[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, PENN., MD., NJ, GA., CALIF., USA, FLA.

Rick Halperin rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Feb 12 15:12:42 CST 2013





Feb. 12



TEXAS----impending 500th execution list


Executions under Rick Perry, 2001-present-----253

Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982-present----492

Perry #--------scheduled execution date-----name---------Tx. #

254-------------February 21---------------Carl Blue-----------493

255-------------April 3-------------------Kimberly McCarthy---494

256-------------April 9------------------Ricky Lewis----------495

257-------------April 10------------------Ribogerto Avila, Jr.---496

258-------------April 16------------------Ronnie Threadgill----497

259-------------April 24------------------Elroy Chester--------498

260-------------April 25----------------Richard Cobb-----------499

261------------May 7--------------------Carroll Parr---------500

262-------------May 14--------------------John Quintanilla Jr.--501

263-------------May 15-------------------Jeffrey Williams-----502

264-------------July 18------------------Vaughn Ross----------503

265-------------July 31-------------------Douglas Feldman-----504

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)

******************************

Defense sets up argument that killer is mentally retarded


Stanley Wayne Robertson's defense attorneys on Monday began building their case 
for why the convicted killer should be spared the death penalty.

Robertson, 45, was convicted by a jury Thursday of kidnapping and killing Annie 
Mae Toliver, his ex-girlfriend's mother, by cutting her 38 times with a $2.97 
kitchen knife as he drove from College Station to Fort Worth.

Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons and Assistant District Attorney 
Brian Price are seeking the death penalty for the Alabama native who lived in 
College Station for less than 3 years before he killed the 59-year-old Toliver.

Before hearing opening statements from defense attorney John Wright in the 
punishment phase of the trial, jurors learned that Robertson has been married 
for 14 years.

His ex-girlfriend, the victim's daughter, had testified that Stanley Robertson 
told her when they started dating in 2008 that he was getting divorced, then 
not long afterward insisted it was finalized.

But Roschelle Robertson told jurors the couple was still married and that she 
still loves him.

She also testified about a 2007 incident when Robertson became upset, 
threatened to kill her and chased her in her car while her 3 kids were with 
her.

When asked by prosecutors why she didn't press charges, Roschelle Robertson 
said, "I didn't think Stanley was really going to kill me."

A woman who dated Robertson's brother in the mid-1990s testified as the final 
prosecution witness, telling jurors that Stanley Robertson raped her.

Robertson was convicted for false imprisonment for the incident, according to 
court documents submitted by prosecutors.

Once prosecutors rested, the defendant got to hear from and see 3 of his 
siblings and a nephew -- all of whom testified via video feed from Alabama, 
where Stanley Robertson's mother is on her deathbed.

His family described the poor conditions he was raised in while growing up on a 
cotton field in Alabama.

Jurors watched a video deposition filmed in September of Robertson's mother 
from her hospital bed.

She broke down at several points during the video, most dramatically when asked 
about her son's fate.

The 77-year-old sobbed when asked about her relationship with Stanley 
Robertson, saying she and her son were very close.

A former classmate of the defendant who now works as an educator in Alabama 
told jurors Stanley Robertson was in special education classes and classified 
as mentally disabled.

Defense attorneys intend to argue the defendant is mentally retarded. 
Defendants found to be mentally retarded cannot be executed.

"Stanley Robertson is a broken man with a broken brain," Wright said in opening 
statements.

Wright told jurors the defendant came from a poverty-stricken home and was 
raised by his mother in a dirt-floor home without running water or indoor 
plumbing.

He was one of 11 kids -- one of his sisters died as an infant -- and he grew up 
working with his siblings for a farmer, Wright said.

Robertson's mother was exposed to pesticides while she was pregnant with the 
defendant, as was he while working in the fields, according to testimony.

A Harvard entomologist who's studying the effects of pesticides in that region 
is expected to testify, along with several mental health experts.

Wright talked about evidence the defense will present from brain scans done on 
Robertson.

"We can show you, explain to you what is wrong with his brain," Wright said. 
"Why would a person act this way? Is he just evil, or is there something wrong 
with him that he couldn't help?"

Wright described Robertson as having 2 personalities -- the side his family and 
wife are used to seeing and the side responsible for murdering Toliver.

"We expect to show you there is something seriously wrong, seriously wrong. It 
wasn't his fault; he couldn't do anything about it."

The punishment phase of the trial will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the 85th 
District courtroom.

(source: The Eagle)






PENNSYLVANIA:

Man accused of murdering Stroud teacher on trial for burglary


A man charged with murdering a beloved former school teacher from Stroud 
Township is slated for trial today on separate charges of burglary, receiving 
stolen property and theft.

Stroud Area Regional Police said Rico Herbert, 32, was shown on video entering 
through the unlocked back door of Kay's Tavern in Stroudsburg after everyone 
had left on the morning of Aug. 3, 2011.

Police said Herbert, identified as a regular customer, was shown taking what 
later amounted to $1,500 from a lock box after finding the key to the box.

The front desk clerk at the Pocono Inne Town in Stroudsburg, where Herbert was 
staying at the time, said Herbert had been having trouble paying for his room 
until paying $481.04 in cash for the week that morning, according to police.

Herbert is also awaiting trial in the February 2012 murder of retired school 
teacher Joseph DeVivo, 87. The District Attorney's Office is seeking the death 
penalty against him if he's convicted in that case.

Just hours after DeVivo and his 2012 Chevy Malibu were reported missing from 
his Stroud Township home Feb. 25, 2012, 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 investigation.

In custody also on separate cases, Herbert 2 months later told police where to 
find DeVivo's body, near a creek by a log cabin in South Carolina. Police said 
they found DeVivo's deteriorated body wearing the T-shirt and boxer shorts he 
had gone to bed in the night he was abducted, and a rag stuffed into his mouth.

Herbert told police he and another man called "T.J." entered DeVivo's home the 
night of Feb. 23. He said he saw T.J. walk toward the sleeping DeVivo's bedroom 
and heard him say he was going to "take care of" DeVivo.

Herbert said he awaited T.J. outside and later saw T.J. drive DeVivo's car out 
of the garage, but no sign of DeVivo in the car.

He said T.J. then gave him the car in exchange for drugs while another car came 
to the scene and drove T.J. away. Herbert said he then drove the car to a 
family gathering in South Carolina, opened the trunk and discovered DeVivo's 
body inside, after which he drove and dumped the body where he later told 
police it was.

Police have charged only Herbert in this case. He remains in Monroe County 
Correctional Facility without bail. No trial date has yet been set in the 
DeVivo case.

(source: The Pocono Record)






MARYLAND:

Murder Victims' Daughter Fights For Death Penalty For 30 Years


A hearing takes place later this week in Annapolis on a bill to repeal the 
death penalty, and for 1 local woman it marks a 30 year battle.

It was in May, 1983, that Phyllis Bricker's parents Irvin and Rose Bronstein 
were murdered in their Pimlico home.

Their killer John Booth-El is now 59-year-old and is 1 of 5 men on Maryland's 
death row.

Bricker told WBAL News that she never thought her parents killer would remain 
alive nearly 30 years after their murder.

Bricker is also frustrated that the Maryland General Assembly continues to 
debate a death penalty repeal.

"If we don't go by the decisions in the courts, then why do we need all of the 
juries, and all of the money that went into that, if somebody doesn't like the 
death penalty in Annapolis," Bricker told WBAL News recently.

Over the years, Bricker has attended various court hearings for her parents' 
killer. She has also come down to Annapolis to testify against bills that would 
repeal the death penalty.

Now, as the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee prepares to hold a hearing on 
Thursday on a death penalty repeal, Bricker is not sure she wants to testify 
again.

She is not sure she can change any minds in the Maryland General Assembly.

"I have testified for years. This is 30 years that this has happened. I don't 
know if I will go to Annapolis again this Thursday because I'm familiar with 
the views of the people on the...committee. I know how they feel, many of 
them," Bricker said.

"I don't know whether I want to go down again and be confronted with all of the 
anti-death penalty people."

4 years ago, the last time lawmakers considered Governor O'Malley's bill to 
repeal the death penalty, Bricker and her husband waited eight hours to testify 
before the committee.

She says most lawmakers had left the hearing room by the time she testified, 
and she called the whole process very frustrating.

She is angry, the governor is advocating a repeal of the death penalty.

Bricker says it is needed to provide justice to the families of murder victims. 
She feels justice won't be served until Booth-El is executed.

"He probably will outlive us," Bricker added.

(source: WBAL News)






NEW JERSEY:

After shootings, bring back death penalty


Guns, guns, guns. Let the blame fall where it belongs. Tell the bleeding hearts 
who wanted the death penalty ended to see what has happened.

These criminals have no concept of life and they have nothing to fear. There is 
no consequence for these sick, deranged, insane animals, or whatever you want 
to call them. If we, the public can bring back the death penalty, maybe just 
maybe that might make them think twice.

Their lawyers say there is a chemical imbalance or they were abused as children 
or some other far-fetched, trumped-up excuse that the lawyers come up with. So 
they put them in a prison or a mental institution and try to rehabilitate them. 
There they get three hot meals and a cot, medicine, etc. What a waste of 
taxpayers' money.

Cut out the plea bargains; if a person takes a life, take theirs. There would 
be no questions to be asked; it's not the gun that kills, it's the person 
holding it.

Let the lawyers make money somewhere else, and let's stop wasting the public's 
money defending these so-called innocent people.

Ask the people who lost loved ones if they have any closure. Ask the people who 
were there when the killlings took place and then ask them if they had a gun, 
what would they have done?

It still sickens me to see what has happened.

We pay for keeping these so-called people alive in prison or elsewhere, when it 
would be easier to purge and clean the system.

If we don't do something now, we will be lost.

George T. Pozaryski----CARTERET

(source: Opinion, my centraljersey.com)


GEORGIA----impending execution

The Supreme Court Must Stop the Execution of Warren Hill


On February 19, 2013, Georgia plans to execute Warren Hill, a man with an 
intellectual disability. Mr. Hill has exhausted his appeals. The Georgia State 
Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency and has declined to give Mr. Hill 
another audience.

The United States Supreme Court should intervene in this case to ensure that 
the protection they have granted for the "mentally retarded" against the death 
penalty is realized. If the court does not act, a man with an undisputed 
intellectual disability will be unconstitutionally put to death next week.

As the Executive Director of Georgia's Council on Developmental Disabilities, I 
have strongly advocated for state and federal legislation that protects our 
nation's most vulnerable citizens. Our organization, and those like us across 
the country have supported many laws, including those that protect people with 
intellectual disabilities from execution. This supports the position of the 
United States Supreme Court in its landmark 2002 Atkins v Virginia ruling, 
noting that people with intellectual disabilities are less culpable for their 
actions and are at greater risk for wrongful execution.

Nobody disputes that Warren Hill has an intellectual disability. As a boy 
growing up in Elberton, Ga., his teachers testified and standardized testing 
proved he was functioning academically far below his peers. He also 
demonstrated adaptive delays, in conceptual, social and practical skills. The 
Georgia judges reviewing the case agree that Mr. Hill is "mentally retarded" by 
a preponderance of the evidence. Even the Georgia Attorney General's office 
declined to dispute this finding in court.

This entire case is confusing to those who know the law and are advocates for 
people with intellectual disabilities. On the one hand, in 1988, Georgia was 
the first state in our nation to enact a law protecting people with 
intellectual disability from the death penalty. The state law prohibiting 
capital punishment for individuals with intellectual disabilities, followed 
widespread public outcry after the execution of Jerome Bowden, a man with an 
I.Q. score in the '60s.

On the other hand, despite being the 1st state to protect citizens with 
intellectual disability from capital punishment and that nobody contests that 
Mr. Hill has an intellectual disability, he is still scheduled to be executed. 
Why? Because Georgia has the strictest standard in the nation for proving 
intellectual disability. State law requires that individuals prove they have 
intellectual disability "beyond a reasonable doubt," a powerful legal concept 
that does not translate into the way individuals are assessed to determine if 
they have a intellectual disability. So, while Georgia never contested Mr. 
Hill's intellectual disability or I.Q. of 70, he was not able to meet the 
burden of proof.

Only Georgia's unique "reasonable doubt" burden of proof restrained the Georgia 
courts from effectuating the Supreme Court's command that people like Mr. Hill 
must be protected from wrongful execution.

Several of the jurors now say that the most appropriate sentence for Mr. Hill 
would have been life without parole, which was not an option at his trial and 
sentencing.

Additionally, the family of the victim in the case supports life without parole 
instead of death for Mr. Hill. In a sworn statement, a family member stated, "I 
and my family feel strongly that persons with any kind of significant mental 
disabilities should not be put to death."

The protections that exist under the law for people with intellectual 
disability are vitally important to our democracy. People with intellectual 
disability deserve to live as full citizens of this country and state, 
protected by laws designed to recognize our diversity and uphold our basic 
rights, despite our differences. We, in Georgia will continue to fight to bring 
our state into alignment with other states by working with policy makers to 
change the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. In the meantime, the United 
States Supreme Court must stop the execution of Warren Hill.

(source: Eric Jacobson.Executive Director, Georgia Council on Developmental 
Disabilities----The Huffington Post)






CALIFORNIA:

Capital Murder Charge Filed Against Dorner In Death Of Riverside Officer


Charges were filed Monday against former Los Angeles police officer Christopher 
Dorner, who has been the focus of an intense manhunt throughout Southern 
California.

Dorner, 33, has been charged with 4 counts, including 3 counts of attempted 
murder of a peace officer and 1 count, with 2 special circumstance allegations, 
of the murder of a peace officer, making Dorner eligible for the death penalty. 
A no-bail warrant for Dorner's arrest has also been issued.

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbech urged the public to be 
vigilant.

"As they say, there is strength in numbers. We need the help of the public. We 
need all of the public's eyes and ears in assisting law enforcement in 
apprehending this very dangerous individual," Zellerbech said.

(source: CBS News)






USA (NEW YORK):

Jury selection to begin in April in Staten Island cop-killer's penalty phase 
re-trial


Last week, a federal judge ruled that Ronell Wilson was not mentally impaired 
when he coldly slayed 2 undercover detectives a decade ago in Tompkinsville, 
setting in motion a re-trial on whether Wilson should be put to death.

The penalty-phase re-trial is slated to begin with jury selection in 2 months, 
District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has determined

Garaufis ordered that questionnaires be distributed to 2,000 potential jurors 
in Brooklyn federal court on April 3.

The judge said the "extraordinary pre-trial publicity" on the case required 
such a large jury pool.

Oral questioning of jurors will begin on April 17, with opening statements 
expected around May 20, he wrote.

The panel could vote for death, as the original jury did 6 years ago, or 
sentence Wilson to life in prison.

A status conference is set for Thursday.

5 days ago, Garaufis ruled that Wilson, 30, wasn't mentally retarded when he 
murdered Detectives Rodney J. Andrews, 34, and James V. Nemorin, 36, on March 
10, 2003. The cops were killed during and undercover gun buy-and-bust 
operation.

In 2010, a federal appeals court overturned the death penalty for Wilson, whom 
a Brooklyn federal court jury sentenced in 2007 to die by lethal injection.

2 of the 3 appellate judges ruled that prosecutors had violated the convicted 
killer's constitutional rights by using his failure to plead guilty or testify 
during the trial's penalty phase to attack his claims of remorse in an unsworn 
apology he read to the jury.

The murder conviction stood.

Had Garaufis found the former Stapleton gang member mentally impaired, the 
defendant would have been ineligible for the death penalty under a landmark 
2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The top court found that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth 
Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments. Such persons typically have 
an IQ below 70.

Wilson's lawyers contended he had a low IQ and severe emotional and behavioral 
problems growing up.

In a technical 55-page decision, Garaufis said the evidence at a recent hearing 
belied Wilson's claims of mental incapacity.

He said 7 of the 8 IQ tests Wilson took at various times between the ages of 6 
and 30 "point(ed) away from mental retardation," as did the opinions of all his 
test administrators.

"None of these clinicians believed that Wilson suffered from mental 
retardation," wrote Garaufis. "And most of them believed that Wilson's scores 
underestimated his intellectual functioning."

Garaufis' handed down his ruling 2 days after a former federal correction 
officer was criminally charged with having sex with an inmate, whom a source 
identified as Wilson.

The liaison between Wilson and Nancy Gonzalez, 29, who is 8 months pregnant, 
allegedly occurred last year at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, 
where Wilson is incarcerated.

(source: Staten Island Live)

**********************

Kill the death penalty


I am grateful that Wesley Pruden featured my story in his thought-provoking 
piece, "The death penalty is not what it used to be" (Page A4, Friday). Indeed, 
the death penalty is coming to an end, and its death rattle can be heard around 
the world like a crack of lightning.

However, if I were on that shipwrecked boat, woke up from being stranded and 
saw the gallows, I would surely gather myself up in a hurry, run to the 
wreckage, grab hold of a piece of it and paddle my way back out to sea. This 
sentiment is undoubtedly shared by many of my fellow exonerees and current 
members of our organization, Witness to Innocence, who have witnessed firsthand 
the cruelty, imprecision and tragedy of our criminal justice system.

Since 1976, 142 death row exonerees have been released from our modern-day 
gallows. I am a witness to innocence and so are 141 others whose lives were 
almost mistakenly cut short. The death penalty has no place in our society 
today. It is an expensive and broken system, and because of what my brothers 
and sisters and I have each experienced, the death penalty itself deserves the 
last death sentence our government hands out.

This is not a right-wing or left-wing issue. It is a right or wrong issue, an 
issue of innocence. Thank you, Mr. Pruden. I'm glad you are a witness to 
innocence as well.

KIRK BLOODSWORTH

Advocacy director

Witness to Innocence----Philadelphia

(source: Letter to the Editor, Washington Times)






FLORIDA:

Defendant lets lawyer argue against death penalty after losing acting as his 
own attorney


For the 2nd time, a jury will try to decide today whether Khalid Ali Pasha 
should be executed for stabbing and bludgeoning his wife and stepdaughter to 
death in 2002.

The Florida Supreme Court in 2010 overturned Pasha's 2007 murder convictions 
and death sentence in the killings of Robin Canaday, 43, and her daughter, 
Ranesha Singleton, 20.

The high court said Pasha should have been allowed to serve as his own attorney 
at his original trial.

Pasha represented himself at his retrial last month and was again convicted of 
the murders.

For the sentencing phase of the 2nd trial, Pasha obtained a lawyer, J. Jervis 
Wise, who urged jurors not to recommend a death sentence.

"What good comes from killing this man?" Wise asked jurors. The defense lawyer 
noted that one way or another, Pasha, 69, will die in prison. The only 
determination for the jury, he said, is whether Pasha will die of natural 
causes or by lethal injection.

The prosecutor, Jalal Harb, told jurors Pasha has to be held accountable for 
the brutal murders, which he said meet the legal definition of cold, calculated 
and premeditated, as well as heinous, atrocious and cruel.

Harb also argued that jurors should find the existence of other aggravating 
factors - that Pasha was on parole for a 1970 bank robbery at the time of the 
killings and that he had committed prior felonies, two bank robberies.

Harb said the murders were especially "wicked" because mother and daughter saw 
each other being beaten and stabbed to death.

Wise said the murders were not calculated. "This was done in a frenzy," the 
defense lawyer said. "There was not anything planned out. Something snapped."

Wise said that although "there was some suffering" on the part of the victims, 
there was no more than in most other murders. "They, fortunately, did die 
within a relatively short period of time."

Wise also urged jurors to find some good in Pasha, who faced severe corporal 
punishment as a child and lost two mother figures when he was very young. 
Pasha, the lawyer said, grew up facing the indignity of racial segregation in 
Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s. This, Wise said, was "a major contributing 
factor" to the murders.

Wise said a death sentence won't protect society from Pasha because whatever 
the jury decides, Pasha is "never getting out. He's dying in prison one way or 
the other."

A majority of jurors must recommend the death penalty before a judge can impose 
the sentence. The jurors in Pasha's last trial voted 7-5. Had 1 more juror 
voted against death, Pasha would not have been eligible for execution.

(source: The Tampa Tribune)




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