[DP] >>TEXAS---new execution date
caroleadamsjohnson at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 19 17:01:37 CST 2003
>From: Rick Halperin <rhalperi at mail.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, 16 Dec 2003 13:19:33 -0600 (Central Standard Time)
>TEXAS---new execution date
>Week after execution stopped, condemned inmate gets new date
>It didn't take long for condemned killer Kevin Lee Zimmerman to get a new
>5 days after a U.S. Supreme Court order last week stopped his scheduled
>lethal injection moments before he could have been put to death, State
>District Judge Charles Carver on Monday set Jan. 21 as Zimmerman's new
>death date. Carver's action came shortly after the Supreme Court, in a 5-4
>ruling, lifted Zimmerman's reprieve.
>"From my point of view, I believe the man deserves to get exactly what my
>daddy did," Kasheena Hooks, 19, told The Beaumont Enterprise in a story
>published Tuesday. "The man knew his consequences when he did what he did,
>so now he needs to pay."
>Zimmerman, 42, from Lafayette Parish, La., was condemned for the 1987
>fatal stabbing and robbery of Leslie Hooks Jr., 33, a Louisiana oilfield
>worker staying at a Beaumont motel. Hooks had been stabbed 31 times.
>Justice Antonin Scalia had stopped Zimmerman's punishment last Wednesday a
>few hours after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a suit
>that contended the combination of drugs used in lethal injections
>contributed to pain that amounted to an unconstitutional cruel and unusual
>(source: Associated Press)
>DNA retests entangle another death-row case
>Questions about the Houston Police Department's DNA lab work have
>complicated another capital murder conviction, prompting lawyers Monday to
>say a jury should reconsider whether a man once called "the poster boy for
>the death penalty" should be executed.
>Franklin DeWayne Alix was convicted in August 1998 of the murder of Eric
>Bridgeford, which prosecutors say was part of a 6-month crime spree that
>included 4 killings, 2 rapes and 8 robberies. Jurors quickly sentenced
>Alix to death after a long punishment phase that featured evidence from
>the other crimes, including testimony from an HPD analyst who said DNA
>linked Alix to the murder of Gregorio Ramirez.
>"If ever there was a person who deserved the death penalty, it's this
>defendant," Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Velasquez said after he
>But 5 years later, two retests on evidence from the case have failed to
>replicate HPD's DNA match. The latest tests, made public Monday, exclude
>Alix altogether as a possible contributor to the sample. The
>discrepancies, and the doubts they raise about the accuracy of DNA tests
>from HPD's troubled crime lab, cloud a case that once seemed clear-cut.
>"Obviously, we are trying to get to the bottom of this and find out
>whether there was originally any DNA evidence in this case, but we have
>not cleared that up yet," said Assistant District Attorney Jane Scott, who
>now handles Alix's case. "It is important to note that there was an
>abundance of other evidence in this case, though it is hard to enter the
>minds of jurors to say whether they were influenced by the DNA."
>Robert Rosenberg, the attorney handling Alix's appeal, said the DNA
>evidence no doubt swayed jurors as they weighed whether to give his client
>the death penalty instead of life in prison.
>"The DA put on this evidence to prejudice the jury against my client.
>There is no way to say it did not impact the jury," Rosenberg said. "I
>believe he should get a new trial or at least a review of his punishment
>because this evidence could have made the difference between life and
>death for this young man."
>Alix was arrested in January 1998 after a 10-man police squad linked him
>to a string of 15 violent crimes committed over six months. He was charged
>with capital murder in the death of 23-year-old Bridgeford, who was shot
>after his sister was abducted and raped. Prosecutors said Alix shot
>Bridgeford in the back as he ran away from Alix, but his defense attorney
>says Alix's gun accidentally went off as the two struggled.
>During the punishment phase of Alix's trial, prosecutors presented
>evidence from the scene of Ramirez's murder, the 1st of the alleged string
>of crimes. A Police Department DNA analyst testified that blood on a piece
>of gauze allegedly worn by Alix as a mask contained a mixture of his DNA
>and the victim's.
>Ramirez, 41, was shot in the face outside his apartment during a robbery.
>Ramirez's wife identified Alix as her husband's attacker earlier in the
>The gauze was retested as part of an effort to review HPD's DNA analyses
>in nearly 400 cases. The review was launched in January after HPD shut
>down the DNA division of its crime lab because an independent audit
>exposed problems such as an undertrained staff, questionable scientific
>technique and conditions ripe for evidence contamination.
>To date, private labs have analyzed evidence from 102 cases that HPD
>originally processed, with problems such as insufficient samples or
>statistical discrepancies arising in 23 cases.
>The retests failed to detect Alix's DNA on samples from the piece of gauze
>and contradicted other findings by the HPD analyst.
>"My conclusion is that the DNA patterns detected from the gauze are
>consistent with a mixture of DNA patterns from Mr. Ramirez, Franklin Alix"
>and one other donor, DNA analyst Christy Kim testified during the
>punishment phase. " ... Meaning not only did I find Franklin Alix's DNA
>and Mr. Ramirez's DNA, there's another person who bled into the gauze."
>But Identigene, a Houston private lab among those checking HPD's work,
>found only one DNA profile in tests on 2 separate samples from the gauze,
>according to lab reports.
>Kim went on to testify that a DNA pattern matching Alix "can be expected
>to occur in one out of 81,000 people in the black population."
>William C. Thompson, a California professor who helped expose some of
>HPD's lab errors and has been retained as a defense expert for Alix, found
>Kim's statistics were overstated. After reviewing Kim's testimony, HPD's
>lab notes and Identigene's findings, Thompson said the likelihood a random
>person would be included as a contributor to the sample is more like
>"In my opinion the DNA evidence presented against Franklin Alix in the
>penalty phase of his trial was junk science that should never have been
>presented in court," Thompson wrote in a review of the evidence in the
>case. "That a government laboratory produced this evidence was, in my
>opinion, a significant failure of scientific quality control."
>HPD spokesman Robert Hurst declined to comment on the case. A phone call
>to the attorney representing Kim, who has been suspended with pay for her
>work in another case, was not returned Monday. Kim has maintained that any
>questions about her work are the product of bad protocols established by
>her managers and a lack of training provided by HPD.
>Scott, the prosecutor, said a private lab now will retest a third sample
>from the case that has partially been processed by HPD's analysts, which
>troubles some scientists who worry about contamination.
>Beyond that, the next move belongs to the defense, according to the
>prosecutor who has headed up the DNA retest effort for the district
>"It's up to Rosenberg to raise some issues," said Assistant District
>Attorney Marie Munier.
>Rosenberg has filed appeals raising issues about HPD's DNA tests.
>Robert Morrow, one of the attorney's who represented Alix at trial, said
>action must be taken quickly.
>"We shouldn't kill anybody until we can say (the DNA evidence) played no
>part in the determination," he said.
>Texas's Death Row in a Momentary Lull --3 Men Granted Stays Hours Before
>Execution After Suit Asserts Cruelty of Injections
>Before the U.S. Supreme Court intervened last Wednesday, Kevin Lee
>Zimmerman came so close to being executed in Texas's death chamber that he
>was served a "last" meal of his choosing: fried pork chop; fried chicken;
>french fries; a scrambled eggs and sausage sandwich; ketchup; 6 half pints
>of milk; and a chocolate cake.
>Now it seems Zimmerman will have one more last meal.
>A divided Supreme Court on Monday lifted its 11th-hour stay that spared
>the life of Zimmerman, a 42-year-old Louisianian who is facing the death
>penalty for the 1987 robbery and stabbing death of a man in a Beaumont,
>The court's 5 to 4 ruling means that a Texas judge can now set a fresh
>date for Zimmerman's execution.
>Zimmerman is 1 of 3 Texas death row inmates who were scheduled to die by
>lethal injection last week until last-minute court action -- or in 1 case,
>inaction -- spared their lives. The others are Billy Frank Vickers, 48,
>convicted of shooting a grocer carrying a bag of money home in 1993, and
>Bobby Lee Hines, 31, convicted of stabbing and strangling a woman to death
>during a robbery at her apartment in 1991. All 3 were part of a federal
>lawsuit, filed Dec. 8 by the Texas Defender Service and the Texas
>Innocence Network, asserting that the cocktail of 3 drugs used in Texas's
>death chamber -- particularly pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the
>muscles -- constitutes unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
>The lawsuit notes that pancuronium bromide, which some veterinarians shun
>to euthanize pets, hides pain and suffering rather than eases it.
>On Dec. 9, Vickers's execution, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m., was
>scratched because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New
>Orleans failed to rule on a last-minute appeal based on the lawsuit. In
>the absence of any ruling from the court -- an unprecedented situation in
>Texas, death penalty lawyers said -- Texas officials called off the
>execution, and the warrant for his death expired at midnight. It could be
>reissued as soon as next year.
>On Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia issued a brief order halting the
>scheduled execution of Zimmerman that day so the high court could study
>the case. The same day, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the
>scheduled Thursday execution of Hines on the grounds that he may be
>The stay for Zimmerman was vacated Monday over the objections of the
>court's liberal wing -- Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth
>Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. The 4 said the court should not rule
>in Zimmerman's case until it resolves a separate case next year involving
>an inmate on Alabama's death row who contends that execution by lethal
>injection would be cruel because of his medical condition, collapsed veins
>from heavy drug use.
>Zimmerman had been scheduled to die about 20 minutes before Scalia's order
>last week. At the time, he told Texas corrections officials: "I'm
>disappointed. I was ready to go. The stay only means 18 more months of
>Texas, the 1st state to execute condemned inmates by lethal injection, has
>put to death 24 inmates this year, nearly twice as many as any other
>state. Before the reprieves for the 3 inmates last week in Texas, 6 others
>here had successfully delayed their executions, sometimes with just a few
>hours remaining until the appointed hour, on grounds of mental
>Last week's flurry of activity captured more attention than death penalty
>matters generally do here. This fall, a 2-month lull in death chamber
>activity prompted an Associated Press article to note that in Texas, it is
>news when executions do not take place.
>(soruce: Washington Post)
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