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Gary Lee Sampson - Federal
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Thread: Gary Lee Sampson - Federal

  1. #1
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Gary Lee Sampson - Federal

    Jonathan Rizzo

    Philip McCloskey

    Summary of Offense:

    Sampson pled guilty to the carjacking and murder of two Massachusetts men during a weeklong crime spree. A jury sentenced Sampson to death on December 23, 2003. Sampson's is only the second federal case tried in Massachusetts since the federal government reinstated the federal death penalty in 1988. Judge Mark L. Wolf sentenced Sampson to death, but ordered that the execution be carried out in New Hampshire, which has not carried out an execution since 1939.

  2. #2
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    April 29, 2009

    Killer seeking files for appeal petition

    It's been more than five years since Gary Lee Sampson was ordered executed for carjacking and killing an elderly man and a college student during a weeklong crime spree in July 2001, making him the first person sentenced to die under the federal death penalty for crimes committed in Massachusetts.

    A federal appeals court upheld the conviction, and the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal.

    Now, much to the dismay of the families of Sampson's victims, a federal judge in Boston has ordered a hearing Tuesday on a demand by Sampson's lawyers for prosecution files they say will help them draft a new complaint alleging that the Abington native did not get a fair trial. A high-powered team of lawyers from Washington, D.C., has been appointed to represent the 49-year-old Sampson.

    "It just brings back every nightmare," said Mary Rizzo, whose son, 19-year-old Jonathan of Kingston, was carjacked by Sampson on Plymouth's waterfront and then brutally murdered by him.

    "It's ridiculous," said Scott McCloskey, whose father, 69-year-old Philip McCloskey of Taunton, was carjacked, led into a wooded area and stabbed 24 times by Sampson. "He's just a coward. He's afraid to die,so he's trying anything he can to get out of it."

    Sampson, a drifter who grew up in Abington, confessed that after being picked up by McCloskey and Rizzo on separate days while hitchhiking in July 2001, he forced them at knifepoint to drive to secluded areas, where he tied them up and stabbed them to death.

    He also admitted that he drove Rizzo's car to New Hampshire, where he broke into a vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee and killed Robert "Eli" Whitney, 59, who had come to mow the lawn.

    In December 2003, a federal jury in Boston rejected arguments by Sampson that he was mentally ill when he committed the slayings and recommended execution.

    US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, who presided over the trial, ordered Sampson sentenced to death. Last May, the US Supreme Court refused to take Sampson's case after an appeals court upheld his conviction.

    The McCloskeys and the Rizzos say they are frustrated by a veil of secrecy that has surrounded the case.

    Many sealed motions and documents have been filed in the past year since the new team of lawyers was appointed to represent Sampson as he prepares a new petition challenging his conviction. In an unusual move, the judge sealed nine of the 21 pages of the defense motion relating to next week's hearing.

    Last year, Wolf, citing the right of Sampson to have lawyers who are experienced in death penalty cases, appointed William E. McDaniels and Jennifer G. Wicht, both partners in the Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly, the same firm that successfully defended President Clinton in his impeachment trial and Vice President Dick Cheney during the leak investigation involving former CIA agent Valerie Plame. He also appointed lawyers from the federal defender's office in Boston and from The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem to represent Sampson.

    Sampson's lawyers did not return telephone calls from the Globe.

    In the motion filed with the court, the defense lawyers urged the judge to order prosecutors to turn over all of their files relating to Sampson and accused them of withholding information involving some trial witnesses, including the state medical examiner and a doctor who testified that Sampson was not mentally ill.

    They also contended that Sampson's case was moved from state to federal court because US Attorney General John Ashcroft had a "political agenda" to bring federal death penalty prosecutions in states, such as Massachusetts, that have no state death penalty.

    In an opposition motion filed with the court, prosecutors said that Sampson was tried in federal court because of the heinous nature of his crime.

    Acting US Attorney Michael K. Loucks released a statement yesterday saying the government faithfully met all of its obligations to turn over evidence.

    "We are prepared to respond to each and every motion filed by the defendant until the death sentence imposed upon Gary Lee Sampson is carried out," he said.

    Michael Rizzo, Jonathan's father, said, "This looks like a desperate shotgun approach of throwing a number of things against the wall hoping that one of them will stick."

    Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said that Sampson is one of 57 inmates on federal death row and that it's not unusual for it to take a decade or more for appeals to be exhausted in death penalty cases.


  3. #3
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    August 29, 2010

    Prosecutors seek to dismiss Massachusetts killer's appeal

    BOSTON—A federal judge is set for a hearing this week on a request for a new trial filed by a man who was sentenced to death after killing three people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

    Gary Lee Sampson, a drifter from Abington, received the federal death penalty for the 2001 carjack killings of 68-year-old Philip McCloskey, of Taunton, and 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo of Kingston. He got a life sentence for killing 58-year-old Robert Whitney in Meredith, N.H.

    Sampson claims his lawyers did not give jurors enough information about mitigating factors that might have prompted them to spare his life.

    U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf will begin a hearing Monday.


  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    When is a judge going to probe the jurors who lied on their questionnaires and voted against a death sentence?

    Judge Investigates Claims That 3 Jurors Lied in Death Penalty Case

    A federal judge is investigating whether jurors who voted to send a confessed killer to death lied on their jury questionnaires and by doing so tainted the verdict.

    The case involving Gary Lee Sampson was the first federal death penalty case in Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports.

    In November, U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf took the unusual step of summoning three jurors to testify behind closed doors about answers on their 2003 jury questionnaire, the Globe reports, citing court documents made public Friday.

    One juror is alleged to have failed to disclose that her daughter once worked for law enforcement and later went to prison on a drug charge. Another juror reportedly didn't disclose he'd been prosecuted on a driving to endanger charge. And yet another reportedly failed to note that her boyfriend was once a university police officer.

    Counsel for Sampson, who is alleged to have killed three people during a murderous rampage in 2001, maintain the jury was tainted and he deserves a new trial. But prosecutors contend that even if the claims of jury misconduct are true, the instances don't amount to evidence of actual bias.


  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    In America, you're entitled to a fair trial, but not an absolutely flawless one. Judge Wolf seems to be itching for an excuse to overturn Sampson's death sentence. Hopefully, the First Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn him should that happen.

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    APNewsBreak: Judge throws out death penalty against man convicted in 3 killings in Mass., NH

    A federal judge has thrown out the death penalty against a man convicted of killing three people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during a weeklong crime spree in 2001.

    U.S. Judge Mark Wolf ruled Thursday that Gary Sampson was denied his constitutional right to an impartial jury and that he is entitled to a new trial to determine whether the death penalty is justified in his case.

    Sampson, a drifter who was raised in Abington, pleaded guilty to carjacking two Massachusetts men after each picked him up hitchhiking. He said he forced both men to drive to secluded spots, assured them he only wanted to steal their cars, then stabbed them repeatedly and slit their throats.

    He then fled to New Hampshire, broke into a house in Meredith and strangled a third man.


  7. #7
    Moderator MRBAM's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Capital Region NY
    Federal judge says serial killer should get new trial on death penalty sentence

    Gary Lee Sampson, the serial killer who was sentenced to death in 2004 in federal court in Boston, is entitled to a new trial to determine whether his sentence was justified because a juror who voted for the death penalty was misleading in answering a series of questions during the jury selection process, a federal judge ruled today.

    “It has now been proven that Sampson did not receive the fair process that the Constitution guarantees every man no matter how despicable his conduct,” Chief US District Judge Mark Wolf wrote in his ruling. “Therefore, Sampson must be given a new trial to determine his sentence.”

    Wolf had presided over Sampson’s federal trial and imposed the death penalty after a recommendation from the jury. If Sampson is ever executed, he would be the first person executed for a crime in Massachusetts since 1947.

    US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said her office would review the order and “examine all of our legal options.” She said Sampson had admitted to three “cold-blooded murders.”

    “Today’s Order does not change that fact. We strongly believe that the jury rendered the appropriate sentence in this case. ... We remain committed to seeing that justice is done. The victims, their families, and the public deserve no less,” she said in a statement.

    David Ruhnke, Sampson’s lawyer during the trial, said, “I am personally relieved to learn that Mr. Sampson’s death sentence has been vacated. Congratulations to the team of lawyers who brought this about.” Appeals lawyer William McDaniels did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

    The juror did not tell the court during the jury selection process -- and remained silent during the appeals process -- that she had taken a restraining order out against her former husband, that he had substance abuse problems, and that he physically assaulted her and threatened her with his rifle, andthat her daughter had served jail time for drug abuse.

    The juror was required to disclose that information in a 70-question survey that hundreds of jurors filled out as part of the process to select an impartial jury. The process took 17 days.

    Sampson had pleaded guilty to a murder spree in 2001, but federal law required an impartial jury to determine whether the death sentence – requested by prosecutors – should be handed out.

    “Under the Sixth Amendment, every defendant in a criminal case has a constitutional right to be tried by an impartial jury,” Wolf said in the 110-page ruling issued today. “An impartial jury is a touchstone of a fair trial and has been defined as a jury capable and willing to decide the case solely on the evidence before it.”

    In remarks in court when he sentenced Sampson to death in 2004, Wolf had said, “The people, through their representatives in Washington, have decided that the death penalty is justified in some cases. The people, through the jury, have decided that death is the proper penalty in your case. Believing in our democracy, and respecting the jury greatly, I have imposed that sentence.”

    Sampson killed two men in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire during a spree of killings in 2001.

    Philip McCloskey, 69, of Taunton, was stabbed to death after giving Sampson a ride in his car in Weymouth. Jonathan Rizzo, a George Washington University sophomore from Kingston, was fatally stabbed by Sampson a few days later.

    Sampson was charged for the two murders in federal court in Boston under a federal law that lets prosecutors seek the death penalty for a variety of offenses, including carjacking resulting in murder. Massachusetts does not have a death penalty.

    During his murderous rampage, Sampson also strangled Robert “Eli“ Whitney, 58, of Penacook, N.H., in a house that Whitney had been looking after for an elderly woman in that town. Sampson pleaded guilty to state charges in that case.


  8. #8
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Victim’s dad wants Gary Sampson back on death row

    BOSTON — Michael Rizzo says he is ready again to face the man who brutally murdered his 19-year-old son, Jonathan, more than a decade ago. “I am certainly not backing away from the challenge Judge (Mark) Wolf has given us,” Rizzo said in a telephone interview.

    Since January 2004, Gary Lee Sampson has been awaiting execution for the slayings of former Quincy resident Philip McCloskey, 69, and Rizzo, a college student from Kingston.

    The 51-year-old Abington native won a battle for his life Thursday when a federal judge ruled he should get a new trial.

    In a 110-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf stated that Sampson was “denied his constitutional right to an impartial jury” and tossed out his death-penalty conviction.

    Wolf, who presided at Sampson’s trial, said Sampson was “entitled to a new trial to determine whether the death penalty is justified in his case.”

    The ruling pertains to Sampson’s sentence, not the finding of guilt.

    The judge’s decision came as a result of a court hearing in November that found a juror intentionally lied on a questionnaire after being summoned for jury duty in September 2003.

    “I am very frustrated but not surprised that the judge used a flimsy excuse to overturn a jury who made a reasonable decision,” Michael Rizzo said. “It’s been on his agenda for six years to overturn this verdict.”

    The juror, who was not identified, failed to reveal information regarding a 2000 domestic dispute with her husband in which he allegedly threatened to shoot her with a rifle or shotgun. She also left out the fact that her daughter’s drug abuse led to a prison sentence.

    “Her motive for answering dishonestly relates to her ability to decide the case solely on the evidence, and therefore, calls her impartiality into question,” the judge stated.

    In sentencing Sampson in January 2004, Wolf called the murders “despicable” and the death penalty warranted because of the irreparable harm Sampson inflicted on the victims and their families.

    “It has now been proven that Sampson did not receive the fair process that the Constitution guarantees every man no matter how despicable his conduct,” the judge wrote.

    Two other jurors were also questioned about their questionnaires, but their “unintentional” errors did not merit ordering a new trial for Sampson, according to the judge.

    The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence a jury imposed on Sampson for the July 2001 murders of McCloskey, a Taunton grandfather, and Rizzo. Both were stabbed 15 or more times.

    After the two murders, Sampson drove to New Hampshire and strangled Robert “Eli” Whitney, 58.

    In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in the case.

    Sampson had confessed to the carjacking murders of McCloskey and Rizzo with the hope that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty and he would receive a life sentence without the chance of parole.

    “Gary Lee Sampson has admitted to the cold-blooded murders of Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo and Robert Whitney,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz wrote in a statement released shortly after the judge’s ruling. “Today’s order does not change that fact. We strongly believe that the jury rendered the appropriate sentence in this case.

    “Today, our thoughts are with the victims’ families and we will meet with them to discuss this matter. We remain committed to seeing that justice is done. The victims, their families and the public deserve no less.”

    Ortiz said federal prosecutors are reviewing the judge’s order before deciding what to do next.

    Ortiz’s predecessor, former Plymouth County District Attorney Michael Sullivan, decided to prosecute Sampson under the federal carjacking statute that allows for the death penalty. Then-President George W. Bush appointed Sullivan, of Abington, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts in 2001.

    Sullivan, who is now in private practice, said his initial reaction after learning about the judge’s ruling was one of sadness for the victims’ families.

    “Once again, they have to deal with tremendous disappointment in the justice system,” Sullivan said. “Gary Lee Sampson committed three horrible, horrible murders. All mitigations were raised in his behalf. The judge bent over backwards to ensure his rights, and then some. At the end of the day jurors based their decision solely on the evidence.”

    Sampson’s trial lawyers tried to persuade jurors to spare Sampson’s life because he was mentally ill.

    The attorneys handling Sampson’s appeal later argued that his original defense team could have done more to show the jury that brain damage Sampson suffered led to his behavior.

    The judge has scheduled a Dec. 2 hearing in the case.


  9. #9
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Juror Frustrated By Overturning Of Death Verdict

    A juror who voted to send a confessed killer to death row said she is frustrated and disappointed by a judge’s decision to overturn their verdict.

    “I am frustrated, because of the feeling that a process that was so extensive and carefully conducted was overturned,” said Wendy Putnam.

    Gary Sampson pleaded guilty to the 2001 carjackings and killings of three men in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Guilt was never a question in the case -- just the sentence. The jury delivered the death sentence.

    But U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf ruled that the jury was tainted in Sampson's sentencing phase. Wolf wrote that a female juror never disclosed her own abusive marriage, which may have influenced her ability to be impartial.

    Putnam said she does not believe there was bias in the jury room.

    “I believe the jury was very fair,” she said.

    Victims' families reacted with outrage over the decision.

    "I don't think Judge Wolf cares very much about justice for the victims," said Mike Rizzo, the father of murder victim Jonathan Rizzo.

    "To put the families through this again is ridiculous. I mean, he's the perfect candidate for the death penalty," said Scott McCloskey, the son of murder victim Philip McCloskey.

    The victims' families are convinced it's a case of a judge pushing his own agenda.

    "I think Judge Wolf is clearly anti-death penalty. I think that's his agenda. I think that's what he would like to not have happen on his watch," Rizzo said.


  10. #10
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Appeal possible in Sampson ruling

    The US attorneys office says it wants to appeal a federal court judges ruling that entitled Gary Lee Sampson to a new sentencing trial, indicating that the government wants to pursue the death penalty for the confessed killer.

    It would be the first death penalty handed out in a federal court in Massachusetts and the first resulting from a crime in the state in more than a half-century.

    Federal prosecutors said in court documents yesterday that they have received permission from the US Office of the Solicitor General to pursue the appeal of the decision by US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf.

    Wolf ruled in October that Sampson was entitled to a new sentencing trial because a juror in his sentencing trial in 2003 lied during a selection process, possibly tainting the jurys verdict.

    Sampson, who is now 52, pleaded guilty to charges in a series of killings in 2001, but federal law requires that a jury determine whether the death sentence should be handed out. Wolf said the woman withheld vital information during a jury selection process, that her husband had pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her, that he had substance abuse problems, that she took a restraining order out against him, and that her daughter had served jail time for drug abuse. If the juror had disclosed that information, she might have been excluded from the jury.

    The question of whether the federal government can appeal the decision remains an open legal question, however.

    Wolf had asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to come to an agreement on whether prosecutors can appeal the type of decision the judge made. The question is whether Wolfs ruling is final and subject to an appeal, or whether it remains part of the ongoing proceedings that should remain before his court.

    Federal prosecutors argued that the decision is final and can be subject to appeal. That position notwithstanding, the prosecutors asked Wolf to consider invoking another law in making his decision that would allow them to seek an immediate stay of any more proceedings in Wolfs court until a decision could be made on an appeal.

    Defense lawyers argue that prosecutors have no authority to appeal the decision, meaning that Sampson should immediately be entitled to a new sentencing trial.

    But they agreed that any further proceedings should be stayed until a decision can be made.

    Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on a schedule to submit further motions to the court, and Wolf will be asked to decide whether to make his decision final and to stay the proceedings.

    Short of an appeal, prosecutors have alternatives: to let Sampson serve a term of life in prison or to retry the sentencing case. Under a retrial, Sampsons ability to appeal - and thus temporarily vacate his conviction - starts all over.

    William E. McDaniels, an attorney for Sampson, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    At least one of the family members of Sampsons victims recently called for Sampson to be subject to the death penalty.

    To me, justice wont be served as long as he is alive, said Mike Rizzo, father of victim Jonathan Rizzo.

    Sampson was also convicted of killing Philip McCloskey and Robert Whitney in 2001.


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