Results matching “James Holmes”

News Scan

Charges Filed in 11-year-old Girl's Shooting: A 19-year-old male has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in relation to the death of an 11-year-old girl who died from a gunshot wound to the head last weekend in Chicago. According to Stefano Esposito of the Chicago Sun Times, Antwan C. Jones discharged his firearm at a group of people that he "didn't think belonged in the neighborhood." Takiya Holmes, 11, was struck in the head by a stray bullet and passed away this past Tuesday. This one of the three reported shootings involving Chicago children in the past few days.

Washington Abolition Bill Expected to Fall Flat: A bill to abolish the death penalty in the state of Washington received a great deal of public backing this year although house democrats are not hopeful about the bills future. The Seattle Times reports "A House bill on the issue is set for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, but it's not scheduled for a committee vote before a deadline Friday requiring most bills to be voted out of committees." This means that it is likely that the bill will die in committee. Washington currently has a moratorium on capital punishment, preventing executions for those on death row. The most recent execution in the state was in 2010.

More Victims from Criminals Left on the Streets:  A 28-year-old California parolee has been arrested for the January 31 abduction of a woman and the burglary of a house a week later.  KESQ ABC Local News reports that habitual felon Franklin James Scott is facing charges or kidnapping with intent to rape and residential burglary.  Scott confronted a woman, took her belongings and was forcing her towards her car when he fled before police arrived. Scott was convicted in 2007 on charges of assault with intent to commit rape, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and sexual battery.  Andrew Holder, 27, who on probation for violating the terms of his earlier probation from a drug case in 2010, is being charged with the murder and robbery of 37-year-old Darryl Curtis according to Stephanie Farr at The Philadelphia Inquirer.  Curtis was found in his home  in Holmesburg with a fatal gunshot wound to the head on January 3.  As reported by Roseanne Tellez at CBS Chicago, the two suspects charged by police for the 2013 shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton both had criminal records and one of them was on probation at the time of the girl's shooting.  In fact, it was discovered that 18-year-old Michael Ward had violated his probation 3 times before the shooting occurred.  One week before she was murdered Pendleton had performed at President Obama's second inauguration.  

News Scan

Louisiana Police Officer Shot: A woman and a Westwego, Louisiana  police officer lost their lives in a shooting this morning. Bun Choum from WDSU News reports that the shooting took place during the response to a domestic disturbance involving Sylvester Holt, the man that investigators believe to be the shooter. The situation led to a vehicular accident and the officer, Michael Louviere, was shot while attempting to render assistance. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Colorado Bill Would Repeal Death Penalty: The top Democrat in the Colorado Senate has introduced a bill that would to repeal the the state's death penalty law. According to Brian Eason at the Denver Post, Senate Bill 95, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, seeks to repeal the Colorado death penalty, removing it as an option for punishment after July 1st. Guzman has stated her belief that the death penalty is a "failed public policy" and has reportedly been waiting "all the years she has been in legislature" to gain passage of a repeal.  A 2015 poll found that 63% of Colorado residents supported the death penalty for James Holmes, the Aurora Theater shooter who killed 12 people and injured 70.

Obama Cuts Sentences of 330 Criminals in Single Day:  On his last day in office, President Obama made history by commuting the sentences of 330 federal criminals, the most ever granted in a single day.  Bill Horwitz of the Washington Post reports that during his presidency, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,715 criminals, including 568 serving life sentences.  This is more than the last 12 presidents combined. Most of those receiving commutations were defined as "non-violent" drug offenders.  A 2015 study by the Urban Institute found that 99.5% of drug offenders in federal prisons are drug dealers.   

News Scan

Chicago Homicides Rise as Illegal Gun Seizures Fall:  While the number of gun seizures in Chicago so far this year have dropped compared to the same period in 2015, twice as many homicides have occurred.  Don Babwin of the AP reports that as of the end of February, Chicago's police department seized at least 110 fewer illegal guns than in the same period last year, and recorded 95 homicides and over 400 shootings, far surpassing last year's totals.  Moreover, the high levels of scrutiny towards the city's police department has led to a dramatic drop in the number of street stops and resulted in an overall less aggressive police force. 

Police Officer Shooting Deaths on the Rise in 2016:  Of the 14 total line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers recorded in the first two months of 2016, 11 officers were killed by a firearm used against them, while only one of 15 officers' deaths by this time last year were firearm-related.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that the 11-to-one comparison of 2016 and 2015 in the number of officers fatally shot in the first two months of the year yields a 1000% increase and "implies greater willingness on the part of offenders to go after the cops."  Police associations around the country believe that anti-police rhetoric and the "deliberate campaign to terrorize our nation's law enforcement officers" is having serious consequences.  The National Fraternal Order of Police is reigniting its campaign to expand federal hate crime laws to apply to targeted attacks on police officers.

CO Death Penalty Bill Dies in Committee:  A Colorado bill that would have allowed a second jury to "retry" the aggravation and penalty phases of a death penalty case if the first jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict was postponed indefinitely Monday with a 6-3 vote.  Lance Hernandez of the Denver Channel reports that House Bill 16-1233 was created after James Holmes, who was found guilty on multiple counts of first degree murder for gunning down several people in a movie theater in 2012, skirted the death penalty at his trial because of a single holdout on the jury.  Colorado's death penalty process is unique in that jurors "can substitute their own individual, reasoned moral judgement for any factual or legal findings they previously found," making it a subjective process that one person "shouldn't be allowed to hang up."  The issue could still end up before voters.

News Scan

AL Man Faces Execution:  A condemned Alabama murderer is set to be executed by lethal injection Thursday evening, marking the first time the state has put a prisoner to death in more than two years.  Kim Chandler of the AP reports that attorneys for 43-year-old Christopher Eugene Brooks unsuccessfully argued Wednesday to halt the execution, claiming further court review of the state's execution protocol was needed before being used for the first time.  However, lawyers for the state countered that the new drug combination, which changed two of the three drugs in the procedure, is "virtually identical" to the one Florida has used several times without incident and argued that Brooks was simply attempting to delay his execution.  Brooks was convicted in 1993 for the rape and murder of 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell, who was found bludgeoned and sexually assaulted under her bed after Brooks had spent the night at her house.  

San Fernando Valley Homicides Spike:  Police data indicates that homicides in Southern California's San Fernando Valley surpassed Los Angeles increases.  Brenda Gazzar of the L.A. Daily News reports that while homicides citywide in Los Angeles increased about 9 percent over last year and 13 percent over two years ago, the Valley, which is located north of the Los Angeles Basin, saw a spike of 14 percent in 2015 over the previous year and a staggering 46 percent over 2013.  Believed to be contributing to the concerning surge is increased homelessness, lower costs for heroin and methamphetamine, and the implementation of Prop. 47, a ballot measure passed in November 2014 which downgraded several crimes such as drug possession and minor theft from felonies to misdemeanors.

CO Bill Aims to Reduce Number of Juror Votes in Death Penalty Cases:  Colorado lawmakers have introduced new legislation that could make it easier for juries to sentence a defendant to death.  Marshall Zelinger of the Denver Channel reports that the bill, called SB 64, would remove the unanimous voting requirement for death sentences, changing the standard to just nine out of 12 jurors voting for the death penalty for it to be enforced.  The legislation follows last year's high-profile trial of Aurora theater shooter James Eagan Holmes, who was found guilty on multiple counts of murder but skirted the death penalty when jurors could not reach a unanimous decision, with nine jurors "firm," two "on the fence" and one "absolute no," according to one of the jurors.  "For one person to be able to decide for everyone, it's kind of ridiculous," added the juror.  Of the 31 states that impose capital punishment, Alabama, Florida and Delaware are the only states that do not require a unanimous jury decision.

Barstow Police Need More Resources:  A city councilman in Barstow, Calif., says that the city needs additional resources to combat the "alarming" increase in crime brought on by soft-on-crime legislation enacted in the state in recent years.  Mike Lamb of Desert Dispatch reports that Councilman Richard Harpole spoke during Tuesday's Council meeting, stating that crime in Barstow, located about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is up "in every single category in part one crimes" and blames the spike on AB 109 and Prop. 47.  He emphasized that the increase in crime is "not a reflection of our Police Department" but rather, recent legislation implemented that simply slaps criminals on the wrist and sends them on their way.  Harpole suggests adding two more investigators to the police department that are specially trained to focus on career criminals in order to "build the type of cases that will require prison time."

The Defense Bar, At It Again

To clear out the underbrush at the outset:  No, I do not think defendants should go without counsel.  Yes, I think counsel should be zealous.  But no, being zealous does not include disrespecting the considered wishes of the client, or misleading the court or jury about the client's mental state.  

On Wednesday, Robert Dear, who murdered three people including a police officer at an abortion clinic in Colorado, "blurted out," as the press likes to put these things, the truth:  ""I am guilty, [I want] no trial. I am a warrior for the babies!"

The Denver Post story goes on to recount that Dear is a "deeply religious man" and "conflicted."  I have no doubt of this, although I wish he had been "conflicted" enough to stand down from murder and try some different "remedy," such as, for example, explaining to abortion providers why he believes they are horribly wrong and should stop.

My focus, however, is not on Dear, but on his defense lawyers, including lead public defender Daniel King.  Public defenders, like all other defense counsel, are employed to advance the interests of the client as the client sees them, not as the lawyer sees them.  Apparently this does not apply in Colorado.
Sadie Gurman reports for AP:

Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury failed to agree Friday on whether he should get the death penalty for his murderous attack on a packed movie premiere.

The nine women and three men said they could not reach a unanimous verdict on each of the murder counts. That automatically eliminates the death penalty for the failed neuroscientist, who blamed his calculated murders of 12 people on mental illness.

A rule of law that says the opinion of one juror can trump the opinion of the other eleven borders on insane.  We would never consent to such a rule for the guilt verdict.  In no state of the union does a jury hung 11-1 for conviction produce an acquittal.  Why does any state have such a rule for the penalty phase?

States that have this crazy rule need to get rid of it.  A hung jury on penalty should trigger a retrial with a new jury, as it does in California and Arizona.

One Step Closer to Justice

A Colorado jury decided today that the facts surrounding Colorado mass killer James Holmes did not show that mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones.  The jury will thus move on to decide whether to impose a death sentence.

The ABC News story notes that it took the jury just three hours to reach this decision, despite a barrage of defense testimony from a psychiatrist, Holmes' relatives, teachers, church leaders, soccer buddies and camp counselor friends.

If I were defense counsel, I would be more than a little concerned at the speed of the jury's decision.  Still, as long as there is a one-juror veto in capital cases, nothing is for sure.  It is nonetheless encouraging to me that the jury did not fall for the mental-state defense.  

It's not that I don't think Holmes is crazy.  He may well be crazy.  But the legal, and moral, question is whether he could understand the wrongfulness of his actions and control them.  As to that, the reported evidence seems amply to support today's decision.
The Supreme Court established the basic framework of capital sentencing in the mid-1970s and then tinkered with it for some years thereafter.  Under this framework, a state cannot make all murderers eligible to even be considered for the death penalty.  There must be some additional factor beyond the basic requirements of murder.  It has to be a reasonably objective one.  "Especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel" won't do.

The methods vary by state.  Texas defined a higher degree of murder called "capital murder."  Most states have a designated list of "aggravating circumstances."  California calls its list "special circumstances" because we just have to be different.

In some states the plus factors are found concurrently with guilt.  In others they are decided along with the decision on penalty.  Colorado apparently "trifurcates" its capital trials, sandwiching an "aggravating factor" phase between the guilt and penalty phases.  (California does that with the prior murder circumstance only.  All the rest are decided concurrently with guilt.)

Are the following factors true in the case of the Aurora shooting?

• Intentionally killing a child under the age of 12.

• Killing more than two people during the same criminal act

• Creating a grave risk of death to people other than the 12 victims.

• Committing the murders in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.

• Ambushing the victims.

The jury did not find the first one, apparently not satisfied on the specific intent requirement.  What's that fourth one?  Hopefully the jury got a "narrowing" instruction to define that more precisely.

Jordan Steffen and John Ingold have this story in the Denver Post.  Maria LaGanga has this story in the LA Times.

Aurora Verdict

Sadie Gurman reports for AP:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) -- Jurors convicted Colorado theater shooter James Holmes on Thursday in the chilling 2012 attack on defenseless moviegoers at a midnight Batman premiere, rejecting defense arguments that the former graduate student was insane and driven to murder by delusions.

The 27-year-old Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded.

Jurors took about 12 hours over a day and a half to review all 165 charges. The same panel must now decide whether Holmes should pay with his life.

CBS4 in Denver has this story with the above title.

A victim of the Aurora theater massacre said he believes defense lawyers and anti-death penalty groups have tried to use him like a pawn.

News Scan

Judge Sets Trial Date for Accused CO Movie Theater Killer: James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 and injuring dozens more at a movie theater premiere in 2012, will begin his highly anticipated trial on October 12-more than two and a half years after the attack.  Shawn Nottingham of CNN reports that prosecutors are still planning on seeking the death penalty against Holmes, who has pled not guilty by reason of insanity.  Holmes is scheduled to undergo an additional sanity evaluation later this summer after the previous exam was deemed 'incomplete and inadequate.'

CA Man Who Tried to Bomb Bank Sentenced to 15 Years: A California man who had dreams of becoming a member of the Taliban has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after authorities say he tried to blow up a bank with a car bomb he believed was supposed to detonate, but was in fact made up of non-explosive materials supplied by the FBI.  The Associated Press reports that the plot unfolded after 29-year-old Matthew Aaron Llaneza contacted an undercover FBI agent who pretended to have connections with the Taliban and assisted him with building a fake car bomb that was to be used at a Bank of America branch in Oakland.  Along with the prison sentence, Llaneza will also be forced to spend the rest of his life on probation.      

Man Found Guilty in Quadruple Homicide: A Michigan jury took less than four hours to find 25-year-old James Brown guilty in the 2011 murders of four young women.  Ed White of the Associated Press reports that Brown killed the women in his mother's basement before stuffing their bodies in a car trunk abandoning their bodies in a Detroit neighborhood.  Brown faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

News Scan

Effort to Amend Stand Your Ground Law Fails:  The effort to amend or repeal Florida's Stand Your Ground law received a setback last week.  An editorial in the Miami Herald reports that protests following the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman last year convinced Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on the law this fall.  Activists, and the Herald's editorial board apparently believe that the law prevented Zimmerman's conviction for the death of Trayvon Martin.  On November 7, a five-hour hearing was held in Tallahassee, where the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted 11-2 to keep the law exactly the same.  

Court Overturns Murderer's Death Sentence:  A Tennessee man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a nurse was granted a new sentencing hearing yesterday after a federal appeals court ruled that statements associating the defendant with the devil may have influenced the jury.  Brett Barrouquere of the Associated Press reports that Ronnie Cauthern and another man entered the home of Patrick and Rosemary Smith in 1987, put Rosemary in a closet, killed her husband, raped her twice, and then strangled her death.  At the 1995 re-sentencing hearing, the then-Assistant Attorney General made  comments associating Cauthern with the devil, but lower courts held that this would not have influenced the jury.  A three-judge panel of the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed, vacating the sentence. This will be the third re-sentencing hearing for Cauthern, unless the decision is overturned by the full Sixth Circuit or by the Supreme Court.

Felon Shot by Police at Children's Hospital:  Yesterday, police officers responded to a tip that a wanted felon was at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, igniting a standoff and a two-hour lockdown of the facility.  Gina Barton, Crocker Stephenson, and Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel report that 22-year-old Ashanti Hendricks, a wanted felon, was visiting his baby at the hospital when he was approached by officers.  Hendricks put down the baby and ran.  He was caught with a .40 caliber Glock handgun as was shot in the wrist during a struggle. Hendricks has several felony convictions dating back to 2009, most of which are drug-related. 

Aurora Theater Killer Claimed 'Too Mentally Ill' for Execution: Attorneys for accused Aurora, CO movie theater gunman James Holmes claim that results from a recent psychiatric evaluation indicate that he is too mentally ill to be executed.  John Ingold of the Denver Post reports that the motion filed to exclude the death penalty from Holmes' upcoming case was one of five motions brought forth by the defense as both sides make final preparations for the 2014 trial.  Holmes' attorneys have also requested that the jury only be allowed to hear victim impact statements after they have sentenced Holmes in order to prevent emotional bias.  Holmes is charged with the murders of 12 people during a July 2012 shooting spree at a Century Theater.

News Scan

Kansas Lawmakers to Rewrite 'Hard 50' Law: Members of the Kansas Senate will vote today on changes being made to the state's 'Hard 50' law; a state law that automatically imposes a 50-year sentence on convicted murderers with aggravating circumstances.  John Milburn of the Associated Press reports that the push to amend the law came after the Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Virginia and ruled that only a jury, not a judge, should be able to hand down such a strict sentence.  Some of the aggravating circumstances that could lead to a 'Hard 50' sentence include prior felony convictions, murder for hire, and murder to avoid arrest or prosecution. 

Lawyers in Aurora Massacre Want DP Ruled Unconstitutional: Lawyers for James Holmes, the man accused in the Aurora movie theater murders, filed several motions in an effort to have Colorado's death penalty law ruled as unconstitutional.  Greg Campbell of the Daily Caller News reports that a total of 21 motions were filed by Holmes' defense team yesterday, including a request that would require jury members to visit death row and an execution chamber prior to sentencing.  The trial is set to begin early next year. 

Marijuana Use in America on the Rise: A nationwide survey, involving 70,000 people 12 and older, has revealed that more Americans are using marijuana.  Donna Leinwand Leger of USA Today reports that marijuana use has been steadily increasing over the past five years, and the number could increase even more now that states are beginning to legalize the drug.  Just last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would no longer prosecute marijuana users in the 20 states that have legalized small amounts of medical and recreational marijuana.   

Cleveland Kidnapper Found Dead in Jail Cell: Ariel Castro, the man convicted of kidnapping three Ohio women and holding them captive for almost a decade, was found dead in his cell last night after what authorities believe to be a suicide.  Fox News reports that corrections officers found Castro hanging in his cell and attempted 'life-saving measures' before he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  Due to the high-profile nature of his case, Castro was being kept in protective custody and was checked on by officers every thirty minutes.

News Scan

Colorado Prepares for Movie Theater Murder Case: An Arapahoe County judge has made several decisions concerning the upcoming trial for accused movie theater killer James Holmes.  Shawn Nottingham and Greg Botelho of CNN report that during the trial, Holmes will be restrained by a hidden harness anchored to the floor (a request made by his defense attorneys to prevent the jury from seeing him in visible restraints).  The defense also requested that the jury be sequestered and prevented from using their phones and computers during the trial; however, both of those requests were denied.  The judge has said he will send out 5,000 jury summons for the case, making this the largest jury pool in state history.

California Inmate to Face Murder Charges in Nevada: A man serving a 13-year prison sentence in California has been transported to Las Vegas to face murder charges for the 2006 slaying of his estranged girlfriend.  CBS Las Vegas News reports that police have charged Shaun Leflore in the 2006 murder; a case police originally believed to be a suicide.  Leflore was sentenced to 13 years in prison for assaulting and threatening to kill a California woman less than a year after the 2006 murder.

Texas Woman Indicted in Obama Ricin-Letter Case
: A Texas woman was indicted today on charges that she mailed ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  The Associated Press reports that Shannon Richardson mailed the letters in an attempt to frame her estranged husband. If convicted, Richardson could face up to 10 years in federal prison. 

California Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence: The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of raping and murdering his 12-year-old neighbor in 1999.  Kenneth Ofgang of Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Daniel Linton challenged his death sentence after making claims that detectives tricked him into giving a confession in exchange for leniency.  The high court ruled against Linton, noting that he had waived his Miranda rights prior to the confession.

News Scan

Violent Crime in U.S. Rises for First Time Since 2006: Preliminary data on crime for 2012 from the FBI confirms that for the first time in six years, the United States experienced an increase in the rate of violent crime.  Timothy Williams of the New York Times reports that the data shows that cities with populations exceeding 500,000 residents experienced the largest increase, including a 12.5% increase in the murder rate.  The last increase in the national rate was in 2006 when violent crime rose by 1.9% after a decline of 17.6% from 1996 to 2005.  The data indicates that increased crime in the Western United States drove the national rate, with over twice the spike in violent crime than the Midwest five times the increase in the South.  The rate in the Northeast actually declined.  The rates for robbery, burglary and other property crimes, which declined in every other region, also climbed in the West, with auto theft increasing by over 10%.  While some experts opine that these increases are due to cuts in police, this does not explain why the West has suffered the most. 

Colorado Theater Killer Pleads Insanity:
A decision today by a Colorado judge could ultimately spare accused movie theater killer, James Holmes, from the death penalty.  Carol McKinley of ABC News reports that Holmes' plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was accepted today and will be his defense for the murders of 12 people and injury 70 more.  The next step will be a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, a time consuming process that could take months to complete.  If convicted,  Holmes could face a death sentence, unless he is determined to be mentally incompetent. 

Crime up in Oakland, much of Bay Area: The F.B.I.'s preliminary report on crime rates for 2012 showed that Bay Area cities suffered disproportionally.  Henry Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that 11 of the 15 largest cities that encompass the Bay Area experienced higher levels of violent crimes in 2012 after a drop in 2011.  Serious violent crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery all increased in Oakland along with increases in property crime resulting in Oakland having the highest per-capita crime rate in the state. Oakland also saw a 29 percent increase in robberies, averaging almost a dozen a day.  Both the Oakland and San Jose police departments suffered budget cuts last year resulting in police lay offs.  San Jose recorded a 10 percent increase in violent crime, along with a jump in homicides from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012.    

Denver Post Letter

As Bill noted yesterday, the Denver Post has editorialized against the DA's decision to seek the death penalty for the Aurora theater mass-murderer.  Today they printed my letter to the editor on the subject.  Letter writers only get 150 words.

When You Can't Win With Facts, Start Lying

A few years back, I was interviewed by Atlantic magazine for an article they were doing on the death penalty.  As you can imagine for that publication, I was carrying water uphill.

Times have changed, but the Atlantic hasn't.  It now has a piece by Andrew Cohen titled, "In Aurora Shooting Case, a Public Pushback Against the Death Penalty."  The article begins thusly:

To give you a sense of how far the public debate over capital punishment has moved toward rationality over the past few decades you need only read Tuesday's house editorial in The Denver Post [opposing] a Colorado prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty in the Aurora theater shooting case.

It's telling that Cohen uses one editorial in a leftist newspaper to assess the broad "movement" of the "public debate" (he does later cite a second newspaper editorial).  One might think he'd consult a wider variety of sources.

Out of curiosity, I did.  What I found is that  Andrew Cohen is a flagrant liar.
Carol McKinley and Christina Ng have this story for ABC on the Arapahoe County DA's decision to reject the plea bargain offer and seek the death penalty for James Holmes for the murder of 12 people in a theater in Aurora, Colorado last year.

Friends of Aurora shooting victims applauded prosecutors' decision today to seek the death penalty for James Holmes, with one friend saying he wanted to be in the room if Holmes is executed.

"I don't know if it's painful. I want him dead. I just want to be there in the room when he dies," Bryan Beard said outside the Colorado courthouse. "He took one of my friends from this Earth. Death equals death."

*                             *                          *
Brauchler said his office has reached out to 800 victims and that he had personally spoken with relatives of 60 victims who died and were injured.

Near the end, the story notes the victims' families are divided on the question.  Another story today (which I don't have a link to) quoted one as concerned with the 15 years of appeals.

But these cases don't have to take 15 years.  In a case with no doubt of the identity of the perpetrator, we should have all reviews done in 6 years or less.  Virginia did it with the D.C. Sniper, and cases don't come any more complex than that one.

The penalty decision in a capital case should get one full and fair review.  Any reviews after the first should be limited to issues of guilt.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Yesterday, I wrote about a defense lawyer whose pretrial spin on his client was denial of factual guilt.  That's hardly out of the ordinary; indeed it's standard practice. It's not uniform practice, however, because there are some cases  --  James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado shooter, for example  --  where it just makes the defense seem disconnected from reality to maintain factual innocence.  Yesterday's case was like that:  A father, furious at his wife for leaving him, drove to her new house and butchered (literally) the couples' three little girls, then called his estranged wife to say, "You can come home now because I killed the kids."  To refuse to concede factual guilt on a record like that seems not just misleading but foolish.  Are you doing the client any favors?

Anyway, after most or all of the suppression motions tanked, the defense lawyer finally publicly conceded factual guilt, shifting to the usual Plan B (the client did it, but only because he had "a major depressive disorder").

Just when you think things can't get any sillier (or more nauseating)...
The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for mass killer James Holmes, who murdered 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Holmes's lawyers had offered to plead guilty to LWOP charges in exchange the the government's taking the death penalty off the table, as reported in the News Scan here.

The prosecution made the correct choice.  

Like the Beltway sniper (who killed "only" ten), Holmes is a poster boy for the death penalty. He'll put on an insanity defense, sure. Let him. He's going to wind up in secure custody for life one way or the other; it's not like the prosecution has to worry about his walking away if there isn't a conviction on a death penalty charge.  That's what makes this decision easy.  The government is not confronting the typical downside when considering a defendant's plea offer. Normally, the prosecutor must consider the possibility that there might be an outright acquittal and the defendant will walk.

Not here.  If there is an acquittal, it will only be by reason of insanity, so the only place Holmes will be walking is the most secure and least pleasant insane asylum you can imagine. 


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