The information on this webpage was compiled by the CCADP without the previous knowledge or consent of the prisoner.  The CCADP is refusing to remove any Arizona prisoner materials from the internet until the law banning prisoners from the internet has been challenged and defeated, to ensure ALL Arizona death row prisoners are allowed to have their voices heard... Prisoners contacting the CCADP for removal under threats from the DOC receive a copy of the following: CLICK HERE
    Christopher Huerstel
       Juvenile - Arizona Death Row
USA (Arizona) Christopher Huerstel, aged 18
Kajornsak Prasertphong, Thai national, aged 20
25 August 2000 - UA 255/00 Death penalty / Legal concern

The trial of Christopher Huerstel and Kajornsak Prasertphong began on 24 August 2000 in Prescott, Arizona. The Pima County prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against both defendants. They are accused of the murder of Robert Curry (44), Melissa Moniz (20) and
James Bloxham (17), who were shot during a robbery of a Pizza Hut restaurant in Tucson
on 17 January 1999.

Christopher Huerstel was 17 at the time of the killings. International law forbids the use of the death penalty against those who were under 18 years old at the time the crime was committed.

Kajornsak Prasertphong, who was 19 at the time of the Pizza Hut murders, is a Thai national. According to information received by Amnesty International, he was not informed of his right to contact his consulate for assistance after his arrest. This fundamental right of all detained foreign nationals is enshrined in international law, notably in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR).

The first stage of the trial, which seeks to determine guilt or innocence, is likely to last at least two weeks. If either defendant is convicted of capital murder, a separate sentencing phase will be conducted some time later. The trial venue was moved to Prescott, several hundred kilometres from Tucson, because of the publicity that surrounded the crime in Tucson.


Amnesty International opposes the death penalty under all circumstances. It believes that every death sentence is an affront to human dignity, every execution a symptom of, not a solution to, a culture of violence. Some 108 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

A range of international safeguards govern the use of the death penalty in those countries which still retain it. The USA consistently violates these minimum standards. For example, it leads a tiny group of countries using the death penalty against child offenders, those under 18 at the time of the crime. On 17 August 2000, the United Nation Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted a resolution affirming that such use of the death penalty violates customary international law. In other words, the ban on the death penalty against child offenders commands such respect worldwide that it has become a principle binding on all countries regardless of which international instruments they have or have not ratified. Since 1993, there have been 17 known executions of child offenders worldwide. The USA carried out 12 of these, including four this year. Some 80 child offenders remain on death row in 16 US states. See USA: Abandoning Justice: The imminent execution of Alexander Williams, mentally ill child offender (August 2000).

There are also at least 80 foreign nationals on death row in the USA. In most cases, they were not informed upon arrest of their right to contact their consulate for assistance, in violation of international law. Some 11 foreign nationals have been executed in the USA since 1997, including Jaturun Siripongs, a Thai national denied his VCCR rights, executed in California on 9 February 1999. Following the execution of two German nationals, Karl and Walter LaGrand in Arizona in 1999, the German government is pursuing its concerns in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ had issued an order to stop the execution of Walter LaGrand, but the US Supreme Court and the Arizona Governor allowed the execution to proceed on 3 March. For more information, see USA: Worlds Apart: Violations of the Rights of Foreign Nationals on Death Row - Cases of Europeans (July 2000).

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express
- expressing sympathy for the families and friends of the victims of
the crime, and explaining that you are writing neither to excuse the
crime nor to express any opinion on the guilt or innocence of the two
- expressing opposition to the death penalty;
- expressing concern that Pima County is seeking the death penalty
against Christopher Huerstel in violation of international law
prohibiting the use of the death penalty against those who were under
18 at the time of the crime; pointing out that this ban is binding on all
countries, and all jurisdictions within countries, and noting that the
USA is joined only by Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran and the Democratic
Republic of Congo in having carried out such sentences in the past
seven years;
- expressing concern at reports that the authorities violated
international law by failing to inform Kajornsak Prasertphong promptly
upon arrest that as a Thai national he had the right to seek
assistance from his consulate;
- urging the prosecuting authorities to work to prevent such violations
of international law from occurring in Pima County in the future;
- urging that Pima County drop its pursuit of the death penalty against
both defendants.


Rick Unklesbay (Prosecutor)
Deputy County Attorney, Pima County
320 North Stone
Suite 1400
Tucson, AZ 8570
Fax: 1 520 628 9466
Salutation: Dear Deputy County Attorney


Barbara LaWall
Pima County Attorney
320 North Stone, Suite 1400
Tucson, AZ 8570
Fax: 1 520 628 9466

Madeleine Albright
Office of the Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Fax: 1 202 647 1533

You may also write brief letters (not more than 250 words) to:

Letters to the Editor
Arizona Daily Star
PO Box 26887 Tucson, AZ 85726
Fax: 1 520 573 4141

Letters to the Editor
Tucson Citizen
PO Box 26767
Tucson, AZ 85726
Fax: 1 520 573-4569

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the Colorado office between
9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time,
weekdays only, if sending appeals after October 6, 2000.

This information is from Amnesty International's research headquarters in London, England. A.I. is an independent worldwide movement working for the international protection of human rights. It seeks the release of people detained because of their beliefs, color, sex, ethnic origin, language or religious creed, provided they have not used nor advocated violence. These are termed prisoners of conscience. It works for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners and works on behalf of such people detained without charge or trial. It opposes the death penalty, extra-judicial executions (political killings), 'disappearances' and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of all prisoners
without reservation. Amnesty International promotes awareness of and adherance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognized human rights instruments, the values enshrined in them and the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and freedoms.

Should it be up to the judge?
Retired Superior Court Judge Michael Brown: "I really believe in the jury
system. . . . If the lawyers even halfway do their job, juries usually get it right."

U.S. Supreme Court to decide Arizona case

MICHAEL BROWN: A U.S. Supreme Court decision could affect Arizona's death row
inmates. Christopher "Bo" Huerstel and Kajornsak "Tom" Prasertphong were
sentenced in 3 murders committed in 1999 at a Tucson Pizza Hut. Joe
Lambright and Robert Smith were sentenced in 1982 in the Tucson slaying
of a young female hitchhiker. Ronald Schackart killed a Tucsonan in 1984.

The U.S. Supreme Court will be asked in April whether a single judge or a
jury of 12 citizens should bear the burden of deciding when a person can
be put to death for murder in Arizona.

Attorneys for a man convicted of murder in Maricopa County will argue
that Arizona's sentencing system violated his client's constitutional
rights because a judge, not his peers, decided his crime merited death.

The decision, if the court does not limit it to this one particular case,
would have a big impact in Pima County, where at least eight death
penalty cases will be tried this year. Pima County leads the nation in
death sentences, with approximately 64 imposed for every 1,000 homicides,
according to a national study released last month.

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court involves a death sentence handed
down to Timothy Stuart Ring, convicted of the 1994 killing of an armored
van driver in Phoenix. A judge determined Ring was eligible for the death
penalty. That's unconstitutional, argues Andy Hurwitz, one of Ring's

New Jersey case

That same point has been argued for years in Arizona's courtrooms but
didn't carry much weight until 2000. That's when the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled it was unconstitutional for a New Jersey judge to determine that a
defendant, convicted by a jury of a firearm possession charge, committed
a hate crime and was eligible for an increased penalty.

Hurwitz argues that if a New Jersey judge can't make a decision that adds
a few years to a sentence, Arizona judges shouldn't be able to impose the
ultimate penalty without input from juries. Hurwitz will square off
against Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano, arguing that a jury
must find the aggravating facts that would allow a defendant to be
sentenced to death.

The Supreme Court's ruling could affect only the Ring case, or it could
require new trials for more than 700 people sentenced to death in states
where juries play little or no role in the sentencing process. Depending
on what the court decides, legislators may have to create new sentencing
guidelines in capital cases.

"In the majority of states, juries impose the sentence. In some states,
the jury only recommends," Hurwitz said. "Arizona is 1 of only 5 where
the jury is not involved at all."

When Ring's attorneys argued that point to the state Supreme Court last
year, the court said it was bound by a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
that upheld Arizona's sentencing methods. It upheld Ring's sentence.

"It's not a deterrent"

Former Superior Court Judge Michael Brown has been through similar
experiences. Brown, once a Pima County sheriff's deputy, served as a
superior court judge for more than 20 years, including a run as presiding
judge. He recently retired, although he still presides over some trials
around the state.

Brown has sentenced 5 people to death, each time feeling as if he had no
other choice under the law.

"Do I think the death penalty works? No. It's not a deterrent. If victims
are looking for an end to their agony over the death of their loved ones,
the death penalty is no way to get it. Every time there's an appeal, they
have to go through it all again," Brown said. "I'm not sure how exactly
it works at all, except badly."

Brown last handed death sentences to Christopher "Bo" Huerstel and
Kajornsak Prasertphong last year for the murders of 3 Tucson Pizza Hut
employees. Huerstel's attorney, Stanton Bloom, argued to Brown then that
Arizona's sentencing system was unconstitutional.

"I said, 'Yeah, I agree. I just don't have any more ability to override
the U.S. Supreme Court than anybody else does,' " Brown said.

Brown said he thinks that Ring was wrongfully sentenced and wants to see
Arizona law changed. He said it's difficult to predict if the U.S.
Supreme Court will decide that defendants on death row will have to be
resentenced. "I want to see what kind of dance they do," Brown said.

Jurors should decide, he says

Brown said jurors should have the responsibility of determining death
penalty eligibility.

"I really believe in the jury system. I practiced law before juries for
20 years and sat with them as a judge. If the lawyers even halfway do
their job, juries usually get it right. Most don't know anything about
the law, but they all know what their job is. Their job is to do
justice," Brown said. "The responsibility of sending someone to their
death . . . is truly difficult indeed. It tears you up."

He added that the penalty is ineffective, at best.

"It has become a meaningless sentence in that it is seldom carried out,"
Brown said.

Leave it to judge, juror says

At least one Arizona juror feels differently. Larry Lathen, a resident of
Spring Valley, southeast of Prescott, was one of the 12 people who found
Huerstel guilty of murder after that trial was moved to Prescott. Lathen
said he supports the death penalty but, having determined guilt in a
capital case, would prefer to keep the current system in place.

"It's my opinion that it should be left up to the judge. Just from having
experienced being on that jury, that was a really traumatic thing, and I
think to go further than that would just put too much pressure on the
jury," Lathen said. "Naturally, the judge is hearing everything we're
hearing. After coming to the decision of guilty, I think he's in a pretty
good position to say, yeah, he agrees or disagrees."

Prosecutors must request it

Consideration for the death penalty is not automatic. Prosecutors must
first file a request seeking the penalty. After conviction, a separate
hearing is held in which "aggravating circumstances" must be proved. Such
circumstances include whether a murder was especially heinous, cruel or
depraved, or whether it was committed for monetary gain.

Richard Lougee, a Tucson defense attorney who has had two clients removed
from death row, said both prosecutors and judges are subject to political
pressures. They may have aspirations for public office and face pressure
from victims' right groups.

Jurors don't have that same pressure, he said. Their service is done when
the trial is over. Allowing juries to decide on death penalties will
"lower the number of people who are sentenced to death, and it will save
the taxpayers in Pima County a huge amount of money," Lougee said.

Lougee noted that Colorado has about the same population as Arizona and
has fewer than a dozen people on death row, compared with more than 128
in Arizona. Until recently, Colorado juries determined eligibility for
the death penalty. Lougee said it's a clear sign that juries are less apt
to allow the death penalty than judges.

James Liebman, lead author of the Columbia University study of error
rates in capital cases, said that study did not compare rates based on
whether a jury was involved, but he believes the more political pressure
a judge faces, the more likely it is the judge will commit an error in
seeking the death penalty.

Judges are not elected in Pima County, nor are they in Maricopa County.
They are appointed by the governor from a list forwarded by a
merit-selection commission. Voters are asked every four years whether to
retain them. Judges are still elected in Arizona's 13 rural counties.

The question of delay

Prosecutors and defenders are divided on whether Pima County should delay
its current death-penalty cases until the Supreme Court decides the Ring

It might be wise to wait, said Phil Maloney, administrative attorney for
Pima County's Indigent Defense office. Maloney is responsible for
contracting with private attorneys to represent defendants in about 80 %
of the county's capital cases.

The county spends an average of $80,000 for defense costs alone in
capital cases that go to trial. Individual case costs range from $25,000
to $150,000.

A Supreme Court decision may not come for months. Maloney fears that if
the court reverses its earlier decision, the eight pending capital cases
will get brand-new trials and cost hundreds of thousands more dollars.

"It would appear to me to be a prudent course of action to stay those
pending death penalty cases until the Ring case is decided," Maloney
said. "I dread having to pay for these cases to be tried all over again."

Rick Unklesbay, chief criminal deputy county attorney, said his office is
following the Ring case but is continuing to work on cases. Prosecutors
are relying on state law and the Supreme Court's 1990 affirmation of the

"We're not doing anything differently" right now, Unklesbay said.

Napolitano's argument

Kent Cattani, the Arizona attorney general's chief of capital litigation,
said Napolitano will argue that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the
New Jersey case does not overrule Arizona's sentencing guidelines.

In a 1st-degree murder case, the defendant is given notice that the
state is seeking the death penalty from the beginning. It doesn't change
the class of felony as in the New Jersey assault case.

"You know right up front what the possible range is," Cattani said.

He said the state will also argue that judge sentencing is more reliable
than jury sentencing. Judges are both familiar with the law and act as
non-biased parties, he said.

(source: Arizona Daily Star)

Taken from:

          The Media's Morbid Obsessions

             By Tom Collins
             Arizona Daily Wildcat
             January 29, 1999

             For nearly two weeks now the Tucson media have
             been obsessed by a story so sordid and violent,
             there is seemingly no end in new hooks and angles.

             If you haven't caught the 10 p.m. news, the 5 p.m. news, the 6 a.m. news or
             any between-news-shows news updates since Jan. 17., you may not be
             aware of the "tragedy that has shocked Tucson."

             That tragedy, of course, was the slaying of three eastside Pizza Hut employees
             in what was, depending on who you ask, the sad denouement of a love
             triangle or a robbery attempt gone awry.

             Journalistically, not a stone has gone unturned.

             Television and newspaper reporters have pored over every aspect of the
             crime that ended in the death of Pizza Hut employees Robert Curry, 44,
             Melissa L. Moniz, 20, and James Bloxham, 17, - from who paid for the
             victims' funerals to the plight of the late night workers. At the same time, these
             media outlets have also scrutinized the lives of two teens, Christopher Bo
             Huerstel, 17, and Kajornsak Prasertphong, 19, indicted Wednesday on three
             first degree murder charges and three armed robbery charges. Their friends
             and parents have been interviewed as the city grapples with its loss and shock.

             Our media outlets have also addressed the larger problem of ensuring night
             employee safety. One city council member, Democrat Shirley Scott, told the
             Channel 9 news she would support an ordinance to require security cameras
             in all Tucson's businesses, while a former employee of another Tucson Pizza
             Hut told the Arizona Daily Star that she had asked the company to address
             safety concerns following a shooting eight years ago.

             Tucson television station and newspapers have outdone themselves in
             portraying the emotions that a horror like this brings out in a community. No
             tear has gone undocumented, no funeral unphotographed.

             Still, from the candle and balloon shrine that the Pizza Hut, 7920 E. Broadway
             Road, now is, to the declarations of the need for more cameras and more
             attention to violent threats made by teenagers, there has been nothing reported
             that truly transcends a kind of coverage which borders on parody.

             Indeed, important as it is for local media outlets to reflect the views of and
             serve their community, the coverage of the Pizza Hut slayings has begged
             questions about what the most compelling goals of local newspapers and
             television stations should be. To be sure, there is mourning to be done, but
             when does the media's attempt to cover an important, albeit tragic, event
             actually cross the line and begin to work at cross purposes with the ultimate
             goals of a community? That is to ask, when does the coverage of the
             sensational reach the point that it is oversensationalized?

             The various media professions have struggled with this question like Sisyphus,
             and yet, from national scandal coverage to international car accidents to local
             tragedies, we are always left with the same sad photos, the same overwrought
             prose and precious little analysis or assessment. For every issue of Columbia
             Journalism Review that asks "What went wrong?" with the coverage of a given
             high profile story, there are a thousand Pizza Hut-style tragedies local
             television stations and newspapers overplay and underexamine.

             Inasmuch as all politics are local, and any real attempt to address the social
             tensions that lead to the kind of violence seen in the Pizza Hut situation must
             first be addressed locally. If we, as members of a society, want to promote
             policy debate and change at any level of the government process, we need an
             informed populace. Unfortunately, the kind of reporting that promotes an
             informed populace goes beyond warning parents about red flags in Paducah,
             Ky., or putting security cameras on every doorway. How, for example, would
             security cameras have affected the outcome of events at the Pizza Hut that
             morbid night?

             The public policy debate picked up by television stations and newspapers in
             this town fundamentally flies in the face of reason.

             It is time for network television affiliates, with their flagging viewerships, and
             local newspapers, with their struggling circulations, to realize that a continual
             Diana-ization of tragedy is not in any way a fulfillment of their role in a free
             society and does not attract new viewers and readers.

             There comes a time when we ought to throw the demographic bibles aside,
             roll up our sleeves and actually do the job we've always said we would.

            Taken from The Wildcat online:

Our opinion: Time to ban death penalty for minors
March 1 - Tucson Citizen

Should minors who commit crimes be subject to the death penalty?

In a word, no.

That issue is on the front burner in Arizona, where legislation has been introduced to ban executions of those who committed their crimes while they were minors.

Sister Helen Prejean, whose book inspired the film "Dead Man Walking," recently came to Tucson to speak against capital punishment, especially for those convicted as minors.

There's no question that teens convicted of murder don't belong on the streets.

Critics of the death penalty for minors would have the public believe they are mere children who deserve a 2nd chance simply because of their young age.

That's hogwash.

Such violence tends to be rooted in deranged thinking and impulsive behavior that can't be controlled. People of any age who commit murder must be locked up to protect society.

Teens, however, don't think and behave as adults, and therefore should not be given the ultimate punishment for murder. Teens are more self-centered and tend to view themselves as immortal.

An adolescent's brain is not even physically structured like an adult's. Teen killers have often been failed by society, which often tends to ignore warning signs and provide needed help to troubled children.

Life in prison is an appropriate punishment for those who commit murder before they turn 18.

Arizona is 1 of 23 states that allow the death penalty for those who were minors when they committed their crimes. Most developed nations have banned the practice.

Arizona drew international criticism when Christopher Huerstel was sentenced to death for murdering 3 people at a local Pizza Hut in 1999.

Huerstel was 17 at the time of the murders.

Arizona should join ranks with those states and nations that view the death penalty for minors as a barbaric act. The legislature should ban the practice.

(source: Opinion, Tucson Citizen)

      Sauvez Christopher Huerstel et Kajornsak Prasertphong

Poursuivis en Arizona pour le meurtre de trois personnes au cours d'un vol à main armée le 17 janvier 1999.  Le Procureur requiert la peine de mort contre les deux accusés, alors que l'un (C. Huerstel) était mineur au moment des faits, et que l'autre (K. Prasertphong), ressortissant étranger (thaïlandais) n'a pas pu prendre contact avec son consultat.

Faxez au Procureur de Tucson pour lui rappeler que la droit international prohibe la peine de mort pour les crimes commis par des mineurs, et donne droit aux accusés étrangers de se mettre en relation avec le consulat de leur pays, et pour lui demander de ne pas requérir la peine de mort.

Fax 001 520 628 94 66

Taken from Appels urgents:

                        Write to Christopher Huerstel dirctly at:

                 Christopher Huerstel  #157704
                         APC Eyman - SMU II
                                PO Box 3400
                            Florence, Arizona
                                85232   USA

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This page was last updated June 16, 2002                Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie in Toronto, Canada