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Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

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Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Texas: 'Suitcase Killer' Rosendo Rodriguez set to die

Rosendo Rodriguez
Man who stuffed Lubbock woman's body into luggage set to die
     
An employee at the Lubbock city landfill spotted a brand-new piece of luggage amid the mountain of trash, opened the suitcase and discovered the beaten naked body of a 29-year-old woman stuffed inside.

Detectives used a barcode label sewn to the luggage to establish it was purchased a day earlier at a Walmart. Debit card records and store surveillance video identified the buyer as Rosendo Rodriguez III, a Marine reservist from San Antonio who'd been in Lubbock for training that included martial arts combat.

Today, a day after his 38th birthday, Rodriguez is set for execution for the 2005 slaying of Summer Baldwin. She was 10 weeks pregnant.

Court records show Rodriguez was linked to at least five other sexual assaults and confessed to the slaying of a 16-year-old girl who had been missing for more than a year. Joanna Rogers' mummified remains were found, like Baldwin's, inside a suitcase at the city garbage dump. Rodriguez became known as Lubbock's "suitcase killer."

Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell, who prosecuted Rodriguez, described him Monday as "very cold-blooded and very calculated."

"What kind of person does that, just throws them out like the morning trash?" Powell said.

Rodriguez would be the fourth Texas inmate executed this year and the seventh nationally.

Attorneys for Rodriguez appealed Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court as their "last hope" after lower courts rejected appeals that focused on the medical examiner who testified about Baldwin's autopsy at his trial.

Rodriguez's lawyers said the coroner recently settled a whistleblower lawsuit, previously unknown to them, that alleged he delegated some duties to unqualified underlings. The lawsuit "bears directly on the credibility and admissibility of the medical examiner's testimony in this case," attorney Seth Kretzer said.

Assistant Texas Attorney General Tomee Heining said Rodriguez's appeals were "nothing more than a last-ditch effort" that were improper, untimely and meritless. The settlement involving a dismissed former employee, who didn't start work until five years after Rodriguez went to trial, included a statement that there was no reason to question the scientific validity of findings or opinions made by the medical examiner's office. Court records show the medical examiner personally conducted Baldwin's autopsy.

Rodriguez was arrested at his parents' home in San Antonio days after Baldwin's body was discovered.

Court records describe Baldwin, the mother of four, as a prostitute. She'd served jail time in Lubbock for a drug conviction.

Three weeks after his arrest, Rodriguez gave Lubbock police a statement saying he killed Baldwin in self-defense when she pulled a knife on him after the two had consensual sex on Sept. 12, 2005, at a hotel room.

Testimony at his 2008 trial showed she had about 50 blunt force wounds and may have been alive when she was folded into the suitcase and tossed into a trash bin. The contents of the bin subsequently wound up at the city dump. Defense attorneys suggested a trash compactor could have killed her.

Jurors who convicted him of capital murder heard during the trial's punishment phase from five women, including his high school girlfriend, who testified he raped them. Jurors also heard about his confession to killing Rogers, the 16-year-old Lubbock girl who evidence showed he initially met in an online chat room.

Prosecutors decided to seek the death penalty after Rodriguez scuttled a deal where he'd plead guilty to killing Baldwin and the teenager in exchange for a life prison term.

Source: The Associated Press, Michael Graczyk, March 27, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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