Carlos Caro – Latino, age 36

Sentenced to death in Virginia (Federal)
By: a judge who is bound by jury decision based on the Federal Death Penalty Act.
Date of crime: December 17, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Caro was found guilty of first degree murder for strangling his cell mate with a wet towel inside their cell. Caro admitted guilt and stated that he killed Robert Sandovall for disrespecting him and eating his breakfast earlier in the morning. The prosecution set forth that Caro was a member of a prison gang called the Texas Syndicate, had initiated a brawl in the yard, and had stabbed a different inmate 29 times during a past altercation. The prosecution also put on evidence that Caro communicated with outside gang members through letters written in code, thus bolstering their argument that he remained a threat to society while in prison. The defense focused on his childhood and early involvement in drugs and illegal behavior as mitigating factors. They also pointed out that Caro did not become violent until he had lost all hope in life when receiving a 30 year sentence.
Prosecutor(s): John L. Brownlee, Tony Giorno
Defense lawyer(s): James Simmons, Steven Kalista
Sources: US Federal News 3/30/07 (2007 WLNR 6137106), Roanoke Times 02/14/07 (2007 WLNR 12582458)

David Lee Jackson – black, age 39

Sentenced to death in Texas (Federal)
By: a judge who is bound by jury decision based on the Federal Death Penalty Act.
Date of crime: December 16, 1999
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jackson was an inmate found guilty of stabbing fellow inmate, Daryl Brown. The defendant was seen on surveillance video chasing the victim into a cell and running back out of the cell shortly after. The victim then emerged from the cell bleeding and soon died from his wounds. Jackson asserted self defense, bringing several inmates in to testify that the victim always carried a knife and had threatened to kill Jackson in the days before his death. The prosecution focused on Jackson’s long criminal history and a series of disciplinary problems in prison during the sentencing phase. The prosecution also focused on Jackson’s previous escape from a correctional facility as evidence that Jackson was an ongoing danger to society if he was allowed to remain in prison for life. The defense focused on Jackson’s abusive childhood and his attempts to rehabilitate while in prison. The victim’s mother testified and was not in favor of the death penalty quoting the importance of forgiveness in her life.
Prosecutor(s): Joe Batte
Defense lawyer(s): Doug Barlow
Sources: The Beaumont Enterprise 6/28/06 (2006 WLNR 11168201), 10/28/06 (2006 WLNR 18734346), 10/31/06 (2006 WLNR 18871619), 11/03/06 (2006 WLNR 19098144), 11/14/06 (2006 WLNR 19772922)

Jurijus Kadamovas – white, age 35

Sentenced to death in California (Federal)
By: a jury.
Date of crime: Late 2001 to Early 2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: This prosecution stems from a kidnapping for ransom scheme where Kadamovas and Iouri Mikhel kidnapped affluent business people, some of which were Russian immigrants, in an effort to accumulate large amounts of money in ransoms. It is believed they had collected over a million dollars but had never returned a victim. Five victims were found dumped in the New Melones Reservoir near Yosemite National Park. The victims were suffocated with plastic bags and anchored with weights before being thrown off the bridge into the Reservoir. Evidence in the case involved DNA of victims found on handcuffs, a pair of shoes found to match footprints at the crime scene, and a voice recording with a victim’s voice on it in the defendant’s home. The defense argued that the accomplices who testified against Kadamovas were actually the ring leaders in this kidnap for ransom scheme. Authorities allege that had these men not been arrested they would have extended their scheme to the states of Florida, New York, and Colorado. Both men’s charges were technically called hostage taking resulting in death as well as being charged with three counts of conspiracy.
Prosecutor(s): Robert Dugdale
Defense lawyer(s): Dale Rubin (Mikhel)
Sources: Daily News (L.A.) 2/14/07 (2007 WLNR 2944752), 3/13/07 (2007 WLNR 4947007), Modesto Bee: 3/13/07 (2007 WLNR 4754283), AP Online Regional 3/13/07 (US 03:09:18), AP Alert 2/14/07 (Fin. 00:07:15)

Iouri Mikhel – white, age 36

Sentenced to death in California (Federal)
By: a jury.
Date of crime: Late 2001 to Early 2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: See Jurijus Kadamovas.
Defense lawyer(s):

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. – Latino, age 49

Sentenced to death in North Dakota (Federal)
By: A judge whom is bound by the jury’s finding pursuant to the Federal Death Penalty Act.
Date of crime: November 22, 2003 (date of disappearance); April 17, 2004 (date body was discovered)
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rodriguez was found guilty of kidnapping and first degree murder after the disappearance and eventual discovery of college student Dru Sojdin. Her body was discovered naked from the waist down with evidence of rape and her throat was slashed. Rodriguez attempted to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison, but the offer was denied by the prosecution. The jury ultimately found Rodriguez guilty in the first death penalty case in North Dakota in nearly a century. The judge in the case was riddled with emotion and on multiple occasions let his emotions become evident while addressing Rodriguez. Since North Dakota does not have the death penalty, Rodriquez will have to travel to South Dakota should his appeals be unsuccessful. The prosecution paraded Dru Sojdin’s friends and family members to the stand while the defense relied on the argument that “violence is never an answer to violence.” The jury disagreed and ultimately recommended death by lethal injection. Rodriguez had previously spent 23 years in prison for the abduction of three women and the rape of two of them. He had been out of prison for six months when abducting Dru Sojdin.
Prosecutor(s): Drew Wrigley
Defense lawyer(s): Richard Ney
Sources: New York Times 2/9/07 (2007 WLNR 2531503), St. Paul Pioneer Press 2/9/07 (2007 WLNR 2510456), Minneapolis Star Tribune 2/09/07 (2007 WLNR 2580347)

Ronell Wilson – black, age 20

Sentenced to death in Staten Island, N.Y. (Federal)
By: A judge following a unanimous decision by jury.
Date of crime: March 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Wilson was found guilty of murdering two undercover detectives whom Wilson and his accomplice believed were carrying large amounts of cash. The prosecution argued that Wilson and his fellow gang member knew the undercover detectives were officers, while the defense argued that the two shooters had no idea that the victims were police officers. The Defense argued that the verdict was based on vengeance and not justice as more than 200 cops were present in the courtroom during this trial. The sentencing Judge focused on rap lyrics that Wilson had written while in prison such as “I won’t quit til I’m dead,” and interpreted them as showing no remorse. Wilson is the first Federal Death Sentence since 1954.
Prosecutor(s): Roslynn Mauskopf
Defense lawyer(s): Mitchell Dinnerstein
Sources: Staten Island Advance 4/26/07 (2007 WLNR 7908309), New York Daily News 3/30 /2007 (2007 WLNR 6059171), Newsday 3/30/07 (2007 WLNR 5992992), AP Alert 3/30/07 (NYC 06:24:07)