Friday, April 13, 2007

FLORIDA----foreign national death sentence upheld

FLORIDA----foreign national death sentence upheld

German's death sentence stands

The state high court ratifies the conviction of a visitor who killed his
girlfriend in 1987.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ratified the conviction
and death sentence of a German man convicted of killing his girlfriend
nearly 20 years ago in Miami.

Dieter Riechmann was convicted in 1988 of killing Kersten Kischnick while
they were visiting from Rheinfelden, Germany, in October 1987.

Kischnick, 31, was shot while in the passenger seat of an automobile
driven by Riechmann, who said that a stranger they asked for directions
killed the woman.

In his latest appeal, Riechmann claimed he was a victim of improper
judicial communications and prosecutors who urged witnesses to lie.

However, all seven Supreme Court justices concurred in Thursday's unsigned
opinion, rejecting Riechmann's claims to vacate his conviction and

"There's nothing out there that gives the court pause with regard to the
validity of the conviction," assistant deputy attorney general Carolyn
Snurkowski said Thursday.

The lead attorney for Riechmann at last year's arguments at the high
court, Martin McLain, did not return a telephone call Thursday for

A copy of the court's decision also was sent to Michael Tarre, a Miami
representative for the Federal Republic of Germany. A representative of
the German consulate attended the 2006 oral arguments at the court but did
not participate.

Prosecutors said Riechmann, who is from Hamburg, Germany, had benefited
financially from Kischnick working as a prostitute. However, a health
problem threatened her ability to work and she was killed in order for
Riechmann to collect a $1 million life-insurance payment.

Authorities also said a .38-caliber weapon similar to the one used in the
killing was found in Riechmann's luggage.

Riechmann, 62, had earlier appealed his death sentence, saying his lawyer
did not do his job during the sentencing part of the trial and failed to
put witnesses on the stand who would testify about his character in an
effort to keep him off death row.

Riechmann's lawyers argued that a key witness in the trial subsequently
changed his story and said prosecutors encouraged him to lie when he
testified. They also said a former police officer said prosecutors also
encouraged him to lie, resulting in a pattern of misconduct.

Riechmann is imprisoned at Union Correctional Institution near Starke.

Florida has executed 64 inmates since the death penalty was reinstated in
1979 after a 15-year hiatus.

However, executions were suspended in December after the state botched the
lethal injection of a 55-year-old career criminal, Angel Nieves Diaz, who
took 34 minutes to die after being injected a second time.

(source: Orlando Sentinel)

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