U.S. To Continue Executions Through Transition In Break

The Justice Department is proceeding with plans for more federal executions in the closing days of President Trump's administration, including two scheduled shortly before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Attorney General William Barr announced the moves, connected with what he called "staggeringly brutal murders," in a statement late Friday. The Justice Department said the directives amounted to a continuation of its policy since last year when it relaunched federal executions after an informal moratorium that had been in place for 17 years. If the Justice Department plan moves forward, 13 people will have faced death by lethal injection during the Trump administration. Legal experts who follow capital punishment said that would be the most since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served 12 years in office before his death in 1945. RELATED |  U.S.: Barr's Justice Department Prepares To End Trump's Term With an Execution Spree Robert Du

Alabama woman sentenced to death for poisoning, torturing her step kids appeals case

Heather Keaton
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — A flurry of filings in the capital murder resentencing of Heather Keaton have occurred in the last week.

On Friday, attorneys for Keaton filed no less than four motions to bar the death penalty when she is resentenced for the 2011 murders of her step children, 4-year-old Natalie and 2-year-old Chase DeBlase.

The motions argue multiple theories on why Keaton should not be sentenced to death.

First, defenses argue that the state used inconsistent theories of the murders to secure her conviction. They argue that at John DeBlases’ trial, the children’s father, the State alleged that DeBlase strangled his two children. 

DeBlase was convicted and sentenced to death.

At Keaton’s trial, the defense argues that the State gained the conviction against Keaton by arguing she poisoned the children.

“These incompatible theories went to the core of the State’s case for conviction and death, and thus violated due process,” the motion argues.

Next, the defense motion to bar the death penalty due to non-unanimous jury verdict argues that because the jury’s verdict was 11 for death and one for life in prison, the death penalty should be barred.

Third is the motion to bar the death penalty due to lack of jury findings regarding the weight of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. 

Defense attorneys argue that because only 11 jurors found that aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances, it was not a unanimous finding of mitigating circumstances.

Lastly, attorneys argue that her trial was fundamentally unfair and unreliable.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a motion opposing each of the defense's arguments on Monday.

Marshall argues that the instructions from the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals are clear. Keaton is to given the opportunity to allocute, to speak on her own behalf, and after allocution, the court is to “sentence Keaton to either death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

The State contends that the Appeals court order does not give the lower court the authority to hear arguments on any of the defense motions.

Despite explicitly clear instructions from the CCA, on Friday, October 16, at 7:00 p.m., Keaton’s counsel filed the above referenced motions. 

All four motions are irrelevant to the proceedings before this Court. This Court is to hold a resentencing at which Keaton is to be allowed to allocute and allocute only. Any other action taken is beyond the scope of remand, and therefore, would be void for lack of jurisdiction.

Keaton’s death sentence was vacated in early October because the appeals court found that Keaton was not afforded the opportunity to make a statement on her own behalf at sentencing and that violated her constitutional rights.

The resentencing is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Wednesday before Judge Brandy Hambright.

Source: abc3340.com, Staff, October 21, 2020

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