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Steven Victor Wertz - Arkansas
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Thread: Steven Victor Wertz - Arkansas

  1. #1
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    Steven Victor Wertz - Arkansas




    Facts of the Crime:

    Steven Victor Wertz was convicted for the 1986 shooting deaths of Terry and Kathy Watts, who were found dead in their home. The couple's infant son was in the home at the time they were killed.

    Wertz was sentenced to death on July 19, 2007.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    September 20, 2008

    Derek Sales And Steven Victor Wertz Death Sentences Affirmed

    LITTLE ROCK -- The state Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed the conviction of a state prison inmate facing the death penalty in the 2005 murder of a wheelchair-bound Warren man.

    The high court also upheld the death sentence of a Florida man convicted in Sharp County of murdering an Ash Flat couple on New Year's Eve 1986.

    In the Bradley County case, Derek Sales was sentenced to death in the slaying of 56-year-old Willie York, a bootlegger who sold beer by the can in the dry county. Authorities said York was beaten and stabbed.

    Sales was arrested in York's home a day after the April 16, 2005 slaying. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, and also received a life sentence on an aggravated robbery charge after the court determined he was a habitual offender.

    At the time of the slaying, Sales had escaped from the Warren jail where he had been awaiting transfer to the state prison system to serve a 75-year term on a variety of convictions.

    In his appeal, Sales argued he should have been granted a mistrial because potential jurors were present when police showed crime scene photographs to York's family.

    In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court said Sales offered no proof that being present when the photographs were shown prejudiced jurors.

    The court also said there was substantial evidence to support his conviction.

    "We reviewed this case on the issues enumerated ... and found no error," the court ruled.

    In the Sharp County case, Steven Victor Wertz was convicted in 2007 for the 1986 shooting deaths of Terry and Kathy Watts, who were found dead in their home. The couple's infant son was in the home at the time they were killed, according to the opinion.

    Authorities considered Wertz a suspect from the beginning but no arrests were made in the case until 20 years later.

    The murders occurred during an argument between the couple, Wertz and an accomplice, James Snyder Jr., according to the court record. The argument was over custody of Terry Watts' daughter from a previous relationship with a woman who was married to Wertz at the time the Watts and his wife were shot.

    Snyder, who also faced the death penalty, later testified against Wertz under an agreement with prosecutors and was sentenced to five years in prison.

    The Supreme Court rejected Wertz arguments on appeal that there was not enough evidence to support Snyder's testimony, and that the prosecution failed to present any evidence supporting the idea that he knew the couple's child was in the home at the time of the murders.

    "We hold that this evidence is substantial evidence that Wertz knowingly created a great risk of death to Joshua Watts, a person other than the victims," Justice Paul Danielson wrote in an unanimous opinion.

    The court noted that shotgun shells were found in the living room were the child was found, as well as near the infant's crib. Justices also cited testimony that Wertz told Snyder that children might be present and that those older than eight years old would need to be "eliminated" as possible witnesses.

    http://www.zimbio.com/member/Glutton...eath+Sentences

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    Inmate Personal Information
    DOB: 02/17/1950
    Race: White
    Gender: Male


    Crime and Trial Information
    * County of conviction: Sharp
    * Number of counts: Two
    * Race of Victims: White
    * Gender of Victims: Female/Male
    * Date of crime: 12/30‐31/1986
    * Date of Sentencing: 07/19/2007


    Legal Status
    Current proceedings:
    Post‐conviction


    Attorney
    Gregory Bryant


    Court Opinions
    Wertz v. State, 287 S.W.3d 528 (Ark. 2008) (affirming conviction and sentence).


    Legal Issues
    On direct appeal:
    (1) whether evidence was sufficient to corroborate testimony of accomplice;
    (2) whether evidence supported aggravating factor that capital defendant knowingly created a risk of death to a person other than the victims; and
    (3) whether jury was required to find mitigating circumstance based on argument of counsel that defendant had no criminal history.

  5. #5
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Death row inmate appears in court

    Convicted death row inmate Steven Victor Wertz was in Sharp County Circuit Court on Monday, Aug. 1, for his second Rule 37 hearing.

    Wertz was taken to the courtroom on a walker, with the assitance of Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts and Sharp County jailer Stanley Haney.

    He appeared before Circuit Judge Harold Erwin for his hearing. Wertz's court appointed attorneys Bill Putnam and Jeff Mitchell were also present.

    The first Rule 37 hearing was held Oct. 20, 2008. Wertz was sentenced to death by lethal injection during a July 2007 trial.

    The hearing involved Wertz's request to remove his attorneys under claims that one of his attorneys is "loud, obnxious and profane." He told Erwin that the hearing was only the second time he "has seen this man." The attorney admitted he can be profane but said that, if he were to remain as legal counsel for Wertz, he would present his case in an orderly manner.

    Erwin denied Wertz's motion to dismiss his legal council on the grounds of ineffective council. The attorneys were assigned to Wertz's case through the Arkansas Public Defenders Office. Inmates on death row are entitled to Rule 37 hearings, which in some cases, allows them to have new trials if it is determined their council was ineffective during the initial trial.

    Wertz was convicted of the 1986 murder of Terry Watts, 25, and his wife Kathy, 22. Special Prosecutor John McQuary led the case against Wertz during the July 2007 trial.

    During the trial, McQuary called James Snyder to testify against Wertz. Snyder was charged as an accomplice in the murder. McQuary also called Wertz's wife at the time, Belinda, to the stand. Belinda testified she had previously lied about Wertz's whereabouts the night of the murder.

    Belinda was Terry Watts' first wife, who, after divorcing Watts, married Wertz. Wertz and Belinda had lost a custody battle over Belinda's 5-year-old daughter just before the murders occurred. When the bodies of the couple were discovered, their 11-month-old son was found unharmed, sleeping between his father's legs.

    http://www.areawidenews.com/story/1749507.html
    Last edited by JLR; 08-06-2011 at 06:43 AM.

  6. #6
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    Death Row inmate Steven Victor Wertz reads over notes at his hearing on Monday, April 9.

    Death row inmate appears for third attempt at new trial

    Steven Victor Wertz, an Arkansas death row inmate who was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 1986 shotgun slayings of an Ash Flat couple, appeared in court on Monday, April 9, before Circuit Judge Harold Erwin. The appearance marks the third attempt for Wertz to be granted a new trial in what is called a Rule 37 Hearing. Wertz claims that he had ineffective legal counsel during his initial trial.

    During the course of the hearing, Arkansas Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, David Huffmaster, a representative from the state crime lab (who was a crime scene technician at the murder scene) and Special Prosecutor John McQuary were all called to testify, in the attempt to establish that Wertz's original counsel was ineffective and did not abide by the guidelines set forth for capital murder trials within the state. As of press time, the hearing was continued to Tuesday, April 10.

    Wertz was sentenced to death by lethal injection -- Sharp County's first death row sentence -- in 2007 for the murders of Terry and Kathy Watts. The nine day trial ended after a jury of seven men and five women convicted Wertz, now 62, of two counts of capital murder, after only 40 minutes of deliberation. In less than an hour, the jury decided on the death penalty.

    The victims, Terry and Kathy Watts, were found murdered in their home in the early morning hours of Dec. 31, 1986, by Kathy's mother, Judy Bone, who came by to take her son-in-law to work. Terry, 25, was found in the front room of the home, while Kathy, 22, was found in the master bedroom. The couple's 11-month-old son, Joshua, was found safely sleeping between his father's legs.

    Terry suffered two shotgun blasts to his body, according to medical examiners reports. His throat had also been slashed.

    The report also indicated, Kathy, 22, was shot in the right side of the head and in the left side of the chest.

    The convicted murderer was married to Watt's first wife, Belinda, and became a suspect immediately after the crime. She had married Wertz, a Vietnam veteran, an Oklahoma police officer and an employee of the National Guard, in February of 1986. The couple lost a custody battle for 5-year-old Chasenda, the daughter of Terry and Belinda, shortly before the murders occurred.

    Terry Watts married Belinda in 1981, at the age of 19 when she was 17-years-old and pregnant with their child. After two years of marriage, the couple divorced and had joint custody of their young daughter until October 1984.

    Shortly after the divorce, Terry met Kathy Bone and the two married. Later, the Watt's were awarded full custody of Chasenda, because of evidence of physical abuse and neglect from her mother. The new family of four, including the Watt's infant son Joshua, moved to Ash Flat to be near Kathy's family.

    Belinda and Wertz filed for at least two changes in custody in 1986. Each time, they were turned down. The last time custody was denied was on Dec. 18, 1986 -- less than two weeks prior to the murders.

    During Wertz's trial, Belinda said she had lied to police each time she was questioned, including about Wertz's whereabouts the night of Dec. 30. She said the last time she saw Wertz -- around 4 or 4:30 p.m. -- he was with James Guthrie Burr Snyder Jr., a co-defendant in the case. She said Wertz was carrying a bag when the two left. Belinda later said she didn't see Wertz again until the next morning, as the sun began to rise.

    She said Wertz told her, if anyone were to ever ask, the men were at home all night and at the National Guard armory during the day. She said she and Wertz went to see a doctor at nearby Tinker Air Force Base the morning of Dec. 31. She said he was complaining of vomiting and diarrhea, although she added that she never saw him get sick. While at the base, Belinda learned of the murder of Terry and Kathy.

    It was proven at trial that Snyder borrowed his mother's 1985 Plymouth Laser and made the drive from Cushing, Okla., to Guthrie, Okla., where it was first believed Terry and Kathy Watts were living.

    After arriving and learning the Watts' were not there, Wertz and his accomplice began the drive to Ash Flat, Ark.

    The men arrived around midnight and, according to testimony, Snyder knocked on the couple's door. When Terry came to the door, Wertz stepped out and fired his shotgun before going into the home. Snyder reported hearing two to three shots in the house, as he remained in the yard during the killings.

    The two quickly left, making their way back to Oklahoma and establishing an alibi during the trip. They decided they would say they had been at Wertz's home all night sick with the flu. According to Belinda's testimony, the following morning, Wertz made a trip to the doctor to establish the alibi.

    When originally questioned by police in January 1987, Snyder gave authorities the alibi Wertz had devised. Snyder said he lied because he was fearful of Wertz and what he might be capable of.

    Snyder testified at the trial that it wasn't until police came to his family's home in Kentucky in 2003, after he had served time for a DWI homicide charge in Illinois, that he decided to come clean.

    In the July 2007 trial, Special Prosecutor John McQuary called James Snyder to testify against Wertz. Snyder was charged as an accomplice in the murder. McQuary also called Belinda, to the stand.

    Belinda testified she had previously lied about Wertz's whereabouts the night of the murder.

    At the first hearing on Wertz's motion for a new trial in Oct. 2008, Circuit Judge Harold Erwin rejected Wertz's argument that he had received ineffective counsel. Again, in August of 2011, Wertz appealed to Judge Erwin for a new trial and the motion was again denied.

    The hearing involved Wertz's request to remove his attorneys under claims that one of his attorneys was "loud, obnoxious and profane."

    The attorney explained to the judge during the hearing, that it was only the second time he "has seen this man."

    The attorney admitted he can be profane but said that, if he were to remain as legal counsel for Wertz, he would present his case in an orderly manner. Erwin denied Wertz's motion to dismiss his legal council on the grounds of ineffective council.

    The attorneys were assigned to Wertz's case through the Arkansas Public Defenders Office.

    Inmates on death row are entitled to Rule 37 hearings which, in some cases, allow them to have new trials if it is determined their council was ineffective during the initial trial.

    http://www.areawidenews.com/story/1836081.html
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  7. #7
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    Court upholds death row inmate's sentence

    Third Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Harold Erwin has turned down a request for a new trial by death row inmate Steven Victor Wertz.

    Wertz received a hearing April 9-10 regarding his claim he received ineffective council during his death penalty trial in 2007 for the 1986 shotgun slayings of an Ash Flat couple.

    During the hearing, Wertz's new attorneys, Public Defenders W.H. Taylor and Jeff Mitchell, called witnesses who testified that Wertz had not received adequate representation by his former attorney, Greg Bryant, during the penalty phase of his trial. The testimony attempted to prove that proper representation could have prevented a death penalty sentence.

    Special Prosecutor Jack McQuary represented the state during the hearing. McQuary said, during his initial trial, Wertz was not cooperative with his attorney, and did cooperate during the mitigation portion of his trial, because he wanted to be put to death. McQuary claimed that Wertz's lack of cooperation with his attorney during the sentencing phase prevented his attorney from obtaining some of the information his new attorneys have been able to gain.

    After taking arguments from both sides into consideration, Erwin's decision praised both attorneys McQuary and W.H. Taylor, "Thank you for a well tried case. It was tried with professionalism and much competence. The court rules for the state and adopts the findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mr. McQuary is to prepare the precedent." The decision was filed with the Sharp County Clerk's office, ending, for now, Wertz's quest for a new trial.

    Wertz was sentenced to death by lethal injection -- Sharp County's first death row sentence -- in 2007 for the murders of Terry and Kathy Watts. The nine day trial ended after a jury of seven men and five women convicted Wertz, now 62, of two counts of capital murder, after only 40 minutes of deliberation. In less than an hour, the jury decided on the death penalty.

    The victims, Terry and Kathy Watts, were found murdered in their home in the early morning hours of Dec. 31, 1986, by Kathy's mother, Judy Bone, who came by to take her son-in-law to work. Terry, 25, was found in the front room of the home, while Kathy, 22, was found in the master bedroom. The couple's 11-month-old son, Joshua, was found safely sleeping between his father's legs.

    At a first hearing on Wertz's motion for a new trial in Oct. 2008, Circuit Judge Harold Erwin also rejected Wertz's argument that he had received ineffective counsel. Again, in August of 2011, Wertz appealed to Judge Erwin for a new trial and the motion was again denied.

    Inmates on death row are entitled to Rule 37 hearings which, in some cases, allow them to have new trials if it is determined their council was ineffective during the initial trial.

    http://www.areawidenews.com/story/1852484.html
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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

  8. #8
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    STEVEN VICTOR WERTZ v THE STATE OF ARKANSAS

    Opinion Date: May 22, 2014

    Court: Arkansas Supreme Court

    After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5, asserting twenty-three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s petition, as Appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel in either the guilt phase or sentencing phase of his trial.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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  9. #9
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
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    Arkansas court says death row inmate should get new sentence

    LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court has overturned the 2007 death sentence of a former police officer convicted of killing a Sharp County couple over an alleged child custody argument.

    The court sent the case against Steven Victor Wertz back to Sharp County Circuit Court for resentencing Thursday. The majority opinion says the lower court jury did not fill out two separate sets of sentencing documents for the two charges of capital murder in the 1986 deaths of Kathy and Terry Watts in Ash Flat.

    The court had previously denied Wertz's appeal of the conviction but said Thursday that the single set of verdict forms meant the jury had not been given the opportunity to consider the circumstances around each killing before determining a sentence.

    Two justices dissented in separate opinions.

    http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2...should-get-ne/

  10. #10
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Man convicted in Arkansas killings resentenced

    ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) — A man who has been on death row for the 1986 killings of a man and a woman has been resentenced to life in prison without parole.

    The Batesville Guard reports Steven Victor Wertz was resentenced Tuesday by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

    The high court overturned Wertz's 2007 death sentence earlier this year. The court's majority opinion said a lower court jury did not fill out two separate sets of sentencing documents for the two capital murder charges against Wertz in the deaths of Kathy and Terry Watts of Ash Flat.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/crim...d-10799302.php
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