[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----PENN., N.C., OHIO, MISS., ALA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Wed Jun 13 10:52:36 CDT 2012
Death penalty sought for man charged in murder of ex-Stroud teacher--'I only
dumped the body' defendent says
A man charged with murdering a beloved former school teacher from Stroud
Township says someone else killed the victim and that he only dumped the body.
After a nearly 4-hour preliminary hearing Tuesday, Stroud Township District
Judge Dan Higgins found sufficient evidence to send charges against Rico
Herbert, 32, to trial in the death of Joseph J. DeVivo, 87.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Herbert, citing a murder
committed during another crime as an aggravating factor.
Wearing a county jail uniform, the shackled Herbert at times glanced at his
family seated behind him, took notes, whispered to attorneys and grinned in
disbelief at investigators' testimony. DeVivo's family also attended the
Just hours after DeVivo and his 2012 Chevy Malibu were reported missing Feb.
25, Herbert was found with DeVivo's car, wallet and credit cards in North
Carolina, thanks to cellphone tracking. Police said Herbert ran from the car
and was apprehended and charged with obstructing a missing-person
After intensive police interviews between March and April, Herbert identified a
man called "T.J." as the killer and confessed to dumping DeVivo's body in a
secluded area in Lancaster, S.C.
"Mr. Herbert has maintained all along and still maintains that he himself was
in no way responsible for Mr. DeVivo's death," defense attorney Tom Sundmaker
Police said Herbert gave them contradictory stories, which the defense
attributes to long, draining hours of questioning.
The defense said Herbert, who did not testify Tuesday, gives the following
He survived on money from his girlfriends, cutting hair and arranging drug
deals for various customers including "T.J."
On several occasions between November and February, Herbert and T.J. were
inside DeVivo's home, conducting drug transactions. Police presume the home was
illegally entered when DeVivo was out.
On the night of Feb. 23, Herbert and T.J. were in DeVivo's home when DeVivo was
asleep. T.J. said he was going to "take care of DeVivo" and then give DeVivo's
car to Herbert in exchange for drugs.
Herbert said he saw T.J. walk toward DeVivo's bedroom and decided he didn't
want to be involved, so he left the house and waited outside.
Herbert said he saw T.J. drive DeVivo's car out of the garage about 20 minutes
later, but didn't see DeVivo anywhere in the car. He said T.J. handed the car
over to him, then someone arrived in another car and drove T.J. away.
Police have not found "T.J." and question whether he exists.
Body in trunk
Herbert said he drove to South Carolina the next day to attend a family
function. He found DeVivo's cellphone and wallet containing credit cards in the
center console. He put the wallet in his pocket, but told police he never
actually used the cards.
The defense said Herbert's mother told authorities that after arriving at his
family's South Carolina home, Herbert opened the car trunk.
"She told us his demeanor changed when he opened the trunk and saw what was
inside, though she herself never saw it," South Carolina Detective Joseph
She said Herbert suddenly stopped being cheerful and happy and started getting
drunk after discovering DeVivo's body in the trunk, Sundmaker said. Herbert
dumped the body in a secluded wooded area several miles from his grandmother's
Herbert later told police where to find the body, near a creek by a log cabin.
Police said they found DeVivo wearing the T-shirt and boxer shorts he had gone
to bed in and a rag stuffed into his mouth, and that his body was in a
deteriorated condition after spending almost two months in the elements.
DeVivo had been killed by unknown violent means, according to an autopsy report
filed by Allentown forensic pathologist Samuel Land.
The defense questioned Land's assessment, calling it hearsay based on police
work. The judge allowed Land's report into evidence.
Witnesses testifying Tuesday included DeVivo's caregiver, Wendy Jacoby, the
last person to see him alive. Jacoby choked back tears when describing the
clothes she last saw him wearing when she took him out to dinner that evening.
The judge downgraded the theft charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, since the
total worth of stolen items was less than $2,000.
Remaining felony charges are criminal homicide, robbery of a motor vehicle and
burglary. Misdemeanor charges are theft and abusing a corpse.
Herbert remains in Monroe County Correctional Facility, since criminal homicide
is a non-bailable offense.
(source: Pocono Record)
North Carolina politicians aim to change death row bias law
North Carolina lawmakers tentatively approved on Tuesday legislation that would
gut a state law allowing death row inmates to use evidence of racial bias to
challenge their sentences.
The controversial Racial Justice Act, signed into law in 2009 by Democratic
Governor Beverly Perdue when Democrats controlled the state's General Assembly,
permits prisoners to use statistics to challenge their death sentences by
showing that racial bias affected the punishment.
Republicans now have a majority in the legislature and want to change the law.
On Tuesday, the House approved by a 72-47 vote a bill aimed at undoing much of
the act. Final approval was expected in the House on Wednesday, but it would
still need to be passed by the state Senate and signed by the governor to
The current law provides that inmates sentenced to die are entitled to have
their sentences changed to life in prison without parole if a judge determines
that racial discrimination played a significant role in their sentencing.
The new legislation states that statistical evidence alone would be
insufficient to prove racial discrimination in jury selection. It also would
limit use of statistical evidence of racial bias in jury selection to the area
where a defendant was tried.
State lawmakers previously passed legislation to weaken the law, but could not
muster the votes in the House of Representatives in January to override a veto
"It gets the focus where it should belong, on the person who is alleged to be a
first-degree murderer and the focus where the prosecution occurred and when it
occurred," said Rep. Paul Stam, Republican majority leader in the House.
Opponents of the legislation argued that a court had found overwhelming
evidence of racial bias in jury selection.
In the 1st test of the Racial Justice Act, a North Carolina judge in April
vacated the death sentence of convicted murderer Marcus Robinson, ruling that
racial bias had marred jury selection in his trial.
Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks re-sentenced Robinson to life in prison
without parole and said the evidence of racial bias in jury selection should
serve as a clear signal of the need for reform in death penalty cases.
"The problem we should be focusing on rather than the Racial Justice Act is how
to create an equitable jury pool," Rep. Kelly Alexander, a Democrat, said
during the debate on Tuesday. "When you don't have a jury pool that is truly
reflective of your community, you have a problem."
Death penalty hearing delayed 3rd time
A hearing to determine whether the Orange County district attorney plans to
seek the death penalty against 2 men charged with killing a former deputy and a
store owner has been continued to July 10.
It’s the 3rd continuance for the “Rule 24” hearing for Curtis K. White, 18, of
Efland, and Ladell Alverez Faucette, 22, of McLeansville.
“I’m still waiting on all the reports,” said District Attorney Jim Woodall in
explaining why the hearings were being continued for the 3rd time.
White and Faucette are each charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder for
allegedly killing former Orange County Deputy Alexander “Skip” Wade, 68, and
Phillip Johnson, 52, at Johnson’s store in northwestern Orange County on Jan.
The last time the hearings were on the court docket, they were continued
because Woodall was trying another murder case at the time.
On the afternoon of the homicides, Wade had stopped by to visit his friend,
Johnson, who owned the Week in Treasures store at the intersection of Carr
Store and Mill Creek roads.
Wade’s wife, who was visiting a relative near the store, stopped by to pick her
husband up and discovered that they had been shot. Johnson was dead, and Wade
died a short time later after he was rushed to a hospital.
Both men were shot in the head.
Investigators believe that White and Faucette drove into the parking lot of the
isolated store and asked Johnson about buying fishing rods. Then they shot and
killed Wade and Johnson and stole money from the store.
Both White and Faucette also were charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon
for robbing Sam’s Food Mart in Orange County on the day before the murders.
(source: The Herald Sun)
Inman could get death sentence in wife’s killing----Sequestered jury to begin
penalty phase on Thursday
The jury that convicted William A. “Will” Inman II yesterday in the zip-tie
strangulation of his estranged wife now will decide whether he should receive
the death penalty.
The sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday in Hocking
County Common Pleas Court.
Assistant public defenders Herman Carson and Jerry McHenry will try to persuade
the jury to spare Inman’s life.
Carson declined to elaborate on the evidence they will present. However, in a
court document they filed before the trial began, the lawyers said a defense
psychologist who interviewed Inman obtained “over a dozen different avenues of
inquiry to possibly pursue as mitigation themes, including a history of head
injury, suicidal (thoughts), drug usage, school difficulties and parental
The jury of 6 men and 6 women found Inman, 27, guilty of 2 counts of aggravated
murder and single counts each of murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence
and gross abuse of a corpse.
Inman was convicted of abducting and murdering Summer D. Inman on March 22,
2011, and stuffing her head-first into a church septic tank. Her body was found
on March 29, 2011, after her mother-in-law divulged the location to
Inman’s mother, Sandra K. Inman, 47, who is scheduled for trial next month,
faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. His father, William A.
“Bill” Inman, 48, is scheduled for trial in August. He could receive the death
penalty if convicted of aggravated murder.
The death-penalty specifications in Will Inman’s case found that the murder was
planned and committed during a kidnapping. Inman sat quietly between his
attorneys while Common Pleas Judge John T. Wallace read the verdicts.
A quiet, collective “yes” was heard from the Summer family’s side of the
courtroom gallery as the verdicts were read.
The jury deliberated about 4 hours Monday afternoon and yesterday morning
before returning the verdicts. Wallace had sequestered them overnight at a
The judge said he will sequester them overnight again if the sentencing
deliberations continue into Friday.
The anticipated high cost of the Inman trials concerns Hocking County
commissioners. About 15 percent of the population of the county of 29,380
people, about 50 miles southeast of Columbus, lives below the poverty line, and
the unemployment rate is 9.3 percent, according to state and federal data.
The county commissioners have said they will find the money to pay for the
trials. The Inmans are indigent, so the county must pick up most of the fees of
their court-appointed lawyers, with the state paying for some of it.
Will Inman’s trial is the 1st death-penalty case in Hocking County since Dale
Johnston was convicted of the 1982 killing and dismembering of his stepdaughter
and her fiancé.
Johnston was convicted in 1984 and sentenced to death, but he was freed in 1990
when the case against him fell apart on appeal. Another man confessed to the
crimes in 2008.
Prosecutors in the Inman trial used eyewitness testimony, cellphone and GPS
records, a car-wash surveillance video and other evidence to show that Inman
and his parents were in Logan and then in Nelsonville the night of March 22,
2011. The evidence contradicted Will Inman’s alibi that he and his parents were
in northeastern Ohio at the time.
Inman did not take the stand during his trial.
Summer’s parents, Mike and Debbie Cook, who are raising the three children that
she had with Inman, listened to the verdicts in the court-room but declined to
“It doesn’t bring Summer back,” but the guilty verdicts do provide some relief,
said her maternal aunt, Diana Drengler, 51, whose hands shook and eyes welled
with tears in the hall afterward.
She forced herself to look at the oversized photos of her niece’s body that
were shown during the trial on an overhead screen. She had to, she said, just
to make sure one final time that it was her niece who lay dead.
Drengler said she watched Will Inman while he looked up at the photos of his
wife’s body. She saw on his face “nothing, absolutely nothing,” she said.
She said she favored giving him the death penalty. “I don’t think taxpayers
should have to pay to keep someone like that alive,” she said.
(source: Columbus Dispatch)
“The Death Penalty was Written With Brawner in Mind” says Investigator
Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance was Chief Deputy and Lead Investigator in April
He says Jan Michael Brawner admitted to killing his wife Barbara, her mother
June and waiting for her father Carl to come home to kill him.
But what Lance says affected him most is how Brawner told of killing his own
daughter ”If there’s one individual that the death penalty needs to be used on,
or should have been created for, it’s Jan Michael Brawner”.
Brad Lance was 1st on the scene of the mass murder of the Craft family, 1 years
He remembers the scene of mayhem he witnessed as he entered the front door
”Walk in the front door and there were three bodies immediately visable.
Cleared the house and came back out and that’s when one of the woman’s
co-workers asked me about a child”.
He found 3 year old Paige Brawner in a back bedroom, the 4th and final victim.
Brawner later confessed his daughter saw him kill her mother and grandmother
and had to die ”He sent the child to her room, gave her a cookie...The single
most troubling thing was that he had shot his own daughter in the face, twice”.
Brawner admitted to stealing a rifle from the Craft home, coming back later to
shoot the women and child, then waiting for Carl Craft to come home from work
so he could finish his gruesome job.
Southaven Police found Brawner at a Southaven apartment. Cliff Freeman dressed
up as a pest control man to get through the door to arrest him ”We directed him
outside, said there was a box out there for him that FedEx had apparently left
and when he went outside the SWAT team was waiting on him”.
A jury quickly found him guilty at trial, and Judge Andrew Baker sentenced him
to death 4 times.
Jan Michael Brawner earned himself another distinction with his appeal. State
Supreme Court Justice Ann Lamar had to abstain from the vote since she was
District Attorney at the time of the murder. The reportedly set Brawner up as
the first person in U.S. history to be put to death based on a tied vote.
But Brad Lance says he’ll never forget the cold-hearted man who sat in front of
him and described the whole massacre, before telling him he deserved to die for
his crimes ”Based on my experience with him, interviewing him, I don’t believe
he has any conscience. He showed no remorse whatsoever”.
Friends and neighbors weren’t the only ones outraged about Brawner’s crimes.
Lance says Brawner received a letter from the State Penitentiary during his
stay in the Tate County Jail, apparently from an inmate at Parchman detailing
what inmates would do to him when he got there. Lance says fortunately for
Brawner, his death penalty came with manditory solitary confinement. (source:
Auburn killing suspect surrenders after manhunt
A man accused of killing three people at a party near Auburn University turned
himself in Tuesday after a three-day manhunt that included a tense but
fruitless search of a Montgomery home by police tactical units.
A Montgomery defense attorney said she arranged for Desmonte Leonard to
surrender after getting word that his family wanted her help. Auburn Police
Chief Tommy Dawson said the suspect was taken into custody at 7:57 p.m. by a
U.S. Marshal at the federal courthouse in Montgomery.
His surrender was a low-key ending to a search that included the inch-by-inch
scouring of the house by police armed with tear gas and spy gear. Hours after
police conceded Leonard had evaded them at the house, Dawson said the suspect
walked up the courthouse steps and surrendered peacefully to the marshal
waiting just inside.
"It's been a trying case for all law enforcement involved," Dawson said at a
Leonard, 22, is charged with 3 counts of capital murder in a shooting Saturday
night after a fight over a woman. He is accused of wounding 3 others. The dead
included 2 former Auburn football players, and a current player was among the
Dawson said that Leonard was being booked into a jail in Montgomery and will be
moved to Opelika near the university for a 1st court appearance on Wednesday or
After getting word that Leonard wanted help, Montgomery defense attorney Susan
James said she contacted U.S. Marshals. Then she and her son, who works for her
as an investigator, picked up Leonard. She wouldn't say where except that it
was about 50 miles from Montgomery. They drove him to meet investigators at the
federal courthouse, where snipers were perched on the roof.
"He was very calm, very tired and very ready to get this over with and very
respectful," said James, a well-known attorney whose clients have included
disgraced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
She said they had time to talk while driving to Montgomery and added: "When the
full story is told, it may sound different than the perception now."
She said she agreed to help Leonard even though she hasn't been retained. "You
don't want a bad end for anybody," she said.
The Auburn police chief said Leonard appeared to be in good health, but he also
declined to say where he had been hiding.
"In a case like this there is no relief because those boys aren't coming home
tonight," Dawson said.
Auburn University President Jay Gogue commended law enforcement on Leonard's
"We appreciate the dedication and commitment of the Auburn City Police
Department and other law enforcement agencies. This is a difficult time for our
campus and community. We're remembering those who lost their lives, and it's
important that we pull together to help those who are grieving and recovering,"
2 men already have been charged with misleading authorities during their search
for Leonard, and Police Chief Kevin Murphy said the man who ferried Leonard to
the home could be arrested on similar charges.
Police surrounded a house in Montgomery Monday afternoon thinking Leonard was
inside after they received 2 solid tips. They swarmed the home with tear gas,
spy gear and assault rifles, but after a tense, 9-hour search, they discovered
Leonard had fled by the time they arrived. At one point, they believed they
heard movement and coughing in the attic, but their search that lasted until
early Tuesday turned up nothing.
Believing Leonard was hiding in the attic, officers fired tear gas into the
rafters and poked through insulation. Investigators said thermal imaging and
other technology showed a person was in the attic area.
But after midnight, they acknowledged they hadn't heard coughing noises or
movement for several hours. Officials said officers found nothing in the attic
— not even an animal that might have fooled detection devices.
After police left, at least 2 holes were visible in the ceiling and the floor
was littered with pieces of drywall and insulation. Scraps of insulation also
littered the walkway outside the house. Officials promised to repay the house's
owner for the damage.
Leonard had a connection to the house through someone other than the owner,
said the city's public safety director, Chris Murphy. He declined to elaborate.
The woman is not accused of any wrongdoing.
(source: Associated Press)
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