Georgia Death Penalty News

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Sunday, Mar. 20, 2011

Slain Bibb deputy's case still going five years later


(Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.)

Joseph Whitehead's family will be preparing several of his favorite dishes Wednesday.

His sister's jerk chicken. His mom's homemade Parker House rolls. Nana's banana pudding. New York style pizza, paella and bean pies.

The feast in New Jersey will be one way the family remembers Whitehead. They'll have plenty of stories about him to share, and he'll be there in old family videos.

Wednesday will mark five years since the 36-year-old Bibb County deputy was fatally shot while helping serve a "no-knock" warrant at a house off Montpelier Avenue in Macon. And although the men charged with Whitehead's death were arrested within hours of the raid, their case still has not gone to trial.

Antron Fair, 26, and Damon Jolly, 25, have been in the Bibb County jail since then. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

The case against Fair and Jolly has moved more slowly through the judicial system than other murder cases, in part because it's a capital case. But there have also been a series of uncommon legal issues that have contributed to the pace of the case, said Greg Winters, district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit.

While the case was re-indicted in 2008, a few months before Jolly's trial was scheduled to begin, new drug and firearms charges didn't cause lawyers to start over completely. The new indictment did delay the trial by a few months, Winters said.

Two other men -- 26-year-old Thomas Porter and 33-year-old Hassan Shirell Harclerode -- are also charged with murder, drug and firearms charges, but the prosecution isn't seeking the death penalty against them.

No trial date has been set for any of the four men.

Harclerode and Porter have been convicted of federal charges and are being held in federal prisons.

Like members of Whitehead's family, deputies and other former co-workers will gather Wednesday for a memorial ceremony at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Complex.

"He will not be forgotten," Sheriff Jerry Modena said.

Special issues

Members of Whitehead's family are understandably concerned that the case hasn't gone to trial, prosecutor Kim Schwartz said.

But "they want this done right," she said.

Lisa Whitehead said her brother was an exemplary citizen who touched the lives of people he dealt with.

"We are in prayer that a trial delay of this length will still result in the right verdict and reinforce the state's commitment to the law enforcement profession as well as send a message to the surviving family members, friends and co-workers that our officer's sacrifice is taken seriously," she said in an e-mailed statement.

The waiting also is hard for Fair, said Brian Steel, one of his attorneys. He didn't mean for Whitehead to die, but yet he may face the death penalty.

"He's living every day knowing he may die, but (a death sentence) would be an unjust verdict because he didn't know (Whitehead) was an officer," Steel said. "He thought he was shooting in self-defense."

The bullet from Fair's gun didn't kill Whitehead. He lives every day remorseful that there was a loss of life, Steel said.

Although Steel said in November that he was considering appealing certain parts of the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said Thursday that he's decided against taking the case to Washington before trial.

Since Fair and Jolly were first indicted on murder charges in April 2006, the case has gone to the Georgia Supreme Court twice, and it's likely that the high court will rule on the case for a third time before the men go to trial, Winters said.

The court already has ruled that Fair and Jolly can't claim immunity from prosecution on the basis that they were simply protecting their home when they fired shots at deputies during the raid on March 23, 2006.

Justices have also ruled that when considering whether Fair and Jolly are eligible for the death penalty, it doesn't matter whether the men knew they were shooting at a law enforcement officer, Winters said.

In late 2010, the high court ordered that another hearing be held to settle a third legal issue in the cases: It must be determined whether a conflict of interest exists in attorneys from the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender serving on defense teams representing both men. As of Friday, the hearing hadn't been scheduled.

After a Bibb County judge determines whether there's a conflict of interest, the case will probably return to the state Supreme Court for a third review, Schwartz said.

It can often take several months for the high court to review a case. At the earliest, Winters estimates that the cases could go to trial in 2012.

It's not unusual for it to take five years to get a death penalty case to trial, said Stan Gunter, deputy executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia.

"There's some that last longer," he said.

In fact, the case against Fair and Jolly isn't the oldest death penalty case on the Bibb County Superior Court docket.

Jomekia Pope, now 34, was charged with murder Oct. 3, 2005, in the death of his girlfriend, 26-year-old Latosha Taylor. Pope is accused of dousing Taylor with gasoline and setting her on fire Aug. 7, 2005.

Winters said he hopes a trial date for Pope will be set at an April hearing.

'That's our job'

When Whitehead was shot, he was wearing a bulletproof vest that stopped a slug from hitting his chest.

He was also wearing a helmet, but it was a shot that hit Whitehead in the face that dealt the fatal blow, Modena said.

Since Whitehead's death, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office has revised its policy to require that deputies use bullet-resistant Plexiglas face shields mounted on deputies' helmets during raids.

Deputies had access to the face shields in 2006, but their use wasn't mandatory. Whitehead wasn't wearing one.

"It definitely would have helped," Modena said.

The deputies were also carrying handheld shields when they served the warrant.

After Whitehead's death, the sheriff's office investigated whether deputies had followed proper operational procedures during the raid, and they found that they had, Modena said.

In the past five years, Whitehead's name has been affixed to several memorials locally, reaching as far as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington.

A "rubbing" of Whitehead's name from the national memorial is displayed prominently on a bookshelf behind Modena's desk.

Whitehead's mother, 95-year-old grandmother and other family members plan to visit the memorial Saturday, Lisa Whitehead said.

Joseph Whitehead is very much on the minds of sheriff's office employees.

"Everybody here had an enormous amount of respect for him," said Deborah Perkovich, Modena's secretary.

Cindy Gresham, who also works for the sheriff's office, said she remembers Whitehead's smile and his eyes from the times he'd come to her office about personnel matters.

"He had the most beautiful eyes," she said.

Gresham said Whitehead died doing something he had a passion for.

"He wanted to protect youth from the drug element," she said.

Modena said he hopes to one day name a road after Whitehead with approval of the county commissioners, but he's waiting on the case to go through the court system first.

"I don't want to influence" the case, he said.

In the sheriff's office lobby, a plaque bearing Whitehead's name is displayed along with plaques for other fallen deputies.

Modena said he walks past the display at some point about every day and thinks of Whitehead.

"I regret losing a fine young man," he said.

But if a complaint necessitated a similar raid, deputies would still respond. They didn't stop serving no-knock warrants after Whitehead's death, the sheriff said.

"That's our job."

Photos : 1. The two murderers Antron Dawayne Fair (left) and Damon Antwon Jolly  >:( >:(

            2. The victim Bibb Deputy Joseph Whitehead :'(









U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal from Georgia death row inmate

March 28, 2011

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a condemned Georgia inmate's request that his execution be delayed as he attempts to prove his "actual innocence."

The justices without comment on Monday turned aside two separate appeals from Troy Davis, likely setting the stage for the state to set another execution date.

Davis has gained international support for his long-standing claim he did not murder an off-duty Savannah police officer more than two decades ago. Monday's ruling is the latest in a case that is procedurally complex but, legally, a simple claim of innocence.

Davis was granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court two hours before he was to be put to death in 2008, and the court in 2009 ordered the federal District Court to take another look at the case.

That court, after holding a hearing to review evidence, ruled in August that Davis "failed to show actual innocence" in the case. The District Court suggested that, for procedural reasons, Davis should take his appeal of its ruling directly to the Supreme Court.

Davis ended up filing with both the 11th Circuit and the Supreme Court. The 11th Circuit deflected the appeal in November, saying it agreed with the district court that the Supreme Court was the correct place for the filing. Davis then took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court in January, filing two pleas. One sought review of the Georgia federal judge's rejection of the innocence claim, and the other asked for a test of the 11th Circuit's refusal to review the case. The justices on Monday turned down both pleas without comment.

Davis' sister said Monday that she is "very disappointed" by the Supreme Court's rejection. Martina Correia-Davis said Davis' attorney told her they would continue to pursue all possible legal options, including a possible re-petition of the Georgia State Board of Parole. She said she had not spoken to Davis about Monday's decision but expected his attorney to call him soon.

Correia-Davis said she doesn't want the case to be moved back to Savannah, where Davis was tried and convicted for the 1989 murder, because she doesn't think he will "get a fair chance" there.

Witnesses said Davis, then 19, and two others were harassing a homeless man in a Burger King parking lot when off-duty officer Mark MacPhail came to the man's assistance. They testified that Davis shot MacPhail twice and fled.

Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.

But upon reviewing Davis' claims of innocence, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia found in August that Davis "vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence."

"Some of the evidence is not credible and would be disregarded by a reasonable juror," Judge William T. Moore wrote in a 172-page opinion. "Other evidence that Mr. Davis brought forward is too general to provide anything more than smoke and mirrors," the court found.

Amnesty International, which is monitoring the case, expressed disappointment Monday that the Supreme Court had rejected the appeals.

"It appears that the justice system is comfortable allowing someone to be executed when there are lingering doubts about guilt in the case. No objective person could confidently determine that Davis is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence available now in his case. That leaves an ominous cloud hanging over an irreversible sentence such as the death penalty," the international human rights group said in a statement.

"The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, as the final fail-safe, has the opportunity to commute his sentence to life and prevent the possibility of executing an innocent person."

Prominent figures ranging from the pope to the musical group Indigo Girls have asked Georgia to grant Davis a new trial.

Other supporters include celebrities Susan Sarandon and Harry Belafonte; world leaders such as former President Jimmy Carter and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and former and current U.S. lawmakers Bob Barr, Carol Moseley Braun and John Lewis.
Justice for Jennifer Lee Hampton, murdered, Sept. 2008, by illegal alien.


So the usual suspects in the anti DP crowd are supporting Davis' claim of factual innocent.  Big fricking surprise.  It is expected that we are all supposed to put our collective brains on the shelf, enter the glow of their limelight and agree with them just because they say something is fact.  Carter should go back to painting houses for Habitat for Humanity and leave justice/politics alone since he failed some miserably the first time around.  As for the rest, go back to what you do best....act.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money - Margaret Thatcher
The most terrifying words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

Gregg Fisher

He already was denied by the pardon board once after they gave him and his imaginary witnesses a full hearing.  I'm not sure how they can claim that there is doubt especially after the federal magistrate gave them a full hearing and called bullshite!  Smoke and mirrors is what the judge called the defense. 

I wonder who is on the parole board and who is currently governor and if he can grant a pardon without the board?

Grinning Grim Reaper

From the Geogia Dept of Corrections-

Parole and Clemency

The Board is the primary authority in Georgia assigned the power to grant pardons, paroles, and other forms of clemency. Parole is the discretionary decision of the Board to release a certain offender from confinement after he or she has served an appropriate portion of a prison sentence. Persons on parole remain under state supervision and control according to conditions which, if violated, allow for re-imprisonment.

Clemency is given by the Board at its discretion. The Board is the primary Georgia authority with the ability to commute death sentences (the Supreme Court of Georgia also has this authority). Georgia is one of the three states whose governor does not have the authority to grant clemency, although he retains indirect influence by virtue of his power to appoint Board members.

The Board falls under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Supreme Court, and, as such, its rulings can be overturned by the Court.

With SCOTUS out of the way, it looks as though the Georgia Supreme Court ultimately will have the final say.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


Monday, September 12, 2011

Serial killer Rivera still awaiting final judgment

Families of victims grieving, waiting for closure in case

By Meg Mirshak

Staff Writer

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011

Updates come in the mail every few months on letterhead from the Georgia attorney general's office. But, they rarely say anything new the family of a slain army sergeant cares to hear about death row inmate Reinaldo Rivera.

The last update explained holdups with the death penalty related to concerns that a drug used in executions might cause the inmate pain.

"His pain that he suffers is far less than the pain caused Marni and Chrisilee," said Wendy Knopp, older sister of Rivera's first victim, 21-year-old Army Sgt. Marni Glista.

Sgt. Glista's family waits on the death sentence to be carried out as the lengthy judicial process continues.

"We're going on 11 years since Marni's death," said Knopp, of Puyallup, Wash. "It would be nice to have that final closure, but it's not up to us either."

A Richmond County Superior Court jury sentenced Rivera to death in January 2004 for Glista's murder. Glista was found unconscious and barely breathing inside her home on Sept. 5, 2000, after being attacked the day before. She died Sept. 9 at Doctors Hospital. Glista was strangled, according to the indictment.

Rivera confessed that he raped and killed three other women. A fourth, Chrisilee Barton, survived a brutal stabbing and gave investigators clues that led to his capture.

Especially near the anniversary of Glista's death and her July birthday, the family wonders what her life would be like today if not for Rivera.

"She was married. Would she have kids; what would her career path look like?" Knopp said.

The death sentence appeal of the serial rapist and killer moved to the Georgia Supreme Court, where a decision to review his request for habeas corpus should be issued by the end of March.

Most recently, Rivera's lawyer for the habeas petition was granted a 10-day extension by the courts on Sept. 6 to file a brief regarding the inmate's mental competency. His lawyer, Brian Kammer from the Georgia Resource Center in Atlanta, stated that he needed more time to write a well-researched brief given the court's demands and his workload for other death penalty cases, Hansen said.

Kammer denied a request for interview.

The state has six months to rule on the case after the court term to which it has been assigned begins this month, according to Jane Hansen, public information officer for the Georgia Supreme Court. The case will be argued through written briefs after the court denied a request to hear oral arguments in June, she said.

As Glista's family waits on this chapter in their lives to close, they cling to their faith in God and the courts.

"For me and my family, we have a tremendous amount of faith in Christ. He is the final judge and jury," Knopp said. "I hope the sentence is carried out. I do believe in the justice system."

At this point in the appeals process, Rivera, who sits on death row in Jackson, Ga., is asking the Georgia Supreme Court to challenge the most recent ruling against him.

On March 31, Superior Court Judge William Fears ordered a final ruling denying Rivera's petition for habeas.

Rivera insisted from his first confessions that he wanted a death sentence.

According to the judge's final order, Rivera "consistently, both at trial and during these habeas proceedings, indicated that he has no desire to appeal his convictions and sentences."

Peter Johnson, an Augusta criminal defense attorney who represented Rivera during his original trial, said Rivera's appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, if authorized, must continue with the original grounds of the habeas trial.

"If they deny it, then he is dead in the water," Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the only other option for Rivera would be taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where he would need to raise a constitutional question with the trial. Johnson said he did not know enough about Rivera's habeas petition to determine if that's possible.

Richard Dieter, executive director for the Death Penalty Information Center, said the U.S. Supreme Court does not accept many death penalty appeal cases.

If Rivera chooses to take his appeal to federal courts, the process could take even more time, Dieter said.

Photo : The serial killer Reinaldo Rivera >:(







Show the judges a video of the execution that was done with the drug which was video taped.
My reason for supporting the death penalty? A murderer has less of a right to live than his victim and already presents a danger while incarcerated for life. They have nothing to lose when the most they can get is Life in prison without parole.


Atlanta News

7:17 a.m. Wednesday, November 23, 2011

By Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday let stand Georgia's tough burden of proof required of death-penalty defendants seeking to prove they are mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' 7-4 decision means Georgia is the only state in the country that sets the highest barrier for defendants raising such claims to escape execution. Dissenting judges said it will lead to mentally disabled inmates being executed.

Death-penalty lawyers said the ruling means capital defendants could prove they are almost certainly mentally disabled and still face execution. The ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a lawyer involved in the case said.

Judge Frank Hull, writing for the majority, said the U.S. Supreme Court left it up to states to develop their own guidelines when it barred the execution of the mentally disabled in 2002.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently upheld the state's standard that an inmate must prove disability beyond a reasonable doubt, Hull noted. Because there is no U.S. Supreme Court precedent to the contrary, federal law "mandates that this federal court leave the Georgia Supreme Court decision alone -- even if we believe it incorrect or unwise."

Hull also said Georgia's death-penalty process contains substantial safeguards that help jurors accurately determine whether a defendant is mentally disabled. They include the right not to be sentenced to death except by a unanimous verdict, the right to appeal and the opportunity to present experts, cross-examine the state's witnesses and question jurors about their biases regarding mental disability.

Even so, Hull acknowledged, the U.S. Supreme Court "may later announce that [Georgia's] reasonable doubt standard ... is constitutionally impermissible."

The U.S. government and 23 states with the death penalty require defendants claiming mental disability to prove it under the lowest threshold -- a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely true than not. Five states have adopted a tougher test -- clear and convincing evidence.

The court ruled in the case of twice-convicted killer Warren Hill. Brian Kammer, Hill's lawyer, used the state's unusually tough standard as the basis of his appeal and vowed to take the case to the nation's highest court.

"I am sickened by the [court's] ruling today, because it effectively allows Georgia free rein to execute people who, like Mr. Hill, have been found to be mentally retarded," he said. "This decision is yet another legal and moral disaster involving Georgia's death penalty jurisprudence."

State Attorney General Sam Olens declined comment, his spokeswoman said.

Hill is on death row for bludgeoning a fellow inmate to death with a nail-studded board in 1990. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend.

Tuesday's ruling sparked a vigorous dissent from Judge Rosemary Barkett, who said the beyond reasonable doubt threshold will "inevitably lead .. to the frequent execution" of the mentally disabled.

"This utterly one-sided risk of error is all the more intolerable when the individual right at stake is a question of life or death," Barkett wrote.

While Georgia was the first state to bar the execution of the mentally disabled, "it is the only one to guarantee precisely the opposite result" with its tough definition of the condition, she said.

Judge Charles Wilson also dissented. He said the majority's logic would allow Georgia to require mentally disabled defendants to prove their claims "beyond any shadow of a doubt -- a standard requiring ... that prisoners obtain the unanimous consent of a 100-member panel of state-appointed psychologists, ten consecutive IQ tests showing an intelligence quotient of no more than 30 and supporting affidavits from the victims' families and the governor."








Anti-death penatly advocates vow to abolish death penalty in Georgia

Michelle Wirth (2011-12-08)

ATLANTA, GA (WABE) - Democratic state Senator Vincent Fort rallied with anti-death penalty activists and religious leaders in front of the state capitol Thursday. Those attending the rally say they will fight against Georgia's death penalty in the upcoming legislative session.

Senator Fort says in light of the recent Troy Davis execution he will introduce legislation to abolish the death penalty when the legislature resumes. Fort also plans to back legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty in cases that only rely on eye witness testimony.

"There were commitments made that when they executed Troy Davis we would create a movement against the death penalty like none seen before."

Among those joining Fort was Georgia State NAACP president Edward Dubose:

"It's time to execute the death penalty. We know this barbaric act of killing for no good reason serves no purpose."

Dubose says he spoke with Davis the day before his execution and made a commitment to work to end the death penalty. Davis was convicted in 1991 in the shooting death of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. But several key witnesses in the case recanted their testimony and number of celebrities, civil rights organizations and people around the world believed Davis was innocent. Meanwhile, MacPhail's family believed Davis committed the murder and justice was done with his execution.







It's time to execute the death penalty. We know this barbaric act of killing for no good reason serves no purpose."

You mean keeping the public safe isn't a good enough reason?  :o :o :o
My reason for supporting the death penalty? A murderer has less of a right to live than his victim and already presents a danger while incarcerated for life. They have nothing to lose when the most they can get is Life in prison without parole.

Grinning Grim Reaper

Man spared death sentence in federal case in Ga.

A jury on Thursday spared the life of an inmate who faced the death penalty for killing his cellmate at the federal prison in Atlanta, sentencing him instead to life in prison without the possibility of release. Well that will show him won't it?

The jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on Brian Richardson's fate after almost two days of deliberating, leading to an automatic life in prison sentence. The teary-eyed 48-year-old hugged his defense attorneys after the verdict was read, and his supporters wept in the courtroom.

Richardson was convicted last month of the July 2007 killing of Steven Obara, a 60-year-old who was stabbed and choked before he was strangled to death. The inmate, who was abused as a child, told authorities he targeted his cellmate because Obara was serving a prison sentence on child molestation charges.

Prosecutors and federal defense lawyers have devoted considerable resources to the death penalty case, a rarity in the federal court system. He would have become the first person to be sentenced to death in federal court since June 2011, and federal juries in Atlanta have imposed just 2 since 1997.

Richardson and Obara were put in the same temporary cell at the federal prison in Atlanta as they awaited transfers to other facilities. At the time, Richardson was in the middle of a 65-year sentence for armed robberies while Obara was near the beginning of a 10 year sentence for possessing child pornography and child molestation.

Prosecutors say Richardson lulled Obara into believing they were friends after learning of his criminal record. Then he turned on his cellmate, stabbing him with a fire extinguisher pin fashioned into a weapon before strangling him with a sock.

"It wasn't enough to kill him and make it clean and quick. He wanted Mr. Obara to suffer," said Bill McKinnon, an assistant U.S. attorney, at the closing of the six-week trial. "Mr. Obara didn't have a chance."

Richardson's attorney, Brian Mendelsohn, said his client's violent past was rooted in an abusive childhood that led to his mental illness.

"Brian Richardson is not a stone cold predatory killer," he said. "Brian Richardson is a mentally ill man who was sorely damaged by the abuse he suffered as a child, the turning points in his life and a history that none of us would want for our children."

It took the jury about 2 days to convict Richardson of 1st-degree murder in Obara's killing, and jurors have spent the last month hearing evidence and testimony from mental health experts, witnesses, and Richardson's victims and family members.

During the closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors argued that a life in prison sentence wouldn't do justice to Richardson. They cited a violent history that included attacks on guards and inmates, and accusations that he threatened potential witnesses even after Obara's killing.

"Life in prison means nothing," McKinnon told jurors.

But Mendelsohn argued that his client was trying to live up to a misguided prison code that calls for inmates to rough up child molesters. He said Richardson still has an opportunity for redemption if a jury shows him mercy, and that Richardson finally has his mental illness under control with new medication.

"The jury saw that in spite of the tragic death of Mr. Obara that Brian's life still had meaning and value," Mendelsohn said after the sentencing. "We are grateful that they reached this just result."

(source: Associated Press)

Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


LWOP and a pass to kill again
Bombs do not choose. They will hit everything   ... Nikita Khrushchev

I once said, "We will bury you," and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.  ... Nikita Khrushchev

Angelstorms OL'Man

One can only think it was based on the victim's convictions. While they are gross, the facts are he was murdered. He should be put to death. But as Frenchy said he got a free pass...
This was designed to hurt....Its a SEAL Candace unless you have been there yo will never understand...


Posted: 11:02 a.m. Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

Court upholds death sentence in friend's slaying

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the death sentence against a man who killed his best friend, rejecting arguments the sentence should have been overturned because it was out of line with penalties imposed in similar cases.

Winston Clay Barrett was convicted of killing Danny "Stumpy" Youngblood on Aug. 4, 2002, during a drunken brawl that began inside the Barretts' residence in Hiawassee. Barrett became enraged after Youngblood, awaking after a night of heavy drinking, urinated on Barrett's television and then almost defecated on the Barretts' bed while Barrett's wife was lying there.

When Barrett's wife screamed out and pushed Youngblood off the bed, Youngblood balled up his fist and yelled an obscenity at her. Barrett burst out of the bathroom and pistol-whipped, stomped and kicked Youngbood before fatally shooting him at point-blank range.

On appeal, Barrett's lawyer, Jack Martin, cited 17 other murders committed from 1995 through 2004 that had facts similar to Barrett's case. None of those cases received a death sentence.

Georgia's death-penalty statute requires the Georgia Supreme Court to make sure every capital sentence is in line with punishment in similar cases and to throw out those that are disproportionately severe. But the court has not thrown out a death sentence on proportionality grounds in more than 30 years.

In Monday's opinion, Justice Harris Hines noted that Barrett had cited 17 similar cases that did not receive death, but Hines noted the court views a particular crime against the backdrop of all similar cases in Georgia. The ruling cited nine cases the court found to have similar facts and circumstances to Barretts' in which the defendants received the death penalty.

"Considering the murder and the defendant, we find that Barrett's death sentence is not disproportionate within the meaning of Georgia law," Hines wrote.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Judge vacates sentence for sailor on death row for decades
In Print: Friday, November 23, 2012

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- A federal judge has vacated the death sentence of a Navy sailor in the slaying and dismemberment of a shipmate two decades ago in central Georgia.

Travis Clinton Hittson was sentenced to death in 1993 after the killing of Conway Utterbeck, who was beaten with a baseball bat and shot. His body parts were then hidden in Georgia and Florida.

The two were on leave from their ship and staying in Warner Robins, the Telegraph of Macon, Ga., reported.

Another shipmate, Edward Vollmer of Warner Robins, was also charged with murder but reached a plea bargain and was sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Vollmer was more culpable in the crime, and persuaded Hittson to participate in it.

The state must hold a new sentencing hearing or agree to a lesser sentence for Hittson, who is from Fremont, Neb., the judge ruled.

Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig could not be reached for comment, the Telegraph reported.

Vollmer had told Hittson he wanted to kill Utterbeck because Utterbeck was planning to kill them, according to the judge's ruling.

After the slaying, they dismembered the body, cleaned up the crime scene and buried the body parts in several states, prosecutors said.

[Last modified: Nov 22, 2012 11:18 PM]
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

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