Day: February 3, 2014

FLORIDA – Convicted killer Emilia Carr’s lawyer argues appeal before Florida Supreme Court

february 3, 2014 (Ocala)

Counsel for a Marion County woman sentenced to death row argued for a sentence reversal before the Florida Supreme Court Monday morning, stating his client is less culpable in the crime than her co-defendant — who is serving life imprisonment for the same offense.

Standing before the panel in Tallahassee, Emilia Carr’s attorney, Christopher S. Quarles, argued the Supreme Court should rule on the issue instead of choosing another remedy: sending the case back to the trial court to deal with the sentence question, either in a separate hearing or through a post-conviction relief proceeding.

“I think the evidence is very clear Joshua Fulgham is more culpable,” argued Quarles, referring to Carr’s co-defendant. “He had the motive, he hatched the plan, he brought the victim to the scene of the crime, and it’s very unfair…he is serving a life sentence when she is sentenced to death.”

According to trial testimony, Fulgham, who was Carr’s lover, lured his estranged wife, Heather Strong, 26, to a trailer in Boardman, which is in north Marion County near McIntosh. There, the pair duct taped her to a chair, suffocated her and then buried the body.

The co-defendants were tried in separate trials, and the state sought the death penalty for both. They both were found guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

In the first trial, a jury recommended death for Carr in a 7-5 vote in December 2010. The judge in that case followed the recommendation and put her on death row.

The jury in the second trial returned a recommendation of life imprisonment for Fulgham in April 2012. Again, the judge followed the recommendation.

“They had different judges, they had different juries, they had different legal teams,” said Quarles.

He argued that during each trial the state painted that defendant as the mastermind, even though evidence shows Fulgham had been manipulating both Strong and Carr in the time period leading up to the crime.

Justice Charles Canady pointed out that Carr, 29, has an IQ of 125, while Fulgham, 32, is intellectually challenged.

“In the actual commission of the crime Ms. Carr was heavily involved in what was going on,” countered Assistant Attorney General Sara Macks.

She pointed to several factors motivating Carr including the fact that Carr wanted to raise a family with Fulgham.

Carr gave birth to Fulgham’s child during her time inside the Marion County jail pending trial. Macks also pointed to threats Carr had made of hiring someone to kill Strong.

Justice Jorge Labarga wondered why the two trial court judges didn’t wait and sentence the co-defendants around the same time after receiving the respective jury recommendations.

As part of her explanation, Macks said Fulgham’s trial had been delayed more than one year when counsel from Miami had become involved.

She urged the high court to resolve the direct appeal before redirecting the case back to the trial court. Macks said if the issue is addressed at the trial court level during post-conviction relief, Carr’s defense would also be able to bring up any issues connected with mitigation.

“This is not a death case,” Quarles argued in rebuttal before the panel adjourned.

A ruling is expected at a later date.

Carr is currently housed at Lowell Correctional Institution with the other five women on Florida’s death row. Fulgham is currently housed at Florida State Prison in Raiford, according to state prison records.

In August, Fulgham sent a hand-written letter to the Marion County Jail through his mother intended for convicted murderer Michael Bargo. Inmates are not granted the same privacy as the general public and therefore their mail is public record except for medical records and legal correspondence.

In the letter, Fulgham offered Bargo advice about prison. “A lot of people will tell you a life sentence is the same as death row,” he wrote, adding that such advice is wrong.

“If you do end up in prison at all, it isn’t that bad,” Fulgham wrote, describing his access to an MP3 player, television and Playboy magazine.

ILLINOIS -Man convicted in 1970 slaying to ask for release – Calvin Madison

february 3, 2014 (

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A man originally sentenced to death who has spent 44 years behind bars in the slaying of a Rockford gas station attendant is scheduled to make his 33rd plea for freedom.

Calvin Madison, 66, appears to have a chance to win his release from Graham Correction Center after last year when five members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board — three short of the number needed to be granted parole — voted last year to release him. His co-defendant in the case, Thomas Ray Charles, was released from prison in 1986 after he was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison.

Madison is scheduled to appear before a member of the Illinois Review Board on March 4, and the entire board is expected to decide on May 1 whether or not Madison should be released.

The Rockford Register Star ( ) reported Sunday that Madison’s family has started to encourage people to write letters in favor of Madison’s release and the family of the victim, 19-year-old John Hogan, is arguing against his release.

The slaying took place on Jan, 22, 1970, at the Gas-For-Less service station in Rockford. According to the newspaper, when Madison and Charles ordered him to hand over money, Hogan did as he was told and gave them about $100 in cash.

Then, Madison forced Hogan into a restroom, ordered him to his knees and shot him four times in the back of the head with a pistol.

“It was premeditated murder — there’s no other way of looking at it,” said Hogan’s brother, Terry.

Madison, who was sentenced to death in 1970, was resentenced in 1972 to 75-100 years in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court suspended the death penalty in the United States in 1972. The court ultimately reinstated the death penalty a few years later.

Florida Supreme Court hears argument of Longwood killer who asked for death penalty – William Roger Davis III

february 3. 2014 (orlandosentinel)

From the witness stand, the man who kidnapped, raped and strangled a Longwood used car lot receptionist asked jurors to give him the death penalty, and they did.

Today a government lawyer who defends death row inmates asked the Florida Supreme Court to go against his wishes and throw out his death sentence.

William Roger Davis III, 35, killed Fabiana Malave, Oct. 29, 2009. According to evidence at his trial, he abducted her at knifepoint from Super Sport Auto, the small car lot on U.S. Highway 17-92 in Longwood where she worked, drove her to the Orlando house where he lived, raped her then ordered her to get dressed and to get back on his bed, where he strangled her.

He then loaded her body into his SUV and drove around for hours before parking a few dozen feet from where he had abducted her, where Seminole County deputies spotted his vehicle then arrested him. Today, Davis was not on trial before the Florida Supreme Court. The judge who gave him the death penalty, Circuit Judge John Galluzzo of Sanford, was.

Nancy J. Ryan, a Daytona Beach assistant public defender, argued that Galluzzo made three technical errors in imposing the death sentence, reason enough to send the case back to Seminole County for a new hearing.

One of the biggest was that he didn’t give enough weight to Davis’ mental state at the time of the homicide, she said.

Davis and four mental health experts testified that he suffers from bipolar disorder and that he had been off his medication for a year and a half when he killed Malave.

His testimony about why he killed Malave was chilling.

“I don’t really have an answer for that,” he told a Seminole County Sheriff’s detective a few hours after the homicide. He went on to add that killing someone felt “pretty interesting. … squeeze the life out of somebody. … I feel liberated.”

And when asked if he’d do it again, his answer, “Oh, yeah.”

Galluzzo gave great weight to Davis’ testimony that if given the opportunity, he’d again go off his medication and would likely do violence to someone else, Ryan pointed out.

He focused too much on that and not enough on the fact that Davis suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance at the time, Ryan argued.

But Assistant Attorney General Stacey Kircher today told justices that Davis was not in an extreme emotional state.

“He does not appear to suffer from hallucinations,” she said. “He was very calm, reflective.”

After killing Malave, he put her body in his SUV and drove to a restaurant, to a music store to play with instruments, to a park to smoke, Kircher argued.

What he was doing, she said, was killing time until it got dark, when he planned to put Malave’s body back in her car at the car lot.

Justices made no decision today but asked questions of both attorneys.

Justice Barbara Pariente suggested that even if Galluzzo did not give enough weight to Davis’ mental state, there were many other valid legal reasons, carefully spelled out in the judge’s sentencing order, why the death penalty was the right sentence.

A Seminole County jury voted 7-5 to recommend death two years ago. The same jury had earlier rejected Davis’ argument that he was innocent because he was insane.

FLORIDA – Death Row inmate demands Irish government help on appeal – Michael Fitzpatrick

February 2, 2014

Reprieve, a UK-based legal charity, has censured the Irish government for failing to provide adequate support to Michael Fitzpatrick, an Irish citizen who spent over a decade on death row in Florida and is now up for a retrial. The Irish government has denied the allegation.

Fitzpatrick, who was born in the US, was granted dual Irish citizenship in September 2013. He was eligible to apply through one of his grandmothers, who was born in Tipperary and immigrated to America.

According to a statement released by Reprieve, which aids in cases around the world where it feels human rights are most at risk, the Irish government refused to send a representative to a key hearing in Fitzpatrick’s case on January 10.

“It is standard practice for government officials to provide extensive consular assistance to nationals imprisoned abroad, including attending hearings and trials to ensure that minimum standards are upheld,” the release said.

Capital punishment was abolished in Ireland in 1964.

Fitzpatrick, 51, was convicted in 2001 for the 1996 rape and first-degree murder of Laura Romines, 28, who was found in the early hours of August 18 wandering a rural road in Land O’Lakes, Florida, naked and with her throat slit. She was hospitalized and died three weeks later.

Romines told first responders at the scene that she had been attacked by a man named “Steve,” who investigators first presumed to be Stephen Kirk, a motel security guard. Romines had been staying with Kirk and his wife. Kirk was exculpated by a “significant amount” of evidence, including numerous witnesses who had seen him at work at the time of the attack.

Romines’ boyfriend, Joe Galbert, who had recently kicked her out of the Motel 6 room where they had been living, was eliminated as a suspect because he was in jail at the time.

Police zeroed in on Fitzpatrick, who had been working as a pizza delivery man, because witnesses reported seeing him with Romines at various points the day before, and because the semen found by a SAVE (sexual assault victim examination) performed on Romines at the hospital was identified as his. After first denying that he had any sexual encounter with Romines, Fitzpatrick claimed that it was consensual and had taken place on the morning of the 17th.

Fingernail scrapings taken from Romines during the SAVE test indicated the potential involvement of another, unidentified male.

In 2001, Fitzpatrick was sentenced with 30 years in prison and the death penalty, to be served concurrently. His direct appeal was affirmed.

His post-conviction appeal began in 2005, and on June 27 of last year the Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld the circuit court’s decision that Fitzpatrick should be granted a retrial due to overwhelming evidence that his first attorney, Bill Ebel, failed to defend him adequately.

Mark Gruber, one of the attorneys from Capital Collateral Regional Counsel who handled Fitzpatrick’s post-conviction appeal, told IrishCentral that Ebel “had the case for four years and never obtained the assistance of anyone. Not a co-counsel, not an expert witness, not a private investigator. The prosecution brought in expert witnesses, a medical examiner, and there just wasn’t any rebuttal. . . . The prosecutor made that exact argument during closing arguments to the jury: ‘Here’s all this scientific evidence that we brought in and there hasn’t been any challenge to it.’ So that’s what we did in post-conviction.”

The medical experts consulted for the post-conviction proceedings stated that many of the conclusions drawn by the state in Fitzpatrick’s first trial were inaccurate or unfounded, and that some of the experts it brought to the stand were not qualified to testify in that capacity.

After Fitzpatrick’s citizenship was confirmed in September, Reprieve asked the Irish government to become involved in his case. Soon after, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a release stating that they were “providing consular assistance to Mr. Fitzpatrick and [would] notify the relevant US authorities of our interest in the case.”

At the January 10 hearing, the state was attempting to link Fitzpatrick to the unsolved 1992 murder of a woman in Tampa, FL. According to Fitzpatrick’s current attorney, Phil Hindahl, the hearing has been extended and will continue on February 27.

In Reprieve’s most recent release, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “Michael has already spent more than ten years on death row because of a horrifically unfair first trial. The Irish government could step in to ensure that history does not repeat itself and yet they are refusing to do even the bare minimum.”

In response to inquiries made to the Consulate General of Ireland in Atlanta, under whose jurisdiction Florida falls, the DFA Press Office stated via email that the department is “offering full consular assistance to Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick and will continue to do so as required. . . . We have notified the relevant US authorities of our interest in the case, which is going through normal judicial procedure in the United States.

“Departmental representatives would not routinely attend such hearings, particularly when we are satisfied that the Irish citizen involved has full access to legal counsel. We do maintain contact with the citizen’s lawyers to ensure that we are informed about proceedings, and we are also in contact with the NGO Reprieve on this case.”

The email also noted that, although the Irish government is not automatically entitled to consular prison visits with American citizens being tried in a US court, they had “sought and were granted one, which was undertaken by the Consul General Paul Gleason based in Atlanta in October 2013.”

Fitzpatrick’s attorney confirmed this. “I’ve had contact with the Consulate General of Ireland [in Atlanta] and I think that they intend on appearing in future hearings. As far as the hearing on January 10, for some reason they weren’t able to attend. I do know that [Atlanta Consul General] Paul Gleason, has been to the local jail and has met with Mr. Fitzpatrick. It was several months ago, but he has offered and is providing consular services, whatever that entails. . . so that’s their role right now as far as their input and their participation in the trial.”

The communications officers at Reprieve declined to provide further information as to what steps they would like to see the Irish government take on Fitzpatrick’s behalf.

Fitzpatrick’s retrial will begin on June 16.

KENTUCKY – Lone woman on Ky death row loses appeal – Virginia Susan Caudill

february 3, 2014 (wowktv,com)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A federal judge has rejected an appeal from the lone woman awaiting execution in Kentucky after concluding her attorney wasn’t deficient at trial.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves turned away claims by 53-year-old Virginia Susan Caudill that her lawyer committed numerous errors during her joint trial with a co-defendant, 53-year-old Johnathan Wayne Goforth.

Caudill and Goforth were convicted in 2000 in Lexington of robbing and killing 73-year-old Lonetta White by bludgeoning her to death with a hammer on March 15, 1998. White’s body was then put in the trunk of her own car, which was set ablaze.

Prosecutors say the pair fled to Florida and Mississippi in the months after the slaying. Police arrested Caudill in New Orleans about eight months after the killing.

Pampa : DNA hearing set in case of Texas death row inmate – Hank Skinner

february 3, 2014 (AP)

PAMPA, TX — A hearing is set regarding recent DNA testing in the case of a Texas death row inmate convicted of a triple slaying in the Panhandle.

Attorneys for the state and Hank Skinner’s attorneys will present testimony during the two-day hearing set to begin Monday in Pampa.

Skinner’s attorneys hope to show he didn’t kill a woman and her two sons in 1993. The 52-year-old was convicted of capital murder in 1995.

Court documents filed by the state say results of DNA testing done at a law enforcement lab “further confirm” Skinner’s guilt. Skinner’s attorneys say more sophisticated test results from an independent lab make doubts about his guilt “too weighty” to allow his execution.

Each side will submit written arguments after the hearing. The judge will later release his findings.

FLORIDA – When parents kill children, death penalty is rare, experts say …

february 2, 2014 (orlondosentinel)

After a kick to the head, 15-pound infant Ayden Perry had no chance for survival, police said.


Ayden was 2 months, 23 days old when he was pronounced dead last February, and St. Cloud police say his sleep-deprived father, Larry Perry, delivered the fatal blow.


That beating on Feb. 13, 2013, put Perry on the short list of Central Florida parents deemed among the worst — suspects who could face capital punishment if convicted of killing their own children.

Six Central Florida children died in 2013 as a result of abuse or neglect from parents or guardians, the Florida Department of Children and Families said.


Of those cases, Ayden’s and Ke’Andre Coleman’s fatal beatings were the only ones to become death-penalty cases in Central Florida.

Ke’Andre’s mother, Mikkia Lewis, and her boyfriend, Joe McCaskell, are accused of beating and torturing the 4-year-old boy to death in April in South Daytona, an arrest report said.


A medical examiner said Ke’Andre was severely beaten with two shoes and forced to exercise to exhaustion. His shoulders were dislocated and his thighs were hemorrhaging.


McCaskell, 32, admitted to beating the child and told investigators he saw Lewis, 22, beat Ke’Andre while screaming that she didn’t want him anymore, the report states.


A grand jury indicted the couple on first-degree murder charges in August and Volusia County prosecutors filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in October.


For Perry, prosecutors initially decided not to pursue death but then switched gears and filed a notice of intent in December, nearly a year after his young son’s killing.


Experts say unless parents have a history of violent behavior, it’s rare for parents accused of killing their own children to become candidates for the death penalty — which is usually set aside for the most egregious acts of premeditated murder.


And it’s even more rare for a jury to actually recommend death for these parents after a guilty verdict.


That’s because, although they won’t excuse the crime, jurors can sympathize with crimes of passion provoked by complex and deep-seated mental health or family issues, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research nonprofit.


“There are understandable difference between that and a serial killer,” Dieter said. “The family dynamics that lead to that kind of murder, it’s something juries can relate to — even if they would never do it.”

In the last child-abuse death-penalty case resolved in Central Florida, Orange County father Keith Skinner pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated child abuse to avoid a possible death sentence.


Skinner was released from prison in 2008 after serving four years on a separate child-abuse conviction, Department of Corrections records show.


After his release, Skinner had another child and in 2010, he beat that child — 8-month-old Triumph Skinner — to death.


Ayden’s mom couldn’t pay bail


Perry had no criminal history before his arrest in Ayden’s death.


He had been caring for Ayden alone for about two weeks after the boy’s mother, Kathy Barnes, was arrested on charges of trafficking oxycodone. Bail for Barnes had been set at $50,000 and she was forced to stay in the Osceola County Jail because she couldn’t pay.

On Feb. 13, Perry told police that no matter what he did, he couldn’t get Ayden to stop crying.

In the autopsy report, a medical examiner noted that before the beating, Ayden had likely been well taken care of. He was developing normally and growing at a healthy rate. The nearly 3-month-old weighed 15 pounds and was 23 inches long the evening of his death.

That night, Perry said he tried to quiet Ayden by first turning on the vacuum cleaner, hoping the drone would soothe him. When that didn’t work, Perry put the boy in a rocking swing then tried to feed him.


Perry said he didn’t have enough help with the child and hadn’t been getting enough sleep so when Ayden refused to stop crying, Perry snapped.

“I pretty much went crazy. I can’t do this [expletive] by myself,” 29-year-old Larry Perry told an operator when he called 911 about 10:40 p.m. “I called the police because I know what I did and I deserve whatever.”


911 call captured last breaths


Police say Perry slammed the infant into a bedroom wall.


The little boy’s blood had soaked through red sheets on Perry’s queen-sized bed and a blanket on the living-room couch. Two trails of blood were also streaked across the living-room carpet, a police report said.


According to police, Perry also kicked the child in the torso and stomped on his head so hard that he left behind a shoe-print bruise that spanned from just above the infant’s hairline to his mouth.


Perry told 911 dispatchers that his son didn’t stop crying until Perry “twisted his neck.” Ayden could be heard gasping for breath in the background of the 911 call, the report said.


Ayden was pronounced dead within two hours at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. His cause of death was listed as blunt-force head trauma.


Now, Perry’s life is in the hands of the Public Defender’s Office, which may need to regroup and change its strategy to argue the case now that death is being considered if he is convicted.


Dieter, with the Death Penalty Information Center, said it will be up to Perry’s attorney to make a jury believe Perry acted in the heat of the moment and though he may have been a threat to his son, that does not mean he is a threat to society in general.


“(The jury) will need to hear things they can relate to,” Dieter said. “The defense will need to tell the story of the family and put it in an understandable way. Put it in context and sometimes jurors will at least lessen the punishment.”

If he avoids death, Perry will be sentenced to life in prison if he is found guilty of first-degree murder at trial