Tuesday, September 30, 2008

High Court Upholds Death Sentence In Local Couple's Slaying


TBO.com

Published: September 29, 2008

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence imposed on William Deparvine for killing a Tierra Verde couple in November 2003.

A jury found Deparvine guilty of killing Richard and Karla Van Dusen, whose bodies were found on a dirt road east of Oldsmar.

Prosecutors said Deparvine met the couple when he responded to a newspaper add they placed to sell their 1971 Chevrolet pickup.

Justice R. Fred Lewis and Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince dissented, saying the jury should not have been allowed to hear purportedly spontaneous statements Deparvine made to authorities.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Price isn't right for the death penalty


By Jack Payden-Travers
Article Launched: 09/27/2008 10:56:50 PM PDT


AS the country's economic woes continue to mount, frightening many Americans, it has become clear that the United States simply cannot afford capital punishment.

The death penalty is the revenue-guzzling SUV to the cost-efficient hybrid of life without parole. Researchers all over the country are crunching the numbers and coming to the same conclusion - the death penalty is far too expensive.

In its recently released report, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice found that California's current death penalty system costs $137 million annually compared with $11.5 million for a system without the death penalty. The commission also reported that California's system is "dysfunctional" and that it will cost an additional $200 million a year to fix it.

In January 2008, New Jersey became the first state to abolish the death penalty in 40 years.

The New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission's report included the costs of a capital punishment system as one of the seven issues it studied. It noted that costs associated with death penalty cases are significantly higher than those associated with life without parole cases.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections estimated an average savings to the state of over $1 million over each inmate's lifetime. In addition the Commission noted "the devastating emotional costs of the death penalty ... the adverse effects of executions on third parties: judges, jurors, judicial staff, correctional staff, journalists, clergy and spiritual advisors, as well as the families of the victim and the families of the condemned inmate ... these intangible emotional and psychological costs must also be taken into consideration in weighing the costs of the death penalty."
In Maryland, the Urban Institute study of March 2008 noted that it costs the state three times more to try a death penalty case than a non-death penalty case. The report stated that "an average capital-eligible case resulting in a death sentence will cost approximately $3 million, $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty was not sought."

A 2004 study in Tennessee said the findings were the same. Capital trials cost almost 50 percent more than trials where life without parole is sought. Similar findings have been made in Washington, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Kansas and Texas.

The death penalty is a failed government program for many reasons. One is that it is a colossal waste of government resources. Since 1977 we've carried out over 1,100 executions in this country to the tune of what is conservatively estimated over $1 billion. We would have been far wiser using this money to meet our many pressing needs, such as improving our schools, building safer communities, fixing our deteriorating infrastructures, shoring up our social security system, providing health insurance for children, etc.

That money has only purchased a system that doesn't work. In the last 3 decades, 129 individuals have been released from death row because they were innocent. That's one exoneration for every 9 executions. Would you buy a car that failed to start one time out of 10?

Whether one believes in the death penalty or not, we have to face the true costs of this policy. Nearly 3,300 men and women sit on death row right now.

Even if the United States were to return to the heyday of the death penalty, 1998 with 98 executions, it would take more than 30 years to kill all of these individuals. What will the cost of execution have risen to by then?

The reality is that most individuals remain on death row for at least 10 years before all state and federal appeals are completed. Based on the 129 exonerations so far we know it takes on average nine years and three appeals to reverse a wrongful conviction.

Many prisoners will die of natural causes before they can be executed. It would be far cheaper to commute these sentences to life without parole than to continue this failed policy of state killing. Indeed juries which now have the option of life in prison without parole in 35 of the 36 death penalty states are increasingly refusing to sentence people to death.

The death penalty is a bankrupting policy. Let's abolish it.

Jack Payden-Travers is the public education associate with the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project

Gateway double-murder case set for trial, accused faces death penalty


By ELIZABETH WRIGHT

Originally published 07:04 p.m., September 27, 2008
Updated 08:02 p.m., September 27, 2008

BONITA SPRINGS — It was Christmas, and Michelle Andrews was trying to salvage her marriage. Her husband, Steven, was thinking about leaving, and she knew it.

At the same time, a woman named Kellie Ballew was anxiously waiting for that marriage to end. Thinking it would, believing Michelle Andrews’ husband would choose her instead, Ballew already had tried to break off a six-year relationship of her own.

She had asked her boyfriend, a motorcycle mechanic named Fred Cooper, to move by the end of the year from the Bonita Springs townhouse they shared. She had asked him to respect any new relationships she might form.

Then came a 911 call the morning of Dec. 27, 2005, and the discovery of a toddler, Lucasz Andrews, alone in a home in Gateway in south Lee County with the bodies of his parents.

Steven Andrews, 28, had been shot in the head.

Michelle Andrews, 28, had been beaten and suffocated.

Cooper, now 30, quickly became a suspect in the Gateway murders: He was the jilted, jealous lover.

In an early criminal investigation report, a motive — Ballew’s infidelity — was put simply: “He loved her and she cheated on him.”

Now, nearly three years later, Cooper is about to go to trial on charges that could lead to the death penalty. He faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed burglary.

In the 33 months since the Andrewses died, the case — with its story of lives and loves tangling and ending, and the little boy left behind — has received news coverage from Duluth, Minn., to Miami.

“This case certainly does have a lot of public attention,” said Samantha Syoen, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office, describing how the upcoming trial has brought a new stream of inquiries to her office from different parts of the country.

The interest has been extensive enough that Cooper’s defense has tried many times — though without success — to get the trial moved out of Lee County, citing concerns about whether Cooper could receive a fair trial here.

His defense has sent a judge boxes stuffed with printouts of news stories and blog posts on the case as well as signed statements from Lee County residents agreeing that publicity in the case had been pervasive.

But Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese has rejected multiple requests for a change in venue, and jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning at the Lee County Justice Center.

Cooper’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ken Garber, couldn’t be reached for comment, and Syoen said prosecutors declined to talk about the specifics of the case.

‘MAMA’

The 911 call — initially one of the more remarkable aspects of the case — came at 7:03 a.m., two days after Christmas 2005.

Records of the call show the first few minutes of silence made it appear that no one was on the line, then Carol Follmer, who took the call, started to hear a “baby” in the background. At 7:08 a.m., the transcript shows she heard a “young child saying mama over and over.”

Deputy Tracie Gaydash already had been dispatched to check things out. She arrived about 7:10 a.m. and found 2-year-old Lucasz at the door.

He was wearing a pair of bloodstained white socks.

Gaydash took the phone and said, “I don’t see anybody here though. I’m ... I’m sure maybe the parents are upstairs sleeping?”

It isn’t clear that Lucasz placed the 911 call on his own, as the Sheriff’s Office first reported. But at that point, the boy led Gaydash upstairs to his parents’ bedroom.

Gaydash saw “nude legs,” then backed away downstairs, holding Lucasz’s hand, and led him outside before the major crimes unit, forensics unit, paramedics and medical examiner arrived.

The Andrewses had been living at 12221 Eagle Pointe Court in Gateway, a community in unincorporated Lee County, for just over a year.

Their home was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a lanai, pool and garage. Inside, it was brightly painted and full of evidence that it was Christmastime.

Crime scene photos show a tall tree by a window and a small teddy bear wearing a Christmas tree sweater set out at the foot of the staircase.

Three stockings hung underneath a picture of a beach scene, and the largest red stocking, the one hung in the center, was for Lukasz.

Throughout the home, there were signs of things the couple loved — the miniature surfboards, the guitars, a big, unfinished bowl of popcorn — one Steven Andrews had made before going to bed the night he died. An obituary later noted it was a favorite snack.

There also were hints inside the home of the emotional turmoil facing the couple.

A sticky note inside a phone book was placed on a page listing marriage counselors, and a pink note card on top of a phone book read, “Steven, I love you with all my heart. Michelle Lynn.”

Upstairs, inside the master bedroom, the couple kept a wedding photo on the dresser and a copy of the inspirational Joel Osteen book, “Your Best Life Now.”

Crime scene photos show bloodstains throughout the bedroom, and a medical examiner’s report released this summer describes signs of a struggle on Michelle’s side of the couple’s bed, with indications of “fingers grabbing the sheets and being dragged.”

Her body was found on the other side of the room, placed in what the medical examiner’s report described as “an erotic pose” with her nightgown pulled up. Her hair was bloodied but her body had been cleaned up. Her face was bruised.

Steven Andrews’ body had been pulled off the bed and was found face down on the carpet. There were bloody handprints on the turquoise blue wall nearby.

An autopsy showed that he died of a gunshot wound to the head. He had likely been sleeping, and investigators found a bullet under one pillow.

Michelle Andrews died of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.

FRAYING MARRIAGE

Investigators’ interviews with family members, neighbors, co-workers and others connected to the Andrewses shed some light on what their lives were like leading up to their deaths.

The holidays weren’t calm ones emotionally for the Andrewses. Steven’s parents, who were visiting from Minnesota, weren’t on the best of terms with Michelle.

And Michelle recently had revealed a secret to her own parents.

She had revised her story of how she had become pregnant three years before when the couple was living in Minnesota and Steven was working on a master’s degree.

She told her husband and her family at the time that she had an affair and that it was a mistake. She had an abortion.

This Christmas, though, she was saying the real story was that she had been raped by a co-worker, but that she had been too afraid to explain it before.

She finally told her husband on Christmas Day.

By that point, she had confided in her parents and her in-laws that she thought Steven was having an affair. She knew the woman’s first name, and she had told her father about what she considered an inappropriate Christmas gift the woman had given to her husband at a company Christmas party -- a keychain that matched his car that was worth too much money.

She was trying her best to be perfect for her husband over the holidays, trying to take advice about being a “good wife” and cooking for him.

She even talked to her mother-in-law about her fears during a walk on the beach.

Her mother-in-law, Barbara Andrews, asked Steven about it; he denied it.

But at the same time, Steven also was talking about his unhappiness with the marriage and seeking advice.

On Christmas Eve, he had gone canoeing with his wife’s father, Dan Korkora.

They stopped at a bend in the Estero River and Steven Andrews explained that he had feelings for another woman, though he said he hadn’t acted on them.

Kokora said he didn’t pry.

“He did not give the idea that there was an affair going on,” he said.

Kokora knew who Ballew was and described her as “very sharp, very smart” and an “open, touchy-feely kind of girl ... When I met her, I instantly felt if you want to make Michelle jealous, just show her this girl.”

Kokora told detectives about his daughter’s worries: “She was afraid that Steve was gonna leave her because he said, ‘I don’t know if I love you anymore,’ to her, and she said, ‘I — I think I feel him slipping away.’ ”

E-mails between Steven Andrews and Ballew — who used Cooper’s last name in her e-mail address — show they were imagining a life together at that point.

A little more than a week before Christmas, Stevens wrote to Ballew: “When I am an old man, I want to know that I was true to myself and shared life with someone who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with them.”

The two had met in the summer of 2005. They confided about troubles in their relationships. They talked about their children, about being parents. Ballew later said Steven Andrews had told her that he might ask for a divorce after the holidays, and they met for sex at their office the night of the murders.

Before the Andrewses’ deaths were ruled homicides, some who knew of the stresses on the marriage suggested to investigators that either Steven or Michelle had simply snapped.

Steven Andrews’ mother, Barbara Andrews, suggested it might have been her own son who lost it.

And Ballew told a detective that “just from things that Steve has said to me about how Michelle can be and things and how she’s acted the last couple weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if she stepped over the deep end.”

COOPER AND BALLEW

According to one of Ballew’s friends, though, her first thoughts when hearing about the murders seemed to be focused on Cooper.

Claudia Gerardo was with Ballew when they learned about the murders, and later described her friend’s reactions to detectives, how she immediately called Cooper to ask him where he was.

“We talked about the possibility of um — of, um, Fred being involved ... We talked about her fears, basically, if that were the case,” Gerardo said.

It was the day the Andrewses’ bodies were found, and Cooper had called Ballew while sitting on their couch watching TV and opening Christmas gifts from her mother. He told her that he thought she “might need to come home because he had some bad news that he had seen about Steve and Michelle.”

Ballew was hysterical, Gerardo said, and at one point said of Cooper: “I hope he didn’t, but if he did, I hope they fry his (expletive).”

At that point, they drove together to the Lee Sheriff’s Office.

Ballew, now 29, told detectives that Cooper had been in the dark about her relationship with Steven Andrews. She said Michelle hadn’t known, either — until about a week before Christmas, when Michelle called her “going off in a fit.”

As for Cooper, she repeatedly said he wasn’t the jealous type.

At the same time, she said he had asked her who was texting her at 11 p.m. one night after she had asked to split up.

“Steve had just texted me to ask me to check my e-mail. So I got up to check my e-mail and Fred got up and started yelling and saying, ‘Who the (expletive) is that?’ and ‘Who is calling you?’” Ballew said.

She had seen Cooper with a gun recently, “when everything really, really went down” with their relationship.

“I was afraid of what he might do,” she said.

Asked to explain, she said she was worried he might hurt himself, and she threatened to call the police. “And he just kept apologizing. He said he couldn’t live without me.”

The next day, Cooper told her he had thrown the gun in a river. Ballew said she looked for it and didn’t find it.

Ballew said Cooper’s earlier troubles with the law — what she described as “stealing and just doing teenage stuff” — came because he didn’t have a father, and his mother wasn’t home.

Teenage “rebellious stuff” for Cooper led to some time in prison. He had been arrested several times in the 1990s in Martin County for burglary and criminal mischief. He was sentenced as a youthful offender, and Ballew said she started dating him right after he got out on work release in August 1999.

Ballew said the tattoo on his shoulder, COOP, was his prison nickname.

They had lived together on the east coast of the state before moving to Lee County.

By late 2005, Cooper and Ballew were living with their daughter and Cooper’s mother at 28263 Jeneva Way, Bonita Springs.

EVIDENCE

Cooper’s co-workers told detectives they’d heard Cooper say that his girlfriend wanted to break things off and had cleaned out their bank accounts, and that he had seemed less focused on his work.

In a request for a search warrant for Cooper’s home, detective Walter Ryan describes how Cooper was “visibly nervous” during interviews in late December 2005.

Cooper declined to take a polygraph and denied any involvement.

His arrest came Jan. 11, after law enforcement cited a DNA test that had tied him to the crime scene.

Cooper had voluntarily provided a DNA sample for testing during earlier questioning, and testing of a swab from Michelle Andrews’ right-hand fingernails showed a mixture of DNA that could have included Cooper’s.

According to the report: “Steven Andrews, Fred Dewitt Cooper or any of their paternally related relatives cannot be excluded as contributors to this mixture.”

But Cooper was excluded from DNA mixtures found elsewhere: from under Michelle’s right-hand fingernails and from her left hand.

Testing of a camouflage jacket of Cooper’s also didn’t turn up any blood, though a co-worker of Cooper’s at Sun Sports Cycle and Watercraft off Metro Parkway in Fort Myers had watched Cooper scrub the jacket with a shop rag for about an hour, cutting out some of the mesh lining with a razor blade.

Investigators also found surveillance video from a gas station near Gateway — which shows a man on a motorcycle — but testing determined that the video’s resolution was “poor for identification.”

There also are records from the security gates outside Cooper’s Bonita Springs home that show his motorcycle made it back inside the Village Walk community gates by about 3 a.m. on Dec. 27.

It’s not clear if he left again, and Cooper’s mother, Denise Cooper, told detectives that she had asked her son if he had anything to do with it. He told her he didn’t. She said he left home for work about 10 minutes to seven — about the same time some of the Andrewses’ neighbors said was when they saw a man with a camouflage jacket walking by.

Other neighbors described seeing someone with a camouflage jacket in the Gateway area late on the evening of the 26th, and the Andrewses’ next-door neighbor told a detective he heard a motorcycle start up about midnight.

Cooper owned a black and yellow 2004 Suzuki SV 650.

Then there is the account of Jimmy Lynn Craven, who told a detective that Cooper — or someone who looked like him and who was riding a motorcycle — came to her office at the Gateway sales center two days before Christmas. The man had asked her for the gate code to the community where the Andrewses lived.

When detectives later showed her a photo lineup, Craven identified Cooper, if somewhat tentatively.

As for the statements Cooper made to detectives when he came in for questioning — ones his defense attorney claimed were obtained by deception — a judge declined to throw those statements out.

© Naples News

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Willie Crain says he shouldn't be on death row


Starke, Florida - As he sits on death row convicted murderer Willie Crain says investigators targeted him from the moment they started questioning him. Crain says detective Albert Brackett said to him, "I'm going to get you. I don't care what I have to do. I'm going to get you."

That's how Crain describes how investigators acted while he was being questioned about the murder of 7-year-old Amanda Brown.

Although the little girl's body was never found, prosecutors convinced a jury that Crain, a convicted pedophile, took Amanda's body and disposed of it in one of his crab traps.

We told Crain, "Everybody is saying you killed Amanda." Crain says he is aware of what everyone is saying. He told us, "I know what they're saying. I was found guilty of it."

However, Crain says, "I'm not guilty."

Crain, who has an evidentiary hearing in December, says there are several problems with his conviction including the Miranda Warning.

Crain says nobody advised him of his Miranda rights.

Although detectives had Crain initial and sign a form consenting to search his truck and boat, they never had him initial the form saying he had been read his Miranda rights. Detective Mike Hurley testified he read them to Crain, who he said understood them and agreed to talk.

Crain says that's not true and the court never heard that. According to Crain, his attorney never brought it up.

And while the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office has always maintained it handled the case by the book as it was looking for a missing girl who they hoped to find alive, Crain says at least three times he asked for an attorney and the request was denied.

Crain says,"They're coming for me, they're screaming and yelling at me and they've got me up against the wall."

"Their nose is touching my nose and spit is coming running out of their face, hitting me in the face. I can't move."

According to Crain, he screamed," I want an attorney. I ain't talking to you no more." However, Crain says investigators told him, "You ain't getting no attorney."

Crain also contends there is a problem with the testimony of former FDLE serologist Theodore Yeshion. In a deposition, Yeshion was asked if he had a way to determine if there was, in fact, Amanda and Crain's blood on a toilet seat and Crain's shorts. Yeshion said the test he did does not, in fact, tell him he had blood. Yeshion adds that he can't state that scientifically, conclusively, that it is blood without doing additional tests. But in Court, Yeshion testified that blood stains from the toilet and the shorts were consistent with DNA from Amanda and Crain.

Crain says investigators also ignored a note found at a construction site saying:

"I have known Willie Crain for several years and he is a no good bastard. " The note goes on to say, " I wanted to get his [Crain's] ass for several years, but sorry you have the wrong man."

The writer says he killed Amanda and that she was still alive when he put her in the water and she is now at peace.

Crain says he wants the real person in prison where he is.

And while most believe Crain is the real person who killed Amanda Brown, he says he hopes to convince a judge in December that the wrong man is on death row. Crain says he is innocent.

But guilty or innocent, it is likely Crain, who has colon cancer and two other spots on his lungs, will not live long enough to prove his case or meet his date with the executioner.

Then, the only one he has to convince is a higher authority.


Mike Deeson, Tampa Bay's 10 News

Florida executes man who killed 2 young sisters


STARKE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has executed a man convicted of shooting and killing two young sisters after he raped and shot their mother.

Thirty-four-year-old Richard Henyard was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. Tuesday. He had been condemned for the deaths of 7-year-old Jamilya Lewis and her 3-year-old sister, Jasmine.

The slayings occurred in January 1993 when Henyard and a 14-year-old accomplice carjacked Dorothy Lewis and her daughters outside a grocery store in the central Florida town of Eustis.

Henyard, then 18, raped Lewis and then shot her multiple times at close range, but she survived. The daughters were then shot in the head after they cried out for their mother.

Death Row Still Crowded


September 24th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

About a dozen people gathered in the rotunda of the state capitol at noon today to call for an end to executions. Yesterday, Richard Henyard became the 65th person executed by the state since executions resumed in 1979. Henyard was convicted of kidnaping and killing two young girls after raping their mother and leaving her for dead. Sheila Hopkins of the Florida Catholic Conference says modern penal facilities offer an alternative to death.

“What we are hoping is that people will understand is that this execution is not going to solve the problem…as the victims husband testified. This does not bring her daughters back. What we are saying is lets get rid of executions, have a moratorium, keep people in prison for the rest of their lives. That is punishment, and that is justice”, says Hopkins.

After yesterday’s execution, there are still 387 people on Florida’s death row.

Florida high court upholds conviction, death sentence of Deltona mass murder figure


By JIM SAUNDERS
TALLAHASSEE BUREAU CHIEF

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Supreme Court today upheld the convictions and death sentences of Jerone Hunter, who was sent to Death Row for the 2004 slayings of six people in a Deltona home.

The 6-1 decision was the first time justices have ruled on a case involving the grisly murders that drew national attention.

Hunter argued, in part, that he should have been tried separately from co-defendants Troy Victorino and Michael Salas. But justices rejected that and other arguments.

Only Justice Harry Lee Anstead dissented because of concerns about the way Hunter’s appellate attorney handled the case.

The Aug. 6, 2004, slayings became widely known as the "Xbox murders" because they stemmed from a dispute about video-game systems taken from a home where Victorino had been living as a squatter.

The victims, who were beaten with aluminum baseball bats, were Erin Belanger, 22; Jonathan Gleason, 17; Michelle Nathan, 19; Roberto "Tito" Gonzalez, 28; Francisco “Flaco" Ayo-Roman, 30; and Anthony Vega, 34.

Hunter, who was 18 at the time of the murders, was convicted on six counts of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge William Parsons sentenced him to death in September 2006.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As Henyard is executed, Catholics gather in prayer


Capital punishment opponents join in prayer vigils around the state to pray for a condemned killer, his victims and for the end of executions.

LINDA REEVES AND DENISE O’TOOLE KELLY FLORIDA CATHOLIC STAFF

Published: 09.24.08

PALM BEACH GARDENS Raindrops fell from the heavens Tuesday evening Sept. 23 on the grounds of this city’s Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, where about 20 people gathered to pray about an execution set to take place in a few minutes, about 285 miles away.

“I know a lot of people are not interested in the death penalty. But if you care about life from conception to natural death, you should care about what happens to everyone,” said prayer leader Don Kazimir, coordinator of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Palm Beach. “The commandment says ‘you shall not kill.’ This is killing — state–sponsored killing — and it is wrong. It perpetuates the cycle of violence. It is something that is wrong in this country, and we need to correct it.”

The lethal injection of Richard Henyard was carried out in the death chamber in the north Florida town of Starke at around 8 p.m. The execution took place about two hours later than planned. The Palm Beach vigil and at least five other events in which Catholics joined other death penalty opponents in prayer and peaceful protests got under way around the state before the 6 p.m. scheduled time.

Members of local chapters of Pax Christi, a Catholic peace movement, participated in events at a busy intersection in Pinellas County, the Duval County Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville, outside St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and outside the Florida State Prison near Starke.

Henyard, 34, was executed over the objection of Florida’s Catholic bishops, who on Sept. 17 asked Gov. Crist in a letter to spare the killer’s life and to end the use of the death penalty in the state. Repeating a plea they issued before the July 1 execution of Mark Dean Schwab, the first person to be executed in Florida under Gov. Crist, the bishops said that using the death penalty diminishes a civil society, perpetuates a culture of death, raises questions about fairness and is unnecessary given the option of life in prison without parole.

Henyard was sentenced to death for the January 1993 murders of 7–year–old Jamilya Lewis and 3–year–old Jasmine Lewis, and the rape and attempted murder of their mother, Dorothy Lewis, all of Eustis. Schwab, 39, was executed for the April 18, 1991, rape and murder of 11–year–old Junny Rios–Martinez of Cocoa.

Pax Christi member Phyllis Jepson, a parishioner of St. Ann in West Palm Beach who attended the vigil in Palm Beach Gardens, said the nature of the crimes doesn’t make use of the death penalty acceptable.

“For the state to kill an individual is wrong and we feel that even though he has been found guilty of a horrendous crime killing two young children, we still believe his life is sacred,” Jepson said. “Judgment will come when he stands before God. It is not our place to judge. We witness to life.”

Monday, September 22, 2008

Victims' parents: Allred should be in court

Andrew Allred, far right, has pleaded guilty to murdering Ocala native Tiffany Barwick and her friend Michael Ruschak.


By NASEEM S. MILLER
Star-Banner

Published: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 9:36 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 3:54 p.m.

SEMINOLE - The parents of the two young people whom Andrew Allred has admitted killing were upset this afternoon that Allred wasn't in court during his sentencing hearing.

"He was my son's judge and jury," said Janice Ruschak, whose son, Michael, was killed last year along with his friend Tiffany Barwick, an Ocala native.

Allred previously pleaded guilty to killing the two last September inside an Oviedo house.

The state is seeking the death penalty. The defense is seeking life in prison. Allred has waived his right to a jury in the sentencing hearing. The judge has granted his wish to be absent from the courtroom.

The state took testimony from a man who lives across from 100 Shady Oak Lane in Oviedo, where the killings happened. He told the judge that he saw Allred drive up to the house the night of the killings, ram into Barwick's car, then go inside.

The judge also heard from the other people who were inside the house that night, including one young man whom Allred shot, though not fatally. Barwick and Ruschak both were shot to death.

In its opening statement, the prosecution listed the aggravating factors that it says apply to the killing of Tiffany Barwick. Among them: that the killing was heinous, atrocious and cruel; that it was cold, calculated and premeditated; that it was committed during an armed burglary; and that it created a great risk of death to many people.

For Ruschak's case, the factors were the same except for the heinous, atrocious and cruel portion.

The defense, meantime, listed the mitigating factors that it intends to prove. Among them: that Allred lacked the capability to conform to the law; and that he was suffering a severe emotional disturbance.

The proceedings halted this afternoon and are scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Seminole County courthouse.

Allred was present in court briefly during the morning because Circuit Judge O.H. Eaton wanted to make sure he still didn't want to attend the full proceedings.

Allred said loudly and firmly, "No, sir."

Allred appeared disheveled, his hair and beard long and unkempt. He covered his face from the cameras, while raising his middle finger.

In comments after court, the victims' families said Allred shouldn't be allowed to take a pass.

"All these kids have a right to face him," Mrs. Ruschak said, referencing the witnesses who had been inside the house that night.

Testimony ends for day in trial of Oviedo man who murdered former girlfriend, UCF student


Rene Stutzman Sentinel Staff Writer
4:38 PM EDT, September 22, 2008
Testimony had concluded for the day in Sanford at the trial of a 22-year-old Oviedo man who murdered his former girlfriend and a University of Central Florida student last year.

Andrew Allred pleaded guilty in April to those slayings.

The penalty phase of his trial began today even though he refused to go into the courtroom. That didn't stop the judge and attorneys. They began picking a panel anyway while Allred sat in a holding cell at Seminole's Criminal Justice Center and watched the proceedings by video.

Testimony is to continue in the morning.

Jurors this week will decide one issue – whether Allred should be given the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.

Allred shot Tiffany Barwick, 19, and her friend Michael Ruschak, 22, on Sept, 24, 2007, at Ruschak's home in Oviedo, where several friends had gathered.

Allred crashed his car into the house then shot his way inside. He wounded a third person.

Allred and Barwick had broken up, but he had been cyberstalking Barwick, according to police records. The day of the slayings, Barwick and Ruschak had asked the Seminole County Sheriff's Office to arrest Allred, but that didn't happen.

Deputy charged in domestic violence


September 22, 2008

The Orange County Sheriff's Office said Sunday that Alan Brooks, 24, a deputy and a son-in-law of Sheriff Kevin Beary, has been relieved of duty because of a domestic-violence charge against him in Lake County.

Beary in a statement offered few specifics but said his daughter and son-in-law are "well" and he asked that their privacy be respected. "When something like this hits so close to home it takes the life right out of you," Beary said. Brooks, a deputy for two years, was arrested and charged with domestic battery Saturday by the Mount Dora Police Department, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palm Bay teen faces charges for scalding cousin

The Associated Press

9:29 AM EDT, September 21, 2008

PALM BAY

Police in Central Florida say a teenager faces child abuse charges after pouring scalding water on his 4-year-old cousin.

According to Palm Bay Police, a 15-year-old who was babysitting his two cousins was angered when the 4-year-old told him to "get a job.'' Authorities say he grabbed a cup of scalding water, and as the child ran away, threw it on her back.

Police say the water left spotted blisters and open wounds on the child's back. They were later noticed by a day care worker.

The teen has a criminal record and was in violation of his probation at the time of the latest arrest.

Prison terms in cocaine cases reduced for some because of disparities


U.S. commission of judges found crack penalties were too harsh and affected minorities more than whites

By Vanessa Blum

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

September 21, 2008

Ordinarily, Anthea Harris would have waited in the car.

But on that day in October 1993, Harris didn't feel safe in the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood where her husband pulled over near dusk to conduct a drug deal. So she went with him into the apartment and watched as he exchanged 550 rocks of crack cocaine for $5,500 in cash.

The transaction, made to undercover informants, was recorded on videotape. Four years later, on Aug. 20, 1997, a federal judge sentenced Harris to 15 years and eight months for conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.

In prison, as Harris met women serving far less time for importing larger amounts of powder cocaine, the mother of two learned a painful lesson.

"I'd have been better off if I would have went and strapped the drugs to my body and came through the airport," she said. "There's no one on earth who can explain that to me."

To civil rights activists, defense lawyers and many judges, cases like Harris' show the double standard in federal sentencing laws that treat crack 100 times more harshly than powder cocaine.

Critics say the system leads to excessive prison terms for many nonviolent, first-time criminals and results in longer sentences for blacks — the majority of crack cocaine defendants. Now, for the first time, 19,500 prisoners nationwide have a chance to reduce their sentences under a new rule lowering tough penalties for crimes involving crack by an average of 23 months. South Florida judges have already trimmed the prison terms of more than 100 drug offenders, including Harris, released after almost 11 years.

She left the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex near Orlando on June 2, reuniting with her two daughters, now 12 and 18.

But not everyone is benefiting. What's more, critics say, the fix doesn't go far enough to correct the sentencing disparity, which dates to the federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

That law imposed a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for crimes involving five grams of crack and a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for crimes involving 50 grams of the drug — the approximate weight of a Snickers bar.

"In many states, we don't sentence child abuse that harshly or even murder," said Carmen Hernandez, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Law enforcement officials fear the rule change could put violent criminals back on the streets. In August, five months after a man won such an early release, authorities in St. Johns County arrested him on charges of raping a 13-year-old girl.



Panel's reports
The new sentencing guidelines came after the U.S. Sentencing Commission, made up of judges and criminal justice analysts from both of the main political parties, issued reports concluding penalties for crack cocaine were too harsh. It said the tough guidelines often applied to low-level offenders and mostly affected minorities.

South Florida's chief federal prosecutor testified in 2006 against the changes, contending tough penalties for crack cocaine help law enforcement fight drug- and gang-related crime. U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said strong sentencing guidelines were useful for combating gang activity and violent crime.

The new rule does not guarantee an inmate's early release and it does not amend the strict mandatory minimums set by Congress. Career felons generally are not eligible for sentence reductions. For others, it comes down to a judge's discretion.

South Florida federal judges have denied sentence reductions at a rate greater than the national average, turning away almost half the prisoners asking for early release since the change took effect in March.

Inmates may have better odds in other parts of the country. Nationwide, judges approved 76 percent of requests from crack offenders, compared with South Florida's approval rate of 54 percent.

One local inmate to meet disappointment was Sean Johnson — a first-time offender serving a 19-year sentence. Broward sheriff's deputies arrested Johnson on his 18th birthday after finding a crack lab in a Miramar apartment where he lived with his 17-year-old girlfriend and her child.

A jury convicted Johnson of drug trafficking and U.S. District Judge William Zloch sentenced him March 6, 1993, to 19 years and seven months.

Johnson, now 34, has lived his entire adult life in federal prison. He has a son, born months after his arrest.

With the rule change, Johnson became eligible for immediate release, and prosecutors raised no objections.

However, Zloch rejected Johnson's request without explanation in March, leaving supporters baffled. On Sept. 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit returned the case to Zloch for "further consideration and explanation."

"From our perspective, he would be an ideal candidate," said Kathleen Williams, chief federal public defender for South Florida. "He's a man who took a horrendous turn in his life and made it positive beyond anyone's expectations."

Johnson's aunt, Vivian Wright, of Pompano Beach, agreed. "He's done enough time for what he did."


Looking tough
When Congress set the tough sentences for crimes involving crack cocaine, federal lawmakers considered it more addictive and more dangerous than powder. Critics insist scientific research has since discredited those theories. They contend tougher sentences for crack are discriminatory, because more than 80 percent of defendants incarcerated for selling crack are black.

The new guidelines don't eliminate the sentencing disparity because federal mandatory minimum sentences remain in place. For example, possession of 50 grams of crack still carries the same 10-year prison sentence as five kilograms of cocaine powder.

Proposals to ease penalties have stalled because lawmakers want to look tough on crime, Hernandez said. "Many politicians fear that if they reduce sentences, someday it can be use against them politically."

Harris has no time to be bitter over the 10 years and nine months she spent behind bars.

"You have to let it go," said Harris, who now lives with relatives outside Orlando. "Sitting around and being angry about what happened to me is not going to get me anywhere."

Vanessa Blum can be reached at vbblum@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4605.

Fla. prepares to execute killer of 2 young girls


Associated Press - September 21, 2008 4:44 AM ET

STARKE, Fla. (AP) - Florida is planning to carry out its 65th execution since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the state's death penalty in 1976.

Thirty-4-year-old Richard Henyard is scheduled to die Tuesday, the second execution since the state resumed them after an 18-month moratorium.

When the moratorium was lifted, Governor Crist said he wanted to sign death warrants for those convicted of the most heinous murders.

Henyard and a teenage accomplice carjacked Carol Lewis and her 3- and 7-year-old daughters outside a central Florida grocery store 15 years ago.

He told Lewis he was Satan when she prayed for help, raped her and then shot her multiple times, but she survived. He then participated in the execution of her daughters after they cried out for their mom.

Stay Application Richard Henyard

No. 08A248



Title: Richard Henyard, Applicant
v.
Florida

Docketed:
Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Florida
Case Nos.: (08-222, 08-1544, 08-1653)

~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sep 19 2008 Application (08A248) for stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Thomas.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

~~Name~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~Address~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~Phone~~~
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Mark S. Gruber 3801 Corporex Park Drive (813) 740-3544
Suite 210
Tampa, FL 33619-1136
Party name: Richard Henyard
Attorneys for Respondent:
Stephen D. Ake Assistant Attorney General (813) 287-7910
Office of Attorney General
3507 E. Frontage Rd., Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33607-7013
Party name: Florida

Legal limbo in 1981 Tampa officer's killing may be near end


By Colleen Jenkins, Times staff writer cjenkins@sptimes.com


Published Saturday, September 20, 2008 6:56 PM


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TAMPA — Carlos Bello is a convicted killer, but he is not condemned.

In 1989, the Florida Supreme Court threw out the death sentence he drew for slaying a Tampa police officer during an undercover drug bust. At least 11 times since then, judges have sided with the mental health professionals who said Bello was not competent to participate in further legal proceedings.

Those rulings have kept Bello, 55, locked up in state hospitals rather than prison or on death row, despite differing opinions about the severity of his mental illness.

The legal limbo could be nearing an end.

After the latest round of evaluations, two experts agree that Bello is now competent to be sentenced. A judge will hear their testimony Friday before making a final determination.

Tired of what one called the "vicious circle," prosecutors and members of the local law enforcement community are cautiously optimistic.

"They're just extremely painful moments to relive," said Hills­borough State Attorney Mark Ober, who was friends with the fallen officer. "If there is in fact closure with the criminal justice system, we need to proceed and get it over with."

• • •

Bello's mental health complicated his prosecution from the start.

The Cuban refugee with no more than a middle school education had been in the United States about a year before he directed a 50-pound marijuana deal on July 24, 1981, at an East Tampa home. When police officers moved in to make arrests, Bello fired shots from a snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver.

He pierced the heart of narcotics Detective Gerald A. Rauft, killing the 38-year-old father of two. Bello also hit Detective Robert Ulriksen in the elbow, stomach and arm. Ulriksen, who survived and identified Bello as the gunman, did not want to comment for this story.

It took six years for Bello to be deemed fit to stand trial.

After his arrest, he tried to commit suicide by jumping from the second floor of the county jail, court records show. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He would get stabilized on drugs at the mental hospitals, then deteriorate when he returned to the county jails and stopped taking his medication.

Walter Lopez, Bello's attorney at the time, said the medication merely masked a serious illness.

"He was crazy as a bedbug," Lopez said. "You could not communicate with the man. He didn't know what was happening."

Bello was convicted and sentenced to the electric chair in 1987, only to have his sentence overturned two years later. Lopez and mental health experts convinced a judge that Bello was not competent to be resentenced.

Judges found Bello incompetent in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2005. In August 2001, Dr. Arturo Gonzalez wrote a letter to the court saying that after examining Bello a dozen times since 1981, he doubted the defendant's competency would ever be restored, court records show.

Not everyone believed that Bello's impairment was as severe as he made it out to be. As the years passed, his treatment teams at two state mental hospitals suspected that he was exaggerating the symptoms of his mental illness to avoid punishment.

Reports from the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee in 2004 make a case for malingering.

Psychologists noted that Bello was a bit of a loner but engaged in animated conversations during meals. He administered his own insulin, changed his bed linens and kept himself clean. He didn't mumble or talk or yell to himself, according to the reports.

His behavior changed when he knew the hospital staff was watching, or when talk turned to his crime. He voiced delusions, saying that the CIA was trying to read his mind and steal his formula to cure AIDS. He claimed he invented the first computer and the first DVD. He said he didn't cut his long, scraggly beard because that was where his power lay.

"Mr. Bello has the capacity to manifest appropriate courtroom behavior, if he chooses to do so," wrote senior psychologist Alan Steed. "His efforts to avoid returning to court are believed to be within his control and not related to symptoms of a mental illness."

Prosecutor Darrell Dirks, who helped try Bello in the 1980s and remains on the case, said he has long had the sense that the state hospital professionals were frustrated when local evaluators didn't share their opinion. He said the varying findings may have resulted from the length of time spent with the defendant, criteria applied in the evaluations and the fact that Bello often stopped taking his medication once he returned to jail.

Unlike the mental hospitals, county jail officials can't force inmates to take medicines against their will, said Dr. Beth Weaver, medical director for the Hillsborough jails.

• • •

The two doctors who have found Bello competent to proceed did not wish to comment before Friday's hearing. Their reports are not public record, so it is not yet clear why they reached their conclusions.

The Public Defender's Office, which now represents Bello, will argue that he remains incompetent, said attorney Chuck Traina.

As things stand, the State Attorney's Office still plans to seek the death penalty. Such a punishment, however, will likely be met with skepticism on appeal. Florida Supreme Court justices have tended to give heightened scrutiny to death sentences imposed on severely mentally ill defendants, one expert said.

"Courts are also likely to look even more carefully at death sentences in cases, like this one, where the crime occurred so long ago," said Richard J. Bonnie, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Bello was not available for an interview. He is under special supervision at the jail because he has been refusing to eat most meals, Weaver said. He thinks jail officials are poisoning the food.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Expert: Michael Hernandez was psychotic before he killed classmate


BY LISA ARTHUR

A defense expert testified Friday that Michael Hernandez is a paranoid schizophrenic who was psychotic and out of touch with reality when he killed 14-year-old classmate Jaime Gough four years ago at Miami-Dade's Southwood Middle School.
Barry Rosenfeld, a forensic psychologist, arrived at his diagnosis after meeting with Hernandez for more than 20 hours over the past four years. He also reviewed psychological tests, sworn statements from Hernandez's parents and the disturbing journal found in Hernandez's backpack on Feb. 3, 2004, the day he killed Jaime.

The journal of the then-14-year-old shows a conflicted mind obsessed with killing, violence and reading the Bible.

''You will become a killer and mass murderer,'' reads one thought fragment in the journal, written in a schoolboy's scrawl.

``Have a cult and plan a mass kidnapping for new world.''

``Always give thanks and praise to God after killing.''

Rosenfeld said it was telling that the journal was written in the months before -- not after -- Hernandez's arrest.

''It's not like he created this three weeks later while sitting in jail because someone told him he needed an insanity defense,'' said Rosenfeld, a professor at Fordham University in Manhattan.

Hernandez's legal team has mounted an insanity defense and is trying to prove he was so mentally ill when he killed Jaime that he should not be held criminally responsible. Prosecutors dispute Hernandez is legally insane.

During her cross-examination of Rosenfeld, Miami-Dade prosecutor Carin Kahgan hammered away at the dispute at the crux of the trial: Even if Hernandez was mentally ill or had a personality disorder, that doesn't mean he meets Florida's legal definition of insane.

Kahgan said the evidence shows Hernandez knew what he was doing was wrong, and that he methodically plotted out Jaime's murder.

Rosenfeld said in his opinion Hernandez does meet Florida's insanity standard, and that the teen did not -- and still does not -- comprehend the consequences of his actions.

Kahgan shot back: ``He understood the consequences of his actions would be that his best friend would be dead, didn't he?''

''Yes,'' said Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld testified that during the months before Jaime's killing, Hernandez began a slow, insidious decline into mental illness. The first perceptible symptoms apparently developed in summer 2003, when Hernandez's family noticed odd repetitive behaviors he would do each day at the same time.

They included staring into the face of a grandfather clock, opening the garage door a certain number of times and checking the items in the refrigerator. Hernandez also started an exercise regime of weight lifting, riding his bike and swimming that his parents found excessive.

He also kept to a strict schedule and punished himself if he did not keep it.

''He had to be in bed each night at 10:30 and if he hadn't fallen asleep by 10:40, he would punish himself by cutting himself twice,'' Rosenfeld said.

Hernandez's descent into mental illness picked up speed around Thanksgiving 2004, Rosenfeld said, when the teen decided that all of his odd behaviors meant that he was in training to be a serial killer.

Hernandez formulated a plan to kill Gough, another student and his sister that was outlined on the pages of his journal.

His ultimate plan was to kill everyone in the world by the time he was 30.

Hernandez, now 18, is charged with first-degree murder and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted. The trial was moved to Orlando because too many prospective jurors in Miami-Dade said they already knew the details of the high-profile killing from news reports.

The trial continues Monday.

Lawyers for Richard Henyard of Eustis ask U.S. Supreme Court to stay execution



Stephen Hudak

Sentinel Staff Writer

September 20, 2008

Lawyers for Richard Henyard turned to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, hoping to stop the Eustis man's impending execution.

Henyard, 34, is scheduled to die Tuesday by lethal injection for the 1993 murders of two Lake County girls, Jamilya Lewis, 7, and her sister, Jasmine Lewis, 3.

They were carjacked with their mother from a Winn-Dixie parking lot. Their mother was raped in their presence and shot four times but survived.

Mark S. Gruber, who has handled Henyard's appeals, filed a petition with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asking for a stay of execution.

Gruber had asked the nation's highest court on Thursday to issue a writ of certiorari, an order that would require the court to schedule briefs and oral arguments but not necessarily halt the execution.

Gruber, who works in Tampa for the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, argued that the Florida Supreme Court has violated Henyard's right to due process by prohibiting the condemned man's publicly funded lawyers from challenging the state's lethal-injection method of execution.

Four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices must agree to grant the review.

A review of Gruber's filings shows he would like to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection, the confidentiality of the executioners and the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of a law forbidding death-row lawyers from "engaging in civil litigation" on behalf of death-row inmates.

He pointed out that Florida suspended executions following the botched execution of Angel Diaz, 55, on Dec. 13, 2006.

After a governor's commission reviewed and revised the state's procedures, Florida resumed executions on July 1, 2008, with child-killer Mark Dean Schwab the first to be strapped to the gurney.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not immediately rule on Gruber's filing.

The high court grants fewer than 2 percent of such requests.


Stephen Hudak can be reached at shudak@orlandosentinel.com or 352-742-5930.

Man gets 30 years for molesting girl at Disney


Sarah Lundy

Sentinel Staff Writer

September 20, 2008

A 63-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison for molesting a girl in 2007 at a hotel on Disney World property.

Orange Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Mihok ordered William Bishop, who has a history of lewd-behavior arrests that goes back to the 1970s, to prison.

Earlier this month, an Orange County jury found Bishop guilty of kidnapping, lewd and lascivious molestation, lewd and lascivious conduct, lewd and lascivious exhibition and use of a child in sexual performance. The incident occurred on April 27, 2007.

Lifeguards at the Swan Hotel detained Bishop after an 11-year-old boy told them that he saw the man in a Hawaiian shirt exposing himself and fondling a young girl, records show.

The victim, who lives out of state, was not in court Friday. Prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick read a letter from her family.

If Bishop completes his time in prison -- he would be in his 90s -- he will be required to be on probation the rest of his life.

Florida teen faces charge after school dean is hit


The Associated Press
11:03 AM EDT, September 20, 2008
JENSEN BEACH - A 15-year-old girl faces a charge of battery on a school employee after deputies say she punched an official during a fight at Jensen Beach High.

A Martin County Sheriff's report says the girl was fighting with another student earlier this month when school officials had to separate the girls.

At one point, authorities say the 15-year-old student broke free and tried to hit the other girl again, but she struck school dean Tiffany McDaniels instead.

McDaniels had "a swollen cheek and possible neck injuries,'' according to the report

Lawyers trying to stop execution of Eustis man


Stephen Hudak

Sentinel Staff Writer

2:42 PM EDT, September 19, 2008

Lawyers for Richard Henyard have turned today to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to stop the Eustis man's impending execution.

Henyard, 34, is set to die Tuesday by lethal injection for the 1993 murders of two Lake County girls, Jamilya Lewis, 7, and her sister, Jasmine Lewis, 3, who were carjacked with their mother from a Winn-Dixie parking lot. Their mother was raped in their presence and shot four times but survived.

Mark S. Gruber, who has handled Henyard's appeals, filed a petition today with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asking for a stay of execution.

Gruber had asked the nation's highest court on Thursday to issue a Writ of Certiorari, an order that would require the court to schedule briefs and oral arguments but would not necessarily have halted the execution. In seeking the immediate postponement, Gruber, who works in Tampa for the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, argued that the Florida Supreme Court has violated Henyard's right to due process of law by prohibiting the condemned man's publicly funded lawyers from challenging the state's lethal-injection method of execution.

Four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices must agree to grant the review. Fewer than 2% of all requests for so-called "certs" are granted by the high court.

A review of Gruber's filing shows he would like to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection, the confidentiality of the executioners and the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of law forbidding CCRC lawyers from "engaging in civil litigatition" on behalf of death-row inmates. He pointed out that Florida suspended executions following the botched execution of Angel Diaz, 55, on Dec. 13, 2006. After a governor's commission reviewed and revised the state's procedures, Florida resumed executions on July 1, 2008, with child-killer, Mark Dean Schwab, first to be strapped to the gurney.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not immediately rule on Gruber's filing.

Henyard's Lawyers Prepare Final Appeal, Search for his Father

posted by Steve Hudak on Sep 18, 2008 3:04:22 PM

Lawyers for condemned killer Richard Henyard of Eustis were preparing a last-minute federal appeal today in an effort to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a reprieve before he is executed Tuesday.

Mark S. Gruber, who has represented Henyard in his state appeals, said staff members with the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel also were searching for Henyard's father, Richard Henyard Sr., to arrange a final visit.

Henyard, 34, is set to die by lethal injection for the 1993 murders of sisters Jamily Lewis, 7, and Jasmine Lewis, 3, both of whom were shot in the face at close range after witnessing the rape of their mother.

Using a stolen gun, Henyard and a 14-year-old accomplice, Alfonza Smalls, carjacked the girls and their mother, Dorothy, from a grocery store lot in Eustis where the mother and daughters stopped for groceries.

Arranging a visit between father and son might seem a little ironic.

Trial and appellate court transcripts show that Henyard, who lived with his Godmother at the time, had planned the carjacking, in part, because he needed transportation to visit his truck-driving father in Pahokee.

As of this morning, there were no pending appeals on Henyard's behalf, according to Sandi Copes, press secretary for Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose office handles death-penalty challenges for the state.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Father testifies at son's murder trial


Sentinel Staff Writer
4:33 PM EDT, September 18, 2008

A "good child" who played Little League baseball became an emotionless loner and compulsive health fanatic in the six months before he killed a middle school classmate, his father testified Thursday.

Michael Hernandez had been a typical boy who played sports and had friends who visited the house, Jesus Hernandez said.

But in the summer of 2003, when the boy was 13, he withdrew from friends and family, his father said.

"He didn't seem to want to go to dinner with us on weekends or auctions (with me) like he had gone to before. He basically wanted to stay in his room," said the elder Hernandez, 60, who ran a business liquidation business.

"He wasn't making eye contact with us," he said.

Michael Hernandez, now 18, is accused of murdering Jaime Gough in a bathroom stall at Southwood Middle School in Miami in February 2004. He also is charged with attempting to kill another classmate, Andre Martin.

In a videotaped confession played for the jury Monday, Hernandez, then 14, described slashing Gough's throat and stabbing him. He also said he had tried to lure Martin into the same stall a day earlier to strangle and stab him.

He faces life in prison if convicted. His trial was moved from Miami because of extensive media coverage.

Defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum has argued that Hernandez was and is insane and not criminally responsible for the slaying.

Prosecutors have said Hernandez meticulously planned to kill Gough, Martin and his own sister.

Jesus Hernandez said Thursday he was surprised when police presented him with his son's journal, in which the teen detailed plans for the three killings.

Police had found the journal in the teen's backpack with a knife and bloody latex gloves.

"We never in our lives thought he was capable of such a thing," he said. "He was raised as a loving child in a loving family."

Michael Hernandez developed elaborate rituals, such as eating the same sandwich for lunch every day and riding his bicycle for a half-hour after dinner, rain or shine, his father said.

Jesus Hernandez said he and his wife thought their son was just going through an adolescent transition. The teen asked his parents for permission to use body building supplements, which were approved by a doctor. He consistently got good grades, but his parents broached the subject of getting him psychological help in the fall of 2003.

He said his son refused to talk to a psychologist, and the family agreed to revisit the issue in January 2004.

His son's strange behavior continued up to his 14th birthday on Feb. 2, 2004, the day before Gough's slaying.

"It was the first day he didn't want a birthday party," Jesus Hernandez said.

Man gets life in prison for killing Haines City police officer


Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
4:00 PM EDT, September 18, 2008

The triggerman convicted of killing a Haines City police officer 10 years ago was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Charles Fowler, 29, is the fourth person to be convicted in Christopher Todd Horner's death.

Horner was found dead March 3, 1998, slumped on the ground at the Oakland Cemetery. The rookie police officer was shot in the back of the head with his own handgun.

Authorities have said Fowler and several other men were getting ready to rob a bank when Horner approached them.

A federal jury in Tampa found Fowler guilty June 17. Three other men convicted in Horner's murder -- Christopher B. Gamble, Andre Paige and Robert Winston -- have already been sentenced to life in prison.

Woman gets life sentence for sex with 5-year-old boy


Rene Stutzman

Sentinel Staff Writer

4:28 PM EDT, September 18, 2008

A Sanford jury today convicted a 33-year-old woman of having sex with a 5-year-old boy.

Kelly Lumadue was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors on Tuesday watched videotape of the sex acts. They happened 12 years ago when Lumadue, then 21, lived in Longwood with her husband, a professional pornographer who recorded the session. He has since died.

Kelly Lumadue testified yesterday, telling jurors that she had performed those sex acts under duress from her husband.

She wasn't arrested until 2003, seven years after the recordings were made. That's when a garbage collector found the tapes in a box at the curb outside Lumadue's Volusia County home. They were among videotapes she had thrown out.

This was Lumadue's second trial on those charges. A jury last year found her guilty of the same charges, but a judge ordered a new trial, citing possible juror misconduct and overly-aggressive questioning by a prosecutor.

Michael Hernandez jury watches emotionless confession


BY LISA ARTHUR

The videotape shows then-14-year-old Michael Hernandez telling a Metro-Dade detective how he slit the throat of a classmate in a bathroom at Southwood Middle School four years ago. His voice is flat and emotionless and he shows no sign of nerves. His answers are methodical and clinical as he describes how he lured Jaime Gough into a bathroom stall.

'I told him, `I have to put my hand over your mouth,' '' Hernandez told Detective Salvatore Garafalo just hours after Jaime's death. ``And I did. And I lifted his neck up. . . . I slit his throat.''

Jurors in an Orlando courtroom followed along Monday, reading a transcript as they watched the black-and-white confession video on small monitors in front of each of their chairs in the jury box.

The case was moved to Orlando after too many prospective jurors in Miami said they already knew the story of Jaime's death just before homeroom on Feb. 3, 2004.

Several jurors shook their heads and grimaced as Hernandez told Garafalo how Jaime begged for his life after the initial slash across his neck, which wasn't fatal.

''He asked me not to kill him,'' Hernandez said. ``I told him OK, if he cooperates. That was a lie.''

During a break in the questioning while a court reporter in the interrogation room changed her transcription tape, Hernandez asked Garafalo how police had zeroed in on him as a suspect.

''The glove that you found, is that what caused me to come down here?'' Hernandez asked about a bloody latex glove he had taken off after stabbing Jaime.

Hernandez sat at the defense table watching the confession on a monitor, shaking his leg as he followed along with the transcript.

Hernandez, now 18, is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison. His legal team has mounted an insanity defense.

Jaime's parents, Jorge and Maria Gough, took deep breaths and held each other as they listened to Hernandez's matter-of-fact description of their son's gruesome death. They have heard the confession at least once before, during a hearing last year when the defense tried to have it tossed. Circuit Judge John Schlesinger ruled then that the jury could hear the confession.

Hernandez was taken out of class and questioned by police shortly after Jaime's body was found. They first talked with him in a school office, then took him to the department's homicide bureau.

Hernandez's parents have complained that he was taken from the school without their knowledge.

Police called Manny Hernandez later that afternoon. When the couple arrived at the police department, they say they were told that Hernandez was a witness to Jaime's death but not that he was a suspect.

They were allowed to meet with their son briefly but told not to ask him what happened. Without knowing he might be charged with murder, Manny Hernandez urged his son to cooperate with police and tell them the truth.

Now, he's angry that police questioned his son for hours.

''He should have had one or both of us there,'' Manny Hernandez said during an interview with The Miami Herald in April. ``A child is not in a position to waive their rights, a mentally ill child.''

Richard Rosenbaum, lead attorney for Hernandez, tried to get the confession thrown out, making that very argument. His effort failed.

Witness: I watched as homeless man was beaten to death

BY TODD WRIGHT

A key eyewitness testified Monday he watched in horror as his friend repeatedly swung a wooden baseball bat at the head of a homeless man, smashing the man's face in during a brutal unprovoked attack.

William Ammons, 21, told jurors he stood about 10 feet away on Jan. 12, 2006, and saw blood splatter as Thomas Daugherty took at least two full swings at the face of Norris Gaynor, who later died from severe skull fractures.

Daugherty, 19, and Brian Hooks, 21, are charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder for their roles in the beatings of three homeless men that night. If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison.

''I saw the blood and it freaked me out. I was surprised he hit him so hard,'' said Ammons, who was also charged in the crimes but took a plea deal just before the trial started. ``Tom was acting like nothing really happened.''

On Jan. 12, 2006, Ammons, Daugherty, Hooks and Joey Griffith made a ''mutual agreement to go mess with some homeless people,'' Ammons testified.

After each attack, the teens returned to Ammons' Fort Lauderdale home and smoked marijuana and consumed vodka before leaving the house again to select a new target, Ammons said.

Ammons participated in two of the attacks, using a paintball gun in the attack on Gaynor and a plastic sword to beat Raymond Perez.

He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is expected to be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison. In return, he agreed to testify against Hooks and Daugherty.

Ammons is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 24.

Daugherty used a baseball bat in all three attacks and Hooks used a bat, rake and golf club, Ammons said.

Ammons said he was pressured into participating in the attacks after the first attack on Jacques Pierre at Florida Atlantic University's downtown Fort Lauderdale campus, which was caught by a surveillance camera.

''They wanted to go out and beat up another dude, but I really didn't want to go,'' Ammons said. ``They called me a party pooper.''

Defense attorneys are set to cross examine Ammons after a lunch break.

Catholic Bishops of Florida Urge Mercy for Richard Henyard


For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Contacts:

Michele M. Taylor
Sheila S. Hopkins

Associate for Communications
Associate Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life

(850) 205-6817
(850) 205-6826

mtaylor@flacathconf.org
shopkins@flacathconf.org



Catholic Bishops of Florida Urge Mercy for Richard Henyard
Implore Governor Crist to End Executions

Tallahassee - Governor Crist, the bishops of Florida continue to plead for an end to the use of the death penalty in our state. The September 23 execution of Richard Henyard will be another example of our failure to recognize the inherent dignity of every human being, even those guilty of horrible crimes.

While the untimely deaths of the two young victims and serious injury to their mother cry out for justice, we are reminded that executions diminish us as a civil society and perpetuate a culture of death instead of a culture of life that acknowledges all are created in God’s image. The details of this crime, including the culpability of the accomplice and the young age of Mr. Henyard at the time of the crime, are enough reason to question the inconsistencies in sentencing in Florida, a point made by the Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team in 2006.

Life in prison without possibility of parole is severe punishment for offenders. While the Church acknowledges that society has a right to execute violent transgressors, the ability of the modern penal system to protect society makes the need for the death penalty very rare, if not practically nonexistent.

We pray for and grieve with Dorothy Lewis who lost her daughters, Jasmine and Jamilya, as the result of this crime. No one can truly comprehend the unimaginable loss of two young children.

Governor Crist, we ask you to spare the life of Richard Henyard. Killing another human being perpetuates violence in our society. We must respect all life, even those who have done great wrong.

Archbishop John C. Favalora Bishop Victor Galeone Bishop Robert N. Lynch
Archdiocese of Miami Diocese of St. Augustine Diocese of St. Petersburg

Bishop Thomas G. Wenski Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito
Diocese of Orlando Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese of Palm Beach

Bishop Frank J. Dewane Auxiliary Bishop Felipe J. Estevez Auxiliary Bishop John G. Noonan
Diocese of Venice Archdiocese of Miami Archdiocese of Miami



# # #


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The Florida Catholic Conference is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida.
It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy and serves as liaison to the executive, legislative and judicial branches
of government. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mom: Teen is afraid of FHP trooper's 'sexual remarks and advances'


Amy L. Edwards

Sentinel Staff Writer

September 17, 2008

A temporary injunction has been filed against a Florida Highway Patrol trooper accused of having sexually explicit communications with the 17-year-old daughter of another FHP employee.

Cpl. James E. Gilbert, a 45-year-old traffic-homicide investigator, was placed on paid administrative leave Friday, FHP Capt. Mark Welch said.

In a written statement filed in Orange County Circuit Court, the teenager's mother said she recently overheard her daughter on the phone with Gilbert. The teen told her mother about Gilbert's infatuation with her, sexual text messages he sent and other conversations they had.

Gilbert told the teen he wanted to take her to cabins in Tennessee and take things "slow," the mother wrote. The mother said Gilbert met her daughter for lunch, grabbed her hand, and "told her that hands are sensual & sexy."

The mother wrote that Gilbert will not leave her daughter alone and the teen is afraid of him "due to his sexual remarks and advances."

"I think he will follow her and hurt her, since we have now found out," the woman wrote.

A temporary injunction for protection was granted Thursday, and a hearing to determine whether to make it final will be Monday.

Gilbert, who lives in Apopka, has been employed with FHP since 1991 and has no previous disciplinary action in his personnel file, Welch said. He is assigned to Troop K, which patrols Florida's Turnpike.

A voice message left Tuesday for Gilbert was not returned.




Amy L. Edwards can be reached at 407-420-5735 or aledwards@orlandosentinel.com.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ex-Hillsborough jail medical director charged with prescription fraud


By Justin George, Times Staff Writer

Published Wednesday, July 16, 2008 10:48 PM


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TAMPA — The former medical director of the Hillsborough County jail system has been charged with prescription fraud in a joint state and local law enforcement investigation.

John Nkolo Mubang, 57, oversaw jail health care when Prison Health Services, a private company from Brentwood, Tenn., contracted with Hillsborough County earlier this decade, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Over the last few years, he has been practicing internal medicine privately at a Tampa clinic he owns and operates.

Complaints from Mubang's patients to the Sheriff's Office prompted a six-month investigation with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which concluded that Mubang was providing prescription drugs to patients who didn't need them, FDLE officials said in a statement.

He was arrested Wednesday at his clinic and charged with three counts of prescribing controlled substances for monetary gain, a third-degree felony, and one count of trafficking in controlled substances, a first-degree felony. He was being held in a Hillsborough County jail without bail.

In 1996, the Association of Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit Tampa health care advocacy group, reviewed malpractice lawsuits filed in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and found that Mubang was one of 18 doctors sued three or more times since 1992, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported.

In July 2007, Mubang settled a malpractice claim with Nancy J. Thomas after she alleged she didn't get treatment during her pregnancy at a correctional facility on March 5, 2004, according to a closed claims report from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Thomas' delivery was stillborn, the report said.

Carl Hyder, 21, was under Mubang's private care when he died July 8, 2006, said his mother, Tammy Hyder, 48, of Seffner.

When Hyder was 17, the young electrician underwent back surgery after being in a car accident.

"My son needed pain medication, and he found this Dr. Mubang, and next thing he walked out with the highest concentration of Xanax," Tammy Hyder said. "One (pill) would put him under the table."

Besides the anti-anxiety medication, Tammy Hyder said Mubang also prescribed Soma, a muscle relaxer for her son. She said the pills made him seem "like he drank a six pack."

On the night of his death, she said, she hugged her son before he went to bed. He never awoke, and Hyder said the prescribed drugs were among the factors listed in his cause of death.

Carl Hyder left behind 4-year-old Carl Jr. and 3-year-old Alexis.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Lover crumbles, leads police to body

Nine-year-old mystery: Rosemary Christensen from Melbourne vanished in Florida in 1999.


By Peta Hellard in Los Angeles
September 13, 2008 03:24am

AN American accused of the stabbing death of his Australian wife could face the electric chair for the 1999 murder after her body was found buried at a secluded Florida property this week.

Robert Glenn Temple, 58, faces life imprisonment or a death sentence if found guilty of murdering Rosemary Christensen, from Melbourne, who vanished in August 1999.

Mr Temple, being held in a California jail on unrelated charges, was informed two days ago that Florida authorities were planning to charge him with one count of first degree murder.

Mr Temple's girlfriend, Leslie Stewart, 31, led investigators to Ms Christensen's grave this week after confessing that she helped dispose of the body in bush at her father's property near the Suwannee River in Florida's rural Pinellas County.

Sheriff's investigators said Ms Christensen, 43, had been stuffed in a green, plastic storage bin wrapped with duct tape, with her body found clothed in a nightgown and doubled over in a fetal position. Ms Christensen, who was identified through dental records, was believed to have died from at least one stab wound to the abdomen.

The case has sparked outrage in Florida after authorities revealed Ms Stewart, who has a three-year-old daughter with Mr Temple, would not be prosecuted after making a deal to testify against him.

Prosecutors allege Mr Temple stabbed his wife at their home and then enlisted Ms Stewart - a co-worker with whom he was having an affair - to help him hide the body.

Ms Stewart's lawyer, Jay Hebert, said his client was a victim of domestic violence and Mr Temple had threatened to kill her and their daughter Alyssa if she ever revealed the murder.

Ms Christensen's sons from a previous marriage, Radinck and Olivier van Vollenhoven, who live in the Netherlands, said they could finally close a difficult chapter in their lives.

"Olivier and I are relieved that our mother, Rosemary, has been found after all these years and that we can finally get closure and move on with our lives," Radinck said.

Ms Christensen, who worked as a real estate agent in the Florida town of Belleair, was married to Mr Temple for two years.

Her mother reportedly lives in Ringwood and her father in Mornington.

Prosecutors said if Mr Temple were found guilty he faced life imprisonment or a death sentence -- and he would get to choose between lethal injection or the electric chair.

Mr Temple will not officially be charged until the matter goes before a grand jury in Florida on October 7.

The trial will not take place for at least 18 months.

Mr Temple initially told detectives he suspected Ms Christensen left him for another man.

He even launched public appeals through the media for anyone who knew of her location to contact him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Respect life gathering to focus on Humanae Vitae at 40


Affordability is a key feature of this year’s annual statewide respect life conference.

JEAN GONZALEZ FLORIDA CATHOLIC STAFF

Published: 09.10.08

Cost of the conference ranges from $40 to $90 (with a combined rate for married couples and special rates for students).

For additional information, call 850-763-1821 or 850-215-5046 or download the conference brochure from the Florida Catholic Conference HERE. Registration deadline is Sept. 30.

A document that serves as the foundation for Catholic respect life programs and philosophies will be the focus of an annual statewide conference.

This year marks four decades since the release of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which translates to Of Human Life. Though the document was subtitled “on the regulation of birth” and most notably reaffirmed the church’s traditional teaching on the moral unacceptability of contraception, it addressed a spectrum of issues including married love and responsible parenting, and in large part inspired the broad respect life movement as it exists today.

That’s why organizers of this year’s gathering of people involved in those efforts all over Florida chose “Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae” for their theme.

The Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, along with the state Pro-Life Coordinating Committee and the Florida Catholic Conference, will host the 22nd annual Florida Respect Life Conference Oct. 10-11 at the Ramada Conference Center in Tallahassee.

Although in years past the conference has run through Sunday morning, Deacon Tim Warner, respect life director for the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, said the committee hoped to make the conference more affordable for participants. By putting the events on a Friday night and full day Saturday, participants might avoid an extra stay in a hotel and the conference does not have to rent the facilities for another day.

Deacon Warner said each conference incorporates a certain personality of the host diocese. He said the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese’s personality is reflected in the participation of the Florida State University Catholic Student Union as ministers of music at the conference.

“I think the students, given their age and current status in life, will be particularly interested in the presentations regarding marriage, theology of the body and Natural Family Planning,” Deacon Warner said.

Several of the speakers are natives to the diocese, including Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., who will open the conference with an address Friday night. Three doctors of the diocese will present a physicians’ panel discussion on Natural Family Planning. Deacon Warner said the discussion will not just be informative, but will include the faith experiences all the doctors faced in their vocations. While all three OB/GYNs had once worked with contraception and sterilization, all three physicians “awakened to the beauty of natural family planning in their own practices,” he said.

“In essence, their experiences with NFP were conversion moments for each one of them,” Deacon Warner said.

Another conversion experience will be shared on the topic of the death penalty. Ron McAndrew, a former warden at the Florida State Prison, will speak about his own personal conversion from someone who used to oversee executions to an advocate to end the use of the death penalty.

The event will include other addresses on various topics, including marriage, theology of the body and stem-cell research. Bishop Victor Galeone, of St. Augustine, will offer the closing address for the event on Saturday evening.

Family struggles with son's murder for 17 years


09/10/2008 01:19 PM
Kim Matas

Even the execution of the man who raped and murdered the young boy has not brought them closure.

By MIKE WILLIAMS
Cox News Service
August 31, 2008

COCOA, Fla. – For Vicki Rios-Martinez, peace has come slowly over the years, growing bit by bit as she began writing poetry, tending her garden, listening for her dead son’s voice when she meditated.

But complete closure to her family’s 17-year-ordeal may never come. It still eludes them, even following their attendance at the July 1 execution of Mark Dean Schwab, the man who raped and murdered their 11-year-old son, Junny.

“It has brought about a peace ././. just to know that we don’t have to go to another appeal ././. just to know that it’s over and that he’ll never get out and hurt another child,” she said. “But closure? Seventeen years is way too long to wait for justice. And something that you cannot forget, it’s real hard to close the door.”

For nearly two decades Rios-Martinez and her husband, Braulio, who goes by the nickname “Junny,” have occupied a prominent – and unwanted – role in the nation’s long-running debate over the death penalty.

Their son’s murder in 1991 became what is now a familiar cable-TV mega-event, complete with breathless reports and frenzied speculation.

Junny, a sandy-haired boy with a sunny disposition and a winning smile, became a target after his photograph appeared in the local newspaper. Schwab, just two weeks past an early release from prison for raping a 13-year-old boy, saw the photo and became fixated.

Posing as a journalist, he tried to weasel his way into Junny’s world, eventually pretending to be his father in a telephone call and arranging to pick up the boy at school. Schwab then kidnapped, raped and murdered Junny.

He was arrested within days and led police to the footlocker where he had stowed the boy’s body.

But losing their son and watching his killer arrested was only the start of the Rios-Martinez family’s ordeal.

The trial was over in about 15 months, with Schwab convicted and sentenced to death. But the appeals process lasted nearly 15 years, prolonging the family’s suffering, they said.

“With him (Schwab) being alive and still going through appeals, your life is always in a turmoil ././. it’s never a balance,” Vicki Rios-Martinez said. “It’s always going to have that roller coaster ride.”

Their journey was painful and hard, filled with understandable anger and bitterness that slowly gave way to acceptance, an attempt to move on emotionally and eventually the slow accrual of a sense of peace.

But nothing was easy, nothing a given. The family’s outspoken criticism of the glacial pace of the appeals process and their insistence that Schwab pay the ultimate price for his crime made them a target for some death penalty opponents who claim execution is cruel and inhumane.

Junny Rios-Martinez – the nickname he goes by and gave to his son came from his grandmother – went through a long period of anger that still flashes quickly to the surface.

He once routinely pummeled a boxing bag to vent his fury.

He finally channeled the anger into building an addition onto the rear of their neat home that fronts a small lake. There’s an upstairs music studio, pine-paneled walls covered with photos of their son and a wrap-around porch fronting the lake, complete with a big swinging hammock.

Vicki Rios-Martinez met the challenge of her son’s death with concerted attempts to make something positive out of the tragedy. Over the years, with her husband as partner, she battled for children’s rights and became an advocate against abuse and for the rights of the victims of crimes.

The experience left her frustrated with legislators and the criminal justice system, which she says is weighted far too much in favor of protecting criminals’ rights at the expense of victims’ rights.

“We definitely need to have a better system,” she said. “We definitely need to have a children’s bill of rights. We definitely need to have a victim’s justice system, and we need to start changing it now.”

Junny Martinez makes no apologies for the couple’s outspoken support of the death penalty. Schwab’s execution was delayed because of court challenges sparked by a botched 2006 execution in which a condemned man took more than 30 minutes to die by lethal injection.

“Those bleeding hearts, the majority of them have no children and couldn’t fathom what we’ve been through,” he said. “They haven’t a clue. And yet they all have an opinion. And they feel that their opinion is much more important.”

The couple insists Schwab’s death was humane and even “peaceful,” unlike what their son went through at his killer’s hands, they said.

Vicki Rios-Martinez opposed the death penalty before her family’s tragedy, out of a reverence for all life. She now supports it, she says, because she feels she must do so in order to protect other children from killers like Schwab.

The couple has worked hard to move on over the years, but it’s clear the wounds of their loss are still close beneath the surface.

In her garden, Vicki Rios-Martinez tends a dazzling array of flowers and shrubs, but one holds a special place in her heart. A potted peace lily is the only flower left from her son’s memorial service so many years ago.

“I killed everything else,” she said, laughing at her woeful early attempts at gardening, which she says miraculously ended when her dead son spoke to her. “Then one day Junny told me, ’Mom, you want a green thumb? You’ve got one.”’