Murder

FLORIDA – Prison inmate who beat, killed his cellmate sentenced to death


A Santa Rosa Correctional Institution inmate who viciously beat and killed his cellmate in an apparent racial attack was sentenced to death Monday.

Shawn Rogers, 37, will be placed on death row for the murder and kidnapping of Ricky Dean Martin in 2012.

Rogers, who is a black man, and Martin, a white man, shared a cell in the prison. When word of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin’s death made it to the prison, Rogers carried out the racially motivated attack on Ricky Dean Martin that left him tied at the hands and feet, bruised, cut and in a coma that eventually killed him.

The court heard during Rogers’ trial that blood was smeared on the cell’s walls, and Rogers covered Martin’s body with a prayer rug before guards arrived. Martin’s face was covered with a pair of bloody boxer shorts.

A civil lawsuit filed by Martin’s family against the prison further claims Martin had filed grievances in the days before his death, saying he feared for his life and wanted to be moved from Rogers’ cell.

The same suit claims Rogers also raped Martin, though that claim was not presented by the state in Rogers’ criminal case.

Circuit Judge John Simon read a portion of Rogers’ sentencing document during court Monday, finding that the court agrees with the 12-person jury’s unanimous death recommendation.

“Mindful that a human life is at stake … the aggravating factors far outweigh the mitigating factors,” Simon said during sentencing, adding that not only did Rogers murder Martin, but he humiliated him in the process.

Rogers remained stoic as Simon read the document, not making any gestures or saying anything to his attorney, Kenneth Brooks. Rogers will join 349 other Florida prisoners on death row.

Neither Brooks nor prosecutor Jack Schlechter made any motions or arguments before Simon handed down the sentence. Both sides were allowed to present mitigating and aggravating factors in the case at a separate hearing in November, during which Simon heard about Rogers’ troubled past, with one doctor having called his upbringing a “perfect storm” for trouble.

At that same hearing, prosecutors pointed out Rogers had been functional to represent himself at trial, and was capable of premeditation because he voiced to others he would carry out an attack on a white person in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death.

In addition to the death sentence for the murder charge, Simon sentenced Rogers to life in prison for the kidnapping to inflict terror charge.

Simon told Rogers he is entitled to an appeals process and per state law his death sentence will be automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The civil lawsuit is still ongoing in Federal Court.

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Mississippi Man Back on Death Row, Mental Evaluation Ordered


JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated the death sentence of an inmate convicted of killing a prison guard.

Justices also ordered a state circuit court judge to hold another hearing on the mental capacity of Willie C. Russell , who came within hours of being executed more than two decades ago.

Russell, now 57, was convicted in the 1989 killing of Argentra Cotton, a guard at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where Russell was imprisoned for armed robbery, escape and kidnapping convictions in Hinds County.

A federal appeals court blocked the execution in January 1997 after Russell claimed he didn’t have a lawyer to appeal his death sentence. Russell later claimed he was intellectually disabled and could not be executed.

Sunflower County Circuit Judge Betty W. Sanders agreed and overturned the death sentence, and Russell remained in prison. On Thursday, justices said Sanders should have heard more testimony.

A majority of justices wrote that Russell underwent psychological testing in 2006 in an aggravated assault case, but he never underwent an assessment of intellectual disability.

In 2014, Sanders denied the state’s request for Russell to be evaluated for intellectual disability, saying the previous testing was sufficient. Five of the nine justices said Thursday that the judge conducted a “one-sided” hearing about Russell’s mental capacity before she overturned his death sentence.

However, four justices wrote a dissent, saying Russell had undergone enough psychological testing in 2006, and results of those tests could be used to determine whether he has an intellectual disability.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute a person who has intellectual disabilities.

Sanders is retired from the bench. A majority of justices said Thursday that an expert chosen by the state must be allowed to evaluate Russell before a circuit judge holds new hearing about his mental capacity.

 

Ohio Supreme Court to hear local man’s death penalty appeal


December  4,  2017

 

 

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court is to preside over a legal debate over whether the death penalty should be executed on a young Clayton man – the second youngest on Ohio’s Death Row – for the murder of an even younger Warren County man at his home outside Waynesville in January 2014, according to the Journal-News.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell will personally argue for the state to continue forward toward the execution of Austin Myers, now 22, of Clayton, although another Clayton man, Timothy Mosley – like Myers 19 years old at the time – actually stabbed to death Justin Back, 18, a 2013 Waynesville High School graduate about to enter the U.S. Navy.

“Austin Myers killed Justin. Tim was his weapon of choice,” Fornshell said last week, quoting Back’s stepfather, Mark Cates, a local prison guard.

It will be Fornshell’s first appearance before the high court on behalf of Warren County.

Lawyers appointed to appeal Myers’ death sentence have identified 18 violations of law they claim should convince the state’s high court to set aside his death sentence, including his age and the lesser sentence – life in prison without paroleMosley received in exchange for his testimony.

Three years later, Myers is still the second youngest of 140 Ohio prisoners facing the death penalty. Damantae Graham, 20, convicted of killing a Kent State University student, is the only one younger.

Myers’ lawyers also claim errors or misconduct by the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case, decided more than three years ago in Warren County Common Pleas Court, should convince the high court, including appointed Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice of Ohio’s 11th District Court of Appeals, to spare his life.

“Mr. Myers’s rights under the Constitution of the United States and the Ohio Constitution were violated and he was denied a fair trial and sentencing proceeding. Accordingly, this Court should reverse and discharge the defendant or grant a new trial. In the alternative, this Court should vacate the death sentence, remand for a resentencing hearing, and order the life sentence imposed,” lawyer Timothy McKenna said in his brief to the high court.

The appeal, pending since Oct. 27, 2014, was set for oral arguments on Oct. 20, after a second Ohio Death Row inmate was executed. These came after the postponement of scheduled executions starting in January 2014 following problems during the execution of Dennis McGuire, a Preble County man.

Rice was appointed to the high court on Nov. 6, replacing Justice Bill O’Neill, who recused himself after announcing he was running for governor.

The case

Myers and Mosley were arrested in July 2014 after Back’s mutilated body was found in Preble County, in a wooded area outside Versailles known as Crybaby Bridge. They both gave statements during interrogation at the Clayton Police Department used by investigators in reconstructing the crime, according to police and court records.

According to their statements, Mosely’s testimony and other evidence, after a day of preparation and planning, Myers and Mosley went to Back’s home in a small neighborhood along the Little Miami River, east of Waynesvile. With a garrote – fashioned by a friend who was not charged – Mosley came up behind Back and began choking him, while Myers restrained Back. When the garrote caught on Back’s chin, Mosley pulled out a knife and stabbed Back to death.

After cleaning the home and stealing Back’s iPod and wallet, as well as a gun and safe belonging to Cates, Mosley and Myers removed Back’s body, dumping it in Preble County after dousing it with chemicals to quicken decomposition. Before leaving the body, Myers shot it twice with Cates’ gun.

At trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that Myers was the mastermind of the crime and he was sentenced to die. Mosley, in exchange for his testimony, was sentenced in a plea bargain to life without parole.

The issues

Mosley was represented by Dennis Lieberman, a lawyer hired by Mosley’s family. Myers was represented by Greg Howard and John Kaspar, appointed by the court.

But Fornshell said Mosley got the deal because – unlike Myers- he offered to cooperate. Prosecutors needed one or the other to “put in the back story,” Fornshell said.

In addition, Fornshell said Mosley accepted responsibility and Myers was “exponentially more dangerous,” pointing to evidence indicating Myers handled the bulk of the planning and wanted to go back and kill Cates.

He’s a serial killer who got caught the first time,” Fornshell added.“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”

McKenna and co-counsel Roger Kirk did not respond to requests for interviews.

But their 110-page brief indicates they will emphasize Myers “was a 19 year-old immature adolescent with behavioral issues” who should be spared the death penalty, in part because Mosley’s sentence spared his life, although he wielded the murder weapon.

In addition, they claim prosecutors rendered Myers’ lawyers “admittedly ineffective” by withholding evidence until “on the Friday eve before the Monday trial,”as well as the fact that Mosley was to be a witness.

The appeal

The appeal is to be the first of a series of cases heard on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All arguments are streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live and archived on the Ohio Channel, according a release from the high court.

The court typically issues opinions within six months, but it was unclear when a decision would be issued in this case.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Ricky Blackwell sentenced to death


march 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The death sentence recommendation had to be a unanimous vote.

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

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

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

He told jurors to look at the case closely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several jurors were observed wiping tears from their eyes.

The defense presented its closing arguments after a short recess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLORIDA – Opening statements begin in death penalty case resentencing – Richard Michael Cooper


february 26, 2014 (tampabay)

LARGO — A jury has been selected and opening statements are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the resentencing of Richard Michael Cooper, who has been on death row for 30 years after being convicted in a triple murder.

A federal appeals court threw out Cooper’s death sentence in 2011 after finding that a jury should have heard evidence of abuse Cooper suffered as a child during the sentencing phase of his trial.

It took a day and a half to seat a jury to hear the evidence on what sentence Cooper should receive for his role in the 1982 deaths of Steven Fridella, Bobby Martindale and Gary Petersen — remembered since as the “High Point murders.”

Cooper’s guilt is not in dispute. On the morning of June 18, 1982, Cooper and three others — Jason Dirk Walton, Terry Van Royal and Jeffrey Hartwell McCoy — drove to Fridella’s Largo residence looking for cocaine or money.

They parked a distance away and, wearing ski masks, crept toward the home at 6351 143rd Ave. Among them they carried a .357 Magnum revolver, a .22 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, according to court records.

They had originally planned to rob the men inside while they slept. But someone recognized one of the intruders, and the plan changed.

Fridella, Martindale and Petersen were bound with duct tape and forced to lie on the floor. Cooper, then 18, confessed to shooting Fridella twice with the shotgun. Cooper’s attorneys called no witnesses in his defense, arguing that he was under the spell of Walton, whom Cooper had described as “a Charles Manson-type figure.”

Cooper’s conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal. In 2011, the federal 11th Circuit again affirmed the conviction but tossed out the death sentence because of evidence the first jury never heard. That included frequent beatings at the hands of his hard-drinking father, Phillip “Socky” Cooper, who earned his nickname as a Golden Gloves boxing champion.

The elder Cooper beat his children with “boards, switches, belts and horse whips,” leaving welts all over their bodies, sometimes for offenses as small as not knowing their multiplication tables.

The abuse was so constant, a school principal, fearing he was making things worse, “stopped calling their father when Cooper would get in trouble because Cooper would show up at school beaten and with bruises all over him,” the court said.

Cooper’s stepbrother and sister also said no one had contacted them to testify at the first trial.

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.”

CALIFORNIA : Death sentence upheld for Montebello woman who murdered her husband – Angelina Rodriguez


february 20, 2014(latimes)

Angelina Rodriguez during her 2004 sentencing for murder. Her death sentence was upheld Thursday by the California Supreme CourtSAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death penalty Thursday for a Montebello woman convicted of murdering her husband for life insurance and implicated in the choking death years earlier of her baby daughter.

 

Angelina Rodriguez fatally poisoned her husband, a special education teacher, by serving him drinks laced with oleander and antifreeze in 2000, a few months after persuading him to take out joint life insurance policies, the court said.

It was her second attempt, according to the ruling written by Justice Ming W. Chin.  She had previously tried to kill him by loosening natural gas valves in their garage, the court said.

Rodriguez had married Jose Francisco Rodriguez several months before his death.

During her murder trial, the prosecution also presented evidence implicating her in the 1993 death of her 13-month-old daughter, Alicia. Rodriguez was married to another man at the time.

The baby died after choking on the rubber nipple of a pacifier. Two months earlier, Rodriguez had taken out a $50,000 life insurance policy on the baby—without her then-husband’s knowledge—and made herself the beneficiary, the court said.

Rodriguez and Alicia’s father also sued the manufacturer of the pacifier, which had been recalled based on five consumer complaints that it had broken apart. The company paid a $710,000 settlement.

While behind bars for the murder of her husband, Rodriguez  tried to dissuade a witness from testifying against her, the court said. The jury convicted of her interfering with the witness but failed to reach a verdict on a charge that she tried to have the witness murdered.

In challenging her conviction and sentence, Rodriguez argued, among other things, that the jury should not have been told she killed her daughter.  Rodriguez was not charged or convicted in connection with the death, but law enforcement reexamined it after the poisoning of her husband.

The court said the jury was entitled to hear about the child’s death during the penalty phase of deliberations.

“There was ample evidence that defendant murdered her daughter,” Chin wrote.

Karen Kelly, who is representing Rodriguez on appeal, said she would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

California supreme court /opinion : click to read, pdf file

TEXAS – Fast food worker gets death penalty in fatal robbery


february 20, 2014

A Harris County jury on Thursday sentenced a former fast food employee to death in the 2009 robbery and fatal shooting of the restaurant manager.

George Curry, 47, was found guilty earlier this week of shooting Edward Virappen, 19, the manager of a Popeyes Chicken restaurant in the 15100 block of FM 529.

Jurors deliberated about 10 hours before deciding punishment.

Curry is the first person to be sent to death row this year by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors sought the death sentence only once last year.

NORTH CAROLINA -Bernard Lamp receives death penalty for 2008 Iredell murder


february 19, 2014 (iredell)

Two weeks to the day after he was convicted of first-degree murder, Bernard Lamp was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing Bonnie Lou Irvine nearly six years ago.

The same jury that convicted him Feb. 5 deliberated a little more than four hours over two days before recommending the death penalty in Iredell County Superior Court.

Although it is called a recommendation, Judge Ed Wilson is required to accept the jury’s recommendation and, after asking each juror if that was his or her recommendation, he pronounced the sentence on Lamp.

Prior to the sentencing, Wilson asked Lamp if he had anything to say. He made no comment and left the defense table as the jury was exiting the courtroom.

The death sentence will be automatically sent to the N.C. Court of Appeals for review. That is standard in all death sentences.

It is likely to be several years before the death sentence will be carried out. The last execution in North Carolina was in 2006. There are currently more than 150 inmates on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Lamp showed no reaction as Wilson read the jury’s recommendation. One of his attorneys, David Freedman, rested his head on his hand, as he had been doing since the jury knocked on the jury room door and indicated a recommendation had been reached.

Irvine’s sister, Debbie Powers, who was the first witness in the guilt phase and who has been in court for most of the trial, showed no reaction.

Wilson complimented Powers and her two brothers, who also attended much of the trial, for their support.

“You’ve done your sister proud,” he said.

District Attorney Sarah Kirkman and Assistant District Attorney Carrie Nitzu hugged Powers after court was recessed.

Kirkman said she was satisfied with the jury’s decision.

“Ms. Nitzu and I respect the jury’s decision, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family at this time,” she said. One of Lamp’s two defense attorneys, Vince Rabil, walked over and shook hands with the prosecution.

The sentencing phase brought to an end a case that began in mid-March 2008 when Lamp was arrested driving Irvine’s Volvo near Troutman. Irvine had been reported missing on March 8 but was last seen by her roommate at their Cornelius home on Feb. 28.

That’s the day, according to trial testimony, that she met Lamp in person after contacting him two weeks earlier via a Craigslist ad placed by him.

Her body was found the day after Lamp was arrested. She was buried in the backyard of a home on Weathers Creek Road that belonged to a friend of Lamp’s. She had been beaten and strangled, either one of which could have caused her death, according to expert testimony.

This was the first case in Iredell County in which a jury recommended the death penalty since 2010 when Andrew Ramseur received the death penalty for killing two people at a Statesville convenience store during a robbery in 2007.

A Final Farewell to Greg Wilhoit, Who Survived Oklahoma’s Death Row, wrongfully convicted


february 20, 2014 (huffington)

America’s community of death row survivors bids a farewell to another one of its own. Gregory R. Wilhoit, who had spent five years on Oklahoma’s death row after being wrongfully convicted for the brutal murder of his wife, died in his sleep on February 13.

Greg had suffered. Suffered a whole lot. He was convicted of killing his wife Kathy — the mother of his two little daughters, then 4 months and 14 months old — on June 1, 1985. The case rested on the testimony of dental experts, one of them barely out of dental school, who said the bite mark found on Kathy’s body matched Greg’s teeth.

But that wasn’t all. Greg was a victim of bad lawyering. He hired two lawyers who were incompetent and did not defend him. In fact, Greg’s defense counsel came to court drunk and threw up in the judge’s chambers. And Greg was convicted in 1987 and sent to Death Row, because after all, somebody had to pay.

“All they wanted me to do was enter a guilty plea, despite the fact that I had pleaded not guilty,” Greg said in an interview over a decade ago. “I felt helpless and defeated. I felt I was going to be convicted and there was nothing I could do about it. The experts against me were very convincing. If I had been on the jury, I wouldn’t have hesitated to find me guilty.”

The jury took merely two hours to return with a guilty verdict for Greg. “I was sentenced to be executed by lethal injection, but I was shaken even more when the judge told me that I might be electrocuted, hung or shot if necessary,” Greg recalled. This would prove to be the most sobering moment of my life.

In 1991, Greg’s conviction was overturned when 11 forensic experts testified that the bite mark found on his wife was not his, and an appeals court ruled that Greg had ineffective counsel at trial. He was released, and ultimately acquitted on retrial in 1993.

Still a death penalty supporter in his third year on Death Row, Greg would become a strong opponent of capital punishment. Along with his sister Nancy Vollertsen, he became a member of Witness to Innocence, the national organization of death row survivors and their loved ones.

Like many innocent people who are released from prison, Greg Wilhoit never received a penny for his troubles, not as much as an apology for the suffering he endured, and for what they took from him. That would surprise those people who assume that the wrongfully convicted all receive ample compensation, set for life, with riches lavished upon them. Although the Oklahoma legislature had passed a compensation law allowing up to $200,000 for the wrongfully imprisoned, officials told Greg that he wasn’t eligible because he needed a pardon, but was ineligible because he was innocent.

The tortuous conditions of death row — in which prisoners await their own homicide in solitary confinement — took an emotional and psychological toll on Greg Wilhoit. He had to grapple with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and deteriorating physical health challenges.

“Greg was one of those men who suffered the greatest because of his death row conviction. He not only lost his wife but his kids as well as he sat on death row for a crime he did not commit,” said Ron Keine, assistant director of membership and training at Witness to Innocence, himself an exonerated death row survivor who had spent two years on New Mexico’s death row. “Even after his release he never fully connected with his kids. This bothered him greatly. We almost lost him a few times in the past where he pulled through like a trooper. I mean like the man walked out of hospice, where he was near death, and got married to a sweet lady and began life again,” Keine added.

In spite of his deteriorating frame, the man had a strength about him that could not be denied, and allowed us to draw strength. “Greg’s style of speaking was unique. He could make the audience cry and laugh at the same time,” Keine reflected. And despite his pain and suffering and all he had seen and lost, Greg was able to crack a joke and make us laugh.

It is not funny that Greg Wilhoit never received a penny for his troubles. We will miss him.

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