Sunday, September 7, 2008

Treasure Coast death row inmates continue appeals

By Staff report

Thursday, September 4, 2008

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Three Treasure Coast convicted murderers on Florida’s death row are continuing to appeal Florida’s use of lethal injection, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing it, court officials say.

In July, Florida resumed lethal injection for capital punishment, which had been under a moratorium because of a botched injection in 2006, said Assistant State Attorney Ryan Butler.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, attorneys for death row inmates James Eric Chandler of Sebastian, William Reeves of Vero Beach and Billy Kearse of Fort Pierce, all asked for court hearings to challenge the procedure.

Now those requests are coming before local judges. On Wednesday, Indian River Circuit Judge Robert Peg postponed making a ruling after hearing from Chandler’s attorney, Martin McClain, with the state’s Capital Collateral Regional Counsel. The counsel handles post-conviction cases.

McClain argued that not granting a hearing would be a denial of due process. Assistant Attorney General Celia Terenzio disagreed, saying the issue of lethal injection has been settled.

In coming weeks, other Capital Collateral Regional Counsel attorneys will be in court calling for hearings on the potential use of lethal injection for Reeves and Kearse.

Chandler was convicted of beating two Sebastian retirees to death with a baseball bat in 1981. Reeves shot a sheriff’s deputy in 1987 outside a convenience store on State Road 60 west of Vero Beach.

In 1991, Kearse shot a Fort Pierce police officer 13 times following a traffic stop for going the wrong way on a one-way street.

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