Sears has removed all Benetton products from their stores!
Click for more info
An Italian clothing company, Benetton, has chosen to feature death row inmates in the latest in their series of tasteless advertising campaigns. The campaign is expected to last throughout 2000 and will feature 26 murderers and their commentary on life. While Benetton tries to improve their poor market share in the U.S., they are causing unnecessary pain and distress to the families of the innocent people killed by the men the campaign intends to "humanize".
In one article, Benetton USA Executive Vice President Carlo Tunioli admitted that to the company, the campaign has little to do with the morality of capital punishment. It’s all about marketing, he explained. “There’s no correlation between these guys” he said, gesturing to 5-feet-high portraits of David Leroy Skaggs (2 counts of 1st-degree murder) and Bobby Lee Harris (1st-degree murder) “and our sweaters. In terms of an advertising strategy, what we are really doing is building brand awareness.”
In another – "We’re not the only ones using emotion for commercial gain," Toscani told USA Today in 1995, around the time a court ordered Benetton to pay damages to French citizens infected with the HIV virus, saying the company exploited human suffering.
Here are case histories on some of these killers who are the new spokespersons for this clothing manufacturer. Hopefully the U.S. sales for this company will slump even farther in response to this outrageous action.
At least 45 innocent victims were murdered by the 26 killers. Let’s focus on why these murderers are on death row and humanize their victims instead of the killers.
We invite the families of these victims to contact us at [email protected] with additional information about these cases.
Charles Alston – North Carolina
Charles Mason Alston, Jr. was sentenced to die for the murder of his former girlfriend, Pamela Renee Perry. Pamela’s body was found in her bed by her mother. She had been beaten with a claw hammer and suffocated when her face was forced down in to a pillow on the night of November 30, 1990. Pamela had made a complaint to police about Alston stealing from her and threatening her after Alston made repeated phone calls telling her that she had a beautiful face and that he would hate to have to "smash it in" and "mess [it] up.". Alston was 31 at the time of the murder and had been on probation for only 2 days from an assault conviction resulting from an incident in which Alston broke into Pamela’s home and assaulted her and a friend. During this incident, he struck her the head several times. Alston was charged with assault, and Pamela testified against him at the assault trial. He was found guilty, placed on probation and ordered to pay for the victim’s medical bills. Two days later, he murdered Pamela.
Joseph Amrine – Missouri
Joseph Amrine was convicted of killing Gary Barber, another inmate in the maximum-security unit of the Missouri Penitentiary, in October of 1985. Barber was stabbed in the back with an ice pick-type weapon. He reportedly told other inmates that he and Amrine were homosexual lovers.
Cesar Barone – Oregon
Portland-area serial killer Cesar Barone was sentenced to death in a total of 3 cases and faces a prison term for a 4th murder conviction, all involving attacks on women in the early 1990s. Barone received death sentences and aggravated murder convictions in the slayings of Chantee Woodman, 23 and Margaret Schmidt, 61. Woodman was abducted in Portland, beaten, sexually assaulted and then shot in December 1992. Her body was found along U.S. 26 near Vernonia. Schmidt was sexually assaulted and strangled in her Hillsboro home in April 1991. Barone was also convicted in the slaying of Betty Williams, 51, who police said died of a heart attack as Barone began sexually assaulting her at her Portland-area apartment in January 1993. He received an 89-year sentence in that killing. Barone’s 1st death sentence resulted from his aggravated murder conviction in the October 1992 abduction and slaying of nurse-midwife Martha Bryant as she drove home from her job at Tuality Hospital in Hillsboro. Barone peppered her car with gunfire, tried to rape the wounded woman and then dragged her onto the road, where he shot her in the head. He is suspected of an additional murder, committed when he was nineteen, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In that case, his 73-year-old neighbor was raped and strangled in her bed. Barone also attacked a female corrections officer while he was in jail.
Jesse Compton – Oregon
Jesse Compton, 20, and Stella Kizer, 21, murdered Stella’s 3-year-old daughter, Tesslynn O’Cull, on June 14,1997, in Eugene/Springfield Oregon. This was one of the most shocking, horrendous murder by torture deaths that Oregonians have ever had to deal with. Tesslynn O’Cull was beaten, burned, tied, sexually assaulted, tortured, starved, and generally had done to her just about everything bad that slime can do. Her back was broken approximately 2-3 weeks before her death. There were huge open wounds that Compton and Kizer poured large amounts of rubbing alcohol into. The exact cause of death could not be determined, as there were so many injuries inflicted over time. Once Compton and Kizer finally killed the 3 year old, they buried her in the forest. Compton’s sister turned them into police 2 days after driving them to the woods to bury the child. Compton had a record of child abuse previously, with his own child. Two weeks before Tesslynn’s death, the police were sent to check on the child’s welfare. They briefly saw the child, covered by a blanket, seemingly in good health, and let it go, without making the usual report to children’s services. Now, every instance of child abuse that the police receive must be reported to the state children’s services for a mandatory investigation. Too little, too late. The shame of this is that many people knew this was going on…both Compton and Kizer smoked crack, and did methamphetamines and many of their drug associates either witnessed or had knowledge that Compton would use the propane torch used for his crack pipe to burn Tesslynn, yet no one came forward in time to help the child. Many knew the child was being tied and left for hours, beaten, starved…many knew that she was endangered, yet no one came forward. Jesse Compton was found guilty 11/6/98, of aggravated murder, murder by abuse by neglect, 2 counts of unlawful sexual penetration, and 1 count of second degree abuse of a corpse. Stella Kizer was found quilty of aggravated murder, and sentenced to life without possibly of parole, on April 30, 1999. Her first trial ended in a mistrial. Many people thought she too deserved the death sentence. Tesslynn O’Cull is the child pictured in the "Stop the Abuse" poster for the state of Oregon.
Sammie Fields – Kentucky
On August 19, 1993, Sammy Fields attacked Bess Horton, 84, in her home in Grayson, KY. She was beaten, stabbed, her throat was slit and a butcher knife was left stabbed into her head. Fields claimed that he was innocent despite the fact that he was caught at the foot of her bed, with her blood all over him and her jewelry in his possession.
Harvey Green – North Carolina
On December 19, 1983, while committing a robbery at Young’s Cleaners in Bethel, North Carolina, Harvey Green bludgeoned to death Sheila Bland, a seventeen-year-old high school student who was working as the store cashier, and John Edmondson, a thirty-three-year-old church organist who was a store customer at the time. Within a matter of weeks, Green confessed to the crimes to the police. He also showed the police where he hid the murder weapon, which tested positively for blood and the victims’ hair, and he turned over to the police the pair of blood- splattered pants that he wore at the time of the killings. On January 16, 1984, the grand jury of Pitt County, North Carolina, returned an indictment of Green on two counts of first-degree felony murder. Green subsequently pled guilty to both counts.
Conan Wayne Hale – Oregon
Conan Wayne Hale was sentenced to death for his role in the slaying of three Springfield, Oregon teenagers in 1995. He was sentenced after being found guilty on all 33 counts that he faced, including 13 charges of aggravated murder. The three teenagers killed in the incident were 15-year-olds Kristal Bendele and Brandon Williams and 13-year-old Patrick Finley. Before he handed down the sentence, the judge had some harsh words for Hale, calling him a coward for not confessing to the crimes, adding that he had never seen a more miserable excuse for a human being than Hale. In the closing arguments of the penalty phase, the prosecutor urged the jurors to consider the danger that Hale would pose to other inmates in jail. He also noted Hale’s alleged beating and homosexual rape of a man in 1991 and referred to his previous expression of satanic beliefs and to the swastikas carved into his arms. Many family members of the murdered teenagers were on hand. Hale did not show any visible reaction to the sentencing, although his mother gasped and began to cry after the verdict was read. The trial first came to national attention after a tape was made of Hale’s confession to a priest while in prison, however the judge ruled that the tape could not be introduced into evidence. The prosecution argued that Hale killed the teenagers in a fit of jealous rage due to the fact that Bendele had broken off her relationship with him and had started a relationship with Brandon Williams. The defense tried to argue that Jonathan Susbauer, who has admitted to being with Hale during the crimes, committed the murders. In Susbauer’s testimony he said that Hale first knocked the two boys out with a baseball bat and then proceeded to rape Bendele. Susbauer stated that Hale then forced him at machete point to rape Bendele as well. At that point Hale shot and killed Bendele, after which Susbauer shot the two boys. The two left the scene for a short time, but then returned. Upon their return they noticed that one of the boys was still alive. Susbauer shot the boy, and then shot Bendele again.
Bobby Lee Harris – North Carolina
Bobby Lee Harris was sentenced to die for the Onslow County murder of John Redd, owner of a commercial fishering business who was robbed and stabbed in the back before being thrown overboard in August of 1991. Testimony at the trial indicated that Harris and another man who worked in Redd’s fishing business conspired to rob him so they could go to Georgia to avoid other legal problems in North Carolina. But instead of tying Redd up, as originally planned, Harris stabbed Redd three times in the back. Harris indicated Redd was taken to shore, made comfortable, and told that help would be sent. But the high court said the evidence indicated that Redd had been dumped into the water and made it to shore on his own before bleeding to death. Harris had plenty of opportunity to safely get Redd help, but didn’t. Redd was found 10 hours after he was stabbed and lived long enough to speak to authorities.
Edgar Hope – Illinois
James Doyle was a Chicago police officer who was trying to arrest Edgar Hope for suspicion of burglary when he was murdered. They later found a gun in Hope’s apartment that led to his conviction for the murder of Lloyd Wyckliffe, a security guard at a McDonald’s restaurant.
William Quention Jones – North Carolina
William Quention Jones was sentenced to death for the March 7, 1987 murder of Ed Peebles, a customer at a convenience store Jones was robbing with an Uzi. Ed was shot twice. Another man was also shot twice but survived. Jones took the cash register from the store and was chased from the back of the store and caught by police officers who arrived within three minutes of the robbery. Jones received a new trial in 1991 and was again sentenced to die. Jones stated that he was under the influence of drugs but the store video showed no evidence of impairment. Jones also claimed that he thought the gun contained blanks but testimony showed that when the gun was stolen 2 weeks earlier, the bullets were stored separately from the weapon.
John Lotter – Nebraska
On December 24, 1993, Teena Brandon was attending a party at Thomas Nissen’s home. Teena was a female masquerading as a male. Nissen entered the bathroom with Teena Brandon, Lana Tisdel, and John Lotter and pulled Teena’s pants down to show she was a female. Later Nissen kidnaped Teena and anally and vaginally raped her. He then repeatedly kicked and beat her. According to Nissen, he was accompanied by John Lotter. Teena reported the assault to the police and on December 28, 1993, both Nissen and Lotter were interviewed by police officer and then let go. On December 31, 1993, Teena was staying at the home of Lisa Lambert in Humbolt as was Phillip Devine. All three were found shot twice in the head at close range. The front door of the Lambert resident was forced open. Nissen admitted participating in the killings, but claimed that Lotter fired all the shots and Nissen only stabbed Brandon. At trial, Nissen was convicted by the jury of one count of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. Before sentencing, Nissen entered into a deal for life in exchange for his testimony against Lotter.
Jerome Mallett – Missouri
Jerome Mallett was sentenced to die for the March 2, 1985 shooting death of Missouri Highway Patrol officer James F. Froemsdorf, a father of three. On March 2, 1985, Trooper Froemsdorf stopped a speeding Ford on northbound Interstate 55 in Perry County, about 60 miles south of St. Louis. The driver was Jerome Mallett, a felon who lived in Dallas and who was wanted on a robbery and probation violation. Froemsdorf handcuffed Mallett and put him in the front seat of his patrol car. While the trooper was writing a ticket, Mallett, who had a deformed right wrist, slipped one hand out of the handcuffs and fought Froemsdorf for his.357-Magnum revolver. Froemsdorf was shot once into his bulletproof vest and twice in his neck. His pistol was found several hours later in Mallett’s abandoned car. Hundreds of officers came into the community for the funeral and helped to conduct a house to house seach. Mallett was hiding in a vacant house and when he was arrested three days after the murder in Desloge, the handcuffs still dangled from his left hand. His trial was moved to Lancaster, Mo., in Schuyler County on the Iowa border, where none of the 4,900 county residents at the time was black. He was convicted in January 1986 and sentenced to death. Mallett’s lawyer was an assistant public defender named Kenny Hulshof, who now is a GOP congressman for Missouri’s 9th District. Presiding over the trial was circuit judge E. Richard Webber of Memphis, Mo., now a U.S. District Court judge in St. Louis. In 1996, U.S. District Judge Edward L. Filippine rejected Mallett’s claim that he could not have received a fair trial in an all-white county.
Leroy Orange – Illinois
Leroy Orange and his half-brother Leonard Kidd were convicted of fatally stabbing 4 people. The victims were Orange’s former girlfriend, Renee Coleman, 27; her son Anthony Coleman, 10; Michelle Jointers, 30 and Ricardo Pedro, 25.
Carlette Parker – North Carolina
In Raleigh, Carlette Parker was supposed to be taking care of 86-year-old Alice Covington, but prosecutors said she was really stealing from the elderly woman and eventually killed her. Parker, then a 34-year-old registered nurse assistant, did not make her living caring for elderly people, but preying upon them. She was convicted of kidnapping Covington from the Springmoor Retirement Home in Raleigh in 1998. Parker forced Covington to withdraw money from her bank account then killed her. Police found Covington dead in her car in Research Triangle Park. In 1995, Parker was convicted of bilking an elderly Garner woman out of $40,000. Covington’s death deeply affected many of the residents at Springmoor retirement home. Many of them were in the courtroom as the trial opened. Detectives said they searched Covington’s car and found a stun gun and pepper spray, items that probably were used in the abduction.
Steven Parkus – Missouri
Steven Parkus was convicted of strangulation in the November 1985 death of Mark Steffenhagen, another inmate in the protective-custody unit at the Missouri Penitentiary. Parkus had tried to strangle others on three previous occasions and raped a prison teacher.
Alberto Reyes-Camarena – Oregon
A Douglas County jury sentenced Alberto Reyes-Camarena to die for aggravated murder. He stabbed 32-year-old Angelica Zetina, whom he met working on a farm near Woodburn, 17 times, then stabbed and robbed her sister Maria, 18, nearly killing her. Both women were dumped on the side of the highway. Two days after his conviction and before the punishment phase of his trial began, Camarena and another inmate escaped from a holding cell. Camarena suffered a spinal injury when he fell four stories as the pair climbed down a makeshift rope. Both inmates were re-captured when they were discovered hiding in the basement of a nearby church nearly three weeks later. Camarena underwent surgery and was returned to finish his trial after his recovery.
Jeremy Sheets – Nebraska
On September 23, 1992 17-year old honors student Kenyatta Bush was kidnapped on her way to class at Omaha North High School. She was raped, stabbed and then dumped in a wooded area. Her body was discovered north of Omaha and her throat had been slashed. The key evidence against Sheets was a taped statement by co-defendant Adam Barnett. Barnett, who gave the statement to police as part of a plea agreement, committed suicide in jail in November before the trial. Two jurors in the trial have said that the emotion and detail of Barnett’s statement compelled the jury to convict Sheets. In the profanity-laced statement with racial slurs and occasional sobs, Barnett told police that he and Sheets, both white, decided to rape a black woman to get revenge over black men who date white women. He told investigators that Sheets stabbed Miss Bush. "If it would have been a white girl, I probably would have stopped him," Barnett said in the statement played for jurors. "I was thinking she deserved everything she got because she was black."
Beoria Simmons – Kentucky
Serial killer Beoria Simmons was convicted of three counts of murder and rape and four counts of kidnapping from the early eighties. Simmons would abduct white females at gunpoint, rape them and then shoot them. An intended victim finally escaped and identified Simmons, putting an end to his murder spree. Simmons, who is black, was sentenced to the electric chair for kidnapping and murdering three women, whose bodies were dumped in or near Louisville’s Iroquois Park. A fourth victim, a 16-year-old girl, escaped as Simmons tried to rape her in 1983, then identified him to police. The murder victims, who also were raped, were Robin Barnes, 15, Shannon House, 29, and Nancy Bettman, 39. They were killed in 1981, 1982 and 1983.
Christopher Simmons – Missouri
Christopher Simmons, then 17, was sentenced to die for the robbery and murder of a 46-year-old woman in Jefferson County, Missouri on September 9, 1993. Simmons was convicted in the 1993 murder of Shirley Ann Crook, 46, who was kidnapped from her home near Fenton, beaten, bound and thrown into the Meramec River.
David Skaggs – Kentucky
David Skaggs was sentenced to death in 1982 in Barren County for 2 counts of murder. Skaggs shot and robbed an elderly Glasgow couple – Mae and Herman Matthews – in their home on May 6, 1981.
Kevin Stanford – Kentucky
On the evening of January 7, 1981, Kevin Stanford, then age 17, and two accomplices, David Buchanan (age 16) and Troy Johnson (age 15), robbed the Checker gasoline station on Cane Run Road in southwestern Jefferson County, Kentucky. The clerk at the station was Barbel Poore. While Johnson sat outside in a car, Buchanan and Stanford entered the store. Stanford carried a loaded pistol. While Buchanan attempted to open the store’s safe Stanford took Poore to an interior restroom where he raped her. When Buchanan was unable to open the safe he joined Stanford in the restroom. Both men then took turns raping and sodomizing Poore. Apparently concerned that Poore might recognize them, Stanford drove Poore in her own car to an isolated area. Once there, Stanford shot Poore to death. On August 12, 1982, a jury convicted Stanford of intentional murder and other crimes. Stanford was sentenced to death for the intentional murder on September 28, 1982.
Vincent Stopher – Kentucky
A jury recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy. Vincent C. Stopher turned around in the courtroom and apologized to the family of the slain deputy, Gregory Hans, after the jury’s verdict was returned. He also told his family he would be OK. After the courtroom proceeding, defense attorney Vincent Yustas read a statement from Stopher. “Tell my family that I love them and tell the Hans family how much I deeply regret what I’m putting them through,” the statement said. Stopher, 25, was convicted of shooting Hans during a violent rampage on March 10, 1997. He also was convicted of 4 counts of assault and 1 count of wanton endangerment.
Elias Syriani – North Carolina
A Charlotte man convicted of stabbing his wife to death with a screwdriver after she filed for divorce in July was sentenced to death. A Mecklenburg County jury deliberated only six hours before sentencing Elias Syriani, 53, in the stabbing of Teresa Syriani 30 times with a screwdriver. The fatal wound penetrated her skull, and she died 26 days later
Victor Taylor – Kentucky
Victor Dewayne Taylor and an accomplice kidnapped Scott Nelson and another teen-ager, both sophomores at Trinity High School in Louisville, on 9/29/84 after the boys got lost and asked them for directions. The boys were taken to a vacant lot where they were robbed and shot in the head. Taylor had a long criminal history, beginning at age 11.
James Edward Thomas, North Carolina
Teresa Ann West was the 32-year-old manager of a Raleigh boarding house when she was sexually attacked and strangled by 30-year-old James Thomas in 1986.
Karu Gene White – Kentucky
Karu White was sentenced to death for the murders of three people. On February 12, 1979, White and two companions robbed a store, and using a wrench, a tire tool and a tree limb, bludgeoned three elderly people to death. The victims were Charles Gross, 75, his wife Lola Gross, 74 and Sam Chaney, 79. The trio left with about $7000 in cash, coins and a pistol. After leaving the scene of the murders, they hitch-hiked to a friend’s college dorm in Jackson, KY and divided their loot. White pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was convicted and sentenced to die.
JUNE 15, 21:46 EST
Benetton Settles Death Row Suit
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Italian fashion company Benetton will write apologies and donate money to a victims compensation fund to settle a lawsuit over an ad campaign that featured death row inmates.
The state filed the lawsuit in February 2000 against Benetton and four individuals who worked on the project, alleging that they misrepresented the purpose of the interviews with the inmates and made false claims to state officials to gain access to the Potosi prison.
Attorney General Jay Nixon said Friday that the company will send apologies to four Missouri families whose relatives were killed by the inmates featured in the company’s “We on Death Row” international advertising campaign against capital punishment.
Benetton will donate $50,000 to the Missouri Crime Victims Compensation Fund and immediately stop using the four Missouri inmates on the company’s Web site.
“This is an appropriate resolution to a situation that caused renewed emotional pain for those who lost their loved ones to these four murderers,” Nixon said.
Benetton spokesman Mark Major said the company stands by the ad campaign but finds the settlement acceptable because it has previously apologized for any grief the campaign has caused.
“This settlement also allows the company to limit any further costs associated with the lawsuit, while making a contribution to a worthwhile charity,” Major said.
Barry A. Short, a St. Louis attorney representing Benetton, said the company was relieved that the issue had been settled.
“Obviously, Benetton views this lawsuit without merit and still does, but agrees with Attorney General Nixon that this is an appropriate resolution to the matter,” Short said.
The “We on Death Row” project included a 96-page magazine supplement published last year and a photo feature on the company’s Web site. It was based on interviews with 26 condemned inmates from six states, including the four from Missouri.
The Missouri inmates appearing in the ads were Christopher Simmons, Joseph Amrine, Steven Parkus and Jerome Mallet.
Mallett, who murdered a state trooper in 1985, is scheduled to be executed July 11. Execution dates have not be set for the others.
Benetton, an $11 billion family-owned company, is known for its provocative ads aimed at sparking awareness of controversial social issues.
At the time of the campaign, the company said the photographs “aim at giving back a human face to the prisoners on death row.”
Most states condemned the campaign, and Sears, Roebuck & Co. refused to sell Benetton products following protests from victims rights groups and threats of a boycott.
Fox News Video – "Ad Nauseum"
CNN Newstand 2/14/00 – Benetton’s Advertising Campaign
Fox News Video – "Poster Boys"
Benetton Fight from Parents of Murdered Children
Benetton Gets in Bed with Killers – Ellen Levin, mother of Preppy Murder victim Jennifer Levin
Page visited times since 1/11/00