Court Roundup

Mississippi: Appeals Court agrees Wiley shouldn’t be executed
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that Mississippi death row inmate William Wiley should not be executed because he is mentally disabled.

U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper Jr. ruled in November 2009 that Wiley’s death sentence should be vacated. The state attorney general’s office appealed the decision to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The appeals court upheld Pepper’s decision in a ruling last week.

Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi attorney general’s office, said the state hasn’t yet decide if it will appeal the ruling. Prosecutors will discuss the case with the “victim’s family and then make a decision,” she said Friday in an e-mail.

Wiley was first convicted in 1982 for the killing and robbery of J.B. Turner, whose store was in the Mineral Wells community of Desoto County. Turner died from a shotgun blast and his daughter was blinded in the attack on Aug. 22, 1981.

Wiley, now 56, confessed to waiting outside the store until it closed then shooting and robbing the victims. He spent more than 20 years on death row by the time Pepper decided last year that his life should be spared.

Pepper noted testimony that Wiley, even as a teenager, needed prompts to help get dressed and that he was discharged from the Army after just four months because he could not complete his training. Several tests also showed Wiley is mentally disabled, Pepper ruled.

A panel of three 5th Circuit Court judges affirmed the decision Wednesday.

Wiley was the second Mississippi death row inmate to receive a favorable ruling this week.

California: Split verdict in San Jose police use of force case
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Jurors acquitted a woman of resisting arrest but convicted her husband of attacking a San Jose policeman during a violent confrontation with the officer who shocked the woman twice with a stun gun and shot her husband in the face.

Cindy Zuniga was accused of throwing water on Officer Joseph Paolini during an encounter outside an upscale downtown San Jose Bar. The 42-year-old woman’s husband, 39-year-old Marcos Zuniga, was charged with misdemeanor battery for lunging and attempting to grab the officer’s gun.

The San Jose Mercury News says the verdicts were reached Thursday.

Paolini blamed the Zunigas and their friends and relatives for last year’s alcohol-fueled violent confrontation, saying extreme force was necessary because he feared for his life.

North Carolina: Man sues city, police over wrongful conviction
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A man who spent half his life in prison for a rape he didn’t commit is suing a North Carolina city and its police, alleging negligence that kept him locked up for more than 18 years.

Multiple media organizations reported Friday that Dwayne Dail’s federal lawsuit names Goldsboro, three current and former police chiefs, and several officers who worked on the case that led to his false imprisonment.

Dail was convicted in 1987 of raping a 12-year-old girl. DNA evidence cleared him of the crime in 2007. Another man was convicted in April and sentenced to life in prison.

Dail’s lawsuit contends attorneys asked in 1995 that evidence in the rape case be DNA tested. Dail’s attorney was told the evidence had been destroyed. Instead, it had been stored by Goldsboro police.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday to throw out the death sentence given Kristi Fulgham, convicted in the 2003 murder of her husband.

The Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing, ruling the trial judge erred when he wouldn’t allow a social worker to testify during the sentencing phase of Fulgham’s trial.


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