Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Huntsville Judge Donna Pate Sentences Daniel Ray Proctor to TWO Life Sentences on Theft

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alabama‘s prison system will again be pushed to the taxpayers’ breaking point by stupidity such as this sentence. It is extreme – even with the increased severity of punishment required for habitual offenders.

This is the so-called “Three Strikes and you’re out” law in action.

Realistically, “Three Strikes and you’re out” only applies in baseball games. But someone thought it sounded cool, and morphed it into a law in California. Subsequently, California’s prison population has exploded because that state adopted that law. They’ve now seriously modified it. It may be time to rethink sentencing guidelines in Alabama. But the likelihood of that happening is practically negligible.

Thanks to our legislature, this man will now burden every honest Alabama taxpayer.

That’s not to say he and others like him should not be punished, but rather acknowledges the failure of a pop-culture-driven bumper sticker slogan to effectively remedy, ameliorate or mitigate criminality. In essence, there is little or nothing done to correct, and much done to punish. Oddly, every state has a “Department of Corrections,” rather than a ‘Department of Punishments.’ There’s a reason for that, and it’s because there is a two-fold purpose (to punish and correct), with the higher one being correction.

Yet standing in stark contrast is the as-yet-untried, and officially indefinitely delayed case of Amy Bishop, the Harvard PhD-educated biology professor who went on a shooting rampage and killed three, and wounded three other colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Even though she has a track record of mental instability, prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty in her case. It would be exceedingly less costly to imprison her for the remainder of her natural life, without the possibility of parole, and to provide humane healthcare to her for the remainder of her natural life, than it would to try her case as a Capital Crime – one for which the Death Penalty may be exacted.

Proctor was convicted of First Degree Theft for the automobile (a Class B felony), and Second Degree Theft for the pistol – any firearm theft is automatically so classed (a Class C felony). Proctor also had two prior felony convictions.

The Code of Alabama sets forth sentencing guidelines as follows:

Section 13A-5-6
Sentences of imprisonment for felonies.

(a) Sentences for felonies shall be for a definite term of imprisonment, which imprisonment includes hard labor, within the following limitations:
(1) For a Class A felony, for life or not more than 99 years or less than 10 years.
(2) For a Class B felony, not more than 20 years or less than 2 years.

Section 13A-5-9
Habitual felony offenders – Additional penalties.

(a) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of a felony and after the conviction has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows:
(1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished for a Class B felony.
(2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished for a Class A felony.
(3) On conviction of a Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years.
(b) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of any two felonies and after such convictions has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows:
(1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished for a Class A felony.
(2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years.
(3) On conviction of a Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not less than 99 years.
(c) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of any three felonies and after such convictions has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows:
(1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years.
(2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or any term of not less than 20 years.
(3) On conviction of a Class A felony, where the defendant has no prior convictions for any Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or life without the possibility of parole, in the discretion of the trial court.
(4) On conviction of a Class A felony, where the defendant has one or more prior convictions for any Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §1235; Acts 1979, No. 79-664, p. 1163, §1; Act 2000-759, p. 1736, §1.)

Background on the judge:

Donna Pate is a Republican Attorney in Huntsville appointed by Republican Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, MD to fill the unexpired term of Judge Laura Hamilton, a Democrat, who retired. The unexpired term of office concluded in January 2012, and Pate was elected without opposition in the March Republican primary, and faces no Democratic opposition in the General Election.

Pate has been an attorney for 28 years, and is a shareholder in the Huntsville-based law firm Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne. According to their website, “Lanier Ford advises and represents businesses, manufacturers, service companies, technology companies, financial institutions, health-care providers, insurance companies, individuals, inventors, professionals, defense and government contractors, municipal and county governments, school systems and colleges, governmental agencies, and charitable and public service organizations.”

Practice Groups
•    Alternative Dispute Resolution – (arbitration and mediation)
•    Business & Corporate Services
•    Employment and Labor Relations
•    Estate, Trust, and Family-Wealth Planning
•    Finance and Banking
•    Health Care
•    Intellectual Property
•    Litigation and Appeals
•    Public Entities
•    Real Estate
•    Tax
•    Technology

Daniel Ray Proctor sentenced to life on theft charges

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 11:05 AM     Updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 11:59 AM
Judge Donna Pate - Daniel Proctor case 92d4126951ecc030

Judge Donna Pate instructs jurors as Daniel Proctor listens to instructions during jury selection in Pate’s courtroom as he goes to trial facing theft charges and is serving as his own defense attorney at the Madison County Courthouse Monday, August 20, 2012 in Huntsville, Ala. Florida authorities are also watching the case because he is suspected in the disappearance of his wife. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Daniel Ray Proctor, a suspect in the year-long disappearance of his girlfriend in Florida, was sentenced to life in prison on each of two theft charges in Madison County.

A jury needed less than 20 minutes to return felony guilty verdicts against Proctor, who served as his own attorney, for stealing a vehicle and a gun from a lifelong friend. The life verdicts will be served consecutively.

Proctor showed no emotion when the verdict was read but Ladonna Salehi, the mother of Proctor’s girlfriend who is originally from Huntsville, lifted her hands to her face as if gasping. Her daughter, Huntsville native Amy Patterson, has been missing for more than a year.

“We still don’t have answers,” Salehi said following the verdict. “We still don’t have anything about what’s happened to her. There’s no joy in another human being being sentenced to life and your daughter is still not being found.

“I don’t wish anyone to go through anything like this. I hoping that now, maybe in time, he will (say something).”

After Proctor asked for immediate sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Randy Dill argued for the maximum penalty — life in prison — because Proctor had three prior felony convictions.

Proctor asked for leniency but Circuit Court Judge Donna Pate gave him life sentences for each conviction today.

Proctor mounted little in way of a defense. After informing the court Monday he would take the stand in his own defense, Proctor changed his mind today. Called two witnesses today — a Madison County Sheriff Department investigator as well as one from Lee County, Fla. — and asked only about the contents inventoried in the truck he stole.

Both investigators said that information was available but it was not in the courtroom.

Proctor then rested his defense six minutes after it started.

He was charged with first-degree theft charge for stealing a Ford Explorer from his “best friend,” David Troy Campbell of New Market, last year. A second-degree theft charge stemmed from the disappearance of a .380 pistol from Campbell’s garage.

The disappearance of Proctor’s girlfriend came up during testimony Monday as Dill played audio and video of police interrogations of Proctor after his arrest.

Daniel Ray Proctor 11458248-large

Daniel Proctor listens to instructions during jury selection in Judge Donna Pate’s courtroom as he goes to trial facing theft charges and is serving as his own defense attorney at the Madison County Courthouse Monday, August 20, 2012 in Huntsville, Ala. Florida authorities are also watching the case because he is suspected in the disappearance of his wife. (Eric Schultz, The Huntsville Times)

In police questioning after his arrest in September 2011, Proctor said he returned to his native Huntsville in August 2011 “to be around family” after the disappearance of Patterson. Dill said in his opening statement that Proctor “had fallen on hard times.”

Proctor lived for about 12 days with Campbell, whom he described as his “best friend” dating back to elementary school in Huntsville.

Campbell testified he returned home from work on Aug. 26 and found his Ford Explorer missing. He then discovered a note Proctor left in the garage that said he took the vehicle and the gun.

Proctor said he was returning to Florida to look for Patterson. He said he left the note for his friend so Campbell “wouldn’t get into trouble.” When asked, “What trouble?” in an audio interview with Gene Nash, an investigator with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Proctor said it was because he didn’t have a driver’s license.

Proctor and Patterson were living together in Florida, but she had left him. Proctor told officials at the Cape Coral, Fla., school where she taught that she died in a car accident. Her body has not been found, and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

Updated today, August 21, 2012, at 11:58 a.m. with new information throughout.
Follow @paul_gattis on Twitter, or email him at paul.gattis@htimes.com.

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/08/daniel_ray_proctor_sentenced_t.html

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