Dallas

Supreme Court Rejects 4 Death Row Appeals

DEATH PENALTY VICTIMS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment on Monday, rejected the appeals of three Texas men convicted of murder

Gregory Russeau

The high court refused to review the case of 44-year-old Gregory Russeau, an East Texas man condemned for the slaying of a 75-year-old auto mechanic during a robbery in Tyler more than a decade ago.

Russeau was convicted and sent to death row for the fatal beating of James Syvertson at his auto repair shop. Syvertson's wallet and car were stolen. Russeau was arrested the next day in Longview in the stolen car.

Russeau's initial death sentence was thrown out on appeal and he was sentenced a second time. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March rejected an appeal that argued his trial legal help was deficient and that trial prosecutors used planted evidence against him.

Derrick Dewayne Charles

The court then rejected the appeal of 32-year-old Derrick Dewayne Charles, a Houston man on Texas death row for the slayings of three people at their home 12 years ago. Last November, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments he had shoddy legal help at his trial.

A Harris County jury in 2003 decided he should die for strangling his 15-year-old girlfriend, Myiesha Bennett, raping and strangling her 44-year-old mother Brenda Bennett, and fatally beating his girlfriend's 77-year-old grandfather, Obie Lee Bennett.

Charles, then 20, was arrested a day after the 2002 attack at the Bennetts' Houston home. At the time, he was on parole following a burglary conviction. He confessed to the slayings.

Robert Ladd

The court also refused rejected the appeal of 57-year-old Robert Ladd's appeal, a Texas death row prisoner convicted of the slaying of a Tyler woman at her apartment. In April, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had turned down his appeal that he's mentally impaired and ineligible for execution.

Ladd was convicted of killing 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner in 1996. She'd been beaten with a hammer and her body, bound at the legs and wrists, was set on fire.

At the time, Ladd was on parole after serving 13 years in prison for pleading guilty to three other slayings in Dallas.

In 2003, he received a reprieve from the 5th Circuit about nine hours before his scheduled execution.

Scott Louis Panetti

The highest court refused to consider an appeal from 56-year-old Scott Louis Panetti, convicted of fatally shooting his in-laws at their Fredericksburg home more than 20 years ago in front of his estranged wife and young children.

Attorneys contend that Panetti is so delusional he can't understand why he was convicted and condemned.

A year ago, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with state lawyers and rejected arguments that Panetti is incompetent to be executed. Panetti's attorneys then took their case to the Supreme Court.

Panetti has a history of mental problems and his case has made multiple trips through the courts. He was convicted of killing in-laws Joe and Amanda Alvarado.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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