Dionne Eatman – black, age 26

Sentenced to death in Jefferson County, Alabama
By: A judge, overriding a jury’s 9-3 recommendation for life without parole.
Date of crime: 2/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Eatmon and Aundra Marshall (see below) kidnapped and killed Clarence and Allison Kile because of a drug debt owed to Marshall. Clarence and Allison Kile were tied up, beat with a lead pipe, forced into the trunk of their car. Eatman and Marshall doused the car with gasoline and burned the Kiles alive. The Kiles had to be identified with dental records and finger prints. The prosecution argued the killing was intended to send a message to other crack addicts who owed money to Marshall. The defense argued that Eatmon participated in the murder because he was afraid of Marshall.
Prosecutor(s): Leanna Huddleston
Defense Lawyer(s): Michael Lips-Comb
Sources: Birmingham News 6/29/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).

Tierra Gobble – white, age 21

Sentenced to death in Houston County, Alabama
By:  A judge, jury recommendation unavailable
Date of Crime:  12/15/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Gobble killed her four-month-old son, Phoenix Cody Parrish.  Gobble’s three children had been removed from her care after a Florida child welfare agency found abuse and neglect.  Gobble’s great uncle took in Parrish and was instructed not to leave the state or allow any contact between the infant and his parents.  The great-uncle violated both of these instructions by moving to Alabama and allowing Gobble to move in with him.  Gobble admitted to hitting Parrish’s head on the side of his crib because Parrish would not stop crying.  Parrish died from trauma consistent with child abuse, including a skull fracture, broken ribs, two broken wrists, and many bruises.  The defense argued there were three other people in the house who could have murdered Parrish.  During the sentencing phase, the defense introduced mitigating evidence that Gobble had an abusive childhood.
Prosecutor(s):  Doug Valeska
Defense lawyer(s):  Tom Brantley
Sources:  AP Alert – Florida 5/17/2005 (5/17/05 APAPLERTFL 19:13:26); AP Alert – Alabama 8/21/2005 (8/21/05 APALERTAL 21:11:06), 10/27/2005 (10/27/05 APALERTAL 00:31:31); Birmingham News 9/24/2005 (2005 WLNR 18813752), 9/24/2005 (2005 WLNR 18813752); Tampa Tribune 9/27/2005 (2005 WLNR 15575212).

Christopher Hyde – white, age 30

Sentenced to death in Walker County, Alabama
By: A judge, after a 10-2 recommendation of death by a jury
Date of crime: 3/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hyde went to a funeral home, asked to use the restroom in order to get in, and then robbed and shot to death June Williams, Rick Peterson, and Randle Lane. The victims’ belongings and the gun used during the robbery and murder were found at Hyde’s uncle’s house, the house where Hyde was living at the time. Hyde was arrested with one of the victim’s credit cards in his wallet. The defense argued the confession was false and there could have been more than one shooter. Hyde had previously been convicted of robbery and attempted murder in Florida, served eight years, and was released from prison four months before he robbed and murdered Williams, Peterson, and Lane.
Prosecutor(s): Charles Baker Defense lawyer(s): Samuel B. Bentley, Mark Bishop Turner
Sources: Birmingham News 3/28/03, 9/11/04, 2/14/05, 2/17/05, 2/18/05, 2/19/05, 2/22/05, 3/25/05; Montgomery Advertiser 2/25/05; Miami Herald 2/27/05; Tampa Tribune 2/27/05

Jeremy Jones – white, age 31

Sentenced to death in Mobile County, Alabama
By:  A judge, after a 10–2 jury recommendation for death.
Date of Crime:  9/17/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Jones broke into Lisa Nichols rural trailer home where he bound, raped, and shot her in the head three times.  Jones then put Nichols body in the bathtub, doused her with gasoline, and set her on fire.  Nichols’s two adult daughters found her body the next day after they became worried when Nichols did not answer her phone.  Jones was linked to the rape and murder through DNA.  Prosecutors also introduced several videotaped confessions Jones had made to police.  Jones claimed he originally confessed to police because he was high on methamphetamine and had not slept for a week and made confessions while in jail in order to get phone privileges.  Jones also claimed that Nichols’s neighbor killed her and he only set her body on fire.  During the penalty phase, the defense argued that Jones suffered from mental problems which included long term drug abuse.  At sentencing Jones said he refused to ask for mercy and would not give a statement.  At the time of Nichols murder, Jones was wanted for rape and failure to register as a sex offender and had prior convictions for theft and burglary.  Jones was also charged with similar murders in Louisiana and Georgia.  Jones told police that he had killed 12 other women but these confessions had not been substantiated.
Prosecutor(s):  William Dill, Corey Maze, Don Valeska
Defense lawyer(s):  Greg Hughes, Habib Yazdi
Sources:  Mobile Register 10/24/2005 (2005 WLNR 18188271), 10/25/2005 (2005 WLNR 18188326), 10/26/2005 (2005 WLNR 22500662), 10/28/2005 (2005 WLNR 22510933), 11/28/2005 (2005 WLNR 19622857), 12/2/2005 (2005 WLNR 19624141); Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) 11/3/2005 (2005 WLNR 17810315); AP Alert – Alabama 12/1/2005 (12/1/05 APALERTAL 16:54:58); Desert Morning News 12/2/2005 (2005 WLNR 19401316); Atlanta Journal & Constitution 12/9/2005 (2005 WLNR 19793829); The Daily Oklahoman 2/4/2006 (2006 WLNR 1986627).

Aundra Marshall – black, age 30

Sentenced to death in Jefferson County, Alabama
By: A judge after a jury recommendation of 11-1 for death
Date of Crime: 2/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: See Dionne Eatmon above.
Prosecutor(s): Leanna Huddleston, Layne Tolbert
Defense Lawyer(s): Erskine Mathis, John Tindle
Sources: Birmingham News 5/28/2004, 3/5/2005, 6/24/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).

George Martin – black, age 37 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Mobile County, Alabama
By: A judge re-sentenced Martin to death. The first death sentenced was by a judge, overriding a jury recommendation of 8-4 for life in prison.
Date of crime: 10/8/1995
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Marshall was a state trooper who was near bankruptcy. He took out $377,000 in life insurance policies on his wife, Hammoleketh Martin, and then burned her to death in her car. At the first sentencing the judge overruled the jury’s recommendation for a life sentence and the appellate court reversed because the judge did not explain his reasons for overriding the jury verdict. Upon remand, the same judge reimposed a death sentence with more explicit findings for why the jury recommendation was being overridden.
Prosecutor(s): Gerri Grant
Defense Lawyer(s): Unknown
Sources: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA) 12/11/2004 (2004 WLNR 13852317); Montgomery Advertiser 6/19/2005 (2005 WLNR 9799261).

Devin Darnell Thompson, AKA Devin Moore – black, age 18

Sentenced to death in County, Alabama
By:  A judge, after a 10–2 jury recommendation for death
Date of Crime:  6/7/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Moore was arrested after he was found sleeping in a stolen car.  When an officer brought Moore to the police station, Moore grabbed the officer’s gun and shot Officer Arnold Strickland, Officer James Crump, and dispatcher Leslie Mealer.  Moore then escaped in a stole a police car.  Moore confessed to the three murders.  During the penalty phase, the defense argued Moore suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from mental and physical abuse during his childhood.  During open and closing arguments, the defense also made statements about Moore repeatedly played the video game “Grand Theft Auto,” which involves stealing cars and shooting police officers.  During the trial, however, testimony was not allowed about the effects that playing the video game had on Moore’s actions.  The prosecution argued that the murders were too callous to let Moore use a video game and a bad childhood as an excuse for his actions.
Prosecutor(s):  Chris McCool
Defense lawyer(s):  Jim Standridge
Sources:  AP Alert – Crime 8/11/2005 (8/11/05 APALERTCRIM 20:22:03); Birmingham News 10/7/2005 (2005 WLNR 18816077).

Mohammad Sharifi – white, age 33

Sentenced to death in Madison County, Alabama
By: A judge, after a 10-2 recommendation by a jury
Date of crime: 12/1999
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Sharifi killed his wife, Sarah Kay Smith Sharifi, and Derrick Brown, who was living with the newly married couple at the time. Sharifi shot both victims in the head, wrapped their bodies in plastic garbage bags, and dumped them in the river before he ran to California.
Sources: Birmingham News 12/30/1999, 1/3/2000, 1/5/2000; AP Alert – Alabama 2/4/05

Kerry Spencer – black, age 24

Sentenced to death in Jefferson County, Alabama
By:  A judge, overriding a 7–5 jury recommendation for life in prison without parole
Date of Crime:  6/17/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Police officers went to a known crack house to serve an arrest warrant for Nathaniel Woods.  Spencer dealt drugs out of the crack house and was friends with Woods.  When the police officers entered the crack house, Spencer opened fire on the officers with a high power assault rifle.  Spencer killed police officers Carlos Owen, Charles Bennett, and Harley Chisholm III.  Officer Michael Collins was also wounded and testified at Spencer’s trial.  The prosecution argued that Spencer should be sentenced to death because he killed police officers who were protecting the community.  The defense argued the murders were not premeditated and that Spencer acted in self defense when the police officers burst into the house.  The jury recommended a life sentence, which the judge overrode when he sentenced Spencer to death.
Prosecutor(s):  David Barber, Mara Sirles
Defense lawyer(s):  Michael Blalock
Sources:  AP Alert – Crime 6/21/2005 (6/21/05 APALERTCRIM 04:45:01), 9/23/2005 (9/23/05 APALERTCRIM 16:40:19); Birmingham Post-Herald 6/23/2005 (2005 WLNR 9939515); Birmingham News 9/23/2005 (2005 WLNR 18813355).

Nathaniel Woods – black, age 27

Sentenced to death in Jefferson County, Alabama
By:  A judge, after a 10–2 jury recommendation for death
Date of Crime:  6/17/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Police officers went to a known crack house to serve an arrest warrant for Woods.  Woods argued with police officers through the front door of the house and lured the police officers inside.  When the police officers went into the house, Woods gave Kerry Spencer a signal and Spencer opened fire on the officers with a high power assault rifle.  Officers Carlos Owen, Charles Bennett, and Harley Chisholm III were killed and Officer Michael Collins was wounded.  The prosecution argued that Woods set up an ambush for the officers.  The defense argued that Woods did not actually pull the trigger and Spencer shot all four officers.  During the penalty phase Woods testified that he had no feelings for the officers and did not care if he was sentenced to death.  After the jury recommended death but before the judge sentenced Woods, Woods wrote a taunting letter to one of the officer’s widows and mailed it to her unlisted address.  The letter was introduced during sentencing along with threats made by Woods to kill a jail guard.  Kerry Spencer was also sentenced to death in a separate proceeding.
Prosecutor(s):  David Barber, Mara Sirles
Defense lawyer(s):  Cynthia Umsted, Rita Briles
Sources:  Birmingham News 10/11/2005 (2005 WLNR 18816713), 10/12/2005 (2005 WLNR 18816808), 10/23/2005 (2005 WLNR 17594600), 12/3/2005 (2005 WLNR 19586342), 12/9/2005 (2005 WLNR 19853211), 12/10/2005 (2005 WLNR 19970499); AP Alert – Alabama 12/10/2005 (12/10/05 APALERTAL 02:30:44).

Vernon Yancey – white, age 25 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Russell County, Alabama
By: A judge, setting aside the jury’s recommendation of life without parole.
Date of crime: 3/23/1995
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Yancey used a sawed-off shotgun to rob a grocery store and kill a store clerk, Mattie Sports. The robbery was recorded on the grocery store’s surveillance tape and another store clerk testified that Yancey robbed the store. During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented evidence that Yancey had multiple prior convictions which included a violent felony and was on parole when he robbed the store and killed Sports.
Prosecutor(s): Donald Valeska II Defense lawyer(s): Michael Raiford, Frank Patterson
Sources: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer 2/19/2005, 2/24/2005, 3/17/2005