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  1. #1
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    Tawuan Townes - Alabama Death Row





    Tawuan Townes and a second man tortured and beat a 28-year-old man before shooting him to death during a burglary, District Attorney Doug Valeska argued to a jury Tuesday.

    Townes, 20, faces a capital murder charge in the shooting death of Christopher Woods on Nov. 13, 2009. If convicted of the capital murder charge Townes faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Police are still looking for a second suspect, Cornellious Benton, who has also been charged with capital murder.

    Valeska argued during his opening statements Tuesday morning that Townes fatally shot Woods during a burglary at the Blackshear Street home he shared with girlfriend. Valeska said Townes and Benton forced their way into the home with the intention of stealing money and drugs from Woods.

    “The evidence will be Townes had a .22-caliber rifle that was his brother's, and Chris Woods had no weapon,” Valeska said. “The evidence will be not only did they shoot him twice, they beat him on the side of the face and on the head.”

    Valeska said according to Townes’ statement to police, Benton beat Woods for more than five minutes during the burglary. He also said Townes was well aware Woods would likely have money and cocaine, and planned to rob him. Valeska called Townes a “cool, calm and collected killer.”

    “He tells more than 30 something lies in his statement, where he tries to minimize and put it on Benton,” Valeska said. “After this trial everybody’s going to know Townes put it on Benton.”

    Attorney Eric Davis, who represents Townes, said his client willingly gave police a statement. Davis said if his client lied to police it was no different than what they did to him.

    “Listen to each and everything. You all get to choose what’s a lie, not the state,” Davis said.

    Davis said his client, who was 18 at the time of the murder, “hatched” what he referred to as an immature plan to better himself by moving to Mississippi to get his GED.

    “If you need money, you can rob somebody that’s not going to report it to the police,” Davis said.

    Davis acknowledged his client and Benton forced their way into the home, but he said his client only fired his gun to scare Townes.

    “There was no specific intent to kill,” Davis said. “I’ll show you a reason to find him guilty of something other than capital murder.”

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...an-ar-1553280/

  2. #2
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    A Dothan man has been found guilty of capital murder for the shooting death of another man during a burglary.

    Tawuan Townes, 20, was convicted Thursday morning for the death of Christopher Woods, who was shot in the chest during a robbery at his own home in November of 2008. The verdict was returned at 11 a.m., after more than 2 hours of deliberation over two days.

    Police said Townes and another man, Cornelius Benton, went to Woods' Blackshear Street home to rob him of money and drugs. Woods was shot twice. Townes was arrested shortly after Woods' was killed. Benton has not yet been captured.

    Circuit Judge Larry Anderson explained to the jury that they must now determine whether Townes will receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Anderson also said the jury must determine whether any aggravating circumstances exist, and whether they outweigh any mitigating circumstances.

    Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska told the jurors he plans to prove three aggravating circumstances existed, which include that the crime was committed during the commission of a burglary and robbery. He also said he will prove the crime was especially heinous and cruel when compared to other offenses.

    “They showed him no mercy as they tortured, beat and shot him,” Valeska said. “This defendant and Benton were the ones that were beating him.”

    Valeska reminded the jury that the testimony included how the victim had at least $200 cash in his pocket and cocaine on him at the time of the offense.

    Attorney Eric Davis, who represents Townes, reminded jurors it was not a long, drawn out murder, and that the victim lived for a few “moments,” after the shots were fired.

    Davis said at least one of the mitigating factors for his client includes his young age of 18 at the time of the offense.

    “It was not unnecessarily torturous, it was not especially heinous or cruel, this happened quickly,” Davis said.

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...er-ar-1563075/

  3. #3
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    Jury recommends death penalty in Dothan murder case

    Martha Rawls said she won’t be able to celebrate her son’s birthday with him later this month.

    Instead, Rawls planned to go Thursday to the grave of her son, Christopher Woods, the same day a Houston County jury found a man guilty of his murder.

    “It’s been very traumatic for me,” Rawls said. “The only way I can ever talk to my son again is by going down to Crestlawn Cemetery.”

    After more than two hours of deliberations, the jury convicted Tawuan Townes, 20, of capital murder Thursday morning in the shooting death of Woods during a burglary at his home on Nov. 13, 2008.

    Shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, the same jury recommended, by a 10-2 vote, that Townes be put to death for his crime. Circuit Judge Larry Anderson will rule on April 22 whether to impose the death penalty, or whether to give Townes the other possible sentence, which is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Police are still looking for a second man, Cornellious Benton, who has also been charged with capital murder in Woods’ death.

    Rawls testified for the prosecution in the sentencing phase of Townes’ trial.

    “No mother or father should have to have a child taken from them this way,” Rawls said.

    In arguing for the death penalty, Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska said the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances. Valeska said he proved three of those, which included how the crime was especially heinous and cruel and that the crime was committed during the commission of a burglary and robbery.

    “That man showed Christopher Woods no mercy, and he’s not entitled any mercy from you,” Valeska said. “He’s a cold, calculated, premeditated murderer. He had no right to be judge, jury and executioner of Christopher Woods.”

    David Ghostly, a forensic psychologist who testified for the defense, said he diagnosed Townes as having a conduct disorder as a child, and currently has an anti-social personality disorder.

    “With Tawuan, he had a home environment that was lacking,” Ghostly said. “I think environment played a big part in Tawuan’s current situation. He had a lot of unsupervised time out on the street. He was acting out a lot of the time because he didn’t have much self esteem or encouragement as the rest of us who had normal parents.”

    During cross examination by Valeska, Ghostly said Townes knew right from wrong.

    “I think he should be punished, but I do not think he should be put to death,” Ghostly said.

    Attorney Eric Davis, who represented Townes, started out his closing argument with a quote from the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which said, “To take a life when a life has been taken is vengeance, not justice.”

    Davis also said at least one of the mitigating factors for his client included his young age of 18 at the time of the offense.

    “He never had a chance from the get-go. His father told you he sold drugs until he got shot,” Davis said.

    Davis said his client’s mother served time in prison for a drug offense.

    “It was not especially heinous or cruel; this happened quickly,” Davis said. “We’re not excusing behavior. These are reasons in order to vote for life without parole as opposed to death.”

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...as-ar-1563075/

  4. #4
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    Dothan murder suspect's sentencing delayed

    A Houston County judge delayed making a ruling Friday on whether a 20-year-old Dothan man will receive the death penalty or life in prison.

    Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson said he will make the determination on the sentence for Tawuan Townes for his capital murder conviction next month.

    A jury convicted Townes last month of capital murder in the shooting death of Christopher Woods. Woods, 28, suffered two gunshot wounds during the fatal shooting at his home on Blackshear Street on Nov. 13, 2008.

    The same jury recommended, by a 10-2 vote, that Townes be put to death for the crime. Anderson will rule on May 13 whether to impose the death penalty or whether to give Townes the other possible sentence, which is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Anderson delayed the sentencing hearing for the state probation office to complete a second pre-sentence report.




    By Matt Elofson
    Published: April 22, 2011

    A Houston County judge delayed making a ruling Friday on whether a 20-year-old Dothan man will receive the death penalty or life in prison.

    Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson said he will make the determination on the sentence for Tawuan Townes for his capital murder conviction next month.

    A jury convicted Townes last month of capital murder in the shooting death of Christopher Woods. Woods, 28, suffered two gunshot wounds during the fatal shooting at his home on Blackshear Street on Nov. 13, 2008.

    The same jury recommended, by a 10-2 vote, that Townes be put to death for the crime. Anderson will rule on May 13 whether to impose the death penalty or whether to give Townes the other possible sentence, which is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Anderson delayed the sentencing hearing for the state probation office to complete a second pre-sentence report.

    “If I’m going to rely on a pre-sentence report I’m going to want a correct one,” Anderson said.

    Attorney Eric Davis, who represented Townes, asked Friday morning that the original pre-sentence report submitted to the court be removed and not considered by the court at sentencing. Davis said several things in the report were incorrect, and should not be used during the judge’s considerations.

    Davis said the fact his client was charged with marijuana possession should not be in the report because it was not a conviction.

    District Attorney Doug Valeska argued against the removal because Townes was found with marijuana on him at the time of his arrest for murder.

    Davis argued that case law said the court could not consider it because his client was not convicted of the drug charge. Anderson agreed to have the charge removed from the report.

    Anderson also agreed to have Townes’ juvenile history removed from the report.

    Police are still looking for a second man, Cornellious Benton, who has also been charged with capital murder in Woods’ death.

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...ed-ar-1751680/

  5. #5
    Any update on this case Heidi?

  6. #6
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    I called the Houston County Clerk's office and it was a wrong number. I'll delve deeper tomorrow!

  7. #7
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    According to the Houston County DA's office sentencing has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. June 10, 2011.

  8. #8
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    Death sentence handed down in Dothan murder case



    More than two years after her son was murdered, Martha Ralls said she finally found a semblance of peace Friday.

    With Ralls watching in the courtroom Friday morning, Houston County Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson sentenced Tawuan Justin Townes to death for the 2008 murder of Ralls’ son, Christopher James Woods.

    In March, a jury convicted Townes, 20, of capital murder for shooting Woods at Woods’ home during a robbery on Nov. 13, 2008.

    “He has brought misery everywhere he’s been,” Anderson said before issuing the sentence. “He’s just mean. I’m big on choice and free will. Often people do things without any regard for the consequences, then they want to make excuses for the bad choices. It’s clear some bad choices were made here.”

    Ralls said she was happy with the sentence, but she knows it will never erase the pain of losing her son.

    “There’s some sense of easing,” she said. “I feel like justice was served. He took our child’s life, and I feel like he didn’t deserve any justice other than what he got.”

    District Attorney Doug Valeska told the court that Townes’ cohort, Cornellious Antwon Benton, shot Woods in the leg, then Townes used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot Woods in the chest.

    “The defendant fired the fatal shot with the .22,” Valeska said. “It was heinous, atrocious and cruel. Very simply, he begged for his life. They didn’t have to shoot him. They took his life for a stinkin’ dollar.”

    Townes’ attorney, Eric Davis, argued his client deserved life in prison.

    “The sentence of death removes the chance for redemption,” Davis told the court. “To say the crime was heinous, atrocious and cruel requires torture. That is not the case. He deserves that chance at redemption.”

    Anderson’s sentence fell in line with the jury’s 10-2 recommendation of the death penalty for Townes.

    “We got justice today,” Valeska said. “The defendant wanted to plead guilty for life without parole, and we rejected that because we feel Christopher’s life was worth more than life without parole. (Townes) was wicked, and he made the decision. I have no sympathy for Tawuan Townes. My only regret is I’ll probably be gone by the time the sentence is carried out. That it takes so long is (unfair) to the family.”

    Ralls said she still remembers the day Woods, then 28, was killed.

    “It was almost 2:30, and I was at work. When my niece told me my son had been shot, time seemed to stop,” she said. “”It was the longest day of my life. When I finally walked into Southeast Alabama Medical Center, it was unbearable. My son was a great person. He had his problems like anyone, but he was a great father. He loved his children and loved his family.”

    Police are still seeking Benton, who has eluded capture since the murder.

    “I know this part of it is over, but now the goal is to get the other person,” Ralls said. “There’s still hope. I’d like to thank Doug Valeska and his team for all the work they’ve done.”

    Valeska credited the Dothan Police Department for its investigation into the crime and indicated the sentence sent a message to the community

    “This sends a clear message that we’re not going to put up with that activity,” he said. “Human life is the most important thing. I was proud to stand up and represent Christopher Woods. It’s important for the community to step up and say, ‘We’re not going to tolerate this.’”

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...se-ar-1955989/

  9. #9
    Doug Valeska is one of my favorite District Attorneys in the State of Alabama. Unlike 99 % of D.A's, Mr. Valeska doesn't take the easy way out and let convicted murderers just plead out to life in prison sentences taking the D.P off the table. When he sees a heinous, atrocious crime, he will vigorously pursue the ultimate punishment and make sure it is handed down! He doesn't use the D.P as a bargaining chip just to scare defendants and this is why I respect his work so much. He realizes the life of a human being is much more important and these defendants deserve the ultimate punishment.

  10. #10
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    Dothan Man Avoids Death Row In Murder Case

    Cornellious Antwon Benton could have been sentenced to death for the shooting death of a Dothan man almost four years ago. However, according to defense attorney Hamp Baxley, Benton agreed Monday to enter a plea of guilty and was, instead, sent to prison for 20 years.

    Benton was one of two men charged with the November, 2008 shooting death of Christopher Woods. The 28-year old was gunned down along Blackshear Street during what was described by police investigators as a drug deal and robbery gone wrong.

    Tawaun Townes was arrested just hours after the deadly shooting and was subsequently found guilty by a jury and ordered put to death. Benton, on the other hand, spent about three years on the run before he was arrested in Crestview, Florida on August 6, 2011.

    Benton admitted to Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton Monday that he shot Woods but contends it was a shot from Townes gun that took Woods' life.

    Moulton, in addition to the 20 year prison sentence, ordered Benton to pay a $10,000 fine and almost $5,000 in restitution. Previous charges against Benton include robbery, cocaine possession, and escape.

    http://dothanfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=237562
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