Day: June 21, 2012

Convicted Calif. killer on death row for murders of 5 females, accused of 2 NYC slayings


June 21, 2012 Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com

NEW YORK — A man already convicted and on California’s death row for the decades-old murders of four women and a 12-year-old girl now faces charges in the slayings of two Manhattan women in the 1970s.

Rodney Alcala was scheduled for arraignment Thursday for the deaths of Trans World Airlines flight attendant Cornelia Crilley and aspiring researcher Ellen Hover, both 23.

It was unclear who would represent Alcala or even whether he would have a lawyer. A former photographer with an IQ said to top 160, Alcala represented himself at his California trial that ended with his convictions in 2010 for the five murders. He is appealing.

Decades of suspicion, an indictment last year and 18 months of legal maneuvering over extraditing him culminated Wednesday with his arrival in New York City on a U.S. Marshals Service plane. He was placed in police custody.

Alcala was indicted only recently, after the Manhattan district attorney’s cold-case unit re-examined the cases, looked at evidence that emerged during the California trial and conducted new interviews with more than 100 witnesses.

California authorities had said they were exploring whether Alcala could be tied to cases in New York and other states, and they had released more than 100 photos, found in his storage locker, of young women and girls.

“These cases were built one brick at a time, as each new lead brought us closer to where we are today,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said when Alcala was indicted, adding that he hoped the indictment “brings a small measure of peace to the families and friends who have spent decades searching for answers, and justice.”

Crilley was found, strangled with a stocking, in her Manhattan apartment in 1971. Hover was living in Manhattan when she vanished in 1977. Her remains were found the next year in the woods on a suburban estate.

Hover had a degree in biology and was seeking a job as a researcher, a private investigator for her family said at the time. A talented pianist, Hover was “enamored of the counterculture of the 1960s,” cousin Sheila Weller wrote in a 2010 Marie Claire magazine piece about Hover’s death. Weller has said she’s gratified by his indictment in her cousin’s death; she declined Wednesday to elaborate.

Hover’s father, comedy writer Herman Hover, had been an owner of the one-time Hollywood hotspot Ciro’s.

Her disappearance and Crilley’s death made headlines and spurred extensive searches. TWA offered a $5,000 reward for information about Crilley’s killing. Hover’s relatives papered walls and kiosks with posters.

A note in Hover’s calendar for the day she vanished showed she planned to have lunch with a photographer she had recently met, according to the family’s private detective and news reports at the time. Her lunch date’s name, authorities later said, was an alias that Alcala used.

Alcala had been eyed in Crilley’s death for at least several years. New York Police Department detectives investigating her killing went to California in 2003 with a warrant to interview Alcala and get a dental impression from him.

A forensic dentist later found that a bite mark on Crilley’s body was consistent with Alcala’s impression, a law enforcement official has said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Alcala, now 68, has been behind bars since his 1979 arrest in one of the California killings. Before that arrest, he also served a prison sentence on convictions of furnishing marijuana to a minor and kidnapping and trying to kill an 8-year-old girl.

He also had attended college and worked briefly as a typist at The Los Angeles Times, according to a 1979 story in the newspaper.

And he had made his way onto a 1978 episode of “The Dating Game,” the innuendo-filled matchmaking show that was a hit in its era.

Introduced as a photographer with a yen for motorcycling and skydiving, the long-haired, leisure-suited Alcala won the contest. But the woman who chose him over two other contestants ultimately didn’t go on a date with him, according to news reports.

His conviction last year came after a series of trials, overturned convictions and strange courtroom moments. Acting as his own lawyer, Alcala offered a rambling defense that included questioning the mother of one of his victims, showing a clip of his appearance on “The Dating Game” and playing Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Alcala fought his extradition to New York, saying he needed to stay in California to attend court hearings and do other preparatory work on his appeal. The California Supreme Court rejected his argument last month.

 

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Split Ohio Parole Board rejects clemency for condemned killer of convenience store owner


June 20, 2012  Source : http://www.therepublic.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The prosecutor who charged John Eley with a capital crime and a judge who sentenced him to death both want the killer of a Youngstown convenience store owner spared, saying he doesn’t deserve a death sentence.

Their unusual support was not enough to sway the Ohio Parole Board, which voted 5-3 Wednesday in a rare split decision to recommend against clemency for Eley.

Eley, 63, is scheduled to die July 26 for the 1986 killing of store owner Ihsan Aydah. Gov. John Kasich has the final say on mercy.

Eley refused to testify against his alleged conspirator, Melvin Green, in exchange for a deal that would have removed the death penalty. Green, who was acquitted in a separate trial, was considered the mastermind of the crime by investigators.

Opposition to Eley’s execution from the prosecutor and the judge, as well as the detective who investigated the crime, don’t outweigh the nature of the crime, according to the five board members who rejected clemency.

The supporters’ assertions “do not outweigh the fact that Eley took the gun from Green, entered the store with the intent to rob the victim, knew that the victim had a gun and might try to use it, and then shot him in the head,” the board said.

The board also rejected claims by Eley’s lawyers that he is mentally ill and mentally disabled.

It’s not unusual for judges or prosecutors to change their mind about individual cases or the death penalty itself, but on-the-record testimony on behalf of a condemned inmate is relatively rare.

The three board members who supported Eley’s plea for mercy say he is not the “worst of the worst” killers, and argue that many similar convenience store robbers who committed more serious crimes escaped death sentences.

They also said the crime wouldn’t have happened without Green. And they argued that Eley was a victim of a game of bluff by prosecutors as they threatened him with a death sentence to force his testimony against Green.

“The prosecutors ‘played a bluff’ all the way to the end, and when Eley did not cooperate, they were stuck with the death penalty conviction,” the three dissenting members said.

Former Mahoning County prosecutor Gary Van Brocklin told the board that Green set up the entire robbery. Former Mahoning County judge Peter Economus — now a federal judge — said if defense attorneys had presented more reasons why Eley should have been spared, he wouldn’t have voted in favor of a death sentence.

Clemency “should be granted for Mr. Eley in this case,” Economus wrote to both the parole board and Kasich on June 7.

“Frankly, I am surprised that his death sentence was not modified by the courts who have reviewed this case over the years.”

Board members opposed to clemency rejected Economus’ argument, saying several courts have previously ruled that factors that could have been presented to the jury about Eley but weren’t — such as the effect of a head injury in earlier life on his behavior — wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

Green, 54, is in prison and scheduled for release in October on charges he illegally carried a concealed weapon, had a gun in a car and possession of drugs. But he also faces the possibility of additional time for violating parole on a prior aggravated robbery conviction, according to state prison records. Those charges are unrelated to the Eley case.

Luka Magnotta Pleads Not Guilty To Dismembering Lover On Video


Update June 20, 2012 Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Magnotta

Luka Rocco Magnotta, the Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover, having sex with and eating his corpse on video, and then mailing his body parts to schools, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five charges, including first-degree murder.

In his first court appearance since his extradition from Germany to Montreal, the 29-year-old Magnotta entered a plea by videoconference from a Montreal detention center, CBS News reported.

Magnotta’s lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, asked that Magnotta undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s criminally responsible for the killing. The court will consider the request on Thursday.

The porn actor allegedly killed his lover and roommate, 33-year-old Jun Lin, and sent his hands and feet to Canada’s political parties and two schools. Cops are still looking for Lin’s head.

Investigators say that a video recorded by Magnotta shows him having sex with Lin’s corpse and eating part of it.

The videos and body parts started a worldwide manhunt for Magnotta. He was arrested this month in Germany.

Luka Rocco Magnotta Update: Police Search For Victim’s Head


June 19,2012 Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Luka Magnotta

MONTREAL — A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing the body parts to political parties and schools pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five charges including first degree murder.

Luka Magnotta entered his plea before a judge via videoconference from a Montreal detention center. It was his first hearing since being extradited to Canada under very tight security from Germany, where he was arrested after an international manhunt.

His lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, requested that Magnotta be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine his criminal responsibility. The court will consider that request Thursday.

Magnotta, 29, is suspected of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old a computer science student at Concordia University, and sending his feet and hands to Canada’s top political parties and two schools. The head is still missing, and police said they would ask Magnotta where it is.

Investigators say Magnotta also posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. Police say Magnotta and Lin were in a relationship.

During the hearing, Magnotta stood silently between two guards, handcuffed and wearing a brown shirt. He said just one word to his defense lawyer. Panaccio told his client that he hoped to speak with him later Tuesday.

“If you wish to call me at home tonight, I’d be pleased to talk about this,” Panaccio told Magnotta.

“Okay,” the suspect replied before being led away to detention.

His appearance lasted about three minutes.

Magnotta faces charges including first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, threatening the prime minister and using the mail system for delivering “obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous” material.

Prosecutor Helene DiSalvo said authorities will meet with Lin’s family, who traveled to Canada after hearing of his death. She said finding the head is important to both the case and the victim’s family.

The case became known when a package containing a severed foot was found at Canada’s ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Lin’s torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta’s apartment building.

About a week later, the missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said.

Magnotta, who fled to Canada before the killing was discovered, spent a few days partying in Paris before moving on to Berlin, where he was caught earlier this month as he read stories about himself at an Internet cafe.

He did not contest his extradition from Germany and arrived Monday in Montreal on a military plane.

Police called the Canadian military flight an extraordinary measure. Police said preliminary checks with private airlines suggested it would be difficult to use a standard commercial carrier to get Magnotta home. Among the problems: the airline would have had to vacate an entire section of seats around the suspect.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give “the victim a result that can have him rest in peace.”

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STAYS OF EXECUTIONS 2012


UPDATE October 19, 2012

STAYS OF EXECUTIONS 2012

Date of  Scheduled Execution  State  Inmate Reason for Stay
January      
17 PA Ralph Birdsong Stayed to allow time for appeals.
18 PA Kenneth Hairston Stayed to allow time for appeals.
 18 OH Charles Lorraine U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost delayed the execution due to the Department of Corrections failing to “follow its own rules for executions.”  Frost said the state failed to document the drugs used in its last execution in November and failed to review the medical chart of the inmate who was put to death.
19 KY Michael St. Clair Stayed due to a pending case on the fairness of the death penalty protocol in Kentucky.
20 DE Robert Gattis Gov. Jack Markell cited the “unusual and perhaps historic” recommendation of the Delaware Board of Pardons, in a 4-1 vote, to commute Gattis’ sentence after considering disturbing accounts of physical and sexual abuse that Gattis claims to have suffered as a child and which his attorneys argued have never been properly considered by the courts.
31 GA Nicholas Tate Stayed to allow time for appeals.
February      
1 TX Donald Newbury Stayed by U.S. Supreme Court to consider an Arizona case that questions whether death row inmates are entitled to better legal help during initial appeals.
8 MS Edwin Turner U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves stayed the execution to allow Turner to be seen by a psychiatrist of his choosing.
16 OK Garry Allen Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin granted a 30-day stay of execution so that state attorneys could study whether he should be granted clemency.
22 OH Michael Webb Stayed by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost, through an agreement with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, to allow time for Ohio to revise their execution protocols.
28 TX Anthony Bartee Stayed by State District Judge Mary Roman to allow time for DNA testing.
March      
6 NE Michael Ryan Stayed by the Nebraska Supreme Court to allow time for a lower court to consider a request to have Ryan’s sentence commuted to life in prison.
8 PA Dustin Briggs Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
16 OK Garry Allen Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued an additional 26-day stay.
18 SD Briley Piper Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
29 AL Tommy Arthur Stayed by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals due to Alabama’s decision to use pentobarbital as part of a three-drug execution combination.
April      
5 UT Michael Archuleta Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
12 AL Carey Grayson Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
12 OK Garry Allen Granted stay by a federal District Court judge to give adequate opportunity to litigate claims regarding competency.
19 GA Daniel Greene Stayed for up to 90 days by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to allow for additional time to examine the substance of claims offered by Greene’s representatives. Update – Greene’s sentence was commuted to a sentence of life without parole by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.
20 DE Shannon Johnson Stayed by a federal judge to allow time to hear mental incompetence claims. 
Update – Johnson has been executed.
26 TX Buenka Adams Stayed by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider to allow time to review the quality of legal help that Adams had in early stages of his appeal.  Update – Adams has been executed.
May      
2 TX Anthony Bartee Stayed to consider a request for additional DNA testing.
9 LA Todd Wessinger Stayed by U.S. District Judge James Brady to allow time to review arguments presented by Wessinger’s attorneys.
13-19 SD Eric Robert Stayed by the South Dakota Supreme Court so the court can fully review the case.
16 TX Steven Staley Stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals due to mental health issues raised in his appeal.
16 AZ Samuel Lopez Stayed by the Arizona Supreme Court to allow time for issues raised by recent clemency-board appointments to be worked out.
June      
6 TX Bobby Hines Stayed at the request of the district attorney’s office to allow further DNA testing.
6 OH Abdul Awkal Stayed for 2 weeks by Gov. John Kasich to allow a judge to hold a hearing on his mental competency.  Update – Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman has issued a decision that Awkal may not be executed unless and until he has been restored to competency.
July      
18/23 GA Warren Hill July 18 execution stayed until July 23 to allow time for the state to switch to a single-drug execution protocol.  Update- July 23 execution stayed by unanimous vote of Georgia Supreme Court to consider state’s change of lethal injection protocol.
26 OH John Eley Governor John R. Kasich commuted the death sentence of John Jeffrey Eley to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Kasich stated that Eley, who is of limited mental capacity, acted under the direction of another man who was later acquitted. Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime. Additionally, the former Mahoning County prosecutor who tried Eley’s case regretted the way the case was handled and its outcome, and had called for clemency.
August      
1 TX Marcus Druery Stayed by TX Court of Criminal Appeals to consider whether a hearing is needed to determine his mental competency.
3 MO Michael Tisius Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
15 LA Jason Reeves Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
22 TX John Balentine Stayed by U.S. Supreme Court to allow time for further review.
September      
9-15 SD Rodney Berget Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
13 PA Michael Travaglia Stayed to allow more time to prepare a federal appeal.
October      
3 PA Terrance Williams Trial level judge found prosecutors withheld evidence.  New sentencing ordered.
9 PA Terry Chamberlain Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
10 PA Andre Staton Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
10 TX Jonathan Green Stayed by U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas to allow review of Green’s mental competency. Update – stay has been overturned by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Update – Green has been executed.
11 PA David Ramtahal Stayed to allow more time for appeals.
16 FL John Ferguson Stayed by Gov. Scott to allow time for psychiatric testing.  Execution could go forward if Ferguson found mentally competent.  Update – The Florida Supreme Court granted a 2-day stay of execution so the justices can hear another appeal, the stay will expire 10/18. Update – prior stay required setting of a new execution date.  Update – Execution date has been set for 10/23.
18 TX Anthony Haynes Stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court (7-2) to consider claims of inadequate representation at trial and appeal.

UPCOMING – Executions – JULY 2012


Update July 18, 2012

Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals

Pennsylvania execution dates and stays are generally not listed because the state routinely sets execution dates before all appeals have been exhausted.

July

07/18/2012

Yakomon Hearn

Texas

 Executed   6:37 p.m 

07/18/2012

Warren Hill

Georgia

Stayed (rescheduled for 7/23)  STAYED

07/24/2012

Darien Houser

Pennsylvania

STAYED

07/25/2012

John Koehler

Pennsylvania

STAYED

07/26/2012

Willie Clayton

Pennsylvania

STAYED

07/26/2012

John Eley

Ohio

 COMMUTED