arkansas

Former Death Row Inmate in Arkansas Released on Parole


December 14, 2017

An Arkansas inmate who spent more than 14 years on death row has been released on parole.

Tim Howard was originally sentenced to death for the 1997 slayings of a south Arkansas couple. But his conviction was overturned in 2013 and at a new trial, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 38 years in prison. Howard has maintained his innocence.

The state Parole Board approved Howard’s parole last month, and Arkansas Community Correction spokeswoman Dina Tyler says Howard was released Wednesday. Tyler tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Howard’s parole will require employment, periodic drug testing, obeying a curfew and having no contact with the victims’ family.

Tyler says those terms are standard given Howard’s conviction and number of years served.

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Death row inmate dies in solitary cell – Roger Coulter


November  3,2017

The Arkansas Department of Correction announced late this evening that Roger Coulter, a death row inmate at Varner Supermax, died in a solitary cell at 6:28p.m. He was 57. According to the ADC website, Coulter was imprisoned on this day in 1989.

coulter_roger.jpg

The Arkansas State Police were notified and will investigate said Solomon Graves, ADC spokesperson, as well the corner and medical examiner.Here is the full release:

Earlier this evening, at approximately 6:28 p.m., Inmate Roger Coulter SK911 was found unresponsive in his cell at the Varner Unit by a correctional officer. Inmate Coulter was pronounced dead at 7:07 p.m. Inmate Coulter was sentenced to death in 1989 for the offence of Capital Murder by a jury in Ashley County.

Here are ADC’s policies on what occurs after an inmate death.

Scott Braden, from the Federal Public Defender’s Office, sent the following statement:

We are heartbroken to hear of the passing of our long-time client and friend Roger Coulter. He was an accomplished artist and a dedicated friend and brother. We find solace in the knowledge that Roger was a committed Christian, sought forgiveness for his crimes, and is finally free from death row.

Arkansas Buys Lethal Injection Drugs, Aims To End Execution Hiatus


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) – Arkansas has bought drugs it plans to use for lethal injections, officials said on Wednesday, as it looks to end a decade-long hiatus on executions that is the longest of any Southern U.S. state.
Arkansas law allows information on the drugs used in executions and the vendors supplying them to remain secret.
Local reports said the drugs included midazolam, a sedative death penalty opponents had challenged as inappropriate for executions, arguing it cannot even achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery.
On June 29, the Supreme Court found the drug did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, a ruling that provoked a caustic debate among the justices about the death penalty.
The Arkansas attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, acknowledged through a spokesman that the chemicals planned for use in Arkansas were on hand but declined further comment. The Arkansas Department of Correction did not return a call seeking comment.
Eight of the 35 men on Arkansas’s death row, 20 of whom are black, have exhausted all their appeals, according to Rutledge.
It is the attorney general’s responsibility to ask the governor to set execution dates, but Judd Deere, Rutledge’s press secretary, said she had “no timetable to offer on that at this time.”
Arkansas has not put to death a condemned inmate in 10 years. Appeals by death row prisoners and legal disputes over the constitutionality of drugs and procedures in capital cases have idled the Arkansas death chamber since 2005, when Eric Nance, 45, was put to death by lethal injection.
Earlier this year, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure giving prison officials the option of using a single large dose of barbiturate or a combination of three drugs to cause death.
Source: Reuters, August 13, 2015

 

Jason Michael Hann has been convicted of killing his 2-month-old son and 10-month old daughter and hiding their bodies in storage units.


february 21, 2014

INDIO, Calif. — A man who has been convicted of killing two of his infant children and hiding their plastic-wrapped bodies in storage units in Arkansas and Arizona was sentenced to death Friday in a California courthouse.

Jason Michael Hann, 39, who is already serving a 30-year sentence for the murder of his 2-month-old son, Jason, received the death penalty for the slaying of his 10-month-old daughter, Montana.

“These kids never had a chance of life,” said Bruce Price, an alternate juror who supported the death penalty decision. “This guy was trying to cover up his crimes as he went along.”

Some jurors initially resisted sending Hann to his death, but they eventually agreed to recommend that he die for his crimes. Riverside Superior Court Judge James Hawkins upheld the death sentence, denying a defense motion to reduce the sentence to life without parole.

Hann did not speak in his own defense. He sat in court, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, showing no signs of emotion.

Montana’s mother, Krissy Lyyn Werntz, was also charged in the killing. Her trial is scheduled to start on March 17.

Hann killed his infant daughter with a blow to head in Desert Hot Springs in 2001. Prosecutors said Hann wrapped her body in duct tape and plastic bags, then hid it in a blue “Tupperware-type” container stashed in a storage unit in Arkansas.

The body was found a year later after Hann stopped making payments on the storage unit. The contents of the unit were auctioned off, and the body was discovered by the new owner.

Hann and Wertz were arrested in 2002 at a motel in Portland, Maine. A day after the arrest, investigators found the body of the second infant, Jason, in a storage unit in Lake Havasu, Ariz. The boy, who had been killed in Vermont in 1999, and was also in a rubber container.

When the couple was arrested in Maine, they had in their custody a new child, a month old boy who also showed signs of abuse, including broken ribs, bleeding under his skin and internal injuries.

After the court hearing Friday, Price said the abused child was more proof that Hann deserved death. If the boy had not been saved, he likely would have suffered the same fate as his siblings, the juror said.

“(Hann) had already committed a crime against someone and he was in the process of doing the same thing,” Price said. “He got what he deserved.”

UPDATE Dustin McDaniel calls for state discussion on “broken” death penalty process


Attorney General Dustin McDaniel spoke to the state’s sheriffs in Fort Smith this morning and dipped his toe into a potentially huge and emotional topic — the death penalty.

Exhale. McDaniel is not calling for abolition of the death penalty.

But McDaniel told the sheriffs that our execution process is “completely broken.”

Challenges to lethal injection have become a whole new federal court legal industry. There’s no real prospect of executing anyone by injection in Arkansas for probably years to come.

The approved drugs aren’t available. Other suitable drugs haven’t been found and cleared. Or else they must be administered by physicians. Physicians won’t perform executions.

So the process languishes. McDaniel has staff members working on death cases who’ll retire before anyone is executed. No one should be angered at the governor for refusing to set executions that won’t be carried out. Nor should they blame the attorney general for failing to put more men (and they are currently all men) down more quickly.

McDaniel will release a statement on all this shortly. He wants a conversation by the legislature and the people.

Given problems with lethal injection, do they want an alternative, more brutal method — electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad? Probably not, but if so, let them say so by referendum. Is it worth talking about an end to the death penalty, which is extravagantly more expensive than simply locking someone up for life (and, some might argue, death is more merciful than a lifetime in a maximum security isolation cell.)

The Arkansas Times favors abolition of the death penalty. 1) It doesn’t deter capital crime. 2) It is impossible to rectify execution of innocent people. 3) It is discriminatory, with black people more likely to be executed. It is particularly discriminatory against poor people, who can’t afford adequate counsel. 4) It prolongs the anguish of victims’ families. 5) Allowing the state to kill people on a somewhat random basis (widely different approaches depending on prosecutorial district) is troubling for any number of reasons. Many states and many western countries have opted to opt out.

McDaniel didn’t offer solutions today. But he did suggest new discussions. I fear that the eve of an election season will only encourage the reflexive reaction from Republican and Democratic candidates alike, but particularly Republicans. But perhaps there are some thoughtful people among them who’ll acknowledge that our system is broken and that the usual bloodthirsty commentary — though popular on a surface level — isn’t particularly insightful or constructive.

UPDATE: Here are McDaniel’s prepared remarks. He outlines possibilities — from alternative execution to abolition to a court ruling that the death penalty was unconstitutional. He throws it open for debate.

His closing follows:

I believe that the majority of Arkansans, if polled, would say they support the death penalty. However, I would be surprised if the majority of Arkansans would support the death penalty if they knew the only methods of carrying it out are a firing squad, the gas chamber or an electric chair.

I think that most people would find those methods to be too barbaric for a civilized society.

I think that it is high time for a new debate on what to do about the death penalty.

18 states have abolished the death penalty. The voters of Arkansas can certainly choose that route. The legislature may choose to abolish the death penalty. The voters or legislature may decide to change methods of execution, recognizing that lethal injection sounds acceptable but is a legal fallacy.

If the Arkansas Supreme Court decides to abolish the death penalty by declaring it unconstitutional, I’d acknowledge that that would be an acceptable use of their power.

But none of these things are happening and without pressure from the people, none of them will. Rather, we have our current situation, which I strongly oppose.

I am opposed to the courts and drug manufacturers continuing to neutralize our death penalty through the imposition of practical hurdles that cannot be overcome.

You are key leaders in our law enforcement community. We must be frank about this situation, and, if we don’t like what we hear, we need to go about the business of trying to change it.

ARKANSAS – 10 killers manage to delay justice again


June 26, 2012 Source : http://arkansasnews.com

Arkansas can continue to sentence killers to death, but can’t execute them, thanks to a 5-2 state Supreme Court ruling Friday that declared the Arkansas Method of Execution Act was unconstitutional.

Executions haven’t been happening anyway. Arkansas hasn’t carried out a death sentence since 2005, when Eric Randall Nance paid the ultimate penalty for murdering an 18-year-old Malvern cheerleader in October 1993. An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article said Nance had come upon Julie Heath standing beside her broken-down car alongside U.S. 270.

He stabbed her in the throat with a box cutter. The state was kinder to him, using a lethal injection of sodium pentathol.

Since then the convicted killers on Arkansas’ Death Row, with the help of their lawyers, have managed to delay justice.

Their latest success came in a lawsuit filed jointly by 10 killers against the Arkansas Department of Correction challenging a 2009 law that had been passed by the General Assembly in an attempt to correct deficiencies cited in a previous lawsuit over the lethal injection process.

Five members of the court agreed that in the 2009 law the Legislature “abdicated its responsibility” by giving the Department of Correction too much discretion to decide how to carry out lethal injections, thus violating the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

The law specifies that the death sentence is to be carried out by lethal injection of “one or more chemicals, as determined in kind and amount in the discretion of the director of the Department of Correction.” The 10 killers offered a litany of other charges, just in case something else worked better, but that’s the one the court found most compelling.

One of the killer’s lawyer, Jeff Rosenzweig of Little Rock, told a reporter that there was nothing in the law to prevent the director “from using rat poison or Drano or whatever to do an execution.”

He knows that’s a ludicrous suggestion because the U.S. Supreme Court would quickly rule rat poison to be “cruel and unusual.” Perhaps the state should go back to using the electric chair instead of messing with drugs, which seem to offer all sorts of avenues for delay.

In a well-reasoned dissent, Associate Justice Karen R. Baker pointed out that the “separation of powers” argument had previously been rejected in similar death penalty challenges in Texas, Delaware, Idaho and Florida, all of which had assigned responsibility for determining the procedures to the relevant administrative agency.

Separation of powers in American government is intended to prevent one branch from usurping the powers of another by establishing a series of checks and balances. There cannot and should not be a wall between the three branches. The state Supreme Court, for example, did not consider it a violation when ordering the Legislature to change its method of financing public schools.

While the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Jim Gunter specifically said the court was not suggesting “what modifications to the statute would pass constitutional muster,” the decision did just that. The Legislature clearly must specify what drugs will be used to carry out lethal injections administered to convicted killers.

Lest we forget, the guilt of these 10 men was not contested. Following, from court records and news reports, are their crimes.

Jack Harold Jones Jr., in 1995 raped and murdered a Bald Knob bookkeeper, Mary Phillips, and beat her 11-year-old daughter so severely that police first thought she was dead.

Jason Farrell McGehee was one of three men who kidnapped, tortured, beat, strangled and burned John Melbourne to death in 1996 after accusing the 15-year-old of snitching on them for stealing.

Bruce Earl Ward in 1989 attempted to rape and then strangled an 18-year-old Little Rock convenience store clerk, Rebecca Lynn Doss. He had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the 1977 strangulation of a woman in Pennsylvania.

Marcel Williams was convicted in the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson, 22, after kidnapping her from a Jacksonville convenience store, where the mother of two had stopped to get gas.

Frank Williams Jr., fired by Clyde Spence in 1992 from a farm job , came back and killed Spence.

Terrick T. Nooner, while robbing a Little Rock laundromat in 1993, shot to death a college student, Scot Stobaugh, 23.

Kenneth Williams was convicted in 1999 of murdering a Lincoln County farmer, Cecil Boren, 57, after Williams escaped from the Cummins Unit prison. In 1998 he had kidnapped a couple from a restaurant where they had stopped for lunch after church. He robbed and shot both of them. Dominique Hurd, 19, a University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff cheerleader, died; her boyfriend survived.

Don W. Davis was sentenced to death for the 1990 execution-style slaying of Jane Daniel, 62, of Rogers. He also stole various items, including jewelry, from her home and was first scheduled for execution in 1999.

Alvin Bernal Jackson, already in prison for the 1990 murder of Charles Colclasure and attempted killing of two other people, got the death penalty after stabbing prison guard Scott Grimes to death with a homemade knife in 1995.

Stacy Eugene Johnson in 1993 stripped, beat, strangled and slit the throat of Carol Jean Health, 26, at her De Queen apartment while her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son hid in a closet.

The Supreme Court justices need to figure out how to carry out the responsibilities of the judicial branch and administer justice to these men.

ARKANSAS – Arkansas high court blocks use of death penalty


June 22, 2012 Source : http://articles.chicagotribune.com

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) – The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday ruled unconstitutional the law allowing the state to carry out the death penalty, siding with 10 Death Row inmates who argued that only the legislature, and not the prison system, can decide the method of execution.

The ruling effectively barred the state from carrying out the death penalty. Arkansas has 40 men on Death Row but the state has not executed anyone since November 28, 2005, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by Death Row inmate Jack Harold Jones against Ray Hobbs, the director of the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Jones, who was later joined in the suit by nine other inmates, argued that a 2009 law giving the department and its director authority to choose the drugs administered in executing inmates by lethal injection violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

The court decided on a 5 to 2 vote that the legislature had improperly given the prison system “unfettered” discretion over execution procedures.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said through his spokeswoman that he will consider what steps to take next.

“The death penalty is still the law in Arkansas, but the Department of Correction now has no legal way to carry out an execution until a new statute is established,” spokeswoman Stacey Hall said in an email response.

“He will review what the options are, talk to the Attorney General, key legislative leaders, and will study the way other states have handled these rulings,” Hall said. “He hopes to have a proposed remedy in the next few months.”

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, also a Democrat, said he respected the court’s decision and would consult with various parties to decide how to move forward.

In 2009, the legislature gave the director of the prison system the choice of one or more drugs to carry out death sentences. The law stated that if lethal injection is found unconstitutional, electrocution would be used.

But as a result of the state Supreme Court ruling, the legislature will need to draft and pass a new death penalty statute. It is unclear whether the law will now revert to a 1983 statute that was enacted when the state opted to use lethal injection, though that law also was challenged.

In a dissent to Friday’s majority ruling, two justices said the prison system had to follow constitutional restrictions against cruel and unusual punishment in administering the death penalty. Other states give their prison systems leeway, the dissenting justices said.

METHOD AT ISSUE

Thirty-three U.S. states have the death penalty. Disputes over the method of execution has become a hurdle to carrying out death sentences in some states, notably California and Maryland, said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center.

ARKANSAS – Death-row inmate wins new hearing – Ray Dansby


June 21, 2012 Source : http://thecabin.net

LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals panel Thursday partially reversed a federal judge’s denial of the appeal of an Arkansas death-row inmate.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis sent Ray Dansby’s appeal back to the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas for new proceedings.

Dansby was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to die for the Aug. 24, 1992, fatal shooting of his ex-wife, Brenda Dansby, and her boyfriend, Ronnie Kimble, at Brenda Dansby’s home in El Dorado. Witnesses testified they saw Dansby shoot both victims.

A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court upheld the dismissal of some of Ray Dansby’s claims on appeal Thursday but reversed the dismissal of two claims. The panel did not address the merits of those claims but said the federal judge’s reasons for dismissing them were erroneous.

Among the witnesses who testified at Dansby’s trial was his former cellmate, Larry McDuffie. The trial judge allowed Dansby’s lawyer to ask McDuffie if prosecutors had offered him leniency in exchange for his testimony, but the judge did not allow other questions about McDuffie’s past dealings with prosecutors.

Dansby argued on appeal that he should have been allowed to try to show that McDuffie was biased by his past dealings with prosecutors. A federal district judge dismissed that claim, saying Dansby had failed to raise the point in state court before raising it in federal court.

In its opinion Thursday, the 8th Circuit said Dansby specifically referenced the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment in a brief to the Arkansas Supreme Court, so the district judge’s ruling that Dansby had not previously raised the claim was in error.

The 8th Circuit also overturned a ruling by the district judge that Dansby’s claim of prosecutorial misconduct — he alleged that prosecutors withheld evidence regarding the credibility of McDuffie — was procedurally faulty. The appeals court said the district judge reached this conclusion without allowing either side to present arguments on the issue.

“The parties were not afforded adequate notice and opportunity to be heard on the issue of procedural default,” Judge Steven Colloton wrote in the 8th Circuit’s opinion.

Arkansas – Inmates on Death Row


Death Row

No. Name Date of Birth Race/Sex Date of Sentence County
SK911 Coulter, Roger 12/1/1959 W/M 10/27/1989 Ashley
SK915 Ward, Bruce Earl 12/24/1956 W/M 10/18/1990 Pulaski
SK918 Sanders, Raymond 08/14/1960 B/M 02/28/1991 Grant
SK920 Davis, Don W. 11/23/1962 W/M 03/6/1992 Benton
SK922 Greene,Jack G 03/13/1955 W/M 10/15/1992 Johnson
SK924 Williams, Frank Jr. 07/27/1966 B/M 02/12/1993 Lafayette
SK925 Dansby, Ray 03/3/1960 B/M 06/11/1993 Union
SK926 Nooner, Terrick T. 03/17/1971 B/M 09/28/1993 Pulaski
SK927 Reams, Kenneth 12/21/1974 B/M 12/16/1993 Jefferson
SK929 Sasser, Andrew 10/21/1964 B/M 03/3/1994 Miller
SK933 Johnson, Stacey E. 11/26/1969 B/M 09/23/1994 Sevier
SK934 Kemp, Timothy W. 08/4/1960 W/M 12/2/1994 Pulaski
SK935 Wooten, Jimmy D. 06/10/1962 W/M 02/17/1995 Pope
SK936 Lee, Ledelle 07/31/1965 B/M 10/16/1995 Pulaski
SK939 Rankin, Roderick L. 11/18/1975 B/M 02/13/1996 Jefferson
SK940 Jones, Jack H. Jr. 08/10/1964 W/M 04/17/1996 White
SK941 Jackson, Alvin 06/30/1970 B/M 06/20/1996 Jefferson
SK943 Williams, Marcell W. 08/20/1970 B/M 01/14/1997 Pulaski
SK944 Dansby, Joe L. 09/28/1952 B/M 04/25/1997 Miller
SK945 Collins, Kingrale 11/15/1975 B/M 10/22/1997 Cross
SK946 McGehee, Jason F. 07/4/1976 W/M 01/8/1998 Boone
SK951 Engram, Andrew R. 10/16/1954 B/M 01/29/1999 Pulaski
SK952 Jones, Larry 01/13/1959 B/M 02/16/1999 Crittenden
SK954 Howard, Tim 05/6/1969 B/M 12/9/1999 Little River
SK956 Roberts, Karl D. 03/06/1968 W/M 05/24/2000 Polk
SK957 Williams, Kenneth 02/23/79 B/M 8/30/2000 Lincoln
SK960 Isom, Kenneth 06/03/67 B/M 03/28/2001 Drew
SK961 Anderson, Justin 03/21/81 B/M 01/31/2002 Lafayette
SK962 Newman, Rickey D. 08/04/57 W/M 06/10/2002 Crawford
SK964 Thessing, Billy 09/11/68 W/M 09/10/2004 Pulaski
SK965 Thomas, Mickey D. 09/25/1974 B/M 09/28/2005 Pike
SK966 Springs, Thomas 06/25/1962 B/M 11/24/2005 Sebastian
SK968 Sales, Derek 01/08/1961 B/M 05/17/2007 Ashley
SK969 Wertz, Steven 02/17/1950 W/M 07/19/2007 Sharp
SK971 Decay, Gregory 07/11/1985 B/M 04/24/2008 Washington
SK972 Marcyniuk, Zachariah 05/21/1979 W/M 12/12/2008 Washington
SK973 Lacy, Brandon E. 01/01/1979 W/M 05/13/2009 Benton
SK974 Taylor, Jason L. 05/29/1984 W/M 06/26/2009 Saline
SK975 Dimas-Martinez, Erickson 05/03/1985 H/M 04/01/2010 Benton

16 White Males
23 Black Males
1 Hispanic Male
40 Total

Last Updated:  03/20/2012 03:11:09