death penalty news—-TEXAS

June 22


Judge denies request to lower bail

A judge has denied a request to lower bail for a man awaiting retrial in
the 1991 deaths of 4 teenage girls at an Austin yogurt shop.

Lawyers for Robert Springsteen IV, formerly of Charleston, W.Va., asked
last week to have his bail reduced so he could get out of jail pending the

Springsteen's lawyers say new DNA evidence will exonerate him. Prosecutors
say it shows only an unknown male and doesn't exclude him.

District Judge Mike Lynch ruled that will take more extensive analysis
than he could do, one that would come in a trial, the Austin
American-Statesman reported.

Springsteen, 34, and Michael Scott, 35, were convicted of capital murder
in the deaths, but their convictions were overturned on appeal. Scott is
set for trial July 6.

No trial date has been set for Springsteen.

(source: Associated Press)


Killer of 81-year-old Preston Hollow woman portrayed as a victim of broken

2 portraits of Mark Allen Robertson, a convicted killer who is getting a
new sentencing hearing after 18 years on death row, were sketched out for
Dallas jurors today.

Robertson, 41, was convicted in the 1989 robbery and murder of 81-year-old
Edna Brau in her Preston Hollow home. He is also serving 2 life sentences
for killing her grandson, Sean Hill, and a convenience store clerk,
Jeffrey Saunders.

His attorney, Robbie McClung, told jurors they would hear not just the
"bare facts. You're going to hear the whole story." That's the story of an
abused and neglected boy with a drug problem who wound up in the juvenile
justice system before committing murder at 19.

"You're going to listen to the cries of a child," McClung promised, as 2
spectators in the courtroom wiped away tears.

Edna Brau's son, John Brau, watched stoically. He said he won't comment
until after the punishment trial is completed.

Robertson's execution has been scheduled five times since his original
conviction in 1991.

He was granted a new punishment hearing when a federal appellate court
ruled that instructions given to his original jury were confusing. The
instructions involved the jury's consideration of mitigating factors,
including a defendant's abusive childhood.

The defense team trying to prevent a new death sentence for for Robertson
may have a difficult task.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Kirlin said that after Robertson shot
Brau between the eyes as she slept in front of her television, he drove
her Cadillac to Las Vegas, where he was arrested outside a casino.

When the police found the stolen car, the prosecutor said, Robertson told
officers, Surely Im on 'Americas Most Wanted' by now."

Robertson confessed to the killings. Kirlin said detectives described
Robertson as "unbothered, calloused."

The prosecutor went on to tell jurors about Robertsons criminal history,
which included auto theft as a juvenile and armed robbery at 19.

While incarcerated at various times, he tried to escape and once started a
fire in his cell.

But McClung, the defense attorney, said that since Robertson's arrival on
death row, he has has spent his time studying poetry, art, learning
foreign languages, counseling others and has not committed any acts of

She said Robertson found a parental figure in the form of the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice and that he deserves to spend his life in
prison not die by lethal injection.

Jury selection took eight weeks. Prosecutors expect the punishment phase
to last into next week.

(source: Dallas Morning News)


Be careful when you're 'assuming'

Your recent editorial regarding the death penalty mentioned that one
particular number was left out of the equation because it's too difficult
to calculate – that of the number of victims of these 200 executed along
with other victims of horrendous crimes. Left out also was the
incalculable suffering of these victims.

I am one of those victims.

My 26-year-old daughter, Cathy, was murdered 22 years ago.

I assure you that I know and sympathize with their anguish over the loss
of their loved ones. Rather than offer more statistics, though, I do
believe in their merit when viewing the death penalty in our state, I will
offer one simple story – mine.

It is the only subject that I am an expert in.

My daughter was killed by two 15-year-olds, so there was no death penalty,
though they stood trial certified as adults and were given long sentences.
I had no real position on the death penalty at that time – just the same
visceral response that anyone has to hearing of truly heinous crimes. I
often wanted to administer the punishment myself – I sometimes still do
when I hear about crimes against children for I have 5 grandchildren of my

3 years after Cathy's murder, however, I decided to quit thinking on a
purely emotional level and initiate a research project of my own about the
death penalty. Following that exhaustive research, I became an opponent of
capital punishment, and the last 2 decades have only strengthened my
resolve. I believe it does nothing good for us as a society and only
enlarges the circle of pain since it creates another grieving family, that
of the offender who is executed by us.

Neither do I believe it is victim-friendly, since it consumes huge sums of
money that could be used for direct victims' services, such as counseling,
funeral expenses, and educational help for the children left behind.

Additionally, it focuses on the offender rather than on the victims – how
many of us know the names of any of Ted Bundy's victims, for instance? Or
of other high-profile killers? And finally, it promises closure (whatever
that's supposed to be) to those who have had their loved ones murdered.
Most of us would say that this is a false promise. We need healing, not
closure on our loved ones.

I know I will never "get over" my daughter's death, any more than I expect
others to.

But I also know that I have not gotten one single moment of comfort by the
state of Texas' putting people to death on my behalf. What's more, I would
hate it if that's what it took for me to move forward in my life.

Please don't assume that all victims are alike and that we all want
killing done – or justified – in our names.

(source: Guest Column–Linda L. White is a retired college professor. She
lives in Magnolia—-Amarillo Globe, June 21)