Day: July 25, 2012

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


July 24, 2012 the eagle.com

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.

UPDATES JULY – ZIMMERMAN – MARTIN CASE


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.

Globalgrind.com 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