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on: January 22, 2016, 07:02:52 AM 1 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Christopher Eugene Brooks - AL - 1/21/16 - Executed

Last words and such...

Brooks had some final words, saying: "I hope this brings closure to everybody." He thanked his loved ones repeatedly, adding "love you all ... I will take you with me in my heart ... I love y'all. Bye. I love y'all."

He skipped breakfast Thursday and requested two peanut butter cups and a Dr. Pepper as his last meal.

Factoids...

Brooks was the 1st condemned murderer executed in Alabama this year and the 57th since executions resumed.
His was the 3rd 2016 US execution and the 1425th since 1976.

The skinny...

Brooks spent 23 years on death row and had every 11th hour appeal denied.  He became the 1st Alabama execution in two years and only the 3rd in the last five.

Up next...

James Garrett Freeman is set to be executed in Texas on January 27 for the 2007 murder of a game warden.  Fewer than nine years to the gurney...quick even by Texas standards.

on: January 21, 2016, 11:11:49 AM 2 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Christopher Eugene Brooks - AL - 1/21/16

Vigils held statewide ahead of Christopher Brooks execution


Casey Toner

on January 21, 2016 at 11:48 AM, updated January 21, 2016 at 12:35 PM

A number of vigils are set throughout the state on Thursday in connection with the Alabama's first execution in two years.

Barring any last minute stays, death row inmate Christopher Eugene Brooks is set to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. in the execution chamber at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. Brooks, now 43, was convicted in the December 1992 rape and murder of a Homewood woman, 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell

Investigators linked Brooks to the crime through DNA, fingerprints, and Campbell's car and other items taken from her Homewood apartment, including a credit card he had used. Her partially clothed body had been found under her bed and she had been beaten with a barbell.

Brooks would be the 57th death row inmate executed in Alabama since executions resumed in 1983 after an unofficial more than decade-long nationwide moratorium ended.

Officials with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, an Alabama advocacy group, say that there will be a number of Alabama vigils held throughout the day:

In Mobile, there will be a prayer vigil from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Dauphin Street at Claiborne Street.

In Montgomery, there will be a vigil on the steps of the state capitol at 5:30 p.m.

There are two vigils scheduled in Birmingham. The first will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard and 8th Avenue North across from the Jefferson County Court Building.

A second prayer vigil will be held at 5:45 p.m. opposite the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at Kelly Ingram Park, off 16th Street North and 6th Avenue North. This vigil will take place whether there is a stay or not.


Inside the prison, the inmates will show their respect and solidarity by refraining from sports and wearing their dress whites in the yard when they observe moments of silence and prayer on Wednesday and Thursday.

In France, Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture and the Death Penalty will be praying ahead of the execution.

And, the Birmingham Friends Meeting building, 4413 5th Avenue South, hangs a black flag from an upstairs window facing the street on all execution dates in the U.S. stating: TODAY WE MOURN THE DEATH OF A FELLOW HUMAN BEING.

www.al.com

So nice of these good Alabama folks holding vigils for the raped and murdered Jo Deann Campbell and her family...Oh. guess not. ::)

on: January 12, 2016, 11:03:17 AM 3 General Death Penalty / Scheduled Executions / Re: Robert Lynn Pruett - TX - 4/27/16

TDCJ has Pruett back on the burner...

http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_ro...xecutions.html

This cat has used every one of his lives.  8)

on: January 08, 2016, 06:52:19 AM 4 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. - FL - 1/7/16 - Executed

Last words and such...

Minutes before, a prison official asked Bolin if he had any last words.  "No sir," Bolin said.

He last meal was a medium rare rib eye steak, baked potato, salad, garlic bread and lemon meringue pie with a Coke to drink

Factoids...

Bolin was the 1st inmate executed in Florida this year and the 92nd since executions resumed.
His was the 1st 2016 US execution and the 1423rd since 1976.

The skinny...

During his 30 years spent on death row, Bolin was convicted of capital murder ten times by several different juries.  In his last days he threw every appeal at every court possible...none worked.

on: January 07, 2016, 10:11:20 AM 5 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. - FL - 1/7/16

‘I didn’t do it,’ says serial killer scheduled for execution Thursday

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

By:  Associated Press,  Published on Thu Jan 07 2016

STARKE, FLA.—A man found guilty of murdering three women nearly 30 years ago is scheduled for execution Thursday night.

Barring a last-minute reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, 53-year-old Oscar Ray Bolin — who was found guilty 10 times by 10 juries for three different murders — will be executed at 6 p.m. EST in Florida State Prison.

Gov. Rick Scott signed Bolin’s death warrant in October. The warrant is for the 1986 slaying of Teri Lynn Matthews. The 26-year-old Matthews was abducted from a post office in Pasco County, just north of Tampa.

Bolin was also sentenced to death for the killing of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins. A jury also gave him the death penalty for killing 25-year-old Natalie Holley, but that verdict was thrown out because of legal errors. Another jury eventually found him guilty of second-degree murder in that case. All three killings happened in 1986, at different times.

Each of Bolin’s cases ended in new trials. Every one of the verdicts delivered by juries in three separate trials was reversed at least twice by appeals courts, although ultimately he was convicted again in each case.

Kathleen Reeves, the mother of Matthews, told The Associated Press it doesn’t matter that Bolin is not awaiting execution in all three cases “because he only dies once.”

“He dies for all of our girls.”

The mothers of the three victims attended many of the trials together. Reeves and Collins’ family planned to attend the execution. Holley’s mother died in 2012.

Bolin’s trials received widespread publicity in the Tampa Bay area — but not just because of the seemingly endless legal processes or the brutal nature of the killings.

While on trial, Bolin and a woman on his defence team fell in love. Rosalie Martinez had been a paralegal at the Hillsborough Public Defender’s office who was married to a prominent Tampa attorney. Martinez divorced him and married Bolin, on live TV, in 1996 — 10 years after the slayings. Rosalie Bolin says her husband is innocent in Matthews’ killing, and she has become one of the state’s most outspoken death penalty opponents.

On Wednesday, Bolin told the Fox 13 television station that he’s innocent. “I didn’t know ‘em, never seen ‘em, never met ‘em,” he said of the three victims.

Bolin told the TV station that evidence used to convict him was both tampered with and planted.

“My conscience is clear,” he told the TV station. “I’m at peace with myself. It’s my release. My punishment’s over.

“I didn’t do it, you’re not going to believe me, fine,” he said. “After 28 years of this, being in this box for 28 years, it’s a release. My punishment’s over. They can’t hurt me no more.”

www.thestar.com

on: January 07, 2016, 08:30:15 AM 6 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. - FL - 1/7/16

Federal appeals court rejects Oscar Ray Bolin's request to stay Thursday execution


January 07, 2016 in USA

On Wednesday Bolin's attorney Bjorn Brunvand told 8 On Your Side he was still waiting for a response to his final appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Well you have your response now ambulance chaser.  8)

After decades of appeals on his three murder convictions, Bolin is scheduled for execution at the state prison in Starke

He told FOX 13 the corruption that led to his convictions all started with disgraced Federal Bureau of Investigation analyst Michael Malone.

He is serving a life sentence for the January 1986 murder of Natalie Blanche Holley.

"I'm kind of excited about it", said Matthews' mother, Kathleen Reeves.

Matthews would have turned 55 on December 30. Reeves and Collins' family planned to attend the execution.

Reeves said she's prepared to consider forgiveness if Bolin admits to his guilt in the moments before his execution.

Authorities later discovered it was the new husband of Bolin's ex-wife who called in the tip; the ex-wife said Bolin had told her about the killings in 1986.

The mother of Natalie Holley is now deceased, but Reeves reportedly will be joined in the death chamber witness room at the Florida State Prison by Anita Holley, the sister of Natalie, and Donna Witmer, the mother of Stephanie Collins. "I didn't know 'em, never seen 'em, never met 'em", he said of the three victims. "I'll probably think about it more when we get to that point".

A number of appeals have been filed on Bolin's behalf as the clock ticks down on his scheduled execution.

www.laurelleader-call.com

on: December 15, 2015, 07:25:30 AM 7 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Christopher Eugene Brooks - AL - 1/21/16

Alabama Supreme Court denies death row inmate's request to halt execution


Kent Faulk on December 14, 2015 at 9:43 PM, updated December 14, 2015 at 9:57 PM

The Alabama Supreme Court on Monday denied a death row inmate's request to halt his Jan. 21 execution.

A federal judge also said Monday that he would rule "expeditiously" on Alabama Death Row inmate Christopher Eugene Brooks' request for an emergency request to delay his execution.

If it happens, the execution would be the first in Alabama in 2-1/2 years. It also would be the first for Alabama's new drug combination for its lethal injection protocol.

Brooks had asked the Alabama Supreme Court and U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins to stay his execution.

Brooks' attorneys have argued that Brooks and five other inmates are waiting for a final evidentiary hearing on April 19 before Watkins on whether the state's new three-drug lethal injection execution violates the constitution against cruel and unusual punishment.

The Alabama Attorney General's Office has argued that while the other death row inmates had filed their lawsuits contesting the lethal injection combination about a year ago, Brooks didn't ask to intervene in the other inmates' suits until November in an apparent effort to delay his execution.

Watkins had set a hearing for Friday on Brook's motion for a stay of execution. But on Monday Watkins cancelled the hearing stating that the stay motion and the one by the Attorney General's Office seeking dismissal of Brooks' intervention in the other inmates' complaints can both be resolved without a hearing.

"An Order ruling on these two motions shall be entered expeditiously," Watkins wrote.

Brooks was convicted in 1993 of murder during the course of a rape, robbery, and burglary for killing Jo Deann Campbell at the Ski Lodge Apartments in Homewood. A jury recommended Brooks receive the death penalty and a judge sentenced him to death.

When he was sentenced Brooks bellowed at the victim's family that it "ain't over yet" before storming into the prisoners' passageway leading to the Jefferson County Jail.

Brooks and Campbell, 23, met in 1991 when they worked at different summer camps on a lake in New York, where Brooks and his parents then lived.

Brooks and a friend, Robert Leeper, came to Homewood on Dec. 30, 1992, to visit Campbell and stay the night.

The next evening, police found Campbell's body stuffed under her bed, her badly beaten head wrapped in her sweat pants. Police testified they found one of Brooks' palm prints on Campbell's ankle and his thumbprint in her blood on her bedroom doorknob. A state forensic scientist testified that DNA tests matched semen from Campbell's body to Brooks.

Police arrested Brooks and Leeper in Columbus, Ga., on charges that they bought beer, soda, gas and other items the day before with Campbell's credit card.

Leeper was charged but not indicted in the murder. Leeper denied any knowledge of Campbell's murder and forensic evidence did not link him to the crime prosecutors said. Leeper was sentenced to 5 years after pleading guilty to credit card theft and was released on probation with time served awaiting trial in jail.

www.al.com

on: December 09, 2015, 09:07:07 AM 8 General Death Penalty / U.S. Death Penalty Discussion / Re: Meet the Updated Graduating Class of 2015

The following graduated with highest honors in the 2015 term:

1/13/15  1395  GA  Andrew Brannan 66 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
1/15/15  1396  FL   Johnny Kormondy 42 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 21
1/15/15  1397  OK  Charles Warner 46 Black 1 Black Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam, pancurionium bromide, potassium acetate) 17
1/21/15  1398  TX   Arnold Prieto 41 Latino 2 Latino, 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 20
1/27/15  1399  GA  Warren Hill 54 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 25
1/29/15  1400  TX   Robert Ladd 57 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 28
2/4/15    1401  TX   Donald Newbury 52 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
2/11/15  1402  MO  Walter Storey 47 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 24
3/11/15  1403  TX   Manuel Vasquez 46 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 16
3/17/15  1404  MO  Cecil Clayton 74 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 18
4/9/15    1405  TX   Kent Sprouse 42 White 1 White, 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 11
4/14/15  1406  MO   Andre Cole 52 Black 1 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 14
4/15/15  1407  TX   Manuel Garza 34 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 13
5/12/15  1408  TX   Derrick Charles 32 Black 3 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
6/3/15    1409  TX   Lester Bower 67 White 4 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 31
6/9/15    1410  MO  Richard Strong 48 Black 2 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
6/18/15  1411  TX   Gregory Russeau 45 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 14
7/14/15  1412  MO  David Zink 55 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 11
8/12/15  1413  TX   Daniel Lopez* 27 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 5
9/1/15    1414  MO  Roderick Nunley 50 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 24
9/30/15  1415  GA   Kelly Gissendanerƒ 47 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 16
10/1/15  1416  VA   Alfredo Prieto~ 49 Latino 2 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (pentobarbital) 4
10/7/15   1417 TX   Juan Garcia 35 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
10/14/15 1418 TX   Licho Escamilla 33 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
10/29/15 1419 FL   Jerry Correll 59 White 4 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 29
11/18/15 1420 TX   Raphael Holiday 36 Black 3 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 13
11/19/15 1421 GA   Marcus Johnson 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 17
12/9/15   1422 GA   Brian Keith Terrell 47 Black 1 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 20

Perhaps Georgia will sneak another one in this year.  8)

on: December 07, 2015, 08:10:28 AM 9 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Brian Keith Terrell - GA - 12/8/15

Terrell Execution Media Advisory - Inmate’s Last Meal

 FORSYTH, Ga. – Condemned murderer Bryan Keith Terrell is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. Terrell was sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of John Watson in Newton County.

 Media witnesses for the execution are: Rhonda Cook, Atlanta Journal Constitution; Kate Brumback, Associated Press; Elly Yu, WABE; Aimee Jones, Newton County Citizen.

Terrell declined to request a last meal. He will be receiving the institutional tray consisting of chicken and rice, rutabagas, seasoned turnip greens, dry white beans, cornbread, bread pudding and fruit punch.

 There have been 58 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. If executed, Terrell will be the 37th inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 77 men on death row in Georgia.

 The Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison is located 45 minutes south of Atlanta off Interstate 75. From Atlanta, take exit 201 (Ga. Hwy. 36), turn left over the bridge and go approximately ¼ mile. The entrance to the prison is on the left. Media covering the execution will be allowed into the prison’s media staging area beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

on: November 20, 2015, 11:49:15 AM 10 General Death Penalty / U.S. Death Penalty Discussion / Meet the Graduating Class of 2015

The following graduated with highest honors in the 2015 term:

1/13/15  1395  GA  Andrew Brannan 66 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
1/15/15  1396  FL   Johnny Kormondy 42 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 21
1/15/15  1397  OK  Charles Warner 46 Black 1 Black Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam, pancurionium bromide, potassium acetate) 17
1/21/15  1398  TX   Arnold Prieto 41 Latino 2 Latino, 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 20
1/27/15  1399  GA  Warren Hill 54 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 25
1/29/15  1400  TX   Robert Ladd 57 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 28
2/4/15    1401  TX   Donald Newbury 52 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
2/11/15  1402  MO  Walter Storey 47 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 24
3/11/15  1403  TX   Manuel Vasquez 46 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 16
3/17/15  1404  MO  Cecil Clayton 74 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 18
4/9/15    1405  TX   Kent Sprouse 42 White 1 White, 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 11
4/14/15  1406  MO   Andre Cole 52 Black 1 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 14
4/15/15  1407  TX   Manuel Garza 34 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 13
5/12/15  1408  TX   Derrick Charles 32 Black 3 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
6/3/15    1409  TX   Lester Bower 67 White 4 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 31
6/9/15    1410  MO  Richard Strong 48 Black 2 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
6/18/15  1411  TX   Gregory Russeau 45 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 14
7/14/15  1412  MO  David Zink 55 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 11
8/12/15  1413  TX   Daniel Lopez* 27 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 5
9/1/15    1414  MO  Roderick Nunley 50 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 24
9/30/15  1415  GA   Kelly Gissendanerƒ 47 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 16
10/1/15  1416  VA   Alfredo Prieto~ 49 Latino 2 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (pentobarbital) 4
10/7/15   1417 TX   Juan Garcia 35 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 15
10/14/15 1418 TX   Licho Escamilla 33 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 12
10/29/15 1419 FL   Jerry Correll 59 White 4 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 29
11/18/15 1420 TX   Raphael Holiday 36 Black 3 Black Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 13
11/19/15 1421 GA   Marcus Johnson 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 17

The shortest stays on DR were Alfredo Prietto 4 years and Daniel Lopez 5 years (Both Volunteers)
The longest were Lester Bower 31 years, Jerry Correll 29 years and Robert Ladd 28 years
The average stay on DR for the Class of '15 was 15 years, 10 months
Texas once again led the league in graduates with 13 and with non-graduates as well with 9 stays

All will be receiving their diplomas in hell.  8)

on: November 18, 2015, 02:03:59 PM 11 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Raphael Deon Holiday - TX - 11/18/15 - Stayed

And in the you had to see it coming category...

Execution date withdrawn for death row inmate set to die Wednesday


Published: November 18, 2015 3:14 pm

Hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday, a judge in Madison County ordered a halt to the execution of Raphael Holiday, who was convicted in the burning deaths of three children in 2000.

Madison County state district Judge Hal Ridley granted a motion from Holiday’s original trial lawyers that called for a halt to the execution. The lawyers argued that additional time was needed give Holiday a meaningful chance at clemency.

Holiday has been pleading with the courts to appoint him new lawyers who would work to stop his impending death. In June, Holiday’s federally appointed court lawyers wrote him a letter saying they would not file additional appeals or seek clemency on his behalf. The lawyers, James “Wes” Volberding and Seth Kretzer, said such efforts had no chance of success in conservative Texas and they didn’t want to give Holiday false hope.

“We decided that it was inappropriate to file [a petition for clemency] and give false hope to a poor man on death row expecting clemency that we knew was never going to come,” Volberding said.

But critics of the lawyers’ decision say the law under which the two were appointed doesn’t allow that kind of discretion. It requires death row lawyers to make every possible effort to save a client’s life, if that’s what the inmate wants.

The judge’s order came the day after Austin-based pro bono lawyer Gretchen Sween had submitted a motion urging the U.S. Supreme Court to stay Holiday’s execution to give him time to seek new lawyers.

www.dallasmorningnews.com

Three little children never had a chance at meaningful clemency.

on: November 17, 2015, 12:46:19 PM 12 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Raphael Deon Holiday - TX - 11/18/15

Ambulance chaser Sween went to SCOTUS anyway...


No. 15-6956      *** CAPITAL CASE ***   

Title: Raphael Deon Holiday, Petitioner v. William Stephens, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division
 
Docketed: November 17, 2015
Linked with 15A520
Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Case Nos.: (15-70035)
Decision Date: November 12, 2015


~~~Date~~~  ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nov 16 2015 Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed.
Nov 16 2015 Application (15A520) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Scalia. 
Nov 17 2015 Brief of respondent William Stephens, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division in opposition filed. 
 
No. 15A520 
Title: Raphael Deon Holiday, Applicant v. William Stephens, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division
 
Docketed: 
Linked with 15-6956
Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Case Nos.: (15-70035)


~~~Date~~~  ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nov 16 2015 Application (15A520) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Scalia. 
 
~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:   Gretchen S. Sween

www.supremecourt.gov

on: November 17, 2015, 11:45:57 AM 13 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Raphael Deon Holiday - TX - 11/18/15

Texas Man Set To Die For Fire That Killed Wife’s 3 Children


November 17, 2015 10:54 AM

LIVINGSTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Condemned Texas inmate Raphael Holiday says he loved his kids and has no idea how the East Texas log cabin where they lived with their mother caught fire 15 years ago. The blaze killed his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters.

A jury said he was responsible for the September 2000 fire, and decided he should be put to death.

The 36-year-old’s execution is set for Wednesday evening in Huntsville. He would be the 13th prisoner executed in Texas this year.

Evidence showed Holiday’s former common-law wife had obtained a protective order against him after he was arrested for assaulting one of the girls. Testimony showed that he forced the children’s grandmother at gunpoint to douse the inside of the home with gasoline.

Holiday, who was estranged from the girls’ mother, reportedly watched the house burn after it ignited.

www.cbslocal.com

on: November 17, 2015, 10:12:18 AM 14 General Death Penalty / Executed Offenders (Graveyard) / Re: Raphael Deon Holiday - TX - 11/18/15

Condemned man’s lawyers stop helping, cite ‘false hope’


AUSTIN — From his cell on death row, Raphael Holiday drafted letter after desperate letter to lawyers who represent the condemned. He begged for their help to plead for mercy from Gov. Greg Abbott, to try any last-ditch legal maneuvers that might stave off his impending execution.

 Holiday’s appointed lawyers had told him that fighting to stop his punishment was futile, and they wouldn’t do it. The 36-year-old thought he’d be left to walk to the death chamber with no lawyer at his side.  ;D

 Less than a month before his execution — scheduled for Wednesday — Holiday secured help. Austin attorney Gretchen Sween agreed to ask the court to find new lawyers willing to try to keep him from dying.

 But Holiday’s federally appointed lawyers — the ones who said they would do no more to help him — are opposing their client’s attempts to replace them.

 Now, just hours before he is set to face lethal injection for burning to death three children, including his own daughter, Holiday is awaiting word from the U.S. Supreme Court on his latest request for help.

‘False hope’ argument

 Lawyers James “Wes” Volberding and Seth Kretzer said they worked diligently to find new evidence on which to base additional appeals for Holiday, but that none exists. Seeking clemency from Abbott, a staunch death penalty supporter, would be pointless, they say.

 The two contend they are exercising professional judgment and doing what’s best for their client.

“We decided that it was inappropriate to file [a petition for clemency] and give false hope to a poor man on death row expecting clemency that we knew was never going to come,” Volberding said in a telephone interview.

 But others say the law under which death row lawyers are appointed doesn’t allow that kind of discretion. It requires attorneys to make every possible effort to save a client’s life, if that’s what the inmate wants.

“This seems unconscionable,” said Stephen Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a teacher at Yale Law School. “Lawyers are often in a position of representing people for whom the legal issues are not particularly strong, but nevertheless they have a duty to make every legal argument they can.”

So far, appeals courts have sided with Volberding and Kretzer. Last Thursday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to have them replaced. On Monday, Sween appealed to the Supreme Court.

 Holiday was convicted of intentionally setting fire to his wife’s home near College Station in September 2000, killing her three little girls. He forced the children’s grandmother to douse the home in gasoline. After igniting the fumes, Holiday watched from outside as flames engulfed the couch where authorities later found the corpses of 7-year-old Tierra Lynch, 5-year-old Jasmine DuPaul and 1-year-old Justice Holiday huddled together.

 Volberding and Kretzer were appointed in February 2011 to represent Holiday in his federal appeals. They filed a 286-page petition in federal court, alleging dozens of mistakes in Holiday’s case, ranging from assertions that he was intellectually disabled to charges that clemency is so rarely granted in Texas that the process has become meaningless.

 On June 30, the Supreme Court denied Holiday’s petition for a review of his case.

 Such rulings are common; the high court declines thousands of cases each year. Still, it’s a major blow to an inmate whose life depends on the court’s mercy. Many lawyers for death row inmates deliver the news in person, knowing how devastating it can be when a last, scant shred of legal hope disintegrates.

 Volberding sent Holiday a letter.

‘The end of work’

 “I am sorry, but the Supreme Court just denied your appeal,” the Tyler-based lawyer wrote. “This marks the end of work for your appeals I regret.”

The 11/2-page message informed Holiday that his lawyers would not file additional appeals or seek clemency from the governor. Neither option, Volberding wrote, presented a real chance of sparing Holiday’s life.

 In the letter, Volberding told Holiday he could seek the help of pro bono lawyers if he wanted to pursue those options.

 So Holiday blanketed the small community of Texas death penalty lawyers with letters seeking help.

 When none responded, he wrote to the court.

“Your honor, I beg you to consider new appointment of effective counsels to my case,” Holiday wrote. “They have refused to help me and it is a disheartening conundrum I am not fit to comprehend.”

Kretzer countered with a letter to the court insisting that he and Volberding were still working on the case despite its hopelessness. They refused to seek clemency or file additional pleadings not out of laziness or antipathy toward Holiday, Kretzer said, but because they recognized the “political realities” in Texas.

 In late October, Sween, an appellate lawyer from Austin who teaches writing and advocacy courses at the University of Texas School of Law, agreed to help Holiday obtain new lawyers, at no charge.

 Sween filed a motion alleging that Volberding and Kretzer had abandoned Holiday in his hour of greatest need. The law under which the two were appointed says lawyers for death row clients “shall” represent them in “all available post-conviction proceedings.” She pleaded with the court to assign new lawyers who would do so.

Clemency petition

 Volberding and Kretzer opposed the motion and sent Sween a letter threatening to seek sanctions if she did not stay away from their client. They said they would agree to her involvement only if she would take on Holiday as her client pro bono. She declined, insisting that she was unqualified because she had never worked directly on a capital case.

“If you can propose a course of action that stands a reasonable chance … we will pursue it,” Volberding said in a letter to Sween. “Otherwise, we respectfully ask that you take no further action in this case. We will respond firmly if you do.”

Nevertheless, in an effort to mollify Sween, Volberding and Kretzer filed a clemency petition — hastily. In two places on the first page, the document cites the wrong execution date for Holiday. The petition painstakingly details the horrific nature of Holiday’s crime, while containing little evidence that might persuade the governor to show Holiday mercy.

 After the federal district court rejected her attempts to remove Volberding and Kretzer, Sween appealed to the 5th Circuit, calling the lawyers’ clemency petition a “sham” and asking the judges to stay Holiday’s execution. Additionally, she argued, the lawyers are now in conflict with their own client, opposing his wishes for new attorneys that he trusts to fight until the bitter end.

 A three-judge appellate panel denied the motion and warned Sween that future attempts to dislodge Holiday’s lawyers would be viewed skeptically.  :P

 Jim Marcus, a UT law professor who specializes in capital punishment, said that while Holiday certainly has an uphill battle to avoid execution, federal law requires his lawyers to push ahead.

“There’s a difference between saying that’s not a viable strategy or viable claim and abandoning an entire proceeding altogether,” said Marcus, who has represented condemned inmates for more than 20 years. “The latter is not really permissible under the statute.”

The statute, though, is rarely enforced and judges provide little oversight of attorneys who represent indigent condemned clients, said Bright, of the human rights center.

 In decades of practicing, Bright said he had never seen a case like Holiday’s in which appointed lawyers so vociferously fought to keep a death row inmate from retaining a different attorney. In some cases, he said, new lawyers have discovered evidence others overlooked pointing to an inmate’s innocence or showing people’s intellectual disabilities made them incompetent for execution.

“Most people don’t get executed for crimes they committed,” Bright said. “They get executed for mistakes their lawyers made.”

www.dallasnews.com

Wow...the first time I have seen an ambulance chaser not milking it to the end.  8)

on: November 02, 2015, 08:02:20 AM 15 General Death Penalty / Stays of Execution / Re: Ernest Lee Johnson - MO - 11/3/15

Grisly triple murder case shocked mid-1990s Columbia


By Alan Burdziak The Columbia Daily Tribune

 Driven by his addiction to crack cocaine, Ernest L. Johnson robbed a north Columbia convenience store on Feb. 12, 1994, and killed three people for $1,700 to support his drug habit. Nearly 22 years later, Johnson appears to be living out his final days while his attorneys scramble to stop his execution.

 Unless a court agrees with his lawyers’ pleas for clemency or Gov. Jay Nixon intervenes, the state of Missouri will inject 5 grams of pentobarbital into Johnson at 6 p.m. Tuesday at a prison in Bonne Terre, cementing the fate three separate juries have decided for him.

 Columbia was a different, smaller town in 1994. The area where Casey’s General Store stood on Ballenger Lane was mostly rural, and the city had about 40,000 fewer people than the 2014 estimate of nearly 117,000 residents.

 When news broke that Johnson had used a hammer and screwdriver to fatally bludgeon Mary Bratcher, 46, Mable Scruggs, 57, and Fred Jones, 58, during the robbery, the city was shocked. Though police arrested Johnson the day after the murders, the city was on edge in the aftermath of the crime.

 Carroll Highbarger was deputy chief of the Columbia Police Department in 1994. Highbarger said the murders frightened the city’s residents, particularly people who worked at night in gas stations, convenience stores and other businesses.

“Everybody was more cautious,” Highbarger said Friday at his south Columbia home. “Obviously we were very fortunate he was caught pretty quick.”

The Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad was activated to aid in the investigation, with investigators coming from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and nearly every other law enforcement agency in adjacent counties. Highbarger recalled a break in the case that identified Johnson: A woman who lived across the street from the store saw Johnson enter and exit the building at the time of the slayings, but she did not come forward for several hours.

“That did it,” Highbarger said. “Then it was just a matter of running him down.”

The case was the most heavily covered crime story in Columbia’s history at that point, said Stacey Woelfel, who was KOMU’s news director at the time. Media coverage was so intense that Johnson’s lawyers requested the judge in the case bar the media and public from pretrial hearings because, they said, the coverage could prejudice the jury pool.

 The sheer brutality of the crime shocked people, Woelfel said. Before Johnson beat Jones to death, he shot him in the face with a .25-caliber gun. Johnson stabbed Bratcher at least 10 times with a screwdriver. Investigators found Jones’ body in a cooler and the other two victims in the store’s bathroom. Police found teeth, bone fragments and large amounts of blood near all three victims.

“It was kind of a lonely little outpost there, and people could just picture the way these folks were killed and how they just couldn’t get away,” said Woelfel, now the head of the documentary journalism program at the University of Missouri.

 Randy Boehm, who was a Columbia police captain at the time, said the murders created a lot of fear in the city.

“A lot of folks didn’t think of something like that happening in our community,” said Boehm, who now is manager of security services with MU Health Care.

 Police increased their presence in the area near the store and frequently updated the public on the progress of the investigation to assuage fears, Boehm said. The store closed immediately after the murders and never reopened.

 Though Boehm was not part of the investigation, he said it affected officers in the department who were involved. “It wasn’t ... a typical crime scene,” he said.

 Several people who investigated the case, responded to the scene or took part in Johnson’s court proceedings either declined comment or did not respond to messages seeking comment. Relatives of Johnson and his victims were unavailable or unwilling to comment. Kevin Crane, the county prosecuting attorney at the time who tried the case and is now a circuit judge, declined comment because of the pending litigation. Johnson’s attorneys, W. Brian Gaddy and Jeremy Weis, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

 The first two times Johnson was condemned to die were overturned, but a Pettis County jury’s 2006 decision to put him back on death row withstood a Missouri Supreme Court review.

 At trial and in his penalty phases, public defenders represented Johnson. Nancy McKerrow, one of Johnson’s public defenders during his trial, said the murders never would have happened had it not been for crack cocaine and Johnson’s addiction.

“Ernest was not — I know this sounds weird given the horrendous nature of the crime — was not and is not a violent person,” McKerrow said. “He’s very mild-mannered.”  ;D

The three victims knew Johnson, now 55, who lived nearby with his girlfriend and her two sons. He frequented the store, and it was during his third visit that day that he robbed the place and killed the three employees. Scruggs and Bratcher were single mothers, and Jones cared for his disabled twin brother. The night she died, Scruggs was filling in for another employee who switched shifts to attend a birthday party.

 One of 33 inmates on Missouri’s death row, Johnson will be the seventh inmate in Missouri to be executed in 2015 if he dies Tuesday. Ten men were put to death in the state in 2014; two in 2013.

 A three-judge panel in the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied a motion to stay Johnson’s execution on an appeal from U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. A bid to stop the execution on the grounds that Johnson is intellectually disabled is pending in the Missouri Supreme Court.

 McKerrow said the nation’s capital punishment system is flawed.  ;D

“When the state seeks the death penalty, the system is such that they get it,” she said. “The way the juries are selected, I think they’re predisposed to give death.”

She mentioned dozens of inmates who sat on death row but later were exonerated. While proponents call it a deterrent, she said people who commit capital crimes don’t consider the consequences.

“I just don’t see any good coming from executing Ernest Johnson,” McKerrow said.  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

www.columbiatribune.com
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