Month: July 2012

TEXAS – Judge denies motions to deem death row inmate unfit for execution – Marcus Druery- STAYED

July 24, 2012 the

Judge J.D. Langley on Monday morning denied several motions filed by attorneys of death row inmate Marcus Druery, 32, of Bryan, claiming their client is incompetent and therefore unfit to be executed next week.

Druery has been on death row since 2003 when a Brazos County jury sentenced him to death after convicting him of killing Skyyler Browne, then robbing him and setting the body on fire.

Druery’s lawyers, Kate Black and Greg Wiercioch with the Texas Defender Service, say their client is schizophrenic and doesn’t have a rational understanding of why he’s scheduled to receive lethal injection Aug. 1, which would make him ineligible for execution based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

They pointed to thousands of pages of medical and prison records that detail Druery’s condition and used letters written by the inmate to support their position.

Black said while her client may be able to recite when his execution date is, he lacks understanding of why he’s to receive the punishment and believes he is innocent.

Prosecutor Doug Howell did not argue that Druery is mentally ill, but did insist he meets the competency criteria for execution. Howell said Druery made comments at a June 29 hearing that he was not responsible for the murder, an indication that he understands the crime and why he is to be put to death.

In the motions filed and denied, Druery’s attorneys had asked Langley to appoint two independent psychiatrists to review the competency issue and schedule a hearing on the matter.

Black said the next step will be to appeal the decision with the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, and if unsuccessful at that level, they will move on to the federal court system.

TEXAS – Austin killer on death row dies, officials say. Selwyn P. Davis

July 25, 2012 Austin Legal

Selwyn P. Davis, sentenced to death by a Travis County jury for the 2006 Austin murder of his girlfriend’s mother, was found dead in his cell on Texas’ death row last week, according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Corrections officers conducting routine security checks found Davis, 30, unresponsive on the floor of his cell about 9 p.m. Friday, spokesman Jason Clark wrote in an email.

“Staff began life saving measures, called 911, and took the offender to the unit infirmary,” Clark wrote. “An ambulance then transported Davis to Livingston Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced deceased by an attending physician at 10:04 pm.”

Clark said the cause of death is unknown and that the department’s Office of Inspector General will investigate the death, which is routine.

Davis stabbed Regina Lara to death in her 38 1/2 Street apartment on Aug. 22, 2006.

According to testimony at his trial, the killing occurred during a two-day crime spree that began the day before, when he brutally beat his ex-girlfriend in their Southeast Austin apartment, fracturing her eye socket and jaw, slicing her leg, pouring rubbing alcohol over her head and threatening to set her on fire.

Later that night, he went to his uncle’s South Austin house and sliced him with a knife, according to testimony. He left after taking his aunt’s car and purse and went on an overnight drug binge, according to testimony.

The next day he went to Lara’s apartment and attacked her when she came home from work. Davis also sexually assaulted a teenage girl at the house, according to testimony.

In seeking the death penalty, prosecutors revealed Davis’ long criminal history, which included assaults on police officers and unprovoked attacks — on a teacher and another student — at Lanier High School, and robberies of immigrant workers in the East Riverside Drive area.

When he was 16, Davis attacked a 13-year-old girl by punching her in the face and kicking her in the stomach after her mother told Davis the girl was pregnant, according to testimony. Information from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been added to this story since it was originally filed

OREGON – Death Row Inmate Asks Judge to Permit His Execution – Gary Haugen

July 24, 2012

SALEM, Ore. – Twice convicted murderer Gary Haugen is asking the state of Oregon to execute him. The death row inmate appeared in a Marion County courtroom today . He’s challenging an order by Governor John Kitzhaber that placed a moratorium on the death penalty while the Democrat is in office.

Haugen’s attorney Harrison Latto told the judge the reprieve leaves his client with an uncomfortable level of uncertainty.

“For the reason also that the reprieve is clearly not for Mr. Haugen’s benefit, he will have to endure what he considers to be onerous conditions”

Attorneys for the state countered that an inmate can’t refuse an unconditional benefit granted by the governor.

Judge Timothy Alexander said there was no need for Haugen himself to make any statements at this hearing. It’s not clear when he will make his final decision.


July 19, 2012 Not God’s Plan 

MIRAMAR, Fla. — The parents of the unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer rejected the shooter’s claim that the death was a part of God’s plan.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity televised Wednesday, George Zimmerman said he felt the course of the night 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed “was all God’s plan.”

“We must worship a different God,” Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, told The Associated Press. “There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son.”

Speaking Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, the teen’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said the notion was “ridiculous.”

In the Fox News interview, Zimmerman also said he’d like to talk with Trayvon Martin’s parents about what happened.

“Absolutely not,” Fulton said when asked on NBC if she’d be willing to meet with Zimmerman.

The Fox News interview was Zimmerman’s first lengthy television interview and was conducted at an undisclosed location in Seminole County, Fla., where Zimmerman must remain under conditions of his release on bail.

July 18, 2012 Zimmerman Apology

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, said during his first televised interview: “I’m not a racist. I’m not a murderer.”

Zimmerman, joined by his defense attorney Mark O’Mara, sat down with conservative Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity and discussed the events that unfolded the February night Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin, the national outrage the shooting caused and what he perceived as the media’s rush to judgment.

“Is there anything that you regret? Do you regret getting out of the car to follow Trayon that night?” Hannity asked. “Do you regret that you had a gun that night?”

“No, sir,” Zimmerman, 28, replied. “I feel that it was all God’s plan and not for me to second-guess it or judge it.”

At times Zimmerman seemed to eke out a nervous smile, with sweat gathering on his upper lip. He spent much of the one-hour interview recounting the moments just before and after the shooting. But he also addressed Martin’s parents. When asked what he would say to them, he answered, “I would tell them again that I’m sorry.”

“I don’t have my wife and I don’t have any children,” he said. “I have nephews that I love more than life, I love them more than myself. I know that when they were born it was a different, unique bond and love that I have with them. And I love my children, even though they aren’t born yet. And I am sorry that they buried their child. I can’t imagine what it must feel like, and I pray for them daily.”

Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the Feb. 26 shooting in his gated community in Sanford, Fla. He was jailed on two separate occasions and is now free on bail. Zimmerman told Hannity that while he has few regrets of the way he handled himself that night, the result was a “tragic situation and I hope that it’s the most difficult thing I’ll ever go through in my life.”

About 45 minutes after the televised interview, Martin’s family released a statement condemning Zimmerman’s comments.

“George Zimmerman said that he does not regret getting out of his vehicle, he does not regret following Trayvon, in fact he does not regret anything he did that night,” the statement read. “He wouldn’t do anything different and he concluded it was God’s plan.

“We must worship a different God because there is no way that my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son,” Tracy Martin, Martin’s father, said in the statement.

Much of what Zimmerman addressed in the one-hour interview was rehashed, the stuff of previous news fodder from police reports, recorded phone calls and witness statements.

But it was the first time that Zimmerman publicly spoke about the shooting since he took the witness stand during an April bond hearing. And it gave him an opportunity to counter reports this week that a cousin claimed he molested her over the course of a decade when they were younger, and that his family was boastfully racist.

First, Hannity asked Zimmerman to “take us back to that night.”

Zimmerman said that per his usual Sunday routine, he was on his way to do some grocery shopping at a nearby Target store when Martin caught his attention.

“That’s the last time I’ve been home,” Zimmerman said.

It was a rainy night, and Zimmerman said that Martin seemed suspicious because of the leisurely way that he was walking and ducking between the houses. Martin didn’t look like a resident running out to get the mail or a “fitness fanatic,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman sat in his vehicle, his 9 mm handgun tucked into his waistband. He told Hannity that aside from work, he kept the licensed handgun on him at all times. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told Hannity that he’d joined the previous August after a neighbor’s house was broken into while she was home with her 9-month old baby. Zimmerman said his wife, Shellie, saw the burglars escape through their backyard.

“That was enough to scare her, to shake her up,” Zimmerman said. “I promised her I would do what I could to keep her safe.”

On an audio recording of a call Zimmerman made to a police non-emergency number the night of the shooting, Zimmerman said Martin saw him sitting in his vehicle and walked toward him, reaching into his waistband.

“I thought he was just trying to intimidate me,” Zimmerman said.

On that same phone call to police, Zimmerman said Martin then ran. He told Hannity that Martin wasn’t running at all, more like “skipping.”

Zimmerman said he never went more than 100 feet from his vehicle, and got out just to see where he was. When asked about the gap from the time Zimmerman hangs up with the police dispatcher and the time Martin is killed, and whether he was following Martin after the dispatcher warned against it, Zimmerman said he wasn’t. He said that he was simply trying to locate a proper address, and that he wasn’t chasing Martin.

Less than 30 seconds later, Zimmerman said Martin appeared, “asked me what my problem was” and “punched and broke my nose.” Zimmerman said that he wasn’t sure if he was knocked on his back or pushed, but landed on his back with Martin pummeling him and smashing his head into the sidewalk “more than a dozen” times.

He said Martin taunted him during the struggle, telling him to “shut up, shut up, shut up,” and at one point saying, “You’re going to die tonight.”

Zimmerman said Martin tried to suffocate him by covering his mouth and his broken nose with his hands. Zimmerman said that he screamed out hoping to alert the police, who he assumed would be arriving.

Zimmerman said Martin noticed the gun in his waistband.

“At that point I realized that it wasn’t my gun, it wasn’t his gun, it was the gun,” Zimmerman said. “I didn’t have any more time.”

Zimmerman fired a single bullet into Martin’s chest.

“He sat up and said something to the effect of, ‘You got it,’ or ‘You got me,'” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said he at first didn’t realize how badly Martin was injured. About an hour later, after he was taken to the police station, he learned he’d killed the youth.

“Why do you think Trayvon would have confronted you the way he did,” Hannity asked. “Could there have been any possibility that he thought you were after him and you thought he was after you and there was some misunderstanding in any way?”

“I wrestled with that for a long time, but one of my biggest issues through this ordeal has been the media, conjecture, and I can’t assume or make believe,” said Zimmerman.

Hannity then referenced that Martin’s parents lost their son and what if anything Zimmerman would say to them if he could.

“I pray for them daily,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder and faces a possible life sentence if convicted. He said he thinks about that possibility daily, but trusts the system.

“It’s a finite situation that I’ve been placed in,” he said, “… I have no choice but to believe in the system.”

O’Mara declined to allow Zimmerman to speak on allegations by prosecutors that he lied to the court during an early bond hearing in which he and his wife told the judge that they were broke, while days later it was revealed that the couple were sitting on more than $135,000 in donated funds. Shellie Zimmerman has been since charged with perjury and the judge has suggested that George Zimmerman may have broken the law as well.

O’Mara for the first time said that he is considering using Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which gives people wide discretion in the use of deadly force, as a defense.

Zimmerman refuted claims by a cousin, now in her mid-20s, who told investigators that his immediate family were racist and that he sexually molested her from the time she was 6 years old until she was about 16.

“It is ironic the one and only person that they could find that’s saying anything remotely to me being a racist also claims that I’m a deviant,” Zimmerman said.

The interview comes after rumors that Hannity had offered to pay some of Zimmerman’s legal fees. The rumor mill began churning this week after Zimmerman was heard in newly released recorded jailhouse phone calls telling a friend that a mystery benefactor he identified only as “SH” had agreed to support him. later reported that “a rock-solid source” confirmed that the personal email address for ‘SH’ that George Zimmerman gave to a friend is Hannity’s, “thus confirming that ‘SH’ is in fact the Fox News host,” the website reported. Hannity during the interview denied offering Zimmerman anything.

The Zimmerman-Hannity relationship goes back several months. In April, Zimmerman defied his then-lawyers and spoke with Hannity in an off-the-record phone conversation. Hannity later conducted what critics have called a sympathetic interview with Zimmerman’s father.

Toward the end of the interview, Hannity asked Zimmerman to look into the camera and address Martin’s family, the American people and “so many people with so many opinions that vary so much … to tell them about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.”

Zimmerman looked into the camera, and said:

“I do wish that there was something, anything that I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in the position where I had to take his life. And I do want to tell everyone, my wife, my family my parents, my grandmother, the Martins, the city of Sanford and America, that I’m sorry that this happened. I hate to think that because of this incident, because of my actions, it’s polarized and divided America and I’m truly sorry.”

Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, about 20 miles north of Orlando. Martin is black and Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother. The shooting prompted nationwide protests after Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting.

Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him and has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Zimmerman is free on $1 million bail.

In his interview, Zimmerman said he would like to tell Martin’s parents he was sorry about the teen’s death.

“I can’t imagine what it must feel like. And I pray for them daily,” Zimmerman said. Later, he added: “I am sorry that this happened.”

But Fulton said it is hard for her to accept his apology because he still says he does not regret anything he did on the night of the shooting.

When asked in the Fox News interview to explain what he meant when he told a police dispatcher he was following Martin, Zimmerman said he was trying to keep an eye on Martin to tell police. He said he was not following Martin but attempting to get a more precise address for the authorities.

Whether Zimmerman was the aggressor plays a major role in his self-defense claim.

“I hadn’t given them a correct address. I was going to give them the actual address,” he said. “I meant that I was going in the same direction as him. I didn’t mean that I was actually pursuing him.”

Zimmerman said shortly after he got out of his car, Martin was right next to him. Zimmerman said he looked down to try to find his cellphone and when he looked up, Martin punched him and broke his nose. Then, he said, Martin straddled him and started slamming his head down.

“He started bashing my head into the concrete sidewalk. I was disoriented,” Zimmerman said, adding that it was at that point he began to fear for his life – another key element in his self-defense claim.

He said as the two were struggling, Martin said “you’re going to die tonight.” Zimmerman said he yelled out multiple times – shouts captured on 911 calls by local residents – in hopes the authorities would locate them.

“I was yelling in hopes that they were in the vicinity and they would come and find me,” he said. “As soon as he broke my nose, I started yelling for help.”

Martin’s parents have said they believe it was their son who was yelling for help.

Zimmerman also said racial profiling had nothing to do with the confrontation.

“I’m not a racist and I’m not a murderer,” he said.

July 12, 2012 No racial Bias

In nearly 300 pages of documents and other evidence newly released by the Florida State Attorney’s Office in its second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman, Zimmerman appears at once absolved of racial animus in the killing of Trayvon Martin, but also as a man whose life has been complicated by a “hero complex” and haunted by abusive personal relationships.

The evidence includes dozens of interviews with witnesses, friends and neighbors, former colleagues and Martin’s family, all of which were conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI. Other evidence includes email correspondence between Zimmerman and members of the Sanford Police Department and an interview with Christopher Serino, the lead investigator on the case.

During Serino’s interview with FBI investigators, he recounted the report he made shortly after Martin’s February 26 killing in which he said the deadly encounter between Zimmerman and Martin was “ultimately avoidable” by Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s statements to 911 and to police investigators “make it clear that he had already reached a faulty conclusion as to Martin’s purpose for being in the neighborhood,” according to Serino’s statements to the FBI. Those statements included observations that Martin appeared suspicious and possibly on drugs,

But, according to the FBI report, Serino added that he believed Zimmerman’s actions on the night of the killing — when he saw Martin walking home from a nearby store, and began following and ultimately shot him — were motivated less by Martin’s skin color and more by a “little hero complex.”

The report states, “Serino believed that Zimmerman’s actions were not based on Martin’s skin color but rather based on his attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”

Still, based on previously released police reports, Serino believed there was probable cause for Zimmerman to be charged in Martin’s death. But in the hours and days after the shooting, then-Police Chief Bill Lee and State Attorney Norman Wolfinger decided against charging Zimmerman.

The FBI has since found no evidence that racial bias played a role in the killing, according to the records released this morning.

In interview after interview, colleagues and friends of Zimmerman said that they did not know him to harbor racially biased views. Former colleagues described Zimmerman as professional, mild-mannered and courteous. One former co-worker, who spoke with Zimmerman the day after the shooting in the lobby of their workplace, said that Zimmerman looked “absolutely devastated.” Another described him as “beat up physically and emotionally.”

source : huffington post

COLORADO SHOOTING – What We Know About James Holmes

July 27, 2012 Huffington Post 

James Holmes, the suspected shooter in last week’s movie theater massacre, has told his Colorado jailers he doesn’t know why he’s locked behind bars, the Daily News reports.

But no one at the Arapahoe County Detention Center is buying Holmes’ story, a lockup worker told the News. The jailers who come in contact with Holmes, who is sequestered from other inmates, believe he’s faking amnesia.

Since the 24-year-old PhD dropout was accused of killing 12 theatergoers and wounding 58 at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” last Friday, the media has lavished attention on Holmes’ odd behavior.

The suspect appeared in court on Monday with brightly dyed orange hair and made peculiar facial expressions. At times his eyes bulged and he often appeared tired.

Holmes was taken into custody after he allegedly stormed the sold-out premiere of the latest Batman film. Police have said Holmes wore riot gear, used smoke bombs and armed himself with three guns during one of the most violent shootings in American history.


DENVER — The former graduate student accused in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting was being treated by a psychiatrist at the university where he studied, according to court papers filed Friday.

Defense attorneys for James Holmes, 24, made the disclosure in a court motion. It sought to discover the source of leaks to some media outlets that Holmes sent the psychiatrist a package containing a notebook with descriptions of an attack.

The motion said the leak violated a judge’s gag order and jeopardized Holmes’ right to a fair trial.

“The government’s disclosure of this confidential and privileged information has placed Mr. Holmes’ constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial by an impartial jury in serious jeopardy,” wrote the attorneys.

The motion added that the package contained communications between Holmes and his psychiatrist that should be shielded from public view. The document describes Holmes as a “psychiatric patient” of Dr. Lynne Fenton.

July 26, 2012 Huffington Post 

DENVER — Tightening the secrecy over the year Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes spent studying neuroscience, a judge has barred the University of Colorado Denver from releasing any records about the former graduate student’s time there.

What happened to the 24-year-old during his time in the program at the school’s Anschutz Medical Campus is one of the many mysteries stemming from last Friday’s mass shooting at a theater in which he’s accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Neighbors and friends in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, described him as brilliant and sometimes awkward but never displaying signs of violence. He entered the prestigious Colorado program in June 2011, but a year later he dropped out after taking a year-end oral exam.

Numerous media organizations, including The Associated Press, filed open records requests for school records about Holmes after he was named as the suspect in the shooting that happened just after midnight July 20.

But in an order signed Monday and released by the school Thursday in response to an open records request by the AP, District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester said releasing information in response to requests filed under the Colorado Open Records Act would “impede an ongoing investigation.” Sylvester is overseeing the criminal case against Holmes, who is expected to appear in court Monday and be formally charged.

Sylvester cited a provision of the Colorado Open Records Act that prevents the public from viewing open records “prohibited by … the order of any court.”

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers requested the order after the University of Colorado Denver warned her office Saturday about the record requests. In its request to the court, the district attorney’s office noted that reporters were not requesting educational records, which would be prohibited from being released, but emails that are not exempted from the open records law.

The order was not part of the publicly available case file until Thursday due to a clerical error, said Robert McCallum, a spokesman for the courts.

Sylvester had already issued a gag order barring attorneys and police from discussing the case with reporters. He has also sealed the case file, preventing the public from seeing the accusations and legal arguments that both sides will make.

Mark Caramanica, freedom of information director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., called the order “highly unorthodox.” He said it was unusual that a public institution would consult with an outside entity instead of just following the law and answering the request.

“It seems very premature for a court to get involved and make such a sweeping order,” Caramanica said. “It seems like a very broad and overly aggressive approach.”

The judge’s order follows a pattern of a tightly controlled flow of information since the assault. Hours after the shooting, university officials tried to limit information released about Holmes.

About 11 hours after the attack, Barry Shur, dean of the graduate school at the university, sent an email to faculty, students and staff saying: “If anyone is contacted by the media, PLEASE refer them” to a school spokeswoman. Shur’s email was released in response to an open records request from the AP.

Earlier this week, Shur denied trying to prohibit those who knew Holmes from talking.

“We told them they are fully free to interact with the media,” he said at a press conference Monday.

July 24, 2012 Huffington Post

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — James Holmes spent a year in a small neuroscience doctoral program, surrounded by scientists and roughly three dozen classmates delving into the inner workings of the brain.

The University of Colorado, Denver, isn’t saying if they had any warning signs.

Experts say, however, the intimacy of the program and its focus on the brain may not have been enough for staff and students to detect that Holmes was on a course that police say ended with a deadly rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

Supported by a prestigious federal grant, Holmes, 24, was in the first year of a program at the Anschutz Medical Campus dedicated to neuroscience, studying such topics as how the brain works or malfunctions or helping develop drugs to treat epilepsy and other disorders.

But it is not behavioral science or psychology, experts say.

David Eagleman, who runs the Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law at Baylor University, said some neuroscientists are experts in mental illnesses and aberrant behavior, but others spend most of their time studying molecular chemistry.

“It’s really only a fraction of professors” who could identify a simmering mental disorder, Eagleman said. “Many people in neuroscience are not specialized in the issue of picking up mental illness … There are plenty of people who just study mice and cats and stuff like that.”

Holmes is accused of methodically stockpiling weapons and explosives at work and at home that police say he used to kill 12 people and wound 58 more at a movie theater Friday in nearby Aurora. Police say he also booby-trapped his apartment with the intent to kill police officers.

Holmes’ arraignment hearing is on Monday.


The prosecutor in the case of James Holmes, suspected in the shooting deaths of 12 moviegoers in Colorado, said Monday that the prosecution has an “enormous amount of evidence,” but that she would not call it a “slam dunk.”

“There is no such thing as a slam dunk case … we would never presume that it would be a slam dunk. We will work very hard on this case to prosecute it,” Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said.

Holmes — who faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty for allegedly carrying out one of the most deadly mass murders in U.S. history — might have to plead insanity, according to veteran Seattle attorney and legal analyst Anne Bremner.

“The insanity defense appears to be the only option,” Bremner told The Huffington Post. “We don’t hold those who don’t have the requisite criminal intent criminally accountable.”

July 23, 2012 Huffington Post

The man accused of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 58 more in Aurora, Colo., last week made his first appearance in court Monday morning.

James Holmes, a 24-year-old former doctoral student at the University of Colorado, Denver, has been held on first-degree murder charges in the July 20 shooting spree at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The brief procedural hearing, known as an advisement, took place at the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Holmes, who was represented by a public defender, appeared in court with brightly dyed orange hair and wore a burgundy jail uniform. He seemed sleepy or dazed and often had his eyes shut.

Holmes will face formal charges from prosecutors on July 30, and District Attorney Carol Chambers said her office is considering the death penalty against him,according to the Associated Press. District Court Judge William Sylvester issued an order forbidding Holmes from having contact with victims or witnesses.

Earlier Monday, authorities said Holmes was not cooperating with the investigationbecause he refused to answer questions about the shooting.

Police arrested Holmes early Friday morning minutes after the shooting in the sold-out theater. Holmes, dressed in ballistic gear and armed with an assault rifle and three other guns, set off gas canisters before opening fire, police said.

A motive in the shooting is not yet known. Holmes will remain detained without bond at the county lockup in Centennial, Colo.

July 22, 2012 Huffington Post

Inmates and prison workers are reporting unusual behavior from the 24-year-old sole suspect of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.

According to the New York Daily News,James Egan Holmes entered the prison dressed up like the Joker, “acting crazy” and “spitting on guards”. The Daily News also reported that other inmates have threatened to kill Holmes.

“All the inmates were talking about killing him,” just-released inmate Wayne Medley told the Daily News. “Everyone was looking for an opportunity. It’s all they could talk about.”

Holmes is being held at the Arapahoe Detention Center in solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, authorities are still investigating and trying to disarm the suspect’s apartment. A bomb squad managed to set off a controlled detonation on Saturday, but it’s unclear how many booby traps he set.

According to witnesses, Holmes entered the theater during the first 30 minutes of the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado. Some moviegoers thought that Holmes, who was wearing a gas mask and body armor, was part of the movie premiere.

Police said that he had planned the attack for months.


July 20, 2012 Huffington Post

James Holmes

UPDATE 1:30 p.m. — The Poway Unified School District has issued a statement, confirming reports that James Holmes was a graduate of Westview High School, Class of 2006.

“On behalf of the Poway Unified School District, Superintendent [John] Collins joins the rest of the nation in offering our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” the statement read.

UPDATE 1:00 p.m. — According to University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery, James Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. Montgomery said Holmes enrolled in the neuroscience program in 2011 and was in the process of withdrawing. She said she did not know why he had decided to withdraw.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. — More details are emerging about James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Thursday night’s movie theater massacre in Colorado.

Lt. Andra Brown of the San Diego Police Department briefed reporters outside James Holmes’ mother’s home Friday. Brown confirmed Holmes attended high school in San Diego before going to Colorado to pursue additional studies. Brown would not name either school.

San Diego media outlets have reported Holmes attended high school at Westview in Carmel Valley and graduated in 2006.

Brown said Holmes’ mother was in her house, but that his father has been “escorted from the home.” She did not elaborate further.

“The police department is just here to preserve the peace and to make sure the privacy of the family is still respected,” said Brown. “That’s the only reason why the San Diego police department is here.”

Brown also provided a statement to reporters from the family.

“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy,” the statement read. “We ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time … We are still trying to process this info and appreciate that people respect our privacy.”

Margie Aguilar, who has lived for 10 years on the same San Diego block as Holmes’ family briefly spoke to HuffPost

“I feel heartbroken,” she said, adding that her children went to high school with the suspected shooter. “They’re [the Holmes family] victims in this, too. I want to respect their privacy.

“Everybody is in shock and devastated.”

Police are still trying to clear the suspect’s Aurora apartment. According to police, explosives found inside the unit are “very sophisticated” and could take some time to disarm.

The U.S. Army, in response to speculation that Holmes had served in the military, issued a statement that said they found “no evidence” he had served in the Army.”

EARLIER — An initial portrait of James Holmes, the man allegedly responsible for the mass shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater, is slowly emerging.

According to the police, Holmes lives in an apartment in Aurora, approximately five miles from the Century 16 movie theater where he gunned down at least 12 people and wounded 38 others during a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Authorities at this hour are cautiously entering the apartment. The suspect, according to police, said he had explosives inside. The FBI has approximately 100 agents at the scene assisting with the investigation.

The FBI has revealed Holmes is a white male who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 24 years old, with a birth date of Dec. 13, 1987. Authorities have found no significant criminal record and no terrorist affiliations. Investigators suspect he acted alone.

A motive in the shooting is not yet known.

A San Diego, Calif., woman who identified herself as Holmes’ mother told ABC News she had not yet been contacted by authorities. She said she was unaware of the shooting and expressed concern that her son may have been involved.

“You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on instinct and not second-guessing her son would be involved. “I need to call the police … I need to fly out to Colorado.”

Holmes reportedly had Tennessee license plates on the vehicle he was driving at the time of the shooting, but a connection to that state remains unclear. He was arrested next to the vehicle, without incident, after the shooting spree ended. Police say he was wearing a bullet-resistant vest and gas mask at the time of the shooting and was armed with two long guns and a handgun.

As updates continue to trickle in, MSNBC reports that a survivor of the massacre in Colorado said she first thought the man dressed in black who entered through an exit door was part of the premier of the movie.

Oregon – death-row inmate Gary Haugen in court this week

July 22, 2012

SALEM — Oregon death-row inmate Gary Haugen is heading back to court this week in his bid to carry out his death sentence.

Gov. John Kitzhaber granted Haugen an unwanted reprieve on Nov. 22 two weeks before the twice-convicted murderer was to be executed.

The Statesman Journal reports that Timothy Alexander, a senior judge from Washington County, will hear arguments in Haugen’s civil suit on Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court. He is not expected to decide the case immediately.

Kitzhaber vowed at his Nov. 22 announcement there would be no executions carried out as long as he was governor.

Oregon has executed two people since voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984.

GEORGIA – WARREN HILL awaits appeals decisions to stave off scheduled today at 7:00 p.m STAYED – New update july 4

Update : july 4. 2012

Georgia has set an execution date of July 15 for Warren Hill, despite his pending petition before the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrating that all of the physicians who have examined Hill agree he is intellectually disabled. People suffering from intellectual disability (mental retardation) are constitutionally barred from execution. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 3, 2013). This is the exceptional and rare case where there is clear proof an inmate is ineligible for the death penalty and the U.S. Supreme Court is the only avenue for relief.


Murderer Warren Hill will die Monday evening unless his attorneys can find a court that believes his mental capacity is diminished enough that it would be unconstitutional to execute him, or if a judge finds fault with the state’s new method of execution.

If he is executed as planned, Hill will be the first in Georgia to be put to death using only one drug — the powerful barbiturate pentobarbital — instead the three that the state has been using in combination since 2008.

Hill still has appeals based on the mental retardation issue pending in the Georgia and U.S. Supreme Courts. And on Monday a Fulton County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear the issue of the Department of Corrections’ sudden change in its lethal injection protocol from three drugs to one drug. Last Tuesday, the day before Hill was initially scheduled to die, the prison system announced it was abandoning the three-drug cocktail — a sedative followed by the paralytic pancuronium bromide and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart. It was replaced with a single drug process, pentobarbital, the same as in six other states [a seventh uses a different sedative].

Later, on Monday evening, there will be vigils held in 11 Georgia cites to express outrage that the state is executing a mentally retarded man.

“In other states, Hill would not face the ultimate punishment due to his disability,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.”Unless the Supreme Court steps in to prevent this execution, the state of Georgia will have committed a terrible injustice.”

Hill was condemned for using a nail-studded 2-by-6 board in 1990 to beat to death fellow prisoner Joseph Handspike. At that time Hill was already incarcerated for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend.

The judge presiding over the 1991 trial for Handspike’s murder found Hill, with an IQ of 70, was more likely than not to be mentally disabled. But the judge also determined that the lawyer representing Hill at the time had not proven his mental disability beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard set in 1988 when Georgia became the first state to prohibit executing the mentally

If he is executed as planned, Hill will be the first in Georgia to be put to death using only one drug — the powerful barbiturate pentobarbital — instead the three that the state has been using in combination since 2008.

Hill still has appeals based on the mental retardation issue pending in the Georgia and U.S. Supreme Courts. And on Monday a Fulton County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear the issue of the Department of Corrections’ sudden change in its lethal injection protocol from three drugs to one drug. Last Tuesday, the day before Hill was initially scheduled to die, the prison system announced it was abandoning the three-drug cocktail — a sedative followed by the paralytic pancuronium bromide and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart. It was replaced with a single drug process, pentobarbital, the same as in six other states [a seventh uses a different sedative].

Later, on Monday evening, there will be vigils held in 11 Georgia cites to express outrage that the state is executing a mentally retarded man.

“In other states, Hill would not face the ultimate punishment due to his disability,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.”Unless the Supreme Court steps in to prevent this execution, the state of Georgia will have committed a terrible injustice.”

Hill was condemned for using a nail-studded 2-by-6 board in 1990 to beat to death fellow prisoner Joseph Handspike. At that time Hill was already incarcerated for murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend.

The judge presiding over the 1991 trial for Handspike’s murder found Hill, with an IQ of 70, was more likely than not to be mentally disabled. But the judge also determined that the lawyer representing Hill at the time had not proven his mental disability beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard set in 1988 when Georgia became the first state to prohibit executing the mentally disabled.

Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court said it has said it is unconstitutional to to execute the mentally retarded who are at “special risk of wrongful execution.” But also in that 2002 decision, the justices left it up to the states to determine what was required to show mental retardation; Georgia has the strictest standard.

“Mildly mentally retarded individuals like Warren Hill frequently defy the stereotypical image we often have of persons with the disability in part because they tend to make efforts to hide the symptoms,” wrote Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer. He said if a defendant can prove retardation beyond a reasonable doubt, then he is likely so severely retarded that if he went to trial the death penalty would not be an option. “He may even be found incompetent to stand trial. This leaves the majority of mentally retarded persons in the criminal justice system, who are mildly mentally retarded, in the lurch, because it is the mildly mentally retarded whose symptoms can mislead … about the significance or even the existence of the disability.”

Docket from  Supreme court

No. 12A57
Warren Lee Hill, Jr., Applicant
Carl Humphrey, Warden
Linked with 11-10109, 11-10109
Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  Case Nos.: (08-15444)
~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jul 16 2012 Application (12A57) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
James W. Ellis 1117 Stanford Drive, NE (505) 277-2146
Albuquerque, NM  87131
Party name: Warren Lee Hill, Jr.
Attorneys for Respondent:
Beth A. Burton Senior Assistant Attorney General (404) 656-3499
    Counsel of Record Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, S.W.
Atlanta, GA  30334-1300
Party name: Carl Humphrey, Warden
Sheri Lynn Johnson Professor of Law (607) 255-6478
Cornell Law School
108 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

Swiss Government Wants To End Death Penalty Everywhere

July 19 2012 AP- huffington Post

GENEVA — The Swiss government has reaffirmed its commitment toward seeking the abolition of the death penalty “throughout the world.”

A Foreign Ministry statement Thursday says Switzerland firmly opposes the death penalty “in any and all circumstances” anywhere on the planet.

The statement came in response to Hamas authorities hanging three Palestinians on Tuesday who were convicted of murder in different cases, the sixth such executions in the Gaza Strip this year.

Switzerland called for a moratorium on capital punishment in the Gaza Strip, calling the death penalty “a violation of the most fundamental of human rights.”

Switzerland outlawed capital punishment for civilians in 1942 and for the Swiss military in 1992. The country also belongs to the Council of Europe, which opposes the death penalty.


CONNECTICUT – AP Interview: Death row inmate says new law unfair – Daniel Webb

July 17, 2012 The associed Press : AJC 

SOMERS, Conn. — Daniel Webb is awaiting execution for the 1989 kidnapping and murder of a Connecticut bank executive, but he believes he is also paying a price for another, unrelated crime that has heavily influenced the state’s debate on capital punishment.

Webb told The Associated Press in a death row interview that he thinks there would be no capital punishment in the state if not for the public’s desire to execute the men responsible for the 2007 home-invasion slayings of a mother and her two daughters in suburban Cheshire. The only survivor of that crime, Dr. William Petit, lobbied to keep the death penalty for the men who killed his family, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky.

Dr. Petit is angry with them and with his anger he wants to kill all of us,” said Webb, who spoke by telephone from behind a glass window. “Now you are trying to increase my suffering and take away the little that I had because you want to make Komisarjevsky suffer. That’s not right.

Webb was sentenced to die for the slaying in Hartford of Diane Gellenbeck, a 37-year-old Connecticut National Bank vice president, who was taken from a downtown parking garage and shot to death near a local golf course as she ran from an attempted sexual assault.

The state legislature in April abolished capital punishment, but only for future crimes. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and key state lawmakers had insisted on that as a condition of their support for repeal in a long-running debate that focused on the Petit case.

“If you are going to abolish the death penalty, abolish the death penalty,” said Webb. “I don’t think you can have a law that has double standards. Abolish means abolish, doesn’t it?”

A spokesman for Malloy declined to comment on Webb’s assertion.

William Petit’s sister, Hanna Petit Chapman, said she does not care what Webb thinks. She compared him to her relatives’ killers for laying blame with others.

“His condemnation is a direct result of his choices and actions. His finger pointing and blaming others sounds very familiar to what we heard from Komisarjevsky and Hayes. He could have let her go, yet, chose to shoot her five times when she escaped. I am not sure how that translates to being my family’s fault,” she said.

The balding, bearded Webb also complained during the hour-long interview Friday that the conditions of his confinement are unbearable and amount to torture.

Death-row inmates at Northern Correctional Institution are kept isolated in 8-by-12 foot cells with almost no human contact, even with other death-row inmates. They are given an hour of recreation a day, alone in cell-sized cages in the prison yard.

Webb, 49, says he has no friends on death row. He can only communicate by shouting through his steel door or into an air vent, something he says makes conversations with other inmates almost impossible.

Correction Department spokesman Brian Garnett described the conditions as humane and constitutional.

The mother of Webb’s victim is not sympathetic. Dorothy Gellenbeck, 86, said Webb deserves to live in the harshest conditions and to die for killing her daughter.

“I have had a lot of years to miss my girl,” Gellenbeck said from her home in Pennington, N.J. “I don’t care what the new Connecticut law is. He is guilty of murder and at the time of the murder the death penalty was in effect. And why should he live, when he killed someone?”

Connecticut’s only execution since 1960 came in 2005, after serial killer Michael Ross voluntarily gave up his appeals.

“I can now see what can push a man to that point,” said Webb. “I’d rather be dead than live like this.”

Webb said he attempted to hang himself in January, and later wrote a letter to court officials asking to give up his appeals and be executed. He has since rescinded that decision, saying lawyers and mental health professionals convinced him to wait and see how legal challenges to the death penalty are received.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane testified during public hearings this spring that he expects inmates to challenge the constitutionality of keeping them on death row by arguing the sentence is now unfairly applied based on the date of the crime.

Webb said he also has evolved and matured since 1989. Nobody, he said, should be held in isolation, just waiting to die.

“I’m still human,” he said. “People grow. Even people as despised as Joshua or Hayes, they can change over time.”