Day: June 6, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Paroled felon gets death penalty in Riverside officer killing – Earl Elllis Green

June 5, 2012 Source

Earl Ellis GreenEarl Ellis Green looks over his shoulder after the jury ordered the death penalty in the shooting of Police Officer Ryan Bonaminio.
Riverside jurors ordered the death penalty Tuesday for Earl Ellis Green, who was convicted of fatally shooting Riverside Police Officer Ryan Bonaminio at point-blank range as the officer pleaded for his life.

After 3 1/2 hours of deliberations, the panel returned the decision, agreeing with prosecutors who argued that the penalty should fit the crime. The 46-year-old convicted felon, who was on parole at the time of the November 2010 killing, smiled as the jury announced the verdict, witnesses said.

“We are pleased with this verdict and the hard work done by this jury,” Dist. Atty. Paul Zellerbach said. “This case is a perfect example — the murder of a peace officer in the line of duty — why we need the death penalty and why it needs to be carried out.”

He said the death penalty was supported by the facts: “The officer was already rendered pretty much helpless, unconscious and defenseless when he was executed with his own gun.”

Despite the guilty verdict and death penalty decision by the jury, Bonaminio’s family said that nothing will bring back the officer, who was killed in a church parking lot after Green led Bonaminio on a foot chase through Riverside’s Fairmount Park.

Green, who remains in custody with no bail, is scheduled to return to the Hall of Justice in Riverside on June 25 to be sentenced by Judge Jean Leonard. He was found guilty last month of first-degree murder with special circumstances that made him subject to the death penalty.

During the trial, defense attorneys acknowledged that Green fired the shots that killed Bonaminio, but sought a conviction on a lesser charge that would not carry the death penalty.

Stephen J. McQueen, a homeless man who volunteered at the church, told the jury he saw the shooting unfold as he smoked a cigarette in the parking lot. Bonaminio, hands up, told the killer, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” McQueen testified.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Hestrin said during the trial that Green’s first two shots missed the officer. Green then walked up to Bonaminio, who was on his knees, and fired at the back of the officer’s head from a foot or so away, Hestrin said.

“His life and blood poured out of him,” Hestrin told the jury. “He died there, on the cold and dirty asphalt.”

FLORIDA – How Florida’s Death Penalty Is Killing Us by Spencer Aronfeld

Spencer Aronfeld Spencer Aronfeld 

Florida Lawyer, Author of “Make It Your Own Law Firm” and Founder of Lawyers to the Rescue.

Since 1979 Florida has executed 72 human beings. Most spent more than a decade on death row waiting to be killed. According to the Florida Department of Corrections the average death row inmate is 44 years old at the time of his execution, while they were only 30 years of age at the time of the alleged offense that led to their conviction.

Florida also executes women. Judy Bunoano was the first woman Florida executed in 1998. She died in an electric chair. Currently there are four women on death row.

After Bunonano’s execution, Florida started offering lethal injections as an optional means. The executions are performed by an unnamed “private citizen” that gets paid $150.00 for each execution.

Tragically, not everyone who has been on Florida’s death row was actually guilty. In fact, Florida reverses more death sentences than any other state in the country, releasing 23 death row inmatesbased upon post-conviction evidence of their innocence.

Now is the time that Florida must reform its criminal justice system by taking a closer look at what Florida’s death penalty says about us as a civilization, as well as the 401 people who are currently on Florida’s death row. Some argue and believe that having Florida’s death penalty somehow discourages murder. Yet, the statistics tell another story. For instance, in 2010 the average murder rate in states with death penalties was 4.6 per 100,000 while the average murder rate for states without the death penalty was only 2.9 per 100,000.

Another serious problem is that Florida law does not currently require a jury to unanimously recommend a death sentence. In fact, of the 34 states currently allowing death sentences; Florida is the only state that permits juries to recommend it by a simple majority.

My experience and training as a board certified Florida civil trial lawyer has been to hold those accountable for the harm they cause people by their carelessness and greed. I find it hard to understand how Florida can take it upon itself to intentionally kill a person in the name of justice.

I believe that capital punishment is a barbaric and outdated form of brutality that must cease to exist. The death penalty does not prevent violent crime or encourage those intending to commit murder to move to another state. Rather, it teaches us that murder is justifiable when the murderer is the state itself.

Life is too precious. No man should be permitted to take the life of another under any circumstances. This includes Florida’s State paid $150.00 executioner. Criminals belong in jails not in electrocuted or lethally injected to death by those who think they are acting on our behalf.

As long as convicted death row inmates are found innocent no further executions should be permitted to take place in Florida.

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OHIO – Abdul Awkal gets reprieve

June 15, 2012 


CLEVELAND: An Ohio judge has ruled a condemned killer not mentally competent to be executed for the death of his wife and brother-in-law.

The ruling Friday by Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman on Abdul Awkal comes just a week after Gov. John Kasich ordered a last-minute reprieve hours before Awkal was set to die.

Awkal is convicted of killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland courthouse in 1992 as the couple prepared to divorce.

Awkal’s attorneys had argued during several days of testimony that he is so mentally ill he believes the CIA is orchestrating his execution.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy. Most members concluded Awkal had planned the shooting and it wasn’t because of a psychotic breakdown.

June 6, 2012 Source :

COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. John Kasich has granted a condemned killer a two-week reprieve to allow a court to conduct a hearing on the inmate’s mental competency.

The reprieve Tuesday evening temporarily spared Abdul Awkal, who was facing execution today.

Kasich said he ordered the reprieve to allow Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman enough time to hold a hearing on Awkal’s mental condition. Friedman ruled Monday there was evidence to believe Awkal was not competent to be executed.

The 53-year-old Awkal was sentenced to die for killing his estranged wife from an arranged marriage and his brother-in-law in a Cuyahoga County court basement in 1992.

The man convicted in the slayings of his estranged wife and brother-in-law at a Cleveland courthouse was in good spirits Tuesday at the southern Ohio prison where he is being held.

If put to death, Abdul Awkal would be the second man Ohio executes this year since the end of an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment that lasted six months.

The Ohio Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon rejected 5-2 Awkal’s request to delay the execution to allow a hearing about his mental competency, a request opposed by the state.

Awkal’s mental health has been the subject of court hearings for years, and a Cuyahoga County judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence that Awkal was insane to justify a hearing about his competency.

Awkal’s attorneys said a delay was necessary to conduct a proper court hearing on Awkal’s competency before Wednesday’s execution.

The state opposed the request, and Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Parole Board rejected Awkal’s request for mercy based on his mental health allegations.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said a delay at this stage was unnecessary and the request wasn’t fair to surviving family members.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy, with most members concluding that Awkal planned the shooting and that it wasn’t the result of a psychotic breakdown.