Technicality

So it looks like Steven Victor Wertz has escaped execution on what some may regard as a technicality, a procedural error. Here’s a video of the ruling from the Arkansas Court.

The Arkansas Times of 9 June 2016 reports:

In this case, the jury was given a single set of the forms to cover the two individual guilty verdicts in the couple’s deaths and it found aggravating factors sufficient to warrant a death sentence.

The court said it found merit in Wertz’s argument that the combined forms denied him “the individualized sentencing and protection from invalid aggravating circumstances required under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The headline is

Sharp County death penalty reversed by Arkansas Supreme Court

Another report (which forbids any copying of ‘their’ text – which of course they themselves had no problem copying from elsewhere) headlines it as

Court overturns death sentence of former police officer

A somewhat topical matter as regards punishments meted out to those who protect and serve – even if they weren’t actually protect-and-serving at the time in question.

The aforementioned video is not of a straightforward rubber-stamping exercise and lasts over 40 minutes.

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Death out the family

If you’ve been following my Steven Wertz posts – which I’ve not been following myself for a while – there was an update last May. His appeal – essentially of incompetence by Bryant, his original defense (US spelling) attorney – was denied and he’s sentenced to death. The Arkansas Supreme Court statement is here (30 page PDF) and it’s interesting reading. Here’s the summary

After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5, asserting twenty-three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s petition, as Appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel in either the guilt phase or sentencing phase of his trial.

As for why I’m at all interested it all started when I was searching for possible Bone cousins. There’s a new character in the plot, picked out from the above mentioned report. A Judy Bone, the mother of the murdered wife Kathy Watts (née Bone).

Another Day Closer to Death

Another failed appeal brings us more news about the Steven Victor Wertz story stumbled upon some years ago. Mr Wertz is still in jail, aged 62, due to be executed for the murder, in 1986, of a couple who I found whilst searching for any old Bones ancestors and their descendants (aka cousins). Whereupon I found a dead Kathy Bone mysteriously (until it turned into this murder story) dying on the exact same day as her husband Terry Watts.

There’s a sequence of forum posts about this, and it seems to be keeping up to date (most recent posting May 23rd, 2012).

I still don’t know that Kathryn Marcele Bone (1964-1986) was a cousin of mine though. Other than that we’re all cousins of course.

Stumblings

It’s occasionally peculiar, what you find when you’re just rootin’round the web. One of my search terms was "Kathryn Bone" (having an ancestor from the Bone family, this is not as arbitrary as it seems) and I turn up a genealogical page referencing a Kathryn Marcele Bone, born in Indiana in 1964 who married a Terry Watts, born in Pennsylvania in 1961.

What was notable about this pair was that they were both entered as died on 31 December 1986 in Ash Flat, Arkansas. And that they have an infant born only a couple of weeks before their death. So naturally I’m intrigued and – without much hope of finding anything online because 1986 is a little ‘pre-web’ – I have a look for Ash Flat, Arkansas, 1986 and Terry Watts.

Pretty much immediately I turn up a murder case with Kathryn and Terry as the victims. Yikes. Now I’m rubbernecking. I was expecting maybe, at most, some sort of traffic accident or something (which means I wan’t really expecting anything because such a report would probably not have been networthy, being so old and so everyday).

It turns out that this murder was actually being discussed recently, 20 years after, because it had only just been resolved. Somebody had received the death penalty for the murder and – as of January 22 2009 – this appears to have been still under appeal and there’s a heated discussion about it (involving relatives and associates of the involved parties).

It’s of some peripheral interest that notoriety appears to breed possessiveness, the alleged perpetrator being described in one report as ‘a Kentucky man’ and in another as ‘a Florida man’.