Tenn. says it foils female death row breakout plot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This 2009 photo provided by Tennessee Department of Correction shows Christa Gail Pike. Authorities in Tennessee say two men, including a former prison guard, have been arrested in a plot to break out Tennesseeâ??s lone female death row inmate, Christa Gail Pike. (AP Photo/Tennessee Department of Correction)This 2009 photo provided by Tennessee Department of Correction shows Christa Gail Pike. Authorities in Tennessee say two men, including a former prison guard, have been arrested in a plot to break out Tennesseeâ??s lone female death row inmate, Christa Gail Pike. (AP Photo/Tennessee Department of Correction)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities in Tennessee say two men, including a former prison guard, have been arrested in a plot to break out Tennessee’s lone female death row inmate.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said Wednesday there was no imminent danger of an escape by Christa Gail Pike, but “there was plan in the works and money changing hands.”

Pike, originally from West Virginia, was sentenced to death in 1996 for the slaying of a fellow Knoxville Job Corps student. Colleen Slemmer, 18, was stabbed and beaten by Pike and Tadaryl Shipp, Pike’s boyfriend at the time, on the University of Tennessee’s agricultural campus in January 1995.

Prosecutors have said the motive for the slaying was a love triangle with the two women and Shipp, who was sentenced to life in prison. The two carved a pentagram into Slemmer’s chest, and investigators claimed Pike, who was 18 at the time, took a piece of the victim’s skull for a souvenir.

New Jersey authorities on Tuesday arrested 34-year-old Donald Kohut of Flemington, N.J., who has frequently visited Pike in prison. He was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit escape and was being held at the Hunterdon County Department of Corrections on a $250,000 bond and awaiting extradition.

A former correctional officer at the Tennessee Prison for Women, 23-year-old Justin Heflin, was arrested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit escape and facilitation to commit escape.

Heflin, of Chattanooga, Tenn., turned himself into authorities and was booked into the Davidson County Jail on Tuesday on a $75,000 bond. Heflin was hired in March 2009, but was terminated from his job on March 5 after he was indicted by a grand jury last month.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said investigators received information about the plot early in the planning stages.

“Our investigators were able to learn about the threat early on fortunately,” she said. “But anytime there is this sort of threat to the prison or the general public, we take it very seriously.”

Carter said Pike, who is 36 faces a disciplinary charge and will likely face criminal charges for the plot.

This isn’t the first time Pike has gotten in trouble while on death row. In 2001, Pike nearly choked inmate Patricia Jones to death with a shoe string. She was convicted of attempted first-degree murder on August 12, 2004.

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Death row inmate wins shot at another sentence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Houston man on death row for 25 years has won an appeal that could get him a new punishment trial or see his sentence reduced to life.

Roger Wayne McGowen was condemned in 1987 for fatally shooting a 67-year-old woman during a Houston bar robbery in March 1986.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholds a lower court’s ruling that instructions given to jurors didn’t provide a way for them to consider his disadvantaged background.

The ruling posted late Monday is in line with other Texas capital cases of that era before the courts refined jury instructions.

The appeals court also rejected arguments that the 48-year-old McGowen is innocent, his trial lawyers were deficient and his long time on death row is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

 

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Death-row-inmate-wins-shot-at-another-sentence-3421138.php

Absent Compassionate Release, Austerity Helps Some Terminally Ill Prisoners Obtain Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrance to the clinic at the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island in Queens, New York. (Photo: Librado Romero / The New York Times)
Patricia Wright is 60 years old, legally blind and wheelchair-bound. She also has Stage 4 cancer, which has spread to her breasts and to her brain. In November 2011, doctors removed one of three tumors from her brainstem and placed a steel plate in her head. It was Wright’s seventh surgery that year alone.
If Wright were anyone else, she would go home and recuperate among family and loved ones. But she is in prison, having been sentenced to life without parole in 1997. Instead of having a loved one bring her home, Wright was handcuffed, shackled and returned to the skilled nursing facility (SNF) at the Central California Women’s Facility prison.
If the idea of battling cancer behind bars is not appalling enough, Wright never should have been convicted and incarcerated. The San Francisco Bayview reports that when Wright’s former husband was found dead in 1981, she was not a suspect. However, in 1995, her brother Larry, who was facing a ten-year sentence in a maximum-security prison for child abuse, told police that Wright was responsible for the murder. In exchange, his sentence was reduced to two years imprisonment with five years of parole. After his release from prison in 2000, Larry wrote a detailed letter stating that he had lied about his sister’s involvement in the death of her husband. The absence of DNA evidence linking Wright  to the killing has led the Innocence Project in New York City to take on her case .
In September 2010, California passed Senate Bill 1399, a medical parole process to reduce the cost of expensive medical care and around-the-clock armed guards for incarcerated people who are permanently medically incapacitated. However, people sentenced to death or to life without the possibility of parole remain ineligible for medical parole. Thus, as Wright’s son Alfey Ramdhan pointed out in an appeal in the San Francisco Bay View, her only chance to spend her remaining days with her family is if Gov. Jerry Brown grants her executive clemency or compassionate release.
However, Wright has two prior felonies from 15 years earlier when Ramdhan, then age 7, stole two 99-cent toys and a hand towel from an open house. Although the items stolen were valued under $400, these two actions were classified as felonies. Given that Wright’s conviction in her ex-husband’s death is considered a third strike  under California’s three-strikes legislation, Brown’s office has been reluctant to grant her clemency. 
Wright is not the only terminally ill person behind bars fighting to spend her remaining days with her loved ones outside of prison. In 1985, Charisse Shumate was sentenced to 15 years to life for killing an abusive partner in self-defense. She entered the Central California Women’s Facility with sickle cell anemia and Hepatitis C, neither of which were adequately treated by the prison’s medical system. She lost sight in one eye when the doctor waited five days to treat a sickle-cell-anemia related disorder. Beverly Henry, Shumate’s friend and a prison peer educator, stated that ten years after entering prison, Shumate was diagnosed with cancer, which also went largely untreated. Even as her own health deteriorated, Shumate became an advocate for women’s medical needs. In 1995, she became the lead plaintiff in Shumate v. Wilson, a class-action lawsuit against the  California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) about their life-threatening health care.
In 2000, she testified before state lawmakers at a special session on conditions in women’s prisons. She helped others with sickle cell anemia understand the disease and the necessary treatments. In an email to me, Beatrice Smith-Dyer, another one of Shumate’s friends, stated that Shumate also advocated for the right to compassionate release for any prisoner with less than a year to live, introducing them to outside advocates who fought on their behalf.
According to Cynthia Chandler, co-founder of advocacy group Justice Now and the attorney who represented Shumate, Shumate was originally reluctant to be the poster child for her own cause. When Shumate did apply for compassionate release, the parole board instead recommended her for clemency, which required the governor’s approval. The board’s decision defused the activism around her case. “There was the appearance that they had done something,” Chandler stated in a recent phone conversation. “There are always these manipulative ways that the prison system undercuts compassionate release.” Then-governor Gray Davis refused to approve the application and Shumate spent the last days of her life in the SNF until her death on August 4, 2001.
As a prison peer educator, Henry regularly visited the SNF. She reported that women are locked into their rooms for most of the day and are only allowed outside for the occasional shower, recreation time or visits – and even those cannot be assured. Henry told me that only a couple of women were assigned the job of wheelchair-pushers for the 15 to 20 women in the SNF, even though many were wheelchair-bound. “If five visitors arrive on the same day, maybe only three women can get their visits because staff won’t assign additional women to push them out for their visit,” said Henry.
In addition, SNF staff forbade peer educators from helping women with basic tasks such as combing their hair. “That’s not your job,” they were told when they tried to help women like Sally, who was paralyzed after a back injury was mistreated. SNF staff also accused peer educators of upsetting the women. “We upset them because we talked to them about what they shouldn’t accept,” Henry explained.
Beatrice Smith-Dyer has other chilling stories from her time at the SNF. Smith-Dyer began working at the SNF in 1996, first as a peer counselor, then in 2000 as a hospice volunteer. “[At the time] there was one doctor assigned to the SNF. If he or she was an ass, the woman [patient] was treated really badly.” Women were handcuffed and shackled when they were brought to outside hospitals, often causing them to fall when they tried to enter or leave the prison van. Smith-Dyer described the last days of a woman who was transferred from the California Institute for Women so that she could die at the SNF. “She lay unconscious for one month before she died, shackled to a bed with two correctional officers next to her bed. Wright is only hanging on by a thread,” she wrote in an email. “All it takes is the paperwork sitting on a desk for too long.”
Wright’s now-adult children, Mistey Ramdhan and Alfey, and her sister Arletta, are fighting to keep that from happening. With the advocacy group California Coalition for Women Prisoners  (CCWP), they have mounted a campaign for Wright’s release. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS) and Change.org have also joined the campaign.
Releasing people suffering from life-threatening or terminal health conditions has happened in other instances. In Mississippi, sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott were sentenced to two consecutive life terms for a 1993 robbery in which $11 was stolen and no one was hurt. Like the case of Wright, their arrest and incarceration were based on accusations that were later recanted: two of the three teens who had actually committed the robbery testified against the sisters in exchange for two-year prison sentences.  According to The Huffington Post, in 1998, one of the men who had originally testified against them signed an affidavit swearing that the Scott sisters were not involved with the crime. That affidavit, as well as two others that pointed to the sister’s innocence, were submitted for post-conviction relief by their attorney. 
Like Wright, the Scotts’ wrongful conviction was followed by a life-threatening medical condition and inadequate health care. James Ridgeway and Jean Casella reported in Solitary Watch that in 1997, Jamie Scott was diagnosed with kidney problems, but received minimal treatment. In 2010, both kidneys began shutting down. She was sent to the prison infirmary. A week later, she was taken to the hospital, where doctors inserted a shunt into her neck so that she could receive dialysis through a catheter. She was then returned to prison where she endured faulty or missed dialysis sessions, infections, and other complications. Her sister Gladys offered to donate a kidney, but was told by prison staff that prisoners did not qualify  as organ donors and that a transplant would be too expensive. 
Throughout the sisters’ incarceration, their mother Evelyn Rasco fought to free them. She wrote to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Jesse Jackson, the Innocence Project, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Nancy Lockhart, who was working at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at the time, was the only one to positively respond, promising Rasco that she would continue with the case until the sisters were exonerated. Together, they formed The Committee to Free the Scott Sisters. Both continued to reach out to organizations and individuals, slowly building a grassroots campaign to free the sisters. In addition, Lockhart mounted a campaign using social media platforms, as well as the more traditional on-the-ground techniques. “Global support grew well into the thousands. I would estimate at least ten thousand,” Lockhart wrote in a recent email.
In June 2010, supporters rallied outside the Department of Justice , connecting the extreme sentence of the Scott sisters with the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans nationwide.
In September 2010, over 200 supporters marched  to the steps of Mississippi’s State Capitol in Jackson, demanding freedom for the Scott sisters.
Public pressure paid off, at least in part. That December, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sisters’ life sentences  on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie. Lockhart – who had no part in negotiating the parole terms and whose continuing goal is full exoneration – along with other supporters, questions the ethics of forcing Gladys Scott to barter a body part for freedom. She and other supporters also note that Barbour granted them parole for life rather than a pardon, which would expunge their felony convictions. “He said they didn’t admit their guilt,” their attorney Chokwe Lumumba explained in a recent phone call. “But they’re not guilty, and the testimony against them was recanted.” Lumumba points out that, of the seven people that Barbour had pardoned before paroling the Scott sisters, six were white, all were men, and almost all had been convicted of, and had confessed to, killing their wives or girlfriends. The Scotts are black women.
Barbour’s motive was purely economic. In his statement, Barbour noted, “Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the State of Mississippi.” He later told WMPR Radio , “Did you know it costs us $190,000 a year for dialysis for just one patient alone? Mississippi’s taxpayers ought not to be paying for that.”
Barbour is not the only one to view releasing terminally ill people from prisons as a cost-saving measure. In January 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver appointed to oversee California’s prison health system, suggested that legislators consider early release of chronically sick prisoners as a quick way to cut ballooning prison costs. Like Barbour , his motive is financial, not compassionate.
Chandler, who has been working around compassionate release since the 1990s, notes that financial arguments are more likely to be heard these days. In 1997, when California’s legislature passed Assembly Bill 29 , codifying compassionate release, it deliberately excluded people imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole.  “There was an expectation that people like Patricia would die in prison,” Chandler stated. She recalled that, in 2007, when advocates and allies tried to lobby for a compassionate release bill that would clarify and streamline the process for terminally ill people, no legislator would consider it until the word “compassionate” was removed. “No one wanted to seem overly compassionate towards ‘those people’ [meaning family and community members of prisoners],” she noted. In response, advocates shifted the focus of the bill to preserving public safety while saving money. The Fiscal Savings and Medical Release Bill, with no mention of compassion, passed in 2007.
Deirdre Wilson, coordinator for CCWP, told me that even with this bill, “It’s still insanely difficult to get people out on compassionate release.”
“There’s still a lot of stigma against people in prison,” said Wilson. “It’s been normalized for us to treat people in prison as less than human. The only argument that some people will hear is the economic one because the compassion is not there.”
When asked about changes in the decade between the campaigns for Shumate and Wright, Henry observed: “It’s the same story. They want to wait till the last minute to release them, but they actually don’t want to release them.”
If Henry were able to speak directly to the prison authorities and the governor about Wright, she would say, “Whatever time she’s got left, let her spend it at home.”

Dump the death penalty, ex-senator urges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civilised society should abolish capital punishment because it is inhumane, essentially based on a medieval concept of retribution, and risks innocent people being put to death, according to Aquilino Pimentel, a former Philippine senator who played an key role in ending the death penalty in his country in 2006.

Visiting Bangkok at the invitation of Amnesty International Thailand and the Union for Civil Liberty,

the 79-year-old Pimentel urged Thais opposed to capital punishment to keep their “passion” burning, despite hearing that many Thais, including senior Buddhist monks, still support executions.

“A majority of Thais still do not support [abolition of the death penalty],” human rights lawyer Sarawut Prathumraj said. Sarawut told Pimentel that many Thais look back fondly to the 1960s and the era of dictator Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who was known for summarily executing people accused of committing arson in public areas.

Thailand’s Human Rights Master Plan for 2009 to 2013 states that the Kingdom aims to abolish capital punishment by the end of the period, but the goal seems far removed from reality, as there is no visible movement towards that end at present.

Pimentel met and addressed the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by appointed Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn. Members of the committee exchanged differing views with Pimentel, with one member defending execution by lethal injection – the method practised in Thailand today – as “humane”, and another saying that the death penalty was needed to rid society of its scourges.

Another member told Pimentel that it was not uncommon for some convicts who are sentenced to death to have their sentences commuted and to eventually walk free after a decade or so in prison.

Pimentel argued that the death penalty doesn’t give condemned criminals the opportunity to reform themselves, while the risk of even one person being wrongly executed was too high for a civilised society to bear.

Pimentel said the notion of “an eye for an eye”, also known as the Lex Talionis principle of Roman law, was medieval and not suited for modern society.

“If Lex Talionis were to be used to justify the imposition of the death penalty as an act of retribution, then in those cases of murder or rape, before the criminals are executed, they should first be subjected to the indignities or outright tortures that had been inflicted on the victims so that the criminals undergo the same level of pain as that suffered by the victims,” he said.

The former Philippine senator also cited various works showing that the death penalty had no deterrent effect on criminality.

Somchai said after the meeting with Pimentel that the committee was interested in continuing to debate capital punishment, but added that “some people see the need for the death penalty to deal with those who are beyond [redemption].” He added that a compromise could eventually be struck, such as replacing the death penalty with long prison terms without parole, as is practised in the Philippines today.

Pimentel said that since the death penalty was abolished in his country, heinous crimes that would once have drawn a sentence of death were now punished by imprisonment for 20 to 40 years without parole. Some argue that long jail terms are an even worse punishment than death, he said.

One member of the Senate panel argued that it was better to kill a bird than keep it in a cage without letting it see the Sun, which was cruel and inhumane, like a long prison sentence. Pimentel said he couldn’t answer on behalf of the bird, however.

 

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Dump-the-death-penalty-ex-senator-urges-30177684.html

Appeals Court upholds Haley Barbour pardons

 

 

 

When juries convicted four murderers and sent them to prison they never dreamed Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour would pardon them.  Especially the jurors who convicted Joseph Ozmont for shooting a helpless man in the face as he crawled toward him for aid.

Several Wichita Falls citizens were disappointed today to hear an appeals court  in Mississippi upheld the pardons as valid Thursday.

Ozmont of course did not share their disappointment.  He could be heard heaving a huge sigh of relief all the way from Wyoming where he now is free to roam the highways and byways of that state or any other state including Texas.

Rick Montgomery was a 40-year old store clerk in 1992 when three men brazenly entered his business and shot him twice.  Not realizing Ozmont was one of the group that robbbed him, he crawled across the floor toward him for help after he’d been shot twice by the accomplices.  In one of the more brutal murders in recent history Ozmont shot him in the face.

A relative of the clerk was outraged at news of the pardon and admitted members of his family were now in fear for their lives.

One local law enforcement official said that at least with Rick Perry as governor in Texas, Wichitans didn’t have to worry about wholesale pardons of violent criminals convicted in Wichita Falls courtrooms.

Former Governor Barbour defended his some 200 pardons including the four murderers when he left office on January 10, 2012.

 

Part of his justification was that sudden passion killers are not likely to be a future danger to society.

Wichita Falls police officers would not agree with that.  It is common knowledge domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous law enforcement men and women are called upon to handle.

One of the convicted murderers Barbour pardoned shot his ex-wife in the head as she held their baby in her arms.  Randy Walker, who was standing near Tammy Gatlin, said pardoned David Gatlin shot him after shooting his wife.  The bullet which killed Tammy missed Gatlin’s baby by inches.

 

All four of the pardoned murderers worked as trustees at the Governor’s Mansion.

Brett Favre’s brother was among the pardoned.  He was convicted of manslaughter for driving his car in front of a train while he was intoxicated.  The passenger in his automobile was killed.

The appeals court in Mississippi ruled Governor Barbour was within his rights to determine who should be pardoned.

American presidents and governors have long made a habit of pardoning murderers, drug dealers, rapists and other assorted criminals on the day they leave office.  That way they don’t have to face the wrath of voters in future elections.

Victims and relatives of victims have no recourse other than to express their frustration and anger in the wake of pardons.

The only solution is for legislative bodies to pass laws limiting the powers of presidents and governors to pardon criminals.

 

 

 

Mississippi denies Jeffrey Havards appeal

The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied – for the second time – a post-conviction appeal from convicted murderer Jeffrey Keith Havard.

The court said Thursday that Havard had raised no new issues that deserved consideration. Havard’s first post-conviction petition was denied in 2008.

Havard was convicted in 2002 of capital murder and sentenced to death in Adams County for killing a 6-month-old girl.

Inmates use a post-conviction petition to argue they have found new evidence – or a possible constitutional issue – that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

Havard was convicted of killing Chloe Madison Britt of Ferriday, La., the daughter of his girlfriend. Prosecutors say the infant’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, but she also had suffered from sexual abuse.

Executed inmates last week diary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1991, Robert Charles Towery concocted a plan: with his friend Randy Barker, he would kill a man who had lent him money in the past, and rob the man’s house of its jewellery and cash.
When the body of Mark Jones was found, a witness came forward to say he had seen the men dump Jones’ car. Barker, who testified against Towery, was given 10 years. Towery was sentenced to death.
A day after Towery’s execution at the Arizona state prison in Florence, his attorney has released letters the killer wrote to him from Death Row during his last month alive.
They give a chilling insight into the thoughts of a man locked up for 20 years – from the ‘humiliating’ strip searches to his first taste of orange juice in years and his first sighting of an iPhone.
Robert Charles Towery
Robert Charles Towery
Inmate: Robert Charles Towery, 47, was executed on Thursday for the 1991 murder and robbery of Mark Jones. While on death row, he wrote daily to his attorney, who has released the chilling letters
They show his affection for cellmate Robert Moormann, a killer prosecutors claimed was mentally-disabled, and who Towery saw as a gentle man who did not understand his fate.
The letters – written and posted daily to his attorney Dale Baich – also reveal the steps he took to prepare for his death, including rehearsing his final words and the journey to his holding cell.
Excerpts of the letters, seen by the Arizona Republic, outline the daily torments Towery suffered, such as the discomfort he felt around female guards.
‘They stripped me out with a female officer present,’ he wrote on February 3. ‘Now, personally, I’m not the shy type, but having a female officer on death watch is just one more humiliation.’
Later that month, he added: ‘WORST NIGHT YET! We have a female on watch! Which I think is completely inappropriate! I don’t have an issue with women working the prison, or anywhere.
‘But, in a situation like this when you can’t go to the bathroom without someone being 10 feet away staring at you, it’s just not right.’
Despite the occasional irritation, Towery is upbeat and good-natured – a seemingly far cry from the man capable of committing murder two decades earlier.
Chamber: Towery was executed in Arizona State Prison, pictured. The day before his death, he wrote of his excitement at being given orange juice and trousers with a zip and button

Chamber: Towery was executed in Arizona State Prison, pictured. The day before his death, he wrote of his excitement at being given orange juice and trousers with a zip and button
He expresses his excitement at being given a pair of trousers with a button and zip, and finds humour in the fact that his prison guards fall asleep, with him watching them.
‘Good for them!’ he wrote on February 15. ‘I’m sure this has to be stressful to them. So a moment’s relaxation is well earned. I also enjoy the irony… Exactly who is watching whom?’

WHY WAS HE ON DEATH ROW?

In the weeks leading up to their crime in 1991, Robert Towery and Randy Barker discussed robbing philanthropist Mark Jones because Towery – who had borrowed money from Jones in the past – knew he had cash.
According to Barker’s testimony, the men went to Jones’s home claiming their car had broken down and they needed to use his phone.
Towery then pulled a gun out while Barker handcuffed him, before the duo loaded Jones’ car with electronics, jewelery, credit cards and cash.
They marched him to his bedroom at gunpoint where Towery attempted to inject the victim’s arm with battery acid.
When that did not work, he strangled him with plastic ties, making two separate nooses. Barker hovered over the men with a gun in his hand, watching as Towery committed the murder.
Jones’ body was found the next day. The men were caught when a security guard said he had seen them dump the vehicle at an apartment complex.
As part of a plea deal for testifying against Towery, Barker received just ten years and was released in 2001. Towery was sentenced to death and appeals were rejecte
In an earlier letter, he becomes excited about his relatively comfortably surroundings.
‘One more observation, and for me, it’s a good one!!’ he writes. ‘I have not seen a single roach, water bug, scorpion, stink beetle or spider. Woo-hoo!! Over on the other side I lived next to the rec pen and I went on Safari daily!’
Yet he is unable to stay positive while on the subject of the fate of his cellmate Robert Moormann.
Moormann was executed by lethal injection after kidnapping and sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl and killing and dismembering his adoptive mother, whom had allegedly abused him as a boy.
His lawyers had argued that Moormann had the mental capacity of a small child.
In a letter to Baich on February 12, Towery likened Moormann to Lenny from John Steinbeck’s book Of Mice and Men, the mentally handicapped gentle giant who does not understand the consequences of his murderous actions.
An inmate can not be put to death if they have an IQ lower than 70 in Arizona law. His defense claimed his was between 70 and 94, while a doctor for the prosecution said he had an IQ of 94.
‘Bob is one of the meekest, polite and quiet man I have ever met. I truly believe they are committing a crime against nature if they execute him,’ Towery wrote.
‘He knows he committed a horrific crime. I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you from knowing Bob for nearly 20 years now, he doesn’t really get it.
‘He is guilty, no doubt, but there is no way he is culpable in it. His stepmother and what she did to him broke him in a way that made him a man-child.’
Final journey: Towery was taken to the main prison, pictured, by a group of guards the night before his death. He wrote that it was 'cool' to watch one officer 'with what I assume was an iPhone'

Final journey: Towery was taken to the main prison, pictured, by a group of guards the night before his death. He wrote that it was ‘cool’ to watch one officer ‘with what I assume was an iPhone’
On the day Moormann was executed, Towery simply wrote: ‘Bob is gone. May God forgive them.’
The following week, Towery began preparing for his own death. On March 7, Towery was taken to Housing Unit 9 in the main prison, where Arizona carries out executions by lethal injection.
In an entry made the night before he died, he was upbeat as he recounted the journey to the cell, including his change of clothes – and the excitement at the button and zipper.
‘We rode over here,’ he wrote, adding he had been told to think about his final words. ‘Nice ride, and they kept up the small talk. It was cool watching one of the COs with what I assume was an iPhone.’
On the morning of his execution, one final entry said: ‘I was given a doughnut and a fairly large container. The orange juice was great! (First orange juice I’ve had in I don’t know how long!) The doughnut was prison issue. Enough said.’
Moormann and Towery
Moormann and Towery
Cellmates: Towery, right, was put in a cell with Bob Moormann, left. He described the mentally-retarded killer, who was killed eight days before him, as ‘one of the meekest, polite and quiet men I have ever met’
Closing the letter, he wrote to Baich: ‘I just want to say thank you. Thank you all for the kindness. Take care. God bless.’
Although not documented in his letters, Towery was given a last meal of porterhouse steak, jacket potato and sour cream, asparagus, mushrooms, clam chowder, milk, Pepsi and apple pie a la mode.
Before he died, he broke down in tears, apologised to Jones’s family and his own family, and said his life had been one mistake after another.
‘I would like to apologize to Mark’s family and friends for what I did to them. I would like to apologize to my family,’ he said.
‘So many times in my life I went left when I should have gone right and I went right when I should have gone left. It was mistake after mistake.’
According to the Arizona Republic, he looked at his family and began crying, before adding: ‘I love my family. Potato, potato, potato.’
Waiting for death: Towery is upbeat in the letters - even on the day of his death - but hated being watched in the shower by female guards

Waiting for death: Towery, pictured, remains surprisingly positive and upbeat in the letters – even on the day of his death – but hated being watched in the shower by female guards, calling it ‘humiliating’
Murder: He had been sentenced to death for strangling and robbing Mark Jones in Paradise Valley, Arizona

Murder: He had been sentenced to death for strangling and robbing Mark Jones in Paradise Valley, Arizona
In the 1991 robbery and murder, Towery and Barker had gone to Jones’s home claiming their car had broken down and they needed to use his phone.
Towery then pulled a gun out while Barker handcuffed him, before the duo loaded Jones’ car with electronics, jewelery, credit cards and cash.
They marched him to his bedroom at gunpoint where Towery attempted to inject the victim’s arm with battery acid. When that did not work, he strangled him with plastic ties, making two separate nooses.
Jones’ body was found the next day. The men were caught when a security guard said he had seen them dump the vehicle at an apartment complex.
Barker was given a plea deal for testifying against Towery and was released from jail in 2001.
In attempts for a reprieve, Towery’s attorneys said the court did not consider mitigating factors, such as an abusive childhood at the hands of his mother and drug abuse.

THE WORDS OF A KILLER: ROBERT TOWERY’S LETTERS FROM DEATH ROW

Feb 2: And so it begins… First let me apologize for the messiness of these first letters as I was not allowed my reading glasses as they had a crack in them and I was holding them lens in with tape. So I can’t see. […] Furthermore, I was not given my watch, so for the most part, all times will be best guesses.
6 a.m. They came to my cell, stripped me out and then took me to the shift commander’s office where I waited for about 20 min for everyone to show up. […]
The unit warden began to read the warrant only to discover they were missing pages, So I offered my copy and they sent a (correctional officer) to my cell who brought back the box containing my copy. In the meantime, the unit warden went over the changes in my confinement. How I could have access to indigent supplies, and could have one box of legal work/personal papers, and one religious box. For everything else I would have to put in a written request. […]
At noon […] they took me back to medical where the nurse went over my daily meds with me and how the meds, which have been coming to me in monthly supply packs for fifteen years or so are somehow now so dangerous that the nurse has to bring them to me every morning on a “watch swallow basis.” […]
A few notes about my cell. They have a TV pushed up in front of the cell, so looking through the holes (in the security screen) is difficult at best, and nauseating/vertigo inducing to the point where I really just want to listen to it, but there is a problem there. The earbud extension they stretch through the hole barely reaches to the table, a good five or six feet short of the bunk.[…]
Feb 3: 6:30 a.m. They asked me if I wanted rec or a shower. I asked for a shower. They stripped me out with a female officer present. (Now, personally, I’m not the shy type, but having a female officer on death watch is just one more humiliation.) Anywho, as I came out the nurse was there to take my vitals. […] they also took my temperature and pulse. Don’t know why they were.
So I take a shower with the generic soap and shampoo they provide. I asked about conditioner, there is none. […] so after my shower I asked for a palm brush. No. Asked for a comb. There isn’t one. […] So I told them I could just use the clippers and shave my head. No big deal to me. If I can’t take care of my hair properly, I’d rather shave it. I usually do for the summer. […]
Approx 9:00 a.m. or so, psych dr came in and asked me if I was alright. I told him I was all good and sent him on his way.
Approx 11:00 a.m., assistant deputy warden woke me up with “I heard you wanted to shave your head.” (I guess the COs made it sound like I was flipping out when I was completely calm. Long hair, bald, I’m fine with either.) […]
The feeling of complete helplessness and hopelessness grows by the hour because of the way all of this is done. Every time you want to blow your nose or go to the bathroom you have to ask for toilet paper. […] 3:00 p.m. (approx) the psych nurse just came with the same questions. Are you suicidal? Homicidal? Anything you want to talk about? […]
No way I can work out without my knee braces, shoes, ankle sleeves, all the things my busted old body needs. Oh, and motivation. Don’t have that either to be honest.
Feb. 12: 5:00 a.m. Oh my gosh! Now a nurse is in here. Bob [Moormann] was feeling a bit out of it (his blood sugar), so she’s come in to check. He is speaking in ultra-hushed tones, and she is practically yelling, “What? I can’t hear you Mr. Moormann, I’m really hard of hearing.”
Look at Bob. As I was saying on the phone, Bob is one of the meekest, polite and quiet man I have ever met. I truly believe they are committing a crime against nature if they execute him. He doesn’t get this. Sure, he knows right from wrong. He knows they are going to kill him. He knows he committed a horrific crime. Sure. But he knows these things as a child does. I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you from knowing Bob for nearly 20 years now, he doesn’t really get it. He is guilty, no doubt, but there is no way he is culpable in it. What I mean is, he should have been in a hospital from the very beginning. His stepmother and what she did to him broke him in a way that made him a man-child. I liken him to Lenny in the old book Of Mice and Men.
6:33 a.m. My weight, 221, officially 10 lbs lost since coming here on the 2nd. My B.P. was 138/80. I have my phone call with [blacked out] at 10:15 and a visit at 11:00 a.m. Woo hoo!!! Today is going to be a great day!!
Feb. 13: Oh! One more observation, and for me, it’s a good one!! I have not seen a single roach, water bug, scorpion, stink beetle or spider. Woo-hoo!! Over on the other side I lived next to the rec pen and I went on Safari daily!
Feb. 15: Okay, this is funny. Exactly who is watching whom? I’m sitting here watching the news, and happen to glance up to see both COs with their chins on their chests and their eyes closed. Good for them! Second to the stress I feel, my family feels and of course the stress you’ll feel, I’m sure this has to be stressful to them too. So a moment’s relaxation is well earned. I also enjoy the irony.
Feb. 16: 8:50 a.m. They just called an ICS. Something is wrong with Bob. He had told the nurse this morning that he had problems sleeping last night, and then he was throwing up and barely responsive. They took him to medical in a wheelchair, and the officer went in and cleaned up his cell.
10:14 a.m. It just came across the radio. Bob is leaving the unit to go to the hospital.
Feb. 18: 4:16 p.m. They just brought Bob back in a wheelchair!! He’s been up at medical the last two hours, but I don’t have any details yet. What amazes me is that he can barely walk or respond, and still they make him come to the front of his cell after they close the door to remove his restraints.
Feb. 21: 6:40 p.m. Bob called and asked me what ya’ll had to say from today’s [federal court] hearing. I let him know we figured about right as to Judge [Neil] Wake’s position. But I told him that if Wake rules tonight or tomorrow against us, that we will appeal to the 9th [U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals]. He asked me, “Then who will give a stay?” I told him it would be up to the 9th. He said, “Yeah, but what judge will give me a stay?” and I told him we would have a 3 judge panel most likely and they would rule on the injunction. He said “Okay, you know I don’t understand this legal stuff. I’m sorry if I bothered you.” I told him it was no bother and he could call me any time. He’s so lost!
Feb. 27: 6:09 p.m. WORST NIGHT YET! […] They just did shift change and we have a female on watch! Which I think is completely inappropriate! I don’t have an issue with women working the prison, or anywhere, generally. But, in a situation like this when you can’t go to the bathroom without someone being 10 feet away staring at you, it’s just not right.
Feb. 28: Bob is gone. May God forgive them.
March 1: 6:52 a.m. The Sgt. asked me what happened with Bob, and of course I told him I wasn’t here when they took Bob out. He said that apparently Bob started freaking out and made himself sick. I think his system just wasn’t used to the food and two pints of ice cream.
March 2: The hearing went as I expected. […] My sisters were amazing, but the board had no intention of granting clemency. […]
The staff was visibly upset by it. They remained professional, but they were clearly affected. They are human after all.
March 7: Hey now! I hope this, my last log finds you doing great! As for myself? Well, things are about as I imagined. They showed up at about 10:20 p.m. to strip me out. They did the whole naked dance and the squat and cough. Then they gave me a pair of boxers and a pair of deck shoes. I was grabbed on both sides, firmly, but not roughly. I was taken to the boss chair, and from there I was taken to a day cell, given a pair of socks, t-shirt, and a pair of pants with A BUTTON + ZIPPER!! Woo-hoo!!
Anywho, I was then put in a belly chain, shackles and then led out to a waiting van. Again, I went nowhere without hands on me. Even when they were putting the cuffs on, someone was holding my arm. We rode over here. Nice ride, and they kept up the small talk. It was cool watching one of the COs with what I assume was an iPhone.
Once arriving here, they ushered me in. All the while they are telling me they will be respectful and ask that I be. The warden warned me about my final words. I’ve been told that I should think about my statement and that he will (or someone will) rehearse it with me in the morning.
One more thing: there are four officers watching me, carrying on conversations and two are female. AND I’M SUPPOSED TO SLEEP?!
The two female officers disappeared around the corner, so I took the opportunity to urinate. But they came right back. The male officer said I was using the restroom, and the response was, “I work in an all male prison.” True, but still, there can be respect! Then I had to ask for some soap and a towel. I was given a bar of soap and one paper towel. And had to give them back!!
March 8: 7:00 a.m. Good morning! Well, I actually slept well. I woke up about 5:00 a.m. I was given a doughnut and a fairly large container. […] The orange juice was great! (First orange juice I’ve had in I don’t know how long!) The doughnut was prison issue. Enough said.
I just finished my visit with Deacon Ed and receiving communion. Now I’m just waiting for y’all, at which point I’m going to give you my legal work and my Bible. Please give my Bible to [name blacked out].
As this is my last entry, I just want to say thank you. Thank you all for the kindness. Please give everyone my best and know that I will carry y’all on my lips to God.
My best wishes to you all.
Take care.
May God Bless!!
Sincerely,
Robert Charles Towery