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Angel Francisco BREARD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - "Satanic curse"
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 17, 1992
Date of birth: 1966
Victim profile: Ruth Dickie (female, 29)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Virginia on April 14, 1998





Angel Francisco Breard is a Paraguayan citizen on Virginia's Death Row. He committed a terrible crime which he deeply regrets, and which he firmly believes, based upon his religious and cultural background, was caused by a satanic curse placed upon him by his ex-father-in-law.

Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, Angel was reborn in Jesus Christ early on during the course of his imprisonment, a redemption which he believes purged him of the satanic curse.

While the specifics of Angel's religious beliefs may not be of great importance in terms of the decision whether to grant him clemency, the effect of those beliefs upon his character and actions during the course of his imprisonment is. Angel has become deeply involved with Beth Messiah Congregation, an evangelical Jewish-Christian group (Jews for Jesus) based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and has spoken many times to the radio audience of Apolstolos y Profetas (Apostles and Prophets) on a program called Camino al Cielo (the Way to Heaven), which reaches out to people in prison and hospitals, about his conversion and beliefs.

He participated in Bible study groups while incarcerated in Arlington, and has studied the Bible with individual death row prisoners at Mecklenburg in an effort to develop their and his own spiritual lives. He has authored many writings proclaiming the word and the love of God and Jesus. See, e.g., Ex. 1. He has become deeply committed to, and on October
18, 1996, married, a member of his Maryland church congregation, and has become stepfather to her two children. See Ex. 2.

Affidavits from family and friends in Paraguay who knew Angel prior to a serious automobile accident which resulted in damage to the left fronto-temporal region of his brain, the region associated with discontrol symptoms, especially in conjunction with the intake of alcohol, see Ex. 3, show that his current conduct is far closer to his true personality than were the crimes he committed in 1992. See Exs. 4-11. Imprisoned and without access to alcohol, Angel poses no threat to society, and he in fact serves as a positive influence in the prison environment. Moreover, he has become an important force in the spiritual lives of his wife and step-children. See Ex. 2.

Breard, His Crime and Trial

Angel Breard was born in Argentina, his father's native land, in 1966. In 1978 his family moved to his mother's family's home in Paraguay, and Mr. Breard later adopted Paraguayan citizenship. His father died when Angel was 17. The automobile accident in which Angel suffered injury to his brain occurred in 1985. In 1986, at the age of 20, he came to the United States, where he soon found work and began to send money home to help support his family. Exs. 4; 12, && 23, 156. He married in 1987, but the marriage lasted less than six months and had a disastrous ending caused by his father-in-law. Ex. 12, & 17, 22.

In the years following his divorce, Angel began drinking to excess on a daily basis. In 1992, depressed and drunk, Angel committed a murder in the course of an attempted rape.

Angel was arrested on September 1, 1992 and charged with capital murder and attempted rape. Id., && 4-7. Virginia has stipulated that he was not, at the time of his arrest or at any time thereafter, informed by Virginia or local authorities of his right pursuant to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, 596 U.N.T.S. 261 (the Vienna Convention or the Convention or the treaty) to contact the Paraguayan and/or the Argentine consulates for assistance in his defense. Ex. 13. He did not become aware of that right until his direct appeal and state habeas corpus proceedings had been concluded.

Prior to trial, the Commonwealth Amade it clear to [Angels attorneys] that the Commonwealth would forego the death penalty if Mr. Breard would plead guilty. Affidavit of trial counsel, Ex. 14, & 5. This affidavit was procured by the Commonwealth and introduced by it against Breard in his state habeas proceeding. Trial counsel had investigated the Commonwealths evidence against Mr. Breard and satisfied [themselves] that the prosecution would be able to prove Breard's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Id., & 4.

Nevertheless, against the advice of his counsel, Angel refused the offer of a life sentence
and pled not guilty. Unfamiliar with the law and culture of the United States, he had decided instead to testify and admit his guilty to the jury in the hope that the jury would set him free upon learning that a satanic curse, now lifted, had been responsible for the crime. Id., & 16, and attached memorandum.

The Commonwealth's case against Angel was based entirely on DNA. The prosecution introduced no incriminating statements. After the prosecution rested, Angel took the stand in order to confess his crime to the jury. He testified that a satanic curse had been placed upon him by his former father-in-law, that the curse had caused him to commit the murder, and that the curse had been lifted upon his finding Jesus Christ after his arrest.

On direct examination, he described the curse and his release from it as follows:

A. What I was going through is full of thought that came to my mind and keep coming to my mind and more than that, that I know now, is that everything is a spiritual thing, it's -- it's a warfare, it's a bitter warfare, it's something that you can't see, you can't touch it, but it's there. You feel it and it's powerful.

Q. What was causing these thoughts to your --

A. Was causing?

Q. Yes.

A. Well, I believe deeply everything was causing all that, it is Satanic practice against myself.

Q. And who initiated this Satanic practice against you?

A. My father-in-law.


All I was doing is seeking for myself, destruction for myself. In doing so I kill someone else.


Q. [N]ow, is this curse still affecting you?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. It was very simple, because now I found Jesus, I just have him in my heart and my life, so now I'm free of all that. And in a way there is many things that I learned, and I learned speaking to him here in jail. And one thing that he said, if you keep my commandments you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If you keep my commandments you'll be truly my disciple.

So that does not affect me any more.

Q. Is there anything also about what happened that night that you want this jury to know?

A. Well, one important thing is that I never ever thought -- intend to kill her or to kill anyone. No, I did it as the fact. I did it, but I -- no, that's the best way I can explain to you. How it happened. I didn't want to do it, but it happened.

The Arlington County jury, predictably, did not set him free. He was convicted on all charges. After finding Angel guilty, the jury heard evidence pertinent to sentencing.

The jury deliberated for approximately 62 hours on the question of penalty. During its deliberations, the jury twice sent out notes to the judge asking questions that showed its struggle with the decision between life imprisonment and death. The first question was, Awith life in prison how long will he be there before he is eligible for parole? Ex. 16 at 115.

The trial judge instructed the jury that he could not answer the question and the jury should not concern itself with the possibility of parole. In colloquy with trial counsel, the Court observed, Ait seems bizarre that we as a Commonwealth entrust jurors with adecision like this and won=t tell them the reality of what their choices are. Id.

The second question was whether the jury can Arecommend the sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Id. at 116. In response, the Court instructed the jury that it must limit itself to the three choices previously outlined in the instructions: death, life imprisonment, or life imprisonment plus a fine. Ultimately, the jury fixed the sentence at death, and, on August 20, 1993, the trial judge held a sentencing hearing and imposed the death sentence. Ex. 17.

In sum, throughout the trial proceedings, due to his lack of understanding, Angel forced his American court-appointed attorneys to take a number of steps, against their advice, which were contrary to his best interest.

For example:

(a) Angel refused the proffered plea agreement in which the Commonwealth would seek only a life sentence if he would plead guilty, Ex. 14, & 5;

(b) Angel insisted upon testifying on his own behalf, confessing his guilt, and explaining the events of February 17, 1992 as the only eyewitness to them, id.;

(c) Angel urged his attorneys not to call mitigation witnesses. They refused his directive on that occasion, id., & 9;

(d) Angel refused to permit his family members to be called as witnesses at the post-trial hearing on a motion to set aside the death penalty, id.;

(e) Angel refused to permit his attorneys to renew a pretrial motion to declare unconstitutional Virginia=s method at that time of carrying out the death sentence, id.1

Never during the entirety of the proceedings against him was Angel informed of his right to contact the consulates of Paraguay and/or Argentina.

Nor were those consulates informed of the detention and trial of their citizen or the imposition of the death sentence upon him, despite the Commonwealths knowledge that Angel was a foreigner. Ex. 13. Since becoming aware of his plight (from sources other than American federal or state authorities), both Paraguay and Argentina have made every effort to assist Angel and have made clear that they would have done so sooner had they known of his arrest, detention and trial.

Both nations have filed affidavits in Angel's habeas corpus case describing the assistance they would have provided to Angel. Exs. 19 & 20. Paraguay has also filed a separate lawsuit in the courts of the United States and one in the International Court of Justice in an effort to vindicate its own Vienna Convention rights in connection with the proceedings against Angel. Argentina, along with several other sovereign nations, submitted a brief amicus curiae in support of Paraguay's Petition for Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Virginia's Violation of the Vienna Convention

When a foreign national of a signatory nation to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations is arrested in another signatory nation, the Convention requires the latter to notify the arrested person of his right to contact his consulate. Article 36 of the Vienna Convention provides, in pertinent part:

1. With a view to facilitating the exercise of consular functions relating to nationals of the sending state:

(a) consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending state and to have access to them. Nationals of the sending state shall have the same freedom with respect to communications with and access to consular officers of the sending state;

(b) if he so requests, the competent authorities of the receiving state shall, without delay, inform the consular post of the sending state if, within its consular district, a national of that state is arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial or is detained in any other manner. Any communication addressed to the consular post by the
person arrested, in prison, custody or detention shall also be forwarded by the said authorities without delay. The said authorities shall inform the person concerned without delay of his rights under this sub-paragraph;


2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this article shall be exercised in conformity with the laws and regulations of the receiving state, subject to the proviso, however, that the said laws and regulations must enable full effect to be given to the purposes for which the rights accorded under this article are intended. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, 590 U.N.T.S. 261 (emphasis added).

The Convention was ratified with the advice and consent of the United States Senate in 1969, and is, thus, one of the laws of the United States.To reinforce the Convention's obligations, the United States State Department regularly sends notices to governors, state attorneys general, and mayors of cities having a population in excess of 100,000 advising them of their duties under the Vienna Convention and the importance of complying with its terms. Ex. 21. Of particular import with respect to Angel's September 1992 arrest, the State Department sent such notices to Virginia's Governor and Attorney General in August 1991 and October 1992. Id., Exs. A & B.

The Vienna Convention is of great significance, not only to foreign nationals detained in the United States, but also to United States citizens traveling abroad who depend on the observance of their rights under the Convention by other nations.3 Indeed, our State Department, speaking on behalf of American citizens, has described one of the rights provided by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention as follows: . . . the host government must notify the arrestee without delay of the arrestee's right to communicate with the American consul.


[This] provides an opportunity for the consular officer to explain the legal and judicial procedures of the host government . . . at a time when such information is most useful.

United States Department of State, 7 Foreign Affairs Manual && 411.1, 412 ("Chapter 400") (emphasis added). Ex. 23. According to the State Department, immediate access allows the consular official to act as a cultural bridge between the arrested person and the arresting state at the time of the arrestee's greatest need to understand his rights under the foreign government's system of laws, the legal and judicial procedures facing him, and the local cultural norms. See id., && 401, 412. The State Department notes that no one needs that cultural bridge more than the [individual] . . . who has been arrested in a foreign country. . . . Id.

Moreover, as Judge Butzner wrote in his concurring opinion in Angel's case in the Court of Appeals:

The protections afforded by the Vienna Convention go far beyond Breard's case. United States citizens are scattered around the world -- as missionaries, Peace Corps volunteers, doctors, teachers and students, as travelers for business and for pleasure. Their freedom and safety are seriously endangered if state officials fail to honor the Vienna Convention and other nations follow their example. Public officials should bear in
mind that "international law is founded upon mutuality and reciprocity . . . ." Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 228 (1895).


....The importance of the Vienna Convention cannot be overstated. It should be honored by all nations that have signed the treaty and all states of this nation. Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 622 (4th Cir. 1998). Ex. 24.

The authorities of the Commonwealth of Virginia have stipulated that Mr. Breard was not advised of his rights to consular notification and access under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention prior to being tried and sentenced to death in Arlington County, Virginia in 1993. Ex. 13. The treaty explicitly required that he be so advised. Notwithstanding the great weight attached by the federal government to the Vienna Convention and to the personal rights guaranteed by its provisions, the individual states have long ignored legal obligations imposed upon them by the Convention. Indeed, the District Court expressly found in Mr. Breard's case that Virginia has engaged in a persistent refusal to abide by the Vienna Convention. Breard v. Netherland, 949 F. Supp. 1255, 1263 (E.D. Va. 1996). Ex. 25.

It appears that violating the requirements of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention is the norm, not only in Virginia4, but throughout the United States.5 In fact, various high state officials have publicly questioned the applicability and the binding effect of the Convention with respect to the criminal law enforcement activities of the states. Frank Green, a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, wrote in an article in the September 17, 1997 edition concerning the murder conviction of Mexican Mario Murphy that former Governor George F. Allen "disputed whether it was Virginia's responsibility to notify Murphy of his Vienna Convention right." Ex. 27.

In that same case, the prosecutor who oversaw the legal proceedings against Murphy was reported by The Virginian-Pilot & Ledger Star of Norfolk to have described an assertion of
rights under Article 36 as "completely ridiculous" and to question whether such rights were enforceable: "I mean, what is the remedy? I suppose Mexico could declare war on us." Ex. 28. The General Counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush reportedly protested a request by the U.S. Department of State for information concerning possible violations of Article 36 by Texas law enforcement officials on the ground that "the State of Texas is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention." Al Kamen, Virtually Blushing, The Wash. Post, June 23, 1997, at A17. Ex. 29. The Executive Director of the Association of Retired Police Chiefs in Washington, D.C. is reported to have stated about foreigners' Vienna Convention rights that "[i]n my 47 years in law enforcement, I have never seen anything from the State Department or FBI about this." Margaret A. Jacobs, Some Convictions of Foreigners in U.S. Stir Debate Over Rights, The Wall St. J., Nov. 4, 1997, at B5. Ex. 30.

It is apparent that Virginia continues to violate the Vienna Convention despite the admonitions of the court in two cases decided in 1996 by the United States District Court and more recently affirmed by the Fourth Circuit where the illegality of its Vienna Convention violations was a central issue. In pre-trial proceedings held on March 3, 1998 in the first degree murder case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Elvia Garcia, Criminal No. 93264, the Circuit Court of Fairfax County found that Virginia had violated Ms. Garcia's Vienna Convention rights, but decided that it was unable to provide her with any remedy for that violation. See Ex. 31 at 14-19.

Because the courts have found themselves unable to remedy Virginia's defiant and continuing disregard for the Vienna Convention, the Governor of Virginia must act to preserve the fundamental protections provided by the Vienna Convention in this country in order to prevent other signatories of the treaty from using the conduct of Virginia and other states as a justification for similar conduct. The United States interest in protecting these rights was brought home by the lawlessness and barbarism of those who overran the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran in 1979. Taking 52 American diplomats and civilians hostage, Iran deprived them of all access to the outside world for 444 days.

The United States reacted with outrage and pressed its case before the International Court of Justice, where it proclaimed to the world that Athe channel of communication between consular officers and nationals must at all times remain open. Indeed, such communication is so essential to the exercise of consular functions that its preclusion would render meaningless the entire establishment of consular relations. Memorial of the United States to the International Court of Justice in the Case Concerning United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran filed in response to the 1979 storming of the American Embassy.

In an earlier incident, the United States protested Syria's 1975 arrest of two American citizens and its failure to notify the American Embassy. Ronan Doherty, Foreign Affairs v. Federalism, 82 Va. L. Rev., 1281, 1318 n.165 (1996), citing Luke T. Lee, Consular Law and Practice 145 (2d ed. 1991). In a telegram to the Syrian authorities, the United States felt it necessary to remind them that the Vienna Convention was a solemn treaty obligation, and stated that [t]he Government of the Syrian Arab Republic can be confident that if its nationals were detained in the United States the appropriate Syrian officials would be promptly notified and allowed prompt access to those nationals. Id., quoting Department of State Telegram 40298 to Embassy Damascus, Feb. 21, 1975. As matters have developed, however, any such Syrian confidence would have been misplaced.

While state officials in Virginia and elsewhere have thus far failed to recognize the rights granted by the Vienna Convention, other nations have made extremely clear that they take those rights very seriously. Paraguay and Argentina have submitted in Angel Breard's habeas corpus case affidavits detailing the assistance they would have provided to him; Paraguay and Mexico have brought lawsuits in the courts of the United States to attempt to remedy violations of their own Vienna Convention rights; Paraguay has taken its complaint against Virginia and the United States to the International Court of Justice; and Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Equador, and Canada have filed briefs amicus curiae in cases in which violations of the Vienna Convention have been alleged.

Paraguay's fledgling democracy is dedicated to the implementation of democratic institutions and the rule of law. Its perseverance in pursuing its Vienna Convention rights signifies the depth of that commitment. A grant of clemency in this case would thus support the cause of democracy abroad as well as the rule of law at home in Virginia.

Angel Breard was offered a life sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, and he rejected the bargain because of his culturally based belief that the jurors would acquit him once they understood that he had been under a satanic curse that had been lifted when he found Christ. It is no answer that Angel had court-appointed American trial counsel to advise him. He was deprived by the Commonwealth of the cultural bridge he so desperately needed, a consular official who had an understanding of both the North American and South American cultures and legal systems.

While the courts have found themselves unable to consider the merits of Angel's Vienna Convention claim because of the doctrine of procedural default, the Governor is under no such constraints. Now it is up to the Governor to assure that Virginia abides by the rule of law, indeed, the Supreme law of the land.

The Virginia Supreme Court's Defective Proportionality Review

Angel also requests clemency on the grounds that his death sentence was the product of Virginia's fundamentally flawed capital punishment system. Virginia, like many states in the aftermath of Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), adopted statutory procedures for capital punishment like those upheld in Gregg. One of the procedures mandated by state law is a proportionality review of the sentence by the Virginia Supreme Court. Under Virginia's procedure, the Supreme Court of Virginia is required to determine Awhether the sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant. Va. Code Ann. ' 17-110.1(C)(2).

With respect to the required proportionality review, the statute provides:The Supreme Court may accumulate the records of all capital felony cases for such period of time as the Court may determine. The Court shall consider such records as are available as a guide in determining whether the sentence imposed in the case under review is excessive. Va. Code Ann. ' 17-110.1(E) (emphasis added).

While the Virginia Supreme Court is required in every case to compare the death sentence under review with the sentences imposed in similar cases throughout the state, that court, in fact, compares any given case only to the cases previously reviewed on appeal by that court. The effect of the Supreme Court's arbitrary mechanism is dramatically illustrated by Angel's case. The majority of capital cases similar to Angel's during the period 1985-1995 resulted in a sentence less than death; however, only a small portion of those cases were included in the Virginia Supreme Courts review because most had not been appealed to that court. The same systemic error may infect the proportionality review of every death case. The review of a skewed pool of cases effectively denies capital defendants the statutorily mandated review of "similar cases," depriving them of their life and liberty interests without due process of law.

The Supreme Court of Virginia devoted but one paragraph to its proportionality review of Angel's death sentence. The Court initially correctly stated the test:

The test we must apply in conducting the proportionality review is whether other sentencing bodies in this jurisdiction generally impose the supreme penalty for comparable or similar crimes, considering both the crime and the defendant. Breard v. Commonwealth, 445 S.E.2d 670, 682 (Va.1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 971 (1994) (citing Jenkins v. Commonwealth, 244 Va. 445, 462, 423 S.E.2d 360, 371 (1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 1036 (1993)) (emphasis added). In the next sentence, the Court wrote:

To guide us in applying the test, we have compiled and examined the records of all capital murder cases reviewed by this Court, including those in which a life sentence was imposed. Id. at 682 (emphasis added). A denial of due process occurs because the set of cases reviewed by this Court, that is those previously appealed to that court, does not equal the set of Acapital murder cases decided by other sentencing bodies. The Virginia Supreme Court omits from its review those cases not appealed to the court. Death cases are appealed directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing the intermediate state Court of Appeals. Life sentence cases, if appealed at all, go instead to the Court of Appeals with a follow up appeal to the Supreme Court by petition. Va. Code Ann. '' 17-110.1(A); 17-116.05:1(A)(i); 17-116.08.

It is imperative that the Governor review this issue carefully, for the courts, with one exception, neglected it dismally, and the court that took note of the point dismissed it based upon an erroneous application of the law. While Angel raised the issue on direct appeal, see Ex. 32, the Virginia Supreme Court ignored the point at that time and later, in state habeas proceedings, mistakenly treated it as if it had been previously defaulted. Breard v. Commonwealth, 248 Va. 68, 89, 445 S.E.2d 670,682 (1994); Breard v. Angelone, Order refusing Petition for Appeal (Jan. 17, 1996, Va. S.Ct.), Exs. 33, 35.

The United States District Court remedied that particular error, ruling that the claim had not been defaulted and quoting the language from Angel's brief on direct appeal setting forth that claim:[A] defendant's liberty interest in proportionality review is violated by the consideration of only those cases which are reviewed by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Thus, the Court does not consider those cases in which the death penalty was not imposed, which prevents the Court from reviewing the types of cases in which death was not the appropriate sentence. For these reasons the proportionality review conducted by the Court constitutes a violation of the Defendant's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Breard v. Netherland, 949 F. Supp. at 1266.

The Court then, however, dismissed the claim on other grounds. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely failed to address the issue, despite Angel's specific request in a Petition for Rehearing that it do so. The United States Supreme Court has not yet granted or denied Angel's Petition for Certiorari. The Governor of Virginia is probably the only avenue to remedy this serious deficiency in the Virginia Supreme Court's performance of the mandatory proportionality review of death sentences. See Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390, 411-12 (1993) (clemency is the historic remedy for preventing miscarriages of justice where judicial process has been exhausted); Ex parte Grossman, 267 U.S. 87, 120-21 (1925) (executive clemency exists to provide relief from harshness or mistake in the operation or enforcement of the criminal law).

According to statistics in the Presentence Investigation Database maintained by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia (the AVCSC Database), between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1995, forty-three persons were charged with capital murder under ' 18.2-31(5) of the Code of Virginia (murder in the commission of, or subsequent to, rape, sodomy, etc.) and convicted of some crime. Thirty-three of those individuals were convicted of capital murder in violation of ' 18.2-31(5).

Of the thirty-three convicted of capital murder, nineteen individuals (58%) were given a sentence other than death and fourteen individuals (42%) were given the death penalty. Of the life sentence cases, only two were ultimately appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. Thus, the Supreme Courts pool of similar cases excludes the majority of all such convictions for the eleven year period -- seventeen out of thirty-three (51%) -- and, more to the point, excludes the vast majority of convictions in which a life sentence was imposed -- seventeen out of nineteen (89%).

Angel had a due process right to a proportionality review that conformed to the dictates of the Virginia Code which requires the Supreme Court to determine whether the sentence of death is Aexcessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant.Va. Code Ann. ' 17-110.1(C)(2) (emphasis added). By limiting the pool to cases previously appealed to the Supreme Court, that court so skewed the pool that the required review was of no effect.

The effect of skewing the pool of cases to be reviewed is apparent. The Virginia Supreme Court, in twenty years of practice under the present death penalty statute, has never reversed a death sentence because it was disproportionate. The Virginia Supreme Courts procedures lead inexorably to this result.

An examination of the following charts of cases in which a defendant was charged with capital murder under ' 18.2-31(5) and convicted of a crime during the period 1985-1996 provides a glimpse at the universe of cases that should beconsidered by the Virginia Supreme Court in its proportionality reviews. Such an examination will also demonstrate that Angel's case does not fall within a particular grouping of similar cases, in which the death penalty was imposed, contrary to the dictates of the Code of Virginia for carrying out the death penalty.


Taking out the two cases decided in 1996, these cases represent approximately seventy percent of the forty-three cases in the VSCS database referenced above. These cases demonstrate that, in Virginia, the judge or jury does not generally impose the death penalty for a certain type of crime or criminal defendant. Cf. Jenkins v. Commonwealth, 244 Va. 445, 462, 423 S.E.2d 360, 371 (1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 1036 (1993) ("On the question of disproportionality and excessiveness, we determine whether other sentencing bodies in this jurisdiction generally impose the supreme penalty for comparable or similar crimes, considering both the crime and the defendant") (emphasis added). Without minimizing the seriousness of Angel's crime, it is clear that many cases involving facts more vile than those in this case and defendants more dangerous than Angel have resulted in life sentences.


Angel has demonstrated his ability to turn his life around and to become a spiritual leader and a productive member of his religious and prison communities. He has touched many lives in a positive way, and has brought spiritual healing and consolation to people in prisons, hospitals, and the outside world through his writings, his radio addresses, and his personal relationships. He has demonstrated that he is a person who deserves to live.

Moreover, the Commonwealth of Virginia has engaged in a long-term pattern of misconduct that has resulted in the denial of the Vienna Convention rights of foreigners, to their severe detriment. As Judge Butzner observed, if other nations follow the example of Virginia and other American states, the freedom and safety of Americans traveling abroad will be seriously threatened. In addition, Virginia failed to provide Angel with due process under its own statutory procedures governing appellate judicial proceedings in death penalty cases.

For these reasons, Angel Francisco Breard respectfully requests that his death sentence be commuted to life in prison.

Respectfully submitted,

By Counsel



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