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death penalty news----ALABAMA

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  • Rick Halperin
    March 9 ALABAMA---death sentence (via jury override) upheld: The Alabama Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of a Mobile man convicted of fatally shooting
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 9, 2001
      March 9

      ALABAMA---death sentence (via jury override) upheld:

      The Alabama Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of a Mobile man
      convicted of fatally shooting 3 people execution-style during a robbery
      of a car dealership.

      The justices, in a 7-0 decision released Friday, upheld lower court
      rulings sentencing Jarrod Taylor to die in Alabama's electric chair in
      the 1997 deaths of Steve Dyas, 48, and Bruce and Sherry Gaston, both 42,
      at Dyas' car dealership in Mobile.

      Justice Douglas Johnstone recused himself.

      The jury at Taylor's 1998 trial recommended, by a 7-5 vote, that he
      receive life in prison without parole. The trial judge overrode that
      recommendation and sentenced Taylor to death.

      The Court of Criminal Appeals later affirmed the conviction and the death

      The victims were each shot in the head with a .380-caliber pistol on Dec.
      12, 1997. Taylor and co-defendant Kenyatta Mudada McMillan stole the
      men's wallets, Mrs. Gaston's purse and a 1995 Ford Mustang convertible.

      McMillan and Taylor were arrested in Selma a day after the murders,
      riding around in a stolen car.

      McMillan received life without parole after testifying against Taylor.

      Taylor argued in both appeals that the judge violated his constitutional
      right to due process and equal protection and that his decision to
      override the jury constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

      The justices found no error in either the guilt or sentencing phase of
      Taylor's trial that warranted a reversal.

      (source: Associated Press)
    • Rick Halperin
      June 24 ALABAMA: Alabama Execution Delays Stir Deabte For 3 consecutive months, attempts to execute 3 inmates on Alabama s death row have been stalled by
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 24, 2001
        June 24


        Alabama Execution Delays Stir Deabte

        For 3 consecutive months, attempts to execute 3 inmates on Alabama's
        death row have been stalled by federal courts, and in 2 cases part of the
        reason was the lack of a lawyer at a crucial point in an appeal.

        Now advocates for inmates facing death sentences are looking to Congress
        to put pressure on the state to make changes.

        "The state of Alabama bears responsibility of assuring that people who
        are poor have the same quality of representation as people of above-
        average means," said Diann Rust-Tierney of the American Civil Liberties
        Union's capital punishment project. "Other states have put money into
        statewide public defender services."

        A bill introduced in March by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would create a
        National Commission on Capital Representation and withhold federal funds
        from states not complying with standards for capital representation. The
        bill also would provide capital defense incentive grants and resource
        grants for capital cases.

        Stephen Bright, director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human
        Rights, an anti-death penalty group, said he will testify Wednesday in
        favor of the federal legislation.

        "States like Alabama, Georgia and Texas simply are not providing
        competent lawyers," Bright said.

        "Alabama and a lot of the South have taken some raps on this issue. They
        ought to make it go away. Don't hand the opponents stuff to beat up on
        you," said Michael Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal
        Foundation, a pro-death penalty group in Sacramento, Calif.

        Alabama had 186 men and women on death row as of May 31. The next
        execution is set in July.

        State judges can appoint lawyers to represent indigent defendants, and
        defendants convicted of capital crimes get automatic appeals.

        However, an inmate who wants to pursue his case beyond that initial
        appeal - setting up a process that can go on for years - has to request a
        lawyer and may not find a qualified one willing to work for the limited
        amount of money available.

        "It's a money-losing proposition for a lawyer. It just takes so much
        time," said Greg Hughes, a criminal defense lawyer in Mobile.

        At the trial level, the pay is $60 an hour in court and $40 an hour for
        out-of-court time on an indigent's case, noted Joe D. Quinlivan Jr.,
        another Mobile lawyer with death-penalty experience. There is no cap on
        payments at the trial level, he said.

        During the appeal, there is a maximum of $2,000 for attorney fees at $60
        an hour plus a maximum $875 in overhead. That's followed by post-
        conviction remedies, which pays only $1,000.

        "It's really ridiculous," Quinlivan said. The Montgomery-based Equal
        Justice Initiative tries to recruit death row lawyers, but there's no
        state-run office for that purpose.

        "It's completely hit-and-miss. That's what's unique to Alabama," Bright

        Court deadlines bear on the inmate's appeal and can short-circuit the
        process if unmet.

        "And as time runs, you're deprived of both state and federal post-
        conviction review," Bright said.

        In 2 of Alabama's 3 recently blocked execution dates, federal judges
        granted delays to consider appeals claims that included a lack of legal
        counsel when appeal deadlines were missed.

        A "handful of committed lawyers have been able to at least try to find
        lawyers or help prisoners file petitions that need to be filed, but the
        pace of justice in Alabama is quickly outrunning the resources currently
        available," said Rust-Tierney of the ACLU's capital punishment project.

        "People with mental retardation are most at risk," she said.

        On the Net:

        American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org/

        Southern Center for Human Rights: http://www.schr.org/center/

        Criminal Justice Legal Foundation: http://www.cjlf.org/

        (source: Associated Press)
      • Rick Halperin
        May 6 ALABAMA-----impending female execution: Siegelman denies clemency request from Lynda Lyon Block Gov. Don Siegelman on Monday denied a clemency request
        Message 3 of 6 , May 6 8:44 PM
          May 6

          ALABAMA-----impending female execution:

          Siegelman denies clemency request from Lynda Lyon Block

          Gov. Don Siegelman on Monday denied a clemency request from death row
          inmate Lynda Lyon Block, who is scheduled to die in the electric chair
          for the 1993 shooting death of a police officer.

          Siegelman received Block's handwritten request for a reprieve in the mail
          last week. A political extremist who would be the 1st woman to die in
          Alabama's electric chair since 1957, Block has no lawyer and has filed no

          She is scheduled to die in the electric chair at 12:01 a.m. Friday at
          Holman Prison in Atmore. MO< "There was nothing in her petition nor
          anything else that would indicate that she wasn't guilty of the crime
          with which she was charged," Siegelman told the Opelika-Auburn News on

          "The evidence during the trial was overwhelmingly clear. There are
          absolutely no mitigating circumstances whatsoever."

          In her April 29 letter requesting a stay, Block accused prosecutors of
          deliberately losing important case files, threatening or bribing her
          former lawyer, plus other allegations of professional misconduct.

          Block and common-law husband George Sibley were convicted of capital
          murder in the death of officer Roger Motley, who was shot repeatedly in a
          store parking lot in 1993. Sibley also is on death row for the slaying.

          The couple contends the shooting was justified because Motley reached for
          his holster. Also, they claim, public employees including police have no
          power because of a constitutional amendment approved by Congress in 1811
          but never ratified by the states.

          Block's execution date originally was set for April 19, but was
          rescheduled after the Alabama Supreme Court postponed the date until May
          10. April 19 was the anniversary of the Waco fire and the Oklahoma City

          Block and Sibley were both wanted in Florida on outstanding charges, and
          were traveling with Block's son. Block and Sibley were both convicted of
          capital murder in 1994 and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

          Block, who prefers the name Lynda Lyon, once put out a radical political
          newsletter, and she and Sibley met at a Libertarian Party gathering in
          Florida, where she lived. The 2 describe their imprisonment as a
          conspiracy by a twisted court system.

          Block may be the last person to die in the Alabama electric chair since
          the Alabama Legislature has approved lethal injection as a method of
          execution beginning July 1.

          (source: Associated Press)
        • Rick Halperin
          Sept. 11 ALABAMA: State Supreme Court hears arguments on death penalty law In Montgomery, the attorney general told the Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday that
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 10, 2002
            Sept. 11


            State Supreme Court hears arguments on death penalty law

            In Montgomery, the attorney general told the Alabama Supreme Court on
            Tuesday that the state's death penalty law, which allows judges to impose
            death sentences, wasn't harmed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that
            juries should decide if a killer should live or die.

            But an attorney for death row inmates said the federal high court's
            ruling in an Arizona case means Alabama judges cannot continue to impose
            death sentences after juries recommend a sentence of life in prison
            without parole.

            "The jury is now empowered to make these decisions," Bryan Stevenson told
            the Alabama court.

            Attorney General Bill Pryor argued that Arizona's death penalty law was
            so dramatically different from Alabama's that the ruling against the
            Arizona statute doesn't affect the Alabama law.

            The Alabama Supreme Court justices heard the arguments in the case of
            death row inmate Bobby Wayne Waldrop. A Randolph County jury recommended
            Waldrop serve life in prison without parole for robbing and killing his
            grandparents, but Circuit Judge Dale Segrest sentenced him to death.

            On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an Arizona case that juries,
            not judges, should decide whether a killer should live or die. The
            decision also affected Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Nebraska, where
            judges alone decide whether to impose the death penalty.

            The ruling raised questions about the capital punishment laws in Florida,
            Alabama, Indiana and Delaware, where juries recommend sentences but
            judges have the final say. Death penalty opponents say 45 inmates -- or
            slightly less than 1/4 of the people on Alabama's death row -- had juries
            that recommended life in prison without parole.

            Waldrop's case is the first of that type to be heard by the Alabama
            Supreme Court since the Arizona ruling. The Alabama justices did not
            indicate when they may rule.

            Waldrop was a crack cocaine addict who was convicted of stabbing his
            ailing grandparents, Sherrell and Irene Prestridge, to death on April 5,
            1998, and stealing $900 from them.

            After the jury convicted him and recommended life in prison without
            parole, the judge decided the aggravating circumstances -- such as the
            heinous nature of his crime and committing the second crime of robbery
            during the killings -- outweighed the mitigating circumstance of his drug
            addiction. With that finding, the judge ruled the death sentence was

            Stevenson said the jury, not the judge, must weigh the aggravating and
            mitigating circumstances and then decide the sentence.

            Pryor argued that Arizona's law left much more for the judge to decide
            than Alabama's law does. In Arizona, the jury convicted a defendant of
            1st-degree murder. Then a judge decided whether the circumstances
            elevated the case to capital murder, which could bring the death

            Unlike Arizona's law, Alabama's law makes a defendant eligible for the
            death penalty as soon as the jury returns a guilty verdict, Pryor said.

            "If a person deserves a sentence of death, it is Bobby Wayne Waldrop,"
            Pryor said.

            In Waldrop's case, Pryor said, the jury actually found aggravating
            circumstances existed because he was convicted of killing his
            grandparents during a robbery.

            Chief Justice Roy Moore asked numerous questions about other capital
            murder cases where there is not a 2nd crime involved, such as killing a
            child or a drive-by shooting. "My problem is if there is no aggravating
            circumstances, the jury can't find death eligible," Moore said.

            Pryor said that's an issue for a future case. But told reporters later
            that 75 % of Alabama's death row inmates committed a 2nd crime, such as
            rape, robbery and kidnapping, in addition to killing someone.

            (source: Associated Press)
          • Rick Halperin
            ALABAMA: David Nelson is scheduled for execution on October 9, 2003. The letter below has been provided by the Alabama Committee to Abolish the Death penalty
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 23, 2003

              David Nelson is scheduled for execution on October 9, 2003.

              The letter below has been provided by the Alabama Committee to Abolish the
              Death penalty in the hope of preventing on this execution, raising
              awareness, and drawing attention of the suffering caused in so many
              different ways to so many people.

              If anyone would like to send a copy to Governor Riley it would be greatly


              Hon. Bob Riley
              Governor's Office
              600 Dexter Ave #N 104
              Montgomery, Al. 36130

              Dear Gov. Riley:

              Re: David Nelson

              We respectfully ask you to intervene in the execution of David
              Nelson scheduled for October 9. Please grant clemency or
              alternatively ask the Pardon & Parole Board to review the serious
              questions which still remain open.

              1. A Judge rather than a jury set the penalty back in 1975. The ninth
              appeals court has now determined only a jury can set a death penalty.
              This has NOT been reviewed in the case of Alabama.

              2. Holman has blocked calls from Mr. Nelson to his attorney despite
              repeated attempts. This is disgraceful.

              3. He was denied a Faretta hearing. He has never received one. This is a
              critical question in review to determine if he is knowledgeable enough
              to defend himself.

              4. The law gives a choice of lethal injection or electrocution as the
              means of the death penalty. He asked for electrocution because he has no
              veins suitable for injection. It took them an hour to kill Michael
              Thompson. Now he is told they will do a "cut down " operation the night
              before. Leaving him in agonizing pain the night before and the whole day
              of execution. Do you really endorse such brutality?

              Please intervene. Common decency demands it. He also has turned
              his life around. He was baptized into the Episcopal Church in 1997, and
              have since them lived an exemplary life.


            • Rick Halperin
              Nov. 7 ALABAMA: Man gets life sentence for youth officer s killing A judge Thursday sentenced Antoine Lipscomb to life in prison without parole for the killing
              Message 6 of 6 , Nov 7, 2003
                Nov. 7


                Man gets life sentence for youth officer's killing

                A judge Thursday sentenced Antoine Lipscomb to life in prison without
                parole for the killing of a juvenile detention officer in Midfield. Try
                Our Classifieds

                After a two-day trial, a Bessemer Cutoff jury convicted Lipscomb, 26, of
                capital murder for the Jan. 10, 2002, shooting of Dennis Smith. The jury
                deliberated about 2 hours Thursday and an hour Wednesday before reaching
                its verdict.

                The prosecution waived the sentencing phase of the trial because Smith's
                family gave its approval for Lipscomb to receive life without parole.
                Assistant District Attorney James Butler said he had planned to seek the
                death penalty.

                "But that is what the family decided, and we respect their decision," said
                Butler, who prosecuted the case with David Michaels.

                Smith was shot while in the front yard of his Vann Street home while
                washing his pick-up truck. Before he died, Smith, 29, was able to tell
                police what happened to him, according to testimony.

                Smith told officers Lipscomb - without a word - "shot me 3times and took
                my truck." Smith was also able to give police a description of the
                shooter, which matched Lipscomb.

                Smith later died at Carraway Methodist Medical Center.

                "We're thankful that our client will not receive the death penalty," said
                defense lawyer David Hobdy, who defended Lipscomb with Horace Kynard. "It
                was refreshing to see that both mothers were able to hug afterwards."

                About an hour before the shooting, Fairfield police stopped a truck driven
                by a man matching Lipscomb's description. The truck had been stolen in
                Savannah, Ga. The man, later identified as Lipscomb, got out and escaped
                into the woods. Cigars containing Lipscomb's DNA were found at the scene
                of the shooting in Midfield and in the truck abandoned in Fairfield.

                Butler said the DNA, Smith's identification and the identification of
                Lipscomb by a Fairfield officer were critical to the case because there
                were no eyewitnesses to the shooting.

                Smith had been a juvenile detention officer at the Jefferson County Youth
                Detention Center in West End since November 1998. Before that, he worked
                at the Birmingham City Jail and at Donaldson Correctional Facility in
                western Jefferson County.

                (source: Birmingham News)


                Manassa verdict: capital murder---Member of Prichard Three found guilty in
                attack that killed 6-year-old

                Earl Manassa Jr., one of the so-called Prichard Three, was found guilty
                Thursday of the capital murder of a 6-year-old boy and guilty of 4 counts
                of attempted murder of Prichard police officers.

                After nearly 8 hours of deliberations, the jury handed down the verdict to
                screaming cries from Manassa's family members and friends as police
                escorted them from Mobile Circuit Judge John Lockett's courtroom and
                Government Plaza.

                Manassa, who will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. today, showed no trace of
                emotion after his conviction, may result in the death penalty or life in
                prison without parole.

                Lakiesha Bonham, mother of the slain Kearis Bonham, silently wept as the
                jury foreman read the verdicts. Afterward, smiling, Bonham told reporters
                that the memory of her son and her "faith in God" had kept her strong.

                "I'm truly grateful. I think justice has truly been served," Bonham said.
                Kearis Bonham was shot in the head Dec. 12, 2001, as he stood in the front
                doorway of his grandfather's house about a half block from the Queens
                Court Apartments.

                Authorities said the child was hit by a stray bullet fired during an
                ambush of police officers who had been lured to Queens Court by a bogus
                call for assistance. Witnesses had testified earlier this week that they
                saw Manassa shoot an AK-47-style assault rifle into the air that night and
                that he had hyped up the crowd there to attack the police.

                Manassa's attorney, Sid Harrell, told jurors Thursday that there was no
                evidence that his client intended to kill Kearis Bonham.

                "He may not have intended it, but he sure didn't care if it happened,"
                said the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Jo Beth Murphree,
                during her closing argument Thursday.

                Retired Lt. Cedric Nettles, who was one of the four Pri chard police
                officers ambushed in the Dec. 12, 2001 incident at Queens Court II
                apartments, sat quietly throughout the 12 hours of court proceedings

                Manassa was found guilty of the attempted murder of officers Nettles,
                Lance LaPorte, Preston Lewis and Lorna McCarroll.

                "For me, right now is a sad time and a sad day because whenever people in
                the community take it upon themselves to take the law in their own hands,
                we all suffer and we all lose," Nettles said after the verdict was read.

                Attorneys, friends and family members, showed signs of fatigue in the
                hours before the jury handed down its decision shortly before 9 p.m.

                Manassa, who had shed the glasses he was wearing during the closing
                arguments Thursday morning, put his head down on the defense desk while
                his attorneys held their heads in their hands.

                Earlier that morning, nearly 3 dozen of Manassa's family members and
                friends held hands, bowed their heads and silently moved their lips in
                prayer before the trial continued in its 4th day. Outside the courtroom
                during jury deliberations, they exclaimed that he was innocent of shooting
                Kearis Bonham.

                A father of 8 children himself, Manassa, who declined to testify on his
                own behalf Thursday, said in a statement given to police early in the
                investigation that he believed it wrong to shoot at police and that he
                loved children.

                "Earl Manassa is not a child killer. Earl Manassa is not a cop killer,"
                Harrell said during his closing argument. "Earl Manassa is a human being.
                They're making him out to be an animal. This man is not an animal."

                (source: Mobile Register)
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