[DP] Fwd: Arlington man faces review of death sentence
carole646 at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 9 09:57:30 CDT 2002
>From: Rick Halperin <rhalperi at post.cis.smu.edu>
>Reply-To: TCADP-BOARD01 at yahoogroups.com
>To: TCADP-BOARD01 <TCADP-BOARD01 at yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: [TCADP-BOARD01] death penalty news----TEXAS
>Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 10:50:55 -0500 (CDT)
>Arlington man faces review of death sentence -- High court sends back
>case of killer who claimed he was retarded
>The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to review the
>death sentence of the convicted murderer of a 19-year-old Arlington woman
>because he claimed during his trial that he was retarded.
>The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals earlier this year upheld the death
>sentence of Michael Wayne Hall, 23, convicted in February 2000 of the
>1998 slaying of grocery clerk Amy Robinson.
>But the Supreme Court ordered the state appeals court to review Mr.
>Hall's sentence of death by injection in light of its June decision that
>executing mentally retarded criminals is cruel and unusual punishment
>prohibited by the Constitution.
>The appeals court could hold a hearing on Mr. Hall's mental capacity or
>send the case back to Tarrant County for retrial of the sentencing phase,
>said Danny Burns, one of Mr. Hall's attorneys.
>"I felt we would win this and they'd send it back," Mr. Burns said. "We
>should be able to get him a commutation from a death sentence to a life
>Tarrant County prosecutors say they are unsure what Monday's action by
>the high court will mean for their office.
>Chip Wilkinson, assistant chief of the appellate division of the Tarrant
>County district attorney's office, which prosecuted Mr. Hall, said the
>Supreme Court decision has given prosecutors "absolutely no guidance" in
>how to determine whether a defendant is retarded.
>"The individual states have to develop their own procedures," Mr.
>Wilkinson said. "Our position is that he's not retarded. We think that
>Hall is still death eligible."
>This summer, legal experts predicted that as many as 20 Texas inmates
>could have their death sentences commuted to life in prison under the
>high court ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia. On Monday, the Supreme Court
>also ordered the state criminal appeals court to review the death
>sentence of Robert Tennard, condemned to die for stabbing a man to death
>during a robbery in Houston in 1985.
>If either man's death sentence is overturned, each still would have to
>serve a minimum of 40 years before he is eligible for parole, officials
>Relatives of Ms. Robinson, who was mentally retarded, said they were
>shocked by the Supreme Court decision.
>"I'm scared to death that they'll overturn the death sentence," said
>Carolyn Barker, Ms. Robinson's grandmother. "I don't think that should
>ever happen. That's a slap in the face. All I'm asking for is for us to
>have a court hearing for us to prove that he's sane and that he knew what
>he was doing."
>Mr. Hall and Robert Neville Jr., 28, kidnapped Ms. Robinson in February
>1998 as she rode her bicycle to a Kroger store in Arlington where she
>worked as a checker, according to testimony in their trial. The men drove
>to a field in East Fort Worth near the Arlington border, where Mr.
>Neville shot Ms. Robinson in the head and chest, trial testimony said.
>Ms. Robinson's body was found two weeks later, after Mr. Hall and Mr.
>Neville were arrested while trying to enter Mexico. In television
>interviews after their arrests, the 2 men bragged about the killing.
>Both men were convicted and sentenced to die by injection. Mr. Neville
>also is appealing his death sentence.
>During Mr. Hall's trial, his attorneys argued that the former special-
>education student was retarded, with an elementary-school-age mental
>capacity and an IQ of less than 70, considered the threshold of
>Ms. Barker rejected the arguments that Mr. Hall is retarded.
>"I think they should keep in mind that an 8-year-old doesn't kill,
>doesn't plan a murder and doesn't plan how to get away," she said. "I
>don't believe he's retarded. No way."
>Reagan Wynn, an attorney handling an appeal for Mr. Hall, said the
>defense team's goal is not to free Mr. Hall.
>"There is no excuse for what happened to Amy Robinson," Mr. Wynn said.
>"She was an innocent victim. I feel horrible for her and her family.
>We're not asking for Michael to be turned loose. We're just asking for a
>life sentence instead of the death penalty."
>The mental retardation question in capital murder trials has long been an
>issue in Texas - including the highly publicized case of Johnny Paul
>This year, an East Texas judge asked a jury to consider evidence that Mr.
>Penry is mentally retarded. The jury, which considered only what Mr.
>Penry's sentence should be, rejected his claim and sentenced him to death
>for the rape and murder of Pamela Moseley Carpenter in her Livingston
>It was the 3rd time Mr. Penry had been sentenced to death for the 1979
>Before the Atkins decision, the last time the Supreme Court ruled on the
>retardation issue was in 1989, in the case of Mr. Penry.
>The court had ruled in his case that mental retardation should be
>considered a mitigating factor during the punishment phase of a capital
>trial. Another jury later sentenced Mr. Penry to death again, but that
>sentence was overturned by a Supreme Court decision in 2001; the justices
>concluded that the jury's instructions did not comply with their earlier
>The Supreme Court's decision in Atkins vs. Virginia will have a
>substantial impact on Texas' death row, said Dr. Alex del Carmen, a
>criminology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.
>Effect on Texas
>"As long as you have the current composition of the Supreme Court, you
>will see more decisions like these," Dr. del Carmen said Monday. "These
>are going to have an impact not only on our execution rate, but on the
>way we sentence someone to capital punishment, and the way we carry out
>By sending the death sentences back to the lower courts, the Supreme
>Court has ensured that Mr. Hall and Mr. Tennard will receive due process,
>said Michael Linz, a Dallas lawyer with the American Civil Liberties
>"It's certainly a comfort to know we've stopped executing the mentally
>retarded," Mr. Linz said. Now the lower courts will start the next phase:
>determining whether the condemned murderers actually are mentally
>retarded, he said.
>"There will have to be a sorting-out process," Mr. Linz said. "This is
>certainly a huge step in the right direction."
>(source: Dallas Morning News)
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