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Thread: Clinton Robert Northcutt - South Carolina Death Row

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    Clinton Robert Northcutt - South Carolina Death Row





    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death for beating his four-month-old daughter Breanna Nichole Northcutt to death on January 7, 2001.

    Northcutt was re-sentenced to death in Lexington County on June 17, 2009.

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    June 17, 2009

    As a boy, Clinton Robert Northcutt was beaten so much by his alcoholic father that he once showed up at day care with 30 to 40 bruises, a defense expert testified Tuesday.

    In another attack when he was about 5, his father kicked him repeatedly, breaking his leg, said Arlene Andrews, a USC social work professor.

    When he was about 11, his father forced him on more than one occasion to have sex with one of the elder Northcutt’s girlfriends, she testified.

    The boy moved around a lot in Lexington County and often was left home alone to fend for himself, Andrews said. His mother, who also was physically abused by the elder Northcutt, disappeared from his life at an early age, she said.

    The years of abuse and neglect the boy suffered were documented in state Department of Social Services records, Andrews told Circuit Judge James Williams.

    “It’s a hard story to tell,” Andrews testified. “It’s extremely chaotic.”

    Under state law, Williams could decide Northcutt’s troubled childhood is enough to keep him off Death Row for killing his 4-month-old daughter, Breanna, at their Red Bank-area home on Jan. 7, 2001.

    The then-20-year-old Northcutt confessed to slapping, punching, choking, squeezing, shaking and biting the 12-pound infant before breaking her back on a crib rail. He told investigators he snapped in a fit of rage because his daughter wouldn’t stop crying.

    Northcutt’s lawyers — David Bruck and Robert Lominack — opened their defense Tuesday with Andrews’ testimony. She also testified in Northcutt’s 2003 jury trial.

    The Lexington County jury convicted Northcutt of murder and sentenced him to death in a nine-day trial. But the state Supreme Court in 2007 reversed his sentence, ruling that Solicitor Donnie Myers’ closing argument during the penalty phase was “overly zealous,” even though Northcutt asked jurors to sentence him to death.

    The resentencing hearing, which started Monday, is different from the 2003 trial because Williams, not a jury, will decide whether Northcutt will receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

    Testimony is expected to end today, though it is not known whether Williams will issue his ruling immediately.

    Prosecutors wrapped up testimony Tuesday in their case by recalling Angie Spires Northcutt — Northcutt’s ex-wife and Breanna’s mother — to the stand to describe the effect of her daughter’s death on her life.

    “I didn’t realize I had to cram her whole life into four months,” she tearfully testified. “I mean, I’m a new mom. That’s all I wanted.”

    She said she learned around Christmas 2000 — several weeks before Breanna’s death — that she was pregnant with their second daughter, though she added that after her then-husband’s arrest, he demanded that she take a paternity test.

    Much of Tuesday’s testimony focused on her ex-husband’s younger years. Andrews testified that she interviewed Northcutt, relatives and others, plus reviewed official records, in making a “social assessment” of him.

    “All this stuff in the back (years) is what caused him to murder his baby?” Myers asked her under cross-examination.

    “I’m saying he was carrying a lot of turmoil inside him,” Andrews replied.

    She testified Northcutt’s father was married at least three times and had other women living with him in between. The boy was shuttled between his grandmother and father, usually after state social workers were called in to investigate reports of abuse or neglect, she said.

    Northcutt was expelled in the eighth grade for breaking windows at a school and later spent about 1 years in a state juvenile prison after he was arrested for trying to bring a loaded pistol to Airport High School, she testified. He never completed high school but obtained his G.E.D. while in juvenile prison, she said.

    His life began to turn around in his later teen years after he started dating his future wife, Angie, whom he married in 1999, Andrews said. “It gave him a sense of order and stability he never really had in his life before.”

    But Northcutt later didn’t adapt well to the stress of being a young father and working an out-of-town construction job, she testified. In her interview with him, he said he took methamphetamines while working, which made him sleepy and irritable when he was home on weekends with Breanna, she said.

    “In general, he felt like he couldn’t do anything right,” she testified.

    Clinton Robert Northcutt was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing his 4-month-old daughter, Breanna, at their Red Bank-area home on Jan. 7, 2001.

    http://www.thestate.com/local/story/829897.html

  3. #3
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    Been five years since this guy's death verdict. Anyone know where he stands with his direct appeal?

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    Prosecutor quits case as effort fails to get 3rd death penalty for Lexington killer

    Fifteen years after his first death penalty conviction and nine years after his second, a third effort to secure the death penalty for Lexington County killer Clinton Robert Northcutt failed Tuesday.

    Settling Northcutt’s sentence — for the brutal, fatal beating of his infant daughter — could take another 15 years, a defense attorney said Tuesday.

    The long-delayed proceeding to reconsider Northcutt’s second death penalty unexpectedly was halted Tuesday morning at the Lexington County Courthouse when 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard, who was prosecuting the case, said he would recuse his office from the case.

    Hubbard’s decision to quit the case brought to abrupt halt the proceeding before S.C. Circuit Judge Frank Addy of Greenwood.

    That sent Northcutt, 38, back to Death Row, where he has spent the last 15 years.

    “The man’s been found guilty and given the death penalty twice,” said Laura Hudson, executive director of the S.C. Victims Council. “And we’re having to do this again. Justice moves real slowly in South Carolina. But if anybody deserves the death penalty, this man does.”

    ‘Open season’ on babies in Lexington?

    The latest chapter in one of the state’s longer-running death penalty cases leaves Northcutt’s future yet to be determined.

    Hudson, who was in the courtroom, said, “I’m very disappointed. The crime victims have been waiting a long time.”

    Northcutt first was sentenced to death in 2003, after a jury found him guilty of the murder of his four-month-old infant daughter, Breanna. Northcutt beat the infant to death because she was crying, according to evidence at that trial. A jury found Northcutt guilty and then, in the trial’s penalty phase, gave him the death penalty.

    The S.C. Supreme Court upheld Northcutt’s guilty verdict in 2007.

    But it found unconstitutional arguments to the jury that then-prosecutor Donnie Myers had made during the 2003 trial’s penalty phase and ordered a new sentencing.

    Myers had produced a black shroud, draped it over a baby’s crib and then staged a funeral procession around the courtroom. Myers also improperly told jurors if they didn’t vote to give Northcutt the death penalty, it would be “open season” on babies in Lexington County.

    In 2009, S.C. Circuit Judge James Williams sentenced Northcutt to death again after a second sentencing trial, this one a non-jury proceeding.

    However, Northcutt’s lawyers immediately filed a motion to reconsider the death-penalty sentence. That motion asks a judge to review the record of a case and, if appropriate, change the original ruling.

    But Judge Williams retired before he acting on the defense motion to reconsider Northcutt’s death penalty. That motion remains pending — and stops all appeals — until it is ruled on.

    In 2013, the still-pending motion to reconsider Northcutt’s death penalty was given to Judge Addy. But it was not until this week — five years later — that the motion was heard in court. No one contacted by The State could explain that delay.

    ‘An abundance of caution’

    In preparing for the case, Hubbard’s office reached out to former Judge Williams to see if he could testify during this week’s proceedings. However, Northcutt’s defense team Tuesday objected to Hubbard’s office’s contacting Williams, saying contacting the former judge as a potential witness was improper.

    Addy ruled the contact was not disqualifying for the prosecutor.

    However, once the defense team raised the issue of impropriety, Hubbard told Addy that he would recuse his office from the case, “out of an abundance of caution.”

    The case now will be turned over to the S.C. attorney general’s office for prosecution or for assignment to another solicitor’s office.

    Hubbard, who was going to try the case with assistant prosecutor Suzanne Mayes, declined to comment Tuesday.

    Defense attorney Bill McGuire of the S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense, would only say, “This case, like many other capital cases, has a number of complicated legal issues in it. Because of this history, it could be litigated another 15 or 17 years.”

    McGuire’s co-counsel include Lindsey Vann and Elizabeth Franklin-Best.

    https://www.thestate.com/news/local/...#storylink=cpy
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