[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----ARIZ., CONN., VA., OHIO, ALA., CALIF., FLA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Wed Feb 29 16:56:33 CST 2012
Arizona executes man for killing, dismembering mom
Arizona executed an inmate Wednesday for killing and dismembering his adoptive
mother while he was out of prison on furlough for another crime, despite a
spate of last-minute appeals over his mental disabilities and how the state has
changed and violated its own execution protocol.
Just before he was put to death, Robert Henry Moormann used his last words to
apologize to his family and to the family of an 8-year-old girl he kidnapped
and molested in 1972.
"I hope this brings closure and they can start healing now," he said. "I just
hope that they will forgive me in time."
Moormann is the first Arizona inmate to be executed with one lethal drug, as
opposed to the state's long-standing 3-drug protocol.
The switch was made after corrections officials realized Monday that one of the
three drugs had expired. In doing so, they violated their own new written
execution protocol by giving Moormann only two days' notice of how he would be
put to death instead of seven days' notice, as stipulated in the protocol.
Moormann appeared to move more than other inmates executed with the 3-drug
protocol. Unlike the other inmates, who appeared to fall asleep immediately,
Moormann kept his eyes open during the entire execution.
Arizona joins Ohio, Texas and several other states that last year made the
switch to pentobarbital after the only U.S. manufacturer of execution drug
sodium thiopental said it would discontinue production.
In July, the only U.S.-licensed manufacturer of pentobarbital announced that it
would put the drug off-limits for executions. And a company that bought the
pentobarbital line in December is required to also keep it from use by prisons
Once states use up their current supplies of pentobarbital, executions could be
delayed across the country as officials look for yet another alternative.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request for a stay, the
two-member execution team gave the lethal injection to Moormann at 10:23 a.m.
The 63-year-old was pronounced dead at 10:33 a.m.
The execution happened just a minute's drive away from the Blue Mist Motel,
where on Jan. 13, 1984, he beat, stabbed and suffocated his adoptive mother,
Roberta Moormann, 74, who sexually abused him into adulthood, according to
He cut off her head, legs and arms, halved her torso, and flushed 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 throughout the dusty town, about 60 miles southeast of
Moormann was captured after he asked a corrections employee to dispose of what
he said were dog bones.
He killed the woman while on a three-day "compassionate furlough" from the
prison in Florence, where he was serving 9 years to life for kidnapping and
molesting an 8-year-old girl in 1972.
The killing prompted the state to stop its policy of allowing such leaves, and
they're still not allowed.
Tom Rankin, who was Florence's police chief at the time of the killing and
interviewed Moormann just afterward, said he attended the execution to get some
closure in the case, which was the only one of Rankin's that resulted in the
"It's over," the former chief said outside the prison. "It was a horrible
Rankin, who retired from the police department in 1994, rejected arguments from
defense attorneys about Moormann being too mentally disabled for the state to
"Those are excuses attorneys try to dig up to save someone's life. It just
costs the taxpayers more money," he said. "The man knew what he was doing.
There was no doubt in my mind."
Moormann lost a recent flurry of appeals over a number of issues, including 2
on Tuesday at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Although a 3-judge panel declined to delay Moormann's execution, it issued a
strong warning to Arizona officials who have continuously changed and violated
their own execution policy, saying the state 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 micromanaging each individual
execution, but the admonition has a breaking point."
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.
Dale Baich, one of the attorneys who filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit on
behalf of Moormann, was at the execution and said that the process appeared to
be more transparent than in the past because the injection site was visible.
"It's a step in the right direction," he said, but added that he will continue
to challenge the new execution protocol because it gives corrections Director
Charles Ryan too much discretion.
A different 9th Circuit 3-judge panel turned down a separate filing from
Moormann that sought a delay in his execution over arguments about his mental
Moormann's attorneys have argued in courts at every level that the Flagstaff
man should not be executed because multiple psychologists have diagnosed him as
State law prohibits executing the mentally disabled or those who have IQs lower
Prosecutors argue that Moormann's mental capacity at the time of the killing
was just above the legal requirement for mental impairment.
Moormann's attorneys also were 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 execute him.
Moormann was born to a 15-year-old prostitute who died when she was 17. He
bounced around six foster homes before being adopted by the Moormanns in
Flagstaff when he was 5.
At his clemency hearing in Florence on Friday, Moormann said he accepted
responsibility for killing his mother but that he didn't remember much about
"It was me playing with her breasts, and that is the only part I remember,"
Robert Moormann said. "I carried her in the bathtub and I knew something was
wrong, so I put her in bed. I do not remember cutting her up. Sorry."
He told the board that he wasn't sure why he can't remember the details of the
killing but wondered aloud if it might be because of a stroke he had in prison
"I accept responsibility for what happened that night," he said. "The only 2
people in that room were her and me. I know I'm guilty of the crime. I wish I
could go back and undo it, but I can't."
At the time of the killing, Moormann also told authorities conflicting stories
about the death, saying that he accidentally suffocated her during sex and
later that she had begun sexually abusing him again, prompting him to kill her
in a fit of rage.
Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual contact between the 2 the night
of her killing. They also found that she had been alive when she received cuts
and bruises covering her body and that "the dismemberment showed no rage, but
rather a methodical, meticulous activity," court records say.
A jury convicted Moormann of 1st-degree murder after 2 hours of deliberations,
rejecting his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Although the trial judge did find that Moormann had an impaired ability to
understand right from wrong, the judge cited several reasons why Moormann
deserved the death penalty, including that the murder was especially heinous
Of the 129 inmates left on Arizona's death row, just 6 have been there longer
Robert Charles Towery is scheduled to be executed March 8. Towery, who has a
clemency hearing set for March 2, was convicted of killing a man while robbing
his home in 1991.
Moormann becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Arizona and the 29th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in
Moormann becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the
USA and the 1282nd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17,
Online: Arizona Death Row: http://1.usa.gov/osOcN2
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Man who killed mother during prison leave is executed
Robert Moormann, who killed his mother and chopped her into pieces during a
compassionate leave from prison 28 years ago, was put to death Wednesday
morning by lethal injection.
Moments before the lethal injection began, Moormann smiled at the witnesses
assembled behind glass nearby. In his last words, he apologized to his family
and to his victim in a 1972 abduction and rape.
"I hope that this will bring closure and they can start the healing now," he
said. "And I just hope they will forgive me in time."
It was the 1st Arizona execution carried out with a single drug instead of a
3-drug cocktail. But result was the same. Execution started at 10:23 and ended
at 10:33, roughly the same amount of time that the execution with the 3-drug
protocol took. Moormann died with a peaceful look on his face.
Moormann's execution at Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence came after the
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court denied last minute
requests for a stay late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, Moormann met with a Catholic deacon, telling him he was
"ready to go home" and that he hoped there would be healing after his
execution. According to prison officials, he prayed, took communion and said,
"I trust God."
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said "Justice was carried out" but also said
the process took too long.
"There has never been any doubt as to Moorman's guilt for this heinous crime,"
Horne said in a prepared statement. "There is no rational reason for justice to
have been delayed 28 years."
Moormann died within a few hundred yards of where he committed one of the more
bizarre and brutal murders in Arizona history.
Moormann, then 35, was in prison in Florence serving a sentence of nine years
to life for kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl. He had
already had his parole revoked, but was allowed to leave the prison for 72
hours on a "compassionate furlough." He spent it at the Blue Mist Motel across
the street from the prison complex with his 74-year-old mother, with whom he
had been having sexual relations for decades.
They quarreled, and Moormann tied his mother to the bed and beat her, then
suffocated her with a pillow. He later told a probation officer that he had put
the pillow over her face to quiet her, not kill her.
"One night when Mom was having a really bad time I saw Dad put the pillow over
her head," Moormann told the probation officer. "Later he explained to me that
you could use a pillow to knock someone out without hurting her."
Then he panicked, he told investigators, and he "dissected" her, flushing her
fingers down the motel toilet, dumping her head and dismembered body in garbage
cans around Florence, and even sending a box of his mother's bones to the
prison. He told a prison employee that they were spoiled "dog bones."
During his trial, Moormann attempted to convince jurors that he was insane, but
they didn't buy it. A Pinal County Superior Court judge sentenced him to death.
Last Friday, during Moormann's clemency hearing in Florence, mental health
professionals and a former teacher spoke about the tortured life he had led.
"This man was born condemned," said psychiatrist Jack Potts. "Mr. Moormann may
be the worst piece of protoplasm you'll ever see."
Moormann was born in Tucson to a 15-year-old alcoholic who died by the time he
was two. He bounced around foster homes before landing in the care of Henry and
Roberta Maude Moormann in Flagstaff.
He was palsied, of low intelligence, "funny looking," and by some accounts
mentally retarded. By all accounts, he was strange.
He was sent to a psychiatric hospital as a teenager when he shot his mother -
another accident, he claimed. In 1972, he took his 8-year-old neighbor at
gunpoint and fled with her for Las Vegas in his mother's car, raping the girl
along the way. When his car became mired off road, he and the girl hitchhiked.
Connie Jo Swanson, 74, of Phoenix, remembers the day that she and her husband
stopped to help the strange man and the little girl shivering on the side of
the road in the early morning January cold, 2 hours south of Las Vegas. She
gave them both food and put the girl to bed in the back of their motor home as
they continued on to Vegas.
"The little girl never said a word," Swanson told The Arizona Republic.
If Swanson thought the circumstance was strange, she was even more concerned
when she saw Moormann take out his pistol to remove the bullets on a table in
the motor home. She asked if she could put the gun in a drawer and Moormann
Moormann told her that he was taking the child to be with her uncle, and he
said they could drop them off anywhere in Las Vegas. Swanson's husband drove
directly to a police station, dropped Moormann and the girl out front and then
found a pay phone around the corner where they called police.
Swanson claimed the police later said that Moormann told them he had intended
to leave the girl to die in the stuck car, but she kept crying so he took her
with him. According to Swanson, police said Moormann intended to kill the girl
if they weren't picked up shortly, and then intended to kill Swanson and her
family and take the motor home.
When asked why he didn't, Swanson said Moormann told police, "Because they were
nice to me."
Moormann apologized publicly to the girl at the outset of his clemency hearing
Friday. Whether she was present is unknown.
As in most death penalty cases, Moormann's last days were full of appeals and
motions to stay the execution. They argued that Moormann was mentally retarded
and therefore ineligible for execution under federal law. They claimed that the
Arizona Department of Corrections could not be trusted to follow its own
guidelines for lethal injection. On Monday, for example, the department only
just noticed that its supply of one of the three death drugs it uses had passed
its expiration date, and the department was forced to switch to a method that
relies on an overdose of a single barbiturate.
But in the end, the last-minute appeals failed.
(source: Arizona Republic)
Death Penalty Repeal Still A Tough Sell In Senate
Family members of murder victims called upon the legislature to abolish the
death penalty at a Wednesday press conference, and although a bill is being
drafted, it’s unclear if there’s enough support in the Senate to pass it.
Mothers, sisters, and cousins of Connecticut murder victims spoke out against
the state’s death penalty system, which they said creates two classes of murder
victims — those whose death was important enough to warrant capital punishment,
and everyone else.
Khalilah Brown-Dean of New Haven said last year her cousin, Brian Anthony
Patterson, was gunned down while he was attending a party.
“Brian’s life mattered,” she said. “There are those who say the death penalty
supports us, that it supports families by being the ultimate realization of
justice, and yet the arbitrary way in which we decide which murders are more
heinous, which lives are more important, leaves us with a system that is far
Victoria Coward, whose son Tyler was murdered, agreed with Brown-Dean, saying
the system focuses attention and resources on the offender while ignoring
grieving families. The resources the state spends to prosecute expensive death
penalty cases could be better spent on other areas of the criminal justice
system, she said.
“This money is not spent in a vacuum. While we spend millions for the
occasional capital case, our forensic labs are underfunded so cold cases aren’t
being solved. The number of counseling sessions that victims and families
receive is capped and many of us go without basic needs,” she said.
Brown-Dean and Coward weren’t alone. 4 other family members spoke at the press
conference and repeal advocates came with a letter to lawmakers signed by 179
The group was joined by Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, who is again
pushing for repeal. He said it helps to have a different perspective of the
position of people impacted by murder.
“For me, this is really to demonstrate to people that when we’ve had the
conversations we’ve had about what victims feel, the conversation has not been
honest,” he said.
Holder-Winfield said that too often, victims’ feelings are used as an argument
for maintaining the death penalty. But not everyone who’s had a loved one
murdered feels the same way about having the offender put to death by the
state, he said.
But while in the past there has been fairly strong support in the House, a
repeal bill would be a tough vote in a Senate that appears to be divided on the
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said he felt many of the arguments against the
death penalty presented at the press conference were false arguments.
“Let’s face it, there’s some crimes that are so horrific that the vast majority
of Connecticut citizens feel that the death penalty is appropriate,” he said.
A Quinnipiac poll from last year found voters support the death penalty 67 to
28 %. The number is much closer 48 to 43 % when given a choice between the
death penalty and life in prison without parole.
Kissel said the death penalty serves a valuable function in the criminal
justice system. The bill that’s being considered this year would be
prospective, so those who already are on death row would remain there. However,
Kissel said a successful repeal of the death penalty statute would be used as
the basis for new appeals by those offenders.
Holder-Winfield said he wasn’t sure whether that would happen but said that is
not his intention.
“I do not intend to later go back and say we can’t leave people on death row,”
Kissel also rejected the argument that the system creates two classes of
victims. Prosecutors consider many factors when they make the decision whether
to seek the death penalty, he said.
“To say that, ‘well the person who committed a crime against my loved one
didn’t get the death sentence, so we should abolish it,’ makes no sense,” he
Kissel has long opposed any attempt to abolish the death penalty but it’s the
votes of lawmakers who have previously supported the repeal bill that are
making passage this year uncertain.
Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, has told reporters she is sitting on the fence
over the issue this year. Meanwhile, Sen. Andrew Roraback, the only Republican
to vote for repeal the last time there was a vote, is saying he may not do the
same this year.
With Roraback’s vote unlikely and Prague’s uncertain, supporters of the bill
come up short on the 18 votes necessary for a tie.
Roraback has tied his vote to repeal the death penalty with a vote to repeal an
inmate early release program the legislature passed last year. So unless
lawmakers scrap the early-release program, he will vote against repealing the
Roraback said he still believes the state shouldn’t be putting people to death,
but he said he also believes the state shouldn’t break promises to crime
victims and their families.
The program, which allows inmates to shave up to five days a month off their
prison sentences by participating in programs, breaks that promise, he said.
“In my view the early release bill we passed last year was an unconscionable
breach of faith with the victims of crime and their families because it’s going
to allow individuals to be released at a sooner date than what was promised,”
Connecting the two issues was the best opportunity he had to call attention to
the program, he said. Roraback is currently running for Congress and has been
criticized by opponents for his opposition of the death penalty. He said his
decision was not a result of the criticisms.
“There’s going to be a lot of noise about a lot of issues that are state issues
but those aren’t the issues that matter in my bid for Congress,” he said.
It is unlikely the legislature will vote to stop the program, which is now up
and running. Even if they did, Mike Lawlor, the governor’s Undersecretary for
Criminal Justice, said it wouldn’t change the credits that have already been
applied to inmates’ sentences. “There’s nothing the legislature can do now that
can undo what it did last year,” he said. “I understand people have different
emotional and philosophical points of view but as a legal matter you can’t do
it.” (source: CT News Junkie)
Rally in Hartford urges repeal of Connecticut death penalty
In early 2011, Brian Patterson was killed in Virginia.
A little more than a year later, Brown’s cousin, Khalilah Brown-Dean came
forward to protest the death penalty in Connecticut.
Brown-Dean was 1 of 6 speakers, all of them family members of slaying victims,
who took part in a press conference and rally Wednesday to end the death
penalty. Those 6 speakers are among 179 family members of slaying victims who
signed a letter to legislators arguing against capital punishment.
“There is simply no justice in taking the life of another,” Brown-Dean said.
All of the speakers at Wednesday’s rally had tragic stories to tell.
Torrington’s Elizabeth Brancato’s mother was killed in 1979. In New Haven,
Victoria Coward’s 18-year-old son was killed in 2007. The brother of Stamford’s
Catherine Ednie was killed in 1995.
Many of the speakers choked back tears as they recounted their losses, but all
agree that the state’s death penalty should be repealed.
Calling the state’s application of the death penalty “arbitrary and
capricious,” Ednie called the idea that only the “worst of the worst” criminals
get put on death row, “insulting.
“It divides murders into 2 classes, the worst and the not-so-bad,” she said.
Coward spoke about the death penalty’s increasing cost to the state, citing
numbers that range from $4 to $7 million annually, a sentiment that was echoed
by many of Wednesday’s speakers.
“The death penalty creates a painful illusion that some cases are worthier than
others,” she said. “It robs us desperately of needed resources and keeps the
spotlight on the offender.”
Though he understands that “there are some extremely heartfelt feelings out
there,” state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a member of the legislature’s
Judiciary Committee, said the idea that capital punishment creates an unfair
class system of murders is a “preposterous argument.”
“Because the person who killed my loved one does not face the death penalty,
then no one should face the death penalty?” he said. “That makes no sense.”
Though there has been no exact determination as to the cost of prosecuting a
capital crime versus the cost of seeking a sentence of life in prison without
the possibility of parole, there are many costs involved in what is a lengthy
“There are several problems involved in trying to determine the cost of a
capital case,” according to a report issued by the state’s Office of
Legislative Research in 2000. “First, there is a wide variety of costs
associated with capital cases. These include costs for prosecuting and defense
attorneys, interpreters, expert witnesses, court reporters, psychiatrists,
secretaries, and jury consultants.”
This is not, by far, the 1st time Connecticut legislators will argue for and
against capital punishment. Last year, the issue was stalled in the Senate -- 2
years ago a bill made it all the way to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s desk, where it
Though Republicans are gearing up for a battle, Senate Minority Leader John
McKinney, R-Fairfield, said recently that he expects repeal to “squeak” through
the Senate. That estimation may have been altered by state Sen. Andrew
Roraback, R-Goshen, a long-time supporter of repeal and current Congressional
candidate in the 5th district, who said last week he would not vote against the
death penalty unless a different law, one allowing for inmate sentence
reductions also is repealed.
Kissel said “the death penalty performs a valuable function in our criminal
justice system,” though Wednesday’s anti-capital punishment advocates argued on
both practical and ethical grounds that the death penalty serves little
Deacon Arthur Miller, of the Archdiocese of Hartford, spoke about his cousin,
who was killed by an undocumented immigrant fleeing police. “His death is one
of those not-so-bad deaths,” he said.
“I’d rather not have revenge,” he said. “The death penalty is not what I fought
for in Vietnam.” (source: Connecticut Post Chronicle)
Death penalty: Repeal of barbaric law should not be compromised
State Sen. Andrew Roraback. whose district includes New Milford, Brookfield and
Kent, was the only Republican senator in 2009 to vote to repeal the death
penalty in Connecticut.
At the time, we lauded the state senator from Goshen for adhering to his
That bill passed the House and the Senate that year but was vetoed by then-Gov.
M. Jodi Rell, a Republican from Brookfield.
Now, in 2012, the General Assembly is again debating a repeal of the death
penalty -- a measure that we believe is necessary and long overdue.
What is different this time is that the new governor supports repeal. Gov.
Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, said he would sign the bill as long as it
contains the provision that it would not be retroactive.
What is also different this time is that Roraback, too, has a provision. He
said this week that he will vote to repeal the death penalty only if it
contains his amendment to repeal certain parole conditions.
The Roraback amendment would overturn a bill passed last year that provides an
early release program -- retroactively to 2005 -- for prisoners, even some
convicted of violent crimes, such as rape.
"Promises were made to the victims and their families" at the time of
sentencing, Roraback said this week, and he thinks those promises should be
What also is different this time is that Roraback is seeking the Republican
nomination for the 5th Congressional District, and his position now could be
seen as softening support for death penalty repeal in order to gain broader GOP
appeal. Cheshire, where a mother and 2 daughters were brutally murdered 5 years
ago -- their 2 killers wait on death row -- is in the 5th District.
One of Roraback's fellow Republican challengers for the congressional
nomination, Lisa Wilson-Foley of Avon, is jumping on his amendment, claiming
that "people who serve in elective office should have principles and not
bargain them away for political ends."
Wilson-Foley is off base on this criticism.
We believe that Roraback, who said he believes as strongly in repealing the new
retroactive parole conditions as he does in eradicating the death penalty,
We believe that Roraback, an 18-year veteran in the General Assembly, is a
pragmatic politician who is leveraging his clout in the Senate on the death
penalty repeal to gain votes for his amendment.
That may well be the way bills get passed.
But Roraback's amendment -- which is worthwhile -- should be attached to a
We believe that repeal of the death penalty is too important -- it is ethically
imperative -- to be jeopardized.
(source: News Times)
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for ex-Marine
Prosecutors are planning to seek the death penalty for a former Marine accused
of killing a Navy petty officer in 2009, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said in a Wednesday court filing that they intend to pursue the
death penalty against Jorge A. Torrez, a former Marine charged with 1st-degree
murder in the July 2009 slaying of 20-year-old Amanda Snell, who was found dead
in her Fort Myers-Henderson Hall barracks.
Little information on how Snell died is publicly available; an indictment only
says Torrez killed her “with premeditation and malice.” The killing took place
while both were living at Henderson Hall.
Torrez was convicted in Arlington County in October 2010 of abducting and
raping 1 woman and robbing another in separate attacks. Those incidents also
took place while he was stationed there.
He is also being investigated for the 2005 killings of 2 young girls near
Chicago; the father of 1 of the girls spent 5 years in jail awaiting trial
until a DNA link made Torrez a suspect.
Geremy Kamens, one of Torrez's attorneys, said Wednesday that he had no comment
on the death-penalty decision.
In a motion requesting an April 2013 trial date, Torrez's lawyers wrote that
"the government's decision to seek the death penalty in this case transforms
both the obligations of defense counsel in order to provide effective
assistance and the resources that must be devoted to this case."
(source: Washington Examiner)
Family testify as man tries to avoid death sentence
Friends and family testified Wednesday morning Victor Gantt was high on drugs
and not himself in the days leading up to May 2, the day he killed Middletown
resident Leroy Jones with an ax.
The jury of 6 men and 6 women found Gantt guilty of aggravated murder,
aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence last week
in Butler County and are now charged with recommending a sentence. The death
penalty is one of their choices.
Gantt, 26, smashed through a French door with an ax at the home of the
75-year-old Jones last May, struck Jones 6 times in the head and then trashed
the house. After he relaxed on Jones’ bed and watched a porn movie he stole
from an acquaintance earlier that morning and Gantt tried to burn the house
down to cover his crime. All Gantt took from the house was $150 in pocket
Several family members testified Gantt called them after the crime to tell
them. Kenny Murphy, who admits he used to smoke marijuana with his baby
brother, told the jury he didn’t believe Gantt when he said he thought he
killed a man.
“He said I just did something really crazy...,” he said. “I didn’t mean to do
His half sister Sarah Vincent, who with her military husband got custody of
Gantt in 2000, said she received a couple calls from Gantt on May 2 and he
sounded “bizarre.” It appears Gantt might have gone back to the scene of the
crime, because in one call she said he told her, “Praise God, praise God the
house is still there, it didn’t happen.”
On Tuesday almost all the testimony centered on Gantt’s father Philip Gantt,
Sr., and who was described as a tyrannical and brutal man he was.
When Prosecutor Mike Gmoser was questioning Gantt’s friend Patrick Tallon, he
kept asking him about the father and the relationship he had with the son. An
obviously irritated Tallon shot back with “what does all this have to do with
his father?” Gmoser replied, “Good question, excellent question, but we’ll
leave for others.”
Psychologist Bobbie Hopes is expected to be the final witness today and closing
arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning.
(source: Middletown Journal)
The Honorable Robert Bentley
Governor of the State of Alabama
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130
Fax: (334) 353-0004
Re: Thomas Arthur
Dear Governor Bentley:
Human Rights Watch strongly urges you to prevent the execution of Thomas
Arthur, currently scheduled for March 29, 2012.
The cornerstones of human rights are the respect for the inherent dignity of
all human beings and the right to equal treatment. Human Rights Watch opposes
capital punishment because the inherent dignity of the person cannot be squared
with the death penalty, a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and
finality, and a punishment inevitably and universally plagued with
arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.
Given the irrevocability of death, every precaution must be taken to ensure
that mistakes are not made. Since 1973, 140 persons—including five in
Alabama—have been released from US death rows after they were shown to be
innocent of the crimes for which they had been sentenced to die. Some had come
within days of execution.
Alabama simply should not tolerate the risk that one of its citizens will be
executed for a crime he or she did not commit.
For these reasons, we urge you prevent the execution of Thomas Arthur.
Alison Parker, Director, US Program
Human Rights Watch
(source: Human Rights Watch)
CALIFORNIA----78-year-old defendant to face death penalty
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for accused "Alphabet murders"
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against "Alphabet Murders" suspect
Joseph Naso, a judge revealed on Wednesday, but the accused serial killer, who
pleaded not guilty, insisted on continuing to act as his own attorney.
Naso, 78, a former photographer, is charged with 1st-degree murder in the
slayings of four northern California prostitutes, 2 in the 1970s and 2 more in
The killings were dubbed the "Alphabet Murders" because each victim had first
and last names beginning with the same letters.
Naso was also named last year as a suspect in the killings of 3 girls in
Rochester, New York, during the 1970s, and homicide detectives around the
nation are said to be reviewing their cold-case files for possible links to
Representing himself during an appearance in Marin County Superior Court, Naso
entered not-guilty pleas to the charges and also mentioned a 1961 case in which
he was accused of raping a woman in Berkeley, California.
He said he could not find the police report on the case, though the prosecutor
said she gave him a copy.
During the 35-minute proceeding, Judge Andrew Sweet said prosecutors had
notified him by letter that they intended to seek the death penalty against
Naso. He is due in court again March 28 for another hearing.
Nevada probation officers arrested Naso in 2010 after finding ammunition,
photographs of naked women and journals detailing violent sex acts in his Reno
home during a routine visit. The officers went to Naso's house because he was
on probation for shoplifting from a South Lake Tahoe store where he worked.
Naso has been held without bail in the Marin County Jail since April. 2 of the
women he is charged with killing were strangled. The bodies of the other 2 were
too badly decomposed to determine the cause of their deaths.
The strongest evidence against Naso relates to the murder of Roxene Roggasch.
Her body, dressed only in a pair of pantyhose worn inside out, was found near
Lagunitas, in rural Marin County, in 1977. Semen taken from the pantyhose
matched Naso's DNA, court documents say.
Roggasch, who was 18, worked as a prostitute out of Oakland. She was found with
a pair of nylon stockings wrapped around her neck, another pair wrapped around
her mouth and a third stuffed into her mouth, the documents say.
The naked, decomposed body of Carmen Colon, 22, was discovered in rural Contra
Costa County in 1978. The nude body of Pamela Parsons, 38, was found in a rural
area of Yuba County, near where Naso lived, in 1993. Investigators found
photographs of Parsons and newspaper articles about her death in one of Naso's
safe-deposit boxes, officials said.
The nude body of Tracy Tafoya, 31, was found beside a highway next to a
cemetery in 1994. Investigators said they found a journal in Naso's home with
an entry dated August 6, 1994, the day Tafoya went missing, that says, "Met
Tracy -- put it to her."
Prosecutors to seek death penalty in Naso serial murder case
The Marin County District Attorney's Office said this morning it will seek the
death penalty against accused serial killer Joseph Naso.
Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana made the announcement at Naso's arraignment
in Marin County Superior Court.
Naso, 78, of Reno, re-entered not-guilty pleas to charges that he murdered 4
Northern California women, 2 from the Bay Area, between 1977 and 1994.
Naso waived his right to have a trial within 60 days. He said he needs four
weeks to prepare a motion to dismiss the charges against him.
Judge Andrew Sweet set March 28 for a status report on that motion and to set a
Ahana told the judge prosecutors expect the trial to last 4 months.
Naso is charged with the murders of Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, in Marin
County in 1977; Carmen Colon, 22, in Port Costa in Contra Costa County in 1978;
and Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31, in Yuba County in 1993 and 1994,
In addition to the 4 murder charges, he faces a special-circumstance allegation
of committing multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty
Prosecutors had not said publicly until today whether they would pursue the
He was ordered to stand trial for the killings in January at the conclusion of
a nine-day preliminary hearing that included testimony by his ex-wife Judith
and investigators, who said semen found on pantyhose Roggasch was wearing
contained DNA that was likely Naso's.
Naso has been acting as his own attorney, and at a hearing earlier this month,
Sweet found Naso to be capable of continuing to represent himself as the case
proceeds to trial.
(source: Bay City News)
Jury Recommends Death Penalty
A Holmes County jury recommended Wednesday by a count of 9-3 that Johnny Mack
Sketo Calhoun be executed for the 1st-degree murder of Mia Brown.
State Attorney Glenn Hess and Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young presented
evidence to support 3 legal aggravating factors to justify the death sentence:
the murder was committed while Calhoun was engaged in the commission of
kidnapping or arson; the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel; and
the murder was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without
any pretense of moral or legal justification.
Calhoun, 34, of 1072 Newton Road, Bonifay, kidnapped Mia Chay Brown the night
of Dec. 16, 2010, bound her with duct tape, put her into the trunk of her car
and on Dec. 17, 2010, he set the car on fire, burning her alive.
He was convicted Tuesday of 1st-degree murder.
Wednesday’s vote was simply a recommendation, but it carries great weight with
The next phase will be a hearing to allow the attorneys a chance to present
additional evidence directly to the judge to help him make his decision.
Generally, the judge then takes another month or so to prepare written findings
in advance of the sentencing hearing.
According to the state Department of Corrections, there are currently no
inmates on death row from Holmes County. The last men to be executed from
Holmes County were Pleas Dixon in 1945 and Frank Peterson in 1959.
(source: WJHG News)
More information about the DeathPenalty