Jeffrey R. Martin – white, age 49

Sentenced in Greene County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: June 13, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Martin raped and strangled Gabrielle Bechen (age 12). During a confession to authorities, Martin said that he killed Bechen. He told authorities he panicked and strangled Bechen after she threatened to tell her parents he had molested her, an allegation he later claimed was false. After confessing, Martin showed state police investigators where he buried Bechen’s body, helmet and shoes in individual sites on the farm where he worked. The defense argued that Martin was coerced into confessing by state police.
Prosecutor(s): Linda Chambers, Marjorie Fox
Defense lawyer(s): Harry Cancelmi
Sources: Pittsburgh Tribune Review 5/8/08 (2008 WLNR 863799); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5/10/08 (2008 WLNR 8826368); AP Alert 5/10/08 – PA 04:30:38; AP Alert 9/17/08 – PA 16:44:40;

Freeman May – white, age 25 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: September 4, 1982
Prosecution’s case/defense response: May stabbed Kathy Lynn Fair (age 22) to death. Fair disappeared September 4, 1982; six years later her skeletal remains were discovered. May’s 1991 and 1995 death sentences were overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The most recent reversal was because the jury had never had a chance to hear about May’s childhood and the impact it may have had on him. During this third sentencing phase, the prosecution presented May’s conviction in a separate case as evidence of a significant history of felony convictions involving the use or threat of violence. In that case, May was convicted for repeatedly stabbing two young women, raping one, and leaving them for dead in December of 1982. The defense argued that May’s chaotic family life and glue-sniffing habit led to mental and emotion disorders.
Prosecutor(s): David Arnold
Defense lawyer(s): John Kelsey
Sources: Lebanon Daily News 10/16/08 (2008 WLNR 23417411); Lancaster New Era 10/16/08 (2008 WLNR 19882862)

Dennis Reed – black, age 29

Sentenced in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: December 16, 2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Reed murdered his girlfriend Wendy Miller (age 28). Angered by Miller securing a second restraining order, Reed entered Miller’s apartment, punched her in the face and then forced her and her three children (then ages 5, 6, and 8) to leave with him in her vehicle. Miller and Reed exited the vehicle together near a housing complex where Reed shot Miller in the back of the head with a shotgun. Reed returned to the car and for the next week, forced the three children to live with him in the vehicle. During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented two aggravating factors: Reed violated a restraining order the night he shot Miller and Reed committed seven felonies including kidnapping and unlawful possession of a firearm, in the course of the murder. The defense argued that Reed was under the influence of a mental or emotional disturbance when he killed Miller and kidnapped her children.
Prosecutor(s): Tom Minett, John Bongivengo
Defense lawyer(s): Randall Hetrick
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1/26/08 (2008 WLNR 1536233), 2/2/08 (2008 WLNR 2005411);

Cletus C. Rivera – black, age 24

Sentenced in Berks County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: August 6, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rivera fatally shot Reading police officer Scott A. Wertz (age 40). During the trial phase, the defense argued that Rivera did not realize Wertz was an officer because he was not in a uniform. They also argued that Rivera killed the officer in self defense. During the penalty phase, the defense argued Rivera should not be given death because he was only 24 years old and had a dysfunctional childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Jonelle H. Eshbach
Defense lawyer(s): Richard P. Reynolds, Jay M. Nigrini
Sources: Reading Eagle 8/13/08 (2008 WLNR 15190423), 8/13/08 (2008 WLNR 15135868), 8/14/08 (2008 WLNR 15279111), 8/14/08 (2008 WLNR 15279105);

Alfonzo Sanchez – Latino, age 24

Sentenced in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: October 16, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Sanchez, Steve Miranda, and Alexander Martinez murdered Lisa Marie Diaz (age 27) and Mendez Thomas, Jr. (age 22). Diaz was babysitting for her sister, Jessica Carmona (age 23), when she let the three men into the home believing they were there to purchase marijuana. The three men entered the home and waited for Diaz and Carmona to return. When Diaz and Carmona arrived, Sanchez and Thomas got into a shoving match after exchanging drugs for money. Sanchez then pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Thomas in the head. Then, Sanchez followed Diaz down a hallway and shot her multiple times. He then turned the gun on Carmona, who was shielding the baby, and shot her in the leg.
Prosecutor(s): Gary Gambardella
Defense lawyer(s): Jack McMahon

Patrick Jason Stollar – white, age 24

Sentenced in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
By: a jury
Date of crime: June 4, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Stollar murdered Jean Heck (age 78). Heck had hired Stollard to perform yard work. Stollar stomped, strangled and stabbed Heck after he landscaped her yard. He broke into her home with the intent to kill and rob her, according to a confession he gave to investigators. During the trial, Stollar represented himself arguing that he was mentally ill at the time of the murder. Prior to being dismissed, Stollar’s defense counsel repeatedly pleaded with him to plead guilty to first-degree murder to avoid the death sentence. During the penalty phase, actual defense counsel argued Heck lacked a criminal history and suffered from a psychological condition.
Prosecutor(s): Mark V. Tranquilli
Defense lawyer(s): James DePasquale (for penalty phase only), Robert Foreman (standby counsel)
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2/23/08 (2008 WLNR 3581051), 3/25/08 (2008 WLNR 5691173); Pittsburgh Tribune Review 3/24/08 (WLNR 5646181);