Thursday, September 13, 2007

Joseph Lave Spared Execution

A last minute reprieve, requested by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, spares the life of a goblin.

From the Star Telegram:

By Michael Graczyk

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Condemned prisoner Joseph Lave was spared execution Thursday when the Dallas County district attorney's office withdrew its request that he be given a lethal injection for his part in the gruesome slayings of two sporting goods store workers during a robbery 15 years ago...

...Lave's commutation request to the board was rejected Tuesday in a 7-0 vote. Unlike Foster, Lave was tried alone in Dallas County, but both men were convicted under Texas' unique law of parties, which makes eligible for execution anyone involved in a capital crime.

State District Judge Andy Chatham signed the request from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins as the U.S. Supreme Court was considering an appeal from Lave's attorneys to halt the punishment

"We're gratified with the action of the district attorney's office," David Botsford, one of Lave's lawyers, said. He said Lave was equally gratified.

Mike Ware, special assistant in Watkins' conviction integrity unit, said Thursday prosecutors discovered evidence that had not been turned over to Lave's defense attorneys. The evidence, a second polygraph test given co-defendant Timothy Bates, came to light within the last few days, Ware said.

While he wouldn't describe the polygraph results in detail, it "does go directly to his credibility," Ware said.

Lave's lawyers had been requesting the information for years as part of the post-conviction process and Ware said it appeared the administrations of two previous district attorneys failed to turn it over. Watkins became Dallas County district attorney in January and has since allowed an outside review of cases where inmates are seeking post-conviction DNA testing.

Ware said Lave's case, tried in 1994, continues to be examined, but said prosecutors believe several attorneys no longer with the DA's attorney's office misled the court by saying the evidence did not exist.

"This office and this administration is about honesty, about candor, about integrity ... we do not feel it would be right to allow the execution to go through without disclosing this information to Mr. Lave's attorneys," Ware said.
Due to the deceitful acts of a couple of attorneys from the DA's office, this goblin is spared the needle. Let us review what he did, and why he was convicted.

The two slaying victims, Justin Marquart and Frederick Banzaf, both 18, along with the store's assistant manager, Angie King, were surprised by three intruders who got into the store in Richardson, a north Dallas suburb, just after it had closed the night before Thanksgiving 1992. Marquart and Banzaf had their heads pounded with the claw end of a hammer and then were nearly decapitated with a knife slashed across their throats.

King, then 22, was bound with duct tape and similarly attacked but miraculously survived. She was able to wriggle from her restraints and call 911. She identified one of their attackers as co-worker James Langston, 26.

Hours later, Langston tried to run over a police officer attempting to question him and was shot and killed. Inside his boot, police found a business card from the store with the name and phone number of Bates written on the back. When Bates was arrested, he implicated Lave, who surrendered a few days later in Houston.

King was among the prosecution witnesses, identifying the robbers as Bates and Langston, who had worked at the store for about a year. King told of hearing a third voice, which prosecutors said was Lave's. Items from the store were found at his home and blood splatter was detected on his clothing.

Detectives believed Langston made a copy of a store key, allowing him and his companions to enter.

Evidence showed the three fled the store with almost $3,000 and dozens of shoes, warm-up suits, rifles and shotguns.
It appears like the prosecutors had him dead to rights, and then cheated to insure a conviction.

A quote from Lave's trial lawyer printed in the Dallas Morning News article on this issue:

"I don't think he should have gotten death when the other guy didn't," said Richard Franklin, Lave's trial lawyer. "They were just about equally guilty. But that's not the way ultimately it all worked out."
The shoot from the hip, convict at all costs past of the Dallas County DA's office is slowly coming to light as more and more convicted felons are proven innocent. I understand that Dallas County leads the nation in overturned convictions. These folks should be held accountable, they should be standing in front of a jury explaining how they convicted so many innocent people, and screwed up solid convictions such as this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

they should be standing in front of a jury explaining how they convicted so many innocent people, and screwed up solid convictions such as this one.

That was my first instinctive thought...what are the names of the prosecutors that withheld information and when were they arrested and charged with obstruction of justice?

'Course that would involve the legal system turning on their own...we can't have that now can we?

People might start expecting lawyers and judges and prosecutors etc to be held accountable for their actions.

It would be nice to think that le affair Nifong might have started a trend, but I'm not holding my breath.