Arkansas Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, October 03, 2007, 01:05:28 PM

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Appeals court upholds death sentence in white separatist plot
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A federal appeals panel on Monday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted in the slaying of an Arkansas family as part of a white separatist plot to create a new nation in the Pacific Northwest.

#Daniel Lee and his co-defendant, Chevie Kehoe, were convicted of murder, racketeering and other charges in the 1996 deaths of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell. Their bodies were found in a backwater of Illinois Bayou north of Russellville.

#Kehoe drew a life sentence, while Lee was sentenced to death. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against both defendants, who were tried together. A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week turned away an appeal by Kehoe, who is in a high-security federal prison at Lee, Va.

#Lee had sought a new trial and sentencing, arguing on appeal that his lawyer was ineffective during jury selection and that the death sentence was unconstitutional.

#The three-judge panel that decided Lee's appeal noted that it earlier found there was no prejudice to his case by the government presenting evidence during sentencing that he was a psychopath.

#"We conclude that the jury properly considered the aggravating actors advanced by the government in determining that Lee should be sentenced to death," the judges wrote.

#Kehoe and Lee had separate sentencing hearings before the same jury during the 1999 trial.

#Lee, who is locked up in a high-security prison in Terre Haute, Ind., argued that the jury, which had nine black members, was subjected to "an unrelenting barrage of accusations of abhorrent racist beliefs." He claimed his death sentence showed prejudice because Kehoe wasn't sentenced to execution.

#The appeals panel disagreed.

#"The jury accepted Kehoe's mitigation case, believing that he had been indoctrinated from a young age and would not be a future danger. By contrast, the jury rejected Lee's arguments for mitigation and instead found that he would be a future danger," the panel wrote.

#Federal prosecutors didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The public federal public defender's office had no immediate comment.

#Prosecutors told jurors the men attacked the Arkansas family to steal William Mueller's guns to advance their scheme to create their own nation.

#The government asserted that Kehoe and Lee engaged in a number of other illegal activities, including the bombing of City Hall at Spokane, Wash., and a shootout with Ohio police that was videotaped by a police car-mounted camera and broadcast nationwide.

#The men were convicted in federal court in Little Rock of capital murder, racketeering and conspiracy. The latter charge was for their plot to overthrow the federal government and set up the whites-only nation.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

Grinning Grim Reaper

APNewsBreak: Ark. AG seeks executions for 7 felons

10:38 AM, May 3, 2013

The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas' attorney general is asking the state's governor to set execution dates for seven death row inmates.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel sent seven letters to Gov. Mike Beebe late Thursday requesting that execution dates be set for:

•Don Davis (capital murder 1992)
•Stacey Johnson (capital murder 1997)
•Jack Jones (capital murder, rape, attempted murder 1996)
•Jason McGehee (kidnapping, capital murder 1998)
•Bruce Ward (capital murder 1997)
•Kenneth Williams (three capital murder convictions 1999, 2000, 2005)
•Marcel Williams (capital murder 1997).

The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters on Friday.

McDaniel noted in the letters that six of the seven inmates - all but Davis - are challenging the state's new lethal injection law. Arkansas is changing the drugs it uses to put inmates to death.

Despite the challenge, McDaniel said there aren't any court orders in place preventing the executions.

Arkansas currently doesn't have any pending executions. The state last executed an inmate in 2005.

Don Davis was sentenced to death

Arkansas really needs to start lighting them up again and these 7 definitely deserve it...there are some sick rabid animals on that list.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


Lawyer for death-row inmate seeks new trial
This article was published today at 7:05 a.m. Updated today at 11:50 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- A lawyer for an Arkansas man sentenced to death for the killing of a police officer wants the state Supreme Court to grant a new trial for her client.

Jerry Lard was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death last year for the 2011 shooting death of Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt.

Attorney Janice Vaughn told the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday that the judge overseeing Lard's trial let his sympathy for Schmidt's family get in the way of his duty on the bench.

Vaughn said the judge failed to sequester some of Schmidt's family who testified at sentencing. She's asking for a new trial for Lard.

The state wants the high court to uphold Lard's conviction and sentence.
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Man convicted in Ark. family's death gets hearing
January 10, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A judge is scheduled to hear a request later this month to overturn the federal death sentence handed down to an Oklahoma man convicted of killing an Arkansas family in 1996 as part of a conspiracy to overthrow the federal government and create a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.

Danny Lee, of Yukon, Okla., was convicted of murder in the aid of racketeering and was sentenced to death for the killings of Pope County gun dealer Bill Mueller, his wife, Nancy Mueller and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.

Prosecutors alleged that Lee and co-defendant Chevie Kehoe stole guns and $50,000 in cash from the Muellers' home, then used a stun gun on the three victims, placed plastic trash bags over their heads and sealed the bags with duct tape to suffocate them. Prosecutors said the men then taped rocks to the bodies and dropped them in the nearby Illinois Bayou.

Kehoe was also convicted in the deaths and sentenced to life in prison.

Lee's attorneys are challenging evidence presented during sentencing that suggested Lee was a psychopath and dangerous to others.

Lee "remains the only federal prisoner facing execution whose death sentence rests on false, pseudo-scientific evidence of future dangerousness which has been thoroughly disavowed," his attorney, Karl Schwartz, wrote in a court filing. "He faces execution because his counsel should have but did not pursue this issue" at trial.

A Jan. 31 hearing was scheduled at Lee's request to have his death sentenced overturned, a local newspaper reported Friday.

Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes to either dismiss or deny Lee's motion.

Kehoe's family has been well-known to law enforcement since the 1990s, when authorities say they provided weapons to various white supremacists who committed robberies across the Midwest. His father and brother were arrested in October on federal firearms charges after a raid on their Arizona ranch.
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Appeal set for Oklahoman in death of Pope County family

LITTLE ROCK -- An Oklahoma man awaiting a federal death sentence for killing an Arkansas family is to have a hearing in his attempt to get a new sentencing phase of his trial.

Danny Lee was convicted in the 1996 deaths of the Mueller family in Pope County. Lee and an accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, robbed the family of guns and cash as part of a scheme to establish a white supremacist nation in the Pacific Northwest.

Kehoe drew a life sentence, and Lee is to try to have his death sentence thrown out at a Friday hearing in federal court in Little Rock.

Lee claims that jurors were improperly shown results of a test that scored him as a psychopath and a danger in prison. Lee says the test has since been discredited.
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Death-row inmates to argue on execution drug
14 Feb. 2014

LITTLE ROCK -- Nine inmates on Arkansas' death row are to argue in a circuit court hearing that the state's execution law is so flawed that a judge should block further lethal injections.

The hearing in Pulaski County on Friday is over arguments by the condemned inmates that the Legislature gave too much power to the Correction Department in an execution law passed last year.

A new law was needed because the Arkansas Supreme Court tossed out a previous law, saying legislators gave too much control to corrections officials. The inmates further argue that the execution drug the state wants to use is untested and could result in an agonizing death.

The inmates also argue that the law is invalid because it was not in force at the time they committed their crimes.
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Arkansas judge grants request to block executions
February 14, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A group of death row inmates won a court judgment Friday that temporarily blocks executions in Arkansas and says the state Legislature gave too much authority to the Correction Department when it designated the agency director as the person who picks the drug for lethal injections.

A law passed last year specified that the state kill inmates by using a barbiturate but did not specify which one.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled from the bench after an hour-long hearing, granting the request by nine death row inmates and ensuring the state can't conduct an execution as the matter continues to wind through the courts.

Arkansas, which has no scheduled executions and hasn't executed an inmate since 2005, is among a number of states that are weighing changes to execution methods amid other inmate lawsuits.

The Arkansas inmates raised two issues and won on one of them, the agency director's authority to pick the drug. But Griffen granted a request by the state to throw out the other issue, in which the inmates argued that they couldn't be executed under the 2013 law because it wasn't in force at the time of their crimes.

Griffen found that the 2013 law was administrative in nature and not a sentencing law and therefore would still apply. The state argued the actual sentence was covered by the capital murder statute.

Jeff Rosenzweig, a lawyer for the death row inmates, said he will appeal the elements they lost to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Lawyers for the Arkansas attorney general's office didn't comment after Griffen's ruling.

In a statement issued later Friday, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said: "I have aggressively battled to uphold death penalty sentences, and I will appeal the decision. This is yet another example of the practical and legal hurdles complicating our state's execution process."

While the law does say that a barbiturate must be used, it doesn't specify training for Correction Department staff who would conduct the executions and lacks the specificity of a 1983 law that said the state should administer a short-acting barbiturate.

"My major problem," Griffen said of the law, "... is what I see as an absence of guidelines."

Attorney Josh Lee, also representing the inmates, argued that there is no assurance in the law that an execution would be "swift and humane" and that it failed to establish procedures and rules.

Lee argued that the barbiturate class of drugs varies widely and picking the wrong one could result in an execution taking up to three hours and causing a "lingering death." He also argued that the statute is flawed because it specifies that the inmate first be given an anti-anxiety drug, benzodiazepine.

Lee said benzodiazepine in large doses can cause adverse reactions, such as anxiety, agitation and disturbances to motor skills. He characterized administration of the drug as a punishment added on to the execution sentence.

Assistant Attorney General David Curran argued a death row inmate could file a separate lawsuit to challenge use of a specific barbiturate.

Griffen asked Curran whether some barbiturates could be administered without causing death. Curran said he didn't know.

"How would the director of the Department of Correction know the answer to that question?" Griffen replied.

Curran said the law is specific enough in that it says an inmate be given a lethal dose. He added that the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment would ensure executions are carried out properly and that the state can trust the Correction Department director "to do the right thing."

The Legislature passed the new execution law last year after the Arkansas Supreme Court threw out a 2009 law, also on grounds that legislators gave too much discretion to the Correction Department.

Last year, the Arkansas Correction Department said it had chosen pentobarbital as its execution drug but later reversed that decision.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


New hearing denied in slayings of gun dealer, family

LITTLE ROCK -- A federal judge has rejected a request for a new hearing for an Oklahoma man on federal death row for the slayings of an Arkansas family.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes ruled Tuesday that Danny Lee of Yukon, Okla., needed to obtain authorization from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to file another petition challenging his death sentence.

Lee was convicted in federal court in the 1996 slayings of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy Mueller, and their young daughter, Sarah. Their bodies were found in a backwater of Illinois Bayou north of Russellville.

Prosecutors alleged that Lee and Chevie Kehoe wanted to steal the dealer's guns to start an army and establish a white supremacist nation in the Pacific Northwest.

Lee's attorneys wanted Lee's case reopened so they could challenge tests presented at trial that suggested Lee was a psychopath.
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July 17, 2014
TEXARKANA -- A former death-row inmate has been sentenced to life in prison after the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned his death sentence more than two years ago.

The Texarkana Gazette reported that the jury of nine women and three men decided Wednesday to give Frank Williams Jr. a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

Williams had been convicted of capital murder in the 1992 fatal shooting of farmer Clyde Spence in Lafayette County. The jury in Miller County decided only Williams' punishment.

The Arkansas Supreme Court had overturned Williams' original death sentence and sent the case back to trial court for another look at punishment.

Attorneys for Williams argued earlier this week their client was mentally disabled. Prosecuting attorney Carlton Jones says he respects the jury's decision.
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September 25, 2014
Convictions of 2 on death row upheld

LITTLE ROCK -- The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of two men sitting on death row in separate rulings.

Justices on Thursday upheld the capital murder convictions of Derek Sales and Gregory Decay, both of whom were sentenced to death. Sales was convicted in the April 16, 2005, slaying of Willie York of Bradley County. Decay was convicted in the April 3, 2007, shooting deaths of Kevin Jones and Kendall Rice of Fayetteville.

Sales had argued his counsel was ineffective for telling jurors that he might be pardoned by the governor if sentenced to life, and for referring during opening statements that Sales had escaped jail while awaiting trial.

Decay had also argued that his counsel had been ineffective during his trial.
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Grinning Grim Reaper

Arkansas moves to resume executions after 10-year hiatus

By Steve Barnes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - A decade after the last execution in Arkansas, a ruling by the state's Supreme Court has moved the state back on a path to resuming capital punishment by lethal injection.

But restarting could prove problematic due to a shortage of execution drugs stemming from a sales boycott by European pharmaceutical firms that has sent states scrambling for alternatives and a U.S. Supreme Court case questioning the mix used in Oklahoma, where a troubled execution last year led the White House to seek a review of capital punishment.

The Arkansas court ruling was applauded by the Republican-dominated government that took office in January, wanting to resume executions of the 33 people on the state's death row, and residents, with opinion polls showing strong support for capital punishment.

"Obviously they are all in a very perilous situation," said Jeff Rosenzweig, a Little Rock attorney who represents four of the eight prisoners at the front of the line for execution.

There are about 1,000 U.S. inmates who have been sentenced to death in states like Arkansas, California and Pennsylvania that have not conducted any execution for years because of political or judicial reasons.

Last week, a sharply divided state Supreme Court ruled the Arkansas lethal injection law was constitutional, overturning a lower court ruling that led to a moratorium on the grounds that lawmakers had abrogated their responsibility to adequately oversee the process.

Death penalty opponents are not optimistic. The Oklahoma case now before the U.S. Supreme Court "is the only Hail Mary pass left," said Herb Rule, a Little Rock attorney.

A major step is determining what chemicals the state will use and likely hinges on legislation under study in the Arkansas legislature, said Cathy Frye, spokeswoman for the Department of Correction.

"We're awaiting orders," Frye said, adding the department did not have any chemicals used in lethal injections.

Lawmakers are weighing bills that would permit executions using drugs other than those most recently employed by the state. One Republican state representative whose daughter's killer is on Arkansas's death row, has said she may press for execution by firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection.

Several states have turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies, which can mix chemicals for use as pharmaceuticals, to make their lethal injection compounds.

Lawyers for death row inmates have said this could lead to impure mixtures that could cause undue suffering and violate U.S. constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Arkansas House advances bill to help restart executions

POSTED: 08:31 AM CDT Mar 27, 2015 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -  Arkansas House members have endorsed a bill aimed at helping restart executions in the state by allowing different drugs to be used in lethal injections and shielding the drugs' source.

The House voted 73-3 to approve HB 1751 by Rep. Douglas House, which seeks to clear the way for executions to resume in Arkansas.

The bill sets out the types of drugs to be used in the lethal-injection process and would provide confidentiality to the makers and suppliers of the drugs.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled last week that Arkansas' 2013 lethal-injection law is constitutional, reversing a circuit judge's ruling that it gave too much discretion to the Department of Correction in deciding what drugs to use and in what amounts.

It would allow the Department of Correction to either use a barbiturate or a combination of three drugs for executions. The agency would also be barred from releasing who makes or supplies the drugs.

Arkansas has not executed a prisoner since 2005. The state's last supplier of execution drugs no longer allows it products to be used in lethal injections.

"This is a very uncomfortable subject for me and it will be for you, but it is the responsibility of state government to address this situation," House said.  No one spoke against the bill, which now goes to the governor. Hutchinson told reporters Thursday he would review the bill.

A lawyer for some death row inmates say the secrecy provision in the bill violates a 2013 agreement with the Arkansas attorney general's office and would open the state up to a lawsuit if passed.  :P Poor Loser  :P

A spokesman for the attorney general's office says the agreement shouldn't prevent the Legislature from amending the law.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


8 death row cases ready for execution phase

With the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling this past week declaring the state's lethal injection procedures as constitutional, executions in Arkansas are set to move forward after a decade of being on hold.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who appeared on this week's edition of Talk Business & Politics on KATV Ch. 7, said there are 32 inmates on Death Row, with 8 inmates having exhausted all of their appeals. Still, she said, carrying out the death penalty won't be immediate.

"This is not something that's going to happen in the next couple of weeks. I know there's quite a bit of angst and talk about that because of the Supreme Court's decision," said Rutledge, whose office works with the governor's administration to coordinate state executions.
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Arkansas Governor Asked to Set Execution Dates for 8 Inmates
Sep 1, 2015,

Arkansas attorney general has asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to set execution dates for eight death row inmates in what would be the state's first executions in a decade.

A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge confirmed Tuesday that the request was made. A spokesman for Hutchinson said the governor did not have an immediate timeline for when he would set the dates.

The Arkansas Department of Correction purchased enough of the three-drug combination used in the state's new execution protocol in late July to perform the executions. A state law passed this year lets the department buy the drugs secretly, as in other states.

According to an invoice in which the name of the supplier is blacked out, the department paid $24,226 for the three drugs needed for lethal injections, including the sedative midazolam.

Midazolam was implicated after executions last year in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma went on longer than expected, with inmates gasping and groaning as they died. The U.S. Supreme Court in June approved continued use of the drug, rejecting a challenge from three Oklahoma inmates now set to be put to death in September and October.

Rutledge's spokesman Judd Deere said there were eight letters sent, one each for inmates Bruce Earl Ward, Don William Davis, Jack Jones, Jason McGehee, Kenneth Williams, Marcel Williams, Stacey Johnson and Terrick Nooner.

The eight men have exhausted their court appeals for their criminal convictions, but the inmates filed a joint lawsuit in April when the law was passed allowing the state to keep the manufacturer of the drugs a secret.

Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, who represents the eight inmates, said Tuesday he plans to "file the appropriate pleadings in the appropriate courts to delay any execution date that the governor might set."

Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 because the state's execution law had been challenged in court.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

Grinning Grim Reaper

Arkansas' Highest Court Keeps Executions on Hold, for Now

By Claudia Lauer The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a lower-court judge overstepped his jurisdiction by halting the executions of eight death row inmates.

But the high court immediately granted its own stay to give the inmates time to challenge a new state law that bars Arkansas from disclosing its execution-drug supplier.  ??? HUH?  ???

The justices sided with the state in agreeing to toss this month's order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. Still, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she was disappointed that the executions, the first of which was scheduled for this week, remained on hold.

"While the Supreme Court's decision is not about the merits of the case, it is unfortunate that this further delays justice for the victims. I will continue to defend Arkansas's lethal injection statute and fight for the victims and their grieving families," Rutledge wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The high court also refused to order Griffen to schedule an earlier hearing in the case. He set the next hearing for March, just months before one of the state's execution drugs is set to expire. The attorney general's office had asked for a faster timetable, arguing that defense attorneys were trying to delay the case until the drug was no longer usable.

The prisoners are challenging the constitutionality of the state's new secrecy law, saying they need information about where and how the state's execution drugs were made to determine whether they will lead to cruel and unusual punishment. They also argue that the law violates a settlement in an earlier lawsuit that guaranteed inmates would be given the information, but the state has said the agreement was not a binding contract.

The inmates also are challenging Arkansas' three-drug execution protocol, focusing on the use of the drug midazolam. The sedative was implicated after inmates gasped and groaned during longer-than-expected executions in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona.

"We realize there is a lot of litigation yet lying in front of us. But we feel the decision of the Supreme Court was the appropriate decision in this case," said Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney for the inmates. "The state made a binding commitment to provide us with this information and we are entitled to this information."

He also noted ongoing problems in Oklahoma, which has a similar secrecy law. Executions also are on hold there as the state investigates why prison officials used the wrong drug in a January execution and nearly did so last month.

"I think people saw what happened in Oklahoma, and the people of Arkansas do not want that to happen here," Rosenzweig said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Arkansas Parole Board recommended that Gov. Asa Hutchinson deny the clemency request by one of the eight inmates, Stacey Eugene Johnson, who has asked the governor to commute his sentence to life without parole. Hutchinson didn't immediately make a decision.

Johnson was convicted of killing Carol Heath, who was beaten and strangled, and her throat slit, while her two young children were home. Her daughter, who was six when her mother was killed, testified during Johnson's second trial, but defense attorneys say they were wrongly denied access to the child's mental records before she was allowed to testify.

The daughter, Ashley Heath, asked the parole board during a hearing last week to grant the clemency request, saying she didn't believe in the death penalty and that it would end her family's constant worry about the next appeal or hearing. Other relatives disagreed.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

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