Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Monday, April 19, 2010

Closure at last!

There is a state representative in Missouri by the name of Ken Jones whose wife and other members of surrounding counties Sheriff's departments were murdered. After so many years on death row, the murderer ended appeals and was executed. I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Jones if it brought a sense of peace or closure after all those year and he said yes.


Richard Wade Cooey II executed for McCreery, Offredo murders
By Damon Sims
October 14, 2008, 8:17PM

Richard Wade Cooey II died peacefully Tuesday with a lethal combination of drugs administered through two needles inserted gently into veins in each arm.

He was executed by the state of Ohio for the rape and murders -- by bludgeoning and strangulation -- of two college students who were not afforded such comfort in their deaths.

"It's done," said Mary Ann Hackenberg, mother of one of the victims, Dawn McCreery, who said she could sense her daughter's presence in the death chamber.

"I know she was there," she said. "I felt her there."

Cooey was sentenced to death in 1986 for the rape and murder that year of the 20-year-old McCreery and her sorority sister, Wendy Offredo, 21. He was hours away from execution when he won a reprieve in 2003. Tuesday, his appeals ran out when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his last-ditch effort.

He remained defiant even in his final statement, uttering an obscenity when Warden Phillip Collins held a microphone above his lips, before a combination of three drugs flowed through the tubes over the course of nearly 10 minutes, ending his life.

"You ... haven't paid any attention to what I've had to say over the past 22½ years, why are you going to pay attention to what I have to say now?" he said, not looking at any of the six witnesses from the McCreery family or his three lawyers and a spiritual adviser, who were witnesses.

At 10:06 a.m., a monitor in the witness viewing room flickered to life, showing Cooey lying on a gurney in a prep room adjacent to the death chamber, his feet crossed. Technicians inserted ports into veins in each arm without difficulty, despite his legal claims that his veins would be too difficult to access partly because of his obesity.

Hackenberg, of Rocky River, one of six witnesses from the McCreery family, said, "They got it," when the needle was inserted.

Cooey shouted for his lawyer, Greg Meyers, twice. Meyers, who was in the witness room along with two other lawyers and Cooey's spiritual adviser, did not move.

At 10:15 a.m., with ports inserted and his arms strapped to boards, Cooey kicked his legs, got off the gurney, and walked to the death chamber, where he climbed onto another gurney. Six guards in white strapped him down with four black straps. Tubing, which extended from the wall in the adjacent room, was connected to the ports.

At 10:19, Cooey made his final statement and drummed his fingers -- pinky to index finger -- on the board supporting his left arm. At 10:21, he exhaled with a faint noise. Warden Phillip Kerns of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility shook Cooey's shoulder. He did not respond. By 10:28, he was dead. Sodium pentothal induced deep sleep, pancuronium bromide stopped his breathing, and potassium chloride stopped his heart.

Hackenberg threw back her head and exhaled as a curtain was drawn across the viewing window. She hugged her son, Rob McCreery, and held the hand of her ex-husband, Robert McCreery Sr. A black hearse waited outside the death house to take Cooey's body.

Dana Cole, who identified himself as Cooey's lawyer and friend and to whom Cooey's cremated remains will be given, said Cooey was an immature 19-year-old influenced by drugs and alcohol when he committed his crime.

"What we witness here today was a killing that was planned and funded for more than 22 years," he said. "The man killed was not the same man who committed the crimes."

Rob McCreery said Cooey is exactly the same, proven by his final words.

"Just being spiteful to the very end," said McCreery. "It just shows how much this was warranted and justified."

After the execution, the family talked of their relief that Cooey had finally been brought to justice and the peacefulness of his passing despite his claims that lethal injection was "cruel and unusual."

"The thing that's going to now give us the greatest comfort is knowing that he now has to be accountable to a power greater than himself and now he's got to reckon with that," said Dawn McCreery's cousin, Kathy Miska, one of the execution witnesses.

Hackenberg was at once relieved and still angry.

"It was too easy. It's as much justice as we're going to get, as much closure as we'll get, but it was just too easy," she said.

"He didn't get a free pass," said her husband, John Hackenberg.

Rob McCreery said he had hoped for the execution for so long -- he was 17 when his big sister was killed -- that he's not sure where to turn his attention now.

"But I can tell you it was a nicer day coming out of there than it was going in," he said.

Cooey is the first Ohio inmate to be executed since May 2007, the 27th since 1999.

Cooey was 19 and home on leave from the Army when, in 1986, the Akron native and an accomplice, 17-year-old Clint Dickens, raped and murdered Offredo and McCreery.

Dickens threw a chunk of concrete from an overpass onto Offredo's car, disabling it. They then drove down to the highway and picked up the women, offering to get them help. Instead, they drove them to a secluded field in Norton where they raped them, beat them with a wooden club and strangled them with shoelaces.

Dickens was sentenced to life in prison for the crimes, in which both girls suffered through more than three hours of what Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh called "fear and torture and agony." Because Dickens was still a juvenile when he committed the crime, he wasn't eligible for the death penalty.

The night before his execution, as Cooey sat on his bed or paced and slept for slightly more than an hour, Dawn McCreery's family gathered in her brother Rob's hotel room, sharing stories, watching the Browns' unexpected victory and drinking cold beers. Bevan Walsh joined them.

Rob McCreery opened a gift bag from a former Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister of Dawn and Wendy. It was a shirt with the sorority's Greek lettering, one that Dawn had actually worn. The card said it was for Rob McCreery's 5-year-old daughter.

The morning sky, still dark, was full of stars as a nearly full moon loomed over the hills of Lucasville. At breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express, someone noted that it was a harvest moon.

Perfect for execution day. "You reap what you sow," said Nicole McCreery, Rob's wife.

Elizabeth Daily, Brad's mother included the following statement: "Your honor, on behalf of all of my family, and most important, on behalf of Brad and for Brad, I ask you to carry out their sentencing with the most strict punishment allowed by law and in the most swift and timely manner."
Connecticut serial killer put to death
Ross is first to be executed in New England in 45 years

Friday, May 13, 2005 Posted: 0903 GMT (1703 HKT)

SOMERS, Connecticut (CNN) -- In New England's first execution in 45 years, the state of Connecticut put serial killer Michael Ross to death early Friday.

The 45-year-old Ross was executed for the killings of four eastern Connecticut women in the 1980s.

Ross had rejected all efforts to halt his execution, saying he wanted to die. But his father and court-appointed attorneys tried to stop the state from proceeding, claiming Ross was not competent to drop his appeals.

Christine Whidden, the warden for the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution, said Ross was put to death by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. ET at nearby Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers.

Media witnesses said Ross made no final statement, never opened his eyes and moved very little ahead of the chemicals being administered. As the drugs flowed into his veins, they said, Ross became completely still.

"Michael Ross did not have any final words," said Shelly Sindland, a reporter for WTIC in Hartford who witnessed the execution. "When asked if he wanted any final words, he said, 'No, thank you.' He did gasp for air, shuddered, and after that there was no movement whatsoever."

The execution was the first in New England since 1960, when Connecticut inmate Joseph Taborsky died in the state's electric chair. Four of the other five states in the region -- Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont -- have no death penalty, while New Hampshire's last execution was in 1939.

Ross admitted killing eight women -- six in Connecticut and two in New York -- as part of a crime spree in at least five states.

He was sentenced to death for killing Robin Stavinsky, April Brunais, Wendy Baribeault and Leslie Shelley in eastern Connecticut in the 1980s.

Stavinsky's sister, Debbie Dupris, said the execution did not give her the closure she was expecting to feel, but it did serve a purpose.

"Finally justice has been served," Dupris said, "and I know that our sister, Robin Dawn Stavinsky, is looking down upon us at this moment, and I know that she will rest easier knowing that the person who ended her life no longer has the privilege of having his own."

All of Ross' victims were 14 to 25 years old when he strangled them to death. He admitting raping all but one of them.

Dzong Tu, a Vietnam-born graduate student in economics at Cornell University in New York, is believed to have been Ross' first murder victim. Her death followed a string of rapes on campus in the spring of 1981. Ross also was a student at the university.

"We will always miss my sister," said Lan Tu, Dzong's brother, "and I feel that this was only (a) small measure of justice for the pain that Michael Ross caused our family and the loss, but it is an ending."

Edwin Shelley, whose daughter Leslie Shelley was killed by Ross along with her best friend in 1984, said the convicted killer got what he deserved.

"We have waited 21 years for justice, and I would like to thank the jury in Bridgeport, the jury in New London, and finally the state of Connecticut for finally giving us the justice that our children are due."

Preceding the execution, a string of last-minute appeals failed.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday denied a pair of appeals by family members to postpone the execution.

Earlier in the day, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also turned down the family's effort to delay the execution, rejecting a motion filed by Ross' sister, Donna Dunham.

Ahead of the scheduled execution, about 400 people carrying anti-death penalty signs quietly marched toward the prison where Ross was to executed.

T.R. Paulding, Ross' private attorney, said Ross repeatedly invoked his right to die and asked that his wishes be respected. If a full round of appeals were allowed, it most likely would prevent his client's execution, he had said.

Ross' relatives argued he was suffering from "death row syndrome," in which a person's mental state is degraded by being on death row for a long period -- causing a person to think it would be better to die.

Slaying victim's family ready for killer's execution
By Michelle Mondo- Express-News
Web Posted: 10/25/2009 12:00 CDT
Reginald Blanton wants to die without an audience.

“I don’t want to put my mama through that,” said the 28-year-old death row inmate, whose execution is scheduled for Tuesday. “I don’t want no one to see that.”

But Blanton, condemned for the robbery and shooting death of an acquaintance, doesn’t have a choice: The family of Carlos Garza plans to watch as Blanton is strapped to a gurney inside Texas’ death chamber and administered a lethal injection.

“I want to watch him breathe his last breath,” Irene Garza said of the man convicted of killing her 22-year-old son, Carlos Garza, whose body was found nine years ago in a pool of blood, two gunshots to his head.

Barring last-minute intervention from Gov. Rick Perry, Blanton will become the third condemned man from Bexar County and the 19th statewide to die this year. His appeals have been denied, and the U.S. Supreme Court this year declined to hear his case.

Still, on Oct. 8 Blanton filed a petition for clemency — the use of executive power to reduce, forgive or delay a sentence. In nearly nine years as Texas governor, Perry has only once delayed an execution and has never spared a life based on a claim of innocence, records show. Under his watch, the state has executed 200 inmates.

Garza’s family waits for closure. Gathered recently at the East Side home of a relative, they recalled Garza’s spirit and how much they have missed him over the years. More relatives want to witness the execution than are allowed, and the family has to whittle the list. So far, those who will be in the chamber include Garza’s mother and three sisters.

“It won’t bring my brother back,” said Sulema Balverde, 34, Garza’s older sister. “But it will bring him justice.”

Irene Garza, 54, said she understands the pain Blanton’s mom must feel.

“It wasn’t her fault her son did what he did,” she said. “She’s going to miss her son the way I miss my son. But we didn’t cause these problems. My son was a good boy.”

Something to steal

A jury of eight women and four men took 12 hours to convict Blanton of the April 2000 slaying and a day and a half to render a death sentence. According to testimony at his trial, Blanton drove to Garza’s West Side apartment, looking for something to steal. Prosecutors said he kicked in the victim’s door and shot Garza twice in the head when he refused to hand over his jewelry.

Within 20 minutes of the killing, prosecutors told the jury, Blanton was videotaped at a local pawnshop hawking two gold necklaces that belonged to Garza. And when he was arrested, Blanton was wearing items — a lion’s head ring and a bracelet — that had belonged to Garza.

His twin brother, Robert Blanton, and Latoya Mayberry, then Robert Blanton’s girlfriend, told police that Reginald Blanton was responsible for the killing, and they described to detectives how he had sold the jewelry — statements that later became a source of disagreement among those who believe that the statements were coerced and that Blanton was wrongly convicted.

During a 45-minute interview nearly two weeks ago in Huntsville, Blanton maintained his innocence. But he said he wasn’t hopeful that his life would be spared.

“I’m not confident in the commutation process,” he said in the interview, during which he was both energetic and soft-spoken, pausing infrequently.

Still, he said, he was “trying to stay spiritually strong.”

During his time on death row, Blanton has proved adept at using the media to try to sway public opinion. On his MySpace and Facebook pages, as well as anti-death penalty Web sites, Blanton portrays himself as a wrongfully convicted human rights activist. He has published letters, documents, photos and “peaceful protest” videos in which he refuses to go back to his cell.

Helping with much of the online work is Blanton’s 47-year-old British fiancee, Sandie Staf, who manages the sites from her home in Somerset, England.

“There’s something (going online) every day, even if it’s just putting out bulletins,” Staf said.

Death row pen pals

An anti-death penalty advocate who has been writing to U.S. death row inmates for seven years, Staf met Blanton through other condemned pen pals. She said a British television show is chronicling her relationship with Blanton.

She helps Blanton’s older brother Andre Bios and his mother in their efforts to save Blanton. This month, Bios organized a protest in front of the Bexar County Courthouse. After the protest, he didn’t return repeated phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Staf said she believes in Reginald Blanton’s innocence, although she said she neither attended his trial nor read the police file or trial transcripts, all of which refute many of Blanton’s statements, including that the statements made by Mayberry and his brother were coerced.

Mayberry could not be located for comment. Robert Blanton is serving two years in jail on a drug charge.

Meanwhile, Garza’s family waits for Tuesday.

A cousin, Anthony Ortiz, 28, often stayed at Garza’s apartment. He still wonders what might have happened had he been there the day Garza was slain. After the shooting, he helped clean up after his cousin’s body was taken from the residence on Skolout Street.

Ortiz can still remember how evidence technicians cut a bloodied piece of carpet. A mirror hanging on a wall was shattered by a bullet, and Ortiz took what was left and hung it on his own wall. Later, he sat by it and cried.

Garza’s son, just 4 at the time of his father’s slaying, has grown into a teenager. Now 14, he struggles to remember the man the rest of his family so easily recalls. He didn’t get to know Garza, but he misses him nonetheless.

“I feel it should happen,” Carlos Daniel Garza said of Tuesday’s execution, nodding his head. “So my dad can finally rest in peace. Finally.”

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