Today I went to the Lane County Circuit Court to cover a judicial case for my reporting class. I stayed about two hours, then raced back to the computer lab to put together 800 words for the article. I wanted to get the thing done by 1700, a common deadline in newspapers, and I managed to do so with about 30 minutes to spare.
I sent the article to my professor and a couple newspapers, but I haven't heard back from anyone.
Jury Considers Capital Punishment for Supanchick
Eugene, Ore. - The Supanchick murder trial entered the sentencing phase Tuesday, after ex-Navy corpsman Tyke Thomas Supanchick, 30, was found guilty on April 18 of killing his estranged wife Kelly Supanchick, 25. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in this case.
The sentencing began with an extended opening statement by the defense, which laid out their case against execution, and repeated their requests for the 12-person jury to be “rational.”
“The first part of the case was driven by emotion,” the defense attorneys said, “but this part is about judgment. His life is in your hands.”
Their opening statement continued by talking about Supanchick’s service in the military and his work in the community, which has continued during his time in prison. The defendant has mentored and tutored other inmates throughout his incarceration, according to the defense attorneys.
“This young man has spent all of his life in service,” the attorneys said. “Nothing can punish him any more than he is being punished. And he welcomes it.”
The defense argues that the murder was entirely out of character for Supanchick, and should not be viewed as evidence of future dangerousness. They said that the trial up to that point had been about trying to explain how something can happen so quickly when he had “led an exemplary life.”
According to the defense lawyers, the defendant accepts that he is “absolutely responsible” for the death. However they cautioned the jury about the impact of an execution upon Supanchick’s five brothers, mother and father.
“This has destroyed them. Truly, truly destroyed.”
The prosecution responded with impassioned testimony by the victim’s parents, Howard Jackson and Beatrice Schwartzman.
“Having your kid murdered makes you question whatever belief system you might have,” Schwartzman said. “Because that is not how it is supposed to work.”
When she heard about her daughter’s death, Schwartzman thought there must have been a misunderstanding.
“It didn’t go in, it’s like it bounced off my head.”
Both parents describe her as a happy, competitive “tomboy,” who was a good mother. She joined the Navy in 2001, and was part of the ceremonial guard in Washington, DC, before receiving a medical discharge for a “circulation problem,” according to Jackson.
Howard Jackson and his wife Sue have legally adopted their granddaughter, Guinevere, 4, and live with her in Topeka, Kan. Schwartzman, who lives in St. Louis, Mo., said that the girl “seems to be in pretty good shape – in spite of it all.”
“She has her ‘mom that died,’ and her ‘mom that she lives with,’” Schwartzman said.
Jackson stated that he has no intent to foster a relationship between her and the defendant. However, he said that they did have a picture of Tyke Supanchick in a personal history photo album, which Guinevere was free to look at whenever she wanted.
“I am not going to lie about [her mother’s death],” Jackson said. “I am going to sugarcoat it.”
After the parent’s testimony, defense lawyers motioned for summary judgment by the judge, citing insufficient evidence of future dangerousness of the defendant. The court adjourned while the defense readied their video testimony in support of the motion.
Kelly Supanchick filed a restraining order against Tyke Supanchick a month prior to the shooting, citing personal threats and worries about two loaded guns in their house. The two were involved in a custody battle over their 18-month-old daughter. Supanchick entered his wife’s home on Dec. 23, 2005, armed with a shotgun, a large knife, duct tape and rubber gloves. Hours later, police arrived at the duplex after being alerted by his father.
Officer Richard Bremer testified that he peered through a window and saw that Kelly Supanchick was bound and in need of help, so police attempted to kick down the door. Tyke Supanchick shot the victim several times in the head and body, killing her, then surrendered to police.
The Supanchick trial is the first Oregon death penalty case held since the US Supreme Court ended its seven months long de facto moratorium on the death penalty on April 16. In a 7 – 2 opinion, the court ruled that correctly administered lethal injection did not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”
If sentenced to be executed, Supanchick would join 35 men sitting on death row. However, Oregon has only exercised capital punishment twice in the last 32 years, and there are no scheduled executions.
The trial, before Lane County Circuit Judge Gregory Foote, is expected to conclude within a week.