Oklahoma Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty for Texas Man
An Oklahoma prosecutor has filed court documents saying he will seek the death
penalty for a Texas man in the stomping death of an acquaintance.
Court records show Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn filed a
bill of particulars Aug. 1 against 29-year-old Joseph Alliniece of Missouri
Alliniece is charged with 1st-degree murder in the April death of 27-year-old
Brittany Young at Young's apartment in Norman.
In court documents, Alliniece says he has no recollection of what happened the
day Young died.
Mashburn's filing says the crime "was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel,"
that Alliniece has a prior felony conviction for violence, is a continuing
threat to society and that he knowingly created a great risk of death to more
than 1 person.
(source: Associated Press)
SOUTH DAKOTA----(new) execution date
South Dakota sets execution for man in prison guard's death
A man who pleaded guilty to the 2011 killing of a South Dakota prison guard is
set to be executed in the fall, the state's attorney general said Wednesday.
Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement that Rodney Berget, 56, is
scheduled to be executed between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. Jackley's office said the
warden of the state penitentiary will choose the specific time and date, which
will be announced within 48 hours of the execution.
Circuit Court Judge Bradley Zell issued a warrant of execution for Berget, who
would be the 1st person put to death in South Dakota in roughly 6 years.
"We will be ready to carry out the order of the court," Department of
Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk said in a statement.
Berget pleaded guilty in April 2012 to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a
failed prison escape attempt in April 2011 along with fellow inmate Eric
Robert, who was executed in 2012.
An attorney for Berget wasn't immediately available to comment to The
Associated Press. Berget's mental status and death penalty eligibility have
played a key role in court delays.
Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw the
appeal against the advice of his lawyers, the Argus Leader reported.
"I want this to be the last day I appear in court," Berget said at a September
The last execution in South Dakota was the lethal injection of Donald Moeller
on Oct. 30, 2012, for the killing of Becky O'Connell.
State Department of Corrections policy says lethal injections involve 1 to 3
drugs, depending on drug availability and the date of the prisoner's
conviction. State law makes a drug supplier confidential.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information
Center, said U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers have distribution policies that
prohibit the sale of their medicines for non-therapeutic uses. The "secrecy"
provision in South Dakota law raises serious questions about how the drugs are
obtained, Dunham said.
"The big problem is that with secrecy we can't have any assurances," Dunham
said. "Given the history of behavior of many of the states that have carried
out executions, 'Trust me I'm the government,' is not a satisfactory
(source: Associated Press)
Judge won't stop Carey Dean Moore execution set for Tuesday
The execution of Carey Dean Moore will go forward Tuesday after the decision of
a federal judge on Friday afternoon.
Anti-death penalty supporters had hope, but U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf
dashed that hope by rejecting drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi's request to at
least temporarily stop the use of two drugs the company believes the state
intends to use Tuesday.
The company immediately appealed Kopf's decision to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court
of Appeals. That court is standing by and will not be surprised by the appeal,
said attorney Mark Christensen, of the law firm Cline Williams and representing
Kopf said although Moore was not a party to the lawsuit, filed this week, he
was at the center of it, and common decency required that he not be forgotten.
He has made his wishes to go ahead with the execution known by no longer
fighting it and asking his attorneys not to interfere.
He also took into account the public interest, the judge said, saying that
weighed heavily in favor of the state.
"Many people of good faith object to the death penalty," Kopf said. "However,
the electoral processes of Nebraska have worked as they were intended."
Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post had argued Fresenius Kabi failed to show
irreparable harm to its company, its reputation and business relationships.
The judge said he did not believe the company's reputation would be irreparably
harmed if the execution proceeds using the drugs cisatracurium and potassium
chloride, which the company believes is from its supplies. Kopf called the harm
to Fresenius Kabi if he rejected the temporary restraining order "vanishingly
small to none at all."
But the state of Nebraska would be "greatly and irreparably harmed," he said,
if he stopped the execution.
"Sure, the plaintiff just might, although it is very doubtful, suffer harm to
its reputation," he said. "But the public interest is far broader than
corporate self-interest. In this case, it has everything to do with the
functioning of a democracy."
He concluded there was no evidence that the cisatracurium to be used was
manufactured or distributed by the company, although the state has not denied
Department of Corrections Director Scott Frakes said in an affidavit the drugs
were obtained from a licensed pharmacy in the United States, and the department
did not circumvent Fresenius Kabi's distribution controls. They were not
obtained through fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, he said.
He also said the state has no other way to buy lethal injection drugs that
comply with state law and the department's execution protocol.
Frakes said he had tried to purchase additional execution drugs from the
supplier of the current substances and that supplier is unwilling to provide
The department's supply of potassium chloride will expire Aug. 31. Frakes said
he has no other source or supplier for the drugs to be used next week or any
time in the future.
It is unknown how that would affect any potential execution of Jose Sandoval,
convicted of killing five people inside a Norfolk U.S. Bank branch, and who has
also been notified the same drugs would be used to put him to death. No
execution date has been set in his case.
The drug company said in court documents that stopping the use of its drugs
would not negate the state's death penalty. Alternative methods do exist.
Fresenius Kabi also argued Frakes' authority to procure drugs for lethal
injection does not give him a license to violate the rights of others.
The department has not revealed the sources of its lethal injection drugs,
despite a district court order, which it has appealed.
State inventories of the drug show the potassium chloride, which could be used
to stop Moore's heart, are in 30-milliliter vials. The company alleged it is
the only one with vials of the drug distributed in that size.
Christensen said it should be no surprise, after multiple communications, that
Fresenius Kabi objected to the use of its drugs and was ready to take legal
action to prevent the use of its drugs.
"If the (state) had been upfront and honest about their intentions, this
lawsuit would have been filed months ago and the case decided without a pending
execution that makes everything more dire and urgent," Christensen said.
Steve Helgeland, the youngest son of Maynard Helgeland, 1 of Moore's victims,
lauded the judge's decision.
"We are grateful the judge ruled the way he did," he said. "We are hopeful it
will allow us to move on and close this chapter."
Helgeland and his older brother Kenny, both of whom live in South Dakota, will
be in Lincoln on Tuesday. Kenny said he plans to be a witness and will be
wearing a T-shirt that says, "Happy Cab 63," on the front. That was the company
their father worked for and the number of the cab he was driving when Moore
Meanwhile, the ACLU of Nebraska commended Fresenius Kabi for taking action to
ensure its products were not obtained illegally or used for illicit purposes.
"Had the Nebraska Department of Corrections conducted their grave business in
compliance with our strong tradition of open government, this action may have
been avoided," said Executive Director Danielle Conrad.
She said the organization will continue its work to oppose the death penalty on
all fronts, including "defending Nebraska???s proud tradition of open
government as the state seeks to carry out its ... grave and irrevocable
(source: Lincoln Journal Star)
Judge Rejects Drugmaker's Attempt to Block Nebraska Execution
A federal judge on Friday refused to block the State of Nebraska from carrying
out its 1st lethal injection despite a German pharmaceutical company's lawsuit
that says the state illicitly obtained its drugs.
The judge, Richard G. Kopf of the District of Nebraska, denied the company's
request to temporarily block state prison officials from executing Carey Dean
Moore, one of the nation's longest-serving death row inmates. Mr. Moore is
scheduled to die Tuesday in Nebraska's 1st execution since 1997 with a
combination of drugs that has never been tried.
Mr. Moore, 60, who was convicted of killing 2 cabdrivers 5 days apart in 1979,
has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him. Judge Kopf said
granting the drug company's request would "frustrate the will of the people,"
referring to the 61 % of Nebraska voters who chose to reinstate capital
punishment in 2016 after lawmakers abolished it.
"I will not allow the plaintiff to frustrate the wishes of Mr. Moore and the
laws of the state of Nebraska," Judge Kopf said during the hearing.
Lawyers for the drug company, Fresenius Kabi, filed a lawsuit this week arguing
that state officials improperly obtained at least 1 of the company's drugs.
Mark Christensen, 1 of the lawyers, said the company planned to appeal.
In Nevada, a judge indefinitely postponed an execution last month after the
drugmaker Alvogen filed a similar lawsuit over one of its products.
Mr. Moore is scheduled to be executed with a combination of 4 drugs: the
sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render him unconscious;
fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opioid; cisatracurium besylate to induce
paralysis and halt his breathing; and potassium chloride to stop his heart.
Fresenius Kabi argues that it manufactured the state's supply of potassium
chloride and possibly the cisatracurium. Nebraska state officials have refused
to identify the source of their execution drugs.
Fresenius Kabi said Nebraska's use of its drugs would damage its reputation and
business relationships. The company said it takes no position on capital
punishment, but strongly opposes the use of its products for use in executions.
(source: Associated Press)
National Anti-Death Penalty Advocate Speaks Out Against Moore Execution
A national anti-death penalty advocate is questioning Gov. Pete Rickett's
ability to be a 'moral leader' by continuing to support the upcoming execution
of Carey Dean Moore.
Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known advocate against the death penalty, is known
best as the spiritual advisor for Patrick Sonnier, a Louisiana inmate who was
executed in 1984 after being convicted of killing 2 teenagers.
Prejean went on to write a novel about her experience with Sonnier and
Louisiana's execution process in "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of
the Death Penalty." The book was later adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie
starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.
Prejean is familiar with the controversies surrounding Nebraska's death
penalty, ranging from Rickett's personal efforts to override a 2015 repeal of
the death penalty to a lack of transparency regarding where the lethal drugs
being used in Moore's upcoming execution are coming from.
"In all my time working with the death penalty in the United States, I don't
think I've ever seen a governor like Ricketts go to such extreme costs or
trouble to have a human being executed," Prejean said.
Prejean highlighted a 2016 study by Creighton economist Ernest Goss, which
found that Nebraska's maintenance of the death penalty cost the state $14.6
million annually, with each additional death penalty arraignment costing the
state around $1.5 million.
"...It baffles me, it just really baffles me," she said.
Prejean has also been outspoken in the lack of transparency regarding the drugs
to be used in Moore's upcoming execution. A lack of transparency and
unwillingness from state officials to identify the source of the drugs to be
used in the upcoming execution has led a German pharmaceutical company to file
a lawsuit against the state and the Department of Correctional Services.
The company, Fresenius Kabi, suspects the Nebraska State Penitentiary pharmacy
is in possession of 2 of the company's drugs, potassium chloride and
cisatracurium. The company questions whether the drugs were acquired legally.
A federal judge ruled Friday afternoon the state could proceed with plans to
execute Moore Tuesday, despite objections from a German drug manufacturer their
drug was obtained improperly. The state denies that allegation.
Prejean said she questions whether Nebraska can be viewed as a "pro-life" state
in the midst of controversy surrounding the Moore execution.
"What does it mean for our morality if we say we're pro-life that you could
have the life of a human being hanging on such a fine point of a legality
around a drug," Prejean said.
Prejean likened the controversy surrounding Moore's execution to a 2015
incident in Oklahoma, where a death row inmate was issued a stay of execution
due to last-minute questions by the state's governor regarding the chemicals
being used for lethal injection.
"We have a terrible problem in the United States where we have a Supreme Court
that is allowing states to experiment with different drugs to kill people and
there is hardly any transparency in that," Prejean said.
Ultimately, Prejean said she questions the benefits and importance of the
upcoming execution, and whether the people of the state will actually be safer.
"'An important tool,' Gov. Ricketts calls it," Prejean said. "A tool for what?
To show that we're capable as a state of imitating the worst possible violence
under the worst possible conditions, the most pre-meditated death of a human
being you can imagine?"
"What's going to happen after the execution, after Tuesday, is anybody really
safer? Has it really helped the state? All these things come to mind when I
think of this and what's about to happen in Nebraska," she said. "Nothing will
be accomplished by it, and that's hardly what you call pro-life"
NET News tried to reach Gov. Ricketts for comment, but our emails were not
DNA links Nevada prisoner to multiple 1984 cold case murders, including 3
family members, authorities say
Authorities have used DNA to link four cold case murders from 1984 in Colorado
to a man already serving time for attempted murder and deadly assault charges
Prosecutors from Arphahoe and Jefferson Counties as well as the Colorado Bureau
of Investigation Director John Camper announced Friday that investigators used
DNA matching to connect four brutal murders in the state -- including a home
invasion that left three family members dead -- to 57-year-old Alexander
Christoper Ewing, who is currently in the custody of the Nevada Department of
Authorities were able to obtain DNA from Ewing after a change to a Nevada state
law that previously prohibited it, Camper said in a news conference.
On Jan. 10, 1984, a man entered the home of 50-year-old Patricia Louise Smith
in Lakewood, Colorado, and sexually assaulted and bludgeoned her to death, The
Denver Post reported.
6 days later, a man armed with a hammer and a knife entered the Aurora home of
Bruce and Debra Bennett and bludgeoned the entire family, killing 3 members,
according to The Post.
The killer also sliced Bruce Bennett's neck, raped Debra Bennett and the
couple's 7-year-old daughter, Melissa Bennett, The Post reported. The couple's
youngest daughter, 3-year-old Vanessa, was beaten in the head and face but
survived. Bruce Bennett's mother, Connie Bennett, stumbled upon the gruesome
scene the next day and found her granddaughter alive, according to The Post.
The family had just celebrated Melissa Bennett's birthday, The Post reported.
DNA evidence from the scene of the Bennett case was first uploaded into a
database in 2001, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said.
Almost a decade later, in 2010, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was able
to develop a DNA profile from Smith's murder and found that it matched the DNA
in the Bennett case, Brauchler said.
A few weeks ago, the state of Nevada uploaded Ewing's DNA to the FBI's national
database, and a match with the Smith and Bennett cases came the next day,
Smith faces 3 counts of felony murder and 2 counts of violent crime in
Jefferson County in connection with Smith's death, Jefferson County District
Attorney Pete Weir said Friday. Formal charges are expected to be filed next
"Justice has been delayed, but justice is not going to be denied," Weir said,
adding that it's possible that Ewing could face the death penalty in Smith's
Former Arapahoe County District Attorney Jim Peters had obtained an arrest
warrant for a John Doe in the Bennetts' murder cases based on the DNA, charging
the unknown killer with 18 counts related to the massacre, including six counts
of first-degree murder, Brauchler said. It is unclear when authorities will
reach a resolution in the Bennett case, Brauchler said.
The prosecutors will file paperwork asking Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to
extradite Ewing from Nevada.
The state of Colorado is urging all states to pass laws to obtain DNA from
incarcerated inmates to help solve cold cases, authorities said.
"Every state has unsolved cases," Brauchler said. "... Do this for the victims
that have gaping holes of crimes that have not been solved."
Ewing is already serving a 40-year prison term in Nevada for 2 counts of
attempted murder and 2 counts of assault with a daily weapon, according to The
Several months after the Colorado murders, Ewing entered a home in Kingman,
Arizona, through an open door and attacked a man nearly to death with a
20-pound boulder, The Post reported.
Ewing was later arrested by Kingman police on charges of attempted murder, and
on Aug. 9, 1984, while being transferred for a trial hearing, he escaped the
jail van when it stopped at a gas station for a restroom break, according to
Ewing then ran into a K-Mart and changed clothes and later that night entered a
home in Henderson, Nevada, armed with an ax handle and attacked the couple
living there, The Post reported.
Ewing was eventually captured 2 days later after a massive helicopter and foot
search, according to The Post. He was convicted by the 8th District Court in
Las Vegas in 1985 and is being housed at the Northern Nevada Correctional
Center in Carson City, prison records show.
(source: ABC News)
11 states that have the death penalty haven't used it in more than a decade
Tennessee carried out its first execution since 2009 this month and Nebraska
soon may carry out its 1st since 1997. The 2 states underscore the fact that
while a majority of jurisdictions in the United States have capital punishment
on the books, a considerably smaller number of them use it regularly.
Most states have the death penalty, but significantly fewer use it
regularlyOverall, 31 states, the federal government and the U.S. military
authorize the death penalty, while 19 states and the District of Columbia do
not, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an information
clearinghouse that has been critical of capital punishment. But 11 of the
states that allow executions - along with the federal government and the U.S.
military - haven't had one in at least a decade.
Nebraska, in fact, is among 7 states that have the death penalty but haven't
carried out an execution in at least 15 years. New Hampshire hasn't executed an
inmate since 1939; the other states in this category are Kansas (last execution
in 1965), Wyoming (1992), Colorado and Oregon (both 1997), and Pennsylvania
(1999). Executions have occurred somewhat more recently - though still more
than a decade ago - in California, Montana, Nevada and North Carolina (all in
The last federal execution also took place more than 15 years ago, in March
2003. While the U.S. military retains its own authority to carry out
executions, it hasn't done so since 1961.
All 11 states that have the death penalty but haven't used it in at least a
decade have inmates on death row, as do the federal government and U.S.
military. The size of these death row populations ranges from just one inmate
each in New Hampshire and Wyoming to 744 in California, which has by far the
largest death row in the nation.
California's death row population has increased by nearly 1/3 since
2000California's death row has grown by nearly 100 inmates, or 15%, since
January 2006, when it carried out its last execution, and by nearly 30% since
2000, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which tracks
death row populations for all states. The increase reflects the fact that
California juries have continued to sentence convicted defendants to death even
as executions themselves have been on hold in recent years amid legal and
One stark reflection of the longtime suspension of capital punishment in
California is that executions now rank behind natural causes and suicide as the
third most common cause of death for those on death row there, according to
data from the state's corrections department. Just 15 of the 128 California
death row inmates who have died since 1978 were executed.
The federal government's death row has also grown substantially since the last
federal execution. There are currently 63 federal inmates sentenced to death,
up from 26 in January 2003 (just before the federal government's most recent
The increases in the number of people on death row in California and at the
federal level are notable because they run counter to the national trend.
Nationwide, the number of inmates on death row fell 24% between 2000 and 2017,
from 3,682 to 2,792, according to the NAACP's figures.
A variety of factors explain this decrease. For one thing, 867 executions were
carried out between 2000 and 2017, including 346 in Texas alone, according to a
database compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center. Many other death row
prisoners have died of other causes. Another 78 were removed from death row
between 2000 and 2017 because they were exonerated, whether by acquittal,
dropped charges or pardons. And the number of new defendants sentenced to death
has declined sharply, from 223 in 2000 to just 39 last year.
Legal and political factors have played a prominent role in several of the
states that have the death penalty but have not carried out an execution for 10
years or more. In California, for example, courts struck down the state's
lethal injection protocol in 2006 and the state did not propose a replacement
method until years later. In 2016, California voters approved a ballot
initiative intended to speed up the death penalty process.
In Nebraska, the state legislature abolished capital punishment in 2015, only
for voters to reinstate it at the ballot box in 2016. That has paved the way
for the planned execution of Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murdering 2
men in 1979. The execution still may be postponed, however, due to a late court
challenge over how the state acquired its lethal injection drugs.
Nebraska's Catholic governor, Pete Ricketts, is a supporter of capital
punishment and has vowed to move forward with executions in the state despite
Pope Francis' announcement earlier this month that the Catholic Church would
oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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