The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review appeals in three Texas death row cases, including one where a man pleaded guilty to a triple slaying in South Texas.
The high court's rulings moved two inmates closer to execution: LeJames Norman, 31, condemned for the 2005 shooting deaths of three people during a botched robbery of a home in Edna, about 100 miles southwest of Houston, and Bill Douglas Gates, 67, condemned for strangling a Houston woman in 1999. Neither has an execution date.
Norman and an accomplice also now on death row, Ker'Sean Ramey, were convicted in the slayings of Samuel Roberts, 24, Tiffani Peacock, 18, and Celso Lopez, 38, inside the home they shared in Edna, in Jackson County. Roberts' parents discovered the bodies Aug. 25, 2005.
Court records indicated Ramey and Norman believed there was 100 kilograms of cocaine in the house and hoped to steal it, but they never found any drugs. Norman was arrested trying to cross a bridge into Brownsville from Mexico about five months after the killings. He pleaded guilty to capital murder, leaving a jury to decide only on punishment. Norman's appeal raised questions about the competence of his trial attorneys.
Texas prison records show when Gates was arrested for the slaying of Elfreda Gans, 41, at her Houston apartment, the Riverside County, California, man was on parole after serving six years of two life prison terms in California for robbery, assault on a peace officer and possession of a weapon by a prisoner. His appeal also questioned whether his trial lawyers were deficient.
The third case refused by the high court involved prisoner Michael Wayne Norris, whose case was returned by a federal district judge in 2015 to his trial court in Houston for a new punishment hearing. A federal appeals court last year upheld that decision. Norris has been on death row nearly 30 years for fatally shooting a Houston mother and her 2-year-old son.
Patrick McCann, Norris' attorney, said Monday the ruling involved legal procedural point related to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Greece's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an extradition request for eight Turkish servicemen who fled their country by helicopter after a coup attempt.
Presiding judge Giorgos Sakkas, reading out the decision, said the servicemen were unlikely to face a fair trial if returned to Turkey.
The eight officers fought extradition in a six-month legal battle, arguing that they face mistreatment in prison if returned.
Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis earlier this week had said he would respect the court decision and not make use of executive powers in the extradition case.
Lower courts issued mixed decisions on the return of the officers in a series of separate hearings.
The extradition case has further complicated ties between neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey, which remain at odds over war-divided Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea.
Hours ahead of Thursday's decision, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said he expected the servicemen to be returned.
"Our greatest expectation is for the coup plotters to be delivered to the Turkish judicial (authorities). We shall be following the results of this case," he said. "These coup plotters should not go unpunished."
A man suspected of fatally shooting a Florida police officer spoke out of turn and was defiant in an Orlando courtroom where he made an initial appearance on charges of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Forty-one-year-old Markeith Loyd told the judge Thursday morning that he plans to represent himself and said the charges against him were made up. The judge ordered Loyd held without bond.
Loyd's eye was bandaged and two officers flanked him as he stood at the podium wearing a bullet-proof vest. He was injured during his arrest Tuesday night following a weeklong manhunt.
Loyd faces multiple charges including first-degree murder, unlawful killing of an unborn child and attempted murder in the December death of Sade Dixon. He hasn't been charged in the death of Lt. Debra Clayton who was gunned down while she searched for him outside a Wal-Mart store Jan. 9.
The U.S. Supreme Court has again refused to hear an appeal by former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, who is fighting a 37-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two young girls while in office.
The court’s decision was released Monday. Justices previously refused to hear two earlier appeals by Giordano.
Giordano was challenging a federal appeals court decision in June to dismiss his request to set aside or correct his sentence. Giordano says the prison sentence is unconstitutional and his lawyer during his 2003 trial, Andrew Bowman, made several mistakes.
Bowman has denied that he provided ineffective counsel.
A federal jury convicted Giordano in 2003 of violating the civil rights of two girls, ages 8 and 10, by sexually abusing them in the mayor’s office and other locations.
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