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    Robert Ray Fry - New Mexico




    Summary of Offense:

    On death row since his conviction for the 2000 stabbing and bludgeoning death of Betty Lee, a Shiprock mother of five. Fry also got three life sentences for three other murder convictions.

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    NM Supreme Court to hear apeal of serial killer Robert Fry

    The state Supreme Court will hear the appeal of serial killer Robert Fry in a 15-year-old double murder, but even a victory will not free him from New Mexico's death row.

    Fry is challenging his convictions in the stabbing deaths of two men at the Eclectic, a store in Farmington that sold posters, pipes, knives and swords. The Supreme Court on May 10 will listen to oral arguments on whether his conviction should be set aside.

    Fry is serving two life sentences for killing Matthew Trecker, 18, and Joseph Fleming, 25. Both died in the store on Thanksgiving night 1996 after their bodies were slashed and their throats cut.

    Fry is on death row for another murder, that of a mother of five in San Juan County.

    A cohort of Fry's, Harold Pollock, said he was in the store during the murders of Trecker and Fleming.

    Pollock said Fry alone killed them.

    Fry's appeal centers on the fact that Pollock refused to testify at Fry's murder trial in 2005, but that the judge allowed prosecutors to read into the record what Pollock had said at a preliminary hearing four years earlier.

    Nancy Simmons, an Albuquerque lawyer who is handling Fry's appeal, said his trial attorney had no opportunity to cross-examine Pollock. She said this violated Fry's constitutional right to confront his accuser.

    A second claim in the appeal is that Sandra Price, then the district attorney of San Juan County, knew of a conflict that tainted the
    state's prosecution of Fry, but forged ahead anyway to obtain a conviction.

    Pollock was represented in the store murders by an attorney named Randall Roberts. Roberts negotiated a plea for Pollock while also representing Fry in a different case.

    Simmons said this was a clear conflict, a lawyer working for and against Fry at the same time.

    Worse still, Simmons said, district attorney Price knew of the conflict but allowed the case against Fry to continue anyway. Simmons said Price was "in plain violation of the rules of professional conduct."

    Motions made to disqualify the San Juan district attorney's staff and to suppress Pollock's statement should have been granted by the trial judge, Simmons said in her appellate brief.

    The state attorney general's staff responded that evidence of Fry's guilt was overwhelming, and that the overall record showed he received a fair trial.

    Physical evidence tied Fry to the murders of Trecker and Fleming, the attorney general said. Specifically, footprints showed that the killer wore a size 9 to size 11 shoe. Fry wore a 10 1/2. Pollock was a size 7.

    In addition, Fry bragged to numerous people that he had committed the murders, the state said.

    As for alleged misconduct by former district attorney Price, the state attorney general's staff also criticized her but said any lapse was not significant enough to overturn Fry's convictions.

    "... While district attorney Price's conduct may have fallen short of the ideal, the defendant has not even established the clear violation of the rule" of professional conduct, the state said. "At worst, Price did not act in a diligent manner in complying with her ethical obligations."

    Price in 2004 won election as a judge in the 11th Judicial District in northwestern New Mexico and is still on the bench.

    Fry, now 37, would still be a condemned man even if he wins this appeal.

    He is on death row for a different murder — the 2000 bludgeoning of Betty Lee in San Juan County.

    Fry struck Lee with a sledgehammer and stabbed her. She was 36 years old.

    The New Mexico Supreme Court in 2005 upheld Fry's conviction and death sentence in Lee's murder.

    Fry also was convicted in a third murder case in San Juan County.

    He used a shovel to beat and kill Donald Tsosie, 40, in 1998. Prosecutors said Fry also gouged Tsosie's eyes with a stick, then pushed his body down a cliff a few miles south of Farmington.

    Fry in 2003 received a life sentence for Tsosie's murder. He had been sentenced to death the year before for Lee's murder.

    The state Legislature in 2009 repealed the death penalty in New Mexico. But that decision did not undo the death sentences of two inmates, Fry and Timothy Allen of Bloomfield.

    As for Pollock, he is serving a life sentence as an accessory in the store murders.

    http://www.currentargus.com/ci_17935619

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    Supreme Court affirms convictions of Robert Fry for killing 2 in Farmington in 1996

    The state Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of a Farmington man for killing two people in the northwestern New Mexico community in 1996.

    Robert Fry is on death row for another murder.

    The court on Thursday upheld Fry's convictions and two life sentences for the November 1996 killings of Matthew Trecker and Joseph Fleming. The Farmington men were stabbed and their throats were slashed in the now-defunct Eclectic, a counterculture store in the city.

    The justices said there was sufficient evidence to support Fry's convictions and they found no problems with his trial.

    Fry has been sentenced to die by injection for the murder of Betty Lee in 2000, and he's serving a life sentence for the 1998 killing of Donald Tsosie.

    http://www.therepublic.com/view/stor...M--Fry-Murder/

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    Death penalty challenges still haunt NM courts

    By Leslie Linthicum
    The Albuquerque Journal

    ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Three years ago and again last year, the attorney for Michael Astorga argued that because we wiped the death penalty from the state's lawbooks before Astorga was tried for murder it would amount to cruel and unusual punishment if it were still applied to him.

    The first time that argument was made was before Astorga had been convicted. The second time was before he had been sentenced.

    The New Mexico Supreme Court passed off the hot potato both times by deciding not to decide and left unsettled one of the legal wrinkles left in the wake of the Legislature's 2009 death penalty repeal.

    Astorga eventually received a life sentence, making the argument moot for him, but the court will get other chances to rule on this life-and-death issue.

    Robert Fry and Timothy Allen, both sentenced to death years ago, remain on New Mexico's figurative "death row." Fry is in Santa Fe and Allen in Los Lunas, and they are both at various stages in the drawn-out appeals process that follows every death sentence.

    Allen received the death penalty in 1995 for the strangulation of a 17-year-old girl in Flora Vista in San Juan County. The state Supreme Court last year reinstated his habeas corpus petition, which remains pending in state District Court in San Juan County.

    Fry was sentenced to death for the June 9, 2000, slaying of a 36-year-old mother of five from Shiprock, also in San Juan County. (He has been sentenced to three life terms for three other murders.) His death sentence has been upheld and his habeas corpus petition is also pending in District Court in San Juan County.

    Both inmates have the further option of federal habeas corpus petitions after they have exhausted their remedies in state court.

    Meanwhile, attorneys for both men will pursue the argument that the death penalty, once repealed in a state, violates the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

    It's an interesting argument that involves all of us, not just the two men facing the death penalty. That's because one line of the argument is that when a society - in this case us, through our lawmakers - has agreed to no longer punish by execution, carrying out a death sentence violates our collective standards of decency, which amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

    You could certainly make the case that capital punishment is unusual when you're one of two guys among a population of 2 million that can be executed by a state that has carried out exactly one execution in more than half a century.

    Juries here have rarely handed down the penalty, it has rarely been upheld on appeal and it has been very rarely carried out.

    Allen's attorney, Melissa Hill, described the chances of being put to death in New Mexico as "almost a lightning strike." That's being generous. Only one man, Terry Clark, has been killed by the state in the past 52 years. New Mexico has more than a dozen lightning deaths every decade.

    The counterargument on the prosecution side is that we spoke through our legislators when the death penalty was repealed and lawmakers were explicit in extending the repeal only to murders committed after the repeal went into effect. That isn't arbitrary, the argument goes, but the people's will.

    And on a national landscape, capital punishment is still the rule, not the exception.

    All of the half-dozen defendants who were in the court system and facing possible death sentences when the law was changed were either found not guilty, pleaded guilty to lesser charges or, in the case of Astorga, sentenced to life in prison when jurors could not agree on the death penalty.

    If some older unsolved murders were to be solved, more death penalty cases could pop up, but it's only Allen and Fry whose lives depend on the outcome of the argument now.

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    N.M. judge upholds death penalty for Robert Fry

    State District Judge Karen Townsend on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss the death penalty sentence for convicted serial killer Robert Fry, The Daily Times in Farmington reported.

    The judge made her ruling following a Wednesday morning hearing in state District Court in Aztec after Frys attorneys argued that his sentence should be life without parole because New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009, and prosecutors noted that the Legislature decided not to make the death penalty repeal apply to those already sentenced.

    Fry, a 39-year-old Farmington man, is one of two people still awaiting the death penalty in New Mexico, along with Timothy Allen of Bloomfield, The Daily Times said.

    Fry was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2000 murder of Betty Lee, a 36-year-old Shiprock woman, the paper reported. He also is serving life sentences for the 1996 killings of Matthew Trecker, 18, and Joseph Fleming, 25, both of Farmington, and the 1998 murder of Donald Tsosie, 41, of Ganado, Ariz.

    He was not present at Wednesdays hearing, The Daily Times said.

    http://www.abqjournal.com/244188/abq...obert-fry.html
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    Killer walks halls as execution stalled

    By Larry Barker
    KRQE

    SAN JUAN COUNTY, N.M. - Meet 23-year-old Bobby Fry. As seen in this 1996 home video, he appears to be a low key guy and sometimes the life of the party.

    Whether yukking it up on Halloween or a balloon fight, Bobby Fry's antics appear to be just harmless play.

    But don't let these images deceive you.

    "I'm currently serving three life sentences, and I am on death row," Fry told an MSNBC reality show from inside the Penitentiary of New Mexico. "I am in for four counts of murder."

    The facts are clear: Bobby Fry is a vicious mad-dog killer whose trail of blood across San Juan County led to the savage beating deaths of four victims. His weapons of choice included knives, a broomstick and a sledgehammer.

    Today Bobby Fry ranks as one of New Mexico's most heinous serial killers.

    How could anybody be so evil? Ask former San Juan County Assistant District Attorney Joe Gribble.

    "You want me to give you about who he is or what he's about?" Gribble said. "There's no way I know.

    "But I'll tell you this: Based on the facts of the case, there's no question. He's a cold blooded murderer."

    To Assistant Attorney General Steve Suttle, part of the prosecution team, Fry is simply a wanton killer.

    "He's that brutal. He's that unsocialized that apparently for him killing's just fun," Suttle said. "Picking a random victim and killing them just for fun. There's no robbery here. There's no motive of monetary gain.

    "There's no motive of past acrimony. He just kills people, and apparently he enjoys killing people."

    Fry's murderous rampage began on Thanksgiving 1996 at a Farmington head shop called Eclectic. He wanted to eliminate witnesses to a burglary, so Fry murdered and nearly decapitated Joseph Fleming, 25, and Matthew Trecker, 18.

    "They were beaten, had their throats cut," Fry said. They died violently, very violently."

    Two years later, Fry and a friend, Leslie Engh, met Donald Tsosie at a Farmington bar and offered to give him a ride home. Instead they lured Tsosie, 40, to the rugged backcountry near the Arizona border.

    Tsosie was from Ganado, Ariz., on the Navajo reservation. On that April night 15 years ago he was beaten, robbed, kicked, hit with a shovel and a broomstick. Then he was shoved off a cliff. His body was found a month later.

    "They poked his eyes with a stick and injured him further after they had beaten him, and he died sometime later left in the desert," said Dustin O'Brien, chief deputy district attorney for San Juan County. "He chose victims that needed help. He chose people that were defenseless. He's a monster."

    And then there's Betty Lee, a 36-year-old Din College student at Shiprock.

    "It's not easy to come to terms with the fact that she is gone," her brother Phillip Joe told KRQE News 13. "To think about what she endured and the time that the assault was taking place was, I can't picture somebody doing that to her."

    "She was always bright and accommodating and sociable and cheerful and always liked to tease us as her brothers and sisters," added Betty's brother Rev. Bill Lee. "So she always had a smile on her face."

    Betty Lee's nightmare took place on a June evening 13 years ago. She was stranded without a car and needed a ride home. Fry and Engh offered to help. They drove to this desolate spot in rural San Juan County and then, without warning, viciously attacked the mother of four.

    "It's probably a woman's worst nightmare," ex-prosecutor Gribble said.

    Detectives would interrogate Engh at length recording his admissions on video.

    "When Bobby, Bobby first grabbed her hair and pulled her out, she yelled, 'Why? Why are you doing this to me? What are you doing?"' he said during the interrogation.

    "I can't even imagine what was going through her head during this time," ex-prosecutor Gribble said. "He stabbed her, and then Betty Lee was able to pull the knife out, escaped.

    "And then (Fry) went to his car and got a sledge hammer, chased her down and killed her. I couldn't imagine a worse situation for anyone. It's a horrible death."

    During his interrogation Engh said Lee screamed when Fry hit her with the sledge hammer.

    "When he was swinging it, and then she just, she just stopped after a couple of times of him swinging it," Engh told detectives.

    "They beat her to death for absolutely no reason," Suttle said. "One of those crimes that just defies explanation in terms of why would anybody do this unless it was just for the fun of it?"

    For Betty Lee's sister and brother, life would never be the same.

    "I am just really scared," Bessie Kee said. "I don't think it's safe to live in this world if you know what the men did to her."

    "It's been very hard. She was dad's favorite girl."

    "To think about what she endured and the time that the assault was taking place was, I can't picture somebody doing that to her," Phillip Joe said. "The punishment that he has been given I believe is righteous. It is not my right to say he should die, but the level of evil that he has committed makes it hard to try and reason for forgiveness."

    Following his conviction for the deaths of Trecker and Fleming, Fry was handed two consecutive life prison terms. For the murder of Donald Tsosie, he was sentenced to a third life sentence. And for killing Betty Lee, a jury ruled 28-year-old Bobby Fry be put to death.

    That was 11 years ago.

    Since then Fry's lawyers have been fighting hard to keep their client out of the execution chamber. And even though the Betty Lee murder conviction was upheld on appeal years ago, his execution date can't be set due to creative manipulation by his lawyers.

    "He's not facing death in the near future," O'Brien said. "It's not likely that that sentence will be executed anytime soon."

    The delays and court extensions are due to the defense team, he added.

    Fry's public defender did not return a call from KRQE News 13 asking for comment on the case.

    Before a death sentence can be carried out, the case must be reviewed twice: first by the New Mexico Supreme Court and secondly by the federal courts. However, in Bobby Fry's case neither has happened. His legal defense team has put up one roadblock after another. Robert Fry's death sentence has been on hold for almost 10 years.

    "The victims of this case and society in general deserve to have the penalty assessed carried out," Suttle said. "It was the law at the time, it was properly applied, and people should be concerned that someone can delay that through maneuvering for this many years."

    For the last 11 years, Robert Fry has bided his time in maximum security at the Penitentiary of New Mexico outside Santa Fe.

    "There's nothing I've done that God hasn't forgiven me for," Fry said.

    These days, he strolls the prison halls, Bible in hand, telling a TV reality show he's a changed man.

    "You hear a lot of people who come to prison and, 'Oh, I found God. Well, I did," he said during the MSNBC reality show.

    Is Bobby Fry remorseful? We don't know. Here’s what we do know. Along a rutted dirt road in San Juan County's rugged backcountry are some faded flowers, a memorial to the memory of Betty Lee, murdered on this spot 13 years ago.

    "It just seems like yesterday that she left us," Betty Lee's niece Wilhelma Clah said. "It was really brutal what she had to endure. We just want to put this behind us and make sure that justice is done."

    Convicted and sentenced to the death penalty in 2002, and it’s now 2013. Has justice been done in the case of Robert Fry? O'Brien thinks not for the victims and not for their families, and Suttle thinks not for society as a whole.

    "You reach a point, I think, Larry, where because of your behavior you cease to have the right to live among the rest of us," Suttle said. "I think Robert Fry based on this record and what I know about the case, is one of those people."

    http://www.krqe.com/13investigates/l...cution-stalled

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    Here's the episode of "Forensic Files: Four on the Floor", featuring the Robert Fry case:


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    September 3, 2014

    New Mexico Supreme Court To Hear Appeals of Death Row Inmates

    SANTA FE – New Mexico’s remaining inmates sentenced to death are asking the state Supreme Court to spare them from execution because lawmakers repealed capital punishment after they were sentenced to lethal injection.

    Timothy Allen and Robert Fry contend their death sentences violate state and federal constitutional protections because New Mexico abolished capital punishment in 2009 for future murders but left it in place for them. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death for murders committed years before the repeal.

    The court will hear arguments from lawyers on Oct. 1, but a decision by the five justices probably wouldn’t be made until months later.

    No execution has been scheduled for either Fry or Allen, and both have pending habeas corpus post-conviction appeals in state District Court. The Supreme Court has previously upheld their convictions and sentences.

    Attorney General Gary King, representing the state, contends the death sentences for Fry and Allen are constitutional and should remain in place.

    The Legislature’s decision to apply the repeal to future murders “furthers the long-standing policy of ensuring that criminals are punished according to the law that existed at the time of their crimes,” Assistant Attorney General M. Victoria Wilson said in written arguments to the court.

    A group of University of New Mexico law professors and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association are supporting the latest legal challenge brought by attorneys for Fry and Allen.

    “These capital sentences are political vestiges of an abolished state system of death. New Mexico has no compelling interest distinguishing Mr. Allen and Mr. Fry from future defendants who will escape execution because of repeal,” the defense attorneys’ group said in written arguments submitted to the court.

    Fry, the last person sentenced to death in New Mexico, was convicted of killing Betty Lee in 2000. The mother of five was stabbed and bludgeoned with a sledgehammer in a remote area of San Juan County. Fry also has been sentenced to life in prison for three other murders in 1996 and 1998.

    Allen was sentenced to die for strangling 17-year-old Sandra Phillips in northwestern New Mexico in 1994. He also was convicted of the kidnapping and attempted rape of the Flora Vista teenager.

    New Mexico’s repeal of the death penalty took effect July 1, 2009, and it applied to crimes committed after that date. Lethal injection was replaced with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Then Gov. Bill Richardson didn’t commute the death sentences of Fry and Allen. At the time of the repeal, one potential death-penalty case was pending. Michael Astorga was later sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy in 2006.

    Lawyers for Fry and Allen contend their clients’ death sentences, in light of the 2009 repeal, violate state and federal constitutional provisions against cruel and unusual punishment and equal-protection guarantees.

    “Executing Mr. Fry but not other members of the same class of offenders based only on a date is arbitrary and freakish” and violates the state constitution, Fry’s lawyer, Kathleen McGarry, said in written arguments.

    She said Wednesday in a telephone interview that Connecticut’s highest court is considering a similar legal challenge involving death-row inmates sentenced before that state abolished the death penalty in 2012.

    New Mexico’s last execution was in 2001. Child-killer Terry Clark’s execution was the first in the state in 41 years.

    http://www.santafenewmexican.com/new...9a5347dca.html

  9. #9
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    New Mexico court to hear death sentence appeals

    New Mexicos only inmates facing possible execution want the state Supreme Court to declare their death sentences unconstitutional because capital punishment was abolished after their convictions.

    The court is to hear arguments from lawyers on Monday but the justices arent expected to issue a ruling until months later.

    New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009 for future murders but left it in place for Timothy Allen and Robert Fry, who were sentenced to die years before the Legislature and then Gov. Bill Richardson agreed to end capital punishment.

    No execution has been scheduled for either Fry or Allen, who contend their death sentences violate constitutional provisions against cruel and unusual punishment and equal-protection guarantees.

    The attorney generals office disagrees and says their death sentences should remain in place.

    http://www.abqjournal.com/486831/new...e-appeals.html
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    New Mexico may execute 2 long after death-penalty repeal

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico's Supreme Court is weighing whether the state's two remaining death row inmates still can be executed after the state's abolition of capital punishment.

    Oral arguments were scheduled for Tuesday in the appeal of death sentences against Robert Fry and Timothy Allen for convictions in two brutal killings.

    New Mexico repealed the death penalty for future murderers without canceling death sentences against Fry and Allen.

    Attorneys for Fry say the execution no longer fits his crimes, while the state attorney general's office says it still is appropriate.

    The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in 2014 on whether the sentences against Fry and Allen are constitutional. The court ordered further briefings on whether execution is disproportionate to their crimes.

    New Mexico's last execution was in 2001 against child-killer Terry Clark.

    http://www.newschannel10.com/story/3...penalty-repeal
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