Death Sentence

Missouri executes Roderick Nunley 9:09 p.m


BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) – Missouri executed Tuesday evening Roderick Nunley for the kidnapping, rape and fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Ann Harrison in 1989.

Nunley was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m., according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Roderick Nunley

9:09 p.m.

A man who spent nearly 25 years on Missouri’s death row has been executed for the kidnapping, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.

Fifty-year-old Roderick Nunley died by injection Tuesday night. Of 20 executions nationally in 2015, 10 have been in Texas and six in Missouri.

Ann Harrison was waiting for a school bus on her driveway, 20 yards from her front door, on March 22, 1989. Nunley and Michael Taylor drove by in a stolen car and abducted her. They took her to the home of Nunley’s mother where she was raped, sodomized and then fatally stabbed.

The girl’s body was found in the trunk of the abandoned car three days later.

Both men were sentenced to death in 1991. Taylor was executed last year.

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5:30 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court says it won’t stop the scheduled execution of a man convicted in the 1989 kidnapping, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl in Kansas City.

The justices issued orders Tuesday evening denying a stay of execution for 50-year-old Roderick Nunley. He’s set to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the death of Ann Harrison.

Investigators say the girl was randomly targeted as she waited outside her home for the school bus. She was taken to a home, raped and fatally stabbed.

Nunley’s attorney had three appeals pending before the Supreme Court. One questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty Another argued Nunley should’ve been sentenced by a jury, not a judge.

A third took issue with Missouri’s process of secretly acquiring its execution drug.

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1 a.m.

Missouri prison officials are preparing to execute a man convicted of killing a 15-year-old girl more than two decades ago in Kansas City.

Fifty-year-old Roderick Nunley is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the kidnapping, rape and stabbing death of Ann Harrison. Investigators say the girl was randomly targeted while waiting in her driveway for the school bus on the morning of March 22, 1989.

Nunley’s co-defendant, Michael Taylor, also was convicted of first-degree murder. He was executed last year.

Nunley’s attorney has three appeals pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. One questions the constitutionality of the death penalty, while another argues that Nunley should’ve been sentenced by a jury, not a judge. An appeal filed Monday takes issues with Missouri’s process of secretly acquiring its execution drug.

Gov. Jay Nixon is also weighing a clemency petition.

___

 

A Second Jailhouse Snitch Claims a Secret Deal With Texas Prosecutor


Nearly six years before before Navarro County prosecutor John Jackson used a jailhouse snitch to help send Cameron Todd Willingham to his death, Jackson made similar use of an inmate informant in a different death penalty trial.
In both cases, the informants later said their testimony resulted from secret deals they made with the prosecutor, which were withheld from defense lawyers.
Jackson had strong evidence in the December 1986 trial of Ernest Baldree for murdering a husband and wife as he stole cash and jewelry. But Jackson also bolstered his case with testimony from Kyle Barnett, a convicted drug user and burglar, who told the jury that Baldree confessed to the crime while they were both inmates in the Navarro County Jail. Baldree was executed in 1997.
On September 10, 1991, 11 months before Willingham went on trial, Barnett signed a sworn affidavit for lawyers working on Baldree’s appeal. Barnett said that Jackson, along with Navarro County District Attorney Patrick Batchelor, pressured him to testify against Baldree in exchange for favorable treatment in his own case.
The scenario that Barnett described echoes allegations later made in the far more famous case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the arson murder of his three young daughters.
Last March, the Texas State Bar filed a formal accusation of misconduct against Jackson, accusing him of obstruction of justice, making false statements and concealing evidence favorable to Willingham. The bar action accused Jackson of failing to disclose to Willingham’s defense a deal with Johnny Webb, a jailhouse informant who testified that Willingham confessed to the crime while they were both in the Navarro County Jail.
Webb now says his testimony was false—that Willingham never confessed—and that Jackson threatened him with a lengthy jail term if he did not help the prosecution, so the two made a secret deal.
Jackson has denied making any deal with Webb, and says he helped Webb because he was facing death threats because of his testimony.
Source: The Marshall Project, Maurice Possley, Maurice Chammah, August 18, 2015

 

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Florida. death penalty faces scrutiny from Supreme Court


June 28, 2015

— Thirteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, should decide death sentences, Florida stands alone in how its justice system imposes capital punishment.

“Florida’s capital sentencing system is unique among all 33 American jurisdictions that permit capital punishment,” the American Bar Association says in a brief filed before the nation’s highest court. “Indeed, the Florida Supreme Court has characterized Florida as ‘the outlier state.’ ”

Now the nation’s highest court is poised to consider in its next term whether Florida needs to change its system for deciding whom to execute.

The issue concerns the role of juries in death penalty decisions. It’s an aspect of the state’s system of capital punishment that courts have struggled with for years.

In Florida, as in other states, when defendants are convicted of murder in a death penalty case, juries hear evidence regarding the existence of “aggravating factors,” or aspects of the case that weigh in favor of a death sentence, as well as “mitigating factors,” information that favors a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In recommending a sentence, a jury determines whether aggravating factors in a case outweigh the mitigating circumstances and justify the imposition of a death sentence.

But Florida juries, unlike most other states, are told their decisions are merely advisory, and that the judge will make the ultimate determination over whether to sentence a defendant to death. Trial judges in Florida are required to make their own, independent findings and are permitted to impose sentences different from jury recommendations.

Juries in Florida also are not required to reach unanimous decisions on the existence of specific aggravating factors or on whether to recommend a death sentence.

No other state allows the imposition of a death sentence without jurors either finding unanimously that a specific aggravating factor has been established or unanimously finding that capital punishment is appropriate.

The American Bar Association, which takes no position on the overall constitutionality of the death penalty, is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to direct Florida to make changes and require jurors to specify which aggravating factors they have unanimously found to be present. The association wants the high court to require jurors to unanimously agree on the imposition of death sentences.

The American Bar Association reviewed the state’s death penalty system in 2006 and found the need to improve its fairness and accuracy.

Among the findings was that there was significant confusion among jurors in capital cases. “Research establishes that many Florida capital jurors do not understand their role and responsibilities when deciding whether to impose a death sentence,” the association’s report stated.

The ABA also concluded that not requiring jurors to be unanimous “reduces the jury’s deliberation time and thus may diminish the thoroughness of the deliberations.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 threw out Arizona’s system of capital punishment, ruling it was unconstitutional because judges, not juries, determined the existence of aggravating factors and sentenced defendants to death.

Months later, the Florida Supreme Court left intact the state’s system of capital punishment, concluding that the U.S. Supreme Court had repeatedly reviewed it and found it constitutional.

The state’s high court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to hear the appeal of one of the Florida defendants challenging the state system, even after it made the Arizona decision.

That Florida appeal involved Amos Lee King, who was later executed for the 1977 murder of Natalie “Tillie” Brady inside her Tarpon Springs home. Brady was raped, stabbed and beaten while King was in a nearby prison work-release program.

The state Supreme Court called in 2005 for the state Legislature to make changes to the state’s death penalty law to require unanimity in jury recommendations. But state lawmakers didn’t act.

In the ensuing years, the state Supreme Court continued to hold that the state’s death penalty system is constitutional. One of those rulings came in the Escambia County case of Timothy Lee Hurst, convicted of murdering coworker Cynthia Harrison in a robbery at Popeye’s restaurant on May 2, 1998.

The state Supreme Court initially upheld Hurst’s conviction and death sentence but later granted him a new penalty phase hearing on the grounds his original defense lawyer failed to properly pre­sent and investigate mitigating evidence relating to his borderline intelligence and possible brain damage. At the conclusion of the second sentencing hearing, jurors returned a verdict of 7-5 in favor of death.

Hurst appealed again to the state Supreme Court, which upheld his death sentence, rejecting arguments that included assertions the jury should have been required to unanimously find a specific aggravating circumstance and unanimously decide his sentence.

The state Supreme Court noted in its Hurst ruling that it has previously concluded that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Arizona case did not require juries to make specific findings of aggravating factors or to make unanimous decisions regarding death sentences. The Florida court refused to revisit its prior rulings.

Hurst also argued the jury should have been required to determine whether he was mentally disabled, a finding that would have barred the implementation of the death penalty. After hearing testimony from witnesses and experts, the trial judge ruled that Hurst was not mentally disabled.

The state Supreme Court ruled that although some states require such findings be made by juries, Florida is not one of those states, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not mandated that procedure.

Hurst appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case in its next term, which begins in October.

 

Jury sentences man with history of mental illness to death for killing nurse as part of plot to assassinate President Barack Obama


April 15, 2014

A man with a history of mental illness has been sentenced to death by a jury for killing a South Dakota hospice nurse as part of a plot to assassinate President Barack Obama.

James McVay pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder in 2012 in connection with the stabbing death of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein.

McVay, 43, said he killed Schein and stole her car as part of his plan to drive to Washington and kill the president.

The Sioux Falls jury chose the death penalty, though jurors could have sentenced McVay to life in prison without parole.

Authorities said McVay walked away from a minimum-security prison in July 2011 in Sioux Falls and was mixing cough syrup and alcohol when he climbed under Schein’s slightly open garage door, entered her house, killed her and drove away in her car.

After Schein’s car was reported stolen, police used a tracking service in the vehicle to find McVay on Interstate 90 near Madison, Wisconsin. He was arrested after a brief chase.

Madison Police Officer Kipp Hartman testified that he was trying to get McVay to reveal his name when McVay began saying he ‘killed a little old lady’ in South Dakota and stole her car to get to Washington, D.C., to kill the president.

Prosecutor Aaron McGowan said McVay stabbed Schein nine times, with the final blow cutting her vocal cords and carotid artery, causing her to bleed to death within 16 seconds.

But public defender Traci Smith yesterday said McVay’s characterization by the prosecution as monstrous did not square with the facts of the case or his history, the Argus Leader reported.

Smith said McVay’s mental health was not properly monitored or cared for by the prison staff. She added that McVay poses no threat when his illness is cared for.

‘The state has continually downplayed the effect of mental illness,’ Smith said.

The jury, made up of seven men and five women, agreed last week with prosecutors that McVay’s crime met two aggravating circumstances that would allow the state to impose a death sentence.

The first deemed the offense outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman; the second found that the defendant committed the offense for his own benefit or the benefit of another.

Public defender Amber Eggert during the trial argued before the jury that McVay has suffered from mental illness as well as alcohol and drug issues for much of his life and his life should be spared.

She said that the night before the killing, McVay mixed alcohol with a DXM-based cough syrup, which can cause hallucinations.

McVay said he awoke briefly at 3am to find spiritual entities surrounding him and awoke again hours later to find them still there, telling him to follow through on his plan, she told jurors.

‘That was the sign he was going to get the transportation and the final stuff he needed before going to Washington, D.C.,’ Eggert told the jury.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, earlier this month said the death penalty is traditionally reserved for the worst of the worst, and it’s rare for a state to seek the punishment of death after finding someone guilty but mentally ill.

‘I just don’t know of any cases in which you have (such) a verdict, and then the state still seeks the death penalty,’ he said.

Dieter said the guilty but mentally ill verdict gained popularity in a dozen states as part of the public outcry over John Hinckley being found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

The jury on Monday deliberated for a little more than five hours. After the verdict was announced, McGowan said the jury ‘made a brave decision.’

‘I think they made the correct decision,’ McGowan said.

McVay’s defense team did not speak to the media after the hearing. Some of them wept after the verdict was read, news outlets reported.

Three other individuals are on death row in South Dakota: Rodney Berget, Charles Rhines and Briley Piper.

FLORIDA – Gonzalez death sentence upheld in Billings murders


April 11, 2014

The Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence for the man authorities said masterminded the robbery and killings of Byrd and Melanie Billings nearly five years ago.

Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 40, was convicted in 2010 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion robbery with a firearm.

Gonzalez led a group of men who forced their way into the Billings home in Beulah in July 2009 and gunned down the couple during an attempted robbery. The Billingses had 17 children, 13 of them adopted. Nine of the children were home at the time of the killing.

On Feb. 17, 2011, Circuit Judge Nicholas Geeker followed a jury recommendation and sentenced Gonzalez to death.

In imposing the death sentence, Geeker found as aggravating factors that Gonzalez had a conviction for a prior violent felony, that the murder was committed during the course of a robbery, and his crimes were heinous, atrocious and cruel.

In upholding the conviction, the state Supreme Court found that the convictions were supported by competent, substantial evidence, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

“We’re very pleased with the decision and the court’s opinion on the sentence and use of the death penalty,” said Assistant State Attorney John Molchan, who prosecuted Gonzalez along with State Attorney Bill Eddins.

Although Gonzalez’s direct appeal was denied, he still can attempt to have his conviction or sentence overturned.

Gonzalez has the option to seek post-conviction relief, a review of whether deficiencies in his attorney’s performance led to Gonzalez’s conviction. He also can file a petition for a U.S. District Court to review the case, which could overturn the conviction or overturn his sentence.

MISSOURI :Death penalty hearing delayed: Murderer could die before sentence


April 9, 2014

A hearing to determine whether convicted murderer Gregory A. Bowman would once again face the death penalty has been delayed for a year because he has a terminal illness.

Bowman, 62, is facing sentencing for a murder 35 years ago in St. Louis County. Circuit Judge David Vincent, the judge presiding in Bowman’s case, set the hearing for April 27, 2015.

Bowman was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Velda Rumfelt who was abducted from a busy Brentwood, Mo., intersection. DNA found in Rumfelt’s underwear was a 1 in 459 trillion match to Bowman.

Bowman, who also was convicted of killing two young women from Belleville, denied his guilt in the Rumfelt case from the witness stand to then-St. Louis County prosecutor Joe Dueker at the first sentencing hearing in 2009.

The Missouri Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 2011. The court ruled that during the sentencing phase of the trial, the judge erred when he allowed testimony regarding Bowman’s conviction of the murders of 14-year-old Elizabeth West and 21-year-old Ruth Ann Jany, both of Belleville.

“It would be hollow if he passes away in prison but as long as he doesn’t hurt any other women, we can live with that,” said Teresa Rumfelt, Velda Rumfelt’s friend and sister-in-law. “He’s the lowest of the low. We would rather see him executed, but, at this point, we will take what we can get.”

“We were aggravated about what happened with the (Missouri) Supreme Court,” Teresa Rumfelt said. “We followed the rules and we did what we were supposed to do and he still slipped out just like he did over there.”

West was abducted from West Main Street in Belleville. Her body was found in a small creek near Millstadt on May 5, 1978. Two months later, Jany was abducted from a Belleville bank’s parking lot. Her skeletal remains were found a year later in a field near Hecker.

Both the St. Clair County convictions were overturned after St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters questioned the manner in which his confession was obtained.

The newspaper reported that Bowman was “tricked” into confessing by former investigator Robert Miller, who got jail prisoner Danny Stark to plot an escape with Bowman, who confessed to delay his transfer to Menard Correction Center where he was to serve a sentence for abducting another Belleville woman from a coin laundry.

Associate Judge Richard Aguirre found the confession to Miller was not given freely and gave Bowman a new trial. Bowman posted bond and was released from jail for the first time in 29 years.

His freedom didn’t last long.

Former Belleville Police Chief James Rokita, then retired, took a DNA profile offered by Bowman in the Belleville cases to Missouri and urged investigators there to compare it to their cold cases.

Scientists were able to discover the semen in Rumfelt’s underpants. Prosecutors said Bowman allowed Rumfelt to dress after her rape, preserving the DNA that would eventually be matched to Bowman’s DNA profile.

Bowman was free just over a week before he was arrested for the Rumfelt murder. This time, the trial would be in St. Louis County, where Bowman would face a capital murder case.

Steve Evans, Bowman’s defense attorney, argued that Bowman’s conviction was the only one in the state based solely on DNA evidence. Evans argued further that the DNA evidence should have never been sent to Missouri for comparisons to cold cases there.

Jurors voted to convict Bowman of Rumfelt’s murder. Her body was discovered June 6, 1977, in a field near the Six Flags amusement park in Eureka, Mo. She had been raped and strangled with a shoestring, and her throat had been slashed.

After Bowman received the death sentence in Missouri, then St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida dismissed the West and Jany murder charges.

Bowman remains in the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri.

OHIO – Man wrongfully sent to Death Row hopes court will reverse ruling – Dale Johnston


april 9, 2014

A Grove City man sentenced to death for a pair of Hocking County murders he did not commit is turning to the Ohio Supreme Court in his bid to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

Dale Johnston has attempted for more than 20 years to win a court judgment so he could seek monetary damages for the seven years he spent on Death Row before being freed when an appellate court overturned his convictions.

He now is asking the justices to reverse a Feb. 20 ruling by the Franklin County Court of Appeals that threw out a trial-judge’s finding he was illegally detained for the 1982 dismemberment slayings of his stepdaughter and her fiancé.

The appellate judges ruled that the judge erred when he retroactively extended a 2003 change in the wrongful-imprisonment law to Johnston’s case.

Johnston and his lawyer are arguing the appellate ruling, sought by the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, misinterprets the law and asks the justices to rule in his favor.

“It may be safe to say that no reasonable person in the history of the world would or could review the facts surrounding these gruesome homicides and think anything other than Dale Johnston is and was an innocent man victimized by Ohio’s criminal justice system,” his lawyers wrote in their filing.

Johnston was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1984 for the shooting deaths of Annette Cooper, 18, and Todd Schultz, 19, whose bodies were cut up and buried in a cornfield and thrown into the Hocking River.

In 2008, Chester McKnight, a drifter and drug addict, confessed to killing the couple and was sentenced to life imprisonment, freeing Johnston to again pursue his quest to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

TENNESSEE- Execution date set for inmate on death row since 1978 – Donald Wayne


april 9, 2014

Tennessee wants to execute death row’s longest-standing resident.

Donald Wayne Strouth, 55, has been on death row since 1978 for the murder of a second-hand store owner in Kingsport. He’s accused of knocking out and slashing the throat of Jimmy Keegan in a robbery, leaving his body behind in his store, where his wife later found him.

Strouth, who was known to carry a hawkbill knife, was seen by witnesses afterward with blood still on his hands.

He outlived the man who was convicted alongside him, Jeffrey Dicks. Dicks, like most death row inmates over the past decade or so, died not by execution but by natural causes when he suffered a heart attack in 1999.

But Tuesday, Tennessee’s Supreme Court set a date for Strouth’s execution: March 15, 2016.

It may seem far off, but the justices built in time for an ongoing lawsuit dealing with the secrecy of Tennessee’s death penalty to run its course. Eleven death row inmates are suing the state to turn over details about how it plans to perform its lethal injection, trying to overcome a 2013 law that sealed many of those details behind a veil of secrecy. They argue that if they don’t know what the state is using to kill them and where it came from, there’s no way to know whether the execution meets constitutional safeguards against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

That lawsuit, which is ongoing, has pushed back at least one execution date.

Strouth has argued that he suffers from brain damage and mental illness, but the state’s Supreme Court was unswayed.

He is at least the 10th death row inmate to have an execution date. Billy Ray Irick, who raped and murdered a 7-year-old Knoxville girl in 1985, is scheduled to die first, on Oct. 7. The state is awaiting an execution date for an 11th inmate.

Tennessee has not executed a prisoner since 2009.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Ricky Blackwell sentenced to death


march 17, 2014

SPARTANBURG, S.C. —After hours of deliberation a Spartanburg County jury issued the death sentence for Ricky Blackwell.

A short time later the judge confirmed the death sentence for the murder of 8-year-old Brooke Center.

The judge said the sentence is to be carried out on June 14, 2014.

Blackwell was also found guilty of kidnapping Brooke Center, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail on that charge.

Prosecutors called the fatal shooting revenge because Blackwell’s now ex-wife was dating the girl’s father.

The jury’s options were life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

The seven men and five women seated on the jury found him guilty as charged in just 20 minutes of deliberations earlier in the week.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, the jurors began deliberating Blackwell’s punishment, they returned the sentence just after 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Before they were released to discuss a possible sentence, a judge told them they must decide whether Blackwell suffers from an intellectual disability, or as stated in court, a mental retardation.

If jurors had found him not to be mentally competent at the time of the crime, they would not have been able to proceed with the death penalty, according to South Carolina law.

The judge told the jurors to come to a death sentence, they had find aggravated circumstances were present when Blackwell committed the crime.  The judge said the two things they could consider aggravators in this case were the age of the victim and the fact it happened during a kidnapping.

The death sentence recommendation had to be a unanimous vote.

Closing arguments began in this sentencing phase began Sunday at 11 a.m., when Blackwell asserted his right to remain silent when the judge asked him if he’d like to make remarks.

Blackwell did not address the jury at any point during the case.

“What a wonderful individual Brooke was,” said solicitor Barry Barnette in his closing arguments.

He told jurors to look at the case closely.

Barnett expressed his disgust with the defense’s assertion that Blackwell suffers from an intellectual disability.

“I got mad,” said Barnette.  “You look at the evidence and no other doctor has ever diagnosed him as such until they paid a doctor from North Carolina to come down and testify that he was. He is not mentally retarded. It’s an insult to people who have this disability. They only did it to spare his life.”

Furthermore, Barnette said Blackwell was a certified employee of several companies where his mental competence would have been questioned.

Barnette got on his knees to illustrate how tall Brooke was and said Blackwell “meant to kill Brooke Center.”

The solicitor said Brooke was shot four times – once in the leg, neck, head and a final shot in her back after she fell to the ground.

“It was no accident,” Barnette shouted in the courtroom.

The solicitor put a Nelson Mandela quote on a projector for the jury to see – which read, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.”

Barnette then showed a picture of a memorial already set up in Brooke’s honor in her community.

“This will affect people for the rest of their lives,” said Barnette.

Barnett began to tear up as he showed the final images to the jury.  It was a side by side comparison of Brooke playing baseball and her lying dead by a swing set after the shooting.

Several jurors were observed wiping tears from their eyes.

The defense presented its closing arguments after a short recess.

Blackwell’s attorney, Bill McGuire, opened up saying he wished photos like they’d just seen not be shown in court.

“He is 55 years old, in poor health and will not last long, but I’m asking you to send him to prison,” McGuire told the jury.  “If the death penalty can do some good, if it could bring Brooke Center back, I’d be the first to say do it, but it won’t.”

McGuire said the jury should let Brooke’s legacy be celebrated by the memorials and ceremonies in her honor instead of sentencing Blackwell to death.

“Imagine if a sign said, “In honor of Brooke we killed a man,” said McGuire.

The public defender portrayed Blackwell as a distraught individual whose marriage was ending.   McGuire said Blackwell was suicidal and tried to kill himself by overdosing on prescription pills before the deadly shooting.

“(If) he’s not a danger to us, then don’t use lethal force,” said McGuire.  “Ricky is mentally retarded. He scored in the bottom 2 percent on IQ tests. Those were reliable tests,” said McGuire.

McGuire stated a person with an intellectual disability like Blackwell could learn skills to perform the jobs he held in the past, referring to the prosecution’s attack on why he was not diagnosed with a disability before this point.

“He has a relationship with God,” said McGuire.  “Everybody he has touched in his life says he is caring, gentle, a good man. See him through the eyes of the people who knew him.”

“He is sorry for what he has done,” said McGuire. “Do you, as a human being, have to kill him? The answer is no. You don’t have to kill Ricky Blackwell.’”

Suspect Found Guilty In Boy’s Fatal Beating Sentenced To Death Penalty – Patrick Haney


march 14, 2014

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The man found guilty in the fatal beating of a boy in Fayette County has now been sentenced to the death penalty.

 

The jury recommended that Patrick Haney should face the death penalty one day after finding him guilty.

(Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police/KDKA)

(Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police/KDKA)

 

 

On Tuesday, Haney was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 4-year-old Trenton St. Clair. It only took the jury 90 minutes to reach a guilty verdict.

 

Today, Haney showed no emotion as the jury’s decision was announced. The judge then imposed the sentence.

 

Prosecutors claimed Haney regularly beat the child and had an excuse for every bruise.

 

On Monday, the child’s mother, Heather Forsythe, testified against Haney after reaching a plea bargain. There will be no homicide charges for her after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment charges and she will face two-and-a-half to five years in jail.

 

Three days before he died, Forsythe described seeing Haney abusing the child.

 

“He was standing over my child,” she said. “I saw him hitting and slapping my child and he kicked him with the side of his foot. Trenton was crying.”

 

She testified she told authorities he fell at the urging of Haney.

 

“I told police he fell down the steps in hopes I’d be taken somewhere else. I told them I wanted to be separated from Patrick.”

 

But the 4-year-old was pronounced dead at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Later Forsythe told police Haney abused the boy.

RELATED LINKS
Haney Found Guilty In 4-Year-Old Fayette Co. Boy’s Beating Death (3/11/14)
More Reports About This Case