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Florida man screams, yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s put to death

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STARKE, Fla. (AP) — As the execution drugs were being administered, inmate Eric Scott Branch let out a blood-curdling scream. Then he yelled “murderers! murderers! murderers!” as he thrashed on a gurney as he was being put to death for the 1993 rape and slaying of a college student.

The drugs included a powerful sedative Thursday evening and the 47-year-old inmate turned silent after one guttural groan. Minutes earlier, he had just been addressing corrections officers, saying it should fall to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his attorney general to carry out the death sentence — not to those workers present.

“Let them come down here and do it,” Branch said. “I’ve learned that you’re good people and this is not what you should be doing.”

Branch was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. Thursday after receiving the injection at Florida State Prison in Starke. The governor’s office made the announcement.

Asked later whether Branch’s scream could have been caused by the execution drugs, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said “there was no indication” that the inmate’s last actions were a result of the injection procedure. She said that conclusion had been confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Branch was convicted of raping and fatally beating University of West Florida student Susan Morris, 21. Her naked body was found buried in a shallow grave — a crime whose brutality was noted by the Florida Supreme Court in denying one of Branch’s appeals.

“She had been beaten, stomped, sexually assaulted and strangled. She bore numerous bruises and lacerations, both eyes were swollen shut,” the justices wrote.

Evidence in the case shows Branch approached Morris after she left a night class on Jan. 11, 1993, so he could steal her red Toyota and return to his home state of Indiana. He was arrested while traveling there.

Branch also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Indiana and of another sexual assault in the Florida Panhandle that took place just 10 days before Morris was killed, court records show.

The jury in his murder case recommended the death penalty by a 10-2 vote under Florida’s old capital punishment system, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. The high court said juries must reach a unanimous recommendation for death and judges cannot overrule that. Florida legislators subsequently changed the system to comply.

One of Branch’s final and unsuccessful appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court involved whether he deserved a new sentencing hearing because of that jury’s 10-2 vote in his 1994 trial. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the new system of sentencing did not apply to inmates sentenced to death before 2002.

Elsewhere, Texas’ governor spared a convicted killer’s life shortly before the inmate was to have been executed Thursday for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother. Gov. Greg Abbott accepted the state parole board’s rare clemency recommendation and commuted the sentence of Thomas “Bart” Whitaker to life without parole. Whitaker’s father also was shot in the 2003 plot at the family’s suburban Houston home but survived. He led an effort to save his son from execution.

And in Alabama, Doyle Lee Hamm was sentenced to die Thursday evening for the 1987 death of a motel clerk during a robbery. Hamm fought his death sentence, arguing there was a risk of a botched execution because of damage to his veins from lymphoma and other illnesses. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday evening temporarily delayed the lethal injection procedure.

In Florida, relatives of victim Susan Morris said they remain profoundly grieved by her violent death. Though Morris was 21 when she was killed, more time has passed than the number of years she lived, the family statement said. Still, the pain remains.

“Twenty-five years ago, Susan’s life was suddenly and brutally extinguished. We have grieved for her longer that she was with us. Yet because of who she was … she will never be forgotten by those who love her,” said the statement, read out by her sister Wendy Morris Hill shortly after Branch was put to death.

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Owner of Elite Tattoo Gallery in Jacksonville is accused of scamming tattoo artists across country

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The owner of Elite Tattoo Gallery in Jacksonville, North Carolina will soon have to answer to a lawsuit after she allegedly scammed dozens of tattoo artists out of thousands of dollars after she canceled an event.

In a Facebook post by Bryan Thomas, a victim of the alleged scam said Wednesday that in March of this year he signed up for an educational tattoo seminar called “The Impact Project.” Thomas said a ticket to the event cost him $1,600. He received an email earlier Wednesday about the event canceling, and there will be no refunds.

The event is an Indianapolis event organized by local Jacksonville Elite Tattoo Gallery owner, Melissa Ferranto.

According to the Impact Project website, the four-day conference was supposed to be held at the downtown Hilton in September, so artists could collaborate and learn how to best run a successful business.

Impact Project flyer.

Tattoo artists say they received an email Wednesday that “the event and all future events are canceled indefinitely due to unforeseen tragic matters and extreme circumstances. The funds for the ticket sales have been used for the forward progression of the conference” and says they cannot refund any tickets.

READ EMAIL BELOW: 

Email artists received.

Many of the artists say they have contacted their financial institution to dispute the charges, but some are way out of the time frame they can file a dispute.

Fox59 in Indianapolis spoke with a local tattoo artist who said “everything looked real and legit,” but that all changed the night he received an email about the event canceling and that there would be no refunds. (click HERE for their story)

News In Onslow reached out to Melissa Ferranto and she released this statement to us BELOW:

Dear Colleagues, I want to start out by apologizing for the delay in getting this email sent. Please don’t mistake the delay in communication for a lack of concern for what has transpired. We care deeply about each person that has been negatively affected by cancellation of the event.

My intention is to be completely forthright about why the event was cancelled and all other relevant matters. However, instead of providing a piecemeal explanation at this time, I have been advised to wait until I can provide a thorough statement, including an accounting of funds and a final resolution.

Please rest assured that we are working diligently on a remedy. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I send out my sincerest apologies to everyone involved.

Sincerely,

Melissa Ferranto Representative of the Impact Project, Elite Tattoo Gallery and Body Piercing Studio, LLC

Ferranto told News In Onslow that she is represented by an attorney.

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Man who killed Sheldon Prawl in 2013 will spend nearly 50 years in prison

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“Sheldon tried to kill my sister,” Carleton Davis said to Prawl’s mother Beverly Daley as she read her impact statement to the court. 

“I have not only lost one child but two children, and if it was up to me, Davis and Cheri would receive the death penalty,” Daley said.

It took two weeks of trial and nearly 6 hours total of deliberation for a jury to convict 38-year-old Carleton Davis in the death of Sheldon Prawl. 

Today, Carleton Davis, 38, was found guilty of second-degree murder and felony concealment of death. Judge Imelda Pate told Davis that he would spend nearly 50 years in prison. He was sentenced to serve a total of 38-to-48 years in prison. Davis killed Sheldon Prawl in 2013 and put his remains in two-cement filled foot lockers outside a house in Detroit, Michigan. Police later found Prawl’s body after a neighbor reported a bad odor coming from the backyard. 

Davis sister Cheri Davis, has also been charged in the case. She was the girlfriend of Prawl. She has been charged with felony destruction of bodily remains to conceal a death, felony conspiracy, felony accessory after the fact, and felony common law obstruction of justice and she is out of jail on bond. 

Here’s what Carleton Davis had to say to the court before his sentencing BELOW:

Stay tuned to NewsInOnslow.com for all the latest.

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Man accused of killing Sheldon Prawl in 2013 won’t testify, evidence is circumstantial

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A man accused of killing Sheldon Prawl in 2013 will not testify in his murder trial.

Carleton Davis, 38, of Georgia, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Sheldon Prawl.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Mike Maultsby said that Prawl was last seen on Halloween in 2013 and, shortly thereafter, 35-year-old Cheri Lee Davis, Carleton Davis‘ sister, reported him missing. Prawl’s body was found in Detroit, Michigan dismembered in two separate containers filled with cement on May 30, 2014.

In the States closing argument Wednesday afternoon, they spoke about the relationship between Davis and Richard Jackson, who lived next door to the home Prawl’s body was found. Jackson and Davis were pulled over in Brunswick County in 2014 on unrelated drug and gun charges.

“The case is a circumstantial evidence case. The circumstances, in this case, proves without a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed Sheldon Pawl,” Maultsby told the jury. 

Maultsby talked about how Prawl and his mother Beverly Daley spoke every other day and on October 31, 2013, she received a text message from Prawl’s phone saying “Travel, talk to you soon.” Davis said in her testimony that she gave it a few days before she contacted Cherri Davis, Prawl’s girlfriend on November 2, begging her to make a report to the police about her son missing. 

In the state’s closing argument, Maultsby told the jury that “Carleton Davis had a motive to end the life of Sheldon Prawl because he did not like what he did to his sister.” It took the state 58 minutes to argue their closing to the jury and the defense will argue their closing at 1:30 PM Wednesday afternoon. 

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