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Thread: Thomas Leo Springs - Arkansas Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Thomas Leo Springs - Arkansas Death Row

    Summary of Offense:

    On January 21, 2005, Mr. Springs rammed his car head-on into another car holding three individuals: his wife, Christina Springs; Mrs. Springs’s sister, Kelly Repking; and Mrs. Repking’s three-year-old daughter, Paige Garner. After the collision, Mr. Springs exited his vehicle and smashed in the passenger-side window next to Mrs. Springs. After repeatedly bashing her face into the dashboard, he returned to his car and retrieved a knife. He then returned to the broken window and stabbed Mrs. Springs multiple times. Mrs. Springs died as a result.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    November 17, 2005

    Thomas Springs gets death for wife's murder

    A Sebastian County jury voted unanimously Wednesday to sentence Thomas Leo Springs to death by lethal injection for the murder of his estranged wife, Christina Springs.

    On Tuesday the five-man, seven-woman jury found Thomas Springs, 43, guilty of capital murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with a Jan. 21 attack on his wife at the intersection of North Greenwood and Rogers avenues. Witnesses testified during the three-day trial that Springs deliberately rammed a car occupied by three people, one of them his wife, then stabbed his wife to death as she sat in the car.

    The jury deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours before returning a sentence of death for capital murder and six years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count of aggravated assault, with the sentences to run consecutively.

    The jury found that all three of the aggravating factors alleged by Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tabor existed, including previous violent felonies committed by Springs; endangerment of other peoples' lives in the commission of the crime; and commission of the crime in an especially cruel or depraved manner.

    The jury was required to find that at least one aggravating factor existed before it could impose the death penalty. The only other possible penalty was life in prison without parole.

    Jurors also found that several of the mitigating factors alleged by Chief Public Defender John Joplin existed, including Springs' emotional distress over the fact that his wife had left him and taken their children, but there was no mitigating factor that all 12 jurors agreed on.

    In death sentence cases, an appeal is automatic.

    After the sentence was announced, three of the six children Thomas and Christina Springs had together were allowed to make statements. Thomas Springs cried as Joshua Mooring, 13, Matthew Mooring, 15, and Chantelle Mooring, 18, spoke in turn.

    "I forgive you," Chantelle Mooring said to her father, after noting that she will never be able to tell her mother she is getting married, and her mother will never get to be a grandmother.

    Springs also was allowed to speak. Sobbing loudly, he told his children he was sorry, told them to take care of each other and said he deserved to die.

    In interviews after the trial, attorneys for both sides described the case as tragic.

    "It was a tragedy to begin with, and it's a tragedy the way it ended," said Cash Haaser, one of the public defenders who represented Springs.

    Tabor said he felt "an overwhelming sense of sadness about the whole affair" but said the jury "worked hard, they paid close attention, and I think they reached the verdict that the law calls for them to make."

    Joshua Mooring said after the trial that he believed his father should have received a life sentence.

    "I will now be an orphan when my dad gets the death penalty," he said.

    Matthew Mooring spoke of feeling a mix of emotions about his father.

    "I feel bad for him and I love him, but sometimes people make mistakes, and he made one. I wish what happened hadn't happened. I wish I was with my mom right now," he said.

    Laura Eagle, one of Christina Springs' sisters, said the sentence did not relieve her pain.

    "We thought there would be closure, but it wasn't a good feeling," she said.

    Kelly Repking, another of Christina Springs' sisters, said she also felt no closure, but she hoped that good would come from Thomas Springs' execution.

    "Hopefully this will send a message to abusers that domestic violence needs to stop," said Repking, who was in the vehicle with her sister when Thomas Springs attacked and killed his wife.

    The defense called three witnesses Wednesday before resting its case.

    Shelly Blanton, who was Thomas Springs' supervisor at Whirlpool, described him as a good worker and said his eyes lit up when he talked about his children. Blanton said Springs' demeanor was "down and quiet" after his wife and children moved out in December.

    Greg Kannady, Springs' pastor, testified that Springs was "someone who really cared about his family."

    Jennifer Springs, Thomas Springs' sister, testified that her brother phoned her, crying, at 4 a.m. after his wife and children moved out.

    Tabor told jurors that none of the witnesses for the defense lived with Thomas and Christina Springs.

    "None of them saw the dark side of Thomas Springs, that habitually abuses, that habitually is violent to others," he said.

    Joplin urged jurors not to take Springs out of his children's lives forever. He reminded the jury that on Tuesday one of the children, 12-year-old Jacob Springs, asked his father if someday he would explain why he did what he did.

    "You're not going to get an answer from a tombstone that says Thomas Leo Springs," Joplin said.


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    November 2006

    CR06-221. Thomas Leo Springs v. State of Arkansas, from Sebastian Circuit, Fort Smith District. Argued orally.

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    December 2006

    Upon review, no reversible error exists based upon the issues enumerated under Rule 10.   Furthermore, the record has been reviewed in this case under Ark. Sup.Ct. R. 4-3(h), and no reversible error has been found.


    Opinion here


  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Inmate Personal Information

    DOB: 06/25/1962
    Race: Black
    Gender: Male

    Crime and Trial Information

    * County of conviction: Sebastian
    * Number of counts: One
    * Race of Victim: White
    * Gender of Victim: Female
    * Date of crime: 01/21/2005
    * Date of Sentencing: 11/24/2005

    Legal Status

    Current proceedings:
    Post‐conviction proceedings (No. CR 09‐824)
    pending in state court


    Jeffrey Rosenzweig

    Court Opinions

    Springs v. State, 244 S.W.3d 683 (Ark. 2006), cert. denied, 550 U.S. 939 (2007).

    Legal Issues

    On direct appeal:
    (1) whether trial court's failure to grant defendant's pretrial motion to appoint a head‐injury expert to examine him for a possible brain injury such a serious error that trial court had an obligation to subsequently intervene and appoint expert, and thus requiring the Supreme Court to consider the issue on appeal despite not having an contemporaneous objection below;
    (2) whether the submission of standard jury form respecting mitigating circumstances, rather than form proffered by defendant, acted as an impermissible exclusion of relevant mitigating factors in penalty phase;
    (3) whether the probative value of two photographs of murder victim, which were taken at hospital and showed
    victim's multiple stab wounds to her back side as well as wounds to her chest and arm, was outweighed by its prejudicial effect; and
    (4) whether the victim‐impact evidence was admissible during penalty phase.

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    State Supreme Court rejects death-row inmate’s appeal

    The state Supreme Court today rejected the latest appeal by a Fort Smith man sentenced to die for stabbing his estranged wife to death on a city street.

    The high court upheld Thomas Leo Springs’ capital murder conviction and death sentence in the Jan. 21, 2005, slaying of Christina Springs, rejecting his argument that he received ineffective counsel at his trial in Sebastian County Circuit Court.

    Christina Springs was riding in the front passenger seat of a car driven by her sister when Thomas Springs rammed his vehicle into the car at a busy Fort Smith intersection. Thomas Springs then got out of his vehicle, shattered the passenger window of his sister-in-law’s car, began beating his wife’s face into the dashboard, then went back to his car and retrieved a knife which he used to stab his wife repeatedly.

    Springs, 49, argued on appeal that his trial attorneys, Chief Public Defender John Joplin and Cash Haaser, a deputy public defender, were ineffective because:

    —They failed to interview his son and failed to call his son as a witness during the penalty phase.
    —They failed to object to “gross misstatements of the law of mitigation” made by then-Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tabor during closing arguments.
    —They failed to object to testimony that Springs had threatened a jailer while awaiting trial.
    —They failed to object to the introduction of written victim-impact statements.
    —They failed to question prospective jurors about possible bias related to the fact that Springs is black and his wife was white.
    —They failed to explain properly Springs’ right to present unfavorable testimony about his wife during the penalty phase, resulting in Springs unknowingly waiving his right to present that evidence.

    In its unanimous opinion today, the Supreme Court said Springs did not establish a reasonable probability that the testimony of his son or a different description of the law of mitigation would have resulted in a different sentence.

    Regarding Springs’ other arguments, the court said Springs did not show that his attorneys’ actions fell outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgment. Springs supported many of his arguments with conclusory statements instead of citing specific acts and omissions constituting ineffective counsel, the court said.

    “Conclusory statements cannot be the basis of post-conviction relief,” Justice Donald Corbin wrote in the opinion.

    The Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal by Springs of his conviction and sentence in December 2006


  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Springs' petition for writ of certiorari was DENIED.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  8. #8
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    December 30, 2012

    Four Convicted Of Murder Remain On Death Row

    By Jeff Arnold
    The Times Record

    Although Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will not seek execution dates for inmates on death row until the legislature rewrites the state’s execution law, death sentence appeals are still moving forward.

    The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the Methods of Execution Act of 2009 earlier this year, finding that it gave the Department of Correction too much discretion in determining what drug or drugs would be used for lethal injections.

    At that time, The Attorney General’s office announced it wouldn’t ask Gov. Mike Beebe to set execution dates for any inmate on death row until lawmakers rewrite the law.

    But Aaron Sadler, spokesman for McDaniel, said neither McDaniel nor the high court’s decisions prevent a defendant from being sentenced to death or stall appeals of death sentences.

    Four death row inmates sentenced to death in the Times Record coverage area are at different stages in their appeals.

    Jack Gordon Greene, 57, is the longest serving area defendant on death row. He was sentenced to die by a Johnson County jury in October 1993, after he was convicted of capital murder in the 1992 killing of a retired minister, Sidney Burnett, 69, of Knoxville.

    However, his death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court the following year, and he had to be re-sentenced.

    In February 1996, a second Johnson County jury sentenced Greene to death and once again the high court ordered a new sentencing for trial. Greene was sentenced to death a third time in in July 1999.

    In 2004, after exhausting his appeals in state court, Greene’s case moved to U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff.

    In October, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled that Greene — against the advice of counsel — could waive their claim he is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. In the same order Wright ruled the appeal could move forward on the remaining 16 arguments that Greene’s death sentence should be set aside.

    Filings in the case continue, with the state filing a response to defense arguments as recently as Dec. 6.

    On May 23, 2000, a Polk County jury convicted 44-year-old Karl Douglas Roberts of capital murder and sentenced him to die for the rape and strangulation of Andria Nichole Brewer, his 12-year-old niece, whom he murdered a year earlier.

    Within two weeks of being condemned, Roberts announced he wouldn’t appeal the sentence.

    Although he waived his right to appeal, the Arkansas Supreme Court did a mandatory review of his case for any errors that could have led to a wrongful conviction, and upheld Roberts’ death sentence in April 2003.

    Then on Jan 6, 2004, only hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, Roberts allowed his defense team to file a motion to stay his execution.

    The stay was granted by a federal judge and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, before it languished in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas until 2007, when the judge became ill and died before the case was assigned to a new judge.

    The new judge ruled Roberts must return to state court to exhaust his appeals, before any federal appeal could move forward.

    Roberts’ defense team filed a 245-page “Rule 37” petition in Polk County Circuit Court, claiming Roberts had ineffective counsel, couldn’t receive a fair trial in Polk County and was incompetent to stand trial, among other arguments.

    A Rule 37 petition argues a defendant had ineffective counsel at trial or sentencing.

    Following a December 2008 hearing, Polk County Circuit Court Judge J.W. Looney issued a five-page letter in January 2009 ruling on Roberts’ petition, rejecting each argument point-by-point, including a determination that Roberts’ Rule 37 claim wasn’t timely.

    But the case stalled again, when the order wasn’t entered until 2010, which was necessary before Roberts’ defense team could move forward in state appeals courts.

    In December 2011, the state Supreme Court ruled Roberts had waived his right to appeal; therefore, he would have to file a motion to reopen his appeals before justices would rule on Looney’s finding.

    The petition was subsequently filed by Roberts’ defense team, and the matter is scheduled for argument before the high court on Jan. 25.

    Rickey Dale Newman, 55, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die at the end of a one-day trial on June 10, 2002, in Crawford County for the 2001 murder of 46-year-old Marie Cholette. He represented himself and waived his appeals.

    However, Newman then considered whether to appeal his conviction and ultimately a federal judge allowed a federal public defender to argue he wasn’t competent to stand trial or waive his appeals.

    Then the Supreme Court remanded Newman’s case to circuit court in November 2009, after a psychologist who found Newman competent to stand trial admitted errors in his evaluation during a federal court hearing in 2007, and questions were raised about whether the state withheld evidence from the defense.

    In March 2011, Circuit Court Judge Gary Cottrell presided over a five-day hearing regarding Newman’s competence to stand trial in 2002, and in July 2011, ruled that Newman was mentally retarded but was competent to stand trial when he was convicted.

    In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that executing a mentally retarded defendant is “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eight Amendment.

    However, because he wasn’t mandated to make a determination with regard to the Atkins decision, Cottrell didn’t recommend commuting Newman’s sentence to life without parole.

    “Thus, although significant, this Court makes no further holding on this matter,” Cottrell wrote in his ruling.

    The matter is now back before the state Supreme Court, with the latest filing being an order by the court entered in November, granting the state more time to respond to defense filings. Newman’s defense team filed a motion in October seeking oral arguments, although the justices haven’t ruled on that request.

    Thomas Leo Springs, 50, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by a Sebastian County jury in November 2005 for the stabbing death of his estranged wife, 41-year-old Christina Springs, on Jan. 21, 2005.

    The crime — which occurred at the intersection of North Greenwood and Rogers avenues — had so many witnesses that authorities could not locate them all. During jury selection for Thomas Springs’ November 2005 trial, one potential juror was excused after she said she witnessed the killing.

    In March, the state high court upheld Springs’ conviction and sentence; two months later the court denied Springs’ petition to reconsider its decision; and in November the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Springs’ appeal of the state Supreme Court decision.

    Also in March, a federal public defender was assigned by U.S. District Court Judge Leon Holmes to handle Springs’ appeal in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.

    In September, Holmes granted a defense motion seeking a psychological evaluation of Springs.


  9. #9
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On January 8, 2013, Springs filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.


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