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Ivan Teleguz - Virginia
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  1. #1
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    Ivan Teleguz - Virginia

    Stephanie Sipe

    Summary of Offense:

    Born on November 17, 1978 and sentenced to death in Rockingham County on July 18, 2006.

    Ivan Teleguz was sentenced to death in Rockingham County for the July 21, 2001 capital murder-for-hire slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Yvonne Sipe, the mother of his 23-month-old son, who was stabbed to death in her Harrisonburg apartment.

    Teleguz, who had moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was angry he had been ordered to pay support for the child.

    He hired Edwin Lee Gilkes Jr. and Michael Anthony Hetrick to kill Sipe for $2,000. On July 21, 2001, Teleguz drove the two men from Pennsylvania to Harrisonburg and he told Hetrick he wanted Sipe’s throat cut.

    Teleguz waited in the car at a Wal-Mart while the two men bought a fillet knife that he approved of as a murder weapon. Teleguz then drove them to Sipe’s apartment, pointed it out and dropped them off nearby.

    He told them to wait until he had had enough time to drive back to Pennsylvania. They waited several hours and then returned to the apartment complex. Hetrick entered the apartment alone after telling Sipe he needed to use the telephone.

    Once inside he attacked her and cut her throat but also cut his own hand, leaving his blood at the scene. He went into the bathroom to wash it and discovered the boy in the bathtub with the water running. He turned off the water and left.

    Sipe suffered defensive wounds and three other knife injuries. One wound went from the left side of her neck to the right side, and the fatal wound was two and a half inches deep into her trachea, larynx and a major artery.

    The body was discovered on July 23, 2001, by Sipe’s mother, Pamela Y. Woods, who was concerned she had been unable to contact her daughter for two days. Woods began screaming for help. A neighbor covered Sipe’s body with a blanket and then found the boy, unharmed, in the tub full of water.

    A tipster led police to Gilkes, who in turn led police to Hetrick, who eventually confessed. Testing confirmed Hetrick’s blood in the apartment.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    July 19, 2006

    Man Who Chose Murder Over Child Support Gets Death

    A Rockingham County court has sentenced a man convicted of ordering the murder of his ex-girlfriend because he was angry about child support payments to death -- the court's first death sentence in six years.

    Ivan Teleguz, 27, was sentenced Tuesday for ordering the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Sipe, in July 2001.

    Circuit Judge John McGrath described Teleguz' conduct as "heinous" and "reprehensible" before telling Teleguz that, "No other punishment is appropriate other than death."

    Pam Woods found her 20-year-old daughter dead in her Harrisonburg apartment on July 23, 2001. Sipe's 2-year-old son was in the bathroom unharmed.

    Michael Hetrick, 31, of Warren, Pa., testified that Teleguz paid him $2,500 for the job. His alleged accomplice, Edward L. Gilkes Jr., 27, of Altoona, Pa., also testified against Teleguz.

    Gilkes is serving 15 years in prison for his part in the murder-for-hire plot. Hetrick is negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors.

    Teleguz, whose family fled religious persecution in the Soviet Union when he was a boy, stood expressionless during the sentencing.

    It was a demeanor he'd maintained throughout the February trial, the result, his attorney's said, of his conservative childhood.

    But Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst called it evidence of his cold, calculating nature.

    Judge McGrath agreed.

    "If I had one iota of doubt of your guilt, I would do so," McGrath said of imposing the lesser punishment of life in prison. "If I had one iota of doubt of your viciousness, I would."


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    July 23, 2007

    Giving Evil the Eye

    Juries Don’t Always Know Heinous Crimes When They See Them, But This Might Help

    By Neely Tucker
    The Washington Post

    From the annals of grisly American crimes that fascinate forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, we bring you one Ivan Teleguz.

    We’ll ask you to decide if the 28-year-old Teleguz committed an act that was "vile," "depraved" and/or "evil."

    This is no mere semantic exercise. The life of Teleguz — like many facing the death penalty — hinges on whether his actions can be fairly described as evil and vile and depraved and cruel and heinous. These are the legal terms that separate the casually murderous from the truly sadistic. The way these things work, the latter get the death penalty (or at least enhanced sentences); the former do not.

    The Teleguz case, stemming from a throat-slitting homicide in Harrisonburg, was ultimately decided by the Virginia Supreme Court on April 20.

    Feeling squeamish? A little depressed?

    "We don’t want to look at evil. We don’t want to sit with it. We don’t want to wade in it."

    This is Welner talking. He’s wearing coat and tie in his narrow, rectangular office. There are little ceramic gargoyles on the walls and a slice of the Manhattan skyline outside his eighth-floor window.

    "But it’s as if an oncologist looked away from the cause of cancer because they don’t know how to treat it, or a virologist looks away from AIDS because he considers it to be inscrutable. If you can identify evil, then you can go about eliminating it. It’s the first step in any scientific research."

    * * *

    First, the Teleguz facts:

    In the summer of 2001, according to trial testimony in Rockingham County, Va., Ivan Teleguz got tired of paying child support to his former girlfriend, 20-year-old Stephanie Sipe. Their 2-year-old son lived with her.

    Teleguz’s solution to this problem was to kill Sipe.

    He hired two men to kill her, but not quickly with a gun. He told them he wanted Sipe’s "throat cut." He drove the pair from his home in Pennsylvania to a Wal-Mart near Sipe’s apartment in Harrisonburg. They bought a fillet knife for the job. Teleguz drove them to her apartment, then went back to Pennsylvania to establish an alibi. The men went to the door, asked to use the phone, then attacked.

    The fatal wound: "a cut approximately two and one-half inches deep into Sipe’s trachea, larynx, and a major artery on the right side of Sipe’s neck." It caused the young mother to "drown in her own blood," according to the trial record.

    Only then did the killers hear the bath water running. They discovered the 2-year-old in the tub. They were considerate enough to turn the water off. They left the child with his nearly decapitated mother. Mother and child were not discovered for two days.

    Teleguz paid the men $2,000 and kicked in another $500 for expenses.

    Two years passed. The killers were eventually identified by blood left at the scene. They gave up Teleguz to police. (The man wielding the knife got life in prison. The accomplice got 15 years.)

    Prosecutors, however, wanted the death penalty for Teleguz.

    To do that, they needed to demonstrate his "depravity of mind" and that the crime was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman," according to the Virginia statute.

    Here’s the legal definition for "depravity of mind": "A degree of moral turpitude and psychical detachment surpassing that inherent in the definition of ordinary legal malice and premeditation." Webster’s definition of vile: "morally base or evil; wicked; depraved; sinful."

    In other words, was Teleguz your typical murder-for-hire customer, or was he really sadistic and depraved?

    The jury found him to be depraved and sentenced him to death — delivering a punishment harsher than the man who actually stabbed Sipe. The state Supreme Court took it up for review.

    Do you think Teleguz was depraved to the point of evil? You do know what evil is, right? That’s funny, because nobody else has figured out exactly how to define it. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Welner from trying.

    * * *

    The search for absolute evil is as old as mankind. No one has ever pinned down what it is, either as a theological concept or as a physical act. Welner would like to pin it down as a legal concept.

    The Bible posits it existed in the world with Adam and Eve but not much more is apparent. The New Catholic Encyclopedia: "There is no precise articulation of the nature of evil in the creeds of the church, nor is there any explicit or definitive doctrine of evil."

    Descartes wrestled with the idea of the "Evil Genius" before deciding the only thing one could be sure of was consciousness ("I think, therefore I am"). Kant had the idea of "radical evil" corrupting the categorical imperative. Buddhism is non-dualistic, but still has Mara, the god of evil and destruction. Atheists generally say that evil is not due to God giving man free will (a popular explanation of the religious crowd) but because there is no God at all.

    The theology department at Georgetown University has a required course titled "The Problem of God." It asks the eternal question: "What is evil?" Department Chairman Terrence Reynolds says the question is more interesting than the answer, primarily because there isn’t one.

    "It’s probably true that in the modern age we don’t like behavior to go completely unexplained," Reynolds says in a telephone interview. "We like to reduce profoundly aberrant behavior to some chemical or neurological agent, but evil can transcend attempts to define it. . . . I’m not afraid of mystery in life, and evil to me is part of that mystery."

    Welner is going to keep trying to solve that mystery, at least for the legal system.

    Upbeat, enthusiastic, 42, handsome, cleanshaven, recently married, child of Pittsburgh, son of a nurse and an engineer. He’s an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University medical school and chairman of the Forensic Panel, a 30-member organization of medical and forensic scientists that consults on court cases.

    His fascination with human evil started a decade ago, when he was editing a journal called the Forensic Echo, which tracked public policy, psychiatric research and court decisions. He noticed there was a steady stream of traffic from trial to appellate courts about what constituted the worst of crimes.

    This matters because prosecutors and defense attorneys spar over technical matters such as jury instructions, and aggravating and mitigating circumstances — all of which determine the punishment for the crime in question.

    Intrigued by how different states wrestled with the concept of evil, he went through more than 100 appellate decisions that upheld crimes as being, say, "especially heinous." He worked backward to the underlying psychiatric diagnosis of the perpetrator — malignant narcissism, psychopathy, necrophilia — to produce a chart of psychiatric conditions involved in the worst types of crimes.

    "What this research does is force the people who are arguing the case to explain to a jury, in an evidence-driven way, ‘What is it about this crime that makes it evil?’ If it’s obvious, then the evidence will bear it out," Welner says. "Do we find that a person who flays the skin off someone’s face after they have passed away, ergo disrespect for the victim after the fact . . . do we as a society agree that that should distinguish a crime as depraved?"

    Welner calls his developing taxonomic standard of evil the Depravity Scale. It’s a chart, divided into sections that separate the intents, actions and behaviors of the sadistic and the sick. These get rated: very depraved, somewhat depraved, not so much. Welner has also developed a scientific questionnaire that asked people to rate various types of crimes into more or less depraved to see if there was broad consensus.

    (You can take the survey at http://www.depravityscale.org. It asks the question: "Is there evil beyond crime?" Not, of course, that a survey can define evil — just what we think is evil.)

    Over the years, he consulted on vicious crimes cases that expose how tricky this can be.

    Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children, he rates as not depraved, because she "did not intend to emotionally traumatize, to terrorize, to show off, to maximize damage, there was no criminal indulgence or grotesque quality to the suffering, no prolonged agony. She did not desecrate the bodies." John Allen Muhammed, the lead D.C. sniper, charts as depraved because he "intended to maximize destruction, intended to traumatize, targeted because of prejudice, exploited the trust of [Lee Boyd] Malvo to enlist him in crime, enlisted Malvo in order to have a juvenile to take responsibility, and enlisted and trained Malvo in order to maximize his destructive potential."

    What about, say, the O.J. Simpson case? The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, whether O.J. did it or not? Was that depraved?


    "The available evidence from the crime, and the available information about the person believed to have committed it [O.J.], doesn’t distinguish it from other domestic homicides," Welner says. "What distinguishes it are dramatic pictures shown to the public and a tragic case of a beautiful woman losing her life, along with a person trying to do her a favor, and a celebrity defendant."

    More than 25,000 people (most from the United States but others from a total of more than 50 countries) have taken the online survey. Welner thinks the Depravity Scale, if adopted by legislatures or by court systems, could lead to a standardized definition of the most serious terms, eliminating the dangers of jurors being unreasonably swayed, one way or another, by a particular crime.

    The scale "is a very important clinical tool to evaluate a crime," says Vernon J. Geberth, author of "Practical Homicide Investigation," a standard reference book in the field, and a retired commander in the New York City police department. "Most psychologists testify for the defense and come up with some sort of apology for some of most outrageous conduct. But some of these people can’t be handled like that. Some people, some things, are just evil."

    It turns out people agree in staggering numbers.

    Regardless of race, age, gender, religious belief or political party, 99 percent of all respondents who have taken the survey agree that "actions that cause grotesque suffering," "intent to emotionally traumatize" and "actions that prolong suffering," are depraved and, therefore, worthy of the most severe legal punishment available.

    Red state, blue state, rich, poor, black, white, all agreed. Victims of violent crime agree with people who haven’t been victimized. Death penalty advocates agree with abolitionists.

    But wait a minute — here’s where things get bizarre.

    Welner’s leading example of our confusion over evil and depravity is the case of Charles Reddish. He is a New Jersey man who in 1995 tied up his girlfriend and her teenage daughter. He then put a sheet over the daughter’s head and killed the girlfriend with an ax. Then he took the child upstairs and raped her.

    The jury convicted him of the murder and rape. But, after the judge created a very narrow standard of what is heinous in the jury instructions, they found that killing a mother with 24 blows from an ax in front of her child was not depraved. No worse than any ordinary murder.

    "You can’t infer any intent to inflict torture," said the foreman.

    * * *

    And Ivan Teleguz? Was he "depraved"?

    Yes, said the jury — and the Virginia Supreme Court.

    There were many elements that the appellate court affirmed as depraved — planning the murder to avoid supporting his own child; directing the killing to take place without regard to the child’s presence; and, most particularly, directing the killers to cut Sipe’s throat.

    "Teleguz’s specific directions for the manner in which Sipe was to be murdered are evidence of his depravity of mind," the court ruled. "The facts in this case support a finding of such depravity of mind and thus satisfy the statutory predicate of vileness."

    Ivan Teleguz is on death row.

    What is evil? Who can say?


  4. #4
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    January 15, 2010

    Virginia Supreme Court rejects death-row appeal

    RICHMOND (AP) - The Virginia Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a man who ordered the murder of his ex-girlfriend because he was angry about child support payments.

    Ivan Teleguz was sentenced to death for the 2001 slaying of Stephanie Sipe in Harrisonburg. Another man who testified that Teleguz paid him $2,500 to kill Sipe is serving a life term. An accomplice was sentenced to 15 years.

    In his petition to the Supreme Court, Teleguz alleged several errors by his trial lawyer, including a failure to successfully object to references to the "Russian Mafia." The justices unanimously rejected all the claims.


  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Administrative Date

    State sets date for Teleguz’s execution

    A Rockingham County judge has set a date for the execution of a Harrisonburg man convicted of paying to have his ex-girlfriend killed, according to a court order obtained May 12.

    Ivan Teleguz, 31, was convicted in 2006 of the murder-for-hire killing of Stephanie Sipe four years earlier. Judge James Lane has scheduled Teleguz to die on June 21 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

    Teleguz can still appeal his case in the federal court system and if he files such a motion in the next five weeks, the execution will likely be postponed.

    Still, prosecutors say an execution date at least indicates that closure for the family is getting closer. A jury convicted Teleguz of being an accessory before the fact to capital murder in the death of Sipe, the 20-year-old mother of his child. According to court documents, Teleguz was upset about child support payments so he paid $2,500 to have Sipe killed.

    Michael A. Hetrick and Edward L. Gilkes Jr. pleaded guilty in connection with the killing and testified against Teleguz at his trial. Hetrick confessed to killing Sipe, saying he did so on the orders of Teleguz. Gilkes had been the original hit man, but backed out of the deal, leaving the job to Hetrick, according to testimony. Both men are serving lengthy jail sentences.

    Sipe was found dead in her Deer Run apartment just off Port Republic Road. Her throat had been cut. Her 2-year-old son was in the apartment at the time of the slaying but was unharmed.

    A jury sentenced Teleguz to death.

    In an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court following the conviction and sentence, Teleguz claimed his trial lawyer made several mistakes, including failing to object to references to the “Russian Mafia” that were made at trial.

    The state’s high court rejected his appeal, but he could still file a federal appeal of the state Supreme Court’s decision. If that fails, Teleguz then could file a new appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.


  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    June 11, 2010

    Teleguz Still Has Options[/FONT]

    By Pete DeLea
    The Daily News-Record

    HARRISONBURG - Attorneys representing a Harrisonburg man convicted of paying to have his ex-girlfriend killed will likely file another round of appeals ahead of his scheduled June 21 execution, sources say.

    Ivan Teleguz, 31, was convicted in 2006 of the murder-for-hire killing of Stephanie Sipe four years earlier

    Calls to the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center in Charlottesville, which is representing Teleguz on his appeal process, were not returned.


  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    June 19, 2010

    Teleguz Granted A Stay

    By Pete DeLea
    The Daily News-Record

    HARRISONBURG - A federal judge granted Ivan Teleguz a stay of execution just days before he was scheduled to die for his role in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, according to documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

    Teleguz, 31, was convicted in 2006 of the murder-for-hire killing of Stephanie Sipe four years earlier.

    He was scheduled to die Monday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.


  8. #8
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    Oct 2010
    Va death-row inmate's appeal set in federal court

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - A federal appeal hearing is set for a death-row inmate who ordered the murder of his ex-girlfriend because he was angry about child support payments.

    The Daily News-Record reports arguments are set for Monday in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville for 31-year-old Ivan Teleguz.

    U.S. District Judge James P. Jones granted a stay of execution last June, just days before Teleguz was scheduled to die.

    Teleguz was sentenced to death for the 2001 slaying of Stephanie Sipe in Harrisonburg. Another man who testified that Teleguz paid him $2,500 to kill Sipe is serving a life term. An accomplice was sentenced to 15 years.

    The Virginia Supreme Court rejected Teleguz's appeal in January 2010. He had alleged several errors by his trial lawyer.


  9. #9
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    Oct 2010
    Federal judge denies Va death-row appeal

    HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a Virginia death-row inmate's appeal.

    U.S. District James P. Jones ruled that Ivan Teleguz's claims are without merit. Jones filed his ruling Monday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

    Teleguz was sentenced to death for the 2001 slaying of Stephanie Sipe in Harrisonburg. Another man who testified that Teleguz paid him $2,500 to kill Sipe is serving a life term Another accomplice was sentenced to 15 years.

    The Virginia Supreme Court rejected Teleguz's appeal in January 2010. He had alleged his trial lawyer was ineffective. He also claimed the prosecution unfairly denied him access to consular assistance from the Ukraine, his native country.

    Rockingham County Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst tells the Daily News-Record (http://bit.ly/qcoqys ) that she's pleased with Jones' ruling.


  10. #10
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On October 6, 2011, Teleguz filed an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit over the denial of his habeas petition in Federal District Court.


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