Day: June 9, 2012

US – CANADA Luka Rocco Magnotta Case, canadian killer cannibal and necrophiliac

June 8, 2012 Source :

Now that accused Canadian cannibal Luka Rocca Magnotta is in custody, and body parts of his alleged victim have turned up at several locations, new questions about whether Magnotta could be a suspect in similar crimes have emerged.

In January, body parts were found strewn near the iconic Hollywood sign in California. With no suspect for that crime, even though it happened nearly 3,000 miles from where Magnotta is accused of dismembering a 33-year-old college student, some news organizations have speculated that the cases are connected.

But retired FBI agent Harold Copus laughed off this supposed connection. “There is also a possibility that martians could be responsible,” he told the Huffington Post.

He said he is not trying to make light of the situation, but indicated that the reports are overreaching.

On May 29, 33-year-old Jun Lin’s torso was found in a suitcase near Magnotta’s apartment. Later that morning, authorities were called to the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada to investigate a suspicious package. Inside, they found Jun’s severed foot. Another body part –– Jun’s severed hand –– was found that night inside a package at the Ottawa Postal Terminal. The package had been addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Other body parts belonging to Jun were found at the apartment building, and his right hand and foot were found earlier this week at two Vancouver schools.

A head and appendages were found in the Hollywood Hills by two dog walkers in mid-January. The victim has since been identified as 66-year-old Hervey Medellin, a local resident who often hiked the area.

Contacted by HuffPost today, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department said the agency reached out to police in Montreal, but said it was only to “determine a timeline,” which is standard procedure.

According to Copus, it is far too soon to intertwine the two cases.

“Every law enforcement agency that has a similar case is going to see if there is any possibility that this guy could be responsible for it. That is normal and law enforcement has a duty to do that,” said Copus, now head of Copus Security Consultants in Atlanta. “Nothing more should be read into any of it at this point.”

Instead, Copus said the concern at this point should be about copycats.

“Whenever something like this happens, there is always the possibility that it could inspire other troubled individuals to act out in a similar manner. They might also try to outdo the person who inspired them – and take it a step further.”

ARIZONA – Samuel Villegas Lopez – Execution June 27, 2012 – 10:00 a.m

June 27, 2012 Source :

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday denied death-row inmate Samuel Lopez’s final appeal, clearing the way for his execution at 10 a.m. today in Florence.

Lopez’s attorney, assistant federal public defender Kelley Henry, said there will be no other efforts to block his execution. Lopez, 49, was convicted in 1987 of raping and murdering Estefana Holmes in her Phoenix apartment. On Friday, the Arizona Supreme Court also denied a stay, and Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency denied a commutation bid.

His execution will be the first in which witnesses will watch, via closed-circuit TV, the insertion of the catheters that deliver the fatal drug pentobarbital. Attorneys for inmates in prior executions condemned the practice of inserting catheters into the prisoners’ groins. Officials said the executioners had found it difficult to find suitable veins in the arms and legs.

In earlier executions, witnesses only saw the prisoner after the catheters had been inserted.

June 26, 2012 Source :

A death-row inmate set to be executed in Arizona on Wednesday has lost his last appeal, clearing the way for the lethal injection to proceed.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a request from Samuel Villegas Lopez to delay his execution to consider arguments that his trial attorneys were incompetent.

June 6, 2012 Source :

ll executions carried out in Arizona are witnessed by members of the public and the media. But the witnesses only see the condemned prisoner as he says his last words and lapses into unconsciousness.

During the next execution, scheduled for June 27, the witnesses also will be able to watch as executioners insert the intravenous catheters that deliver the deadly drug into the prisoner’s veins.

Just last week, a federal judge in Phoenix denied requests by defense attorneys and the media to witness those preparations. A federal judge in Idaho denied a similar request from the media Tuesday.

But in a letter Wednesday to death-row prisoner Samuel Lopez, who faces execution June 27, Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan said that witnesses to the execution –– who generally include five members of the media — will be allowed to watch his catheter insertion via closed-circuit television.

The location of the catheters has been an ongoing court issue in the past several executions. The Department of Corrections frequently claims that its medical staff for executions are unable to find suitable veins in the arms or legs of the condemned prisoners, prompting them to surgically insert a line into prisoners’ groin areas.

During a March execution, a condemned man asked to speak to his attorney before the execution as the medical staff repeatedly stuck him without finding a vein, eventually putting the line into the femoral vein in his groin. He was not allowed to speak to the attorney and instead communicated with him by code during his last words.

Ryan has previously refused to allow anyone to view the process.

In May, judges at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questioned why Arizona media had not expressed its First Amendment right to witness the procedure.

A 2009 decision by the 9th Circuit ruled that the public has a right to witness all aspects of an execution. Only California and Ohio have allowed it until now.

Nonetheless, the Arizona Department of Corrections fought the motion to allow attorneys into the room to see the catheters inserted. The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona also asked to witness, but a U.S. District Court judge in Phoenix denied their motions.

The attorneys filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit on Wednesday morning asking that a prisoner’s attorneys be allowed to watch the procedure in order to gather evidence, regardless of whether he or she is invited as a witness by the prisoner.

But also Wednesday, Lopez received a note from Ryan informing him that the executioners will be using a single drug, pentobarbital, to carry out his execution, and that he could make a final statement to the witnesses. However, he was told that his microphone would be cut off if he made offensive statements.

A Department of Corrections spokesman said the note to Lopez speaks for itself.

In the last paragraph, Ryan told Lopez that the closed-circuit monitors in the execution chamber will be turned on as the IVs are inserted before the execution, and that there will be a live microphone in the room so that the witnesses can hear what is said during the procedure.

“Over the past two years, ADC stopped illegally importing the execution drugs, switched to a one-drug protocol and now is making the execution process more transparent. These are steps in the right direction,” said Assistant Federal Public Defender Dale Baich, who will witness Lopez’s execution as his guest. “ADC now recognizes that the entire execution process can be transparent and, at the same time, the anonymity of the medical personnel who carry out the executions can be protected.”

ALABAMA – Mental retardation finding may save convicted Jefferson County murderer from death sentence

June 8, 2012 Source :

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — A Jefferson County murderer who served more than four years on Death Row then won a new trial and was reconvicted, may avoid a second death sentence after a state expert found he was mentally retarded, a hearing revealed today.

Esaw Jackson, 33, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 for a shooting the year earlier in Ensley that killed a woman and a teenager and wounded the mother’s two teen children.

A Jefferson County jury also convicted him of capital murder in 2011, and recommended a sentence of death in a 10-2 vote.

Pre-sentence testing ordered by Circuit Judge Stephen Wallace, the judge in the current trial, determined Jackson had an IQ of 56, well below the normal legal threshold for mental retardation, which is a 70 IQ.

The U.S. Supreme Court has banned executing mentally retarded murderers.

In today’s hearing, prosecutor Mike Anderson asked for more time to obtain and examine Jackson’s school records for evidence of mental retardation, another indicator courts use to determine if the death penalty should be barred.

Wallace set a July 13 hearing, and said he wants to set the final sentencing after Anderson reports back.

If the assessment holds that Jackson is mentally retarded, “the sentence would have to be life without parole,” said one of Jackson’s lawyer, Erskine Mathis.

Judges in capital cases are not bound by the jury’s sentencing recommendation, but in most cases Alabama judges have overridden the jury’s recommendation of life without parole and imposed death instead.

Fewer than 10 percent of the judicial overrides have resulted in the lesser capital sentence, according to the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery.

Jackson was 27 when he fired a rifle at least 15 times into a car stopped at a traffic light on 19th Street and Avenue V. Killed were Pamela Montgomery, 42, and Milton Poole III, 16. Montgomery’s children, Shaniece Montgomery, then 19, and Denaris Montgomery, then 17, were wounded.

The jury in Jackson’s original trial also recommended death in a 10-2 vote, and then-Circuit Judge Gloria Bahakel sentenced him to death. The Alabama Supreme Court overturned his convictionand sentence in 2011, citing improper testimony in the 2007 trial.

Four years after watching his mother and best friend die, Denaris Montgomery committed a murder himself, and now is serving a 21-year prison term.

Exonerated death row inmate to speak in Colorado Springs – Juan Melendez

June 8, 2012  Source :

Rev. Roger Butts, organizer for Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “And God forbid we execute an innocent person.”

Juan Melendez nearly became that person. After 17 years on death row in Florida for a 1983 murder — and several denied appeals — that state’s Supreme Court finally overturned his conviction when a key witness recanted his testimony. Ten years after his release, he’s bringing his story to Colorado Springs. On Sunday evening. Melendez will speak and respond to questions at First Congregational Church, 20 E. Saint Vrain St., at 6 p.m.

“The guy is just so incredibly inspiring,” says Rev. Butts. “I have a feeling that if I spent 17 years on death row, I’d be bitter, and angry, and mean, and just a recluse or something. But this guy is so unbelievably inspiring.”

His visit is sponsored by Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, who hope to pass legislation in 2013 to make Colorado the 18th state in the union to end capital punishment. For more information, contact Rev. Roger Butts at

Check out the trailer for Juan Melendez 6446, a documentary about Melendez’s perilous journey through capital punishment’s legal apparatus.