Day: June 3, 2012

FLORIDA – Defense: George Zimmerman in police custody

June 3, 2012 Source

MIAMI — George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, surrendered to police Sunday and was booked into jail after having his bail revoked two days earlier.

Zimmerman’s legal team said in a tweet that he was in police custody. Zimmerman’s bail was revoked because the judge said he and his wife lied to the court about their finances so he could obtain a lower bond.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 minutes before the 2:30 p.m. deadline to surrender, Zimmerman was listed as an inmate on the jail website. He was listed as being held without bail and having $500 in his jail account.

Prosecutors had said Zimmerman and his wife told the judge at a bond hearing in April that they had limited money, even though he had raised about $135,000 through a website. Defense attorneys said the matter was a misunderstanding.

Attorney Mark O’Mara announced earlier Sunday on his website that Zimmerman had arrived in Florida late Saturday evening ahead of his surrender. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin, was ordered by a judge Friday to return to jail.

During a bond hearing in April, the couple had indicated they had limited funds. But prosecutors say Zimmerman had raised thousands through a website he had set up for his legal defense.

Zimmerman’s legal team said Sunday that they will ask for a new bond hearing to address those concerns, and that they hope Zimmerman’s voluntary surrender will show he is not a flight risk. Furthermore, the money Zimmerman has raised is in an independent trust and cannot be directly accessed by Zimmerman or his attorneys, according to the press release.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge. He maintains he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” law because the teen, who was unarmed, was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.

Zimmerman’s credibility could become an issue at trial, legal experts said, noting the case hinges on jurors believing Zimmerman’s account of what happened the night in February that Martin was killed.

Zimmerman wasn’t charged in the case until more than a month after the shooting. Protests were held across the nation, and the case spurred debate about whether race was a factor in Zimmerman’s actions and in the initial police handling of the case. Martin was black; Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is from Peru.

Police in Sanford did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, citing the Florida law that gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.

Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the killing.

Prosecutors pointed out in their motion that Zimmerman had $135,000 available when the bond hearing was held in April. It had been raised from donations through a website he had set up. They suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account.

Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she didn’t know how much money had been raised. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set bail at $150,000. The 28-year-old was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash — which is typical.

Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained Friday, “This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny. It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.” The judge agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail by Sunday afternoon.

The defense countered that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything, which indicated “there was no deceit.”

The judge said he would schedule a hearing after Zimmerman is back in custody so he could explain himself.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said his clients have always said Zimmerman should remain in jail until trial.


MISSISSIPPI – Michael Brawner – Execution – June 12 2012 6.00 p.m EXECUTED 6:18 P.M.

FACTS from Mississippi Court  NO. 2004-DR-00913-SCT

The following facts were taken from this Court’s opinion on direct appeal. In December 1997, Brawner married Barbara Craft, and in March 1998, their daughter, Paige, was born. Brawner and Barbara divorced in March 2001, she was awarded custody of Paige, and they lived with Barbara’s parents, Carl and Jane Craft, at their home in Tate County. Brawner also lived with the Crafts off and on during his marriage to Barbara.
3. At the time of the murders, Brawner was living with his girlfriend June Fillyaw, in an apartment in Southaven. According to Brawner, they were having financial difficulties, and on top of that, he had also been told by Barbara that she did not want him around Paige. He testified that pressure on him was building because nothing was going right.
4. On the day before the murders, Brawner left his apartment in Southaven at 3:00 a.m. and headed toward the Crafts’ house, about an hour away. He testified that he thought he might be able to borrow money from Carl, although in a prior statement he said he had planned to rob Carl. While waiting on the Craft’s front steps from approximately 4:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m., he took a 7-mm Ruger rifle out of Carl’s truck and emptied the bullets from it, because “he didn’t want to get shot.” A dog started barking, and Brawner hid until Carl went back inside, then ran away, thinking Carl might be getting a gun. He then drove back to his apartment.
5. Around noon the following day, April 25, 2001, Brawner again drove to the Crafts’ house, and knocked on the door, but no one was home. He then put on rubber gloves that he had purchased earlier that day, “took the slats out of the back door,” entered the house, and took a .22 rifle. He then went to Carl’s workplace and asked him if it would be OK to go out to the house to wait for Barbara and Paige so that he could see his daughter, to which Carl agreed.
6. Since Barbara and Paige did not return, Brawner decided to leave, and as he was doing so, Barbara, Paige, and Jane pulled into the drive. After a brief conversation with Jane and Barbara, Brawner became agitated and went to the truck and brought back the rifle that he had taken from the Crafts’ house earlier that day. Just as he told Barbara that she was not going to take Paige away from him, he saw Jane walking toward the bedroom and shot her with the rifle. He said he then shot Barbara as she was coming toward him, and went to where Jane had fallen and “put her out of her misery.” After this, he shot Barbara again and took Paige, who had witnessed the murders, to her bedroom and told her to watch TV. After Brawner determined that Paige would be able to identify him, and in his words, he “was just bent on killing,” he went back into the bedroom and shot his daughter twice, killing her. He then waited in the house until Carl came home from work, and when Carl walked through the door, Brawner shot and killed him.
7. Brawner stole approximately $300 from Carl’s wallet, Jane’s wedding ring, and foodstamps out of Barbara’s purse. He took Windex from the kitchen and attempted to wipe away any fingerprints he may have left. Brawner then returned to his apartment in Southaven, where he gave the stolen wedding ring to Fillyaw, asked her to marry him, and told her that he bought the ring at a pawn shop.

ARIZONA – Arizona prison system sees high number of deaths

June 2, 2012 Source :

Arizona’s prison system has two death rows.

One is made up of the 126 inmates officially sentenced to death — 123 men at the Eyman state prison in Florence and three women at Perryville. Seven convicted killers from that group have been executed over the last two years.

slideshow Arizona prison inmate deaths

The other death row, the unofficial one, reaches into every prison in Arizona’s sprawling correctional system. No judge or jury condemned anyone in this group to death. They die as victims of prison violence, neglect and mistreatment.

Over the past two years, this death row has claimed the lives of at least 37 inmates, more than five times the number executed from the official death row. Among them are mentally ill prisoners locked in solitary confinement who committed suicide, inmates who overdosed on drugs smuggled into prison, those with untreated medical conditions and inmates murdered by other inmates.

Unlike state executions, these deaths rarely draw much notice. Each receives a terse announcement by the Department of Corrections and then is largely forgotten.

But correctional officers and other staff who work with inmates say many of these deaths are needless and preventable.

Arizona will spend $1.1 billion this year to lock up its 40,000 prisoners.

But there is another cost, one measured not in dollars but in human lives.

Over four days, an Arizona Republic investigation will reveal a prison system that houses inmates under brutal conditions that can foster self-harm, allows deadly drugs to flow in from the outside, leaves inmates to die from treatable medical conditions and fails to protect inmates from prison predators.

Today, The Republic focuses on suicides in the prison system, where there have been at least 19 in the past two years. Arizona’s official prison-suicide rate during that period was 60 percent higher than the national average. But suicides in prison are likely underreported, according to critics.

More than half of the suicides involved inmates in solitary confinement, including some with serious mental illnesses.

MONTANA – Canadian on death row deserves to live: co-accused – Rodney Munro

june 3, 2012 Source :

A man who was convicted along with Ronald Smith in the murder of two Montana men 30 years ago says his former partner-in-crime saved his life and deserves to live.

Rodney Munro, in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, has ended decades of silence and is speaking out in defence of Smith, 54, who sits on death row and whose fate is now in the hands of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

“I thank God everyday for him,” Munro said about Smith in a telephone interview from his home in a quiet community in Western Canada.

On Aug. 4, 1982, Smith and Munro were hitchhiking in Montana when they caught a ride with Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit. Smith and Munro marched the two men into the woods and shot and stabbed them to death.

Both Canadians were charged with murder. Smith pleaded guilty to two charges of deliberate homicide and two charges of aggravated kidnapping in February 1983 and requested the death penalty. He rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors which would have given him life in prison.

He later changed his mind and asked the District Court to reconsider the death penalty. That led to three decades of legal wrangling which is almost at an end.

Munro accepted the plea bargain and pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison but was returned to Canada and released in 1998.

“It’s because of Ron that I’m out and doing as well as I am,” Munro said. “Because of what he said in court, I didn’t get the death penalty. And because of that I had a chance of actually getting out and trying to make something of myself.

“He saved my life.”

The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole has recommended that Smith not be granted clemency, even though he was described as a model prisoner during his 30 years at Montana State Prison at a hearing last month.

There was emotional testimony from both sides. Smith’s friends and family said he is a changed man who has rehabilitated himself. But the families of the victims said he deserves no mercy.

The state attorney downplayed Munro’s role in the killings and said it was Smith alone who should pay the ultimate price.

But Munro, who still speaks with Smith by phone every couple of weeks, said he was equally to blame and feels guilt about the murders.

“When you’re involved in what we were involved in, how can you not feel it? We put ourselves in a spot and two guys ended up dead and I think about it all the time,” he said quietly.

“They don’t want to know (about my role). That just brings up that he’s not the monster.

“I hate to say it this way, but it makes them feel better to think they’re killing a monster other than who he is.”

The two men had been taking 30 to 40 hits of LSD and consuming between 12 and 18 beers a day at the time of the murders.

Munro said he and Smith became friends after hanging out in the same circles and through mutual acquaintances.

“We could have been the Bobbsey twins. We kind of connected with each other and away we went. Our life revolved around booze, drugs and partying, and that’s just not who we are any more.”

Now married, employed and free of drugs and alcohol, Munro said he’s sad about what is happening to Smith.

He is also angry that the Canadian government’s support of Smith has been less than enthusiastic.

But Munro is hopeful that Schweitzer will have the political will to spare his friend’s life.

“Ron is not even close to the man he used to be. The guy has learned his lesson. I think we all have.”

Smith told his clemency hearing that he was “horrendously sorry” for his actions.

“I do understand the pain and suffering I’ve put you through,” he said to the victims’ relatives. “It was never my intent to cause any suffering for anybody. I wish there was some way I could take it back. I can’t.”

Munro wanted to send his own message to the families.

“We are just so sorry that this ever happened. If we could change it, we would, but how do you change the past?” he said.

“I think about it everyday and it’s what keeps me on the straight and narrow, making sure nothing like this will ever happen again.”


MISSISSIPPI – Henry Curtis Jackson – Execution – June 5, 2012 at EXECUTED 6.13 p.m

2. Jackson murdered four children, two of his nieces and two of his nephews, in an attempt to steal money kept in his mother’s safe in her home.On the evening of November 1, 1990,Jackson’s mother, Martha, and four of her older grandchildren went to church. Martha’s daughter, Regina Jackson, stayed home with her two daughters, five-year-old Dominique whom Jackson murdered that night, two-year-old Shunterica whom Jackson murdered, and four other of their nieces and nephews, three-year-old Antonio whom Jackson murdered and twoyear-old Andrew whom Jackson murdered, and eleven-year-old Sarah and one-year-old Andrean who were severely injured during these murders but survived.

3. While Regina and the children were at the house watching television, Jackson parked his car two blocks away, walked to the house, and cut the outside telephone line. He then knocked on the door and was allowed inside. While inside, he picked up the phone and indicated it was not working. Regina headed to a neighbor’s house to place a call to check the phone. Before going very far, Jackson told Sarah to call Regina back. Regina came back in and, followed by her daughter Shunterica, sought Jackson in the kitchen. Jackson told Regina to take Shunterica back into the television room. She did so and upon her return to the kitchen Jackson grabbed her from behind. With one hand around her neck and one around her waist, he walked her down the hall to the boys’ room. He asked for her paycheck. Regina told him she had no money. Jackson then asked for the combination to his mother’s safe. When Regina said she did not know it, he pulled out knives and shoved them into her throat and waist. Regina yelled for eleven-year old Sarah, who came running and jumped on Jackson’s back. The three
struggled, during which Jackson told him that he had to kill them. Sarah begged him to just get the safe and leave.
4. Meanwhile, the smaller children had followed Sarah down the hall, and Jackson called them into the room where they obediently remained. He then took Regina into an adjacent room and tried to open the footlocker where he believed the combination to the safe was kept. Jackson then began stabbing Sarah in the neck, then took Regina and Sarah into the boys’ room where he tried to tie them up. Regina, who had already been stabbed several times, picked up some iron rods that Jackson had brought in from the bathroom, and started hitting him with them. Jackson then went and picked up the baby, one-year old Andrea, and used her as a shield. Regina relinquished the rods and let him tie her up with a belt. He stabbed her again in the neck.While Regina watched, Jackson picked up her daughter, two-year old Shunterica, by the hair, stabbed her, killed her, and laid her on a bed.

5. While Regina and Sarah were struggling to stay alive, Jackson started dragging the safe down the hall which awakened five-year old Dominique. Dominique came down the hall calling for her mother, at which time, as Regina testified, Jackson told Dominique that he loved her,but then stabbed her, killed her and threw her on the floor. After killing Dominique, Jackson
walked over to Regina and again shoved a knife in her neck. Regina then pretended she was dead.
6. Sarah tried to comfort her baby sister, Andrea, and told three-year old Antonio to run for help. Jackson called Antonio back. Regina had fainted by this time and Jackson was trying to wake her up. He then grabbed Sarah again and began stabbing her in the neck. After the knife broke off in her neck, he ran to the kitchen, retrieved another knife, stabbed her again and threw her on a bed. Sarah, too, then pretended she was dead. She heard Antonio yelling for help and saw Jackson kneeling over him. While Sarah did not actually see Jackson stabbing him, she testified that ” I saw his hand moving when he was over him. I didn’t see but I knew he was doing something cause my little brother was hollering.” She likewise did not witness the stabbing of two-year old Andrew, but when she saw him, “[h]e was on the bottom of the bed and his eyes were bulging and his mouth was wide open.” Sarah was able to jump from the bed and escapeout the front door. She hid behind a tree across the street and watched as Jackson came outside, looked around, and went back inside.
7. Upon Jackson’s last view of the room, Regina and Andrea appeared dead, and the four children, five-year-old Dominique, three-year-old Antonio, two-year-old Shunterica and twoyear-old Andrew, were all dead.
8. Shortly after the murders, Angelo Geens, Martha Jackson’s cousin and neighbor, returned to his home at about 8:30 p.m. Sarah ran to him from where she had been hiding and told him that Regina and the others were in the house and that her uncle Jackson had killed them all. Geens carried her into his house and called the police and an ambulance. Deputy Sheriff J.B. Henry and Deputies Tindall, Berdin and Fondren arrived at the scene and discovered the bodies of the four children. Leflore County Coroner James R. Hankins  pronounced the four children dead at the scene. From the house, the bodies of Shunterica,
Dominique, Andrew, and Antonio were sent to the Deputy State Medical Examiner for forensic pathology examinations.

Source :

NO. 98-DR-00708-SCT