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Thread: Justin Eugene Thurber - Kansas Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Justin Eugene Thurber - Kansas Death Row

    Jodi Sanderholm

    Facts of the Crime:

    Was sentenced to death for the January 2007 killing of 19-year-old college student Jodi Sanderholm.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    March 20, 2009

    A judge has sentenced a Kansas man to death for killing a college student more than two years ago.

    Justin Thurber didn't speak as Cowley County District Judge Jim Pringle announced the sentence Friday. A jury recommended the death penalty last month after finding Thurber guilty of capital murder in the January 2007 death of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm.

    The Cowley College student was abducted, raped and strangled, her body found several days after her disappearance in a wildlife area near Arkansas City, where Thurber lives.

    Pringle also sentenced Thurber to 176 months for aggravated kidnapping.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    March 20, 2009

    Thurber receives death penalty

    After emotional statements from Jodi Sanderholm's family members who have grieved her death over the past 2 years, Cowley County District Court Judge Jim Pringle sentenced Justin Thurber to death for the capital murder of Jodi Sanderholm.

    Pringle sentenced the defendant at 11:30 a.m. after considering a last-minute defense motion for consideration of Thurber's being mentally handicapped.

    The judge also sentenced Thurber to 176 months in prison for aggravated kidnapping. That sentence is to run concurrently while he awaits imposition of the death penalty.

    Cindy Sanderholm said after the sentencing that she and her family were relieved that the legal process leading to Thurber's sentencing is over.

    Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith, a prosecuting attorney in the case, said it was the intent of the prosecution to finish the necessary paperwork for Thurber to be transferred to the State Department of Corrections by the end of today. Thurber will go to the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

    Cindy Sanderholm was asked how it felt to know that Thurber might be out of Cowley County by the end of the day.

    "I hated living 15 minutes from him," she responded. "He's just gone now. That's what matters."

    Judge Pringle ruled earlier today that the evidence presented in Thurber's trial was sufficient for the jury's unanimous guilty verdict. Thurber was convicted of capital murder in February.

    The jury's recommendation that Thurber be sentenced to death also was supported by evidence presented in the penalty phase, Pringle said.

    Sentencing was delayed when the judge called for a recess at 10 a.m. The defense had asked for certified copies of Thurber's prior criminal records.

    Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith, a prosecutor in the case, said at the recess that the defense apparently is challenging Thurber's categorization as a criminal who had 2 or more prior misdemeanor convictions.

    The recess was called so that the conviction records could be reviewed by lawyers, Judge Pringle said.

    Before defense attorney Tim Frieden asked for the records - which he said that the prosecution had not provided - Pringle ruled on several defense motions and on the trial jury's verdict.

    Pringle said that Jodi Sanderholm had suffered serious physical and mental anguish at the hands of Thurber, and that the evidence supported the jury's finding for the death penalty.

    Enough evidence was presented for the jury to conclude that the aggravating circumstance - that the crime was committed in a heinous, atrocious and cruel manner - was not outweighed by any mitigating circumstance, the judge said.

    At the start of today's hearing, Judge Pringle addressed a new motion by the defense, filed Thursday. Defense attorney Frieden argued that Thurber was mentally retarded and therefore not subject to the death penalty.

    Responding to the judge's question about evidence, Frieden said he had no evidence beyond what was presented in trial.

    Assistant Attorney General Vic Braden, lead prosecutor in the case, responded that one of the defense's own witnesses had stated he didn't believe Thurber was retarded. He was a high school graduate and completed 64 credits at Cowley College.

    Pringle denied the motion and another by the defense that Thurber should be granted a new trial and be acquitted.

    (Source: The Winfield Courier)

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Brief filed in Thurber appeal

    Death row inmate Justin Thurber, of Arkansas City, has filed a brief through his appeals attorney charging that the Cowley County District Court made a total of 22 errors during Thurber's capital murder trial and the penalty phase of the trial.

    The defense contended in the brief that several of those errors — called "reversible errors" — are so significant that the judgment of the trial court must be reversed.

    In the first issue raised in the brief, the defense charged that the trial court committed a reversible error when it admitted into evidence a statement that Thurber made while in custody, even though he asked numerous times for a lawyer.

    The court's error was in violation of Thurber's right against self-incrimination, as stated in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the defense brief said.

    Thurber was convicted in February 2009 of capital murder in the death of Jodi Sanderholm, a 19-year-old Cowley College student and member of the college's danceline team.

    Her battered body was found Jan. 9, 2007, in the Kaw Wildlife Area.

    Jurors unanimously voted for the death penalty for Thurber during the penalty phase of the trial, about a week after the conviction.

    The defense brief was filed July 6 in the Kansas Supreme Court by Capital and Conflicts Appellate Defender Reid Nelson, a Topeka attorney representing Thurber in the appeals process.

    Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith said Friday that the state attorney general's office planned to file a brief in response to the one filed by the defense. The state has until April 2013 to file the brief, Smith said.

    "The state will respond in a brief form to all issues Thurber raised," Smith said. "Afterwards, the court will decide if it wants more information or if it will hear oral arguments."

    Nelson said Friday that he had requested a one-hour oral argument hearing before the Supreme Court, as routinely is done.

    When the oral arguments would be heard by the court "depends on how full the court's calendar is; it usually would be next in line (on the calendar)."

    According to the defense brief, the court also erred in admitting, over defense objections, inadmissible character evidence, as well as numerous instances of prior uncharged criminal behavior, the brief said.

    It also violated Thurber's Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury when the court refused to change venue from Arkansas City, the brief said.

    During the penalty phase, the court committed a reversible error by denying the defense funding for necessary expert services, the brief stated.

    The court denied funding for two of the defense's requested three mental health experts, it said.

    "The court's decision left the defense with little evidence to support its (mitigating factor) that Justin suffered from mental illness," the brief states.

    Had the other two experts testified, the defense could have proven better that Thurber suffered from bipolar disease, had experienced head trauma from accidents and might have had a an IQ low enough to conclude that he was mentally retarded, the brief argues.

    The court also should not have allowed prosecutors to tell the jury that Thurber's alleged indifference after the crime and his attitude toward his own family should influence their decision.

    Other errors alleged to have occurred in the death penalty phase include:

    The court allowed prosecutors to suggest that Thurber was a sexual sadist without providing expert testimony to support that claim.

    The court provided the jury with written options that left off the possibility of life without parole.

    The prosecution failed to establish that Sanderholm died in a heinous, atrocious and cruel manner.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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

  5. #5
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Death penalty appeal this week for Justin Thurber

    By Angela Monroe
    KWCH 12 News

    A man on death row convicted of torturing and murdering an Arkansas City woman will appeal his sentence to the Kansas Supreme Court this week.

    Jodi Sanderholm's memory remains in the hearts of many people in Ark City, and throughout Kansas.

    She was kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

    The convicted killer's appeal is Friday in Topeka, and Jodi's family will be there.

    "This is the first of many, we could have as many as six or seven more which could be one per year, so we've got a long year ahead of us," said Jodis mother, Cindy Sanderholm.

    Jodis father, Brian Sanderholm said, "His defense is going to try to bring up anything they can in the trial that was wrong."

    The Sanderholms are returning to court all these years later.

    Justin Thurber was sentenced to death in 2009 for murdering their daughter.

    "We're just up there just to see what's going to happen, and he's not even going to be there, so that's good, don't really want to see him," said Cindy.

    Jodi Sanderholm would have turned 30 last month.

    Instead, the 11th anniversary of her death approaches in January.

    "She was a very loving and caring girl, she didn't know a stranger, she helped anybody and everybody she could, she was just a doll to be around and fun to be around," said Cindy.

    Jodi's death initiated changes across the state including a stalking law.

    "If you as a girl feel threatened you need to get something done about it, don't suffer through it, that's Jodi's law up there on the wall," said Brian.

    This is Thurber's first appeal... All death penalty cases are appealed.

    The defense is bringing up 27 issues in the case such as saying jurors weren't removed who had bias against Thurber.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #6
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Why Kansas has not used the death penalty

    By Gloria Van Rees
    KAKE News

    WICHITA, Kan. - "It's the most unbelievable horrible thing that could ever happen to a person and it happened to my daughter," said Brian Sanderholm sitting in his Arkansas City home.

    Ten years later, Sanderholm still struggles with his daughter's murder. In 2007 his daughter Jodi Sanderholm was abducted, raped and murdered. Investigators would later arrest Justin Thurber for the unthinkable crime.

    "He tortured Jodi," said Brian.

    "For hours," chimed in mother Cindy.

    He was sentenced to death for the crime. Including Thurber, nine men are currently sentenced to death in the state, but Kansas has not executed an inmate in more than 50 years.

    Sanderholm family joins Kansans for Justice

    Man on death row for rape, murder of Kansas woman appeals sentence

    "Well, the death penalty in Kansas doesn't work.," said Brian.

    "That's the problem," said Cindy

    Our investigation found an appeals process that's notoriously slow and a state supreme court that has consistently ruled in favor of defendants. One example: convicted serial killer John Edward Robinson. He struck a deal with prosecutors in Missouri to avoid the death penalty, but for murders in Kansas, he was willing to risk it. The reason: since 1976 Missouri has executed 87 inmates and Kansas has executed none.

    "These cases have dragged on for such a very long period of time. Some of the early cases after the legislature re-instituted the death penalty in 1994 are particularly long," said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

    The Kansas Supreme Court has also overturned a number of death sentences, including the Carr brothers, convicted of a crime spree that ended with four counts of capital murder and one count first-degree murder. It was a case that went all the way to the nations highest court. In an eight to one ruling the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalties for the Carr brothers with a scathing criticism of the Kansas Supreme Court.

    "The Kansas Supreme Court time and again invalidates death sentences because it says the Federal Constitution requires it."

    The opinion continued saying, "Turning a blind eye...would enable state courts to blame the unpopular death-sentence reprieve of the most horrible criminals upon the Federal Constitution when it is in fact their own doing."

    Yet in not one of the death sentences in Kansas is the guilt or innocence of the murderer in question. Death sentences are consistently thrown out on technicalities during the appeals process. This frustrates the Sanderholms as they wait for their daughters killer to be executed.

    "I'm all for the death penalty. I believe it should be and I believe it is our responsibility since it's our law to execute him and go on. Or change the law." said Sanderholm.

    In late October the Sanderholm family traveled to Topeka for the Thurber's first appeal in front of the Kansas supreme court. Jodi's Cindy knows the odds but is hopeful she gets justice for her daughter.

    "He didn't let Jodi appeal her life. He killed her and that was all," said Cindy.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #7
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Kansas Supreme Court orders hearing to determine whether rapist and murderer is mentally competent to be executed

    By Peter Hancock
    The Lawrence Journal-World

    TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld the capital murder conviction of a south-central Kansas man convicted of murdering a college student in 2007, but remanded the case back to district court for a hearing to determine whether he is mentally competent to face the death penalty.

    Justin Eugene Thurber was sentenced to death for the January 2007 rape and murder of Jodi Sanderholm, a 19-year-old Cowley Community College student. Thurber was 23 at the time.

    His attorney claimed that the trial court violated his constitutional rights by refusing to allow a hearing on his mental competence. Prosecutors, however, said even the defense’s own expert witness reported that he did not have an intellectual disability, pointing out that he had graduated from high school and attended college-level classes.

    The trial court said Thurber’s attorneys had failed to present evidence that his functioning was “significantly subaverage” at the time. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has since ruled that executing people with even mild intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional.

    Thurber is now one of 10 inmates on death row in Kansas. The state has not carried out an execution since 1965, when murderers George York and James Latham were hanged.

    In the Shadow of Your Wings
    1 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

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