Arizona

After 22 years, Ernesto Martinez convicted of Blythe murder during deadly road trip


December 4, 2017

Twenty two years ago, a desperate man stepped into the Day & Nite Mini Mart in Blythe, pulled a gun, demanded money and shot the clerk behind the counter. Then he grabbed the cash and fled.

That killer, a jury said, was Ernesto Salgado Martinez.

Martinez, 42, was convicted Monday of murdering Randip Singh, a shopkeeper who was gunned down during a deadly road trip to Arizona and back in 1995. The verdict, which took three-and-a-half days to reach, brings closure to one of the longest and most convoluted prosecutions in the recent history of Riverside County. Martinez’s verdict was confirmed by John Hall, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.

Martinez, who was only 19 at the time, drove from Indio to Arizona to visit his family members, then was pulled over by a highway patrol officer along the Beeline Highway. Martinez shot that officer, Bob Martin, then fled back to California, where he crossed the state line and ran out of gas in Blythe. Prosecutors say Martinez then robbed the mini-mart, shooting Singh when he refused to empty the register.

During closing arguments last week, Deputy District Attorney Chris Cook said there was “overwhelming” evidence that Martinez was fleeing from one murder and killed again to keep running.

“The thing standing between him and getting home to Indio – a place of safety, family and familiarity – was Randip,” Cook said. “He was out of options and out of gas. He had just killed a police officer, he had to get home.”

“And he had a gun.”

Martinez, who taught himself law during two decades behind bars, acted as his own attorney during a six-week trial. In his own closing arguments, he accused witnesses of changing their stories and implied that a key piece of the evidence – a bullet casing – had been planted. He told jurors the prosecution’s case had “insulted their intelligence.”

“They are not asking you to decide this case based on the evidence. They are asking you to decide this case based on prejudice,” Martinez said.Martinez was also on trial for attempted murder, accused of stabbing his cell mate, Leroy Gutierrez, 50 times in 2011. Martinez argued that the stabbing was self defense, and jury acquitted him of the attempted murder charge on Monday.

The murder case will now proceed to the sentencing phase, at which prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty. However, regardless of how Martinez is sentenced, once the decision is made he will be returned to Arizona, where he has already received the death penalty for killing Martin, the highway patrol officer. Even if Martinez is sentenced to death in California, Arizona will still get to kill him first.

After the Blythe shooting, police captured Martinez during a standoff in Indio. Martinez was prosecuted in Arizona first, where he was convicted of killing Martin in 1998. Twelve years later, in 2010, local prosecutors had Martinez pulled off of Arizona Death Row and brought to Riverside County to be tried for Singh’s death. Now back in California, Martinez fired his public defender and became his own attorney. His case then took seven years to get to trial, in part because of Martinez’s talent for filing and arguing pre-trial motions.

“He is incredibly dangerous because he is so bright,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said of Martinez in 2015. “I would like to get him out of our system and out of our jail. And one of the ways to do that is to get this case to trial as quickly as possible.”

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Prosecutor: Why Arizona still needs the death penalty


November 27, 2017

County attorney: As long as there are horrific murders, there will be a role for the death penalty as a just and proportionate punishment.

n a coordinated campaign, death penalty opponents submitted nearly identical op-eds in major publications across the U.S. seeking to persuade the United States Supreme Court to review the case of Arizona vs. Hidalgo and abolish the death penalty.

Understanding how a decision is made to pursue the death penalty, the facts of this case and about the death penalty in Arizona undermines their arguments.

Few murders become death penalty cases

My office follows a thorough and deliberative process for reviewing all death penalty eligible cases under tight deadlines. Arizona law requires us to make an initial decision within 60 days of the murderer’s arraignment.

During this period, we request any and all information the defense team can offer to assess whether the death penalty can be supported by the evidence and is an appropriate punishment.

If more time is needed to gather information, we regularly work with the defense to extend deadlines. After receiving input from victims, reviewing everything provided by the defense, and considering the facts and circumstances of the case, an experienced team makes a recommendation to me.

MORE: Maricopa County runs out of death penalty attorneys

I consider the recommendation carefully before making any decision. Approving the filing of a “notice of intent to seek the death penalty” is the most consequential decision I make as county attorney.

Should more information be provided later on, we regularly review it and, where appropriate, we revisit our initial decision and resolve cases accordingly.

Lastly, not all murder cases are death penalty cases. In fact, Maricopa County has averaged 203 murders each year from 2012 through 2016, and a death notice has been filed in an average of 14 cases each year – less than 8 percent of the murders.

Why Hidalgo was sentenced to die

As for the op-eds, they fail to acknowledge the extensive protections provided to capital defendants to safeguard constitutional rights and ensure a fair and just process.

In Hidalgo’s case, every constitutional right was protected. Hidalgo had a qualified capital defense team that included experienced investigators and mitigation specialists. The trial judge that presided over the case had presided over numerous death penalty cases and had represented several capital defendants before becoming a judge.

A jury unanimously imposed a death sentence on Hidalgo for good reason.

Hidalgo agreed to kill the victim on behalf of a street gang for $1,000. When Hidalgo went to kill the victim, the victim was not alone.

Hidalgo murdered this second victim to eliminate a potential witness. He shot one victim in the back of the head and the other in the forehead. Even though both victims were certainly dead, Hidalgo shot each victim an additional five times.

Before determining death was an appropriate punishment, the jurors found that Hildalgo had actually killed four people, the two Arizona victims and two Idaho women.

Like other death penalty cases in Maricopa County, the question was not who did it.  Hidalgo actually pleaded guilty to the charged offenses. The only contested issue was what the penalty should be.

A just system needs the death penalty

Next, death penalty opponents assert that the death penalty in Arizona is racially disparate. But this does not match the facts. Currently, there are 69 Caucasians, 25 Mexican Americans, 17 African Americans, four Native Americans, three Asians and two classified as “other” awaiting justice on Arizona’s death row.

Continuing complaints about the cost and time to impose the death penalty neglect the costs associated with constitutional protections and thorough appellate review caused by the very people complaining about costs and the time involved.

For Arizona, this has led to excessive litigation in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and unnecessary delays averaging more than 20 years with associated costs. Other federal circuits in the United States routinely and thoroughly review death penalty appeals within 10 years. This tolerance for endless litigation is an area ripe for criminal justice reform.

Recent polls continue to reflect that a majority of Americans support the death penalty, and 31 states have determined there is a place for the death penalty in a just and proportionate system of punishment.

One year ago, voters in Nebraska reinstated the death penalty abolished the year before by their legislature. Voters in California recently rejected an initiative to abolish the death penalty and passed Proposition 66, which seeks to speed up the process for final review of capital sentences.

As long as there are horrific murders reflecting the worst of crimes, there will be a role for the death penalty as a just and proportionate punishment.

Bill Montgomery is Maricopa County attorney.

Who are the women on death row in Arizona?


November  20, 2017

There are currently three women on death row in Arizona, and one woman who was executed.

Sammantha Allen was sentenced to death August in the killing of her 10-year-old cousin, Ame Deal. Her husband, John Allen, was also sentenced to death on Thursday, making Sammantha and John the first couple in the state to be sent to death row, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Allen is the fourth woman to be sentenced to death in Arizona. She joins Wendi Andriano and Shawna Forde, who are currently on death row. The Arizona State Prison Complex – Perryville is where female death row inmates are housed.

Eva Dugan

Crime: January 1927

Executed: February 21, 1930

Dugan was found guilty of killing Arthur Mathis, a rancher near Tucson.

Dugan grew up a frontierswoman, floating from town to town for work. She met Mathis in Tucson, and he hired her immediately to work as his housekeeper. The Prescott Courier from May 1979 implies the relationship was a kind of arrangement.

A young man named Jack moved in with Mathis and Dugan, then Mathis was never seen again. Dugan and Jack skipped town.

Dugan and Jack sold Mathis’ car in Amarillo, Texas, the Pima County Sheriff discovered. Dugan was tracked to New York and arrested for grand larceny.

Months later, a man bought some land near the Mathis ranch. He was driving stakes for a tent when he discovered a shallow grave. The red-headed remains were identified as Arthur Mathis.

Dugan was sentenced to death.

“If I was a flapper with pretty legs, I never would have been convicted and given the death penalty,” she reportedly said.

Dugan was hanged February 21, 1930. When the gallows trap sprang, her body fell and she was decapitated.

The scene caused five people to faint.

Dugan’s gruesome death lead to capital punishment reform in Arizona. A year after the horrific incident, Arizona stopped executions by hanging and began using the gas chamber.

Wendi Andriano

Crime: October 8, 2000

Andriano was found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of her husband. A jury found Adriano had killed her husband, Joe Andriano, by beating him with a barstool and slitting his throat.

Joe Andriano had been diagnosed with a terminal illness when Wendi Andriano was pregnant with their second child.

The night of Oct. 7, 2000, Wendi called 911 in the early-morning hours to get Joe medical help. She called a coworker in her apartment complex to help watch the kids. The coworker said he saw Joe lying on the floor in the living room. He was in the fetal position, vomiting and weak.

When paramedics arrived, Wendi sent them away, saying Joe was dying of cancer and had a do-not-resuscitate order. Paramedics left.

Andriano called 911 again at 3:39 a.m. Paramedics found Andriano in a bloody shirt, and Joe dead on the floor. There was a bloody barstool nearby. Joe had fatal head injuries and a stab wound to his neck.

The medical examiner determined Joe had been hit on the head at least 23 times. He also had sodium azide, a pesticide, in his system.

Andriano claimed she had tried to help Joe take his own life, and when the assisted suicide attempt failed, the two fought. Andriano said she hit Joe with a barstool in self defense.

Andriano was sentenced to death. She is appealing. She filed a federal habeas corpus appeal in April 2016.

Shawna Forde

Crime: May 30, 2009

Forde was found guilty in the first-degree murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores.

Forde, a rogue Minutemen leader on the Arizona border, burst into the Flores home in Arivaca, Arizona, in the middle of the night along with Jason Eugene Bush and Albert Robert Gaxiola.

Dressed in camouflage, Forde, Bush and Gaxiola claimed to be agents looking for fugitives. They took jewelry, then shot Raul Flores, his daughter, 9-year-old Brisenia, and his wife, Gina Gonzales.

Gonzales survived the attack by pretending to be dead. Gonzales was calling 911 when the intruders came back. Gonzales fired a shotgun at them, wounding Bush.

Evidence showed Forde planned the attack, though Bush pulled the trigger. Both Forde and Bush were sentenced to death.

Sammantha Allen

Crime: July 12, 2011

Allen was found guilty in the killing of 10-year-old Ame Deal.

Sammantha and John Allen lived in a home near Broadway Road at 35th Avenue with Ame Deal and many others.

Ame faced severe abuse in the home, court documents said.

Deal died after she was locked in a plastic box that was left outside overnight in the Arizona summer. Deal was being punished for taking a popsicle. She died of suffocation and heat, according to court documents.

Sammantha Allen was sentenced to death. John Allen was later also sentenced to death in November.

ARIZONA – Cost of death penalty case keeps climbing


November  17,2017

The cost of a Bullhead City murder suspect’s death penalty case could exceed more than $1 million by the time it goes to trial.

Justin James Rector, 29, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body for the Sept. 2, 2014, death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella.

The total cost for Rector’s defense including the 2017-18 fiscal year is now $582,579. That dates to the 2014-15 fiscal year. The cost includes $409,822 for all of Rector’s defense attorneys and $172,007 for investigative services for the last four fiscal years, indigent defense services director Blake Schritter said.

So far, this current fiscal year, his attorney fees are $31,056 and the investigative services are  $20,415. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, his attorney bill was $199,290 and the investigative services cost $129,777. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, attorney fees were $121,725 and the investigative services were $13,578, Schritter added.

Rector’s next hearing before Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen is scheduled for today. Vacated several times, Rector’s trial has not been scheduled and the length of the trial is not known but could last a month or longer.

Quinn Jolly made his first appearance as first chair on Rector’s death penalty murder case in September. Julia Cassels, who was assigned to the case in July 2016, is the second counsel in the murder case. Two death penalty qualified attorneys are required in a capital murder case.

Rector’s previous attorney took the case in March 2015 but withdrew in July. The public defender’s office withdrew from the case in March 2015.

PHOENIX – John Allen gets death penalty in murder of 10-year-old girl


November 16,2017

Jurors in Maricopa County Superior Court deliberated for only a few hours before deciding that John Allen should get the death penalty.

The jury previously determined that Ame Deal’s death was especially cruel or heinous.

Allen, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse on Nov. 8.

His 28-year-old wife, Sammantha Allen, was a cousin of Deal’s and was convicted of murder in the girl’s death in June. She’s now the third woman on Arizona’s death row.

Prosecutors said the couple forced Ame into the small, plastic box as punishment for stealing ice pops. They went to sleep and the girl was found dead the next morning.

Defense attorney Robert Reinhardt had argued that John Allen, a father of four young children, did not intend for the girl to die and that the other adults in the home created the abusive environment.

But County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Thursday that the Allens “received the only proportionate penalty that could rightly be imposed for the torture and pain they put Ame through. Ame deserved so much more from the adults responsible for her care.”

Ame’s death was the culmination of a shocking history of abuse at the hands of relatives who were charged with caring for her.

Authorities said the girl was forced to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans barefoot, consume hot sauce and get in the storage box on other occasions.

She also was kicked in the face, beaten with a wooden paddle and forcibly dunked after being thrown in a cold swimming pool, according to police investigators.

Adults at the home originally claimed Ame hid during a late-night game of hide-and-seek and wasn’t found until hours later.

Three other relatives are in prison serving sentences for abusing Ame.

David Deal, who is listed as the girl’s father on her birth certificate, is serving a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse.

Ame’s legal guardian at the time of her death was her aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, who is serving a 24-year prison sentence for a child abuse conviction. Ame’s grandmother, Judith Deal, is serving 10 years for child abuse.

Authorities said Ame’s mother left the family years earlier after suffering abuse from relatives and moved to Kansas without her daughter.

Arizona: Debra Milke’s New World after Spending 23 Years on Death Row


In September 2013, 2 1/2 weeks after being released from custody, Debra Milke had a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Debra Milke

She had spent 24 years behind bars and her eyes were wild, like those of an animal, as she backed into the corner of a crowded elevator, hugging the walls and shaking.
“I was trying to get used to people,” she told The Arizona Republic in an exclusive interview last week. “I was trying not to hyperventilate.”
Milke was a celebrated murderer, convicted of arranging the 1989 murder of her 4-year-old son, Christopher.
Christopher was told he was going to the mall to see Santa Claus. Instead, he was taken into the desert by Milke’s male roommate and one of his friends, and shot in the head.
Milke denied that she had any part in the murder, but a jury thought otherwise. She was sent to death row in 1991 and languished there until March 2013, when a federal appeals court threw out her conviction and her death sentence – not because she was exonerated, but because her constitutional rights had been violated. The prosecution and police had refused to turn over the spotty personnel record of a Phoenix police detective who claimed Milke had confessed to the arranged murder. There were no recordings or witnesses to prove the confession took place.
19 months after the federal appellate decision, an Arizona appeals court determined that it would constitute double jeopardy to retry her for the murder.
Now she lives free in a tile-roofed stucco house in a cookie-cutter development on the fringes of suburban Phoenix.
Her eyes have calmed, her face relaxed as she sits in a darkened room, shades drawn against the light.
She has gained 38 pounds.
“They don’t have ice cream in prison,” she said.
She speaks easily. She is friendly and talkative.
She was 25 and youthful when she went to prison. Now, at 51, she is white-haired and matronly.
“Half my life,” she said, sighing. “I don’t really mourn over that. I can’t get the years back. I accept that. I accept my life as it is now.”
Phoenix is a very different place than it was in 1989. Its population has swelled. So have its boundaries. The freeways baffle her. The supermarkets seem surreally large.
Technology has created gadgets that could not have been imagined in 1989.
Milke is trying to gain insight into who and where she is, like a time traveler from the 1980s who suddenly materialized in the second decade of the 21st century.
She still professes her innocence. Milke claims that she had nothing to do with her son’s murder. But there is no evidence to show she was not involved.
She feels as if she straddles a fence on the death penalty, “a victim on both sides of it,” calling herself the mother of a child who was murdered, who then spent half her life facing execution.
She doesn’t need to see her co-defendants executed.
“It’s not going to change anything,” she said. “They’re going to die in prison.”
She feels she was treated unjustly by the legal system, and even the criminal-defense community is bitterly split on whether she is innocent or guilty.
This is not the story of that argument. Only Milke and the 2 men who took her son to the desert and killed him know what happened. And even then, they may have differing views. But they aren’t talking anyway. While Milke is free, the other 2 remain on death row with little legal recourse standing between them and execution.
This is Milke’s story about being inside, and then about being outside.
“Just imagine being locked in your bathroom for 24 years and no one will let you out,” Milke said. “Just as I had to adapt to prison, now I have to adapt to freedom.”
Learning to live in prison
In December 1989, Milke was recently divorced, and she and Christopher were living in Phoenix with a would-be suitor named James Styers.
In 1 version of the story, Milke wanted the hyperactive child out of her life, and in another version, Styers wanted him gone to improve his chances with Milke. So Styers enlisted a friend named Roger Scott, and on Dec. 3, 1989, they took the boy into the desert and shot him.
Styers and Scott drove to Metrocenter Mall in northwest Phoenix and told a security guard that the child was lost in the mall. Police didn’t believe the story and Scott confessed, implicating Milke. Then he led police to the boy’s body.
Milke was arrested at her parents’ home in Florence and interrogated by Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate. He claimed that Milke confessed her involvement in the murder. But there was no tape or video recording of the confession and no one else had witnessed it. Milke flatly denied she had confessed or that she had arranged her son’s death.
Eventually, Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Noel Levy persuaded the jury to bring back a guilty verdict against Milke, and Superior Court Judge Cheryl Hendrix sentenced her to death.
Scott and Styers were also sentenced to death.
Milke no longer remembers which law-enforcement agency came for her on that February day in 1991 when she was taken from a Maricopa County jail to the Arizona State Prison Complex- Perryville in Goodyear.
She was a nervous wreck, and a jail doctor gave her an Ativan tablet to ease her anxiety before they loaded her into a car and drove her west on Interstate 10.
“I just remember the freeway seemed endless,” she said.
As she was led in handcuffs across the yards into the prison, she thought, “I’m not going to die here. I’m not going to live the rest of my life here. I’m going to get out.”
She cried all through her 1st night, angry at “God and everybody.”
Then she began to learn to live in prison.
Technically, she was on death row, but there was no such place in Perryville and she was its only occupant, and even then, it was only semantics. The next woman on death row, Wendi Andriano, who beat her husband to death, would not arrive until 2005. The third, Shawna Forde, an anti-immigrant vigilante involved in a double murder, followed in 2011.
So in 1991, Milke’s cell-block neighbors were general-population prisoners who were being disciplined in maximum security: prostitutes and gang-bangers – bad girls, career criminals. Though officially deemed an ogre, unlike the others, Milke was a middle-class girl who had never been in trouble before.
She saw drug overdoses and fights.
“I’ve seen inmates on fire,” she said, women who lit themselves in desperation and craziness. “I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff.”
Today, death-row prisoners, especially the men, spend 23 hours a day locked in their cells with little contact with other prisoners or the outside world.
Milke had a cell with a window in its door, and anyone in the unit could walk up to it and talk to her. She had 2 windows to the outside world on the other side of her cell, 1 of which opened about 2 inches.
She was treated like a trustee. After 2 in the afternoon, she was allowed to stay out of her cell until 9 p.m., even going outside in a fenced-in part of her unit. She was allowed to help the correctional officers with dinner. She took correspondence courses.
That changed after 1997, when corrections Officer Brent Lumley was murdered by a male inmate. Afterward, a new wing bearing Lumley’s name was built at the Perryville prison, and the male prisoners were moved to Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye.
Milke had to learn to live in lockdown.
“I had to have the window open around the clock,” she said. “Otherwise I felt claustrophobic. I used to listen to the traffic on I-10 and watch the airplanes and wonder where they were going or coming from.”
Even if she knew what day it was, she lost all sense of time, describing the days as a conveyor belt with 1 rolling into the next. She built a routine: writing from 5:30 to 6:30, then showering, cleaning supplies, TV shows, reading.
She taught herself algebra. She read books she should have read in school, by Leo Tolstoy and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
She became friends with Andriano, and the 2 talked through a vent between their cells. They would pass coffee or tea to each other during shift changes, when they were less likely to be seen, by rolling up pieces of paper and telescoping them together until they had long wands that would reach from one cell to the next.
“Every year it was all the same,” she said. “It just melted one into another.”
Appeal victory
Milke’s case tracked through Arizona state courts without relief and then, as happens with capital cases, it bounced into federal court. Her attorneys had uncovered the sordid record of Detective Saldate, who had been fired from the Phoenix Police Department for his bad acts.
In March 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Milke’s conviction and death sentence and ordered that she either be released or retried. The ruling noted that Saldate had a long history of misconduct that called his credibility into question.
On March 14, 2013, Milke said, she was lying on the floor of her cell talking to Andriano through the vent when a female correctional officer came with the news that one of her lawyers, Lori Voepel, was on the phone.
The first thing she said was, “We won.”
“I just started shaking on the inside,” Milke said. Voepel started to explain the ruling. “It went in one ear and out the other,” Milke said.
It took until July before the state of Arizona decided to retry her and transfer her to a Maricopa County jail. The case went to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and County Attorney Bill Montgomery vowed to continue to seek the death penalty and send Milke back to Perryville.
Milke learned of the transfer the night before she would go. She packed some things, donated her TV and radio so that some other prisoner could have them and was sent to the Estrella Jail in south Phoenix.
Life in jail is harsher than life in prison – no windows, no TV, no clocks.
“You would ask what time it was and no one would tell you,” she said.
She could not stomach the food. She was stressed by the noise. And when she would be taken to her court hearings, she looked as haggard and unkempt and wild as a witch in a fairy tale.
But on Sept. 6, 2013, Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz ruled that Milke could be released on $250,000 bond. She was taken to Lower Buckeye Jail, where she changed into street clothes. Then her other lawyer, Michael Kimerer, secreted her away by car to Voepel’s office, where a court officer affixed an electronic monitoring device to Milke’s ankle.
“This bracelet means freedom to me,” she told the officer.
She snacked on a vegetarian sandwich that had been brought in for her, because she craved vegetables. And on the way to a welcome-home party at a friend’s home, they drove through a Starbucks restaurant because she had heard in prison that the coffee was wonderful.
“It was gross,” she said.
Welcome to the 21st century, Debra Milke.
European Backing
Unlike many inmates released from prison, Debra Milke has a strong and wealthy support system, and it is centered in Europe.
Milke was born in Germany, and her parents moved back there and then on to Switzerland, where they lived the last of their lives. Milke’s mother died after Milke was released from custody but before all charges were dropped, so she was not allowed to travel to Switzerland to see her mother on her death bed.
Capital punishment is illegal in Europe, and Europeans are stridently against its use elsewhere. There have been books and movies about Milke, and the French- and German-speaking media have assiduously followed her case.
In effect, she is perceived in Europe as Amanda Knox is perceived in the United States: a poor, innocent woman caught up in some unjust foreign judicial system.
(Knox and Milke, incidentally, have met.)
Subsequently, Milke’s European supporters footed her bond, and she is living in the Phoenix-area home of a German friend.
But on her first night out of custody, she might just as well have still been on the inside.
She ventured timidly out into the house’s backyard. The next night she dared step into the front yard. And on the 3rd day, her German friend took her for a walk around the block.
“It was strange. There were all these houses and cars,” she said.
She was overwhelmed the 1st time she went to the supermarket. “I was amazed at how huge the stores had become and became panicky.”
When she saw a woman and a young boy in one aisle, and heard the child say, “Mommy, I want this,” she fell apart.
Her first trip to Walmart was worse. And the first dinner out at a sports bar was unbearable for the noise, the talking and the overstimulation. She panicked at the State Fair.
She couldn’t bring herself to read or watch television because she had done so much in prison.
She bought a computer but left it in the box for a month, bought a flip phone and then eased into a smartphone but can’t fathom the things she can do with it.
“It was odd to see everyone walking around with a phone, and strange and annoying walking around listening to everyone’s conversations,” she said. “I wanted to just turn around and tell them to shut up.”
Because she was in isolation for so many years, she never got sick. Now she falls victim to every flu bug and suffers from allergies
After 24 years of waiting to get back to life, it was difficult to know what to do because she was overwhelmed by options.
She got a dog. She toils in the garden of her friend’s house.
Her attorneys persuaded her to go back to work and she found a job as a bookkeeper 5 days a week.
Mulling name change
In September 2014, the Arizona Court of Appeals dismissed all charges against Milke, ruling that retrying her would be tantamount to double jeopardy. The Arizona Supreme Court let the lower court decision stand. That freed Milke to travel and to move on in her life.
She will spend the next month in Europe, visiting with her remaining relatives there, fulfilling contractual obligations with German media, and traveling to Switzerland to visit her mother’s grave and tend to her estate.
She has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County, County Attorney Montgomery, disgraced Detective Saldate and other police officers, alleging malicious prosecution and civil-rights violations.
She is considering changing her name. She wants to fade into the world but is worried that going to court to change names will call more attention to her and reveal her new identity anyway.
She says she knows where she wants to live – but won’t tell so that she can become anonymous.
She is seeing a psychiatrist.
“I’m trying to figure out who I am today,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move ahead.”
Source: WFMY news, August 3, 2015
 

Prosecutors ask Arizona court to order execution


April 23, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) — State prosecutors are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to order the execution of a man sentenced to death for killing his estranged girlfriend and her father in Pima County nearly a quarter-century ago.

The Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday asked for a warrant scheduling the execution of 55-year-old Joseph Rudolph Wood III for the 1989 killings of Debra and Eugene Dietz.

Appeals courts have upheld Wood’s convictions and death sentence and the Attorney General’s Office says Wood has exhausted his appeals and has no action pending in any court.

A defense lawyer for Wood, assistant public defender Dale Baich (bache), says the Department of Corrections‘ recent decision to use a two-drug combination for executions is “novel and highly untested.”

Court to rehear appeal for Ariz. death row inmate – James Erin McKinney


March 14, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — A federal appeals court is reconsidering an appeal filed on behalf of an Arizona Death Row inmate convicted of two killings during burglaries.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September upheld a trial judge’s denial of James Erin McKinney’s challenges to his murder convictions and death sentences.

However, the San Francisco-based appellate court now says a larger panel of its judges will consider McKinney’s appeal.

The three-judge panel’s ruling said it didn’t matter much that McKinney was seated so he faced the jury while on trial with a co-defendant before separate juries. And it rejected his other challenges in the appeal.

McKinney was convicted in the 1991 killings of Christene Mertens and Jim McClain during separate burglaries in Maricopa County.

ARIZONA -9th Circuit denies all but 1 claim of Arizona death row inmate convicted in 1980 murder case


march 6, 2014

PHOENIX — A federal appeals court has denied almost all of the claims of an Arizona death row inmate who says he had ineffective counsel at his 1997 resentencing.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday remanded one claim of 53-year-old Scott D. Clabourne to a Tucson federal court.

That was Clabourne’s assertion that his lawyers at resentencing failed to object to the court’s consideration of his confession to police.

Clabourne was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a 22-year-old University of Arizona student.

Authorities say the New York woman was raped, strangled and stabbed in the heart on Sept. 18, 1980. Her naked body was dumped in an arroyo, where it was found the following day.

Clabourne was first sentenced to death in 1983.

 

On the evening of September 18, 1980, Laura Webster left work with some friends and went to the Green Dolphin, a Tucson bar frequented by students from the University of Arizona. Sometime around midnight, she left the bar with three strange men. The next morning, Webster’s naked body was found lying in the dry bed of the Santa Cruz River. Wrapped in a bloody sheet, Webster had been strangled with a blue and white bandana, then stabbed to death. She had also been severely beaten, and traces of semen were found in her mouth, rectum and vagina.

The Tucson police got their first break in the case almost a year later when a woman named Shirley Martin reported that her former boyfriend, Scott Clabourne, had made several statements inculpating himself in a homicide. Clabourne was in custody on an unrelated burglary charge at the Pima County Jail, where he was interviewed by Detectives Bustamante and Reuter of the Tucson Police Department.

Clabourne gave a detailed, taped confession to the rape and murder of Laura Webster. According to Clabourne, he and two other men, Larry Langston and a man Clabourne called “Bob” (later identified as Edward Carrico), went to the Green Dolphin to “get some women.” Langston convinced Webster to leave the bar with them by promising to take her to a cocaine party Clabourne was purportedly hosting; instead the three men took Webster to a house Langston had been taking care of for a friend. The three men forced Webster to remove all her clothes and to serve them drinks. They then raped her repeatedly over the course of several hours. Though a much larger man than Langston, Clabourne claims to have been afraid of Langston; he also claims to have been intoxicated. Langston was the instigator, and he “made” the others take part. At the end of the night, Langston instructed Clabourne to kill Webster, and Clabourne obeyed: He strangled Webster with a bandana he carried, and then stabbed her with a knife.

Three days after Detectives Bustamante and Reuter interviewed Clabourne, a criminal information was filed charging Clabourne with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. Lamar Couser was appointed as Clabourne’s counsel. Couser brought a pretrial motion to suppress the confession, which was denied. He also moved for a hearing to determine Clabourne’s competency to stand trial, but the state called two psychiatrists to testify that Clabourne was not so mentally impaired that he would be unable to assist in his own defense. The court found Clabourne competent.

Clabourne was tried alone. 1 The prosecution relied primarily on Clabourne’s taped confession, but also introduced evidence of other incriminating statements Clabourne made after the murder. Shirley Martin testified that Clabourne had admitted committing the crime on several occasions (although his accounts were not consistent). Barbara Bailon, who worked at the Salvation Army halfway house, testified that Clabourne had confessed to killing a girl. Scott Simmons, a Pima County Jail Corrections officer, testified that Clabourne had told him about the crime before giving his taped confession. And a second corrections officer, Dale Stevenson, testified that he overheard Clabourne tell another inmate, “Yeah, I raped her. She didn’t want it but I know she liked it.”

The state also introduced testimony to corroborate Clabourne’s confession. Shirley Martin testified that the blue and white bandana found tied around Webster’s neck was similar to one that belonged to Clabourne. The owner of the house where the rape and murder occurred identified the sheet in which Laura Webster’s body had been found and testified that the mattress on one of her beds had been turned over to conceal large stains. And Webster’s friend Rick Diaz identified Clabourne as one of the men who had left the Green Dolphin with Webster.

Couser raised an insanity defense. However, he called only one witness: Dr. Sanford Berlin, a psychiatrist who had treated Clabourne several years previously at the University of Arizona Medical Center. 2 Couser did not contact Dr. Berlin until the week of trial. Perhaps for that reason, Dr. Berlin was not prepared to testify as to Clabourne’s mental state at the time of the murder; he could only surmise that Clabourne might be suffering from a mild form of schizophrenia. The state put two psychiatrists on the stand to testify that Clabourne understood the nature of his actions and the difference between right and wrong, and that he was legally sane at the time of the murders. Couser cross-examined the state’s experts, but put on no other witnesses.

Clabourne was convicted on all counts,3 and a sentencing hearing was held before Judge Richard N. Roylston, who had also presided at trial. Judge Roylston found that the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner, an aggravating circumstance under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. S 13-703(F)(6). 4 Couser argued that Clabourne should not be sentenced to death because he was mentally impaired at the time of the offense, but he put on no evidence at the sentencing hearing, relying on the evidence presented at the guilt phase of the trial. Judge Roylston concluded that Clabourne’s “capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was impaired but was not significantly impaired.” Judge Roylston did not consider this evidence sufficiently compelling to be a mitigating circumstance under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. S 13-703(G)(1),5 and in any event found that whatever mitigating effect Clabourne’s impairment might have had was outweighed by the cruel and depraved manner in which he had committed the offense. 6 Judge Roylston sentenced Clabourne to death.

ARIZONA: Jodi Arias Trial Sentencing Pushed Back


february 16, 2014

Jodi Arias will have her sentencing trial date pushed back from March 17 because of a prosecutor’s scheduling conflict – amid a report saying that she might have to get new lawyers after motions were filed this week.

Arias was convicted of murdering her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, at his suburban Phoenix home in 2008. A jury could not get to a verdict on her sentence.

The Arizona Republic reported that Juan Martinez, the prosecutor in question, has to handle a death penalty trial May 12, reported The Associated Press.

Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Joseph Welty this week said that the death penalty trial will go first. The suspect in that case is accused of killing a Phoenix-area police officer in 2007.

(Source: The Epoch Times)

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