Man condemned for killing fellow inmate in Beaumont
Jurors sentenced a Washington, D.C., man to death Monday for the murder of
a fellow inmate at the federal prison in Beaumont.
Joseph Ebron, 30, was found guilty of helping with the May 7, 2005,
stabbing death of Keith Barnes. It was the 3rd murder Ebron's has been
convicted of in the last 15 years.
Ebron reacted violently to the announcement, according to federal
prosecutors Joeseph Batte and John Craft, leaping to his feet, screaming
obscenities and tossing a water pitcher in Batte's direction before he was
tackled by U.S. marshals.
No one was struck by the pitcher, Batte said.
Batte told the Beaumont Enterprise that Ebron's 2 prior murder
convictions, the 1st of which was committed when he was 15, likely
contributed to the jury's decision to impose the death penalty. Ebron
committed the 2nd murder in 1997 when he was 17, jurors heard, only a few
months after being released from a Colorado youth correctional facility
and returning to Washington, D.C.
"Ladies and gentlemen, there's been a fire burning in Joseph Ebron since
he was 15 years old, a fire that's continued to burn throughout his adult
life up to 2005, and I'd submit to you it is still burning," Batte told
jurors in his closing argument.
In the most recent killing, jurors heard, Ebron restrained Barnes while
another inmate, Marwin Mosley, stabbed Barnes in the chest 106 times for
reportedly testifying against a mutual associate. Mosley later killed
himself in prison, a defense attorney said.
Batte and Craft argued that a death sentence is appropriate, in part,
because as long as he is alive Ebron poses a threat to fellow inmates and
Katherine Scardino, one of the two Houston-based attorneys who defended
Ebron, said that Ebron should be assigned an attorney to work on an appeal
"There were a couple of points we felt like that were an issue for an
appellate lawyer," Scardino said.
Scardino and Phillips submitted 35 mitigating factors for jurors to
consider, many related to Ebron's difficult childhood.
Ebron's biological mother abandoned his family when he was 6 months old,
jurors heard, and his father was coping with a heroin addiction while not
in prison, providing little emotional support. The southeast Washington,
D.C., neighborhood he grew up in is a high-crime area, an environment that
interfered with his moral development. Since he was 15, Ebrons attorneys
noted, he has spent most of his life behind bars.
"This is Joseph Ebron's world, but Joseph Ebron is going to live or die
based on a world he's never had a chance to live in, our world," Phillips
said in his closing. "But we must judge it by our rules."
Ebron's attorneys argued that he did not take a lead role in deciding to
kill Barnes, but was instead brought into a plan already in place hours
before it was executed. If Mosley and the other co-conspirators had not
run into Ebron in the recreation yard that day, Barnes still would have
been killed, Phillips argued, without Ebron's participation.
Allowing him to live, prosecutors argued, would send the message to other
prisoners that they can get away with murder.
"That fire that has been burning still is, and now it's the time for you
to put it out," Batte told jurors at the end of his closing argument.
(source: Beaumont Enterprise)