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Thread: Christa Gail Pike - Tennessee Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Christa Gail Pike - Tennessee Death Row

    Colleen Slemmer

    Christa Gail Pike during her trial

    Facts of the Crime:

    Christa Gail Pike was convicted in 1996 for the January 12, 1995, torture slaying of 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer, who was slashed and beaten by Pike and Pike's boyfriend, Tadaryl Shipp, for 30 minutes to an hour before Pike finally killed her by smashing Slemmer's skull with a chunk of asphalt. In letters literally splattered with blood, a Tennessee death row inmate reveals her passion for brutal pain to trusted "soul mate" and fellow convicted killer John Lee Fryman.

  2. #2
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Christa Pike back in court appealing death sentence

    Convicted murderer Christa Gail Pike was in court Monday, appealing the sentence that put her on death row.

    Monday's is the 1st of 3 days of hearings for Pike, who's asking for a new judge in the case.

    Criminal court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz has refused to take herself off the case.

    Pike was convicted of the 1995 murder of a fellow Job Corps student, Colleen Slemmer.

    In January, a neurologist testified in court that Pike has a damaged brain and suffered sexual and physical abuse in her childhood, as well as abusing drugs.

    The neurologist said it's like Pike's brakes aren't working because the frontal lobes of her brain aren't put together properly.

    The final day of the hearings is scheduled for December 10.

    In 2002, Pike attempted to stop her appeals before changing her mind later.

  3. #3
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Defense attorneys are asking for a new trial in a 12-year-old death penalty case.

    Knoxville (WVLT) - Christa Gail Pike, now 31, is currently on death row.

    Pike was convicted back in 1996 of the 1995 torture and slaying of 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer.

    This is the beginning of a very long hearing.

    Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz says she expects the petition for Pike's new trial to go through Wednesday of this week, and then they'll continue it in December, that's because the original attorneys involved in the trial won't be available until then.

    Leibowitz heard several different testimonies Monday.

    "At certain points she was responsible and just polite, but she went into rage, as well, not understanding,” Tiddell Shipp is describing his girlfriend 12 years ago, Christa Pike...Pike was 19 at the time. "She would snap off a lot more and quicker."

    Shipp was with Pike on February 12, 1995, "Christa thought of a plan and made a plan to do something to Colleen."

    That night, 19-year old Colleen Slemmer, the couple's fellow Job Corps training student, was tortured and murdered in Tyson Park.

    "Colleen was laying on the ground and Christa was talking about cutting her and stuff,” Shipp says.

    That's what Shipp told investigators days after the murder, but Monday he's changed his story about the pentagram he said Pike helped him carve in Slemmer's chest.

    "I carved it,” he says. “Every last bit of it."

    Shipp was sentenced to life in prison for Slemmer's murder, while Pike was put on death row. Twelve years later, Shipp tells the court he was mainly responsible for the murder and misinformed investigators. "I was drunk, I was tired, I wanted them to leave me alone."

    Shipp even says he would've testified during the 1996 trial, if given the chance.

    "I would've advised him not to testify,” says Chris Coffee, Shipp’s attorney.

    Tyrone Comfort then took the stand, a former Job Corps student who says he was best friends with Pike and saw that Shipp abused and controlled her. "Anytime she had a voice to do something, he'd change it real quick."

    Ex-girlfriend DeAndrea Gates says she was also controlled by Ship, but that's no excuse for what Pike did. "I don't believe an individual can make someone do something of that nature."

    Gates has letters from Ship he sent her from prison after the murder, "It's basically a murder confession of what happened the night Colleen was murdered."

    About a dozen witnesses for the defense alone are expected to eventually take the stand.

    We'll be back in court tomorrow for day two of the testimonies.

  4. #4
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Final death-row appeal of Christa Gail Pike delayed again

    A years-long legal fight over whether convicted killer Christa Gail Pike's trial was fair just got longer.

    Knox County Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz was forced to grant another delay in a hearing to determine whether Pike received a fair trial when she was convicted and sentenced to death in March 1996 for the January 1995 torture slaying of fellow Job Corps student and romantic rival Colleen Slemmer.

    A final round of post-conviction appeals is aimed at convincing Leibowitz that her defense team at the time was so derelict as to violate her rights.

    Today's delay was prompted by the withdrawal from Pike's defense team of attorney Catherine Brockenborough, who cited problems with her law practice as the reason.

    The announcement appeared to upset Pike, who cried and attempted to hug Brockenborough. The move was blocked by guards because of prison security rules.

    Leibowitz has rescheduled the hearing, which will last 4 to 5 days, to begin April 7, 2008.

    Pike was 18 when she grew jealous of Slemmer over Tadaryl Shipp, 17.

    The three and another participant in the killing, Shadolla Peterson, 18, all were students at the now-defunct Job Corps training program for troubled youth.

    Court testimony showed that Pike hatched a plan to attack Slemmer, enlisting Shipp and Peterson.

    Slemmer, who was 19, was beaten, sliced with a box cutter and meat cleaver, and then bludgeoned to death. A pentagram was carved in her chest.

    In July of this year, however, Pike's new taxpayer-funded attorneys sought to show that her prior defenders failed to put on proof that Pike suffered bi-polar disorder and was under the sway of a manipulative, violent Shipp.

    Shipp, a defense witness, himself sought to portray Pike as an "edgy" woman who would sometimes "black out" with attacks of rage for which she always was remorseful. He also sought through his testimony to minimize her role in the slaying.

    "I carved every last bit of it," Shipp testified of the pentagram.

    He also testified that he was the one who brought the meat cleaver and box cutter.

    Because of his age, Shipp could not be sentenced to death. He is serving a life sentence.

    Peterson, a key witness in the case, walked away with probation.

  5. #5
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Christa Gail Pike broke down in tears today as she listened to herself confess to killing Colleen Slemmer in 1995.

    Pike's lawyers played the tape of her confession to Knoxville Police Department Investigator Randy York claiming she was going through mood swings and a distraught emotional state at the time.

    York, now retired, said that's not the way he remembers it.

    Pike was emotional at times, he said, but acting "very jovial and very cooperative" at times as well. "She was not at all combative," York testified.

    Pike also sobs on the tape.

    "Where in this statement was the jovial part," her lawyer, post-conviction defender Donald Dawson asked. "We have a woman who seems to be struggling with her composure."

    York disagreed.

    "I don't detect any of that in here, and I don't think you do either," York said. "She never lost her composure. She was always able to keep talking."

    On Jan. 12, 1995, Pike and fellow Job Corps students Tadaryl Shipp and Shadolla Peterson beat and slashed classmate Colleen Slemmer and carved a pentagram on her chest with a box-cutter before killing her at a remote corner of the University of Tennessee's agricultural campus. Pike and Slemmer had competed for Shipp's affection.

    Pike was sentenced to death after a 1996 trial, a sentence she's appealing.

    A police video shot a few hours after her initial confession shows a calm, dry-eyed, occasionally smiling Pike leading police through the crime scene, pointing out the spot where Slemmer died and miming the motion of killing her.

    Testimony is expected to continue until at least 7 this evening.

    Prominent Knoxville defense attorney Herbert S. Moncier is expected to testify that he advised Diana McCoy, a defense psychologist who interviewed Pike but never testified at the 1996 trial, that a previous relationship she had with lead prosecutor Bill Crabtree wasn't a conflict of interest.

    McCoy testified today that she believes she could have helped convince jurors to spare Pike the death penalty had the defense allowed her to speak to her conclusions regarding Pike.

    McCoy put together a three-volume report on Pike's background, including a history of childhood rejection and physical, sexual and drug abuse.

    She discussed those findings at length today.

    She said her interviews with Pike and those who knew her painted a portrait of a troubled, scared girl of above-average intelligence who would do anything to hang on to a relationship.

    Pike reported sometimes she would suffer blackouts just before an angry or violent outburst, McCoy said.

    "Once Christa gets mad, it's all over," a friend of Pike's told her.

    Pike's current lawyers say that evidence might have saved her life, but Assistant District Attorney General Leland Price says none of McCoy's testimony - or anyone else's - could have overcome Pike's detailed confessions to Knoxville police.

    "I read that transcript (of the 1996 sentencing hearing)," McCoy testified Wednesday. "It was so puny I could hardly describe it. After the hearing, I was in shock. Here's this woman sentenced to death, and I had done all this work for her."

    Her former lawyers, Bill Talman and Julie Ann Martin Rice, testified earlier this week they didn't call McCoy to testify because her findings might shock the jury and didn't match another expert's diagnosis.

    Slemmer's mother, May Martinez, appeared in court Wednesday seeking to take her daughter's skull and the piece of it that Pike kept as a souvenir home to Florida for burial.

    Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz says she can't allow that because the skull and its shards remain evidence in the case while it's on appeal.

    "It really hurts," Martinez said afterward. "I know my daughter's not going home with me. The only thing I really wanted was to get my daughter's body back."

    The scene brought on an outburst of tears and apology from Pike, who's making a last bid to overturn her death sentence for the torture killing of Slemmer, 19.

    "She kept saying, 'May, I'm sorry,' " Martinez said. "The skull was right there on the table in front of her, so she couldn't get away from it. I guess she couldn't take that. I feel sorry for her."

    Regarding the psychologist's testimony, Pike's attorneys also said Wednesday they found out in the middle of the trial that she'd dated lead prosecutor Bill Crabtree.

    McCoy said none of that's true. She said she dated Crabtree briefly about two years before the trial and told the defense team early in the case. She said Talman told her not to worry and that Rice joked at the thought of the couple's sex life.

    "The day the guilty verdict came back, Bill Talman called me," McCoy testified. "He was in a total meltdown. He said Bill Crabtree was very upset because (the report) was all hearsay. He said, 'I can't have you testify.' "

    The jury sentenced Pike to death the next day. She asked at one point to be executed but later revived her appeals.

  6. #6
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    The youngest woman on Tennessee's death row remains on the road to execution

    Christa Pike was in court Wednesday asking for a new trial.

    Defense attorneys say the jury that convicted Pike should have heard testimony about her troubled childhood. They also claimed prosecutorial misconduct in multiple stages of Pike's original trial and ineffective counsel for Pike.

    Attorneys also argued the death penalty violates both the Constitution and international law.

    In her ruling, Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz found Pike was not entitled to relief.

    Pike is on death row for the 1995 torture and murder of fellow Job Corps student Colleen Slemmer.


  7. #7
    Passed away. Rob's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    Far away from you...
    "Attorneys also argued the death penalty violates both the Constitution and international law."

    Hasn't this been shot down almost every time it's been used? Her attorneys better come up with something a little more original if they want to save her.

  8. #8
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Or she could hire Ralph Baze's attorney..I swear he has more tricks up his sleeve than Merlin!

  9. #9
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Pike v State

    In yesterday's Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals orders, the court affirmed the post conviction court's ruling denying Pike's post-conviction relief petition.

  10. #10
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Christa Pike's appeal of death sentence falls short

    A state appeals court this week rejected convicted killer Christa Gail Pike's latest effort to escape death row.

    In an opinion delivered by appellate Judge John Everett Williams, the state Court of Criminal Appeals insisted Pike had failed to show that her defense team botched her 1996 capital murder trial or to persuade the court to exempt 18-year-old killers with mental health woes from a death sentence.

    Pike is on death row for the attack on romantic rival Colleen Slemmer, a fellow student at the now-defunct Job Corps training program for troubled youth, then in Fort Sanders.

    It was January 1995, and there was a love triangle brewing. Pike's 17-year-old beau, Tadaryl Shipp, had tossed in the 18-year-old Pike's face claims that Slemmer, 19, had romantic designs on him.

    Pike, prior testimony has shown, enlisted the aid of Shipp and 18-year-old Shadolla Peterson to exact revenge, luring Slemmer to a secluded spot at the University of Tennessee agriculture campus. Once there, Slemmer was beaten, sliced with a box cutter and meat cleaver and then bludgeoned to death with a rock. A pentagram was carved on her chest while she was still alive. Pike saved a piece of her skull as a souvenir.

    Shipp, too young to be put to death, is serving a life sentence. Peterson, who turned crucial snitch, walked away with probation. Pike was sentenced to die.

    In her final round of state court appeals, Pike's most recently appointed defense team tried to persuade the appellate court to create a new class of killers who should be exempt from the death penalty - 18-year-olds with a history of mental illness.

    Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has, through a series of decisions, tightened the noose on when the death penalty can be imposed. The court no longer allows the death penalty for any conviction other than murder. Killers under the age of 18 are now exempt. So, too, are mentally challenged killers.

    Pike's defenders argued that it is time for the court to add "immature, mentally ill, brain-damaged" 18-year-olds to the list.

    But the state's appellate court disagreed, opining that juries already are allowed to consider a killer's youth and mental status in deciding whether to impose death.

    "There is no consensus in state legislation supporting a categorical exclusion for (young adults and) the mentally ill," Williams wrote.

    The appellate court also rejected Pike's myriad complaints about her original defense team. These included a claim that because her original defense team sought and won from Pike permission for a possible book deal after she was convicted, they did not have her best interests at heart during her trial and resulting appeal.

    "Both attorneys denied any hopes of pecuniary gain," Williams wrote. "Co-counsel indicated that they had discussed doing a publication for a seminar on death penalty cases. Moreover, there is no indication from any party that anything was ever done to further the actual goal (of a book deal). After review, we conclude that (Pike) has failed to show even adverse affect from these actions, let alone prejudice."

    The state Supreme Court will next review Pike's latest appeal effort. If she fails to win a reprieve from the high court, she will be allowed to mount a federal appeal.


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