Feb. 1


MISSISSIPPI:

Death penalty sought in slayings----Trial set April 9 for pair accused of killing couple


The death penalty will be sought against 2 men accused of killing a Terry-area couple in their home last year and leaving the couple's then-7-month-old baby alone in the house without food and water.

In January 2011, Robert Carter, 26, and Renita Mark, his 24-year-old fiancee, were found dead in their home on Timberidge Road, 2 days after Hinds County sheriff's deputies say they were shot to death.

Dwaliues Deon Carter, 30, the male victim's brother, and Travaris Christian, 21, are charged with capital murder.

Christian, who is already serving a 25-year sentence for a probation violation on a house burglary conviction, was back in court Friday.

"We're seeking the death penalty," Assistant District Attorney Brad Hutto said in court.

Hutto didn't give a reason for the decision, but the district attorney's office had said the nature of the crime might warrant seeking the death penalty.

It's the 1st time the district attorney's office has stated publicly it would seek the death penalty in the case.

Assistant Public Defender Alison Kelly asked Circuit Judge Winston Kidd to approve money for his defense to hire a capital mitigation investigation specialist, who can do research on Christian's life to try to find reasons why he shouldn't be sentenced to death if convicted of capital murder.

The trial date for Carter and Christian is set for April 9.

Carter's attorney, Mike Scott, couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Scott has asked for help from the state Office of Capital Defense Counsel to assist in Carter's defense.

Christian was brought from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility for Friday's hearing.

Kidd signed an order to keep Christian at the Hinds County Detention Center until the outcome of his case so he can confer with his attorneys. Christian was sentenced on the probation violation by Hinds County Circuit Judge Bill Gowan on Feb. 11. He has prior convictions for burglary and receiving stolen property and had been sentenced to three year's probation in April 2009, according to prison records.

The suspects are also charged with conspiracy, house burglary and child abuse.

Dwaliues Carter also is charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon, and Christian also is charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

According to court documents, Dwaliues Carter went with Christian to his brother's home intending to burglarize it.

Court records say a flat-screen television, a camera, and an air compressor were loaded into Robert Carter's pickup.

The truck was found in a vacant lot in Jackson.

The television also was recovered in Jackson at a house on Reddix Street, where the two men were arrested.

The air compressor was located at a pawn shop, according to authorities.

After a a Jackson police officer found Robert Carter's abandoned pickup, Hinds County deputies were notified. When they went to Robert Carter's house, they found the bodies and the child in the house.

Christian's uncle, Alonzo Christian, 46, is charged in the case, but isn't expected to face a death sentence.

(source: Clarion Ledger)






OREGON:

Poll Shows Oregonians Still Support Capital Punishment


Governor John Kitzhaber raised the issue of Oregon's death penalty this winter, when he placed a moratorium on executions for the rest of his tenure.

He urged Oregonians to "find a better solution."

But now, a new poll by OPB and DHM Research shows that most Oregonians favor the death penalty.

Dave Husted a 41-year-old metal fabricator from Myrtle Point. He makes precision metal parts for things like guns.

He supports the death penalty for certain crimes.

"If you harm a child and kill that child to, forgive my lack of eloquence here, to get your jollies, I believe you should be executed," Husted says.

Husted's views are similar to those of many Oregonians.

The poll found that 57 % favor the death penalty for some crimes; 39 % oppose it. 4 % say the don't know.

Su Midghall, lead pollster for DHM Research, says those numbers haven't moved in a while. "Historically, Oregonians haven't changed a lot in their support for the death penalty. It was high 10 years ago, meaning over a majority then, it's still over a majority today."

The telephone survey polled 500 people throughout Oregon. It was conducted last week, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 %.

The poll found you could make some predictions about who supports and who opposes executions.

"More men and more Republicans favor the death penalty and they do tend to be outside of the urban core. Let's look at it from the other angle though, the ones who are most opposed. They're college educated female Democrats," according to Midghall.

Those 2 groups make up the people who say they "strongly" favor or oppose the death penalty. But Midghall says there's an important group of people in the middle.

"We have 60 % almost of Oregonians who support the death penalty for certain crimes. Half of that, so about 30 % are soft in their support, meaning with additional information they could be persuaded to look at things differently."

In light of that, I asked metal fabricator Dave Husted whether his support of the death penalty is strong.

"I would be willing to stand and discuss the matter... lacking the screaming and hollering that usually occurs during these discussions," Husted says.

Reactions like that give Ron Steiner of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, hope.

"When they start asking some questions. People who say they're somewhat in favor, they're fairly weakly held. And when the discussion is held to find out all the things that surround the death penalty, there's quite a bit of movement," Steiner says.

On the other side of the capital punishment spectrum stands Clatsop County DA, Joshua Marquis.

"If you look at the last 20 years in America, approximately two thirds, generally support capital punishment. And this is slightly below that. I don't know if that's because of a genuine change of attitude in Oregon," Marquis says.

A discussion is just what Governor Kitzhaber asked for when he issued a temporary reprieve in November, stopping the execution of murderer, Gary Haugen.

In an interview that will run on OPB's Think Out Loud Wednesday Kitzhaber reacted to the OPB DHM poll that shows a majority of Oregonians support capital punishment.

The governor explainied his actions, "I didn't abolish the death penalty. I didn't commute the sentences of everyone on death row to life in prison, which I could have done. I simply stayed the execution of Mr. Haugen and made it clear that I'm not going to carry out that sentence during my term in office. With the hope of fostering a discussion about the death penalty. A, whether we still want it. And B, if we do want it, whether the way the death penalty is set up in Oregon is really what people thought they were voting for back in 1984."

That's when Oregonians reinstated capital punishment.

(source: OPB News)






KENTUCKY:

Judge set to pass sentence in 1991 slaying, prosecutors describe shooter as serial killer


A man described by Kentucky prosecutors as a serial killer is set to be sentenced for a kidnapping that resulted in the death of a Bardstown distillery worker in 1991.

Special Judge Thomas O. Castlen is scheduled to hand down the sentence for 55-year-old Michael Dale St. Clair at 1 p.m. EST in Hardin County Circuit Court in Elizabethtown.

A jury on Jan. 23 convicted St. Clair of capital kidnapping in the death of Francis "Frank" Brady and recommended a death sentence. The Hardin County jury was empaneled following a reversal by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2010 on an evidentiary ruling.

A judge in November sentenced St. Clair to death for murder in Bullitt County, where Brady's remains were found.

St. Clair has been convicted of murdering 5 people.

(source: Associated Press)






GEORGIA:

Execution halted for condemned Paulding County killer


After refusing for years to challenge his execution, condemned killer Nicholas Cody Tate on Tuesday changed his mind just hours before he was to be put to death.

A judge then signed an order halting Tate's execution, about an hour before he was to be taken to the lethal-injection chamber. He had been scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Tate was charged with the murders of Chrissie Williams, who was shot in the head, and her 3-year-old daughter Katelyn, whose throat was slit, in their Paulding County home in 2001. He freely admitted to the crimes, pleading guilty in 2005 and waiving a trial by jury.

During the plea, Tate said he went to the victims' home to steal money, weapons and drugs. After a sentencing hearing, a Paulding judge sentenced him to death.

After the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in Tate's automatic direct appeal, which is required in all capital cases, Tate said he wished to file no further appeal, which are routine in most all death-penalty cases and, on occasion, result in new trials.

During one hearing, Tate told a judge he had been caught "red handed" and that none of his rights had been violated. "I choose to waive any and all future appeals," Tate said.

Last week, as the execution neared, Tate's brother sought to file an appeal on Tate's behalf. But that was abandoned after psychiatrists examined Tate and found he was competent to decide on his own to forgo his final appeals.

On Monday, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles considered Tate's case and then denied clemency, setting Tate's execution on course without delay. It also meant Tate would become the first Georgia inmate in decades to be put to death without filing a critical appeal challenging his sentence.

But Tuesday, Tate had a change of heart. He signed his petition for habeas corpus, which is expected to take months, if not years, to be litigated.

(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)






CALIFORNIA:

Man Who Spent His Birthday Fatally Stabbing Girlfriend & Mother Could Get Death Penalty


The man who allegedly stabbed his girlfriend and her mother to death and wounded a male roommate in a shared Torrance condominium Sunday night is scheduled to be arraigned today.

Virgil Tyrone Tate, 31, was charged Tuesday with 2 counts of murder in the slaying of his 32-year-old girlfriend, Tracie Ann Brooks, and her 58-year-old mother, Carol Susan Brooks. Tate was also charged with 1 count of attempted murder involving a male roommate, who suffered several stab wounds.

The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, reports City News Service, which would allow prosecutors to decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

Tate, who is accused of committing the crimes on his 31st birthday, was arrested without incident after a two-hour standoff with police Sunday night. Police were called to the scene in the 21800 block of South Vermont Avenue near Harbor-UCLA Medical Center at 8:23pm and were greeted by the wounded man, who came running out and told deputies where the killer was hiding. Inside the condo, police discovered Tracie's body. Tate had barricaded himself inside a back bedroom. When SWAT entered, they found a naked suspect (Tate) and Carol's body. Both women were fatally stabbed multiple times.

Tate's bail was set a $1 million.

(source LAist)


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