[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OKLA., FLA., FA., ARIZ., MD.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Feb 28 22:30:54 CST 2012
Okla. death row inmate denied clemency
The Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 Friday to deny clemency to
Oklahoma State Penitentiary death row inmate Timothy Shaun Stemple, age 46.
Stemple is scheduled to be executed at OSP on March 15 at 6 p.m. for the Oct.
24, 1996, murder of his 30-year-old wife Trisha J. Stemple.
Stemple spoke briefly at his clemency hearing via live video feed from OSP. He
said the hearing was not an appropriate forum to discuss his situation,
reported Katie Fretland of the Associated Press. A defense witness, however,
told the board that Trisha Stemple’s injuries were consistent with that of a
According to a news release from the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General,
“Evidence showed the victim had been hit multiple times with a baseball bat and
repeatedly run over with Stemple’s pickup. The victim died from blunt force
trauma to the head and also had fractures to her arms, ribs, pelvis, vertebrae
According to court records from the Oklahoma Courts of Criminal Appeals,
Stemple “concocted a plan to terminate the life of his wife, Trisha Stemple,
and to collect her life insurance proceeds. Stemple was having an extra-marital
affair with Dani Wood. Dani Wood had a sixteen year old cousin, Terry Hunt.
According to Hunt, Stemple offered him $25,000 to $50,000 to help kill Trisha
(if they collected the insurance money).”
“(Timothy) Stemple arranged for Hunt to drive Stemple’s pickup to a particular
location on highway 75 and leave the hood up,” court documents state. “Stemple
and Trisha arrived in their black Nissan Maxima. Stemple began working on the
truck and Trisha stood next to the truck. Hunt came up behind Trisha and hit
her in the head with the bat. The blow did not render Trisha unconscious, so
Stemple took the bat and hit her several more times.
“Stemple and Hunt then placed Trisha’s head in front of the front tire of the
pickup and attempted to run over her head, however, the tire would not roll
over Trisha’s head so her head was pushed along the pavement. After this,
Trisha tried to get up. Stemple grabbed the bat and hit her several more times.
The pair then placed Trisha’s body under the truck and drove over her chest.
After this Trisha rose up on her elbows, so Stemple hit her again several times
with the bat.
“Stemple then went back to the black Nissan and drilled a hole in the front
tire to make it look as if Trisha’s car had a flat. One expert testified that
the hole in the tire had spiral striations consistent with drilling. Stemple
and Hunt left in the pickup, but decided to turn around to make sure Trisha was
dead. When they got back to the spot where they left Trisha, they noticed that
she had crawled into the grass beside the road. Stemple then sped up and ran
over Trisha as she lay in the grass.
“Trisha’s body was found later that morning, after Stemple called reporting
that she was missing ... Stemple claimed that he was at home when Trisha left
during the middle of the night. Stemple testified that he believed that Wood
was responsible for the murder of Trisha.”
The court document continues by stating that the “type of injuries sustained
and the description of the attack show that Trisha Stemple suffered great
physical pain before she died.”
Stemple’s co-defendant Terry L. Hunt, now 31 years old, testified for the
prosecution during Timothy Stemple’s hearing and is currently in custody at the
R.B. Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy. He is serving a life sentence,
according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website at
Stemple continues to maintain his innocence of this crime and claims he was at
home when his wife was killed.
Stemple has been housed on death row inside OSP’s H-unit since Feb. 23, 1998.
The last death row inmate to be executed at OSP was Gary R. Welch, 49, who
received his death sentence for the 1994 slaying of 35-year-old Robert Dean
Hardcastle and was executed on Jan. 5, 2012. Welch’s execution was the 1st in
the United States in the year 2012.
Oklahoma death row inmate Garry Thomas Allen was scheduled to be executed on
Feb. 16 until Gov. Mary Fallin granted a 30-day stay so her legal team could
have more time to consider a 2005 recommendation by the Oklahoma State Pardon
and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life. Allen received his death
sentence for the 1986 murder of his wife, Lawanna Gail Titsworth. Allen was
convicted of gunning down Titsworth just days after she moved out of their home
with their 2 sons, who were ages 6 and 2 at the time.
Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt also recently requested that an
execution date be set for death row inmate Michael Bascum Selsor, 57. Selsor
received his death sentence for the 1995 murder of 55-year-old Clayton Chandler
during a robbery of a Tulsa convenience store.
(source: McAlester News-Capital)
FLORIDA----new death sentence
Wisconsin man convicted in double murder receives death penalty
A Wisconsin man convicted of a double murder in rural Sumter County that had
gone unsolved for years on Tuesday received a death sentence for slayings the
judge described as "heinous, atrocious and cruel."
Circuit Judge William H. Hallman III in Bushnell ruled Bill Paul Marquardt, a
36-year-old man diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, should die by lethal
injection for the slayings 12 years ago of Margarita Ruiz and her daughter
Marquardt joins 394 prisoners on Florida's death row.
"We waited 12 years for this but we're satisfied," said Pam Ruiz,
daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of the murder victims. "We're happy with the
judge's decision and it does give us some closure."
It was a routine day in March 2000 when Pam Ruiz dropped off her 2 children
with Margarita Ruiz and Wells at their cottage in Tarrytown, a small town on
State Road 50 about 40 miles west of Orlando.
"I just went to work and left my kids with their grandma and aunt," she said.
But the 2 women were brutally killed, in front of the children, who managed to
"To know how they suffered before they died, how they were still conscious when
he stabbed them is just terrible," Pam Ruiz she said.
Investigators spent years unable to find the murderer until a Wisconsin
prosecutor made the connection using DNA evidence on a knife that Marquardt
Marquardt, who represented himself during his capital-murder trial, asked for
the death sentence, not offering any reasons why the death penalty shouldn't be
His decision means the case gets a direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court,
a strategy Marquardt seemed convinced would lead to his conviction getting
But that's not a realistic scenario, said Assistant State Attorney Pete
"He thinks he'll get it reversed, which means he chooses not to understand the
law or to believe it is as it exists," Magrino said. "But he got the death
penalty, which is what he deserved."
It's a far different result than Marquardt's prior murder case, in which a
Wisconsin jury found him not guilty of killing his mother in Chippewa County,
Wis. That acquittal prompted prosecutor Jon Thiesen to research the unknown
blood samples from that case.
Marquardt had a knife with 4 different DNA profiles: his own, his mother's and
2 unknown women, who were related to each other. Knowing that Marquardt had
traveled to Florida after his mother's slaying, Thiesen searched unsolved
double murders and found the Sumter case.
DNA testing confirmed that the blood samples belonged to Ruiz and Wells, and
DNA testing at the Tarrytown house confirmed that Marquardt had been there.
Ballistics experts confirmed that Marquardt's gun matched the bullets fired in
A Sumter jury in October found Marquardt guilty of the 1st-degree murders and
of burglary, but Marquardt waived his right to have that same jury deliberate
on a possible death sentence.
Instead, the decision rested with Hallman, who ruled that the killings were
carried out in a "cold, calculated and premeditated" manner. Those factors
outweighed any other evidence in his decision to impose the death sentence,
according to the ruling.
"It's a just sentence. It's an appropriate sentence and I hope it helps the
families dealing with this tragedy," said Sumter County sheriff's Maj. Gary
Brannen, who investigated the double murders. "It was a random act of violence
by a disturbed individual."
(source: Orland Sentinel)
Kenneth Lumpkin In Court Faces Death Penalty In Lori Arrowood Murder Case
The push continues for the death penalty in the case against a former
corrections officer accused of murdering a military wife. News 3 was in the
Long County courtroom Tuesday as prosecutors once again said Kenneth Lumpkin
should face execution. District Attorney Tom Durden says he wanted to make the
death penalty available for the jury to consider because he believes it is
warranted in this case. Tuesday's hearing was just the beginning of a long
process that must be followed when the maximum punishment is sought.
Kenneth Lumpkin entered court in a suit Tuesday morning and sat and listened as
attorneys for both sides and the judge went through a checklist required by the
state when the death penalty is sought. Durden says it's a slow process - but
they take the time to make sure they do it right, “Just from the standpoint of
the particularity of going through every motion - everything that could be
brought up in a case - is the reason that the supreme court has required that
we follow that checklist under the unified appeal.” Lumpkin is accused in the
disappearance and murder of Lori Arrowood - a military wife and family friend
who's home he'd done some repair work at the day she went missing.
Durden says the decision to seek the death penalty was based on 3 grounds - 1st
- that the murder was committed while in the commission of another capital
felony - kidnapping with bodily injury. Second - that the murder was committed
while the offender was engaged in aggravated battery and 3rd - that the offense
involved torture and depravity of mind. “It's not a decision that the state
makes lightly as all - we consider and Isabel and I have considered the
evidence that we expect to be presented in this case, then some of the
circumstances surrounding the murder and we believe in this case that it is the
Lumpkin was first indicted for the crime in Liberty County. He has since been
re-indicted in Long County. Durden said he can't go into details about the
evidence expected to be presented at trial -- but that after examining it -- he
and the Assistant District Attorney working the case decided it would be
appropriate to bring the charges in Long County. The crime allegedly occurred
in the County Line Road area.
(source: WSAV News)
Court gives Arizona warning about execution protocol
A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday issued a strong warning to Arizona
officials who have continuously violated and changed their own written protocol
for executing state death-row inmates.
In its ruling on Tuesday, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals in San Francisco turned down a request to delay two upcoming
executions -- that of Robert Henry Moormann on Wednesday and of Robert Charles
Towery 8 days later on March 8.
While the judges declined to delay the executions, they wrote that Arizona has
forced the court "to engage in serious constitutional questions and complicated
factual issues in the waning hours before executions."
"This approach cannot continue," the panel wrote. "We are mindful of the
admonition requiring us to refrain from micro-managing each individual
execution, but the admonition has a breaking point."
And unless Arizona officials make permanent changes, the judges wrote that the
court might have to start monitoring each individual execution in the state to
make sure the law is followed.
The ruling comes after the state Department of Corrections unexpectedly changed
its execution protocol last month, one of multiple unannounced changes in
Defense attorneys argued to the court that the new protocol loosened
requirements for those who inject inmates with the lethal drugs and gave far
too much discretion to corrections Director Charles Ryan.
According to the new protocol, Ryan can decide with which and how many drugs to
execute inmates and must give the inmates' 1 week's notice of what he decided.
But on Monday, less than 48 hours before Moormann's scheduled Wednesday
execution, corrections staff realized that 1 of the drugs they had planned to
use expired last month and is no longer available.
They then notified Moormann and his attorneys that he would be executed with
just one drug, pentobarbital.
The late notice violates the department's new written execution protocol.
"How such a discovery escaped the state for the past six weeks is beyond us,"
wrote the appeals panel on Tuesday. "(It) gives us pause as to the regularity
and reliability of Arizona's protocols. To be sure, the state caught the
mistake, but almost too late."
Although the judges warned Arizona about violating and changing its execution
protocol, they said that neither Moormann nor Towery is likely to be subjected
to cruel and unusual punishment because of those changes, and did not deserve
to have their executions delayed.
Also Tuesday, a different 3-judge panel at the 9th Circuit turned down a
separate filing from Moormann that sought a delay in his 10 a.m. Wednesday
execution over arguments about his mental disabilities.
Moormann, of Flagstaff, was serving nine years to life in prison in 1984 for
kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old girl when the state let him out on the
3-day compassionate furlough from a state prison in Florence, about 60 miles
southeast of Phoenix.
Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated his adoptive mother, Roberta Moormann,
before cutting off her head, legs and arms, halving her torso, and flushing all
her fingers down the toilet. He then went to various businesses asking if he
could dispose of spoiled meat and animal guts before he threw most of her
remains in trash bins and sewers.
The killing prompted the state to change its furlough policy.
Moormann's attorneys have been arguing in courts at every level that he should
not be executed because multiple psychologists have diagnosed him as mentally
State law prohibits executing the mentally disabled, or those who have IQs
lower than 70.
Prosecutors argue that Moormann's mental capacity at the time of the killing
was just above the legal requirement for mental impairment.
In its ruling Tuesday, the 9th Circuit panel ruled that Moormann's mental
disabilities at the time of the crime are what matters.
"There is no clearly established federal law that a person who was not mentally
retarded at the time of the crime or the trial may nevertheless be exempted
from the death penalty ... because of subsequent mental deterioration," the
Although Moormann's teachers and family members say that he was clearly
mentally impaired as a child, his abilities have worsened over the years
following a spate of health problems, including a stroke in 2007.
Moormann's attorneys also have been unsuccessful in arguing to courts and a
clemency board that because Roberta Moormann sexually abused her adoptive son
throughout childhood and into adulthood, it would be "unconscionable" to
Moormann's attorneys have at least 1 outstanding request to delay the
In a Tuesday filing at the U.S. Supreme Court, they ask for a delay over
arguments about his mental disabilities.
(source: Associated Press)
Breaking Legal scholars demand death penalty repeal----State's requirements
create arbitrary and expensive system, attorneys say
More than 3 dozen legal scholars and attorneys — including former Gov. Harry R.
Hughes and 2 former Maryland attorneys general, J. Joseph Curran Jr. and
Stephen H. Sachs — are sending a letter and report to members of the General
Assembly urging the repeal of the state's death penalty.
"There's a lot of misconception about Maryland's law" among legislators and the
general public, said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens
Against State Executions, which organized the lobbying effort. The group was
prompted to release the report, she said, because "many people think that
Maryland had shut down its death penalty."
The attorneys argue that Maryland's death penalty law, enacted by the General
Assembly in 2009, is still too arbitrary and costly to be worthwhile. Under the
law, prosecutors can seek death only in cases where there is biological or
video evidence tying the defendant to the murder or a videotaped confession.
Those evidentiary limits are artificial, Henderson said.
"It's a really odd way of limiting the death penalty," said Henderson. Instead
of focusing on the nature of the crime and remorse of the criminal — the "worst
of the worst" offenders — prosecutors are deciding to pursue death on
evidentiary issues, she said.
The current death penalty law is also costly, she said, because it adds "a 2nd
phase to the sentencing trial," according to the report, which cites a 2008
Abell Foundation study that found "execution cost almost 3 times more than a
non-death sentence — including the cost of long-term incarceration in life
Wednesday marks the 5th day of an Anne Arundel County jury's death penalty
deliberations in the case against Lee Edward "Shy" Stephens, found guilty this
month of stabbing a correctional officer to death in 2006 at a state prison in
Jessup that has since closed.
If the jurors decide that Stephens — who is serving a sentence of life plus 15
years for a 1997 murder —should be put to death, he would be the 1st person to
receive a capital sentence under Maryland's more restrictive death sentence
law. The victim's blood was found on Stephens' clothes, the DNA link that makes
the death penalty possible in this case.
Richard E. Vatz, a Towson University communications professor who supports the
death penalty, said that the attorneys' arguments against the 2009 law miss the
He agrees that the determination of whether to pursue the death penalty should
not be based on what kind of evidence is available. The current law, he said,
actually creates a "road map for people who kill" to avoid the types of
evidence that will make them eligible for death.
But negative aspects of the current law do not mean Maryland's death penalty
should be eliminated, he said.
"We should use the level of certitude of a conviction" and the crime committed
to decide whether the death penalty is appropriate, Vatz said.
The financial case against the death penalty, he said, is a "secondary
argument" because cost is less important than the question of justice. In
addition, it is difficult to compare the cost of a death penalty prosecution to
the expense of keeping a person imprisoned without the possibility of parole,
Hearings are scheduled next month in the House Judiciary Committee and Senate
Judicial Proceedings Committee to consider repeal legislation, which proposes
redirecting some funds from capital prosecutions to aiding victims' families.
Repeal has a dim future in this session of the General Assembly, whose
leadership is expected to focus on financial issues for the rest of the
(source: Baltimore Sun)
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