Inmates on the death row

Texas claims it’s ‘too late’ for DNA testing which could get inmate off death row


October 10, 2022

Featured Image Credit: AP/Shutterstock/Paul Weber

The state of Texas is fighting to dismiss a civil rights suit arguing for DNA testing which could prove the innocence of a death row inmate.

Rodney Reed was sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, and remains on death row as he continues to maintain his innocence.

Stites was just 19 at the the time of her death, and was found dead along a country road. She had been engaged to a man named Jimmy Fennell, a police officer in the neighbouring town, and had allegedly introduced Reed to her co-worker, Suzen Hugan, as a friend.

Hugan told The Intercept Stites was ‘flirty’ with Reed, saying “it seemed like more than a friendship,” however Texas claims Reed was actually a stranger to Stites. 

After Stites was killed, sperm evidence recovered from her body was matched to Reed. An investigation by law enforcement uncovered no evidence that the pair knew each other, though Reed claims he and Stites were having an affair and that the DNA was from a consensual encounter.

Meanwhile, Fennell has been accused by some as having known about the alleged affair. He has denied the claims.

Over his years on death row, Reed has argued for the testing of crime scene evidence, including the alleged murder weapon, however reluctance on post-conviction DNA testing in the state has made things tough for the inmate.

In 2019, Reed took the case to federal court with the argument that Texas violated his due process rights by denying his bid for forensic testing, but the state is trying to get the suit dismissed with the argument that Reed waited too long to file his federal claim.

Texas is using the statute of limitations to argue its side, claiming Reed had a two-year window to file his federal claim after he was first denied DNA testing in 2014.

However, Reed has argued that filing earlier would have meant filing before the Court of Criminal Appeals had considered his case, meaning he would not have a final decision in the matter on which to base his suit.

It wasn’t until 2017 that the CCA issued its final ruling, and Reed’s suit was filed less than two years later.

Texas, meanwhile, argues Reed should have brought the case in the two years after 2014 because there is ‘no provision of Texas law’ that required him to appeal to the CCA.

As the battle continues, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state, meaning the Supreme Court is now set to hear the case on 11 October.

Advocates fight for Oklahoma inmate weeks before scheduled execution


October 10, 2022

Advocates continue to fight for the life of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Fairchild.

Fairchild is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 17. He has a clemency hearing with the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board Wednesday morning.

Fairchild has sat on death row for nearly 30 years. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in Del City in 1993.

According to his legal team, Fairchild suffers from multiple mental illnesses and is unfit to be executed.

Rev. Don Heath works with the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He spoke at a press conference Friday discussing the fight to save Fairchild’s life.

“Richie Fairchild has been a model prisoner and has repeatedly expressed remorse for killing Adam Broomhall,” Heath said. “He is 62 years old and suffers from brain damage. He already has served 25 years in prison for his crime and is asking to be allowed to die in prison of natural causes instead of by poisoning by the state. This case cries out for mercy and forgiveness.”

Additional petitions are scheduled to be delivered to Gov. Kevin Stitt a few days before Fairchild’s scheduled execution. If the Pardon and Parole Board recommends clemency, Gov. Stitt will have the final say.

Execution warrant sought for Nevada death row inmate Zane Floyd


As lawmakers weigh the future of capital punishment in Nevada, Clark County prosecutors plan to seek a warrant of execution for a death row inmate.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, deputies from District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s appellate division could ask a judge to sign the paperwork for Zane Floyd in the coming weeks.

The 45-year-old Floyd was convicted of killing four people and wounding another inside a Las Vegas supermarket in June 1999.

The Review-Journal reports that Floyd’s federal appeals were exhausted last November. However, a bill introduced in the state Assembly would make Nevada the 24th state to abolish the death penalty and the sentences of 70 men on Death Row would be commuted to life in prison. 

Zane Floyd

Texas’ highest criminal court tosses death sentence of Raymond Riles, state’s longest-serving death row inmate


Riles has been deemed mentally incompetent for execution repeatedly in his decades on death row.

April 14, 2021

Raymond Riles has been on Texas’ death row longer than anyone else, first sent there in 1976. Despite several execution dates being set, he has repeatedly been deemed mentally incompetent to be put to death, instead lingering on the row and the prison’s psychiatric units for more than 45 years. At one point, he set himself on fire and was hospitalized for months.

Raymond Riles

On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed his death sentence.

The state court sent his case back to Harris County to again determine his punishment because the jury wasn’t instructed to weigh his mental illness when deciding between a punishment of life in prison or death. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which supported tossing the sentence, did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday as to whether the office would again seek the death penalty. His conviction of capital murder is not changed.

Copiah County man convicted of capital murder will remain on death row


David Dickerson was convicted for the murder of Paula Hamilton in 2012.

A Copiah County man will remain on death row.

The State Supreme Court denied the appeal of 51-year-old David Dickerson. He was convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Paula Hamilton, who was the mother of his daughter.

Mississippi justices reject latest appeal in death row case | WJTV
Dickerson was convicted in 2012 for shooting Paula Hamilton to death and setting her body on fire in Copiah County.
Paula Hamilton

Dickerson shot Hamilton to death and then burned her body. He was convicted of capital murder in 2012.

Dickerson appealed his conviction and death sentence based upon an alleged intellectual disability.

In a mental evaluation, Dickerson was ruled mentally competent to stand trial and doctors said he had no credible symptoms of mental illness according to court documents.

The doctors also said Dickerson was uncooperative and fabricated psychiatric symptoms. His appeal was denied Thursday.

Governor Issues Reprieve For Three Ohio Death Row Inmates


April, 9 2021

Three Ohio death row inmates will not be executed this year as planned.

Governor Mike DeWine has issued a reprieve for Timothy Hoffner, John David Stumpf and Lawrence Landrum. The three were supposed to be executed on different dates this summer and fall.

But DeWine says he’s postponing them due to ongoing problems with getting the supply of drugs used for lethal injections. The three men’s execution dates are reset for the summer and fall of 2024.

Conviction, death penalty upheld of Oklahoman in beheading


March 18, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of man in the beheading of a co-worker in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

The court rejected claims that Alton Alexander Nolen, 36, was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial in addition to improper jury selection, improper photographic evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.

Nolen’s defence attorneys did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

Nolen was convicted and sentenced to death in for the 2014 beheading of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at Vaughan Foods.

Prosecutors said Nolen killed Hufford and wounded another co-worker after being suspended from his job at the plant for making threatening statements to co-workers.

San Quentin death row inmate dies


March 17, 2021

Another condemned inmate at San Quentin has died, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

64-year-old Johnny Mungia passed away at a hospital on Tuesday, March 16th.

This Aug. 24, 2018, photo released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Johnny Mungia, a 64-year-old death row inmate who died on March 16, 2021, at a hospital. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Mungia’s cause of death is under investigation, but foul play is not suspected.

An official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy by the Marin County Coroner.

On April 7, 1997, Mungia was found guilty of the first-degree murder of 73-year-old Alma Franklin by a Riverside County jury and sentenced to death on April 14, 1997.

There are currently 705 people on California’s death row.

A convicted Oklahoma killer’s death sentence was overturned because of a landmark US Supreme Court ruling


March12, 2021

The murder convictions and death sentence of Shaun Michael Bosse, seen in this undated photo, were overturned by an Oklahoma appeals court on Thursday, March 11, 2021.
 Shaun Michael Bosse

An Oklahoma death row inmate is set to receive a new trial after a court overturned his conviction based on a US Supreme Court ruling last year that determined a large part of the state is Native American territory for the purposes of federal criminal law

.The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Thursday the state did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute Shaun Bosse, who was sentenced to death in 2012 for the murders of 24-year-old Katrina Griffin, her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter because the victims were members of the Chickasaw Nation and the murders took place on the reservation.The appeals court cited the Supreme Court’s landmark July 2020 ruling in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, in which the justices ruled 5-4 that a broad swath of the state was Native American land for the purposes of federal criminal law. According to federal law, crimes that involve Native Americans on a reservation are subject to federal, not state, jurisdiction.CNN has reached out to an attorney for Bosse for comment.District Attorney Greg Mashburn, who prosecuted Bosse, told CNN in an interview Friday that federal prosecutors will assume jurisdiction in the case.”I’m devastated for the family (of Bosse’s victims),” Mashburn said. “They can’t heal. They’re just going to have to go through this whole process again. I’m just really upset for them and hate that they’re going to have to sit through another trial.”

Autopsy: California serial killer known as ‘I-5 Strangler’ was strangled himself in prison


March, 2021 A California serial killer who authorities say strangled and raped at least seven women was fatally choked himself in a state prison, officials said Wednesday.

Roger Reece Kibbe, 81, known as the “I-5 Strangler” in the 1970s and 1980s, was spotted unresponsive Sunday in his cell at Mule Creek State Prison southeast of Sacramento — his 40-year-old cellmate standing nearby.

This Aug. 1, 2013, photo provided by the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation shows inmate Roger Reece Kibbe.

An autopsy showed Kibbe had been manually strangled, the Amador County Sheriff’s Office said, calling the death a homicide.

No charges have been filed in the death of Kibbe, a former suburban Sacramento furniture maker whose brother was a law enforcement officer.

He was initially convicted in 1991 of strangling Darcine Frackenpohl, a 17-year-old who had run away from her home in Seattle. Her nearly nude body was found west of South Lake Tahoe below Echo Summit in September 1987.

Investigators said then that they suspected him in other similar slayings.

But it wasn’t until 2009 that a San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office investigator used new developments in evidence to connect him to six additional slayings in multiple Northern California counties, with several victims found alongside Interstate 5 or other highways in 1986. Kibbe was serving multiple life terms for the slayings when he was killed.

Authorities said they never stopped trying to prove that he was responsible for even more deaths. Investigators secretly took him on multiple field trips from prison with the hope that he would reveal the whereabouts of more victims.

They would buy him an egg McMuffin and a Coke for breakfast, another Coke and a hamburger and fries for lunch, Vito Bertocchini, a retired San Joaquin County sheriff’s detective and district attorney’s investigator, told The Sacramento Bee.

Bertocchini spent nearly two decades pursuing Kibbe and thinks he must have killed others during the 10-year gap between his first and last known slayings. Investigators have said they found other women who had been killed and dumped with Kibbe’s trademark of cutting his victims’ clothing in odd patterns.

He was finally captured after Sacramento police said a would-be victim escaped and they recovered a garrote made from a pair of dowels and parachute cord along with scissors and other items.

Investigators said they matched the cord to rope found with Frackenpohl’s body and at Kibbe’s house, all with microscopic dots of red paint. DNA eventually linked him to two other victims, and he agreed to cooperate in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table.

Kibbe never admitted to other killings beyond those with which he was charged, but Bertocchini said he never stopped trying to elicit another confession.

Even after he retired in 2012, each year he sent Kibbe birthday and Christmas cards, asking him to speak up if he recalled anything about other victims. He and his old partner last visited Kibbe in prison in 2019, but still he wouldn’t admit to any more victims.

Now it’s too late, but Bertocchini called Kibbe’s death by strangulation “some fitting justice.”

“I don’t wish ill on anyone,” Bertocchini said. “But I hope he remembered every one of his victims while he was being killed.”