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Thread: James H. Roane, Jr. - Federal Death Row

  1. #1
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    James H. Roane, Jr. - Federal Death Row

    Summary of Offense:

    Members of an inner-city gang in Richmond, Virginia, James H. Roane, Jr., Cory Johnson and Richard Tipton were sentenced to death in February 1993 for their participation in a series of drug-related murders.

    Roane was sentenced to death for the murder of Douglas Moody.

    Execution dates were set for the three co-defendants in May 2006, but the executions have been stayed because of a challenge to the lethal injection process.

    For more on Johnson, who was executed on January 14, 2021, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...t=cory+johnson

    For more on Tipton, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...eral-Death-Row

  2. #2
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Lawsuit: Fell stabbed fellow death row inmate

    A Vermont inmate who spent time on federal death row is accused of attacking and nearly killing another condemned prisoner at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

    The allegations involving Donald Fell arise not from a criminal case but from a civil-rights lawsuit filed by the victim, who accuses prison officials of failing to protect him and of insufficiently investigating the 2012 attack.

    The assault, court papers state, occurred after the Aryan Brotherhood ordered a "hit" on the victim.

    That day, Fell gathered with a group of inmates for leisure time. He carried a homemade weapon — a 10-inch-long piece of curved metal with an edge sharpened to a point and a cloth-wrapped "handle" with a lanyard, court papers state.

    Fell's target, according to the lawsuit, was James H. Roane Jr., 49, who has been on death row since the mid-1990s. The order was given by a third inmate — a member of the white supremacist group Aryan Brotherhood of whom, according to court documents, Fell was a "student."

    Fell, now 35, was on death row after his conviction for kidnapping and killing a North Clarendon woman, Terri King, in 2000. The guilty verdict and death sentence have since been overturned, and he is awaiting a new trial.

    Court documents refer to an unspecified incident on death row in 2012 as the reason for his appearing shackled in court during the pretrial phase of his newly restarted case. Government and defense lawyers have declined to disclose specifics of the incident, but an investigation by the Burlington Free Press unearthed details of the 2012 assault.

    Fell's lawyers, who have declined interview requests previously, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

    Fell's case essentially started anew after a federal judge determined that "egregious" juror misconduct happened during the first trial in 2005. Fell was removed from the Terre Haute prison and faces a second trial in 2016.

    Roane's lawsuit names as defendants six employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, including four who work at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Roane and his lawyers accuse the defendants of violating his constitutional right to be protected against violence at the hands of other prisoners.

    The defendants deny the allegations but admit in court papers that Roane was stabbed and that investigators never interviewed him about what happened. The defendants do not specifically state that Fell stabbed Roane.

    Fell's lawyers said in court papers they learned of the incident from a member of the U.S. Marshals Service.

    Stabbing for 'snitching'

    Roane spent almost three weeks in the hospital, undergoing surgery and then spending time in intensive care at the Indiana University Medical Center at Methodist Hospital. His family told the Free Press that Roane almost died.

    The lawsuit states that Roane suffered a laceration on the left side of his neck, a quarter-dollar-sized swelling of clotted blood on the immediate inside of his neck and a fracture in one of his hands. Roane also had to have part of his thyroid removed.

    Fell had stabbed Roane in the face and upper torso and continued even after being ordered to stop by prison officers, the lawsuit states.

    "During the attack, Fell told Mr. Roane that he was being stabbed because he had 'snitched,' " the lawsuit states.

    Fell was never charged. His lawyers acknowledged an incident occurred but have declined to disclose details. They also sought to seal documents from the public that generally mentioned the incident, but a federal judge declined to go along.

    Attorneys for Fell declined comment when the Burlington Free Press first wrote in May about his being shackled in court. Lawyers Michael Burt and John Philipsborn did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

    Roane's lawyers referred the Burlington Free Press to the lawsuit documents and declined further comment.

    No formal investigation was conducted regarding the stabbing, the lawsuit alleges.

    "Mr. Roane and his attorneys repeatedly requested that the Defendants conduct a meaningful investigation and provide the results of any investigation that has been conducted," the lawsuit states. "However, Defendants have refused to respond to these requests, and no evidence of an investigation has been provided to Mr. Roane or his attorneys."

    Despite the attack, Roane and Fell continued to be placed in close proximity, the lawsuit states. Roane also has received threats from Fell and other inmates that they would "finish the job."

    The defendants have denied the allegations in a formal answer to the lawsuit.

    "The Defendants have protected the Plaintiff from all known risks of harm and threats related to his safety and security within the Special Confinement Unit," the answer states.

    Tim Horty, a spokesman at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis, Indiana, declined comment and said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation into the lawsuit. Horty referred questions to a representative at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex.

    An executive assistant there referred the Burlington Free Press to the Bureau of Prisons website. A Freedom of Information Act request to the Bureau of Prisons for information relating to the alleged assault is pending.

    The Fell case

    Since leaving death row, Fell is being held at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center while his criminal case is pending in Vermont.

    Jury trial is scheduled to begin in September 2016 in Rutland. Fell has pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and car-theft charges. He could be executed if convicted again.

    Fell previously was convicted and sentenced to death a decade ago for the Nov. 27, 2000, killing of Terri King of North Clarendon. The 53-year-old grandmother was kidnapped as she arrived for work at a Rutland Price Chopper grocery store. Fell and an accomplice later beat her to death in New York state as she prayed for her life.

    The accomplice, Robert Lee, died in prison before trial.

    Fell won a new trial last year when U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III ruled that a juror on the original panel had investigated the case on his own, violating court orders in doing so.

    Lawyers are finalizing deadlines in the case and have been filing pretrial motions.

    Fell is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit over the stabbing of James Roane, who remains under a death sentence in the Terre Haute prison.


  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    February 17, 1993


    By Robert F. Howe
    The Washington Post

    Three drug dealers responsible for Richmond's worst murder rampage were sentenced to death by a federal jury yesterday, the first time the federal death penalty for drug-related offenses has been used in Virginia, and the second time nationwide.

    Only one other defendant, a man convicted of a drug-related slaying in Alabama, has been sentenced to death under a capital federal drug statute enacted in 1988. Federal juries determine sentences only in death penalty cases, and the sentences cannot be changed by a judge.

    Described by Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard C. Vick Jr. as "mass murderers," Richard Tipton, 22, Cory Johnson, 24, and James H. Roane Jr., 26, headed a Richmond gang that killed 11 people in six weeks in an effort to expand its turf and quiet people suspected of giving information to police.

    During the four-week trial in U.S. District Court in Richmond, jurors heard about several brutal slayings in great detail. Few were more disturbing than the first, in which a gang member sitting in his car was stabbed with a 12-inch military knife more than 80 times in the neck, face and head.

    Three of the blows were so fierce, according to testimony, that the blade burst through the victim's skull. Tipton, who wielded the weapon while Roane restrained the victim from behind, once had to brace his feet against the car door to gain enough leverage to pry the weapon from the dying man's skull.

    "The inner-city crime problem is getting worse and worse . . . and this death penalty statute is our ultimate weapon," said U.S. Attorney Richard Cullen, whose office handled the case. "It's going to be used more and more. Citizens and government officials are going to demand it."

    Charles V. Guthrie, one of the jurors, said supporting the death penalty was "a very, very difficult decision, and a whole lot of prayer went into it. But with the severity of the killings, we felt that the death penalty was warranted."

    The jury deliberated for four days, Guthrie said, because so many legal factors had to be considered, not because the panelists were divided on their ultimate decision.

    Attorneys for the defendants said yesterday that they will appeal the sentences, arguing that there are flaws in the little-used statute.

    Craig S. Cooley, an attorney for Johnson, said the government had substantial evidence bolstering several murder charges, but he added: "I would think the intended use of the {death penalty} statute was to address Mafia-style circumstances. It was applied in this case to street-level dealers."

    The decision on the sentences came about two weeks after the three men were found guilty of conspiracy for their roles in a crack ring known as "the New York Boyz," which originated in New York, was transplanted to Trenton, N.J., and moved in 1991 to Richmond, home town to Tipton's stepfather.

    The group regularly purchased cocaine from New York and drove to Richmond, where members "cooked" the substance into crack and set up a distribution network based in the city's Newtowne neighborhood, a low-income area.

    Tipton, also known as "Whitey," was billed by prosecutors as the gang's leader and was convicted of 20 of 26 charges, including six counts alleging that he killed or ordered killed a half-dozen Richmond residents who crossed paths with the gang last year.

    Johnson and Roane were convicted of 27 and 15 counts, respectively, including murders. A fourth defendant, Sandra Reavis, was found guilty of a single count of conspiracy and will be sentenced April 14. Reavis, who was not charged with any of the murders, faces at least 10 years in prison without parole.

    Among their convictions, Tipton, Johnson and Roane were found guilty of operating a criminal drug enterprise. Concerned over growing urban violence stemming from the dramatic increase in the crack cocaine trade in the late 1980s, Congress amended criminal enterprise statutes in 1988 to allow a prosecutor to seek the death penalty in cases in which dealers were also guilty of drug-related slayings.

    Prosecutors must notify the defendants before trial and secure approval from the U.S. attorney general before seeking the death penalty. Late last year, the Justice Department and the federal Bureau of Prisons established lethal injection at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas as the method of execution.

    The last federal execution was in 1963, when a man was hanged in Iowa in a kidnapping case. At the time, federal executions used the method of the state in which the crime was committed.

    Nineteen defendants nationwide have been charged under the 1988 statute, and nine have been convicted, only one of whom received the death penalty. David R. Chandler, an Alabama marijuana dealer sentenced to death in 1991, is now appealing the decision.

    Trials in such cases are conducted in two phases -- the first to determine guilt, and the second to determine whether the defendants should serve life in prison or be executed.

    Andrew McBride, a federal prosecutor in Virginia and a specialist in death penalty law, said the new law was intended in part to protect law enforcement officers investigating drug cases in which dealers know they face 20 years or more in prison and feel they have little to lose by resisting arrest.

    "When you're sending someone out to arrest a drug dealer, who is generally armed and who is looking at 30 or 40 years for a jail term, I think the death penalty could make him think before he becomes violent," McBride said.

    Prosecutors in the Tipton case sought the death penalty because of the extreme violence of the gang and evidence that even after the group members were arrested and imprisoned, they were attempting to order underlings who were still free to commit more murders.

    Last week, prisoners from the Richmond jail testified that after Tipton, Johnson and Roane were arrested, they threatened to kill again. Douglas Cunningham, serving 10 years on a cocaine conviction, said Roane tried to send a message to a woman saying "he would give her $10,000 if she didn't testify against him, and said there was a $10,000 hit out on her if she did."

    The woman testified and is now in hiding in the federal witness protection program.

    Among the violent murders, according to testimony, a man was fatally stabbed after he was shot inside a house and dove through an open window in an attempt to escape. Roane caught up with him in the yard and stabbed him 18 times, evidence showed.

    A woman who owed the gang a few hundreds dollars in a drug debt was fatally shot in her cousin's home. Two men who were in the house and unrelated to the drug ring also were fatally shot.

    In another incident, a man was shot 15 times and killed because a gang member thought he had had sex with the gang member's girlfriend.


    CBS video on sentencing.

    Last edited by Mike; 07-29-2020 at 07:03 PM.
    Trying to get married before I turn 27.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Rest of the article is propaganda but it mentions that Barr is going after these three.

    Richard Tipton, 50, James H. Roane Jr., 54, and Cory Johnson, 51, were members of the notorious Newtowne gang tried in federal court in Richmond in early 1993 for their roles in a brief but bloody campaign in which at least 10 people, all African American, in the Richmond area were slain in about 45 days.

    Roane is from Richmond; Johnson and Tipton are from New York. Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge in Washington to lift an injunction that has been blocking their executions, said one of their lawyers, Paul F. Enzinna, of Washington.

    Trying to get married before I turn 27.

  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Stay of execution VACATED by District of Columbia United States District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan (Obama).


  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Article with some good details. Retread info has been left out.

    August 12, 2019

    Richmonder on federal death row reacts to plan to resume executions: 'We were all really surprised'

    By Frank Green
    The Richmond Times-Dispatch

    Last month’s announcement that the U.S. government would resume executions after a 16-year pause caught the residents of federal death row, like the rest of the country, unaware.

    “We were all really surprised here! We still are,” wrote inmate James H. Roane Jr., of Richmond. “We learned that they would start up executions again just like everyone else — through the news,” he added.

    Roane, 53, was a member of a short-lived, frenetically homicidal crack cocaine operation in Richmond, dubbed the Newtowne gang. He and two other gang members, Cory Johnson, 50, and Richard Tipton, 49, were sentenced to death in 1993 amid the city’s deadliest decade in modern history.

    The three are now the longest-serving inmates on federal death row. Execution dates were set last month for five other federal inmates, but it could be years, if ever, before Roane, Tipton and Johnson have dates set in light of a lawsuit pending in Washington.

    All three also have life sentences, and the public will be protected whether or not they are executed, said Howard C. “Toby” Vick Jr., who helped prosecute them as an assistant U.S. attorney. “Had they ever seen the streets again, I don’t have any doubt that they would continue to kill,” he said.

    “It was an extremely violent group, an exclamation point on the crack violence of the ’80s and early ’90s when Richmond was awash in murders,” said Vick, now a partner at McGuireWoods.

    • • •

    From 1988 to 1997, Richmond’s homicide toll topped 100 victims per year, peaking in 1994 at 160, making the city one of the deadliest per capita in the country. In early 1992, Johnson, Tipton and Roane took things to a new level, committing 11 murders in 45 days.

    The gang’s victims included suspected snitches, rival dealers and those who had disrespected a gang partner. Some were stabbed, one 85 times. Some were shot, one 16 times. And at least one was shot and stabbed.

    They were indicted in April 1992, charged in the slaying of 10 people. An 11th homicide attributed to the gang was not prosecuted.

    Testimony showed that the conspiracy began in Trenton, N.J., where Johnson and Tipton, of New York City, joined. It expanded to Richmond, where Roane joined in late 1991, operating in part in the Newtowne area, a tiny section of the Carver neighborhood.

    The gang wanted to control the crack trade in the Jackson Ward, Gilpin Court and Carver areas. The gang obtained powdered cocaine from New York, cooked it into crack, packaged it and then distributed it through 30 to 40 street-level dealers.

    Each man was convicted of conducting a continuing criminal enterprise and they became the second, third and fourth persons in the country sentenced to death under a law enacted in 1988 against murder in the furtherance of a drug kingpin conspiracy.

    The trial was one of the largest, if not the largest, federal death-penalty conspiracy cases since the Lincoln assassination trial. The jury imposed the death sentences on Feb. 16, 1993, after 22 hours of deliberations spread over four days.

    Vick said, “It’s a very serious thing, to ask for the death penalty against people. But it’s something that we thought was appropriate in these circumstances, given just the violence that they brought with them.”

    “They were extremely dangerous ... the two most violent, to my memory, were Tipton and Johnson,” he said. “Even the psychiatrist called by the defense noted they were veritable killing machines.”

    • • •

    Roane has maintained he did not kill Douglas Moody, the murder for which he received a death sentence. Moody, 36, of the 1300 block of West Catherine Street, was shot and stabbed just after midnight on Jan. 13, 1992.

    In response to questions from the Richmond Times-Dispatch via an electronic message service for federal inmates, Roane asserted: “I am innocent of the Moody killing! And I can prove it if I can just get into the courts again!”

    About 60 inmates are on the federal government’s death row at the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Roane was the only one of seven inmates who was sentenced to death in federal courts in Virginia to respond to requests for comment from The Times-Dispatch.

    In a message this week, he wrote, “I am not the young man I used to be back then. Yes, I’ve made some Bad choices in my young life!”

    Roane added, “I am truly sorry about that all! And I don’t say that because I am looking for anything or anyone to feel bad or sad for me! I am just a changed man who really wants to help our trouble youth out there who grew up like me!”

    “I am truly hoping that those I may have hurt or harmed in any way one day forgive me! Yes I know and understand that a lot of them could still be upset or mad to this day.”

    U.S. District Judge James Spencer tossed out Roane’s conviction in the Moody slaying in 2003. However, in 2004 a federal appeals court reversed Spencer and affirmed Roane’s death sentence. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeals of all three.

    In a 2010 court pleading, the Innocence Network wrote that “Roane consistently has asserted his innocence for Mr. Moody’s murder and, at trial, presented some evidence indicating the actual killer was ... a violent young drug dealer.” New evidence conclusively proves that the other drug dealer killed Moody because he owed the dealer money for drugs, contends the organization.

    Sam Spital, director of litigation for the NAACP Legal defense and Educational Fund, said, “There isn’t any transparency about why the government sets execution dates for which people when.”

    But, he said, none of the five with execution dates are among the half dozen plaintiffs — who include Roane, Johnson and Tipton — in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Washington challenging the legality of the government’s lethal injection protocol.

    Execution dates for the Newtowne gang members had been set for May 2006, but the federal judge hearing the case in Washington put their executions on hold.

    When the suit was filed in 2005 the federal government, like most states, had a three-drug execution procedure. However, the scarcity of manufactured drugs for use in executions in recent years has forced some states, like Virginia, to turn to secret pharmacies that compound the drugs.

    Some states now just use one drug, and last month the U.S. Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons announced a new execution protocol that calls for only using pentobarbital.

    The government said that since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in more than 200 executions, and federal courts have upheld its use in executions.

    Spital and other critics contend that lethal injection poses a substantial risk that an inmate could be tortured to death but cannot demonstrate or otherwise express pain because the drugs prevent them from doing so.

    He said the pending Washington case prevents the government from executing the plaintiffs while the court reviews the government’s protocol, including the new one for which authorities have not disclosed the source and quality of the drug or the way it will be administered.

    “By setting dates for [five] individuals not currently part of that case, the government is essentially seeking to circumvent the judicial review process,” Spital said.

    Among other things, the plaintiffs allege that the government, in adopting its execution protocols, violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice and an opportunity for comment.

    Paul Enzinna, a lawyer for Roane, and lawyers for the other plaintiffs, notified the court that they plan to file a motion to reopen discovery in the case by Aug. 26 in response to the new protocol involving pentobarbital announced by the government.

    “Since that drug was not used in the Old Protocol, all the discovery taken to date in this case regarding the provenance, efficacy, and safety of the drugs defendants intend to use to kill plaintiffs has been rendered moot,” wrote the lawyers.

    Trying to get married before I turn 27.

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