Friday, April 14, 2006

Indiana Death Row Prisoner Struggles Against Unfair Death Sentence

i received a letter from Zolo Agona Azania yesterday, in which he asked me to post these two items. For more information see the Zolo Agona Azania page on the Kersplebedeb website, and also be sure to check out Zolo’s incredible artwork on the Hope Breathing Life page.


Michigan City, IN — A specially appointed judge ruled on May 1, 2005 that the State of Indiana could not seek a third death penalty against Zolo Agona Azania, who previously had two death sentences overturned on appeal, because of “fundamental principles of fairness, due process, and speedy justice.” Despite no longer being under a death penalty, Zolo Azania is still on death row while Indiana prosecutors appeal the judge's order. If the judge's order barring the death penalty is upheld, Zolo could be released from prison in five years.


Zolo, who is Black, was convicted by an all-white jury in February, 1982, for the 1981 murder of a white, Gary, Indiana, police officer in the course of a bank robbery. Zolo did not receive a fair trial, and has always maintained his noninvolvement in the crime. On May 25, 1982, he became the first person in Allen County to be sentenced to death since 1959.

In 1993 the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's death sentence — while failing to overturn his conviction — holding that the state had withheld favorable evidence (results of a gunshot residue test termed "inconclusive" as to whether Zolo had fired a gun). The court also found that Zolo's trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance (he was so intimidated by the police-state atmosphere surrounding the trial that he didn't sit at the same table as Zolo; he failed to interview defense witnesses; he put on no evidence during the trial or the death penalty phase). After a second sentencing trial in 1996, Zolo was resentenced to death, by a jury composed of 11 whites, and no Blacks. In 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's second sentence of death, finding that Black people had been systematically excluded from the pool from which the jury had been chosen. In fact, half of Allen County's Black population had been eliminated from the jury pool for the previous 15 years.

All three Allen County Superior Court judges have been forced to recuse themselves from Zolo's case. Two were disqualified for blatant conflicts of interest and the other left the bench to enter an alcohol rehabilitation center. In 2004, Boone County Circuit Court Judge Steven H. David was specially appointed to oversee the case. Ruling on a motion filed by Zolo's defense counsel, Michael Deutsch, of the People's Law Office, in Chicago, Judge David held that Zolo's constitutional rights to due process and a speedy trial have been violated, and prejudice would result if the death penalty was pursued after a 23 year post conviction delay in sentencing. The judge found that the State was largely responsible for the delay. Nevertheless, the Lake County, Indiana prosecutor has filed an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the order which bars him from pursuing a third death sentence. Meanwhile, people around the world continue to oppose a new death penalty for Zolo.


Zolo Agona Azania #4969
Indiana State Prison
P.O. Box 41
Michigan City, IN

Michael Deutsch, Esq.
People's Law Office
1180 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Ph: (773) 235-0070

No Death Penalty for Zolo Committee
P.O.Box 478314
Chicago. IL 60647


STATE of Indiana,

Supreme Court Cause #02S03-0508-PD-364


Andrea D. Lyon files a "Motion To Appear Pro Hac Vice." The Motion states that Andrea D. Lyon is an attorney and a member in good standing of the bars of the States of Illinois and Michigan, provides the information required by Admission and Discipline Rule 3, Section 2(a), and requests that Andrea D. Lyon be granted leave to appear for Appellee pro hac vice.

Being duly advised, the Court GRANTS permission for Andrea D. Lyon to appear pro hac vice on behalf of Appellee. Attorney Andrea D. Lyon is directed to comply with the requirements of Admission and Discipline Rule 3, Sections 2(b) and 2(c). Co-counsel are directed to comply with Admission and Discipline Rule 3, Section 2(d), including the requirement that all documents filed in this case be signed by a member of the bar of the State of Indiana. If this Court sets this case for oral argument, Andrea D. Lyon may participate to the extent that all counsel for Appellee agree.

The Clerk is directed to show the appearance of Andrea D. Lyon for Appellee as being
entered as of the date of this order.

The Clerk is directed to send copies of this order to Andrea D. Lyon, to all counsel of record, and to the Attorney General of Indiana.

Done at Indianapolis, Indiana, this 14th day of February, 2006.

Randall T. Shepard
Chief Justice of Indiana

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  1. I don't believe any government has the right to murder, oops I mean capital punishment.

  2. Well, here is a letter from the family of the victim of Rufus Averhart's deed. There are 2-sides to every story, and the other is presented in depth at Dave's Den

    The url for the other side of the story is