[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, LA., OKLA., LA., OHIO
rhalperi at smu.edu
Fri Feb 24 15:16:59 CST 2012
Dallas DA Craig Watkins recently revealed that his great-grandfather was
executed in Texas (in 1932), and added that he will continue to pursue death
cases "because it is the law."
Let's be clear. The death penalty is AN option for a DA to pursue and not the
ONLY choice in a capital case. Watkins can also decide to seek life in prison
without parole for defendants on trial.
Watkins is just one in a long line of men and women who claim to have been
lifelong opponents of the death penalty who suddenly switch their views when
they enter politics so they can appear "tough on criminals". It's quite
pathetic. The death penalty has nothing to do with justice or moving society
forward in any healthy way. It has everything to do with pandering to the most
negative emotions in society while extolling a system laden with the inherent
problems of bigotry, racism, hatreds, and judicial mistakes.
Perhaps like so many others before him, including numerous retiring US Supreme
Court justices, Watkins will have the 'courage' to admit upon leaving office
that he really is completely opposed to the death penalty.
Until then, we remain saddled with a DA who is proud to participate in a
killing system that most of the civilized world and much of the US has already
discarded. Dallas deserves better and more principled leadership, especially on
issues concerning life and death.
(source: Letter to the Editor, Rick Halperin, Dallas Morning News)
Death penalty sought in child's slaying.Yellow Pages
The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office will seek the death
penalty against a man accused in the 2006 asphyxiation death of his 2-year-old
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/xjo9tN ) Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were
indicted on first-degree murder charges in May and are being held without bond.
Prosecutor Steve Danielson said the District Attorney's Office has not decided
whether to seek the death penalty against Shelna Matamoros in the death of her
stepdaughter, Malyasia Chante' Matamoros.
Cedric Matamoros was not in state District Judge Chip Moore's courtroom
Thursday when Danielson announced he would seek the death penalty against him.
"We are aware of the state's notice of intent (to seek the death penalty) and
we will respond accordingly," said Nelvil Hollingsworth, chief of the homicide
unit at the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defenders Office.
So far, neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys have asked that the couple be
tried separately, Danielson said. Either side can make such a request.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has alleged that Malyasia Matamoros was
"killed for money." The toddler was covered by 5 insurance policies totaling
$185,000 at the time of her death, and Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were the
beneficiaries, he noted.
The child was pronounced dead Aug. 31, 2006. 2 of the insurance policies
totaling $110,000 were set to lapse Sept. 1, 2006, Moore said.
Cedric Matamoros has claimed someone broke into their unit at the Brandywine
Condominiums the night of Aug. 30, 2006, when his daughter was attacked in her
bedroom. He said he fired a gun at the intruder.
Cedric Matamoros pleaded no contest in September 2010 to simple arson,
insurance fraud and workers' compensation fraud and served time in prison.
Shelna Matamoros pleaded guilty in March 2010 to simple arson, insurance fraud
and other charges in the same string of arsons and frauds and also served time
(source: Associated Press)
Okla. board rejects death row inmate clemency plea
Oklahoma's parole board Friday denied a clemency request from a death row
inmate convicted of running over his wife with a pickup truck and killing her
nearly 16 years ago.
Timothy Shaun Stemple, 46, is set to be executed March 15 for the 1996 death of
his wife, Trisha. The Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending
Prosecutors said Stemple beat his wife with a baseball bat then ran her over
along U.S. 75 in Tulsa with the help of a 16-year-old accomplice.
"He is one of the most evil men that I have come in contact with in my many
years of service," Tulsa Police Officer Mike Huff, a 37-year veteran, wrote to
the panel in advance of Friday's hearing. He called Stemple a "monster."
But forensic specialist Andre Stuart told the board he believed Trisha
Stemple's injuries weren't consistent with prosecutors' scenario and suggested
she died in a motor-vehicle accident instead.
Stemple previously had said his 30-year-old wife died while making a trip to
Walmart to buy aspirin, but declined to take questions or talk during Friday's
hearing about what happened the night his wife died. He appeared via video
monitor and addressed a sister of the victim.
"Missie and everybody else, I didn't get to see the presentation today, but
hopefully you guys have some idea why this is a very improper forum to discuss
it," he said. "If you guys wish to come visit me please do so."
Gov. Mary Fallin cannot grant clemency without the board's approval. Had the
board recommended mercy, she would have been free to accept or reject its
Stemple's execution is 1 of 2 set for next month, and the attorney general's
office has asked that Fallin set an execution date for another inmate. Oklahoma
has 4 doses left of a chemical it uses when executing prisoners.
Trisha Stemple's family and friends wrote letters to the board describing her
as a loving, protective woman who cared for others and did work for a
"She was the sole provider for her family, working full time, as well as taking
care of both her kids and keeping the house in order," her sister, Deborah
Ruddick-Bird, wrote on behalf of her parents. "She loved and adored her kids.
She was always there for them for love, support and hugs, kisses and snuggles."
Timothy Stemple's 21-year-old daughter, Lauren, asked the board not to execute
"Please don't take away the last member of my family I have left," she said.
Trisha Stemple died Oct. 24, 1996. Prosecutors claim Timothy Stemple enlisted
the help of a 16-year-old to kill the woman so they could collect a $950,000
life-insurance policy. Prosecutors claim both men struck Trisha Stemple with
baseball bat covered in plastic wrap before Timothy Stemple ran her over
repeatedly with his 1978 pickup truck.
When Trisha Stemple's body was found, she was wearing jogging pants with tire
tracks that matched her husband's truck, prosecutors said.
According to a report by the attorney general's office, Timothy Stemple acted
suspiciously when he reported his wife missing, and an investigation led to the
cousin of a fast food worker with whom Timothy Stemple was having an affair.
On the night of the attack, Timothy Stemple pretended he had engine trouble,
and the teen lay in wait along the highway, the report said.
It said that while Trisha Stemple shined a flashlight on the engine, Timothy
Stemple revved the engine to signal the teen to attack. The teen said he hit
her twice and Timothy Stemple hit her 10-14 times, according to the report.
After leaving her for dead, the pair returned to the scene and found she had
dragged herself into grass along the highway, the report said. According to the
teen accomplice, Timothy Stemple then sped up to 60 to 70 mph and ran over the
"This means lethal injection if we get caught," Timothy Stemple later said,
according to the accomplice's account cited in the report.
(source: Associated Press)
Execution date set for man in 1994 slaying
A Birmingham man convicted of a 1994 murder that was discovered in St. Clair
County received his execution date from the Alabama Supreme Court on Thursday.
The court ordered that Carey Dale Grayson, now 37 years old, be executed by
lethal injection on April 12 at Holman Prison in Atmore. Grayson is on death
row for the Feb. 21, 1994, kidnapping and murder of Vicki Lynn Deblieux.
Grayson was 1 of 4 men charged with torturing and killing Deblieux and throwing
her body off Bald Rock Mountain, between Odenville and Pell City.
St. Clair County chief investigator Joe Sweatt said he remembers the case as
“one of the most horrific murders” to ever occur in the area.
“It’s one I’ll always remember,” Sweatt said. “She was hitchhiking on I-59 back
to Louisiana, back to her mother’s house.
“The murder actually happened in Jefferson County, and they dumped her body in
St. Clair County. They actually mutilated the body … trying to make it hard to
Sweatt said he recalled that all four of the men involved were teenagers, and
all were from the Birmingham area. Grayson, the oldest, was 19 at the time.
“The truck they hauled her body in, they went to Pell City to the car wash
across from the high school and pressure washed the back of the truck and threw
some of her belongings in the woods back there,” Sweatt said. “We signed
petitions on them here in St. Clair, but we actually had to transfer them in
Jefferson County. We had to certify them as adults and went through four
According to Sweatt, the three others involved in the crime were initially
sentenced to death, but received life in prison without the possibility of
(source: St. Clair Times)
Ax murderer could get death penalty
A Middletown man could face the death penalty after a jury convicted him Friday
of brutally murdering an elderly man with a hatchet.
The jury in Victor Gantt’s case heard closing arguments this morning and were
ordered into deliberations by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth
shortly after 11 a.m.
They emerged less than 3 hours later with guilty verdicts for all charges
leveled against the 26-year-old who had been accused of aggravated murder,
aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.
Gantt is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser declined to comment on the case due to
the pending sentencing.
Gantt killed 75-year-old Leroy Jones of Middletown at his Brentwood Street home
on May 2. Middletown police have said that Gantt knocked on the doors of a
couple of Jones' neighbors around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. that day asking to use the
restroom. They didn't let him in.
Jones' wife, who was away overnight when her husband died, found his body on
the afternoon of May 2. He had died from hatchet wounds to the head.
Jones’ family also declined to comment today, saying they may during the
upcoming sentencing hearing.
Gantt has a history of drug and theft offenses since 2005 in Middletown and was
sent to prison for 11 months in 2007 for felony unauthorized use of a vehicle
and leaving the scene of an accident.
At the time he murdered Jones, Gantt was under indictment for failing to pay
child support and had been released on his promise to return to court for
Earlier this week Gmoser told the court Gantt went looking for money on May 2
because he was due in court three days later for failing to pay child support.
Dennis Adams, 1 of 2 court-appointed attorneys representing Gantt, had said his
client admits killing Jones, but he didn't try to conceal what he had done.
Gantt had been homeless for weeks leading up to the murder and was high on
narcotics, he said.
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