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March 12, 2013 at 10:49 PM   |   Comments

Oklahoma executes triple killer

MCALESTER, Okla., March 12 (UPI) -- A man who killed three people during a crime spree in three states was executed Tuesday in Oklahoma, authorities said.

Steven Ray Thacker, 42, was put to death by lethal injection shortly after 6 p.m. local time in the state penitentiary in McAlester, KTUL-TV, Tulsa, reported. He had waived his right to a clemency hearing and did not try to stop his execution, the TV station said.

Thacker was convicted of raping and killing Laci Dawn Hill, 25, of Bixby, Okla., in December 1999, and he also killed a Missouri man on New Year's Day 2000 and a man in Tennessee the following day.

Members of the victims' families watched Thacker die, WTUL-TV said.

He was not allowed visitors during his final day, but was allowed to make phone calls.

His last meal was a large pizza, a root beer and some chocolate-and-candy-coated peanuts.


Saudis urged to halt executions

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 12 (UPI) -- United Nations officials Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia to stop its plans to execute seven men who allegedly did not receive fair trials.

"In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, capital punishment may be imposed only following a trial that complied with fair trial and due process safeguards," Christof Heyns, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a release.

The inmates are facing the death penalty after being convicted of being part of a criminal group that engaged in armed robbery of jewelery stores in 2005. They were sentenced to death in Asir in 2009.

Heyns said the crimes, which allegedly were fabricated, would not have been serious enough to warrant the death penalty.

"Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a government's international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution," Heyns said. "Only full respect for stringent due process guarantees distinguishes capital punishment as possibly permitted under international law from a summary execution, which by definition violates human rights standards."

Juan E. Mendez, the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture, said there are also serious concerns the men were tortured during detention and forced to sign confessions.

"This is not only in breach of Saudi Arabia's international obligations under international law, which imposes an outright prohibition on torture, it is also in breach of the government's international obligation under the Convention against Torture that explicitly forbids the use of all forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or acquiring information," Mendez said.

The seven men were originally scheduled for execution March 5, but a postponement means the sentences could be carried out Wednesday, the United Nations said.


Beasley guilty in Craigslist killings

AKRON, Ohio, March 12 (UPI) -- Jurors in Ohio Tuesday convicted an Akron man in the so-called Craigslist slayings of three men and attempted murder of a fourth.

The Summit County panel found Richard James Beasley, 53, guilty of aggravated murder, meaning he will be eligible for the death penalty, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Prosecutors had told jurors Monday that while they had no DNA evidence tying Beasley to any of the killings, they had a criminal imprint that linked him to all four shootings, the newspaper said.

In his closing argument, Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel urged jurors to use common sense, saying Beasley used "a systematic approach to executing these men" with a "clear method of operation."

Beasley was charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder and attempted murder in the 2011 shootings in which Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio, were killed and Scott William Davis, 48, was wounded.

Beasley's co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, 18, of Stow was convicted in October and faces life in prison.

Davis was the state's key witness against Beasley, the Beacon Journal said.

Baumoel said Beasley was "the mastermind" of the plot using the free website Craigslist to advertise a non-existent job to prey on unemployed men. His shooting method -- all of the victims were shot from behind -- was "like DNA," Baumoel said.

Lead defense attorney James Burdon challenged Davis' testimony, suggesting he had ties to a motorcycle club and was sent to Ohio as a hit man.

Beasley testified in his own defense, saying he was an informant on biker activities for Akron police and that Davis was sent to Ohio to kill him, Burdon said.


Seattle slaying suspect said in Ore. hotel

SEATTLE, March 12 (UPI) -- A Seattle-area man accused of killing his grandparents at their Renton, Wash., home may be hiding out in a motel along Oregon's Pacific coast, police said.

Police in Lincoln City, southwest of Portland, said they were trying to negotiate with a man believed to be Michael Boysen, 26, and had set off flash-bang grenades in an attempt to flush him out of the Westshore Oceanfront Suites Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported.

Guests and staff were evacuated from the motel and police said they had been in a "holding pattern" for several hours, the newspaper reported.

Westshore Oceanfront Suites owner Kent Landers said his employees recognized Boysen's name from a television news report as that of a man who checked into the hotel Monday night, the Times reported.

Sheriff's detectives said Boysen was a danger to police and the public.

Boysen's grandparents -- Robert, 82, and Norma Taylor, 80 -- were found dead in their Renton home Saturday, two days after Boysen completed a nine-month prison sentence for breaking into a home. The victims were last seen alive at a welcome-home party for Boysen in their home, where they had prepared a place for him to stay, seattlepi.com reported.

A warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the deaths, which police said were being investigated as homicides. No details of how they died have been released.

King County, Wash., Sheriff John Urquhart said Monday the victims picked Boysen up Friday when he was released from the Monroe Corrections Complex, where he had served a sentence for attempted residential burglary. They took him to meet his probation officer and helped him get identification card from the Department of Licensing, Urquhart said.

He said Boysen had made threats against law enforcement officers in the past and is attempting to obtain weapons to kill citizens, corrections officers and police.

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