June 2003 Executions
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Four
killers were executed in June 2003.  They had murdered at least 6 people.
Four
killers were given a stay in June 2003.  They have murdered at least 7 people.
One killer was granted clemency in June 2003.  He murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 5, 2003   Oklahoma Brandy Crystain Hill, 14  Kenneth Charm executed
Fourteen-year-old Brandy Hill had traveled to Lawton, Oklahoma, to spend several weeks with her father during her summer vacation. On July 20, 1993, Charm and his sixteen-year-old cousin, Ronald Jessie, visited Michael Hill, the girl's father. Charm and Hill were described as drinking buddies. As Charm and Jessie drove away from the Hill residence that afternoon, they spied Brandy walking down the street. The two men lured her into their car. Jessie then wrapped a piece of cloth around Brandy Hill's neck. The men drove the victim to a field. There, both Charm and Jessie each twice raped the girl. Afterwards, Jessie tried to choke her to death with the piece of cloth. He could not kill her, however. Charm then tried, still without success. Finally, Jessie retrieved a sledgehammer from the car's trunk and hit the girl twice in the head. Charm then hit her several more times. The two men left Brandy Hill's body there in the field, where it was discovered several days later. Jurors convicted Charm of first-degree malice-aforethought murder, kidnapping and first-degree rape. They sentenced Charm to fifty-four and one hundred twenty years' imprisonment, respectively, on the kidnapping and rape convictions, which were enhanced in light of Charm's nine prior felony convictions. After finding the existence of the three charged aggravating factors--Charm had killed the victim to avoid arrest or prosecution for kidnapping and raping her, the killing was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, and Charm was a continuing threat to society--the jury sentenced Charm to death on the murder conviction. UPDATE: Michael Davis watched a friend die when his daughter's killer was put to death Thursday. Kenneth Chad Charm, 37, was put to death at 6:05 p.m. for the 1993 rape and murder of 14-year-old Brandy Crystian Hill.  Charm is the ninth inmate to be put to death by the state this year. "It's kind of sad," said Davis, who recently changed his last name from Hill to Davis. "There were two lives lost here. It's not like I didn't know him. It's still hard for me to dislike him, even though he took my little girl." A spiritual adviser, an attorney and an investigator witnessed Charm's execution. None of his family members were present.  "I want to apologize to the victim's family and to my family and ask their forgiveness," Charm said before his execution. As the execution began, Charm grimaced his face, closed his eyes and puffed out a few deep breaths. Hill, an honor student who wanted to become the first female black president, was visiting her father for the summer when she was lured into a car with Charm and co-defendant Ron Jessie. On a remote Comanche County road, the men raped, strangled and bludgeoned the girl to death with a sledgehammer. Hill lived with her mother in Michigan and was visiting her father, in Lawton. Her parents divorced when she was 2. On the day of the murder, Charm and Jessie had visited Brandy Hill's father. The two men left the house, picked up Brandy Hill, raped and killed her and then returned to the Hill home to establish an alibi, court records show. Charm testified that he and Jessie both delivered blows that killed the girl. Jessie, who was 16 at the time, received a life sentence without parole. Death penalty opponents had rallied against the execution because Charm's attorneys claimed he was retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year against executing mentally retarded people and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that people with an IQ of 70 or below shouldn't face the death penalty. Charm has an IQ of 75, but his attorneys claim IQ tests have a margin of error of plus or minus five points. Charm's attorneys appealed the death sentence to the nation's high court, asking justices to review the state's standard. The Supreme Court denied the appeals Thursday afternoon. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously last month to deny Charm clemency.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 11, 2003    Texas William Rains, 32  Kia Johnson executed
Kia Johnson was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of William Rains, 32. William was shot during a robbery of the shop in San Antonio where he worked as a night manager. A security guard at a convenience store discovered the body of William Rains, a clerk, behind the counter. The police were able to obtain a surveillance tape that showed the perpetrator and showed the victim trying to reach for a telephone for forty-five minutes after he was shot. The next day, a long-time acquaintance of Johnson's called police when he recognized Johnson as the person on the tape when it was shown on television. The police went to the person's home and showed him the full videotape, whereupon he again identified Johnson. A warrant was issued for Johnson's arrest; he soon was located in the custody of police, having been arrested on an unrelated charge. A police officer identified Johnson as the man in the tape because he was wearing the same distinctive clothing. Another of Johnson's acquaintances, also identified him as the man portrayed in the tape.  UPDATE: For an agonizing 45 minutes, a surveillance videotape shows William Rains trying to climb out from behind a counter after he had been shot and robbed at the suburban San Antonio convenience store where he was the night manager. "It's like in the movies where you see the shaking hand come up and the shaking hand go down when somebody is trying to lift themselves up," Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Michael Cohen recalled this week. "You'd see the hand shake, then fall. It was real surreal. Unfortunately, this guy bled to death." Kia Levoy Johnson, a twice-paroled burglar convicted of shooting Rains and robbing him of $23, was set to be executed Wednesday evening for the Oct. 29, 1993, fatal attack at the Balcones Heights store.  "He shot an innocent victim who didn't even have a chance to cooperate," Cohen said. The videotape that showed Rains' excruciating death also showed the shooting and helped convict Johnson, who insisted he was innocent. "He walks in, the gun's out and he shoots the guy immediately," Cohen said. "They guy goes down and (Johnson) stands over the counter and is yelling at the guy to get up to open the register." On the tape, Rains, 32, was shot once in the abdomen with a .32-caliber pistol and moans in pain. His attacker grabs the register from the counter and flees. "As he's doing that, he's dragging the cash register tape, the paper that comes out," Cohen recalled. "And when he's steps out of the door he steps on the cash register tape and leaves a real good imprint of the sole of the tennis shoes he's wearing." A customer found Rains' body and called police. When the video of the crime was aired on television in San Antonio, several people told police the gunman was Johnson. "When we caught up with him at his residence, we found that same tennis shoe in his closet and it was a perfect match," Cohen said. Johnson, a high school graduate who worked as a cook, was no stranger to the prison system. He had a pair of burglary convictions and in March 1990 was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Six months later he was paroled, only to be returned to prison in February 1992 as a parole violator. Nine months later, in November, he was paroled again. The Rains killing occurred the following October. "I told them that they had the wrong person and that I did not kill anybody," Johnson, who refused to speak with reporters from death row, said on a Web site devoted to his case. In late appeals, Johnson's lawyers contended he was mentally retarded and should not be put to death because the U.S. Supreme Court has barred execution of the mentally retarded. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the appeal last week, saying there was no evidence to support the argument. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected the appeal late Tuesday and Scott Sullivan, one of Johnson's attorneys, said he would take his argument Wednesday to the Supreme Court. In earlier unsuccessful appeals, lawyers contended his court-appointed trial attorneys were incompetent.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 13, 2003    Indiana Susan Bowsher, 23
Ashelyn Bowsher, 2
William E. Bowsher, 17 months
Joseph Trueblood executed
Joseph Trueblood was upset with his former girlfriend, Susan Bowsher, because she expressed her intention of going back to her ex-husband. Trueblood picked up Susan and her two small children one day and while they were in the car he shot Susan 3 times in the head, and shot each child once in the head. He then drove to the home of his twin brother, admitted to him what he had done, borrowed a shovel, then drove to a secluded area and buried all three in a shallow grave. After 4 witnesses had testified at trial, Trueblood indicated a desire to plead guilty and did so. When interviewed by the Probation Officer for the Presentence Report, Trueblood claimed that Susan had shot the kids, then killed herself. He then sought to withdraw his guilty plea, which was denied. UPDATE: In Michigan City, prison officials executed Lafayette taxi driver Joseph Trueblood early today for the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her 2 children. Trueblood, 46, was moved into a holding cell at the Indiana State Prison Thursday night. Shortly after midnight, he was placed on a gurney and rolled to the white-painted execution chamber, where prison officials administered a lethal dose of drugs via intravenous feeds in each arm. Prison officials pronounced Trueblood dead at 12:24 a.m. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Trueblood about 8 p.m. Thursday. The court had refused without comment to reconsider the case earlier this week, and Gov. Frank O'Bannon on Wednesday rejected his clemency request. Earlier this week, Trueblood told reporters he did not intend to cooperate with authorities in his death. He rejected the traditional last meal and said he did not want his body to be autopsied. A LaPorte Superior Court judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order preventing an autopsy by the state Department of Correction following Trueblood's execution. Don Pagos, a Michigan City attorney representing Trueblood, argued there was no point in an autopsy since the cause of death would be known. A final ruling was expected Friday. Trueblood said he did not want any of his family members to witness his execution. His witnesses were to be his 3 appeals lawyers and the Rev. Thomas McNally, a Roman Catholic priest. McNally and family members were among Trueblood's visitors during his last full day on death row. Another visitor was Katie Pawski of Chicago, a 25-year-old University of Notre Dame graduate who addressed about 20 anti-death penalty protesters outside the prison gates Thursday night. "He's a human being with humanity and compassion," said Pawski, who met Trueblood while doing prison outreach while attending Notre Dame. "Nobody deserves to die. Killing creates more victims," she said. Trueblood, 46, was condemned for the 1988 murders of Susan Bowsher of Lafayette and her children, 2-year-old Ashelyn Hughes and 1-year-old William E. Bowsher. Prosecutors said he shot the woman and children to death after learning that she intended to return to her ex-husband. Trueblood said the deaths resulted from a suicide attempt by Susan Bowsher. Trueblood told the parole board last month that he, Bowsher and her children were driving on a rural road outside Lafayette when she pulled out a handgun and shot Ashelyn. He described Bowsher as suicidal. He said he tried to wrestle the gun from Bowsher with one hand as he drove with the other. The gun went off twice more, with the 2nd shot hitting William in the head. He said Bowsher then shot herself twice and that she was wounded so badly he fatally shot her in an act of mercy. The parole board chairman, however, called Trueblood's account "wholly improbable." Relatives and friends of Bowsher have called his story a lie and asked for the execution to be carried out.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 18, 2003    Ohio Robert Robinson  Ernest Martin executed
On January 21, 1983, Ernest Martin shot to death, Robert Robinson, owner of Robinson's Drug Store in Cleveland, and stealing less than $40. Robert had let Martin's girlfriend in the store to buy some cold medicine, and Martin shot him through the glass door. Martin used a gun he had stolen from a security guard. Josephine Pedro testified that in the early hours of January 21, 1983, Martin revealed a plan to rob Robinson's Drug Store. She attempted to dissuade him but said Martin threatened her if she did not cooperate in the robbery. Martin then left the apartment and returned approximately ten minutes later with the gun he had stolen from a security guard. Martin told his girlfriend she was to go to the store and attempt to buy medicine for a cold. When Robert Robinson, owner of the store, unlocked the door to allow her entrance, Martin planned to follow her in and rob the premises. Martin wore gray pants, tennis shoes and a waist-length black leather jacket. He covered his face with a brown knit cap in which he cut holes for his eyes to avoid identification. At approximately 12:45 a.m., Pedro arrived at the store and knocked on the door. Upon recognizing her, Robert Robinson unlocked the door to let her in. However, he locked the door again before Martin had a chance to gain entrance. As Robert stood in front of the door after locking it, two shots were fired through the door, fatally wounding him. After firing the shots Martin allegedly went to the apartment to change his clothes and then returned to the store to finish the robbery. An employee at the drugstore was in the back room at the time of the shooting. After hearing the shots and seeing what had occurred, he called an ambulance and the police. He then instructed Pedro to go to Robinson's house to get his wife. Pedro complied and upon returning was interviewed by the police concerning the events. She gave them her name and address and stated she knew nothing about the shooting. Martin was also present at this time and talked to the police. Upon completing her interview, Pedro returned to her apartment. Martin returned approximately thirty-five minutes later. Pedro asked Martin whether the evening's events had been worth it. He showed her a pile of bills under a blanket which he then took into the bathroom and explained that he had stolen between $38 and $39 from the store. Several days after the shooting the police again questioned Pedro and Martin. By this time the two had put together a story for the police that Pedro had gone to the store to get cough medicine when the deceased was shot and that Martin only came to the store after she had been gone for an unusually long time. On January 29, 1983, the police returned and arrested Pedro and Martin for the murder of Robinson. After several days in jail, Pedro told the police that she had helped set up the robbery by going to the store and that Martin had shot Robert Robinson. Soon afterwards, Martin's father contacted Pedro asking her to change her statement. While visiting Martin in jail, Martin's father again asked Pedro to change her story. During the trial, the state introduced a letter dated February 13, 1983, wherein Martin asked Pedro to "tell the truth" and implicate a man named "Slim" for the murder-robbery of Robinson. An additional letter dated February 17, 1983, in which Martin again asked her to implicate "Slim," was also introduced into evidence. Pedro has continually denied that "Slim" had anything to do with these crimes. The state also offered another letter into evidence which had been written by Martin to Pedro when he was in jail in February 1981 for another offense. Pedro identified the letter and read it into the record. The letter asked Pedro to lie for Martin and to implicate someone else for the commission of the offense for which Martin was charged. Pedro admitted lying for Martin pursuant to the letter in the previous trial for the other offense. Finally, another woman testified that she lived with Pedro for about five or six months until the middle of December 1982. During December she heard Martin say he was going to rob Robinson's store. Martin threatened her with a gun, warning her that she had better not tell anyone of his plan.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 18, 2003    Texas Fred Finch
Mildred Finch
 
Kenneth Thomas stayed
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday granted a stay of execution based on a mental retardation claim by a death row inmate who was convicted of fatally stabbing a Dallas civil rights lawyer and his wife in 1986. Kenneth Dwayne Thomas, 42, was set for lethal injection June 18 for the burglary and killing of Fred Finch and his wife, Mildred. The appeals court Thursday sent Thomas' case back to a Dallas trial court, where the inmate's mental retardation claims are to be considered. During his trial for the death of Ms. Finch, defense attorneys presented evidence that Thomas was born with brain damage. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals eventually reversed Thomas' capital murder conviction in the killing of Fred Finch, but in 1994 affirmed the conviction for the burglary and slaying of Mildred Finch. Police said Thomas killed the couple in order to steal clothes from Fred. Thomas was arrested after the stabbings when his relatives spotted him wearing a Rolex watch and clothes bearing Fred Finch's monogram. Fred Finch, a Harvard law graduate and leader in Dallas' black community, helped integrate Arlington State College, which is now the University of Texas at Arlington. He also founded two newspapers aimed at the black community. His wife was a longtime mathematics professor at El Centro College. Thomas' attorney says test results show he has an IQ of between 70 and 75. An IQ of 70 is the generally accepted standard for retardation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded killers, causing attorneys for many death row inmates to file claims that their clients fall into the category. Thomas' sentence automatically would become life in prison if the courts determine he is retarded. Prosecutors could not be reached for comment Thursday.  
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 18, 2003    Tennessee Patrick Daniels 
Unnamed victim
James Lee Jones
(Abu-Ali Abdur Rahman)
stayed
On February 17, 1986, James Lee Jones and Harold Devalle Miller murdered Patrick Daniels and attempted to murder Norma Norman. Jones was on parole for another slaying when he stabbed the couple three years after being released from prison. The day after being discharged from the Army, Jones was arrested for armed robbery on the Army post. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in federal prison. In 1972, he fatally stabbed a fellow inmate and was convicted of second-degree murder. He said he killed the man because he was tired of forced sex. He received a life sentence, but was paroled in 1983. Jones belonged to a quasi-religious African-American group that vowed to cleanse Nashville's crime-ridden neighborhoods. Prosecutors, however, described it as a drug robbery. On the day of the crime, Jones and another group member, Harold Miller, visited Daniels, purportedly to scare him away from dealing drugs. Jones, armed with a shotgun, and Miller, armed with an unloaded pistol, entered the duplex under the pretext of making a drug purchase. Jones and Miller displayed their firearms and forced Daniels and his girlfriend, Norma, to the floor. Jones then bound Daniels and Norman with duct tape about their hands, feet, eyes, and mouth. After stealing Daniels's bank card, Jones forced Daniels to reveal his PIN number. Jones also searched the house and found some marijuana in some sofa cushions. Jones disputes whether he or Miller actually stabbed the victims. Patrick was stabbed six times in the chest, while begging for his life. Norma was stabbed several times in the back, but miraculously survived. She is not able to tell which of the intruders did the stabbing, because Jones, not Miller, taped her eyes shut. Jones personally did the binding and blindfolding that rendered the victims helpless to be slaughtered. Jones also placed his gun barrel squarely between Norma's eyes. Miller testified that Jones rhythmically drove a knife into Daniels' chest six times. Jones didn't testify during the determination-of-guilt stage. But at sentencing, he told the jury, ''All I know is that I'm the man that stabbed Mr. Daniels.'' Defense lawyers now say that their client's words have been misinterpreted and that he did not confess. 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 24, 2003    Ohio Leoma Chmielewski, 76  Lewis Williams stayed
On 1/20/83, Lewis Williams murdered his cousin's neighbor, 76-year-old Leoma Chmielewski, during a robbery in her home. Williams ransacked the house, beat Leoma in the head and neck, shot her in the face at close range and stomped on her chest, leaving his shoe print on her nightgown. Williams' attorneys claim he is mentally retarded and should not be executed. The Ohio Attorney General's office strongly disputes the assertion that Lewis is mentally retarded. Jim Canepa, who supervises Attorney General Jim Petro's capital-crimes section, says Williams' claims of mental retardation are a false use of the Supreme Court's ruling. Earlier this year, Williams wrote a 62-page brief that has been filed with the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals. The document asserts his innocence, saying that he received "ineffective assistance and representation of trial counsel in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution." Canepa claims Williams' ability to write the brief shows that Williams is not mentally retarded. Earlier this year, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency for Williams, saying his claim of innocence is not credible.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 27, 2003    Ohio John Henry Turner, 78 Jerome Campbell granted clemency
Jerome Campbell was convicted of murdering his former neighbor, 78-year-old Henry Turner, in his Cincinnati apartment two days before Christmas in 1988. A neighbor found Turner's body, with a knife stuck through the wrist, sprawled on the stairs in the building. Turner had bled to death. Turner's normally neat apartment was in disarray. Dresser drawers lay on the floor. Items lay jumbled on the bedroom and living room floors. The mattress was pulled from Turner's bed frame, and his television lay face-down on the floor, the court records said. A normally locked liquor cabinet was open. A Hamilton County coroner's report said Turner suffered two stab wounds to the chest and the wound through the right wrist. Turner also had a half-inch-deep cut on the chin and a defense wound on his left thumb. Police found a set of knives in an open drawer in Turner's kitchen; the murder weapon was apparently taken from that drawer, the court records said. One of Campbell's fingerprints was found on the light bulb outside the apartment and his palm print was found on the outside of the kitchen door at the back of the apartment. There was blood found on a pair of Campbell's shoes, but DNA testing showed that it was Campbell's own blood. Campbell admitted the burglary-murder to his girlfriend and two fellow inmates. Police arrested Campbell at his sister's apartment seven days after the murder. After police took him away, his sister allowed them to search her apartment. Court records show that Campbell now disputes whether she did so voluntarily. In a closet, officers found a pair of gym shoes marked with brownish stains. A forensic serologist later testified the shoes were stained with human blood. On appeal, Campbell asked to get the expert testimony about the blood thrown out. The courts, including the Supreme Court, refused. Now, Campbell wants the state to reconsider his sentence based in part on the fact that DNA evidence from a test last year shows blood on the shoes to be his own. His attorney, Pamela Prude-Smithers of the Ohio Public Defenders Office, said Campbell is not only bringing up the DNA but also raising a question about whether two jailhouse snitches, Ronys Clardy and Angelo Roseman, received a deal from the state to testify against Campbell, making their testimony suspect. Campbell is noting that they were released from jail shortly after their testimony. The Supreme Court dealt with the issue of the Clardy and Roseman testimony, saying, "The state's evidence, if believed, would allow a rational trier of fact to find guilt. Campbell's fellow jail inmates, Clardy and Roseman, testified that Campbell admitted killing Turner. Campbell attacks their credibility, but we may not 'substitute our evaluation of witness credibility for the jury's.' " Because evidence was destroyed shortly after Campbell's trial, he has been unable to seek a re-trial, Prude-Smithers said. "He cannot do anything to prove himself innocent," she said. Patrick Dinkelacker was the prosecutor who won the guilty verdict and death sentence against Campbell and is now a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge. He says Campbell's case should be intensely scrutinized -- but not because of Campbell's protestations of innocence. "The injustice in this case was the sentence was set for May 18, 1989, and it has yet to be carried out," Dinkelacker said. Campbell's claims of innocence come, Dinkelacker noted, despite the case going through five state and federal courts in 14 years without a change in the verdict or sentence. Dinkelacker believed the most compelling evidence against Campbell was his confession to his girlfriend and to the jailhouse snitches. Dinkelacker was stunned when Campbell's girlfriend, Estella "Niecy" Roe, handed the assistant prosecutor Campbell's letter in which Campbell asked her to lie to give Campbell an alibi. The letter described details of the alibi she was to give Campbell. She also told authorities that Campbell, in one of her visits to Campbell behind bars, told her "he did it," a comment Campbell later recanted, and that he also asked her to lie for him. Equally important, Dinkelacker said, was Campbell admitting he burglarized Henry Turner's apartment but saying he didn't kill him.  The investigation also showed that a rum bottle found in Campbell's sister's apartment after the killing was sold in the same shipment of rum as bottles found in the dead man's apartment.  UPDATE: Gov. Bob Taft granted clemency today to Jerome Campbell, a Cincinnati man who claimed blood evidence was withheld from jurors at his murder trial, a source said. It marked the 1st time the governor has spared the life of a condemned inmate. The governor granted clemency to Campbell late Thursday morning, a source familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The source spoke on condition of anonymity. The governor's office declined comment, pending an afternoon news conference. Campbell is the 1st death row inmate to receive clemency in 12 years. Taft has turned down 9 requests for clemency since he took office in 1999. 8 of the inmates have been executed. Taft, acting hours after the Ohio Supreme Court rejected Campbell's bid for a new trial, followed the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which ruled 6-2 in favor of clemency on May 2. WLWT television station in Cincinnati was with Campbell's mother and niece when they received a telephone call from the Ohio Public Defender's office telling them Campbell's life had been spared. Family members were elated by the news and jumped up and down and hugged. Campbell, 42, was scheduled to be executed on Friday. He had been convicted of aggravated murder for stabbing John Henry Turner, 78, at the man's West End apartment in 1988. Ohio Public Defender David Bodiker referred to Turner in the clemency application as a bootlegger who sold liquor out of his home. Bodiker was explaining why Campbell's fingerprints were on a rum bottle in the apartment. Defense lawyers argued that Campbell should be retried because a DNA test he requested from the state showed that blood on gym shoes introduced as trial evidence was his blood, not Turner's. Campbell, who received his results in September 2002, was the first inmate to take advantage of a new law that allows death-row inmates to have DNA testing at the state's expense. Proscutors said the DNA had no bearing on the verdict because a prisoner interviewed by police said Campbell was wearing work boots, not gym shoes, at the time of the slaying. The parole board said it had no reason to believe that Campbell was innocent, but that jurors might have spared his life had they received information that was revealed later. Campbell also was convicted of aggravated burglary. The state's attorneys told Kubicki that the evidence the defense says merits a new trial was insufficient to overcome the jury's guilty verdict. Tim Prichard, an assistant Ohio attorney general, told the judge that Campbell's former girlfriend, Estella Roe, testified that Campbell told her he killed Turner and asked her to provide an alibi. Roe also testified at the trial that Campbell had gotten his blood on his gym shoes when she cut him during a fight months before the Turner slaying, Prichard told the judge. Messages seeking comment were left with the Hamilton County prosecutor and the public defender's office. In 1991, then-Gov. Richard Celeste, 2 days before he left office, commuted the sentences of 7 inmates to life in prison.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 27, 2003    Utah Margo Bond, 42
Stephanie Blundell, 13
Lisa Martinez, 16
Tuesday Roberts, 14
Roberto Arguelles stayed
Roberto Arguelles, 41, was on parole in March 1992, when he kidnapped 15-year-old Tuesday Roberts and her 16-year-old friend Lisa Martinez. He sexually assaulted and strangled Tuesday and stabbed Lisa more than 40 times, then buried their bodies at a pig farm. Earlier that month, Arguelles had kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed 13-year-old Stephanie Blundell. He also abducted and strangled 42-year-old Margo Bond, a janitor at a junior high school where he had been hunting for teenage victims. The three teens were killed after accepting rides from Arguelles. During a hearing at which the judge signed the death warrant, Lisa's grandmother, Rose Edwards, was removed from the courtroom briefly after she shouted at Arguelles during his health-related complaints. "That's nothing compared to what you did to my granddaughter," she said. The execution of serial killer Roberto Arguelles, which had been scheduled for June 27, has been stayed until his competency can be determined. Third District Judge Michael Burton signed the stay on Tuesday after prosecutors agreed to the delay. The action came one day after the Utah Department of Corrections notified Burton that there was good reason to evaluate Arguelles. "The bottom line is, we cannot legally or constitutionally execute someone who is incompetent," Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker said. "The prison ... has concluded this is an issue that needs to be adjudicated."  In their filing, prosecutors contended that the Corrections' action invalidated requests filed in Arguelles' behalf last week by attorney Ed Brass. Brass sought to vacate the execution order and extend the time to appeal it, stay the execution and arrange a competency evaluation. Arguelles' last court-ordered evaluation was in 2000, after he tried to hang himself with a laundry bag and was briefly in a coma. Two psychiatrists and a neuro-psychologist determined he was competent. However, in March 2001, Karen Stam, an attorney who formerly represented Arguelles, wrote to the Utah Supreme Court that Arguelles "continues to deteriorate mentally, collecting and eating feces regularly." That behavior was among several reasons cited by Brass last week in seeking a new evaluation. Technically, Arguelles has no attorney, as he has fired Brass and other court-appointed public defenders. At a May 1 hearing, Arguelles repeatedly requested that Stam be called. She initially was appointed to represent him, but in 1996, she and other members of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association were disqualified because an employee had a potential conflict of interest. Brass has asked that an attorney be appointed for Arguelles. The prosecutors argued Tuesday that unless Arguelles is ruled incompetent, he has the right to not have an attorney. In a response Tuesday, Brass contended that courts have the authority to appoint counsel for defendants "who defy basic procedural rules or who fail to maintain proper courtroom decorum." He said that at the May 1 hearing, Arguelles "was clearly and wildly inappropriate and also (appeared) to be incompetent. He simply cannot be allowed to represent himself at this point." During that hearing, Arguelles yelled, screamed and spewed profanity. Burton had him removed from the courtroom three times. Brass' motion suggested a competency evaluation should stretch back to before Arguelles pleaded guilty in 1997. Prosecutors said, "The only inquiry is whether defendant has become incompetent since the last adjudication of that issue." Editorial
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 28, 2003    Utah Lonnie Blackmon
Unnamed victim
Troy Kell stayed
Troy Michael Kell, an inmate at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah, was charged with aggravated murder. Kell stabbed fellow inmate Lonnie Blackmon to death on July 6, 1994. Prior to the attack, Kell, a white supremacist, had been involved in race-related altercations with several African-American inmates, including Blackmon. On the day before the killing, Kell and two of his accomplices, Eric Daniels and Paul Payne, submitted medical request forms to visit the prison's medical facility. In addition, Daniels forged a medical request form in Blackmon's name so that Blackmon would be transported to the medical facility at the same time Kell and his accomplices were being transported. Moments before the attack occurred, Kell and Blackmon were moved from the upper tier of the building at the CUCF where they were housed to the lower tier where they awaited transfer to the prison's medical facility. Both Kell and Blackmon were placed in double locked handcuffs fastened to a belt around the waist. Their feet were not placed in shackles so that they could safely descend the stairs from the top tier of the cell block. By this time, Daniels had also been moved to the lower tier to go to the medical facility. Payne's request to go to the medical facility had been denied because he was in punitive isolation on the top tier of the cell block. Nevertheless, at his insistence, Payne was permitted to shower on the lower tier of the cell block rather than in the showers located on the second tier of the cell block, where his cell was located. While descending to the lower tier, Kell removed his handcuffs with a partial handcuff key that had been altered with a homemade handle made from melted plastic utensils. Kell also produced a shank. Blackmon was standing with his back to Kell talking to other inmates, when Kell began to stab him repeatedly in the neck, eyes, face, back and chest. Kell was free to use his unrestrained hands and arms during the attack, but Blackmon could only kick at his attackers to defend himself because he was still in handcuffs that were attached to his waist. Blackmon's efforts were futile in any event because Payne choked and punched him and Daniels held onto his legs during the attack. For over two and a half minutes, Kell slashed Blackmon with his shank, inflicting sixty-seven stab wounds, only two of which were described by the forensic examiner as being capable of inflicting death in the short term. Despite Blackmon's pleas to stop, Kell continued the assault and, in fact, after walking away, returned twice to inflict more wounds, until Blackmon lay motionless on the floor of the cell block. Blackmon bled to death and Kell was charged with aggravated murder. State v. Daniels, 2002 UT 2. Following two pretrial hearings, the trial court determined to hold Kell's trial in a regular courtroom located inside the CUCF. This decision was based on security risks, including Kell's criminal background, prison disciplinary record, and overall prison history. In addition, several logistical problems regarding security existed in trying Kell in either of the two courtrooms available outside the prison. Because most of the numerous witnesses in the case were either prison guards or high security inmates, the security risks and costs associated with transporting all of them to a courtroom located outside of the county would have been extremely high; thus, the trial court decided to hold the trial in the courtroom located within the confines of the prison. At trial, Kell testified that he killed Blackmon because Blackmon had overtly threatened him. According to Kell, Blackmon wanted to make an example of him to the other inmates to demonstrate Blackmon's power in the prison. Kell stated he believed Blackmon was making a threat when he overheard Blackmon say to another inmate on the day of the killing, "Yeah man . . . it's on. You know it," even though Blackmon made no threatening gestures toward Kell. Kell claimed that due to conditions in the prison and circumstances surrounding Blackmon's threats, he was suffering from "extreme emotional disturbance" at the time of the homicide. One eyewitness testified, however, that during the attack Kell's demeanor was "very business like, as cold as cold gets. It was like he was doing a job."  Kell was captured on the prison security camera in the act of the murder. Kell was already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a murder in Nevada. UPDATE: Kell reinstated his appeals and the execution was stayed.

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