NEWS:-----OHIO, N.Y., FLA.


Subject: NEWS:-----OHIO, N.Y., FLA.
From: Rick Halperin (rhalperi@MAIL.SMU.EDU)
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 21:01:45 CST


Jan. 15

OHIO:

Judge: Vote on Ohio Execution Illegal

In Columbus, a federal appeals' court vote denying a convicted killer's
request to delay his execution was illegal because 2 judges improperly
participated in the vote, a federal judge who wrote a dissenting opinion
said.

Judge Eric Clay of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the delay
would have been granted if not for the 2 senior judges' votes. He did not
specify the tally of the 12-judge vote.

Federal law allows senior judges to participate in a vote by the full
court only if they participated in the initial panel ruling on the same
case, he said. The 2 judges, Richard F. Suhrheinrich and Cornelia G.
Kennedy, were not on the 3-judge panel that ruled against the convict's
request Monday.

Clay issued his dissenting opinion Tuesday, when the full court ruled
against blocking Lewis Williams' execution.

Williams, 45, struggled with guards and pleaded for help before he was
executed Wednesday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in
Lucasville. He was sentenced to death for shooting a Cleveland woman in a
1983 robbery.

No one at the appeals court would comment on the dissenting opinion. A
message was left with the attorney general's office seeking comment.

(source: Associated Press)

NEW YORK:

Brooklyn DA to seek death penalty in killing of college student

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in a case against 2 men accused of
kidnapping, raping and killing a Hunter College student last year,
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Thursday.

Troy Hendrix, 19 and Kayson Pearson, 21, face 5 counts of 1st degree
murder among other charges for allegedly kidnapping Ramona Moore, 21, as
she went to a Brooklyn Burger King on April 24, 2003, taking her to the
basement of Hendrix's family's home, raping and killing her.

Her body was found about two weeks later wrapped in a blanket behind a
home in East Flatbush after Moore's family received an anonymous call
saying where her body was.

Both men are also charged with a similar kidnapping and assault of a
15-year-old girl 3 days after Moore went missing, but that girl got away
and was able to alert authorities.

Pearson is also charged with attempted assault on a police officer in
Yonkers, for allegedly lunging at police with a knife when they stormed an
apartment to arrest him shortly after Moore's body was found. During the
raid, Pearson was shot once in the leg.

Hynes said after careful review he decided the death penalty was an
appropriate punishment to seek in the case.

Pearson's lawyer, Mitchell Dinnerstein of the capital defender's office,
said he found Hynes' decision "very disappointing."

"The defendant is very young and his background is such that I thought the
district attorney would use his discretion and not seek the death
penalty," he said.

Hendrix's lawyer, Steven Chaiken, could not be reached for comment.

The 2 cases are the 10th and 11th times Hynes has sought the death penalty
since capital punishment was reinstated in New York in 1995. Of the
previous 9 cases, only 1 resulted in a death sentence, although the
defendant, Darrell Harris, had the sentence reduced to life in prison on
appeal.

(source: Associated Press)

FLORIDA:

Death-row inmate denied DNA tests

A death-row inmate convicted of murdering a former Vero Beach girl more
than 27 years ago cannot send a hodgepodge of alleged evidence to an
independent lab for DNA testing, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Cynthia Ann Driggers was killed July 31, 1976, raped and murdered by her
stepuncle, James E. Hitchcock, outside her familys Orlando-area home.

Hitchcock was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death in February
1977.

Since then, he has as been trying to lay blame for the 12-year-old girls
death on his now-dead brother, Richard Hitchcock, Cynthias stepfather.

Richard Hitchcock died about eight years ago in a car crash, according to
Cynthias cousin Chip Meadows, of Vero Beach, a founding member of the
areas Victims Rights Coalition.

In Thursdays ruling, the high court upheld a decision by the 4th District
Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, which said Hitchcock did not show how
DNA testing of such things as "hairs from the victims bed pillow ... weeds
from left leg ... and finger nails from left hand" would help his case.

Hitchcock, his brother and the girl "all occupied the same household,
(therefore) biological samples such as hair, sloughed off skin ...
eyelashes and finger and toe nail clippings would constantly be
inadvertently deposited by all three persons throughout the house," the
ruling noted.

Moreover, the law allowing motions for post-conviction relief "is not
intended to be a fishing expedition," the court said. "It was Hitchcocks
burden to explain how the DNA testing requested ... will exonerate (him)
... or mitigate (his) sentence."

The night of the murder, Hitchcock left the house around 11 p.m. and
"spent several hours in Winter Haven drinking beer and smoking marijuana
with friends," the ruling noted.

He returned around 2:30 a.m., entered the house through a dining room
window, went into the girls bedroom and raped her. When she began to yell,
Hitchcock "choked her and carried her outside," where he "beat her until
she was quiet and pushed her body into some bushes. He then returned to
the house, showered and went to bed," the opinion said.

At his trial, Hitchcock testified he had consensual sex with the girl and
his brother was the one to choke her and pull her outside.

Meadows said he had mixed emotions about the ruling. "As far as Im
concerned, do the DNA testing, but do it all, not just this and that ...
DNA is the one thing that can confirm his guilt."

Meadows, a recently retired Indian River County sheriffs deputy, attends
every hearing involving Hitchcocks case.

(source: WPTV News)

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