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 Pam Perillo In The News

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Thursday ruled 1 of 8
women on Texas death row must be retried or set free.

The appeals court's decision upholds an earlier lower-court ruling
ordering the state to give Pamela Lynn Perillo a new trial within 120
days of prosecutors exhausting their appeals. If not, Perillo must be
released.

The state also has the option of appealing the 5th Circuit ruling to
the U.S. Supreme Court, a spokeswoman with the Texas Attorney General's
office said Thursday.

"We'll be making that determination with the Harris County District
Attorney's office in the near future," spokeswoman Andrea Horton said.

Perillo's attorney, Maryanne Lyons, could not be reached for comment
late Thursday.

Perillo was a bartender when she and 2 friends were picked up by Bob
Skeens, 26, and Robert Banks, 30, while hitchhiking near Houston's
Astrodome on Feb. 24, 1980.

The 3 hitchhikers later robbed Skeens and Banks, and Perillo and James
Michael Briddle eventually were sentenced to death for choking the 2
men to death with a rope.

Briddle was executed in December 1995, and the 3rd person involved,
Linda Fletcher, was sentenced to 5 years' probation.

Last June, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein overturned Perillo's
conviction after finding one of her attorneys had a personal and
professional relationship with the chief witness against her.

The judge also found that defense attorney Jim Skelton failed to
discredit Fletcher's testimony at crucial points during Perillo's 1984
re-trial.

Skelton represented Fletcher when she, her then-husband Briddle and
Perillo were charged with the crime.

Perillo later confessed, and all 3 were charged with capital murder.
But the charge against Fletcher was reduced to aggravated robbery after
Skelton convinced prosecutors she was not involved in the killings.

Months after Fletcher was sentenced to 5 years' probation, Skelton
gave her away at her wedding.

Perillo is 1 of 8 women on Texas' death row. Last week, Texas executed
Betty Lou Beets, who was only the 2nd woman put to death in the state
since the Civil War. Convicted pickax killer Karla Faye Tucker became
the 1st when she was executed on Feb. 3, 1998.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Houston ordered the release of death row
inmate Calvin Jerold Burdine because the state filed for a new trial 15
days after the deadline. The state has a motion pending before the 5th
Circuit to block his release.

(source:  Associated Press)
 



              Rights advocates plead case against death row
                              By BARRY BROWN   News Toronto Bureau   12/26/99
 

                  TORONTO - Pam Perillo, 43, has been on Texas' death row for almost 19 years, and while she isn't as well-known as her one-time best friend and former death row inmate, Karla Faye Tucker, Perillo is hoping the efforts of a Canadian couple might one day end her death row horrors.
                  Perillo, one of eight women on death row in Texas, is also one of 500 death row inmates with messages on the Web site of the Canadian Coalition Against the  Death Penalty www.ccadp.org
                 Tracy Lamourie, one of the coalition's founders, said its efforts to abolish the death penalty and improve conditions for death row inmates is a human rights issue.
                  "The perception of what we do is very different inside the United States than outside. In the U.S., the death penalty is seen as a crime and punishment issue, and our stand against the death penalty is seen as mean to the victims," she said.
                  "Outside the U.S., it's really seen as more of a human rights issue. We get a lot of positive response from Europe and Australia. We get a lot of support in Canada, too, but the average man-in-the-street has misconceptions about how it is used," she added.
               People think of the death penalty being applied to "recognizable killers, like Ted Bundy," Lamourie explained. But of the 4,000 men and women on death row in     the United States, many have been condemned for "less heinous crimes than those with long prison
terms."
                  "There's a 17-year-old on death row who was with someone who killed a person during a robbery," Lamourie said. "The U.S.  is way ahead (of other nations) in the execution of juveniles. There's been two this year."
                  Since inmates do not have access to a computer, let alone the Internet, Lamourie and her partner, Dave Parkinson, spend most of their time transcribing inmates' letters, opinion pieces and poetry onto the site's Web pages.
Perillo, whose crime is not detailed on her site, described on the site her routine degradation. The women on death row are "strip-searched six, sometimes eight times a day, and most of the time we have never left our cells from one search to another," she wrote. Pictures of loved ones are destroyed or damaged during cell searches, Perillo said, adding that she has seen sick prisoners left in a cell until they died.
                  Lamourie said the coalition doesn't concern itself with questions of guilt or innocence, only the humane treatment of people.
                  However, relatives of the victims have been enraged enough at the site to e-mail their condemnations.
                  A spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections recently deplored the site as "disgusting, repulsive and offensive to the memory of the victims."



                       Thursday March 11,  1999 - Houston Chronicle

STATE ATTORNEY SEEKS TO PREVENT NEW TRIAL FOR FEMALE DEATH ROW INMATE

BY ED ASHER
Houston Chronicle

A state attorney was in court Wednesday morning seeking to prevent a new trial for one of the only eight women on Texas' death row.
The Texas Attorney General's Office is appealing a federal judge's ruling last summer that overturned the capital murder conviction of Pamela Perillo, 43.
U.S District Judge Ewing Werlein said in June that Perillo's right to a fair trial was compromised because her attorney had a close personal and professional relationship with the prosecution's chief witness.  Werlein said the attorney, Jim Skelton, failed to discredit the testimony of the witness, Linda Fletcher, on crucial points during Perillo's 1984 trial and ordered a new trial for Perillo.
In a hearing before a panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Douglas Danzeiser arguies that Skelton did not have a conflict of interest when he cross examined Fletcher.
Although Fletcher was a former client of Skelton's, the attorney no longer had a duty to protect Fletcher's interests when she testified against Perillo, Danzeiser argued.
Danzeiser also dismissed Skelton's personal relationship with Fletcher as irrelevant.
Skelton represented Fletcher when she, her then husband Mike Briddle and Perillo were charged with the February 1980 strangulations of Robert Banks and Bob Skeens.
Prosecutors alleged that Perillo, Briddle and Fletcher stole $800 from Skeens and Banks and that Perillo and Briddle strangled them.  Perillo later confessed, and all three were charged with capital murder.
But Skelton convinced prosecutors that Fletcher was not involved in the killings.  She was reindicted on an aggravated robbery charge with an agreement to testify against Briddle.
Fletcher was sentenced to five years probation; Briddle and Perillo were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.  Briddle was executed in December 1995.
Perillo's appeal attorneys also complained of Skelton's relationship with Fletcher.
Months after Fletcher was sentenced, Skelton went to California to give her away at her 1981 wedding.  Fletcher stayed at Skelton's home when she came to testify against Perillo, and was his guest when she testified against Briddle during his 1982 capital- murder trial.
Danzeiser told the three judge panel that Skelton was not ineffective at Perillo's trial, but instead "performed at the highest traditions of the (legal) profession."
Maryanne Lyons, one of Perillo's appeal attorneys, countered that Skelton had a conflict of interest because of his relationship with Fletcher and failed to mount an aggressive cross-examination of her.
The 5th Circuit is expected to rule on the case within the next three months.

    
 
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This page was last updated March 4, 2000          Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
info@ccadp.org       This page is maintained and updated by and  Tracy Lamourie and Dave Parkinson