How the execution of a mentally ill man who saved his last meal dessert "for later" delivered Bill Clinton into the Oval Office

The Death of Ricky Ray Rector Ricky Ray Rector grew up in Conway, Arkansas, just an hour’s drive from Bill Clinton’s own hometown of Hot Springs. From the very earliest days of his life, Ricky was considered different and strange. He had few friends, and while other children were out running around, Ricky sat under a tree playing alone with sticks. Those who saw him said he was dreamy and detached, “as if he were locked into some private daze of withdrawal.”

The Only Woman on Louisiana’s Death Row Is Getting One Last Shot at Clemency

Antoinette Frank, who was convicted of a triple-murder in 1995, hopes details about her traumatic history of abuse could ultimately spare her life

The last woman on Louisiana’s death row is hoping that details about her traumatic history of abuse could ultimately spare her life.

Next month, Antoinette Frank is set to go before the state's pardon board to present crucial details about her past, which were kept hidden from the jury who sentenced her to be executed.

Frank, 52, a former New Orleans police officer, was convicted in 1995 of the triple murder of an off-duty New Orleans police officer and the owners of a Vietnamese restaurant during a botched robbery.

While she has largely been painted as a corrupt cop and mastermind of the crimes, Frank’s legal team says she has a long, painful history of being subjected to sexual, physical and emotional abuse. They argue that history gives a fuller picture of what led to the killings.

“Antoinette’s trial lawyers failed to do the most basic investigation into her tragic history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at the hands of her father," Letty Di Giulio, Frank’s attorney said. "As a result, neither the jury that sentenced her to death nor the people of Louisiana knew the truth about Antoinette."

Her clemency hearing, which is scheduled for Oct 13, will be the first of 19 hearings spurred by the mass appeal of 56 out of the 57 death row inmates who simultaneously filed a clemency plea in June.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who will leave office in January, directed the board last month to consider granting clemency, citing his “deep faith” and “pro-life stance against the death penalty.” 

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a front runner to become the state's next governor, staunchly opposes mass clemency.

Landry has expressed support for the death penalty, saying that he would bring back firing squads and the electric chair to carry out the executions, which have been on hold because of a problems procuring the usual cocktail of lethal injection drugs.

Manipulated by Men

Frank, described as a “gentle and timid” natured person by her attorney, went through “horrific abuse by her own father that left her vulnerable to being manipulated and coerced."

Frank's father had severe post traumatic stress disorder as a Vietnam veteran and created an atmosphere of terror, filled with violent rages and death threats to his family in her childhood home, according to her clemency petition. 

He admitted to the Veterans Administration that he choked and threw Frank across the room when she was two years old.  Instead of being removed from him, she stayed with her father who began raping her from nine until the age of 22, which resulted in multiple abortions. 

Her mother eventually walked out taking three of her four children, but leaving Frank behind at the insistence of her husband. At that point, every aspect of her life was controlled by her father, including bathroom use until the age of 19, her petition stated.

Details about this childhood trauma was not included in the death penalty trial.

Two jurors who sentenced Frank to death said that had they known about her abuse as a child and “her psychological makeup” they would not have given the death penalty, according to sworn affidavits. 

2 Shooters, 1 Death Sentence

Frank's lawyers say her history of being abused also allowed her conspirator, Rogers LaCaze, to manipulate her.

Frank, then 23, had befriended LaCaze, then 18, after meeting him during the course of an investigation. Being just a few years older, she wanted to mentor him towards a better life, but he took advantage of her naive and sheltered personality, using her position of power for his own personal gain, according to Frank's petition.

Although local media reports referred to LaCaze as Frank's boyfriend, Di Giulio says that their relationship was not romantic.

On March 4, 1995, Frank went inside Kim Anh restaurant in New Orleans where she frequently split private security with fellow officer Ronald Williams. 

According to court records, after Frank went in looking for the restaurant owners, LaCaze followed.

In the minutes after, shots were fired killing Williams, and siblings Ha and Cuong Vu.

At trial there was no evidence that showed who fired the deadly shots and both Frank and LaCaze were convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and given the death penalty.

But the full account was not presented to jurors, according to Frank's lawyer, Di Giulio.

In a 2013 post-conviction hearing for LaCaze, a state witness testified that he told her that Frank tried to shield the victims from him, but that he “put the [gun] to the back of Antoinette's head and said, ‘B, you gon’ shoot somebody too. I’m not going down by myself,’” which prompted her to pull the trigger. 

Frank told police that she shot at Ha and Cuong Vu that night but didn't know if she hit them.

In 2019, LaCaze's conviction was reversed based on ineffective assistance of counsel and he was resentenced to life imprisonment.

So Frank alone now faces execution. If given clemency, Frank's conviction would also be commuted to life without parole.

Chau Vu, the sister of the victims who was present on the day of killings but survived after hiding in a freezer, did not return a request for comment by The Messenger. 

In a 2019 interview in response to LaCaze’s resentencing with The Advocate she said she wanted to “close the book and open a new chapter in my life, just close the book” as it “brings back all my anger and everything."

“It’s just something already wrapped up."

Source: themessenger.com, Safia Samee Ali, September 17, 2023





"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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