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  1. #1

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    Mary Ellen Samuels - California Death Row



    Summary of Offense:

    Convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, solicitation of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Robert Samuels was found dead on December 8, 1988 from a gunshot wound to the head.

    Samuels was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County in September 1994.
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  2. #2
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    Mary Ellen Samuels of California is one such woman. Styled “The Green Widow” by the press, in 1988, Ms. Samuels hired a hit-man to kill her estranged husband and then reportedly hired two more men to strangle the hit-man.

    Money was the only motive discussed at the trial.

    After the hit man shot her husband in the back of the head, December 8, 1988, at his Northridge home, she spent the spoils— the entire $500,000 inheritance—in less than a year. She traded in her black Mazda, with a license plate abbreviating “Nasty Vixen,” for a white Porsche. She bought furs in Vegas. She rented limousines for long nights of club hopping and vacationed in pricy resorts. She outfitted herself in slinky outfits from “Trashy
    Lingerie,” a Melrose boutique.165 Mary Ellen was also photographed by her lover in Cancun with $20,000 in $100 bills draped across her naked body.166 Not the picture of a grieving widow.

    Although Mary Ellen Samuels and her husband had been separated for three years, and he had agreed after a long struggle not to contest the finalization of their divorce, the press still painted Bob Samuels as a caring, hardworking, devoted husband.167 He had struggled to give Mary Ellen the creature comforts she enjoyed and yet it was not enough for her. Mary Ellen was sexual, ungrateful, deceitful, conniving and evil.

    Mary Ellen threatens the patriarchy—she saw her husband as a meal ticket and went about cashing in that meal ticket in a sneaky, deceitful, and underhanded manner. She seduced a man and won his love only to kill him
    when it appeared the well of his love was drying up. She is “other” than woman.

    She was a spider, a witch, the “green widow,” not a woman.

    Mary Ellen Samuels did a horrible thing—she arranged for the death of another human being. In her trial, however, sex-role stereotyping clouded the application of justice. It would be easy to say, “Mary Ellen fit into the mold of an evil woman and this is why the jury was able to sentence her to die.” To say this would be to miss the role the patriarchy played in her trial and to shift the focus away from the sexism inherent in the system.

    The sex-role stereotypes here made Mary Ellen into a caricature and subtracted from the seriousness of the crimes and the tragedy of the death of her husband.

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  3. #3
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    June 8, 2005

    S.C. Upholds Death Sentence for Valley Woman

    The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the death sentence for a San Fernando Valley woman in the murders of her husband and the man who allegedly helped her hire the actual killer.

    Justice Janice Rogers Brown, writing for the court, said Mary Ellen Samuels received a fair trial for the murders of Robert Samuels and James Bernstein. Even if Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff committed evidentiary or instructional errors. Brown wrote, they were harmless because the evidence “overwhelmingly linked defendant to the murders of Robert Samuels and James Bernstein.”

    Mary Ellen Samuels, the justice said, killed her husband for money, including $240,000 in insurance proceeds, $70,000 from the Subway sandwich shop that they continued to co-own, even though they had been in divorce proceedings for 26 months before Robert Samuels was killed, and $160,000 as a result of refinancing the family home.

    Police and prosecutors called Samuels the “green widow” after she spent virtually all of that money in less than a year. A photograph introduced in evidence, taken by a male companion sometime after the killings, showed Samuels in bed covered with nothing but currency.

    Jurors found her guilty of two counts each of murder, solicitation, and conspiracy, with special circumstances of multiple murder and killing for financial gain.

    Robert Samuels was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun in his Northridge home Dec. 8, 1988.

    The day after his body was found, the suspected hit man took out a $25,000 life insurance policy, naming Samuels’ daughter, Nicole, as beneficiary, according to testimony. Seven months later, he was dead-strangled, beaten and dumped along the highway in an isolated Ventura County canyon.

    Evidence regarding the lavish spending was properly admitted, Brown said, as was testimony by Elizabeth Kaufman, who represented Robert Samuels in the family law action, that Robert Samuels was having financial difficulties and was trying to reduce his support payments.

    The testimony helped establish the motive for the murder, Brown said.

    Brown also said Hoff did not abuse his discretion in dismissing a juror, identified only as Audrey W., after she wrote to the judge, saying she was unsure she could vote for a death penalty, and was questioned by the judge about her beliefs.

    “[T]he record reflects that Audrey W. was distressed and volunteered to the court that she could not follow her oath and instructions to consider imposition of the death penalty in this case,” the justice said. “She also admitted she lacked ‘courage’ to impose the ultimate punishment if appropriate under all the circumstances, and that she feared she ‘couldn’t act; on her obligation to do so. Therefore, after a meaningful inquiry, the trial court credited Audrey W.’s expressions of her state of mind and determined there was a demonstrable reality that she was unable to perform as a juror. We defer to this finding and the underlying record. “

    The case is People v. Samuels, 05 S.O.S. 3129.

    http://www.metnews.com/articles/2005/samu062805.htm

  4. #4
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    On April 17, 2006, the US Supreme Court denied Samuels' certiorari petition.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.a...es/05-8672.htm

    On April 29, 2010, Samuels filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cal...v03225/471334/

  5. #5
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    At 11:00 p.m. Discovery channel will re air an episode of "Dual Survival" featuring Mary Ellen Samuels.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  6. #6
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    Samuels filed her second petition for habeas corpus before the California Supreme Court on 05/26/11.

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.g...doc_no=S193440

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