JULY

TEXAS – UPCOMING EXECUTION JULY 16 – Clifton Williams at 6 p.m EXECUTION HALTED !


JULY 16. 2015

The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of a death row inmate just hours before he was set to be killed.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of death row inmate Clifton Lamar Williams on Thursday just hours before he was set to be killed.

“This is a subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to the provisions of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071 § 5 and a motion for a stay of execution,” the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas order read on Thursday.

The Court of Appeals said that it approved William’s appeal application, which is now returned to a trial court for a review on its merits before a final decision is determined.

In a brief order, the court agreed to return the case to the trial court in Tyler to review an appeal from Williams’ attorneys. They want to examine whether incorrect FBI statistics regarding DNA probabilities in population estimates cited by witnesses could have affected the outcome of Williams’ trial.

“We need time to look at this,” said Seth Kretzer, one of Williams’ lawyers. “No way we can investigate this in five hours.

“It requires some time, and the CCA saw that.”

 

July 10, 2015

East Texan Clifton Williams heads to the gurney next Thursday, July 16, after nine years spent on death row for the murder of Cecelia Schneider.

Williams, 31, was 21 years old at the time of Schneider’s murder, July 9, 2005. Court records show that he broke into the 93-year-old’s Tyler home, stabbed, strangled, and beat her, then laid her body on her bed and set her bed on fire. He left Schneider’s house with her car and her purse, which contained $40. He argued at trial that his friend, Jamarist Paxton, forced him to break into the house with him, and coerced him into cutting his hand so as to leave his DNA on-scene. But police weren’t able to find any evidence that would substantiate Williams’ claims about accomplices, and Paxton denied involvement. In Oct. 2006, Williams was found guilty of capital murder (in addition to a number of other offenses) and sentenced to death.

Williams’ attorneys have argued in state and federal petitions for relief (as well as a petition for a Certificate of Appealability) that Williams suffers from a wide range of mental illnesses, including paranoid schizophrenia, with which he was diagnosed when he was 20. They have tried to argue that his mother suffered from mental illness, and that Williams had trouble functioning from an early age. They also claim Williams was the victim of incompetent counsel, as attorneys at trial failed both to establish Williams as the victim of mental illness and to mitigate his standing as a future danger to society. Most notably, his petitions for relief note, trial counsel erred by stating their intent to establish mental illness before Williams received a court-ordered psych exam, giving prosecutors the ability to refute counsel’s claims without any established medical standing.

Last September, attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding presented Williams’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that the Justices would hear Williams’ mental illness claims. Specifically, records note, they wanted to prove that one ruling – ex parte Briseño, which lays out three basic conditions to determine competence – blocks Williams from arguing mental retardation on the basis ofAtkins v. Virginia (which placed a categorical ban on executing the mentally ill, and was previously rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals). The Supreme Court denied that petition in early April, however, without comment or explanation. Williams’ attorneys do not plan to file any last-minute appeals.

Williams will be the 10th Texan executed this year, and 528th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976. However, his execution coincides with emerging reports that indicate the number of Texans being sent to death row has now significantly decreased. In fact, jurors around the state have yet to sentence anyone to death in 2015. The last person to receive such a sentence was former Kauf­man County attorney Eric Williams (no relation), who shot and killed Chief Assistant District AttorneyMark Hasse on Jan. 31, 2013, before killing County D.A. Michael McLelland and his wife Cynthia two months later. He was sentenced to death last Dec­em­ber. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the state has made it to July without issuing a new death sentence.

Execution Watch with Ray Hill
can be heard on KPFT 90.1 FM,
in Galveston at 89.5 and Livingston at 90.3,
as well as on the net here
from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT
on any day Texas executes a prisoner.

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Missouri: July 14, scheduled execution of David Zink EXECUTED 7:41 PM


Zinks last meal was a cheeseburger, french fries, cheesecake and a soft drink, official said.

In a final statement, Zink said:

“I can’t imagine the pain and anguish one experiences when they learn that someone has killed a loved one, and I offer my sincerest apology to Amanda Morton’s family and friends for my actions. I hope my execution brings them the peace and satisfaction they seek.

I also have to apologize to the second set of victims, my family and friends, that had the unfortunate circumstance of developing emotions which will now cause them pain and suffering upon my execution. I kept my promise to fight this case for their benefit, and although unsuccessful to prevent the execution, we have been successful in exposing some serious flaws that offend the basic concept of the American Justice System.

For those who remain on death row, understand that everyone is going to die. Statistically speaking, we have a much easier death than most, so I encourage you to embrace it and celebrate our true liberation before society figures it out and condemns us to life without parole and we too will die a lingering death.”

7:50 p.m.

A Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree has been executed.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink was put to death by injection Tuesday at a state prison south of St. Louis after the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon declined to intervene.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

Corrections Department spokesman Mike O’Connell said Zink was pronounced dead at 7:41 p.m.

———

7 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to block the scheduled execution of a Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

The nation’s high court on Tuesday declined 55-year-old David Zink’s request to intervene. His lethal injection is set for later Tuesday. Gov. Jay Nixon also denied Zink’s request for clemency.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

———

6:50 p.m.

Missouri’s governor has cleared the way for the scheduled execution of an inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday denied 55-year-old David Zink’s request for clemency and refused to block the execution scheduled for later Tuesday at a prison south of St. Louis.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence. Nixon called the acts “brutal and horrifying” and said his denial of clemency upholds the jury’s decision.

———

11:30 a.m.

A Missouri inmate’s hopes of avoiding a scheduled execution for a 2001 killing are now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor.

A three-judge panel with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday declined without comment David Zink’s claims that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The St. Louis-based court on Monday rejected Zink’s challenge of the drug process used in lethal injections.

The nation’s high court is still weighing Zink’s case, and Gov. Jay Nixon is reviewing Zink’s clemency request.

Zink is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the killing of a 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

12:01 a.m.

A Missouri inmate is hoping federal appellate courts or the state’s governor spare him from his scheduled execution for the 2001 killing of a 19-year-old woman he abducted.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink has 11th-hour appeals with the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, and a clemency request also was in Gov. Jay Nixon’s hands.

The Missouri Supreme Court declined to intervene Monday.

Zink was out on parole after serving 20 years in Texas on rape, abduction and escape charges when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car from behind on a freeway ramp a mile from her Strafford home.

Zink later tied her to a cemetery tree in western Missouri, then snapped her neck before severing her spinal cord.

“The horror and fear 19-year-old Amanda Morton must have felt after being kidnapped by David Zink that July night is truly unimaginable,” Attorney General Chris Koster made the following statement following the execution. “David Zink callously took a young woman’s life, and it is fitting he pay by losing his own.”

Jurors in western Missouri’s St. Clair County deliberated 90 minutes in 2004 before convicting Zink and recommending a death sentence for the killing of Amanda Morton. Authorities said Zink abducted her after hitting her car from behind on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her Strafford home. Morton was driving home after visiting a friend.

Police found Morton’s Chevrolet Cavalier abandoned on the ramp with the keys in the ignition, the engine running and the headlights and hazard lights on. Her purse, credit card and medication were found inside the vehicle.

Just months before the slaying, Zink had been released from a Texas prison after serving 20 years on rape, abduction and escape charges. Fearing that his drunken fender-bender with Morton could violate his parole and send him back to prison, Zink initially abducted Morton, taking her to a motel. That site’s manager later saw a televised news report about Morton’s disappearance, recognized her as the woman who had checked in with Zink, and gave investigators Zink’s name and license plate number from motel registration.

Zink, after being arrested at his parents’ home, led authorities to Morton’s buried body in a cemetery, confessing matter-of-factly and at times laughing on videotape that he had tied her to a tree there and told her to look up. When the bewildered Morton begrudgingly glanced skyward, Zink said, he snapped her neck.

Worried that Morton might regain consciousness, Zink admitted, he used a knife to sever her spinal cord at the neck and covered her body with leaves before retrieving from his home a shovel he used to bury her.

“If I think that you’re going to pose a threat to my freedom, it is set in my mind I want to eliminate you,” Zink says in his videotaped confession.

An autopsy later showed that Morton had eight broken ribs and 50 to 100 blunt-force injuries. Morton also had been sexually assaulted, with DNA evidence linked to Zink found on her body.

Missouri has executed five men this year and 16 since November 2013. Only Texas has executed more inmates over that span

GEORGIA – WARREN HILL awaits appeals decisions to stave off scheduled today at 7:00 p.m STAYED – New update july 4


Update : july 4. 2012

Georgia has set an execution date of July 15 for Warren Hill, despite his pending petition before the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrating that all of the physicians who have examined Hill agree he is intellectually disabled. People suffering from intellectual disability (mental retardation) are constitutionally barred from execution. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 3, 2013). This is the exceptional and rare case where there is clear proof an inmate is ineligible for the death penalty and the U.S. Supreme Court is the only avenue for relief.

 

Murderer Warren Hill will die Monday evening unless his attorneys can find a court that believes his mental capacity is diminished enough that it would be unconstitutional to execute him, or if a judge finds fault with the state’s new method of execution.

If he is executed as planned, Hill will be the first in Georgia to be put to death using only one drug — the powerful barbiturate pentobarbital — instead the three that the state has been using in combination since 2008.

Hill still has appeals based on the mental retardation issue pending in the Georgia and U.S. Supreme Courts. And on Monday a Fulton County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear the issue of the Department of Corrections’ sudden change in its lethal injection protocol from three drugs to one drug. Last Tuesday, the day before Hill was initially scheduled to die, the prison system announced it was abandoning the three-drug cocktail — a sedative followed by the paralytic pancuronium bromide and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart. It was replaced with a single drug process, pentobarbital, the same as in six other states [a seventh uses a different sedative].

Later, on Monday evening, there will be vigils held in 11 Georgia cites to express outrage that the state is executing a mentally retarded man.

“In other states, Hill would not face the ultimate punishment due to his disability,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.”Unless the Supreme Court steps in to prevent this execution, the state of Georgia will have committed a terrible injustice.”

Hill was condemned for using a nail-studded 2-by-6 board in 1990 to beat to death fellow prisoner Joseph Handspike. At that time Hill was already incarcerated for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend.

The judge presiding over the 1991 trial for Handspike’s murder found Hill, with an IQ of 70, was more likely than not to be mentally disabled. But the judge also determined that the lawyer representing Hill at the time had not proven his mental disability beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard set in 1988 when Georgia became the first state to prohibit executing the mentally

If he is executed as planned, Hill will be the first in Georgia to be put to death using only one drug — the powerful barbiturate pentobarbital — instead the three that the state has been using in combination since 2008.

Hill still has appeals based on the mental retardation issue pending in the Georgia and U.S. Supreme Courts. And on Monday a Fulton County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear the issue of the Department of Corrections’ sudden change in its lethal injection protocol from three drugs to one drug. Last Tuesday, the day before Hill was initially scheduled to die, the prison system announced it was abandoning the three-drug cocktail — a sedative followed by the paralytic pancuronium bromide and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart. It was replaced with a single drug process, pentobarbital, the same as in six other states [a seventh uses a different sedative].

Later, on Monday evening, there will be vigils held in 11 Georgia cites to express outrage that the state is executing a mentally retarded man.

“In other states, Hill would not face the ultimate punishment due to his disability,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.”Unless the Supreme Court steps in to prevent this execution, the state of Georgia will have committed a terrible injustice.”

Hill was condemned for using a nail-studded 2-by-6 board in 1990 to beat to death fellow prisoner Joseph Handspike. At that time Hill was already incarcerated for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend.

The judge presiding over the 1991 trial for Handspike’s murder found Hill, with an IQ of 70, was more likely than not to be mentally disabled. But the judge also determined that the lawyer representing Hill at the time had not proven his mental disability beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard set in 1988 when Georgia became the first state to prohibit executing the mentally disabled.

Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court said it has said it is unconstitutional to to execute the mentally retarded who are at “special risk of wrongful execution.” But also in that 2002 decision, the justices left it up to the states to determine what was required to show mental retardation; Georgia has the strictest standard.

“Mildly mentally retarded individuals like Warren Hill frequently defy the stereotypical image we often have of persons with the disability in part because they tend to make efforts to hide the symptoms,” wrote Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer. He said if a defendant can prove retardation beyond a reasonable doubt, then he is likely so severely retarded that if he went to trial the death penalty would not be an option. “He may even be found incompetent to stand trial. This leaves the majority of mentally retarded persons in the criminal justice system, who are mildly mentally retarded, in the lurch, because it is the mildly mentally retarded whose symptoms can mislead … about the significance or even the existence of the disability.”

Docket from  Supreme court

No. 12A57
Title:
Warren Lee Hill, Jr., Applicant
v.
Carl Humphrey, Warden
Docketed:
Linked with 11-10109, 11-10109
Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  Case Nos.: (08-15444)
~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jul 16 2012 Application (12A57) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
James W. Ellis 1117 Stanford Drive, NE (505) 277-2146
Albuquerque, NM  87131
Party name: Warren Lee Hill, Jr.
Attorneys for Respondent:
Beth A. Burton Senior Assistant Attorney General (404) 656-3499
    Counsel of Record Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, S.W.
Atlanta, GA  30334-1300
Party name: Carl Humphrey, Warden
Other:
Sheri Lynn Johnson Professor of Law (607) 255-6478
Cornell Law School
108 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

TEXAS – YOKAMON HEARN – EXECUTION – July 18 – 6:00 p.m EXECUTED 6:37 p.m


July 18 2012

FILE This photo provided by the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate Yokamon Hearn who will be the first prisoner executed under the state's new single-drug procedure. Hearn is set to die Wednesday, July 18, 2012, for the March 25, 1998, murder of stockbroker Frank Meziere in Dallas.  (AP Photo/Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, File)

Hearn showed no apparent unusual reaction to the drug as his execution began. He was pronounced dead at 6:37 p.m., about 25 minutes after the lethal dose began flowing.

Asked by the warden if he wanted to make statement

he said: “I’d like to tell my family, I love you and I wish you all well. I’m ready.”

Last Meal: Same  salad being fed to every other thug on the row that day

Update :  Condemned prisoner Yokamon Hearn is headed to the Texas death chamber after having his appeals rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

————————–

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — An inmate who once bragged about the headlines generated by the carjacking and murder that sent him to death row will be noted in Texas history for a different reason: Yokamon Hearn will be the first prisoner executed under the state’s new single-drug procedure.

Hearn, 33, is set to die Wednesday for the March 1998 fatal shooting of Frank Meziere, a 23-year-old suburban Dallas stockbroker who was abducted at gunpoint while he cleaned his car at a self-service car wash in Dallas. Meziere was driven to an industrial area and shot 10 times before his body was dumped on the side of a road.

Hearn will be the sixth Texas prisoner executed this year, but the first since the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced its switch to single-drug lethal injections amid a drug shortage that has left states scrambling for acceptable alternatives.

Texas said last week it will now use a single dose of pentobarbital, instead of using the sedative in combination with two other drugs. Ohio became the first state a year ago to use a single drug, and several other states have since made the switch. Courts have upheld the practice, despite death penalty opponents’ claims that it takes prisoners take longer to die with a single drug.

Hearn has not made an appeal based on method of execution or claims of innocence. Instead, his appeals have focused on his mental capacity, the competence of his attorneys and whether recent lower federal court rulings improperly blocked his current lawyers from pursuing appeals.

In 2004, a federal court spared Hearn less than an hour before he could have been taken to the Huntsville death chamber so that it could consider arguments that he was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

That appeal subsequently was rejected, and attorneys more recently told the U.S. Supreme Court that while tests show Hearn’s IQ is considerably higher than levels determining mental impairment, he suffers from a fetal alcohol disorder that should disqualify him from execution.

Jason January, the former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Hearn for capital murder, dismissed claims that Hearn was disabled.

“He was quite capable of functioning and figuring out how to rob people,” January said this week. “What I really recall is the medical examiner at trial placing demonstrative knitting needles through a Styrofoam head 10 times through and through, depicting the different bullets that went through Meziere’s head.”

Hearn, known to his friends as “Yogi,” was 19 at the time of Meziere’s murder and had a lengthy record that included burglary, robbery, assault, sexual assault and weapons possession.

A security camera video at a convenience store next to the car wash captured images of Hearn with two other Dallas men and a woman from Oklahoma City. They had been out looking for someone to carjack, authorities said.

According to trial testimony, Hearn and Delvin Diles forced Meziere into the stockbroker’s car, and Hearn drove it to an area near Dallas’ wastewater treatment plant. The two others, Dwight Burley and Teresa Shirley, followed in a second car.

Meziere, from Plano, was shot with a stolen, assault-style rifle and then with a .22-caliber pistol. Shirley testified that Hearn shot Meziere with the rifle and then continued to fire after he hit the ground. Diles then shot him with the pistol.

She also testified that Hearn later waved around a newspaper account of the crime and was pleased it said Meziere had been shot in the head, or “domed” in street slang. According to The Dallas Morning News, Hearn told her: “I told you I domed him. I told you. I told you.”

Diles, 19 at the time, pleaded guilty and received consecutive life terms for Meziere’s death and an unrelated aggravated robbery. Shirley, 19, and Burley, then 20, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and received 10-year prison sentences.

Hearn would be the 483rd inmate executed since Texas resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982. He is among at least nine men with execution dates in the coming months.

Associed Press – Miami Herald

UN expert calls on US states to halt impending executions of mentally disabled prisoners


July, 18 2012 

A United Nations human rights investigator has called on the US states of Georgia and Texas to halt the impending executions of two mentally disabled men scheduled in the upcoming week, condemning the state killings as a breach of the US Constitution and a violation of international law.

Barring any last-minute reprieve, Yokamon Hearn will be executed in Texas tonight. In Georgia on Monday, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied commutation of the death sentence of Warren Hill, opening the way for his execution. Hill’s execution, originally set for tonight, has been rescheduled for Monday, July 23, as Georgia changes over to a single-drug execution protocol.

Both condemned men demonstrate clear signs of mental disability. In a 6-3 decision in June 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled that execution of the mentally retarded is a violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.” The high court’s ruling, however, left it to the states to determine what constitutes mental retardation.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, stated it would be a “violation of death penalty safeguards” to execute individuals suffering from “psychosocial disabilities.” A spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week also appealed to Georgia to halt the execution there as a “first step to abolishing the death penalty” worldwide.

The life stories and legal cases of the two men to be put to death have similarities: a history of mental disability, poor legal representation, and a blatant disregard of these factors by the court systems in their respective cases.

Warren Lee Hill, Jr., now 52, was convicted in the 1990 beating death of his cellmate, when he was already serving a life sentence for the 1986 murder of his girlfriend. Hill’s attorneys asked the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence to life without parole. Former president Jimmy Carter also petitioned the board for Hill’s clemency. The board denied Hill’s appeal, as well as his attorneys’ request for a 90-day day stay of execution.

Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer, denounced the decision of the Georgia board, stating, “This shameful decision violates Georgia’s and our nation’s moral values and renders meaningless state and federal constitutional protections against wrongful execution of persons with mental disabilities.”

Tests have shown that Hill has an IQ of about 70, which puts him in the range of mild mental retardation. In their petition for clemency, Hill’s attorneys included a statement from two of his former elementary school teachers, who said it was “obvious” to them that he was mentally disabled. The AtlantaJournal-Constitution reported the teachers said Hill could not read or write at grade level and was “virtually non-communicative.”

The juries at Hill’s two murder trials were not informed of his IQ or signs of his mental disability. According to the Journal-Constitution, in a June 18 letter to the Georgia pardons board, Richard Handspike, the nephew of the inmate killed by Hill in 1990, wrote that his family “feels strongly that persons with any kind of significant mental disabilities should not be put to death.”

In 1988, Georgia was the first US state to outlaw the execution of inmates with learning disabilities. But the state statute requires that mental impairment be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” setting the bar higher than in any other state. In 2002, a lower Georgia Court found Hill to be “mentally retarded.” However, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned this ruling in 2003, saying that Hill’s mental disability had not been proven according to the “reasonable doubt” standard.

Defense attorney Kammer has filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court as a final effort to halt his client’s execution. In a perverse turn of events, Hill’s execution has been delayed until Monday solely due to the fact that Georgia is changing its lethal execution protocol.

The state of Texas will put 33-year-old Yokamon Laneal Hearn to death tonight despite clear evidence that he has suffered brain damage since early childhood. Hearn was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1998 murder in connection with a carjacking.

In the course of Hearn’s capital trial, his attorney conducted virtually no investigation into his life history. The jury that sentenced him to death did not know, among other things, that he was neglected by his parents, had a history of mental health problems, and had been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome due to his mother’s excessive drinking during pregnancy.

Hearn’s post-trial lawyer, who filed his habeas appeal, also failed to conduct a detailed investigation into Hearn’s life circumstances and mental disabilities. Hearn’s current counsel hoped to get relief for their client following a US Supreme Court decision in March of this year, which held that defendants were entitled to have federal courts review their “ineffective assistance of counsel” claims even if those claims were otherwise procedurally barred.

However, earlier this month US District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater ruled that Hearn was not entitled to further relief. This decision was based on a 5th Circuit Court ruling that so narrowly interpreted the US Supreme Court decision as to make it virtually inapplicable to cases in Texas.

Yokamon Hearn and Warren Hill’s executions will be the 24th and 25th executions in the US in 2012 if they proceed as scheduled. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, from 1976—when the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty—to 2002, 44 individuals with some form of mental retardation were sent to their deaths. It is unclear how many state killings of the mentally disabled have taken place since the high court’s 2002 ruling outlawing executions of the mentally retarded.

OHIO – JOHN ELEY – EXECUTION JULY 26, 2012 COMMUTED


UPDATE :

July 11, 2012

On July 10, Ohio Governor John Kasich (pictured) granted clemency to death row inmate John Eley, who was scheduled to be executed on July 26.  Eley’s sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole. The governor said he based his decision on evidence that Eley acted under the direction of another person, and that his mental capacity was limited, saying, “Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime.” The prosecutor in the case and one of the judges who sentenced Eley to death called for mercy. The Ohio Parole Board voted 5-3 against recommending clemency.  Those who voted for clemency said that Eley’s crime was not one of the “worst of the worst,” and that similar crimes rarely receive death sentences. This is the third death-row clemency granted by Gov. Kasich, including two issued in 2

The Ohio Supreme Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

During the early afternoon of August 26, 1986, Eley was visiting Melvin Green at the home of Green’s girlfriend in Youngstown. Accordingto Eley, he and Green were just sitting around when Green suggested that they go down to the “Arab store.” Eley and Green left the house and proceeded down a path through the woods leading to the Sinjil Market.
Along the way, Green showed Eley a “Black Snub nose gun,” and told Eley he “was going to take the Arab off.” Since the proprietor of the store, Ihsan Aydah, knew Green’s face, Eley agreed to go in alone and rob the store while Green waited outside.
Eley entered the store and told Aydah to put his hands up and to turn and face the wall. Green had told Eley that Aydah had a gun under the store counter, so when Aydah lowered his hands and went under the counter, Eley fired a shot. Eley claimed that he aimed at Aydah’s shoulder. However, the shot hit Aydah on the right side of his head, approximately four inches above the earlobe. Aydah died the next day of shock and hemorrhage due to a gunshot wound to the head.Just before Eley fired the gun, Green entered the store. After the shot, Green ran behind the counter and got into the cash register. He took Aydah’s wallet while Aydah lay wounded on the floor. As the two left the store, Green gave Eley a brown paper bag with the money and wallet. According to Eley, they went up the street, “got to the path and run up the woods.”. . .

Several days after the murder, Eley was arrested by Youngstown police at the residence of his cousin’s girlfriend, Carlotta Skinner. After his arrest, Eley told police that he and Green had split the money taken in the robbery, which was around $700. However, Eley later gave the money back to Green “because he said it was all on him and he had to get out.”
. . .
[After being arrested, i]n his voluntary statement Eley admitted that he and Green had robbed the Sinjil Market, and that he shot Aydah. [The arresting officer] testified that Eley did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the interview and was “very calm” and “passive.” The grand jury indicted Eley on one count of aggravated murder
with a specification that the murder was committed during, or immediately after, the commission of an aggravated robbery
According to an affidavit of trial counsel, before trial Eley refused to accept various plea offers that were conditioned on Eley’s testimony against Green, including an offer of a voluntary manslaughter charge with a six-year sentence. that Eley was the principal offender. This count also carried a firearm specification. In addition, Eley was indicted on one count of aggravated robbery (R.C. 2911.01[A][1] and [2]) and one count of conspiracy (R.C.2923.01[A]). Each count carried a firearm specification.
In May 1987, Eley waived his right to a jury trial and opted for a trial before a three-judge panel. Eley pled not guilty to the charges against him, there by withdrawing a prior plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. . . .
Trial was held before a three-judge panel on May 11–12, 1987, but the defense chose not to present any evidence. The panel found Eleyguilty of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, the felony-murder capital specification, and two of the three firearm specifications, but no guilty of conspiracy. During the mitigation hearing, several family members testified
on Eley’s behalf. Eley’s mother, Cecilia Joseph, divorced Eley’s father when Eley was seven or eight years old, and stated that Eley had “not much” of a relationship with his father. Joseph testified that on Christmas night 1964, her second husband had been drinking and began choking her and her daughter. At that time, Eley stabbed the second husband with a knife in order to stop him. Joseph testified that Eley dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, but later entered the Job Corps and learned to be a welder. Eley sent money home to his mother during this time, and gave her money to help her finish paying for nursing school. Joseph stated that while Eley has had problems with drugs and alcohol, he is a better person when he is not under the influence. She characterized Eley as “church oriented,” and believed he had been “born again.”
Eley’s sister, Susan Laury, testified that Eley had helped the family financially while he was in the Job Corps, and that Eley is normally a “quiet, sweet, gentle person that wouldn’t hurt anybody.”Dr. Douglas Darnall, a clinical psychologist, found Eley to be of borderline intelligence, and ranked him in the twelfth percentile on theWechsler Adult Intelligence Test. According to Darnall, Eley has a history of chronic alcohol and polysubstance abuse, but exhibited “no evidence of psychosis or major defective disorder.” In addition, Darnall testified that Eley understands the difference between right and wrong. Darnall found Eley to be remorseful, but Eley never mentioned that he felt remorse for the victim. However, two police officers who witnessed Eley’s confession testified that Eley was remorseful before he made that statement. Eley made a short unsworn statement at the mitigation phase that consisted of several biblical quotations from the Book of Romans.

After deliberation, the panel unanimously found that the aggravating circumstance outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and sentenced Eley to death. Upon appeal, the courtof appeals affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.

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.

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  

Why Is The US Still Executing Teenage Offenders ?


June 11, 2012 Source : http://blog.amnestyusa.org

Texas is preparing to execute Yokamon Hearn on July 18th. If his execution is carried out, he would become the 483rd person put to death since Texas resumed executions in 1982.

Yokamon Hearn was 19 years old when he and 3 other youths set out to steal a car. They ended up shooting and killing Frank Meziere, a 23-year-old stockbroker. All four defendants were charged with capital murder, but the other three plead guilty and received deals. One got life imprisonment, the other two got ten years for aggravated robbery.

Yokamon Hearn was a teenager at the time of his crime, but not a juvenile. Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of Child lays out the international standard for not executing juvenile offenders, defined as those who were under 18 at the time of the crime. (The U.S. is the only country except for Somalia that has not ratified this treaty.)

Likewise, Part III of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which the U.S. isa Party) also calls on states to prohibit the execution of offenders under 18. Upon ratification of the this treaty in 1992, the U.S. explicitly reserved for itself the right to ignore this provision and continue to kill these young offenders. But finally in 2005, with the Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, the U.S. put an end to executions of anyone under 18 at the time of the crime.

None of this helps Yokamon Hearn. Yet eighteen is an arbitrary age. There is no magic age at which one suddenly becomes a responsible adult, fully capable of making smart, informed decisions and not acting on impulse. Recent science tells us that brain development continues well into one’s 20′s, as does psychological and emotional maturation. 18 and 19 and 20 year-olds are not considered responsible enough decision makers to drink legally, yet they can be held fully responsible for their crimes and sentenced to the ultimate, irreversible punishment of death.  On he one hand, we seek to protect our youth from their immaturity; on the other we punish (and even kill) them for it.

The fact that their development has not been fully realized also means that young offenders who may have carried out impulsive, thoughtless actions as teenagers are more likely than their adult counterparts to successfully change and redeem their past mistakes. Executing people for crimes committed when they were teenagers ignores the fact that, in prison, they can grow up and become productive, functioning members of society.

Despite extensive scientific evidence of the differences between youth and adults related to culpability, decision making, and susceptibility to peer pressure, U.S. states continue to execute people for crimes committed when they were teenagers. Since 1982 Texas alone has killed at least 70 people who were aged 17, 18 or 19 at the time of their crime. This practice needs to stop immediately.