also be raising the burden for jurors to consider all the
facts of the case.
"To I don't think just beyond reasonable doubt but really beyond all possible
doubt," the veteran prosecutor said.
That’s one reason the death penalty is rarely sought in Colorado.
Prosecutors are likely to decide whether to seek the death penalty before
Wells' next court appearance on April 10. Woody and Plake are due back in court
on April 20.
(source: KDVR News)
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