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Thread: Eric D. Holmes - Indiana Death Row

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    Eric D. Holmes - Indiana Death Row


    Eric D. Holmes


    Facts of the Crime:

    He was convicted of two counts of capital murder for the intentional killing on November 16, 1989 of Charles Ervin and Theresa Blosl.

    Holmes was sentenced to death on March 26, 1993.

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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    As of July 11, 2013, federal habeas proceedings have been suspended after the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found Holmes incompetent to proceed with habeas review.

    www.in.gov/ipdc/general/indianadeathrow.pdf

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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On October 24, 2014, Holmes filed an appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cir...ts/ca7/14-3359

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    In today's decisions, the Seventh Circuit DENIED Holmes' appeal. The panel was made up of Judges Wood (Clinton), Posner (Reagan) and Flaum (Reagan).

    http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bi...:N:1724761:S:0

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    Man on death row loses habeas petition before 7th Circuit

    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld rulings lifting a stay on a man’s habeas corpus petition and dismissing his claims after the appellate court held his claims could be decided on based on the state-court record.

    It’s the third time the 7th Circuit has had to rule on a case involving Eric Holmes, who was convicted in 1992 of two murders he committed in 1989. He was sentenced to death in 1993.

    Holmes exhausted his state appeals options and applied for federal habeas corpus. In 2007, the 7th Circuit ruled doubts of his mental competence remained and remanded the case. In 2010, the 7th Circuit again ruled there were still doubts regarding his mental competence and remanded the case, ordering the proceedings be suspended until Holmes’ mental illness has abated.

    In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the assertion that the right to counsel implies a right to competence in Ryan v. Gonzales, 133S. Ct. 696, 703 (2013), and all of Gonzales’ claims had been exhausted as a matter of law. Because of this ruling, the superintendent of the prison where Holmes was housed filed motions to stay the habeas corpus ruling and reinstate the dismissal of Holmes’ petition. The District Court did so. Holmes appealed that ruling, as well as the 2004 ruling that dismissed his claims.

    Holmes’ claims in his appeal ran to 190 pages, Judge Richard Posner wrote for the court, and since his case has been going on for so long many of his claims have defaulted. A few have not, however, and those could be decided on the state-court record.

    In one claim, Posner wrote a prosecutor calling Holmes’ defense attorney a “cry-baby” did not have any effect on the court’s ruling on the case. In another, the court said the deputy sheriff’s mentioning that Holmes said “first-degree murder” on his way to prison after his arrest did not sufficiently harm Holmes enough for a mistrial.

    The defense also argued Holmes received ineffective counsel in his trial, but that was denied as well.

    “Holmes presents still other arguments, but we have discussed the strongest ones and adopt the district court’s analysis of the others,” Posner wrote.

    However, Holmes still retains a right to hearing to determine whether he is sufficiently mentally competent to be put to death for the murders he committed, and Posner was afraid this won’t be the last they hear from Holmes.

    “Considering that he was convicted of the murders almost a quarter century ago and that if he fails to obtain relief in a hearing in the Indiana court system on his mental competency to be executed and having thus exhausted his state remedies files a further petition for habeas corpus in the federal district court and loses and appeals once again to us it will be the fourth time that we are called on to render a decision in this protracted litigation, we are dismayed at the prospect that looms before us of further and perhaps endless protraction of federal judicial review of Holmes’ conviction and sentence,” Posner wrote.

    http://www.theindianalawyer.com/man-.../article/39839
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    On June 3, 2016, the Seventh Circuit DENIED Holmes' petition for en banc rehearing.

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/search....es/16-6054.htm
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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    In today's orders, the United States Supreme Court declined to review Holmes' petition for certiorari.

    Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    Case Nos.: (14-3359, 04-3549, 06-2905)
    Decision Date: March 22, 2016
    Rehearing Denied: June 3, 2016

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/search....es/16-6054.htm

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    Senior Member Member ProDP's Avatar
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    so how long will it be till we see the Indiana Supreme Court set an X-Date? Do they have the stuff for it?

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    A son waits for justice. A killer waits to die. Indiana's death penalty is at a crossroads

    Aaron Crowley can’t remember the sound of his mother’s voice. He has no memories that he can personally recall. No firsthand knowledge of what made her laugh or cry or smile.

    All he has are stories told to him by the people he loves, who knew and loved his mother. He has photos of her, radiant and beaming, holding him when he was a baby. His family tells him he was his mother's world. Her perfect son. He relishes those words while wondering what he’ll tell his own children someday.

    Crowley was just 5 months old when his mother, Theresa Blosl, was murdered. He was just 3 years old when the man who killed his mother, Eric D. Holmes, was sentenced to die.

    But today, roughly 30 years after his mom's death, Crowley still waits for justice. He waits for the moment he will see his mom's killer face the ultimate punishment. He waits for closure.

    He waits. And waits. Almost his entire life.

    Holmes, who was sentenced to death in Marion County, has been on Indiana’s death row for 26 years.

    There are currently eight men on death row in Indiana. None have waited there as long as Holmes. The last person the state executed was Matthew Wrinkles, who died by lethal injection at the Indiana State Prison on Dec. 11, 2009.

    That was now 10 years ago.

    State officials say the delay stems in part from the lengthy, routine appeals processes, which allow offenders to challenge the verdicts against them. But there also is a more recent problem: a shortage of the proper drugs used to administer lethal injection, which is the current method the state uses to execute death row inmates.

    That shortage continues with no clear resolution in sight. And it also is happening at a time when some question the merits of capital punishment.

    For Crowley, who says he was promised justice and hasn't received it, his sense of complete closure is wrapped up in an impending death he wonders now if he’ll ever see.

    “I have the closure knowing that my mom's never coming back. Knowing that my kids will never know their grandma,” he told IndyStar. “But knowing that he's still sitting there, I don't think I can get that closure until he's gone.”

    'I just never understood'

    Crowley was in middle school when he found out exactly what happened to his mother. For years his family had shielded him from the upsetting truth.

    “It was hard trying to find words to explain it to him,” Mary Victory, Blosl’s younger sister who was 18 when Blosl died, told IndyStar. “How do you tell a three, four or five-year-old child that comes up and wants to know where their mom’s at? You just (say), ‘she’s not here, she’s in Heaven. That works for a little while. And then they start asking more questions.”

    Crowley’s family elaborated more as he matured, Crowley said. But details of the robbery-murder were revealed to him in a newspaper clipping he found at his grandmother’s house in Evansville, where he spent much of his childhood.

    “That's how I found out exactly how it all went down," Crowley said, "and what actually happened that night.”

    Blosl and Holmes both worked at the now-closed Shoney’s restaurant in the Castleton area, on Indianapolis’ northeast side. Prosecutors said restaurant managers fired the then-21-year-old Holmes on Nov. 15, 1989 for making sexual advances toward employee Amy Foshee, according to IndyStar's coverage of the case.

    Holmes returned later that evening with two friends and ordered Foshee, Blosl and manager Charles Ervin to face a wall. The three were attacked and stabbed in succession. Only Foshee survived.

    As he read about his mother's vicious murder, Crowley felt frozen in time. He later told his late grandmother, Ruby Blosl Gardner, what he’d learned. She then explained, in more depth, what happened to Blosl. But at the time, and even now, he struggled to understand what motivated Holmes to take innocent lives.

    “I just never understood how someone could do that, over losing a job,” Crowley said. "There's nothing in this world that can happen for me to ever forgive him. (He) took away my life."

    Holmes, who maintained his innocence, went to trial in 1992 on charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery. There was nothing extraordinary about his defense, according to Arnold Baratz, an Indianapolis attorney who represented Holmes at trial.

    “The evidence was insufficient. The state hadn't met the burden of proof. And that was pretty much it,” Baratz told IndyStar. “We didn't have an alibi or an alternative suspect, although there were other people involved.”

    Holmes’ accomplice, Michael Vance, 27, received a 190-year prison term for his role in the double murder, according to IndyStar’s coverage of the trial. Vance’s brother, Raymond, waited in a car outside the restaurant during the attack and was sentenced to three years for assisting a criminal.

    Crowley’s grandfather, Fred John Blosl, was in the courtroom when a judge condemned Holmes to die for Theresa Blosl’s death. Holmes also received 60 years for the murder of Ervin, 30, and additional time for the attempted murder of Foshee.

    Fred Blosl had expressed relief that Holmes would someday die in the electric chair, which was the method of execution in Indiana until 1995, for what he’d done to his daughter.

    "I'm just glad it's over,” Blosl said at the time. “It's been a long 3 1/3 years.”

    But when Blosl died in 2009 in Evansville at age 72, Holmes was still on death row. Theresa's mother, Ruby, died 5 years later.

    Victory said she feels her parents were robbed by not being able to live to see Holmes, now 51, put to death.

    "When you think about what (Holmes) took, I think it is fully just," Victory, who is now 48, told IndyStar. "I think they took from my parents, by not doing it before they passed. And I wonder if I'll see it in my lifetime."

    It's increasingly a legitimate question.

    No drugs, no executions

    After inmates in Indiana have exhausted their appeals at the state and federal level, a technical process that typically takes at least 10 years, the state notifies the Indiana Supreme Court, which sets an execution date. As of November, Holmes and seven other men are on death row, including one inmate whose execution is stayed due to his lack of mental competency, according to the Indiana Department of Correction. Still, there are no executions scheduled in Indiana.

    The reason executions have stalled in Indiana is due to a shortage of the drugs needed to move forward, the DOC told IndyStar in a statement.

    "This is the result of business decisions by pharmaceutical suppliers who now decline purchase requests from the Indiana Department of Correction," the agency said, noting that Indiana law doesn't permit the release of the source of its drug suppliers.

    The supply problem has persisted for about two years, Attorney General Curtis Hill told IndyStar, and is a nationwide issue.

    "There has been a concerted effort, for a number of years, by certain groups to place pressures on pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, distributors to not make available these types of chemicals and, (by) putting that kind of pressure on these companies, it becomes difficult for states or the federal government to get the available chemicals to do the process," he said.

    But the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that provides information on the death penalty, said it's the pharmaceutical companies, not outside opposition, that have elected to stop providing drugs used to kill inmates.

    "Pharmaceutical companies uniformly have said they don't want their medicines used to execute prisoners," Robert Dunham told IndyStar. "And that shouldn't be surprising, because their corporate mission is to create medicines to save lives and improve lives and not to take lives."

    The future of the death penalty

    If the problem persists, one potential solution is for lawmakers to look into possible alternatives, namely a different method of execution, Hill said, so that the state would not have to rely solely upon a particular method.

    And, Hill said, "examining ways in which the process can be streamlined and curtailed to produce a more efficient result, without providing any lesser protections for those who've been accused."

    Exploring different methods can be a difficult task for legislators, Dunham said, who would be expected to choose a method that is palatable to the public. Generally, he said, lethal injection is the method that has been most accepted.

    "A majority of Americans thought that every other method of execution was cruel and unusual punishment," Dunham said. Nitrogen gas, which some states have authorized, "brings back in everybody's mind the specter of the Holocaust," Dunham said.

    Other methods that have been used in the history of capital punishment are just as macabre in society's eyes.

    "They don't like the electric chair, which is overtly violent. They don't like the firing squad. And they especially don't like decapitation," Dunham said. "So, if you're a legislator, the first (question) is, are we okay with the current method? The second is, if we're going to change the current methods, what else do we have that our constituents can stomach? And that's why we've seen two other responses by legislators. One is to do nothing and simply not carry on executions. And the other is to move to abolish."

    The death penalty has been abolished in 21 states, including Illinois, Michigan and all of New England, according to the information center.

    The present problems raise questions about whether the death penalty has a place in the state's criminal justice system. When Holmes was sentenced to die, he joined more than 40 men on Death Row at the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City.

    "We're just not putting new people on death row because juries are rejecting the death penalty when the government files it," Monica Foster, the Chief Federal Public Defender, told IndyStar. "So I don't think that there's a real appetite for the death penalty in Indiana, although we certainly have not abolished it."

    Democratic Indiana Sen. Lonnie Randolph, the minority whip who represents part of Lake County in northern Indiana, has introduced measures multiple times over the years that sought to abolish the death penalty and convert death sentences to life sentences.

    "I'm convinced that the death penalty serves no purpose," Randolph said. "It's not a deterrent for crime at all."

    While Hill said he'd welcome the state Legislature exploring lethal injection alternatives, he's not aware of any future efforts from lawmakers to pursue the issue during the upcoming session.

    But Hill was resolute when asked about the viability of the death penalty as a practical punishment.

    "From my standpoint, I think that the death penalty can serve an appropriate purpose if it is done in a manner in which the penalty can be carried out in a reasonable time period," he said. "And also for the sake of victims, to bring them closure in a more appropriate time. (While) making sure that the fundamental rights of the condemned person are met fully and appropriately, but within a more appropriate time schedule."

    Amid a shortage of drugs and short-term solutions, the state-sanctioned fates of Indiana's death-row inmates hang in the balance.

    "By definition they've been convicted of horrible crimes," Steven Schutte, an Indianapolis attorney who has represented several death-row inmates during the appeals process, told IndyStar. "(But) it's extraordinarily stressful, certainly on my clients but also on their families, for a man to be sentenced to die,"

    On the other side of that anguish is the stress endured by family members of the victims, like Crowley, who often finds it hard to separate his mother's death from the open wound of her killer's existence.

    "It'll be a sigh of relief more than anything (when) it's done," Crowley said. "And he's gone. I think it's something I would think about less."

    To Crowley, Holmes' death sentence is justice, not vengeance.

    "I just believe that if you if you kill somebody," Crowley said, "there's gotta be something more than just sitting in jail the rest of your life."

    Blosl's memory

    For now, though, Crowley continues to wait. He reaches into his trove of anecdotes and photographs, trying to piece together the woman whose love he can only experience through the wistful recollections of his family.

    "My dad used to tell me that anywhere she'd go, I was always on her head," he said. "She never put me down. She was always carrying me. He'd come home from work and I'd be on the couch sleeping on her chest or I would be walking around the house with her."

    Blosl had a nurturing spirit, according to Victory, and helped raise her younger siblings.

    "She’d give you the shirt off her back," she said. "She was friendly, the peacemaker. She tried to mother everyone. She mothered me most of my life."

    Blosl was almost always happy. But Victory said she doesn't think she ever saw her sister as happy as when she found out she was pregnant.

    "She always wanted to be a mom," Victory said. "She never knew what career she wanted when she was younger. It changed from pretty much day to day. The one thing that always stayed consistent, she wanted to be a mom."

    Crowley's father, David, foretold the grief his son would experience at Holmes' sentencing hearing, according to an IndyStar story.

    "That boy is going to be raised without his mother and one of these days he's going to grow up and ask what happened to her and we will have to tell him," Crowley told the judge. " Whatever sentence you impose, it is not going to be enough."

    Aaron Crowley now has kids of his own — two daughters and a son — and lives with his fianc, Elizabeth Dyer, who also has a son. He has a job he enjoys and a home on the city's south side. He's been told that he's passionate, career-driven and stubborn like his mother.

    He's known loss since the death of his mother. He has grieved other family members. But the pain is different.

    "I remember their voices," he said. "I can remember what it sounded like for them to say I love you. I don't know what it sounds like from my mom because of what he did."

    https://eu.indystar.com/story/news/2...ds/2617364001/
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