[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, CONN., ARIZ, VA., OKLA., N.Y.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Thu Feb 23 15:40:50 CST 2012
TEXAS----stay of impending execution
San Antonio man set to die next week wins reprieve
An ex-con convicted of killing a San Antonio man and stealing his prized
motorcycle won a stay of execution Thursday when a judge in Houston agreed to
new forensic tests.
Anthony Bartee, 54, had been scheduled for lethal injection Tuesday evening in
Bartee's lawyers argued in appeals that more DNA testing should be conducted on
2 strands of hair found in victim David Cook's hands. A third strand of hair
was tested earlier and identified as belonging to the 37-year-old victim.
Prosecutors argued the other 2 were scientifically insufficient for meaningful
"What we're doing now is looking into which labs are capable of doing the
testing in the shortest amount of time," Rico Valdez, an assistant Bexar County
district attorney who handles capital case appeals, said.
State District Judge Mary Roman withdrew the execution warrant Thursday.
The night of August 16, 1996, a neighbor heard gunshots from Cook's home, then
heard Cook's motorcycle fire up. When Cook failed to show up for work,
concerned relatives went to his house and found his body. He'd been stabbed in
the back, his throat was cut and he had two gunshot wounds to the back of his
head from what would be determined as his own 9 mm pistol. Both the gun and his
cherry red Harley were missing.
Court records show investigators determined that the night before the shooting,
Bartee — who was on parole after spending almost 12 years locked up for 2 rape
convictions — tried to hire someone to kill a man he identified as David. The
day after the killing, he was seen with the motorcycle and told people it was
When police questioned Bartee, he said he was unaware of Cook's death. But when
police told him they knew he had the Harley, he said he had been working on it
in Cook's garage and took off after hearing gunshots because he feared for his
own safety. He wouldn't acknowledge participating in the murder but didn't deny
being present at the scene, according to court documents.
At his trial, defense attorneys tried to pin the slaying on two gang members
Bartee identified only as "Snake" and "Throw Down."
Prosecutors said his story was a fabrication.
George Rivas, 41, is scheduled for execution on Wednesday. Rivas was the leader
of the notorious "Texas 7" gang that escaped from a South Texas prison in 2000
in the state's biggest prison break ever and then killed a suburban Dallas
police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery of a sporting goods store.
Innocent man officially set free
Richard Miles cried Wednesday as a state district judge formally declared him
innocent of a 1995 murder for which he spent 14 years in prison.
With a declaration of innocence, the 36-year-old Miles will be fully cleared of
the crime and can apply for state compensation for wrongfully imprisoned
inmates. Miles' mother, several inmates who've also been exonerated and other
supporters cheered inside the courtroom as Judge Andy Chatham called him a free
"Now, the world knows that I'm innocent," Miles told reporters beforehand.
"I've always known that I was innocent."
Miles was sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of the murder
of Deandre S. Williams and the attempted murder of another man.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week determined that "actual
innocence" existed in Miles' case -- a rare declaration for someone exonerated
without the help of DNA evidence. Miles was released after an advocacy group
found evidence implicating another man in the murder hadn't been turned over to
Miles' attorneys before trial.
One undisclosed police report included information of a call made by someone
who claimed to know Williams' actual killer. The call occurred about 3 months
before Miles' trial. The other report was about an altercation between the
victims and a third person just before the shootings.
Released on bond in 2009, Miles said he has struggled to find work because he
was labeled an ex-offender.
He now plans to apply for compensation under the state's Tim Cole Act, which
pays freed inmates $80,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration. And he
hopes to start a nonprofit group, Miles of Freedom, which would build
transitional housing for ex-inmates.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose office's conviction
integrity unit has helped to free more than 20 wrongfully convicted inmates,
attended the hearing. Watkins thanked Miles for continuing to fight for his
freedom after being convicted, calling him "just another example of the
problems we've had and the future that we do have."
As other exonerated ex-inmates watched, Watkins also took on the state's death
penalty. Without calling for a moratorium on executions, Watkins questioned
whether Texas had executed an innocent person.
"When we have all these men that have been exonerated for crimes they didn't
commit, as to whether or not we have executed someone in this state that didn't
commit the crime, I think that's a fair question," Watkins said. "I think
anyone that does not -- that sits in a [district attorney's] seat -- have
doubts, they shouldn't be DAs."
"Until we can get it right, maybe we need to explore how we can get it right,"
(source for both Associated Press)
Long story short
11 years ago, the national spotlight swung this way, when the infamous Texas
Seven outlaws were found hiding in Woodland Park.
Next week, the leader of that gang, George Rivas, 41, is scheduled to be put to
death in Texas.
Local cold case virtuoso Charlie Hess, who in his 80s still snoops through
police files to put 2 and 2 together, became pen pals with Rivas and his gang
nearly a year ago. Hess wanted to know if they were responsible for any
unsolved murders. He decided they're not, but in their correspondence — all 5
living members chose to write him back — the former CIA and FBI agent saw a
story fit for print. Read more about the gang and Hess' book project by turning
to this week's cover story, which begins here.
Whatever Hess and his co-authors write about the Texas 7, the final chapter is
being penned by the state of Texas — the most prolific executioner in the
nation. When Rivas gets his deadly cocktail next week, he'll be the 480th
person to be executed in the Lone Star State since the death penalty was
reinstated in 1976. (Anthony Bartee, 54, is scheduled to die the day before
Rivas, on Feb. 28, for killing a man and stealing his motorcycle in 1996.)
While there's no question some innocents have gone to the gallows, Rivas isn't
one of them. He long ago confessed that he alone killed Irving, Texas, police
Officer Aubrey Hawkins after the prison break.
(source: Colorado Springs Independent)
Connecticut Victim Families Fight for Death Penalty Abolition
A bill to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty was introduced on Wednesday. It
has an excellent chance of passing, largely because an increasing number of
murder victim family members have been calling for an end to capital punishment
in their state. There’s a blog on which many of them discuss their reasons, and
this piece in the New London Day and this piece in the West Hartford News both
do a good job of outlining why so many murder victim family members have had it
with Connecticut’s death penalty and believe they will be better off without
There are many reasons victim family members may oppose the death penalty.
There is the endless process that turns the killer into a celebrity while
forcing the family to constantly relive the worst moment of their lives. There
is the waste of resources that could be spent on counseling and other real
support for survivors of homicide. And there is the false promise of an
execution which will most likely never happen (especially in Connecticut where
there has been only one execution in the last 50 years) and may not provide the
expected “closure” even if it does.
The Connecticut General Assembly did pass a repeal bill in 2009, only to have
it vetoed by then Governor Jodi Rell. The current Governor, Dannel P. Malloy,
supports the measure. Last year, the bill stalled due to the ongoing high
profile murder trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky. This year, at least one
legislator who opposed abolition due to that trial has said he is now ready to
Of course, not all victim families agree on this (or any) issue, but there is a
growing awareness in the Connecticut legislature that getting rid of the death
penalty, rather than keeping it, may be what’s best for the families of
(source: Amnesty International USA)
Supreme Court asked to stay execution
Lawyers for death row inmate Robert Henry Moormann have asked the Arizona
Supreme Court to stay his scheduled Feb. 29 execution.
In a 21-page motion filed Tuesday, Moormann's attorneys say he was diagnosed in
early childhood as being mentally retarded and the state can't execute him
because of that fact.
The 63-year-old Moormann was sentenced to death for the 1984 death of his
adoptive mother while on a prison furlough.
Moormann was serving a prison term of 9 years to life for kidnapping when the
state let him out on 3-day "compassionate furlough" to visit his adoptive
mother at a Florence motel.
Authorities say Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated the woman before
meticulously dismembering her body.
Moormann's attorneys used an insanity defense, but a jury convicted him of
(source: Associated Press)
'Triggerman' revision killed by Senate panel
The General Assembly has rejected legislation to expand the death penalty in
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6, with one abstention, on
Wednesday to kill legislation allowing the death penalty for accomplices who
share the intent to kill.
Under current law, the so-called triggerman rule allows capital punishment only
for the person who does the actual killing.
2 weeks ago, the Senate's own version of the Republican-backed bill died in the
courts committee on a 7-7 party-line vote, with one Republican abstaining
because he accepts court appointments to represent capital murder defendants.
State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Moneta, abstained again, and sate Sen. Bryce Reeves,
R-Fredericksburg, switched sides and voted against the bill. Reeves said later
that he changed his vote because of his faith. He declined to elaborate. He
serves as a small group Bible study leader and deacon at Spotswood Baptist
Church in Fredericksburg.
The committee's action kills the triggerman revision for the fifth consecutive
(source: Associated Press)
An Executioner's Task
Michael Selsor will soon die by homicide.
The US Supreme Court this week declined to hear the Oklahoma death row inmate's
case. When I interviewed Selsor in 2010, he seemed resigned to his execution.
This week's decision removed its final legal hurdle.
If calling Selsor's death by lethal injection homicide sounds loaded, then I
suggest you complain to the State of Oklahoma.
Upon Selsor's passing, the state will issue a death certificate as it does for
every person who dies in Oklahoma. For Micheal Selsor the cause of death will
be listed as homicide, a fact that the head of the Oklahoma prison system,
Justin Jones, admitted was "ironic" when I interviewed him for this episode of
I plan to attend Selsor's execution if I'm in the country, a decision that has
stirred quite a debate among my colleagues.
I believe one of the most important responsibilities of a journalist is to bear
witness - especially to such grave events where so very few are allowed entry.
Yet I dread doing this.
Selsor, condemned for murdering a convenience store clerk, Clayton Chandler,
during a robbery 37-years ago, told me he had not had a visitor in ten years. I
doubt many, if any, family members or supporters will witness his killing.
I wonder if after all this time Chandler's surviving family members will come
to see the sentence carried out?
I imagine it will be a little-attended, quiet affair. An executioner's task. A
scheduled homicide in the name of justice for an electorate who demands, but
will hardly even notice, it.
(source: Josh Rushing, Fault Lines)
Brockport tackles death penalty debate
What: Coyote on a Fence.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and March 1, 2 and 3; and 2 p.m. Sunday
(which will have sign language interpretation).
Where: The College at Brockport’s Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St.,
Cost: $15 ($10 for seniors and $8 for students).
For information: (585) 395-2787.
John and Bobby are inmates waiting on death row of a southern prison. John
claims he is innocent, while Bobby freely admits of his horrific crime. The 2
characters bring their conversations to life at the College at Brockport in
Bruce Graham’s award-winning play, Coyote on a Fence.
The play, which opens Friday, is part of a week of programs exploring capital
punishment at the college:
• Sister Helen Prejean will give a speech entitled “Dead Man Walking: The
Journey Continues” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Hartwell Dance Theatre. It is
free and open to the public
Prejean wrote the best-selling book Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of
the Death Penalty in the United States, which was adapted into a movie starring
Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon as Prejean.
• The Tower Fine Arts Gallery will host Lucinda Devlin’s free photo exhibit,
“The Omega Suites,” which opens Saturday and runs through March 30. “The Omega
Suites” will be a dual exhibit alongside “On and Off the Wall: Paper is Art.”
Coyote on a Fence isn’t an advocacy work. The play, which continues Saturday
and Sunday and next weekend, allows audience members to come to their own
conclusions about the death penalty.
The play, which received two Drama Desk Awards and The Rosenthal Prize, should
also be considered R-rated for profane and racist language. The show’s director
at the College at Brockport, Frank Kuhn, says that Graham does not want the
show to get “indulgent” or “weepy.”
“It’s a unique play,” says Kuhn, who has been at the College at Brockport for
eight years. “It’s got a whole range of values, humor and human interest.”
Kuhn says this play “has been one of the richest experiences I’ve had with
(source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
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