died of natural causes

Disease, suicide killing Ala inmates faster than execution


August 29, 2015

IRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama’s death row faster than the executioner.

With Alabama’s capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state’s death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.

John Milton Hardy, convicted of killing Clarence Nugene Terry during a robbery at a convenience store in Decatur in 1993, was the most recent death row inmate to die. Prison officials say he died of unspecified natural causes on June 15.

Convicted killer Benito Albarran, 41, hanged himself in the infirmary at Donaldson prison about two months earlier. A decade earlier, he was convicted of fatally shooting Huntsville police officer Daniel Golden outside a Mexican restaurant where he worked.

Golden’s brother, David Golden, said family members wanted to witness Albarran’s execution and felt cheated by his death.

“He took the coward’s way out,” Golden told reporters in Huntsville after Albarran killed himself.

Attorney Joseph Flood, who represented Albarran as he challenged his conviction in state court, said the inmate’s mother died a week or two before he took his own life.

“He fell into a deep depression after that,” said Flood.

In March, David Eugene Davis, 56, died of natural causes at Holman prison near Atmore after suffering from liver failure. He was convicted of killing Kenneth Douglas and John Fikes in St. Clair County in 1996.

Two more death row inmates died last year, Ricky Dale Adkins of cancer and Justin T. Hosch, who hanged himself at Holman prison. Hosch was convicted in Autauga County in the 2008 shooting death of Joey Willmore, and Adkins was condemned for killing real estate agent Billie Dean Hamilton in St. Clair County in 1988.

The last inmate put to death in Alabama was Andrew Reid Lackey, who died by lethal injection on July 25, 2013, for killingCharles Newman during a robbery in Limestone County in 2005. At the time, he was the first inmate put to death in the state since October 2011.

With 189 people currently on death row, the state is trying to resume executions, but legal challenges could be a roadblock.

The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by death row inmate Tommy Arthur, who challenged the use of the sedative midazolam as inhumane during lethal injections. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of the drug in an Oklahoma case, but Arthur contends Alabama’s execution protocol is different from the one used there.

The state switched to midazolam after it had to halt executions because it was out of other drugs needed for lethal injections.

Texas: Cathy Lynn Henderson, babysitter convicted of murder, dies in hospital


Cathy Lynn Henderson, who dominated national headlines in 1994 for the the killing of 3-month-old Brandon Baugh, died Sunday after a month of hospitalization, her lawyer said Monday. She was 58.
Once just two days away from execution, the former babysitter spent nearly two decades in prison before winning a new trial in 2012. On June 12, just months before her case was to go to trial a second time, Henderson hobbled into the courtroom on crutches with the help of her lawyers and pleaded guilty to murder. She was sentenced then to 25 years in prison, but with credit for time served, she could have been released in four years.
Henderson was taken to the hospital on June 25 after she had trouble with her breathing. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and had a stroke during her stay.
Cathy Lynn Henderson passed away last night, at peace and without pain,” her lawyer, Jon Evans, told the American-Statesman. “In the last few weeks of her life she was relieved of a 21-year burden. Her version of the events of the tragedy of Brandon Baugh finally was given the proper respect and credence it deserved. She passed with that satisfaction.”
A sharply divided Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Henderson’s capital murder conviction and sentence in December 2012. The court upheld a recommendation by District Judge Jon Wisser that she have a new trial based on new scientific discoveries into the nature of head injuries.
Henderson claimed that Baugh died after slipping from her arms and falling about 4 feet to the concrete floor in her home in the Pflugerville area. She said she panicked, burying the boy’s body in a Bell County field before fleeing to Missouri, where she was found and arrested 11 days later.
Some supporters of the Baugh family said they were relieved to see Henderson plead guilty after years of lies and denials. But Brandon’s parents, grandmother and sister said they had been surprised and disappointed to learn she would not face a jury once more.
“I have no doubts that your plea today is not an act of contrition but another act of selfishness in order to gain your freedom,” Brandon’s father, Eryn Baugh, told Henderson on the witness stand on the day she took her plea.
Source: Statesman, Jazmine Ulloa, August 3, 2015

San Quentin Death Row Inmate Found Dead in Cell- Ralph Michael Yeoman


march 6. 2014

A death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison died in custody this week, a prison spokesman said.

Ralph Michael Yeoman, 66, who was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of a Sacramento County woman, was found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday  morning and subsequently pronounced dead at 5:24 a.m., according to Lt. Sam Robinson.

The cause of death remains unknown pending the results of an autopsy, Robinson said.

Yeoman was convicted of first-degree murder following the Feb. 13, 1988, killing, kidnap and robbery of 73-year-old Doris Horrell, a Citrus Heights resident, according to Robinson.

Her body was found later that evening in an open field west of Interstate Highway 5, near the former Arco Arena.

Yeoman was sentenced to death for the crime and had been on death row since July 23, 1990.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 63 condemned inmates have died from natural causes. Additionally, 23 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, and one was executed in Missouri.

Six died from other causes, and the cause of death is still pending for two condemned inmates.

Of the 725 male offenders on California’s death row, 706 are housed at San Quentin. Nineteen condemned inmates are either out to court, in medical facilities or in custody in other jurisdictions.

CALIFORNIA – Fresno serial killer dies as Sacramento inmate – WILBUR JENNINGS


February 12. 2014

An inmate of the Sacramento County Main Jail who died at a hospital Tuesday morning has been identified as a serial killer, officials said.

Wilbur Jennings was 73 years old. His death doesn’t appear suspicious in nature, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Jennings was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1980s for a long list of crimes, including rape, robbery and murder.

His four female victims were from the Fresno area. Jennings spent much of his time at San Quentin State Prison on death row.

He appealed the death penalty in 1991.

In 2005, Jennings was transferred to Sacramento County to stand trial on the 1981 rape and murder of Debra Chandler.

At the time of his death, the case still had not had a preliminary hearing, the Sacramento district attorney indicated, because it involved evidence from the Fresno case that was tied up on appeals in the federal court.

Then in 2008, DNA evidence tied Jennings to yet another rape and murder of a fifth Fresno woman killed in 1983.

Despite the death penalty and the new pending murder cases against Jennings, it was his terminal illness that killed him.

The Sheriff’s Department will conduct a thorough inmate-death investigation in accordance with the department procedures and state laws.

Jennings has a long medical history. He died about 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Why so many death row inmates in America will die of old age


february 3, 2014 (economist.com)

GARY ALVORD, a Florida man who was sentenced to death for strangling three women, died in May 2013—of natural causes. He had been on death row for nearly 40 years. The state never executed him because he was “too crazy to be killed“, as the Tampa Bay Times put it: “In 1984, he was sent to a state hospital in Chattahoochee to be restored to competence. But doctors there refused to treat him, citing the ethical dilemma of making a patient well just so that he could be killed. He was quietly returned to death row in 1987 and remained there ever since. His final appeal expired in 1998.”

Alvord’s case was extreme, but condemned prisoners in America typically spend a very long time waiting to die. The appeals process drags on for decades. It is endlessly painstaking because no one wants to see an innocent prisoner executed. Even the most enthusiastic advocates of capital punishment know that such a miscarriage of justice would undermine their cause. For prisoners who are actually put to death, the average time that elapses between sentence and execution has risen from six years in the mid-1980s to 16.5 years now. And even that startling figure makes the process sound quicker than it is, since most condemned prisoners will never be put to death. It’s simple maths.

At the end of 2011, there were 3,082 prisoners on state and federal death rows in America. That year, 43 were executed. At the current rate (which is slowing) a condemned prisoner has a one-in-72 chance of being executed each year. Since the average death row inmate was 28 when first convicted, it seems unlikely that more than a fraction of them will ever meet the executioner. In 2011 24 condemned prisoners died of natural causes and 70 had their sentences commuted or overturned. (There were 80 fresh death sentences passed in 2011, so the number of people on death row shrank by 57.)

We can expect the number who die of old age to increase. The death penalty was restored only in 1976, so nearly everyone on death row was convicted after that date, and most were young when convicted. As they get older, more will start to die each year of heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Conditions on death row are grim; inmates age fast. They are often locked up in a solitary cell for 23 hours a day. Throughout this time, they live in fear that soon they will be strapped to a gurney and pumped full of lethal chemicals. Some lawyers argue that death row itself amounts to a cruel and unusual punishment of the sort the constitution forbids.