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The quote below is from Florida death-row inmate William Van Poyck's February 16, 2010 blog entry.

"There are about 40 guys (my rough estimate - I could be off by 10 or more guys) eligible to have their death warrants signed, with me being squarely in that group (at least for now), and the governor's selection process is totally arbitrary and capricious.  Gov. Crist can pick and choose whoever he wants, at any time, for any reason, or, he can pick nobody at all."
Trailside Killer' linked to 1979 murder

Bay City News
February 23, 2010

David Joseph Carpenter (Courtesy photo)

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco police said Tuesday that DNA from death row inmate David Joseph Carpenter, known as the "Trailside Killer," matches evidence collected at the scene of an unsolved murder in San Francisco in 1979.
Carpenter, now 79, is awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison for seven other murders in Marin and Santa Cruz counties in the early 1980s.
The new DNA hit matches physical evidence collected from the scene of the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Mary Bennett, whose body was found at Lands End on Oct. 21, 1979, police said.
Bennett was found dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and jogging shoes in a wooded area north of Painted Rock.
Her body was partially covered with dirt and branches, and she had been stabbed multiple times in the neck, chest and back, police said.
The San Francisco Police Department's crime laboratory examined the evidence in December and detected the DNA profile of an unknown male. They later connected it to Carpenter's DNA profile, which was already on file with the state Department of Justice.
San Francisco homicide inspectors earlier this month obtained DNA samples from Carpenter and were able to confirm the match last Thursday, police said.
Carpenter was convicted in separate trials in the 1980s of fatally shooting four women and a man in Marin County in 1980, and two women in Santa Cruz County in 1981. The murders all occurred along remote hiking trails.
May Execution Date for AR Death Row Inmate

Reported by: KARK 4 News
Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 @03:15pm CST

For the third time since last month, an execution date has been set by the governor for an Arkansas Death Row inmate.

Governor Mike Beebe today set May 4th as the execution date for Stacey Eugene Johnson, 40. Johnson was convicted of the 1994 murder of Carol Heath in De Queen and sentenced to death.

On January 25th, Beebe set April 12th as the execution date for Don W. Davis, 47. Davis was sentenced to death for killing a Rogers woman in 1990.

On January 14th, Gov. Beebe set a March 16th execution date for Jack Harold Jones, 45. Jones was sentenced to death for raping and killing Mary Phillips and attempting to kill her 11-year-old daughter Lacey back in 1995.

Last month, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel had asked the governor to set execution dates for Jones, Davis and Johnson.

The last time Arkansas executed an inmate was in November 2005.

Executions in Arkansas had been put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court heard a Kentucky case challenging the lethal injection procedure.
Canadian Official Charged in Murders

Published: February 8, 2010
Filed at 8:50 p.m. ET

TORONTO (AP) -- The commander of Canada's largest Air Force base, who once flew dignitaries around the country, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two women

Ontario Provincial Police Det. Insp. Chris Nicholas said Monday that Col. Russell Williams, 46, was also charged in the sexual assaults of two other women. Williams was arrested Sunday in Ottawa.

The charges left Canada's military in a state of shock.

Williams, a 23-year military veteran, was appointed as the base commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Trenton, Ontario last July. Trenton is Canada's busiest Air Force base and is providing logistical support for Canada's missions in Haiti and Afghanistan as well as support for the Vancouver Winter Games.

Williams is charged with the first-degree murder of Jessica Lloyd, 27, of a Belleville, Ontario, resident whose body was found earlier Monday, and Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal found dead in her Brighton, Ontario, home in November.

Authorities said Williams came to the attention of police during a roadside canvas on Feb. 4, six days after Lloyd was deemed missing.

Williams is also charged with forcible confinement, breaking and entering and sexual assault after two women were sexually assaulted during two separate home invasions in the Tweed, Ontario area in September of 2009.

''We're shocked by the connection that has been made with a leader in our Air Force,'' Maj. Gen. Yvan Blondin, the direct commander of Williams, said in Trenton.

''It obviously is no longer possible for the commander to remain in his position.''

Blondin said he didn't know him personally but said Williams was an elite pilot and considered a ''shining bright star.''

Williams was photographed last month with Defense Minister Peter MacKay and Canada's top general during an inspection of a Canadian aircraft that was on its way to support relief efforts in Haiti.

Lieutenant-General Andre Deschamps, Canada's Air Force chief, said the Air Force is fully supporting civilian police. He called it a difficult period but said the Air Force would provide support for personnel at Trenton.

Dan Dugas, a spokesman for MacKay, called the charges serious but said MacKay will not comment.

Police descended on Williams' Ottawa home on Sunday and police cars remained posted there Monday evening. Williams' Defense Department biography said he is married.

Williams once served as a Challenger aircraft pilot who transported VIPs. The Air Force declined to say who he flew but the Challenger regularly flies cabinet ministers and the governor general, Canada's ceremonial head of sate. A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he didn't believe Williams flew Harper.

Between December 2005 and June 2006, Williams was the commanding officer for Camp Mirage, the secretive Canadian Forces forward logistics base that is not officially acknowledged by the government or military but has been widely reported to be near Dubai.

''We are certainly tracking the movements of where this man has been over the past several years and we're continuing with our investigation,'' Nicholas said.

Williams walked into a courthouse in Belleville, Ontario on Monday in hand and leg shackles, wearing a blue prison-issue jumpsuit. The judge imposed a publication ban on other details.

He was held in custody and will appear in court by video on Feb. 18.
Clicking on this link and then clicking on "Monthly Death Row Population" will lead you to a list of Oklahoma death-row inmates showing what stage they're at in their appeals.
State inmates
Teresa Lewis: born 04-26-69, Pittsylvania County, on DR since 06-04-03, victims: C.J. Lewis and Julian Lewis (murderer's stepson and husband shot to death for insurance money in murder-for-hire case on 10-30-02); 4th Circuit oral argument 03-23-10; Denied COA by the 4th Circuit on 06-04-10;07/29/10 Execution date set for 09/23/10
Jerry Jackson: born 07-22-81, Williamsburg/James City County, on DR since 04-03-03, victim: Ruth Phillips (raped, robbed and smothered with a pillow at 88 years of age on 08-25-01); federal habeas petition filed 09-27-06 Granted federal habeas relief on 03/29/10
Justin Wolfe: born 03-07-82, Prince William County, on DR since 06-26-02, victim: Daniel Petrole, Jr. (Wolfe, a 21-year-old suburban drug dealer, hired another individual to serve as a hit man upon rival dealer Daniel Petrole, whom Wolfe owed money. On 03-15-01, Petrole was followed home and murdered in a hail of bullets outside his Bristow area townhouse); remanded by 4th Circuit to District Court for further hearings 05-11-09
Leon Winston: born 07-02-80, Lynchburg, on DR since 01-29-04, victims: Anthony Robinson and Ronda Robinson (husband and wife shot to death in the commission of a burglary on 04-22-02); remanded by 4th Circuit to Federal District Court for further hearings 01-27-10; VA files petition with US Supreme Court Aug. 2, 2010 to overturn 4th Circuits remand to lower court. Hearing Sept. 27, 2010
Ivan Teleguz: born 11-17-78, Rockingham County, on DR since 07-18-06, victim: Stephanie Sipe (on 07-21-01, had her throat cut by killers hired by ex-boyfriend Teleguz); state habeas denied by VA Supreme Court 01-15-10, Federal habeas petition filed 06-14-10
Anthony Juniper: born 11-23-71, Norfolk, on DR since 04-01-05, victims: Ruben E. Harrison III, Keshia Stephens, Nykia Stephens and Shearyia Stephens (On 01-16-04, stabbed and shot to death his ex-girlfriend, Keshia Stephens, along with shooting to death her 19-year old brother and her two little girls); state habeas VA response received 02-28-07
Ricky Javon Gray: born 03-09-77, Richmond, on DR since 10-23-06, victims: Ruby Harvey and Stella Harvey (on 01-01-06, four-year-old Ruby died from stab wounds to her back, one of which punctured her lung, while her nine-year-old sister Stella died from smoke inhalation and blunt-force trauma to the head; in addition, five other were murdered by Gray and an accomplice, including Ruby and Stella's parents, Bryan and Kathryn); state habeas VA response received 04-21-08
Thomas Porter: born 11-01-75, Norfolk, on DR since 07-16-07, victim: Stanley C. Reeves (on 10-28-05, Reeves, a police officer, was shot three times by Porter while responding to a complaint); state habeas VA response received 09-09-09
William Morva: born 1982, Montgomery County, on DR since 03-14-08, victims: Derrick McFarland and Eric Sutphin (while in jail awaiting trial for attempted armed robbery, and facing a maximum 38 years sentence, Morva was taken to Montgomery Regional Hospital on 08-20-06 for a sprained ankle and wrist. After using a hospital bathroom, he assaulted and knocked deputy Russell Quesenberry unconscious using a metal toilet-paper container. He seized the deputy's gun and shot Derrick McFarland, a hospital security guard who was running to the deputy's aid. McFarland died from his wounds. This initiated a manhunt for Morva, who on the morning of 08-21-06 shot and killed a Montgomery County sheriff's deputy, Cpl. Eric Sutphin); death sentence upheld on direct appeal on 09-18-09, rehearing denied 12-09-09
William Burns: born 04-30-66, Shenandoah County, on DR since 05-12-00, victim: Tersey Elizabeth Cooley (was Burns' mother-in-law and died from blunt force trauma in the commission of rape, statutory burglary, and forcible sodomy on 09-21-98); sent back to Circuit Court by Virginia Supreme Court for mental-retardation hearing 01-15-10
Joshua Wayne Andrews: born 02-82, Prince William County, on DR since 10-19-09, victims: Romanno Head and Robert Morrison (shot to death during a robbery on 01-02-02), direct appeal filed 12-11-09. Oral argument on direct appeal is scheduled for 06-07-10 in the Virginia Supreme Court.Virginia Supreme court orders new sentencing hearing on 09/16/10
Alfredo Prieto: born 1965, Fairfax County, on DR since 03-04-08, victims: Warren H. Fulton III and Rachael A. Raver (on 12-04-88, Fulton was shot to death while his college sweetheart, Raver, was raped and shot to death by Prieto, who is also on California's death row for a 1990 murder); Virginia Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing on 09-18-09, Denied certiorari 06-14-10(presumably on his conviction alone and not his sentence).Sentencing trial in progress

Federal inmates
Cory Johnson: born 11-05-68, on DR since 07-27-97, victims: Dorothy Armstrong, Anthony Carter, Linwood Chiles, Louis Johnson, Peyton Johnson, Bobby Long, Douglas Talley and Curtis Thorne; all normal appeals exhausted, awaiting resolution of lethal-injection litigation in DC Federal District Court
James Roane: born 10-27-65, on DR since 07-27-97, victim: Douglas Moody; all normal appeals exhausted, awaiting resolution of lethal-injection litigation in DC Federal District Court
Richard Tipton: born 05-13-70, on DR since 07-27-97, victims: Linwood Chiles, Douglas Talley and Curtis Thorne; all normal appeals exhausted, awaiting resolution of lethal-injection litigation in DC Federal District Court
Carlos Caro: born c. 1967, on DR since 03-30-07, victim: Robert Sandoval; oral argument on direct appeal before the Fourth Circuit on 10-30-09, sentence upheld 03-17-10
Aquilia Barnette: born c. 1974, on DR since 04-10-98, victims: Donald Lee Allen and Robin Williams; remanded on direct appeal by Fourth Circuit to District Court for evidentiary hearing in 08-07, death sentence upheld on remand in Federal District Court 05-20-10.
Thomas Hager: born c. 1973, on DR since 11-01-07, victim: Barbara White; awaiting decision on direct appeal
David Anthony Runyon: born c. 1971, on DR since 12-04-09; victim: Corey Allen Voss; awaiting decision on direct appeal
Richard Stitt: born 07-10-73, on DR since 02-24-99, victims: James Gilliam, Jr., James Griffin and Sinclair Simon, Jr.; 4th Circuit ruled 12-26-08 that he gets a penalty-phase retrial which will take place on 05-25-10

The above information has been pieced together from the following websites: Virginians Against the Death Penalty, the Virginia Courts site, and the Fourth Circuit
According to an August 10th entry on the blog of Florida death-row inmate William van Poyck (who was once held on Virginia's death row), Virginia DR inmate Larry Bill Elliot has been given a September execution date.

Anyone know if there's any truth to this? Or is it all hogwash?
Somali pirates get $2.7 million ransom for German ship

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali pirates holding a German ship with five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos on board have received a $2.7 million ransom and are counting it before releasing the ship, a pirate told Reuters.
"We have taken $2.7 million ransom for Hansa, a German ship," pirate Abdi told Reuters by phone from Haradhere, a piracy haven.
"We are now dividing the money. We shall get down (off the ship) soon."
The German-flagged container vessel Hansa Stavanger was captured about 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4.
The release of the 20,000 tonne ship, owned by Hamburg shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg, was expected last week but it was delayed after the pirates demanded a higher ransom.
Earlier, a Malaysian-owned tugboat held for over seven months was released after a ransom was paid, with 11 Indonesian crew.
Gangs of Somali pirates in the shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe have made millions of dollars in ransom payments from ships hijacked in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
(Reporting by Mohamed Ahmed and Abdi Guled; Editing by Sophie Hares);_ylt=AjKZ4WklMNRmwFlo5HSvSkTuOrgF;_ylu=X3oDMTE1bzJqYTNsBHBvcwM0BHNlYwN5bi1jaGFubmVsBHNsawNzb21hbGlwaXJhdGU-


Doesn't Germany have naval commandos who could've handled a situation like this? Why have they given in and perpetuated this problem?
Crime Debate and Discussion / Prison rape
June 24, 2009, 07:37:28 AM
Panel Sets Guidelines For Fighting Prison Rape

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nearly six years after President George W. Bush signed legislation to reduce prison rape, a blue-ribbon commission is calling on corrections officers to identify vulnerable inmates, offer better medical care and allow stricter monitoring of their facilities.

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, in a study to be released today, affirms that more than 7.3 million people in prisons, jails and halfway houses across the nation have "fundamental rights to safety, dignity and justice."

The number of rapes committed by detention staff members and other inmates remains a subject of intense scrutiny. A 2007 survey of state and federal prisoners estimated that 60,500 inmates had been abused the previous year. But experts say that the stigma of sexual assault often leads to underreporting of incidents and denial by many of the victims.

Too often, the report says, sexual abuse of prisoners is viewed as a source of jokes rather than a problem with destructive implications for public health, crime rates and successful reentry of prisoners into the community.

"If you have a zero-tolerance policy on prison rape and it is known from the highest ranks that this will not be tolerated and there will be consequences for it, that goes a long way in sending a message," said U.S District Judge Reggie B. Walton, the commission chairman. "Just because people have committed crimes and are in prison, that doesn't mean that part of their punishment is being sexually abused while in detention."

The panel hosted hearings and visited 11 corrections sites before issuing its report. Among the strongest recommendations: Staff members should be subject to robust background checks and given training, which could help victims of sexual assault secure emergency medical and mental health treatment.

Panel members are preparing to send their report to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who will have one year to prepare mandatory national standards. The recommendations will not bind state corrections officers, but states that do not adopt them will have their criminal justice funding cut, panel members said.

Jamie Fellner, senior counsel at Human Rights Watch, said the panel's recommendations are common-sense steps to prevent, detect and punish prison rape, not "pie in the sky" ideals. "This problem wouldn't exist with good prison management," Fellner said.

But the recommendations could pose a challenge for wardens who already battle crowding. Corrections officers, who according to inmate surveys commit a significant percentage of inmate assaults, also may protest more oversight.

Brenda V. Smith, an American University law professor who worked on the commission, said sexual abuse in prison "isn't just a random event that can happen to other bad people."

Instead, political protesters, people accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and substance abusers have shared harrowing incidents of rape while in custody, sometimes while spending only one night behind bars. "This is something that could happen to a kid who has no priors and who happens to make a mistake," Smith added.

Hope Hernandez said in an interview that she was raped multiple times by a corrections guard in the District years ago. She said she was suffering through withdrawal in a medical unit while she awaited sentencing on a drug-related charge. Hernandez said the guard led her to a secluded room while nurses slept.

Hernandez said she wanted to share her story to put a face on the problem of rape in detention facilities.

After her release on probation, she went on to earn a master's degree in social work. She said she remains unsettled that the guard's only punishment was a week-long suspension. But her work with foster children and substance abusers and her attendance at the White House signing ceremony for the prison rape bill brought her a measure of peace.

"I'm certainly not bitter over how long it's taken," Hernandez said of the panel report. "I think it's great that it's getting any attention at all."

Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.
Officials seek release for Briley brothers accomplice

Published: May 13, 2009

Thirty years after Richmond's bloodiest, perhaps cruelest murder rampage, key prosecutors and a lead detective in the case say they are seeking the prison release of a man who helped begin and end the killings.

"Sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil," said Robert J. Rice, one of two prosecutors who put the infamous Briley brothers gang, suspected in as many as 20 murders, behind bars. Two of the three brothers were executed.

Rice and veteran prosecutor Warren Von Schuch now say they are miffed that Duncan Eric Meekins, the key witness who brought down the Brileys, remains behind bars.

In a reversal of roles for both, Rice and Von Schuch are set to meet next month with Virginia Parole Board officials to plead for Meekins' release, a promise made to Meekins and his family when he agreed to testify against the Brileys decades ago.

They will be joined by retired Richmond police detective Norman Harding, a gruff veteran of at least 50 homicide investigations who personally arrested Meekins in 1979 in a traffic stop.

The arrest ended the Brileys' reign of terror in Richmond.

"Without Duncan Meekins, none of this happens and more people die," Von Schuch said of the prosecutions.

. . .

Meekins, a neighbor of the Briley family on Fourth Avenue in Highland Park, was taken under the Briley brothers' wing and ordered to kill. He is believed to have personally killed two of the Briley victims and raped another, a pregnant woman murdered by James Briley.

Meekins participated in, or was present for, most of the 11 killings that could be verified, according to Von Schuch, Harding and Rice.

"He was 16 at the time, and he was easily led and manipulated," Von Schuch said of Meekins, who sang in his church choir and attended John Marshall High School.

Von Schuch, Harding and Rice said Meekins, under pressure from his family and promises of leniency from prosecutors, was singularly responsible for convictions of the Brileys and their death sentences.

In hours of interviews shortly after his arrest, Meekins gave investigators details of butchery, rape and murder that took the lives of an unpatterned spectrum of people: from a 5-year-old boy and his parents in North Side; to a nurse who lived alone in Keswick Gardens in Henrico County and whose head was battered beyond recognition; to a popular DJ named Johnny Gallaher, whose body turned up in the James River at Mayo Island.

The effort to free Meekins, who is now in his mid 40s, comes 25 years after James Briley and his brother Linwood orchestrated the largest successful escape from death row in U.S. history.

The May 31, 1984, escape froze Richmond-area residents in fear and hinged on years of lax conditions on death row within the state's Mecklenburg Correctional Center near the North Carolina border, a facility once heralded as escape-proof.

Six death-row inmates, including the two Brileys, escaped after overpowering guards and exiting the prison by staging a bomb hoax.

In fact, the bomb was a television set carried on a stretcher and covered with a sheet. One of the escapees "cooled" the device with blasts from a fire extinguisher.

All of the escapees were caught and eventually executed. A third Briley brother, Anthony, was incarcerated in another prison at the time and is serving a sentence of life plus 139 years.

. . .

Rice and Von Schuch said Meekins has been held for 30 years at undisclosed prisons outside Virginia for his safety under an assumed name. They refused to provide other details, saying to do so would jeopardize his life.

"He's not just a snitch -- he put people in the electric chair," said Von Schuch, one of the state's most dogged prosecutors. Eleven men in Virginia have been executed based on convictions won by Von Schuch, who still works as a special prosecutor for the Chesterfield County commonwealth's attorney's office.

"But the commonwealth must live up to its promises," he said.

Meekins was spared death in exchange for his testimony and received a sentence in Richmond -- life plus 80 years -- fashioned by prosecutors to assure his eligibility for parole in 12 to 15 years.

At the time of sentencing, Meekins was subject to laws that allowed consideration of parole for convicted murderers after about 15 years. Later, parole was abolished for crimes that occurred on or after Jan 1, 1995.

Rice and Harding spoke with a state Parole Board representative a year ago but were stunned, they said, that there seemed to be no acknowledgment of the mitigating circumstances of Meekins' case. It could not be determined yesterday whether Meekins had been formally considered for parole prior to last year.

"There was just this sense that no one really had any idea of the role that Meekins played," said Rice, who now works as a defense attorney.

Now Rice and Von Schuch will meet with parole officials next month to press Meekins' case again. Harding is arranging a meeting as well.

They describe Meekins as having a trouble-free prison record; he has gained a high school equivalency degree and has learned multiple trades.

Family members declined requests to talk with reporters from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Rice said he took up Meekins' case after Meekins' lawyer, Ralph Robertson, who later became a judge, died in March 2006.

He received a call from a relative of Meekins asking for help and said he was shocked to learn that Meekins hadn't been released.

Meekins already has served twice the amount of time prosecutors expected, Rice said. He said Meekins apparently has been short-changed by no-parole laws enacted a decade ago and an unwillingness by the Parole Board to be swayed by pleas for leniency.

"There could not be a graver injustice," Von Schuch said, "than to have Duncan Meekins serve the same amount of time as Anthony Briley."

Contact Reed Williams at (804) 649-6332 or .

Contact Bill McKelway at (804) 649-6601 or .

March, April, July 1979: Two attempted murders and three murders in Richmond and Henrico County are linked to one or more of the Brileys, but prosecutors decline to bring the cases to trial.
Sept. 14, 1979: Disc jockey John Harvey Gallaher is shot to death in South Richmond.
Sept. 30, 1979: Mary J. Wilfong, 62, is beaten to death near the Shops at Willow Lawn.
Oct. 6, 1979: Blanche Page, 75, and Charles Garner, 59, are killed at their home in 3100 block of Fifth Avenue in Richmond.
Oct. 19, 1979: Harvey Wilkerson, 26, Judith Barton, 25, and their son, 5, are killed in their home in 2300 block of Barton Avenue.
Oct. 22, 1979: All three Brileys and Meekins are arrested in the Barton Avenue killings.
May 31, 1984: James and Linwood Briley lead the breakout of themselves and four other inmates from Mecklenburg Correctional Center's death row.
June 19, 1984: Brileys are captured in Philadelphia.
Oct. 12, 1984: Linwood Briley, 30, is executed in Richmond.
April 18, 1985: James D. Briley, 28, is executed in Richmond.
June 2008: Former Richmond prosecutor Robert J. Rice and Richmond detective Norman Harding ask a state Parole Board representative to consider Meekins' release. He has been serving a sentence of life plus 80 years for three murders and a robbery.
May 2009: Anthony Briley, now 51, continues serving life plus 139 years at Powhatan Correctional Center.
June 2009: Rice, Harding and special prosecutor Warren Von Schuch are scheduled to ask the Parole Board for Meekins' release.
Man on death row for Cranberry rape, murder asks for stay of execution

Thursday, April 09, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Donald Michael Tedford, who is on death row for a 1986 rape and murder in Cranberry, has asked for a stay of execution in federal court.

Mr. Tedford filed the motion on his own behalf in U.S. District Court yesterday. He writes in his 12-page document that he expects a warrant for his execution to be issued by April 25 after a request for reargument before the state Supreme Court was denied in January.

Mr. Tedford was convicted in the rape and murder of Jeanine E. Revak in January 1986. At the time, he was on work release from a state prison in Greensburg where he was serving a sentence for assault. He was working at a Cranberry interior design business when he abducted and raped Ms. Revak, who was 22.

In addition to the stay, Mr. Tedford is asking the federal court to appoint him an attorney to work on his federal appeals. He said this is the first time he has turned to federal court for any kind of review.
Cooper's appeals taking time

Mass-murder case from '80s wearing on those involved
Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Created: 03/30/2009 06:41:47 PM PDT

State prosecutors are urging a federal appeals court to make a decision on an appellate issue in the case of death row inmate Kevin Cooper that has delayed the Chino Hills murder case for more than a year.

It's been nearly 500 days since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals received Cooper's request for a full panel of judges to review an appeal of his case, which has been through a series of appeals since his conviction for the 1983 murders.

Cooper has been on death row since 1985, when a jury recommended that Cooper be put to death for the murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their daughter, Jessica, 10, and houseguest Christopher Hughes, 11.

The four were attacked with a hatchet as they slept in the Ryens' home in Chino Hills. Cooper had escaped just days earlier from the California Institution for Men in Chino.

The Ryens' 8-year-old son, Joshua, survived the attack despite suffering a slashed throat and repeated strikes to his head with a hatchet.

Cooper has long maintained he is innocent of the murders and was framed by police and prosecutors.

In 2004, the 9th Circuit court granted a stay of Cooper's execution the day it was set to be carried out.
Over the following year, a lower court reviewed evidence from Cooper's case but found nothing to exonerate him. A federal judge subsequently upheld the death penalty.

Cooper's appeal of the judge's ruling was unanimously rejected in 2007 by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit court, and in December of that year Cooper petitioned for a rehearing by an 11-judge panel.

Nearly a year and a half later, the 9th Circuit has not issued a ruling on whether it will reconsider Cooper's appeal.

The delay, prosecutors wrote in their Wednesday brief, "is contrary to this Court's obligation to Joshya Ryen, the sole survivor of Cooper's noctural massacre of his immediate family, and to William and Mary Ann Hughes, whose 11-year-old son Christopher was murdered by Cooper, to resolve Cooper's Petition for Rehearing without unreasonable delay."

Mary Ann Hughes, reached at her Chino Hills home Monday, expressed frustration with what she called a "stalling technique" by Cooper and his attorneys.

"We've already done this," Hughes said. "We've done this over and over and over again, and nothing is going to change. He's guilty, and everything is just a stalling technique."

The delay in Cooper's case, Hughes said, "is just the standard stuff that they've been going through. I don't think it's anything new."

"The justice system is not very just, at least not for victims," Hughes added. "Certainly not for an 11-year-old boy."

Joshua Ryen, now 33, "continues to wait for the judicial system to carry out the punishment imposed upon Cooper for murdering his entire immediate family and friend," prosecutors wrote.

Holly D. Wilkens, the supervising deputy attorney general who filed the brief on behalf of the state, did not return a call seeking comment late Monday.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.

Idaho Senate takes aim at firing squad option
- The Associated Press
Published: 03/23/09

BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho Senate voted to take the firing squad off the law books as an alternative method of execution.

The bill passed 33-2 Monday. It's already cleared the House and now goes to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for signature.

According to the Idaho State Historical Society, the state has never executed someone by firing squad.

But it remained a possibility, as a backup should a Department of Correction director decide lethal injection was impractical.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, two people in the United States have died by firing squad, both in Utah: Gary Gilmore, made famous in a book by Norman Mailer, in 1977 and John Albert Taylor in 1996.

But Utah did away with firing squads in 2004.

"We're the only state left with it," said Sen. Denton Darrington, a Declo Republican, before the Senate vote.
The Death Penalty Information Center, despite its deceptively neutral-sounding name, is a fiercely anti-death penalty organization. Its director, Richard Dieter, has, for years now, been extremely successful in publicizing his list of more than 130 former death-row inmates who he claims have been "exonerated". The plain meaning of "exonerated" is to be totally cleared of any involvement in a crime. Much of the mass media as well as politicians (such as New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson) have uncritically and unquestioningly accepted as fact that 130 people have been sent to death row who had nothing to do with the underlying crime.

Ward Campbell, the Deputy Supervising Attorney General for the State of California, has written a well-researched and documented debunking of Dieter's list of the "exonerated":
If you come across a news source that publishes a DP article and includes as fact that 130 DR inmates have been exonerated, I urge you to write the journalist or newspaper in question, provide them with the link above, inform them that the "exonerated" list is, at the very least, disputable and that they should check out the DPIC site and hopefully acknowledge in future articles that the DPIC is strongly against capital punishment.

I've already written the Akron, Ohio paper and the journalist I wrote to has pledged to identify the DPIC as an anti-DP organization in future articles. Let's not let the antis get away with a cynical disinformation campaign which has as its ultimate aim the abolition of the death penalty.