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Thread: Virginia Susan Caudill - Kentucky Death Row

  1. #1
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    Virginia Susan Caudill - Kentucky Death Row




    Facts of the Crime:

    Was sentenced to death on March 24, 2000 in Fayette County for murder, robbery I, burglary I, arson II and tampering with physical evidence. On March 15, 1998, Caudill and accomplice Johnathan Wayne Goforth entered the home of 73-year-old Lonetta White, beat her to death and then burglarized her home. They then placed her body in the trunk of her own vehicle and drove her to a rural area in Fayette County and set the car on fire.

    Goforth was also sentenced to death. For more on Goforth, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...ucky-Death-Row

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    April 23, 2009

    FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of three death row inmates, including the state's only woman sentenced to death.

    The court on Thursday upheld the murder convictions of Virginia Caudill, Jonathan Wayne Goforth and Robert Foley.

    Caudill and Goforth were convicted of the 1998 killing of 73-year-old Lonetta White. The two were convicted of bludgeoning her to death with a hammer. White's body was then put in the trunk of her own car, which was set ablaze.

    Foley is a former FBI informant convicted of six killings in eastern Kentucky. He was sentenced to death in 1993 for killing Rodney and Lynn Vaughn during a dispute at his home.

    http://www.wlky.com/news/19260647/detail.html

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    April 24, 2009

    Bowling sentence upheld in Laurel murders

    FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the convictions of three death row inmates on Thursday, including the state’s only woman sentenced to death.

    The court upheld the murder convictions of Virginia Caudill, Johnathan Wayne Goforth and Robert Foley.

    Caudill and Goforth were convicted of killing 73-year-old Lonetta White in 1998 by bludgeoning her to death with a hammer. White’s body was then put in the trunk of her own car, which was set ablaze. Foley is a former FBI informant convicted of six killings in eastern Kentucky. He was sentenced to death in 1993 for killing Rodney and Lynn Vaughn during a dispute at his home.

    Both Caudill and Goforth argued they had ineffective attorneys during their trial, which resulted in both being convicted of murder, robbery, burglary, arson and evidence tampering. Both inmates lost a previous appeal before the state supreme court.

    Among other things, Caudill claimed she had an ineffective trial attorney. Caudill claimed an expert witness should have been called in on her behalf to rebut the testimony of a Kentucky State Police forensic examiner who studied blood spatter on her shoes.

    The justices ruled there was no evidence in Caudill’s case that additional expert testimony would have changed the outcome.

    Currently, there are 36 inmates on Kentucky’s death row. Caudill, 48, is the only woman.

    Dennis Burke, one of Caudill’s public defenders, said he intends to ask the court for a rehearing and ask it to reconsider the decision.

    “We are disappointed,” Burke said.

    Goforth had argued, among other things, that his trial attorney made a mistake by not cross-examining Caudill.

    Amy Robinson Staples, who is representing Goforth, declined to comment on the court’s decision because she had not yet reviewed it.

    Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway, declined to comment on the cases.

    Foley had argued his trial attorney did not properly present his motion to change the venue of his case. The court disagreed.

    Foley is on Kentucky’s death row for more killings than any other condemned inmate. He was sentenced to death for killing 6 people: brothers Rodney and Lynn Vaughn, Kimberly Bowersock, Lillian Contino, Jerry McMillen and Calvin Reynolds.

    Meanwhile, the court also denied a petition for rehearing filed by Ronnie Lee Bowling.

    The court upheld Bowling’s death sentence last year despite an FBI analysis that “overstated the significance” of some evidence presented at his trial. Bowling was convicted partially on the basis of an FBI bullet analysis that linked him to the murders of two Laurel County men in 1989.

    Sentenced to death December 9, 1992 in Laurel County for the murder of two gas station attendants in two separate robberies. Bowling, from Clay County, Kentucky, shot and killed Ronald Smith, a London, Kentucky service station attendant during the early morning of January 20, 1989. Again, in the early morning of February 22, 1989 Marvin Hensley, a service station manager in London, Kentucky was robbed and killed. Bowling was arrested February 25, 1989.

    http://www.clintonherald.com/thetime...114105719.html

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    More case info from Court Decision

    Following a trial by jury in the Fayette Circuit Court, Appellants Virginia Susan Caudill and Johnathon Wayne Goforth were each convicted of murder, robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, arson in the second degree, and tampering with physical evidence. Each was sentenced to death for the murder conviction and to the maximum authorized penalties for the other four convictions. Both now appeal to this Court as a matter of right, Ky. Const. 110(2)(b), KRS 532.075(1), asserting seventy-four claims of error. For the reasons explained herein, we affirm.

    Lonetta White, age 73, was bludgeoned to death in her home in Lexington, Kentucky, during the early morning hours of March 15, 1998. Her body was found in the trunk of her burning automobile in a field several miles away. Her home was ransacked and numerous items of personal property, including two guns, jewelry, and a mink coat were stolen. Appellants Caudill and Goforth admitted they were present at the commission of all of these crimes. Each, however, accused the other of murdering and robbing the victim and [*3] of setting fire to the automobile.

    Caudill had been living with the victim's son, Steve White, but had moved out of his house on either March 13 or 14 following an argument concerning Caudill's drug use. Caudill went to a nearby "crack house," a residence where drug users gathered to buy, sell, and ingest controlled substances, especially crack cocaine. There she encountered Goforth, a casual acquaintance whom she had not seen for about fifteen years. Caudill testified that, on the afternoon of March 14, Goforth gave her a ride to Mrs. White's residence and that Caudill induced White to give her twenty or thirty dollars on the pretext that she needed the money to rent a room for the night. Instead, she returned to the crack house and used the money to purchase crack cocaine. At about 3:00 a.m. on March 15, Caudill and Goforth returned to Mrs. White's residence.

    According to Caudill, she went to the door and told Mrs. White that she needed more money for the room rental. Goforth remained out of sight near the garage. When Mrs. White turned away to retrieve the money, Goforth burst through the door and attacked her without warning. Caudill did not identify the weapon used by Goforth [*4] but remembered that, during the course of the attack, Mrs. White pleaded with her to "please help me, Virginia." Goforth then took Caudill to a bedroom and bound her hands together. After killing White, Goforth ransacked the residence, loaded the jewelry, guns, and mink coat into his pickup truck, and wrapped the body in a carpet. He then prevailed upon Caudill to help him carry the body to the garage and load it into the trunk of Mrs. White's automobile. The two then drove both vehicles to a vacant field where Goforth doused Mrs. White's vehicle with gasoline and set it afire.

    According to Goforth, Caudill induced Mrs. White to admit them into her residence under the pretext that they were having car trouble and needed to use White's telephone. Once inside, Caudill demanded that Mrs. White give her some money. When White refused, Caudill unexpectedly produced a roofer's hammer that she had surreptitiously removed from Goforth's pickup truck and struck White in the back of the head with full force. When Goforth asked Caudill why she had struck Mrs. White, Caudill struck her again. As Caudill continued to bludgeon the victim with the hammer, Goforth went into the living room, sat down [*5] on a sofa, and pondered what he should do next. Caudill ransacked the victim's residence and loaded the stolen property into Goforth's pickup truck. She wrapped Mrs. White's body in the carpet. At Caudill's request, Goforth helped carry the body to the garage and load it into the trunk of White's automobile. They then drove both vehicles to a vacant field where Caudill doused White's automobile with gasoline and set it afire.

    Cynthia Ellis, a jailhouse informant, testified that Caudill told her that she had gone to White's residence to obtain money to buy drugs. When White refused her request for money, Caudill struck White twice in the head with a clock that she pulled off the wall. Julia Davis, another jailhouse informant, testified that Caudill told her that she broke into the victim's home intending to steal money to buy drugs, but when the victim discovered her presence, she killed her, stole her guns and jewelry, and set fire to her car. Davis also testified that Caudill said White had pleaded with her to "help me, why are you doing this to me?"

    Because of her known relationship with the victim's son, Caudill was questioned by police about the murder on the evening of March 15, 1998. She [*6] denied any involvement in the crimes and told the police that she had been with Goforth when the crimes were committed. The police unsuccessfully attempted to contact Goforth at his residence and left a message there for Goforth to contact them. Instead, Goforth and Caudill fled Fayette County. They spent several days at a cabin near Herrington Lake in Mercer County, then moved to Ocala, Florida, then to Gulfport, Mississippi. Caudill left Goforth in Gulfport and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she was subsequently arrested November 11, 1998. She gave another statement at that time in which she admitted her presence at the scene of the crimes but named Goforth as the perpetrator. Goforth was arrested and questioned in Gulfport, Mississippi, on December 8, 1998. He claimed Caudill killed Mrs. White with the hammer and, further, that an unidentified African-American male had assisted Caudill in the commission of the crimes (an assertion he admitted at trial was a fabrication). After her extradition to Kentucky, Caudill gave a third statement to police on December 9, 1998, which was substantially the same as her second statement.

    Source

  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On March 8, 2010, Caudill filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/ken...cv00084/63203/

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    Lone woman on Kentucky's Death Row loses appeal

    A federal judge has rejected an appeal from the lone woman awaiting execution in Kentucky after concluding that her attorney wasn't deficient at trial and there wasn't any evidence that a co-defendant acted on his own.

    The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves in Lexington moves Virginia Susan Caudill, 53, a step closer to an execution date as the state and several inmates battle through litigation over whether a lethal injection process involving either one or two drugs passes constitutional muster.

    In a 125-page opinion, Reeves turned away a multitude of arguments brought by Caudill concerning the effectiveness of her attorney in handling witnesses and a strategy based on claiming that a co-defendant, Johnathan Wayne Goforth, 53, had more of a motive to rob and kill Lonetta White, 73, in Lexington on March 15, 1998.

    The two were convicted in 2000 of bludgeoning White to death with a hammer and stuffing her body in the trunk of her own car, which was later set ablaze.

    Caudill claimed at trial that Goforth, an associate who frequented the same drug den as her, unexpectedly robbed and beat White to repay a drug debt after tying up Caudill in a separate room.

    "There was no evidence that Caudill had attempted to stop the assault on White or flee the residence once it began," Reeves wrote.

    Reeves wrote that Caudill followed Goforth as he drove White's car with her body stuffed in the trunk to a remote area with plans to burn it. During the drive, Caudill made no attempt to flee, Reeves wrote, and she continued to associate with Goforth for months after the slaying.

    "These are not the actions of a person whose motive was merely to borrow money from White," Reeves wrote. "Instead, they are the actions of a person actively complicit in the murder."

    Prosecutors said the pair fled to Florida and Mississippi in the months after the slaying. Police arrested Caudill in New Orleans about eight months after the killing.

    Caudill may still appeal to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Goforth has a similar appeal pending before U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell.

    Kentucky is prohibited from executing any inmates under an injunction handed down by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd in 2010. In December, Shepherd cleared the state's proposed use of one or two drugs to carry out a lethal injection.

    But Shepherd ruled that executions cannot go forward because there are issues with how inmates are handled and how their mental state is assessed in the days and weeks leading up to an execution date.

    Kentucky has carried out three executions since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. The last inmate put to death was in 2008.

    http://www.kentucky.com/2014/02/03/3...#storylink=cpy
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On April 10, 2014, Caudill filed an appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cir...ts/ca6/14-5418

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    On November 29, 2017, oral argument will be heard in Caudill's appeal before the Sixth Circuit. The panel will be made up of Judges Moore (Clinton), Sutton (G.W. Bush) and Kethledge (G.W. Bush).

    http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/sites/ca...272017_arg.pdf

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    In today's opinions, the Sixth Circuit DENIED Caudill's appeal. Judge Moore dissented.

    http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opin...8a0023p-06.pdf

  10. #10
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    On April 2, 2018, the Sixth Circuit DENIED Caudill's petition for en banc rehearing.

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketP...0denied%20.pdf

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