Oct. 13


Texas death row inmate Danny Bible loses at US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused an appeal from Texas death row inmate Danny Paul Bible, who was convicted of the 1979 icepick slaying of a woman who went to his house in Houston to use a telephone and was found later stabbed 11 times, raped and dumped on the bank of a bayou.

The high court offered no comment on its rejection.

Bible, 65, does not yet have an execution date.

Court records show Bible has confessed to 4 killings, including 20-year-old Inez Deaton, whose slaying went unsolved for nearly 2 decades. He wasn't tied to her death until 1998 when he was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida, for a Louisiana rape and told authorities about killing Deaton in Houston and a woman and her baby west of Fort Worth in North Texas.

Bible previously served prison time after pleading guilty in 1984 in Palo Pinto County to killing another woman. Texas Department of Criminal Justice records show he arrived in prison with a 25-year sentence for that slaying plus 20 years for a robbery conviction in Harris County but was released in February 1992 to Montana.

While out of prison on a form of parole known as mandatory supervision, Bible "lived a life of extreme violence," according to a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year when Bible's appeal of his death sentence was rejected. It's that appeal that went to the Supreme Court.

At his 2003 capital murder trial in Houston for Deaton's death, prosecutors provided evidence of robberies, thefts, assaults and abductions, including the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Montana and his confessions to repeated sexual assaults of young nieces from 1996 to 1998.

Bible contended in his appeal that his lawyers, during the punishment phase of his capital murder trial in Houston, were deficient for not objecting to prosecutors' re-enacting a rape and how Bible tried to stuff his victim into a duffel bag. He also said in the appeal that he is disabled and in permanent pain after the prison van carrying him to death row in 2003 crashed, killing a corrections officer and the driver of another vehicle involved in the wreck.

Bible's appeals attorney, Margaret Schmucker, said Tuesday that her next option could be to seek clemency from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, although Abbott and previous governors have little history of commuting death sentences to life in prison.

Bible is "not a danger to anybody," Schmucker said. "He can't get out of a wheelchair by himself. He can't lift his arms. He can't do anything."

He also has a Louisiana sentence of life without parole, she said.

(source: Associated Press)


Race shouldn't matter in sentencing, but it does

In 1995, Duane Edward Buck was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her friend. During his sentencing hearing, the prosecution presented evidence of Buck's potential for recidivism, based on his criminal history, conduct, and demeanor. In defense, his court appointed attorney called a clinical psychologist, Dr. Walter Quijano, as an expert witness, who stated that he believed Buck's "black" race increased the likelihood of future dangerousness. Buck was subsequently sentenced to death and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence.

On October 5, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard an oral argument on Buck's case. His new attorney, Christina A. Swarns, claims that his previous counsel was ineffective by knowingly calling an expert witness who testified that race was a factor in evaluating future dangerousness. Although the circumstances of Buck's conviction were not up for debate, his attorney asked the Justices to order "a new, fair sentencing hearing."

Although the Justices described what happened during the sentencing phase of Buck's case as "indefensible" and "abysmal," they raised considerable concern that the outcome of his case wouldn???t be impacted, if a new sentencing hearing were granted. The circumstances surrounding Buck's arrest were aggravating. His crimes were gruesome, he wasn't remorseful, and he had committed various acts of domestic violence prior to the murders. However, his defense attorney maintained that, "putting an expert scientific validity to this pernicious idea that Mr. Buck would be more likely to commit criminal acts of violence because he's black" led to an arbitrary death sentence decision. Her argument centered on the fact that the expert witness' testimony directly impacted the jury's future dangerousness determination, which is the prerequisite for a death sentence in Texas.

The attorney for the State, Scott A. Keller, did not defend the competency of Buck's public defender nor the racially bias statements made by the expert witness. Instead, he focused on the fact that the prosecutors did not use the expert witness' testimony to make their claims for capital punishment and that a new sentencing hearing would not change the outcome. To support his argument, Keller described how the "Petitioner executed a mother when she was on her knees in front of her children with her daughter jumping on her." He told the justices that Buck laughed about the murder of his victim and stated, "she got what she deserved," after the crime.

Despite the seriousness of the offense, the Justices continued to question why this case in particular should not be reopened. In 6 other cases in Texas, the court reopened cases, which used race as an aggravating factor in sentencing. However, in these six other cases, the State confessed error, which Keller contends is a different issue than race being introduced as an aggravating factor by the defense.

One of these cases involved Victor Hugo Saldano, who was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1996. In that case, the prosecution called the same expert witness that was called by Buck's defense attorney, Dr. Walter Quijano. In Saldano's case, he testified that " . . . because [Saldano] is Hispanic, this was a factor weighing in favor of future dangerousness ... African Americans and Hispanics are over-represented in prison compared with their percentage of the general population."

Since certain sociological issues are debatable, expert witness testimony can vary. Different studies can produce polarizing results due to disparate sample sizes and heterogeneity, research method quality, and analytic strategy, as well as error and bias. There are few issues that conclude with a scholarly consensus, but the nexus (or lack thereof) between race and crime is one of them. Although black and Latino males are disproportionately incarcerated in the United States, this is absolutely not a result of a higher proclivity for violence or crime. For decades, researchers have remarked on the differential treatment between white and non-white offenders at nearly every stage of the criminal justice process, sometimes due to racial bias. Moreover, modern research concludes that race has absolutely no bearing on the likelihood of recidivism.

Although it unclear whether Buck's death penalty sentence will be reaffirmed at a new sentencing hearing, the fact that race is being introduced by "experts" as an aggravating factor in sentencing determinations is incredulous and a further testament to the critical need for comprehensive criminal justice reform.

(source: Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco is the author of "Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium." She holds a Ph.D. in criminology, law and society from George Mason University----thehill.com)


Indigents at risk in death penalty cases

The state ensures that the indigent are not disadvantaged anywhere in the court system, but it has a high moral obligation to do so in capital cases.

"Lethally Deficient," a scathing recent report, reveals glaring disadvantages for indigents contesting death sentences on direct appeals. The nonprofit Texas Defender Service, which works to make the criminal justice system fairer, found that court-appointed attorneys undertaking these appeals are:

Outgunned. The defense "team" is limited to one attorney, though the standard is 2 in such cases. These attorneys lack the resources of district attorneys. And while these defense attorneys are required to meet minimum qualification standards, the selection method does not ensure that.

Underpaid. Flat fees and capped compensation create a "perverse incentive" for direct appeal lawyers to accept a high number of cases and reduce the hours devoted to each case.

Overworked. See above. They are accepting a high number of cases to make ends meet.

The result is that direct appeal lawyers are not adequately briefing their cases, communicate minimally with their clients, sometimes plagiarize from other appeals that may or may not have relevancy to their cases, and otherwise ignore "discretionary legal procedures," claims that might mean swift relief or obtain federal review.

The Texas Defender Service reviewed 84 death penalty direct appeals decided by the Court of Criminal Appeals between 2009 and 2015. Convictions were overturned on 3 cases - all of which had 2 attorneys working on them.

The report is a wake-up call for the Legislature. The report recommends that lawmakers create a capital appellate defender office to ensure better resources, establish a statewide appointment system that controls caseloads and provides uniform compensation, and require that 2 qualified attorneys be appointed to such cases.

These are sensible recommendations. The risk of innocent people being executed is simply too high.

(source: Editorial, San Antonio Express-News)


Texas tops death penalty markers

Texas is ranked No. 2 in state executions per capita at 0.207 behind Oklahoma from 1976 to February 2015, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. At the same time, Texas is 1st in the number of executions in the U.S. since 1976 by almost 5 times more death sentences than Oklahoma, which only sentenced 112.

Barney Ronald Fuller Jr., who was convicted of shooting his neighbors to death in May 2003 in East Texas, was executed at 6 p.m. on Oct. 5.

Fuller plead guilty to the crime in July 2004.

According to Texas' Office of the Attorney General, "Fuller was known to fire weapons on his rural property," and entered into a dispute with his neighbors, Nathan and Annette Copeland, after allegedly shooting their electric transformer. He was first charged with making a terroristic threat against Annette Fuller when he telephoned her stating, "Happy New Year, I'm going to kill you."

After notification of the charge, at approximately 1:30 a.m., "[Fuller] went on a shooting rampage at the Copelands' home, killing Nathan and Annette, wounding their 15-year-old son Cody in the shoulder," while unsuccessfully locating their 11-year-old daughter Courtney to cause her harm as well.

Fuller turned himself over to authorities that morning and confessed to the crime. Following his conviction and death sentence, Fuller sat on death row for 12 years.

On average, death row inmates await the ultimate sentence for capital murder convictions - a death sentence - for more than a decade. Some sit on death row for as long as 20 years.

DPIC states that many believe it is a double punishment: the wait in solitary confinement, which is used sparingly for general-population prisoners and can deteriorate their mental faculties, and the death sentence itself.

Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and has since sentenced 521 to death row. Of that, Harris County accounts for more than 280. There are 254 counties in the state of Texas, and "136 have never sent a single offender to death row," according to DPIC.

Out of 21 states that have called for a stay of execution, more than a dozen cited lethal injection protocols and procedures. 2 of the states that are on a list of those experiencing death penalty flux - Nebraska and New Mexico - abolished the death penalty altogether.

In most states, the governor has the ability to impose a stay of execution and temporarily suspend a court order. That's not so in Texas. The governor does not have that authority and would need a constitutional amendment approved by voters before they could do so.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice lists John Battaglia - convicted of killing his 6- and 9-year-old daughters in May 2001 - as the last death row inmate scheduled for execution in 2016, but already has 5 more listed for execution in the first 4 months of 2017.

The U.S. Supreme Court rarely takes on an argument that would challenge death penalty rulings as a whole. In May, justices refused to hear the case of a Louisiana man who was convicted of killing his 18-year-old pregnant girlfriend, who claimed he was unfairly sentenced to death not because of the crime itself but because of the color of his skin and the geographical area his case was tried, he and his lawyers charged.

Most argue the death penalty's unconstitutionality because each time it violates the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban of "cruel and unusual punishment."

On the same day as Fuller's execution, the U.S. Supreme Court heard an oral argument concerning the case Buck v. Davis, a Texas case that sentenced Duane Buck to death after "expert testimony from a psychologist who called Buck more likely to commit acts of violence in the future because he is Black."

Justices at least seem ready to take on social injustices in death row declarations.

Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer said percentages of COAs, or certificates of appealability, issued by U.S. Court of Appeals are arbitrary in cases such as the Fifth Circuit compared to its counterparts. A COA must be issued before a defendant can appeal a decision. The Fifth Circuit Court, serving Texas as a federal court of appeals, denies cases 60 % of the time compared to only 6 % and zero %, respectively, in the Eleventh and Fourth circuits.

For the moment, the fight is primarily contained to the lower federal courts 6 of the 8 seated U.S. Supreme Court justices mostly refuse to enter the fray.

(source: The Sealy News)


Florida Counties Buck National Trend In Death Penalty Sentences

Florida is an outlier when it comes to sentencing people to death.

A new report looked at each of the 3,143 county or county equivalents in the country to compare sentencing practices. Only 16 counties sentenced 5 or more people to death between 2010 and 2015, and 4 of those counties are in Florida.

Last year, 49 people were sentenced to death nationwide, less than half than in 2009. But Miami-Dade, Duval, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have consistently bucked that national decline in death penalty sentences over the past several years.

"We found that you have a combination of a personality-driven death penalty: you have these few prosecutors that are seeking and obtaining death sentences," said Robert Smith, director of the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard law school, which published the study. "Across the 16 [outlier] counties, they tend to have this over-zealous pattern."

He says this combined with inadequate defense lawyering creates a deadly combination.

He points to the recent defeat of Fourth Judicial Circuit Court State Attorney Angela Corey - whose district includes Duval County (Jacksonville) - as evidence of pushback from an electorate that does not support unusually harsh punishment for criminals.

"The idea that these communities are somehow different and somehow want the death penalty more is flatly false and that the much better explanation is these are places where you have a personality-driven death penalty," said Smith.

The report also found the vast majority of the people sentenced to death were individuals of color or with a history of mental illness.

Credit Fair Punishment Project

Florida is 1 of 2 states that currently allows non-unanimous juries to hand down death verdicts, a component of the sentencing process that came under scrutiny when the Florida Legislature was forced to re-write the sentencing process after a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down the previous method.

(source: WLRN news)


Prosecutors defend death penalty practices in wake of Harvard report that singled out Hillsborough, Pinellas

The state attorneys in two Tampa Bay area counties disputed criticisms in a Harvard University study Wednesday that called both "outliers" in their use of the death penalty.

Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober issued a lengthy statement defending his record and seeking to discredit the Fair Punishment Project, the Harvard Law School group that produced the study.

"The group releasing this report opposes the death penalty, and its report is nothing more than a position paper to support its cause," Ober said. "It makes no attempt to be fair and balanced."

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe called the study "intellectually dishonest."

"They use trigger words," McCabe said. "They use incendiary language."

The Fair Punishment Project placed Hillsborough and Pinellas among 16 counties in the nation that imposed 5 or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015, a finding it attributed to overzealous prosecutors, a lack of regard for mitigating factors like mental illness, and racial disparities.

The Tampa Bay Times received an advance copy of the report, embargoed until Wednesday morning's editions, but prosecutors did not - and therefore were at a loss to comment until after it was made public.

"The number of murder cases in those five years. One death penalty per year? You know, I just don't see where that rose to the level of blood lust or whatever they're trying to say," McCabe said. "What I saw looked more like a position paper than an academic study."

In a statement sent on campaign stationery, Ober said the report had simply declared the death penalty to be broken, based on "arbitrary criteria," rather than consider all relevant factors.

"In every death penalty case, my office carefully reviews the evidence and the facts surrounding the case," he said. "We carefully consider all the aggravating and mitigating factors in determining whether it is appropriate to have the jury and judge consider the death penalty as a sentencing option.

"We do not take lightly our responsibility to charge accurately in any case, especially a death penalty case. We seek justice one case at a time. We do not make decisions based on arbitrary standards that a special interest group opposing the death penalty establishes."

Ober went on to reference the case of Humberto Delgado, which was mentioned specifically in the report. Delgado, who was convicted of the 2009 shooting death of Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts, later had his death sentence overturned by the Florida Supreme Court due to his history of severe mental illness.

"After hearing all the evidence, a judge and a jury agreed that the death penalty was appropriate," Ober wrote of the Delgado case.

He also noted the cases of Dontae Morris, who was sentenced to death for murdering 2 Tampa police officers, and Edward Covington, sentenced to death for the brutal killings of his girlfriend and her 2 kids.

"I believe the people of Hillsborough County agree with my office's decision to seek the death penalty in these brutal and heinous cases," Ober wrote.

Bill Loughery, a retired Pinellas County prosecutor who sent killers Patrick Evans and Genghis Kocaker to death row, noted the jury heard all the evidence in both cases, including aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

"None of the evidence was hidden from the jury by the state," Loughery said. "They got to consider those things, and they recommended death. Maybe Harvard just disagrees with the jury."

Robert Smith, one of the report's researchers, reiterated Wednesday that the group itself has no official stance on the death penalty, but he personally believes it is unconstitutional.

"While we are not an advocacy organization," Smith said, "I believe that the results of our study are consistent with the view that the death penalty is administered in an unconstitutional manner."

(source: Tampa Bay Times)


Death penalty recommended for Dothan man in Henry County murder

A Henry County jury returned late Wednesday with a recommendation of death for a 21-year-old Dothan man convicted in a 2014 shooting.

Attorney T.J. Haywood said the jury recommended the death sentence for all 3 of the capital murder convictions faced by his client, Justice Knight. The jury found Knight guilty late last month in the fatal shooting death of Jarvis Daffin. The jury found Knight guilty of capital murder during a robbery, capital murder during a kidnapping and capital murder during the shooting of a vehicle.

Haywood said the jury recommended the death sentence on an 11-1 vote on all 3 convictions. Haywood said a vote of 10-2 or more was required in order for the death sentence to be recommended.

The court can now choose to affirm the jury's recommendation or issue its own sentence. Knight faces the death penalty or life in prison without the opportunity for parole at his sentencing hearing.

Haywood said Knight will have a sentencing hearing before Circuit Court Judge Brad Mendheim on Oct. 27 at the Henry County Courthouse in Abbeville.

The 2-day sentencing phase of the capital murder case against Knight concluded late Wednesday. He was convicted of the capital murder charges late last month.

Prosecutors alleged during the week-long trial that Knight conspired to kill Daffin in order to take his tax refund money. District Attorney Doug Valeska said Knight and another man, Antwain "Duke" Wingard, participated in the murder. However, prosecutors said evidence indicates Knight is the trigger man.

Knight's 2nd attorney, Shaun McGhee, argued Knight was present but did not participate in the murder and that prosecution witnesses had favorable connections to Wingard and were motivated to point the finger at Knight.

Capital murder charges against Wingard are pending.

(source: Dothan Eagle)


Mobile DA Talks Alabama's Death Penalty

The death penalty has been a topic of debate recently in Alabama.

Earlier this month the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on the practice, determining it to be constitutional.

The statute was challenged by a former Mobile County defendant, Jerry Bohannon, who argued Alabama's death penalty was unconstitutional because it allowed judges not juries to have the final determination of a defendant's sentence.

However, the court ruled "that Alabama's capital sentencing scheme is consistent with the Sixth Amendment."

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich says some crimes are heinous that some offenders deserve the death penalty.

"It is not easy to do. Prosecuting a death penalty case is emotional and there are no winners," said Rich. "There are no winners but it is our job."

A recent Pew Research study found that for the 1st time in 45 years Americans' support for the death penalty has dipped below 50 %.

Rich says a death sentence is about justice for both victims and their families.

"These were all senseless acts. Senseless killings, horrific killings in some cases gruesome bloody deaths. That is exactly why we have the death penalty in the state of Alabama," said Rich.

(source: WKRG news)


30 Years on Death Row----In an incredible miscarriage of justice, a prosecutor admits his cowardice and indifference led to the wrongful murder conviction of a man sentenced to death

The following is a script from "30 Years on Death Row" which aired on October 11, 2015. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Habiba Nosheen, producers.

There may be no greater miscarriage of justice than to wrongfully convict a person of murder and sentence him to death. But that's exactly what happened to Glenn Ford. He spent nearly 30 years on death row, in solitary confinement, in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison until new evidence revealed he did not commit the murder.

He was 1 of 149 inmates freed from death row since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In all those exonerations, you have likely never heard a prosecutor admit his role and apologize for his mistakes in sending an innocent man to death row. But tonight, a prosecutor's confession. Marty Stroud, speaks of an injustice he calls so great it destroyed two lives: Glenn Ford's, and his own.

Marty Stroud: I ended up, without anybody else's help, putting a man on death row who didn't belong there. I mean at the end of the day, the beginning, end, middle, whatever you want to call it, I did something that was very, very bad.

It was 1983, Shreveport, Louisiana, and 32-year-old prosecutor Marty Stroud was assigned his first death penalty case. A local jeweler, Isadore Rozeman had been robbed and murdered. Quickly, Stroud zeroed in on Glenn Ford. Ford had done yard work for Rozeman and was known to be a petty thief, and he admitted he had pawned some of the stolen jewelry. All that was enough to make him the primary suspect. Stroud knew a conviction would boost his career.

Marty Stroud: I was arrogant, narcissistic, caught up in the culture of winning.

Bill Whitaker: Win regardless of the facts, the truth?

Marty Stroud: Looking back on it, yes. There was a question about other people's involvement. I should have followed up on that. I didn't do that.

Bill Whitaker: Why didn't you?

Marty Stroud: I think my failure to say something can only be described as cowardice. I was a coward.

Stroud now admits the cards and the system were stacked against Ford from the beginning: his court-appointed lawyers had never practiced criminal law.

Bill Whitaker: What kind of law did they practice?

Marty Stroud: One individual had general civil practice, and another one did succession, wills and estates.

Bill Whitaker: In a murder trial?

Marty Stroud: Here they are in a murder trial in Louisiana where a man was on trial for his life. And at the time I saw nothing wrong with that. In fact, I snickered from time to time saying that this was going to be...we're going to get though this case pretty quickly.

Stroud's case wasn't strong. There was no physical evidence linking Ford to the crime. The main witness incriminating Ford admitted in court she'd been coerced by police to make up her testimony. But what was more important to Marty Stroud was the composition of the jury.

Marty Stroud: There were no African Americans on the jury.

Bill Whitaker: Was that by design?

Marty Stroud: At the time of the case, we excluded African Americans because we-- I felt that they would not consider a death penalty where you had a black defendant and a white victim. I was the person that made the final call on the case with respect to jurors. And I was-- I was wrong.

Caddo Parish, Louisiana, is predominately white. Yet 77 % of those given the death penalty here in the last 40 years have been black.

Marty Stroud: So, when Glenn Ford walks into that courtroom, he's got a count of zero and 2 against him, and a fast ball's coming right at his head for strike 3.

It took the jury less than three hours to find Glenn Ford guilty. Afterwards, Stroud and his legal team went out and celebrated sending Ford to death row.

Marty Stroud: I had drinks. I slapped people on the back. We sang songs. That was utterly disgusting. You know, it-- I-- you see Mother Justice sometimes, and-- a statue. And she has a blindfold over her eyes. She was crying that night because that wasn't justice. That wasn't justice at all.

Ford was put in solitary confinement in one of the most infamous lock ups in America: Angola. The maximum-security prison has a well-earned reputation for harsh penalties and harsher conditions. Summer temperatures on death row commonly exceed 104 degrees.

Marty Stroud: Death row, you have maybe a 5x7 foot cell. You're in there every day. You get out one hour a day to walk around and you come back in. You do that day after day, year after year, and that's it. He was basically thrown in to a cell and forgotten.

Ford would become one of the country's longest-serving, death row inmates. Stroud went on to a successful legal career.

But all that changed when one of the initial suspects, a man named Jake Robinson, told a police informant he had killed the jeweler 3 decades earlier. Robinson is now in prison for another murder.

A court review of the new information found there was "credible evidence ... Glenn Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman."

Stroud's reaction when he was told Ford was innocent?

Marty Stroud: I thought I was going to throw up. Nauseous as it-- and I felt my face was just turning, like a fever. But then, the horror of knowing that yours truly had caused him all this pain.

Last year, Ford was exonerated and released from Angola. Pictures of his first free moments captured a rainbow in the sky and a smile on his face.

Bill Whitaker: What was it like to step outside the walls of that prison?

Glenn Ford: Like stepping in a brand new world; like breathing fresh air for the first time. It felt good.

But that good feeling didn't last. Shortly after being released, Ford learned he had stage IV lung cancer. Doctors told him he had only a few months to live. When we met Glenn Ford he was living in New Orleans, in a home for released prisoners.

Glenn Ford: And that hurt.

Bill Whitaker: Just to swallow water?

Glenn Ford: Feel like a flame!

Bill Whitaker: You were on death row for 30 years. Did you ever come close to an execution date?

Glenn Ford: Came within a week because the judge said he was retiring. And he wanted to put a death date on me.

Bill Whitaker: Did Mr. Ford get justice in this case?

Dale Cox: I think he has-- gotten delayed justice.

Dale Cox, the acting district attorney of Caddo Parish, got Glenn Ford released after receiving the informant's information. As he sees it, the justice system worked and no one, including Marty Stroud, did anything wrong.

Dale Cox: I don't know what it is he's apologizing for. I think he's wrong in that the system did not fail Mr. Ford.

Bill Whitaker: It did not?

Dale Cox: It did not...in fact...

Bill Whitaker: How can you say that?

Dale Cox: Because he's not on death row. And that's how I can say it.

Bill Whitaker: Getting out of prison after 30 years is justice?

Dale Cox: Well, it's better than dying there and it's better than being executed----

There may be no more controversial prosecutor in the U.S. than Dale Cox. Between 2010 and 2014, his Caddo Parish office put more people on death row per capita than anywhere else in the country.

Dale Cox: I think society should be employing the death penalty more rather than less.

Bill Whitaker: But there have been 10 other inmates on death row in Louisiana who have been exonerated. Clearly, the system is not flawless. Are you sure that you've gotten it right all the time?

Dale Cox: I'm reasonably confident that-- that I've gotten it right.

Bill Whitaker: Reasonably confident?

Dale Cox: Am I arrogant enough, am I narcissistic enough to say I couldn't make a mistake? Of course not.

Bill Whitaker: But until this information came out, the state was convinced that Mr. Ford was guilty.

Dale Cox: Yes.

Bill Whitaker: He could have been killed.

Dale Cox: Yes.

Bill Whitaker: And it would've been a mistake.

Dale Cox: Yes.

Bill Whitaker: It sounds like you're saying that's just a risk we have to take.

Dale Cox: Yes. If I had gotten this information too late, all of us would've been-- grieved beyond description. We don't want to do this to people who are not guilty of the crime they're charged with.

According to Louisiana law, Glenn Ford was entitled to $330,000, about $11,000 for every year of wrongful imprisonment. But the state is denying him the money. Why? In the original trial, prosecutors said Ford knew a robbery of Rozeman's jewelry shop was going to take place. But he didn't report it. Ford was never charged with that crime, but the state says that's reason enough to deny him.

Bill Whitaker: Do you believe he should be compensated for the time he spent in prison?

Dale Cox: No, I think we need to follow the law. And the statute does not require that you be charged or convicted or arrested for any of these other crimes. The statute only requires that Mr. Ford prove he didn't do these other crimes.

Bill Whitaker: So he's guilty until proven innocent in this case?

Dale Cox: No, because it's not a question of guilt or innocence. It's a question of whether he's entitled to money...taxpayer money.

Bill Whitaker: But you say he has to prove that he's innocent of these other charges, these other crimes for which he's never been charged, for which he's never been tried.

Dale Cox: That's correct.

Bill Whitaker: He has to prove he's innocent of them in order to get the compensation?

Dale Cox: That's correct.

Bill Whitaker: I'm trying to understand. He was punished for something that he might have done. That doesn't seem fair.

Dale Cox: You want fairness...

Bill Whitaker: Isn't the law supposed to provide fairness?

Dale Cox: It is supposed to provide justice.

Bill Whitaker: You don't think he deserves compensation

Dale Cox: I think that the law must be followed.

Glenn Ford: What law is this? I never heard of such law where it says it's OK to do what they did to me without any type of compensation.

There was some compensation. Glenn Ford was given a $20 gift card the day he left Angola prison.

Glenn Ford: Gave me a card for $20 and said "Wish you luck."

Bill Whitaker: How long did that last you?

Glenn Ford: One meal. I had some fried chicken, tea and the French fries came with it. I had $4 and change left.

Bill Whitaker: After 30 years in prison?

Glenn Ford: Right.

Bill Whitaker: 30 years on death row in solitary confinement and the state of Louisiana releases Mr. Ford with a $20 gift card.

Dale Cox: You're trying to portray the state of Louisiana as some kind of monster. I got him out of jail as quickly as I could. That's what the obligation of the state is.

"I'm not in the compassion business, none of us as prosecutors or defense lawyers are in the compassion business."

Bill Whitaker: And that's the end of the state's obligation?

Dale Cox: As far as I'm concerned.

Bill Whitaker: What about compassion? Have you no compassion for what Mr. Ford has been through?

Dale Cox: Well, you don't know me at all, do you? But you have no problem asking that question.

Bill Whitaker: No, I'm asking 'cause I'm seeking an answer.

Dale Cox: I'm not in the compassion business, none of us as prosecutors or defense lawyers are in the compassion business. I think the ministry is in the compassion business. We're in the legal business. So to suggest that somehow what has happened to Glenn Ford is abhorrent, yes, it's unfair. But it's not illegal. And it's not even immoral. It just doesn't fit your perception of fairness.

Bill Whitaker: I would say in this case many, many, many people would see this as unfair.

Dale Cox: I agree. I can't disagree with that.

For his part, Marty Stroud says Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed him. He went to see Ford to apologize.

Bill Whitaker: How do you apologize to someone for taking 30 years of his life from him?

Marty Stroud: Well, there's no books you can read to do that. I just went in and apologized.

Bill Whitaker: Do you forgive him?

Glenn Ford: No. He didn't only take from me; he took from my whole family.

Bill Whitaker: It sounds like you don't think you could ever forgive him.

Glenn Ford: Well, I don't. But I'm still trying to.

Bill Whitaker: Do you think you deserve his forgiveness?

Marty Stroud: No. If somebody had done that to me, I don't know if I could forgive them.

Bill Whitaker: You say you destroyed his life. Sounds like this incident destroyed your life too.

"It was a train to injustice, and I was the engineer. Glenn Ford will be a part of me until the day I die."

Marty Stroud: I've got a hole in me through which the north wind blows. It's a sense of coldness, it's a sense of just disgust. There's just nothing out there that can fill in that hole that says I-- it's alright. Well, it's not alright. It's not alright.

Singer: "Keep your eyes on the prize....hold on...hold on..."

Three weeks after we met him, Glenn Ford died, penniless. His final months he lived off charity. Donations covered the cost of his funeral.

Dale Cox: There was a tragic outcome. And these tragic outcomes happen all the time in life. It's not like the Glenn Ford case is the only tragedy you'll ever see or I'll ever see in our lifetime. The question is, was there anything illegally done, improperly done that led to this. And-- and I can comfortably say, based on the review of the record, no, there was not.

In Glenn Ford's will, he directs that any state money he might receive go to his 10 grandchildren so they can have a better chance than he did. And Marty Stroud? He has asked the Louisiana Bar Association to discipline him for his role in the Ford case.

Marty Stroud: It was a train to injustice, and I was the engineer. Glenn Ford will be a part of me until the day I die.

(source: CBS news)


Death sentence overturned for Cleveland man convicted in 1985 murder

A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of a Cleveland man convicted of murder 30 years ago.

Percy "June" Hutton, 62, was convicted in 1986 of fatally shooting Derek "Ricky" Mitchell and trying to kill Samuel Simmons in a dispute over a sewing machine. He was sentenced to death in 1987.

In a 2-1 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Hutton's sentence saying the judge who presided over the trial did not give the jury proper instructions before it deliberated on a recommended sentence.

The majority opinion says that the jury that recommended Hutton's execution was not given instructions on how to weigh what are known "aggravating circumstances." These are a set of facts in a death penalty trial, such as the heinous nature of the crime, that a jury must consider when recommending execution.

However, juries in capital cases are also required to compare such factors against "mitigating circumstances" that weigh in favor of sparing a defendant's life, such as mental illness or childhood abuse.

"... The jury could not have determined that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt without knowing what the aggravating circumstances were," Judge Bernice Donald wrote for the court. "Without this finding, a death sentence cannot stand."

Judge John Rogers, in partially deviating from the majority's ruling, wrote that Hutton's death sentence should stand because Hutton did not properly raise the issue in previous appeals. Donald acknowledged this, but wrote that the interests of justice outweighs Hutton's failure to raise the issue.

Ohio Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said the office was still reviewing the case and whether to challenge the appeals court's decision.

A call left for Hutton's attorney was not immediately returned.

(soruce: cleveland.com)

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

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