and Updates (as of 12/22/96)

AUGUST 20, 2014:


Judge Delays Start of Arias Penalty-Phase Retrial

An Arizona judge on Wednesday granted Jodi Arias' motion to delay the start of her planned Sept. 8 penalty phase retrial.

Arias briefly addressed the judge Wednesday morning before the courtroom was closed to the media and public. The judge then granted Arias' request, setting a new retrial date for Sept. 29.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors declined comment.

Arias, who is now serving as her own attorney, argued that she needed more time to interview an expert witness she plans to call during the retrial.

The 34-year-old former waitress was convicted of murder last year in the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend, but jurors couldn't reach a decision on her sentence. Under Arizona law, prosecutors have the option of putting on a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure a death sentence.

If the new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed as an option. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life behind bars or be eligible for release after 25 years.

Arias has acknowledged killing Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but she said it was self-defense. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the head.

Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.

Judge Sherry Stephens previously granted Arias' motion to serve as her own attorney after conflicts arose with one of her two court-appointed lawyers over trial strategy. Attorney Kirk Nurmi then sought to quit the case, noting in a motion that "a completely fractured relationship between counsel (and client) now exists."

Stephens denied his request. Both lawyers will remains on as advisers.

A hearing in the case is set for Sept. 4.

(source: Associated Press)


Death penalty does not deter criminals

After reading Mr. O'Dowd's recent letter where he would like to see the death penalty reinstated using the guillotine, I think he should look at a few facts regarding the death penalty.

First, the few states that still regard it as a deterrent to murder have no lower murder rates, showing that it doesn't stop people from killing people, plus convicted murderers spend fifteen years or more on death row, costing the taxpayers in legal fees and tying up the court system.

Second, with recent advances in DNA testing, many convicted "murderers" have been proven innocent, others before them haven't been so lucky.

I think most people will agree that murder is a horrible crime and must be punished appropriately, but to suggest the guillotine as a means to reduce the murder rate is something out of the Dark Ages.

As for Mr. O'Dowd wanting to be the man in the black mask pulling the rope, I suggest he should not quit his day job!

James Randall----Battle Creek

(source: Letter to the Editor, Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer)


UAE ruler approves anti-terrorism law with penalties ranging from execution to counseling

The ruler of the United Arab Emirates approved a new counter-terrorism law that strengthens existing laws against money laundering, while also expanding penalties to include the death penalty, life imprisonment and fines of up to $27 million, state media reported Wednesday.

The law, according to the state-backed The National newspaper, calls for establishing Saudi-style counseling and rehabilitation centers for people found "to be terrorism prone." Impersonating a public figure could lead to life imprisonment, the paper said.

The official Emirates News Agency reported that Abu Dhabi ruler and UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan endorsed the law, but provided no further details. A draft of the law was approved in July by the country's Federal National Council, which acts largely as an advisory body.

The draft law was not released to the wider public to discuss, though parts of the law have been publicized in local media. Dubai-based Gulf News also obtained a copy, which identified potential death-penalty cases as attempts to attack any royal family members or members of the Cabinet's Supreme Council, and acts that lead to the death of a person such as recruiting people to join or joining a terrorist organization and attacking security forces.

The newspaper said the law defines a terrorist offense as "any action or inaction made a crime by this law and every action or inaction made a crime by any other law if they are carried out for a terrorist cause."

The Emirates, a Western-allied federation of seven sheikdoms that includes Dubai, is concerned about the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State group that's surging in Syria and Iraq, as well as al-Qaida.

More immediately, though, UAE rulers have been concerned about the possible threat to their rule from the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Al-Islah group in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings. Rights groups say the UAE has locked up more than 130 people for charges related to their political activism. Political parties are banned in the UAE.

The UAE supports Egypt and Saudi Arabia's decisions to label the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The group's candidate became Egypt's first democratically elected president in 2012, but was ousted a year later by the military amid mass protests. As Cairo's new leaders moved to crush the Brotherhood, the UAE and other Gulf countries rushed to boost Egypt with billions of dollars in aid.

Amnesty International's Gulf researcher Nicholas McGeehan said he is concerned about the climate in which the counter-terrorism law was approved.

"It would be better if people could see these provisions before jumping straight to a law that could affect people aversely," he told The Associated Press. "We have to study the law very carefully and hope that none of its provisions are vaguely worded in such a way that would criminalize peaceful dissent. We've seen that elsewhere in the region."

There are also concerns about the independence of the judiciary. A United Nations special rapporteur said earlier this year that the UAE's judiciary is under the "de facto control" of the executive branch and that there are credible claims of detainees being abused in prison - often before extracting confessions.

(source: Star Tribune)


15 years without an execution: the death penalty in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Corbett has issued his 36th execution warrant.

Michael Parrish, from Monroe County, is scheduled for execution in October after being convicted of killing his girlfriend and baby.

But according to experts, if the current trend continues, it could be decades before that ever happens.

"Anyone who fights the death penalty today can go on for 15 to 25 years on death row," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the United States for the most people on death row.

Close to 200 people currently have a death sentence, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

But the state has executed just 3 people in the last 35 years.

Morganelli said lengthy appeals are a factor, but not the sole, or biggest influence.

"We have federal judges who constantly block these executions...It has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the defendant. It is because the federal judges are philosophically opposed to the death penalty," Morganelli said.

Other experts said overturned death sentences are also a reason.

While Morganelli said the delays are interrupting justice, he also said spending decades on death row isn't an enjoyable way to live.

"If you are on death row, you will have about 23 hours in a cell, out of a 24 hour day, in a cell, a very small cell. Be let out for like an hour. So, life is much harder on death row than people who have a life-sentence," Morganelli said.

According to a recent report by the NAACP, nearly 1,400 people have been executed in the United States since 1976.

(source: WFMZ news)


Gretna attorney named to national criminal defense group board

Robert Toale, a lawyer whose practice is based in Gretna, has been appointed to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' board of directors, the association announced Monday. Toale was sworn into office Aug. 2, during the association's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

A former Jefferson Parish public defender, Toale now practices exclusively on criminal defense in state, federal and juvenile cases in southeast Louisiana. He has served as parliamentarian for the Alliance for Good Government and is on the Louisiana Justice political action committee's board.

"I am honored and thrilled to be able to serve as a board member of the NACDL and look forward to being on the cutting edge of working to improve our system of justice," Toale said.

A graduate of Loyola University's School of Law, he has served as president of the group's state arm, the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In that role, he sought to abolish the death penalty in the state and to increase funding for indigent defense programs. He is certified by the Louisiana Public Defender Board to be lead capital trial counsel and touts having tried the 1st 12-person jury trial in New Orleans' Criminal District Court after Hurricane Katrina.



Defense wants death penalty out in '94 double-homicide

A motion hearing was delayed Tuesday in Christian Circuit Court for 3 men accused of murder after a defense attorney asked that the death penalty be removed from consideration.

Defense attorney Brandi Jones said the prosecution failed to notify her within the 60 days allotted under Kentucky statute that her client, Ed Carter, a former Oak Grove police officer, could face the death penalty if convicted. Jones also has another pending motion for a bill of particulars, which is basically asking for more specific evidence against her client other than what is contained in the indictment and what was obtained through discovery.

(source: Kentucky New Era)


Cheatham defense: police report suggests defendant outside Topeka when victims shot----Cheatham to be retried on Feb. 16

The Topeka police lead detective investigating the 2003 shooting deaths of 2 women and wounding of a 3rd woman wrote a document suggesting defendant Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. was outside Topeka when the women were shot here, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

That statement was made as defense and prosecution attorneys were talking about Cheatham's alibi defense during his retrial now scheduled to start on Feb. 16.

Then, defense attorney Paul Oller mentioned a report written by Detective Lou Randall, the lead investigator in the 2003 slayings.

Randall suggested in a report that Cheatham was in Chicago at the time of the shootings, Oller told Shawnee County District Court Judge Richard Anderson.

Randall made the remarks in a report to then-District Attorney Robert Hecht, Oller said. The Randall report wasn't available to Dennis Hawver, Cheatham's defense attorney, during his first jury trial in 2005, Oller said.

Randall, a police sergeant and 25-year police veteran, retired in 2010 due to health problems and died on Sept. 26, 2012.

Oller said witnesses expected to testify in the alibi defense are Hawver; the defendant's mother, Linda Perry-Grigsby; and Treble Abrahm and Samuel Oatis, associates of Cheatham.

Another would-be alibi witness, Raquita Abrahm, the mother of Treble Abrahm, also has died, Oller said.

The Randall letter to Hecht surfaced during the 1st hearing conducted by Anderson since he was assigned the case after District Court Judge Mark Braun recused himself on July 25.

Braun recused himself after Cheatham filed a judicial complaint against him.

Anderson mapped out three daylong hearings in a 27-day span in September to handle all outstanding motions in three "bites."

They will be on Sept. 3, Sept. 24 and Sept. 30.

Anderson told prosecutors and defense attorneys they would argue their points on the motions, and the judge would rule on as many from the bench as he could.

A new trial was ordered for Cheatham in 2013 after the Kansas Supreme Court overturned his capital murder conviction and death penalty sentence for the Dec. 13, 2003, killings of Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones, who were shot to death in a southeast Topeka home.

Cheatham is charged with capital murder in the killings of Roberson and Jones.

Cheatham also faces charges in connection with the attempted 1st-degree murder of Annetta D. Thomas, who survived after she was shot 19 times in the attack.

Cheatham also faces 2 alternative premeditated 1st-degree murder counts in their killings, as well as attempted 1st-degree murder and aggravated battery in the shooting of Thomas. Cheatham also is charged with criminal possession of a firearm.

After his conviction in his 1st trial, Cheatham was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2005, to the "Hard 50" prison term for the killing of Jones, and the death penalty for the slaying of Roberson.

Those convictions and sentences were overturned when the Supreme Court ruled Cheatham received ineffective assistance of counsel by Hawver.

Cheatham filed a judicial complaint against Braun.

In what he labeled "Affidavit of Truth in Support of Judicial Complaint Against Presiding Judge," Cheatham contended Braun had "total disregard" for "his oath, duty, the Constitution and Cheatham's rights throughout the course of the 3 years it took to be ordered a new trial after demonstrating the prejudice that led to the convictions."

"2 or more crucial key and integral parts of the theory of the defense of the accused are no longer available due to the fact that they (2 prosecution witnesses, 1 of whom was key) both died during the unjustified delay wholly caused by the state's disregard for due process," Cheatham wrote.

(source: Topeka Capital Journal)


Collings Death Penalty Sentence Upheld

Today the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the conviction and death penalty conviction for Christopher Collings.

The Supreme Court determined the trial court was not wrong for using Collings confession, which judges determined was given voluntarily after being advised of his Miranda Rights. The judges also determined the court was right in admitting certain physical evidence or abuse and showing certain crime scene and autopsy photographs.

They determined the evidence clearly showed Collings killed Rowan Ford back in 2007. They also ruled that statements made during the sentencing phase should not prevent Collings from receiving the death penalty and that sentencing Collings to death was a fair decision. A jury convicted Collings of 9 year old Rowan Ford's disappearance, rape and murder back in 2012.



Lawyers For Colorado Theater Gunman: Police Lied About Media Leaks

Lawyers for accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes said on Tuesday 2 homicide detectives may have perjured themselves when they denied leaking to Fox News details of his plan for the massacre, court documents show.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted of the July 2012 rampage in Aurora, which killed 12 moviegoers and wounded 70 others during a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Holmes' lawyers concede he was the sole gunman, but say that the 26-year-old graduate student from the University of Colorado was in the throes of a psychotic episode at the time. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The defense team wants the judge to order a probe to trace the source of the Fox News story, which ran 5 days after the shooting. Citing 2 unnamed law enforcement officials, it said Holmes sent a psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans.

Holmes' lawyers said in Tuesday's motion that since the few officers who knew of the notebook had all denied under oath being responsible for the leak, those who may have committed perjury included "2 homicide detectives who played significant roles in the investigation of this case."

"The fact that a law enforcement official lied under oath in a death penalty case about a key piece of evidence is an incredibly serious matter," the defense lawyers wrote.

They noted that Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour described the notebook as a "critical" piece of evidence.

The public defenders had previously sought a court order to compel Fox News reporter Jana Winter to reveal her sources, but the New York Court of Appeals ultimately sided with the journalist, and the U.S Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Prosecutors have denounced the allegations of a leak by law enforcement officials as "baseless," and have opposed the appeals by the defense for a special prosecutor to investigate.

Jury selection in the trial is set to begin in December.

(source: Reuters)


Murderer appeals conviction

A death row inmate from Lake Havasu City who murdered an elderly Kingman couple in 1999 was back in court this week appealing his conviction.

Charles David Ellison, 49, was sentenced to death in February 2004 for the February 1999 murders of Joseph and Lillian Boucher at their Kingman home. A jury convicted Ellison in January 2002 of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder and 2 counts of 1st-degree burglary. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Ellison's death penalty in November 2007.

Ellison's attorneys appealed his conviction in Mohave County Superior Court before former Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Jones, citing ineffective counsel. Ellison's attorney also called an expert to the stand Tuesday testifying to the excessive drinking by Ellison's mother when she was pregnant with the defendant as well as his harsh upbringing. The evidentiary hearing, which started Monday, is expected to last 4 days.

Ellison's codefendant Richard Finch, 42, was also convicted of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of 1st-degree burglary and sentenced to life in prison.

On the night of Feb. 24, 1999, Ellison and Finch entered Boucher's Kingman home through a screen window, tied up the couple and burglarized the home. Ellison smothered Joseph Boucher, 79, with a pillow while Finch suffocated Lillian Boucher, 73. Stolen from the house were a handgun, cash and jewelry. Finch was arrested 2 days later. Ellison was arrested several days later.

(source: Mohave Daily news)


Supreme Court upholds death penalty in Lemoore girl's murder

The California Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty verdict against Gene Estel McCurdy, 54, who was found guilty 17 years ago of murdering 8-year-old Maria Piceno of Lemoore.

In an opinion last week, the state high court unanimously rejected the automatic appeal.

Piceno disappeared in March 1995 after leaving her mother's apartment to go to the store. Her body was found 2 weeks later in a Kern County creek.

McCurdy, who grew up in Wasco, was a 1st class petty officer based at Lemoore Naval Air Station and was on an aircraft carrier when he was arrested about 6 weeks after the girl disappeared.

In 1997, a Kings County jury found him guilty of murder with the special circumstance of kidnapping, and kidnapping to commit a lewd act on a child under 14.

The appeal claimed McCurdy should have had a change of venue, statements to detectives should have been suppressed, testimony by his sister should have been rejected, and jury instructions were faulty.

Larry Crouch, chief trial attorney for the Kings County District Attorney's Office, said he expects more appeals will be filed in the case.

(source: The Fresno Bee)


Prosecutors Plan to Seek Death Penalty on Santa Rosa County Man

Prosecutors say they're going after the death penalty against a Santa Rosa County man accused of murdering a local businessman.

41 year old Derrick Ray Thompson was back in court Tuesday for his arraignment on 1st degree murder charges.

Prosecutors told the judge they plan to seek the death penalty if Thompson is convicted of killing 66 year old former Bay County Sheriff's Deputy and local businessman Allen Johnson.

Thompson's public defender entered a not guilty plea and waived his right to a speedy trial.

Investigators believe Thompson showed-up at Johnson's Lynn Haven home on Sunday July 20th, the day after he shot and killed a Santa Rosa County couple and stole their vehicle.

They say Johnson was unaware of those crimes when he allowed Thompson to stay Sunday night.

The next morning Thompson allegedly killed Johnson then stolen his pick-up truck.

Members of the US Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Thompson on Tuesday morning July 22nd, at a park in Troy, Alabama.

It's still unclear if Thompson will be tried in Bay County 1st, or Santa Rosa County.

For now he's being held in the Bay County Jail without bond.

(source: WJHG news)


Police charge 3 men in the death of Livery Cab Driver

3 men were arrested and charged with murdering livery cab driver Aboubacar Bah, 62, the New York Times reported.

Takiem Ewing, Tyrone Felder, and Kareem Martin were accused of shooting Bah early morning on Tuesday and dumping his body at Hunts Point before stealing his car, according to police.

Conviction could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.



Anti-hijack Bill in next session of Parliament: Govt----The Bill seeks to award death penalty to hijackers and give the right to security forces to shoot down an aircraft which may be used as a missile

A Bill to award death penalty to hijackers and give the right to security forces to shoot down an aircraft which may be used as a missile is likely to be brought in Parliament in the next session.

The civil aviation and law ministries are taking a fresh look at the much-delayed Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Bill to amend the 1982 Act to bring the law in tune with the latest international legislations and resolutions, civil aviation minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju told PTI on Wednesday.

"There is a Bill already introduced in Rajya Sabha (in 2010). But since then, the definition of hijack has changed globally. So, in line with those changes and practices worldwide, a draft has been prepared and the process is going on," he said.

"We will take this (fresh) legislation to the Union Cabinet. And once it is adopted by the Cabinet, we will introduce the new Bill and withdraw the old one," Raju said.

"In the next session, we will be in a position to take it through," he said in response to questions.

Almost 15 years after Kandahar hijack, the government is now working on issues like incorporating the latest global anti-hijack laws and bring the Indian law in line with the Beijing Protocol of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha since August 2010 after the Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture gave its recommendations, was cleared by the Cabinet headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March 2010.

The measure, introduced by then civil aviation minister Praful Patel, was referred to the Standing Committee that gave its report within a few months, but it did not see the light of the day thereafter.

The Bill was brought after incidents like the hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in 1999 and the 11 September 2001 terror strikes in the United States, reflecting major threats like civilian aircraft being hijacked and used as missiles to cause mass destruction.



Sisters on death row move High Court

2 Kolhapur sisters, who are on death row after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their mercy petition, approached the Bombay high court on Tuesday, praying that their death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. The court is likely to hear this matter at length on Wednesday.

A division bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode accepted the petition for hearing. However, the judges made it clear that they did not want to grant any stay on the execution as it continues for a long time. The judges directed the government pleader to make a phone call to Yerawada jail superintendent and ask him if they were going to execute the petitioners Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit on Wednesday. The jail superintendent said that they were still corresponding with the district magistrate over the completion of formalities for the execution, so they would not hang them on Wednesday. The judges then kept the matter for hearing on Wednesday without granting any stay on the execution.

The judges also made it clear to the petitioners' lawyer Sandeep Jaiswal that he would have to convince the court that it has jurisdiction to hear such a petition even after the mercy petition has been rejected by the President of India.

Justice Kanade said, "After pronouncement of the death sentence, if the mercy petition is rejected, then why should the law not take its course?" He said, "The death sentence was confirmed by the high court and then by the Supreme Court. Later the President also rejected the mercy plea, so the procedure is over. Otherwise what is the use of death penalty? Either remove it or implement it without delay."

However, advocate Jaiswal argued that the President, in his order, has not given any reason for rejecting the mercy plea and he has also written, "The convicts can avail any judicial remedy." And this shows that even after rejection of mercy plea, the high court could hear the matter.

Both convicts have prayed in their petition that their death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds that the President had taken more than 8 years to decide their mercy plea though it should have been disposed of within 3 months.

Both the sisters were sentenced to death in 2001 for kidnapping 13 children and killing 9 of them between 1990 and October 1996. They were assisted in the crime by their mother Anjana Gavit and Renuka's husband Kiran Shinde. Anjana died in custody, while Kiran turned approver.

(source: The Asian Age)

SAUDI ARABIA----execution

Saudi beheaded for murder as Amnesty urges halt to executions

A Saudi national convicted of murder was decapitated by the sword in the southwest of the Gulf kingdom on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.

Wail al-Shehri, convicted of shooting dead Meshaal Assiri during an argument, was executed on Tuesday in Abha, capital of Assir province, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The beheading by sword raises to 33 the number of executions announced in Saudi Arabia so far this year, according to an AFP tally.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International on Monday denounced in a statement what it called a "disturbing surge" in the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions," it said after two sets of brothers were beheaded on Monday after being convicted of drug smuggling.

Amnesty said the convictions of the 4 men came "reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture".

The rights group said Monday's beheadings "bring the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past 2 weeks to 17 - a rate of more than 1 execution per day".

"The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice," Amnesty's Said Boumedouha said.

Last year, there were 78 executions in Saudi Arabia and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced a "sharp increase in the use of capital punishment".

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

(source: Egypt Independent)


3 militants sentenced to death, 26 jailed on terrorism charges

The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh has sentenced 3 men to death and 26 others to various prison terms, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The men were part of a 50-member cell that faced a host of charges, including the 2004 kidnap and murder of a foreigner, plotting to assassinate senior government officials and smuggling heavy weapons into the Kingdom from Iraq.

The court awarded the death penalty to 2 of the defendants, including the leader of the cell, on Tuesday. 1 defendant was sentenced to death on Monday.

The court specializing in terror cases also imposed jail terms of 2 to 25 years on 14 Saudis and a Yemeni in Tuesday's verdict. In a verdict announced Monday evening, the court sentenced 13 co-defendants, including 2 Syrians, to 4 to 30 years in jail.

Impersonating security officers, the militants stopped the foreigner at a fake checkpoint, drugged and abducted him, then beat him to death before beheading him, SPA reported.

Citing the indictment, Asharq Al-Awsat said the man they were charged with killing was Paul Marshall Johnson, a 49-year-old American who had worked in the Kingdom for more than a decade.

They were also alleged to have been involved in an attack on Riyadh police headquarters and to have planned strikes on the US and British embassies in the Saudi capital. They were also convicted of smuggling in heavy weapons from Iraq, launching armed attacks on police, belonging to Al-Qaeda and showing disrespect to Saudi rulers, SPA said.

(source: Saudi Agzette)


Child Rights Activist Demands Death Penalty for Killers of Riau Kids

A leading children's rights activist said on Tuesday that the people suspected of having murdered and mutilated 6 children and an adult in Riau should face the death penalty if found guilty.

"The suspects must face multiple charges because the crimes they are said to have committed are extraordinary crimes," Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA), told the state-owned news agency Antara.

Arist said the perpetrators must be charged with Article 340 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of death for premeditated murder.

He added that the suspects must also face charges of child abduction, mutilation and sexual abuse.

Siak Police, in Riau province, have arrested a couple who used to be married as suspects in the gruesome case. Police believe that the former husband and wife killed and cut off their victims' genitals before having intercourse. They then buried the victims in forested areas in the districts of Siak and Bengkalis.

The child victims were understood to have been between 5 and 11 years old.

Police said the estranged couple claimed they murdered the victims for sexual gratification. The suspects also allegedly admitted that they would lure their victims with money.

The main suspect, identified only as M.D., was said to have told police that he murdered his victims as part of a black magic ritual.

Police have also arrested 2 of M.D.'s friends, who allegedly helped the couple commit the murders.

(source: Jakarta Globe)


Vevcani wants death penalty resumed after double murder in the village

Residents of Macedonia's Vevcani want the death penalty to be reinstated after 2 people from the village were killed by former postman, Macedonian Vecer daily writes.

According to the local residents, revenge is the only punishment for the killer of their fellow villagers.

Mayor of the village, Cvevromir Ugrinovski, said that a petition had been launched with a demand to re-enforce the death sentence. Death sentence was rejected in Macedonia in 1991. The last convict sentenced to death was Male Zekiri in 1987 for raping and killing his own daughter.

(source: Focus News Agency)


1 to die for killing Chittagong Insurance official

A Chittagong court has sentenced death penalty to a person on charge of killing an insurance company official Nur Khalek Master in the district's Fatikchhari upazila in 2004. Chittagong Divisional Public Safety Tribunal Judge Md Momin Ullah, gave the verdict in absentia of the convict, Ashraf Hossain, on Tuesday.

The court also acquitted another accused Golam Mostofa Kalu from the case as the charge against him was not proved, said Advocate Jahangir Alam, prosecutor of the tribunal.

The victim Nur Khalek Master was the senior officer of Fatikchhari branch of Golden Life Insurance. Ashraf and Kalu were staff of the same company who got fired from the company for corruption.

Police found in their investigation that the expulsion of the persons resulted killing of the official. On April 2, 2004, Nur was stabbed to death on a small hill at Karbala Tilla area of Fatikchhari.

Victim's father Md Danesh Mia lodged a murder case with Fatikchhari police station on August 2, 2004 in this connection. Police submitted the charge-sheet on October 2, 2004 accusing 2 while the court framed charges against them on June 16, 2009.

After testifying 27 witnesses, the court sentenced the verdict under sections 302 and 379 of Criminal Procedure Code.

(source: Dhaka Tribune)


Man to die for killing ex-colleague

A Chittagong court yesterday gave death penalty to a former staff of an insurance company for killing his ex-colleague in Fatikchhari upazila of Chittagong in 2004.

The convict, Ashraf Hossain, 38, who was a junior officer of Golden Life Insurance, Fatikchhari Branch, is now on the run.

The court passed the order following the testimonies of 27 witnesses, said Jahangir Alam, special public prosecutor.

It acquitted another accused, Golam Mustafa, as the charges against him could not be proved before the court, he added.

According to the prosecution, on April 2, 2004, Ashraf stabbed Nur Khalek Master, 50, senior official of the company, to death in the upazila's Karbala Tila area as the latter terminated Ashraf due to corruption.

The same day, the victim's father Md Danesh Miya filed a murder case with Fatikchhari Police Station.

(source: The Daily Star)


German Sentenced to Death in China Over Killings

Germany says a German man has been sentenced to death in China after being convicted on 2 counts of premeditated killing.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said the sentence against the unnamed man was delivered Tuesday by a court in Xiamen.

Schaefer said Wednesday the verdict can be appealed and underlined Germany's "categorical" opposition to the death penalty. He said Berlin will do what it can to ensure that the death sentence is commuted or not carried out.

A man answering the phone Wednesday at Xiamen Intermediate People's Court confirmed that a German national was sentenced to death the previous day, but declined to give any other details. The man also declined to give his name.

(source: ABC news)


Jackie Chan's son could face death penalty over marijuana charges

Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Chan was arrested in Beijing on Monday on marijuana charges along with Taiwanese actor Ko Chen-tung. Both actors tested positive for marijuana and the younger Chan was found to have over 3 1/2 ounces of marijuana at his home. The quantity of marijuana could constitute intent to sell, which if convicted could put Chan in serious trouble.

The 32-year-old Chan, whose real name is Fang Zuming, began acting in the last decade and has appeared in films like "Mulan" and "2 Young."

China's strict laws for marijuana are particularly harsh regarding possession. Kotaku notes that if convicted of possession with intent to sell, Chan could face jail time of 3 years or even technically the death penalty.

Jackie Chan flew to Beijing on Monday to try to use his influence to help Jaycee. The story recalls Michael Douglas appearing in court to advocate for his son Cameron, who faced life in jail after pleading guilty to a 2009 arrest on conspiracy to distribute 4 1/2 kilos of meth over 3 years.

In Douglas's case, the famous father couldn't do much to keep the son out of prison - but Cameron was sentenced to only 4 years in jail and ultimately released after 2.

Ironically Jackie Chan is an anti-drug spokesman in China and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, part of China's governing body.

Telegraph reports that a 3rd man was arrested for dealing drugs at Chan's house, so whether the dealing change will fall solely on that individual or be shared by Chan and Ko Chen-tung remains to be seen.



Former Kunming railway official given death penalty with reprieve

A former railway official in south China's Kunming City was sentenced to death with a 2-year reprieve over corruption charges in Beijing on Wednesday.

Wen Qingliang was removed from his post as head of the Kunming Bureau of Railways in the capital of south China's Yunnan Province in 2011 for discipline investigations.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court heard that Wen took bribes worth more than 20 million yuan (3.2 million U.S. dollars) between 2005 and 2011, taking advantage of his position in the railway department in Taiyuan, capital of north China's Shanxi Province, to provide favors to companies bidding on railway projects.

The court said the leniency of the reprieve was given because most of the illegal income had been retrieved.

Wen's mistress Zhong Hua, who was prosecuted for colluding with Wen in amassing illegal funds, will be tried in a separated case.

(source: Xinhua News Agency)

AUGUST 19, 2014:


Randy Ertman, father of slain teen, has died

Randy Ertman, whose daughter and a friend were raped and killed by gang members, has died of lung cancer.

The 61-year-old died Monday, said Andy Kahan, a Houston crime victims advocate.

Ertman's daughter Jennifer, 14, and her friend, 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena, were attacked June 24, 1993, by gang members as they walked home along White Oak Bayou. The girls were Waltrip High School students.

6 gang members were charged in their deaths, which shocked the city.

One of them, Peter Cantu, was tried in 1994. A major precedent was set at the end of his trial, when state District Judge Bill Harmon allowed Ertman to address the convicted murderer.

Among his blistering comments, Ertman shouted at him, "You're not even an animal." It shocked many onlookers and outraged a few. Harmon was criticized by fellow judges and newspaper editorials for allowing the display.

In 2008, when convicted murderer Jose Medillin, a Mexican national, was facing execution, Ertman said he didn't care about international opposition.

"It's just a last-ditch effort to keep the scumbag breathing," Ertman said. "He never should have been breathing in the first place."

Another change that resulted from the Ertman-Pena case was the decision to allow victims' relatives to witness executions.

After Cantu's trial, Ertman asked to witness his execution but was told it was not allowed. Over the years, he lobbied for the right, along with Pena's parents, Kahan and the group Justice for All.

Eventually, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice voted to change the policy.

(source: Houston Chronicle)


Texas Governor's REAL crimes

For the 14 years that Rick Perry has been governor, he has committed crimes against the people of Texas with impunity. So it was almost laughable when he was indicted on Aug. 15 for 2 felony charges that most of the people in Texas have never heard of and are not impacted by.

What a grand jury has never investigated are Perry's closure of almost every women's health clinic in the state, his refusal to use federal money to expand Medicaid and his brazen authorization of 276 death row executions.

These are his serious crimes that directly affect the lives of millions, causing immeasurable pain, physical and psychological suffering and death. These crimes that Perry has committed against working-class people and particularly African Americans, Latinos/as and women of all nationalities in Texas are not on the Sunday news shows or any bourgeois national news programs.

Last summer, an ethics complaint was filed against Perry saying he had improperly vetoed state funding for the Travis County [Austin's] District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit which focuses on government corruption and tax fraud.

The charges in this case are abuse of official capacity, a 1st-degree felony, and coercion of a public servant, a 3rd-degree felony. If ever convicted, he could receive a maximum sentence of 109 years in state prison.

Perry threatened the Austin DA with a veto of funding for her office if she refused to resign after being convicted of drunk driving. Legal experts say that Perry had the right to veto funding but not to publicly threaten the DA into resigning. The Travis County PIU was conducting a potentially damaging investigation into a medical research institute that has been one of Perry's favorite avenues for grants and jobs.

Since Perry signed into law last year a bill that severely restricts a woman's right to abortion as well as other medical care dealing with women's reproductive health, Perry has used this reactionary feat to bolster his ratings among conservatives. He has stated that his goal is to make abortion, at any stage, a thing of the past.

The last provisions of Texas' anti-choice legislation go into effect in September. If legal challenges fail, Texas may have only 6 clinics left where women can have an abortion. Over 12 million women living in 268,000 square miles in Texas and they will have 6 clinics! This is criminal.

Perry has made clear that he will go to great lengths to protect an unborn fetus, but he cares little about the real children born in the state.

1 in 4 (6.2 million) Texans are uninsured, the highest rate of any state, yet Perry has refused to accept federal money to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would cover more than one million new low-income Texans by 2017, according to the state Health and Human Services Commission.

Perry refuses to expand Medicaid despite the federal government covering 100 % of the costs for the 1st 3 years and 90 % after that. But Perry has chosen his political aspirations over people’s lives.

Mass murderer

If anyone else ever authorized the killing of 276 people, they would be indicted for mass murder. Perry has presided over more executions than any governor in the history of the United States. Texas leads the country with 515 executions and over 1/2 have been under Perry's reign.

With all the recent news of botched executions, with drug companies refusing to let their drugs be purchased for killing people, with innocent people being exonerated off death rows around the country in greater and greater frequency, we can say with certainty that the system of capital punishment is broken and cannot be fixed.

While Texas has exonerated 12 of the 143 people released from death row because they were proven innocent, we will never know the true number of innocent people already executed.

In early August, a new report by the Washington Post thoroughly discredits the last piece of evidence used to convict Todd Willingham of setting his house on fire to kill his 3 daughters: testimony by jailhouse snitch Johnny Webb, who testified that Willingham admitted his guilt while in the county jail awaiting trial. The prosecutor had insisted that he made no deal with Webb. But, according to a lengthy paper trail and the informant himself, Webb was indeed coaxed and actually paid to testify against Willingham.

Willingham was executed in 2004 despite a report on Perry's desk by a prominent arson expert and scientist stating the fire was not intentionally set, and therefore, there was no crime. Perry ignored the facts, calling Willingham a monster (because he listened to heavy metal music and had Metallica posters on his wall) and allowed his execution to proceed.

Members of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement have discussed Perry's indictments and their responses ranged from joy that he could go to prison to pessimism that he would be able to worm his way out of the charges.

But one thing they agreed on was that not only was Perry a criminal, but the favorite sign of those protesting executions in Huntsville, Texas, was the one resembling a wanted poster reading "Rick Perry - serial killer!"

(source: Workers World)


Corbett Signs 36th Execution Warrant; Death Penalty Set for Convicted Murderer

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed an execution warrant Monday for a 28-year-old man convicted of fatally shooting his 21-year-old girlfriend and their 19-month-old child.

Michael Parrish, 28, is set to die by lethal injection on Oct. 14, according to the Governor's Office.

The Monroe County man was found guilty in March 2012 of killing Victoria Adams and their son, Sidney Michael Parrish, on July 6, 2009.

On the day she died, Adams told family and friends that Parrish was controlling and abusive and she planned to end the relationship when she returned to the apartment they shared later that day, according to a news release.

Afraid of how her boyfriend might react, Adams had several relatives and a friend accompany her to the apartment, where Parrish was home with their son.

The woman went inside alone and, minutes later, Parrish exited the building and brandished a gun at the group, who were waiting outside for Adams to return.

He went back to the apartment and fired multiple shots, hitting Adams 8 times and Sidney 6 times, according to the Governor's Office.

Hearing the gunfire, Adams' relatives began to rush inside, but Parrish began firing in their direction.

The group fled in their car and Parrish went on the run, the Governor's Office said.

A multi-state manhunt ensued and Parrish was taken into custody on July 8, 2009 in New Hampshire.

Parrish's execution warrant is the 36th signed by Corbett since taking office.

The last person to be executed in Pennsylvania was 56-year-old Gary Heidnik, who died July 6, 1999.



York County death-row killer secures his 4th stay of execution

Attorneys for death-row murderer Hubert Lester Michael Jr. have won a stay of execution on his 4th death warrant for killing 16-year-old Trista Eng in 1993.

Michael, 58, formerly of Lemoyne, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at Rockview state prison in Centre County on Sept. 22.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed that execution warrant July 24 after the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the 3rd stay in the case. That happened in June.

"This is, in my view, nothing but delay," York County District Attorney Tom Kearney told The York Dispatch. "Yet again, justice for the family of this young lady is delayed. It's a shame."

The 3rd Circuit's chief judge, Theodore A. McKee, issued the stay of execution Friday in response to a motion by Michael's attorneys to have his case reviewed "en banc" by the 3rd Circuit. The term means to have a case heard and decided by an entire panel of judges, rather than by one or a few of them.

"The execution is hereby stayed until final resolution is reached on the pending petition for rehearing," McKee wrote.

The federal appeals court is deciding whether to grant the motion, according to Kearney, who last month called Michael the "poster boy" for the death penalty.

The murder: Michael told his former defense attorney, York County chief public defender Bruce Blocher, he offered Trista a ride as she was walking to her job at Hardee's in Dillsburg on July 12, 1993.

At some point during the ride, Michael stopped the car and used the electrical cords to tie up Trista, then drove her to state game lands in Warrington Township, according to Blocher.

He raped her, put a bag over her head and shot her 3 times, Blocher has said, then hid her body in a wooded area.

Blocher revealed details of Michael's confession when called to the stand during a 1997 appeals hearing in the case.

Michael fled the state 10 days later. At the time, he was free on bail for a Lancaster County rape charge.

Captured: He was captured July 27, 1993, in Utah. Police found the murder weapon in the car he was using, officials said. He was charged with homicide in late August 1993.

Trista's body was found by Michael's own family members after he confessed the murder to his brother.

In November 1993, Michael escaped from Lancaster County Prison but was captured in New Orleans in March 1994, according to the Department of Corrections. He was later sentenced to 10 to 20 years for the Lancaster County rape.

He pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder for killing Trista and was sentenced to death.

Death warrants: In all, Pennsylvania governors have signed death warrants for Michael 4 times. The first 2 were in 1996 and 2004. Both times, his execution was stayed.

The 3rd warrant, signed by Corbett, ordered Michael put to death on Nov. 8, 2012, but the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals granted Michael a stay of execution just hours before it was to occur.

In granting that stay, the appeals court returned the case to U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in Harrisburg asking him to explain why he denied the killer's request to keep fighting his death sentence.

Jones wrote, "Over 19 years after the heinous murder the petitioner has admitted committing, it is time to draw this affair to a close."

The 3rd Circuit later upheld Jones' decision.

Changed his mind: For years, Michael maintained he wanted to die, but he changed his mind in 2004, just days before his scheduled execution.

His attorneys argue he was not mentally competent when he pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder on Oct. 11, 1994, and didn't challenge his death sentence.

They've also said Michael suffered from mental-health issues that improved when he was transferred from Graterford state prison to Greene state prison. Now that his mental health has improved, Michael is fighting his death sentence, they have said.

Michael is represented by the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia. Messages to 2 of his attorneys were not immediately returned.

(source: York Daily Record)


Eyewitness Testifies He Saw Kyle Williams Pull the Trigger, Shooting LPD Officer

The 4th and final witness with Kyle Williams the night Lakeland police Officer Arnulfo Crispin was shot testified Monday that he saw Williams shoot the officer right in front of him.

Anfernee Bruce, 18, told jurors that during a pat-down of 5 teens, Crispin was bent over searching his ankles when Williams pointed a pistol at Crispin's head and fired the fatal shot.

"I looked back, saw the officer falling and I ran," he said.

Williams, 21, is accused of the December 2011 slaying of Crispin in a park on Crystal Grove Lane. The state is seeking the death penalty.

Crispin, 25, was shot in the head while attempting to perform a pat-down search of Williams and four others: Tavaris Kincade, who is now 20; Davontay Wilcox, now 20; George Tucker, now 18; and Bruce.

Kincade, Wilcox and Tucker testified last week, and while their stories have minor differences, they all put Williams in the park at the time of the shooting.

Kincade and Wilcox both testified to seeing a pistol in Williams' hand moments after the shooting. Tucker told jurors he saw Williams running away with a silver-and-black object in his hand after the shooting.

Prosecutors said the gun used to kill Crispin was a silver-and-black .40-caliber pistol.

During his testimony on Monday, Bruce told jurors he and the other young men weren't at the park long before Crispin showed up.

Crispin approached the group, asked them whether they had any drugs or weapons and gained their consent to a pat-down search, Bruce said.

Bruce testified that Kincade was 1st to be searched, Tucker was 2nd and he was 3rd.

By the time Crispin was close to finishing the pat-down search on Bruce, Williams pulled something from his pants, stood up, pointed a pistol at Crispin's head and pulled the trigger, Bruce said.

Bruce testified that Williams held the gun right in front of his face when he shot Crispin.

He had no time to react, he said, and when the gun went off, everyone started running.

"An officer just got killed," Bruce said. "I don't want to stay at a scene like that."

After the shooting, everyone except Williams ran to a nearby apartment and talked about what they had witnessed, Bruce said.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Byron Hileman pointed out that at no time did Bruce or anyone else notify the police.

Shortly after the four young men ran to the nearby apartment, police were working to seal off the crime scene and establish a perimeter so no one could go in or out.

With police lights and sirens going off and police helicopters flying overhead, Bruce acknowledged that at no point did he go outside and try to tell police what he saw.

Officers were going door to door, looking for witnesses and asking whether anyone heard a gunshot, and one officer showed up at the apartment where Bruce was. Bruce acknowledged he didn't tell police he was a witness at that point.

A few hours later, police went back to the same apartment and asked for Bruce by name to go to the Lakeland Police Department for questioning.

Bruce admitted he lied to detectives during his hourlong interrogation by saying he didn't see anything, didn't know who pulled the trigger and didn't even know what happened until seeing it on Bay News 9 that same evening.

It wasn't until later that Bruce told police that he was in the park, saw the gun and saw who shot the officer.

"I thought I might go down for this," Bruce said during his testimony Monday. "I was trying to get myself out of trouble."

Hileman suggested the four young men had enough time to put together a story that would name Williams as the shooter.

"We never came up with a story to go against somebody," he said. "We all saw the same thing."

(source: Lakeland Ledger)


Garrard appears in court ahead of capital murder trial

The Etowah County grandmother accused of running a 9-year-old girl to death was in court Monday for a status conference before the scheduled start next month of her trial on capital murder charges.

Joyce Hardin Garrard was arrested in February 2012 after her granddaughter, Savannah Hardin, collapsed at her Hudson Hollow Road home after the girl had been made to run for hours as punishment for a lie about eating candy. She died 3 days later.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is charged with felony murder in the case.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors discussed motions before Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree, including whether the state - as defense attorneys have requested - should have to supply criminal background checks on all potential witnesses in the case. Deputy District Attorney Carol Griffin said that would be a duty beyond what discovery rules require and possibly beyond the district attorney's access to records. She asked that Ogletree set aside an order granting that defense motion.

Defense attorney Richard Rhea said the state could give the defense access to all the same databases it would search to conduct such background checks, but District Attorney Jimmie Harp said the state does not have the authority to give that access.

Rhea said the state could give defense attorneys copies of reports on any potential witnesses who are subjects of background checks.

Much of the conference was conducted with lawyers and the accused huddled at the judge's bench. There were discussions regarding the logistics of bringing in potential jurors for the trial and court security.

Ogletree said that there could be "publicity issues" in selecting a jury for the case, which has received widespread news coverage.

Ogletree told lawyers he would call about 750 potential jurors; courthouse officials say about 375 are called for a typical trial.

The judge also unsealed Department of Human Resource records that had been subpeonaed in the case.

Defense attorneys submitted motions as filed regarding "death qualification" for jurors and what the initial phase of the capital trial should be called.

In a motion, defense attorneys Dani Bone and Sam Bone asked that when potential jurors are questioned, the judge not allow their automatic dismissal if they express opposition to the death penalty.

If convicted of capital murder, Garrard would face a penalty of life in prison without parole or death.

According to the motion, potential jurors are questioned to determine if they can follow the law - and sentence someone to death - if the evidence warrants it.

The motion contends that such "death-qualified" juries already are biased against defendants.

The defense also filed a motion asking that the 1st phase of Garrard's capital murder trial be referred to in court as the "trial" phase rather than the "guilt" phase. Often, the phase of the trial where jurors hear evidence to determine guilt or innocence is called the "guilt" phase and should a defendant be found guilty, the 2nd part of the trial to set punishment is called the "penalty" phase.

In both motions, Griffin and Harp said there are U.S. Supreme Court rulings that upheld death qualification of jurors in capital cases, and there is precedent for referring to the portion of a bifurcated trial that establishes guilt or innocence of a defendant as the guilt phase of the trial.

Ogletree did not announce rulings on the motions during Monday's proceeding.

(source: The Gadsden Times)


Prison official had predicted Ohio's troubling execution

Greg Trout, former chief legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, wondered in an email in 2009 whether the combination of drugs used in an execution earlier this year would cause the condemned to appear to hyperventilate.

Ohio prison officials were concerned years before Dennis McGuire's troubled execution in January that the drug combination they were considering would result in "the condemned gasping for air in a hyperventilating fashion."

"The scenario would create the appearance, at least, of suffering, which would upset witnesses and inspire litigation," Greg Trout, former chief legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, speculated in a Nov. 6, 2009, email to Dr. Mark Dershwitz, until recently the state's expert witness on execution drugs and protocol.

However, Dershwitz said he did not think the combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone would produce that effect. "I have never seen the scenario described in (my 27-year career) though I will admit nothing is impossible," Dershwitz wrote.

Previously confidential emails between Trout and Dershwitz were published in an article in New Republic magazine on Sunday.

Ohio first added the 2 drugs to its execution protocol in 2011, but only as a backup procedure for intramuscular injection in case intravenous injections failed. Midazolam and hydromorphone were moved up as primary execution drugs late last year when the state ran out of pentobarbital, used for previous executions. Drug companies stopped selling it for use in executions.

Records show Ohio officials at one point thought about using an inhaled gas, isoflurane, for executions. Dershwitz discouraged that, according to documents, suggesting it "bears some resemblance to witness reports I have read of executions in the gas chamber."

Dershwitz, an anesthesiology professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Ohio's primary expert on death-penalty protocol since 2003, resigned earlier this year, possibly because the American Board of Anesthesiology threatened to de-certify medical professionals who participate in drafting lethal-injection protocol.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith confirmed that Dershwitz notified Ohio officials and those in several other states in June that he no longer would serve as an expert on execution matters. She declined to say whether the state has a new expert or to comment on the emails.

The lethal-injection debate erupted nationally after the McGuire execution on Jan. 16, followed by prolonged executions in Oklahoma in April and Arizona in July.

Ohio will have no more executions this year because U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost last week extended a moratorium until Jan. 15, 2015, while legal fighting continues over injection drugs and procedures.

McGuire, 53, repeatedly gasped, choked, clenched his fists and struggled against his restraints for more than 10 minutes after the administration of the two drugs. He was executed for the 1989 murder of Joy Stewart, 22, who was pregnant when McGuire raped her, slit her throat and left her to die in the woods.

Ohio prison officials have said that McGuire was unconscious and did not feel any pain during his prolonged execution.

That was contested recently in a sworn statement by a California anesthesiologist who said McGuire suffered "true pain and suffering. ... To a degree of medical certainty this was not a humane execution," Dr. Kent Diveley, an anesthesiologist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, said in an affidavit obtained for a civil-rights lawsuit filed by attorneys representing McGuire's son and daughter.

Allen L. Bohnert, an assistant federal public defender handling the lethal-injection arguments, declined to comment on the emails, as did Ohio Public Defender Tim Young's office.

In April, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials had said they would use the same drugs that were used in the troubled McGuire execution, but in larger quantities.

(source: Columbus Dispatch)


Jury selection starts in rare death penalty case

Jury selection began Monday in the death penalty murder trial of Anthony Stargell Jr., who is just the 4th defendant since 2001 to face a capital murder trial jury in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

The rare death-penalty jury selection process started with 4 panels of nearly 60 people per panel being questioned by Judge Gregory Singer.

Singer questioned potential jurors about their availability for a four-week trial and if they had any physical, medical, mental health issues or if such a trial would cause financial or personal hardships that could not be overcome. Court officials said most of the rest of the week will focus on death-penalty related questions and that regular voir dire questions would begin late this week or next Monday.

Stargell is accused of murdering Dayton businessman Tommy Nickles and his dog in 2012. His trial was to start earlier this year, but an attorney had a medical situation that delayed the trial.

The other most recent defendants to be tried by jury in death-penalty eligible cases include:

--China Arnold: She had trials in February 2008, September 2008 and May 2011, ultimately being sentenced to life in prison after being convicted for murdering her 28-day-old daughter Paris Talley by placing her in a microwave and "cooking" her in August 2005.

--Duane Short: He had a trial in May 2006 and was found guilty and sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, Rhonda Short, and her friend Donnie Sweeney.

--Larry Gapen: He was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2001 of the murders of his estranged wife, Martha Madewell, her former husband, Nathan Marshall, and Madewell's 13-year old daughter, Jesica Young, in September 2000.

Other defendants since 2001 have started out being prosecuted as death penalty cases, but have had death penalty specifications dropped before trial in plea agreements. Those cases have then been heard in front of 3-judge panels in 1-day, non-capital punishment trials.

Stargell, 23, is accused of shooting Nickles and Rusty, his golden retriever during an apparent April 2, 2012 robbery attempt at Quality One Electric at 838 S. Main St. in Dayton. Stargell also is accused of setting the business on fire, grand theft auto and taking surveillance equipment, among 22 total counts.

His client should not be facing the death penalty, said Dennis Lieberman, Stargell's defense attorney. Instead, prosecutors are using Rusty's death during the alleged crimes to unduly prejudice jurors, the attorney said.

The court has issued a gag order in the case, preventing both sides from speaking with the media. Before the docket was removed from public view, defense attorneys renewed several motions.

2 of those motions were to remove the trial from Montgomery County due to excessive pretrial publicity and to remove the cruelty to animals count from this trial. Singer denied both motions.

(source: Dayton Daily News)


Moratorium on executions not an indictment of death penalty

Has the time come to fire up "Old Sparky," the nickname given to the electric chair that served as Ohio's primary means of capital punishment in the 20th century? Some may rightly ask that question today in the wake of the newly prolonged moratorium on executions by lethal injection for the state's worst of the worst criminals.

Federal Judge Gregory Frost earlier this month extended a months-long moratorium on executions in the Buckeye State into next year as questions mount about the effectiveness of a new, 2-drug combination used to carry out capital punishment.

The debate over the death penalty has intensified, and lethal injection has been under increased scrutiny after executions using death-inducing drugs went awry in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona this year. Last winter, convicted Ohio rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire endured 26 minutes of snorting, gurgling and gasping for air before the 3-drug cocktail finally took hold and killed him.

In Tennessee, state leaders have responded to the controversy by making the electric chair mandatory punishment when viable lethal injection methods are unavailable. Unlike this year's series of prolonged botched executions, electric chair-executions typically zap convicts to kingdom come after only 2 to 3 minutes of 2,000-volt jolts.

Given the many constitutional challenges surrounding that method of execution, Ohio would be ill-advised to follow Tennessee's lead and put Old Sparky back to work. At the same time, however, the unfortunate botched executions should not serve as an opportunist rationale for abandoning capital punishment altogether, as the American Civil Liberties Union and others argue.

Though the methodology of capital punishment needs tweaked, the philosophy of the death sentence stands firm. The death penalty is neither inhumane nor retributive. It is justice.

Executions at the Lucasville Death Chamber, after all, are not primarily a transaction between a criminal and his victim or the victim's family. It is a process whereby the state seeks justice for the people of Ohio. And despite judicial misgivings about the procedural aspects of the state's system of lethal injection, courts here have not challenged the constitutionality of capital punishment as a form of meting out that justice.

Longest execution

Nonetheless, Ohio and other states using lethal cocktails must work harder to ensure the problems surrounding McGuire's execution - the longest in state history - are resolved and not repeated. Ethical controversies over lethal injections have resulted in many drug manufacturers forbidding U.S. prisons from using drugs that had provided quick and efficient executions over the past 2 decades.

From now until the current moratorium on capital punishment is lifted next January, officials in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction must vigilantly explore all viable alternatives. For starters, they can reach out for input from their peers in other states in which lethal injections have been carried out smoothly.

But they must not dally. Popular support for the death penalty remains overwhelming. A 2014 Quinnipiac Poll shows more than 2/3 of Ohioans (68 %) endorse capital punishment.

The state must respect that sentiment by working expeditiously to find a more suitable injectable execution solution. The longer the state delays cold-blooded killers' legitimate and constitutional dates with death, the longer justice will be denied to the victims' survivors and to the purity of jurisprudence in Ohio.

No, "Old Sparky" should not be given a new lease on life. But neither should convicted murderers who have wreaked havoc on the lives of victims' families and on the sanctity of state law.

(source: Youngstown Vindicator)


Supreme Court grants Mammone a stay of execution

James Mammone, the Canton man sentenced to death for killing his 2 young children and former mother-in-law, has been granted a stay on his execution.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued the ruling Tuesday morning. Mammone had been scheduled for execution on March 8, 2017. The stay will remain in effect until he has exhausted all state post-conviction proceedings, including any appeals.

The 3 murders took place in 2009 in the Canton area. Mammone stabbed his 2 children - 5-year-old daughter Macy and 3-year-old son James IV - while they were strapped in their car seats; he also killed his 57-year-old former mother-in-law, Margaret Eakin.

Mammone said the acts were retribution following his divorce and claimed he was trying to spare the children from being raised in a broken home.

He was found guilty of 3 counts of aggravated murder, 2 counts of aggravated burglary, violating a protection order, attempted arson and 3 gun specifications.

Mammone had filed his motion for a stay of execution on Aug. 5.

Kathleen Tatarsky, an assistant Stark County prosecutor in the appellate division, said the ruling was expected. A previous Ohio Supreme Court ruling set a precedent giving death penalty defendants a stay pending a direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings, she said.

In late July, the state's high court denied Mammone's request for reconsideration of his convictions and death sentence. That came after a May ruling in which the same court voted 6-1 to uphold the verdict and sentence

. (source: Canton Repository)


Prosecutor to seek death penalty against murder suspect in IMPD officer Perry Renn's death

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said today that the death penalty will be sought for the man accused of fatally shooting Indianapolis police officer Perry Renn.

Major Davis Jr., 25, is charged with murder in connection with the July 5 shooting death of Officer Renn.

Renn and another officer were responding to a call of shots fired in an alley off of 34th Street on the east side. Witnesses said Davis fired at Renn with an assault rifle.

Curry admitted that seeking the death penalty in the Renn case probably won't be a deterrent to people shooting at officers.

He cited 22 instances of officers being shot at in the past 18 months.

Curry also said it was too early to tell whether the trial for Davis will be moved and added that it wasn't a factor in a death penalty case.

(source: Indianapolis Star)


Court upholds death penalty for child rapist, murderer

The state Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence for a southwest Missouri man who admitted raping and killing a 9-year-old girl.

The court on Tuesday rejected numerous arguments in Christopher Collings' appeal for the November 2007 death of Rowan Ford.

The girl was taken from her home in Stella and found a week later in a sinkhole in McDonald County. Her stepfather, David Spears, was also charged with murder and rape but pleaded guilty to reduced charges of child endangerment and hindering prosecution. Prosecutors said there was no physical evidence tying Spears to the killing.

Collings' lawyers argued among other things that the trial court should have excluded his confession. Collings had said he "freaked out" and strangled Rowan because she looked at him while being raped.

(source: Associated Press)


Death penalty opponents see GOP support for practice eroding----Republican Liberty Caucus comes out against capital punishment, state GOP leaves support for it off platform

Opponents of capital punishment say unease with allowing government the power to kill is growing within the libertarian wing of the Kansas Republican Party, and predict it will help with their repeal efforts.

In early August the Kansas Republican Liberty Caucus approved a resolution opposing the death penalty and earlier this summer the state Republican Party left support for death sentences out of its official platform.

Mary Sloan, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, said her group is heartened by the developments within the party that controls the Legislature and all statewide offices.

"The death penalty is a broken system that is fiscally unsound and can put innocent life at risk," Sloan said. "It comes as no surprise that more people across the political spectrum are rethinking their support for it."

There are currently 10 people on death row in Kansas, but the state has not executed anyone since reinstating the death penalty in 1994.

Sloan's group, with the help of legislators like Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, and Rep. Steve Becker, R-Buhler, has pushed to repeal the death sentence during recent legislative sessions.

They were granted hearings on repeal this session, but the legislation did not come up for floor votes in either chamber.

Influential Republicans like Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt have advocated retaining the death penalty and streamlining the appeals process.

But Sloan's group sees recent developments as evidence that the political landscape is shifting their way, but Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said the public shouldn't read too much into the decision to leave death penalty support out of the party platform.

Barker said the platform committee recommended that the party take no official position on the subject and rather "make the death penalty a matter of individual conscience" but the state committee never voted on it.

"During the hours of debate on the (entire) recommended platform, the state committee debated the death penalty provision," Barker said via email. "My sense was a provision supporting it would be restored, but for some reason it was not motioned and voted. At the end of the day someone called the question on the (entire) platform as currently amended and that passed. Meeting over. No vote on the death penalty, so the platform as it currently stands is silent on the issue."

Barker emphasized that it was a "marathon debate session" in which the death penalty was just one of many issues discussed and said he expected the party to debate the issue again in January.

The Kansas Republican Liberty Caucus' stance was far more unequivocal.

Dave Thomas said the group, which has about 30 voting members, voted to pass a resolution supporting life in prison without parole as an alternative to the death penalty because capital punishment was not appealing from a fiscal standpoint or a "liberty standpoint."

"Any time you give the government a power that can be abused, it will or may be abused in the future," Thomas said. "And taking a citizen's life is kind of the ultimate power the government can have."

The anti-death penalty coalition also noted that the Kansas Libertarian Party has come out against the death penalty. Keen Umbehr, the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, said he personally opposes the practice, but if he was elected and an execution approached, "I must sign that death warrant" in accordance with state law.

If a repeal bill passed the Legislature, Umbehr said he would sign it, but said the high-profile appeal of death row brothers of Reginald and Jonathan Carr makes repeal unlikely any time soon.

"I think with the Carrs' case still in play, I don't think we're going to get a lot of legislators wanting to repeal it," Umbehr said.

(source: Topeka Capital-Journal)


John Hickenlooper opposes death penalty, but Nathan Dunlap could still die

John Hickenlooper said Sunday he has changed his mind since his 1st run for governor and now opposes the death penalty, but the immediate fate of convicted killer-turned-campaign-issue Nathan Dunlap is still unclear.

The next governor will decide when or if the man who killed 4 restaurant employees, including 3 teenagers, in 1993 will be put to death.

If it's Hickenlooper's Republican challenger, Bob Beauprez, there's little doubt. "When I'm governor, Nathan Dunlap will be executed," Beauprez said with authority to applause in a Colorado Christian University GOP debate in May.

Hickenlooper's change of heart comes a year after he undermined a Democratic legislative push to repeal the state's death penalty by suggesting he would veto it, which was 2 months before he gave Dunlap a "temporary reprieve" on his death sentence.

Beauprez said Monday Hickenlooper continues to fumble through a position on Dunlap and the death penalty.

"The issue of capital punishment is a difficult one that we wrestle with as a society. That's why it's hard to understand John Hickenlooper's actions in light of these new statements," Beauprez said. "If he truly does oppose the death penalty, he should have commuted Nathan Dunlap's sentence instead of leaving the decision to the next governor. As Colorado's next governor, I will see that justice is served."

Hickenlooper's camp has vowed not to get into name-calling contests, that there won't be any negative campaigning on their part.

"The governor made a decision knowing it wouldn't be a popular decision but he believes it is the right decision. Nathan Dunlap will die in prison," Hickenlooper campaign spokesman Eddie Stern said.

Meanwhile on Monday, Hickenlooper was telling institutional investors, high net worth speculators and business analysts that Colorado was just named the nation's fastest-growing economy over steak luncheon at the EnerCom Oil & Gas Conference.

Hickenloooper told them it was the government's job to help remove "uncertainty and lack of visibility" for investors who want to do business in Colorado.

(source: Denver Post)


Holmes Trial----Judge says theater shooting lawsuit can go forward

A federal judge has rejected Cinemark's request for the court to toss a lawsuit filed against the theater chain by several victims of the Aurora theater shooting.

In a ruling handed down Friday, United States District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the theater company had failed to prove that the July 20, 2012, attacks were so unprecedented that there was no way for the theater to see them coming.

Jackson said that while that argument held up 30 years ago when a judge threw out a lawsuit against McDonalds after a mass shooting at restaurant in California, the rash of mass shootings since then means businesses have to prepare for such attacks.

"One might reasonably believe that a mass shooting incident in a theater was likely enough (that is, not just a possibility) to be a foreseeable next step in the history of such acts by deranged individuals," Jackson wrote.

The judge also noted that 80 of the 300 Cinemark theaters that showed the Dark Knight Rises that night opted to hire off-duty police to work security.

The lawsuit filed by several people wounded in the attack and the relatives of survivors is expected to go to trial in early 2015.

The shooting left 12 dead and dozens more injured. The accused gunman, James Holmes, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and jury selection in his criminal trial is set to begin in December. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

(source: Aurora Sentinel)


Judge says attorney must stick with Arias

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi will have to stay on and advise Jodi Arias as she represents herself at her penalty phase retrial in September, Judge Sherry Stephens has ruled.

Nurmi asked the judge last week to let him off the case for good now that Arias has decided to represent herself. He said that since he's only acting as an adviser, his role would not be as crucial as it was before, when he was Arias' lead attorney. Arias also told the judge during the hearing that she would stop representing herself if Nurmi were allowed to withdraw.

Stephens, a Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court judge, took the matter under advisement and then added a note later to the court minutes - or record of the hearing - from August 13 stating that "It is ordered denying Advisory counsel Kirk Nurmi's Motion to Withdraw."

In May 2013, a jury found Arias guilty of 1st-degree murder in the brutal 2008 slaying of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

Although jurors were unanimous in their decision to convict Arias, they could not come to an agreement on whether to sentence her to the death penalty or life in prison. A new jury, tasked with making a decision regarding sentencing, will be selected for Arias' retrial, which is scheduled to begin September 8.

Arias will be presenting her case to that new jury - for now, at least. If Arias decides that she is in over her head, the judge said, she will allow the convicted killer one last chance to change her mind and retain counsel again.

On August 11, Arias appeared before the judge for the 1st time since deciding to represent herself and asked the judge to delay the retrial so she could have more time to meet with witnesses. Her motion to continue will be heard Friday.

Arias and her defense attorneys, Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, have made attempts in the past to sever their relationship with each other.

In November, Stephens denied a request from Arias asking that Nurmi be tossed from the case. In a 12-page handwritten letter to Stephens, Arias said she hadn't spoken with Nurmi for months and claimed that he had "little to no tolerance for my emotional and psychological shortcomings."

The judge also denied requests from Nurmi and Willmott, who wanted off the case in May 2013 after Arias gave an interview to Phoenix TV station KSAZ following the jury's guilty verdict. Arias told KSAZ's Troy Hayden she would "rather get death than life."

The attorneys asked a 2nd time to withdraw from the case during the penalty phase of the trial, after their request for a mistrial was denied. They requested a mistrial after a defense witness, Arias' childhood friend Patricia Womack, declined to testify, saying she received multiple death threats.

If the new jury in the retrial cannot reach a unanimous verdict, Arias will automatically get life in prison. However, the judge will decide whether Arias will get life without parole or life with the eligibility of parole after 25 years.

(source: CNN)


Death penalty sought in slaying of Marine's wife

District Attorney Mike Ramos says the murder of a Marine's wife qualifies for the death penalty.

Ramos says the allegation of 'lying in wait' applies to the murder complaint filed Tuesday against Marine Corporal Christopher Lee. Lee was arrested Monday in Anchorage, Alaska where he is awaiting extradition back to California.

Lee is accused of killing Erin Corwin and throwing her body down a mine shaft near the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base. Lee and the young woman were having an affair. She was pregnant with his child.

Corwin's husband reported her missing June 29th. Her body was found in the mine shaft last weekend.

(source: Inland News Today)


Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Skinhead Gang Leader----Court Says Juror's 'Off-the-Cuff' Prediction That Defendant Would 'Fry' Did Not Compel Reversal

The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the death sentence for a leader of a gang of skinheads, convicted of raping and murdering a woman who had spurned his romantic overtures.

Justices rejected Justin Merriman's claim that a mistrial should have been declared once the judge learned that a juror had discussed the case, before or during deliberations, with a deputy sheriff. The deputy, who was married to the brother of the juror's daughter, said the woman told her the jury was going to "fry" the defendant, although the juror said she could not remember using that language, but might have.

The court said that while the juror violated the court's instructions not to discuss the case, the resulting presumption of prejudice was rebutted by evidence the juror had performed her duty to consider the evidence impartially.

Merriman was indicted in 1999, seven years after Katrina Montgomery disappeared after leaving a party at the home of another gang leader in Oxnard. Merriman, who was about 20 at the time of the murder, had attended the same party.

Bloody Murder

The victim's bloodstained pickup truck was found abandoned in the Angeles National Forest. Police and prosecutors later said that Merriman had been suspected from the beginning, but that they did not have enough evidence to prosecute until an anonymous tip led them to a Sylmar gang member who ultimately admitted that he had witnessed the murder and helped dispose of the body.

During his 2 1/2-month trial, prosecutors portrayed Merriman as a serial rapist who had used his influence within white supremacist gang circles to intimidate witnesses. In addition to the murder charge and rape special circumstance, he was convicted of several counts of witness dissuasion and sexual assault based on incidents that occurred after the murder.

Prosecutors also charged Merriman's mother with communicating a threat from him to a gang member whom he was attempting to dissuade from testifying. She was convicted and sentenced to 2 years in state prison.

Witnesses testified that Merriman met Montgomery through Mitch Sutton, a founder of the Skin Head Dogs. Montgomery dated Sutton as a teenager, and continued to correspond with and visit the defendant while he served time in various detention facilities.

Angry Tone

Merriman's side of the correspondence took an angry tone, however, suggesting that Montgomery was interested in being his friend, not his girlfriend, and that he was unhappy about it. Montgomery also told her mother that Merriman had forced himself on her after his release from prison.

Prosecutors built the major part of their case on the testimony of Sylmar Family gang members Larry Nicassio and Ryan Bush. Though they had been initially uncooperative, they told the jury at trial that Montgomery, who was intoxicated, had been taken back to the defendant's house, where he raped her, slit her throat, and hit her with a wrench.

Nicassio, according to the testimony, wanted to call an ambulance, but Merriman threatened him with the bloody knife and said he couldn't take the risk that Montgomery would survive and "rat" on him.

Jurors convicted him in February 2001 of 1st-degree murder, conspiracy, witness tampering and the rapes of 2 other women. The defense maintained in the penalty phase that Merriman suffered from severe psychological problems.

News accounts at the time said that Merriman drew gasps in the penalty phase when he gave a Nazi salute. He took the witness stand and proclaimed his innocence.

Ventura Superior Court Judge Vincent O'Neill pronounced the death sentence in accordance with the jury's verdict. The defense's primary argument on appeal was that the judge should have granted a mistrial, or granted a later motion for a new trial, based on juror misconduct.

'Serious' Misconduct

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, writing for the court, acknowledged that the defendant was entitled to a presumption of prejudice based on "serious" juror misconduct. But the trial judge was correct, she said, in ruling that the presumption had been rebutted.

The juror, the chief justice emphasized, had not contacted the deputy to discuss the case, but rather to arrange to have lunch during the trial. While the lunch date never came off because the deputy's superiors disapproved, it was not disputed that the juror made a brief comment about the case during the phone call.

Even assuming that the deputy's recollection of the comment was correct, Cantil-Sakauye said, there was no proof of actual bias on the part of the juror.

"As the trial court found, it was Deputy Baker's unsolicited comment to the effect that she hoped the jury would 'put defendant away' that prompted Juror No. 1’s 'off-the-cuff' response predicting that death would be imposed, and there was no further discussion regarding the pending case," the jurist wrote. "The nature and surrounding circumstances of the misconduct do not suggest Juror No. 1 was actually biased against defendant."

The case is People v. Merriman, 14 S.O.S. 3534.

(source: Metropolitan News Company)


New Court Date Set for Triple Homicide Suspect----Carlo Mercado's preliminary hearing has been moved up

The man accused of killing 3 people - 2 of whom were fatally shot outside the Mission Valley mall on Christmas Eve - will be back in court sooner than expected.

After originally waiving his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, Carlo Mercado, 29, reasserted that right last Friday, according to his public defender Gary Gibson. His hearing has been rescheduled from Oct. 20 to Sept. 2.

During that court appearance, prosecutors are expected to reveal new, eagerly awaited details about the deaths of Ilona Flint and brothers Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere, as well as why police suspect Mercado killed them.

Flint and Salvatore were found gunned down in the Macy's Mission Valley parking lot last Christmas Eve. After calling 911, Flint died at the scene, and Salvatore passed away a few days later.

On Jan. 17, 2014, Flint's fiancee Gianni was discovered dead from a gunshot wound in Riverside, his body lying in the trunk of his car.

Nearly 6 months passed with no break in the case. Finally, on June 20, police arrested their suspect: Mercado.

Death Penalty Possible for Murder SuspectOn Wednesday, 29-year-old Carlo Mercado pleaded not guilty to 3 counts murder in a case that started last Christmas Eve. NBC 7's Bridget Naso reports.

Shortly after his incarceration, Mercado was hospitalized for unspecified injuries while in jail.

His former attorney said Mercado denies any involvement in the case and has since pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. He is being held without bail in the San Diego Central Jail.

The district attorney revealed Mercado could face the death penalty if he is convicted of more than 1 murder.



State high court upholds death penalty for Ventura killer Justin Merriman

The state Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction and death penalty of Justin Merriman, who fatally stabbed a Santa Monica College student in 1992 in Ventura.

In a 143-page decision released Monday morning, the court rejected defense arguments that Merriman's murder trial should have been separated from other charges against him. It also dismissed allegations of jury misconduct and of evidence errors involving sexual assaults and violence against other women.

Such appeals are automatic in death penalty cases.

Merriman, who prosecutors said was a skinhead gang member, was sentenced to death in 2001 by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O'Neill Jr. for the November 1992 throat slashing of Katrina Montgomery, 20, a student and former Ventura resident. A jury found Merriman guilty of 1st-degree murder and special allegations that the killing was committed during a rape and involved a deadly weapon.

2 San Fernando Valley skinheads testified against Merriman. Both said they were in the bedroom and saw the killing. They helped bury her body near Sylmar and got rid of the murder weapon. Police found neither the body nor the weapon.

The case was featured on "Dateline NBC" in 2002 because it was solved without a body or possession of the weapon used in the killing. The prosecutor was Ron Bamieh, now a defense attorney.

Bamieh also represents The Star on First Amendment issues.

"Justin Merriman is one of the most evil people I have ever encountered," Bamieh said. "I know his health is poor, and I hope God takes him before the state does. He is an extremely violent and dangerous man who should never leave state prison, whether he gets the death penalty or not."

Prosecutors said Merriman killed Montgomery after raping her because he feared she would tell police about it. They said he stabbed her in the neck in his Ventura bedroom, hit her on the head with a wrench and slit her throat.

Merriman was arrested in January 1998 after a standoff with police. He later was charged with assaults on 2 other women, evading arrest and dissuading and threatening witnesses who testified at grand jury proceedings.

Merriman did not testify until the penalty phase of the trial. He read a prepared statement denying that he killed Montgomery and raped or assaulted the other women. He refused to answer prosecutor's questions.

Merriman's appeal argued that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to separate the murder count from the other charges. The high court disagreed.

The appeal also alleged that misconduct was revealed when 1 juror had a conversation with a sheriff's deputy who was a distant relative. The juror failed to mention the relationship during jury selection and allegedly prejudged Merriman when she told the deputy that he would be "put away."

The state justices ruled that while "serious misconduct" did occur, there was no substantial likelihood that the juror was biased against Merriman. They agreed with the trial court's decision that it was just an "off-the-cuff" juror comment.

(source: Ventura County Star)


Suspect In Stockton Bank Robbery And Deadly Shootout Back In Court Monday

The only surviving suspect in the Stockton bank robbery that led to a chase and shootout with police was back in front of a judge today.

19-year-old Jaime Ramos faces 35 criminal counts, including multiple murder charges - and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Ramos will appear back in court on September 15, according to San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott. Prosecutors want more time to gather additional reports and test for DNA and ballistics in the chase that lasted 61 minutes and spanned 55 miles.

Ramos was arrested after allegedly using hostage Misty Holt-Singh as a human shield. The 41-year-old mother of 2 died along with 2 suspects during a gun battle with police. Stockton police said last week that Holt-Singh was killed by police gunfire during the shootout.

Ramos is facing 35 criminal counts, including multiple murder charges, and could face the death penalty if convicted.

No additional charges were filed in court today.

(source: CBS news)


Attorneys: Micus Ward 'intellectually disabled'----Micus Ward charged with aggravated murder

The legal team for a 20-year-old man accused murdering his great-grandmother wants a judge to rule their client is intellectually disabled, and should not be subject to Oregon's death penalty.

The hearing before Washington County Circuit Court Judge Rick Knapp was originally scheduled to last three or four days, but Knapp said he will make his decision on the defense motion some time Thursday.

Micus Ward, 20, and his cousin, Joda Cain, 17, have been indicted by a grand jury on 2 counts each of aggravated murder and felony murder. Jacqueline Bell was found dead inside her home Oct. 5, 2013. Detectives said she was attacked with a sledge hammer while sleeping.

Under Oregon law, anyone convicted of aggravated murder could be sentenced to death. If the individual was a minor at the time of the crime, they are ineligible for the death penalty.

In March, defense attorney Benjamin Kim filed a motion to preclude the application of the death penalty in this particular case based on a 2002 United States Supreme Court decision that states executing the "mentally retarded" is a violation of the Eight Amendment because it is considered cruel and unusual punishment.

The issue is extremely important. Knapp said "Oregon law is silent" on the matter of death penalty candidates who are considered "intellectually disabled."

"This is a big deal and could create new law in Oregon," Knapp said.

Knapp has a couple of options when it comes to making a decision. He can either rule the matter be considered a pre-trial issue, and will hear evidence from both sides on if Ward is intellectually disabled. If the judge rules the matter is not a pre-trial issue, it would be up to the jury to decide, if upon conviction, if Ward is intellectually disabled.

"It's a decision someone has to make," senior deputy district attorney Jeff Lesowski said. "Our position is the jury should make it."

Lesowski said the safest way to handle the issue - because there has been no direction given from either the legislature or appeals court - is to give it to "traditional fact finder, the jury."

Defense attorney Sara Snyder said Idaho, Nevada and Washington allow a judge to make a pre-trial determination if there is evidence that shows defendant is intellectually disabled. California allows a jury to make the decision only if the defense council does not bring up the issue in a timely matter, Snyder said.

Snyder said they plan on presenting evidence that shows Ward is intellectually disabled and has been since age 6.

Snyder asked Knapp to make a pre-trial decision, and not the jury, because the matter involves Ward's constitutional protection.

A decision is expected to be made Thursday at 9 a.m.

Ward was in custody during Tuesday's hearing but made no comments. Kim said he expects to request the trail date, now set for January 2015, to be pushed back.

(source: KOIN news)


Forum Center: Waiting for death might be cruel and unusual punishment

The Eighth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Part of this liberty insurance was protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and the country had good reason to include this portion of the amendment in the books. It was not uncommon up through the 18th century for people convicted of crimes to be locked in the stocks, flogged, branded or, in England, to be packed to a faraway island (hello, Australia).

Death was also a common sentence, and the gallows and other means had seen frequent use for nearly any crime through the 18th century. But people gradually wondered whether a better way to levy punishment was possible, meaning a person who stole crumbs from a baker didn't need to swing for it. So, the framers included a few words about limiting the creative ways civil offenders could be punished.

Eventually, with the death penalty, the electric chair replaced the gallows, and lethal injection replaced the electric chair - all in the name of humanity. But a new twist on cruel and unusual punishment has surfaced from a challenge by a federal judge in California, and he has ruled it is cruel and unusual for those sentenced to die in California to wait on death row for decades and not get executed. So, on those grounds, he has vacated the death sentence of a man convicted of murder in 1995, and the decision has sparked a new debate on an old issue.

Supporters of the judge's ruling say it is cruel and unusual to let someone languish for decades in prison not knowing whether they will be executed or not. They add this situation really exposes what they see as political posturing, because a state such as California has a death penalty, yet it rarely provides the resources to carry out the law as it was intended. In fact, since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death - only 13 have been executed.

Supporters also say the deterrent effect sought from the death penalty loses its punch after a convict sits in prison until old age. They say all of this fails the citizens, who are the ones supporting the justice system and expecting it to function as promised.

Opponents of the ruling say the state's inaction should not be benefiting prisoners on death row, and they say in the past, the Supreme Court has ruled delays in executions are not unconstitutional. They further say these are usually the worst criminals, and even with continual postponement of execution, they deserve what they have coming.

Legal experts call the federal judge's ruling "unprecedented," and it stands a good chance of being upheld in an appeals court. If that happens, the Supreme Court will eventually hear the case. Experts are divided, however, when it comes to predicting what the Supreme Court will do. It has sided against similar arguments in the past, but an unprecedented lower court ruling could be the one to change everything.

(source: Alex Culpepper)


Debate Left: Kalifornia

A discussion of the morality of capital punishment does not benefit much from research. Because putting another human being to death is so personal, so too is the reaction of the individual. Opinions quickly become volatile and, as an electron and a positron annihilate upon contact, so too does cynicism collide with the bleeding heart.

Therefore, for some unbelievably idiotic reason, I chose to open the conversation about the death penalty with my wife within the first 2 hours of an 11-hour car ride to California.

Fortunately the powder keg didn't ignite, but it bloody well could have. She is her mother's child, and I once had the following conversation with said mother-in-law:

Me: Yes, I'm glad Hitler is dead.

M-I-L: But you don't know what he went through in his life. You just can't judge.

Me: What he went through was about 12 million Jews. I can judge the s*** out of that.

M-I-L: (Looking at me as if I'm Hitler) Still...

At any rate, we were able to come to some mutually-agreed conclusions about the application of the death penalty ruling without having it levied against my own person on the side of the road.

We both agree holding a prisoner on death row for longer than a few years is cruel and unusual punishment, but not quite in the way the judge described it. Death itself, as articulated by the judge, is not a punishment at all. It is simply moving from a state of being to non-being, and there is no hell in which they will burn for eternity. Execution is a conscious choice by society that an individual poses so great a threat to the rest of humanity we cannot accept even the barest possibility they might ever escape.

The argument he posits is that condemning an individual to a horrible existence of waking up every day wondering if the hangman is coming for you for 17 years is cruel and unusual. There is one freedom though. In death, the torture will end. Life in prison without possibility of parole, however, puts you in almost the same situation except the torture is carried on as long as possible. Is this not a worse punishment?

My wife and I talked around this one for quite a while. The real difference between death and life in prison, we decided, is, although locked up forever, the lifer can still have a bare thread of human access. They can communicate with their families, read, write down their thoughts and still involve themselves with the universe in some way. Although their freedom is gone, they retain some possibility of meaningful existence. They might even end up being a positive force in the world. The dead man, as they say, tells no tales.

As such, I feel the judge's ruling stands incomplete. No, a prisoner should not be on death row for several years, but not because of the waiting. If society has decided a criminal should be executed, it should require a standard of evidence so high it should not take 17 years to exhaust all possible appeals and procedural hurdles in the first place. It would be cruel and unusual to levy such a dire punishment when any remote possibility still exists the prisoner may be innocent.

In fact, if an appeals court has to review anything in the original verdict concerning guilt or innocence other than checking for typos, I don't think the death penalty should be invoked at all. It can't be taken back if you're wrong, so you have to be sure. The job of the appeals court should be to ensure the lower court made no errors, and then validate the crime does indeed merit death.

Also, the death sentence should only be imposed for crimes that injure society as a whole - either in fact or by implication. Treason, for instance, is an attack upon the entirety of the American people. The Boston Marathon Bombings would be an example of a crime against individuals, but which reflects sadism that could just as easily have been perpetrated against any member of society. I would even go so far as to say a crime against someone explicitly because of their race could merit the death penalty, depending on circumstances, because the criminal is clearly willing to kill without any individual discrimination. It's more than just 1st-degree murder - it's a premeditated killing of someone who symbolizes a larger hatred.

Therefore, I believe all capital cases should be federal crimes. If it is truly a crime worthy of death, then it must be a crime that is committed against every citizen of this country in some way. Having different laws in different states makes the death penalty unusual by definition, and it provides unequal protection under the law.

Furthermore, because society's interest is not to effect reform but to preserve itself, death should only be imposed if the evidence is so clear, the sentence can be carried out with confidence in relatively short order - perhaps a year.

That's my disagreement with California judge's ruling. If a convicted person's guilt or innocence is so unsure as to warrant many years and multiple appeals, then death should have never been handed down in the 1st place.

(source: Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colo. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one's voice is inversely proportional to one's knowledge of the issue)


Debate Right: The capital punishment circus The question often arises regarding what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. My comments should not be interpreted as either an argument in favor or opposed to capital punishment, but based on current practices affecting the validity of arguments pursuant to the execution of these laws in the several states. I am personally conflicted on the basis of both on moral and political grounds. Unfortunately, the history of this institution has shown confusion as well as political and moral conflict both in legislation and adjudication.

On July 16, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled California's application of the death penalty constituted an "unpredictable period of delay preceding [prisoners'] actual execution." Further, he said the system is arbitrary and "serves no legitimate purpose."

The case was based on the 1992 rape and murder of Ernest Dewayne Jones' girlfriend's mother, the sentence having been rendered in 1995. In his opinion, it is therefore unconstitutional, as it violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishment, although not forthrightly stating a ban on all capital punishment.

The crux of the decision is based on the dearth of death sentences being carried out in California. Of note is the fact no one in California has been executed in the last eight years. Additionally, 40 percent of 748 death row inmates have been on death row for more than 19 years, and only 13 of 900 since 1978 have been executed. The decision does not seem to render capital punishment unconstitutional, but who shall be executed and who shall remain on death row seemed - at least to the judge - to be arbitrary.

Let us look at the reasons for long delays in execution of death row inmates across the country, since this decision is likely to have national repercussions. First, anyone convicted of a capital crime is automatically entitled to a direct appeal, one either mandatory in some states or optional in others. Such an appeal is based solely on evidence presented in trial and pleads before the state's highest court. After such appeal, a writ of certiorari may be made to the U.S. Supreme Court. Further steps may be taken on 2 levels, including state post-conviction appeal and the federal habeas corpus. This final process may include appeals to U.S. District Court, followed by those to the court of appeals and, finally, the United States Supreme Court, which may grant or deny hearing. Finally, the defendant may appeal to executive clemency with the state's governor or authorized body.

Complicating the issue is the method of delivering the lethal agent. The most humane way yet devised following firing squad, hanging and electric chair seems to be lethal injection, now being challenged by courts, further delaying the delivery of final justice and covered in a previous Dayton City Paper debate ("Lethal injection - a humane way of death?," May 6, 2014)

Obviously, some cases may require longer periods to decide, taking into consideration successful appeals, retrial and additional appeals in the face of reconviction and further appeals thereafter. In that regard, since details and state provisions vary, and circumstances and players vary, no degree of uniformity may be expected. For example, a typical appeals and trial may average 6-10 years, while in Texas, some have been executed after 25 years on death row.

Therefore, does an extended appeal process constitute cruel and unusual and arbitrary punishment, or is it extending compassionate stay for a defendant who may have been falsely accused? The greater use of DNA testing undoubtedly will result in fewer and fewer suffering this fate based on circumstantial evidence. The utter irony of this decision is the fact those opposed to capital punishment generally favor a long appeals process in order to grant a greater chance a defendant may win at least life sentence after multiple appeals. Does Judge Carney's decision then result in more death row inmates going to final judgment quicker and possibly less justly? Or is it possible he is generally opposed to capital punishment and this is an easy way to make it seem so based on constitutional grounds? Such decisions reflect the hubris now exercised by federal judges to meet political opinions over what has, until the last half of the 20th century, been left to state discretion.

Due process is defined as legal proceedings that are fair, the proceedings of which will be given to one before surrendering life, liberty or property. Such definition assumes a community taking pains to protect the lives, property and well-being of their local town, city or county regulated by state legislation, while protecting individual rights. The federal judiciary is a poor substitute except in unusual circumstances. For example, a murder committed by a hardened criminal is more likely to cause suffering and dislocation of local sensitivities on a local community in Ohio than it is in Washington, D.C., and recidivism more likely to affect locals. This is a major argument for keeping criminal justice, including capital crime, local (state-regulated) and not demanding federal oversight for every capital infraction. Furthermore, we are learning in the last 5 years, the federal government is a poor insurer of individual rights.

The people of the United States should make a judgment on the merits or demerits of capital punishment based on moral and political grounds and judicial behavior should reflect that decision, rather than the layers of equivocation that have ruled the court room for the last several decades. If it is unjust and immoral, eliminate the death penalty, but if judged fair and appropriate, the judiciary should stop playing legal games.

(source: Dr. Dave Westbrock has been in private medical practice for 35 years. He was the Republican candidate for the U.S House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996. He has written and lectured extensively on the subject of health care reform and health care policy. Dayton City Paper)


Family of Briish citizen 'rendered' to Ethiopia calls for his release

The family of a British citizen kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia in June has called on the British government to secure his release as soon as possible.

Andargachew 'Andy' Tsege, a father of three from London, was travelling to Eritrea in June this year when he was seized during a stopover in Yemen. 2 weeks later, Ethiopian officials admitted to the UK government that Mr Tsege was in their custody.

The legal charity Reprieve says British consular staff were denied access to Mr Tsege over 50 days after his initial capture, and his family still do not know where is being held. Last month, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn dismissed concerns about Mr Tsege's concerns and whereabouts.

Mr Tsege, who is a prominent member of an Ethiopian opposition group, faces a death sentence imposed in absentia, and his arrest comes amid a crackdown on political activists and journalists ahead of elections in Ethiopia next year. In a heavily-edited video aired recently on Ethiopian state TV, Mr Tsege appeared thin and exhausted, and was presented as having 'confessed' to various charges.

Torture in prisons in Ethiopia is common; a 2013 Human Rights Watch report on the notorious Maekelawi Police Station documented serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics, and poor detention conditions.

Speaking to The Times in an interview published yesterday (18 August), Mr Tsege's partner Yemi Haile Mariam said: "Where is the outrage that a Brit has been held for this many days? He is a British national sentenced to execution in absentia."

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: "Andy Tsege has been subject to kidnapping, torture, and secret detention, all for the 'crime' of his political beliefs. He had to endure 50 days of detention and torture before UK officials were even permitted to see him this week. Even now, his family in London have no idea where he is being held, and in what conditions. This is an unacceptable state of affairs; the UK government should be using its close ties to Ethiopia to call unequivocally for his release."



Donetsk Separatists Introduce the Death Penalty for Treason

The government of the breakaway region of Donetsk in Ukraine announced that it will introduce the death penalty for serious crimes, including treason, after the 1st meeting of the separatist Council of Ministers today.

"A legislative act provides for the death penalty for the gravest crimes," a press release on the Donetsk People's Republic's (DNR) official website read.

The meeting was intended to set the founding stones of the military court justice system of the new republic, which is not recognised by the Ukrainian government.

The Council agreed that military tribunals will be sanctioned to pass the death penalty for offences including treason, espionage, attempts on the lives of the leadership and sabotage, the Moscow Times reported.

Separatist leaders agreed that the DNR will use the Russian Federation's Criminal Code as a basis, RIA Novosti adds.

"Introducing the death penalty is not revenge, it is the highest degree of social protection," senior DNR leader, Vladimir Antyufeyev said in a statement which reiterated that the new justice code "would greatly facilitate the fight against looting and banditry".

The military court system will have 2 tiers, 1 for offenders of rank squadron commander and lower, while the other will deal with offenders of rank battalion commander and higher.

Pro-Russian rebels have been accused of using capital punishment before. A document surfaced in May signed by Donetsk's former Defence Minister Igor 'Strlkov' Ghirkin invoking a 1941 Stalin-era law to order the killing of 2 DNR officers on charges of looting.

More recently video footage of Crimean separatist leader Igor Bezler was posted online in June showing Bezler seemingly executing 2 pro-Kiev soldiers by firing squad.

While Monday's meeting of DNR's council of ministers only discussed military legislation, the Republic's Foreign Minister Alexander Karaman insisted the separatist government would set about "on the path of humanization of the criminal law".

The DNR declared independence from Ukraine following a referendum on 11 May this year. The results of the referendum were not recognised by the US or EU, but the separatist republic announced the election of its own government headed by Prime Minister Alexander Borodai.

The DNR's chairman Denis Pushilin has stated the republic would ideally like to be adopted as a constituent member of the Russian Federation.

(source: Newsweek Magazine)


10m/- for information volunteers on PWA killers

IPP Executive Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi has announced a 10m/- reward for anyone who offers information that will lead to the arrest of persons responsible for last week's attack on Persons with Albinism (PWAs) in Tabora Region.

The IPP Executive Chairman expressed overwhelming sympathy for the victims and demanded concerted response from the authorities.

Speaking to journalist yesterday in Dar es Salaam Dr Mengi said the entire nation mourns with the victim and her family.

"Persons with Albinism, just like any other person, have the right to live in peace and harmony without fear or prejudice," Dr Mengi said.

"Being born with albinism is God's wish and nobody should be judged or persecuted for having a disability," he went on to say decrying superstitious beliefs associated with the attacks.

In this most recent tragic and barbaric incident, assailants invaded the home of Susan Mungy (35) attacked her, mutilated her right arm and left her to bleed to death.

Also, in cold blood, the perpetrators killed her husband, Bashiri Mapambo as he tried to defend his wife and children who were also injured in the senseless and inhumane attack.

Sympathising with the family, Dr Mengi, a renowned philanthropist, pledged to pay school fees for the widow's 2 children.

He called on the public to welcome diversity, exercise tolerance and respect for all without discrimination over race, tribe, religion or disabilities of any kind.

Dr Mengi also urged police in Tabora Region to be vigilant in the pursuit of the perpetrators and called on the public to offer their support so that justice is served.

In his comments, Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS) General Secretary Ziada Nsembo also called for concerted action by authorities.

She expressed sincere gratitude towards Dr Mengi for his proactive initiative in offering the reward money acknowledging that this is the 1st time such a step has being taken against the horrible crime.

Nsembo also bid the government to increase security for people with albinism across the country noting that despite previous pledges by the government to protect PWAs, the killings and attacks are still occurring.

According to government officials, so far, at least 10 persons have been arrested and charged in relation to the brutal killings of people with albinism.

Of the 10, 9 have received the death penalty and 1 is serving a 5 year imprisonment sentence.

3 were convicted at the High Court Kahama zone, 4 Shinyanga zone, 1 Mwanza zone, 1 Tobora zone and 1 Mbeya zone.

(source: IPP Media)


6 to die for Bagerhat murders

A court in Bagerhat has ordered death penalty for 6 and life imprisonment for 7 others for killing 3 security personnel in 2006.

The court of Bagerhat District and Sessions Judge SM Solaiman gave the verdict on Tuesday over the 2006 killings of 2 Coastguards and a RAB personnel.

It has acquitted 2 others as charges against them could not be proven.

Those awarded death sentences are Rafikul Sheikh, Kuddus Sheik, Idris Sheikh, Alkat Fakir and Elias Sheikh.

The court ordered life sentence for Akram Sheikh, Alam Sheikh, Badshah Sheikh Jamal Sheikh, Kamal alias Suman Sheikh and Aslam Sheikh.

All of the convicts are absconding, prosecutor Sheikh Mohammad Ali told

According to the case details, a joint operation by RAB and Coast Guard was conducted on Dec 1, 2006, on river Pashur adjoining the Sundarbans.

Security forces were tipped off about a group of robbers' gathering in the area.

A shootout erupted between the robbers and the security personnel as the Coastguards and RAB personnel tried to encircle the robbers.

Finally, the security personnel managed to corner the robbers' vessel and boarded it.

A scuffle broke out as the robbers dived into the river with Coast Guard personnel MH Kabir, MA Islam and RAB personnel PC Kanchan.

Bodies of the three security personnel were recovered from the river the next day.



India prepares to carry out first ever hanging of women convicts

Renuka Shinde, 41, and 36-year-old Seema Gavit were convicted in 2001 of kidnapping and killing 5 children in the western state of Maharashtra. Originally charged with the deaths of 13 children, the court heard they kidnapped the youngsters as part of a begging operation and then brutally disposed of them when they were no longer of any use.

In 2004, an appeal court upheld their death sentence and 2 years later India's Supreme Court did the same. Last month, India's President, Pranab Mukherjee, rejected their appeal for clemency and at the weekend the so-called buffer zone - the period by when the government is obliged to inform all concerned parties of the president's decision - expired.

The women, being held in Yerawada Central Jail near the city of Pune, could, in theory, be hanged at any time. Nobody from the jail was on Monday available for comment. Reports in the local media say officials there are engaged with the police, local officials and doctors on when the hanging should proceed.

Since 1983, the Indian courts have handed down the death penalty only for the "rarest of rare" cases. In recent years, just a handful of executions have been carried out, most notably that of Pakistani militant Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged in 2012 for his part in the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

In the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder of a young student, new laws were introduced to specify the death penalty for murder cases where rapes are involved. Records suggest no women have ever been executed.

The 2 sisters were originally detained in 1996, along with their mother, Anjana, and charged with the abduction and murder of children as part of a plot to obtain money from strangers. The courts were told the women would use the youngsters to extract sympathy from people, or else injure a child, causing it to cry out, if they needed to flee the scene. Their mother died while the case was ongoing.

"They very clearly executed their plans of kidnapping the children and the moment they were no longer useful, they killed them," the Supreme Court said when it upheld the death sentence. "They had become a menace to society and the people in these cities were completely horrified and they could not even send their children to school."

The lawyer of the 2 women, Manik Mulik, said that even though President Mukherjee had rejected the women's plea for clemency he intended to file a fresh appeal this week. He said it was now 13 years since the women were originally convicted and sentenced.

"The ladies are going to file a petition this week in the [appeal court]. They will appeal to have the death penalty commuted because there has been such a delay," Mr Mulik told The Independent. "There is too much delay. The Supreme Court has said if there is too much delay if can have a bad effect on the mental health of the convicted people."

Debate is continuing as to whether or not the two women should be hanged. Dhananjay Mahadik, the member of parliament for Kolhapur, where the women were from, said he personally felt women in India should not face the death penalty.

Yet, Mr Mahadik, a member of the Nationalist Congress Party, added: "The crime they were convicted of was very serious. They slaughtered those children, they did not kill them. They made them beg for them and they killed those children who knew nothing of this world. The court has ordered this and I agree."

Campaigners against execution have in recent years been pushing the authorities in India to move away from handing down the death penalty, even though a number are ultimately commuted.

"The 2 women were convicted for crimes that the courts have determined meets the present Indian legal standard," said Meenakshi Ganguly, of Human Rights Watch. "We believe that the death penalty should be abolished because it is inherently inhumane."

She added: "We urge that all countries, including India, declare an immediate moratorium on capital punishment and work towards repealing it altogether."

(source: The Independent)


Malaysian fishmonger charged with murder of British medical students in Borneo----Newcastle University students Neil Dalton and his friend Aidan Brunger were stabbed to death earlier this month following a confrontation with locals in Borneo

A Malaysian fishmonger on Tuesday was charged with murder over the fatal stabbing of 2 British medical students, a crime that carries the death penalty, local media and police said.

The bodies of Newcastle University students Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were found early August 6 lying in the road in Kuching, capital of Sarawak state on Borneo island.

5 Malaysian men were arrested in connection with the stabbing deaths that occurred after an alcohol-fuelled argument, according to police.

One of the suspects, Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, was charged with the murder on Tuesday, The Star daily reported.

The charge carries the mandatory death penalty by hanging upon conviction.

Violent crime against tourists and expats is generally rare in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country. But some recent incidents have sullied that image.

Malaysian police in early June found the body of a 34-year-old British tourist on the resort island of Tioman. They have yet to announce the cause of death.

Last month, a court sentenced to death a Malaysian shopkeeper for the killing of a French tourist in 2011, also on Tioman.

(source: The Telegraph)


Unemployed man sent to the gallows for trafficking heroin

The High Court in Kota Baharu yesterday sent an unemployed man to the gallows after finding him guilty of trafficking in 66.2g of heroin last year.

Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah handed down the sentence to Mohamed Hasrool Mohamed Najri, 20, after ruling that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts at the end of the prosecution's case.

In his judgment, Azman said Mohamed Hasrool's statement that he was asked by a man known only as 'Abe Adnan' to take a plastic package under the roof of the man's house had failed to raise any doubts.

"The court agree that the accused's statement on 'Abe Adnan' has failed to raise any reasonable doubts because it is unknown whether or not Abe Adnan really exists," he said.

Mohamed Hasrool committed the offence at a petrol station in Mukim Maka at Jalan Pasir Mas-Tanah Merah, Tanah Merah at 5.10 pm on July 15, 2013.

He was charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

Deputy public prosecutor Nordalina Ali prosecuted, while Mohamed Hasrool was represented by lawyer Ahmad Ridzuan Awang.

(source: Bernama)


Doctor 'no regrets' over lethal injection campaign

A Birmingham hospital doctor says he has no regrets about leading a campaign which halted the sale of a drug used in America to kill death row prisoners by lethal injection.

Dr David Nicholl helped persuade Danish manufacturers Lundbeck to withhold supplies of pentobarbital after launching a petition in the medical journal, the Lancet, in 2011.

There has since been claims that alternatives to the drug are less humane as some prisoners have taken longer to die after being given them.

Dr Nicholl dismissed claims the campaign had caused suffering.

"The people responsible are the people that ordered those drugs, that supplied those drugs and injected those drugs," he said.

(source: BBC News)


Opposition Leader at Risk of Death Penalty


(source: Amnesty International)

SAUDI ARABIA----executions

Saudi Arabia executes 6 convicted men by beheading

4 men previously convicted of drug trafficking were decapitated by sword in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Monday, a day after 2 convicted murderers suffered the same fate elsewhere in the country, the government said on Monday.

The latest executions took place on Monday when the 4 men, identified as Hadi bin Saleh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, Mufreh bin Jaber Zaid Al-Yami, Ali bin Jaber Zaid Al-Yami, and Awadh bin Saleh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, were beheaded by sword in the city of Najran in southwestern Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said the men had been convicted of drug trafficking after they attempted to smuggle "a large quantity" of hashish into the kingdom. The death penalty, which was passed down by a general court, was upheld by both an Appeals Court and the Supreme Court before a royal order was issued to carry out the sentences.

"The Ministry of Interior affirms that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is keen on combating narcotics due to their great harm to individuals and the society, and it warns anyone who tries to commit such actions that he will be punished according to Sharia," the ministry said.

Monday's executions followed the beheadings of 2 convicted murderers a day earlier in the western city of Taif.

At least 32 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia so far this year, following 79 executions last year. The kingdom applies the death penalty for a large number of crimes, including drug offenses, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft. Both witchcraft and sorcery are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia, but human rights organizations say such charges have previously been used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion.

(source: BNO news)


4 Relatives Executed for Hashish Possession Amid 'Disturbing' Surge in Executions

The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions, Amnesty International said after 4 members of the same family were executed today as part of a "disturbing" recent surge in the use of the death penalty in the country.

The 2 sets of brothers from the same extended family were killed this morning in the south-eastern city of Najran after being convicted of "receiving large quantities of hashish", reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture.

It brings the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past 2 weeks to 17 - a rate of more than 1 execution per day.

"The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"The death penalty is always wrong, and it is against international law to use it in cases involving non-lethal crimes and where evidence used to convict the person is based on 'confessions' extracted as a result of torture."

The 4 relatives were put to death despite desperate last-minute efforts from family members to alert the world to their plight.

Relatives of the men contacted Amnesty International on Thursday asking for help amid fears that the executions were imminent.

The organization's Saudi Arabia team responded seeking further information on the case, but within hours the team was informed that the family of the 4 men had received a phone call from Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior officials warning them to stop contacting Amnesty International.

This morning, it was officially announced that the 4 men had been executed.

"This apparent intimidation and surveillance of victims of human rights violations and activists adds another sinister layer to Saudi Arabia's use of the death penalty. It is clear evidence that the authorities are willing to go to extreme lengths to prevent reports of gross human rights violations in the country from reaching the outside world," said Said Boumedouha.

"The family in this case deserves full disclosure as to why their loved ones' allegations of torture were not investigated."

The 4 executed men - brothers Hadi bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq and Awad bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq along with brothers Mufrih bin Jaber Zayd al-Yami and Ali bin Jaber Zayd al-Yami - were arrested and detained by members of the Ministry of Interior's General Directorate of Investigations (known as al-Mabahith) on several occasions after their alleged offence in 2007.

They were reportedly tortured during interrogation, including with beatings and sleep deprivation, in order to extract false confessions.

They were referred to trial and sentenced to death largely on the basis of these 'confessions'.

There has been a surge in executions in Saudi Arabia since the end of Ramadan on 28 July, with 17 announced executions between 4 August and 18 August, compared to 17 confirmed executions between January and July 2014.


Saudi Arabia is 1 of the top executioners in the world, with more than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2013.

In 2013, it executed at least 79 people, 3 of whom were under 18 at the time of the crimes for which they were put to death, in blatant violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So far in 2014, at least 34 people have been executed.

Court proceedings in Saudi Arabia fall far short of international standards for fair trial. Trials in capital cases are often held in secret. Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by lawyers, and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them.

They may be convicted solely on the basis of "confessions" obtained under torture, other ill-treatment or deception. In some cases condemned prisoners' families are not notified in advance of their execution.

Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty to a wide range of offences that are not accepted as "most serious crimes" under international law and standards on the use of the death penalty.

These include "adultery", armed robbery, "apostasy", drug-related offences, rape, "witchcraft" and "sorcery".

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

(source: Enews Park Forest)



In interview, Hickenlooper offers new anti-death penalty stance

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who faces reelection in the fall, told FOX31 Denver Sunday that he is officially anti-death penalty.

Hickenlooper told voters in 2010 that he supported capital punishment, but granted a temporary reprieve last May to convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap.

In a wide-ranging interview on #COpolitics: From The Source Sunday morning, Hickenlooper talked about his reversal and defended his consensus-driven leadership style.

"My whole life I was in favor of the death penalty," Hickenlooper told host Eli Stokols. "When Nathan Dunlap was being tried, it was a couple years after we opened the Wynkoop [Brewery] and it was like a family. We all watched it on TV. Everyone but 1 person I think felt he should be executed without question.

"But then you get all this information: it costs 10 times, maybe 15 times more money to execute someone than to put someone in prison for life without parole. There's no deterrents to having capital punishment.

"And I don't know about you, but when I get new facts, I'll change my opinion. I didn't know all of this stuff. There might be legitimate reasons why the U.S. - there's not a single country in Europe or South America or Mexico or Israel or Australia - none of these countries support the death penalty any more, and there are good reasons for it."

(source: KDVR news)


NY suspect gets death penalty expert for lawyer

A defense lawyer with experience in death penalty cases has been assigned to one of the suspects in the killing of a Bronx cab driver.

Tommy Smalls appeared Monday in federal court. Manhattan lawyer Peter Quijano was appointed to represent him.

Quijano declined to comment on the case.

Smalls is charged with carjacking with intent to cause death or bodily harm. The charge carries the potential for a death sentence or life in prison.

The same charge was brought last week against 3 other men.

All are accused in the Aug. 12 carjacking killing of livery driver Aboubacar Bah. They have not entered pleas.

Police say the 3 charged last week are also suspected in the Aug. 5 killing of another cab driver.

(source: Associated Press)


Family members of victims pose a growing challenge for capital punishment

An examination of the nation's history in carrying out executions is encountering a new challenge for modern-day capital punishment.

Bringing in family members of victims to witness executions brings about a new source of pressure on the execution, complicating actual execution arrangements and the position of capital punishment in the public imagination, according to Annulla Linders, a University of Cincinnati associate professor of sociology. Linders' research, titled, "Bearing Witness: Victim's Relatives and Challenges to the Execution Narrative," was presented at the 109th Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.

Linders' research explores how family members of victims bearing witness to executions has transformed the process of the execution as well as its audience. "How can we account for this recent transformation of the execution and its audience and what are the consequences of this change for understanding executions specifically, and capital punishment more generally," writes Linders. "I argue that the opening up of the witness box to the murder victim's family has turned the execution into a somewhat different kind of event than it was - it has come to re-personalize executions and re-infuse them with interestedness and passion," states Linders. "No longer is it enough that the death is swift and the arrangements are efficient, the execution must now also satisfy the psychological demands of long-suffering relatives and other intimates of murder victims."

32 U.S. states still carry death penalty laws. Linders reports that prior to the 1990s, Louisiana was the only state by law to allow intimates of victims to witness executions. That number grew to 5 states by 1996.

Linders says currently 18 states allow the presence of victims' relatives to witness the execution.

As a result, not only has execution technology made executions a more sterile and efficient event, says Linders, but they now are expected to bring some sort of emotional satisfaction (relief, peace) or closure to the families.

The process of the execution erupted in national controversy following the so-called "botched" lethal injection execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last April. The event brought about a nationwide stay on executions until Georgia, Missouri and Florida carried out lethal injection executions within 24 hours of each other, beginning on June 17.

Linders' findings come from researching newspaper accounts of executions dating back to the 19th century. Her research in the Library of Congress newspaper archives traced accounts of executions ranging from 19th century public hangings to current execution chambers typically requiring 12 official witnesses to the event. The first laws calling for removal of public executions were adopted in the 1830s.

The paper details several national newspaper reports of families witnessing executions of the convicted murderer of a family member, as well as the reports describing family members' feelings following the execution. The paper begins with the execution of the so-called "Freeway Killer," convicted serial killer William Bonin, who in 1996 became the state of California's 1st person to die by lethal injection, and the 3rd to be executed in California after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

"Neither morbidly curious spectators (in the old sense of public executions) nor disinterested witnesses (in the new sense of closed executions), the family members of murder victims are in the witness box to view and judge something other than the execution of the law," writes Linders. "They are there as survivors, not so much to observe the execution - there are official witnesses to do that - as to bear witness to the pain and suffering experienced by murder victims and those they leave behind."

[source: University of Cincinnati]



11 inmates hanged, dozens killed or wounded as guards open fire

This morning, (Monday, August 18) at least 11 prisoners were hanged en masse in Qezel Hessar Prison in the town of Karaj (west of Tehran). More inmates may have been hanged according to some reports.

4 of the victims were named, Hamed Rabii, Milad Rabii, Ebrahim and Mansour.

Sunday afternoon, following the transfer of their cellmates to the execution hall, a large number of inmates in ward 2 of Qezel Hessar prison staged a protest. Anti-riot Special Forces attacked them and immediately opened fire, killing and injuring dozens of inmates.

Initial reports say that at least 5 inmates have been killed.

Special Forces have surrounded the Prison's wards 2 and 3, where death row inmates are housed.

Simultaneously, suppressive forces attacked the prisoners' families who had gathered outside the prison to protest against the killing of their children. They tried to disperse them by firing teargas and shooting in the air.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, said that the arbitrary and mass execution of the prisoners and opening fire on defenseless inmates reflected the savagery of the religious fascism ruling Iran on the one hand, and its vulnerability and desperation on the other. She added that through torture, execution, intimidation and terror, the criminal mullahs were trying to thwart the rise in popular protests.

Underscoring that the international community's silence vis-a-vis these atrocities had scarred the conscience of the world public, Mrs. Rajavi called on the United Nations Security Council, the Secretary General, the European Union, the United States and all human rights organizations to decisively condemn these crimes.

She stressed that continuing and expanding economic ties with the clerical regime must be predicated upon the halt in executions and improvement in the situation of human rights in Iran. Mrs. Rajavi added: Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Iran on the pretext of engaging in nuclear talks will only embolden the ruling mullahs to perpetrate more atrocities and to continue its disregard for UN Security Council resolutions.

(source: Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran)

SAUDI ARABIA----executions

4 Saudis beheaded for drug trafficking

4 Saudi men were decapitated by sword in Najran in the south west of the country on Monday after being convicted of drug trafficking, the interior ministry said.

Brothers Hadi and Awad al-Motleq and their accomplices Mufarraj and Ali al-Yami were found to have smuggled "a large quantity of hashish" into the kingdom, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The beheadings raise to 32 the number of executions announced in Saudi Arabia so far this year, according to an AFP tally.

Last year, there were 78 executions in Saudi Arabia and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced a "sharp increase in the use of capital punishment."

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

(source: Agence France-Presse)


Monday 18 August 2014 Death sentence: India prepares to carry out first ever hanging of women convicts

Renuka Shinde, 41, and 36-year-old Seema Gavit were convicted in 2001 of kidnapping and killing 5 children in the western state of Maharashtra. Originally charged with the deaths of 13 children, the court heard they kidnapped the youngsters as part of a begging operation and then brutally disposed of them when they were no longer of any use.

In 2004, an appeal court upheld their death sentence and 2 years later India's Supreme Court did the same. Last month, India's President, Pranab Mukherjee, rejected their appeal for clemency and at the weekend the so-called buffer zone - the period by when the government is obliged to inform all concerned parties of the president's decision - expired.

The women, being held in Yerawada Central Jail near the city of Pune, could, in theory, be hanged at any time. Nobody from the jail was on Monday available for comment. Reports in the local media say officials there are engaged with the police, local officials and doctors on when the hanging should proceed.

Since 1983, the Indian courts have handed down the death penalty only for the "rarest of rare" cases. In recent years, just a handful of executions have been carried out, most notably that of Pakistani militant Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged in 2012 for his part in the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

In the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder of a young student, new laws were introduced to specify the death penalty for murder cases where rapes are involved. Records suggest no women have ever been executed.

The 2 sisters were originally detained in 1996, along with their mother, Anjana, and charged with the abduction and murder of children as part of a plot to obtain money from strangers. The courts were told the women would use the youngsters to extract sympathy from people, or else injure a child, causing it to cry out, if they needed to flee the scene. Their mother died while the case was ongoing.

"They very clearly executed their plans of kidnapping the children and the moment they were no longer useful, they killed them," the Supreme Court said when it upheld the death sentence. "They had become a menace to society and the people in these cities were completely horrified and they could not even send their children to school."

The lawyer of the 2 women, Manik Mulik, said that even though President Mukherjee had rejected the women's plea for clemency he intended to file a fresh appeal this week. He said it was now 13 years since the women were originally convicted and sentenced.

"The ladies are going to file a petition this week in the [appeal court]. They will appeal to have the death penalty commuted because there has been such a delay," Mr Mulik told The Independent. "There is too much delay. The Supreme Court has said if there is too much delay if can have a bad effect on the mental health of the convicted people."

Debate is continuing as to whether or not the two women should be hanged. Dhananjay Mahadik, the member of parliament for Kolhapur, where the women were from, said he personally felt women in India should not face the death penalty.

Yet, Mr Mahadik, a member of the Nationalist Congress Party, added: "The crime they were convicted of was very serious. They slaughtered those children, they did not kill them. They made them beg for them and they killed those children who knew nothing of this world. The court has ordered this and I agree."

Campaigners against execution have in recent years been pushing the authorities in India to move away from handing down the death penalty, even though a number are ultimately commuted.

"The 2 women were convicted for crimes that the courts have determined meets the present Indian legal standard," said Meenakshi Ganguly, of Human Rights Watch. "We believe that the death penalty should be abolished because it is inherently inhumane."

She added: "We urge that all countries, including India, declare an immediate moratorium on capital punishment and work towards repealing it altogether."

(source: The Independent)


Dacheng wins reprieve for financial fraud offender with death sentence

Dacheng attorneys Zhang Zhiyong and Zhang Liwen have won a 2-year reprieve for a man convicted of financial fraud and sentenced to the death penalty.

On 15 December 2013, a man surnamed Li was convicted of financial fraud and was sentenced to the death penalty at the Intermediate People's Court of Anyang, Henan province.

The court ordered immediate execution of the death penalty. Li refused to accept this and appealed to the High People's Court of Henan.

Li's family resorted to Zhiyong and Liwen to let them represent Li on appeal. The attorneys, after an analysis of facts and evidence, held that Li had not harboured the intention of occupying the money for his own good and that his family helped prevent losses of victims by giving back the money in Li's hands should reduce the severity of his crime. The 1st-instance sentence, according to the attorneys, went too far to be just and fair.

On 23 July 2014, the court issued its No. 118 criminal judgment sentencing Li to death with a 2-year reprieve and revoking the initial 1st-instance judgment that had required his immediate execution.

(source: The Lawyer)


Jury selection to begin in E. Price Hill fatal stabbing case----Man could face death penalty

It's been almost 2 years since a 79-year-old man was killed in East Price Hill. On Monday, the family of John Lauck will take the next steps to justice.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a suspect in the robbery and slaying of an East Price Hill man.

Jury selection begins in the trial for Daniel Davis.

Relatives said the convicted felon was hired by Lauck to paint the outside of his home.

Investigators said Davis tried to rob Lauck to support his heroin addiction, and stabbed him to death in August 2012.

Davis was also charged as a repeat violent offender from a 1986 conviction for rape.

Davis is facing the death penalty in this case.

(source: WLWT news)


Exclusive Emails Show Ohio's Doubts About Lethal Injection The state worried new drugs could make prisoners "gasp" and "hyperventilate" - and used them anyway

On July 23, Arizona took 117 minutes to execute a convicted murderer named Joseph Rudolph Wood III. It was not the nation's 1st execution to last that long. In September 2009, Romell Broom entered the Ohio death chamber and exited two hours later still breathing - the only inmate in U.S. history to survive a lethal injection. The executioners had scoured his arms, legs, hands, and ankles for veins in which to stick their needles. But they repeatedly missed the vessels with the IVs. After at least 18 failures, Ohio had no choice but to cancel the execution.

In Wood's execution, the trouble began when the drugs began to flow. Arizona;s executioners first injected Wood with a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, 2 drugs they had never used before in an execution. When the 1st dose failed to stop his heart, the executioners administered a 2nd. And then a 3rd. The execution team injected 15 doses in total before a doctor finally pronounced death. An Arizona Republic reporter witnessing the execution said Wood gasped more than 640 times and that he "gulped like a fish on land."

Despite their different problems, the attempted execution of Broom and the execution of Wood are connected by more than just their lengths. Had executioners in Ohio been able to insert IVs into Broom's veins, Wood's execution might have gone much more smoothly. That's because the Broom debacle led Ohio to write a "Plan B" for lethal injections, introducing into the death chamber for the 1st time the untested drugs Arizona would use years later to kill Wood. And emails I obtained from Ohio reveal some of the state's internal debates and concerns about these drugs - including fears that an inmate could "gasp" and "hyperventilate" as he died.

Doctors warned from the beginning that midazolam and hydromorphone could create "a distasteful and disgusting spectacle." And yet the drugs spread from Ohio across the country, revealing the lengths states will go to in order to carry out death sentences despite constant IV trouble, drug shortages, and problematic executions.

Broom's survival left Ohio in a panic. While states had been botching executions since they first began to use lethal injection in the 1980s, none had ever failed to kill a prisoner. Ohio's 1st step after Broom was actually a concession to lethal-injection critics, who had long argued against the standard 3-drug cocktail that chemically paralyzes the prisoners. In future executions, Ohio announced in November 2009, it would use as its main method of execution only a large dose of a single barbiturate - similar to the way veterinarians euthanize family pets.

But this adjustment failed to address the fundamental problem of Broom's execution: The barbiturate still required IV access. So Ohio also added to its execution protocol a "Plan B," in case executioners failed again to find a vein. It was the 1st time a state devised a new method of execution since they began switching to intravenous lethal injection in the 1970s.

Ohio spoke with several medical professionals, including Mark Dershwitz, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dershwitz has provided expert opinions, either in writing or court testimony, about lethal injection for more than 20 states and the federal government. He has never testified on behalf of an inmate. Dershwitz had been providing feedback to Ohio about lethal injection on a continuing basis since 2003, when it first used him as an expert witness. Now, in 2009, he offered his medical opinion on several potential new execution drugs. Ohio was willing to consider all options, including inhaled drugs, which Dershwitz cautioned against. "The process bears some resemblance to witness reports I have read of execution in the gas chamber," he wrote in an email to Gregory Trout, a lawyer at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Ohio was mainly interested in drugs that it could inject directly into the muscles, like an EpiPen or flu shot. As the conversation continued, Ohio focused on the sedative midazolam and the opioid hydromorphone. Neither drug is generally used in medicine to induce unconsciousness before surgery - midazolam is typically used to calm patients and hydromorphone is a powerful painkiller - but Dershwitz said that, in combination, large doses of the 2 drugs would knock the patient out and stop his breathing.

Ohio still had concerns. Among the state's fears, Trout wrote, was that a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone might result in a prisoner "gasping for air in a hyperventilating fashion, with eyes still open." Trout worried this "would create the appearance, at least, of suffering, which would upset witnesses and inspire litigation."

Dershwitz did not think this was likely. "The combination of an opioid and a benzodiazepine (almost always midazolam) is commonly used for conscious sedation," he wrote. "I have never seen the scenario described (in my 27-year career) although I will admit nothing is impossible." In later court testimony, Dershwitz estimated an intramuscular injection of these 2 drugs would take 9 to 14 minutes to kill a prisoner.

When Ohio adopted the new protocol, death-row inmates immediately challenged it in court. They brought in other doctors as expert witnesses, who were skeptical that the procedure would work as smoothly as Dershwitz described. "I do not believe that any method of execution ever proposed in the United States is as slow as this one," Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University, told a U.S. district court judge in 2009. He called Plan B a "disaster," warning that it could create "a terrible, arduous, tormenting execution that is also an ugly visual and shameful spectacle." Before losing consciousness, the patient would be "subjected to the intoxicating effects of these drugs, which include hallucinations," Heath said. He ended his testimony with a description of what he believed to be a worst-case scenario:

It could easily happen that the prisoner is beginning to lightly doze off and the vomit, the gastric contents, come up into his mouth and then are breathed in, and that would be agonizing and would cause the prisoner to struggle awake and find himself with a mouth full of vomit and lungs full of acidic vomit, lying on his back, unable to really cough it out effectively. It might be like water-boarding, but worse.

When Dershwitz testified in the case, he was dismissive of Heath's warnings: "I submit here that Dr. Heath is uninformed on this topic," he told the district court, which ultimately upheld the execution protocol. Nevertheless, Ohio was at least a little spooked by the potential problems Heath laid out. When the first execution under the new protocol took place in December 2009, state officials warned witnesses that the prisoner could convulse and throw up if they resorted to Plan B.

Ohio never used Plan B as an intramuscular injection. But in 2009, the sole domestic manufacturer of thiopental, the barbiturate Ohio wanted to use in Plan A, reported a shortage. After Ohio used up its supply of thiopental, it replaced the drug with pentobarbital, another barbiturate. But in 2011, pentobarbital's Danish manufacturer refused to sell any more of the drug to U.S. states for executions.

By fall 2013, Ohio's stockpile of pentobarbital had run dry, and it rewrote its protocol again. Now Plan A would be an intravenous injection of midazolam and hydromorphone, the same 2 drugs that Plan B administered intramuscularly. Ohio planned to use the new protocol for the first time in the execution of a convicted rapist and murderer named Dennis McGuire. In his appeals, McGuire's legal team hired as an expert witness Dr. David Waisel, an anesthesiologist at the Boston Children's Hospital, who predicted a problematic execution.

"It is substantially likely that McGuire will remain awake and actively conscious for up to 5 minutes, during which he will increasingly experience air hunger as the drugs suppress his ability to breathe," Waisel wrote in a declaration. In this scenario, McGuire would experience "the same agonizing and horrifying feeling as suffocation," Waisel said. He also noted that neither midazolam nor hydromorphone is generally used in medicine for anesthesia (that is, inducing deep unconsciousness).

Once again, Dr. Dershwitz testified on behalf of Ohio. Because the drugs would now be applied intravenously, Dershwitz said they should work more quickly than they would intramuscularly. He also told the court, "I have never once acted as a consultant, which my definition means that I was helping them write a protocol or giving them advice about a protocol." In the 2009 emails with Trout, Dershwitz reviewed a draft of Ohio's proposed protocol and he corrected at least 1 error. Dershwitz says that this is consistent with his role as expert witness: "If I told him he had a typographical error in the size of a syringe, that is not helping them to write the protocol," he told me. "It's telling them, 'As part of the litigation, you need to fix it because the other side will see it too.' But the litigation was already underway, and an expert witness has the responsiblity to tell the side that they're helping where there are problems or holes in their case."

Once again, the federal judge approved the execution, though not without some reservations. "There is absolutely no question that Ohio's current protocol presents an experiment in lethal injection processes," the judge wrote. McGuire's execution on January 16, 2014 took 26 minutes overall. Witnesses said McGuire began to make snoring or snorting sounds 5 minutes into the execution, and that he opened his mouth repeatedly. "I watched his stomach heave, I watched him trying to sit up against the straps on the gurney, I watched him repeatedly clench his fist," McGuire's son said. "[It] appeared to me he was fighting for his life while suffocating."

Neither Waisel nor Dershwitz attended McGuire's execution, but they read about it after. "I didn't think it would last that long," Waisel says. "I was wrong about that." Dershwitz, for his part, says McGuire's execution was "exactly what I predicted to happen." He says McGuire appears to have lost consciousness a minute or 2 into the execution and that he then snored, which is common for patients under anesthesia. He also says that McGuire likely died more quickly than was reported, since he says Ohio has a built-in "administrative delay" in pronouncing death.

Still, the drugs had clearly not worked in the manner that Ohio expected - at the very least, they had created the "appearance of suffering" that Trout had feared. Nevertheless, other death-penalty states were quick to follow Ohio's example. Like Ohio, they had run out of thiopental and pentobarbital and still wanted to carry out their scheduled executions. While McGuire's execution may have been problematic, the method had at least already won the approval of the U.S. courts. So they adopted it as their own. 11 days after McGuire died, Louisiana said it would use intravenous midazolam and hydromorphone to execute Christopher Sepulvado (though a U.S. judge has since stayed that execution). Kentucky and Oklahoma have also added a 2-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone to their protocols. In March, Arizona did the same, and became the 2nd state to use midazolam and hydromorphone when it executed Wood. (Dershwitz played no role in Arizona's defense of its protocol.) Still more states began using midazolam in combination with other drugs. In total, four of the 12 executions that have used midazolam in some way have appeared problematic.

On Wednesday, Montana announced in a state court filing that Dershwitz had withdrawn in June as an expert for the state in death-penalty litigation - a role in which he had served Montana for 6 years. In fact, Dershwitz "has terminated his role as an expert witness on behalf of all states and the federal government," the filing said.

In an email and phone interview, Dershwitz explained his decision. In 2010, not long after his conversations with Ohio about midazolam and hydromorphone, the American Board of Anestheseogy added to its professional standing policy a prohibition against the participation in lethal injection and threatened to revoke the certification of any member who did. By "lethal injection," the ABA meant not just actual executions but also the authoring of protocols. Dershwitz says he contacted the ABA at the time to ask whether doctors could still serve in court as "expert witnesses," and the ABA said they could. So Dershwitz started insisting explicitly in his contracts that he always be referred to as an "expert witness" and never as anything like "consultant" or "adviser."

After the McGuire execution, however, Ohio issued a press release that Dershwitz said made him lose his faith in states' ability to abide by their agreement. Ohio, in announcing that it would increase the dosages of midazolam and hydromorphone in future executions, said it had "discussed" the McGuire execution with Dershwitz. However, Dershwitz says that the correspondence was "entirely 1 way" - that Ohio officials told him what had happened and he never replied. "These lawyers in Ohio clearly used very misleading language to make their own side look better," he says.

"It became clear to me that, contract or no contract, the mistakes made by Ohio in the April press release could happen again regardless of my efforts to codify in writing my role as an expert witness," Dershwitz wrote in his email. "I cannot take that chance and thereby terminated my role as an expert witness on behalf of Ohio and the other 4 jurisdictions with which I had a contract."

Dershwitz's decision will make it more difficult for states to defend their execution protocols in court. "He has been the prime states' expert since this issue started gaining traction in the 2000s and even before then," says Deborah Denno, a professor and lethal-injection expert at Fordham Law School. "He has always been at the top of states' list, if not the only one."

Montana has asked the court for more time to prepare its case for trial: Dershwitz, it said, was "the sole witness for the State Defendants."

(source: Ben Crair is a story editor at The New Republic)


Quadruple homicide suspect wants permission to marry in jail

Kenneth "Cody" Rackemann, the alleged triggerman in the killing of 4 people during a robbery of a drug house, is fighting the prosecutor's request for the death penalty and asking a judge to grant him permission to marry.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced in July his office had filed a request in Marion Superior Court for the death penalty.

In court documents filed last week, Rackemann's attorneys argue that the amended charges for the death penalty violate the 24-year-old's constitutional rights and deprive Rackemann of defenses in the mitigating phase of the trial should he be convicted.

In another filing, his attorneys ask a judge to reconsider the April denial of Rackemann's request to marry while he is being held in Marion County Jail. Rackemann is seeking to wed his fiance, Tia Brassfield, according to the document.

Rackemann's request said jail officials will not allow the marriage without the court's approval. Prosecutors also oppose the marriage while the case is pending.

The request cites a federal court ruling that says "it is unconstitutional for a jail to prohibit the defendant from getting married for any reason not related to a legitimate penological interest."

Rackemann asks the judge to order the jail to allow the marriage or set a hearing on his request.

Rackemann was among 4 people charged in the killings of Walter "Buddy" Burnell, 47; Jacob Rodemich, 43; and Kristy Sanchez, 22; and Hayley Navarro, 21, during a Feb. 20 house robbery.

Samantha Bradley, 1 of the defendants charged in the quadruple homicide on the Southeastside, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a conspiracy charge. Under a plea deal struck with the prosecutor, Bradley, 20, admitted to helping plan the robbery.

Curry said that as a condition for dropping other charges against her, Bradley will testify against Rackemann, 24, as well as Anthony LaRussa, 26, and Valencia Williams, 21, who are accused of planning and assisting in the robbery.

Rackemann, LaRussa and Wiliams all face murder and robbery charges. Prosecutors say Rackemann fatally shot Burnell, Rodemich and Sanchez and directed Williams to kill Navarro.

According to court documents, Rackemann had worked security for Burnell, a drug dealer living in the 3400 block of South Parker Avenue. Prosecutors believe the murders were committed in Burnell's home during a botched robbery.

Bradley also admitted to helping transport the three suspects from the scene and disposing of evidence, Curry said.

Bradley had initially faced robbery and felony murder charges, the most serious of which would have carried a 45- to 60-year sentence.

By pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in death, a Class A felony, she could be sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison.

(source: Indianapolis Star)


Conservative pastor changes mind on death penalty

No matter how hard I try not to be boxed in, people label me. So, let me give you my best shot at who I am, based on labels:

I was born and raised in the South in an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist, Protestant denomination. I am an evangelical. I am not the same person I was 20 years ago, and 10 years from now I will likely be different from who I am today. Why am I telling you this?

Because there is an issue that I want to talk about, and where I land on this issue has been the result of much prayer, study, debate and restless nights. Where I land on this issue is different from where I started and what I was taught in my conservative church and Bible college.

The issue is capital punishment. The reason for bringing it up now is because Tennessee is scheduled to execute 11 inmates over the next 2 years, the 1st in October.

Because I spent the majority of my life in favor of capital punishment, I know the arguments and understand the Scriptures used to support it. Today I also know the arguments and understand the Scriptures used to support doing away with it. Both views have their strengths and weaknesses. Both views can be defended from the Bible. However, I now oppose the death penalty, and I want to share at least a couple of reasons why.

First, the way we carry out the death penalty is unjust. Even if you believe it is justifiable for some crimes, it is not too difficult to see the injustice in how our society carries out that punishment. Far too often, who does and does not get the death penalty depends on economics or gender or race (of both the victim and the criminal), the county in which the crime occurred and politics. Furthermore, the amount of time between sentencing and execution is cruel and unjust for the families of the victims. Still, even with such long delays, more than 140 people have been released from death rows nationwide when evidence of their innocence came to light. Innocent people could have been executed. Simply put: Even if capital punishment is just, we are incapable of carrying it out in a just way.

Second, Tennessee has alternatives to capital punishment, such as a life sentence or life without parole. These punishments are less costly to taxpayers, protect the public and allow for the possibility of redemption and reconciliation, even within prison. Also, these alternatives do not risk executing an innocent person - a mistake that can never be remedied.

Honestly, I would have to admit that one reason I was pro-death penalty for so long is that the issue simply wasn't important to me. I didn't have the time or energy to think about it. I think that is how a lot of people feel. But now is the time for all of us to think and pray about it. I still don't care for labels, but if you want to label me, you can count me as opposed to the death penalty.

(source: Kevin Riggs is pastor of Franklin Community Church in Franklin; The Tennessean)


Arizona Loose With Its Rules in Executions, Records Show

In an execution in 2010 in Arizona, the presiding doctor was supposed to connect the intravenous line to the convict's arm - a procedure written into the state's lethal injection protocol and considered by many doctors as the easiest and best way to attach a line. Instead he chose to use a vein in an upper thigh, near the groin.

"It's my preference," the doctor said later in a deposition, testifying anonymously because of his role as a 5-time executioner. For his work, he received $5,000 to $6,000 per day - in cash - with 2 days for practice before each execution.

That improvisation is not unusual for Arizona, where corrections officials and medical staff members routinely deviate from the state's written rules for conducting executions, state records and court filings show. Sometimes they improvise even while a convict is strapped to a table in the execution chamber and waiting for the drugs coursing through his veins to take effect.

In 2012, when Arizona was scheduled to execute two convicted murderers, its Corrections Department discovered at the last minute that the expiration dates for the drugs it was planning to use had passed, so it decided to switch drug methods. Last month, Arizona again deviated from its execution protocol, and things did not go as planned: The convicted murderer Joseph R. Wood III took nearly 2 hours to die, during which he received 13 more doses of lethal drugs than the 2 doses set out by the state's rules.

While it is unclear whether the constant changes have led to cruel and unusual punishment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit became so disturbed in 2012 about the expired drugs that it chastised the state, saying Arizona "has insisted on amending its execution protocol on an ad hoc basis." While the court permitted the two executions to proceed and they went off without a hitch, the Ninth Circuit nonetheless observed that Arizona had a "rolling protocol that forces us to engage with serious constitutional questions and complicated factual issues in the waning hours before executions."

Douglas A. Berman, an expert on criminal sentencing at Ohio State University, said corrections officials tended to have a cavalier attitude that might now be backfiring on them. As Mr. Berman archly put it, "What's the big deal, as long as the guy ends up dead and I'm not literally torturing the guy along the way?" Prison officials and execution teams, he said, "don't see any adjustment that they are making as likely to cause unnecessary suffering or pain."

There are, however, signs that suggest otherwise. Mr. Wood, 55, gasped - seemingly for air - more than 600 times before he died on July 23; his execution is now the subject of an independent investigation commissioned by the state. In January in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson, 38, said, "I feel my whole body burning" right after the drugs used in his execution - a mix meant to paralyze him, render him unconscious and stop his heart - began flowing through his veins. He died moments later.

Courts are starting to show frustration with the constant changes in the protocols themselves, some of which have been prompted by the increasing difficulty in obtaining execution drugs. On Aug. 8, a federal judge extended a moratorium on lethal injections in Ohio over concerns with a protocol change that the state had made this year.


Excerpts From Arizona Doctor's Deposition on Executions

Following are excerpts from a deposition on Oct. 21, 2011, by an Arizona doctor who attended five executions as a "medical team leader" that sheds light on a process that is rarely presented in detail. The executions were between October 2010 and July 2011.

Aside from providing the official protocol for executions, most states do not disclose what happens in the execution chamber. The doctor, whose name was withheld in publicly available versions of the resulting 300-page document, answered questions from 8:36 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and discussed execution methods, training and even the payment for his efforts.

At the end of the long and sometimes contentious session, the doctor surprised his questioners by announcing that he would no longer participate in executions in the state - not because he had criticism for or qualms about execution, but "because this process is very unpleasant, and it's not really anything that I care to go through again."

Jeffrey A. Zick represented the state during the deposition, and Robin Konrad represented the interests of inmates as the federal public defender.

Q. Do you know in [Jeffrey] Landrigan's execution whether any of the backup chemicals were administered?

A. Yes. I believe most of the - the B bank chemicals were administered, I believe, about halfway through.

Q. And do you know why the backup chemicals were administered to Mr. Landrigan?

A. The director preferred that all the chemicals be given, if possible.

Q. And if the director preferred that all chemicals be given, why did you say it was stopped halfway through?

A. Because I told him that once there was no blood flow that you could rupture his inferior vena cava if you kept trying to push the chemicals in.

Q. And so the director wanted to administer the chemicals once Mr. Landrigan was deceased; is that correct?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: I don't know if I can - if I can say that that's what he said. He - he preferred that the chemicals be given. I don't know that he said he wanted them given once he was dead.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Did he consult with you before making the decision to administer the backup set of chemicals?

A. He told me that's what he wanted done. And I - I - I believe that I explained to him that my concern would be that we wouldn't, first of all, be able to give all of the chemicals, especially if he had - if the inmate had died. And I told him that I thought that it was possible that if the chemicals were pushed and pushed that you might have like a - the vein might rupture, and then they would just go inside the abdominal cavity. And he said, well, if - I mean, I don't remember exactly what he said, but he indicated that he wanted us to try. And when we had trouble halfway through where the flow in the syringes was not, you know, easy at all, I - I looked at him and I said, I don't think that this is a good idea. And he said, okay, that's fine, stop.

Q. Do you know when this conversation occurred that the director wanted to administer the chemicals into Mr. Landrigan?

A. I don't remember exactly. Probably just before the execution.

Q. So before the execution started?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. So before any administration of chemicals occurred?

A. I think so.

Q. Okay. And you told him before the execution started that that would not be a good idea?

A. Yes.

Q. But he went ahead and instructed that the team start administering the backup chemicals regardless?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: I think so.

THE COURT REPORTER: What was the answer?

THE WITNESS: I think so.

Q. And do you recall any differences from [Thomas Paul] West's execution than the prior 4 executions that we've already talked about?

A. Yes. Mr. West's execution was the 1st time that we gave the chemicals through peripheral IV.

Q. And do you know why that happened?

A. That happened because the director approached me prior to the execution and said that - he showed me a decision from Circuit Court of Appeals. And he felt that there was increased scrutiny on the interpretation of the protocol. And - and he felt that if at all possible, we should use a peripheral IV as the primary in that case.

Q. And - and what was your response to the director when he told you this information?

A. I said I understood that and that we would make that attempt for him.

Q. In your medical professional opinion, did you want to use the peripheral line as the line through which the drugs should be administered?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.


Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Did you tell the director that?

A. He knew that, yes.

Q. How did he know that?

A. I think we had had discussions about my preference to use a peripheral - I mean, to use a femoral central line over peripheral IVs.

Q. And do you know how long before the scheduled execution that the director approached you with this question whether you could go peripheral as the line through which the drugs would be administered?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: It was almost immediately before. I mean, the inmate was in the cell. It was the day of the execution, the morning prior to.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: The morning of the execution or prior to the execution?

A. The morning of.

Q. Morning of?

A. Yeah. Yeah. I believe there was - they were waiting for opinions from the Circuit Court of Appeals, and that opinion came down about that time.

Q. And did you express any concerns to to the director about using a peripheral line to administer the IV - administer the drugs?

A. I had. I don't remember exactly when, but I had told him that I didn't - that ...

Q. So I - I think you had said earlier in your testimony when we were talking about Landrigan - I think when we first started talking about Landrigan that you had - the director left it up to you to decide which would be the best place through - which vein would be the best vein to administer the chemicals; is that correct?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: I think so.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Okay. And do you know why the director changed his opinion now and - and was going against what you wanted to do?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: As I said before, when he showed me the opinion from the - I think it's the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that he felt that the - the questioning from the justices tended to indicate that, you know, the protocol might be interpreted such that a peripheral IV was almost required as the main - as the primary for administration of chemicals.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: But that wasn't your understanding before that morning of West's execution that the - that the protocol required a peripheral line?

A. No.

Q. And so let's - this discussion happened on the morning of Mr. West's execution. So you prepared the chemicals as though - you have already talked about where you and the medical team member split up and prepared the chemicals, put them in the syringes. Was there anything unusual at the chemicals in Mr. West's execution?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.


Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Okay. And once the chemicals were set up on the manifold, then you and the medical team member went to do the medical procedure. So given that you just told me that the peripheral line was going to be the main line, what happened while you were doing the medical procedure? What was different?

A. The peripheral line ended up being the main line. It wasn't necessarily, you know, going to be the main line. We went in. I took the right arm, and the other medical team member took the left arm. And we did a survey for veins and attempted to place peripheral IVs. I - I tried twice. The 1st time I didn't hit the vein. Then I felt there was one other reasonable vein on the inside of the arm. And then that time I put the IV in successfully. The other medical team member had been trying to put an IV in the other arm. And he had thought he had a good IV, but then it turned out it wasn't. He couldn't get it to work. So he - he then handed me his IV, you know, bag connection, the IV line, and I connected it to the IV I put in the right arm and then taped it down and secured it, and then at that time determined that it didn't look like we would be successful at putting in a backup on the other arm, or I didn't see any other veins on the right arm that looked like they would be successful either. So then I told the director, and I went ahead and I put in a backup line in the - in the femoral area with a triple lumen.


Q. Do you know what the warden's observing for?

A. I would imagine if all of a sudden there was blood or chemicals spraying out the side of it.

Q. Did you tell the warden what to look for?

A. Did I specifically? No.


Q. And do you recall any differences from Mr. West's execution than the prior 4 executions that we've already talked about?

A. Yes. Mr. West's execution was the 1st time that we gave the chemicals through a peripheral IV.

Q. And do you know why that happened?

A. That happened because the director approached me prior to the execution and said that - he showed me a decision from Circuit Court of Appeals. And he felt that there was increased scrutiny on the interpretation of the protocol. And - and he felt that if at all possible, we should use a peripheral IV as the primary in that case.

Q. And - and what was your response to the director when he told you this information?

A. I said I understood that and that we would make that attempt for him.


Q. If you could flip a few more pages to page 20 - or I'm sorry, 296 at the bottom left-hand corner. And you see some handwriting there that says, syringe 9B?

A. Yeah.

Q. Do you know what that would have 16 indicated?

A. I believe that's extra potassium. 9B is the - the f1st potassium syringe.

Q. And I think we talked about that. You said Mr. King was given additional potassium chloride?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. And if you could flip to Bates Number 320 at the bottom.

A. Uh-huh.

Q. And what does that say?

A. I think it says 1B syringe, then 2B, 3B.

Q. And do you know what drugs are in 1B, 2B, and 3B?

A. In this case, sodium thiopental.

Q. Do you know if sodium thiopental was administered in Mr. King's execution after the 3 drugs were administered in the initial injection and then after an additional - additional injection of potassium chloride was injected?

A. That's what the log indicates.

Q. Do you know why additional sodium thiopental was given to Mr. King?

MR. ZICK: Objection to form.

THE WITNESS: I don't know exactly why. I'm - I would suppose that the director was in the room, and after his heart didn't stop when he was given more potassium and we still were waiting for these agonal P waves to dissipate, I probably - I think I recommended that while we were waiting for, you know, this just kind of residual electrical activity in the heart to go away, that we could just as well start giving him the second set of chemicals.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: And why did you decide - when you say you started - decided to start giving him the second set of chemicals, you had already given him the potassium chloride from the second set; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. So why did you decide to give an additional dose of the sodium thiopental?

A. I don't remember exactly why.

Q. And did you think that would make his heart stop?

A. I don't remember exactly what I was thinking at that time.


Q. And you testified earlier that the purpose of the sodium thiopental is to ensure that the prisoner is sedated so as to not experience pain from the 2nd and 3rd drug; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. So what you're telling us today is you really don't know why you recommended to give extra sodium thiopental, which is the drug that is critical as the 1st drug to ensure that the prisoner is unconscious?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: I think my testimony is that I consulted with the director. In the previous case with Landrigan, he had wished to administer all of the chemicals. And in this situation we had an inmate who officially wasn't deceased. And we had those chemicals, and I didn't see that we would cause any harm by giving them. I don't know, you know, in hindsight that that was the greatest idea or the greatest decision.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: So was - was the reason for administering the additional backup sodium thiopental just to get rid of the drug?

A. I don't remember exactly what the reason was.

Q. So I guess I'm just trying to understand this because it seems that your testimony was that in Landrigan, the director felt that it was important to dispose of the drugs by injecting them into the prisoner; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. And that didn't work from - in - in your opinion that - that didn't work and you had to stop after the 1st drug because they could not push the drugs into Mr. Landrigan after he was deceased; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. So in - in Mr. King's case, he was arguably still alive or at least having some electrical activity on his EKG after the 1st set of chemicals were administered; is that correct?

MR. ZICK: Object to form.

THE WITNESS: Yeah. I would go with your argument that he had some electrical activity, but I would not characterize him as being anywhere close to being alive because I don't think he had a blood pressure. He didn't have a pulse on - on the pulse ox, and this kind of activity in his heart was - is not consistent with any kind of life.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Okay. But you wouldn't have declared him dead yet?

A. No.

Q. Only because the measurement of death in - in this case and in cases related to executions are by ensuring there's a flat line on the EKG; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. But for all intents and purposes, Mr. King was deceased or would be deceased in a very quick amount of time?


THE WITNESS: Like I testified, I don't recall exactly what my reasoning was at that time. With each - each execution, we were learning probably a little bit more about the natural course of performing the execution. And at that time it had - it was just the 2nd one. And based on, you know, a little experience, I didn't see that we could cause any harm. And the chemical was the 1st chemical that is given in the sequence usually to cause sedation. So by giving him extra sodium thiopental, which would have just deepened the sedation that he was already in, I didn't feel like that was something that would be inappropriate to do.


Q. How much -- how much do you get paid as your - at your current position as a clinic physician?

MR. TODD: Objection; not relevant. And I'm instructing the witness not to answer.

MS. KONRAD: He works for the federal government, so it's a matter of public record.

MR. TODD: Fine. Then you don't need his answer.

MR. BAICH: Except that in order to get that and to make a FOIA request, we would have to disclose his name.

MR. TODD: Okay. Okay. Noting the objection, you can answer.

THE WITNESS: Do you want to know my annual salary? Or do you want to know how much I make, like, monthly?

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: Are you paid annually or -

A. I have an annual salary.

Q. Yeah.

A. It's 160,000 dollars a year.

Q. And that's for 40 hours a week?

A. I work 50 to 60 hours a week, but it's supposed to be 40.


Q. Do you intend to participate in future executions in Arizona?

A. No.

MR. TODD: Objection.

Q. BY MS. KONRAD: You said no?

A. I said no.

Q. Have you been asked to solicit others for participation in executions?

A. No.

Q. Let - let me just clarify that question because I believe, if I'm remembering correctly, your previous testimony from Dickens that there - that you did testify that - that there were people that you had talked to to see if they'd be willing to participate in executions. So since that time, have you been asked to solicit others for participation in executions?

A. I don't believe that was my testimony in Dickens. I have never spoken to anybody about being - well, I shouldn't say anybody. I've never spoken to somebody with the idea of trying to recruit them to be in an execution. The only other people who know about this, besides my wife, were the National Guard people who supervised me at the time when the state came looking for a physician.

Q. Do you know who would conduct an execution if you do not participate?

A. No.


Q. Why did you make your decision not - when did you make your decision not to participate in any more executions?

A. Just now.

Q. And why was that?

A. Because this process is very unpleasant, and it's not really anything that I care to go through again.

Q. Did you - as a professional doctor in the executions that you participated in, did you feel that there was anything done in those - in those executions to cause the inmate any unnecessary pain or - and that's the 1st question.

Q. Did you feel that the executions as a medical professional were carried out in appropriate medical manner?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you - do you feel that you - ashamed of anything that you did in the course of those executions?

A. No.

(source for both: New York Times)


Jodi Arias To Defend Herself At Murder Trial - Hired P.I. To Help Prove Her Innocence

Convicted killer Jodi Arias is determined to prove herself innocent when she defends herself during the penalty phase of her trial - and she's even hired a private investigator to help.

Arias, 34, was convicted of slaughtering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, last year and is currently awaiting the sentencing, which could include the death penalty.

After a judge ruled that Arias could represent herself, the 1-time blonde has been ordering the PI to get statements from people she believes will corroborate her claim that Alexander physically abused her, The National ENQUIRER reports.

Arias alleges she was suffering from battered women's syndrome and snapped, stabbing Alexander a mind-blowing 29 times.

Sources tell The ENQUIRER she will pay the investigator using money she raises by selling her artwork online and cash she gathers in donations from her website.

"Jodi is a narcissistic sociopath, who believes the world revolves around her," Alexander's friend, Chris Hughes, testified during the trial.

"She relishes in the world-wide attention she's gotten in this case."

On August 13, judge Sherry Stephens ordered Arias' longtime lawyer, Kirk Nurmi, to stay on her case as her advisory legal counsel.



Cop widow becomes unlikely public face for Proposition 47

The policeman's widow stood in the Oakland courtroom and poured out her broken heart.

She told the jury about a young daughter who would never see her daddy again, a teenage boy who lost his father figure, a wife stripped of her soul mate. She begged that the convicted killer, whom she branded a "beast," be given the death penalty so he could "burn in hell." After the tears had been wiped away, the jury agreed with Dionne Wilson, sentencing to death the man who shot San Leandro Officer Dan Niemi 7 times during a routine stop.

But the 2007 verdict didn't bring the mother of 2, who met Niemi while working in a South Bay gun shop, peace of mind. Consumed with rage, Wilson clung even more fiercely to the belief that the law should crack down hard on all offenders - even on someone who just steals "a Popsicle."

When she could no longer live with her anger, the police widow underwent a spiritual journey that's led to an unlikely outcome. Nine years after her husband was gunned down, Wilson has become the public face for a sentence-reduction initiative on the November ballot that she once would have scorned as the work of "mentally ill liberals." Proposition 47 would require misdemeanor sentences rather than longer felony sentences for 6 crimes, including petty theft under $950.

"Dan would probably say, 'Who are you and what have you done with my wife?'" Wilson, 45, said of her new outlook. "But we need to think about where this whole cycle of crime started. If we can get in front of it, maybe there won't be a person on the other end who is killing a police officer like Dan."

Wilson joins a growing chorus of tough-on-crime advocates from across the country who now agree with social justice champions on the left that the prison-only approach for nonviolent offenders is failing, and that there are more efficient uses of taxpayer dollars to make communities safer.

Last year, 35 states passed less-restrictive laws, including conservative Mississippi and Alabama. The year before, Californians voted overwhelmingly to ease the state's 3 Strikes Law, then the toughest in the nation. And in a landmark decision earlier this year, the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce lengthy sentences for most federal drug offenders and make thousands of current inmates eligible for resentencing under the new guidelines. Proposition 47 itself has netted another unexpected champion. Conservative Christian Republican and Public Storage founder B. Wayne Hughes Jr. has contributed $750,000 so far, with plans to spend $5 million.

"This is a situation where the walls of partisanship ought to come down immediately," the millionaire wrote in the ballot statement.

But other crime victims with tragic tales similar to Wilson's disagree. Three victims groups oppose the measure, including the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which objects that it would make possession of date-rape drugs and other narcotics an automatic misdemeanor. Misdemeanors carry lighter sentences than felonies, often just probation or short stints in jail.

The initiative also has drawn serious opposition from law enforcement - including associations of district attorneys, sheriffs and police - and from groups of retailers and grocers, who contend that property crime would increase. So far, only former San Diego and San Jose police Chief Bill Landsdowne and 2 California district attorneys have come out in support - George Gascon in San Francisco and Paul Gallegos in Humboldt County.

"Someone can commit petty theft 10,000 times," San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, "and we'd still have to always charge it as a misdemeanor." Also under Proposition 47, Wagstaffe noted, about 10,000 nonviolent inmates in overflowing jails and prisons would be eligible to apply for early release.

Proponents say that's exactly the point. The hundreds of millions dollars that the secretary of state's office estimates would have been spent annually to house prison inmates would instead go to education, mental health and drug treatment programs, and victims assistance.

Such leniency once would have been unthinkable for Wilson.

From the moment she heard the knock on the door in the middle of that awful night at her Milpitas home, and saw 3 police officers crying, the pain was unrelenting.

After the single mother and Niemi had met in the gun shop, they had never been apart. Married in 1999, they had a daughter, Jordan, and Niemi became close to her son, Josh Hewett.

"It was just one of those fairy-tale love stories," said Wilson, sitting in her Morgan Hill home.

But her sense of safety was shattered and her life became a blur of grief on July 25, 2005. Niemi, 42, who had become a policeman just three years earlier, was shot to death by Irving Ramirez, 23, while responding to a noise complaint. Carrying 2 handguns and some drugs, Ramirez was on probation and didn't want to go back to jail.

Wilson had hoped the death verdict 2 years later would start a healing process. In her case, it didn't. Even as she remarried, "moving on" eluded her.

She suffered health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. She drank, favoring appletinis. She tried, and failed, to distract herself, buying things such as technology gadgets and a succession of nine horses.

"Everything was an outward expression of my hate toward Irving and anybody who had ever committed a crime," Wilson said.

Seeking to quiet her roiling mind, she began a "mad quest" of spiritual teachings that brought her to meditation and Buddhism, finding comfort in the concepts of compassion and overcoming suffering.

At some point, she was stunned to realize that she no longer hated the man who had torn apart her family's life. In 2010, she drafted a letter to Ramirez, writing that she regretted making him seem "less than human" at the trial. She no longer supports the death penalty.

"I'm really proud of her to be able to get through the difficult times and be able to forgive," said her son, Hewett, 24, who was close to his stepfather. "I'm pretty sure some people disapprove, but they also don't understand how hard this has been on her and what it's taken for her to get to this point."

Now, she is on the board of the Insight Prison Project, a restorative justice agency based in San Rafael, which tries to find something redemptive even in society's worst as they accept accountability for what they have done. Wilson also is the survivor outreach coordinator for Californians for Safety and Justice, Proposition 47's sponsor, meeting with crime survivors across the state and helping them put their lives back together.

The state remains under enormous pressure to comply with a federal court order and reduce prison overcrowding. And Wilson sees Proposition 47 as another step toward a smarter criminal justice system that would prevent more families from going through what hers has endured.

"I want to get ahead of crime instead of just playing cleanup," Wilson said. "Instead of calling the coroner, let's get into the schools and invest in the families and communities who are filling the prisons. Isn't that what this whole public safety discussion is about?"


Plans For The Savings

Under a fixed formula, hundreds of millions of dollars a year that would have been spent annually to house prison inmates will be reallocated.

65 % - to the Board of State and Community Corrections for mental and drug treatment programs and diversion programs

25 % - to K-12 education, for programs aimed at helping at-risk kids

10 % - to Victims Compensation Fund, for grief and mental health counseling, and relocation

(source: Mercury News)


Donetsk Separatists Introduce Death Penalty for Treason

In a sign that separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine are struggling with discord in the ranks, Donetsk separatists announced Monday they were setting up military tribunals and bringing in the death penalty.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, or DNR, said it would bring in military tribunals with the right to pass the death sentence for a string of offences including treason, espionage, attempts on the lives of the leadership and sabotage.

The announcement, issued on the Donetsk's separatists website, quoted leading rebel officials as saying that other serious violations including looting would also be dealt with harshly.

"Introducing the death penalty is not revenge, it is the highest degree of social protection," a senior separatist leader, Vladimir Antyufeyev, was quoted as saying.

Reports of executions orchestrated by separatists in eastern Ukraine have, for months, been used as a propaganda tool by both sides in the Ukraine conflict, though none of the reports has been independently verified.

In one of the most high-profile incidents to date, a document surfaced in May purportedly showed one of the separatists' main leaders, Igor Strelkov, had ordered the executions of two DNR militants on charges of looting.

The document apparently showed Strelkov, a Russian citizen also known as Igor Girkin, had based the ruling on a 1941 Stalin-era law introducing capital punishment for theft of property.

A month later, in June, separatist leader Igor “The Imp” Bezler published a video showing two blindfolded Ukrainian army officers apparently being shot to death by a firing squad as a warning to Ukraine government forces. He later dismissed the video as fake.

(source: The Moscow Times)


Julian Assange's legal limbo----Until he steps out of the embassy, he can't be arrested

British authorities have said Julian Assange will be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy. The founder of the WikiLeaks website, he faces rape and sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

In June 2012, having lost his appeal to the UK's Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden, he took refuge in the embassy of Ecuador, in London, which granted him asylum.

What are the allegations that Julian Assange faces?

The offences are alleged to have been committed against 2 women in August 2010. On 20 August 2010, Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange on 2 counts, 1 of rape and 1 of molestation.

The warrant was withdrawn a day later, but Swedish prosecutors continued investigations into the molestation allegation.

In September 2010 the rape investigation was re-opened, and in November 2010 a Swedish court approved a request to detain Assange for questioning relating to one count of unlawful coercion, 2 counts of sexual molestation, and 1 count of rape. An international arrest warrant was issued relating to those allegations.

Assange denies the allegations and has said they are part of a smear campaign against him.

What is known about the 2 women?

The 2 women are not being named as they are alleged victims of sexual offences. In legal papers they are described only as AA and SW. They met Assange in August 2010 when he was visiting Sweden to give a lecture. A UK High Court judgement on Assange's extradition cited AA's statement to police, in which she said she first met Assange after she had offered him the use of her flat in Stockholm while she was away. She returned earlier than planned from her trip on 13 August and the pair went out to dinner, before returning to her apartment. It is alleged Assange then committed 3 offences relating to her - 1 of unlawful coercion, and 2 counts of sexual molestation.

Supporters of Assange have said he has not been formally charged with any offence.

SW said in her statement, cited by the UK High Court judgement, that she had attended a lunch with Assange and others on 14 August 2010. He had flirted with her over lunch and they had gone out together, ending up in a cinema. She contacted him on 16 August and invited him to her house in Enkoping. The European Arrest warrant cited by the High Court judgement refers to an offence on 17 August of rape, by "improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state".

On 20 August both women went to the police.

It has been previously reported by several media outlets that the 2 women were ex-WikiLeaks volunteers. This was based on a news agency report of a court hearing. However, according to sources, the 2 women are better described simply as supporters of WikiLeaks and its aims.

Why has Ecuador given Assange asylum?

In June 2012 Assange went to the Ecuadorean embassy in London and claimed asylum, which was granted in August. Ecuador's Foreign Minster Ricardo Patino said Assange's human rights would be at risk if he were extradited and that Ecuador was being loyal to its tradition of protecting those who were vulnerable. Patino said conditions would be attached to the asylum, such as Assange "not making political statements that could affect our relations with friendly countries". Before Assange claimed asylum, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, initially critical of the activities of WikiLeaks, had expressed praise for Assange and his work.

Why can't he be questioned in the UK prior to extradition?

Swedish prosecutors have interviewed suspects abroad in the past, and in November 2010 Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said his client had offered to be interviewed at the Swedish embassy in London or via video link. Since Assange has been in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Correa and Patino have suggested that Swedish prosecutors could travel to the embassy to meet Assange. Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorean embassy, in London, since being granted diplomatic asylum. However, in this case, Swedish prosecutors have been adamant that Assange be present in Sweden for the next stage of proceedings.

So why question him in Sweden?

Karin Rosander of the Swedish Prosecution Authority told the BBC on 21 August that "because of circumstances in the investigation, [the prosecutor's] opinion is that it is necessary that he is present in Sweden". Rosander said the prosecutor had not made clear exactly what those circumstances were. "At this stage of the investigation, [the prosecutor] does not want to specify," she said. Swedish Director of Prosecutions Marianne Ny stated in a letter to Assange's original hearing that questioning him in the UK would not be appropriate.

"The preliminary investigation is at an advanced stage and I consider that is necessary to interrogate Assange, in person, regarding the evidence in respect of the serious allegations made against him," she wrote.

What is likely to happen if and when he is extradited?

Ecuador has shown little sign of being prepared to give Assange up, and the UK has refused to grant him safe passage out of the country, saying he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy for breaching his bail conditions. If Assange is extradited, he would be detained upon arrival in Sweden - the authorities currently consider him "detained in his absence". Another hearing would be held within 4 days to determine whether he should remain in custody. Once a decision to charge has been made, an indictment is filed with the court. Legal experts say that in the case of a person in pre-trial detention, the trial normally begins within two weeks.

What concerns do Assange and his supporters have over the extradition?

The main concern expressed by Assange and his supporters is that once extradited to Sweden, he would be in danger of being sent to the US, where he fears he could face the death penalty. Many of WikiLeaks' most prominent revelations came from massive releases of classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars, in July and October 2010. In April 2010, the site released footage showing US soldiers shooting dead 18 civilians from a helicopter in Iraq. Assange has said he would be in danger of being sent to the US, where he fears he could face the death penalty.

Despite the US not having made an extradition request, US Attorney General Eric Holder has previously said American officials were pursuing a "very serious criminal investigation" into the matter.

Assange has also pointed to the case of Chelsea Manning, an ex-American soldier formerly known as Private Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the US for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks.

What are the obstacles to extradition?

Legal experts have pointed out several obstacles any extradition and subsequent prosecution in the US would have to overcome. Also, even though the extradition would be according to Swedish law, the UK's approval would be needed. Assange's supporters have asked Sweden to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US, which Swedish officials say they cannot legally do. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has however insisted that his country would not extradite a suspect to a country where they would face the death penalty.

(source: Gulf News)


Bali suitcase murder victim Sheila von Wiese-Mack being flown to US for examination by the FBI

The teenage daughter arrested on suspicion of murdering her mother and stuffing her body into a suitcase in Bali is pregnant, as claims about her mistreatment while in police custody have boiled down to a row over KFC.

Denpasar Police Chief Djoko Hari Utomo confirmed today that Sheila von Wiese Mack's daughter Heather Mack, 19, from Chicago, is pregnant but said it was a normal pregnancy and not an ectopic pregnancy, which can be fatal.

Earlier, Mack told police after her arrest that she had an ectopic pregnancy.

Mack and boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, are in custody in Bali, suspected of killing the 62-year-old in her room at the 5-star St Regis Resort at Nusa Dua before stuffing her body in a suitcase and dumping it in a taxi.

Mr Utomo has also denied claims that Mack had been badly treated while in police custody in Denpasar.

To the contrary, he said, she had been treated "especially" given her young age.

"We have already given treatment that is more than normal," he said, responding to claims from Mack's US lawyer that she had not been treated well.

"We give the same food for all suspects. We also give special attention to her as she is still young. This is a transition period for her," Mr Utomo said.

He said if the lawyer wanted to allege the police had used violence toward Mack he was welcome to provide evidence of this.

Police sources said the couple had been given KFC chicken to eat and this had angered Mack's boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, who told police it was insulting as he has black skin and KFC is for the lower echelons of society.

Police were taken aback at this allegation, claiming that in Bali KFC is expensive for the average income earner and not at all for the lower wage earners.

Mack was visited again today by a medical team at the police jail where she is held in Denpasar.

The confirmation of Mack's pregnancy comes as the couple could be sentenced to death if they are charged and then found guilty of murdering Mack's mother Sheila.

Mack's pregnancy could complicate police calls for her to face the firing squad over a crime they now believe was premeditated, and should carry the death penalty.

They can be held for some time before formal charges are laid.

Meanwhile, authorities in Bali said today that Sheila von Wiese Mack's body is expected to be returned to the US on Wednesday after an autopsy on the weekend found she had suffered a broken neck, broken nose and asphyxiation.

Dr Dudut Rustyadi, the forensic chief at Sanglah hospital morgue in Denpasar and police chiefs, along with the FBI agent, are currently meeting in Denpasar about the bizarre case.

"The body will be flown to the US on Wednesday early in the morning. We have to conduct the administrative process first before handing over the body," Dr Rustyadi said.

Dr Ida Bagus Putu Alit, from the forensic team, said the autopsy found signs of violence from blunt objects and many defensive wounds, indicating that Mrs Mack had fought hard for her life.

The couple is accused of then fleeing to another resort where they were arrested. Bloodied bedsheets and pillows were found in the room.

New details about the case have now emerged.

Authorities now believe that Mrs Mack was killed between 6.45am and 10am on Tuesday, August 12.

She was still alive at 3.45am because she was captured then on CCTV footage in the lobby of the hotel and at 6.45am she called reception, asking for a wake-up call at 10am that day. But at 10am when staff tried to call the room there was no answer.

Dr Rustyadi said there were wounds in and around the face and back of Mrs Mack's neck.

"From the wound, we found violence using blunt objects. We found many wounds, open wounds and bruises, including wounds on her left arm. We allege that the victim fought," he said.

Both Mack and Schaefer have been questioned by Bali police investigating the grisly murder but have not confessed and want their American lawyer present for further questions.

However, Heather Mack has claimed that 3 men wearing masks burst into her mother's room at the resort.

(source: The News)


Execution of 3 prisoners in Kerman and Kermanshah prisons

During last week, 2 prisoners in Diesel Ababd and 1 in central prison of Kerman were executed by hanging.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 2 prisoners who were charged with murdering were hanged in prison, on Monday August 11 at dawn.

Those prisoners were Hamid Arsalani and Sadegh Ahmadi and had been sentenced to death on charge of murder.

Besides, another prisoner who was charged with murder was hanged in central prison of Kerman, on Sunday, August 10.

Official Iranian media did not publicize these executions.


A 22-year old man hanged in Birjand

On Wednesday 12th August, Mohsen Sarani, 22, was executed by hanging in the yard of Birjand central prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), on the early morning of Wednesday 12th August, Mohsen Sarani was executed by hanging in the yard of Birjand central prison with accusation of carrying drugs.

Mohsen Sarani, 22, had no previous criminal record and according to his relatives he was not carrying any kind of drugs when he was arrested. Earlier one of his relatives told HRANA’s reporter: "3 years ago Mohsen Sarani was arrested on charge of carrying drugs when he had not carried any kind of drugs and had no involvement in drug trafficking."

The only reason of the death sentence for Mohsen Sarani is a false confession of an alleged prisoner who formerly had domestic dispute with him.

Mohsen Sarani did not admit the false charges of drug possession until the last moment in the violent interrogations and also in the whole court process.

(source for both: Human Rights Activists News Agency)


Man hanged in public in the city of Mianeh

The Iranian regime's state-run news outlets published the images of the public hanging of a man on Monday in the city of Mianeh, in northwestern Iran.

The prisoner was identified as Asgar Azizi. The reports did not specify the time of his arrest but said he had been arrested on drug related charges and was later sentenced to death.

One report said the man had been imprisoned since 2008.

The images showed the man being taken to the make shift gallows built using a crane.

(source: NCR-Iran)


Blair urged to help Irish teen facing death penalty in Egypt

Ibrahim Halawa, 18, from Firhouse, a suburb of Dublin, was arrested in August 2013 along with his 3 sisters after they were caught up in a military siege of a mosque in Cairo while his family was on holiday in the country.

The siblings were attending a protest in response to the killing of demonstrators at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque a few days earlier.

When Mr Halawa was detained he was only 17 and technically a juvenile, but his supporters say that he has been held illegally in a series of adult prisons in the Egyptian capital.

In a letter from one of the jails, he said that he had been forced to drink toilet water and had been stripped naked and beaten by prison guards, who have refused to tell him what charges he faces.

He appeared in court last Tuesday where he is to be tried as an adult along with 480 other prisoners in a controversial mass trial.

However, the proceedings were immediately postponed after the judge walked out of the courtroom before any evidence was heard.

The charity Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty, has written to Mr Blair, urging the former Prime Minister to use his influence with the Egyptian government to help Mr Halawa.

Mr Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, is currently acting as an informal adviser to the country’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was voted into power last May, on economic reform.

In its letter to Mr Blair, seen by The Independent, the director of Reprieve's death penalty team, Maya Foa, asks him to ensure that Mr Halawa is not subjected to an illegal trial "given your interest in the region and your ties to the Egyptian administration".

Ms Foa said on Sunday: "Ibrahim Halawa has spent a year of his young life detained without charge, horribly abused, and now subject to a mockery of a court process that could spell the death penalty for him and hundreds of others. Tony Blair should be using his obvious influence with Egypt's leadership to secure both Ibrahim's release and an end to these illegal mass trials."

Mr Halawa's sisters were all released shortly after being arrested and had to leave their brother behind.

Somaia Halawa, 29, who is now back in Dublin where she is about to begin a Master's degree, said her family was being "destroyed" by Mr Halawa's continued imprisonment. "It feels like I'm in a coma, like all this is not real," she said.

Asked what she would like to say to Mr Blair, she replied: "Put yourself in my family's situation, my dad's situation. If this was your son, what action would you be taking? My brother hasn't committed any crime.

"I hope that [Mr Blair] does the best he can to try to get my brother home to Ireland. It's been a year now and he's had enough; 12 months have been taken from his life already."

It is understood that Mr Blair has received the letter but a spokeswoman for him declined to comment.

(source: The Independent)

AUGUST 17, 2014:


Victim's son awaits justice as killer grows old on death row----41 years after his father's murder, Eddie Sizemore is still waiting for justice, the kind he believes will only come with the death of his father's killer

Eddie Sizemore found his father in the back of the family's Chickamauga grocery store, beaten and shot, blood leaking from his chest.

"I reached down and grabbed his neck," Sizemore said, "but he was gone."

41 years later, Sizemore is still waiting for justice, the kind he believes will only come with the death of his father's killer. Sizemore once envisioned doctors strapping that man onto a gurney and pumping him with lethal drugs.

Now, at age 63, he doubts that will ever happen.

It's not that the identity of his father's killer is a mystery. A few days after the grocery store shooting, police arrested Wilburn Wiley Dobbs and charged him with murdering Roy Lee Sizemore Sr. In May 1974, a jury sentenced him to the death penalty, plus life in prison for other charges. When Dobbs appealed the case, no higher court doubted his guilt.

But in 1998, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals awarded Dobbs a new sentencing hearing, saying that his attorney didn't even try to plead for his life. A federal judge sent the case back to Walker County, Ga., where a local judge and the district attorney were supposed to hold a sentencing hearing "within a reasonable time."

It's been 16 years. Dobbs' case is still pending. Eddie Sizemore is still waiting for that hearing. Dobbs, who has sat on death row longer than any other inmate in Georgia, is waiting, too.

He isn't alone. 2 other convicted murderers are waiting for new sentencing hearings in Walker County. So are their families. So are their victims' families.

Jamie Ray Ward's case has sat in Walker County purgatory for 4 years; Jonathen Jarrells' for 23 years.

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin has failed to bring these cases to trials the past 2 decades. The judges handling these cases, likewise, have allowed them to linger.

Franklin says these cases haven't played out for several reasons. He blames the defense attorneys for not pushing them along. He blames a nonprofit law office for not telling him who was representing one of the defendants. He says he had to wait for the Georgia Supreme Court to make a ruling on a similar case.

But legal experts say Franklin should have pushed the cases forward on his own. The judges who are supposed to hear the cases could have done that, too.

Russell Covey, a Georgia State University law professor, is unsure whether the delays violate Dobbs', Jarrells' and Ward's constitutional right to a speedy trial. That would depend on whether the defendants tried to push the cases forward on their own and whether a higher court judge believes they have been hurt by the delays.

Either way, Covey said he does not know of other cases with decades of delays anywhere else in Georgia. He said district attorneys and local judges can suffer from a "lack of enthusiasm" when defendants are awarded new sentencing hearings. They're already in prison. What's the rush?

Even considering all this, Covey said, "the amount of time that these cases have been pending is unusual and outrageous."

After waiting 16 years for a 2nd trial about the death of his father, Eddie Sizemore agrees.

Taxpayer-funded attorneys

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy sent Dobbs' case back to Walker County in 1998, court records show, but nothing else happened for two years. Then, in November 2000, Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Graham assigned private attorneys Michael McIntyre and Jack Martin to represent Dobbs in a new hearing to determine whether he would again get the death penalty.

McIntyre and Martin were familiar with Dobbs' case and previously represented him in federal court.

When a defendant in Georgia is facing capital punishment but can't afford a lawyer, the judge will choose whether to appoint private attorneys or public defenders who specialize in death penalty cases. The public defenders are funded by Georgia taxpayers, as well as by a small amount of court costs that defendants paid in every criminal case in Georgia.

Private attorneys in this type of case, on the other hand, are only funded by local taxpayers. As part of Graham's court order, Walker County citizens are paying McIntyre and Martin $100 an hour for time spent on the Dobbs case.

Franklin said he had nothing to do with Martin and McIntyre's appointment.

"In any case," Franklin said, "that would be decided by the judge."

Through June 2012, court records show, the county has paid McIntyre about $61,000 and Martin about $6,000 for this case. Neither lawyer returned calls seeking comment. Graham also did not return multiple calls for this article.

But, from the bench, she has said that she wants this sentencing hearing to happen soon.

"I'm certain there is a great deal of work and research that needs to be done," Graham told Franklin and the defense attorneys in 2002, "but I do want to address the case in a timely fashion and I want to get this resolved."

Then, in a pretrial hearing in 2008, Graham said, "It's been quite a while since we had a hearing on this matter. I apologize to everyone for that. All the lawyers have a busy schedule. I have a busy schedule. Somehow or another, I haven't got it scheduled for a while. We're trying to correct that situation."

4 years later, the defense attorneys were supposed to give Franklin a copy of Dobbs' Georgia Department of Corrections file as part of 2 pretrial motions. In both motions, McIntyre and Martin argued that years of delay in Dobbs' case violated his right to a speedy trial.

The attorneys told Franklin and Graham they would send Dobbs' file to the district attorney by the end of September 2012, according to court records. Then they said they would send it by the beginning of February 2013. Then by the middle of that month. Then by March 8, 2013.

After that, the attorneys stopped updating Franklin about when they would give him this file. Finally, on June 12 of this year, Franklin filed a motion asking Graham to schedule a new hearing since Martin and McIntyre had not communicated with him in more than a year.

"Rather ironically," Franklin said earlier this month, "the defense has taken a year and a half to get off the ground, even though they said they had been denied a speedy trial."

But Michael Mears, the head of the Multi-County Public Defenders Office that represented indigent defendants in capital cases throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, said a district attorney can't blame the defense in this type of case. The prosecutor has to move the case forward because the defense is always going to delay any hearings.

One more day of delays means one more day their client stays alive.

"If people are awaiting death and are waiting for something in the case," Mears said, "there is no great incentive to push it forward."

Eddie Sizemore, meanwhile, believes Dobbs' attorneys will continue to successfully delay the hearing because Graham is not motivated to set a date for the sentencing hearing.

"She doesn't want to hear it," Sizemore said. "She knows he's guilty. He's guilty of what he's done. ... There's no telling when they'll have that hearing. He'll probably die before they have that hearing."

A bailiff's mistake

On Aug. 17, 1989, Jamie Ray Ward walked into the home of 23-year-old Nikia Kay Gilbreath. For weeks, court records show, he planned to abduct her.

Ward had drilled a well on Gilbreath's property on Dicks Creek Road in LaFayette earlier in the year. While there, he caught a glimpse of Gilbreath.

Then, in his home without walls, running water or electricity, surrounded by thousands of dollars' worth of lingerie, boxes of pornography and a collection of newspaper clippings about rapes and murders, Ward scribbled directions to Gilbreath's house in a notebook. Next to the directions, he wrote a short note: "Fine looking."

Ward kept many names in that book. He had already been arrested at least 5 times for assaulting, stalking and trying to lure other women into private places.

This time, according to court records, Ward sneaked into Gilbreath's house and kidnapped her, leaving behind a 22-month-old daughter. He broke Gilbreath's ribs and stuffed wads of paper down her throat, suffocating her. Then he dumped her body in the woods. She was 5 months' pregnant.

Police didn't realize Ward was the culprit until December 1989, after he had been arrested for stalking and raping another woman. Investigators found similarities between how Ward committed his crime against that victim and how Gilbreath's killer had treated her.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Department of Corrections denied a Times Free Press request to interview Dobbs, Jarrells and Ward at Georgia State Diagnostic and Classification Prison. But during a police interrogation in December 1989, Ward told investigators he didn't know whether he killed Gilbreath.

"I might have and I might not have," he said. "I'm just not sure. I told you, I black out when I take pills and drink liquor. ... I've been a liar all my life. I need some help. If I done it, I didn't mean for it to happen and I'm sorry."

In July 1991, a jury convicted Ward of kidnapping with bodily injury, feticide and murder. He received 2 life sentences and the death penalty.

But in January 2010, a federal appeals court reversed Ward's capital punishment because a bailiff answered a juror's question during the sentencing phase of the original trial. The bailiff told the jury that they could not sentence Ward to life without parole: They could either sentence him to death or to a life sentence with the possibility of parole. According to Georgia law, only a judge could answer that question.

In June 2010, a federal judge ordered that the case be returned to Walker County, where Franklin would again try to convince a jury that Ward deserves to be put to death.

In accordance with prescribed court procedures, Superior Court Judge Jon "Bo" Wood was supposed to alert the Office of the Georgia Capital Defenders, which replaced the Multi-County Public Defenders Office in representing clients who face the death penalty.

Instead, Ward wrote a motion from prison asking Wood to set a court date. Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Public Defender David Dunn - who does not represent defendants facing the death penalty - learned that Ward's case was still sitting untouched and told the Capital Defenders Office about it in September 2011, more than a year after the federal judge sent the case back to Walker County.

3 years later, the case is still pending.

Wood did not return multiple calls seeking comment. Jerry Word, director of Georgia Capital Defenders, does not know when the case will go to trial. He said his attorneys have had to do a lot of work to prepare for the sentencing hearing, which could last several weeks.

"It's pretty extreme," Word said. "We've got roughly 20 years of catching up to do."

Linda Tucker, the victim's mother, said she is more upset with the federal court's decision to overturn Ward's original death sentence than she is with Wood's failure to starts the process of finding Ward an attorney or Franklin's failure to push the case forward. Tucker doesn't want to live out her daughter's death in court once again.

She thought the sentencing hearing would occur this summer, but she isn't following Ward's case in detail. Tucker said she has tried to focus on other things. She can tell how long it's been when she looks at Gilbreath's other daughter.

She was a toddler when Ward murdered Gilbreath. Now that girl is 26 - 3 years older than her mother had been.

"I stopped wondering," Tucker said of Ward's case earlier this month. "We've been forced to move on with our lives before. There's no point in sitting and waiting."

She sees only 1 reprieve from this case:

"Maybe the good Lord will come back and get us all."

23 years and counting

In August 1987, Jonathen Jarrells went to the Lyerly, Ga., home of Gertie and Lorraine Elrod. He was staying with his brother across the street, a nd he told the elderly sisters that he had been locked out.

Gertie, 71, and Loraine, 75, let him in.

"What happened after that," Jim Franklin, a former prosecutor and the brother of the current district attorney, told a jury, "can only be described as a brutal, vicious assault."

Jarrells stabbed the sisters with a pair of scissors, tied them to a bed and beat them with an iron until it broke. He crushed Gertie's skull. Blood soaked the sheets and splattered the ceiling.

Jarrells then took 2 wristwatches, a purse and a $160 check. Gertie died, but Lorraine survived.

"He warned us," she testified in March 1988. "If we screamed, he'd have to kill us."

A jury convicted Jarrells of murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault. They sentenced him to the death penalty on one count and life in prison on another.

4 months later, the Georgia Legislature enacted a law banning capital punishment for defendants with intellectual disabilities. Defendants sentenced before this new law could appeal their death sentences, arguing that they are mentally retarded.

During an appeal in May 1991, Dr. George Baroff wrote in an affidavit that Jarrells is intellectually disabled. Baroff, a psychologist, said Jarrells has an IQ of 69, putting his intellectual level in the lowest 2 % of adults.

Baroff said Jarrells functioned at the level of a 9-year-old, repeated 1st grade in West Virginia twice, repeated 3rd grade twice and didn't know how to read a map.

"When asked how many weeks there are in a year, Mr. Jarrells responded that he did not know, but if he had to guess he would say 30," Baroff wrote in the affidavit. "He did not know the meaning of the word 'enormous,' which he defined as 'somebody happy.'"

A Superior Court judge in Butts County, where Jarrells was lodged on death row, then awarded him a jury trial to determine whether he was, in fact, intellectually disabled. The judge transferred the case back to Walker County.

23 years later, the case is still up in the air, and Jarrells remains on death row. From prison, people wrote letters to Judge Bo Wood on Jarrells' behalf in 2000 and in 2006.

"Jonathan Jarrells is asking for the Court's help to get his case and himself back to Walker County for the hearing," the unnamed representative wrote in the 1st letter.

"(Jarrells) would like to know when this hearing will be," a representative wrote 6 years later.

Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr., who was district attorney from 1989 to 1996, declined to comment on why he didn't bring the Jarrells case back for trial during his last 6 years in office.

"I really don't need to discuss details," he said. "I am related by marriage to some of the people involved, some of the Elrods."

As for the next 17 years, Buzz Franklin said he couldn't push the case forward because he didn't know who represented Jarrells. About 7 years ago, he said, he began calling the Georgia Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps death row inmates find attorneys.

Franklin said he thought the center could tell him which defense attorney he needed to contact about this case. He said they didn't call him back "for years."

Brian Kammer, executive director of the Georgia Resource Center, took charge of the nonprofit in 2009 and couldn't comment on anything that happened earlier. But the district attorney is not at the mercy of the GRC.

"Even if Mr. Franklin did call and was not called back, nothing stopped him (or his predecessors after 1991) from going to the trial court judge in Chattooga County [or Walker County] and asking to have the case calendered [sic]," Kammer wrote in an email.

Franklin also said he didn't push the case forward because he was waiting on a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on a similar case, one that had been playing out in several different courts for more than a decade. Georgia law dictates that, if a death row defendant says he or she is mentally retarded, lawyers for that defendant must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Attorneys for death row defendant Warren Lee Hill challenged this law more than 10 years ago. They said Hill should only have to prove that he is mentally retarded "by a preponderance of evidence." The Georgia Supreme Court ruled against Hill in 2003. So did a U.S. District Court in 2007. In 2008, Hill's attorneys filed the appeal again.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the other court decisions in 2011. Franklin said he had been waiting for that ruling, in case a Walker County jury ruled against Jarrells and his attorneys filed another appeal, based on that Hill case.

But, Franklin added, that final ruling in the Hill case does not explain why Jarrells' case has sat in Walker County for all 17 years that he has been the lead prosecutor.

Franklin said he does not know why Jarrells did not have an attorney until recently. He also doesn't know who is supposed to alert public defenders whenever higher court judges send death penalty cases back to the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit.

"I've never researched that," Franklin said. "Hopefully we don't have any more of these coming back."

Mears, the former head of the Multi-County Public Defender Office, said the judge is supposed to assign Jarrells an attorney.

"A lot of district attorneys shy away from it," he said. "It's a lot of work. Quite frankly, it's the responsibility of the judge. ... It starts with the judge. The case is on his docket. He's got to stay on top of it. Now, some of these cases fall through the cracks."

Only 4 documents have been entered into Jarrells' Walker County court file since the Butts County judge sent the case back in 1991, and none of those documents indicate which judge is supposed to handle the case. But Kammer, the GRC director, has a 2012 order from Superior Court Judge Brian House scheduling a status hearing to determine how far away the case is from going to trial.

House's order should be in Jarrells' file, but it is not. Although Jarrells murdered Gertie Elrod in Chattooga County, the case was transferred to Walker County. House's order, however, was stamped and filed in Chattooga County.

Franklin said he thinks Jarrells' file is in Chattooga County. But the clerk of criminal court, Doris Allen, said Jarrells' case has not been in Chattooga County since 1987. Carter Brown, the clerk of court in Walker County, said his office has never seen House's order.

House, who became a Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit superior court judge in 2009, said he scheduled the order after Jarrells' case file ended up on his desk. 2 years later, he says he doesn't know who gave him the file or which judge handled the case before him.

Franklin said he doesn't know which judge was supposed to handle the case in the 18 years before House joined the circuit, either. Regardless, during that 2012 status hearing, the Georgia Capital Defenders became Jarrells' attorneys for the 1st time, 21 years after the case had been transferred back to Walker County.

Franklin said House will be the judge going forward, but House said that isn't necessarily true. He doesn't know whether he will oversee the case in the future.

(source: Chattanooga Times)

FLORIDA----new death sentence

Air Force sergeant gets death in double murder

A former Air Force sergeant has been sentenced to death in the killing of his ex-girlfriend and their 15-month old child.

Ralph Wright Jr., 46, was found guilty Friday by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert of a crime the judge called "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Wright showed up to Paula O'Conner's St. Petersburg home in the early morning in July 2007 as the woman was getting dressed for work. She had filed a lawsuit against Wright Jr. for failing to support their son, Alijah, who was suffering from health problems. Wright Jr. strangled O'Conner and left her at the foot of the child's crib. He also smothered their son.

Covert said, "The death penalty is the appropriate sentence."

Wright was an Air Force sergeant at the MacDill Air Force Base at the time of the killing. He left O'Conner once she became pregnant and ignored her requests for help supporting the child. O'Conner filed a paternity lawsuit and labeled him a "deadbeat dad" on a website.

Covert called the killings cold and calculated because Wright Jr. showed up when he knew O'Conner would be preparing for work and then moved her car to avoid drawing attention to the scene. The judge also said the murder was for financial gain to get out of paying the child's medical expenses.

The defense argued that Wright Jr. suffered from brain damage, but Covert said evidence did not prove it.

There are 393 others on Florida's death row. The state has executed 88 people since the death penalty was reinstated in 1979. 19 of those have occurred during Gov. Rick Scott's time in office.

(source: Associated Press)


DOC has yet to release logs from botched April execution; state waiting on autopsy----Logs pertaining to the botched execution of an inmate were requested over 3 months ago.

Logs from the final hours before Clayton Lockett's botched execution still haven't been released by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, more than 3 months after initially requested by the Tulsa World.

Officials at DOC have declined to say when the logs or other records requested by the World will be released. The agency keeps detailed logs during every execution, documenting the timeline of what occurred during the days leading up to the execution and on the day of the execution.

Oklahoma's execution protocol states that beginning 7 days before an execution, a log will be maintained to "provide a detailed chronological history of every aspect of the execution proceedings."

The World requested the logs and other records following Lockett's April 29 execution, which took 43 minutes and was halted shortly before he died. Key events surrounding the execution were omitted from an earlier timeline released by DOC on May 1, including the medical qualifications of personnel who inserted the inmate's IV and what happened between the time when the execution was halted and Lockett died.

Results of an investigation by the Department of Public Safety into circumstances of the execution have not yet been released.

George Brown, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said all interviews have been completed, and the agency is waiting on Lockett's autopsy to be completed. Brown said DPS interviewed more than 100 people in its investigation.

Gov. Mary Fallin ordered an investigation into Lockett's death and an independent autopsy by the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office following the execution. Though officials said the autopsy would take about 8 to 12 weeks to complete, more than 3 months have passed since Fallin requested it.

Officials with the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office have not responded to calls from the World seeking information on the case.

Fallin and the Department of Public Safety also have not released records requested by the World related to the execution.

Lockett's execution was halted after he spent 3 minutes writhing, mumbling and trying to rise from the gurney. Prison officials closed a blind in the death chamber, preventing witnesses from seeing how Lockett died.

Preliminary results of an autopsy sought by attorneys for death-row inmates found evidence that Lockett's IV was improperly inserted. Lockett was executed with a 3-drug combination: midazolam, a paralyzing drug called vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

The state has scheduled inmate Charles Warner's execution for Nov. 13. Warner's execution was to occur 2 hours after Lockett's but was stayed.

Lockett was sentenced to die for killing Stephanie Neiman, 19, of Perry. He and 2 accomplices abducted Neiman and 3 others, shot Neiman and buried her alive beside a dirt road in Noble County.

Warner was convicted in the rape and murder of his roommate's infant daughter in 1997.

Executions for 2 other death-row inmates have been scheduled after Warner's, despite a pending federal lawsuit by 21 death-row inmates challenging the state's death-penalty procedures. The lawsuit alleges the state's protocol violates the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, allowing untrained people using drugs from secret sources to carry out executions.

(source: Tulsa World)


Lawyers, lawmakers question Regional Center's rejection of Nikko Jenkins

Criminal defense attorneys and state lawmakers are raising questions about Nebraska's state psychiatric hospital in Lincoln after it recently declined a judge's order to house a convicted killer found too mentally ill to participate in his sentencing.

"The Lincoln Regional Center is not above the law," attorney Maren Chaloupka, of Scottsbluff, said. "It is expected to provide treatment for persons in state custody with serious mental illnesses."

The Lincoln Regional Center is the state's only hospital that treats court-ordered patients, and the Department of Health and Human Services said it's complying with state law.

The center's refusal centered on Nikko Jenkins, convicted of the shotgun deaths of 4 people in 3 attacks last summer.

Jenkins was found mentally fit enough to stand trial and was even allowed to represent himself. But after he pleaded guilty to 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in April, Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon found him not competent to participate in the sentencing phase of his case, in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Bataillon ordered Jenkins to the Lincoln Regional Center last month in an effort to have him restored to competency. But the hospital refused, saying it didn't have adequate security or a bed for Jenkins.

"I have to admit, that gave me great pause when they said to the judge, 'No, we can't do that,'" said state Sen. Kathy Campbell, chairwoman of the Nebraska Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. "Can a part of a department of state government say, 'No, we cannot do that'? My guess is that the Health and Human Services Committee will be asking them that question."

Ultimately, the judge signed off on a plan in which Jenkins will be housed in a Lincoln prison, where hospital staff will go to treat him. That compromise was reached after a state security expert testified that the hospital has no armed guards, no metal detectors and no security towers, making it easy for an inmate like Jenkins to escape and harm others.

Hospital administrators also pointed to the 2007 killing of Dr. Louis Martin at the hospital by patient Eric Lewis. Lewis had been placed at the hospital after a Douglas County District judge found him incompetent to stand trial on sexual assault charges.

But since Martin's death, DHHS officials have not asked the Legislature for funding to increase security at the hospital.

"If they've got a problem with security, why haven't they come to us?" asked Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers. "They have never asked us for help."

And they don't intend to, according to Scot Adams, director of Nebraska's Behavioral Health Division.

"Nebraska law recognizes this type of situation happens so rarely by allowing for treatment in a variety of settings," Adams said in an email, referring to state law that allows a judge to send a defendant found mentally incompetent "to be committed to a state hospital for the mentally ill or some other appropriate state-owned or state-operated facility for appropriate treatment."

Jenkins' public defender argues that the law refers to other facilities capable of psychiatric care, not prison.

Some question if the hospital and DHHS officials have opened the possibility of Jenkins' conviction being overturned on appeal or have made the hospital vulnerable to negligence lawsuits.

"It would seem to me that, from a treatment standpoint, it would be easier to provide security in the Regional Center than providing treatment at a prison," said Stu Dornan, a former Douglas County prosecutor and now a trial lawyer who serves on the board of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association. "I mean, gee whiz, that's what they do. They house people who are dangerous with mental health issues. That's part of their mandate."

In fact, the hospital currently houses several killers, including Erwin Simants, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting deaths of 6 members of a Sutherland family in 1975, and Shane Tilley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in the January 2006 stabbing death of a friend.

But no dangerous patients came to the hospital after they had already been convicted, Adams said.

"Nikko Jenkins was found competent and guilty of murder," Adams said in an email. "A correctional facility is the right place for him to be, and treatment will occur sooner."

(source: Associated Press)


That problematic penalty----Death penalty is not sustainable

The State has become a ghoulish executioner.

Ohio became the most recent state to either end or halt the death penalty, as states around the country grapple with what has become an unacceptable part of our criminal justice system. A handful of states have recently, and rightfully, more or less permanently stepped away from the practice, finding it arbitrary, too costly, and in order to eliminate the very real risk that someone wrongfully accused could be put to death.

We had hoped the death penalty would end here in Colorado, too. Not because we believe there are innocent men on death row at present, but because it highlights how arbitrary the penalty can be. Where one commits a crime seems to factor in more than anything at all; the color of a convict's skin plays a role. Someone white could commit a heinous crime in Boulder and die in prison; if he were a young black man in Aurora committing the exact same crime, he might face death row.

Black people in Colorado's make up just 4.3 % of the state's population. All 3 men on Colorado's death row are black, and were under the age of 21 when convicted. All 3 were prosecuted in Arapahoe County.

(And talk about arbitrary: Mass killer Nathan Dunlap's execution is on hold; what happens at the ballot box might determine whether he lives or dies.)

But there doesn't seem to be the public or political will for getting rid of executions in Colorado. But before we kill another person, we might consider the state of American executions.

A decisive end to the death penalty didn't happen in Ohio. What happened there might be considered more of a horrified halt.

Ohio placed a freeze on its death penalty at least into 2015 following some horribly botched executions around the country. Scheduled executions were to start next month and continue into January, but they will not take place.

The compounded drugs states use to execute people are problematic, to say the least. In Ohio, the most recent murderer put to death gasped throughout the lengthy amount of time it took him to die. In Oklahoma, an execution took so long that the condemned man finally succumbed to a heart attack. It took a convicted killer 2 hours to die by lethal injection in Arizona. He was snorting and gasping for air throughout the ordeal.

Yet we continue to consider the death penalty as an option in Colorado and other states. But we do not sentence human beings to torture - it is against American and civilized principles, despite what a former wartime vice president has to say.

Any lawmaker who wants to press for sentencing reform that includes torture as a viable, legal option should reveal his true colors and do just that. We can't imagine that the public would find that acceptable, but at least it would be honest.

(source: Erika Stutzman, for the Daily Camera editorial board)


Bali 9 sentence cuts recommended

Indonesian authorities have recommended all of the Australian Bali 9 be given lesser sentences.

The bid to spare the lives of 2 Australians facing the death penalty has new support from Indonesian authorities, who want all of the so-called Bali 9 to receive lesser sentences.

To mark Indonesia's Independence Day, prisons can nominate well behaved inmates for remission.

The only member of the 9 Australians convicted over the foiled 2005 heroin trafficking plot who was eligible was Renae Lawrence, as the others were sentenced to either life or death.

However Kerobokan prison governor Farid Junaedi on Sunday told reporters he put all of the Bali 9 forward - including Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan - who were sentenced to death.

"The suggestion was made before August 17," he said.

"Those with the death sentence to be reduced to life in jail.

"Those with life in jail should become terms of punishment 15-20 years."

The fate of Sukumaran and Chan is in the hands of Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who received their appeals for clemency 2 years ago.

The 2 were deemed the ringleaders of the operation but have made great strides in rehabilitation, according to prison authorities.

A Kerobokan staff member, who couldn't be identified, said the request for the other 6 would also be handed to the president, who leaves office in October.

Clemency for drug offenders, who are severely punished in Indonesia, won't be a priority for his successor Joko Widodo.

Sukumaran says he is still passing the time productively in the art studio, also an outlet to help other inmates.

"It's a hard wait," he told reporters at Kerobokan on Sunday.

"It's a very difficult thing to put into words.

"I just don't want to be shot, really."

As part of Independence Day celebrations at the prison on Sunday, there was a rock band, games and Balinese dancers.

Since their 2006 conviction, the 9 have been split between other jails.

Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj and Matthew Norman are also still in Kerobokan.

Martin Stephens and Tan Duc Nguyen have been moved to a jail in Malang, Java, and Scott Rush is detained at Karangasem, also in Bali.

Lawrence is in Bangli, another Bali jail, after her involvement in a plot to kill 2 prison guards at Kerobokan.

Authorities say her behaviour has improved but their recommendation to cut a further 6 months from her 20-year sentence has yet to be processed.

(source: Yahoo news)


Yerawada may see 1st hanging of women in India

2 sisters on death row in Pune's Yerawada Jail are likely to be hanged next month, making them the 1st women to get the death penalty in India.

Renuka Kiran Shinde, 41, and Seema Mohan Gavit, 36, were found guilty in 2001 of kidnapping 13 children and killing 9 of them to run a begging operation between 1990 and 1996. Last month, President Pranab Mukherjee turned down their clemency appeal.

Authorities at Yerawada Jail - 1 of 2 jails in Maharashtra that have gallows - are consulting with police, revenue and medical officials to decide on the date of the hanging.

Indian courts only hand out death sentences for the rarest of crimes such as exceptionally heinous and cold-blooded murders. Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, was hanged in November 2012.

The 2 sisters, and their mother, kidnapped 1 to 5-year-old children from poor families and forced them into begging.

Moving in crowded places such as railway stations and temples, they sometimes used the children to distract people while they stole and picked pockets.

When they felt the children had either outlived their usefulness or were being too troublesome, the women killed them brutally either by bashing their heads against a wall or starving them. In one instance, they carried a gunny bag with a child's corpse in it, stopped for a snack and a movie before they got rid of the body.

(source: Hindustan Times)


We should be free to debate on death penalty

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the last time anyone in Britain was hanged. Surveys conducted ever since have shown that a majority of people in the UK are in favour of the death penalty for the most serious of crimes, although this number is decreasing each year.

That in itself is no surprise. To anyone under 60, the concept of someone facing their own execution at the end of a trial is alien. Our experience of capital punishment comes either from horror stories abroad (a stoning to death for adultery, a botched process in a US prison) or from school history lessons.

The most recent survey conducted for the anniversary by YouGov showed that 45 % of the public are in favour of capital punishment, with 39 % against. The numbers of those in favour are higher amongst the older voters. A similar poll 4 years ago found that 51 % of the public favoured the reintroduction of capital punishment.

Ukip MEP Louise Bours used the anniversary to call for the reintroduction of the death penalty, saying there was no 'ethical reason' for child-killers or police-killers to be kept alive. 'The death penalty won't bring back a tortured and murdered child, but it seems natural justice that the family will know the killer has paid the ultimate price and isn't still breathing when their child is not' she said.

Personally, I have my reservations about the state having the power to end someone's life. The case of Derek Bentley highlights how the wrong decision can be made, even with a series of safety measures put in place to prevent this. The judge presiding over his trial for murder in 1952, Lord Goddard, said in the 1970s that he thought Bentley, who had not fired the shot which killed the policeman he was charged with murdering, would have been reprieved. Bentley suffered from what we would now call learning difficulties and had a low IQ and probably suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the Blitz, when the house he was in collapsed around him.

Add to that the disputed words, 'Let him have it, Chris' - which could be taken as an instruction for his weapon-possessing partner to hand over the gun, not shoot the policeman - and it looks, even to the untrained eye, like an unsafe conviction. With the death penalty, any pardons can only be posthumous. There can be no return to freedom and liberty of the kind that we have seen with overturned prison sentences.

But for me the issue doesn’t just end there. Ukip believes in direct democracy: that is, letting the people decide. Last year there was a petition led by the Guido Fawkes blog which got 26,350 signatures. The aim was to secure a debate in Parliament on restoring capital punishment. But the point it entirely missed was that this decision, as with so many of the important decisions over Justice and Home Affairs, has been taken away from Parliament and the British people.

For some people that is a reason why they support the European Court of Human Rights and our membership of the EU. These pieces of legislation stop the death penalty returning to our statute books. But even as someone who would vote against the reintroduction of capital punishment - not because I think everyone is fundamentally good but because I don't want the state to decide life or death - it is a basic issue of sovereignty which I believe should be decided by the people and not bureaucrats.

My phone was rather busy the other day when 1 of the members of Ukip's Thanet South branch decided to tell a newspaper that I was standing in that constituency in 2015. The situation is that there will be a hustings in the constituency the week after next at which the branch will decide who they wish to represent them.

I have thrown my hat in the ring, but so have others, including a top-class barrister and friend of mine. It may seem silly to some that the leader of a party would have to go through the process of being approved and selected but, I assure you, rank means nothing in Ukip.

Just as I applied to stand again as a Ukip MEP and went through the same assessment as other candidates and faced the vote of the membership with everyone else, I believe that the power to select the person they will be pounding the streets in all weathers for lies with the members of the branch themselves. Of course I think I stand a good chance of winning. I have fought the seat before and it is in my home county of Kent and an area I have represented in the European Parliament since 1999. But with Ukip members, nothing is ever for certain. And that's just fine by me.

(source: Nigel Farage, The Independent)

AUGUST 16, 2014:


At least 22 women executed during Rouhani's 1st year

The women's committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran published its yearly report on the execution of women in Iran under Hassan Rouhani as part of the gross violation of human rights under the "moderate" president of the clerical regime.

The report published in the official website of the NCRI Women's Committee, contains details of 22 women who have been executed during the past year, many with their name, date and place of execution.

Based on this report Hassan Rouhani's government has publicly announced the execution of 6 of these women and the other 16 have been secretly executed in various cities in Iran.

Under Hassan Rouhani the suppression of women in Iran has further intensified and in much larger scales by imposing gender segregation in workplaces, concerts, and universities.

Recently a group of 183 members of the regime's parliament 'have supported a plan by Tehran Mayor Mohammad BaqerQalibaf to segregate female and male employees in Tehran Municipality.' They said the measure provides "special attention and respect to women".

An example of such plan is the directive ratified in the council of mayors and their deputies on 17 May 2014 says: "all senior or median directors should use only male employees for posts such as chief of bureau, secretary, phone operator, typist, and in charge of follow-ups..." (state-run news agency ISNA, July 16, 2014).

In the course of implementation of this directive, women were banned from holding some posts in the municipalities and lost their jobs.

In line with this policy of gender apartheid, Tehran municipality is planning to designate separate benches to be used by boys and girls in public parks. Also some universities are imposing new measures to prevent social interactions of male and female students in campuses.

(source: NCR-Iran)


Capital Murder Charge Possible In Infant Death

The man accused of fatally beating his 2 month old daughter Wednesday night could be charged with Capital Murder.

District Attorney Mike Wellborn says in 4 separate videotaped interviews, Michael Anthony Garcia, 20, confessed to abusing his infant daughter, Layla Garcia because she wouldn't stop crying.

Because the baby died the following afternoon, and because the victim is under 10, Wellborn says the case qualifies for a Capital Murder charge, and he is considering that, although he would likely not seek the death penalty.

The beating happened at the family's trailer in Fulton.

Emergency responders arrived to find the child not breathing, and were able to bring her back temporarily.

Halo Flight was called to airlift her to Driscoll Children's Hospital, but doctors couldn't save her.

A full autopsy was performed Friday to confirm a cause of death.

Wellborn does not expect charges against the girl's mother, who wasn't home at the time.

However, late Friday evening, a CPS spokesman confirmed that the agency did take emergency custody of Layla's 2 year old brother.

Ashley Garcia will have a chance to convince a judge next Friday morning that her home is not a threat to the sibling, and that he should be allowed to return home.

(source: KRIS tv news)


Weldon police: Toddler's shooting was act of retaliation

Weldon police said Friday afternoon that the shooting of a toddler and her grandmother on Cedar Street as they slept early Aug. 5 was in retaliation for a shooting less than 12 hours earlier of 15-year-old Keyeon Garner.

Police charged 4 men Thursday night in connection with the death of 2-year-old Dyana Anderson and the shooting that left her grandmother, Catherine Price, 54, hospitalized.

"We have the 4 people that are responsible for this shooting," Police Chief Mark Macon said, noting that the shooting had been a high priority case for his department.

Jamonte Lamoncion Moody, Semajs Short, William David Cook and Victor Mallory each face a single charge of 1st-degree murder and attempted 1st-degree murder in the incident, Macon said.

Moody, 19, Short, 17 and Cook, 21, who all reside in Roanoke Rapids, were arrested without incident Thursday evening. Macon said officers staked out locations the suspects were known to frequent to make the arrests.

Mallory, 21, was taken into custody in Weldon by police and the Halifax County Sheriff's Office.

Macon made a point of thanking other law enforcement agencies for their cooperation and help with the investigation.

All 4 suspects were being held at the Halifax County jail without bond.

Macon linked the shootings on Cedar Street to Garner's shooting death near the intersection of Maple and East 11th streets, about a mile away.

Garner died, and a 17-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man who were with him were also shot. Teddy Keith Anderson Jr., 18, who is an uncle of Dyana Anderson, is a suspect in Garner's shooting death, and he is wanted by police.

Another man, Semaj Tojuan Clanton, 19, of Garysburg, is in custody charged with Garner's murder.

When pressed for details about how all the parties to these two crimes are connected or whether gang activity was a factor, Macon demurred.

In general, he said, "There's a problem with gangs, guns, drugs, violence in this community."

(source: WRAL news)


The White Coat: A Veil for State Killing?

In this guest post, Joel Zivot, MD, of Emory University Hospital, recounts witnessing an execution by lethal injection, and laments the secrecy surrounding the identity of physicians who participate.

I am dropped off at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison as a witness to an execution. I am uncomfortable, but as a physician providing expert anesthesiology testimony in lethal injection cases, I feel compelled to see this for myself.

The afternoon is hot and muggy, and I am standing in a field bounded by a yellow rope. I am overdressed in a suit jacket and was not planning on being outside. What does one wear to an execution?

Several corrections officers soon approach. This staging area is full of corrections officers in paramilitary regalia. It's off-putting, and I can't help but wonder what the show of firepower and force is supposed to convey. What army would attack such an event?

I am expected. My name is found on the invited list, and I am addressed politely as Dr. Zivot, but I am asked to hand over my suit jacket (which actually is a relief) and also my cell phone, watch, pen, and wallet -- everything except for my driver's license. They inform me that all will be returned at my departure.

Now I am alone, unable to communicate with anyone or even note the passage of time. They reassure me that a van will arrive shortly to drive me to the prison. I am struck by my loss of independence. Usually, when it is known that I am a physician, some social deference is shown me without asking, and the loss of control unnerves me. I have been warned in advance that I cannot protest or I will be refused entry, and so I go along obediently.

A corrections officer pulls up in a van and takes me to another building where I pass through a metal detector and am asked to produce my identification. I soon realize that my driver is actually my guard and I am unsure if he is protecting me or constraining me.

We are taken to an office and I am told to wait for further instruction. A clock is on the wall and I am grateful for that information. 5 hours pass. From time to time, I am provided with an odd selection of food, a sort of prison hospitality. It doesn't feel like I can refuse these offerings and I cannot imagine what social custom applies here.

At some point, I need to use the restroom and after asking permission, I am followed into the toilet itself. No one is unkind and some are even pleasant. Still, my loss of freedom is complete, and deep within this prison I rely on my host/captors to guide me.

An official arrives and informs me that it is time to leave, and we drive to yet another building. It is dark now and the road is poorly lit, lined by corrections officers in body armor holding automatic weapons. We pass through a barbed-wire gate, probably 20 feet in height. The van is trapped in a fenced area. More corrections officers inspect it. They open the hood and use mirrors to examine its chassis.

When we're waved through, we drive across an open field to a small, unmarked building -- no larger than a trailer -- next to a basketball court. A van marked "Coroner" pulls up next to us. Men in body armor, with weapons drawn, guard this building. We wait outside. The night is still and the air is warm and muggy, typical for Georgia at this time of year.

Looking at the basketball court, I wonder: who uses it?

In the Execution Chamber

Without notice, the door to the small building opens and I am ushered in. The room is small and already full of people. Benches are arranged like church pews and the front row with eight seats is full of men who do not turn around as I take my place, as instructed, in the second row. In a moment another man sits beside me. I see he has a watch and a pen.

Before me on the other side of a large window I see a man lying on a gurney. The gurney is tipped forward, head higher than feet - reverse Trendelenburg in my lexicon. His arms are at 45-degree angles and secured to arm boards with leather straps. He is covered in a sheet from just below his chin. I count 3 intravenous puncture sites visible on his arms. 2 are connected to IV tubing that disappears through a small hole in the rear of the room. Also at the rear, I see the half-mirrored, 1-way viewing window.

My eyes drift back to his arms. Oddly, I notice that his fingers are taped palm-down to each arm board. In the operating room this position might lead to ulnar nerve injury, but here, I see at once that another purpose is intended. With his fingers secured, he will be unable to clench his fists, should he be so inclined.

Now the warden stands next to him and asks if he has a statement to make. In a calm voice, the inmate replies that he does, and the warden informs him that he has 2 minutes. I wonder if someone is actually timing this. The inmate offers an apology, thanks God and his family, and is done. This is broadcast to us. The speakers must have been turned on and off because I heard no other sounds from the chamber until then or after.

The warden leaves that room. Next to the inmate stands a woman in a short white coat. I see two corrections officers standing motionless on either side of the inmate. I have no watch, and I start to count in my head as a way of trying to sort out the timing of all of this. I try to look at the watch of the person next to me, without him noticing.

The inmate has an apparent change in his respiratory pattern and I assume the execution has therefore begun. He twitches strongly once, mostly on the left side of his body. I am looking hard now for something in his breathing or in his movements that I could construe as consciousness or the lack of it.

I lose count, when, suddenly, one of the corrections officers faints and falls forward, striking the legs of the inmate. The officer has his eyes open as he falls but he clearly is without consciousness. It is so startling that I fail to notice if the inmate reacts. In a moment, the execution chamber fills with people who drag out the unconscious officer and another assumes his position.

Somewhere in this room are 2 doctors who are participating in this execution - but I wonder why neither of them has come to the aid of the unconscious officer.

The Georgia Secrecy Act

As a practicing doctor, when I see someone collapse in the hospital, I immediately move towards them. Did the doctors overseeing the execution have qualms about helping someone stay alive if it meant leaving their post that required them to monitor the killing of the inmate? Did a grotesque conflict arise in this unlikely circumstance between their interest and their duty?

It begins to strike me that they may have a serious ethical problem.

I can't feel sorry for them, but I do see the shame they can bring to my profession if "doctors" can be hired to assure that death occurs.

Later, I look up the rules about this. The Georgia Composite Medical Board licenses physicians. Like all medical boards in the U.S. and Canada, it is self-governed by physicians who set the standards for all who wish to practice medicine in the state. It operates under legislative authority according to the Medical Practice Act. In this act, to practice medicine means "to hold oneself out to the public as being engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of disease, defects, or injuries of human beings."

Life is not a disease, defect, or injury. Nothing in the Medical Practice Act authorizes a physician to cure someone of his life. In return for being allowed to govern themselves, physicians who are elected by their peers to run these medical boards are bound to protect the public interest from those who do not observe the board's ethical and practice standards. The board is a "public authority" and enjoys certain historic rights and privileges as well as statutory rights to obtain subpoenas and compel disclosure to help it discover what it needs to know to govern doctors in their medical practice, or to discipline those who violate the norms under the Medical Practice Act.

I wonder why the board has allowed the 2 men who are overseeing the execution to call themselves physicians.

I dig deeper. It appears these doctors cannot easily be governed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board because their identity is a state secret.

In Georgia, House Bill 122: Sexual Offender Registration Review Board and Board of Pardons and Parole Record; Death Penalty Record, signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in 2013, contains a provision that protects the identity of these men as a confidential state secret.

It effectively forbids the state from divulging information on anyone who participates in executions -- and extends that privacy to "any person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs, medical supplies, or medical equipment utilized in the execution of a death sentence."

In Georgia, and in other states that have secrecy laws, medical boards are usurped and the state now authorizes what behavior constitutes acceptable medical practice.

This cannot be permitted. If the state prevents the board from regulating certain doctors, public health can be undermined in secret. If the state has the power to immunize physicians from oversight of their peers and colleagues, they have a terrible power to pervert the delivery of healthcare for some bureaucrat's idea of the public good. It is a horrific precedent that can be abused, even with the best of intentions.

Let us not allow the continued slide down that slippery slope. Until now, the Georgia Composite Medical Board has remained silent. It could, however, mount a case for the names of the men whom I saw behave discreditably and who should have their licenses to practice as physicians revoked.

Executions will go on in one way or another, just as they have for centuries, without the involvement of physicians. A court may weigh the state's interest in providing a cosmetic appearance of a medical procedure as the veil for an execution by lethal injection against the ancient constitutional or common law right or freedom of public health, which includes an effective system of regulating physicians' practice.

If the Georgia Composite Medical Board, or any other state medical board, refuses to be a plaintiff against the warden for an order of mandamus to force disclosure of the identities of physicians hired to supervise the lethal injections, then probably any resident in that state has a sufficient interest in knowing whether the men in question are his or her doctors (let's call one of them Mr. Jones).

Residents may bring a relator action against the warden and may name the medical board as a defendant in whose name Mr. Jones moves the court for mandamus. The citation of the case would read: Georgia Composite Medical Board, ex rel. Jones v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison.

Final Moments

After the corrections officer fainted, we, the witnesses, sat in stunned silence, although our attention slowly returned to the inmate. I saw no further breathing and in moments, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes after the inmate's last statement, the 2 doctors finally appeared in the room. Both had stethoscopes and one was wearing a white lab coat.

I am struck by the lab coat, worn by TV doctors and in a few medical specialties, although in the operating room I wear a green top and pants, and in my intensive care unit I wear a shirt and tie.

So, who is that for? The execution is bloodless.

The doctors listen to the inmate's chest and look into his eyes. This takes a few minutes, and then they both turn towards the warden. Finally, the speakers turn on as the warden announces the time of death.

Since neither of these men with their medical equipment came forward when the corrections officer collapsed, is the white coat merely a veil for state killing in the execution chamber?

The official record makes no mention of the collapsed corrections officer. I suppose it was believed to be unnecessary information. The execution did succeed, and the inmate never once clenched his fists.



Ex-Marine convicted of hammer killings gets off death row over allegations of poor defense work----Prosecutors say they will still push to execute Raymond Curtis Bright, case likely headed to Florida Supreme Court

A former Marine is getting off death row after a Jacksonville judge ruled the death penalty phase in his original trial was marred by ineffective work by his trial lawyers.

Senior Circuit Judge Charles Arnold ruled Raymond Curtis Bright, 60, should get a new penalty phase to determine if he belongs on death row. But the judge denied a motion from Bright's lawyers to throw out his 2 1st-degree murder convictions for bludgeoning Randall Brown, 16, and Derrick King III, 20, to death with a hammer.

"We're grateful that the death sentence was set aside," said Rick Sichta, Bright's attorney. "But we're disappointed that the conviction wasn't thrown out as well."

Sichta said called the ruling bittersweet.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda also expressed disappointment at the ruling, and said he believed Bright's original trial lawyers, Richard Kuritz and James Nolan, did a good job with what they had. "The evidence was overwhelming to the defendants guilt," de la Rionda said. "He beat 2 people to death with a hammer and claimed self defense."

Arnold's ruling is likely to create a situation where both sides appeal his decision to the Florida Supreme Court. Prosecutors will likely appeal Arnold's ruling setting aside the death penalty while lawyers for Bright will appeal his decision denying a new trial for their client.

Bright will remain in prison while the case goes to the Supreme Court.

De la Rionda said if Arnold's original ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court they will seek to put him on death row again.

That would involve having another jury hear the case and make a recommendation to Arnold on whether Bright should get life in prison without parole or death. Arnold would make the final decision, but judges in Florida almost never put someone on death row when a jury recommends life.

If the Supreme Court throws out the verdict along with the death sentence they will try him again for 1st-degree murder, and will seek the death penalty again, de la Rionda said.

Bright was arrested in 2008 after the bodies of Brown and King were found in Bright's home. He claimed he was attacked by the 2 men in the early morning hours.

Bright claimed he wrestled a gun away from Brown and then killed both men in self defense. Prosecutors claimed Bright killed the 2 men while they were sleeping on a couch and recliner.

Defense attorneys said Brown and King had moved into Bright's house and were selling drugs, and Bright, who was addicted to cocaine, wanted them out so he could attempt to get clean.

A jury convicted Bright and recommended the death penalty by an 8-4 vote. Arnold sentenced him to death in November 2009, and the conviction and sentence was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court.

Sichta then went back to circuit court and asked for a new trial by arguing that Kuritz and Nolan did an insufficient job of representing Bright during his murder trial. Arnold said their performance was acceptable during the murder trial, but not during the penalty phase.

During a hearing to determine whether Bright would get a new trial Kuritz testified that he was responsible for handling the trial and Nolan was going to handle the penalty phase. But Kuritz said when the penalty phase began he realized that Nolan was not as prepared as he'd said he was, and he tried to "take over" the penalty phase.

Kuritz said he was surprised no family members of Bright had been interviewed and was also unhappy that a detailed psychological profile of Bright hadn't been done. He was also unhappy that more investigation wasn't done into Bright's history of mental illness and substance abuse issues.

Nolan died in 2012. De la Rionda said Nolan's death made it more difficult to argue that Bright received a competent defense because most of the criticisms were focused on Nolan, and he couldn't defend himself.

Kuritz declined comment Friday.

In his ruling Arnold said the failure to investigate and present mitigation to the jury was enough to grant Bright a new penalty phase because there's reason to believe that Bright's sentence might have been different if more evidence had been submitted.

Sichta argued that similar mistakes during the trial justified throwing the verdict out, but Arnold dismissed those suggestions and said that Kuritz and Nolan made decisions during the actual trial that were based on trial strategy, and not a failure to perform their responsibilities.

(source: The Florida Times-Union)


Serial killer Gibson gets 2nd death sentence

Serial killer William Clyde Gibson was condemned Friday to die for the murder of Stephanie Kirk, whose body was buried in his New Albany backyard.

Gibson gave short, 1-word answers to Floyd Superior Court Judge Susan Orth's questions, and swiveled in his chair as she detailed the brutal murder: How Kirk died after Gibson put his "hands in front of her throat" to strangle her, per his own confession.

Death was the "only appropriate sentence," Orth said in her nearly 30-page sentencing order.

It was the 2nd death penalty for Gibson, who also was condemned last fall in the murder of family friend Christine Whitis.

Although Gibson can appeal, the sentence came as a relief to members of Kirk's family in attendance Friday.

"I'm just glad it's over," said Tony Kirk, her father. "There was a little weight lifted. I've been waiting 2 years to hear that."

Gibson, 56, had pleaded guilty to killing Kirk after jury selection in the case began, leading Orth to hear testimony this month on whether he should be sentenced to die.

Kirk's body was found in April 2012, just days after police found Whitis' mutilated body in his garage.

Police: Gibson went to elaborate lengths to hide body

Police said during testimony that her back had been broken. Both Kirk, 35, and Whitis, 75, were sexually assaulted after they were killed, police said.

Gibson also has been sentenced to 65 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2002 murder of Florida beautician Karen Hodella, whose remains were found in Clarksville along the Ohio River.

Orth on Friday set Gibson's initial execution date for Kirk's murder as Aug. 15, 2015.

Friends of William Clyde Gibson recall addiction, criminal past

Orth had previously set a tentative execution date of Nov. 26 for Gibson in Whitis' murder, though both dates could change because of automatic appeals.

Death penalty cases go directly to the Indiana Supreme Court for review, Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said.

In arguing against the 2nd death sentence, defense attorney Patrick Biggs had cited Gibson's history of alcoholism and bipolar disorder, and his "remorseful" confession.

But if Gibson was remorseful, "the judge didn't see it," Henderson said following the sentencing. He cited a tattoo Gibson recieved in prision: "Death Row X3," printed in large letters across the back of his head.

"We can't make someone be sorry," Henderson said. "But what we can do is hold them accountable, and that's what we did."

(source: Courier-Journal)


Debating the Death Penalty in Ky.

Capital punishment is debated in Kentucky.

Questioning Capital Punishment in Kentucky: Mirroring a national trend, the debate over capital punishment continues to makes headlines in Kentucky. Earlier this month, the state legislature held the 1st public hearing testimony on the death penalty since it was reinstated in 1976. As Kentucky Public Radio's Jonathan Meador found that arguments for and against a bipartisan legislative effort to abolish capital punishment boil down to, in part, a moral quandary over vengeance versus forgiveness



State seeks death penalty for Lee County murder suspect

The Commonwealth's Attorney Friday filed a motion seeking the death penalty for Melvin Slone of Beattyville for the April 11 shooting death of local businesswoman Martha Hollar.

(source: The Beattyville Enterprise)


Nebraska defense attorneys, legislators question move of psychiatric hospital in Jenkins case

Criminal defense attorneys and state lawmakers are raising questions about Nebraska's state psychiatric hospital in Lincoln after it recently declined a judge's order to house a convicted killer found too mentally ill to participate in his sentencing.

"The Lincoln Regional Center is not above the law," attorney Maren Chaloupka, of Scottsbluff, said. "It is expected to provide treatment for persons in state custody with serious mental illnesses."

The Lincoln Regional Center is the state's only hospital that treats court-ordered patients, and the Department of Health and Human Services said it's complying with state law.

The center's refusal centered on Nikko Jenkins, convicted of the shotgun deaths of four people in 3 attacks last summer.

Jenkins was found mentally fit enough to stand trial and was even allowed to represent himself. But after he pleaded guilty to 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in April, Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon found him not competent to participate in the sentencing phase of his case, in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Bataillon ordered Jenkins to the Lincoln Regional Center last month in an effort to have him restored to competency. But the hospital refused, saying it didn't have adequate security or a bed for Jenkins.

"I have to admit, that gave me great pause when they said to the judge, 'No, we can't do that,'" said state Sen. Kathy Campbell, chairwoman of the Nebraska Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. "Can a part of a department of state government say, 'No, we cannot do that.'?" My guess is that the Health and Human Services Committee will be asking them that question."

Ultimately, the judge signed off on a plan in which Jenkins will be housed in a Lincoln prison, where hospital staff will go to treat him. That compromise was reached after a state security expert testified that the hospital has no armed guards, no metal detectors and no security towers, making it easy for an inmate like Jenkins to escape and harm others.

Hospital administrators also pointed the 2007 killing of Dr. Louis Martin at the hospital by patient Eric Lewis. Lewis had been placed at the hospital after a Douglas County District judge found him incompetent to stand trial on sexual assault charges.

But since Martin's death, DHHS officials have not asked the Legislature for funding to increase security at the hospital.

"If they've got a problem with security, why haven't they come to us?" asked Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers. "They have never asked us for help."

And they don't intend to, according to Scot Adams, director of Nebraska's Behavioral Health Division.

"Nebraska law recognizes this type of situation happens so rarely by allowing for treatment in a variety of settings," Adams said in an email to The Associated Press, referring to state law that allows a judge to send a defendant found mentally incompetent "to be committed to a state hospital for the mentally ill or some other appropriate state-owned or state-operated facility for appropriate treatment."

Jenkins' public defender argues that the law refers to other facilities capable of psychiatric care - not prison.

Some question if the hospital and DHHS officials have opened the possibility of Jenkins' conviction being overturned on appeal or have made the hospital vulnerable to negligence lawsuits.

"It would seem to me that, from a treatment standpoint, it would be easier to provide security in the Regional Center than providing treatment at a prison," said Stu Dornan, a former Douglas County prosecutor and now a trial lawyer who serves on the board of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association. "I mean, gee whiz, that's what they do. They house people who are dangerous with mental health issues. That's part of their mandate."

In fact, the hospital currently houses several killers, including Erwin Simants, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting deaths of 6 members of a Sutherland family in 1975, and Shane Tilley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in the January 2006 stabbing death of a friend.

But no dangerous patients came to the hospital after they had already been convicted, Adams said.

"Nikko Jenkins was found competent and guilty of murder," Adams said in an email. "A correctional facility is the right place for him to be, and treatment will occur sooner."

(source: Associated Press)


Judge allows Aurora theater suit to continue

A federal court judge will permit a series of lawsuits to continue against the owner of the Century 16 movie complex in Aurora. Various plaintiffs have alleged Cinemark should be held partially responsible for the shootings in July 2012 that left 12 dead and 70 injured.

Friday, US District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson denied Cinemark's request for a summary judgement, a critical step for plaintiffs who would like to see the case head to trial.

The plaintiffs represent families of some of the fatalities as well as some of those injured in the attack.

Cinemark had sought to dismiss the case early in part because it had no way of knowing that a gunman might enter the theater that night.

In seeking summary judgement, Cinemark argued it "neither knew it should have known of this danger because the danger was unforeseeable as a matter of law."

In his ruling, Judge Jackson said plaintiffs have "come forward with some evidence suggesting the risk of an 'active shooter' was not unknown to Cinemark" due, in part, to active shooter procedures recommended to Cinemark as early as 2009.

Plaintiffs have also introduced a 2012 Homeland Security report that suggested terrorists might try to attack theaters and similar mass gatherings.

The ruling, as evidenced by Judge Jackson's ruling does not ensure success on the effort to sue Cinemark. Near the end of the ruling, Judge Jackson asked, what a reasonable theater might have done before July, 20, 2012, even if it recognized "it might happen to us."

"Holmes' assault was hardly a random event," said Judge Jackson.

James Holmes is set to go to trial in the criminal case in December. The trial, should it get underway, will last months. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes' public defenders have argued he was legally insane at the time of the crime.

(source: NBC news)


Judge denies Jodi Arias attorney's effort to quit

An Arizona judge has denied a request by one of Jodi Arias' attorneys to quit, setting the stage for Arias to represent herself at the penalty phase of her trial.

Arias was convicted of murder last year in the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend, but jurors couldn't decide on a sentence. A 2nd penalty phase is set for Sept 8 with a new jury as prosecutors try again for a death sentence.

Attorney Kirk Nurmi sought to quit, citing conflicts with Arias wanting to represent herself. Arias had said if he quit, she would not represent herself and would permit her other lawyer to handle the case. In the past, Arias has tried to fire Nurmi, and he has sought to get off the case.

Arias returns to court Aug. 22 for her motion to delay the retrial.

(source: Associated Press)


Getting rid of death penalty must remain on agenda

Aug. 13 was the 50th anniversary of the UK's cessation of the use of the death penalty.

And during these 50 years, every European country and, except for the United States, every country in the Americas has rejected capital punishment.

In fact, almost 75 % of all states in the world have rejected the execution of their citizens as punishment for crime either in law or in practice.

Even though 18 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty, the U.S., as a whole, ranks in the "Top 5" executioner countries today.

The other 4 are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

In November 2012, in California, Proposition 34, which would have outlawed the death penalty and replaced it with life imprisonment without parole, was on the ballot.

The final vote count was 48 % for the proposition and 52 % against it.

In November, 1978, California voters approved the present death penalty law that replaced the law that had been enacted by the California legislature and signed by the governor in 1977.

Therefore, a proposition such as 34 will have to be approved by California voters in order to reject or revise the present law.

However, on July 16 of this year, a Santa Ana-based federal judge, Cormac J. Carney, ruled California's death penalty unconstitutional on the basis of "the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment" in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The cruel nature of the punishment, according to Carney, is that "California's death penalty system is so plagued by inordinate and unpredictable delay that the death sentence is actually carried out against only a trivial few of those sentenced to death." (CNN, 7/16/14)

Of the more than 900 people sentenced to death row in California since 1978 (36 years), only 13 have been executed.

40 % of them (over 260 persons) have spent 23 hours a day alone in their cells for longer than 19 years.

Carney's ruling is currently under appeal; therefore, the abolishment of capital punishment must remain on the agenda of both the state and federal governments.

Alton Robertson, Redlands

(source: Letter to the Editor, Redlands Daily Facts)


Meet the best protected drug traffickers in the US: the Department of corrections!

Killing ones' own citizens has become a harsh endeavor these days, but as always money buys everything, drugs and bills of secrecy to hide the dirty deeds. Nobody seems to care though, why bother to stand by those on death row who have a legitimate right to know how they are going to be murdered in the name of justice? Because transparency is not an option where matters of life and death are concerned. We are talking about an irreversible process here, something that doesn't leave any room for error or even mistakes. Still, mistakes are made and those on death row have become the mere guinea pigs in a country that has clearly lost its mind, its soul and any kind of consideration for its "high" constitutional standards. So the killing states contract compounding pharmacies, outside of any FDA supervision, to provide the killing poisons. Should these pharmacists need to look for a hiding place instead of taking responsibilities for their actions? No! But it appears to be a matter of take the money and run while people die under horrific circumstances while a convenient and legal "secrecy" covers everybody's asses.

What kind of a country is this? Wasn't there something called "the evolving standard of decency" or did that die too with a bunch of other essential rights?

So if you live in one of the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee or Texas, contact your legislators, ask question about the use of compounding pharmacies and the secrecy around the whole killing process. This is done in your name with your money and you have a right to know!

Secrecy covers lies, hides illegal procedures, allow unnecessary and appalling human suffering; and you can do something about it! Department of corrections, nationwide, are drug dealers acting under the cover the law, protected all the way up to the US Supreme Court, at your expense; acquiring drugs they are not legally allowed to purchase to commit murders.

Recently Joseph Wood took just about two hours to die, thanks to the impunity granted to the Arizona DoC by the US Supreme court, killers in black robes who reveal themselves as the lobbyists they truly are and who have nothing to do with impartial review of equal justice under law. Shame on them! We also recently found out that Dennis McGuire, executed in Ohio on January 16th, didn’t die in a "humane" way, as if there was such a thing as a "humane" way to kill human beings... Now, we hear that the Department of Corrections in Louisiana tricked a hospital into selling them some poison, needed for a "medical patient"... What's next, buying directly off the street from drug dealers? As long as this disgusting secrecy business goes on, we'll probably never know.

The founding principles of justice are totally undermined and trampled upon only because the citizens of this country let it be so. Your responsibility, your choice and the future of your country depend on it.

(source: The Pentobarbital Experiment)


Taliban hangs 5 in Afghanistan's Helmand as fighting rages

The Taliban executed 5 people in a busy opium market in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province and left their bodies hanging overnight after accusing them of kidnapping a businessman, officials told Reuters.

The militant group has stepped up its fight for control of the southern region since June, launching a string of attacks on government buildings, seizing territory and imposing its brand of Islamic justice.

Thursday's public hanging, in the largely Taliban-controlled Kajaki district, was the second group execution reported in Helmand since the offensive began.

"5 kidnappers ... were hanged to death by an order from the Islamic Emirate's prosecution authorities," a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said in a text message.

"We hanged them in order to teach others a lesson."

Mass public executions, common when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996, ceased after the movement was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

But the Taliban's reach in strategic provinces like Helmand has grown since U.S. and allied troops stepped up the pace of their withdrawal, under plans to hand over security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

British troops closed their last outpost in Helmand in May.

Tribal elder Abdul Ahad Mahsomi told Reuters the 5 bodies were left hanging in the area's main opium market until Friday afternoon.

More than 1/2 of Afghanistan's opium is produced in Helmand and its main highway is an import route for drug smugglers. Around 90 % of the world's heroin is produced in Afghanistan and last year's crop was the highest on record, according to the United Nations.

Helmand's police spokesman said he believed the hanged men were innocent and were executed to punish civilians for failing to support the Taliban against the government.

"As they (the Taliban) are defeated in the battlefield they want to take revenge on local people and create fear," said Shah Mohammad Ashna.

After months of intense fighting in Helmand's Sangin district, an Afghan special force commander said on Thursday he had started talks with Taliban to end the bloodshed.

Taliban fighters also abducted 13 people who had been working to clear mines in central Ghazni province and were traveling to the capital Kabul late on Friday, officials said.

"We have already spoken to elders in the area to use their influence and speak to the Taliban to release them," Shafiq Nang Safi a spokesman for provincial governor said.

The Taliban has targeted people clearing mines before, accusing them of working for the government.

(source: Reuters)


Celebrate 50 years free of the death penalty

This week marks half a century since the last executions in England.

Around the world, the death penalty has been reduced to a minority practice. Only 58 countries mow use capital punishment. Asia is its last redoubt, where ninety per cent of executions take place there. It may well be connected that the continent in which democracy is least prevalent is where execution is most common. Many new democracies created in the last 50 years abolished the death penalty when they threw off the yokes of military dictatorship, communism or apartheid.

Killing countries still include, unfortunately, the most populous: China, India, USA (although in small numbers outside Texas) and Indonesia. It may be that very large countries are at risk of human remoteness between the ruled and the ruling, making it easier for execution to continue.

We should be proud of 50 years without executions. The House of Commons voted to scrap it, on a free vote, by more than 2 to 1. The Lords overturned a narrower Commons vote for abolition after World War 2. In every Parliament until 1997 a motion was laid to restore the death penalty and always defeated. The 1997-2001 Parliament abolished the theoretical remaining death penalties for treason and piracy.

Roy Jenkins was crucial as Home Secretary in securing abolition. The Liberal government in 1908 abolished the death penalty for juveniles. Lloyd George's coalition changed the law in 1922 to make it less likely the mothers who killed their babies would be executed - an early recognition of mental health issues.

There are 4 reasons why we should be proud to have buried the death penalty:

1. Killing people is wrong. The state should not kill people and does not need to except in war. The state should set a higher example.

2. The practical reality is that the death penalty kills innocent people. We require a high standard of proof before convicting someone ("certain so you're sure" is the formulation now given to juries) but many have been executed who have been later shown to be wrongly convicted. In 50 years, abolition has saved the lives of scores of defendants whose convictions have later been shown unsafe - sometimes connected to misbehaviour by the state (e.g. hiding exonerating material) or because of new technology such as DNA.

3. Pragmatically, the death penalty would worsen some criminality. Once you create a Rubicon of capital offences and a criminal has crossed it he has little incentive to stop. There is certainly no good evidence that capital punishment deters murder more effectively than a life sentence does.

4. The final reason will only apply if you hold to a belief, held by many religions and also by many humanists, that all human life has value and that human beings have capacity to change and be better tomorrow than they were yesterday. That may be faith rather than evidence-based but it is an idea that has often inspired the greatest, most audacious changes in history and we dare not abandon it.

Supporters of killing often say "how would you feel if your family was murdered." They have a point. I would want to kill the perpetrators. But just because it is what I would want to, does not make it the right thing to do.

In the words of Aeschylus, famously quoted by Robert Kennedy in his public appeal for calm after the murder of Martin Luther King, "let us tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

(source: Opinion; Antony Hook is MEP Candidate for the South East and has practised as a barrister since


Was the last man executed at Winson Green Prison innocent?

At the stroke of 8am, 50 years ago this week, the cell doors were flung open, Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen had their arms strapped behind their backs and they were escorted 12 paces to the gallows.

With a quick flick, the executioner pulled the lever and the trapdoors opened, plunging the 2 convicted murderers to their deaths.

The 2 men, in separate prisons in Manchester and Liverpool, secured the dubious joint honour of being the last people executed in Britain.

They had both been hanged for the murder of John West, a 53 year-old van driver, found in a bloody heap at his home after being bludgeoned with an iron bar.

But while their deaths on August 13, 1964, secured their place in history books, they went almost unnoticed at the time.

Almost two years earlier the last man hanged for murder in Birmingham went to the gallows vehemently protesting his innocence.

Oswald Augustus Grey had been convicted of shooting Edgbaston newsagent Thomas Bates.

He was executed at Winson Green Prison on November 20, 1962. Grey, a baker by trade, was just 20 years old.

The case against him seems less than cast-iron. The story that survives is that on a fateful night in 1962, Thomas Bates was watching television in a back room with his mother and brother. He would go into the shop whenever a customer arrived.

At about 6.30pm on Saturday, June 2, shortly after his brother had left, Thomas Bates walked into the shop.

Seconds later, his mother heard a bang. She raced into the shop and found 46-year-old Mr Bates collapsed on the floor. There was no-one else in the shop.

He was rushed to hospital and it was discovered he had been shot in the chest. Deemed to be the victim of a robbery gone wrong after an empty cash tin was later found on the shop floor, a description of a black man seen outside the shop at the time of the murder was later circulated to police across the city.

4 days after the murder, hundreds of detectives took part in dawn swoops in Ladywood arresting a number of men, including Grey, a Jamaican, of Cannon Hill Road, Edgbaston.

He appeared before magistrates the following day accused of stealing a pistol and ammunition from the room of a 60-year-old man called Hamilton Bacchus, in Handsworth.

During the court appearance, Grey said: "I stole a revolver but I did not shoot anyone."

The following day he was charged with the murder of Mr Bates after police held an identification parade.

During his trial at Birmingham Assizes, Grey maintained his innocence.

The police were accused of what was euphemistically called at the time "3rd degree methods" to force him into making a confession, a claim vehemently denied by officers.

4 women testified that Grey was not the man they saw at the murder scene. But another witness, Cecilia Gibbs, positively identified him during an identification parade.

It took the jury just 50 minutes to find Grey guilty of murder and he was sentenced to death on October 13, 1962.

Little more than a month later, he was hanged in what was the gallows room at the Victorian jail.

Aside from a small group of anti-capital punishment students protesting against his death outside the prison, there seems to have been little interest in the case.

The only confirmation that the death penalty was carried out came from a prisoner, discharged at the time, who told a waiting reporter that the jail had fallen silent. At a later inquest the then Governor John Richards and prison doctor Dr P M Costa confirmed they had attended the execution and it had been "exceptionally carried out".

The passage of time makes studying the case even more difficult but, looking back, it may be argued that the evidence against him was certainly not without reasonable doubt and arguably, today, may have been quashed on appeal on the grounds of being flawed.

(source: Birmingham Mail)


In Vietnam, 6 get death penalty for drug trafficking

An official says a court in northern Vietnam has sentenced 6 people to death for trafficking heroin from Laos to be sold to China.

Judge Pham Van Nam said 6, including 2 women, were convicted of trafficking 110 kilograms (242 pounds) of heroin, from mid- 2012 until the gang was busted in May last year, at the end of a 3-day trial Thursday in Dien Bien province.

Nam said Friday that 2 gang members were given life sentences while two others received jail sentences of 17 and 20 years on the same charges.

The judge said the case was biggest one ever tried in the province, which borders Laos.

Vietnam has some of the world toughest drug laws where trafficking 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of heroin is punishable by death.

(source: The Times of India)


COREN Wants Death Sentence for Owners of Collapsed Buildings

As part of moves to sanitise the building and construction industries to minimise building collapse and shoddy construction jobs, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, has stressed the urgency for a law to make owners of buildings that collapse as a result of using quacks or cheap materials and kill people to be visited with capital punishment.

President of the institution, Kashim Ali, likened the situation to that of medical doctors who were charged with murder if, as a result of carelessness or quackery, they cause the death of their patients.

He spoke yesterday at a news briefing to herald the 23rd Engineering Assembly scheduled for August 19 and 20 in Abuja as part of COREN's efforts to update members' knowledge, share ideas on emerging issues in engineering and to network.

Its theme is "Commercialising Engineering: An Imperative for National Development."

Noting that he was underscoring the need for a major deterrent such as death penalty for building collapse in Nigeria because they were thoroughly embarrassed by the incidence, Ali said: "We have advocated that anybody who builds a house or structure that collapses and kills people should be killed.

So, if that law is there, people who are not trained will not venture into it. If somebody who is a doctor commits quackery and kills somebody, they will charge him or her for murder, but not in the case of collapsed buildings; nobody is charged.

"Often, because people who have these structures always have a way around the situation, nobody deals with them. That is why we are urging the National Assembly to go a step further."

He also lamented that although COREN had been using the police to deal with the incidence of building collapse in the past, it had not had the desired impact because "we found that the people who they charged to court were only the poor people. It's that mason who calls himself an engineer that was being taken to court. The real person who got a million naira project would not go to court."

He explained that it was to find a more capable institution to handle the situation that his organisation decided to partner with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Commission, ICPC.

According to Ali, their apparent fixation with quackery was because it was the greatest challenge to the engineering profession.

Still in pursuance of an industry free of irregularities, COREN has ordered all registrable firms to register with it, saying it was now compulsory and any defaulter would be handed over to the ICPC.

"COREN recently signed an MoU with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Commission, ICPC, to prosecute people who commit infraction of COREN Act and are not on the register.

"Directly connected to the above is the recent order of Council that Registry must commence the licensing of engineering firms to practise in Nigeria.

"By this, it is now compulsory for the following categories of engineering firms to procure COREN licence to practice: Engineering consulting firms; engineering construction firms; engineering manufacturing/production firms; engineering maintenance and service providers; engineering inspection, testing and laboratory service firms; and vendors of engineering machineries, equipment, plants and materials, etc", Ali said.

(source: This Day Live)


Government Saves 190 Indonesians From Death Sentence: President

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government has saved at least 190 Indonesians from death sentence abroad in the past 3 years, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.

"Free and active diplomacy will continue to be dedicated to national interest, and will continue to protect Indonesians abroad," the outgoing president said in his state of the nation address at a plenary session of the House of Representatives here on Friday.

He said protection for Indonesians especially migrant workers has been provided not only with a team of lawyers but also through high level diplomacy.

"For several times I have sent letters to a number of heads of state and governments asking for the acquittal or leniency or delay in the execution of death penalty of Indonesians abroad," he said.

He said migrant workers are important part of Indonesian diaspora and protection of Indonesian migrant workers is a priority in Indonesian diplomacy.

In 2013, no less than 40,000 Indonesian migrant workers were brought back to the country to save them from a situation threatening their safety.

The threat to the migrant workers abroad was not only related to their working condition but also political instability and natural disasters, the president said.

(source: Bernama)


Suitcase Murder: Sheila Von Wiese-Mack's Daughter, Boyfriend Charged With Murder

The daughter of an American tourist slain and stuffed into a suitcase at a $500 per night Bali hotel and the teenager's boyfriend were charged with murder on Friday. Under Indonesian law, Heather Lois Mack, 19, and her 21-year-old boyfriend Tommy Schaefer potentially face the death penalty by firing squad.

A suitcase containing the half-naked corpse of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, of the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, was found on Tuesday. The luggage had been wrapped in a garbage bag and left in a waiting taxi for 2 hours before being discovered, police said.

Witnesses told investigators that Mack seemed panicked when she allegedly left the suitcase and told a taxi driver to wait for a "go" sign, adding: "I'm getting my mom." A security guard at the plush St. Regis Bali resort also said the weight of the silver suitcase had made him suspicious. When the Mack and Schaefer did not return for 2 hours, the taxi driver called police.

Bali Police Chief Inspector General J. Benny Mokalu told NBC News on Friday that 6 witnesses had been interviewed. Investigators were planning to speak to at least 7 others. Chicago-based lawyer Michael Elkin has been hired by Mack.

Speaking to NBC Chicago before Mack was charged, Elkins said the allegations against the teen were untrue. He added that Mack was "hysterical" at times when they spoke on Tuesday. Both Mack and Schaefer are undergoing psychological and other tests, according to police.

(source: NBC news)


Over 40 prisoners executed in 3 weeks, new height in executions this summer

At least 4 more people were hanged in Iran last week, including a 22-year-old who was under 17 at the time of arrest.

3 prisoners were executed on Tuesday August 13, in the central prison in the city of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran. The public relations office of the regime's judiciary declared on Friday August 15.

Another young man who was 18 years old when had been arrested on drug related charges was hanged on Wednesday, August 14, in a Prison in city of Birjand, north-eastern Iran.

The recent executions brings the total of the announced executions during the past 3 weeks to at least 40 executions.

The number of executions has been on the rise since Hassan Rouhani assumed office as the president of the Iranian regime August 2013.

New wave of executionstake place at a time when, hundreds have been subjected to degrading and inhumane punishments such as flogging in public and being paraded in streets. Some very brutally before being hanged.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, recently called for the Iranian regime's human rights record to be referred to the United Nations Security Council and for international action to be taken to hold the regime.

(source: NCR-Iran)

AUGUST 15, 2014:


Execution drug cost quadruples for Texas prisons

Texas is paying 4 times more for its execution drugs from a new supplier, putting it in line with a local consumer rate but well below the cost in at least 1 other death penalty state.

The prison agency in the nation's busiest death penalty state paid $13,500 for its most recent batch of pentobarbital at a cost of $1,500 per vial, compared to $350 per dose spent last year, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press under an open records request.

The extra cost - a minuscule part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's $3 billion annual budget - comes after the state's previous supplier refused to provide more of the powerful sedative last year, claiming it had become a target of execution opponents. Prison officials have since found a new compound pharmacy for pentobarbital, and have waged a successful legal battle to keep the business' name secret.

Backlash from capital punishment adversaries has curtailed the number of mainstream drug companies willing to provide lethal chemical doses to states. But it's not clear whether the increased cost is tied to that. Industry groups and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say they do not track prices for the drug and could not speculate on what factors might have driven the cost up for Texas.

Several other state prison agencies have refused to release details on their drug purchases and Texas officials also have declined to comment on details.

"We're confident we're complying with all state and federal laws," Clark said.

The agency's higher cost does not appear extraordinary. A survey of nearly 2 dozen pharmacies in the Houston area shows Nembutal, the brand name for pentobarbital, sells for about $1,500.

The cost is a bargain compared to Missouri, which also uses pentobarbital for executions. Records earlier this year showed state officials paid as much as $8,000 per dose.

At least 10 inmates have execution dates in the coming months, including 2 in September, which means Texas' latest batch of pentobarbital is set to run out by the end of the year. The agency has confirmed it will attempt to purchase more drugs, but prison spokesman Jason Clark would not address whether the agency expects costs to rise further or whether it will use the same supplier.

The latest drug purchase, in mid-March, was made by the warden at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit, where executions are carried out. It also included an additional $425 for tests to ensure the drugs' potency.

Texas and many other death penalty states confronted with execution-drug shortages have turned to compounding pharmacies, which custom-make medications that the FDA considers unapproved and does not verify their safety or effectiveness. But Texas' 1-drug protocol has avoided the problems found in Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma, which all use midazolam as part of a 2- or 3-drug mixture and had executions go awry in the last year.

The records provided to the AP are redacted to conceal references to Texas' new supplier.

Just a few years ago, it cost $83.55 in Texas for its former three-drug combination of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride administered to condemned prisoners. But Hospira Inc., the sole U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, stopped production in 2010 and dropped plans to produce it in Italy because the government there asked for guarantees it never would be used in executions.

Texas responded by switching to pentobarbital, but Denmark-based Lundbeck Inc., the drug's only U.S.-licensed maker, bowed to pressure from death penalty opponents and announced its medication was off-limits for capital punishment.

The Texas prison agency then opted to purchase pentobarbital from The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy until the Houston-area company refused to provide more drugs in October. The owner wrote a letter to the agency accusing state officials of placing him "in the middle of a firestorm" of hate mail and potential litigation when his company's name became public.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has supported the prison agency's refusal to publicly name its new supplier, citing a "threat assessment" signed by Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw that says pharmacies selling execution drugs face "a substantial threat of physical harm."

(source: Associated Press)


State seeks death penalty in fatal shootings

The state is seeking the death penalty for a 67-year-old Harper man accused of killing his wife and granddaughter.

A grand jury recently indicted Joseph Knight on a capital murder charge, and a local prosecutor hasn't decided whether to waive the death penalty.

"Right now, the state is automatically seeking the death penalty, but it can be waived at some point," said Lucy Wilke, a prosecutor for the 216th Judicial District, which includes Kerr, Kendall and Gillespie counties. "It's too early to know whether we will waive it - he just got indicated."

Wilke said deciding whether to waive the death penalty involves taking into account many factors, including a defendant's criminal history, health issues and the details of the offense.

According to the Gillespie County Sheriff's Office, Knight shot 59-year-old Karen Knight and 19-year-old Barbara Knight at his home in the 600 block of Josephine Drive in Harper about 8 p.m.May 9. According to news reports, Knight called law enforcement after the incident and turned himself in. He was being held in the Gillespie County jail on a $1 million bond as of Wednesday. No information on what the man's motive has been available.

Knight has a pretrial hearing on Oct. 16 in Gillespie County and a tentative trial date of Nov. 12.

Capital felonies - those in which the death penalty can be sought - are typically more expensive and highly scrutinized by appeals courts, Wilke said. Local officials have said attorneys fees alone can cost between $500,000 and $2 million in a capital case with no outside help.

But Kerr and Gillespie counties do have assistance in the form of an insurance-like program administered by the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases. The program is funded by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, which was established by the 77th Legislature to provide technical support to assist counties in improving their indigent defense systems. County commissioners can opt in or out of the program annually, but each year the price increases. Based on a formula involving population size, Kerr County agreed to kick in $34,415 in the next budget year. In 2017, the contribution will be $43,018, according to the interlocal agreement with Lubbock County, which acts on behalf of the regional public defender's office.

However, Wilke noted a recent law may increase the costs of prosecuting the cases, although it's not clear by how much. A file listing each piece of evidence in the case - such as video, audio, witness statements and fingerprints must now be kept, whereas before the district attorney's office would simply hand over material to defense attorneys without documenting it, Wilke said.

The act, which took effect Jan. 1, requires prosecutors, lawyers and judges to clearly document evidence relevant to a defendant's case - even if the accused admits guilt. The act was named after Michael Morton, imprisoned for 25 years after a prosecutor hid evidence that would have exonerated him.

(source: The Kerrville Daily Times)


Guilty pleas likely to resolve some pending Wake murder cases

Wake County prosecutors and defense attorneys said Thursday that guilty pleas are likely in at least 3 murder cases.

Gavin Joseph Zacherl, 31, was charged in January with the stabbing death of his boyfriend, 28-year-old Andrew Jay Tongate, in their Lake Lynn Drive apartment. Prosecutors said they are waiting on some medical reports but that a plea deal is likely in the case.

Matthew Durwood Calton, 53, is charged with gunning down his landlord, Jay Gould "Jody" Simmons, in the parking lot of a Carquest auto parts store at 2635 E. Millbrook Road on Nov. 23 and later engaging in a shootout with police outside a Creedmoor Road shopping center. Defense attorney Duncan McMillan said they are negotiating a plea and would like to settle before Calton's Nov. 3 trial.

Cathy Lynne Lentini, 53, of Cartersville, Ga., was charged in October with beating 91-year-old Beulah Dickerson to death in her west Raleigh home in October 2001. Authorities said she also will likely accept a plea deal before trial.

Several other murder cases were discussed Thursday during status hearings at the Wake County Justice Center:

No date was set for the retrial of Brad Cooper in the July 2008 death of his wife, Nancy Cooper. His 2011 conviction was overturned on appeal, and his new attorneys couldn't estimate how long it will take to review the case file. Prosecutors said they offered a plea deal to Cooper before his 1st trial and are willing to do so again.

The mental state of John Wesley Winters Jr., 71, also could affect the scheduling of his trial and whether prosecutors seek the death penalty against him, authorities said. Winters is charged with fatally stabbing his sister, Seanne Winters Barnette, 55, in her Knightdale apartment last October.

Roger Onaje McKenzie, 27, remains in a mental hospital and isn't competent to stand trial for the Aug. 9, 2010, death of James Edward Hamer, 29, who was shot in a downtown Raleigh barbershop. (source: WRAL news)


Bannister case moving slowly----No trial before 2015

A quadruple-murder case that has already gone 3 years without resolution might not go to trial until next summer, a judge learned Thursday.

James Edward Bannister sat next to attorneys Tania Alavi and Terence Lenamon during a status conference as the defense laid out the significant effort it will take to have this case ready for trial.

Bannister, 34, is charged with 4 counts of murder and arson of a dwelling. Authorities believe in August 2011 he shot and killed the victims before setting an Ocala home on fire. Inside the home officials found the bodies of four victims: CorDarrian Hill, 8; his sister, CorDerica Hill, 6; Bridget Gray, 52; and her daughter Jocalyn Gray, 27, who was Bannister's girlfriend at the time. The state is seeking the death penalty.

However, since it took time for an arrest to be made in the case, the investigation first traveled down several avenues with dead ends the defense is likely to further explore, according to Assistant State Attorney Rock Hooker.

The case involves 281 witnesses.

Death penalty cases have 2 phases. The 1st focuses on the defendant's guilt or innocence. If the defendant is found guilty of 1st-degree murder, then the case proceeds to a 2nd penalty phase, where the defense presents evidence in support of a life prison sentence while the state argues for death.

Lenamon said it's premature to set a trial date.

"We still have well over 100 witnesses to depose, and obviously we need to litigate both 2nd phase and 1st phase," Lenamon told Circuit Judge Willard Pope.

Lenamon acknowledged the lengthy period of time since the murders is of concern to the court, but he pointed out death penalty cases - particularly this one, because 2 children died - involve a substantial amount of investigation and record collection.

The attorneys will meet back in court on Dec. 4 for another status conference to hopefully set some deadlines in the case with an eye toward setting a trial date next summer.

(source: Ocala Star Banner)


Meggs' office wants death penalty for double homicide

The State Attorney's Office in the 2nd Judicial Circuit is seeking the death penalty for Joseph Oakes, who was arrested in May on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder.

Oakes and Jennifer Ellis were arrested for their connection to the homicide of Jason R. Coshatt, 29, and Lynette L. Lee, 21. Oakes confided in his ex-wife, who is also Ellis' sister, that he had killed the 2 with a hammer in a tent in the woods near the trailhead of the St. Marks Trail, court documents said.

Police said both the defendants and victims were homeless and had not been living in the wooded area long. Homeless shelter staff told the Democrat Oakes and Ellis had stayed at The Shelter for five days in April, but nothing unusual stood out about them.

Ellis faces 2 counts of accessory after the fact for helping to clean the crime scene, court records show.

Assistant State Attorney Kathy Ray is prosecuting the case, but was unavailable Friday to discuss it.

Oakes was indicted by a Leon County grand jury May 20 after which state prosecutors filed a motion seeking the death penalty.

That filing was followed by a motion by Oakes' public defender, Steven Been, to allow for mitigation specialist Kate O'Shea of Charlotte County to meet privately with his client in the Leon County Jail where he remains without bond.

Been declined to comment on the case, but court documents say the role of a mitigation specialist is to develop a complete psychological and social history of defendants.

(source: Tallahassee Democrat)


McFarlin appointed attorney in Walmart murder case

Circuit Court Judge David Bragg appointed a local attorney to represent 1 of the defendants in the Walmart double-murder case today after the public defender's office bowed out of the matter.

Trey McFarlin was named to take the case of Danarius Coleman, an Antioch man charged with 1st-degree murder in the late January shooting deaths of 2 Murfreesboro men in a possible drug-deal robbery in the store parking lot off Old Fort Parkway.

Bragg previously appointed attorney Tim Hogan to represent the other defendant, Demetrius Coleman, after attorney Guy Dotson Jr. told the judge he had a conflict of interest in the case and could not represent the older Coleman brother.

The Colemans are accused in the Jan. 29 shooting deaths of Latre Lillard, 19, and Andre Chesterfield, 19, of Murfreesboro. Both are being held in Rutherford County jail on $750,000 bonds.

Public Defender Gerald Melton told Bragg this morning that his office had represented one of the victims previously and had asked the court in late July to give it time to determine whether it could find a way to work around the potential conflict of interest.

Since then, however, Melton said he found out that the public defender's office had represented both victims and that Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman would request that his office be removed from the cause "because of our connection with that victim."

Newman explained to the judge that he had consulted with one victim's family.

"They're also asking the court to relieve Mr. Melton's office," Newman said.

Danarius Coleman, who participated in the proceeding via video from the jail, told the judge he understood the conflict of interest. Bragg granted Melton's motion to withdraw from the case.

The assistant district attorney said afterward no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty against the Coleman brothers.

"It's something we will evaluate at a later time," he said, adding he isn't certain the Walmart double murder is a death-penalty case.

The district attorney's office would have to notify the court of its intention to seek the death penalty, and the attorneys representing the defendants would have to be qualified to handle death-penalty cases, according to Newman.

Bess murder case

The district attorney's office will travel to a federal prison in Florida Sept. 12 to depose a witness in preparation for the murder trial of Jewell Moses Bess, according to Newman. Trial is scheduled in February 2015.

Bess also will travel to Florida, accompanied by his attorney, Chuck Ward, so he will be able to confront the witness, which is his constitutional right.

The deposition will be videotaped and brought back to Rutherford County to be used in the trial, Newman said.

Bess, 65, is accused of killing his wife Deborah Sherfield Bess, 38, on Aug. 19, 1986 at her Richland Road home. He has been serving time in state prison after pleading guilty to 4 counts of child rape in 1998 and has not been allowed out on bond in the murder case.

Investigators ruled his wife's death a suicide 28 years ago, but new details brought forward in May 2011 led to the 1st-degree murder charge against Bess of his 2nd wife.

(source: Murfreesboro Post)


We who condone execution wear the black hood

Judges have ordered that the identities of the Tennessee death-row execution team be revealed to defense attorneys for condemned prisoners, but to no one else.

Traditionally, the executioner with the axe would wear a black hood. Going back further, we will never know the identities of the execution team that killed Jesus. However, we do know that he forgave them, even while he was being tortured.

We do know the identities of the execution team in Tennessee: It is all of us taxpayers. We are footing the bill. Will Jesus forgive us? Yes. But it is time we stopped killing.

Carol Tures

Nashville 37215

(source: Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean)


Friends of Victim Speak Out About Planned Execution

It's been a long journey for loved ones of a Chattanooga woman burned to death by her ex-boyfriend. Now they tell us they finally have some relief.

An execution date has been set for Lee Hall after this 1991 killing.

"I can't say enough about how sweet she was, she didn't deserve it, that's for sure," said Heather Lewis, Crozier's best friend.

It's been a rough 23 years for Heather Lewis.

"She was just taken way too soon," said Lewis.

That's how long her best friend, Traci Crozier, has been gone.

"She was such a sweet, caring girl, she would do anything for anybody," said Lewis.

Lee Hall, formerly known as Leroy Hall, was convicted of killing his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend, Traci Crozier. He set her car on fire while she was inside.

"Just for the brutal way that he killed her, and just the fact that he killed her in general. How can you do that to somebody?" questions Lewis.

The state has set Hall's execution date for January 12, 2016. That's 25 years after the crime.

While it's common for inmates to enter death row decades after being convicted, Lewis says it's unacceptable for families to wait that long for closure.

"This a long time coming. It should have happened a long time ago. I'm glad that this is in the works. He definitely deserves it," said Lewis.

But for Lewis, execution isn't enough.

"In my opinion, lethal injection wouldn't be good enough for him. I don't understand how you could do that to another person, especially her," said Lewis.

Lewis told NewsChannel 9 that this is a prime example of why she agrees with the death penalty.

"I just believe that people who feel like that its okay to go out and murder somebody, they need to be handled accordingly. That's not right," said Lewis.

Chattanooga Police Sergeant Bill Phillips was on the force when this case happened. He told NewsChannel 9 it's the worst crime scene he's experienced.

"You still get that sickening feeling, even though this is something you've done for years. You don't get used to things like this happening," said Sgt. Bill Phillips from the Chattanooga Police Department.


Previous Story

The Tennessee Supreme Court has set an execution date for Lee Hall, the man convicted in the grisly 1991 death of his ex-girlfriend, Traci Crozier.

The court set a Jan. 12, 2016 date for the death of Hall, formerly known as Leroy Hall Jr. He is at least the 11th condemned inmate to have an execution date scheduled.

Hall was convicted of 1st-degree murder and aggravated arson in the death of 22-year-old Traci Crozier, who died hours after being set on fire.

This message was posted in a Chattanooga newspaper by Crozier's father on the anniversary of her death: "Thought of you today but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name. All I have are memories and a picture in a frame. Your memory is a keepsake from which I will never part. God has you in His arms, but I have you in my heart. I Love You - Dad"

The scheduled execution date is part of a push by the state to begin executing death row inmates again, though several dates have already been pushed back by a lawsuit challenging the secrecy of Tennessee's new lethal injection procedures. The Tennessee Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Monday.

(source: newschannel9)


Botched executions demand an Indiana moratorium

The recent prolonged death of a convicted killer in Arizona - which that state's Republican senator, John McCain, described as tantamount to torture - led the state attorney general to call a halt to all executions, pending an investigation.

The incident should give Indiana, which recently announced it would use a new drug as part of its lethal injection protocol, plenty to think about. And Arizona to act upon.

Death row inmate Joseph Wood died nearly 2 hours after receiving a 2-drug lethal injection combination. A properly administered lethal injection is supposed to last no more than 15 minutes.

The episode comes after botched executions in Oklahoma and Ohio. As drug-makers have begun refusing to sell their products for use in executions, states have scrambled to come up with new drug combinations.

Indiana's switch to Brevital is because of a shortage of sodium thiopental. Indiana officials say that the powerful anesthetic, which is used in hospitals, is appropriate for executions. It would be part of a 3-drug protocol, which also includes pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison says the decision was made after consultations with pharmacists, other states and other experts.

The company that makes Brevital strongly disagrees, arguing that the drug has never been used in lethal injections and isn't approved for that purpose.

Indiana's 1st execution since 2009 - which could come later this year - may proceed exactly as expected. The drug newly added to the protocol could act just as Indiana officials appear confident it will.

But there's a chance that the state will find itself in the same situation that Arizona faced, struggling to explain a bungled execution that many would define as "cruel and unusual punishment."

That's not a chance that Indiana can afford to take. We're not arguing the merits of the death penalty. We'll leave that decades-long debate for later. But this much is clear: Gov. Mike Pence should order a moratorium on all executions until the state can be certain that its next execution won't resemble an experiment in state-sanctioned torture.

(source: Editorial, South Bend Tribune)


Gibson awaits sentencing, possible death penalty

William Clyde Gibson, a confessed serial killer, is expected to be sentenced in New Albany on August 15.

Anticipation for the sentancing mounts to see if Gibson will be given the death penalty for the murder of Stephanie Kirk.

Gibson killed Karen Hodella in 2002 and Christine Whitis and Kirk in 2012. Gibson has already been sentanced to death in the murder of Whitis and is sentanced to 65 years in the murder of Karen Hodella.

(source: WHAS news)


DA fights Holmes' bid for inquiry of media sources

Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting case objected to a defense request for a separate investigation into who told a reporter about a notebook that defendant James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist before the deadly shootings.

In a filing Wednesday, the district attorney's office questioned whether District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. had the authority to appoint a special prosecutor for an inquiry into Fox News Channel reporter Jana Winter's sources.

Winter reported the notebook contained violent images, and Wednesday's filing indicated prosecutors intend to introduce it as evidence at the trial. They could plan to use it in an attempt to undermine Holmes' argument that he was legally insane - unable to tell right from wrong.

Defense lawyers have called the notebook a "critical piece of evidence." They say Winter's story, which was widely cited in other news accounts, tainted the jury pool.

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 2012 shootings at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. 12 people were killed and 70 were injured.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The trial is scheduled to start in December.

Winter's story cited unnamed law enforcement officials, and defense lawyers say those sources violated a gag order and then lied about it under oath.

If a special prosecutor cannot identify the sources, the defense wants Samour to bar prosecutors from seeking the death penalty or to prevent 14 officers from testifying. All 14 handled the notebook and testified they did not speak to Winter.

Prosecutors responded that the defense cited no court precedent for tossing out the death penalty. They also said someone other than the 14 officers might have spoken to Winter.

Winter declined to identify her sources. Defense attempts to force her to reveal them failed when courts in New York - where she lives and works - ruled that New York's reporter shield law protected her from a Colorado subpoena.

Separately, Samour ruled Thursday that experts on chemicals and metals can testify at Holmes' trial despite the objections of defense attorneys. Samour said the techniques of both experts were reliable.

Another judge is considering whether to release a review of Aurora's emergency response to the shootings, The Denver Post reported ( ).

At a hearing Thursday, prosecutors and the defense opposed the release. City officials asked the judge for guidance because of a gag order in the case.

(source: Associated Press)


What's Next For Nevada's Death Penalty?

A messy execution in Arizona that made national headlines could buoy efforts by death penalty opponents to stave off capital punishment for some 80 Nevada inmates awaiting execution. But supporters of executions believe the problems can be corrected and that the death sentences in Nevada should be carried out.

Nevada has not had an execution since 2006. Before any executions take place, a new death chamber needs to be built.

Opponents of Nevada's efforts to build an execution chamber say the cases in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma could be added to the ever-growing number of legal challenges to capital punishment in the Silver State. Adding to the argument that the use of lethal injection, as its now being carried out with a mix of drugs, should be considered a cruel and unusual form of punishment.

Nevada's execution chamber is at Nevada State Prison in Carson City, which was decommissioned in 2012. It's also unknown whether the state has up-to-date pharmaceuticals to perform a lethal injection execution.

So it's unclear if the state could even carry out an execution is a warrant was issued.

(source: KNPR news)


Holzer Officially Charged with Murders, Appears in Court----DA Joyce Dudley Undecided on Whether to Pursue Death Penalty

Nicolas Holzer 1 alleged to have fatally stabbed his parents, sons, and family dog on Monday night in their Goleta-area home - was charged on Wednesday with 4 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of felony animal cruelty. Holzer, 45, also faces special allegations of using a deadly weapon and committing multiple murders. His arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon but was postponed to September 9 at the request of his defense attorney, deputy public defender Christine Voss. Holzer appeared in court in custody and will remain behind bars without bail at the Santa Barbara County Jail, where he has been placed in a safety cell.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the charges against Holzer earlier in the day. "Our sympathies go out to everyone in our community," she said. "There are very few answers," Dudley continued, adding that Holzer's "mental health issues" will be considered by her office. If found guilty of the crimes, Holzer could face life in prison for each murder charge; Dudley said she hasn't decided yet whether she will pursue the death penalty. Deputy district attorneys Ron Zonen and Von Nguyen will prosecute the case.

Dudley's office has reached out to the boys' mother, who appeared in court on Wednesday morning with her boyfriend, a baby, and a female companion. Dudley said that her office was due to receive custody records on Wednesday.

Voss - who asked Judge Thomas Adams to order the jail to have Holzer's psychiatric health and medications evaluated - said it was "hard for me to say right now" how Holzer was holding up. She declined to comment on what medications Holzer may be taking or whether he is aware of the charges against him. She said she requested the arraignment's postponement to allow her time to review 12 pages of reports and further communicate with the District Attorney's Office over what "could be a capital case."

Late Monday night, Holzer reportedly used kitchen knives to first kill his father, 73-year-old William, before stabbing to death his sons, 13-year-old Sebastian and 10-year-old Vincent, and his mother, 74-year-old Sheila. Holzer ended his alleged spree by killing the family's Australian shepherd. Sheriff's deputies responded to the house on Walnut Park Lane after Holzer called the police to turn himself in; all the victims were declared dead at the scene and Holzer was arrested without incident.

Sheriff Bill Brown said Holzer told authorities it was his "destiny" to murder his family - whom he lived with in the home for about 7 years - and there wasn't yet any indication that a particular event spurred Holzer's actions. Holzer, who doesn't have a criminal record, reportedly had sole custody of his children, students at Foothill Elementary and La Colina Junior High.

(source: Santa Barbara Independent)


Prison chief: Death row cell not a hardship

Death row is not a significant hardship compared to ordinary prison life, the head of Oregon State Penitentiary said in response to a federal lawsuit filed by a convicted killer who wants to be moved into the general population while he awaits a new sentencing hearing.

Death row inmates eat the same food as other prisoners and are allowed to exercise regularly and watch TV, Superintendent Jeff Premo said in the court filing, the Roseburg News-Review ( ) reported Thursday.

Cells on death row also have air conditioning, unlike those for the general prison population, and inmates on death row get to control their lights, Premo wrote.

The prisoner, 34-year-old Jesse Fanus, was sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of an 82-year-old former Marine Corps flying ace in Douglas County.

A judge overturned the death sentence more than two years ago, ruling Fanus had been poorly represented in the penalty phase of his trial. Though his conviction stands, a new sentencing hearing has been set for February. Prosecutors again plan to seek the death penalty.

Fanus has been seeking to leave death row while awaiting the new hearing. His suit says inmates on death row spend 22 to 23 hours a day in their cells, eat meals alone and are allowed only up to 1 1/2 hours of yard time a day, 5 days a week.

"Death row prisoners lead a life of isolation, they are deprived of meaningful human contact, and they are deprived of most other incentives and privileges that are available in prison life," the lawsuit states. "They live what can only be described as a miserable existence until they die a natural death, or, in very rare circumstances, executed."

Premo, however, said death row inmates generally have more notoriety and may be targeted by other inmates in lower-level security housing.

There are more than 30 inmates on Oregon's death row. Since Oregon voters in 1984 reinstated capital punishment, just 2 inmates have been executed - both after giving up further appeals.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has placed a moratorium on executions during his time in office, even for inmates who want to die.

(source: Associated Press)


No decision yet on death penalty for suspect in airport shooting

Federal prosecutors said Monday they expect a decision by mid-November on whether the death penalty will be sought against a 24-year-old suspect accused in a deadly shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport last year.

The ultimate decision on whether death is an appropriate penalty in the case against Paul Anthony Ciancia is up to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joanna M. Curtis told the court that her office had provided its recommendation to Holder as to the penalty, but did not indicate what that was.

"Unfortunately, it's not up to us," Curtis told the court, adding that the investigation by her office was ongoing.

However, lawyers for Ciancia said they planned to travel to Washington, D.C., at some point to present their arguments against the death penalty to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Curtis said prosecutors had accumulated about 10,000 pages and 150 DVDs of discovery in the case, including material collected during a probe of Ciancia's background in the small town of Pennsville, N.J., which they had presented to the defense.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez was adamant that the case would be tried next year, although defense attorney Hilary L. Potashner said she may ask for more time if death is sought.

Ciancia, who stands a little over 5 feet, was brought to court in green and white jail clothing, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles. At the request of defense counsel, U.S. marshals unshackled his wrists for the brief hearing.

3 charges in the 11-count indictment against Ciancia carry the potential for a death sentence: murder of a federal officer, use of a firearm that led to the murder, and act of violence in an international airport, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ciancia had been living in Sun Valley for about 2 years when he allegedly stormed into Terminal 3 last Nov. 1 with an assault rifle, killing Transportation Security Administration agent Gerardo Hernandez and wounding 3 others - 2 other TSA workers and 1 traveler.

Ciancia allegedly shot Hernandez at a lower-level LAX passenger check-in station and began walking upstairs, but returned when he realized Hernandez was still alive and shot him again.

In addition to first-degree murder, the indictment charges Ciancia with 2 counts of attempted murder for the shootings of TSA officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer. Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas teacher, was also wounded.

Ciancia is also charged with committing acts of violence at an international airport, one count of using a firearm to commit murder, and three counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm.

During the shooting spree, Ciancia was allegedly carrying a handwritten, signed note saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds," along with dozens of rounds of ammunition. Witnesses to the shooting said the gunman asked them whether they worked for the TSA, and if they said no, he moved on.

Ciancia was shot in the head and leg during a gun battle with airport police. He spent more than 2 weeks at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center before he was moved to a San Bernardino facility, and subsequently to the downtown Metropolitan Detention Center, where he remains held without bail.

(source: Los Angeles Wave)


High Court Upholds Death Sentence for Double Murderer----Defendant Who Spat on Judge Horan Properly Excluded from Courtroom--S.C.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge did not deprive a capital defendant of his right to a fair trial in the penalty phase by excluding him from the courtroom, after he engaged in "egregious" misconduct, including spitting on the judge and throwing a bag of excrement and urine in the courtroom, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

In an opinion by Justice Goodwin H. Liu, the justices unanimously agreed that Kelvyn R. Banks forfeited his right to be present during his 1999 penalty phase retrial. That proceeding was necessary because jurors deadlocked in the penalty phase of his 1st trial, after finding him guilty of 2 counts of 1st degree murder, along with numerous other offenses, including rape, attempted murder, robbery, and burglary.

The murders of which he was convicted occurred on 2 separate occasions.

Charles Coleman was shot and killed on July 1, 1996. A surviving witness identified Banks and said he raped and shot her after shooting Coleman in the bank of a head, then demanding that the woman, identified as Latasha W., tell him where Coleman kept his money and drugs.

Banks was also convicted of the July 26, 1996 murder of Charles Foster at an ATM on Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. An eyewitness identified Banks as the shooter.

At the outset of the penalty phase retrial, Judge Charles Horan - now retire - noted that there had been a number of difficulties in ensuring Banks' attendance at the original trial. While defense attorneys noted that the defendant had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts preceding his arrest in the cases, Horan had said at the time:

"If a guy has been trying to kill himself his entire life, one would suspect that one would succeed. I am not trying to minimize your client's problems. I assume he has problems. But when he has a court date that he does not want to make, his so-called attempts seem to coincide with my court calendar."

Noting that background at the time of the penalty phase, Horan admonished Banks that he would have to attend the trial unless he waived his right to do so in open court, or if he "bec[ame] disruptive and had to be removed."

Later, as a panel of prospective jurors was exiting the courtroom, Banks threw the bag of urine and fecal matter and shouted at the judge: "You're evil. Evil. Demon."

At that point, the defendant went with a bailiff into lockup. Horan then announced he intended to exclude the defendant from the courtroom, but would allow him to have a speaker in lockup in order to follow the proceedings.

The next day, he explained his ruling to Banks, and asked if he wanted to follow the proceedings on a speaker in lockup. When Horan denied the defendant's request to discuss the matter with his lawyer, he refused to answer, and the judge ordered him removed.

He then told the judge to "shut up" and spat on him from about 12 feet away.

Horan then ruled that the defendant would be excluded from the courtroom for the rest of the trial, but that he could be brought in briefly for specific purposes, such as witness identification. There was no alternative, the judge said, short of "complete mummification."

At no time did the defense thereafter request that he be returned to the courtroom, but he was kept in lockup 10 feet away with the door open so that he could hear the proceedings.

The circumstances, Liu wrote yesterday, were so "unique and egregious" that the judge was not required to give additional admonitions before ordering exclusion for the duration of the trial.

"It is difficult to imagine conduct more repugnant to the orderly conduct of a trial or more disrespectful of the dignity of the courtroom and its participants than defendant's act of throwing a bag of excrement and urine at the trial judge," the justice wrote. "Moreover, we agree with the trial court's observation that the degree of premeditation involved in creating and hiding the projectile in question belies any claim that his actions reflected a momentary lapse of impulse control. Any remaining doubt as to defendant's ability or willingness to control his behavior was dispelled the next day, when defendant spat on the judge from 12 feet away. Defendant's purposeful defilement of the courtroom went much farther than more typical types of misconduct, such as verbal disruptions or abusive language, that might call for a specific warning before a defendant is excluded from trial."

Liu went on to say that the defense forfeited its claim that less restrictive measures, such as shackling, should have been considered. No such measures were requested at the time, the jurist noted.

Horan yesterday declined comment on the ruling.

The case was argued in the Supreme Court by Stephen M. Lathrop of Lathrop and Villa in Rolling Hills Estates for the defendant and Deputy Attorney General Allison H. Chung for the prosecution.

The case is People v. Banks, 14 S.O.S. 3426.

(source: Metropolitan News Company)


Death penalty pros and cons

50 years since the last executions were carried out, Political Correspondent Alex Britton is glad to see the back of the swinging 60s.

2 Polish men began life sentences this week after being found guilty of a murder in The Meadows.

Patryk Srutkowski and Pawel Bugajski will be kept at the pleasure of Her Maj for at least the next 25 years after strangling an Iraqi refugee.

Reading what came from the courts, it was a pretty brutal affair: the pair strangled him and stamped on his head and body, breaking his nose and 7 ribs.

Estimates vary, but the cost of keeping someone in prison is said to be around 40,000 pounds a year. I'm no Carol Vorderman, but even I can see that 25 years at 40 grand a time is a pretty big bill. About 2 million pounds will be spent keeping the pair convicted of murder in clean prison garb and having 3 square meals a day.

That's about 1,999,995 pounds more expensive compared to grabbing a coil of rope and finding somewhere to perform the long drop. These 2 are not alone. There are a whole host of killers, paedophiles, abusers that work their way through the court system every day, eventually spat out into prisons when many would argue it would be more efficient - both of time and money - if these people paid the ultimate price for their crimes.


They say that those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

And perhaps we have learnt quite a lot in the 50 years since the last death sentences were carried out in this country.

A YouGov poll suggested that 45 % of people were in favour of bringing the death penalty back, down from 51 % back in 2010.

But for many, the issue is not as clean cut.

So, let's go through the arguments.

1: it's a deterrent.

Yes, the number of murders may have increased in the UK shortly after the death penalty was dropped in 1964, but doesn't every criminal who winds up in a cell believe they will be the ones who will get away with it?

I've seen enough TV dramas with this particular plot line running through it.

2: it's more cost-effective.

Yep, lethal injections are cheaper than prison bills. But what of the court proceedings as appeal after appeal is heard? Lawyers don't come cheap. TV taught me that too.

3: death merits death.

Fine, but it's all so final. And I'd rather see hundreds of people jailed rather than an innocent wrongly sentenced to death.

It may only have been half a century since the last execution, but it seems like something straight from the Victorian age.

Time has given us a sense of perspective on the idea of death and punishment; can the same not be true of those who have committed heinous crimes in our jails?

(source: Alex Britton, Nottingham Post)


1 in 11 Britons approve of beheading murderers - but overall support for the death penalty is falling

A recent YouGov survey has shown how support for the reintroduction of the death penalty in Britain is generally falling, though some political parties would happily bring it back.

Support for capital punishment has fallen

It's been 50 year since we executed anyone in the UK and yet 45% of the population would support its reintroduction. This has dropped by 6 % points since the last time a similar poll was carried out in 2010 when 51% of the population said they'd support its return.

Lethal injection is the most "popular" method

Most would envision capital punishment being carried out through lethal injection - the most common execution method in the USA - followed by electric chair, hanging and gas chamber.

A few things stand out when you break this data by party allegiance. For example 1/3 of Ukip voters favour gas chambers and firing squads.

A higher percentage of Britons than Americans think it's effective

A higher percentage of Britons than Americans, in fact, think that capital punishment is an effective deterrent. 39 people were executed in the USA last year.

The majority of those surveyed in the UK - out of a pool of 2,000 people - believed the death penalty to be the ultimate deterrent.

Jaded US voters have stopped believing in its efficacy.

A separate Gallup report has found that support for the death penalty in the US is at its lowest levels in 40 years.

So how does this break down by party supporters?

The majority of Conservative and Ukip voters support the death penalty

Here's how support for the reintroduction of the death penalty stacks up around the main UK political parties.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest (by far) supporters of the death penalty are UKIP voters. It's weird when surveys really do confirm your stereotypical ideas.

Death penalty supporters are also into Jeremy Clarkson, Jim Davidson and Richard Littlejohn. And their favourite food is "meat pie".

[source: YouGov]

Better than life in prison?

Still, one interesting twist comes from asking people whether they think being executed is better or worse than life in prison with no chance of parole.

The tendency is that groups which favour the death penalty regard it as the harsher punishment. Whereas the woolly, hand-wringing liberals who oppose execution have a tendency to believe that life in prison is worse.

So everyone is actually tending to favour the sentence that they think will cause the most suffering.

(source: The Mirror)


Capital Punishment, is that the answer?

Today August 14, 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of the hanging of convicted rapist and murderer Dhananjoy Chatterjee.

On May 5, 1990 a 14 year old girl by the name of Hetal Parekh was raped and murdered in Kolkata, India by the caretaker of her building. The Indian Express, 2012 states it took almost 14 years after the young girl was raped and murdered for the convicted rapist and murder to serve his punishment, death by hanging on August 14, 2004.

It is stated that Dhananjoy Chatterjee had repeatedly appealed and filed mercy petitions, all in which were rejected due to the brutality of the crime.

Presently, the Jyoti Singh Pandey gang rape case - the 23 year old student who was brutally gang raped and died of internal organ injuries, there were 6 assailants, 4 received a sentence of death by hanging, the 5th juvenile who received a 3 year sentence and the 6th had allegedly committed suicide in prison. All 4 of the convicts who were given a death sentence have received stays of their executions on the grounds to appeal by the Supreme Court (Times of India, 2014).

After the rape of Jyoti Pandey, many of the middle-class students took to the streets to protest the sexual violence against women, many of whom were demanding chemical castration as punishment and or death penalty.

On December 23, 2012 a three member committee made up of Justice J.S Verma, who was the former chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Leila Seth, who was the former judge of the Highest Court and Gopal Subramanium who was the former Solicitor General of India, looked to review the laws and punishment of sexual violence against women. The members took into account the public suggestions, reviewed and analysed the historical statistics, cases, laws and data.

rape is the "rarest of the rare"

They came up with many suggestions, focusing on increased punishment in terms of imprisonment; they rejected chemical castration and the death sentence as they felt there was no evidence to show deterrence. Furthermore, currently the death sentence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is only considered to be given under the "rarest of the rare" cases. They also suggested marital rape exclusionary under the IPC be removed, increase the age of consent to 18, to include a sexual harassment procedures in the workforce, to criminalise the employment of a trafficked person, for the medical field to discontinue the use of the 2-finger test as a form of forensic evidence for sexual assault, and police reforms- introduce rape crisis cells, police stations to have cctv cameras set up in interview rooms and entrances, and the ability to file FIR's online etc. ( As per The PRS Legislative Research, Justice Verma Committee Report Summary)

This report was conducted within 30 days as per the request of the government, thus the committee went to work diligently and was able to produce the report Jan 23, 2013. According to First Post (2013) since that date, the government has openly rejected the inclusion of marital rape, and not a single recommendation has been implemented. With the exception of the age limit which has said to been amidst a change prior to the Verma report,

due to public pressure over time.

Thus the question remains it's been 10 years since the hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee for the rape and death of Hetal Parekh yet this sentence has not deterred sexual violence against women.

The politicians focus on appeasing the public need for revenge, especially in high profile cases such as the Parekh and Pandey case. Instead of focusing on revenge and seeking harsher punishments, society needs to address the underlying issues that cause violence against women in the first place. The society needs to question why hasn't the recommendations of the Verma Report been implemented? Why marital rape was openly rejected? Why are there not specific reforms in place to reduce the marginalization of the scheduled caste? Why does the medical community still use the 2-finger test as means of forensic evidence, when it has no scientific basis?

Increasing punishments is useless if the system does not enforce the laws openly, transparently and justly for all equally.

In memory of Hetal Parekh.



Popular Kenyan Musician Introduces Bill to Stone Foreign Gays to Death----Reports suggest that Edward Onwong'a Nyakeriga's 'Stone-the-Gays' bill may be a non-starter.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at the White House on August 5 for a dinner during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

The chilling, yet familiar language of homophobia in east Africa is now percolating in Kenya, where a popular musician petitioned members for a law that sentences foreigners to death-by-stoning for "aggravated homosexuality," according to multiple reports.

The bill's author, Edward Onwong'a Nyakeriga, said it's needed "to protect children," especially because of "increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise," reports PinkNews. Nyakeriga is a leader of Kenya's Republican Liberal Party, which holds no seats in parliament nor any local or regional seat of power, according to the Diaspora Messenger.

While Kenya's National Assembly has a so-called antigay caucus, resistance persists to the brutal nature of Nyakeriga's proposed "Stone-the-Gays" law, according to the Diaspora Messenger. The leader of the antigay caucus, Irungu Kangata, is quoted saying that while he is "100 % anti-gay" the proposed penalties are "out of sync with modern thinking."

Bishop Joseph Wasonga of the Anglican Church of Kenya echoed that sentiment, telling the Diaspora Messenger that, "In my view, stoning is too extreme. Even God does not want a sinner to die, but for one to repent and live."

Existing Kenyan law already criminalizes sodomy as a felony as a holdover from the country's days as a British colony. However, there is no specific mention of homosexuality in the sodomy law, nor is a death penalty prescribed as punishment.

Unconfirmed reports by Gay Star News and others say Nyakeriga's proposed bill has already been determined unconstitutional by a parliamentary committee that considers the viability of such petitions.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was among those who attended last week's U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. and met top Obama officials.

(source: The Advocate)


Lebanon set to try Syrian militants on capital charges

10 Syrian militants, including Imad Ahmad Jomaa, whose arrest sparked clashes in the Lebanese town of Arsal, are set for trial in Lebanon on capital charges, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Military prosecutor Sakr Sakr alleges that the 10, who are in custody, and another 33 still at large wanted to set up an Islamist emirate in regions of Lebanon.

He accuses them of "belonging to armed terror organizations, carrying out acts of terror and trying to take control of Lebanese regions to establish their emirate."

They "killed or tried to kill soldiers and civilians and damaged military equipment as well as public and private property," Sakr said.

He has sent the files to an investigating magistrate and believes they may face the death penalty.

The other 9 militants in custody were arrested during the fighting that broke out in Arsal near the border with Syria after Jomaa was detained on August 2.

Militants who are still holding 36 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage after the Arsal clashes are demanding the release of Jomaa and other Islamist prisoners, an informed source told AFP on Wednesday.

(source: Al Arabiya news)


Bali Suitcase Murder: Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer May Face Death Penalty Over Murder Charge

Indonesian police have charged an American couple with murder after the body of the woman's mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found stuffed in a suitcase at a luxury resort in Bali.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, both from Chicago, were arrested on Wednesday in Bali's Kuta area.

If found guilty of murder, the couple could be sentenced to death by firing squad under Article 340 of Indonesia's Criminal Code.

The body of Von Wiese-Mack was found inside the boot of a taxi parked in front of the St Regis resort in Nusa Dua on Tuesday. The 62-year-old academic, also from Chicago, was discovered half-naked with wounds to her head and appeared to have put up a fight, a local doctor confirmed.

The charges were based on witnesses and crime scene evidence, according to Bali deputy police chief Brigadier General Gusti Ngurah Raharja Subyakta.

Police said the couple hired the taxi and placed the suitcase in the boot, before fleeing the hotel via a back entrance. They were arrested after police found them sleeping at a hotel in Kuta on Wednesday morning.

Police chief for Bali's provincial capital of Denpasar, Colonel Djoko Hari Utomo, said the couple told investigators that Von Wiese-Mack was killed by robbers while they managed to escape. He added that their statement contradicted testimonies from the taxi driver and hotel staff.

During initial questioning on Wednesday, Mack acknowledged that her mother died, but refused to disclose how, according to Haposan Sihombing, an Indonesian lawyer assigned to the couple by police.

An autopsy was carried out at a hospital in Denpasar. The head of forensics, Ida Bagus Putu Alit, said there were signs of violence on the body indicating the victim had fought before she died.

"We found scars on both forearms and the broken left-hand fingernail. That indicated a resistance in a fight," Alit said, as reported by NBC News.

Authorities in Chicago examined records of 86 incidents in which police were called to a house in Oak Park, where Von Weise-Mack and her daughter lived. According to the Guardian, the pair had a tumultuous relationship.

The police calls started in 2004 and lasted until June 2013, according to Oak Park spokesman David Powers, who said the family moved out about a year ago. The majority of the calls were missing-person reports, and others included domestic problems and theft.

(source: IBTimes)


At least 7 Baluch prisoners hanged during last week in Iran

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), last week, at least 7 Baluch civilians were executed in various prisons.

According to this report, in the morning of Thursday 6th August this year, 2 inmates named Mohammed Hanif mir Baloch Zehi Baloch and Aziz Noti Zehi were hanged in Saravan prison.

Also, it is reported that on Monday 3rd August, 2 young Baluch named Haji Abdul Shah Bakhsh, son of Mohiyaddin, and Nabi Shah Bakhsh, son of Omid, were hanged in the prison of Shiraz.

A relative of these prisoners said: "The prison officials had told Abdul and Nabi's families that your children will be executed on Thursday, but when their families went to Shiraz for the last visit whit their children on Monday, surprisingly they were told that your children were executed this morning."

It has been told that these 4 prisoners had been charged with drug trafficking.

Also during this week, 3 other Baluch civilians named Abduljabbar Rigi, Osman Hasan Zehi and Abdolkarim Zahoki were executed in the central prison of Chabahar. There is no exact information available about the charges against these 3 individuals.

(source: Human Rights Activists News Agency)


Controversy surrounds alleged Houthi courts in Amran

Fawwaz Saleh, an engineer in Amran who was sentenced to death on Sunday by an improvised tribal court suspected to be affiliated with the Houthis, has had his death sentence suspended, sources told the Yemen Times.

On Monday, Al-Masdar Online quoted "local sources" as saying that "a 'Houthi' tribal court sentenced an engineer to death in a rushed hearing session on Sunday."

The sentencing of 36-year-old engineer Fawwaz Saleh, who works in Amran Cement Factory, followed his alleged murder of a colleague at work, inside the factory.

After the protest of Mowatanah (Citizenship), a human rights organization in Sana'a, the sentence has been suspended.

Abdulrasheed Al-Faqeeh, the director of Mowatanah organization, told the Yemen Times that after the organization's opposition to Saleh's death sentence, "we were informed by the Houthis that the death penalty was stopped."

The suspension of Saleh's death sentence was confirmed by Abdullateef Al-Marhabi, a journalist in Amran, and Waheed Al-Rubati, whose father works at Amran Cement Factory and who lives in the same neighborhood as the convicted Saleh.

"Saleh is now awaiting a final decision regarding his case," Al-Rubati said.

Al-Rubati added that Saleh was taken to a Houthi office, the "Office of Ansar Allah," where people go to request judgments, mediation and decisions in cases of conflict.

"They have this specialized office for releasing judgments and resolving citizen's issues since the courts often delay people's cases. Many residents seek their help," he said.

Jalal Al-Ashmoori, a resident in Amran and a university teacher in computer programming and engineering, told the Yemen Times that "courts" run by the Houthis do exist in Amran, often located in ordinary houses.

Al-Faqeeh said that Saleh is still being detained in a stadium in Amran after he had first been held in a school which the Houthis were using as a prison.

"Houthis run make-shift prisons in Amran and the areas they control," he stated.

Mohammed Hizam, deputy head of the Public Relations Department at the Interior Ministry, affirmed Al-Faqeeh's statements, saying "Amran is under the control of Houthis. We have no business there now. We can do nothing. They have courts in the areas they control. They also have prisons there."

Ali Al-Imad, a member of the Houthis, denied the existence of an official Houthi court system in Amran saying, "yes, perhaps in Sa'ada we have courts due to a lack of government presence there, however, in Amran we have none and this judge [that delivered Saleh's death sentence] was not assigned by the Houthis."

Ahmad Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi's political office, also denies the existence of Houthi-run courts in Amran, explaining that only tribal negotiations are taking place in the governorate. "There are no official courts run by Houthis. All we do is tribal arbitration and mediation to avoid revenge and wars among tribes," said Al-Bukhaiti.

He added that the Houthis do not use any of the sites owned by the government in Amran governorate. "After the president's speech [on July 23] to the citizens of Amran and the return of many to Amran, everything returned to its pre-war status," said Al-Bukhaiti.

Al-Faqeeh highlights conflicting information regarding the courts in Amran, telling the Yemen Times that "the Houthis say that the judge was a tribal judge assigned by the locals, the locals say that he was assigned by the Houthis."

Abdurrahman Barman, a lawyer based in Sana'a, said that according to Yemeni and international law as well as the country's constitution, the Yemeni judicial system is the only one allowed to deliver court decisions, especially when it comes to criminal cases.

"Tribes can only have their own agreements and arbitrary judgments regarding commercial and civilian cases, delivering decisions that are agreed upon by both sides," he said.

Death sentence of Fouad Qasim

According to a statement published by the Mowatanah organization, a resident in Sa'ada governorate, Fouad Qasim, was executed in Amran on August 5.

Al-Ashmoori told the Yemen Times that Qasim was sentenced to death in Sa'ada by a tribal court allegedly run by the Houthis. Yet, his execution, which was documented in a video that spread quickly through social media websites, was implemented in Amran.

"The sentencing occurred in Sa'ada, but the execution was in Amran, where Qasim is originally from," Al-Marhabi said.

According to Al-Ashmoori, the sentence followed Qasim's alleged murder of a father and 3 children, all belonging to the same family.

Ahmed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi's political office, commented on the execution of Qasim, saying that his father handed him over to tribal authorities in Sa'ada to avoid having his 3 other children killed as retribution.

"Everything was done according to tribal customs. Houthis had no hand in killing him. His father signed those documents to deliver him to the other family whose father and children were killed. They were the ones who killed him in a tribal agreement," said Al-Bukhaiti.

Al-Faqeeh stated that because Qasim was not tried by the government, he has been executed for a crime that "only a rigorous court decision can decide on, sentencing him for being guilty or not."

According to Al-Faqeeh, Qasim "was supposed to be handed over to the government's judicial authorities and not be executed."

(source: Yemen Times)

AUGUST 14, 2014:


Authorities undecided if they will seek death penalty in standoff case

The Cameron County District Attorney's Office has yet to decide whether it will pursue the death penalty in the capital murder case against former Cameron County jailer Marco Antonio Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, 31, of Brownsville, is accused of killing his romantic rival Ivan Reyes, 31, in June on the 200 block of Orchid Path.

The Brownsville man appeared this morning before 404th state District Court Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez to be formally arraigned on several charges including capital murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault on a public servant.

It was at this morning's hearing the DA's office announced no decision has been made whether the state will seek the death penalty in the case.

Police say Gonzalez held his ex-girlfriend Monica Lizette Robles, 33, hostage for 7 hours after shooting Reyes. During the standoff, he also fired several rounds of gunfire at Brownsville police officers, who responded to the scene.

During Thursday's arraignment hearing, Lopez cautioned the attorneys that there are many issues that arise in a death penalty cases.

Defense attorney Ernesto Gamez Jr., who is representing Gonzalez, announced that his client had entered a plea of not guilty for the capital murder charge.

Lopez scheduled an October 2 as the date of review as to whether the death penalty would be sought.

Gonzalez remains jailed at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center on a $3.5 million bond.

(source: Brownsville Herald)


31st District Democratic hopefuls spar over issues at debate

Sean Lynn and Ralph Taylor, both seeking the Democratic Party nomination for state representative in the 31st District, met in debate Wednesday at Wesley College, jousting over the minimum wage, gun control, casinos and the death penalty.

They are seeking the legislative seat being vacated by Darryl Scott, a Democrat who is not running for re-election.

Both candidates were asked their views on the death penalty and if it should be abolished.

Mr. Lynn had the floor first.

"The death penalty does not act as a deterrent for those who intend to murder. I will do everything I can to abolish the death penalty," he said.

Mr. Taylor said that through his years in law enforcement, it makes it difficult for him to oppose the death penalty.

"I can't get the image out of my head of some of the crimes I have seen people commit and therefore cannot say I would work to have it abolished," he said.

The primary election is Sept. 9 and the winner will face off against Republican Sam Chick in November's general election.



June 2015 trial date set in southeast side quadruple homicide; emotions overtake courtroom

A judge set a June 15, 2015, trial date for 3 suspects in last winter's quadruple murder at a drug house on Indianapolis' southeast side, but only after sheriff's deputies cleared the courtroom of observers.

Kenneth "Cody" Rackemann faces the death penalty and will be tried alongside Anthony LaRussa and Valencia Williams.

Samantha Bradley has agreed to plead guilty to her role in the killings.

Judge Mark Eisgruber decided to move the trial to next summer to give Rackemann's attorneys more time to prepare their death penalty case although they indicated they would prefer a 2016 trial date.

Rackemann answered "yes, sir," when asked if he understood the state's death penalty filing against him.

The court took Rackemann's request to marry his girlfriend while in jail under advisement and indicated he will make a ruling Sept. 5.

Rackemann made his plea for marriage directly to the judge.

"It's my right," he said as fiancee Tia Brassfield watched from the gallery. "I love this person. I'm facing all of this probably on my shoulders. It can help me by my son coming to see me. It's going to help my son."

Rackemann's attorneys argued there is no safety or security reason to keep their client from being married while awaiting trial.

Attorneys for Rackemann and LaRussa said they had no warning last week when it was announced in court that Bradley had agreed to plead guilty, setting her up to testify against their clients.

Ray Casanova, representing Rackemann, asked the court if he could inspect Bradley's personal belongings, which are set to be sent to her in the Johnson County Jail where she has been transferred.

"Is there a cell phone in her personal property?" he asked the judge. "To me that would be a very significant piece of evidence."

Eisgruber ordered that Bradley's property not be released.

4 people - 21-year-old Hayley Navarra, 22-year-old Kristy Sanchez, 43-year-old Jacob Rodemich and 47-year-old Walter Burnell–died on a rainy February night on South Parker Avenue in what a witness told FOX59 News was a botched drug robbery.



Fun and serious at the state fair

With farm animals, blue ribbons, cotton candy and carnival rides, the Kentucky State Fair starts Thursday in Louisville. In the exhibition halls, amid the colorful booths and free samples, there are also exhibits to get people thinking about serious issues.

Organizations opposed to the death penalty have a booth at this year's fair. Shekinah Lavalle, outreach coordinator for the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said their purpose is to get people thinking about their stance on capital punishment.

"Our purpose there isn't necessarily to convert the people that are walking through," she said. "We're not one of the booths that's going to be yelling at you as you walk by. But we will try to draw attention to ourselves, so that maybe you'll come over and get interested in talking with us."

Kentucky is one of 32 states where execution is still legal.

A different organization will staff Booth 341 each day of the fair's 11-day run, Lavalle said.

"Several religious organizations," she said. "We have murder victims' family members who are opposed to the death penalty. The ACLU is joining us. We also have a day for an organization called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty."

Those organizations all want Kentucky to make life without parole the maximum sentence. Lavalle said the groups believe the death penalty is costly and arbitrary.

"Legislators are being very thoughtful about this issue," she said. "As we continue to have conversations, we're finding that people are really thinking about what we have to say, especially when we're bring in people who have been exonerated from death row."

The booth will be in the South Wing of the fairgrounds.

More information about the state fair is online at

(source: Floyd County Times)


Rodney Berget's Death Penalty Upheld

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld Rodney Berget's death sentence.

Berget was sentenced to death in 2012 for his role in the murder of Correction Officer Ron 'RJ' Johnson during a failed prison escape in April 2011. Berget had argued that he should get a new death sentencing hearing because he wanted to present evidence about his newfound son and family.

In a 4-1 decision Thursday, the South Dakota Supreme Court denied the new hearing and upheld Berget's death sentence.

"The heinousness of the crime, as well as Berget's extensive criminal history, hopeless chance of rehabilitation and multiple attempts of escape leave no alternative but to protect the public through imposition of the death penalty," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement Thursday.

This was the 2nd time Berget has appealed his death sentence. The Supreme Court overturned his 1st sentence because of an error by the judge, but Berget was resentenced to death a few months later.


Court upholds Berget's death sentence

The South Dakota Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the death sentence of Rodney Berget. Attorney General Marty Jackley says the crime leaves no alternative but to protect the public through the impostion of the death penalty.

The Court said "the State has proven the aggravating evidence against Berget is overwhelming beyond a reasonable doubt, thereby negating any claim of Constitutional error."

The Court found that Berget's death sentence "is not excessive given the suffering endured by Sioux Falls Corrections Officer Ron Johnson."

(source for both:


Jury recommends death penalty for Angel Esparza----Esparza found guity of killing 2 people in Thermal Vineyards in 2009

Jury recommends death penalty for Angel Esparza, who was convicted last month of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder for the vineyard killings in Thermal which occurred days after taking the life of a teenager.

Esparza was tried earlier this year for the double murder and the Dec. 3, 2009, shooting death of 16-year-old Angel Luna, but the jury deadlocked on the vineyard killings, triggering a retrial on those counts.

Esparza was staying at the Thermal residence of Christina Zapata and her daughter, Cecilia Morin, while on the run from law enforcement, and on Dec. 19, Juarez and Garcia arrived with plans to pay to have sex with Morin, Deputy District Attorney Jake Silva said.

Esparza entered Morin's bedroom with a revolver and ordered Garcia and Juarez to the floor, took their wallets and bound them with cords and duct tape. He and Zapata drove them to a vineyard at Avenue 58 and Pierce Street, and Esparza dragged them into the vineyard, the prosecutor said.

Later, Zapata's boyfriend, who had a can of gasoline with him, drove Zapata and Esparza back to the vineyard, and Esparza took the gas and a bag of the victims' belongings into the vineyard. The next morning, Juarez and Garcia were found shot in the head and burned, Silva said.

Esparza was arrested in San Bernardino on Dec. 24, 2009, and authorities found a gun that matched markings found on a bullet in Garcia's head, Silva said.

Morin and Zapata refused to testify in the trial - their previous testimony was read in court. They each pleaded guilty in the case to 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder last year in exchange for sentences of 15 years to life in prison.

Esparza was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison for killing Luna.

(source: KESQ news)


Memories of Shrewsbury's last execution----It is 50 years since the last men were led to the gallows in the UK. Shropshire's last execution was at Shrewsbury prison on February 9, 1961.

The condemned man was 21-year-old George Riley, of Shrewsbury, who was convicted of murdering a 62-year-old widowed neighbour Mrs Adeline Mary Smith.

It is a conviction that some people felt, and still feel, was unsafe.

On the eve of the execution, prisoners at the jail were in a state of foment, as Mrs Sonia Shawcroft, a prison officer's wife who at one time lived within the prison, was to recall last year.

"The night before Riley was hanged the noise was all over Shrewsbury," she said.

"All the prisoners were banging their tin mugs on the bars and shouting 'Save George'.

One of those outside the Dana on the fateful morning of George Riley's execution was veteran Shrewsbury journalist Russell Mulford.

"It was 8 o'clock in the morning as I recall it and there were various people outside. Some women were on their knees praying," he said.

"There was a deathly silence as, I think, St Mary's Church bells tolled, and that was the hanging moment.

"There was a lot of furore about it. Myself, Gordon (Gordon Riley, a fellow journalist), and various others were there just for the occasion and we went away and wrote our stories about what a poignant sort of situation it was. It was very moving, particularly with these ladies, from away I think, who were on their knees as the bell tolled.

"There was some argument at the time about whether Riley was guilty or not. I forget the name of the police superintendent in charge, but he was adamant that Riley was guilty and the whole trial went smoothly. There was an element nationally, led by a barrister called Louis Blom-Cooper. He led the opposition to Riley's hanging. I'm not sure whether his grounds were that it was a mistrial, or that hanging was wrong. Soon afterwards hanging was abolished. It was a controversial hanging, that's for sure."

Russell was one of the journalists who covered Riley's trial.

"It was a busy time. I was in and out of court filing my stories. I didn't get any impression of there being an injustice there. I was very much the journalist, recording it and reporting it as it was, without getting involved."

Fellow Shropshire journalist Gordon Riley, who died in 2010, was to recall: "I was the member of the press voted by the others to represent the press at the inquest.

"I remember there was a very seasoned warder who had to examine my press card to admit me. In a pretty gruff tone he said 'that's funny initials to come in here with' - they were the same as George Riley's."

The last people to be hanged in Britain were killers Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen, on August 13, 1964.

There was no fuss at the time, the routine hangings of a couple of murderers from "up North" rating a brief mention in the London-based national press.

Yet the tide of history has transformed these run-of-the-mill executions into a key last defeat before the abolitionists brought an end to capital punishment.

Had the pair got their timing only slightly different, they might be walking the streets today as free men in their 70s.

Opposition to capital punishment was rising, with protests outside jails when hangings were taking place.

2 months after their deaths a Labour administration was elected with a mandate to abolish the death penalty. Capital punishment was suspended for 5 years, and in 1969 the death penalty for murder was abolished permanently.

The arguments have continued to rage ever since. Opinion polls show popular support for the death penalty.

An online poll by the Shropshire Star mirror those nationally, a clear margin - 57% - in favour of it returning, although perhaps less of a majority than would have been shown a decade ago.

Those who oppose the death penalty point to practicalities as well as the basic moral objections. There are plenty of innocents who would undoubtedly have gone to the gallows had capital punishment remained in force.

(source: Shropshire Star)


They may become the 1st women to be hanged in India

2 Kolhapur women, who were sentenced to death in 2001 for kidnapping 13 children and killing 9 of them, may become the 1st women ever to be hanged in India.

President Pranab Mukherjee late last month rejected Renuka Kiran Shinde and her sister Seema Mohan Gavit's mercy petitions. The buffer period before their hanging - time taken by the state home department to inform all concerned after receiving the note from Rashtrapati Bhavan - ends on Saturday.

The number of people executed in India since Independence is a matter of dispute. Government statistics claim that only 52 people have been executed since independence. However, research by the People's Union for Civil Liberties indicates that the actual number of executions is in fact much higher, as they have located records of 1,422 executions in the decade from 1953 to 1963 alone. However, there is no record of any woman's execution.

Renuka and Seema, who partnered their mother Anjanabai Gavit to kidnap the kids and push them into begging and killed some of them after they stopped being productive, are currently lodged at the Yerwada jail in Pune. Anjanabai passed away during the trial, and the sisters' father Kiran Shinde turned approver and was acquitted.

The President has also rejected the mercy petition of Rajendra Wasnik, who was sentenced to death for raping and killing a 3-year-old in Amravati in March 2007. Wasnik had lured the girl with the promise of buying her biscuits before sexually assaulting and eventually killing her.

The note from Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wasnik arrived at the state home department on Tuesday and the process of informing the convict, his relatives, and the Nagpur jail where he is lodged has been initiated.

Desk officer Deepak Jadiye of the home department said no objections have been received yet on the Kolapur sisters' hanging. "We have informed the 2 convicts, their relatives, the legal remedial cells of the Supreme Court and also the district court about the rejection (of their mercy plea),'' he said.

While awarding the death sentence to the sisters in 2001, Judge G L Yedke in Kolhapur had described the 9 kids' murders as 'the most heinous', and observed that the 2 sisters seemed to have enjoyed killing the children.

There are currently 24 convicts on death row in Maharashtra, including the 3 Shakti Mills rapists. All convicts facing death sentences in Maharashtra are moved to Yerwada in Pune or the Nagpur jail as these are the only 2 prisons in the state that have gallows.

(source: Mumbai Mirror)


Attorneys: Free inmate; he's dying anyway----Harris County opposed rare clemency plea in 1980 robbery-murder

Attorneys have made a rare clemency request for 1 of Texas' longest-serving death row inmates, saying he should be freed before inoperable liver cancer soon takes his life.

Max Soffar, 58, has been on death row more than 33 years for a 1980 robbery at a Houston bowling alley were 3 people were shot and killed and a 4th mained. Soffar and his lawyers long have maintained he's innocent, although he has been tried, convicted and condemned twice, most recently in 2006.

"Nothing can save me; I'm going to die," Soffar told the Associated Press on Wednesday. He said doctors discovered a tumor in June. "I've talked to my doctor - maybe 5 months, maybe 4 months, maybe 3 weeks."

There is no precedent, at least in modern times, for the Texas Board of Pardons and paroles to recommned to the governor that clemency be granted in a death penalty case under such circumstances. Requests typically are filed as an inmate's execution is nearing or imminent. Soffar does not have an execution date and an appeal for him remains before a federal court in Houston.

"The reality is that the federal court process will likely not be completed before Mr. Soffar dies," the lawyes said in the petition.

The Harris County district attorney's office will oppose the request, said Roe Wilson, an assistant district attorney who handles capital case appeals. The Texas prison system has medical facilities to treat inmates, she said.

"I haven't seen any medical records verifying anything," she said. "And while he should be humanely treated, I do not think that means he should be granted compassionate leave so he is given his freedom."

Soffar's 1st conviction was thrown out in 2004 by a federal appeals court panel that said he had deficient legal help at his 1st trial in 1981. Wilson said Sooffar's 2nd conviction was solid and dismissed arguments from Soffar and his attorneys that a convicted serial killer in Tennessee was responsible for the crimes.

(source: Associated Press)


Death Row, Revisited----Clemency merited in shaky Soffar case

Is this the type of execution Texans are comfortable with?

Texans overwhelmingly support the death penalty, and, if we may presume to read their minds, the kind of execution they're comfortable with looks like this: It involves a perpetrator whose guilt is beyond dispute, who's fully responsible for his actions, and whose arrest and prosecution were free of any hint of chicanery.

That man is not Max Soffar, 58, a Texas death row inmate since Ronald Reagan's 6th month in the White House.

The bizarre passage of 33 years is one tip-off that the state has a problematic case against Soffar, convicted twice in a triple slaying during a stickup at a Houston bowling alley.

A 2-bit hood, Soffar was a mentally impaired, drug-addled police snitch who was a glue sniffer at age 5. He had a reputation for saying anything to get himself out of a jam. In fact, he talked his way into a police interrogation room after the triple slayings to implicate a buddy who'd made him angry. Soffar wouldn't shut up, and after 3 days of questioning - with no lawyer present - Soffar ended up making a series of confessions.

Never mind that all Soffar's claims didn't jibe or that he later recanted. Never mind that prosecutors had no forensic evidence or eyewitness to place him at the scene. Cops had their confession, such as it was, and that was persuasive with a jury.

Later, a cop acquaintance who had brought Soffar in for questioning testified for him on appeal, saying he didn't think Soffar was capable of the slayings. In a decision granting Soffar a new trial, a federal appeals judge excoriated the case as thin on evidence and dependent on Soffar's disputed confession.

Despite the questions, the state got a 2nd guilty verdict and death sentence in 2006. Jurors were not allowed to hear evidence about a plausible alternative suspect, a serial robber-killer. They didn't hear details of how skilled interrogators are able to extract confessions from malleable suspects.

Since that trial, false confessions have been established as a very real phenomenon, proved through scores of DNA exonerations nationwide.

Today, Soffar's appellate lawyers continue to battle the state, but he's got a bigger fight on his hands - an aggressive strain of liver cancer that could prove fatal within months.

The Constitution Project, a bipartisan justice reform group, has taken up for Soffar in a clemency petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Writing for the group, former Texas Gov. Mark White and former FBI Director William Sessions ask for compassionate relief so Soffar can die at home.

It's a good bet Soffar doesn't get that relief, and it's a good bet that cancer will take him before appeals are exhausted and the executioner is cleared to proceed in Huntsville.

Still, the clemency request serves a righteous purpose. It lays out another Texas capital case where the facts consist of many hazy shades of gray. Texans should know the uncomfortable truth about who's cleared to be executed in their name.

(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)


An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row

Max Soffar has a long history of self-medicating. When he was 4, his parents found him passed out next to their car, gas cap in hand. Since birth, Max's brain has been damaged. That damage has been made worse by years of physical and mental abuse by adoptive parents and staff at mental institutions.

At the age of 24 in 1980, Max had the mentality of an 11-year-old. His brain was "fried," according to police, who knew him as a dropout and wannabe police informant. Officers arrested Max on a stolen motorcycle after an infamous robbery-murder at a Houston bowling alley that year.

The police locked Max in a small room and subjected him to a 3-day marathon of aggressive, unrecorded interrogation - marked by prodding, pressure, and lies - which culminated in a false confession, typed by police, that the officers convinced a worn down Max to sign.

Max has spent the last 34 years on death row in Texas, but he won't be alive long enough to be executed. Max has terminal liver cancer. The question isn't whether he will die; it is only how soon and where: behind bars or at home.

The forced confession is the only evidence tying Max to the murder. The state has no DNA, no fingerprints, and no forensic or other reliable evidence to connect Max to the crime. What's more, and as several appeals judges have found over the years, the confession is demonstrably false: It narrates a story that clashes dramatically with the account of the only surviving witness and with the other known evidence of how the crime occurred.

It's not just the fact that the state put Max on death row with only a false confession. This whole story of justice gone miserably awry is made worse by the large mountain of evidence implicating another man, who died on Tennessee's death row in 2013.

The man's name is Paul Reid. The week before the shootings, Reid got into an altercation with employees at the bowling alley and threatened to blow their heads off. He was living and committing robberies in Houston at the time, and he wasn't at home with his wife on the night the shootings occurred. Reid looks like the police composite of the shooter, and he went on to commit a series of similar crimes in Tennessee, for which he was caught.

But this evidence of innocence alone won't help Max make it home, to die in the arms of his loving wife Anita. Max has spent the last 34 years on death row because of numerous errors during his original trial and a lugubrious appeals process that will not be over before Max dies.

It falls to Gov. Rick Perry to show Max mercy by using his power to grant him clemency. This innocent man should be allowed to die at home, with the support of his friends and family.

(source: ACLU)


Death penalty woes----OUR OPINION: Unintended torture not part of the bargain

Recent botched executions have catapulted the issue of capital punishment to the forefront once more, with questions about the effectiveness of the lethal injections used to execute killers.

As one of the leading states in sentencing people to die - and also for exonerating them from death row - Florida is vulnerable.

How long until we - like Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona - we make national headlines for an apparent inhumane execution of one of the 400 people on Florida's death row?

In light of the failed executions, California's top-ranking federal judge recently suggested a novel idea: bringing back the fail-safe firing squads. Maybe this is an idea whose time has come again. But the judge wasn't 1st with the idea. Coincidentally, legislation filed in anticipation of the 2012 Florida legislative session called for an end to lethal injection deaths and suggested firing squads be used instead. The measure fizzled.

California along with Arkansas and North Carolina halted executions partly due to the faulty lethal injections. Florida should consider following in their footsteps. After all, adding torture to the final minutes of a condemned prisoner's life has never been part of the deal.

The American Bar Association, which takes no stance on the death penalty, said the 32 states that use lethal injections must do so "fairly, accurately and with due process."

But take note: In January in Ohio, Dennis McGuire gasped for air as the deadly drug cocktail went into his veins.

In April in Oklahoma, Clayton Lockett writhed in pain and finally died of a heart attack - 43 minutes later. Last month in Arizona, James Woods gasped for air and received more lethal injections as the state tried to kill him for nearly an hour.

Problems with the nation's mode of killing began in 2011 when the European Commission imposed tough restrictions on the export of deadly drugs to U.S. corrections departments. As a result, Florida and others are using their own deadly cocktails.

15 years ago, Florida had put away its Franken-machine Old Sparky and turned to those "more humane" lethal injections.

But executions gone wrong are nothing new in Florida. Flames shot out of Jesse Tafero's head at his 1990 execution via Old Sparky. In 1997, the same thing happened to Pedro Medina. And in 1999, Allen Lee Davis died bloodied due to a chin strap placed incorrectly.

The messy executions have opened the door to a broader discussion about Florida's death penalty. That's not a bad idea.

The Florida Bar took a position in 2013 supporting a comprehensive review of the way the state kills - from the point of arrest to examining who ends up on death row.

While the bar's position has technically sunsetted, it offered up a road map for reform. The state should follow it.

As a civil society, capital punishment is often a hot button issue, ripe for debate. Fair enough.

But even the staunchest proponents, the ones who say, "But what about the pain these condemned killers inflicted on their victims?" must feel uncomfortable with these botched executions, if not the broader concerns with the fairness, accuracy and impartiality of Florida's entire death penalty process. Back in 2006, an American Bar Association team report declared it flawed.

If the recent horrors in the death chamber become the new norm, and we continue to ignore long neglected problems with the system, what does that say about us?

(source: Editorial, Miami Herald)


Prosecutors: Pensacola man indicted for Allen Johnson slaying----Derrick Ray Thompson was indicted on 1st-degree murder and armed robbery charges.

State prosecutors are exploring the death penalty after filing an indictment for 1st-degree murder charges against the Pensacola man who allegedly confessed to the slaying of a Bay County businessman and 2 others, officials announced Wednesday.

The 2-count indictment filed by the State Attorney's Office accused Derrick Ray Thompson, 41, of premeditating the death of former Bay County Sheriff's Office deputy and controversial local businessman Allen Johnson, 66, on July 21. Investigators found Johnson with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head and a spent .380 caliber casing beside his body at his Lynn Haven home. The indictment further claimed Thompson shot and killed Johnson during the commission of a felony robbery with a firearm.

The 1st-degree murder indictment could result in a maximum sentence of death if convicted as charged. A Death Review Committee, comprised of senior prosecuting attorneys, will review the case to determine if sufficient legal factors exist to warrant seeking the death penalty at trial. That decision will be made in the next few weeks.

Authorities have released evidence that indicated Thompson was motivated by a quest for prescription narcotics. Before fleeing the state to hide out in a Troy, Ala., hunting lodge where he once had installed electrical fixtures, Thompson used money and a cellphone he allegedly stole from Johnson to buy numerous prescription narcotics from someone in Panama City, according to investigators.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen knew Johnson personally from his time as a drug investigation agent but said the case should proceed as any other homicide prosecution.

"We take every homicide case seriously and hope Thompson will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.

The 1st Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office also has charges pending against Thompson, and it has not yet been decided which circuit will try him 1st. Thompson also was a person of interest in the Santa Rosa County deaths of 60-year-old Steven Zackowski and 59-year-old Debra Zackowski, both of Milton.

Thompson was wanted on a warrant for grand theft of several items and a vehicle from the Zackowskis' residence. Thompson previously had been hired to do some electrical work at the Zackowskis' home, local authorities reported.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson and Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford presented the case to the grand jury. Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet ordered Thompson held without bond on both counts.

(source: Pensacola News Herald)


Kentucky videotaped inmates heading to death chamber

Kentucky prison cameras captured on videotape condemned inmates heading for the death chamber in 2 of the state's executions as part of a little-known archive that now could come under wider scrutiny from a legal challenge over how lethal injections are carried out, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The surveillance camera videotapes have never been made public and their existence was known only to corrections officials. The AP uncovered references to the videos in a personnel file of a former prison employee and when the Department of Corrections rejected a records request from the AP for the videos.

The videos - made before an electric chair death in 1997 and a lethal injection execution in 1999 - apparently do not show the execution, but the transfer of the inmates to the execution chamber. The AP has not been granted permission to view the tapes.

Now, their presence could become drawn into disputes over access to the execution chamber by defense attorneys seeking to take photographs and shoot video inside the chamber at the maximum-security Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville. The effort is part of ongoing litigation over how the state conducts lethal injections. Attorneys for inmates want experts to review photos and videos of the chamber to look for any potential problem that might cause an execution to go awry as part of a challenge to the constitutionality of Kentucky's execution methods. None of Kentucky's executions had apparent glitches. Prosecutors are fighting the efforts.

It also could raise Kentucky's profile amid the widening disputes around the country over the deadly mixture of drugs used in executions.

In late July, an Arizona inmate received 15 times the amount of a sedative and a painkiller than was originally intended as he gasped more than 600 times over 2 hours before he was declared dead. In January, an Ohio inmate gasped and twitched during the 26 minutes it took for him to die. A federal judge this week extended a moratorium on executions in Ohio until at least 2015.

Kentucky lawmakers and activists met earlier this month in Paducah to discuss for the 1st time whether the state should continue executions. An unofficial consensus from the meeting was that the state needed to modify how it handles capital murder cases.

In the past, many states used the same three-drug combination, but methods have been altered after at least 1 fast-acting and powerful sedative became unavailable in U.S. markets. States now shield the identity of the companies supplying the drugs.

In a hearing July 9, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said he would either rule on the case or schedule another court session, but no firm timetable was made public. After the hearing, the public defenders said they were unaware that the videos were made.

Daniel Kemp, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, declined to comment on whether prosecutors knew of the tapes.

Around the country, such tapes appear to be exceedingly rare.

Anne Holsinger, a spokeswoman for the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, an anti-capital punishment organization that tracks executions and related developments, said she was unaware of any state making similar tapes without a specific court order.

The records obtained by the AP show that surveillance video exists of Harold McQueen's transfer to the execution chamber on July 1, 1997, but not his actual death. The other video, which Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb described as primarily static, also does not appear to show the execution of Eddie Lee Harper in 1999. Harper was Kentucky's first lethal injection after waiving his remaining appeals for the conviction of killing his parents in Louisville.

Lamb said there's no video of the moments before the 2008 lethal injection death of Marco Allen Chapman because no cameras were installed when the state built a separate area for executions in 2001. The videos of McQueen and Harper were made with cameras inside the cell block where executions took place at the time, Lamb said. Lamb cited security at the prison as the reason the tapes weren't being released.

Lamb said there's no policy or any type of protocol for filming executions and no one on the current executive staff took part in the 1997 and 1999 executions. Lamb added that she doesn't know why the videos were kept.

McQueen, 45, was the 1st inmate put to death in Kentucky after the reinstatement of the death penalty in the state in 1975. He was convicted of shooting an unarmed store clerk, Rebecca O'Hearn, while robbing the store where she worked in Richmond on Jan. 17, 1981.

The warden at the time of McQueen's and Harper's executions, Phil Parker, did not return multiple messages seeking comment. Former corrections officer Dennis Yeager, who received a 1-day suspension in 1999 for taking home the McQueen tape as well as video of a stabbing at the prison, did not respond to interview requests.

(source: Associated Press)


Sharp solution to deter heinous crimes

During the last several years, many Michigan residents have become victims of horrendous murders in the 1st degree (pre-meditated).

Most recently, a 2-year-old girl was deliberately shot in the head and died because of revenge on the father; a 14-year old girl was murdered while walking her dog, and a girl was stabbed to death while working at a gas station.

There are many more killings in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Detroit. There have also been several police officers murdered. How much more do we need to bring back the death penalty?

Some people say that the death penalty is not a deterrent, however, many studies show that it is a deterrent.

There is all this sympathy shown toward those who were recently executed by lethal injection because they gasped or groaned. However, this certainly does not gain sympathy from the victim's relatives or the public who remember what the victims suffered.

I do have a solution where no one will moan or gasp. It is the guillotine. It is swift, accurate and not cruel and unusual. Perhaps if these executions were televised and seen by the public, it might be a major deterrent. (Of course you wouldn't want children to see this.)

Lately we have read about how these murderers suffered but don't always get reminded of what happened to the victims.

Many people suggest that for 1st degree murder, the penalty should be natural life. However, we saw Gov. Granholm grant commutations to 38 natural lifers. This could not happen if they had been executed.

Should the State of Michigan agree to try the guillotine, I will have my resume ready and be available for the position.

Edward O'Dowd

(source: Letter to the Editor, Battle Creek Enquirer)


Day 3 of Senate death penalty hearings

The Senate Judiciary Committee is heading into its third day of hearings on proposals to abolish the state's death penalty.

Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, who chairs the committee, warned that the hearings my extend into Friday.

Included in the written testimony for Thursday are statements from Lois Muller, mother of Heather Muller, who was murdered by Johnathan and Reginald Carr in Dec. 2000. Larry Heyka, father of Brad Heyka, who was also killed by the Carr brothers.

The is also written testimony from Jen Sanderholm, sister of Jodi Sanderholm who was raped, sodomized and murdered by Justin Thurber in Jan. 2007.

The victims' families all oppose abolishing the state's death penalty.

The committee is considering 2 bills that would eliminate Kansas' capital punishment law. Kansas reestablished the death penalty in 1994, there are currently 10 people on death row, but the state has not executed anyone since the 1960s.



Hearing set in lawsuit over Oklahoma executions

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next month in a lawsuit filed by a group of death row inmates over Oklahoma's execution procedures.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Sept. 18 in the case, which was filed by 21 inmates following the April 29 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. The inmates are trying to halt any attempt to execute them using the state's current lethal injection protocols.

Three inmates currently have scheduled execution dates, with the first set for November. A review of Oklahoma's execution procedures, as ordered by Gov. Mary Fallin, remains pending.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections had asked the judge to stay the lawsuit until the review is complete, but the inmates' attorneys are opposing that request.

(source: Associated Press)


Jodi Arias Seeks Delay of Penalty Phase Retrial

Jodi Arias asked a judge Wednesday to postpone the 2nd penalty phase of her murder trial, explaining she would no longer represent herself if 1 of her 2 attorneys is allowed to quit the case.

Arias, 34, was convicted of murder last year in the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend, but jurors couldn't reach a decision on sentencing, setting the stage for a Sept. 8 retrial to determine her punishment.

Judge Sherry Stephens previously granted Arias' motion to represent herself while her two court-appointed attorneys stay on as advisers.

However, one of those attorneys asked the judge on Wednesday to let him quit the case. Lawyer Kirk Nurmi explained in a motion filed last week that "a completely fractured relationship between counsel (and client) now exists."

Arias has acknowledged killing Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home but said it was self-defense. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the head.

Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.

The hearing on Wednesday marked the 1st time Arias had argued her own motions. She spoke softly while seated at a defense table alongside the 2 lawyers, 1 of whom occasionally whispered in her ear.

Arias asked for the delay to give her time to interview an expert witness she plans to call to testify and to review evidence.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez vehemently objected, noting the case has dragged on long enough. He said the ruling that allowed Arias to represent herself also said there would be no delays.

"She agreed to those terms," Martinez told the judge.

Arias has tried to fire Nurmi several times, and he has sought to get off the case in the past after frequent clashes with Arias over strategy.

In response to his latest request, Arias told the judge that she would no longer serve as her own attorney and would allow her other lawyer, Jennifer Willmott, to argue the case if Nurmi was permitted to quit.

"As far as I know, he has not done anything" lately to assist in the defense, Arias told the judge.

Arguments were then closed to the media and public, and it was not immediately clear if the judge issued a ruling.

The prosecutor and defense attorneys left court without comment.

A hearing is set for Aug. 22 on Arias' motion to postpone the retrial.

Under Arizona law, Arias' murder conviction stands and prosecutors have the option of putting on a 2nd penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure the death penalty.

If a new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed from consideration. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.

(source: Associated Press)


Mesa mom convicted in her daughter's 2011 death

A Mesa woman has been convicted of 1st-degree murder in the 2011 death of her 4-year-old daughter.

Jurors also found Crystal Carimbocas, 30, guilty on 2 counts of child abuse, Maricopa County prosecutors said Wednesday.

She's scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18.

Authorities said Anays Chenal Carimbocas was taken to a Mesa hospital in May 2011 with fatal injuries that her mother's boyfriend said occurred when the girl fell into an apartment complex's pool.

Prosecutors say the pool was closed for renovation on the day of the incident.

They also said an autopsy revealed injuries that occurred long before the day of the girl's death including skull fractures, a lacerated liver, broken ribs and numerous bruises.

Crystal Carimbocas and her 24-year-old boyfriend, Jose Gonzalez-Dominguez, were tried separately in the case. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said his office will seek the death penalty for Gonzalez-Dominguez.

"In this case, if the state successfully proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty as charged, the jury will then have the duty to consider imposition of the death penalty," Montgomery said.

(source: KPHO news)


Documents detail death of toddler at Oregon motel

Notes left by a mother accused of drowning her 2-year-old and cutting the throat of her teenage daughter recounted the attack and said the "baby didn't suffer as she fell asleep in the water," according to an arrest warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

The document was released as a Clatsop County Circuit Court judge accepted not guilty pleas from Jessica Smith to charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. The murder charge could bring the death penalty if Smith is convicted.

Smith, 40, of Goldendale appeared in court via video and smiled on several occasions during the 20-minute hearing. She nodded and winked when asked whether she understood that she would remain in jail at least until a Sept. 30 hearing.

Authorities have said Smith checked into the Surf Sand Resort in Cannon Beach on July 29 under her own name with her 2 daughters in tow. 3 days later, a cleaning crew found the drowned body of the 2-year-old girl. The still-breathing teenager was covered in blood with her throat cut.

According to the affidavit, Smith gave her teenage daughter a double dose of a sleeping agent, then used a numbing compound on her neck before her throat was slashed.

Smith considered cutting the toddler's throat, her 13-year-old daughter told an Oregon State Police detective, but chose to drown the child instead.

The state medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, told The Oregonian that the 2-year-old had been heavily sedated with an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Gunson told the newspaper that asphyxiation by drowning was the main cause of the 2-year-old's death and the drug was a "contributing cause."

The teen was identified in the affidavit but her name is being withheld by The Associated Press because of her age.

Prosecutors have declined to provide further details on the attacks.

In court Tuesday, Smith's attorney William David Falls said the case is complex and he would need time to prepare for several possible defenses, including one based on Smith's mental health.

Falls also said the publicity surrounding the case would make it more difficult to find an unbiased jury in Clatsop County.

On July 31, the children's father, Greg Smith, told a Washington state detective that Jessica Smith sent his colleagues a 15-page email excoriating him and raising complaints about their marriage.

Greg and Jessica Smith's surviving daughter told police the difficult relationship of her parents came up frequently in the motel room.

The couple separated in April, and the teenage daughter told police Greg Smith was seeking custody of the children.

(source: Yakima Herald)


Imad Jomaa, 42 Others Charged with Belonging to Terrorist Groups

State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Thursday 43 Syrians for belonging to armed terrorist groups, reported the National News Agency.

The suspects include Imad Ahmed Jomaa, whose arrest sparked clashes on August 2 between the army and Islamist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal.

10 of the suspects are in detention, while the rest are at large, added NNA.

They include the "emirs" of battle fronts in Syria and commanders of brigades, particularly in the Syrian town of al-Qalamoun.

They have also been charged with seeking to carry out terrorist attacks, seizing control of Lebanese territories in order to set up their own emirate, killing soldiers and civilians, sabotaging military vehicles, and damaging public and private property.

The suspects may face the death penalty if convicted.

Saqr referred their case to First Military Examining Magistrate Judge Abu Ghida.

Several soldiers were killed and wounded in the Arsal clashes that ended on August 7.

The Islamists withdrew from the town, abducting with them a number of troops and security forces.

Negotiations are ongoing with them to ensure their safe release.

Media reports have said that the gunmen are seeking to exchange the captives for Islamists detained in Roumieh Prison.

LBCI television later reported that the Muslim Scholars Committee delegation, tasked with negotiating the release of the captives, was informed by a mediator that the al-Nusra Front was irritated by Saqr's charges, threatening to halt the talks.

(source: Neharnet)


Lawyer For Uyghur Scholar Denied Evidence Ahead of Trial

A lawyer representing Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, detained on charges of separatism, says the evidence he has been allowed to review by the prosecution so far is incomplete, while Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have yet to clarify whether he will be tried in secret.

Tohti's lawyer Li Fangping said he was invited by the Urumqi City Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday to review the files of evidence against his client.

However, he tweeted via social media, some of the evidence was missing from the materials given to him.

"One issue was that we were unable to get a copy of the video evidence used in this case (footage from classrooms inside the National Minorities University) while the case was with the prosecution," Li wrote.

"They kept using the excuse of asking their superiors, and wouldn't tell us the reason."

Another problem was that Chinese translations of original documents in Uyghur hadn't been provided, Li wrote.

"Thirdly, there are a lot of pages missing from some of the files given to us on data disks, so we need to see the original documents to check this incomplete material," he added.

Video evidence

Li told RFA in a later interview that the defense team is most concerned at not having seen some of the video evidence used by the prosecution to build its case against Tohti for "separatism."

"The crucial thing is that we need to see copies of the video material, but they have been hemming and hawing over this," Li told RFA. "We will continue to be in contact with them about this, to ensure that they sort it out."

Another of Tohti's lawyers, Liu Xiaoyuan, said the judge in charge of Tohti's case had been "away on business," for the past week, meaning that the defense team had had less time than anticipated to review the evidence.

Meanwhile, Tohti's family are still in the dark about a trial date, and about whether they will be able to attend or not.

"The lawyer doesn't know whether they are planning a secret or an open trial, so we have been waiting to hear this whole time," Tohti's wife Guzulnur told RFA.

"If the trial is an open one, the whole family will attend together," she added.


Tohti, who has flatly rejected the charge of separatism, which can result in the death penalty, was dragged away from his home in the Chinese capital Beijing by dozens of police on Jan. 15, and formally arrested about a month later.

He was officially charged in the Xinjiang regional capital's Urumqi Intermediate People's Court in late July with inciting separatism.

The indictment came as hundreds of Muslim Uyghurs, who call Xinjiang their homeland, were reportedly shot dead in fresh unrest in the region last month, although state media reported that just 96 people died.

Shortly afterwards, Wang Yu, a prominent rights lawyer on Tohti's defense team said she was forced to withdraw from the case following intense pressure from her law firm and a lack of valid documents to present to officials.

Human rights groups have said that Tohti's detention was part of Beijing's broad strategy to drown out the voices of the Uyghurs, who say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness.

(source: Radio Free Asia)


Ambank murder: Death penalty for Norazita's killer

The security guard who shot and killed Ambank Subang Jaya branch officer Norazita Abu Talib, was today sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court.

According to a Sinar Harian report, Justice Datuk Akhtar Tahir made the decision against the Indonesian national La Ode Ardi Rasila after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in proving the case beyond reasonable doubt.

The 37-year-old was also received the death sentence for his 2nd charge with committing robbery using firearms.

A total of 24 prosecution witnesses and one defence witness were called throughout the trial which began on June 24 last year.

Chief state prosecutor Mohd Azari Haron and deputy public prosecutor Ashraf Kamal Md prosecuted.

On Nov 19 last year, La Ode was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction, for killing Norazita.

La Ode was also charged under Section 3 of the Firearms Act 1971 which provides the mandatory death sentence upon conviction, even if no injury was inflicted.

In the 6.18pm incident on Oct 23, 2013, Norazita was allegedly shot in the face with a pump gun by the suspect while she was opening the bank's strong room (vault) with another female officer.

The mother-of-2 children had been with the bank for 16 years.

The suspect then fled with about RM450,000 from the vault.

The police arrested the man in Johor Bahru on Nov 11, last year.



"Gays should die because they are rotten', says proponent of Kenyan death law

The man behind a Kenyan draft bill that would see gay people sentenced to death by stoning says they are "very rotten".

Edward Nyakeriga is the author of Kenya's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

It would introduce harsh punishments for same-sex sexual activity, with life imprisonment or the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality".

Mr Nyakeriga spoke of his disgust at seeing earlier this year Kenyan LGBT campaigners protest against Uganda's anti-gay legislation.

"It was an expression of the rot and where we are headed as a society and if there is no deterrence, the society will be very rotten," he told the Daily Nation on Tuesday.

The father of 2 believes the punishment of death would be reserved for foreigners because, in his thinking, same-sex relationships are not an African practice.

"Whoever wants to bring it sees Kenya as a dumping ground. Ours is an expression of extreme deterrence".

"You cannot spoil that society in which you are. You cannot dilute its morals," he added.

The draft bill also introduces life sentences for anyone running "brothels for homosexuality purposes", which could be used to target anyone who lives with a gay person.

It has the support of the Republican Liberty Party in the Kenyan Parliament.

The draft bill has been passed to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for scrutiny.

Same-sex sexual activity is already illegal in Kenya.

(source: Pink News)


Economic crime offenders will not hang - MPs

MPs yesterday joined hands to save capital economic crimes offenders from life imprisonment and death sentences.

The legislators defeated a proposal by Kiharu MP Kang'ata Irungu to have capital offenders in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act of 2003 slapped with the penalty.

The proposal was contained in the Statutes Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2014 that was passed by the MPs yesterday. It now awaits its transmission to the President for assent or rejection.

Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi, who was the presiding chairman, announced the defeat of the proposed amendment even as the MPs supporting the provision seemed to have carried the day.

An attempt by the MPs to trigger division to have the matter put to vote flopped as the MPs drawn across the political divide failed to marshal the required numbers.

The standing orders says that division be supported by 30 MPs but only 19 were in support prompting the presiding chair to put the matter to rest.

Irungu economic crimes that makes the government to lose between Sh100 million and Sh1 billion be punishable by life imprisonment.

He also pushed to have individuals who cause the government to lose more than Sh1 billion to be sentenced to death.

"Death penalty is still in our statute books and cannot be applied selectively. It has been applied against robbers and murderers and there is no reason why corrupt individuals should not face the same. If they cannot face death sentences, then robbers and murderers should also be exempted," Irungu said.

MPs Chachu Ganya (North Horr) and Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo) opposed the amendment.

"This amendment is unconstitutional and retrogressive," Ganya said.

Jamleck said, "Capital punishment is not the way to go."

Meanwhile, the MPs voted to have a public or state officer with the executive responsibility charged with corruption or economic crime be suspended at half pay with effect from date of the charge.

It was further amended to have the charges concluded in 2 years.

A new subsection proposed by Igembe South MP Mithuka Linturi to have the individuals who are adversely mentioned in a report of the House and adopted by either the Senate or the National Assembly suspended until investigations are concluded, was also adopted.

(source: The Star)

AUGUST 13, 2014:


2 plead guilty in Dunkin Donuts robbery cases

2 members of a gang that terrorized Dunkin Donuts and other stores in Broward and Palm Beach counties in 2008 pleaded guilty to attempted murder, robbery and other charges, avoiding a trial that would have gotten under way Tuesday morning.

Neither Jonathan Jackson, 28, nor Calvin Weatherspoon, 25, were present at the Tamarac robbery in which a victim, Kiem Huynh, was killed, but both admitted to being part of the "Bacc Street Crips" gang that planned and carried out the crime.

The robbery spree started at a Dunkin Donuts in Plantation, at Pine Island Road near Broward Boulevard, on June 20, 2008. 5 months later, they struck at stores in Sunrise, Delray Beach and finally Tamarac on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27.

Prosecutors said the gang also robbed a 7-Eleven store in Pompano Beach a day earlier.

Jackson, the only gang member who had not been tried previously in Palm Beach County, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman. Prosecutors described Jackson as the mastermind of the group, who stayed home and reaped the profits from the robberies.

Weatherspoon's sentence in Broward was lighter, just 15 years, but he has already been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of attempted murder and armed robbery by a Palm Beach County jury in 2011. He told Backman Tuesday that he would be appealing that verdict.

The guilty pleas bring the case near a close, with just one defendant still awaiting trial.

James Herard, now serving a life sentence for the Delray Beach robbery, was convicted of two murders in Broward in May. The Broward jury decided he deserved life in prison for shooting Huynh in the back during the Tamarac robbery, but the same jury recommended the death penalty for the Nov. 14, 2008, murder of Eric Jean-Pierre in Lauderhill.

Jean-Pierre's death was not related to a robbery, and Herard, 25, was not the triggerman. Prosecutors said Herard participated in that crime directly by encouraging Tharod Bell, 26, to kill the victim as part of a "body count" competition. Jean-Pierre, 39, was chosen at random.

Sentencing is expected to take place in September.

The youngest member of the gang, Charles Faustin, 24, pleaded guilty late last month to two counts of second-degree murder — he was the driver during the Jean-Pierre shooting and a participant in the Tamarac robbery. He also admitted to racketeering, conspiracy, attempted murder, armed robbery and other charges. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison as part of his plea deal in Broward, and is already serving a life sentence for participating in the Delray Beach robbery.

That leaves Bell as the last defendant awaiting trial. Prosecutors say he participated in most of the robberies, and the death penalty is being sought for the deaths of Huynh and Jean-Pierre.

Bell's next court date is scheduled for Sept. 16.

(source: Sun-Sentinel)


Expert testifies that McGuire execution was not humane

Dennis McGuire likely consciously suffered as he gasped for air and strained against his restraints before dying by lethal injection in January, according to an expert who signed a court affidavit on behalf of McGuire's family.

"To a degree of medical certainty this was not a humane execution," wrote Kent Diveley, a California anesthesiologist, in testimony released Tuesday by Dayton attorney Jon Paul Rion.

McGuire was executed in January for the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart, a pregnant newlywed from Preble County. His will be the only execution in Ohio this year after a federal judge extended a moratorium on executions until January 2015.

Rion represents McGuire's family in a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction against the death penalty on the grounds his death constituted unconstitutional "cruel and unusual punishment."

Diveley's statement runs directly contrary to a review released in April by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections that concluded the execution was "humane," McGuire was unconscious and "did not experience any pain or distress."

Diveley wrote that he reviewed available records from McGuire's execution and determined the drugs and dosages used could take several minutes to knock out a patient preceding death.

"Mr. McGuire was noted to be straining against his restraints, struggling to breathe, and making hand gestures," Diveley wrote. "More likely than not these represent conscious voluntary actions by Mr. McGuire. They exemplify true pain and suffering in the several minutes before he lost consciousness."

McGuire closed his eyes about a minute after the drugs were administered and lay motionless for more than five minutes before he began convulsing and snorting. McGuire's execution lasted 26 minutes, including 10 minutes of intermittently gasping for air. It was the longest execution since Ohio resumed the death penalty in 1999.

McGuire was injected with the sedative midazolam and the narcotic hydromorphone. Ohio had to switch to these drugs because it could not get supplies of pentobarbital, which protocol still says should be used if the state can get it.

Robert Weber, director of the pharmacy department at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said in an interview Tuesday that the hydromorphone dose was plenty to render McGuire quickly unconscious, but the drugs were possibly wearing off before he died from suppressed breathing.

"I wouldn't think he would be conscious of it," he said.

State prison officials would not comment on Diveley's testimony. The state has filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit and is in discussion with attorneys representing McGuire's family.

The state did increase its planned dosages for the drugs used going forward. McGuire was killed with 10 mg of midazolam and 40 mg of hydromorphone. Future executions will use 50 mg of each.

This is the same cocktail used by Arizona in July to execute murderer Joseph Wood. But prison officials there had to give him 15 doses - a total of 750 mg of each drug - over the course of his two-hour execution.

"These 2 drugs were not designed for this purpose and there is no information available to indicate how these drugs will work across the board," said Rion.

(source: Dayton Daily News)


Unusual Referral from Supreme Court Could Spark Probe of Philadelphia Lawyer

The Pennsylvania board governing attorney conduct said Tuesday it expects to investigate a Philadelphia lawyer after receiving an unusual referral from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a rare move, the nation's highest court asked the board on Monday to look into a death penalty appeal the lawyer filed for condemned mass killer Michael Ballard. Mr. Ballard told the court he never authorized the appeal and said in a published interview that he accepts death.

"I'm sure we would open the case," said Paul Killion, chief disciplinary counsel to the board. He said board officials can't recall a similar request from the nation's high court over the past 30 years.

Such referrals are "highly unusual," said Ellen Yaroshefsky, professor at the Cardozo School of Law and director of its ethics center. She said she wasn't familiar with the case but expressed concern that a lawyer could be punished for aggressively protecting a defendant's rights. "We so often criticize defense lawyers for engaging in incompetent behavior by not filing cases," she said.

The Supreme Court declined in late June to consider the appeal, but not before Mr. Ballard - sentenced to die for the 2010 killings of his ex-girlfriend and 3 others - criticized its filing. Mr. Ballard pleaded guilty to the killings.

"I am not appealing this sentence any further than it has been," he wrote in a brief letter to the court.

Attorney Marc Bookman subsequently told the court he filed the appeal after another lawyer told him Mr. Ballard wanted to pursue one. Mr. Bookman, director of the nonprofit Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, did not identify the other lawyer except to say he works at the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia.

"I acted in the finest tradition of the pro bono bar," Mr. Bookman wrote the court. He declined to comment Tuesday. The assistant chief federal defender in Philadelphia did not return messages.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, whose office secured the death sentence against Mr. Ballard, wrote separately to the court that the circumstances of the appeal were "very troubling." He said the federal defender office previously tried to intervene in death penalty cases without defendants' approval.

Mr. Morganelli supplied a letter from Mr. Ballard's trial lawyer stating that his client rejected a federal appeal after Pennsylvania's high court upheld the sentence last November. "I believe some sanction or reprimand should be considered," Mr. Morganelli wrote.

Any investigation would likely take months, Mr. Killion said. Possible sanctions range from private admonition to disbarment.

(source: Wall Street Journal)


Louisiana procured death penalty drug through deception

The Louisiana Department of Corrections deceived a hospital in southwest Louisiana into providing it with a drug to be used in executions, according to a report from the New Orleans-area investigative journalism outfit The Lens. The drug in question, hydromorphone, is part of the same 2-drug protocol used in the drawn-out, agonizing deaths of Dennis McGuire in Ohio and Joseph Wood in Arizona earlier this year.

The fact that Louisiana has resorted to cloak-and-dagger methods to procure the supplies needed to carry out its state killings testifies both to the immense and growing opposition to the death penalty and to the collapse of any commitment to democratic rights or the rule of law in the American ruling class.

In late January, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center's Medical Unit contacted Lake Charles Memorial Hospital to request 20 vials of hydromorphone, a potent painkiller and controlled substance. It is common practice for licensed pharmacies to sell drugs to other pharmacies, provided that they are needed to treat medical patients. As the only facility housing the state's chronically or seriously ill inmates, Hunt Correctional Center would have had a plausible reason to request the drug. Indeed, the prison pharmacist explicitly told the hospital that the drug would be used for a "medical patient."

However, the real destination for the drugs was the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, where the state's death row facilities are located, where it was to be used to execute Christopher Sepulvado, sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of his stepson, in only a week's time.

Lawyers for Sepulvado were able to temporarily delay his execution, arguing that he had a right to know the manner in which he was to be executed. In May, after botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma created a public uproar, the Louisiana Department of Corrections agreed to a 6-month delay of Sepulvado's execution in order to review the state's lethal injection protocol.

The documents surrounding the state's underhanded procurement of the execution drugs were made public last week as part of Sepulvado's ongoing legal battle. By sheer chance the state, which, like other states, jealously guards the source of its lethal injection drugs, neglected to redact the name of the pharmacist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in official records.

Like many other states throughout the country that currently administer the death penalty, Louisiana has scrambled in recent years to find alternative sources of lethal injection drugs after the European Union banned the export of chemicals to the US to be used in executions. Louisiana had switched to the 2-drug protocol involving hydromorphone and midazolam, a commonly available sedative, on January 27, only a day before the Hunt facility filed its request for hydromorphone with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Before then, Louisiana had used a 1-drug protocol involving pentobarbital, which had been in widespread use throughout the country since 2011 after the previous 3-drug standard had become unavailable due to shortages. However, pentobarbital has also become scarce, and the state's supply ran out last fall.

The impending shortage of lethal injection drugs sent the state into a flurry of improvisation to find a work-around in order to execute Sepulvado. In September, the state explored the possibility of obtaining pentobarbital from a Tulsa-based compounding pharmacy, the Apothecary Shoppe. In addition to the significantly lower quality of drugs produced at compounding pharmacies, such an arrangement would have been in flagrant violation of state law, which requires that suppliers be licensed in the state of Louisiana.

The Apothecary Shoppe has allegedly also supplied lethal injection drugs to Missouri, which has carried out 7 executions in 2014, and Oklahoma, which botched its execution of Clayton Lockett last May.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Louisiana state legislature to protect the confidentiality of the sources of the state's lethal injection drugs, in addition to allowing the state to legally purchase medication from out-of-state suppliers. The bill attracted overwhelming support within the state legislature before it was pulled at the last minute by its sponsor, Joe Lopinto (R-Metairie), after public outrage erupted in the aftermath of botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma.

The dangers inherent in the ad hoc hydromorophone-midazolam protocol that Louisiana switched to were known even before the horrific executions in Ohio and Arizona. Deborah Denno of Fordham University told Mother Jones in November of last year, "We don't know how these drugs are going to react because they've never been used to kill someone ... It's like when you wonder what you're going to be eating tonight and you go home and root through your refrigerator to see what's there. That's what these departments of corrections are doing with these drugs."

The administration of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, for its part, is eager to sweep the entire incident under the rug. Like the health care industry as a whole, their attempt to distance themselves from executions is motivated not by any sort of principled opposition to the death penalty, but a fear of bad publicity.

A spokesman for the hospital, after releasing a statement confirming that the Department of Corrections had lied to the hospital's pharmacy, declared that the hospital would release no further statements on the issue and that "Memorial will not get into the debate of state executions."

Board member Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, chief judge of Louisiana's Third Circuit Court of Appeals, told The Lens, "We have assurances from our CEO, who is a very forthright guy, that this will not happen again." Lake Charles Memorial Hospital CEO Larry M. Graham also sits on the board of the Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company, which sells medical malpractice insurance to physicians. He also engineered the hospital's takeover of nearby W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center, a publicly-run hospital privatized in a fire sale by governor Bobby Jindal last year.

(source: World Socialist Web Site)


Tennessee fights release of execution team identities

Tennessee officials on Monday fought to block lawyers for 10 death row inmates from getting information about exactly who will kill their clients.

Appearing before the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville, attorneys for the state argued that Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Claudia Bonnyman improperly ordered them to reveal the names of the lethal injection team that would execute prisoners. Bonnyman's ruling came in a lawsuit involving 10 death row inmates suing for more information about who would execute them and the drugs that would end their lives.

"We are here today because for the first time in the history of lethal injection in the state of Tennessee a court has ordered the state to disclose the identities of those people who are involved in the lethal injection process," said Special Assistant Attorney General Kyle Hixson. "This is an abuse of discretion."

At issue is a law passed in 2013 that made all details about lethal injection - from the execution team to how the state intends to get its lethal injection drugs - secret. The inmates sued, saying that without knowing details about how the drugs are being obtained and who is providing them, there's no way to ensure they'll work as intended and protect their right against "cruel and unusual punishment," which is outlawed by the U.S. Constitution.

Bonnyman in January ordered the state to provide the execution team's identities to attorneys representing the death row inmates, but forbade the public - or the inmates - from seeing that information.

Stephen Kissinger, an assistant federal public defender representing some of the death row inmates, argued Monday that there was no "executioner's privilege" that prevents the state from turning over identities of the execution team in a court case - particularly because they would be under seal. He said that if the state were allowed to use that 2013 law to keep such information secret even in court cases, it would have far-reaching implications.

"This isn't a matter of simply hiding the identity of the executioner," he said. "This is a matter of hiding the identity of the manufacturer of the ax or the manufacturer of the robe."

The 2013 law came in response to continued problems in obtaining lethal injection drugs. In 2010, manufacturers began pulling drugs traditionally used in executions off the market as a protest against the death penalty. In response, states such as Tennessee scrambled to find alternative suppliers or new drug combinations to execute prisoners. And several states, including Tennessee, passed laws cloaking the source of those drugs in secrecy, to protect sources against political backlashes.

But there have been a series of high-profile botched executions. Most recently, an Arizona inmate gasped 600 times during an execution and took nearly 2 hours to die. These botched executions have raised fresh questions about whether the current state of lethal injection amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment" and, therefore, violates the Constitution. And they've increased the scrutiny on states that have pushed for secrecy in executions.

Tennessee is one of many states where inmates are challenging that secrecy in court.

The appeals panel Monday seemed skeptical of Hixson's arguments, pressing him on whether the 2013 law applied to evidence in court cases.

"Condemned inmates do not have, nor have they ever had, the right nor the ability to supervise the manner in which their executions are carried out," Hixson replied. "It's never existed in the entire history of this state or of the United States."

"But they have a right, do they not, to at least make sure that the drugs that they're given are potent enough, that the drugs that they're given are free of impurities that would damage the effect of the drugs?" asked Appeals Court Judge Andy Bennett, one of the three jurists on the panel.

The 2 sides argued Monday before the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

At last count, 10 death row inmates had execution dates, an unprecedented number of scheduled executions in state history. Billy Ray Irick, who raped and murdered a 7-year-old Knoxville girl in 1985, is scheduled to die 1st, on Oct. 7.

But the lawsuit that appeared before the appeals panel Monday has pushed back several execution dates.

The appeals court took Monday's arguments under advisement. A decision could take weeks or even months.

(source: The Tennessean)


Compromise reached to treat Nikko Jenkins in Lincoln

A compromise has been reached that will allow Nikko Jenkins to receive mental health treatments while not being housed at the Lincoln Regional Center.

Jenkins has been convicted of killing 4 people in Omaha last summer after being released from prison. Jenkins was found competent to enter a plea of no contest to the murders, but later District Judge Peter Bataillon found his mental state had deteriorated to the point that he wasn’t competent to assist in sentencing proceedings. Jenkins faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Bataillon ordered the Lincoln Regional Center to treat Jenkins, but officials at the center refused, stating they don't have the security needed to house a criminal as violent as Jenkins.

A hearing before Bataillon resulted in the compromise. Psychiatrists from the regional center will treat Jenkins, but Jenkins will be housed at either the Lincoln prison or the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center.

Bataillon has stuck to his order that psychiatrists at the regional center will be responsible for restoring Jenkins to the level of mental competency required to participate in a hearing before a 3-judge panel to determine whether he will receive the death penalty or life in prison.

Jenkins entered pleas of no contest to murder charges in the August 2013 killings of Juan Uribe-Pena, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Curtis Bradford and Andrea Kruger.

Corrections officials are scheduled to transport Jenkins from the Douglas County Jail to Lincoln by Monday.

(source: Nebraska Radio Network)


Judge wants 600 potential jurors for Denver death penalty case

A jury pool of at least 600 people will be assembled for the death penalty case against the man accused of stabbing 5 people to death in a Denver bar.

Arguments on a slew of motions in the case against Dexter Lewis ended two days early Tuesday. Prosecutors and defense attorneys called witnesses for only a handful of the filings. Denver District Judge John W. Madden must rule on about 200 motions before summonses are sent out in January.

Lewis, 24, faces 16 counts - including 1st-degree murder, arson and robbery - in the attack at Fero's Bar and Grill that left 5 people dead in October 2012. The case marks the 1st time since 2001 that Denver prosecutors have pursued the death penalty.

The last time a Denver jury sentenced a defendant to death was in 1986.

During a hearing Tuesday, attorneys discussed the timeline for jury selection and the trial.

Attorneys will begin questioning potential jurors in January.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin March 16, according to an order made public in July. Madden said he expects the trial, including the potential penalty phase, to take 4 weeks.

To be safe, he set aside 6 weeks.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys argued the cellphone Lewis allegedly used the night of the attack was obtained improperly by investigators. As a result, they say any information obtained from the phone should be excluded from trial.

Denver police Detective Mike Martinez said Lewis' girlfriend - who was paying for the phone - gave the phone to police after Lewis was arrested Oct. 17, 2012.

Authorities say Lewis used the phone the night of the attack. He allegedly sent his co-defendants, brothers Joseph and Lynell Hill, a coded text message, "G-4," which meant the plan to rob the bar was good to go.

The Hill brothers have accepted plea agreements in exchange for testifying against Lewis. Joseph Hill was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and Lynell was sentenced to 70 years.

(source: The Denver Post)

OREGON----female could face death penalty

Documents Detail Death of Toddler at Oregon Motel

Notes left by a mother accused of drowning her 2-year-old and cutting the throat of her teenage daughter recounted the attack and said the "baby didn't suffer as she fell asleep in the water," according to an arrest warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

The document was released as a Clatsop County Circuit Court judge accepted not guilty pleas from Jessica Smith to charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. The murder charge could bring the death penalty if Smith is convicted.

Smith, 40, of Goldendale, Washington, appeared in court via video and smiled on several occasions during the 20-minute hearing. She nodded and winked when asked whether she understood that she would remain in jail at least until a Sept. 30 hearing.

Authorities have said Smith checked into the Surf Sand Resort in Cannon Beach on July 29 under her own name with her 2 daughters in tow. 3 days later, a cleaning crew found the drowned body of the 2-year-old girl. The still-breathing teenager was covered in blood with her throat cut.

According to the affidavit, Smith gave her teenage daughter a double dose of a sleeping agent, then used a numbing compound on her neck before her throat was slashed.

Smith considered cutting the toddler's throat, her 13-year-old daughter told an Oregon State Police detective, but chose to drown the child instead.

The state medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, told The Oregonian that the 2-year-old had been heavily sedated with an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Gunson told the newspaper that asphyxiation by drowning was the main cause of the 2-year-old's death and the drug was a "contributing cause."

The teen was identified in the affidavit but her name is being withheld by The Associated Press because of her age.

Prosecutors have declined to provide further details on the attacks.

In court Tuesday, Smith's attorney William David Falls said the case is complex and he would need time to prepare for several possible defenses, including 1 based on Smith's mental health.

Falls also said the publicity surrounding the case would make it more difficult to find an unbiased jury in Clatsop County.

On July 31, the children's father, Greg Smith, told a Washington state detective that Jessica Smith sent his colleagues a 15-page email excoriating him and raising complaints about their marriage.

Greg and Jessica Smith's surviving daughter told police the difficult relationship of her parents came up frequently in the motel room. The couple separated in April, and the teenage daughter told police Greg Smith was seeking custody of the children.

(source: Associated Press)


Why Is America 50 Years Behind the Times When It Comes to the Death Penalty?

50 years ago today, the last executions took place in England. A pair of young men were hung at the same time, though in different prisons. I do not remember these executions, but I do remember when it became clear they were going to be the last.

The hanging I do remember vividly was of a man named James Hanratty a short while before. He was a handsome 25 year-old with a low IQ. There was some doubt as to whether he was the right man. The woman he had allegedly raped and shot after killing her boyfriend survived. She identified someone else with absolute certainty before she later identified James. It was a horrible crime committed alongside a road at night.

My parents were against the death penalty and thought it might be abolished soon, perhaps even in time to save Hanratty. As the hour of his execution approached, they turned on the radio to listen to reports from outside the prison, to see if there'd be a reprieve. I was a child. I'm not sure why I was allowed to stay. It was as fascinating and gruesome as God and the Devil, heaven and hell. Implacable forces were at work, cruel consequences beyond imagination.

To me, no killing could be more macabre or merciless than the killing of this young captive James. A respectable man had conducted the prosecution. 12 respectable people had reached a verdict. A respectable man had sentenced James to death. The hangman was named Harry Allen, and when he wasn't executing people he ran a pub and told his customers his conscience never troubled him. I knew men who looked like these men.

I sat and listened with my parents and imagined Hanratty's mum and dad waiting for the same news. I imagined an inescapable cell in the prison, thick stone walls, grim functionaries of the state looming over a shivering young man. I did not know it, but hangings were done swiftly in those days. The executioner and his assistant would hurry into the cell where the condemned man was being held, tie his arms behind his back, hustle him through a doorway, stand him on the trapdoor and drop him instantly. Sometimes the dance from start to finish - from 1st touch to last twitch - took a mere 10 seconds.

I don't know how long it took Harry Allen to rush James Hanratty to his death, but I remember the BBC announcing it was over, and I remember a hollow feeling, a feeling of disgust, a feeling of - in retrospect - complicity.

Hanratty was guilty and evil. I was innocent and good. He was being killed to protect me. Even as a child - no, particularly as a child - I was involved in his death. Perhaps this is what makes an execution so fascinating, so compelling. A killing is done in our name and we get away with it. I remember it clearly. It was terrifying and gruesome, but it was also thrilling: thrillingly violent, thrilling as a horror film, thrilling as a fatal car crash. Everything about it appealed to the worst and cruelest part of me, even as the better part cringed.

The last 2 men to be hung were hapless losers who killed a man on April 7th, 1964 and were hung for it on August 13th of the same year, just over 3 months later. One of them was 21. Unlike Hanratty, they were clearly guilty and they got little press. No one knew they'd be the last, but they were. It was over. The murder rate did not go up. There was no increase in compensatory revenge killings now the state was out of the business.

When execution ended in my country, a shadow faded. Something grim and primitive was gone. There's still violence and murder in England, of course, but its citizens - including children - no longer have to be accomplices in the most premeditated of all killings.

The death penalty is now banned in almost all of Europe, prohibited by both the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and by the European Convention on Human Rights of the Council of Europe. Several European countries banned execution decades before England did. If England went back to it, it would have to leave the European Union. It would be shunned.

No country is closer to America than England. America was England until it fought for independence so as to become a democracy. Every democratic nation on earth owes a debt of gratitude to America for its bold step toward modernity. And yet now, when almost every other democracy on earth has given up this archaic practice, America continues to slay its criminals alongside - but less humanely and effectively than - the Taliban.

And the civilized world watches in embarrassment.

(source: Matthew Chapman, Huffington Post)


5 Reasons to End the Death Penalty Now

Is it time to kill the death penalty? American activists have opposed capital punishment since executions were reinstituted in 1976, but their case has possibly grown stronger than ever in light of recent events. Here are 5 major issues that may give even proponents of the death penalty pause:

1. It's Debatably Unconstitutional

The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment, which many believe would include executions. This past month, Judge Cormac Carney in California concurred, declaring that capital punishment is "unconstitutional" in a verdict.

For the judge, the cruel and unusual punishment wasn't just killing inmates, it was the entire mismanaged system that only actually kills a small fraction of the prisoners sentenced to death, seemingly at random. Although the ruling is specific to California, considering that the flaws the judge found in capital punishment are fairly standard throughout the country, it's not difficult to imagine similar verdicts popping up in other states, as well.

2. Botched Executions

In April, an Oklahoma inmate ultimately died of a heart attack rather than a chemical cocktail after a botched lethal injection. Clayton Lockett suffered for about 43 minutes before he was ultimately declared dead.

It happened again just weeks ago in Arizona. Joseph Wood was left struggling to breathe for over an hour and a half when a lethal injection did not kill him nearly as quickly as it was intended. If executions are as humane as proponents like to claim, why have so many gone wrong as of late?

3. States Are Resorting to Shady Behavior to Ensure Executions Continue

The Louisiana Department of Corrections intentionally misled a local hospital to obtain drugs to use in a lethal injection execution. Hospital staff was under the impression that it was supplying hydromorphone to the state to treat inmates, not kill them. "Had we known of the real use, we never would have done it," said Ulysses Thibodeaux, a board member for the hospital. Louisiana apparently has found this sort of deception necessary to execute inmates since medical companies have stopped selling certain lethal chemicals to prisons on ethical grounds.

4. Innocent Convicts Are Killed

Many people worry about the death penalty being applied to innocent people, and with good reason: DNA evidence has posthumously exonerated more than a dozen people who were put to death by the state. It's a scenario that continues to this day. Recently, new information has surfaced about Cameron Willingham, a man executed in Texas in 2004, suggesting he was innocent after all.

Willingham was convicted of setting a house on fire, a blaze that killed 3 sleeping children. Independent forensic experts have since suggested that the fire was not the result of arson, but an accident. Additionally, Johnny Webb, a convict who testified against Willingham (and subsequently received a reduced sentence from the prosecution), has since recanted his story that Willingham confessed the crime to him, despite his testimony being the key piece of evidence used to convict Willingham in the first place.

5. It's Racist

Capital punishment cannot be considered part of the "justice system" when it's assigned to Americans unevenly. African Americans comprise an outstanding 42% of death row inmates, even though African Americans account for just over 12% of the population overall.

The Atlantic did an in depth examination at the demographics of death row inmates, revealing a clear bias in the types of people who get sentenced with the stiffest of penalties. When juries are 4 times more likely to give the death penalty to a black man than a white man charged with the same crime as has historically been the case in Philadelphia, the system is flawed and unfair.


Mind the Gap: America's Death Penalty is Opposed by the Rest of the West

August 13 marks an important anniversary in the U.K. that will go largely unnoticed in the U.S. Exactly 50 years ago, on August 13, 1964, Britain conducted its last ever executions.

Why should this matter to the U.S.? It matters because that half century represents the size of the gap between the U.S., which still deliberately kills prisoners, and its closest allies, who have abolished capital punishment.

In that half century, the number of nations without capital punishment has grown to include every country in the West - except the U.S. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware how out of step the U.S. is with the rest of the West. They think deliberately killing prisoners is normal. They don't realize that the vast majority of nations in the world have abandoned the death penalty.

All 47 countries in the Council of Europe have abolished capital punishment - not just the liberal democracies of Western Europe, but also the more authoritarian states such as Russia and Turkey. In fact, the Council of Europe and the European Union are so opposed to the death penalty that it's one of their top foreign policy goals.

But it's not just Europe that has ended executions. In the Americas - North, South and Central - every single country has abandoned the death penalty, except the United States. The U.S. is the very last western country that thinks that killing prisoners is an acceptable government policy.

Last year only about 1 in 10 countries carried out any executions at all. And of those 22 execution nations only 8 killed 10 or more prisoners. Those 8 are: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, USA, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It's not a group of nations that the U.S. should want to belong to.

But most Americans don't realize the company they keep when they execute prisoners. They don't know that every 2 years the United Nations General Assembly votes in favor of a global moratorium on the death penalty. They don't know that while the vast majority of the world's governments vote to end executions, the U.S. joins with China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to vote to keep their death chambers running.

There has been some progress in the United States. In the last 20 years support for the death penalty in the U.S. has dropped from its highest ever level of 80 % to 61 % now. Even more significantly, polls now show that when given a choice between the death penalty and life without parole, the majority of Americans (52 %) say that life should be the ultimate punishment allowed by the courts, with just 42 % preferring the death penalty.

This progress has been matched by changes in the law. 6 U.S. states in the last 7 years have abolished the death penalty. In the past 3 years, a further 3 states have imposed moratoriums on all executions. The courts have also added restrictions to the use of the death penalty. In 2002, the Supreme Court outlawed executing people with mental retardation, and in 2005 it outlawed the execution of people for crimes committed before they were 18.

Yet despite this gradual progress, the U.S. is still more than 50 years behind the U.K. Since the U.K. last hanged 2 prisoners on August 13, 1964, the U.S. has hanged, gassed, electrocuted, shot and poisoned to death 1,407 people. The U.S. has more than 3,000 men and women on death row waiting to be executed, while the rest of the West have none. Death row does not exist in any other western country.

Unlike the other top execution nations, the U.S. is a democracy. We are free to stop the killing of our fellow citizens in our name. But we have to speak up. The U.S. will not conduct its last execution until we, the people, take action to end the death penalty. Only then can we close the gap between the U.S. and the rest of the West.

To find out more about this issue, or to contribute your perspective, or to spread the word, go to

Matt Cherry is executive director of Death Penalty Focus. He was born and raised in Britain but has spent most of his adult life in the U.S. working for human rights.

(source for both:


On the Death Penalty: Our Cruel, unusual fantasy of fairness

Currently in Tennessee, there is a battle underway between 10 death row inmates who want the names of their executioners released, along with the names of drugs that will be used to kill them through lethal injection. This comes in the wake of a 2013 law that made the details of such executions, from the drugs used, to the identities of their administrators, a protected secret in that state. Lawmakers there, of course, want that secrecy maintained.

As the debate over the death penalty and the use of controversial drug cocktails for lethal injections becomes increasingly heated, the call for maintaining secrecy over these matters should come as no surprise. Americans have often been fond of enjoying a lifestyle without seeing the ugly process that makes that lifestyle possible.

We want cheap shoes, but don't want to see photos of seven-year-old kids in 3rd world countries handcuffed to sewing machines to make them. We want hamburgers, but don't want to see grainy black and white videos of rampant work code violations and otherabuses at slaughter houses. We went to war with Iraq and Afghanistan, but didn't want to see flag laden caskets being carried off of Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft in Washington, D.C., bringing back our fallen soldiers.

Therefore, it is not surprising that there are calls for stopping, or at least delaying, lethal injections as a means of enacting the death penalty in the United States after recent botched executions made national headlines - in addition to the call for the end the related secrecy. Too many Americans want a coward's justice, quick and easy results without fully accepting the methods underpinning our culture. But we're evolving towards a time in which we may soon face the truth.

Yes, the recent lethal injection execution of Michael Worthington in Missouri went off without a hitch. He died quietly and quickly just days ago. But, this was in stark contrast to recent high-profile executions in Arizona and Oklahoma, during which inmates gasped, convulsed and twitched for hours before dying due to untested, or unreliable, lethal injection drugs.

These drugs have been hard to come by for states in recent years as American companies fearing controversy have stopped making the drugs. The European Union has banned the shipping of these drugs to the United States. As a result, states have been reduced to mixing untested, lethal injection drug cocktails, which have resulted in obviously painful deaths for those receiving the doses. Hence the secrecy now under scrutiny in Tennessee. But that secrecy is hardly a solution.

Because arguments over the method of employing the death penalty, or trying to control the details of its implementation, simply mask the cruel reality that many don't want to face. In the grand debate about whether capital punishment should remain a part of American justice, does it really matter if a group of state-appointed mixologists fail to come up with a proper chemical compound to kill someone "nicely," while authorities shroud their failures to do so?

Calls to delay all lethal injections, and a recent Department of Justice review requested by President Obama, among other methods, are all just stop gaps to avoid this political and social reality: Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the death penalty itself, but we lack the moral and legal creativity to come up with an alternative method of punishment. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, put it best in his dissent on a failed stay of execution for Joseph Rudolph Wood in Arizona.

"[E]xecutions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality," he stated. "Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf."

Arguing over the methodology of lethal injection is a waste of time. If those implementing the penalty and advocates of the policy are disturbed when the process is brutal because of the failures of available drugs, or they feel the need to hide their methods, then they should reconsider their position on the death penalty.

It might be time for Americans, on the policy level, to recognize what most civilized people and nations around the world have already concluded: The death penalty is unnecessary, arbitrary and does not advance the cause of justice. Unfortunately, this admission might not come anytime soon.

But what else can we expect from an American society that wants its breakfast sausage as long as no one mentions Babe?

(source: Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College and author of the book "Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell."----source: MSNBC)


Iraqi Shiite militia executes, hangs 15 by electricity poles

Shiite militia forces executed 15 Sunnis and then hung them by electricity poles in a public square in a town northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.

A police officer at the scene in Baquba, a mixed Sunni and Shiite town 65 km from Baghdad, said he believed the action was designed to keep Sunnis from supporting the Islamic State.

The victims, who were kidnapped over the last week, were shot in their heads and chests and then hung up by cables.

"The militia forces are preventing the medical crew from bringing down the bodies hanging from the electricity poles," he told Reuters.

"They are following a new tactic of keeping bodies hanging for a longer time to deter the Sunni population from backing the Islamic State. We asked them to let us evacuate the bodies but they refused."

The US-funded and trained Iraqi Army unraveled in the face of the Islamic State's sweep through the north and sectarian violence has increased since then.

Critics say Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's authoritarian and sectarian rule have alienated Sunnis, prompting some to find common cause with the group, which has blown up Shiite shrines and mosques.




(source: Amnesty International)


50th Anniversary of Last Execution: How Ruth Ellis Helped Abolish Capital Punishment in Britain

50 years ago today, two convicted murderers were escorted from their cells to the gallows with their arms strapped to their backs. For the last time in British history, the executioner pulled the lever and Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen dropped to their deaths shortly after 8am.

The death penalty for murder was suspended for a trial period 1 year after they were executed. But moves had begun towards ending capital punishment nearly a decade previously - with the case of Ruth Ellis.

Dubbed by the media as the "Peroxide Blonde Killer", Ellis was a 28-year-old mother-of-2 when she was hung at Holloway Prison in north London - despite protests, petitions and a 500-strong crowd chanting outside - on 13 July 1955.

As the last woman to be hung, the controversial circumstances surrounding Ellis' death sentence sparked a backlash against capital punishment in the UK, bringing an end to Britain's executions.

Turbulent background

Drawn into working in London nightclubs through nude modelling work, Ellis worked as a hostess and occasional prostitute and after several abusive relationships, met David Blakely in 1953. Despite a heavy drink problem, he moved into her London flat just a few weeks later.

They both began to see other people, which led to Blakely becoming increasingly jealous and violent. Their volatile relationship took another turn for the worse when Ellis became pregnant.

She agreed to marry Blakely, but in January 1955, she suffered a miscarriage after he punched her in the stomach.


On Easter Sunday, Ellis followed Blakely to a pub in South Hill Park in north London. When Blakely and his friend Clive Gunnell emerged, he ignored her calls.

As he searched for his car keys, Ellis approached him brandishing a Smith & Wesson Victory model revolver. The 1st bullet missed, but the 2nd shot was on target, causing Blakely to collapse onto the pavement. Ellis shot him a further 3 times, before asking, in shock, for Gunnell to call the police.

"I am guilty, I'm a little confused," Ellis was heard to say, before being arrested by an off-duty policeman.

Ellis provided a detailed confession at the police station and during her trial at the Old Bailey, the jury took less than 20 minutes to find the hostess guilty. She was sentenced to death.

"It's obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him," she told the court from the witness box.


She wanted no part of a petition or campaign to reprieve her from her sentence, yet relatives urged her solicitor, John Bickford, to petition to the Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George.

Bickford penned a 7-page letter arguing that Ellis was a victim of "battered woman syndrome" and that the shooting was a "crime passionel" - which was rejected by George. The defence of diminished responsibility did not exist at the time.

Thousands of people signed petitions calling for her penalty to be lifted, including 35 members of London County Council. On the morning of her execution on 13 July, a silent crowd gathered outside the prison - including mothers with prams.

But 30 seconds before 9am, Ellis was escorted to the execution room. Her death took 12 seconds, but her body was left hanging for an hour.

Public reaction

Ellis' cases caused widespread controversy, evoking blanket press coverage and public interest. It further increased the debate about British criminal justice and the death penalty.

The British Pathe newsreel reporting on her execution openly questioned whether capital punishment had a place in the 20th century, and novelist Raymond Chandler wrote a scathing letter to the Evening Standard condemning the "medieval savagery of the law".

Ellis' case significantly strengthened public support for the abolition of the death penalty - and by the time it was abolished, reprieves had become commonplace.

The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 was introduced to Parliament by British Labour politician Sydney Silverman. Under the legislation, all sentences of death were to be commuted to sentences of life imprisonment and in 1969, the Act was made permanent.

(source: IBTimes)


The death penalty: Were we doing the right thing?

Today is a red letter day for reformers.

It is exactly 50 years since this sovereign nation executed a criminal. 2 went to the gallows that day - in Walton (Liverpool) and Strangeways (Manchester) jails - for the murder of a man in Cumberland 3 months earlier.

The big question is whether we did the right thing then - and whether the past half century has produced a better society.

Before weighing the arguments, a little history. The year 1964 marked the end of the English propensity to hang (and sometimes draw and quarter) anybody and everybody. At its peak "The Bloody Code", as it was called, could send you to meet your Maker for any one of an array of 220 crimes, including "strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7 to 14 years of age". How did humanity survive?

We are told English law was "notorious for prescribing the death penalty for a vast range of offences as slight as the theft of goods valued at 12p". Between 1770 and 1830, around 35,000 death sentences were handed down, though perhaps mercifully only about 7,000 were carried out.

The death penalty for theft was abolished in 1832. This was followed by a long campaign in Parliament to narrow the range of offences left carrying it after the reformers of 1832 had reduced the tally by 2/3. That abomination - the spectacle of public executions providing macabre entertainment for the masses - ceased in 1868.

But it was not until 1965 that Sydney Silverman, the Labour MP for Nelson and Colne, ended it for murder with an heroic Private Members' Bill. And it took until 1998 to remove it completely from the tariff of sentences. Our adoption of a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights in 2004 eventually put the tin hat on it, as it were: it ruled out its use.

While I am delving into history, I should acknowledge Yorkshire's close association with these mortal affairs. The Bradford-born Albert Pierrepoint followed his father and uncle as the so-called Chief Executioner and in 15 years presided over more than 400 hangings. On his retirement in 1958, the Home Office recognised him as the country's most efficient executioner of all time.

Whether William Joyce, otherwise known as Lord Haw Haw, the wartime traitor, took the same view, I cannot say. Pierrepoint officiated at his demise for treason.

Incidentally, early in the Second World War, we Hebden Bridge folk found a reason why Lord Haw Haw should perhaps have been left to broadcast from Berlin. He once said we were starving because we were eating grass. In fact, we were eating dock pudding - the boiled leaves of the sweet dock, onions, nettles and oatmeal served fried with bacon.

Starving? It was the stuff to give the troops. In my neck of the woods, Lord Haw Haw became Lord Funny Ha Ha overnight.

But I digress. Society probably became less brutalised after 1964. There is a superficial appeal to the doctrine of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life. Margaret Thatcher certainly felt that the sanction should be available for murder.

But this does not take account of what it does to a country's ethos, the demonstrable risk that mistakes can be made in trials or the singular lack of evidence that the death penalty acts as a deterrent for what are mostly crimes of passion. Pierrepoint came to the conclusion it didn't.

After being regularly debated by MPs up to 1997, we can be pretty sure that it is not coming back, whether or not we leave the ECHR or the EU. It is true that a poll in 2011 found 65 % in favour of its reinstatement for murder. But a year later an on-line petition for a limited restoration for the murder of children and police officers fell nearly 75,000 short of the 100,000 signatories required to generate a debate in the House of Commons.

There is no public clamour for capital punishment. Yet, while we may not officially kill criminals any more, I cannot, with the best will in the world, accept that this sceptred isle has become morally more enlightened over the last 50 years. Greater prosperity, thanks largely to technology, cannot hide our descent into decadence.

On one measure alone youngsters face a far more challenging childhood from TV, films, IT, printed material, role models, celebrities, drugs and religious fanatics than I did when Pierrepoint was plying his gruesome trade. Let us not get too pious.

(source: Bernard Ingham, Yorkshire Post)


Executed review - a tacky documentary that sold its subject short----ITV marked the anniversary of the last UK hanging with a curious mess of cheap visuals, tepid provocation and unanswered questions. Meanwhile, the 2nd series of Utopia came to an end - let's hope there's a 3rd

There are many documentaries and films about the death penalty, of varying quality, but their sheer number means the ones that have a lasting impact tend to be very good indeed. In recent times, two stood out. Channel 4 aired Werner Herzog's Death Row in 2012, which saw the filmmaker interviewing convicted killers awaiting execution in the US. Herzog did his work with remarkable restraint, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions, despite his own quiet assertion that he did not agree with capital punishment himself. Less subtle, but no less powerful, 2013's Inside Death Row had Trevor McDonald visiting Indiana state maximum security prison for ITV. These programmes remained in my mind long after I had seen them.

Both examined the death penalty in the US, where of course the debate continues to rage, but it has been 50 years since Britain hanged its last man. Executed (ITV) commemorated this anniversary with a tacky documentary that sold its subject matter short. On the surface, it promised to examine the miscarriages of justice that led to the abolition of the noose here, but it quickly unravelled into a real-crime special that lacked focus or intent.

It began with the story of Timothy Evans, a man hanged in 1950 for the murder of his wife and child, crimes later discovered to have been committed by their downstairs neighbour, the serial killer John Christie. Evans had learning difficulties and confessed to the crime in a state of confusion, recanting it later. The interview with his sister was particularly moving; the pain and rawness of the injustice had not dimmed, despite the decades gone by.

Elsewhere, though, it was a curious mess of cheap visuals, tepid provocation and unanswered questions. Is capital punishment "rarely off the front pages" these days, as the documentary claimed - bolstered by footage of an EDL rally? Was it right to include the story of Ruth Ellis, who killed her lover in a crime of passion? According to the laws of the time, it was not a miscarriage of justice - she was guilty, gave herself up immediately and, according to her hangman, went to the gallows with "courage", whatever that may mean. Seeing her biographer standing on the site of the shooting, talking through the events with apparent near-glee, was a bizarre interlude, though not nearly as tasteless as the frequent cuts to stock footage of trap doors violently opening, nooses swinging, or the historian who walked through the process of an execution with what looked suspiciously like a skip in his step.

In fact, its only redeeming factor was a refreshing lack of neutrality, which it got away with by not being on the BBC. The most it could muster in favour of reinstating the death penalty was Timothy Evans' sister admitting that she could "see both sides of it", having experienced the pain of losing relatives to murder. But in the end she was clear. She did not want hanging to return.

The 2nd series of Utopia (Channel 4), which has illuminated the dreary summer schedules with its gory acid-neon sci-fi, came to an end last night. Though its ratings have been low, I hope it has enough "prestige" appeal for a 3rd series: it's unique - and one of the most exquisitely funny British dramas in years.

This finale saw turncoat Wilson reuniting with the gang to halt the release of Russian flu, after it was revealed that the prepared vaccine (secretly designed to make most of the world's population infertile) would not work. Becky almost died, though her Deels syndrome may not actually exist; Arby almost died, but was apparently saved at the last minute by someone shaving off his beard. Milner appears to be really dead, though in Utopia, you can never really be sure, and Lee lost most of his brain, so we can be fairly certain that he's gone for good. And then Wilson defected back to the Network, and had everyone arrested, and decided to start up the mass-sterilisation plan Janus again, only on a slightly smaller scale, to make it a bit less evil.

It did get confusing. I've been a fan from the beginning and at several points I simply forgot who certain characters were, or how they were connected to the conspiracy. I think that's fine, though. It is how Utopia works - the ride is a bigger thrill than the destination. But what a ride.

(source: Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian)


Our law in crisis

The South African law has been too lenient regarding drugs cases compare to other countries like China where execution of death penalty as means of "justice" is easy to implement without fear or favour.

South African justice system has failed to take concrete evidence to put those who are found guilty to be charged.

Last month the "biggest" drug laboratory owned by foreigners was found in Kloof and 3 men were arrested in the area, upon searching the property police discovered 50 kg bags of what was suspected to be pure heroin powder and industrial manufacturing machine.

According to the statement released by police, during the police last count there were more than 200 bags with the total estimated value of R3 billion.

After all the dirty work these foreigners did in killing people by selling these drug all 3 suspects were charged with manufacturing drugs and they appeared in court on the 27th of July.

Now it is very clear that in South Africa there is no law that is strictly enforcing concrete penalties for those from outside the country who are found accountable.

Another case that happened in 2013 when Durban Metro was conducting an operation and 11 men were arrested who were between the ages of 23-45 years.

The 11 suspects were allegedly packing drugs into containers getting ready for the street market. The suspects included foreigners from Burundi and they were also arrested.

Sum of 100 000 mandrax tablet, a quantity of sugars and heroin powder that worth approximately R5 million. All the suspects received the very light charges as they were only charged with dealing in drugs.

With that regards it is very important to mention case of Janice Bronwyn Linden (35) who was charged with death penalty in China, according to the reports by eNCA she was executed after she was caught in Guangzhou with 3kg of crystal methamphetamine in 2008.

It was said that should she have confessed to the charges that were layed against her, she would not have been executed; her sentence could have been reduced to life sentence. But she continued in maintaining her innocence.

When comparing these cases you could see a huge difference in judgement or charges against a foreign individual to the respective country, it is clear that South Africa is too lenient in their justice system.

That brings my argument to the last case of Nolubabalo Nobanda (23) who was caught smuggling 1.5 kg of cocaine tighten in her dreadlock as she was on her way to Bangkok.

Nobanda was arrested in Thailand when she was sentence 15 years in jail. Research has shown that Thailand is regarded having the toughest anti-drugs laws on the planet, with judges permitted to impose the death penalty for traffickers.

So without having to bring back death penalty, South Africa should urgently find ways to penalize drug traffickers from outside the country so to earn the respect the county deserve within the justice department as it has appear not fit enough when compare to other countries.

(source: Letter; Sphamandla


4 Prisoners Hanged in Iran

4 prisoners were hanged in 2 different Iranian prisons, reported the state run Iranian media today. 3 of the prisoners were hanged in the prison of Bandar Abbas (Southern Iran) reported the official Iranian news agency IRNA. The prisoners who were identified as Y.H (48), Y.R. , charged with tape and kidnapping, and M.T. charged with murder said the report.

Another prisoner was hanged in the prison of Amol (Northern Iran) yesterday 12. August. The prisoner who was identified as "Gh. H." (28) was charged with murder, reported the newspaper Mardomsalary.

(source: Iran Human Rights)


3 prisoners hanged in northern city of Rasht

The Iranian regime's judiciary in a northern province has declared that 3 men were hanged on Saturday in the main prison in the city of Rasht.

The prisoners were who were all in their 40s were identified by their initials as R.A., M.A., and A.Gh.

2 of the prisoners had been sentenced to death for drug smuggling.

In past 2 weeks some three dozen inmates have been executed in Iran including many in public.

Since Hassan Rouhani has assumed office as the president of the Iranian regime, there has been a rise in human rights violations in Iran. Some 800 have been executed in Iran during the past year.

Hundreds have been subjected to degrading and inhumane punishments such as flogging in public and being paraded in streets. In August a prisoner was lashed in public before being hanged.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, has recently renewed her calls for the Iranian regime's human rights record to be referred to the United Nations Security Council and for international action to be taken to hold the regime leaders accountable for unjustified executions and other acts of political repression.

(source: NCR-Iran)


Man gets death penalty for murder

An anti-terrorism court handed down the death penalty to a man on Tuesday for a murder that took place in 2010.

The ATC-III headed by Saleem Raza Baloch after examining the statements of 11 prosecution witnesses and other evidence against Khurram Jalali announced the sentence and imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on him. The fine would be paid to the heirs of the victim, Rashid.

The court also ordered payment of Rs10,000 each to ASI Muzaffar and head constable Gul Baz who were injured by Jalali and his absconding accomplice, Dilawar, who has been declared an absconder. Police had seized a pistol from Jalali that was used for killing and injuring the two policemen.

(source: The News)


Suhaib Ilyasi to face murder charge for wife's death

The Delhi high court on Tuesday ordered framing of murder charges against former TV serial producer Suhaib Ilyasi in connection with the death of his wife, Anju Ilyasi, 14 years ago.

While deciding two separate pleas of Ilyasi and his mother-in-law, Rukma Singh, Justice Indermeet Kaur said, "The prima facie material collected by the prosecution justifies the framing of additional charge under Section 302 (murder) of IPC. The revision petition is disposed of with a direction to the trial court to frame additional charge under Section 302 of IPC".

Singh, Anju's mother, had in her plea sought inclusion of the additional charge of murder against Ilyasi for her daughter's death on January 11, 2000. Section 302 of Indian Penal Code entails death penalty as the maximum punishment.

Ilyasi, who had been facing trial for the last 14 years under the comparatively milder sections, including 304B (dowry death) of IPC, had moved the court against a decision of police to form a fresh medical panel to ascertain the nature of his wife's death.

Ilyasi had alleged that the formation of the medical board was illegal as it was being done after filing of a chargesheet and framing of charges for the offence of dowry death.

During the arguments, additional public prosecutor Fizani Hussain had said that the police are empowered to form the medical board to carry out further investigation, even after filing of the chargesheet.

While dismissing Ilyasi's plea as being without merit, Justice Kaur said, "The opinion of the newly constituted medical board would in fact assist the court in coming to a conclusion as to whether death of the victim was suicidal or homicidal".

On January 11, 2000, Anju was rushed from his east Delhi house to a hospital with fatal stab wounds.

Ilyasi, who had shot into limelight after hosting a TV crime show - India's Most Wanted - was arrested on March 28, 2000.

Later, charges were framed against him in the case after his sister-in-law and mother-in-law alleged that he used to torture Anju for dowry.


Cops seek death for Phoolan killer, sentence tomorrow

The city police on Tuesday sought death penalty for Sher Singh Rana who has been convicted of killing bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, while the defence pleaded for a lenient view citing his young age.

Additional sessions judge Bharat Parashar fixed Thursday for pronouncing the quantum of sentence. Asserting that the convict deserved no leniency for the "heinous crime", the prosecution submitted that Rana had committed the murder in a preplanned and meticulous manner.

"It is an offence of murder which was committed in a preplanned manner and was meticulously executed by him (Rana).

Keeping in view the impact on the society , I request the court to award death penalty ," the prosecution said. Rana's counsel Mukesh Kalia, however, opposed the contentions of the prosecution saying that police has miserably failed to prove the motive behind the murder.

Seeking maximum punishment for Rana, prosecution termed him as a threat to society and cited Rana's criminal antecedents saying he was involved in 4 other criminal cases. Kalia countered the claims saying Rana had no criminal background as he has been acquitted in those "false" cases and even the eyewitnesses in the case have been disbelieved by the court.

Faced with death sentence or life-term, Rana, the lone convict in the murder case, himself also pleaded for leniency. After conclusion of the arguments, Rana sought the court's permission to make his submissions and said that that his image has been tarnished by police by lodging "false cases" against him.

Rana said that before 2001, he was never arrested and only a case under the Excise Act was lodged against him but he was acquitted in that case.

During the hearing, some supporters of Rana were present inside the courtroom. As soon as Rana was escorted back from the court, the supporters gathered outside the gate of the courtroom and shouted slogans.

(source for both: The Times of India)


Taiwan subway attacker pleads guilty, may face death penalty

A student who went on a deadly subway stabbing spree that shocked Taiwan appeared in court Wednesday (Aug 13) and pleaded guilty, but relatives of victims said he seemed to feel no remorse.

Cheng Chieh is charged with 4 counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder over the attack on May 21, the 1st of its kind on the city's subway system since it began operating in 1996.

The 21-year-old pleaded guilty when he appeared for the 1st time, handcuffed and tightly-guarded, at a district court outside Taipei.

"But he did not show any regret all all... he looked arrogant throughout," the son of a woman victim told reporters. "Even if he had apologised, I would not have forgiven him."

The brother of another victim said: "I felt more angry upon seeing him."

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for an incident which shocked an island proud of its low level of violent crime.

Cheng's parents have asked for him to be sentenced to death to ease the pain inflicted on the victims and their families, calling their son's actions "unforgivable".

Prosecutors said psychological evaluations have shown that Cheng was not in a state of mental disorder when he committed the crime, describing him as "anti-society, narcissistic, immature and pessimistic". In elementary school, he had vowed revenge killings after having trouble with classmates, they said. Local media said Cheng had been obsessed with online killing games and had written horror stories since high school.

Security has been strengthened on the metro, which transports around 1.85 million people a day.

(source: ChannelNewsAsia)

AUGUST 12, 2014:


Court hands off feud about murder appeal

The Supreme Court on Monday asked an attorney disciplinary panel in Pennsylvania to sort out a dispute among lawyers over a death penalty appeal that an inmate has said he did not want filed. In an order included with the Court's 2nd round of summer recess actions, the Justices referred the case of Michael E. Ballard to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, to investigate or take "action it finds appropriate."

The Ballard case arises from the murder of 4 people in Northampton Borough in Pennsylvania 4 years ago. Michael Eric Ballard was convicted of the crimes and given 4 separate death sentences. (The case is discussed fully in the state Supreme Court ruling included in the 1st part of the Court's file.)

The case reached the Court in Washington on March 21, when a petition for review was filed by Marc Bookman, an attorney and the director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, in Philadelphia. It asked the Court to consider the constitutionality of Pennsylvania death penalty procedures for reviewing mitigating circumstances.

On June 2, after a state prosecutor opposed the petition and the Court had set the case for consideration, Ballard wrote to the Court, saying he had not given anyone permission to appeal his case and that he had wanted "to waive my appeals." On June 23, the Court denied the petition, giving no reasons. But in the same order, it directed Bookman to respond to Ballard's letter.

On July 8, Bookman wrote to the Court, saying he had been asked to file the appeal by a lawyer with the federal public defender's office, who said he had understood that Ballard wanted the petition filed. The letter said that Ballard had spoken to the press, saying he did not want to die. Bookman attached a copy of his professional background, and the ruling by the state supreme court ruling upholding the conviction and sentences.

On July 14, the district attorney for Northampton County, John M. Morganelli, wrote to the Court after obtaining permission to do so. His letter quoted lawyers who had represented Ballard at his trial as saying that Ballard had not authorized a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Morganelli described the situation as "very troubling," and he contended that public defenders in Philadelphia had a history of trying to intervene in death penalty cases without authorization. He argued that "some sanction or reprimand should be considered." Attached to the letter was a letter from trial counsel.

On July 16, Bookman wrote a new letter to the Court, saying that "I have never faced an allegation of a disciplinary breach in more than 30 years of practice." He disputed some of Morganelli's points and urged the Court to reject the suggestion for an investigation.

The Court's order then followed, on Monday.

(source: SCOTUS blog)


Anesthesiologist: Condemned Ohio inmate suffered from effect of lethal 2-drug combination

A condemned Ohio inmate put to death during a prolonged execution experienced pain and suffering before he lost consciousness, an anesthesiologist working for the family of the inmate determined in a report released Tuesday.

Neither of the drugs used to execute Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16 can be relied on to produce a rapid loss of consciousness and death, according to the affidavit by Dr. Kent Diveley of Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

A higher dose of the sedative used by Ohio is needed to render someone unconsciousness, Diveley said, while the painkiller used by the state causes eventual death from lack of oxygen but couldn't be depended on to produce unconsciousness, he said.

"It is possible that when this combination of drugs is used for lethal injection there will be a delay of several minutes before the inmate loses consciousness preceding death," Diveley said. He said apparent straining gestures by McGuire represented "conscious voluntary actions."

"They exemplify true pain and suffering in the several minutes before he lost consciousness," the affidavit said. "To a degree of medical certainty this was not a humane execution."

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by McGuire's adult children alleges McGuire "suffered needless pain and suffering" during his execution. McGuire snorted and gasped several times during the 26 minutes - the longest of any Ohio execution - it took him to die.

Diveley was hired by lawyers for the family to study the execution. It's common for expert witnesses to be paid for their work. Attorney Jon Paul Rion declined to say how much Diveley received.

Other anesthesiologists have offered differing views on what McGuire might have experienced, with some calling his repeated snorting and gasping a typical reaction to those 2 drugs - both commonly used in hospitals - during surgery.

A message was left with the state prisons agency, which typically doesn't comment on lawsuits. On April 28, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction concluded there was no evidence that McGuire "experienced any pain, distress or anxiety."

Nevertheless, "to allay any remaining concerns," the prisons agency also announced it was boosting the dosages of the 2 drugs used to execute McGuire for future executions. Those changes would appear to address Diveley's concerns about dosage amounts.

Concerns have grown about the 2 drugs used by Ohio - midazolam, the sedative, and hydromorphone, the painkiller - because of McGuire's execution and a nearly 2 hour execution last month in Arizona using the same drugs.

A federal judge on Monday extended a moratorium on executions in Ohio until Jan. 15 while debate continues about the state's procedure.

Ohio has not been able to obtain supplies of its 1st choice, compounded pentobarbital, a drug used successfully by Missouri and Texas in several recent executions.

McGuire was executed for the 1989 rape and stabbing death of Joy Stewart, 22, a recently married pregnant woman in western Ohio.

(source: Associated Press)


Kentucky's Death Penalty: A Comprehensive Look

Allen Ault admits to being a murderer.

But Ault isn't behind bars, nor was he tried for his "crimes"; he's currently dean of Criminal Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. But as Ault told an interim joint committee on the judiciary earlier this month, he considers his actions as a director of corrections akin to premeditated murder.

"I have murdered five people as an agent of the state," he said.

Ault said that many of his former colleagues have committed suicide or retreated into drugs to cope with their actions

"Corrections officials are expected to commit the most premeditated murder possible," he said. "I mean, I had a policy book that thick. We rehearsed it. How premeditated could it be?"

Ault's perspective is one that doesn't often present itself in the debate to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky; usually, that debate centers on a battle between vengeance and forgiveness. Proponents of the death penalty argue that it's a deterrent that works to prevent heinous crimes; others argue that it's a moral and financial burden that the state cannot afford.

Kentucky passed a mandatory death penalty statute following the Supreme Court's reversal in the 70s that permitted states to employ capital punishment; under Kentucky law, certain crimes will, upon conviction, automatically trigger a death sentence. Since then, 3 people have been executed by the state.

A 2010 federal injunction has barred Kentucky's correctional institutions from conducting executions due to concerns over how lethal injections are carried out. Those concerns have also halted executions in Oklahoma, Ohio, and - most recently - Arizona, where death row inmates reportedly suffered due to botched lethal injection procedures. Kentucky doesn't possess the drug cocktail necessary to carry out executions, and is barred by the court from obtaining them.

Currently 33 people are in limbo as they sit on Kentucky's death row. 1 of the 33 is a woman; 4 are African-American.

Another concern is the cost of carrying out the punishment itself, at about $80,000 per execution according to the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet. And factoring in the costs of appeals, Ault and other experts say that the cost of keeping on inmate on death row can reach 3 times as much as an inmate who's sentenced to life without parole.

In addition to the costs associated with housing, feeding and providing health care for the prisoners, some of whom have languished for nearly 30 years, it costs the state $140,000 a year to pay for their security detail, according to the Justice Cabinet.

But not everyone is moved by moral pleas or hawkish dollars-and-sense arguments against capital punishment.

Ray Larson, Fayette County's Commonwealth's Attorney, is arguably one of the most outspoken proponents of capital punishment in the state.

"It's an appropriate punishment for somebody who chooses to take another life," he said. "I'm just a believer that that's an appropriate penalty. I don't have to defend it; I think it's an appropriate penalty."

Larson has personally prosecuted cases resulting in death sentences. He doesn't believe that the state is capable of prosecuting an innocent person, and says the death penalty prevents inmates sentenced to life without parole from murdering prison guards. Larson refutes a 2011 study by the American Bar Association which states that 64 % of death sentences are fraught with errors because, he says, it was funded by a grant from the European Union, and is therefore not to be trusted.

Sen. Gerald Neal, a Louisville Democrat, has sponsored legislation to replace capital punishment with life without parole. He pointed out to colleagues that the date of the judiciary hearing was the anniversary of the exoneration of Larry Osborne.

In 1997, Osborne was accused of murdering 2 people, and in 1999 he was convicted and sentenced to death at 19 years old, making him the youngest in Kentucky's history to receive the sentence. But a retrial in 2002 heard new testimony in his case, ultimately leading to his exoneration that year.

"The risk is still there," Neal said.

It's the kind of occurrence that worries Rep. David Floyd, a Republican from Bardstown who has sponsored legislation identical to Sen. Neal's.

"You cannot have a death penalty in place where the possibility of the execution of an innocent does not occur," Floyd said. "And so we must accept a certain level of risk if we are to continue the death penalty in Kentucky. So what is that risk? You know, all of us value human life. We shouldn't support, however, a government program that can kill innocent people. It's a government program, they’re run by human beings and mistakes can be made. And with the death penalty, innocent people can and I believe have been executed."

Neal and Floyd filed similar legislation during the 2014 General Assembly, which stagnated in the the judiciary committees of their respective chambers.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a death penalty supporter, is a chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he isn't sure if there's support for their bills for the next General Assembly, and says he is more seriously considering legislation filed by his colleague and fellow death penalty supporter Sen. Robin Webb, which would add more safeguards to the current system rather than abolish it altogether.

"Honestly, I'm not sure what it would take. But I can't say no to it," Westerfield said. "Because it's still something that I'm wrestling with... the alternative is to not have the system in place, and there's still, most people aren't ready to let go of that, and may not every be ready to let go of that. Because they believe it's a just result, and they're entitled to that belief as I my belief and you yours, but I, that's the way it is, I guess."

For Louisville Resident Ruth Lowe, her beliefs changed drastically. She says she wrestled with wishing vengeance against the man who murdered her brother in 1983. After years of harboring hatred, she ultimately found that her anger over the crime was hurting herself most of all.

"It's like taking the role of God on yourself, and I believe that God's love, if you're open to it, can change, can change your heart, can change your mind," Lowe said.

"And God's love is not about vengeance."

(source: WKMS news)


45% of Britons support re-introduction of death penalty, survey finds----Number in favour of capital punishment falls over four years, says YouGov poll to mark 50th anniversary of last executions

A YouGov poll shows that less than 1/2 of people would support the re-introduction of the death penalty in the UK for murder. Of almost 2,000 people questioned, 45% were in favour of capital punishment - which represents a fall from 51% in a similar poll 4 years ago.

Conducted to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the last executions, the poll shows opposition to re-introduction is strong (52%) amongst 18- to 24-year-olds. Overall, 39% were against the death penalty, while 17% were undecided. The strongest support for a re-introduction was among Ukip voters, the over-60s and those in lower social grades.

There was an equal split (42% each) in respect of whether it was a good or bad thing that Britain had abolished the death penalty, while 16% did not know. More than half (57%) of 18- to 24-year-olds thought abolition was a good thing.

Less than 1/2 (45%) of those questioned believed executing murderers deterred others from committing murder. But 41% disagreed that it was a deterrent, with the remaining 13% answering they did not know.

Slightly more (42%) believed spending life in prison with no possibility of parole was worse than being executed (40%).

Questioned about whether they approved of methods of execution, 51% either strongly approved or tended to approve of lethal injection, 25% of the electric chair, 23% of hanging, 19% by gas chamber, 17% by firing squad, and 9% by beheading.

(source: The Guardian)


Egyptian judge walks out on trial of Irish teenager----Ibrahim Halawa has been in an Egyptian jail for nearly a year.

The judge in the case of 480 supporters of ousted Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi, including an Irish teenager, has walked out of the trial, reports say.

Anti-death penalty charity Reprieve said that the judge in the trial, which could have seen many of those convicted put to death, walked out this afternoon.

Ibrahim Halawa, from South Dublin, was arrested at a pro-Morsi demonstration last August along with his 3 sisters, who have all since been released. The charges against him remain unclear, his family say.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Halawa, said:

Today's events show this 'trial' for the farce it really is. We're now likely to see further chaos and even more delays, but Ibrahim's illegal detention has already gone on too long.

"The Irish government and the European Union need to take urgent action to secure his immediate release, while calling for a fair trial for the hundreds of people arrested alongside him."

At least 97 people died in last year's protests in Ramsis in Cairo. Those charged include 12 minors, who were held in detention with adults, in direct contravention of Egyptian law.

Amid reports that the hearing was abandoned, Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

This trial is little more than a pantomime. In recent months Egyptian courts appear to have been handing out mass death sentences based on flimsy evidence and following deeply flawed proceedings. These show trials followed by mass death sentences are becoming Egypt's grim trademark.

More than 400 of the 494 defendants are charged with murder and attempted murder, offences that are normally punishable by death under Egyptian law.

The remainder are charged with offences including destroying public property, protesting without authorisation, attacking security forces and hindering the work of national institutions.

Amnesty International has concluded that Ibrahim Halawa is a Prisoner of Conscience, detained "solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression".

The organisation is calling for him to be released immediately and unconditionally, with all charges against him dropped.

"Ibrahim's case is just one of many cases of injustice being meted out in Egypt's courts. It shows the government's determination to flout its obligations under international law," said O'Gorman.

(source: The Journal)


Phoolan Devi case----Court to pronounce quantum of sentence on Aug 14

A Delhi court on Tuesday fixed August 14 for pronouncing the quantum of sentence against Sher Singh Rana for the murder of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi in New Delhi in 2001 with the prosecution seeking death penalty for him.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar reserved the judgement after hearing the arguments on quantum of sentence during which the prosecution contended that Rana had committed Phoolan’s murder in a pre-planned and meticulous manner.

The prosecution said that Rana should be given death penalty for the heinous crime as a person like him is a threat to the society. "It is an offence of murder which was committed in a pre-planned manner and was meticulously executed by him (Rana). Keeping in view the impact on the society...I request the court to award death penalty," the prosecution said.

The counsel appearing for Rana, however, opposed the contentions of the prosecution saying that the police has miserably failed to prove the motive behind the murder.

Countering the claims of the police regarding Rana's criminal antecedents, the defence counsel said that he has been acquitted in other cases and even the eyewitnesses in the case have been disbelieved by this court.

"More than 1 person was involved in this case but the court has acquitted them," he said, adding that considering the age of the convict, the court should award the lesser sentence to him.

After the arguments concluded, Rana submitted before the court that his image has been tarnished by the police by lodging "false cases" against him.

"In these 13 years (since his arrest in 2001), nobody can say that I have done anything wrong," he said.

As soon as he started advancing submissions as to why he had escaped from Tihar jail in 2004, the court said it has nothing to do with it.

"I have nothing to do with it. You have been held guilty and you will get either death penalty or life imprisonment," the judge said.

Rana, however, urged the court, which reserved its order for August 14 that it should pardon him once.

"You (judge) have pardoned the prosecution in this case so please pardon me also," he said, adding, "I request you to write such a judgement so that I could get acquittal soon".

He also told the judge, "You are sitting on the chair of the God and what you say here comes directly from the God's mouth."

The court had on August 8 convicted Rana while it acquitted 10 other co-accused in the sensational murder of Phoolan who was then a Lok Sabha member.

Rana was held guilty of offences under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) under the IPC in the case.

37-year-old Phoolan, then a Samajwadi Party MP from Mirzapur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead from close range by 3 masked gunmen in front of her Ashoka Road residence here in the heart of the capital's VIP area as she returned home for lunch after attending the Lok Sabha on July 25, 2001.

The 10 co-accused acquitted in the case were - Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh, Vijay Singh alias Raju (Rana's brother), Rajender Singh alias Ravinder Singh, Keshav Chauhan, Praveen Mittal, Amit Rathi, Surender Singh Negi alias Suri and Sharavan Kumar.

The proceedings against accused Pradeep Singh were abated as he died in Tihar Jail in November last year.

(source: The Hindu)


Salvadoran man on Texas death row loses appeal

A Salvadoran man on Texas death row for the slayings of 2 store clerks in Houston has lost a federal court appeal, moving him closer to execution.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday rejected arguments from 44-year-old Gilmar Guevara that the legal help at his Harris County trial in 2001 was deficient and that his mental impairment makes him ineligible for the death penalty.

Guevara was condemned for fatally shooting 48-year-old Tae Youk and 21-year-old Gerardo Yaxon during an attempted robbery in June 2000. Youk was from South Korea. Yaxon was from Guatemala.

No money was taken from their store.

Guevara also confessed to killing an apartment security guard hours after the double shooting to steal the guard's gun.

He does not yet have an execution date.

(source: Associated Press)


Wendy Davis once supported death penalty moratorium

Wendy Davis is facing new pressure in her campaign for Texas governor over her past support of a moratorium on the death penalty when she was a Fort Worth city councilwoman.

Davis voted in July 2000 for a resolution calling for a moratorium in order to study the death penalty and possible changes, The Houston Chronicle reported. The vote on the resolution failed, 5-4, and Davis, now a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, has said she supports capital punishment.

Her campaign said the issues that motivated her vote then have been resolved, and reaffirmed that she would allow executions to be carried out as governor.

But the campaign of her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, accused her of changing her position.

"Texans demand and deserve a strong commitment from their leaders to ensure that victims of unspeakable crimes receive justice, not Sen. Davis' flip-flopping and political posturing," Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said.

Texas is the nation's most active death-penalty state and has executed seven convicts this year. Support for the death penalty remains strong, even as the debate over capital punishment nationally has been renewed after recent botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona and issues with procuring reliable execution drugs. Texas has not had a botched execution in recent years.

The resolution Davis supported was for a study of the death penalty without taking a specific position on capital punishment as a whole, according to Fort Worth city council minutes reviewed by the newspaper.

"It in no way means to suggest that a person's philosophy on capital punishment had to change or shift, only that the system needed to be looked at or reviewed," the minutes said.

That same year, Illinois enacted a moratorium on executions after several high-profile exonerations of death row inmates, and President Bill Clinton postponed the first federal execution since 1963.

Zac Petkanas, Davis' spokesman, told the newspaper that Davis was confident in the death penalty now and would continue to enforce it if elected governor.

"In fact, she voted (in 2011) to expand the death penalty to those who murder children under the age of 10," he said. "Senator Davis remains a proponent of the death penalty as ultimate punishment."

(source: ABC news)


Going is slow in Andrew Lobban's triple-murder case, judge is told

Jury selection in the 1st-degree murder case of a local man accused of killing 3 co-workers outside a downtown Ocala bar last summer is not likely to start until sometime next year.

On Monday afternoon Andrew Joseph Lobban, 32, sat quietly in a red jail jumpsuit next to attorney Chief Assistant Public Defender Bill Miller.

The goal of the brief status conference was so both sides could inform Circuit Judge Willard Pope of the case's progress and elaborate on how much work remains yet to be done.

Lobban has been incarcerated since his arrest last year where he is accused of killing 3 young men outside the now-defunct AJ's bar. Witnesses told authorities they saw Lobban shoot Josue Santiago, 25, Jerry Lamar Bynes, 20, and Benjamin Howard, 23 on June 2, 2013. The men all worked together as bouncers at the now-shuttered Ocala Entertainment Complex.

Lobban has been charged with 3 counts of 1st-degree murder. The state has filed a notice of its intention to seek the death penalty.

Death penalty cases are tried in 2 parts; the 1st, known as the guilt phase, asks the jury to determine the defendant's guilt or innocence. If a jury determines the defendant is guilty of 1st-degree murder, the case proceeds to a 2nd penalty phase where the defense offers mitigating evidence in support of a life prison term and the state presents aggravating factors in support of a death sentence.

According to Miller in this case he chose to focus his efforts predominantly on the penalty phase first, so therefore a limited number of depositions have been conducted.

About 100 depositions will likely have to be completed before the case is ready for trial. So far, the medical examiner and employees of that office have been deposed.

Miller also said his progress has been hampered because a colleague working on the case had been called into the military reserves and was therefore unavailable for several months.

"So we kind of got a late start to it," Miller told the judge.

After listening to both Miller and Assistant State Attorney Rock Hooker, Pope set another hearing for Dec. 3 and urged both sides to make it through as many depositions as possible before that date.

Lobban has been incarcerated since arrest over a year ago. In an interview with police, Lobban said Santiago was the intended target and he was upset with him for videotaping a prank played on him at a local gun range. Lobban called the deaths of Howard and Bynes accidental.

Lobban has pleaded not guilty.

When asked outside the courtroom if the case could conclude before a jury trial, Miller said "It's premature to talk about a plea deal."

"I like him very much," said Miller of his client. "I think the world of him and I intend to fight for him."

(source: Ocala Star Banner)


Death row inmate appeals sentence in Gulfport woman's killing----Jordan confessed to kidnapping, murder in 1976

Charles Marter can't believe the man sentenced to death 4 separate times for killing his wife, Edwina Marter, in 1976 is still appealing his sentence of execution.

He and his wife were in their late 20s when she was kidnapped from their Gulfport home and shot execution-style in the back of the head. Their 3-year-old son was home taking a nap and their 9-year-old son was in school.

Richard Gerald Jordan is Mississippi's oldest and longest serving death row inmate. He has asked the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for a full court hearing. He is 68 and has been on death row 37 years. The 5th Circuit hears appeals from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

"They should go ahead and do what they are supposed to do and put him to death," said Charles Marter, who now lives in Lafayette, La.

"He (Jordan) has lived off the good people of Mississippi long enough."

'Too many memories'

Charles Marter said his wife grew up in New Orleans and was an educated woman who devoted her life to being a full-time mother and housewife.

The Marters had moved to Gulfport after Charles Marter received a job offer from Gulf National Bank, later acquired by Peoples Bank.

"She was a wonderful lady," he said. When Edwina Marter wasn't caring for family, she enjoyed playing tennis and visiting with friends.

After the killing, he took a banking job in Lafayette.

"Too many memories in Mississippi," he said.

Charles Marter doesn't want to have to testify at another hearing in his wife's killing.

Jordan's latest appeal is for a full court hearing. The 5th Circuit has directed the Mississippi attorney general's office to respond to Jordan's motion by Friday.

Ransom requested

Edwina Marter was kidnapped and killed Jan. 13, 1976.

According to court transcripts, Jordan called Gulf National Bank and asked to speak to a commercial loan officer. He was told Charles Marter could help him. Jordan found Marter's home address in a phone book and went there and took the wife against her will.

Marter said he can still remember Jordan calling him with a $25,000 demand for ransom money. The money was to be wrapped in brown paper and left at a location on U.S. 49.

"He had already killed her before he called the bank," Marter said.

Jordan eluded officers after picking up the money and was later arrested in a traffic stop. He confessed and told officers they could find Edwina Martel's body in woods in the DeSoto National Forest.

Scuba divers working for Gulfport police found the murder weapon in the Big Biloxi River.

Appeals ongoing

A Harrison County jury convicted Jordan of capital murder and he received a death sentence later in 1976. Jordan challenged his sentence unsuccessfully 3 times and accepted a plea agreement in 1991 to a sentence of life without parole.

He then appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing life without parole was not a sentencing option at the time of the killing. The Supreme Court agreed the only sentencing options were death or life with parole. Jordan went back to court, hoping for parole, but received the death penalty again in 1998.

(source: Sun Herald)


Defense attorneys say Caddo DA is illegally applying for death penalty

During Kenneth Willis' Monday hearing, Caddo Parish defense attorneys argued prosecutors are illegally applying capital punishment to cases that don't deserve more death, pointing to a KTBS interview as proof.

Willis is charged in the 2007 death of his 1-month-old Zamian Willis, but it wasn't until another child in Willis' care was admitted to the hospital in 2012 that police had enough to indict in Zamian's case.

"As far as I'm concerned, those cases are going to receive our priority," ADA Dale Cox said to KTBS 3 News in April. "We're going to ask for the death penalty when a baby's killed if all the evidence supports the legal entitlement to do that, and there won't be any plea bargains."

The law says Louisiana district attorneys are supposed to use discretion, deciding when to apply the death penalty on a case-by-case basis, but defense attorneys Elton Richey and Jason Waltman, with Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana, say that Cox's statement implies otherwise.

To which Cox replied, "I think it's disingenuous to convert television interviews into office policy."

Cox said his comments and conduct are not grounds to recuse the entire district attorney's office from child death cases.

In approve, the motion to recuse could affect any number of Caddo Parish cases, including Tarika Wilson's November trial.

Judge Brady O'Callaghan said he would review the arguments before issuing a written opinion.

Other motions include Waltman's motion to withdraw as council, which O'Callaghan has yet to hear.

(source: KTBS news)


Ohio Won't Execute Any Death Row Inmates Until 2015, At The Very Least

Across America, a number of states are now dealing with how best to execute death row inmates, after a string of botched lethal injections. From the execution of Dennis McGuire in January to that of Clayton Lockett in April and Joseph Wood in July, these inhumane executions - with the lethal drug taking as long as 2 hours to kill, in Wood's case - have badly shaken confidence in the practice. Which is why Ohio's death penalty freeze was extended by a judge Monday, freezing any further executions until at least 2015.

Ohio's halt on executions was put into place in response to the aforementioned killing of Dennis McGuire, a convicted rapist and murderer who gasped and snorted throughout his nearly 25-minute execution. His was the first execution in which the state had used a controversial (because it seemed not to work, frankly) new lethal injection cocktail, a mixture of hydromorphone and midazolam according to Time, necessitated by the unavailability of sodium thiopental. Ohio state prison officials maintain McGuire did not suffer during the execution, despite the appearance that he did.

Judge Gregory Frost's ruling to extend the state's moratorium came in response to an impending execution, also to be performed with that 2-drug combination. According to the AP, the decision will prevent the execution of Ronald Phillips, convicted for the rape and murder of her girlfriend's 3-year-old child in 1993.

Frost's extension is valid until January 15, which means Ohio officials will have another four months or so to grapple with the ethical and procedural issues at play. The recent spate of botched lethal injections has sparked argument over whether a process than could potentially take that long - potentially from 20 minutes to 2 hours, based on recent examples - can truly be considered the most humane option open to the states.

Some state lawmakers, believe it or not, have proposed that firing squads be reinstated to alleviate the situation. Since the start of 2014, the idea's been floated by Republicans in Wyoming, Missouri and Utah. And while that may seem absurd and barbaric at first blush, really, it's a valid question: would you rather risk a slow death strapped to a table, or be quickly shot and be done with it? It's a deeply uncomfortable question, but it's the sort that'll always be grappled with as long as different states continue to embrace capital punishment.

That, of course, is always the bigger and deeper question - does a humane way for the state to take a life actually exist? Is it too risky, in light of considerable evidence that innocent people have been executed? Is it all simply rotten to the core? Opinions on that question obviously differ, with hard-earned vehemence and passion on both sides. But in Ohio, at least, the side of prudence and restraint seems to have won out, even if only for a few months time.



Tennessee fights release of execution team identities

State officials on Monday fought to block lawyers for 10 death row inmates from getting information about exactly who will kill their clients.

Appearing before the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville, attorneys for the state argued that Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Claudia Bonnyman improperly ordered them to reveal the names of the lethal injection team that would execute prisoners. Bonnyman's ruling came in a lawsuit involving 10 death row inmates suing for more information about who would execute them and the drugs that would end their lives.

"We are here today because for the 1st time in the history of lethal injection in the state of Tennessee a court has ordered the state to disclose the identities of those people who are involved in the lethal injection process," said Special Assistant Attorney General Kyle Hixson. "This is an abuse of discretion."

At issue is a law passed in 2013 that made all details about lethal injection - from the execution team to how the state intends to get its lethal injection drugs - secret. The inmates sued, saying that without knowing details about how the drugs are being obtained and who is providing them, there's no way to ensure they'll work as intended and protect their right against "cruel and unusual punishment," which is outlawed by the U.S. Constitution.

Bonnyman in January ordered the state to provide the execution team's identities to attorneys representing the death row inmates, but forbade the public - or the inmates - from seeing that information.

Stephen Kissinger, an assistant federal public defender representing some of the death row inmates, argued Monday that there was no "executioner's privilege" that prevents the state from turning over identities of the execution team in a court case - particularly since they would be under seal. He said that if the state were allowed to use that 2013 law to keep such information secret even in court cases, it would have far-reaching implications.

"This isn't a matter of simply hiding the identity of the executioner," he said. "This is a matter of hiding the identity of the manufacturer of the ax or the manufacturer of the robe."

Execution secrecy laws under scrutiny

The 2013 law came in response to continued problems in obtaining lethal injection drugs. In 2010, manufacturers began pulling drugs traditionally used in executions off the market as a protest against the death penalty. In response, states like Tennessee scrambled to find alternative suppliers or new drug combinations to execute prisoners. And several states, including Tennessee, passed laws cloaking the source of those drugs in secrecy, to protect sources against political backlashes.

But there have been a series of high-profile, botched executions. Most recently, an Arizona inmate gasped 600 times during an execution and took nearly 2 hours to die. These botched executions have raised fresh questions about whether the current state of lethal injection amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment" and, therefore, violates the Constitution. And they've increased the scrutiny on states that have pushed hard for secrecy in executions.

Tennessee is one of many states where inmates are challenging that secrecy in court.

Panel questions scope of secrecy

The appeals panel on Monday seemed skeptical of Hixson's arguments, pressing him on whether the 2013 law applied to evidence in court cases.

"Condemned inmates do not have, nor have they ever had, the right nor the ability to supervise the manner in which their executions are carried out," Hixson replied. "It's never existed in the entire history of this state or of the United States."

"But they have a right, do they not, to at least to make sure that the drugs that they're given are potent enough, that the drugs that they're given are free of impurities that would damage the effect of the drugs?" asked Appeals Court Judge Andy Bennett, 1 of the 3 jurists on the panel.

At last count, 10 death row inmates had execution dates, an unprecedented number of scheduled executions in state history. Billy Ray Irick, who raped and murdered a 7-year-old Knoxville girl in 1985, is scheduled to die 1st, on Oct. 7.

But the lawsuit that appeared before the appeals panel Monday has pushed back several execution dates.

The appeals court took Monday's arguments under advisement. A decision could take weeks or even months.

(source: The Tennessean)


Holmes' lawyers want death penalty tossed over leak to Fox News----The defense asked the judge to either scrap the death penalty, bar more than a dozen officers who saw the notebook from testifying, or appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak

Lawyers for accused theater shooter James Holmes want the judge to toss the death penalty as possible punishment amid ongoing concerns about an apparent law enforcement leak to a Fox News reporter in the days after the shootings.

In a motion released Monday, the defense argues that the leak of information about a notebook Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist right before the July 20, 2012, shootings violated a judge's order and Holmes' right to a fair trial by sharing crucial evidence with the public.

The defense asked the judge to either scrap the death penalty, bar more than a dozen officers who saw the notebook from testifying, or appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak.

Prosecutors objected to the measure, the defense said.

Holmes' lawyers have argued since 2012 that a law enforcement violated the judge's gag order and possibly committed perjury when they leaked information about the notebook to Fox News reporter Jana Winter. The defense tried to compel Winter to disclose who her source was, but a judge in her homestate of New York ruled against the defense and said New York law barred the defense from forcing her to disclose the information.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding dozens more in the shooting rampage. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

(source: Aurora Sentinel)


Attorneys seeks details on informant in Denver bar attack that killed 5

Attorneys for the man facing the death penalty for allegedly stabbing 5 people to death in a Denver bar said Monday they want more information about a 4th man connected to the attack.

Dexter Lewis, 24, is charged with 16 counts, including 1st-degree murder, in the attack at Fero's Bar and Grill that left 5 people dead in October 2012.

Lewis' attorneys argued on Monday that prosecutors should continue seeking and disclosing information about Demarea Harris. Harris was working as a confidential informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at the time of the attack.

Harris has never been arrested or charged in the attack, and defense attorneys are seeking more information about the work he did for the ATF and the cases he provided information on.

Prosecutors say they have given defense attorneys all of the information the ATF released to them.

Defense attorneys called ATF Agent Brandy Spasaro, who handled Harris when he worked as a confidential informant. Spasaro received some details about Harris' work for the ATF, but declined to answer several questions that she said pertained to confidential information.

Harris was recruited by the ATF after he was arrested by Denver police for possessing what appeared to be a small amount of crack cocaine. He continued to work as a confidential informant, completing a number of controlled purchases, until the October 2012 attacks.

In exchange for his work the ATF agree to speak to the Denver District Attorneys office on his behalf about the drug charge, Spasaro said. He was also paid about $3,000 for his work.

After Harris spoke to police about the deaths at Fero's bar, the ATF gave Harris about $2,500 for temporary housing and relocation fees. Spasaro said Harris is no longer working as an ATF informant.

Spasaro said there were at least 5 people Harris provided information about to the ATF. She could not discuss details of those cases or the information Harris provided.

In their motion seeking more information about Harris, defense attorneys listed three cases Harris was "involved in." Those cases involved drug and weapons charges.

About 200 motions have been filed in the case and attorneys are expected to argue several of them during hearings this week. Many of the filings address what evidence will be admitted at trial, including statements by 4 other men connected to the case.

1 other men charged in the case, brothers Joseph and Lynell Hill, have accepted plea agreements and have received lengthy sentences. Their statements contradict those made by Harris who told investigators Joseph Hill was the first person to start stabbing the victims.

Defense attorneys are also challenging statements made by Lewis' former cellmate at the Denver jail. Lewis allegedly asked the cellmate to find and kill several witnesses in the case and provided him with a hand-drawn map of the crime scene.

The victims were the bar's owner, Young Suk Fero, 63, of Aurora; Daria M. Pohl, 21, of Denver; Kellene Fallon, 44, of Denver; Ross Richter, 29, of Overland Park, Kan.; and Tereasa Beesley, 45, of Denver.

(source: The Denver Post)


Jodi Arias Trial Update: Lead Attorney Motions to Quit Upcoming Death Penalty Trial

Just days after convicted boyfriend killer Jodi Arias was granted permission to represent herself at the 2nd phase of her upcoming murder trial, her lead attorney filed a motion asking the judge to let him resign from the case.

Back in May 2013, the 34-year-old waitress was found guilty of the 1st-degree murder of her lover Travis Alexander, who was murdered in his Phoenix home in in 2008. According to medical examiners, Arias stabbed him 27 times, primarily in the back, torso and heart. She also slit Alexander's throat from ear to ear, nearly decapitating him, and shot him in the face before she dragged his bloodied corpse to the shower.

Although Arias was convicted of murder, the jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision on her sentencing. As a result, her retrial will begin on Sept. 8 to determine whether or not she should be sentenced to death, life in prison or life with a chance of release after serving 25 years, Reuters reported.

On Monday, Judge Sherry Stephens granted Arias, who has a history of clashing with her defense team, her request to represent herself in the penalty phase trial next month, reported The Associated Press.

As a result, her lead attorney, Kirk Nurmi, and his 2nd-chair attorney, Jennifer Willmott, were appointed as her legal advisers.

However, on Friday, Nurmi petitioned the court to let him quit.

When he first asked to be removed from the case back in 2011, a judge denied the motion. This time, Nurmi filed a motion asking for reconsideration since he is no longer ethically obliged to stay on the case.

In his motion he stated, "His ethical obligations to Ms. Arias are lessened to the point where these ethical obligations are of significantly lesser import," reported AZ Central.

He also noted that Arias has repeatedly tried to fire him from the case and that he and Arias could not come to an agreement on a defense strategy for the retrial.

Arias, who lacks legal experience and a college degree, will be responsible for arguing why she should not receive the death penalty before a jury.

However, Judge Stephens told gave her leverage to change her mind on the condition that, if she asks to have attorneys represent her again, it will be final.



Court resurrects Arizona death-row inmate's suit

An appeals court has resurrected a lawsuit by an Arizona death row inmate who alleged a prison officer violated his constitutional rights by reading a letter he wrote to his lawyer.

A 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in prisoner Scott D. Nordstrom's appeal that the Constitution doesn't let prison officers read outgoing letters between inmates and their lawyers.

The ruling revives Nordstrom's legal claims and sends his lawsuit back to a lower court, but it makes no changes to his convictions or death sentence.

Nordstrom, 46, was convicted of killing 6 people in 2 robberies in 1996 in Tucson. 2 people were killed at a smoke shop in 1 robbery, while 4 others were killed during a holdup 14 days later at a social club. Nordstrom was sentenced to death. 1 of his accomplices was executed last year.

Nordstrom alleged a jail officer read his 2-page letter in May 2011, refused his requests to stop viewing it and claimed he had the power to search mail for contraband and scan the contents to ensure they concerned legal matters. The prisoner claimed the experience forced him to stop relaying sensitive information about his case to his lawyer.


Life or death: Penalty phase begins for convicted cop killer

The penalty phase is now underway in the trial of an Arizona man convicted of murder in the 2007 shooting of a Glendale police officer.

A jury last month determined that 40-year-old Bryan Wayne Hulsey qualifies for the death penalty in the shooting death of 24-year-old Officer Anthony Holly.

Jurors are considering whether to sentence Hulsey to death or life in prison.

Hulsey was a passenger in the vehicle that had been pulled over for speeding and not having a license plate.

Holly was there to serve as backup to another officer who made the traffic stop.

Prosecutors say Hulsey exited the vehicle and fired 2 shots, 1 of which hit Holly.

Defense attorneys argue Holly was unintentionally shot by the officer who made the stop.

Holly's parents spoke out in court Monday. Holly's mother Nancy Bonner told the jury that her son brightened her every day. "He was kind, he was smart, funny, silly, and now everything is different," she said.

During her statement to jurors, Bonner showed them photos of her son, and said the endless heartache of losing him causes her physical pain.

"My sleep is filled with visions of Tony being killed," Bonner said in court. "Wondering what was it like. Wondering what he was thinking. Was he thinking of me? Thinking of his beautiful girlfriend? Brother Jim? His family? What was he hearing? Did he hear his own blood gurgling in his throat? The other officers crying over him? What did he know? What did he see? It's there all the time."

Hulsey's family members are also expected to speak out in court

(source for both: Associated Press)


Killer's Suit Over Legal Mail Breach Revived

The 9th Circuit on Monday revived a death-row inmate's claim that a prison guard illegally read his confidential letter to counsel.

Facing the death penalty in Arizona, Scott Nordstrom alleges his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated in 2011 when a guard read a letter Nordstrom had written to his court-appointed lawyer and clearly marked as "legal mail."

Nordstrom argued that the guard had gone beyond scanning the contents of the letter for references to contraband or safety issues.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell dismissed Nordstrom's lawsuit for failure to state a valid claim, but a divided 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit reversed Monday and sent the case back to Phoenix for further action.

Prison officials may "inspect" outgoing mail but cannot "read a confidential letter from an inmate to his lawyer," Judge Barry Silverman wrote for the majority.

"This is because it is highly likely that a prisoner would not feel free to confide in his lawyer such things as incriminating or intimate personal information - as is his Sixth Amendment right to do - if he knows that the guards are reading his mail," Silverman added. "Reading legal mail - not merely inspecting or scanning it - is what Nordstrom alleges the Department of Corrections is doing, and it is what he seeks to enjoin. We hold today that his allegations, if true, state a Sixth Amendment violation."

Prison officials argued that guards could legally read an inmate's missives to a lawyer in the presence of the inmate, but the appellate panel found that this only helped Nordstrom's allegations survive.

"Nordstrom's allegations that prison officials read his legal mail, that they claim entitlement to do so, and that his right to private consultation with counsel has been chilled state a Sixth Amendment claim," Silverman wrote, adding that Nordstrom also had made a proper claim for injunctive relief related to this policy.

Writing in dissent, Judge Jay Bybee argued that the majority had misinterpreted Supreme Court precedent, and that Nordstrom had failed to show he was injured in any way by the single event.

"In my view, the Sixth Amendment does not prevent prison officials from reading legal letters with an eye toward discovering illegal conduct," Bybee wrote. "Furthermore, claims under the Sixth Amendment require proof of actual injury, and Nordstrom does not allege any."

(source: Courthouse News)


Arraignment set for 4 people accused in USC student's beating death----Chinese grad student was attacked while walking to his off campus apartment

2 adults and 2 teenagers are scheduled to be arraigned today on murder charges stemming from the beating death of a USC graduate student from China who was attacked while walking back to his apartment near the campus.

Jonathan Del Carmen, 19 and Andrew Garcia, 18, are charged along with Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, in the attack on Xinran Ji, 24, that occurred around 12:45 a.m. July 24 near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue.

They are all jailed without bail.

The criminal complaint includes the special-circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Del Carmen and Garcia.

Ochoa and Guerrero, who were charged as adults, cannot face the death penalty because they are under 18.

The criminal complaint alleges that Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero used deadly weapons - a bat and a wrench - during the crime, in which authorities said Ji was beaten and struck on the head.

The electrical engineering graduate student, who was walking home after taking part in a study group, managed to make it back to his City Park apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, where he was found dead about 7 a.m. July 24.

A trail of blood marked the path he walked.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with 1 count each of robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler Beach later that day.

The group allegedly robbed the woman, but the man managed to escape and flag down police, according to Deputy District Attorney John McKinney.

(source: KESQ news)


Sentenced to death by lethal bureaucracy; Delays and paperwork may be the death penalty's greatest counterarguments

Recently, a federal judge ruled that California's death penalty was unconstitutional because of the delay between death sentence and execution - currently more than 20 years in California. As a result of this decision, more than 700 of the state's inmates have had their death sentences commuted to life in prison without parole. For the 17 inmates scheduled to be executed in California, no clear protocol appears to exist as to how or when they will be executed.

While District Court Judge Cormac Carney based his ruling on the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, he did not argue that the death penalty itself is cruel and unusual. Rather, he wrote that the administrative delays result in high degrees of randomness regarding who will be executed and when and that this waiting game amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. As he put it in his ruling:

Indeed, for most [death row inmates], systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death. As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on death row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary.

Carney did not comment on whether a quicker route to execution would be constitutional, and his decision leaves open the possibility that California could streamline its process and reinstate the death sentence. But for now, because the California system operates like a lottery, with little to no reason behind who may be executed and when, all executions have been halted.

In the absence of a moral decision by elected officials or the public to end executions in the U.S., the tyranny of bureaucracy - delays, paperwork and all - might be an anti-death-penalty advocate’s best ally.

Administrative halt

While the court decision may still be overturned on appeal, this case, in conjunction with the recent public kerfuffle over the new drug combinations used for lethal injection, suggests that the death penalty's days are numbered. While there's been no real push to end the death penalty on moral grounds - the argument that the death penalty is cruel and unusual per se seems to be forestalled by current Supreme Court jurisprudence - it will likely grind to an administrative halt, both legally and in the court of public opinion, precisely because state governments cannot find a way to carry out executions without revealing their internal inefficiencies.

The Supreme Court previously ruled the death penalty unconstitutional on administrative grounds. In the 1972 Supreme Court case Furman v. Georgia, in which the court struck down the death penalty as it existed in the United States at the time, Justice William J. Brennan wrote a concurring opinion that resonates with the rationale behind many arguments against the death penalty.

He thought that the true problem with the death penalty statutes were that "they treat members of the human race as nonhumans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded." He and Justice Thurgood Marshall thought that the death penalty was, on its face, unconstitutional, but the court majority decided that the death penalty was permissible as long as it was applied consistently and without discrimination. As a result, states rewrote their laws to add what are usually called aggravating factors (e.g., planned murder, murder committed in connection with other felonies like kidnapping and rape) and mitigating ones (e.g., mental state, mental illness, childhood abuse) that juries must consider before they condemn someone to death.

"What if the death penalty is such a bureaucratic nightmare that no one should be subjected to it, least of all the tax-paying public?"

Most death penalty appeals rely on the Eighth Amendment to the extent that Furman and other cases have held that the death penalty is cruel and unusual when applied to certain classes of people: the mentally ill, juveniles and a disproportionate number of racial minorities. For a long time, many anti-death-penalty advocates and those who represent the condemned on appeal (legal work I have done) have argued that the death penalty can never be fulfilled in a way that is fair because of jury selection and local judicial politics. The facts indicate that people on death row in every state are mostly poor and members of a racial minority. A significant number are mentally ill.

But the latest death penalty objections present a different argument: What if the death penalty is such a bureaucratic nightmare that no one should be subjected to it, least of all the tax-paying public? Here Brennan's language about "objects to be toyed with" recalls the nightmare of waiting for Veterans Administration benefits, of people lost in endless paperwork and delay. Today it's easy to feel alienated and reduced to a number in situations ranging from renewing a driver's license to applying for Social Security, so the inhumanity of delay may resonate with voters more vividly than persuading people that convicted murderers deserve to be kept alive. The general public expresses little concern about those who commit crimes as long as they are kept out of sight.

Human playthings

Brennan's objection to treating humans as playthings - an essentially moral argument - isn't too far removed from the recent administrative objections to last month's Arizona execution, in which convicted murderer Joseph R. Wood's lawyers appealed his death sentence under the First Amendment, arguing that he was entitled to know where the drugs that would kill him came from. Because the makers of sodium thiopental, a drug that had been regularly used for lethal injections, refuse to export the drug for that purpose, states are forced to experiment with other combinations. Wood was ultimately executed with the Ohio 2-drug protocol: medazolam and hydromorphone. The case bounced back and forth, with a 3-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit agreeing that Arizona could not execute Wood until it revealed the source of its drugs. The Supreme Court decided that the execution should move forward by denying the stay of execution, with no comment.

The unavailability of drugs previously used to execute convicts reveals the cracks in the seams about the death penalty - the seeming callousness of state officials in the face of a serious undertaking. There's something undeniably crude about the reported Texas-Oklahoma football joke by the Oklahoma assistant attorney general when Texas asked Oklahoma for some pentobarbital in order to carry out its scheduled executions.

Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski even argued that states should resort to the guillotine or firing squads because lethal injection was causing such administrative nightmares. And yesterday a federal judge extended a moratorium on executions in Ohio until January to give the state more time to figure out a new procedure for killing inmates with a different combination of lethal chemicals.

These sorts of moves stem from the same frustration Carney expressed in his opinion. In a technologically advanced age, why can't states execute inmates in a manner that doesn't appall so many people?

Kozinski's argument that the lethal injection isn't the best method of execution resonates. He thinks that executions shouldn't be "serene or beautiful." They are - and should be - brutal. Observers at Wood's execution say he took nearly 2 hours to die, gurgling and gasping to the end. Some might argue that he deserved it. But perhaps the most chilling point of all was a state official's insistent denial that anything had gone wrong.

Objecting to the death penalty on administrative grounds rather than moral ones appears to avoid this conundrum. No one, especially state officials, needs to face the brutality of government-sanctioned death at all, and no one needs to wonder why the death penalty has persisted in the United States when most Western countries have outlawed it. This may be the most logical end to the death penalty, a way that requires no one to admit fault.

(source: Editorial; Jessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She practiced corporate law, specializing in securities fraud, and represented death penalty clients and victims of domestic abuse pro bono----Al Jazeera America)


Former DOC Chief Doctor Says There's No Way to Fix Botched Executions

As the debate over botched executions rages on, a doctor once in charge of healthcare for Washington's Department of Corrections is adding his voice to the chorus of critics. Last Wednesday, the U.K's Guardian published a piece by Marc Stern arguing that there's no way for lethal injections not to be botched.

As he explains in his piece, and in a conversation with me this morning, the crux of his argument is that the process is inherently flawed because it exists outside the realm of science. While a doctor developed the cocktail of drugs used for executions in the '70s, the method was not subject to the same kind of scrutiny as normal medical procedures.

"There may have been animal studies," he elaborates by phone from Olympia, where he now works as a health care consultant. "But there certainly weren't human trials." Nor, he says, were there articles in peer-reviewed journals outlining the method and explaining research results.

Shrouded by secrecy, this "substandard" approach, as he sees it, continues to this day. Medical professionals don't openly discuss how the drugs used for lethal injections are working and what refinements need to be made. Few are even privy to the details of what those drugs are - especially after European manufacturers stopped supplying their products for executions and states had to scramble for new ones.

Doctors really need to be in on this process for it to be done effectively, Stern maintains. Even finding a vein for the condemned prisoner, especially one who is older or has abused drugs, calls out for a professional.

Up to a point, this is not an entirely unique perspective. As Stern points out, Georgia's Dr. Carlo Musso has expressed similar sentiments in explaining why he has taken part in executions. In fact, in an interview with Atul Gawande for The New England Journal of Medicine, Musso said physicians have a "responsibility" to ensure the comfort of the condemned in their dying moments.

Stern, who resigned from the DOC in 2008 after finding out that the department (ironcially then led by Eldon Vail, who has since emerged as a death peanlty critic) had involved members of his staff in planning for an execution, makes a different leap of logic. He insists doctors are ethically bound, by the Hippocratic oath and the positions of various professional organizations, to keep a wide distance from executions.

And so, he reasons that lethal injections are doomed, dashing the hopes of those wanting a "humane" means of execution. "We can't get there from here," he writes in The Guardian.

The former DOC official says he has no intention of becoming an anti-death penalty activist. He's more invested in working on other pressing needs related to the health care of inmates. Still, he says he's willing to voice his views when asked; The Guardian came to him. One imagines, with Governor's Jay Inslee's moratorium on the death penalty forcing the issue eventually, that others may ask again.

(source: Seattle Weekly)


Prosecutors Hope To Have Decision For Man Responsible For LAX Shooting Last Year By November

Federal prosecutors said today they expect a decision by mid-November on whether the death penalty will be sought against a 24-year-old suspect accused in a deadly shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport.

The ultimate decision on whether death is an appropriate penalty in the case against Paul Anthony Ciancia is up to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joanna M. Curtis told the court that her office had provided its recommendation to Holder as to the penalty, but did not indicate what that was.

"Unfortunately, it's not up to us," Curtis told the court, adding that the investigation by her office was ongoing.

However, lawyers for Ciancia said they planned to travel to Washington, D.C., at some point to present their arguments against the death penalty to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Curtis said prosecutors had accumulated about 10,000 pages and 150 DVDs of discovery in the case, including material collected during a probe of Ciancia's background in the small town of Pennsville, N.J., which they had presented to the defense.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez was adamant that the case would be tried next year, although defense attorney Hilary L. Potashner said she may ask for more time if death is sought.

Ciancia, who stands a little over 5 feet, was brought to court in green and white jail clothing, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles. At the request of defense counsel, U.S. marshals unshackled his wrists for the brief hearing.

3 charges in the 11-count indictment against Ciancia carry the potential for a death sentence: murder of a federal officer, use of a firearm that led to the murder, and act of violence in an international airport, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ciancia had been living in Sun Valley for about 2 years when he allegedly stormed into Terminal 3 last Nov. 1 with an assault rifle, killing Transportation Security Administration agent Gerardo Hernandez and wounding 3 others - 2 other TSA workers and 1 traveler.

Ciancia allegedly shot Hernandez at a lower-level LAX passenger check-in station and began walking upstairs, but returned when he realized Hernandez was still alive and shot him again.

In addition to 1st-degree murder, the indictment charges Ciancia with 2 counts of attempted murder for the shootings of TSA officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer. Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas teacher, was also wounded.

Ciancia is also charged with committing acts of violence at an international airport, 1 count of using a firearm to commit murder, and 3 counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm.

During the shooting spree, Ciancia was allegedly carrying a handwritten, signed note saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds," along with dozens of rounds of ammunition. Witnesses to the shooting said the gunman asked them whether they worked for the TSA, and if they said no, he moved on.

Ciancia was shot in the head and leg during a gun battle with airport police. He spent more than two weeks at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center before he was moved to a San Bernardino facility, and subsequently to the downtown Metropolitan Detention Center, where he remains held without bail.

(source: Beverly Hills Courier)


Lithuanian Arrested in Bali's Biggest Meth Haul of 2014

Customs officers in Bali have arrested a Lithuanian man for allegedly attempting to smuggle almost 4 kilograms of methamphetamine into the island, in what an official called the biggest single drug bust of the year.

The suspect, identified only by the initials V.L., 41, was arrested in the early hours of Monday after arriving at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport on board a flight from Hong Kong.

As he was passing through customs with his wife, an X-ray scan revealed a foil-wrapped package inside his backpack, according to Budi Harjanto, the regional customs office head for Bali and Nusa Tenggara.

Officers opened the package and discovered some 944 grams of a crystalline substance that later tested positive as meth. 2 other packages were found in V.L.'s other bags, containing 1,982 grams and 986 grams of the same drug, Budi said.

"In all, there was 3,912 grams of meth," he said. "This was our biggest seizure so far in 2014."

Police have taken V.L. and his wife into custody, and are deepening the investigation to uncover the latter's role in the smuggling attempt, according to Sr. Comr. Gusti Ketut Budiarta, the Bali Police's anti-narcotics chief.

Budiarta said police had charged V.L. under the 2009 Anti-Narcotics Law, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted. No charges have yet been pressed against the wife.

Budiarta added that investigators were having some difficulty questioning the suspect because he did not speak English.

"But what's clear is that this smuggling attempt is the work of an international syndicate," he said.

(source: Jakarta Globe)


As judges recuse themselves in Morsi protest trial, fears of mass death sentences persist

As news breaks that three judges have recused themselves from a mass court case in Egypt, Amnesty International remains concerned that show trials followed by mass death sentences are becoming a grim trade mark of Egyptian justice.

3 judges who made up a Court Panel which was due to hear the case against 494 people today, have recused themselves on account of objections raised by the defendants' lawyers. The Cairo Appeal Court will schedule another criminal court panel at a later date. The majority of the defendants could face the death sentence in what amounts to little more than a pantomime the organization warns.

The trial was in relation to protests that took place on 16 and 17 August 2013, in Ramsis, Cairo where at least 97 people died, most of them as a result of a reckless use of force by the security forces. Those charged include 12 minors, who were held in detention with adults, in direct contravention of Egyptian law.

"This trial was set to be little more than a pantomime. In recent months Egyptian courts appear to have been handing out mass death sentences based on flimsy evidence and following deeply flawed proceedings. These show trials followed by mass death sentences are becoming Egypt's grim trademark," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

More than 400 of the 494 defendants are charged with murder and attempted murder, offences that are normally punishable by death under Egyptian law. The remainder are charged with offences including destroying public property, protesting without authorisation, attacking security forces and hindering the work of national institutions.

Among those on trial are 12 children including Ibrahim Halawa, an Egyptian Irish national, who was only 17 years old at the time of his arrest. He has since turned 18. Amnesty International has conducted a thorough examination of his case.

He and his 3 sisters were among those arrested after taking refuge in a mosque. He was shot in his hand when the security forces stormed the building, but was not given access to medical care for his injury, and the only treatment he received was from a cellmate who happened to be a doctor. He was held in detention with adults contrary to Egypt's Child Law which provides that children must be held in juvenile detention centres and be separated from adults.

Amnesty International has concluded that Ibrahim Halawa is a Prisoner of Conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. The organization is calling for him to be released immediately and unconditionally, with all charges against him dropped.

"Ibrahim's case is just one of many cases of injustice being meted out in Egypt's courts. It shows the government's determination to flout its obligations under international law," said Said Boumedouha.

According to press reports, even the Grand Mufti, the most senior religious figure, last week refused to endorse death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood leaders saying there was not enough evidence to support the charges. The Mufti reportedly added that the charges by the prosecutor depended entirely on investigations and testimonies of national security officers.

According to the case file for today's case, seen by Amnesty International, there are 100 witnesses, most of whom are police officers or government officials.

"All defendants must enjoy the right to a fair trial without recourse to death penalty. They must be tried in their presence in order to be able to hear and challenge the prosecution case and present a defence, in person or through a lawyer. They must be able to call witnesses on their behalf and to examine witnesses against them," said Said Boumedouha.


The protests that took place on 16 and 17 August 2013, in Ramsis Cairo, were held in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and had originally been peaceful. However, following clashes with the security forces, protestors had sought safety in the Al Fath mosque, which they locked themselves in overnight. The security forces shot tear gas into the mosque which led to the death by suffocation of at least 1 woman.

There was an exchange of fire with the security forces, from the outer areas of the mosque which the security forces allege the protestors were involved in. Yet Amnesty International researchers who were present at the time, have said that there is no way the protestors could have shot at the security forces as they were all locked inside the inner part of the mosque.

(source: Amnesty International)


Executed: 50 years on since Britain abolished the death penalty----Executed: this documentary charts the stories of those sentenced to death in the UK before the abolition of the death penalty

It has been 50 years since Britain abolished the death penalty as a way to punish criminals.

To mark the date, Executed, a new one-off documentary on STV at 9pm on Tuesday August 12, speaks to the relatives of some of those condemned to death, including the family of the innocent Timothy Evans, to the guilty Ruth Ellis, who killed in a crime of passion.

In prisons where death sentences were carried out, those sentenced would generally live for only 3 more weeks before being taken to the gallows, and this documentary takes a close look at how the condemned would have served their final days, as well as the procedures and techniques employed by the executioners.

Relatives who survived those condemned to death also speak about witnessing the final days of capital punishment, before their loved ones faced their punishment.

Giving a vivid insight into the workings of the death penalty, Executed examines some of the cases that shocked the nation and helped bring about the end of capital punishment.

The final executions, on August 13, 1964, were of Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans, hanged simultaneously in Liverpool and Manchester.

But 14 years before that, Timothy Evans of Notting Hill, London was executed for the murder of his wife Beryl and baby daughter Geraldine.

In Executed, Evans' sister Maureen Westlake - for whom the pain of injustice has barely diminished over the years - speaks for the 1st time about the tragedy of her brother's death sentence, as an innocent man going to the gallows.

The perpetrator was serial killer John Christie, who lived in the basement flat of his building. But Timothy - an impressionable man in a highly emotional state following the deaths of his wife and daughter - would admit to anything, and was coerced by police into making a false statement admitting to both murders.

After being charged, Evans retracted his confession and protested his innocence, but it was too late.

After Timothy was executed in 1950, and Christie's crimes were discovered, he was granted a Royal Pardon in 1966, but his conviction for murdering his daughter was not expunged.

This still angers Maureen, who explained: "I feel that I have gone as far as I can. But I think I am going to go to my grave still thinking that this Government have still not cleared him properly. And I still say it's the Government that killed - that murdered - Tim. Not killed him. Murdered him."

We also here from Marlene Harrington, the niece of Ruth Ellis, who in 1955 became the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

The 28-year-old was executed in 1955 for the shooting of her lover David Blakely. After 14 minutes of deliberation the jury condemned her to death in spite of a huge outcry, protests and petitions.

"You could say yes, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth. But it was circumstances. And that time, it should have still been crime of passion," Marlene said.

"I believe that Ruth Ellis shot David because she just didn't want anybody else to have him. Somebody gave her the gun, somebody allowed her and showed her how to shoot that gun. She couldn't have done that on her own."

In 1955, there was no allowance in law for diminished responsibility and the judge ruled the provocation she said she'd suffered was insufficient, and so she hanged, which Marlene says devastated her family.

"The outcry beforehand and after was enormous. But all then it's all too late. It's all too late. If Ruth had done this today it would have finished as crime of passion and Ruth would have been walking round with her family today."

In the documentary we also hear from the family of Derek Bentley, a 19-year-old who was hanged for the murder of a policeman even though he didn't fire the fatal shot and had a mental age of 11.

And Liam Holden, the last man to be sentenced to death in the UK, returns to the condemned cell where he spent 6 weeks awaiting execution in 1973, until his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and his conviction later quashed.



How Cumbria murder led to the last hangings in the UK - 50 years ago

At the stroke of 8am 50 years ago this week, Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen had their cell doors thrown open, their arms strapped behind their backs, and were escorted the 12 paces to the gallows.

With a quick flick of the wrist the executioner pulled the lever and the trapdoors opened, plunging the 2 convicted murderers to their deaths.

In separate prisons in Manchester and Liverpool, 36 miles apart, the 2 men secured the dubious joint honour of being the last people executed in Britain.

They had both been hanged for the murder of John West, a 53 year-old van driver, who died in a bloody heap at his home after being bludgeoned with an iron bar.

But while their deaths on August 13, 1964 secured their place in history books, they went almost unnoticed at the time.

Family and friends were banned from the execution, and their final moments were watched by just a handful of prison officials.

There was barely a mention of them in the newspapers - just a couple of lines in The Times and The Daily Mirror. Anti-death penalty sentiment may have been on the rise, but these 2 executions did not spark a public outcry.

There was no all-night vigil by abolitionists as there had been for other prisoners condemned to death for their crimes.

Insofar as a murder and execution can be, this was run-of-the-mill stuff.

Steve Fielding, a criminologist and author of more than 20 books on hangmen and executions, said: "It was probably just bad luck that these 2 men went to the gallows. It wasn't a particularly gruesome case.

"In this murder, the men just needed money. But they ended up paying with their lives.

"There was barely a mention of them in the papers. The murder took place in Preston and it didn't even get coverage down the road in the Bolton newspaper."

The pair had murdered John West, known to his friends as Jack, just a few months before on April 7.

They had travelled to his home in Cumbria the night before in a stolen car with Allen's wife, two children and a stray lamb they had picked up along the way.

Allen and Evans planned to rob the bachelor. Once at his home it is believed they agreed to perform a sex act on Mr West for cash, but then killed him. His semi-naked body was found in a pool of blood at the foot of his stairs.

But their crime was quickly exposed. A neighbour was woken up by a suspicious noise in Mr West's house and looked out to see a car disappearing down the street. Meanwhile Evans made the fatal mistake of leaving his raincoat at the scene.

It only took a matter of days for police to track down and arrest the killers.

Just as their capture was quick, so too was their trial, conviction and execution.

They were found guilty in June, had their appeals rejected on July 21 and were hanged 3 weeks later.

Evans was taken to the gallows by Harry Allen, one-time apprentice to Britain's most notorious executioner Albert Pierrepoint, who oversaw some 400 deaths, while Allen was executed by Robert 'Jock' Stewart.

Little is known about what went through the killers' minds after they were handed a death sentence - just a few words.

Mr Fielding said: "Peter Allen, when he had his last meeting with his wife, he banged his hand on the glass panel with such force that he broke his wrist.

"And when he was walked up to the trapdoors he said 'Jesus'. He didn't have time to do anything else. It was all over in a matter of seconds."

Yet it is likely the 2 men would have hoped, even believed, they would be spared their sentence.

A string of controversial and high-profile executions had sparked public outrage against the penalty, and by 1964 around 1/2 of all convicts sentenced to death were given reprieves.

This was not enough to save Allen and Evans, but they were the last to make the lonely walk to the gallows.

Britain was in the midst of the 'swinging 60s' - the era of flower power, and increasingly liberal attitudes.

The death penalty for murder was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1969 following an overwhelming vote in the House of Commons which was greeted with loud cheers from the gallery.

Mr Fielding said: "We were heading towards a more liberal society, and the death penalty seemed outdated.

"We had gone through the war and are getting towards a less brutal society. And the Labour government came into power on the promise they would abolish the death penalty."

50 years after Britain's last hangings, the death penalty remains a hotly debated topic.

The botched execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona last month, who was given a lethal injection but remained alive for nearly 2 hours gasping and snorting, provoked widespread revulsion and renewed calls for its abolition in America - one of the final Western powers which still has it on its books.

Yet walk into a pub in Britain and it is not hard to find someone who thinks the death penalty should be brought back.

Many see it as the only true deterrent and fitting punishment for child killers and other violent criminals.

Internet petitions demanding its restoration attract tens of thousands of signatures, and it routinely rates high in opinion polls.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of capital punishment, one thing can be said with some certainty.

When they took their final breaths, Evans and Allen would have not known their deaths would spark such interest 5 decades later.

(source: North-West Evening Mail)


Jealous husband' sentenced to death for China killings -- Court officials said Shao was seeking revenge after learning about his wife's affairs

A man who killed 6 people over his wife's extra-marital affairs has been sentenced to death in China, state media say.

Shao Zongqi, 38, was found guilty of the January 2014 killings in Yunnan.

According to the court, Shao sought revenge after discovering his wife's affairs with 2 men, Xinhua reported.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, he shot 9 people, killing 1 of the men and his family, as well as 2 members of the other man's family.

The other man as well as his son and mother survived the attack.

In Monday's ruling, the court awarded cash compensation of 604,000 yuan ($98,000) to the surviving family members affected by the shooting.

Shao said that he would lodge an appeal against his sentence, Xinhua reported.

(source: BBC news)


Somali Military Court Chief Wages Legal War Against Al-Shabaab, Defends Executions

In the 2 months since Colonel Abdirahman Mohamed Turyare took over as chief of Somalia's military court, the court has handed down the death penalty to convicted al-Shabaab members, carrying out nine executions so far.

Turyare points to the court's executions as proof that justice is being served and that the court is making strides in the fight against terrorism.

However, it has recently faced sharp criticism over the way it has handed down decisions, with some critics saying the court has executed people without a transparent judicial system and others accusing it of taking on civilian cases that have nothing to do with military matters.

In an exclusive interview with Sabahi, Turyare spoke about the rulings the court has carried out, the accusations it has faced and its achievements in general.

Colonel Abdirahman Mohamed Turyare: We have carried out 9 executions so far and there have been about 10 other prison sentences [handed down], ranging between 10 and 30 years. There are also some other people who are awaiting sentencing and some are serving life terms.

The people we have executed so far are people who have admitted to their crimes and are part of al-Shabaab, which is an illegal organisation. This enemy is a new enemy that is being fought in a new way. They have waged an unethical war against us, and we will wage a bold legal war against them in order to defend citizens.

Our objective is not to kill, but to remove the youth from al-Shabaab.

Sabahi: The court leadership that preceded you did not carry out any executions, so what is the reason for expediting executions of al-Shabaab members now?

Turyare: We have decided to wage a new [type of] war against terrorists, and this will be a joint effort between the security forces and the military court. Our role is to firmly impose treason laws against the terrorists who cause problems but expect to continue to live [without consequences].

Al-Shabaab operatives tell the young people they send out that they will return safely, and we are sending the message that the ones who are sent will not return safely and will face the [legal] punishment they deserve. The result [we expect] from that is for al-Shabaab to no longer find young people to use.

Secondly, we want to remove public fear stemming from al-Shabaab's propaganda. [Al-Shabaab] tells people that they cannot collaborate with the government and [report] al-Shabaab fighters because if one is arrested he will be released back and will kill those [who reported] him. Therefore, we want to show our people that the captured al-Shabaab operatives will not be released until they face the punishment they deserve. [We want] to relieve the people's fear and restore their confidence so that they can rise up and fight against those [al-Shabaab operatives] who are hiding [within their communities].

The 3rd point is about the collaboration between the government and the people. We have ordered that every al-Shabaab member who is captured to be arrested along with the relatives he lives with. The families have to be aware of the activities of their children. In each family that responsibility lies with the head of household. They have to report the person they know has joined al-Shabaab. They also have to report the person whom they are suspicious of. That is a national duty that the government and the public can work on together.

Sabahi: But some al-Shabaab members operate unbeknownst to parents, is arresting them justified?

Turyare: The security agencies will first ask them questions. When it is clear that at the very minimum they knew something about [their activity], or if the [arrested al-Shabaab members] are underage, they will be arrested and sent to the court.

If they become suspicious of their children, parents are required to report them to the relevant agencies. Parents must also report [their children] if they cannot locate them or if they have joined al-Shabaab. Otherwise they will be held partly liable.

Sabahi: Human rights organisations and some members of the public have accused the court of convicting civilians although your mandate is for the armed forces. What is your response to that?

Turyare: That is a wrong argument and it is unfair. Anyone carrying a weapon is a soldier. The difference is that there are troops with a legal basis and troops without a legal basis. Therefore, military law applies to anyone who carries a weapon, even if they were illegally formed, like the militias. The armed forces law states military law applies to anyone or any militia that takes weapons against the government... Therefore, an armed organisation cannot be called civilian.

Sabahi: How will the anti-terrorism bill currently before parliament affect your work?

Turyare: The anti-terrorism legislation will make it easier to wage a much broader war against terrorism.

The law will not only apply to those who commit the [terrorist] act, but also anyone who assists them. In addition to those who train [militants] and other members of a terrorist organisation, people in their households, those who provide them information and have ties with them, will be subject to the law. The law will also facilitate taking over the assets of the terrorists. It will help us in all of those matters.

Sabahi: There have been allegations of people not receiving a fair sentence in the military court. What can you tell us about the transparency of the justice system?

Turyare: We take several steps that prevent mistakes from happening.

First, the [police's] investigation department prepares [the case] with evidence. Then the prosecution takes over to ensure that the evidence the investigations department submitted is complete. The case is then forwarded to the 1st level court. The 1st level court hears the case and gives the accused an opportunity to get a defence lawyer, and if they cannot afford one, we provide a lawyer. At that point, if they are cleared from the crime, we release them. If they are found guilty, we sentence them. After that, they have an opportunity to appeal to the armed forces high court, which hears the case once again. We conduct judgements in this transparent manner.

Sabahi: What is the burden of proof to sentence someone to death?

Turyare: The biggest evidence is a confession. All of the individuals we executed confessed to the acts they were convicted of.

Sabahi: But some people say suspects are tortured to obtain a false confession. How do you respond to that?

Turyare: There is no truth to that. Security agencies cannot torture people. The prosecution monitors them. Also, [during sentencing] we do not consider confessions made to [the police], but those made in front of the court, and one cannot be tortured in front of the court since various people are present.

Sabahi: Are suspects' relatives allowed to be present during court proceedings?

Turyare: Relatives can be present at some of the cases, but they cannot be present at some of the terrorism related cases, and there is a reason we do that.

Sabahi: Are Somalia's laws and the judgements you issue in line with international law?

Turyare: We act in accordance with international law. We are in a time of war and we are defending the public. Therefore, when addressing [justice-related] issues, we want human rights organisations to consider the war situation we are in.

The enemy that blows himself up deserves to be condemned. A nascent government that is defending its citizens does not deserve condemnation. We will fight with the enemy, but we will do it legally.

Interview conducted by Abdi Moalim in Mogadishu

(source: All Africa News)


Execution of 2 prisoners in central prison of Birjand

2 prisoners who were charged with smuggling drugs, were executed by hanging, in central prison of Birjand, on August 10th.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 2 prisoners who were charged with smuggling drugs were executed by hanging in central prison of Birjand, on Sunday night.

Another prisoner with the same charge was executed during last week in this prison.

An informed source said to HRANA's reporter, "during past days, some families of prisoners who have been sentenced to death have been called for the last visit. It shows that we would see more execution on next days in this prison".

None of the aforesaid executions have been publicized by official medias.

(source: Human Rights Activists News Agency)


HC upholds death penalty

The Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, on Monday upheld the death penalty awarded by a lower court to the convict of Agrawal couple murder took place in 2013.

"The capital punishment to Sukhlal Kori, who also happened to be their gardener," Public Prosecutor Raghvendra Singh Bais said.

The district court had awarded death penalty to Kori for killing businessman Sharad Agrawal and his wife Jyoti on the basis of forensic evidence and the police investigation.

The couple were found murdered at their farmhouse at Martand Nagar on March 21, 2013. The deceased were stabbed 50 times.

Based on a video footage obtained from a camera installed in the house, Sukhlal was arrested from Khargone. He was a gardener at the deceased's residence and was hired some days ahead of the incident.

The intention behind the crime was loot. After killing the couple, he had taken away booty worth Rs 4,000 which was recovered from his possession.

The accused boarded a bus to Khargone after the crime.

When the conductor of the bus asked for tickets, he gave a currency note which had blood stains. The conductor informed the Khargone police about it and they arrested him.

(source: The Free Press)


Herbert Bautista wants Philippine death penalty law revisited

"I am hoping that Congress will revisit the issue of death penalty especially on drug-related cases," Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista said. The mayor slapped a Chinese drug dealer named Xu Zhen Zhi last week when the Chinese acted disrespectful.

Herbert Bautista slapped Xu Zhen Zhi, then asked "You cannot hear me, you cannot understand me?"

The Chinese man was caught with 10 kilograms of shabu. Bautista told ANC in an interview that illegal drugs only destroy family.

On the other hand, Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales who is also present on the ANC interview said, "The best solution is the certainty of arrest, investigation, the certainty of prosecution, conviction and penalty. That, to me, is what we should focus on."

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said what Bautista did is not enough.


AUGUST 11, 2014:


Hearing set for man accused in Mecca hate-crime death----Brother: Juan was bringing home dinner for the family when he was shot

A Sept. 5 preliminary hearing was scheduled Monday for a Thermal resident accused of killing a 20-year-old man because of his sexual orientation.

Miguel Angel Bautista Ramirez, 25, of Thermal was arrested July 28 in Coachella for the deadly shooting of Juan Ceballos in Mecca on July 13.

Ramirez is being held without bail. A bail hearing that was scheduled to be held Tuesday was postponed to Sept. 5.

The criminal complaint filed July 30 charging Ramirez with murder includes a hate crime allegation that Ramirez killed Ceballos "because of a bias against the victim's sexual orientation." An amended complaint was filed Aug. 1 with broader language that includes sexual orientation, disability, nationality and race.

Ramirez also faces a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait and committing a hate crime. He is potentially eligible for the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole if convicted.

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2's Laura Yanez sat down with the Ceballos family. They say Juan was the son of a farm worker and the eldest of 5 children. Ceballos was bisexual, according to his 17-year-old brother Sergio Ceballos. The College of the Desert student worked 2 jobs, 1 at TA of America gas station and at Pizza Hut.

His brother, Sergio, told Yanez that Juan was bringing home pizza dinner for his family when he was shot in the front yard.

"He was coming home from work. He had pizza," said Sergio. "He was messaging me. As soon as he parked it happened."

Hear more from the family here.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office is not commenting about the facts of the case or a possible motive for the killing, spokesman John Hall said.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies were called to the 65-000 block of Dale Kiler Road in Mecca shortly before midnight July 13 and found Ceballos with several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene, sheriff's Sgt. Jim Erickson said.

(source: KESQ news)


Death penalty decision on LAX gunman due in fall

Federal prosecutors should know by mid-November whether they will seek to execute the man charged in a deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport.

A prosecutor told a judge Monday that the case has been forwarded to the attorney general's office in Washington for review.

Paul Ciancia has pleaded not guilty to murdering a Transportation Security Administration officer and 10 other federal charges.

Public defenders say they may not be ready in time to present their own case to the Department of Justice on the death penalty.

There are over 10,000 pieces of evidence and 150 DVDs with material in the case so far.

The judge says he wants the case to go to trial next year, but the defense says it could take longer to prepare.

(source: Associated Press)


Judge Extends Temporary Halt To Ohio Executions As Debate Over New Drug Combination Continues----The moratorium, which was supposed to end this week, has been extended to Jan. 15.

A federal judge has extended a months-long halt on executions in Ohio into 2015 as debate over the state's new 2-drug protocol in lethal injections continued.

The 2 1/2 month moratorium issued by federal judge Gregory Frost in May was to end this week. But in an order issued Friday, Frost extended the temporary halt on executions to January 15.

This will delay 4 executions in Ohio scheduled in September, October, November and early January. The news was first reported Monday morning by the Associated Press.

The moratorium was issued to allow time for the state and inmates' lawyers to address any questions about or challenges to the state's lethal injection protocol, which was revised after Dennis McGuire's prolonged execution in January.

According to witnesses, McGuire gasped, choked and said his whole body was burning after being injected with an untested 2-drug cocktail of midazolam and hyrdropmorphone. He died after 26 minutes.

After his family sued the state, the Department of Corrections announced April it would use the same 2-drug protocol but increase the doses of the sedative and painkiller. This prompted Frost to issue the moratorium so attorneys of inmates could argue against the state's decision.

In Frost's order, dated August 8, he wrote that he was extending the stay because "the continuing need for discovery and necessary preparations related to the adoption and implementation of the new execution protocol that became effective April 28."

In July, an Arizona inmate took nearly 2 hours to die after witnesses described him as repeatedly gasping and snorting. Arizona and Ohio use the same 2-drug protocol of midazolam and hydropmorphone.

In this case, the inmate was injected with 15 separate doses of the drug combination resulting in what his attorneys called "the most prolonged execution in recent memory."

(source: BuzzFeed News)

OKLAHOMA----new death sentence

OK Man Convicted Of Killing Wife, Unborn Child Formally Sentenced To Death

An Oklahoma man convicted of killing his estranged wife and her unborn baby has formally been sentenced to death.

In June, 2014, Fabion Brown was found guilty on 2 counts of 1st degree murder and 1 count of conspiracy for the 2012 murders of his wife, Jessica Brown, and her unborn child.

An Oklahoma County jury sentenced Brown to death. The jury decided on the death penalty due to 2 aggravating circumstances: Brown knowingly created a great risk of death to more than 1 person and Brown hired someone to commit the murders for money.

Brown defended himself throughout the trial, but he changed his mind and asked to have an attorney represent him in the punishment phase. The court decided it was too late in the process to make a change.

On Monday, August 11, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliot formally sentenced Brown to death on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder. Judge Elliot also sentenced him to 10 years and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Judge Elliott told Brown that he will be put to death on October 31, 2014.



Penalty phase to begin for killer of Arizona policeman

The penalty phase is scheduled to begin Monday at the trial of an Arizona man convicted of murder in the 2007 shooting of a Glendale police officer.

A jury last month determined that 40-year-old Bryan Wayne Hulsey qualified for the death penalty in the shooting death of 24-year-old Officer Anthony Holly.

Jurors will consider whether to sentence Hulsey to death or life in prison.

Hulsey was a passenger in the vehicle that had been pulled over for speeding and not having a license plate.

Holly was there to serve as backup to another officer who made the traffic stop.

Prosecutors say Hulsey exited the vehicle and fired 2 shots, 1 of which hit Holly.

Defense attorneys argue Holly was unintentionally shot by the officer who made the stop.

(source: Associated Press)


Testimony begins in penalty trial of man who killed marine and wife

Prosecution testimony will get underway today in the penalty trial of a man who joined 3 cohorts in killing a Marine sergeant and his wife at their French Valley home.

A Riverside jury last week convicted Kesaun Kedron Sykes of the 2008 slayings of 26-year-old Quiana Faye Jenkins-Pietrzak and her husband, 24-year-old Janek Pietrzak.

Along with the murder counts, jurors found true special circumstance allegations of killing during the course of a robbery, killing during a burglary and taking multiple lives in the same crime, as well as a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a sexual assault with a foreign instrument.

The same jury will now decide whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole for the dishonorably discharged Marine.

Last year, three members of Janek Pietrzak's helicopter maintenance squadron at Camp Pendleton -- Kevin Darnell Cox and Tyrone Lloyd Miller, both 27, along with 25-year-old Emrys Justin John -- were convicted of the killings. Cox and Miller were sentenced to death, while John received two consecutive life prison terms.

Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon recalled testimony in the two-week trial that showed Sykes, 27, conspired to carry out the deadly home invasion, having joined Cox, John and Miller in a similar break-in at an Oceanside residence less than a month earlier, during which a man and woman were injured.

The prosecutor described Sykes as the "tip of the spear," acting as the point man and leading the way into the Pietrzaks' home at 1:15 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2008.

"Everything he did demonstrated a complete lack of conscience and a perverse sense of reality," DeLimon said.

The defendants were convinced they would find guns, drawers full of cash and various high-value commodities inside the two-story house at 31319 Bermuda Ave., according to DeLimon.

They ransacked the residence for 90 minutes and took advantage of their helpless victims, both of whom were bound, gagged and blindfolded, the prosecutor said.

Quiana Pietrzak was separated from her husband and placed on a table by Sykes, who stripped her and joined Miller and Cox in violating her.

"He crossed all boundaries in the way he chose to exploit Quiana," DeLimon told jurors. "He violated her in a way that not only affected her dignity, but mocked her sexuality - and humiliated Sergeant Pietrzak."

Sykes' attorney, Doug Myers, insisted his client never wanted or intended the Pietrzaks to die.

The attorney emphasized that Sykes was not present when the 4 fatal shots were fired into the victims, having gone out to an SUV into which the defendants had loaded stolen goods.

The defendants confessed that they were mainly interested in the "stuff" they might be able steal from the victims, who had received numerous gifts at their wedding that August.

Both victims were shot execution-style as they lay face down in their living room.



Recipe for Disaster: The Difficulties of Concocting a Lethal Injection

"The simplest [execution] I know of is the guillotine. And I'm not at all opposed to bringing it back. The person's head is cut off and that's the end of it," said Jay Chapman. Chapman is the creator of the most commonly used lethal injection protocol, which he concocted in the late 1970s. This lethal recipe was adopted by 37 states.

Chapman's protocol called for three drugs: sodium thiopental, a sedative; pancuronium bromide, a paralytic agent; and to stop the heart, potassium chloride. However, in the last few years, manufacturers have pulled away from selling these drugs to states for the purpose of lethal injection. Sodium thiopental, the key sedative in the protocol, has become virtually unavailable.

The last manufacturer of sodium thiopental in the United States stopped producing it in 2011. The European Union banned export of it all together, and India has banned its sale. While some states attempted to stockpile the drug before the bans, sodium thiopental has a shelf life of only 4 years, with expirations fast approaching in 2015.

Suddenly, states were left with prisoners on death row, and no way to kill them. They had to reinvent the lethal injection.

On July 23, convicted murdered Joseph Wood was executed by the state of Arizona. His execution took almost two hours, involving fifteen doses of an experimental drug combination. Witnesses watched as he gagged and choked for the majority of the two hours, his opioid receptors filling with hydromorphone and midazolam.

Before his execution, Wood's lawyers petitioned the state of Arizona for information about the experimental drug protocol he would be killed with. They wanted to know what, exactly, would end their client's life, and how it had been created.

Dale Baich, Wood's attorney, spoke to The Wire about that process. "Prior to Mr. Wood's execution, we asked the Department of Corrections for information about the manufacturer of the drugs, the national drug code numbers and the lot numbers. We also asked for the qualifications of the execution team members who would be mixing the drugs. We also asked for information about how the state came up with the formula." While the 9th Circuit Court agreed that this information should be disclosed and issued a stay of execution, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that ruling, allowing Wood to be put to death.

After Wood was killed, the recipe of the lethal injection cocktail, also know as a protocol, were released to the public. The names of the chemists, compounding pharmacy, and researchers used by the state of Arizona were not - nor do they legally have to be. An executing state is not legally required to explain where their lethal protocol came from, or who helped create it.

As Baich investigated his client's execution, he was able to determine that the state of Arizona used findings from a recent Ohio case. Dennis McGuire was found guilty of brutally murdering and raping a young woman and put on death row. The state of Ohio was seeking a new lethal injection protocol, and turned to experts to help with the formula. Baich provided The Wire with the expert reports and deposition transcripts used in the Ohio case, in which Dr. David Waisel and Dr. Mark Dershwitz, 2 anesthesiologists, were consulted.

The 2 doctors were called as expert witnesses. Both had extensive anesthetic knowledge and impressive educations, yet their conclusions differed. Dr. Waisel believed Ohio's lethal injection protocol, 10 mg of midazolam and 40 mg of hydromorphone, was not strong enough. Waisel warned that the "implication of the inadequate dose of midazolam and the hydromorphone (which does not produce unconsciousness) is that there is, at the very least, a substantial risk an inmate such as McGuire will be aware of and experience air hunger as the ventilator depressant effects of hydromorphone and midazolam take effect." Essentially, McGuire would die a slow and painful death, completely aware of his surroundings.

On the other hand, Dr. Dershwitz found Dr. Waisel's findings inaccurate. In his expert statement, Dr. Dershwitz determined "the dose of hydromorphone specified in the 1st injection by the Ohio protocol is extremely high and is expected to cause virtually every person given such a dose to stop breathing."

McGuire took about 20 minutes to die when he was executed on January 16 of this year. During that time, he struggled, gasped, choked, and attempted to sit up. To onlookers, he appeared to be in visible pain. It was not unlike Wood's death, though it only took a fraction of the time. Dr. Waisel's medical expertise proved correct in this particular case. Ohio has placed a moratorium on executions ever since.

While both men appeared to be in visible pain during their deaths, it is unclear how they actually felt. We spoke with Dr. Steven Baumrucker, Associate Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, who explained that in the Arizona execution, the inmate was given the equivalent of 800 mg of oral morphine, or 80 Lortab 10's.

"If this person was tolerant of opioids, that may not be enough to kill him quickly. This maybe why this took two hours. That is a questionable cocktail. Now, did he suffer during that? The things they saw as suffering maybe bothered the people that were watching more than it was bothering him. But can we say that he didn't suffer? No."

An Ohio official told the judge working to find an acceptable lethal injection protocol that "You're not entitled to a pain-free execution." This mentality is a point of contention on both sides of the execution battle. While some believe a painful execution qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, others believe that with murderers who are guilty of terrible crimes against humanity, the end is more important than the means.

"Ethics is not calculus."

In the case of Wood's execution, the lawyers sought the lethal injection protocol to ensure that the death would not be painful. Additionally, a further investigation could have prolonged the inmate's life, however the court ruled against the revealing of any data that would have required more investigating.

While the lawyers defending Wood believed this was necessary information to their client, on the other side of the lethal injection battle is the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which believes the protocol itself is of no matter to the inmate and such lawsuits only "hold up executions." Michael Rushford is president of the foundation, which describes itself as "a nonprofit, public interest law organization dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice."

"Fighting over the exact drug, and where we got it, is a waste of time and money," Rushford explained to The Wire. "We should be looking for the simplest, least painful, cheapest way to do this." Rushford also takes the view of the Ohio official when it comes to pain during death. "This murderer took 2 hours to die. Frankly, if the guy takes 2 hours to die, and he's asleep for those 2 hours, that in our point of view is a successful execution." On the contrary, Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, believes a 2-hour execution is "inhumane and objectionable, even if they are pretty much asleep."

In a phone interview with The Wire, Dieter argued the secrecy behind the protocol was problematic. "States have had to scramble to replace the Chapman formula. To get help with that, from doctors, from pharmaceutical companies, from local pharmacies, they have had to assure anonymity. People are willing to say what might work, but they aren't willing to have their name or their company associated with it. So we have this secrecy around it." On the contrary, Rushford believes the anonymity is necessary, as otherwise, the medical professionals and manufacturers involved may face protests.

With reports of 2 recent botched executions, Dieter believes momentum is building for the process to become unveiled. "Courts have allowed these executions to go forward despite the secrecy. There is no incentive for the state to reveal more than they have to, but this is getting to the point of national embarrassment. A well-functioning Congress may have already called for hearings."

While Rushford also notes that little is publicly known about exactly how the protocol is made, and by whom, he believes there is a larger issue at hand: the concept of a compounded protocol itself is flawed. Instead, he advocates for a single drug process. Rushford also suggested that death by nitrogen gas should be considered for those on death row and noted "some states are even considering firing squads again."

"The court is more comfortable with a 1-drug protocol. That's much less complicated, and there are scores of anesthesia that are available. It's very effective," said Rushford. "The best anesthesia is the one that is most effective, that they are simply put to sleep. If you give someone enough of that drug, they will die, it'll be boring, they'll go to sleep." Rushford's organization has successfully persuaded 2 states, Texas and Missouri, to adopt the single-drug execution method using a high dose of pentobarbital, which is used to put down animals.

While it may be "boring," Dr. Baumrucker notes that it may not be quite that simple. "There is a finite number of opioid receptors in the body. Once a narcotic fits that receptor in the body; the classic one is the mu opioid receptor. When you hit it, it does several things, there are specific changes in the body." In other words, after a certain point, more drugs does not mean faster death, even at fifteen doses, as in the Arizona execution.

"There are reasons why there are maximum doses of these things. So if you crank up the dose, you can kill someone on purpose. You can, theoretically, kill people by giving them an overdose of Tylenol but that is a long, drawn out, miserable affair," continued Dr. Baumrucker. "You're relying on the drug to be toxic enough to kill them quickly, and now, who is studying them? Because it is unethical to do these studies, you have to hope for the best."

Still, a number of other states are set on using a lethal injection composed of several drugs. "States that are still using a combination of drugs, you have more drugs to buy and locate, and there is always the question of dose," said Rushford, "We think that the whole issue is kind of academic - you are trying to end the life of a murderer."

Primum non nocere

When it comes to the idea of lethal injections as academia, the academic world of medicine shifts uncomfortably in their lab coats. Primum non nocere, reads the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. To execute is, inherently, to harm.

Both of the doctors consulted as experts in the Ohio case were anesthesiologists. Their expertise is in line with the types of drugs used to kill inmates. They are extremely well informed on exactly how a body will die when these drugs are injected, and their expertise could be used to create lethal injections that offer as little pain as possible. However, their professional community does not condone such involvement. We reached out to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, who offered this statement on the matter:

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) does not take a position on lethal injection or capital punishment, as this is not the practice of medicine. Physicians are healers. The doctor-patient relationship depends upon the premise that a physician uses his or her medical expertise only for the benefit of patients.

The American Medical Association feels similarly, as their statement attests:

An individual's opinion on capital punishment is the personal moral decision of the individual. A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution.

While euthanasia is illegal in the United States, assisted suicide - dying with the aid of physician - is legal in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Vermont. Hospice care, which pursues a death that is as peaceful and pain-free as possible, is legal, and encouraged, throughout the country. Medical professionals have the expertise to offer a comfortable death, but the ethics surrounding this practice are difficult to navigate.

"The ethical argument is that the execution is going to happen anyway, so we as physicians should make it as comfortable as we possibly can. However, the AMA feels that's a flawed argument because that's a flawed premise," explained Dr. Baumrucker. "The number 1 idea is 'non-maleficence,' which is 'first do no harm.' The key word in that statement is 'first'. Number 1, don't do any harm. Now whether you agree with lethal injection or not, or the death penalty or not, it is considered to be unethical for a physician to participate."

This view from the medical community is entirely understandable, and they are certainly not in charge of creating the updated lethal injection protocol. However, neither, it seems, is anyone else. The community with the most expertise is ethically bound to not get involved. So instead, we are faced with a trial-and-error method. Some trials are better than others: the most recent state execution, of Missouri murderer Michael Worthington on August 6 , took only 1- minutes. Still, until a new protocol is created and the veil of secrecy is lifted, it is unlikely that every execution will be as clean cut as that of Worthington.

Or perhaps as Jay Chapman, the man behind the original protocol, put it, it will just go away. "I think that maybe the death penalty itself is going to go away and they won't have to be concerned with the method by which it would be carried out."


SAUDI ARABIA----execution

Saudi beheads man for killing wife with axe

Saudi authorities beheaded a national on Monday after he was convicted of killing his wife with an axe in front of their daughter, the interior ministry announced.

Mahdi Al Ghabari battered his wife Shaqraa Al Bahri several times on her neck with an axe, killing her "in the presence of their little daughter who witnessed" the crime, said the statement published by the official SPA news agency.

He was executed due to the "hideousness" of the crime, said the statement.

The beheading in the southwestern city of Najran raised to 23 the number of executions so far this year in the Kingdom, according to an AFP count based on official reports.

In 2013, there were 78 executions.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

(source: Agence France-Presse)


Isil beheads, crucifies in push for Syria's east----Leader of tribe whose stand was crushed calls for other tribes to help halt the militants

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has crushed a pocket of resistance to its control in eastern Syria, crucifying 2 people and executing 23 others in the past 5 days, a monitoring group said on Monday.

The insurgents, who are also making rapid advances in Iraq, are tightening their grip in Syria, of which they now control roughly 1/3, mostly rural areas in the north and east.

The group, an Al Qaida offshoot, has fought the Syrian army, Kurdish militias and Sunni Muslim tribal forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring organisation opposed to the Al Assad regime, and residents in Syria's east said that fighters from the Al Sheitaat tribe in eastern Deir Al Zor had tried to resist Isil's advance this month.

In Al Shaafa, a town on the banks of the Euphrates river, Isil beheaded 2 men from the Al Sheitaat clan on Sunday, the Observatory said, and gave residents a 12-hour deadline on Monday to hand over members of the tribe.

In other parts of Deir Al Zor province, the militants crucified 2 men for the crime of "dealing with apostates" in the city of Mayadin, and 2 others for blasphemy in the nearby town of Al Bulel, the Observatory said.

Isil has made rapid gains in Syria since it seized northern Iraq's largest city, Mosul, on June 10, and declared an "Islamic caliphate" on territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.

The Observatory said a further 19 men from the Al Sheitaat tribe were executed on Thursday, 18 shot dead and 1 beheaded, on the outskirts of Deir Al Zor city. It said the men worked at an oil installation.

"No one will now dare from the other tribes to move against Isil after the defeat of the Al Sheitaat," said Ahmad Ziyada Al Qaissi, an Isil sympathiser contacted by Skype from Mayadin.

Tribal sources say the conflict between Isil and the Al Sheitaat tribe, who number about 70,000, flared after Isil took over of 2 oil fields in July.

1 of those, Al Omar, is the biggest oil and gas field in Deir Al Zor and has been a lucrative source of funds for rebel groups.

The head of the Al Sheitaat tribe, Shaikh Rafaa Aakla Al Raju, called in a video message for other tribes to join the fight against Isil.

"We appeal to the other tribes to stand by us because it will be their turn next ... If [Isil] are done with us, the other tribes will be targeted after Al Sheitaat. They are the next target," he said in the video, posted on YouTube on Sunday.

A Syrian human rights activist from Deir Al Zor who fled for Turkey last year said rebels opposed to President Bashar Al Assad had retreated to Al Sheitaat tribal areas from which they had been trying to mount resistance to Isil's expansion.

He said, on condition of anonymity, that the resistance had been crushed in the last few days. "The situation is very bad, but the people can't repel them," he said.

He said that in tandem with their violent campaign, Isil was distributing gas, electricity, fuel and food to garner local support.

"It is a poor area. They are winning support this way. They won a lot of support this way. They are halting theft and punishing thieves. This is also giving them credibility."

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war, which pits overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels against Al Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, backed by Shiite militias from Iraq and Lebanon.

The insurgency is split between competing factions, with Isil emerging as the most powerful.

In Raqqa, Isil's power base in Syria, its hold appears to be growing only firmer even as Syrian government forces intensify air strikes on territory held by the group.

One Syrian living in an area of Isil control near Raqqa said the number of its fighters in the streets had grown dramatically in the last few weeks, particularly since it captured the army's 17th Division at the end of July.

The group has carried out beheadings, levied a tax on non-Muslims, and settled foreign fighters in confiscated homes, said the resident, who asked for anonymity due to security concerns.

But despite that, as in Deir Al Zor, it has won a degree of respect among locals by curbing crime using extreme means. For youths without work, salaries offered by Isil are one of the few sources of income.

"The [Islamic] State [of Iraq and the Levant] has respect and standing and its voice is heard," said the resident, speaking by Skype.

(source: Gulf News)


Hamas said to have executed dozens of tunnel diggers----Any excavator who was suspected of collaborating with Israel was killed, Israeli website reports

Hamas executed dozens of diggers responsible for its extensive tunnel system in past weeks, fearing the workers would reveal the site locations to Israel, a report on the Mako website's army blog said.

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

The tunnelers, many of whom constructed the tunnels over the course of months, would dig for 8-12 hours a day, and received a monthly wage of $150-$300, according to the blog.

Sources in Gaza told the website that Hamas took a series of precautions to prevent information from reaching Israel. The terror organization would reportedly blindfold the excavators en route to the sites and back, to prevent them from recognizing the locations. The tunnels were strictly supervised by Hamas members, and civilians were kept far from the sites.

M., a former tunnel digger and Israeli collaborator, told the website that Hamas would strip search the workers to ensure they had no recording devices or cameras hidden on them.

"The people we met had their faces covered; no one knew them by their real names, it was all codes and first names. They didn't want to take the risk that some of the diggers were collaborating with Israel," he said.

After the tunnels were completed, dozens were reportedly executed to prevent intelligence leaks to Israel.

"Anyone they suspected might transfer information to Israel on the tunnels was killed by the military wing," a different source said. "They were very cruel."

In 2012, a Journal of Palestine Studies article claimed 160 Palestinian children were killed while working on Hamas's tunnel system.

The digging of tunnels began 4 years ago and has demanded 40 % of Hamas's budget, The Times of Israel has learned.

Tunnel diggers have been using electric or pneumatic jackhammers, advancing 4-5 meters a day. The tunnels found were reportedly mostly dug 18-25 meters (60-82 feet) underground, though 1 was discovered at a depth of 35 meters (115 feet). "That's like a 10-story building underground," 1 expert said.

Digging requires engineering and geological expertise, with tunnels usually dug through sandy soil, their roof supported by a more durable level of clay. As they are dug, the tunnels are reinforced by concrete panels, manufactured locally in workshops adjacent to each tunnel. These workshops have also been targeted by the IDF throughout its military operation.

(source: Times of Israel)


Irish teenager among prisoners set for mass trial in Egypt

A mass trial in Egypt tomorrow (12 August) could see death sentences handed down to hundreds of prisoners, including an Irish teenager who was a juvenile at the time of his arrest.

Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen, was 17 when he was arrested last August along with his three older sisters, now released, after being caught up in protests in Cairo in the turmoil that followed the ousting of former President Mohammed Morsi. He has since been held in a series of adult prisons in the capital without charge or trial, in contravention of international law and the country's own Child Laws.

The Egyptian authorities have refused to consider proof of Mr Halawa's age and nationality, provided by his family, lawyers, and consular officials, and instead insist he is an adult. Tomorrow's mass trial, to be held in a makeshift court in the notorious Tora prison complex, will see him appearing alongside over 480 adults.

In conversations with the legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting him, Mr Halawa's family say he has reported torture during his detention; including being stripped, beaten with chains and whips, forced to drink from the toilet, and subject to racist taunts by guards for being Irish. He is reported to be permanently disfigured after being shot in the hand and denied medical treatment.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve's death penalty team, said: "That the Egyptian government has arrested and tortured children, in contravention of its own and international law, is horrifying enough; that it is now seeking to hand down summary death sentences for hundreds of prisoners at a time, including Ibrahim and other juveniles, is an utter disgrace. Other governments should take all steps necessary to prevent this travesty of justice and ensure no lives are lost in the process."



For Imran, and other aspiring hangmen

Hanging people is no easy task.

PTI chairman Imran Khan needs no introduction, but for some of you, Tara Maseeh probably will.

Tara Maseeh was the man who hanged an elected former prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, on the gallows back in 1979. At that time, student activists of Jamaat-e-Islami used to go about Karachi University chanting the following slogan:

Tara Maseeh aye ga, surkhon ko latkaye ga

[Tara Maseeh will come and hang these liberals/atheists]

The upcoming 'Azadi March' and Imran Khan's Bahawalpur speech preceding it has put this hanging business in the news again.

At a rally in Bahawalpur, Khan famously threatened that if so much as a single bullet was fired at his followers during the Azadi March in August, he will hang the official behind the shooting with his own hands.

In the same speech, Khan put forward four questions to the PML-N government. Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed not only answered the questions but also offered to be hanged off Imran's hands in case the answers were wrong.

I'd say that if nothing else, Imran Khan's threat should have appeased the sizeable pro-death penalty community of Pakistan, who believe that no good can come out of a crime-fighting regiment if every crime isn't punishable by death. The philosophy paints the last government as an abject failure, for in all 5 years of its tenure, it failed to put a single convicted head into the noose.

I think Bhutto's hanging could be a possible reason for that.

Bhutto's death has been openly called 'judicial murder' for a long time now. Justice Naseem Hasan Shah - 1 of the judges on the panel which imposed the death sentence on Bhutto - admitted in an interview that there was tremendous political pressure behind the sentence.

More recently, in October 1999, when Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif and filed a case against him for hijacking a plane, the general had hoped Sharif and his loyalists would be awarded the death sentence.

But as luck would have it, a Sindhi judge, Justice Rehmat Hussain Jaffri, disappointed him with a life sentence instead. If Jaffri had been a fan of 'hangman' just as Musharraf and Imran Khan are, there's a good likelihood our prime minister wouldn't be here today.


The horror of executing a person


To give you an idea of what havoc the death penalty can wreak on people, here's an example:

In October 1992, one Major Arshad Jameel claimed to have located and killed nine Indian agents (in an encounter following a tip-off) in Tando Bahawal, Hyderabad, Sindh. At that time, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif happened to be in Hyderabad as well. He admired the Major's feat on national television.

Later, it was discovered that the 'encounter' was fake. Jameel was tried and handed the death sentence by a military court.

But up till 1996, the sentencing could not be carried out.

Eventually, the sisters of the 2 brothers who lost their lives in this 'encounter' set themselves on fire. Only then, in October 1996, was Arshad Jameel finally hanged.

The law requires that a 'first class' magistrate be present during the execution. In the above case, the magistrate nominated was Ghanor Khan Jatoi.

I happened to be familiar with Jatoi through a couple of friends of mine, who knew him closely. According to them, Ghanor Khan Jatoi was a very sensitive man. He tried hard to break free of the job assigned to him, but was eventually forced to witness a man die in front of his eyes.

After the hanging, Jatoi started to grow restless with every passing day. He couldn't sleep, couldn't eat. Things gradually grew worse and he began to have fits. To escape the ghosts of the hanging, he got himself transferred to Sangarh district, but to no improvement in his health. Eventually, Ghanor Khan Jatoi ended this ordeal by committing suicide.

All this not for someone who administered the hanging, but only witnessed it.

Of course, I don't mean to scare Imran Khan away from hanging people, but only wish to point out that having someone hanged requires a certain tenacity that is genetic. M.G. Chitkara writes in his book Benazir: A profile:

"Tara Maseeh, the man who hanged Bhutto, was given Rs25 for the task. He came from a family of executioners and considered the job an honour for him. Maseeh's father was the person who hanged the liberalist freedom-fighter Bhagat Singh."

The money aside, an honour is an honour. These days, there's a shortage of people fit for the job in India too.

Mahadeb Malik, the executioner from Calcutta, says it's no easy task and requires tremendous courage. Think in terms of how you're essentially killing a person per a pre-planned scheme and without any personal reason or even remorse, says Malik. There's zero room for botching it and sometimes, you even have to deal with the wrath of the person being executed.

The BBC report A country in search of a hangman also says that executioners in India are paid Rs10,000 for every execution. According to the 2013 report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there are as many as 6,218 convicts inside Pakistan's jails waiting to be hanged.

If Pakistan starts paying its executioners Rs10,000 for every hanging, I think the total revenue for killing people could amount to over Rs 6 crore.

Perhaps the government could assign this task to Imran - at the very least, it would serve to fill up the party coffers, if he is up to the task.

(source: Akhtar Balouch is a senior journalist, writer and researcher. He is currently a council member of the HRCP. Sociology is his primary domain of expertise, on which he has published several books----Dawn)


Lawmaker group seeking end to death penalty to resume activities

A Diet members' group formed to end the death penalty plans to resume operations as early as next month after suspending its activities following the 2012 election, sources said Monday.

The group headed by Shizuka Kamei, 77, an independent in the Lower House, wants to establish a new prison sentence - life with no chance of parole - to make taking capital punishment of the books easier, the sources said.

Alarmed by the execution of nine inmates since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took power following the Lower House election in December 2012, Kamei, a former police officer who once headed the now-defunct Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), and other group members have called on ruling and opposition lawmakers in both Diet houses to join the parliamentary body, the sources said.

The group, established in 1994 had more than 100 members at one point, but its membership has declined to around 30 and the group has not held a full meeting since the 2012 general election.

Former senior members include Yoshito Sengoku, who served as chief Cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan, Hirotami Murakoshi, a former DPJ Lower House member who served as the group's secretary-general, as well as Koichi Kato and Hidenao Nakagawa, former Lower House members and secretary-generals of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The parliamentary group will aim to submit a bill to the Diet that initially calls for the establishment of life sentences without parole, suspends the execution of death-row inmates and only allows the death penalty to be handed down when all 3 professional judges and 6 citizen judges agree.

Kamei said the establishment of a life sentence without parole would lead to a decline in the number of people who support the death penalty and eventually see capital punishment phased out.

The group also plans to launch a panel in both Diet chambers to examine the death penalty.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a recent report that the number of countries using capital punishment declined to 22 in 2013 from 37 in 1994.

(source: Japan Times)


Davis once supported death penalty moratorium

Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, is facing new pressure over her past support of a moratorium on the death penalty.

The Houston Chronicle reports Davis voted as a Fort Worth city councilwoman in July 2000 for a resolution supporting a moratorium in order to study the death penalty and potential changes.

The vote on the resolution failed, 5-4, and Davis is now a state senator who says she supports capital punishment.

But that vote is being pressed 14 years later by Davis' Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch accused Davis of "flip-flopping and political posturing."

Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas told the newspaper Davis wanted changes to the death penalty then that have since been addressed by courts and the Legislature.

(source: Associated Press)


Man suspected for gunning down Brendan Tevlin pleads not guilty

1 of the 3 suspects who were arrested and charged with the murder of Brendan Tevlin has plead not guilty. Tevlin, who completed his freshman year at Richmond this spring, was shot and killed in his family's Jeep in New Jersey on June 25th.

According to Essex County prosecutors, Ali Muhammad Brown, 29, Jeremy Villagran, 19, and Eric Williams, 18, were charged. Brown is a registered sex offender and wanted for a double-murder in the state of Washington, according to authorities.

"They surrounded (the Jeep) on foot," acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said at a news conference on Monday. "One individual interacted briefly with Brendan Tevlin and then, from the passenger side of that vehicle, shot at him 10 times, striking him 8 times."

Brown pulled the trigger, according to officials, and then drove Tevlin's vehicle to the apartment complex where he was later found, while Villagran and Williams acted as accomplices.

All 3 men appeared in state Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon and face murder, robbery and weapons charges.

In court, Brown pled not guilty on all accounts dealing with Tevlin's death. However, when police found him in a wooded area behind a retirement community in West Orange on July 18, he had a gun that matched the one used in Tevlin's killing, prosecutors said. The weapon also matched the gun authorities believe was used in an armed robbery that took place in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, just days before Tevlin's death, and in the murder of 2 young gay men in Seattle on June 1st.

Unlike the victims in Seattle, whom Brown had arranged to meet via a social networking app called Grindr, investigators in Essex County said Tevlin had no prior contact with Brown or the other 2 men charged with his murder.

CBS 2 spoke with a resident of the apartment complex where Tevlin was found who said Villagran was his neighbor.

"I am surprised because he was a good kid as far as I know. He never did anything wrong," Pat DiPasquale said.

Brown's bail was set at $5 million and Villagran's and Williams' were each set at $1 million.

Brown could face the death penalty in Washington state, if convicted. Authorities there say a decision on which jurisdiction would try Brown 1st is likely to be made in a few days.

(source: The (University of Richmond) Collegian)


Hood, prosecution asks judge to reconsider using Elbert County jury in Athens murder trial

Admitted Athens cop killer Jamie Hood and a prosecutor recently asked a judge to reconsider his ruling that Hood will be tried in Athens by a jury selected from another county.

Western Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge H. Patrick Haggard last month ruled in favor of Hood's request for a change of venue due to extensive pretrial publicity.

Hood, who is acting as his own attorney, and District Attorney Ken Mauldin previously agreed that it might be difficult to choose an impartial jury from the local jury pool. Mauldin, however, argued that the trial should be held at the downtown Athens courthouse.

He and Hood agreed that the case would be tried in Athens, but in front of jurors chosen from another county.

Hood requested that jurors be chosen from Fulton or DeKalb counties, but Haggard ruled that the demographic make-up of those counties are so different from Athens-Clarke County that Hood "would likely" be denied his constitutional right to be tried by jurors 'selected from a fair cross section of the community."

The judge ruled that jurors would be selected from Elbert County.

Recently, Hood filed a motion asking Haggard to reconsider his ruling and again asked for jurors to be selected from the 2 metro Atlanta counties. He argued that in his ruling that Haggard not give any evidence to show that a fair cross-section of the community could not be found in those counties.

The judge's ruling "should be made from facts that is shown in evidence on the record instead of word of mouth," Hood states in his hand-written motion.

Hood also pointed out that residents of Elbert County were likely to have strong opinions about his case because they consume news from Athens media and were exposed to the manhunt in the aftermath of the killing of Athens-Clark County Senior Police Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian and wounding of SPO Tony Howard.

During several pretrial court appearances, Hood admitted that he shot both officers.

"The police went to Elbert County in an attempt to locate the defendant," Hood noted in his motion. "The police searched potential jurors’ homes, they stopped and searched potential jurors' cars and trunks during roadblocks the police had set up in Elbert County."

Last Monday, Assistant District Attorney David Lock filed a motion in which he states that prosecutors disagree with much of what Hood argues.

However, according to the motion, prosecutors agree that the close proximity of Elbert County has exposed potential jurors to significant pretrial publicity.

"In addition, the search for (Hood) after the issuance of arrest warrants resulted in a momentous situation in Elbert County," Lock states in the motion. "Due to the presence of relatives of (Hood) in Elbert County, law enforcement conducted a search for the defendant in that county, which (in) fact gained the attention of the community."

The prosecutor notes that the county's high school was in lockdown during a portion of the manhunt that took place in Elbert County.

After a 4-day search, Hood was arrested at a home in Athens where he allegedly held several people hostage while he negotiated for his safe surrender on live TV.

The shooting of the officers, the manhunt for Hood and numerous pretrial hearings have been covered by Atlanta-based television stations.

Lock argues that jurors for Hood's death-penalty case should be chosen from "a county outside the reach of the media of Athens ... or Atlanta, or to a county within the viewing area wherein the Atlanta media area does not constitute the prevalent media outlet."

(source: Athens Banner-Herald)


Mom of slain Fla. girl Cherish Perrywinkle returning to court, wants custody of 2 daughters

The mother of an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl who was abducted and slain will return to court this week in an attempt to regain custody of her 2 other daughters.

In her 1st extensive interview in nearly a year, Rayne Perrywinkle told the Florida Times-Union ( ) that she's learned to become numb to the people pointing and taking photos of her at the grocery store. She says the public blames her for her daughter, Cherish's, death. She longs to speak out about the rumors swirling on the internet but is limited because prosecutors told her not to say anything that could hurt their 1st-degree murder case against Donald James Smith.

"There have been so many people trying to decipher what happened that night. They have their ideas and then there's what the truth is," she said. "They (the media) got it wrong in the first place and it (public perception) has spiraled out of control."

Smith, 57, is accused of killing Cherish after befriending her mother at a Dollar General store last summer. Police say he took Rayne Perrywinkle and her young children to a Wal-Mart store, where he offered to buy them clothes and food. Cherish disappeared after she went with Smith to a McDonald's inside the store. Her body was found the next day in a wooded area near a church.

Smith is awaiting trial on 1st-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery charges. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Smith had a lengthy rap sheet of convictions for sex crimes against children and had gotten out of prison less than a month before Perrywinkle was killed.

Perrywinkle struggles to discuss her young daughter's funeral, where the grieving mother needed to be carried away.

"What parent wants to see their child in a box waiting for them," Perrywinkle said." When I was walking on my way to see Cherish, I fell a few times. I was sobbing on the floor and I didn't want to stand up."

The state later took custody of her 2 other daughters, a 5-year-old and 6-year-old. Rayne Perrywinkle will be in court Wednesday trying to regain custody.

Perrywinkle said she wasn't a bad mother and didn't give Cherish to Smith. She said she's been drug tested nearly 10 times by both the state Department of Children and Families and the court and they've all been negative.

"I don't do drugs. I don't sell them. I don't have them around," she said, addressing frequent rumors.

Perrywinkle said she doesn't fault the department and has been working on everything the court ordered. For now, she's allowed weekly two-hour visits with her girls where they often play outside and draw pictures.

"I hope it changes soon, I want them home," Perrywinkle said. "Adjusting to this new life is incredibility difficult."

(source: Associated Press)


2 Pensacola murder trials continue Monday

2 Escambia County homicide trials will continue into this week.

On Monday, the 1st-degree murder trial of Robert Purifoy will resume after 4 days of testimony. Purifoy is accused of killing Amber Johnson during a drug-motivated robbery at her boyfriend's house in 2012.

Johnson reportedly was shot in the head when Purifoy and her boyfriend, Justin Stanley, got into a shootout at Stanley's Stefani Circle residence. Purifoy and Stanley also suffered gunshot wounds in the exchange but survived.

While seeking treatment for his injuries, Purifoy reportedly told hospital personnel a robber shot him while he was in the Belmont-DeVilliers area. However, cellphone records placed Purifoy around Stefani Circle about the time of the robbery, authorities said. Surveillance video also placed the vehicle of Purifoy's girlfriend near the residence, and blood in a vehicle was identified as Purifoy's.

The prosecution has rested in the case, but defense witnesses are expected to continue their testimony Monday.

Monday also will see the resumption of the trial of Sergio Moorer.

On Thursday, a jury found Moorer guilty of beating and burning John Daniel Hall to death. Monday, the defense and prosecution will have the opportunity to present additional evidence to the jury to help decide its recommendation for Moorer's sentence.

The jury will review mitigating and aggravating factors, such as criminal history and the circumstances of Hall's killing, to decide whether they will recommend the death penalty or life imprisonment for Moorer.

The presiding judge, Judge Gary Bergosh, will make the ultimate decision on Moorer's sentence, however the jury recommendation will weigh heavily in his determination.

Both cases will resume Monday morning in the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building in Pensacola.

(source: Pensacola News Journal)


Ala woman fights jury plan in girl's death

An Alabama woman facing a possible death sentence in the running death of her 9-year-old granddaughter is asking a judge to bar lawyers from eliminating potential jurors who oppose capital punishment.

Joyce Garrard's attorneys contend that culling death penalty opponents from the jury is unconstitutional since it would result in jurors more likely to vote for conviction.

Prosecutors haven't responded. But a judge says he will consider Garrard's arguments during a hearing Aug. 18.

The 49-year-old Garrard is scheduled for trial Sept. 22 in the death of Savannah Hardin.

Prosecutors claim Garrard made the child run until she collapsed as punishment for a lie.

Garrard says she's innocent, and the defense blames the girl's 2012 death on other health problems.

The child's stepmother also is charged with murder.

(source: Associated Press)


Jordan presses new appeal of 1976 death sentence

Mississippi inmate Richard Gerald Jordan has asked the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear his death penalty appeal.

At 68, Jordan is the oldest inmate on Mississippi's death row. He is also Mississippi's longest serving death row inmate at 37 years.

Jordan was convicted in the kidnap-slaying of Edwina Marta in Harrison County in January 1976. He was accused of collecting a $25,000 ransom from Marta's husband, then shooting the woman in Harrison County.

In a post-conviction petition denied in June, 2 members of a 3-judge panel of the 5th Circuit rejected Jordan's arguments of prosecutorial vindictiveness and ineffective assistance of counsel.

The 5th Circuit set a deadline of Friday for the Mississippi attorney general's office to respond to Jordan's motion for a full court hearing.

(source: Associated Press)


Ohio's death-penalty moratorium extended until next January

A federal judge has extended a temporary moratorium on executions in Ohio until Jan. 15, 2015 to allow more time for the state to implement a new lethal-injection procedure.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost's order will delay four scheduled executions in the state using a new lethal-injection cocktail that's come under scrutiny in recent months.

In May, Frost halted all Ohio executions until this month in the wake of the controversial execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire in January.

McGuire's family filed a federal lawsuit after he was seen gasping, choking and clenching his fists while taking an unexpectedly long 25 minutes to die from a never-before-tried lethal-injection cocktail of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a narcotic painkiller. A state review concluded that McGuire suffered no pain during his execution, but officials said they'll increase the dosage of the drugs for future executions.

Ohio's new execution protocol calls for 50 mg each of midazolam and hydromorphone, the same dosage of the drugs employed in a nearly two-hour-long execution in Arizona last month.

Frost issued an order Friday extending the moratorium "in light of the continuing need for discovery and necessary preparations related to the adoption and implementation of the new execution protocol."

The next scheduled execution in Ohio had been set for Sept. 18, when Summit County killer Ronald Phillips would have been put to death.

Other executions that will now need to be rescheduled include Raymond Tibbetts on Oct. 15, Gregory Lott on Nov. 19, and Warren Henness on Jan. 7, 2015.

Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich and the state prison's department didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment Monday.



Judges extends temporary halt to Ohio executions

A federal judge has extended a months-long moratorium on executions in Ohio into next year as questions mount about the effectiveness of a new, 2-drug combination being used to carry out the death penalty.

The debate over the death penalty has been intensified in America and lethal injection has been under increased scrutiny after executions went awry in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona.

The Ohio ruling by federal judge Gregory Frost will delay executions scheduled for September, October and November and highlights the ongoing problem faced by states in obtaining drugs to put inmates to death.

The last moratorium was scheduled to expire this week.

The 1-page order by Frost issued Friday extends it through Jan. 15. It affects Ohio's latest death penalty policy change, which was announced in late April and increases the amount of the sedative and painkiller Ohio uses.

Ohio's 1st choice for a drug is compounded pentobarbital, a specialty version of the drug it used previously with few problems. But it has been unable to obtain supplies of compounded pentobarbital and so switched to its backup method of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone.

Missouri and Texas both have supplies of compounded pentobarbital, though the states won't reveal their sources, and have used them to carry out several executions successfully in recent months.

Allen Bohnert, the lead defense attorney challenging the use of the 2-drug method, declined to comment. A message was left with the state prisons agency.

The next execution scheduled in Ohio was to have occurred Sept. 18, when Ronald Phillips was set to die for the 1993 rape and death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron.

Back in January, Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying. A few months later, Clayton Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his April execution began in Oklahoma, where officials have pointed to improper insertion of the needle delivering the drugs.

When Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death last month in Arizona, he gasped more than 600 times while he lay on the table and took nearly 2 hours to die.

Most lethal injections kill in a fraction of that time, often within 10 or 15 minutes. Governors in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have ordered investigations.

The three states all use midazolam, a drug that is more commonly given to help patients relax before surgery. In executions, it is part of a 2- or 3-drug lethal injection.

For decades, states used the same 3-drug formula for lethal injections: a sedative that rendered the inmate unconscious, usually sodium thiopental, followed by a paralytic agent, usually pancuronium bromide, and finally the drug that stopped the heart, potassium chloride.

But in recent years, major drugmakers, many of them in Europe, stopped selling pharmaceuticals for use in executions, citing ethical concerns. By 2011, with sodium thiopental no longer available, Ohio became the 1st state to use pentobarbital in a single-drug execution.

Soon, the Danish maker of pentobarbital, Lundbeck Inc., initiated efforts to keep it out of the hands of corrections departments. That led Ohio and some other states that initially used the drug to abandon it.

(source: Associated Press)


Woman takes plea deal, will testify against others in Indianapolis quadruple homicide

1 of 4 defendants charged in a drug-related quadruple homicide in a crime that has come to symbolize a year of violence in Indianapolis has agreed to a plea deal under which she'll testify against the others, a prosecutor said.

Samantha Bradley, 20, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Thursday in which she admitted helping to plan the Feb. 20 robbery that led to the slayings on the city's south side, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told The Indianapolis Star for a story published Sunday ( ).

Bradley also admitted to helping transport the 3 other suspects from the scene and disposing of evidence, Curry said. She faces a sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison under the deal.

As a condition for dropping other charges against her, Curry said, Bradley will testify against the alleged primary shooter, 24-year-old Kenneth "Cody" Rackemann, and co-defendants Anthony LaRussa, 26, and Valencia Williams, 21. Prosecutors agreed to drop 4 counts of felony murder and 1 count of robbery against Bradley.

Curry is seeking the death penalty against Rackemann.

According to court documents, Rackemann had worked security for drug dealer Walter Burnell, 47, and was searching for a safe inside the home shared by Burrell and Jacob Rodemich, 43, when he started shooting those inside, prosecutors have said. Rackemann fatally shot the 2 men and Kristy Mae Sanchez, 22, and wounded Hayley Navarra, 21, before he ran out of bullets, they said.

Rackemann then allegedly called in Williams, who was sitting in a car outside, to kill the 4th victim, a probable cause affidavit said. Williams killed Navarra as she begged for her life, according to the affidavit.

Curry said he expects the case to go to trial before the end of the year, but Rackemann's case could be delayed if a judge grants Curry's request to seek the death penalty

The slayings were among 8 homicides in Indianapolis during a 24-hour period.

(source: Associated Press)


Kansas Supreme Court insane on Carr ruling

Kansans need to pay attention to what is happening to our justice system with the insane rulings by the Kansas Supreme Court.

These liberals recently overturned the death penalty for the Carr brothers, 2 of the most vicious killers the state has known. They brutalized and sexually tortured 5 decent human beings over a period of days and then took them naked to a frozen field and shot each in the head before running them over with a car. Thank God one survived to testify against them.

But on another of their so called legal technicalities, the supreme beings overturned the death penalty 12 years later and dismissed dozens of other charges.

The justices rule with impunity based on appointment for life and seem to take delight in finding any discrepancy that shows the ignorance of the lower courts, compared to their own infallible rulings. These are the same justices who continue to send old cases of brutal murderers back to juries for retrial or resentencing, which forces victims or their relatives to relive the horror of the crime. They have no regard for the victims and are only committed to the criminals rights and the obstruction of the death penalty, which is Kansas law.

These justices supposedly follow the law when it comes to school funding, thereby taxing without representation, but choose not to follow Kansas law in death penalty cases. Please vote no on retention when these justices are on the ballot.

Bill Barnes, Topeka

(source: Letter to the Editor, Topeka Capital-Journal)


Death penalty case against Dexter Lewis goes to court Monday

The man facing the death penalty for allegedly stabbing 5 people to death in a Denver bar is due in court this week where attorneys will argue a slew of motions in the case.

Dexter Lewis, 24, is charged with 16 counts for his role in the attack that left 5 people dead at Fero's Bar and Grill in October 2012.

The charges include 1st-degree murder, arson and robbery.

On Monday, attorneys will begin the first in a 4-day stretch of motions hearings.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will argue dozens of motions including what evidence may be presented at trial, what Lewis will wear during trial and a defense effort to move the case out of Denver District Court.

A number of motions focus on whether statements made by Lewis and 3 others connected to crime will be admitted at trial.

2 other men charged in the case, brothers Joseph and Lynell Hill, have accepted plea agreements and have received lengthy sentences.

A 4th man, Demarea Harris, was working as a confidential informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when he entered the bar with the 3 other men.

Harris has not been arrested or charged in the case.

Attorneys will argue whether nor not the varying statements the 4 men made - most of which contradict the others - will be presented to the jury.

Prosecutors have already indicated they will seek to present all the statements Lewis made to police and others at trial. They allege Lewis inflicted the fatal stab wound on each victim.

Lewis' case marks the 1st time since 2001 that Denver prosecutors have pursued the death penalty.

(source: Denver Post)


Jodi Arias' decision: a fatal mistake?

When her penalty phase re-trial begins next month, Jodi Arias herself will be trying to convince a new jury she should not be given the death penalty. Arizona judge Sherry Stephens approved the convicted murderer's request to act as her own lawyer, but she strongly advised Arias to reconsider.

Arias was convicted last May of killing ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. The jury was split in the sentencing phase where they were asked to determine if she should receive the death penalty or life in prison.



Over 1,300 Executed in US Since Repeal of Death Penalty Ban

32 American states, where capital punishment is still legal, have put to death over 1,300 people since 1976 for committing murder, aggravated by torture, rape and other factors.

The United States is one of the world's leading countries for the number of executions. According to an Amnesty International report, the country was 6th in 2013 - after China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

The US Supreme Court brought back the death sentence after it was declared unconstitutional from 1972-1976. Since then, some 1,386 people have been executed in the country for murdering almost 2,100 people, The Washington Post reported.

According to the report, southern states carried out the vast majority of executions - together, the authorities of Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia account for more than half of the country's death penalty toll. On the contrary, the northeastern states of Connecticut, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming have enforced one death penalty each.

The study also outlines the age and racial composition of both executed killers and their victims. The 1st parameter varies from 22 to 77 years, with the majority of the murderers executed in their thirties.

As for the racial structure, the report provides roughly equal number of Caucasian and African-American killers put to death with minor share of Hispanic, Native American and foreign sharing the same fate.

However, Amnesty International's US division claimed in its "Death Penalty Facts 2012" paper that capital punishment in the country is "racially biased," arguing that 77 % of the people who were sentenced to death were executed for murdering Caucasians, "even though African-Americans make up about 1/2 of all homicide victims."

State laws sanction various methods of carrying out a death sentence, including hanging and a firing squad, last used June 2010 in Utah. Still, the vast majority of the executions, that is 1,211 cases, were carried out by lethal injection.

The Death Penalty Information Center explains that prior to 2009 "most states used a 3-drug combination for lethal injections: an anesthetic (usually sodium thiopental, until pentobarbital was introduced at the end of 2010), pancuronium bromide (a paralytic agent also called Pavulon), and potassium chloride (stops the heart and causes death)." Certain states, though, use other mixtures and chemicals, and sometimes, experimental ones.

The center describes 46 cases of botched executions since 1982. In April, Clayton Lockett, sentenced to death for sexually assaulting and murdering a woman, was given a new lethal 3-drug mixture for the 1st time. 7 minutes after the injection, he was still conscious and died of a heart attack after another 36 minutes.

Observing the lethal chemicals, The Associated Press stated "2 of the drugs used carry warnings that they can suppress the respiratory system and the 3rd warns that cardiac trouble can occur at high but non-lethal doses, and lists specific steps to take if a medical patient receives too much of the drug but doesn't die."

Another case that has received international media coverage was the execution of Joseph R. Wood in Arizona, convicted of murdering 2 people. The Arizona Republic and 12 News said that after receiving an untested lethal injection, Wood was gasping for air for more than 90 minutes before finally dying.

During his trial, Wood's attorneys had been trying to get a stay of execution, arguing that the prison's authorities refused to disclose the origins of the execution drugs to the convict and that the injection "posed a risk of violating the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment," but the Supreme Court let Arizona proceed, Time magazine reported.

(source: Ria Novosti)


Capital punishment to culprits demanded

Hundreds of villagers including women and children formed a 4-kilometre-long human chain at Shalbahanhat in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh yesterday, demanding arrest and death penalty of the killers of housewife Shamsun Nahar.

Under the banner of Tentulia Upazila Sachetan Mahal, people from all walks of life joined the hour-long programe.

Police recovered the body of the slain housewife from a kitchen at Sahebjoth village in the upazila Friday early morning.

Shamsun Nahar, 38, was wife of headmaster of Sipaipara Government Primary School Asir Uddin of Sahebjoth village in the same upazila.

Police and family sources said, after taking food Shamsun Nnahar went to bed at about 11:00pm like other days. Her mother-in-law Asia Bewa woke up and went to their kitchen at about 4:30am to have sehri for fasting and found Shamsun Nahar's body lying there.

Hearing her screams, other family members and neighbours rushed to the spot and informed the police.

(source: The Daily Star)


British medical students murder: Mother of accused begs for son to be spared death

The mother of a fish seller believed to have stabbed to death 2 British medical students yesterday begged: "Don't let them hang my son."

Fatimah Sauli's son, Zulkipli Abdullah, is the main suspect in the brutal early hours attack near a bar on the island of Borneo and faces the death penalty.

Abdullah, 24, is accused of driving after Newcastle University pals Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger with 3 friends before jumping out of the car and knifing them.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia has now tweeted his condolences at the savage killings.

Abdullah appeared in court on Wednesday - just hours after the Britons were killed - and is reported to have admitted his guilt to police.

After being persuaded by other members of her family to speak out, Fatimah - clutching a photo of her son as a child - begged: "Please don't let them hang him. He's my only son.

"It's awful what happened, but nothing is going to bring back those 2 boys."

Asked if she had a message for the parents of Neil, 23, and Aidan, 22, she said: "I want them to know how sorry I am."

She told how Abdullah came back to the shack they share after the attack: "I heard him come in but he didn't say a word. He just went to bed. He was very upset.

"Then a few hours later there's banging on the door of our house, and lots of police officers were outside. They came in and handcuffed him. I didn't know what was happening. They searched the house and took my son away. I've not seen him since and I'm terrified for the future.

"He's my only child. His problem is he drinks too much, but he doesn't deserve to die."

3 of the 4 suspects tested positive for the drug Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, according to a police report.

Locals say Borneo, which is divided between Malaysia and Indonesia, is awash with the powerful drug.

In the seedy red light district of the city of Kuching, in Sarawak, Malaysia, where the attack took place, crystal meth is sold as white powder in plastic straws.

At the bottom of the muddy track leading to Abdullah's home in the impoverished, riverside area of Kampung Gersik is a circle of huts which serve as a roughshod food court, with wooden tables and benches.

One villager pointed to it saying: "This is not a place for tourists.

"At night lots of the youngsters come out and get drunk here. Some people carry weapons and show off. Fights happen. It is dangerous."

"Zul would come here and get drunk. He was a well known person in this village. People are very upset about what happened. But they don't think it was Zul's fault. Zul went too far, but there are 2 sides to the story."

Fatimah also insisted her son was not to blame for the row which led to the 2 students being killed. Although she had not talked to him since the killings, she said: "Both groups were sitting in a bar.

"Zulkipli was drunk with his friends, and the British boys were together on another table, also drunk.

"Then a row broke out, and 1 of the British students flipped over the table where Zulkipli was sitting. Everyone was shouting at each other, then Zulkipli got slapped in the face.

"The British boys ran away, and that's when the stabbings happened. The whole thing is so confusing."

Neil and Aidan were found by cafe workers at 4.15am, roughly 20 metres apart, sprawled on the road and gasping for air after being stabbed. The owner of a bistro spotted the car Abdullah and his friends had used to follow the students, managing to take down the registration plate.

Just hours later police had arrested Abdullah, 24, mechanic Yeo Kia Sing, 29, and jobless Remy Bin Marjuki, 19.

They appeared at Kuching Magistrates Court on the same day and were remanded in police custody for 7 days.

A 4th man, Abdul Aziz Bin Karim, 35, appeared in court the next day after being arrested while on the run.

Fatimah has not yet seen her son in jail but said she would attend court,

She explained: "I will give him the best support I can offer. But we have no money for expensive lawyers. I worry that he will get a fair hearing. There are rumours the authorities will make an example of him for attacking a tourist."

The bodies of Neil and Aidan have now been flown out of Kuching following the completion of a post-mortem examination.

They were transported on Malaysian Airlines flight MH2527 bound for Kuala Lumpur. Their bodies were then transferred onto another flight bound for the UK.

Their relatives did not travel to Borneo and instead the identification of the bodies was carried out by friends of the students. Both had been on a 6-week work placement in Kuching.

The pair were described as "excellent" and "hard working" students by the Medical school at Newcastle University.

Neil grew up in Belper, Derbyshire where he attended the local school, achieving 4 A* grades at A -Level.

Aidan Brunger from Gillingham, Kent, was a pupil at Rainham Mark Grammar School before winning a place at Newcastle University to study medicine.

The pair had been part of a large group of overseas students based in Kuching.

Meanwhile Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wrote on his Twitter page: "My condolences to the families and friends of Britons Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger.

"Those responsible for their deaths must be brought to justice."

Deputy police commissioner Chai Khin Chung told the Mirror they had completed their investigation and would pass on their evidence to prosecutors.

He said: "All 4 are being investigated for murder, which is a capital crime in Borneo. They have admitted the crime."

(source: Daily Mirror)


QC mayor Bautista wants death penalty law revisited

After slapping a suspected Chinese drug dealer last week, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista on Monday called for a revisiting of the country's death penalty law.

In a phone-patch interview on Mornings@ANC, Bautista noted that some members of the public who reacted to the arrest of the Chinese drug dealer wanted to revive the controversial punishment.

"I am hoping that Congress will revisit the issue of death penalty especially on drug-related cases," Bautista said.

Bautista added that he can propose the move to former Quezon City mayor and now House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

He also hoped that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will be "vigilant in pushing for the death penalty" and in pursuing people and organizations behind the illegal drug trade.

"Nakakasira talaga ng pamilya ang droga," Bautista said.

Meantime, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Etta Rosales said there is no evidence proving that death penalty in fact reduces criminality.

"The best solution is the certainty of arrest, investigation, the certainty of prosecution, conviction and penalty. That, to me, is what we should focus on," Rosales told ANC and Bautista.

The CHR chief said the present global trend in human rights is the abolition of the death penalty and the strengthening of restorative justice.

Bautista agreed with Rosales, clarifying that he only wants lawmakers to look into the issue.

The mayor recently apologized to Rosales after he slapped on Friday a Chinese national who was caught with 10 kilos of shabu, with a street value of P15 million.

(source: Philippine Star)


Bahraini Group Urges Saving the Life of Prominent Saudi Shia Cleric 'Nimr Baqr al-Nimr'

The February 14 Movement of Bahrain issued a statement calling on the international community and human rights organizations to try and save the life of top Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

It also urged all the noble people of the world and the religious authorities in the Arab and Muslim world to take steps to save the Shia cleric's life.

The movement also warned the Saudi government against the consequences of a possible death penalty for Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

Saudi security forces arrested Nimr Baqr al-Nimr in July 2012 and have kept him behind bars since then. The prominent cleric is reported to have been under torture.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that a Saudi prosecutor has demanded the death penalty for Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

(source: AhlulBayt News Agency)


Hanged for murder: 50th anniversary of last people to be executed in Britain

When, at 8am on 13 August 1964, Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans took a short walk to the gallows to be hanged for murder, the deaths of 2 hapless petty criminals were little mourned and little noticed.

Instead Allen and Evans became the last people to be executed in Britain. Wednesday this week will be the 50th anniversary not just of their deaths, but of a major milestone in the history of British justice.

The death penalty for murder was suspended for a trial period the year after they were executed. In 1969 it was abolished altogether by a vote in the House of Commons, which won an overwhelming majority and loud cheers from the public gallery.

So a killing characterised more by incompetent desperation than anything resembling cold-blooded calculation acquired a significance few could have imagined at the time.

Needing money to pay off magistrates fines of 10 pounds imposed on them for earlier thefts, the 2 jobless men had driven to the home of Evans' former workmate John West, 53, in Seaton, Cumbria, to request the loan of "a few quid".

Mr West refused to give them any money. His stabbed and battered body was found the next day. Tracing the 2 suspects was hardly difficult. Evans had left his raincoat at the scene, with a medallion inscribed with his name.

Letters from both men's mothers begging the Home Secretary Henry Brooke to grant clemency had no effect.

At Strangeways, Manchester, Evans, 24, was led from his cell by Harry Allen, who always wore a bow tie for the job as a sign of "respect" and once claimed he "never felt a moment's remorse" for his executions.

35 miles away in Walton Jail, Liverpool, Allen, 21, shouted "Jesus" as he was led to the gallows by his executioner Robert Stewart.

Former prison officer George Donaldson who witnessed the execution, told the makers of the ITV documentary Executed: "At the last minute he seemed to make some sort of effort to throw himself, but he didn't get the chance. The lever dropped, the door opened and down he went. It was all over."

From murder to double execution had taken just 18 weeks. It was too late for Evans and Allen, but an abolitionist campaign that dated at least as far back as the formation of the National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty (NCADP), in 1923 - after the dubious execution of Edith Thompson - was beginning to bear fruit. It was fuelled by cases like that of Derek Bentley, a 19-year-old with a mental age of 11 who was hanged in 1953 for the murder of a policeman, despite not having fired the fatal shot. The officer had told Bentley's accomplice to hand over the gun, and the teenager had uttered the highly ambiguous phrase: "Let him have it."

Also in 1953 it was discovered that the Rillington Place serial killer John Christie had been the real murderer of Beryl Evans and her baby daughter Geraldine. Mrs Evans' husband Timothy had been wrongly hanged in 1950.

Mr Evans' sister Maureen Westlake told the Executed documentary, to be broadcast on Tuesday night: "The last time I saw him, he did look like a 10-year-old. His face was all pale. He waved and said, 'cheerio'."

"It's the Government that murdered Tim. Not killed him. Murdered him."

In January this year, a poll found that 54 % of British people want the return of the death penalty.

(source: The Independent)


Kenyan MP proposes 'Stone the Gays To Death' Bill ---- Kenya's Republican Liberty Party has proposed stoning gays and lesbians to death and has put a bill to that end before the National Assembly for its consideration

Kenya's Republican Liberty Party wants to impose the death penalty for homosexuality and has put forward a bill that would see foreign gays and lesbians in the country stoned to death. The party's draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill would also see gay and lesbian Kenyans jailed for life and stoned to death in public for 'aggravated homosexuality' which the bill defines as sex with a person under 18, where the person has HIV or where the person is in a position of authority over the person they have had sex with.

The 'aggravated' category also includes same-sex activity with a person who has a disability or where the person is a 'serial offender.'

The bill appears to be modeled on a similar law in Uganda that was recently struck down by its Constitutional Court and is now before the Kenyan Parliament's Justice and Legal Affairs.

Particularly concerning is the imposition of the death penalty on non-citizens who engage in sex between people of the same sex as a large number of LGBTI Ugandans have fled to Kenya to escape the anti-gay climate in their homeland. The Republican Liberty Party claims that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is needed to combat external threats to the heterosexual family unit in Kenya.

'There is need to protect children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technology, parentless child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise,' the bill's author Edward Onwong'a Nyakeriga claims.

'The [bill] aims at providing a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the cherished culture of the people of Kenya, legal, religious and traditional family values against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Kenya.'

The bill comes after a group of Kenyan MPs formed an anti-gay caucus in the Parliament and calls to investigate why Kenya's existing laws against homosexuality were not being enforced more aggressively. Kenya already punishes homosexual acts with sentences of between 5 and 14 years in prison.



Ranjita killing: JAC demands death penalty, family of accused cries foul

The JAC formed against the brutal killing of Lourembam Ranjita (30) who was found stabbed to death at a paddy field at Yairipok Khoirom Mathak Leikai on August 2 has demanded life imprisonment or death penalty of the accused killer Laishram Ibomcha (52) of Yairipok Khoirom Mathak Leikai Ataobung Keithel.

Addressing a press meet at Manipur Press Club here today, Khaidem Arunkumar, convener of the JAC, said that police have confirmed the hand of Ibomcha in the killing and informed that the culprit was also involved in rape and other crimes in the past.

He stated that life imprisonment or death penalty is the right punishment for the accused as there is apprehension amongst the people of Yairipok Khoirom Mathak Leikai that Ibomcha will commit such heinous crime in future if he is set scot free.

Pointing out that Ranjita is survived by her 2 sons, 2 daughters and husband who is a mason, he also demanded the government to provide necessary compensation to family of the deceased.

Meanwhile, family members of Laishram Ibomcha have refuted the charges leveled against him saying that he has been framed with a political motive by some people with vested interest.

Speaking to media persons, Laishram Naoba, son of Ibomcha, stated that the act of torching their house and brick field by an irate mob just out of mere suspicion that was unfortunate and appealed to the concerned authority to intervene into the case and find out the real killer of Ranjita.

He also negated the charges that his father was involved in rape and other crimes in the locality in the past.

(source: Hueiyen News Service)

AUGUST 10, 2014:


The State of Texas may have executed an innocent man - but won't pardon him----Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of murdering his 3 daughters on the back of disputed evidence.

On the 17 February 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was brought to the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville.

There, he was strapped to a chair and executed by lethal injection. He had been found guilty of starting the fire that killed his 3 daughters: 2-year-old Amber Louise Kuykendall and 1-year-old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham.

Willingham was called "a monster" by Texas state governor Rick Perry and was convicted on the back of 2 crucial pieces of evidence: an expert witness declared that the fire was arson and the testimony of a convict that Willingham had confessed to him that he had started the fire. Other evidence relied on the presence of Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin posters in the house and testimony from a psychologist who was later struck off.

The only problem with the 2 key pieces of evidence? They were both wrong.

In 2004, just 4 days before Willingham was put to death, arson expert Gerald Hurst said that "...most of the conclusions reached by the Fire Marshall would be considered invalid in light of current knowledge".

That finding was backed up by the state Forensic Science Commission (FSC), an arm of the state of Texas. The FSC found that the original finding had relied on "folklore" and "myths".

That the case was built largely on the finding of original fire investigator Manuel Vasquez that arson was the cause of the fire held no sway with Governor Perry, who refused a stay on the execution.

The rest of the prosecution hinged on the testimony of a jailhouse informant by the name of Johnny Webb.

Webb was in jail for armed robbery at the time and has said he was traumatised from a sexual assault suffered in an earlier jail sentence.

At the trial, he told the jury how Willingham had told him he had set the fire.

Since then, Webb has recanted his testimony and earlier this week The Marshall Project, a publication that aims to shine a light on the American justice system, published a story that suggests authorities knew Webb was not telling the truth.

The piece, which was carried in The Washington Post, detailed how then state prosecutor John H Jackson had coerced Webb into testifying, promising him the help of a local businessman, who backed Webb with tens of thousands of dollars.

Jackson would become a judge and deny that he had done anything untoward with Webb's testimony, even when Webb asked to recant what he told the jury.

A handwritten not by Webb asking to recant his testimony contains the lines "I was made to lie. Mr Willingham is innocent of all charges".

Despite letters proving otherwise, Jackson told the trial that no deal had been made with Webb to secure his testimony.

In 2009, Webb told The New Yorker:

[I]t's very possible I misunderstood what he said. Being locked up in that little cell makes you kind of crazy. My memory is in bits and pieces. I was on a lot of medication at the time. Everyone knew that.

He has also given interviews to The Innocence Project, an American non-profit that fights for those who may have been wrongfully convicted. He told them:

"I've been wanting to come forward with this ... for a long, long time about certain specific things that no one's ever known. This has been something that's pretty much destroyed my life for 22 years."

Willingham's family have fought for a posthumous exoneration, but the State of Texas Parole Board denied their most recent application in April, telling them to reapply in 2 years.

Paul Cates of The Innocence Project says that while proponents of the death penalty claim no innocent man has been executed, Willingham may be the most clear-cut case.

"We got involved with the Willingham case at first because of the faulty forensic science. As we dug deeper, we uncovered gross prosecutorial misconduct.

"In the end, Johnny Webb's testimony was what the state used to execute Willingham. We've done a lot of work and found out that the prosecutor had an undisclosed deal.

There is pretty clear evidence that John Jackson used a legal procedure to reduce Johnny Webb's sentence. There is letter after letter to the corrections department, to the governor...volumes of evidence that there was a deal between the 2.

The prosecutor who handled the case in 2004 now says had he known about the deal, he would have been bound to disclose it.

There was only 2 pieces of evidence: Webb and the fire investigators.

There was no other evidence.

(source: The Journal)


Murder suspects in court

4 defendants in unrelated 1st-degree murder cases are set to appear in court Monday.

Motions will be heard in the cases of Cavin White, LaMichael Grant, Edward Hawkins and Shakeem Barnes.

White, 33, of 107 Cobble Creek Drive, was indicted on a 1st-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Lonnie D. Yancey, 28.

Yancey was shot Dec. 15, 2011, several times with a handgun at the Garrett Road and Vanco Mill Road intersection where deputies recovered a blue 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Deputies interviewed Jerrica Jones, Yancey's girlfriend, who was in the vehicle with him at the time he was shot.

She stated she had just pulled away from a gas station N.C. 39 and was driving on Garrett Road when she noticed a silver BMW passing her car, according to court documents.

She heard several gunshots when her car approached the stop sign the intersection and Yancey fell on her, according to court documents.

Timothy Neal, 34, of 23 Foster Road, is co-defendant in this case.

Both White's and Neal's cases have been declared capital, which means they can be put to death if found guilty.

(source: Henderson Dispatch)


911 call released in case of child's killing; Jupiter woman awaits death-penalty trial

Authorities have released a 911 call made in the case of a Jupiter woman accused of killing her ex-partner's 2-year-old daughter.

Kimberly Lucas appeared in court Friday. The 40-year-old woman is accused of 1st-degree murder in the death of the girl and attempted 1st-degree murder of the child's 10-year-old brother, who police say was drugged.

The 911 call was placed by the boy, who can be heard crying on the tape. He tells dispatchers he "took a pill to help me sleep" and that he feels dizzy.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Lucas, who was considered a 2nd mother to the children. She remains held without bond.

The Palm Beach Post ( ) reports she's next due in court in November.

(sourve: Associated Press)


Miss. death row inmate challenges rape conviction

Attorneys for death row inmate Charles Ray Crawford are arguing the man's 1994 rape conviction should be tossed out because he received poor legal representation at his trial. The result of the appeal could mean the difference between life and death for Crawford.

According to his lawyers, Crawford could get off death row - where he now resides on an unrelated murder conviction - if his appeal in the rape case is successful.

Crawford was arrested in 1992 for rape and aggravated assault. While free on bond, he was arrested for murder in the death of a young woman. He was convicted of rape in 1993 and sentenced to 66 years in prison. He was then found guilty of murder in 1994 and sentenced to death. Prosecutors had argued for the death penalty, saying it was justified because Crawford's past as a rapist constituted an aggravated factor and called for the harshest of punishments.

Crawford is now appealing the rape conviction. His lawyers say he received inadequate counsel during the trial.

The state Supreme Court says it will not set an execution date for the murder until the rape appeal is resolved. Crawford's lawyers filed a brief in the appeal July 25. Attorney General Jim Hood has 30 days from that date to respond.

If the Supreme Court upholds Crawford's conviction in the earlier case, Hood could again petition the court to set an execution date. Crawford's lawyers argue that the death sentence would be negated if the conviction is reversed.

Few details of the rape conviction are discussed in earlier briefs in the death penalty case. Crawford, now 48, was sentenced to death in the killing of Northeast Mississippi Community College student Kristy Ray in rural Tippah County.

Glenn Swartzfager, Crawford's lawyer, argued in the July 25 filing that there were numerous errors in Crawford's rape trial including poor performance by the defense, prosecutorial misconduct and questionable rulings and jury instructions from the trial judge.

"A more error-ridden case may never have come before this court," Swartzfager wrote in the brief to the Supreme Court.

"Mr. Crawford is not asserting the right to a perfect trial, though the trial he received was far from perfect, but he is asserting his right to a trial which had some chance of providing the reliability demanded by the United States and Mississippi constitutions," Swartzfager wrote.

(source: Clarion-Ledger)


Cost of a capital murder trial: $105,209----The capital murder trial of child killer Brian Horn concluded April 5 with a death sentence. The DeSoto Police Jury has paid for expenses such as hotels, food, security, expert witnesses and more.

What does it a cost to get a death penalty conviction for a child killer?

In DeSoto Parish, the tab has reached $105,209 for assorted expenses such as meals, hotels, security, travel and expert witnesses necessary for the 1st-degree murder trial of Brian Horn.

The Keachi man killed 12-year-old Justin Bloxom, of Stonewall, on March 30, 2010. On April 5, just 4 days after the 4th anniversary of the heinous crime, a jury found Horn guilty and sentenced him to death.

As the parish governing body, the DeSoto Police Jury is responsible for covering trial-related expenses. The Police Jury made the receipts, bills, credit card statements and checks available to The Times for review in response to a public records request.

It's a given that more goes into a capital murder trial than one of a lesser degree that doesn't require a sequestered jury. Primarily, the costliest aspect is housing and feeding jurors, who are kept away from their homes from the trial's start to finish.

Enhancing that expense in the Horn trial was the fact that the panel chosen to decide his fate was picked in East Baton Rouge Parish. That meant court officials had to temporarily relocate there for almost 2 weeks. Once sworn in, the 15 jurors were transported to Mansfield, where they were housed and fed for 10 days.

Feeding the jurors and the deputies assigned as security means meal tickets that, depending up on the location, can range from almost $200 to more than $1,000. Food choices included fried chicken, pizza, Chinese, steak, seafood, Mexican and sandwiches.

Also on some of the tickets are alcoholic beverage purchases. That might raise some eyebrows, but court officials allowed it within moderation. They reasoned that that these men and women from South Louisiana who might normally have a drink with their meals at home shouldn't be deprived just because they were called upon to fulfill an obligation of jury service more than 200 miles away.

The Louisiana legislative auditor's office routinely gets asked about the legality of using public funds to purchase alcohol for sequestered jurors. The question is even included on the state auditor's website that offers legal assistance on a variety of issues.

There are no Louisiana laws prohibiting it. But Article 7, Section 14 of the Louisiana Constitution states there should be a public purpose for all spending. For that reason, state auditors do not approve of alcohol purchases with public funds, said legal counsel Jennifer Schaye, who offered the comment in general and not specifically to the Horn trial expenses.

Opinions from the Louisiana attorney general's office follow the same guidelines, even noting in a 2002 inquiry on a similar topic that - under the strictest interpretation of the state Constitution - purchasing coffee, soft drinks and doughnuts is prohibited as "gratuitous" expenditure of public funds.

The attorney general has said the question is not the particular food or beverage consumed but rather the reasonableness of the expenditure. Consumption and purchase of alcohol may be reasonable when economic development is involved but otherwise is not considered an allowable expense, the state auditor’s website states.

District Judge Robert Burgess relied on a capital defense bench book provided by the judges' association that covers issues related to sequestered juries. He realizes for some it can be a "hot button issue."

But Burgess only signed off on letting jurors have limited alcohol at their evening meals after he, Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle and the court staff reviewed the guidelines, which the judge made part of the official trial record.

"If it was something they would normally do, then we agreed but only to pay a certain amount," Burgess said. "There were limits of no more than 2 a day."

It was easy to keep in check while dining in DeSoto because there is only 1 sit-down restaurant where alcohol can be purchased with meals. Jurors only ate there 3 times.

Meals were scattered around at other restaurants in the parish, and on a few occasions in Shreveport. For example, they dined at El Potrillo Mexican Restaurant in Shreveport, where the $694 bill included margaritas, Michelob, quesadillas and fajitas.

But to put it in perspective, the alcohol purchases listed on restaurant receipts totaled about $234, compared to $68 spent at Walmart and Market Basket to buy Community Coffee, creamer, soft drinks and water for jurors.

There were nights when the panel wanted to be low-key, opting to order pizza and eat at the hotel. On yet another night, they asked to do their own cooking; so crawfish and the trimmings were purchased for a crawfish boil. The bill for live crawfish from Shaver's was $565.

Other observations

-- District Attorney Richard Johnson charged meals for himself, his assistant district attorneys and other staffers on his office debit card then turned the tickets in for reimbursement. On some, he wrote on the back for whom the meals were purchased.

They dined at a variety of restaurants including Zea Rotisserie & Grill, Sadaf Cafe, Hilton Capitol Center, Restaurant IPO, Tsunami, Jimmy John's, Downtown Seafood, Mansur's on the Boulevard, Ninfa's Mexican Restaurant, Zolia Bistro, Capital City Grill, Parrain's Seafood and Subway. Food selections included duck, steak and frites, oysters, shrimp and grits, rainbow trout, salmon, and turtle soup.

-- Arbuckle only paid his deputies a set per diem for each meal. The sheriff uses the state rate of $9 for breakfast, $13 for lunch and $24 for dinner. His office was reimbursed $12,313, broken down into $5,347 for meals and supplies for jurors, $4,225 for deputies' hotel stays and $2,740 for deputies' meal per diem.

-- One of the largest checks paid by the Police Jury was to the 42nd Judicial District Expense Account that was reimbursed $31,112 for a majority of the hotel, meal and travel expenses for the judge and district attorney's staff while in Baton Rouge and airplane tickets and hotel rooms for witnesses and experts who testified at the trial.

-- It also included fees for trial witnesses including Dr. James Traylor, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Bloxom. He was paid $2,210 for being at the courthouse almost 8 hours and traveling 68 miles. Another consultant who spent a day in the courtroom charged $150.

-- A Walmart receipt for $50.17 lists purchases of laundry bags, mesh bags and ID tags so jurors' clothing could be sorted for cleaning. First Class Dry Cleaners was paid $711 over the course of the trial.

-- When a juror got sick, a doctor's visit was required. Cost: $113.

-- Nash's Body Shop and Towing was paid $800 to transport the taxi cab Horn was driving when he kidnapped Bloxom from Jacksonville, Texas, to Mansfield for jurors to view during the trial.

-- Hotel accommodations for jurors: $39,244.

-- Pay for off-duty deputies to perform courthouse and jury security: $11,445.

-- Doughnuts: $94.

(source: The Shreveport Times)


Remember victims, not the murderers

The state of Missouri is on pace to conduct 1 execution per month this calendar year despite impassioned pleas from capital punishment foes.

Quite frankly, I have never understood nor accepted the argument that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. Yet opponents of the death penalty spend massive amounts of taxpayer funds to fight the issue in every state including Missouri.

In every poll possible, the American public is strongly supportive of the death penalty in those cases that are so horrendous and so evil, no other option seems reasonable.

I have always argued that in capital punishment cases, the victims not the murderer should be front and center.

We hear woeful tales that the killers were raised in abusive homes or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We hear the same sad lament that the killers have low-functioning IQs or that there is some racial disparity for administering the death penalty.

But these lame excuses don't overshadow the fact that someone lost their life at the hands of an evil person.

Let's take one upcoming example here in our home state.

On the 4th of July in 1998 - that's 16 years ago! - Earl Ringo Jr. and an accomplice hatched a scheme to rob a Ruby Tuesday's restaurant in Columbia. But as is often the case, the scheme went awry.

A delivery truck arrived as Ringo and his pal were entering the restaurant in the early morning hours.

Dennis Poyser, a family man, was just starting his morning deliveries. He had made the same stop many times before.

But this time Ringo was surprised by the unexpected intrusion. Poyser was shot at point blank range and died instantly.

But the crime was not complete.

Next Ringo approached JoAnna Baysinger, the restaurant manager, and ordered his cohort in crime to shoot her. Those facts are in dispute but regardless, Baysinger was also fatally shot. 2 senseless murders in less than 5 minutes.

So Ringo has lounged on death row since Bill Clinton was still president. And yes, taxpayers have funded his life each and every one of those 16 years.

Barring some additional appeals - which are likely - Ringo will be executed next month. And as usual, death penalty opponents will protest the execution. The Governor will be asked to spare this killer's life. Again, as usual.

In the meantime, 2 families lost their loved ones nearly 2 decades ago and their pain has not diminished since that fateful day.

Maybe it's time we put more of the spotlight on the innocent victims and less on the evil that runs in our society. Maybe it's time we recognize that 16 years from crime to punishment is far too long. Maybe we should think about the families who lost a father and a mother. A sister and brother. A wife and husband.

Earl Ringo Jr. will eventually receive the punishment he deserves.

The families that he destroyed will never received justice. It's far too late for that.

(source: Letter to the Editor, Sikeston Standard-Democrat)


Execution Dates Set For Okla. Death Row Inmates

Execution dates have been set for 3 Oklahoma death-row inmates even as state officials continue to investigate what went wrong during a botched execution in April.

Death row inmates Charles Frederick Warner, Richard Eugene Glossip and John Marion Grant are scheduled to die by lethal injection within a 4-week period later this year in spite of a federal lawsuit they and 18 other death row inmates have filed that challenges the way the state plans to execute them.

Attorneys for the inmates said they believe it is imprudent for the state to schedule executions when there is so much uncertainty about the protocols and lethal drugs that will be used - especially after trouble with executions here and elsewhere.

Regardless of how people feel about the death penalty, "hardly anyone believes that we ought to torture people to death in order to accomplish it," said Oklahoma City attorney Mark Henricksen, who represents Glossip in the federal lawsuit.

Dale Baich of the Federal Public Defender's Office in Phoenix said uncertainties about Oklahoma's method of executing condemned inmates will remain until an investigation into the state's botched April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett is complete.

"At this point we just don't have all the information," said Baich, who represents Oklahoma death row inmate Tremane Wood in the lawsuit. "I think it's important for the investigation to run its course, for the results to be made public, and then decisions about how the state should proceed."

Lockett, who was executed using a new 3-drug method, writhed on the gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes.

His execution was finally halted after a doctor determined there was a problem with a single IV inserted into Lockett's groin.

Officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester have said Lockett's vein collapsed during the lethal injection process, though a full report on his death hasn't been released.

Lockett was pronounced dead about 43 minutes after his execution began; the state said he died of a heart attack after his execution was stopped.

Lockett's execution was the 1st time Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam as the 1st in its 3-drug combination.

Midazolam is the same drug used in the execution last month of Arizona death-row inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood, who gasped for nearly 2 hours before he died, and the January execution of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire, who snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying.

Governors in each state ordered a review of their protocols following the executions.

But Baich said it is uncertain if the investigation into Lockett's execution will take into account the findings in the other states.

"Arizona hasn't even started its investigation," he said. "It's going to be important for the process to be transparent."

The investigation into Lockett's execution is being headed by state Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson.

A spokesman, Capt. George Brown of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said the investigation is ongoing and no date has been set for it to be delivered to Gov. Mary Fallin, who ordered it.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said that no execution will take place in the state until that investigation is complete.

"Our duty - to the citizens of this state and the families of the victims - is to ensure punishments handed down by a jury are carried out lawfully and as such we continue to ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates," Pruitt said in a statement to The Associated Press.

"If it becomes necessary to seek another delay of scheduled executions to allow completion of that review, we will address the issue at that time," the attorney general said.

The death row inmates' lawsuit asks a judge to block any attempt to execute them using the state's current lethal injection protocols, which it claims presents a risk of severe pain and suffering. The state says the lawsuit is premature because its protocols are under review and subject to change.

(source: Associated Press)


Jodi Arias trial update: Kirk Nurmi wants out, again, Jodi gets special perks

The steps of justice that are counting down the days for the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial are steps with many twists and turns. The most recent development in the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial is that the former public defender to Jodi Arias, lead counsel for her case until recently, Kirk Nurmi is making another attempt to get as far away from this case as possible. Arizona Central has reported on Aug. 8 that former public defender for Jodi Arias Kirk Nurmi has formally requested the court to be removed from this case, citing a change in circumstances.

The change in circumstances for Jodi Arias occurred earlier this week when the judge presiding over her case, Judge Sherry Stephens, granted Jodi's motion to allow her to represent herself in the upcoming retrial of her sentencing phase. In the previous 2 phases of the State of Arizona versus Jodi Arias, then 33-year-old Jodi Arias was found guilty in May 2013 of 1st degree murder with an element of cruelty for the murder of her lover Travis Alexander.

The murder of Travis Alexander occurred in June of 2008, and Jodi Arias has used as many delay tactics as possible to delay the inevitable, the handing down of her sentence in this case. In the past 6 years, she has tried to fire her attorneys on more than one occasion, and gone to court for every complaint and woe that she has. When Judge Sherry Stephens allowed her to represent herself as of Monday of this week, she made it very clear to Jodi, there will be no more delays.

Lead counsel and public defender for Jodi Arias until that moment, Kirk Nurmi is taking this point as his cue to finally extricate himself from the case.

Kirk Nurmi has made several attempts in the past to remove himself from this case, all of which have been denied. AZ Central reported yesterday that given the change of circumstances, he wants off the case. AZ Central reported that on Aug. 8, Kirk Nurmi filed a motion asking to be taken off the case, but as many that have been following this case since day one know this wasn't the 1st time he tried to run from Jodi Arias.

The 1st time was back in 2011, and Kirk Nurmi tooks his angst over his difficult client to court. It was a contentious motion at the time, and one that even Jodi's own mother fought. A letter that became part of the Jodi Arias trial history is a letter from Sandy Arias to one of the 1st judges that heard this case in 2011. The letter, obtained by PK Report shows a letter that far contradicts the relationship the public perceives between Kirk Nurmi and Jodi Arias. He tried to leave in 2011, she tried to fire him in 2013, now she is self representing which means technically he is no longer her lawyer. Back in 2011 when this threatened to happen, Sandy Arias has a very big problem with that

"Hon. Sally Duncan, "My name is Sandy Arias, the mother of Jodi Arias. I am writing to you to plea for my daughter's case. I feel for Mr. Nurmi to quit her case at this point would be detrimental to her defense. He has been helping with her case for the past 18 months and knows everything about her and her circumstances. As you know, Jodi had some issues with Maria [mitigation specialist] and wasn't able to communicate with her." She has come to trust Kirk. To bring Victoria in as head council and someone new to work with her would not be fair to Jodi. Jodi deserves a fair trial. Kirk has a lifetime to start his own practice where Jodi only has a few months that will determine whether she has a life at all. Where do his legal and moral obligations lie?

Our family circumstances will not allow us ot be able to hire legal council for her. Jodi's father's health is not good. He is a dialysis patient, has been through treatment for lymphoma and just had open heart surgery. I work 2 jobs to keep up with our bills.

Jodi doesn't deserve to be tried for the death penalty. The evidence against her will prove that. She has been an exemplary inmate for the entire time she has served in jail. She has been able to help other inmates with various things such as her signing for them, writing poems, doing drawings for them and also helping with reading and writing.

I am only hoing that you will step in and make sure that she gets the fair council that she deserves and needs. Also, that you will be willing to work with Kirk to retain him for the remainder of the time that she needs. As her mother, I am begging you to help save my daughter.


Sandy Arias"

As we know now by how history has played out, in 2011 the courts denied Kirk Nurmi's request to vacate as 1st chair and Sandy got her way. Whether or not that had anything to do with Sandy Arias's letter, we may never know. This would not be the 1st sign of fractures crackling the relationship between Jodi Arias and her lead defender. The next crackle of the relationship fracture would paint a very different picture about this relationship.

HLN reported in October 2013 when the troubles became evident yet again. In October 2013 it was Jodi this time, writing a letter that was 12-pages long, dated Oct. 14 to Judge Sherry Stephens where she chronicled a very nasty relationship between herself and Kirk Nurmi.

After being found guilty of first degree murder in May 2013, Jodi wrote to Judge Stephens complaining that Kirk Nurmi, "has little to no tolerance for my emotional and psychological shortcomings."

A statement like this begs the question, does this mean that Jodi Arias has found someone in her life that does possess this tolerance to compare Kirk Nurmi to?

In the 12-page letter to Judge Stephens in Oct. 2013 Jodi told Judge Stephens that she and Kirk fundamentally disagreed about certain strategic aspects of her case. They probably disagreed on these key strategic moves because he is educated in the law and her GED in prison.

Jodi told Judge Stephens that she was particularly upset about the phone sex tape that made it into "open court," and how she had strenuously disagreed with how Kirk Nurmi handled that. The Jodi Arias defense had reportedly been offered to have that tape play in a closed hearing, an offer the defense led by Kirk Nurmi allegedly declined, and Jodi had a big problem with that.

Jodi also complained to Judge Stephens in this letter that she didn't like the way Kirk Nurmi said to her, "You're not going to get your way just because you throw a tantrum."

In her letter beseeching Judge Stephens to take Nurmi off the death penalty case, Jodi lastly said that in the end as a result of the actions of Kirk Nurmi and nobody else, "I am left feeling like crap about myself and my future every time I interact with him."

All of this is simple evidence of the fact that for Jodi Arias, sustaining a successful and healthy relationship with anybody is very difficult. And she blames these faulty relationships as the reasons her future is bleak, rather than taking any responsibility whatsoever.

Did Kirk Nurmi see this from the get go? It didn't seem to take long for most of America to see that, so chances are good.

But who does or does not like Jodi Arias is not the focus of this case. Kirk Nurmi himself even stated this in his closing arguments when he begged the jurors to vote not guilty. He said, "It's not even about whether or not you like Jodi Arias. 9 days out of 10, I don't like Jodi Arias."

To this statement, Jodi smiled in court but she has since stated this bothered her tremendously, and has complained about this comment to Judge Stephens.

As of this week it appears that Nurmi wasn't exaggerating when he said that. He really, really doesn't like her most of the time and may well be one of the happiest in the court that she was granted the motion to self-represent. When that motion was granted, it was determined that public defenders Nurmi and Willmott would remain on Jodi's case as advisors, Nurmi however is seeing the self-representation motion as his out in this case.

In his previous requests to jump ship, Nurmi's motions were denied on the grounds that he had ethical obligations to Jodi Arias. According to AZ Central, in court on Friday Kirk Nurmi argued that his, "Ethical obligations to Ms. Arias are lessened to the point where these ethical obligations are of significantly lesser import."

He had also previously told Judge Sherry Stephens in Monday when Arias was granted the motion to self represent that he and Jodi disagreed fundamentally on the strategy for defense for the upcoming retrial. Judge Sherry Stephens has granted Jodi's motion to self represent, whether Nurmi will be able to leave his advisory role on the grounds that he has no ethical obligations to Jodi remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Jodi Arias is likely considering the fact that her motion to self represent was granted as her first victory going into the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial. Now that Jodi Arias is self representing, she will have access to a myriad of additional perks that she would not have had if she had kept her lawyers on.

One of the perks is the one most people are talking about, that now she will not have to take the stand in her defense, as she will be able to present her case, defense, and testimony through her questions, witnesses, and cross-examinations. To some this may come as a relief.

Not many people want to see her on the stand for another 3 weeks straight. To others, this may make them groan because this may mean witnesses will be on the stand longer than necessary if a "rookie" is handling the cross-examination.

But these aren't the only perks that Jodi Arias will have access to. Fox 10 News reports in the video shown here, that the decision to self-represent will also mean more prison perks for Jodi Arias right now. Jodi's home is currently a cell at the Maricopa County Estrella Jail in the most secure unit possible, she will have a few more perks from that unit than she would if she still had a legal team.

Fox 10 News reports that her current conditions require that she stay in her cell at least 23 hours per day, and she is allowed up to one hour daily for phone calls, and one visit weekly. With this change in her legal representation, she will be granted more time in these areas while she prepares her case.

An officer that works in the Maricopa County Jail told Fox 10 News that despite the perks she has now, Sheriff Joe Arpao is keeping a very close eye on how they are managed with Jodi Arias. He said, "The Sheriff is concerned that this [self representation] is just another attempt by her to manipulate the system."

The officer told Fox 10 that yes she will get special perks, but they may not be exactly what she had hoped.

"She's going to find out she's a little more limited than what she hopes to be. We will give her time that we are able to give her to use the phone she needs to get to the phone and do the things that she needs to do to represent herself in her case.

We certainly don't want to hinder that in any way. However we do also have to stay within the guidelines and the jail rules."

These perks will include an increase in visits, going from 1 to 6 visits a week but 5 will need to be court approved. There also will be no time limit on the visits that she has with people as she prepares her case. She will also have no time limit on phone calls, however she will have to submit a list of court approved contacts in order to ensure this perk is granted.

The officer for Maricopa County Jail wanted Fox 10 and the public to know that these extra perks are not as exciting and glamorous as they may sound, and that she will continue to be treated like the convicted felon that she is. He says, "She's still a close custody inmate which is the highest we have, and we are going to continue to treat her that way. She's been convicted of a crime, and one of the most serious crimes that you can think of, and we will continue to think and treat her that way."

It will be very interesting to see this play out and how Jodi Arias tries to stretch her perks in prison, and in court, as this goes to trial Sept. 8.

(source: The Examiner)


Keep the death penalty humane

I am incredulous over the fact that effective and swift imposition of the death penalty now seems impossible to achieve due to stunning incompetence on the part of states seeking to enforce the law.

Our country has undertaken a variety of means over the years to put to death those who are the worst of the worst, individuals who have committed heinous crimes. We came to believe that lethal injection was most humane and safe way to carry out an execution until recently. Now the process seems to involve a lengthy and torturous process for all involved. Jarring reports are being heard of lengthy executions and those being subjected to it gasping and moaning as they are still conscious but paralyzed.

Now death penalty opponents are licking their chops, saying, "You see? We told you all along - the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court must abolish it!"

It would appear that death by firing squad is now the most certain, swift, and humane way to kill, but I fear that objections that some have to it will not enable it to become a common means of putting anyone to death.

We are a civilized country or would like to believe that we are. While recognizing that some deserve to die for committing the worst crimes, we do not revel in gore, nor do we engage in sadism when we execute a prisoner. Is there no way that the will of the people and the law can be carried out without torture being an element of it? Surely a country which has brought about so much innovation and which is not a Third World nation can find a way.

Oren M. Spiegler----Upper Saint Clair (source: Letter to the Editor, Observer-Reporter)


Almagor: Death Penalty for Shalit-Deal Murderers----Prominent terror-victims group calls for the death penalty for murderous Palestinian terrorists. 2/3 of US states execute murderers.

Almagor, a prominent terror-victims group that consistently leads the campaign against the release of murderous Palestinian terrorists, has called once again for the death penalty. The latest call is prompted by today's news that the kidnap-murder of the 3 youths several weeks ago was masterminded by a terrorist released in the Gilad Shalit deal nearly 3 years ago.

The Walla! news agency reported today, quoting Palestinian Authority security sources, that Mahmoud Ali Kawasmeh, a Hamas terrorist expelled to Gaza in the Shalit exchange, initiated the abduction and murder of Gilad Sha'ar (16), Naftali Frenkel (16) and Eyal Yifrah (19) on June 12. Kawasmeh is still at large, though his brother Hussam was arrested last week for participating in planning the attack. A third brother, Marwan, is said to have actually carried it out, together with an accomplice.

"The convoy of politicians and Shalit-deal publicists dashed towards the release of over 1,000 terrorists practically with glee," says Almagor Chairman Meir Indor, "while we begged them to stop before they reached the cliff. The heavy price we have paid for that mistake must be rectified with deeds, not with bombastic declarations. The State Prosecution must demand the death penalty for every terrorist freed for Shalit who commits another murder - including the murderer of Baruch Mizrachi."

Mizrachi, the father of 5 and the head of an important police department unit, was fatally shot by Ziyad Awad this year as he drove with his family to a Passover Seder in Kiryat Arba. Originally jailed for murdering Arabs he suspected of collaborating with Israel, Hamas member Awad was 1 of the 1,027 terrorists released in exchange for Gilad Shalit's freedom.

"Everyone involved in the Shalit deal must now make his way to the cemetery in Modiin," says Dr. Aryeh Bachrach of Almagor, "and ask forgiveness on the graves of the 3 youths who were abducted under the orchestration of this terrorist freed in the Shalit deal. Along the way, they can also stop at Mt. Herzl and similarly ask forgiveness from Baruch Mizrachi."

Murderers are executed in nearly 2/3 of the 50 states of the U.S. - even if the murders are not motivated by terrorist hatred. Between 1976 and mid-2011, the state of Oklahoma put 111 criminals to death, the country's highest per-capita rate, while Texas had the 2nd highest rate and the largest number of executions: 515.

(source: Israel National News)


20 Koreans sentenced to death in China

About 20 South Korean nationals are death row inmates in China, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Declining to give the exact number, the ministry said the prisoners had been convicted of felonies, including drug offenses and murder.

"We can't give the exact figure because of privacy issues," a ministry official said Friday on condition of anonymity. "However, we want to stress that a consul was present at every trial and confirmed the Chinese courts' rulings were made in fair and objective manners."

He also said the Chinese authorities have suspended the execution of a number of South Korean death row convicts, adding "they were likely to avoid execution."

The 20 death row inmates do not include 3 men who were executed last week for smuggling and trafficking in methamphetamines, the ministry said.

2 of them, identified only by their surnames, Kim and Baek, were killed by lethal injection Wednesday. This is the 1st time since 2004 that China has executed a Korean national, according to the government.

On Thursday, another South Korean drug criminal, indentified as Jang, was also put to death.

Such deaths raised concerns over Seoul's response to Beijing which the major political parties claim is "passive."

Noh Kwang-il, a ministry spokesman, said wat is regrettable that the executions took place despite repeated pleas for clemency from the government.

A ruling Saenuri Party spokesman Park Dae-chul said the government still needs "to convincingly explain that it did its best to save Korean nationals."

Yoo Ki-hong, a spokesman for the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), echoed this view, saying "the government should be blamed for its incompetence in protecting its own people."

"The word regrettable reflects the country's passive attitude toward China," Yoo said.

The ministry said the court rulings on the three were made transparently, adding its consuls found no discrimination against them nationals during their trials.

In particular, he cited that producing or trading more than 1 kilogram of opium or 50 grams of methamphetamine or heroin is subject to heavy punishment in China.

Kim, 53, was convicted of smuggling a total of 14.8 kilograms of methamphetamines into China between 2010 and 2011, during 14 trips there from North Korea.

Baek, 45, bought 12.3 kilograms of the drug from Kim and distributed it to drug rings in South Korea.

Jang, 56, was arrested in 2009 for trafficking 11.9 kilograms of methamphetamines.

"We closely followed whether the judges discriminated against our nationals compared to Chinese people or other foreigners in such cases." the ministry official said.

"There were no such flaws in the court rulings. However, several media reports argued that the government could have prevented the death penalty being carried out on the 3 men.

"Unlike the United Kingdom or other Western countries, we can't raise an objection against China for practicing the death penalty because such punishment is still effective there," the official said.

He was referring to a series of recent executions carried out since 2009 against foreign drug dealers in China, including 1 British citizen.

The United Kingdom is one of the 98 countries that have abolished the death penalty against all crimes, according to Amnesty International, a multinational civic group fighting for the abolition of capital punishment. The U.K. protested to China for its ruling, saying its national was mentally ill.

In its latest report, titled "Death Sentences and Executions 2013," Amnesty International grouped South Korea as one of the states that retain the death penalty. It cited South Korea imposed two death sentences last year although it has not executed anyone since December 1997.

(source: Korea Times)


Supreme Court judges divided whether sniffer dog be an 'evidence' or not

Can a sniffer dog be an 'evidence' or not? Judges are divided on it. A local court awarded death penalty to a man for raping and later killing a 10-year-old girl in Karnataka nearly 5 years ago. Sniffer dog had tracked and identified the accused. Karnataka high court, however, acquitted him on grounds that sniffer dog's evidence is not sufficient to convict him. The matter has now come to the Supreme Court on appeal.

A few days after body of class IV student was recovered near to her house in Harihara Taluk in Davangere district on December 9, 2009, the Karnataka Police arrested Syed Khan (name changed) with the help of sniffer dog.

Moving before the apex court against the high court order, the police said "high court has failed to see that the sniffer dogs are related as extremely intelligent animals and their sensibility is very highly developed. The evidence of sniffer dog, which is specially trained for tracking is not only admissible but also will have to be relied upon as evidence of very high caliber."

Seeking reversal of acquittal order and also capital punishment for the man, the police said besides, there were medical evidence including that of injuries on his private parts to hold the culprit guilty of the crime.

The bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha granted leave on the appeal and agreed to examine the issue as to whether the sniffer dog tracking evidence is admissible in law or not.

According to prosecution, the girl went missing on December 9, 2009 night when she was returning from her maternal grandmother's house, a few houses away from her house after having dinner in a village in Harihara Taluk in Davangere district. When the girl's mother and other family members looked for her and also enquired with the accused, who was their neighbour and had helped them to call police and lodge a missing report.

Next day, the body of the girl was found from a nearby area an for a few days police was not able to arrest anyone and had to take the help of sniffer dog, which went to Khan's house identified him at his residence.

As per the police, the wife of accused was 8-9 month pregnant and the helpless and defence less girl had fallen prey to the accused trap. Khan was awarded death penalty by a trial court in 2010 but the high court had not confirmed the capital punishment and acquitted him in June 2013 saying, "from medical and dog tracking evidence, it cannot be concluded that the accused was responsible for the alleged crime."

(source: Daily News & Analysis)


BDR Carnage Case; Death reference hearing may start after 2 months----Paper-book being readied at SC

The Supreme Court authorities are expected to ready the paper-book of the BDR carnage case in the next 2 months, which would pave the way for complete adjudication of the biggest ever criminal case in the country's history in terms of the number of accused and convicts.

A paper-book, which contains all details of a case, trial proceedings, verdicts, and other documents including statements and evidence, is necessary for the High Court to hear and dispose of a death reference or an appeal.

Once the paper-book is ready, the HC may start hearing the death references and appeals in the carnage case.

All the relevant documents have been composed, a vital part of the huge job, said a judicial official dealing with the paper-book told The Daily Star recently, wishing anonymity. 12 staff are now editing the papers and verifying them with case records, which is expected to be completed in next 2 or 3 weeks, he said.

The SC official said around 230 copies of the paper-book would be prepared in the case, each of which would have 40,000 to 42,000 pages. For easy handling, the paper-book will be published in more than 40 volumes, he added.

A Dhaka court on November 5 last year awarded death penalty to 150 soldiers of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and 2 civilians, and sentenced 161 others to life imprisonment for their roles and involvement in the carnage.

It also handed down rigorous imprisonment, ranging from three to 10 years, to another 256 people, mostly BDR jawans. The court acquitted remaining 277 accused. A total of 846 people, 823 of them BDR members, stood the trial.

3 digital printing machines and a binding machine have been brought from Japan at a cost of Tk 32 lakh for preparing the paper-book, as Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain has given priority to quick disposal of the case.

74 people, including 57 army officials, were slain in the BDR mutiny on February 25-26 in 2009 at the Pilkhana headquarters in Dhaka. The paramilitary force was later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

(source: The Daily Star)

SYRIA----female stoned to death

Women stoned to death in Syria for adultery

A cleric read the verdict before the truck came and dumped a large pile of stones near the municipal garden. Jihadi fighters then brought in the woman, clad head to toe in black, and put her in a small hole in the ground. When residents gathered, the fighters told them to carry out the sentence: Stoning to death for the alleged adulteress.

None in the crowd stepped forward, said a witness to the event in a northern Syrian city. So the jihadi fighters, mostly foreign extremists, did it themselves, pelting Faddah Ahmad with stones until her body was dragged away.

"Even when she was hit with stones she did not scream or move," said an opposition activist who said he witnessed the stoning near the football stadium and the Bajaa garden in the city of Raqqa, the main Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group.

The July 18 stoning was the 2nd in a span of 24 hours. A day earlier, 26-year-old Shamseh Abdullah was killed in a similar way in the nearby town of Tabqa by Islamic State fighters. Both were accused of having sex outside marriage.

The killings were the first of their kind in rebel-held northern Syria, where jihadis from the Islamic State group have seized large swaths of territory, terrorizing residents with their strict interpretation of Islamic law, including beheadings and cutting off the hands of thieves. The jihadis recently tied a 14-year-old boy to a cross-like structure and left him for several hours in the scorching summer sun before bringing him down -- punishment for not fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The group has also brutalized Shiite Muslims and others whom it views as apostates. In neighboring Iraq, Islamic State militants have driven members of the Yazidi religious minority out of a string of towns and villages. Thousands of the fleeing Yazidis have been stranded on a mountaintop for days, a humanitarian crisis that prompted the U.S. to airlift aid to them this week.

On Friday, Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, said hundreds of Yazidi women under the age of 35 are being held by the Islamic State group in schools in Iraq's 2nd largest city Mosul, which the militants captured in June.

The stonings in Syria last month were not widely publicized at the time, but in the following days 3 photographs appeared online which appeared to document the grisly spectacle and were consistent with other AP reporting.

The pictures posted on a newly-created Twitter account showed dozens of people gathered in a square, a cleric reading a verdict through a loudspeaker and several bearded men with automatic rifles either carrying or collecting stones.

"A married woman being stoned in the presence of some believers," read the caption of the photographs on the Twitter account, which has since been suspended.

Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, the activist who witnessed Ahmad's stoning, said locals where angry to see foreign fighters impose their will on the community.

"People were shocked and couldn't understand what was going on. Many were disturbed by the idea that Saudis and Tunisians were issuing (such) orders," he said in an interview via Skype. Ahmad, he said, appeared unconscious, and he had overheard that she was earlier taken to a hospital where she was given anesthesia.

The stoning took place after dark, he said, at about 11 p.m. He could not see blood on the body because of the black clothes she was wearing. Ahmad did not scream or shake, and died silently. "They then took the dead body in one of their cars and left," he said.

The 2 cases were first reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information through a network of activists around the country. Bassam Al-Ahmad, a spokesman for the Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian group that tracks human rights violations, also confirmed the stoning.

An activist based in the northern province of Idlib, who collects information from other activists in northern Syria, said Ahmad was a widow. A man who asked to be identified as Asad for fear of repercussions, said that in the other stoning, in Tabqa, residents also refused to take part, and that the act was carried out by Islamic State members.

The U.S. Embassy in Syria, in a statement posted on its Twitter account, condemned the "barbaric stoning" of a woman in Tabqa.

International human rights groups did not report the stoning, and Human Rights Watch said it had no independent confirmation.

"It is a very worrying trend if true," said Human Rights Watch researcher Lama Fakih.

The Islamic State group has "imposed incredibly restrictive rules on the civilian population which have served to make women and girls particularly vulnerable and to quite clearly discriminate against them," she said, adding that the reports of the stoning were the first the group had received out of Syria.

"This is just a more sort of extreme manifestation of those restrictive rules which are all in violation of international" human rights law, she said.

Such acts have alarmed members of mainstream Syrian opposition groups fighting to remove President Bashar Assad from power since 2011.

"These behaviors have nothing to do with the nature and mentality of Syrian society," said Abdelbaset Sieda, a senior member of the main Western-backed Syrian National Coalition. He said the group had no official confirmation of the stoning cases although he did not rule it out. "We expect such acts to be carried out by the Islamic State," he said.

The Hazm Movement, another rebel group active in northern Syria, said the stonings did take place. It added that such acts "contradict the principals of the revolution" and encourage the world to refrain from giving any support to the rebels.

"The world should know that every day they delay real support to active moderate groups is direct support to extremist factions," the group said in response to written questions from The Associated Press.

(source: Associated Press)


4 Executions in Northern Iran - 5 Prisoners Executed in Baluchestan

4 prisoners were hanged in the prison of Rasht (Northern Iran) on August 7, reported the Iranian state media.

According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary 3 of the prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges. These prisoners are identified as: R.A. (44), M.A. (45) and A. G. (40).

The 4th prisoner who was hanged in Rasht yesterday was identified as K.S. and was convicted of murder.

During the last week there have been several unofficial reports about executions in the Baluchestan province (Southeastern Iran). The human rights and democracy activists in Iran (HRDAI) reported that 5 prisoners, including a mother and son, were hanged in the prison of Zahedan yesterday August 7. The son is identified as "Osman Dahmardeh" who according to the report was 17 year old (juvenile offender) when he was arrested together with his mother about 2 years ago. Both of them were executed yesterday. The report doesn't say anything about the charges.

The 3 other prisoners were identified as Rasoulbakhsh Delshadi (28), Ali Besham Naroui (32) and Kamran Bameri (35). The charges for which these prisoners were sentenced to death is unknown.

Other human rights groups have reported about the execution 5 other prisoners in other prisons of the Balichistan province. These include 2 prisoners in the prison os Saravan and 3 prisoners in the prison of Chah Bahar.

None of the Baluchestan executions have been announced by the official sources yet.


3 Prisoners Hanged in Iran

3 prisoners were hanged in the Rajaishahr prison of Karaj (west of Tehran), reported the Iranian state media. The prisoners who were not identified by name were all convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas (retribution in kind), said the report.

Another prisoner whose execution was scheduled for today, was pardoned at the last moment by the family of the offended and will not be executed.

According to the Iranian law murder is sentenced with qisas or retribution in kind. The authorities put the responsibility of the punishment on the shoulders of the family of the offended. Iran Human Rights as repeatedly condemned the inhumane law of qisas.

(source for both: Iran Human Rights)

AUGUST 9, 2014:


Judge hearing Lave's appeals sides with state in Herman Sporting Goods case

State District Judge Andy Chatham has issued findings in a case stemming from the grotesque Herman Sporting Goods killings from 1992, concluding that the defendant's challenges to his death penalty conviction are without merit.

That was the gist of recommendations Chatham made to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in response to a writ seeking a new trial for Joseph Roland Lave. The CCA had sent the matter to the trial court for fact-finding, and it now will consider those recommendations. It's a good bet that the CCA affirms Chatham and Lave loses this one.

The case involves the fatal slashing and beating deaths of best friends Justin Marquart and Fred Banzhaf, both employees of the Richardson store, and a non-fatal attack on manager Angie King. She had her throat slashed and head bashed in with a hammer, but survived to call 911.

I lived in Richardson then (as now), and my daughter knew the boys. It was one of those horrible crimes a community never forgets. Partly for that reason, I was signed up to be a witness for Lave's execution in 2007, and I interviewed him just hours before he was to be put to death. But DA Craig Watkins asked the court to withdraw the execution warrant because of unresolved questions about whether evidence was shared. Like many people in the community, I was repulsed by the crimes and was convinced that justice was served. Now, I don't know.

I must admit surprise at Chatham's conclusions, having watched several days of testimony last winter. Some of it hinges on Lave's lawyers not meeting their burden of proof. Chatham also found the prosecutor in the case a more credible witness than both of the trial attorneys; where he got that, I can't figure.

Among other things, Lave's appellate lawyers alleged that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense, including information that a co-defendant had admitted the fatal attack. The trial lawyers testified before Chatham that they were never told by prosecutor Dan Hagood that King had, essentially, changed her story over time, from originally saying there were 2 intruders in the store and finally, shortly before trial, recalling a 3rd.

Here's what Chatham concluded about the lawyers' testimony:

The Court finds unreliable the testimony of Mr. Franklin and Mr. Turley that they were not aware at the time of trial of the varying statements made by Ms. King. The Court finds that the passage of time and failure to maintain adequate notes has prevented Richard Franklin and Hal Turley from accurately remembering the information provided by the State to the defense team prior to trial.

The Court finds that Applicant has failed to meet his burden of proving that the State failed to disclose Mr. King's pre-trial statements to trial defense counsel.

The account of a 3rd intruder meant prosecutors could zero in on Lave, who's the most unlikely of the 3 conspirators to get to the death penalty. The instigator, James Langston, also a store employee, was killed in a shootout with cops, and another accomplice, Timothy Bates, cut a deal with prosecutors to finger Lave as the killer in return for a life sentence. The shifty Bates told conflicting stories to authorities about his version of events; they took one of them to the jury in Lave's death penalty trial to get the conviction.

One element of this case may never get the airing that it would if the trial were happening today: It's clear to us now how unreliable witness testimony is. Most of the exonerations proven through DNA involve cases in which a rape suspect was identified through eyewitness testimony that turned out to be wrong.

The Herman Sporting Goods case involves witness testimony of a different sort - not eye-witness, but ear-witness identification (pardon the term). Angie King never saw Lave. She saw Langston come in the store and knew who he was; she saw Bates, who was unknown to her; she never saw Lave, but testified that she heard a 3rd voice. Jurors decided, without ever hearing Lave, that the voice must have been his.

Given these facts and the opportunity to sow doubt among jurors, I think a good defense attorney could get Lave off today, if it even went to trial. The defense would bank on what's been called the CSI Syndrome. It refers to expectations on the part of jurors. They watch TV dramas about crime forensics, where everything can be proved in a laboratory. They want that kind of proof, especially in a death penalty case, and especially with the foreknowledge that the criminal justice system has gotten it so wrong so many times.

Today, I don't think DA Watkins brings the kind of case that his predecessor was able to make against Lave. It's ironic, though, that a guy who's renowned for unraveling criminal cases that should never have been brought is now defending the prosecution of a case that hangs from such a thin thread.

(source: Rodger Jones, Editorial Writer, Dallas Morning News)


Willingham blame lies on Perry

Re: "Whither Willingham? - State Bar must dig for truth on prosecutor," Tuesday Editorials.

I agree with your editorial.

However there was glaring omission: Gov. Rick Perry. Perry was presented with the factual contradictions regarding the evidence in this case - that Willingham's conviction was based on erroneous forensic analysis and the testimony from a jailhouse snitch. Perry could have stayed the execution until we could get at the truth.

But what was Perry's action? He goes ahead with the execution, stating Willingham was a "bad man." And now we also find out the the prosecuting district attorney, John Jackson, cut a secret deal with a "drug-addled" jailhouse snitch who has recanted since his testimony multiple times.

DA Jackson even set up a deal with his wealthy rancher friend, Charles Pearce, to funnel money to the snitch in an attempt to keep him quiet. Willingham wasn't a bad man. He was an innocent man. Rick Perry has to live with that fact.

Joan Smotzer, Dallas/Uptown

(source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)


2nd witness dies in case of couple accused of murdering pregnant Athens store clerk

Prosecutors previously stated they want to use the testimony of a dead witness in a pending Athens death-penalty case. Now they want to use the testimony of a 2nd witness who recently died, according to a motion recently filed in Clarke County Superior Court.

Jeffrey Collins went into Golden Pantry on Timothy Road at Atlanta Highway the night of Dec. 30, 2010, when authorities say he heard a commotion in the office where a 25-year-old pregnant clerk was being killed.

He also encountered the 2 people - Clarence McCord and Shameeka Watson - who police said were responsible for the deaths of KeJuan Hall and her unborn child.

Collins died nearly 8 months later in July 2011.

Last summer, prosecutors filed notice in court that they planned to use as trial evidence the statements Collins had made to police.

Defense attorneys objected to the use of Collins' statements, calling them hearsay and inadmissible as evidence.

Defense attorneys also contend that any statements Collins made after discovering Hall's body were unreliable because, among other reasons, he was drinking at the time.

Superior Court Judge David Sweat in March held a hearing on the matter.

Among those to testify at the hearing was Doni Carnes, a customer of Golden Pantry who was there when Collins discovered the slain clerk's body.

"The issues at the motion hearing revolved around details of Carnes' recounting of his interaction with Jeffrey Collins and his other observations at the crime scene," prosecutors said the motion that was filed July 30.

But then, on July 12 of this year, Carnes also died.

In the motion, prosecutors state that they plan to use Carnes' testimony from the March hearing as evidence when McCord and Watson go to trial.

The motion requests a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, to determine the admissibility of Carnes' testimony.

On the night of the murder, Collins went to Golden Pantry trying to get free beer and cigarettes from Hall, according to court records. The clerk refused the man any handouts and told him to leave.

Collins later returned and while outside he heard "a ruckus, yelling and screaming" inside, noted the records. Upon entering the store, Hall was no longer at the counter and in her place was a heavyset woman.

When asking the woman about the noises he heard, Collins was told, "It is OK, they are having sex or fighting" in the store's office, according to court records. The woman further told Collins "something about being roommates and he thinks she may be cheating on him."

The woman followed Collins as he walked around the store, and then a man came out of the office carrying a broom and telling Collins that the store was about to close, according to records.

When Collins told the man he was an alcoholic and needed something to drink and some cigarettes, the man replied that he would not give him anything to drink since he was himself in Alcoholics Anonymous, but he gave Collins a pack of cigarettes, according to records.

Collins then walked to Five Points Bottle Shop and tried to get something there, but was turned away by the manager, according to records. He returned to Golden Pantry where he saw Doni Carnes at the register, but no clerk. The store's exterior lights had been turned off.

Carnes, a local self-employed painter, had gone to Golden Pantry to buy some Goody's Powder.

Authorities said that as Carnes yelled for the clerk, Collins went into the office where he found Hall on the floor with a box over her head, noted the records. Removing the box, Collins saw a puddle of blood. He pushed the clerk and yelled at her, but got no response. He ran out of the office and told the customer to call the police.

Athens-Clarke County police said that the man in the store was McCord and the woman was his wife, Watson.

They are each charged with murder for allegedly stabbing the clerk 31 times, and also with feticide for the death of Hall's unborn child.

Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty if either or both defendant is convicted.

(source: Athens Banner-Herald)

FLORIDA----female to face penalty

Prosecutors pursue death penalty for Kimberly Lucas, charged with killing girl, 2

A Jupiter woman charged with killing a 2-year-old girl appeared in court this morning as prosecutors pushed forward with plans to pursue a possible death sentence against her.

Kimberly Lucas, 40, is accused of killing her former partner's daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason and trying to kill the girl's brother.

She is facing a 1st-degree murder charge. Prosecutors in late June filed a notice to seek the death penalty against Lucas, and confirmed to Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes in a brief hearing in the case this morning.

Kastrenakes set the case for another status check sometime in November. Lucas remains in the Palm Beahc County jail without bond.

(source: Palm Beach Post)


Attorneys file motions regarding jury selection in Garrard case

Defense attorneys for a grandmother accused of running a 9-year-old girl to death have asked a judge to prevent the automatic dismissal of jurors who express opposition to the death penalty.

Joyce Hardin Garrard is charged with capital murder and slated for trial Sept. 22. She was arrested in February 2012 after her granddaughter, Savannah Hardin, collapsed at her Hudson Hollow Road home after the girl had been made to run for hours as punishment for a lie about eating candy. She died 3 days later.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is charged with felony murder in the case.

The motion by defense attorneys Dani Bone and Sam Bone asked that when potential jurors are questioned, the judge not allow their automatic dismissal if they express opposition to the death penalty.

If convicted of capital murder, Garrard would face a penalty of life in prison without parole or death.

According to the motion, potential jurors are questioned to determine if they can follow the law - and sentence someone to death - if the evidence warrants it.

The motion contends that such "death-qualified" juries already are biased against defendants.

"This culling of potential jurors based on their moral views may produce a jury that looks quite different from the community at large and also, as some studies show, may bias that jury toward a verdict of guilt for the defendant," the motion stated.

The defense contends seating a death-qualified jury violates her constitutional rights by creating a "conviction-prone" jury, and because it deprives her of the ability to show that "evolving standards of decency ..." no longer tolerate the death penalty.

In a request for relief, the motion asks the judge to prevent death qualification of the jury and in fact to mandate a "life-qualified" jury, by removing jurors who would automatically vote for the death penalty if Garrard is convicted of capital murder.

The motion suggests that the court empanel a non-death-qualified jury to hear the evidence and determine Garrard's guilt or innocence. If she is convicted, the motion states, another death-qualified jury could be selected to hear evidence in the penalty phase of the trial and determine the sentence.

Alternately, the motion suggests 2 juries be empaneled and hear all the evidence in the case, but only the non-death-qualified jury would decide guilt or innocence. If Garrard were found guilty of capital murder, the other jury - death-qualified jury - would determine her punishment.

The defense also filed a motion asking that the 1st phase of Garrard's capital murder trial be referred to in court as the "trial" phase rather than the "guilt" phase. Often, the phase of the trial where jurors hear evidence to determine guilt or innocence is called the "guilt" phase and should a defendant be found guilty, the second part of the trial to set punishment is called the "penalty" phase.

A hearing is slated Aug. 18 before Circuit Court Judge Billy Ogletree to hear pretrial motions in the case.

(source: Gadsden Times)


Rhoades ready to enter plea in Grube murders ---- Judge expected to hand down sentence next week

Bryant Rhoades - 1 of 2 men implicated in the November 2011 murders of Fort Recovery-area residents Robert and Colleen Grube - now plans not to contest the charges against him and face sentencing Tuesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

The 23-year-old Union City man in letters this week to county prosecutor Matt Fox indicated he wants to continue with a previous intent to plead guilty to an Alford plea. The hearing is set for 1 p.m.

During a hearing July 15, Rhoades backed out of a negotiated Alford plea that would have spared him the possibility of the death penalty. Court paperwork filed before the proceeding indicated he would enter the plea, which would allow him to maintain his innocence while admitting the state had sufficient evidence to convict him on two counts each of aggravated murder with firearm specifications, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

The negotiated agreement would have dismissed the death-penalty specification and all remaining charges in the 27-count indictment, and carried a likely penalty of life in prison without parole.

A 3-judge panel of local judge Jeffrey Ingraham and visiting judges Jeffrey L. Reed of Allen County and Randall L. Basinger of Putnam County were seated to handle the proceeding after Rhoades waived his right to a jury trial.

However, Rhoades changed his mind after Fox read a stipulation of facts detailing events that had taken place at the Grubes' Burrville Road home on the night of Nov. 29-30, 2011. Rhoades expressed concern about the description of the garage where, according to Fox, Rhoades took tools and a chainsaw.

Following a recess to allow the defendant time with defense attorneys William Kluge and Robert Grzybowski, Ingraham announced that Rhoades no longer wished to pursue the Alford plea and instead wanted a jury trial.

Co-defendant Trevin Sanders-Roark, 19, also of Union City, pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to 2 counts each of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. 2 sentencing dates have been delayed during pendency of Rhoades' case. His next scheduled appearance is an Aug. 19 attorney conference.

Sanders-Roark, who was 17 at the time of the murders, signed a statement of facts identifying him as Colleen Grube's killer and Rhoades as the person responsible for Robert Grube's death.

Sanders-Roark does not face the death penalty because he was a minor at the time of the murders.

(source: Celina Daily Standard)


Man accused of killing sleeping relative faces death penalty

A man accused of killing a sleeping relative will now face the death penalty if convicted.

Michael Murphy was on home incarceration for assault when police say he broke into Alex Mendez' home and shot him in the head in August of last year.

Mendez was asleep at the time.

In court Friday, it was revealed that prosecutors offered Murphy a plea deal for life in prison but he turned it down.

He'll now face a possible death sentence.

A trial date will be set next month.

(source: WLKY news)


Carr Brothers Case Headed to US Supreme Court

The State of Kansas will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review recent Kansas Supreme Court decisions that overturned death sentences, including the Carr brothers sentence.

"We are not convinced that the Kansas court's application of federal constitutional requirements is correct, so we are requesting review of all 3 cases by the U.S. Supreme Court," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. "In each case, we doubt the U.S. Constitution compelled the Kansas court to set aside the death sentences that were recommended by juries of the defendants' peers."

On July 18, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the capital murder conviction of Sidney Gleason but vacated Gleason's death sentence. One week later, on July 25, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a single capital murder conviction each for Reginald and Jonathan Carr but similarly vacated both of their death sentences.

By law, the attorney general's office represents Kansas on matters before the U.S. Supreme Court. Schmidt said his office is working closely with Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett on the 2 Carr appeals. The Gleason appeal is being handled solely by the attorney general's office, which also prosecuted the case in the trial court.

"On behalf of the victims and their families, I believe it is incumbent on the state to seek review of these decisions to ensure every effort has been made to preserve the jury's verdict and uphold justice for the citizens of Kansas." Bennett said. "With Attorney General Schmidt, I look forward to the opportunity to bring these cases to this nation's highest court."

The attorney general today formally notified the Kansas Supreme Court of his decision to appeal, putting further proceedings in all 3 cases on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to review the cases. Last term, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear 5 % of requests for review filed by state attorneys general.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court whether to hear the state's appeal in any or all these 3 cases could come later this year.

(source: KAKE news)


Attorney calls Carr death penalty case a waste of money

The U.S. Supreme may take a look at the Carr Brothers case.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he will appeal recent state Supreme Court decisions overturning the death sentences.

The Kansas court overturned the Carr brothers' sentences July 25, concluding that they should have had separate sentencing hearings.

At least 1 legal analyst in Wichita is asking if the death penalty in Kansas is necessary given all the legal wrangling.

"And, I am no apologist for the scumbags that commit horrible crimes. I think they should rot in a cell until they die," said Attorney Kurt Kerns.

Kerns says, since the death penalty has been re-instated in Kansas, nobody has been put to death under the law.

He calls it a waste of taxpayer money going through the courts again.

He says the issue possibly going to the U.S. Supreme Court will severance, which in non-lawyer talk means that the Carr brothers did not get separate trials. They were tried together.

"The reality is they didn't do it right, and I guess the question becomes, should we skimp on the scumbags? Because they really don't deserve a fair hearing, or should we do it right?"

Kerns believes there should have been 2 trials, and this penalty phase legal maneuvering would not be an issue.

If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it could end up back here in the courts in Kansas.

Officials in Sedgwick County stress that the Carr brothers will never see the light of day.

"They both stand convicted of felony murder. They both stand convicted of capital murder. 1 count each," said District Attorney Marc Bennett.

Bennett says the Carr brothers will spend at least the next 75 to 80 years in prison.

The question of the death penalty could be answered in a matter of months.



Jodi Arias lawyer tries to quit case

On Monday, convicted killer Jodi Arias was granted permission to act as her own lawyer in her September retrial to determine if she is sentenced to life or death.

On Friday, her lead attorney, Kirk Nurmi, asked the court to let him quit.

Arias, 34, is supposed to start picking a new jury Sept. 8. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens approved Arias' motion to represent herself, and appointed Nurmi and his 2nd-chair attorney, Jennifer Willmott, as her legal advisers for the upcoming trial.

Nurmi had asked to be removed from the case in 2011, but another judge denied the motion. With Friday's filing, Nurmi asks for reconsideration because the situation has changed.

In his motion he noted that the earlier judge told him he had an ethical obligation to stay on the case. But now that he is merely advisory counsel, he wrote, "his ethical obligations to Ms. Arias are lessened to the point where these ethical obligations are of significantly lesser import."

He also pointed out that Arias has repeatedly tried to fire him from the case.

On Monday, Nurmi told Stephens that he and Arias did not agree on defense strategy for the upcoming retrial.

A judge ruled that Jodi Arias will be allowed to represent herself in her upcoming death-penalty trial.

In April 2013, Arias was found guilty of 1st-degree murder for killing her lover. Travis Alexander, 30, was found dead in the shower of his Mesa home in 2008; he had been shot in the head, stabbed nearly 30 times, and his throat was slit. The jury in the 1st trial, however, could not come to a unanimous verdict as to whether Arias should be sentenced to life or death.

Arias was granted the right to represent herself before the 1st trial so that she could argue motions that her attorneys did not want to consider. When her motions were denied, she asked to have her lawyers back.

Stephens told Arias that she could change her mind this time as well, but if she asks to have attorneys represent her again, it will be final.



State Tricks Hospital Into Giving It Hard-To-Find Execution Drugs

As state officials scramble to get the drugs they need to execute condemned prisoners, they've run into repeated roadblocks thanks to members of the medical community, who say that helping with executions violates their code of ethics. Without being able to purchase drugs from most hospitals or pharmacies, states have been resorting to creative measures. In Louisiana, for instance, employees in the Department of Corrections recently circumvented the issue by simply misleading medical professionals about why exactly they need those drugs.

According to the public interest outlet The Lens, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital unwittingly supplied Louisiana officials with hydromorphone, a pain relieving drug, for the upcoming execution of a death row inmate. The hospital didn't realize that's what the state intended to use their hydromorphone for.

"We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was," Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a board member for the private hospital, told The Lens. "Had we known of the real use, we never would have done it."

Documents obtained by The Lens confirm that Louisiana officials bought several vials of hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital on January 28, just one week before they were scheduled to execute inmate Christopher Sepulvado. Around the same time, the Department of Corrections announced they were switching to a different combination of lethal drugs - hydromorphone and midazolam - to execute inmates.

"At no time did Memorial believe or was led to believe that the drug would be used for an execution," Matt Felder, a spokesman for the hospital, told local outlet KPLC. Felder said that the hospital was told the Department of Corrections needed the drug "for a medical patient."

But health care professionals don't consider state-sanctioned executions to be a legitimate medical issue. Because the Hippocratic Oath states that doctors should "do no harm" to their patients, and "give no deadly medicine to anyone," the people who work in this field consider assisting with executions to be in direct violation to their code of ethics. All of the major medical associations - including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Board of Anesthesiology, and the American Nurses Association - prohibit their members from using their skills to help execute inmates.

Medical professionals also object to the fact that drugs typically used to relieve pain are now being repurposed to kill. "Yes, they are using 'our drugs', but with a different purpose and intent," an anesthesiologist pointed out to ThinkProgress last month.

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital hasn't typically questioned state officials who say they need drugs for their inmates. But Thibodeaux said the hospital CEO has reassured the board members that this type of involvement in potential executions won't happen again, so the approval process may be about to get stricter.

This could end up being a bigger issue for Louisiana inmates who do need drugs from hospitals for their medical treatment; if the Department of Corrections repeatedly misleads drug suppliers about how their products are being used, hospitals could become wary to give their drugs to prisons altogether. That's essentially what has happened on a larger scale between the U.S. and Europe, as European officials have refused to export drugs that may end up being used in American executions - and have acknowledged that may lead to a shortage of those drugs among patients who actually need them for medical purposes.

Christopher Sepulvado's execution has since been delayed to an unspecified date. Louisiana agreed to postpone it after an execution using the same combination of drugs went terribly wrong in Oklahoma, leaving inmate Clayton Lockett writhing in apparent pain for more than half an hour before he eventually died of a massive heart attack. An autopsy confirmed that Lockett's execution was botched by a relatively inexperienced individual who incorrectly inserted an IV into his vein, another area where the medical community's refusal to participate in executions has left states resorting to less than ideal options.

In light of these persistent issues with the way we put inmates to death in this country, some medical professionals now advocate for alternate forms of execution that don't require any assistance from trained doctors - like firing squads or guillotines. Elected officials who favor the death penalty have gone even further than that; earlier this year, 1 Oklahoma lawmaker said that he doesn't care if death row inmates are fed to lions.



Compassionate Capital Punishment

A physician friend oversees the lethal-injection program in another state. I say this is unethical. He says just the opposite. Before him, he says, executions were often prolonged and painful. Now they are fast and painless. Because the state will continue the program with or without him, he feels that his work is humanitarian in nature. Who's right? NAME WITHHELD, NEW YORK

To answer this question, I need to operate from the premise that capital punishment is fundamentally unethical. I'm not doing so to forward any kind of political position; in this case, my personal views on capital punishment are irrelevant. The nature of your question, however, requires that I work from that vantage point. There obviously wouldn't be any conflict if the doctor in question saw the death penalty as something positive. If your friend believes that capital punishment is ethical, his professional contribution to the practice would not contradict anything, except your own opposing opinion.

But your query suggests something murkier.

Let's assume that this doctor believes capital punishment to be ethically wrong - but he knows it will still happen regardless of his involvement. He realizes that people will be put to death one way or another, and that without his personal oversight the procedure might be conducted inhumanely. So the real question is this: Is it acceptable to participate in something unethical if the act itself is inevitable?

At least in this instance, I would say no.

We are all citizens of the same world - and it's a world that is (quite often) wicked. Unethical acts happen constantly, and most of them are outside the control of any one person. Some of them are so embedded in other activities that they are almost impossible to avoid; others are debatable or difficult to detect. But sometimes an unethical act is isolated, tangible and clear. And when this is the case, the most ethical response is to avoid participation. If there isn't a collective or legal obligation to participate, every person retains the right to opt out of activities that he sees as morally wrong. If this doctor believes that capital punishment is unethical, he should not use its inevitably as a pragmatic rationalization for his personal involvement. By overseeing the event, he is latently justifying the existence of the process.

But here's where things gets complicated: Our doctor's argument for overseeing a form of punishment he (theoretically) abhors would probably fall somewhere along these lines: "If everyone who disagreed with lethal injection removed themselves from its application, the only people policing it would be those who think lethal injection is awesome - and people like that might not care about the welfare of those sentenced to experience it." This argument is not terrible. But it doesn't holdup to scrutiny. What it ultimately suggests is that society must somehow ensure that the various details of an unethical process are nonetheless conducted as ethically as possible. Here again, the process is latently justified: Attempts to govern and humanize the procedure distract from the fact that society is consciously taking someone's life.

I'm not going to pretend that this is an easy question. It's not - in fact, each rereading of my response makes me tempted to alter my position. But my central belief is that trying to police society at large is a less reasonable aspiration than policing the day-to-day ethics of one's own life. The only thing we can truly control is how we live. As such, I think a doctor who disagrees with the death penalty should not involve himself with the practice of executions, even if his motive is humanitarian. It is a losing game.

(source: Chuck Klosterman, New York Times)


Dysfunction and the death penalty

Leave it to bad government to make the death penalty - a hallmark of justice systems for thousands of years - look like a terrible idea.

To be sure, eloquent critics of capital punishment have made forceful moral arguments against the ancient eye-for-an-eye quality of killing the perpetrators of society's most egregious and grievous crimes.

In a democracy, however, the choice of legal punishments rests with voters. Under our constitution, so long as the penalties are not "cruel and unusual," they stand. And the plain fact is that the death penalty has survived because too few Americans believe that killing the very worst of our criminals is itself cruel or unusual.

A strong consensus is building, however, around an ironic judgment. The logic behind today's complex, bureaucratic and costly criminal justice system was intended to make prison and punishment more scientific, more impartial and more humane.

It's a view that extended all the way to the death penalty, as "barbaric" old measures like firing squad or guillotine gave way to allegedly cleaner, more civilized approaches such as lethal injection.

Well, the evidence is in, and lethal injection is often more brutal, disgusting, and - yes - cruel than a firing squad.

As the Economist notes, Arizona resident Joseph Wood recently spent the final 2 hours of his life in grotesque agony, choking his way to death on the table where he was shot up with a cocktail of capital punishment drugs.

Yes, he committed heinous crimes. He executed his ex-girlfriend and her father. His own execution, however, implicates us, too. And his lethal injection, like far too many others, is a repellant and shameful spectacle even for many of those who do not object as a matter of legal principle to the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Californians, meanwhile, have an additional reason to seek dramatic capital punishment reform.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney has just ruled the state's death penalty unconstitutional - not because the method of killing is cruel and unusual, but because the bureaucracy that keeps sentenced criminals alive is.

"In California, the execution of a death sentence is so infrequent, and the delays preceding it so extraordinary, that the death penalty is deprived of any deterrent or retributive effect it might once have had," Carney wrote. "Such an outcome is antithetical to any civilized notion of just punishment."

Part of the problem, of course, is that California banned lethal injection - Gov. Brown ordered a search for a 1-drug "magic bullet" - but meanwhile nothing else has been adopted to take its place. That's created an absurd, soul-sucking backlog on death row.

For some proponents of legal capital punishment, the message is clear: If we can't execute criminals swiftly and without putting them through physical agony, the death penalty does more harm than good.

With outrage building among proponents and opponents of capital punishment alike, it's clear the current system is not just broken but doomed. It's a golden opportunity for moralists attacking the death penalty, because they now have practical issues on their side.

As Reason Foundation's Nick Gillespie puts it, "the death penalty wastes money, has no effect on murder rates, and is sometimes tossed at innocent people. Those 3 reasons are more than enough to end it once and for all."

Still, it would be remarkable indeed if Americans fully abandoned their long dedication to the principle of legal capital punishment.

Ultimately, the death penalty is more likely to die from neglect than from a political campaign to kill it off.

(source: Commentary, James Poulos; Orange County Register)


Death 'Unfair'?

Last week I wrote about the controversy of those who believe in capital punishment and those who do not, and how neither side is able to convince the other their arguments are suitable.

The initial argument on the side of the opponents is that the death penalty makes the state as much of a killer as the convicted murderer. Also, that the penalty is improper because it's just driven by revenge and is not really punishment.

I'm a total believer in America's Constitution and its amendments as they stand today. With that, I cannot honestly argue that these convicted murderers do not have all of the afforded rights. It's tough, but integrity must prevail.

Having said that, perhaps a lot of animus exists because we don’t have enough clarity on the boundaries, if any, that determine "rights."

Yes, we must have due process. The accused, the defendant, irrespective of how much clear, adversary evidence exists, gets to plead "not guilty," exercise every available "right" with counsel, and carry on.

Rights continue when, after a fair trial and a verdict is rendered, the (for the sake of this commentary's subject) convicted murderer continues with appeals. Yes, he or she has that right.

It seems the disdain felt by many of us enters with decades and decades passing as defense lawyers tell us that either their guy or gal is really innocent, or if they are guilty, they should not pay with their life. This exhibition is exacerbated when pro-life groups step in with compassion for the guilty and absolutely none for the victim - the victim being dead, of course.

But what about the family and loved ones left behind?

I have yet to hear of one legislative proposal anywhere that calls for fast-tracking the criminal-case side as has been done on the civil side for decades. Set up a system to process these murderers, and if the outcome is that they will receive the ultimate penalty, then get it done. This circus has gone from death row inmates languishing with their "rights" for a decade to now 25 years in many cases.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney recently ruled against California's death penalty when he overturned the death sentence for Ernest Dewayne Jones. Jones was sentenced to die for the 1992 rape and murder of his girlfriend's mother, Julia Miller. This one, disastrous case could have very broad future weight.

Carney said: "There is no rational explanation, much less any moral or societal justification, for which people are ultimately executed. The execution of Mr. Jones, and others like him whose meritorious legal claims have gone unheard for decades, serves no valid state interest."

I'll bet large that the grieving families, left behind with big holes in their lives, would fervently disagree and be sickened by such detached, free-wheeling liberalism.

Carney's reasoning seems ludicrous. He believes that all of the time delays result in constitutional violations relating to cruel and unusual punishment. Yes, these would be the same delays that result from murderers exercising their "rights."

Old age is the biggest cause of death on death row. California hasn't executed anyone since 2006 because courts stopped executions then. Carney said for every 1 death row inmate executed in California, 7 others have died from natural causes.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is all warm and fuzzy with Carney's decision. He concluded: "It further proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair; it is exorbitantly costly, unfair and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The only solution is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole."

There are at least 2 problems with your ivory-tower point of view. One, there is no such thing as a life without possibility of parole, because there will always be parole hearings and the swearing of "I've found God," and decades down the road, some bureaucrat feel-gooder will let the murderer out.

Garcetti's 2nd problem is simply offensive - "unfair and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever."

Let's ask the left-behind, grieving families about that.

Lastly, as we speak, "state officials" are at fever pitch to establish a new psychiatric hospital for death row inmates. Yes, all 720 men at San Quentin will get mental health screenings. It's a result of a ruling in December by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton. No bureaucratic red-tape time delays here; the action is in full swing. Karlton's ruling does not include 20 female prisoners at other locations with death sentences.

Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring opines, in considering the federal court ruling that people cannot be executed if they don't mentally understand, "We are curing them to make them executable."

"This is the only place on Earth where you'd be talking about building a psychiatric hospital for condemned prisoner," Zimring said. "It is a measure of American greatness and American silliness at the same time."

(source: Commentary, Betty Arenson; Santa Clara Valley News)


Don't dilute execution debate

The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts on July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Ariz. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Court raising questions about the drugs that would be used to kill him.

The justices turned Wood down, but his attorneys were right to raise concerns. It turned out Wood's execution took 2 hours, as he lay unconscious on a gurney, gasping and waiting for the drugs to work.

Coming after other botched lethal injections in Oklahoma and Ohio, the Wood execution gave renewed energy to activists calling for an end not only to executions by lethal injection but by all other means as well.

The Wood fiasco could start a new debate on capital punishment, in part because it spurred an extraordinary statement from a federal judge.

Alex Kozinski, chief of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was one of the jurists who listened to Wood's plea for a stay of execution based on concerns about the lethal injection drugs. The court issued a stay, over Kozinski's dissent, sending the case to the Supreme Court, which ultimately allowed the execution to proceed.

Kozinski focused his dissent on the broader issue of lethal injection. Older, now-abandoned methods - hanging, firing squads, the electric chair, the gas chamber - were all devised specifically to kill people, he wrote, and did so pretty well. But lethal injection took drugs originally intended to save lives and used them to kill.

If the United States is going to carry out executions - and public support stands at about 60 % today - Kozinski suggested returning to an old, highly effective method: the firing squad.

"8 or 10 large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time," he wrote.

Of course, an execution by firing squad, unlike lethal injection, would involve blood. But Kozinski concluded, "If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn't be carrying out executions at all."

One side effect of the debate over death penalty methods is that it draws attention away from the original crime. The Arizona case began in August 1989 when Wood showed up to see an ex-girlfriend, 29-year-old Debbie Dietz, at the Tucson auto body shop her family owned. Dietz's father, Eugene, was also there. Wood shot Eugene Dietz and then, as Debbie tried to help, Wood grabbed her, said, "I have to kill you ... ," and shot her, too.

Father and daughter died on the spot. Debbie Dietz's sister, Jeanne Brown, watched it happen.

After Wood's execution, Brown reacted emotionally to observers who called the lethal injection "excruciating." "You don't know what excruciating is," she said. "Excruciating is seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood. That's excruciating. This man deserved it."

Yes, he did. But how to refocus the debate away from methods and back to justice in heinous cases like Wood's? Alex Kozinski has an idea, and after the Arizona debacle, perhaps some state officials across the country will start listening.

(source: Opinion; Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner)


Radical Muslims supporting Egypt's Morsi face death penalty

An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced a leader of the banned Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to death over charges of inciting violence outside a mosque in Giza, according to Middle East news media.

Mohamed Badei's death sentence was referred to the Grand Mufti, Egypt's highest Islamic official a formality that rarely benefits someone given a death sentence.

On Wednesday, the same court upheld death sentences against 12 alleged supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi over killing a police major general in 2013, state-run Nile TV reported.

7 of the defendants were present in court while the remaining are sentenced in absentia. The defendants still have the right to appeal. Another 9 defendants received life sentence, and 1 was acquitted, the report said.

In addition, a Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced three female supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to life in jail. The verdict comes in relation to a wave of violence blamed on Islamists to revenge the forceful dispersal of 2 large sit-ins of Morsi supporters in August 2013.

The case dated back to September 19 when a group of people attacked Nabil Farag, the assistant to chief of Giza Security Headquarters in Kerdasa district, leaving 9 other policemen injured.

The defendants were also charged with forming a terrorist group, assaulting police premises and targeting churches and public buildings, in addition to disturbing public order.

Since the ouster of Morsi last July, a wave of militant attacks and explosions targeting security personnel and their premises have risen mainly in the restive Sinai Peninsula. But recently, the attacks have crept into the capital Cairo and Delta cities.

A recent government report put the death toll from attacks at nearly 500, most of the victims soldiers and policemen.

Thousands of Morsi's supporters and members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, along with journalists and secular activists, have been arrested and imprisoned under long jail terms.

(source: The Examiner)


High court stays execution after President delays mercy plea call

The Gauhati high court has stayed the execution of condemned prisoner Holiram Bordoloi on his petition seeking commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment on the ground that there had been inordinate and inexplicable delay on the President's part to decide on his mercy plea.

Appearing for Bordoloi, senior advocate AK Bhattacharyya relied on the January 21 judgment of the apex court, which ruled that in cases where the President had taken "inordinate and inexplicably" long time to decide a mercy plea, then on its rejection the condemned prisoner had a right to move the court on ground of delay to seek commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment.

Bordoloi was convicted by a Morigaon trial court on March 3, 2004 for leading an armed group to a hut and burning it down along with a scared family which was cowering inside. A 6-year-old boy escaped the fire and came out running. But, Bordoloi had flung him inside the burning hut. Another person was dragged out and cut to pieces.

The Supreme Court had upheld Bordoloi's conviction and death sentence on April 8, 2005. It had said: "There was no spark of any kindness or compassion and his mind was brutal and the entire incident would have certainly shocked the collective conscience of the community. We are unable to find any mitigating circumstance to refrain from imposing the death penalty on the appellant Holiram Bordoloi."

Bordoloi had filed a mercy petition and in his petition before the high court claimed that the President decided it after 9 years and 3 months.

A bench of Justices C R Sharma and M R Pathak on Tuesday said: "The point raised in this writ petition is that there was inordinate delay in disposing the mercy petition and that no reason has been given for such delay. According to the petitioner, in view of the decision given by the apex court, the death sentence cannot be executed at this stage."

The bench issued notice to the Centre and sought response by September 5. It stayed the execution till further orders and ordered the Registry to communicate the order to Nagaon Special Jail, where Bordoloi is lodged at present.

On January 21, the Supreme Court in an unprecedented order commuted the death penalties of 15 convicts - each found guilty in multiple brutal murders - to life term on the ground that the President had taken inordinately long time to reject their mercy pleas.

The court came to the rescue of the 15, some of whom had been served with execution warrants, on 2 grounds - inordinate, undue and unexplained delay in disposal of their mercy pleas and non-consideration of their mental illness.

The court had also fixed a mandatory 14-day gap between rejection of a mercy petition and the hanging to allow the convict to prepare for death and meet his family for the last time.

A bench of then Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh had said, "Keeping a convict in suspense while consideration of his mercy petition by the President for many years is an agony for him/her. It creates adverse physical conditions and psychological stresses on the convict under sentence of death."

(source: The Times of India)


Death Penalty: Is it Justice or Human Right Violation?

Shocking lawlessness, bribery, sex crimes, murders etc do happen in many countries. But the manner in which these are happening in India in recent years and are rising alarmingly causing great concern.

Major cities in India are not safe for women. The plight of women in villages can be inferred. People are crying for blood of the Delhi rape accused, Rape case of photo journalist in Mumbai has also been dealt through fast track court. But in rural India, many dalit women are raped, caste based clashes lead to abduction, murder of women, even child girls are not being spared. None of these incidents of aggression, violence against women are of any lesser significance. We have to take up all these issues, raise voices. Rise of sexual assaults against women in recent time are shaming India. These are sad and depressing incidents. It is not a matter of law alone, a matter of human decency too. Although women in India have excelled in various spheres of life over the years, they are still subjugated and no one can actually tell for how long this subjugation will exist. Attempts are indeed being made to bring equality, to uplift socio-economic conditions. More efforts are needed to bring in gender equality. Above all, it is the mindset which needs to be changed, coupled with education, awareness drive and sincere efforts will only bring about results.

Abductions, murders, terror acts are also on the rise. Money power of rich people, political influences and protections to offenders, are also to be blamed for increase in crime rates. Our Police forces are meant for providing protection and security of VIPs and guarding their close relatives and are not seem to be for common people.

India being known as a great democratic nation, has got its own elaborate legal system and judiciary in place but poor and ineffective implementation encouraging crimes from cheating to bribing, eve teasing to raping, murdering and many more. Prolong process in our judiciary system, delay in verdict etc are failing to win confidence and trust by our citizen.

Attitudes and prejudices are built up over generations and are reinforced by conformity. We become desensitized to wrong-doing. Empathy is a more powerful and sustainable catalyst for long term change towards a more peaceful society than just law enforcement can ever be. Life sentence, hanging, stoning to death, castrating are all symptomatic approaches to the problem, like a painkiller, unless the tumor is removed, the pain will return with vengeance. It is not just about a filthy contorted mind, it is about how the sickness, perversion is established in a young mind which grows up in inhuman conditions. Priority of the government should focus on education, health, sanitation, security and quick deliverance of justice with harsh punishment.

Many human rights activists argue if we cannot allow someone to live we cannot take his/her life also. Any kind of crime, brutal acts, killing individuals, civilians, terrorist activities or evils against societies or nations must be treated as punishable offence and harshest possible punishment must be imposed. But by taking away life by imposing death penalty, we are not allowing him to realize, feel what sufferings has caused for his crime. So attempts should be made to allow him to live and make him understand through the process of rigorous and harshest life-long imprisonment and make him suffer until his death. This can be projected as an example of harshest punishment.

Victims' concerns about impunity focus on the actions of criminals, stopping them from committing further crime and holding them accountable for the crimes. The needs of the surviving family members of victims are justice for the crime. The death penalty can divide and damage families. Unlike any other punishment, the death penalty sometimes creates irreconcilable conflict amongst the surviving family members. The reality of the death penalty system is - it just doesn't work. It doesn't make the public or police safer, it is prone to mistakes that snare innocent people, and it is not a good use of scarce public resources. The death penalty creates additional victims. When the state carries out an execution, the surviving family member becomes victim of homicide. The death penalty is a false promise to victims. Proponents of the death penalty put forth the notion that an execution can be a solution to the pain experienced by a survivor of a murder victim. The hardest thing for a victim is to accept that they cannot change the past. But what sometimes ends up happening is the murder claims 2 victims.

As citizen of democratic nation, one should view the death penalty not as a criminal justice sanction, but as a human rights violation. In order to aspire to live in a society, in a world where human life is cherished and the dignity of all is respected, hope and optimism should exist. Our planet can live without the death penalty and hope the day will come when "Death Penalty" as capital punishment is abolished.

(source: Mousumi Roy is an Author, writer based in Muscat Oman;


Country 'not ready' to end death penalty----It's still best deterrent the law has, poll says

Thailand is not ready to scrap the death penatly because people believe it is still the best deterrent against serious crime when compared with ineffective law enforcement by state agencies, a leading academic says.

Mahidol University lecturer, Srisombat Chokprajakchat, was speaking at a seminar titled "What offences should be exempt from the death penalty?" a the Justice Ministry's Rights and Liberties Protection Department yesterday.

She said 41.4 % of people questioned in an opinion poll, conducted in 4 regions across the country, believed capital punishment should be maintained while 7.8 % believed it should be scrapped. The rest of the 1,073 respondents were undecided.

The poll was conducted by the university in conjunction with the government department.

It was noted, however, that fewer people supported the death penalty after learning more about it, she said.

The university also conducted an online surbey. It revealed that of the 1,301 respondents, who knew little about the death penalty, 73 % supported it, while 4% wanted it abolished.

Ms. Srisombat said the reason why people want to keep capital punishment is because they still see it as the most effective deterrent in law enforcement.

Similar opinions came from academics and experts she said.

Ms. Srisombat said of 16 surveyed, 11 of them were convinced the death penalty must be maintained while 5 opposed it.

9 inmates were also surveyed, she said. All wanted to abolish the death penalty, but 6 of them - all convicted of drug offences - said it should only be used in murder cases if it is kept.

However, Pitikan Sithidej, deputy director of the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection, said the 3rd National Human Rights master plan taking effect this year through 2018 involves improving the country's human rights laws so they meet international standards.

The plan includes scrapping the death penalty and replacing it with life sentences, which needs parliament's approval, she said, adding that more input from the public is needed.

Most participants at the seminar agreed that there were toomany offences where capital punishment was applicable and should be cut. They agreed the death penalty should be kept for serious criminal offences.

Calls for the death penalty have grown since the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl, Nong Kaem, on a Bangkok-bound train from Surat Thani last month.

(source: Bangkok Post)

AUGUST 8, 2014:


Man charged in deaths of Katy parents to plead not guilty

The 21-year-old man charged with murdering his parents at their estate home in Katy was formally arraigned Friday in a Richmond courtroom.

Ryan Robert Walton listened as Assistant District Attorney Alex Foley read the findings of grand jurors, who had indicted him on capital murder charges in the shooting deaths 2 1/2 months ago.

It was the 1st time Walton has appeared publicly since sheriff's deputies arrested him on May 31 outside of a burger joint in Rosenberg, days after the bodies of his parents were found in their home in the The Lake Pointe Estates. Authorities said then that Michael Robert Walton and Lynda Renee Walton, 54 and 52, had been shot to death with a small caliber firearm.

Walton, dressed in a hunter green jumpsuit, stood mute during the minutes-long proceeding. Cary Faden, his court-appointed lawyer, told judge James H. Shoemake that Walton would be pleading not guilty. He faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of capital murder charges. Walton is being held without bail.

After the hearing, Faden declined to discuss the case or how Walton has fared since his arrest.

Michael and Lynda Walton had last been seen by their 18-year-old daughter at their home in the 24000 block of North Pointe Place on May 29. One of Walton's brothers found their bodies later that day.

Investigators tied Walton to their deaths after discovering that he had not been living at the home for several weeks but found surveillance footage of him leaving the house the day of the shootings in his mother's dark blue 2006 BMW. Walton had been driving the car when investigators arrested him, and they also found a rifle after searching the car.

More than a dozen friends and relatives attended the hearing, among them his grandparents and three siblings, Derek, Shelby, and Donnie. They did not speak to reporters.

Walton's next court date will be Nov. 7, while Faden and prosecutors deal with procedural motions and the evidence to be presented at his trial, Faden said after the hearing.

(source: Houston Chronicle)


2 Mexican nationals may face death penalty

Death penalty real possibility for Border Patrol agent shooting suspects

Although hundreds gathered, it was quiet as slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr. was laid to rest Thursday at Heavenly Grace Cemetery in La Feria.

Agent Vega was shot in the chest Sunday, allegedly by 30-year-old Gustavo Tijerina and 40-year-old Ismael Hernandez - both Mexican nationals.

They are now both charged with capital murder.

Action 4 News Legal Analyst John Blaylock said, now, it's up to the Willacy County District Attorney Bernard Ammerman to decide if he will seek the death penalty.

"The fact that they are Mexican nationals almost plays no part in it," Blaylock said. "These people were here in America, in Texas (and) they are subject to our laws and our penalties, so they have to suffer the consequences the DA thinks are appropriate."

Some of Vega's family members who spoke to Action 4 off-camera, said a death sentence would be the only fitting punishment for this crime.

Blaylock said agent Vega's good standing as a community member, as well as the community's outrage about his senseless death will likely weigh-in on the punishment when the time comes.

"The community is particularly outraged because of the pattern of behavior - these people are predators and they had robbed people at gunpoint in the past," Blaylock said. "It seems like it was just a matter of time before someone got hurt or killed."

The Mexican Consulate is likely to intervene on behalf of Tijerina and Hernandez if state prosecutors do pursue a death sentence.

It will also be a drawn-out, costly process for which tax-payers will carry the burden, since both suspects will probably have court appointed attorneys.

It's a possibility that the DA will offer a plea of life without parole, but Blaylock said it's more likely he'll go for the tougher punishment.

"He's going to be in a predicament where he needs to send a message - a strong message - that you can't be robbing fishermen at gunpoint in this county or in the state," Blaylock said, "and he'll have almost no choice but to seek to the death penalty."



Event underscores faith perspective on death penalty

More than 85 people, at varying stages in the journey to oppose capital punishment, attended an inaugural event of Georgia Catholics Against the Death Penalty Aug. 2 at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

"Restoration, Reconciliation and Forgiveness: A Catholic Perspective on the Death Penalty" featured speakers, group discussions, a question-and-answer session and afternoon Mass.

Some of those who attended have long been involved in prison ministry, while others are just beginning to learn more about the church's teachings regarding the death penalty.

Lisa Gerold, parishioner of St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell and a lay Carmelite, has always believed use of the death penalty is wrong. Gerold began writing letters to offer spiritual support to a prisoner in one of Georgia's correctional facilities about a year ago.

"Life is not ours to take," said Gerold. Having more information, made available through awareness events, helps her to speak "a little more confidently" about her position.

The program featured three speakers who have direct experience either through ministry or by providing legal representation to death row inmates: Sister of Mercy Camille D'Arienzo, a contemporary of Congregation of St. Joseph Sister Helen Prejean and author of the audiobook "Stories of Forgiveness"; Florida attorney Dale Recinella, author of "Now I Walk on Death Row"; and Amy Vosberg-Casey, staff attorney with the Georgia Resource Center, a nonprofit law office providing free representation to death row inmates.

"It's a lot different than people who think they know what they're talking about," said Gerold about the presentations.

When discussing capital punishment, Gerold used the analogy of a parent not giving up on a child just because they had done something wrong, but rather attempting to correct the child.

"I think what happens is you shut down your heart," Gerold said of pursuing the death penalty.

Other speakers at the program were John and Kimberly Starbuck, parents of shooting victim Meleia Willis-Starbuck. John Starbuck, who also lost his retired police officer grandfather to murder, talked courageously about forgiveness.

Meleia, Starbuck's stepdaughter, was killed when a friend fired a gun into the air to break up a fight. She was a freshman at Dartmouth College and very active in social justice, including work with homeless and battered women.

"I thought of what Meleia stood for," said Starbuck, who first met her when she was 9 months old.

When Starbuck's grandfather was murdered years prior, an uncle pushed for the death penalty in conjunction with the crime.

"I disagreed with him. I did not say anything. I was so numb to life thereafter," said Starbuck.

2 men were convicted in the grandfather's death. The older of the 2 was a model prisoner, turned his life around, and has been out of prison for 20 years. The younger of the 2 was just 17 when he went into prison, suffered abuse there and died out on the street after parole.

"He became the worst of the worst," said Starbuck. "They don't have the resources to get out of it," he said.

Meleia's killing was not a death penalty case, and the perpetrator, Chris Hollis, received a sentence of more than 20 years for voluntary manslaughter. Starbuck felt that the young man could be reformed and supported the minimum sentence versus life in prison.

Starbuck said he doesn't judge the families of murder victims who support the death penalty as punishment for the crime that took the life of their loved one.

"For me, it was a question of justice on a larger scale," he said.

Starbuck's wife, Kimberly, spoke briefly about the loss of her daughter and in support of her husband.

"This has become John's passion," she said.

In the months following Meleia's death, Kimberly would get in the car late at night, calling John to ask why she shouldn't drive off a cliff.

"Our lives are changed forever. I will never recover from that," she said.

Recinella is a lay chaplain serving on behalf of the Catholic bishops in Florida's prisons including death row, which has 400 inmates. A lawyer who surrendered the right to practice in order to help death row inmates, Recinella spoke at length about restorative justice, an approach that seeks to repair the harm done and that focuses on both victims' families and the families of inmates.

Recinella said that the 2 most isolated groups are the families of the condemned and the families of murder victims.

"Nobody knows how to deal with that pain," he said.

Recinella emphasized that in his view every execution is a homicide.

In Florida, the death row cells are 6-by-9 feet without air conditioning.

"They are being held in cages until we kill them," said Recinella.

Years ago, Recinella nearly died from a bacterial infection after eating a raw oyster. He didn't just have a near death experience.

"No, I got the lecture," said Recinella. "(God) told me what he thought about what I was doing with his gifts."

And what Recinella said in response to God was "give me another chance."

It was a Southern Baptist preacher who called Recinella and invited him to come to a prison on Florida's panhandle. He told the man he'd pray about it, trying to buy himself time, but his family all voted in favor.

Now he's known as "Brother Dale" and prays with both Catholic and non-Catholic inmates, while his wife supports the families of prisoners and victims.

Recinella said that retired wardens are finally talking about what participating in executions is doing to the staff members.

"Killing is not for them," he said.

He spoke of the 3 traumatized daughters of a man set to die, who had to be peeled away from his last embrace. "Killing is not for them," he repeated.

The death penalty offers a "circle of torment," he said.

Recinella posed the question aloud that most want to ask. "What about the victim's family?"

He related the story of a young woman who came to witness the execution of the man who murdered her beloved aunt. Everyone kept telling her, "You'll feel better. You'll have closure," he said.

After the inmate died, the loved one stood up with fists raised and said, "Is that it? Is that all there is?"

Many supporters of the death penalty will use Scripture such as an "eye for an eye" when discussing their stance. Recinella spent 5 years researching the death penalty as the law of the early Hebrews. He found that the death penalty provided for in Jewish law featured 44 mandatory requirements of substantive law and procedural law to determine how and when someone was executed. Recinella compared America's death penalty to that of the Bible's and found that it didn't match up with a single requirement.

"They cannot support the death penalty based on Scripture," said Recinella. "Restorative justice is God's justice."

Vosburg-Casey of the Georgia Resource Center is currently working with one death row inmate who has a "strong innocence claim."

The Nebraska native said her Catholic upbringing focused on the "seamless garment of life," and she has taken it to heart in her work.

The Georgia Resource Center defends 80 to 90 % of the inmates on death row.

"We are not to take life at any stage," she said. But her true motivation is the "blessing I have to get to know these people that society has thrown away," she said.

Vosburg-Casey acknowledges that the majority of those sentenced to death have killed someone.

"That's not something I overlook or forget," she said.

Everyone can play a critical role in fighting against the use of the death penalty, but her focus is narrower. "My focus is saving my client from death ... from execution," said Vosburg-Casey.

Participants received information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, statistics on the use of the death penalty, prayers and Scripture that support abolishing the death penalty. A Declaration of Life, widely distributed by Sister D'Arienzo, was included in a packet of information. The form is a personal declaration that can be admissible in court as a victim's statement should the signer be murdered. It states non-support of execution as a means of punishment.

A collection of black and white photos called "Execution Night" by Scott Langley was on exhibit for the program.

The event also included a remembrance of the late Father Austin Fogarty, who died in January. Father Fogarty visited the death row inmates at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson weekly, praying with them, celebrating Mass and baptizing some.

"He had been doing that for a long time," said Deacon Richard Tolcher, director of the archdiocesan prison and jail ministry. "Let us offer this day for him."

(source: The Georgia Bulletin)


Cook DA seeks death penalty in double murder

A man accused of beating a woman and toddler to death in Cook County could be put to death if he's convicted.

District Attorney Dick Perryman announced Thursday his office will seek the death penalty in the case of a horrific May 2013 double murder. It's the 1st capital punishment case for his office in years. The last person WALB was able to find who received a death sentence in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit was William Earl Lynn, back in 1990. Perryman says going after the death penalty is not an easy decision.

33-year-old Lisa Hall and her 15-month-old daughter Jersi were found beaten to death inside their Cook County home in May of 2013. On Thursday, the district attorney in charge of prosecuting the case said he will seek the death penalty for the accused murderer. Investigators say 32 year-old Bo Rutland beat the mother and little girl to death with a baseball bat.

"I had to give a lot of thought and a lot of prayer because [the death penalty is] a very serious matter," said the D.A.

Perryman wouldn't talk about a motive or details of the case on Thursday. He said one of the biggest things he considered when deciding whether to seek the death penalty was whether his office could spare the resources for such a huge undertaking.

"Our biggest challenge is gonna be, because of the size of our office and because we're so small and we're such a rural circuit, is gonna be time management and how much resources trying a death penalty case is gonna consume."

Now that the decision has been made, it also means that it may take a lot longer for the case to go to trial. "Probably more than a year," said Perryman, when asked how long, specifically it could be before the case goes to trial.

Regardless of how long it does take to go to trial, Perryman said deciding to seek the death penalty was the right decision. "Considering the nature of this case and the horrific facts involved, it's certainly appropriate under Georgia law," said Perryman.

Rutland remains in the Cook County Jail on a $1.6 million bond.

(source: WALB news)

FLORIDA----female to face death penalty

Kimberly Lucas: State will seek death penalty for Jupiter woman charged with killing girl

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the Jupiter woman charged with killing a 2-year-old girl.

40-year-old Kimberly Lucas is accused of killing her former partner's daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason and attempting to kill the girl's brother.

Friday morning a judge reviewed the status of the case at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Newly-released documents are shedding more light into the moments after Elliana was killed.

According to the report, Lucas was driven around for several hours and questioned by Jupiter police.

Police say she told them she didn't remember what happened.

Investigators say the 2-year-old was found dead in the bathtub. An alleged suicide note police say Lucas left at the scene referred to a church sermon she had heard.

Lucas has another court hearing November 18th.

(source: WPTV news)


Sergio Moorer faces death penalty for murder conviction

An Escambia County man is facing the death penalty after being found guilty of murder.

Sergio Moorer was convicted Thursday of killing 68 year old John Hall in August, 2011 and stealing Hall's SUV.

Investigators say Moorer confessed to beating Hall with a brick, forcing gasoline down his throat and setting him on fire.

Hall's remains were found in the woods behind Marcus Point Apartments.

The penalty phase of Moorer's trial will begin Monday, August 11th.

(source: WEAR tv news)


State accesses drug for execution from Lake area hospital

A Lake Charles hospital filled a request from the State Department of Corrections for a medicine used to relieve pain and suffering... But as it turns out the state obtained the medicine for use in an execution.

Recent botched executions have created more scrutiny about the drugs used for the death penalty, their effectiveness and where they come from. And as Christopher Sepulvado's execution date approached - an online news outlet - The Lens - began investigating the source of drugs to be used for his lethal injection. The execution is on hold.. But The Lens found out 1 drug - hydromorphone - was obtained from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

LCMH officials say they don't intend to get involved in a debate about the death penalty, but they do confirm, when the drug was provided, it was intended for medical use.

"We were contacted back in January, our pharmacist here at Memorial, from a pharmacist at the Hunt Medical Center, saying that they needed the drug, hydromorphone, for a medical patient and at that time we complied with the request. At no time did Memorial believe or was led to believe that the drug would be used for an execution," said Matt Felder, spokesman for LCMH.

Memorial Hospital Board Member, Judge Gene Thibodeaux, says in the article they've been assured it will not happen again. Thibodeaux did not want to appear on camera.

Still, the difficulty and secrecy surrounding execution drugs is a growing concern. Defense attorney Tom Lorenzi is on the Louisiana Public Defender Board.

"I understand their being upset. It has to do with health care, like first do no harm. There's a lot of people that are very much in favor of the death penalty that think that it's wrong for many health care companies to say we don't want to be part of killing people. But then health care companies in general are in the business of trying to help people, not to help kill people," said Lorenzi.

A bill to allow State Department of Corrections to hide information about its execution drugs was shelved in the end during this past legislative session. Such issues will likely be resolved in the courts.

"The drugs, if that's how we're going to do this, should be subject to testing and a protocol that ensures that they're going to be effective such that there is not going to be a cruel and inhumane death," said Lorenzi.

We called the Louisiana DOC for comment but have not heard back from them.

(source: KPLC tv news)


Indiana officials say death penalty protocol is sound

With the possibility of an execution occurring yet this year, Indiana officials are standing by their death penalty process, despite controversies over prolonged lethal injections in other states.

Doug Garrison, chief communications officer for the Indiana Department of Corrections, said officials are confident they have the right death penalty protocols in place to prevent the types of problems that recently marred executions in Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio.

Michael Overstreet - who was sentenced to death in July 2000 for the 1997 murder, rape, and confinement of Kelly Eckart, an 18-year-old freshman at Franklin College - is likely to be the next inmate to face lethal injection.

"He is the closest to reaching the end of the appeals process," Garrison said. No execution date is set but Garrison said it could be later this year.

The last Indiana execution was that of Matthew "Eric" Wrinkles in 2009.

Overstreet's execution comes as states across the nation are struggling to deal with criticisms over the punishment and problems securing the drugs necessary to do lethal injections.

Indiana and many states use a 3-drug protocol to perform an execution, while others use 2 drugs and some just 1.

The 1st drug in a 2- or 3-drug method has often been sodium thiopental, a sedative used to make inmates unconscious before other drugs are administered.

But the drug's American manufacturer has stopped making it and its European counterpart has banned its export to the United States for executions.

3 states - Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona - used the sedative midazolam in recent executions - and all took longer than expected, raising questions about whether the punishments crossed a constitutional line to become cruel and unusual.

In early May, Indiana officials announced they would switch to Brevital - an alternative sedative.

Now, officials say they have enough Brevital on hand for the next execution, even though executives from its maker - Par Pharmaceutical - say they don't want it used in that way. "The state of Indiana's proposed use is contrary to our mission," the company said in a statement.

Par Pharmaceutical went on to say the company is working with its partners to establish distribution controls on Brevital to "preclude wholesalers from accepting orders from departments of corrections."

Similar problems have led officials in many states to remain mum about names of the drugs they use, an attempt to protect the companies that supply them.

"The difficulties that many states have had in finding the drugs necessary for lethal injections is a warning to states not currently carrying out executions that problems in this area are likely to arise," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "Each state carries out its own decision-making on issues such as the death penalty."

And those decisions have become more complicated. The Pew Research Center has found that a majority of Americans still favor the death penalty but the margin has been shrinking. A 2013 Pew survey found 55 % of Americans said they favor the death penalty for convicted murders, the lowest level of support in the past 2 decades. 25 years ago, that number was 78 %.

The reasons for shifting opinions are varied, but they include publicity about cases in which inmates have been found innocent.

"The number of exonerations from death row has had a profound effect on states considering whether to abolish the death penalty," Dieter said. "Even if a state has not had a serious miscarriage of justice in this area, they can see that such mistakes can happen based on evidence from other states."

The death penalty is also expensive. According to the Legislative Services Agency, simply trying a death penalty case in Indiana costs an average of $449,887. Meanwhile, the average cost for a case resulting in life without parole is $42,658.

32 states still have the death penalty on their books. Of the 18 without it, 3 have abolished executions since 2000.

Indiana currently has 13 inmates waiting on death row, with many having been there for more than a decade. All still have appeals left.

All were convicted of murder. But to receive the death penalty, a prosecutor must also prove 1 of 16 aggravating circumstances. The most common is the commission of another serious felony, such as rape or attempted murder, at the time of the original offense.

Other aggravating circumstances include a defendant's lack of remorse and his or her criminal record.

Once convicted, an inmate has a number of appeals available and can be represented by the Indiana Public Defenders Council. Once those appeals are exhausted, an execution date is set and the inmate will be escorted to a separate holding cell where he or she can have more visits.

The inmate also has the option of having a final meal prepared for them. "Some ask for it, some don't," Garrison said.

While being transported to the execution chamber, the inmate will be put on a gurney with lines placed in his or her veins.

Witnesses may be allowed, depending on whether the inmate wants them. Witnesses are limited to the warden and assistants, prison chaplain, 2 physicians, 5 guests, and a spiritual advisor, along with 8 adult family members.

The Department of Corrections - which perform the execution and practices the lethal injection process once every quarter - will establish a support room for the victim's family, upon request.

The procedure for administering the state's 3-drug protocol will then begin, just after midnight.

The 1st drug - Brevital, sodium thiopental or another sedative - will then be administered, which is meant to force deep and painless unconsciousness. The 2nd one stops the respiratory system and the 3rd stops the heart.

But the process doesn't always go so smoothly.

Joseph Wood - executed earlier this year in Arizona - took almost 2 hours to die by lethal injection. He was injected with an "experimental" cocktail. His lawyers said the execution was illegal due to its cruel and unusual punishment.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said the execution was legal.

Dennis McGuire - an inmate on Ohio's death row - was given the same cocktail of drugs and took 30 minutes to die, an execution that defense attorney Allen Bohnert deemed as a "failed, agonizing experiment."

In April, Clayton Lockett - a death row inmate in Oklahoma - reportedly appeared to regain consciousness after the drugs had been administered. He later died of a heart attack.



Lexington murder trial rescheduled for next June

A trial of a potential death-penalty case has been moved from October to June, following a Fayette Circuit Court judge's decision on Thursday.

Judge Pamela Goodwine moved the trial of co-defendants Trustin B. Jones, 20, his cousin, Desmond Jones, 23, and Robert Guernsey, 33, from Oct. 6 to June 1. All 3 face the possibility of execution if convicted.

The 3 men are accused in the Sept. 3, 2013, murder and robbery of Derek Pelphrey, a Bluegrass Community and Technical College student. Pelphrey, 23, was shot to death as he sat in his car on Ridgepoint Road near Spangler Drive.

During a hearing Thursday, defense attorney Samuel Cox said he and co-counsel Kim Green needed more time to prepare for the case, particularly in regard to investigating the "mental-health issues" of their client, Trustin Jones.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Andrea Williams objected to the delay, saying the defense "have had a year to determine any mental-health issues."

Williams said the trial date had been scheduled since January, and that members of the Pelphrey family had already scheduled time when they could be off from their jobs to attend the trial.

Goodwine said she wanted the case to be tried in October, too, but she relented in changing the date because she didn't want the defense to appeal on the grounds that there was not enough time to investigate mitigating factors.

After a long bench conference between the judge and all the attorneys, Goodwine finally announced the new trial date. The trial is expected to go through June 26, 2015.

She scheduled an Oct. 14 hearing on motions that have already been submitted, including one filed by Cox to declare the death penalty unconstitutional.

Any new motions must be filed by Aug. 22, and the commonwealth will have until Sept. 15 to file a response.

"We will not continue this trial again," Goodwine said.

In another matter, Goodwine rejected a request to reduce the $60,000 bond of Desmond Jones.


MISSOURI----impending execution

Missouri court cancels 1 execution, reschedules another

The Missouri Supreme Court has canceled an execution for 1 death row inmate and scheduled a different man to be put to death next month.

The court on Thursday canceled the Sept. 10 execution for Leon Taylor, who was convicted in the 1994 killing of suburban Kansas City gas station attendant Robert Newton.

Instead, the high court scheduled a Sept. 10 execution for Earl Ringo Jr. Ringo was convicted of the 1998 double slaying of Columbia restaurant manager JoAnna Baysinger and delivery driver Dennis Poyser.

The court did not say why it rescinded the execution order for Taylor. But its decision came 3 days after Taylor's attorneys filed court documents indicating they would not have enough time to work on his case before the execution.

(source: Associated Press)


Execution of convicted area killer Leon Taylor is called off

The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday called off the execution of a convicted Kansas City area killer scheduled for next month.

The court withdrew the execution warrant it had issued July 24 that set a Sept. 10 execution date for Leon Taylor.

There was no explanation released for the action by the court. Taylor's attorneys had filed a motion earlier in the week asking for a stay, but the court on Thursday also overruled that motion.

According to the defense stay motion, several conflicts have arisen that would prevent his lawyers from completing all of the necessary legal work on his behalf before the scheduled execution.

Taylor was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of Robert Newton, an Independence service station attendant. After shooting Newton, Taylor attempted to shoot Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter, but the gun misfired, according to testimony at his trial.

In a separate order Thursday, the Supreme Court set an execution date for another Missouri inmate. Earl Ringo Jr., who was sentenced to death in Boone County, is scheduled to be executed on the same day that Taylor had been scheduled to be put to death.

(source: Kansas City Star)


Mo. Supreme Court Calls Off One Execution, Schedules Another

The Missouri Supreme Court has set an execution date for 1 convicted murderer and called off the execution of another. According to court documents dated Aug. 7, the Missouri Supreme Court called off the Sept. 10 execution date for Kansas City-area killer Leon Taylor.

No explanation was released for the action.

Taylor was sentenced to death for the murder of Robert Newton, a service station attendant, in 1994.

After shooting Newton, Taylor tried to shoot Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter, but the gun misfired, according to trial testimony.

On the same day, the Missouri Supreme Court set an execution date for convicted murderer Earl Ringo, Jr. for Sept. 10.

Ringo was found guilty in 1999 of 1st-degree murder for the 1998 slayings of Dennis Poyser, a delivery driver, and JoAnna Baysinger, a restaurant owner, at Ruby Tuesday in Columbia.

Ringo's execution date was originally set for March 9, 2001, but a stay of execution was granted while he appealed his sentence in various state and federal courts.

Ringo's case reached the United States Supreme Court in 2007, but the court refused to hear his appeal.



Kansas to appeal Carr, Gleason death penalty decisions----AG, Sedgwick County DA Bennett working closely on Carr cases

The State of Kansas will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review 3 recent Kansas Supreme Court decisions that overturned death sentences imposed on 2 convicted murderers in Wichita and 1 in Great Bend, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

"We are not convinced that the Kansas court's application of federal constitutional requirements is correct, so we are requesting review of all 3 cases by the U.S. Supreme Court," Schmidt said. "In each case, we doubt the U.S. Constitution compelled the Kansas court to set aside the death sentences that were recommended by juries of the defendants' peers."

On July 18, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the capital murder conviction of Sidney Gleason but vacated Gleason's death sentence. 1 week later, on July 25, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a single capital murder conviction each for Reginald and Jonathan Carr but similarly vacated both of their death sentences.

By law, the attorney general's office represents Kansas on matters before the U.S. Supreme Court. Schmidt said his office is working closely with Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett on the 2 Carr appeals. The Gleason appeal is being handled solely by the attorney general's office, which also prosecuted the case in the trial court.

"On behalf of the victims and their families, I believe it is incumbent on the state to seek review of these decisions to ensure every effort has been made to preserve the jury's verdict and uphold justice for the citizens of Kansas." Bennett said. "With Attorney General Schmidt, I look forward to the opportunity to bring these cases to this nation's highest court."

The attorney general today formally notified the Kansas Supreme Court of his decision to appeal, putting further proceedings in all three cases on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to review the cases. Last term, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear five percent of requests for review filed by state attorneys general.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court whether to hear the state's appeal in any or all these 3 cases could come later this year.

(source: KSN news)


Attorney General Derek Schmidt to appeal Kansas Supreme Court reversal of Carr, Gleason death sentences----Justices upheld convictions in both cases

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Friday he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the recent actions of the Kansas Supreme Court in reversing the death sentences of 3 men convicted of capital murder.

The Kansas Supreme Court on July 18 upheld the capital murder conviction of Sidney Gleason, a former Topeka resident convicted in Great Bend, but remanded his sentencing to the Barton County District Court.

A week later, the Kansas high court reversed the death sentences imposed on Jonathan and Reginald Carr, convicted of capital murder in Wichita after killing 5 people, 4 of them execution style. As was the case with Gleason, the court upheld at least 1 capital murder conviction against each of the Carr brothers, but ordered their sentencing remanded to the Sedgwick County District court.

(source: Topeka Capital-Journal Online)


Jodi Arias trial, death penalty under scrutiny before retrial of sentencing

A debate of the death penalty is coming under scrutiny once again, but not the debate that many might be expecting. This time the new event that is getting people talking about the death penalty again are recent botched executions in the states of Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona.

Advocates for abolishing the death penalty are finding these arguments to be strenuous enough to revisit the humanity of the death penalty in North America. For a family, and a tax paying public that have been wanting the Jodi Arias trial to come to a close for once and for all after 6 very long years, this raises serious concerns and questions. Will the fact that the death penalty is coming under fire right now affect the outcome that they have been hoping, praying, waiting, crying, and mourning for through the past six years? USA News is reporting today that thus far, it does not look like the recent botched executions are having any bearing on death penalty matters in court at present, or even on death penalty clemency requests citing recent rulings at the U.S. Supreme Court level. USA News is reporting today on the recent "botched executions" in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona that are putting the death penalty under fire, and starting up a whole new debate on the death penalty America. Those that have been following the Jodi Arias trial have questions about this.

Will this debate, or any of its consequences, have any impact on the lives of the family who became the victims of a lover scorned when she stabbed Travis Alexander 29 times, slit his throat, and shot him in the head?

Jodi Arias was found guilty of murder in the 1st degree with an element of cruelty last year, but the jury was deadlocked on whether or not she should receive the death penalty, or be sentenced to life in prison. Jury selection for the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial will begin September 8, just a few weeks away.

Preparations from both sides of the court for that retrial is occurring right now, as both sides of the aisle consider how to choose potential jurors that are right now reading articles about botched executions and death penalty debates.

That one of the most recent "botched executions" has occurred in the state of Arizona, is something you can certainly expect to crop up from the defense when the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial begins. It is raising concerns for those close to the victim, and to the public who has felt like they have become close to the victim by watching every detail of this case pan out.

The family of the victim, and the public, want justice for Travis Alexander. For many that never before even wanted to use the word "death penalty" in every day conversation, due to the very term's ability to inspire very heated discussions anywhere and anytime, they have no problem saying it now.

For many, this is the only way that justice for Travis Alexander will be served, after Jodi murdered him, and then gutted his family for the next 6 years after, and still does today.

If the theme of the current report from USA News continues, there is a good chance that group of people still mourning for Travis Alexander will have nothing to worry about in terms of recent events impacting the outcome of the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial.

According to USA News, thus far there are little concerns that recent botched executions are currently having no bearing on death penalty clemency, citing recent U. S. Supreme Court rulings. In Missouri, Michael Worthington, an inmate convicted of rape and murder was executed on Aug. 6 as planned, despite appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court for clemency based on recent "botched execution."

Michael Worthington's execution was the first execution in America since the recent "botched execution" of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood, who took 2 hours to die by lethal injection. In the case of Michael Worthington, the U.S. Supreme Court found that was not enough grounds to stay Worthington's execution, or grant an appeals for clemency.

As USA News reports, Arizona was not the first state this happened in. An Oklahoma case with a similar outcome in April of this year led President Barack Obama to instruct the Department of Justice to conduct a review of all death penalty protocols in America. President Obama, a known supporter of capital punishment, has ordered the Department of Justice to analyze the viability of lethal injection, and all challenges present in both the obtaining of the drugs as well as the administration.

Those that are concerned that these botched executions may have a bearing on any future death penalty cases, like the upcoming Jodi Arias trial, can rest assured. Where in most debates on the death penalty the question is, should it or should it not exist, this is not the argument here. The arguments being posed before clemency judges and the U.S. Supreme appellate courts are not whether to remove the death penalty, but what are we going to do about the administration of lethal injection.

If it were up to one appellate judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit, "It's time to go back to the firing squad."

Deborah Denno, a law school professor with Fordham University told USA News that it is not about whether or not the death penalty itself is under scrutiny or firing squad per se, but the means of one of the methods that we use is what is under scrutiny. She said, "It's a mistake to conflate the criticisms with lethal injection with [criticisms with] the death penalty itself. Conflating the 2 has always been a problem on both sides."

Under this premise, it is reasonable to presume then that if this is indeed the case, whether or not Jodi Arias will be able to avoid the death penalty under the argument that "recent botched executions" are inhumane, she may not. It is not something she will have a very strong argument for at this point in time, when it comes to representing herself in the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.

Austin Sarat, author of the book "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty" also provided an expert opinion on the matter to USA News. Not on the Jodi Arias case, but on death penalty in general. After examining every U.S. execution between 1890 and 2010, he found that only 3% were considered "botched" and he told USA News, "Botched executions did not play a significant role in the overall question about whether we should retain capital punishment."

USA News is also citing the "recent surge" in botched executions to be due to the lack of availability of the drugs needed for the procedure. The drugs are now only available through the European Union, which has heavy restrictions on what companies and countries can and can not export capital punishment drugs to the United States.

This has led execution labs in the United States to create their own concoctions and is being speculated as the cause of the "recent surge" in botched executions.

Jodi Arias will be sentenced to either life in prison, or life on death row until an execution date is set. Legal experts have said that attorneys that have been defending inmates on death row have been using "botched executions" in arguments for clemency, freedom of information, cruel and unusual punishments, and so on for decades.

In other words, if Jodi Arias attempts to use these arguments in her plea to avoid the death penalty, now or in the future, she will not be the first inmate in America to have used botched executions as reasons not to sentence her to death. Those that believe that the examples of recent botched executions will play a role in any sentence that may or may not be carried on Jodi Arias, need not worry.

Experts seem to agree that if the recent botched executions have any effect at the legislative level on the death penalty, it will not be on whether or not to do it, but how to do it.

Michael Rushford, President of the Pro-Capital Punishment Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said, "There is a way the states could avoid all of these problems with lethal injection - that would be to switch to some other method."

Appellate judge for the 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski agrees, "If we as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn't be carrying out executions at all."

It was previously reported by the Toronto Relationships Examiner that Jodi Arias will be taking on a fool for a client and representing herself come Sept. 8 when jury selection for her sentencing phase begins. This means that Jodi Arias will be able to hand select to some extent, who will be determining her fate when she fights for her life to avoid the death penalty. From the sounds of it, the news of the recent botched executions, even in the state where she is being tried in, will have little strength if offered as an argument in her case.

Fox News reported this week on Aug. 5 that a defense attorney from San Francisco, Daniel Horowitz said that representing herself may still be a good idea. He said, "It's actually probably a good idea to represent herself. She looks like a vicious psychopath with a ridiculous defense. [The jury] may find her pathetic. If she can get just one juror to bond with her on some level, even if they hate her, they're getting to know her, and it's harder to kill someone you know."

According to Daniel Horowitz, building relationships may be just the key that Jodi Arias has in mind when it comes to trying to avoid the death penalty. Many think that Jodi Arias thinks she is good at charming people, and that this is one of the reasons she has elected to represent herself.

Will Jodi Arias be able to build a relationship with just one person in her efforts to avoid the death penalty?

If today's information from USA Today is accurate, botched executions will not play a role in this death penalty case. If anything the recent botched executions should concern Jodi Arias, because that may take lethal injection off of the table should it ever come to that time for Jodi Arias.

That would be good news for the family members of Travis Alexander who have been gutted from this entire process emotionally, in almost the same way that their beloved brother Travis Alexander was physically. Even if lethal injection is off the table however, the family of Travis Alexander would still be waiting for a long time for justice if Jodi Arias gets sentenced to death row.

If she is sentenced to death row, she will be moved from the Maricopa County Estrella Jail to the State Perryville prison to carry out her sentence. She will then become one of only 4 women in Arizona on death row. She will join Debra Milke who has been serving on that death row for 23 years for allegedly shooting her son. Debra Milke maintains despite her conviction that she is innocent.

Wendi Andriano is also on death row in Arizona for poisoning her husband who had been diagnosed with cancer. Prosecutors alleged that she was tired of caring for an ailing man. Unfortunately her plan of poisoning him went awry when the poison began to take too long, and so Wendi finished the job by beating him to death with a stool.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez was the prosecutor on that case, when Andriano was convicted and sentenced to death row in 2004.

Shawna Forde is the last of the other 3 women now on Arizona death row. She was involved in a drug deal slash immigration deal gone wrong that ended up killing a man and his 9-year-old daughter.

There is currently no execution date for any of these women, and the state of Arizona has not executed any women since 1930 according to KSAZ Arizona. In that case, a woman named Eva Dugan was executed in a "botched execution." Eva Dugan was sentenced to death by hanging, and the hangman made an error in the noose and she was accidentally decapitated by it when she fell through the hangman's trap door during the execution.

(source: The Examiner)


We need to keep the death penalty

The whiners and bleeding hearts will never stop complaining about the death penalty and how it is carried out in this country. I'm referring to the column by David Love, "Death penalty is torture," in the Aug. 4 Sun.

A majority of Americans still favor the death penalty for the most heinous of crimes; we also think it should be carried out in a prompt manner. Waiting 25 to 30 years on death row while lawyers file appeal after senseless appeal is an affront to the judicial system and the victim's family. Certainly no one wants to see an innocent person put to death, but after someone has been convicted beyond any reasonable doubt, it should not take 30 years for someone to pay a debt to society.

And the fact that 1 or 2 of these criminals suffered a little during their execution doesn't mean we should abolish the death penalty. I'll bet their victims suffered a hell of a lot more than they did. It now seems if you commit a crime in this country, we care more about the rights of the perpetrator than we do of the victims. Do not abolish the death penalty; start enforcing it.

Tim Hicks, North Las Vegas

(source: Letter to the Editor, Las Vegas Sun)


How Not to Botch Executions

On July 23, Arizona killed murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood by lethal injection. Wood took 2 hours to die as he gasped for breath, by 1 account, "like a fish on shore gulping for air."

Arizona's was the 4th botched execution by lethal injection in the U.S. this year. One way to end these grotesque and inhumane spectacles would be to outlaw this method. The only sure way is to abolish capital punishment altogether.

The rationale for death by lethal injection was to provide a more humane way of killing than the gas chamber or the electric chair. It hasn't worked out that way.

U.S. prison officials have been experimenting with injection formulas because the European companies that make the drugs they once used have stopped selling to them.

Plainly, though, prison authorities don't know what they’re doing. The drug mix that Arizona used on Wood was based on the one that led to a botched execution in Ohio in January. A different combination in Oklahoma in April was supposed to render a murderer unconscious, but instead he writhed and groaned. Officials halted the proceedings, and he died of a heart attack.

States have refused to publicly reveal the qualifications of those prison authorities, the provenance of the drugs they are using, or how they developed the protocols. But they are coming under increasing pressure to do so. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sensibly ruled in July that the public has a right to know this information, although the Supreme Court reversed the decision.

Some states are thinking of going back to the electric chair, the gas chamber, or the firing squad. That's no solution. As the Supreme Court has ruled, the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment draws its meaning from the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

Even if prison authorities were to land upon a drug protocol that dispatched the condemned without torment or delay, this year's execution record provides other grounds for abolishing the death penalty: It's imposed disproportionately on those whose victims were white. Overall, whites make up less than half of homicide victims, yet 3/4 of the victims of men put to death this year were white. And capital punishment is disproportionately meted out to the poor and uneducated.

Then there's a chance that the state will execute an innocent person. In 40 years, more than 130 people have been freed from death row after evidence emerged of their wrongful convictions. Executions make wrongful convictions impossible to correct.

One can debate the rights and wrongs of capital punishment in principle. In practice, this list of disgusting defects is a sufficient case for abolition. A majority of Americans still favor the death penalty, but opposition has been growing. With prison wardens again drawing curtains around gruesome executions, more Americans may come around to rejecting the idea.

(source: Bloomberg Business Week)


States take hard look at execution protocols

States are re-evaluating death penalty protocols after 3 U.S. executions using lethal drugs involved unexpected suffering to the prisoner, and took longer than anticipated.

The supply of drugs used in lethal injections has dwindled because pharmacies are less willing to supply them, while the waiting line for executions in some states have grown.

Joseph Rudolph Wood was convicted of the 1989 shooting deaths of 2 people in Arizona in 1989.

Clayton Lockett received the death penalty in Oklahoma after shooting a 19-year-old woman and watching his friends bury her alive in 1999.

Dennis McGuire was sentenced to death for raping and stabbing to death a pregnant newlywed in 1989.

All 3 of these executions by lethal injections took much longer than anticipated. Wood's reportedly lasted nearly 2 hours, while Lockett, at 43 minutes, and McGuire, at 25 minutes, also took much longer than expected.

The manner of the deaths has renewed the death penalty debate. Wood was injected with a combination of drugs 15 times throughout his nearly 2-hour execution.

The length of the executions have not been seen as problematic by everyone. Jeane Brown, the sister of one of Wood's victims, said Wood's suffering paled in comparison to her family’s, according to television station KNXV.

"This was nothing," Brown said in a news conference after the execution. "I don't believe he was gasping for air. I don't believe he was suffering.

"This man deserved it."

1 judge asked whether states with the death penalty should return to more primitive methods if they are determined to execute convicted criminals.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote an opinion noting the death penalty is not intended to be peaceful.

"Sure, firing squads can be messy, " he wrote, "but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all."



Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more

America's criminal justice system disproportionately hurts people of color, particularly black and Hispanic men. Supporters of criminal-justice reform tend to point to that disparity as a good reason to change the system.

But as reforms move from proposals to actual bills, the key question is how to persuade the general public that change is needed. A new study suggests that highlighting racism in the criminal justice system is not the answer, and in fact pushes white voters in the opposite direction. Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they're less likely to support changing the law if they're reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black.

What the study found

The study, which was conducted by Rebecca Hetey and Jennifer Eberhardt of Stanford University and published in Psychological Science, consisted of 2 experiments.

The 1st experiment was conducted in San Francisco in 2012, when the state of California was considering a reform to its "3-strikes" law. Researchers showed white commuters a short video that featured a series of inmate mugshots. One version of the video reflected the total prison population: 25 % black. The other reflected the population imprisoned under the 3-strikes law: 45 % black.


Both groups agreed that the 3-strikes law was too harsh. But if the video they'd seen had more black inmates in it, they were less likely to agree to sign a petition to change it. More than 1/2 of the 1st group signed the petition; only a quarter of the 2nd group did.

In other words, according to the researchers, "the blacker the prison population, the less willing registered voters were to take steps to reduce the severity of a law they acknowledged to be overly harsh."

The 2nd experiment involved asking white New Yorkers about the stop-and-frisk program - after telling some of them that the New York state prison population was 40 % black, and the rest that New York City's prison population was 60 % black. Both groups agreed that stop-and-frisk was punitive. But again, the group that heard the 60 % statistic was substantially less likely to want to sign a petition to end stop-and-frisk.

What's behind the study

In both of the experiments in the new study, after receiving the information, participants ended up believing that blacks were even more overrepresented in prisons than they actually were. Even in the New York experiment, participants who were told that 60 percent of New York City prisoners were black later remembered that number as even higher.


In the study, whites intrinsically associated prison with black people. And they automatically associated prison, blackness, and crime. New Yorkers who were told that 60 % of prisoners were black were more likely to say that they were worried about crime in their neighborhoods if stop-and-frisk were repealed - and the more worried they were about crime, the less likely they were to sign the petition.

One of the researchers told Stanford Report, "Most people likely assume that (mass incarceration) must be due to rising crime rates," which it isn't. But the study suggests that many whites also believe, on an intellectual level, that current criminal-justice policies are too harsh.

The question seems to be which instinct wins out: the belief that our prison system isn't fair, or the assumption that a prisoner must be a criminal. According to the study, when whites are primed to think of prisoners as black, it's the latter that wins out.

What the study builds on

There's already a body of psychological research showing that whites associate black people with criminality. The researchers mention some of this in the literature review for their study:

"Not only are Blacks strongly associated with violent crime, but also the more stereotypically Black a person's physical features are perceived to be, the more that person is perceived as criminal [...] Even in death-penalty cases, the perceived Blackness of a defendant is related to sentencing: the more Black, the more deathworthy."

And there have been other studies suggesting that reminding whites about racial disparities in criminal justice makes them like it more. One 2007 study looked at whether poll respondents were less likely to support the death penalty after hearing various arguments against it. It found that whites "actually become more supportive of the death penalty upon learning that it discriminates against blacks."

What the study means

"the more black, the more deathworthy"

As depressing as it is that telling white people about structural racism makes them support the structure more, what makes this study particularly interesting is that the criminal-justice reform movement isn't just made up of people concerned about racism. Some fiscal conservatives want to reform the system to spend less money on prisons; some cultural conservatives are motivated by Christian notions of mercy and forgiveness. And some of the states that have most successfully worked to reform their prison policies are red states.

The argument that prison should be reformed to save taxpayer dollars can seem a little bloodless. And it can lead to support for policies like private probation agencies that end up being just as repressive. But when it comes to persuading the public - at least the white public - that criminal-justice reform is a good idea, activists already have an idea of what works.



Call for judicial review for man sentenced to death for murder of former Haverhill man David Tebbutt

A charity is seeking a judicial review into the death sentence of a man convicted of murder.

Kenyan national Ali Babitu Kololo was sentenced to death last year for the murder of former Haverhill man David Tebbutt, who was killed in 2011.

Mr Tebbutt was on holiday with his wife Judith at a luxury resort. The pair were attacked, and Judith, a careworker in Bassingbourn, was kidnapped.

Legal charity Reprieve, supported by law firm Leigh Day, are seeking a judicial review into the UK Government's decision to support the Kenyan investigation.

Kololo, a 35-year-old father-of-2, was sentenced to death after reportedly saying under torture by police that he had played a role in the incident.

UK officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office and Metropolitan Police supported the prosecution, Reprieve has said.

According to the charity, they have discovered that Metropolitan Police investigators sent to Kenya did not interview Kololo after his arrest and also said they did not know he was tortured.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve's death penalty team, said that there are "strong indications" that Kololo is innocent.

She said: "Despite the government's protestations, the fact remains that UK officials willingly assisted the Kenyan prosecution in sending a man to his death, based on a confession extracted under torture.

"Ignorance is not a defence, and the government should have known better than to assist the prosecution in a country where the death penalty is a mandatory punishment for the alleged offence and police torture is common."

Mr Tebbutt, who was 58 when he died, grew up in Haverhill. He was living in Bishop's Stortford at the time of his death.

(source: Cambridge News)


When murderers were hanged quickly

50 years ago the last murderers were hanged in the UK. It brought to an end an era of extraordinarily swift capital punishment.

At 08:00 on Thursday 13 August 1964, 2 keys turned in the locks of 2 prison cell doors - 1 in Manchester, the other in Liverpool. Moments later, 2 men were dead, hanged for the crime of capital murder.

Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen, 2 petty criminals who killed a man in a bungled burglary, were the last 2 people to be executed for murder in the UK.

Justice came swiftly. The trial of 24-year-old Evans and Allen, who was 21, began on 23 June at Manchester Assizes. On 7 July the men were found guilty and sentenced under the 1957 Homicide Act to suffer death "in the manner prescribed by law".

Their appeal was heard just 2 weeks later - and dismissed the next day. A final appeal for clemency was rejected by the Home Secretary on 11 August. Less than 5 weeks elapsed between conviction and execution.

The speed of the process, even with 2 lives at stake, was not unusual. A delay covering 3 Sundays between sentencing and execution was all the law stipulated.

"The 3 Sundays rule dated back to the Victorian era," explains Steve Fielding, a criminologist and author of more than 20 books on executions.

"It was felt to allow enough time for any new evidence to come to light, the convict to make his peace with his or her God and also to not prolong the inevitable wait to die."

An appeal might hold things up for slightly longer - but not by much.

"In 1908 the appeal system was introduced, but the vast majority of appeals were rejected. It normally shifted the execution date back by approximately 2 weeks." says Fielding.

The contrast with the speed of judicial execution today is marked. Only 2 major industrialised democracies - the US and Japan - still use the death penalty. In both countries the process is notorious for its slowness.

One convicted murderer in Japan, Iwao Hakamada, spent more than 45 years in solitary confinement awaiting death. Japan's policy of not telling the condemned when they would be hanged until the day itself meant he had no way of knowing which day might be his last. But none was. Hakamada was freed on appeal in March this year. His case was extreme, but the average wait on death row in Japan is still 7 years. In the US the average is longer still, at around 13 years.

"On the stroke of 8am they would enter the condemned cell, strap the prisoner's arms behind his back and lead him to the gallows. The whole procedure often took less than 10 seconds from the hangmen entering the cell to the prisoner dropping to his death," says Fielding.

Compare that with the recent execution in the US of Joseph Wood. An investigation is under way into why it took Wood nearly 2 hours to die by lethal injection.

The last hangings in the UK appeared to have drawn little national attention.

Sentencing merited only 2 paragraphs in the Times the following day - on page 15. Rejection of the appeal got the same amount.

"I think the Daily Mirror's coverage of the executions read something like 'Preston Dairymen hanged yesterday...' 2 or 3 lines only, buried away on inner pages," says Fielding.

The victim, John Alan West, a 53-year-old van driver, had been found stabbed and bludgeoned over the head at his home in Seaton in Cumberland. The 2 murderers blamed one another in an attempt to escape the gallows.

The notoriety of being the last 2 murderers to hang came only later. In October 1964 Harold Wilson ended 13 years of Conservative rule. Within weeks the Labour backbencher Sydney Silverman had introduced a bill to end capital punishment. By 1965, hanging for murder had been consigned to history.

But even before its abolition, the death penalty was being steadily undermined. The number of executions had declined since the introduction of the Homicide Act - which made the death penalty mandatory for only certain types of murder, at least in part to try to prevent perceived miscarriages of justice.

Only 3 murderers were hanged in 1963. Evans and Allen were the only ones to die in 1964. Around half of those sentenced to death after 1957 were reprieved and the act was criticised for a lack of clarity - why spare 1 murderer but execute another? Abolition did not come as a surprise. But the debate about hanging did not end with its abolition. Silverman's bill merely suspended the death penalty for 5 years. MPs were expected to vote again on hanging.

And so they did, making it permanent in 1969. But that did not end the debate. In every parliament, there was a vote.

It was always a "free vote", meaning MPs were not expected to vote along party lines. That convention was maintained, with each attempt to reintroduce hanging defeated, until the election of Tony Blair's Labour government in 1997.

Within a year parliament had voted in favour of a new Human Rights Act. A backbench amendment signed-up the UK to Protocol Six of the European Convention of Human Rights. Protocol Six outlaws the death penalty in all cases apart from war and imminent threat of war.

In January 1999 the then Home Secretary Jack Straw signed it. The debate on the death penalty was over.


Global death penalty figures, 2013

At least 778 people executed worldwide - not including those put to death in China

Almost 80% of all known executions were recorded in just 3 countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia

4 countries resumed executions: Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam

Over the past 20 years, the total number of countries carrying out executions dropped from 37 in 1994 to 22 in 2013

[source: Amnesty International]

(source: BBC news)


Another South Korean drug trafficker executed in China----South Korean authorities reportedly made some efforts to prevent execution on humanitarian grounds

China has executed South Korean man for trafficking drugs, only 1 day after 2 South Koreans were executed for the same charge on Aug. 6.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Aug. 7, "A South Korean citizen surnamed Jang, 56, was executed by Chinese authorities after Chinese People's Court at Qingdao, Shandong Province indicted him for trafficking methamphetamine in China".

Jang was caught by the Chinese law enforcement authorities in charge of drug trafficking with 11.9kg of methamphetamine in China in June 2009, and he was sentenced to death by Qingdao Intermediate People's Court during its 1st trial in May 2012. The decision was then upheld by both Shandong Province High People's Court and the Supreme People's Court.

The Chinese law enforcement authorities informed the South Korean consulate in Qingdao on Aug. 1 that Jang's execution was scheduled to take place within this week, or possibly earlier.

A South Korean government official emphasized its efforts to prevent Jang's execution by saying, "After Jang was sentenced to death, the government also made requests at various levels to have the death penalty waived on humanitarian grounds". But, there are criticisms that the South Korean government's measures were limited to conventional and passive responses, despite the death sentence being announced in advance.

(source: The Hankyoreh)


Fake mine accident killers in China sentenced to death

A court in north China on Thursday handed down death penalties to 5 people who faked fatal coal mine accidents to claim compensation.

The case is eerily similar to the plot of the movie "Blind Shaft," which won the Silver Bear award at 2003 Berlin Film Festival.

The 5 were found to have led a gang of 21 that killed 4 people with hammers in coal mine shafts from July 2011 to August 2012, said Handan City Intermediate People's Court.

After the murders, the gang faked mine accidents to defraud money from the mine owners in the name of victims' "relatives." They got away with 1.8 million yuan (290,000 U.S. dollars) from the first 3 cases before being caught by police during the fourth attempt.

Female gang members were responsible of luring the victims, mostly bachelors who were too poor to marry. While others scouted the shafts, killed the victims and extorted the money.

Other members of the gang received penalties ranging from death with 2 years' reprieve to jail terms of up to 15 years for intentional homicide and fraud.

(source: Xinhua)


Key Cleric in Egypt Rejects Executions

In a rare official rebuke, Egypt's highest Muslim religious authority refused to approve death sentences imposed by a court on senior leaders of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, saying that the case lacked evidence, court officials said on Thursday.

The opinion issued by the grand mufti of Egypt, Shawqi Allam, was an unusual effort by a prominent figure to restrain the country's judiciary, which has handed down hundreds of death sentences and harsh prison terms over the past year in cases against Islamists and political dissidents. Human rights groups say these prosecutions have largely relied on flimsy evidence.

The death penalties that Mr. Allam rejected were for Mohamed Badie, the leader of the Brotherhood, and several other senior figures who were convicted of inciting murder during street violence in Cairo last summer. As is required in capital cases here, the court referred the sentences to the mufti in June. Though his opinions are advisory, they carry significant weight.

The mufti's past opinions on judicial matters have rarely been made public, but in this case the rejection was published in a state newspaper this week.

A panel of judges said they would send the sentences back to the mufti for him to reconsider, so that he might impose a "legitimate opinion," according to a defense lawyer who was in the court.

It was not clear to what extent the mufti's criticism reflected wider discomfort within Egypt's often-inscrutable ruling circles over the harshness of the verdicts and sentences. Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has spoken repeatedly in public of his faith in the independence of the judiciary. And he has so far resisted appeals to pardon political prisoners, including 3 journalists from the Al Jazeera English news network, youth activists and thousands of Islamists arrested in a government crackdown over the last year.

The judges' insistence on Thursday that the mufti reconsider his objection appeared to signal that they still intended to follow through with the sentences. Egyptian authorities have increased their use of the death penalty since Mr. Sisi became president, executing 9 people, after a nearly 3-year de facto moratorium, according to Diana Eltahawy of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an advocacy group. The executions were not for political cases, she said.

Even so, the substance and public nature of Mr. Allam's criticism appeared to signal unease with the stampede of prosecutions, which have often been based on no more evidence than a police report and the testimony of arresting officers. An opinion published under the name of the Dar al-Ifta, the authority led by the mufti that is responsible for issuing religious edicts, said that the prosecution's case against Mr. Badie and the others was "free of any evidence to issue a death penalty."

Ms. Eltahawy said the situation seemed to be unprecedented. "It was not just a religious opinion, but a casting of doubt over the whole process," she said, adding that the matter could be a "test case" for determining whether there is broader dissent over the judiciary's behavior.

Mr. Badie also faces a death sentence in a separate case, one "that has even more concerns when it comes to fair standards," Ms. Eltahawy said.

(source: New York Times)


Delhi Rape Victim's Family Says Exemption of Death Penalty Weakens Juvenile Justice Bill

The parents of the young woman who was raped and murdered on a moving bus in India's capital in 2012 applauded efforts by India's new government to change the juvenile-justice law so that youthful offenders accused of serious crimes can be tried as adults.

"Minors accused of such crimes should not go scot-free," said the father of the 23-year-old victim in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Under Indian laws meant to protect the identity of rape victims, he cannot be identified.

A bill approved by India's cabinet on Wednesday proposes that children between 16 and 18 years of age who are accused of crimes such as rape, murder and acid attack can be tried in adult courts. Under the legislation, teenage convicts could not be sentenced to death or life in prison.

The father of the victim, who has in the past made repeated calls for the death penalty for all the convicted perpetrators in the rape and murder of his daughter, said exempting younger offenders from the death penalty was a mistake in the bill.

"I am all for it (death penalty) to make the draft law even stronger," he said.

Juveniles who commit heinous crimes are "a burden on this world," the victim's father said. He said with a "stronger law" in place, he would "seek extension of the sentence of the juvenile" who was convicted in the rape of his daughter.

A 17-year-old found by a juvenile court to have participated in the December 2012 Delhi gang rape and killing was sentenced to 3 years of confinement in a reformatory, the maximum punishment allowed under the current law.

4 men convicted in the case were sentenced to death under a new law implemented in 2013 to strengthen penalties for crimes against women. A 5th alleged assailant died in jail during the trial. Authorities said he killed himself. His relatives alleged he was murdered.

In 2000, India raised the age of majority for men to 18 from 16 in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Public support for harsher punishment for minors has grown since the Delhi gang rape, but human-rights activists and child-welfare experts have criticized the government's backing for the proposed changes.

"Instead of hasty measures, the government should make a commitment to effective law enforcement and the more difficult and lengthy steps needed to reform the criminal justice system," said Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

The number of minors found culpable in rape cases in India went up from 1,149 in 2011 to 1,175 in 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

"They [the cabinet] have recognized that the amendments are a necessity given the increase in the number of crimes committed by juveniles," said the victim's father.

(source: Wall Street Journal)


2 Men Hanged in Public in Iran - 10 Public Executions in 5 Days----With the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Iranian authorities have resumed the wave of executions. Since August 3, the Iranian media have reported 11 executions. 10 of the executions have been carried out in public.

2 men were publicly hanged in the city of Kermanshah (Western Iran) yesterday August 7, reported the Iranian state media.

According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary, the 2 men identified as "Hassan Cheraghalizadeh Esfehani" and "Hamid Nasiri Mir-Azizi", were convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas (retribution in kind).

The executions were carried out at the "Liberty Square" of Kermanshah, which has been the site of many public executions in the recent years. With these executions, the number of executions since the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (last week) has reached to 11. 10 of the executions have been carried out in public. On August 6, 4 men were hanged publicly in Shiraz (Southern Iran). 2 of the men were sentenced to death charged with sodomy, according to the official Iranian sources.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) has called for international condemnation of these executions.

(source: Iran Human Rights)


2 Chinese on Death Row in Korea

2 Chinese convicts are in death row in Korea, it emerged Thursday after China executed 3 Koreans for drug smuggling offences. But Korea has not carried out the death penalty since 1997, so the 2 are unlikely to be executed.

According to the Justice Ministry on Thursday, 58 convicts are on death row in Korea, all violent criminals. They include 2 Chinese nationals, 1 of Korean descent, identified as Park Kyung-soo (39) and Wang Liwei (38).

Park was convicted in 2000 of raping and murdering a mother and daughter and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

Wang, who came to Korea as an industrial trainee, hit 2 women over the heads with a hammer and stone as they walked down a street and injured 8 others. He was given the death sentence in 2001.

The last time Korea carried out capital punishment was in December 1997, when 23 convicted felons were put to death.

A Supreme Court official said China's execution of the three Korean men on Wednesday and Thursday could raise eyebrows in the modern world. "In most countries, the principle of territorial privilege is applied to criminal cases and the level of punishment is meted out according to domestic laws, but executing foreign drug smugglers without clemency demonstrates a lack of respect for life."

China has drawn international criticism for its Draconian application of the death penalty. Amnesty International said in a report in April that 778 criminals were executed in 22 countries last year, but those figures did not include the thousands who were executed in China.

Assessing exact numbers is difficult since the Chinese government does not reveal figures.

As of last year, 58 countries around the world retained the death penalty, including China, Japan and the U.S.

A total of 105 countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. have abolished the death penalty completely.

Korea falls into an in-between category that in theory maintain the death penalty but have not carried it out for the last 10 years. 35 countries fall into that category.


AUGUST 7, 2014:


Cameron Todd Willingham's ghost won't stop haunting Rick Perry

Until recently, much of the outrage over the killing of Willingham - the convicted murderer-arsonist who was very likely innocent but executed by Texas anyway in 2004 - has been over the state's and Gov. Rick Perry's conduct after Willingham was sent to death row in 1992 for setting the fire that killed his 3 children. Perry wasn't governor during Willingham's prosecution, which relied heavily on the testimony of a jailhouse informant and forensic evidence produced by arson investigators. But he was governor in 2004, when a noted arson expert and scientist sent him a report concluding there was no evidence that the fire was set intentionally and that the evidence used to convict Willingham amounted to "junk science."

Despite the report, Perry refused to grant a stay, and Willingham was put to death by lethal injection on Feb. 17, 2004. 5 years later, with a Texas commission working inexorably toward a formal acknowledgment that the state had executed an innocent man - surely a watershed in the history of American capital punishment - Perry pulled a bureaucratic maneuver that effectively stopped the investigation in its tracks.

(The seminal work of journalism on this subject appeared in the New Yorker in 2009. It's a depressing tale of Texas' total indifference to the truth once Willingham landed on death row.)

When Perry first ran for president in 2011, there were a few grumblings among pundits (myself included) about the Willingham case and what it said about Perry's ability to govern. Back then, I wrote that "Texas may let Perry off the hook" for executing an innocent man but the "rest of the nation may not be so forgiving." How wrong (or naive) I was: Perry's campaign drew more attention for his memory slips and bizarre behavior than anything he did as governor of Texas. It seemed as if Perry - and Texas - had shaken off Willingham's ghost.

Comes now a new report by the Washington Post that thoroughly discredits the final remaining piece of evidence used to convict Willingham: testimony by jailhouse informant Johnny Webb, who had said Willingham admitted his guilt while behind bars. The prosecutor who secured Willingham's conviction had insisted that he made no deal to persuade the informant to testify. But, according to a lengthy paper trail and the informant himself, Webb was indeed coaxed to testify against Willingham.

We already knew the deck was stacked against Willingham after his conviction; what the Post's chilling report reveals is that the fix was in beforehand. None of the evidence used to send Willingham to the lethal injection gurney was credible; the longer Perry and his state continue to deny this, the more the case against Willingham will continue to unravel without their help.

Perry is not running for reelection as governor of Texas, raising the likelihood that he's preparing a 2016 campaign for the White House. Judging by his finger-in-the-ears reaction to the questions over Willingham's guilt so far, either Perry is amorally unconcerned about sending an innocent man to his death, or he's so unsettled by the implications of a posthumous exoneration that he resorts to denial in the face of overwhelming evidence. I hope it's the latter, which at least leaves open the possibility that some prolonged media exposure in parts of the country less at ease with capital punishment - and disgusted by the botched killings of late that have soiled lethal injection's sterility - might make Perry's candidacy historic in ways he never intended.

(source: Opinion, Paul Thornton; Los Angeles Times)


No doubt a Texas execution was a miscarriage of justice

If ever a case cried out for abolition of the death penalty, it is the case of Cameron Todd Willingham ["Fresh doubts over a Texas execution," front page, Aug. 4]. In 1992, Willingham was convicted of murdering his children by setting his house on fire. His conviction was based on the testimony of forensic experts and a jailhouse informant who said Willingham had confessed to him. Willingham was executed in 2004.

Since the trial, several reports based on opinions of leading arson experts have concluded that the science used to convict Willingham was invalid. In 2009, the Texas Forensic Science Commission investigating the case concluded that the experts who had testified should have known better. However, the Texas attorney general's office refused to allow the commission to test some evidence.

Now it has become clear that the prosecutor bribed the jailhouse informant for his testimony and no confession was made. If Willingham were still alive, he'd almost certainly be afforded a new trial. But dead men cannot be retried. Plainly, the death penalty has no further justification in our flawed justice system.

S. Michael Scadron, Silver Spring

The writer is a member of the advisory board of Injustice Anywhere.

(source: Letter to the Editor, Washington Post)


David Hoose has death penalty experience

David P. Hoose, the recipient of this year's Clarence Darrow Award, which he will receive at the commemoration of the Sacco and Vanzetti executions on Aug. 23, is no stranger to capital cases.

Hoose was 1 of the defense lawyers for Kristen Gilbert, a former nurse at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who was convicted of 1st degree murder in 2001 for killing patients at the VA hospital. Because the hospital is a federal facility, the federal death penaly was in play. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1972.

The federal jury that found Gilbert guilty of murder did not sentence her to death but to life in prison.

Currently, Hoose is defending Cara Rintala in a murder case. Rintala is charged with killing her wife, Annamarrie Cochrane Rintala. The case has twice resulted in a mistrial when the jury could not agree on a verdict. It is due to go to trial a 3rd time. Rintala, if found guilty, will not be eligible for the death penalty.


Sacco and Vanzetti memorial to honor local lawyers and activist

3 Springfield area attorneys and the founder of an organization that oversees the impact of incarceration will be honored at the 87th commemoration of the executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti on Aug. 23.

Both Italian immigrants, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed by the state on Aug. 23, 1927, for murder. 5 armed men reportedly robbed a Braintree shoe company in 1920 as the country was going through the "Red Scare" of communism. A guard was shot and killed in the robbery, which netted about $15,000, and the thieves got away. A month later, police arrested Sacco, a shoemaker, and Vanzetti, a fish peddler. Both men were carrying pistols at the time and gave false statements to police. Although they were self-proclaimed anarchists, neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had a criminal record and there was no hard evidence tying them to the robbery and murders.

Their subsequent trial became the embodiment of what death penalty opponents believe is wrong with the judicial system. Eyewitness accounts that put the men at the scene have been called into question, and statements made by the judge and prosecutor were rife with prejudice, according to critics. Many believe that the prosecution did not prove its case against the two and that Sacco and Vanzetti were targeted because of they were immigrants sympathetic to the rights of laborers.

The Hampden County Chapter of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, The Sisters of Saint Joseph and other groups opposed to the death penalty have been commemorating the executions locally since 1991. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1972 and efforts to revive it here have failed, but it still pertains to federal cases.

The memorial service for Sacco and Vanzetti is scheduled at Temple Sinai in Springfield from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Featured speaker Lois Ahrens founded and directs The Real Cost of Prisons Project, a national organization based in Northampton. It brings together activists, artists, justice policy researchers and those who directly experience the impact of mass incarceration in an effort to end mass criminalization.

Lawyers John and Linda Thompson will receive the Ken Childs Award for their work on behalf of the local chapter and for their work in criminal defense cases. John Thompson has taught criminal law and run law clinics at Western New England University Law School. Linda Thompson is considered one of the leading criminal defense lawyers in Western Massachusetts.

This year, the Clarence Darrow Award will be given to Northampton attorney David Hoose, who has handled a number of major criminal cases in recent years and is also considered among the best defense lawyers in the region.

(source for both:


First use of electric chair: Aug. 6, 1890

For the 1st time, a man sits in a chair designed to kill him with electricity. His name is William Kemmler and he has been sentenced to death for killing his wife with an axe. 2 years earlier, the state of New York had become the 1st in the U.S. to legalize death by electricity because it was thought to be a more humane form of execution than hanging.

The top advocate for the electric chair, a dentist from Buffalo, New York named Albert Southwick, is among those in the room where Kemmler will die. Ever since witnessing an old drunk man killed by touching an electric generator, Southwick has campaigned for execution by electricity because he believed it would be painless. He tells the other witnesses there at Auburn Prison that day that "This is the culmination of 10 years work and study. We live in a higher civilization today."

Southwick had actually sought the help of Thomas Edison in finding the best way to electrify a chair. At first, the famous inventor didn't respond to his letters, but eventually he referred Southwick to the technique used by his chief competitor in the burgeoning electricity industry, George Westinghouse. The 2 men had very different theories about the best way to transmit electrical power. Edison believed that using a direct current (DC) was necessary; Westinghouse felt an alternating current (AC) was the answer. So Edison thought if AC current was used in the electric chair, the public would associate it with danger and death. Edison went so far as to say that executed criminals would be "Westinghoused."

For his part, Westinghouse did what he could to stop the execution. He contributed $100,000 to help cover Kemmler's legal fees when his lawyers took the case all the way to the U.S Supreme Court. They argued that death in the electric chair would be cruel and unusual punishment. While Edison opposed capital punishment, he did say that if you were going to kill criminals, using electricity was a good idea because it would be "so quick the criminal can't suffer much."

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with Kemmler. After he was strapped into the chair and had electrodes attached to his head and back, he was jolted with about 1,000 bolts of electricity. After 17 seconds the power was turned off and Kemmler was declared dead. But several of the witnesses noticed that he appeared to still be breathing. Prison officials rushed to shock him again, this time with almost double the voltage. As a New York Times reporter in the room wrote, "An awful odor began to permeate the death chamber, and then, as though to cap the climax of this fearful sight, it was seen that the hair under and around the electrode on the head and the flesh under and around the electrode at the base of the spine was singeing. The stench was unbearable."

Several witnesses fainted, others vomited. A little more than 2 minutes later, Kemmler was declared dead again. The physician who did so, Dr. Edward Spitzka,would later predict that "there will never be another electrocution."

After Kemmler, another 4,443 people died in the chair.

In Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia, prisoners on Death Row can still choose between electrocution and lethal injection.



Federal court rejects IQ defense in death case

In a 95-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson has rejected arguments that a death-row inmate's mental condition spares him from the death penalty under a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Miriam B. Airington, part of the legal team representing Alfredo R. Prieto, said Wednesday that Prieto intends to take the case to the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Hudson on Tuesday denied the petition on all 14 elements raised by the defense. The case stems from death sentences issued by a jury in the 1988 double murder of a Fairfax County couple. Prieto was linked to the crimes more than 17 years later through a cold hit DNA sample.

At the time of his arrest, Prieto, 48, was on death row in California in an unrelated case.

The matter is the first in Virginia that has addressed the implications of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that states cannot set a specific IQ benchmark that establishes intellectual disability. The case also raises the issue of the court's ability to retroactively rule on an ended matter in light of subsequent findings by the high court.

Prieto, while not asserting his innocence as part of the petition, argued that there was sufficient evidence to bar a death sentence based on his level of disability and his poor life skills.

In a Florida case, the Supreme Court held that states cannot establish a strict IQ level, 70, at or below which a defendant is considered intellectually disabled. Some measures of Prieto's IQ placed him below that threshold, which also exists in Virginia law. Virginia, as well as Florida, bars the execution of intellectually disabled people.

Hudson, however, found that the Virginia threshold is offset in part by other criteria used to assess a person's ability to function and reason in society. The jury in Prieto's case clearly and fully assessed those additional measures, the judge ruled.

Hudson found that the very nature of the killings suggested "it is unlikely (Prieto) would have been able to carry out these crimes by himself" had he been intellectually disabled.

"The evidence of adaptive functioning overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that Prieto has not met his burden here," Hudson wrote. The jury "made a reasonable conclusion that he was not intellectually disabled."

(source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Trial delayed for suspect in 20-year-old woman's killing----Victim's mother speaks about anguish waiting for trial

James Rhodes was in court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing on a murder charge, where his lawyers raised questions about his intellectual ability to stand trial in the death of Shelby Farah.

Shelby Farah, 20, was shot and killed during a robbery at a Brentwood Metro PCS store last year.

A motion hearing set for Tuesday afternoon was moved to Aug. 26, and now the judge has postponed the trial indefinitely until court records can determine if Rhodes is mentally able to stand trial.

Waiting for justice is beginning to take a toll on Shelby Farah's mother, Darlene Farah.

"We just want it to be over with so we can try to move on with our lives, and school's about to start and just the suspense of knowing what's going to happen - it's about to drive me crazy," said Darlene Farah.

Darlene Farah told News4Jax that she wants to be at every hearing and every court date of the man accused of killing her daughter. The defense in the case is trying to block the state from seeking the death penalty against Rhodes.

Darlene Farah said in her eyes it can only be a death penalty case and that she won't lose faith in the system.

"You're talking about a death penalty case," she said. "I know it's going to take time, but every time a court date is scheduled for the motion, I think once I get past the court hearing of knowing whether or not the state can seek the death penalty or not, I think it's going to be a little easier."

It's been over a year since prosecutors said Rhodes killed Shelby Farah. Darlene Farah said that she is still in pain and her daughter's death takes a lot out of her most days.

"(I have) faith - my 2 children and a lot of people in the community that I don't even know. I mean, they come up to me and the emotional support from the community is just, I can't even describe it - compassionate families. Don't get me wrong, I mean, I cry every day, but I know I have to keep fighting, but it's hard," said Darlene Farah.



Grand jury indicts Miami man in murder of 11-year-old girl

A grand jury Wednesday indicted a Miami man for 1st-degree murder in the vicious stabbing death of an 11-year-old girl in Little Havana.

That means prosecutors can now seek the death penalty for Miguel Ruiz Lobo, 42, for the June 25 slaying of Martha Guzman.

Authorities say Lobo, upset that his girlfriend had broken up with him, broke into the woman's home. Martha was home and he stabbed her to death, then tried to make it look like a suicide, according to Miami police.

Martha's mother came home to find a knife sticking out of the girl's throat.

Detectives say Lobo, in trying to make the death look like a suicide, sliced through tendons in the girl's wrists, making it impossible for her to be able to stab herself in the throat. Lobo's DNA was also found in skin cells under her fingernails, suggesting she tried to fight the large man off when he attacked.

A neighbor's surveillance video also shows Lobo entering and leaving the home at the time the girl was believed to have been murdered, police said.

Lobo is scheduled to make an appearance Thursday in court. He is also charged with armed burglary with assault.

(source: Miami Herald)


10 years later: XBox murders in Deltona----Mother of victim wants people to remember her daughter

10 years ago today, 6 people were found beaten to death inside a Deltona home, in one of the worst mass murders in Central Florida history.

On August 6, 2004, 4 men burst into a home on Telford Lane and beat the victims and a dog to death with baseball bats.

The crime became known as the XBox murders, because the accused mastermind, Troy Victorino, had gone to the house to get his XBox and other items after he was caught squatting in the home.

"It's unbelievable that it's already been 10 years because she's still gone," said Kay Shukwit, the mother of one of the victims, Michelle Nathan.

Shukwit couldn't stop smiling when she talked about her daughter. She still remembered her love for animals, her dream job of becoming a veterinarian and her vibrant personality.

"She was always happy, smiling, having fun," Shukwit said.

Shukwit said being close to her children and grandkids makes the healing process easier but knowing her killers are still alive, doesn't take away the pain completely.

"They're still breathing, they're still eating, they're still watching TV. If their family comes to visit, they can still see their child, their brother," she said. "I get to go visit mine in Orange City, sitting on a bench and my child is in the grave."

Victorino, along with Jerone Hunter, were found guilty and sentenced to death. The 2 others involved are serving life sentences. Victorino appealed his death sentence but lost.



Sentencing phase continues in Harrison capital murder retrial

James Harrison Jr. was back in court on Wednesday morning, Aug. 6, for the sentencing phase of the retrial.

On Aug. 5, 2014 Harrison was charged once again with Capital Murder and 1st Degree Robbery. Now, the State and the Defense are meeting in the Russell County Courtroom to find an appropriate punishment.

The 2 possible outcomes are life in prison without parole, or the death penalty.

Harrison already escaped a death penalty back in 2001. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but was granted a retrial based on juror misconduct.

Harrison brutally murdered and slashed the throat of Fred Day Jr., a disabled Phenix City man, in Jan. 13, 1998. During the court session, Harrison was found guilty of murdering Day, and robbing him of his CD's and other items in order to pawn and purchase cocaine and other drugs.

Ken Davis with the State asked the Jury to uphold Harrison's death penalty sentence. Davis explained That the State is not in the business of revenge, but entitled to justice in any given case. He reminded the jury the murder took place during the course of a robbery and this is a qualifying crime in Alabama for death penalty.

On the other hand, Jeremy Armstrong with the Defense called Joanne Terrell, a University of Alabama professor and social worker, to the witness stand. Although Terrell cannot diagnose anyone with mental illness, she provided 35 death penalty mitigation cases across the state of Alabama.

She explained the risk factors of what might have led Harrison to become the man he is today.

Terrell interviewed Harrison and his siblings in 2005, and again in 2014. She says Harrison and his brother and sisters moved from foster home to foster home while growing up. His 3 sisters were sexually abused by their step father, and all the children were verbally and physically abused by their step father and their biological parents.

Terrell explained Harrison grew up in a threatening and dangerous environment. She explained by the time Harrison was in 10th grade, he had already gone to 20 different schools, because he had to move often.

Terrell said Harrison and his siblings didn't have the support they needed from their parents, they didn't have mentors or friends.

Terrell also said Harrison had no prior records of violence and crime before the murder. He was charged for receiving stolen property when Harrison worked in Louisiana for stealing about 8 cans of vegetables.

However, Ken Davis explained during his cross examination that one of Harrison's ex-wives filed a report against Harrison for holding a knife to her throat and threatening her life.

Harrison was married 3 times, and had 4 kids he has not seen or heard from in years.

Terrell told Davis she did not know about this fact, but it does not surprise her since victims of domestic violence often end up showing violent behavior to their family members.

Harrison's 2 sisters and his brother were called to the stand to share their testimonies of their traumatizing childhood as well. The siblings recalled running away from home to avoid sexual and physical abuse. They spoke about some scary incidents they faced when they were placed in different foster homes.

Armstrong told the jury the defense is not trying to excuse Harrison of his murder. However, he wants to save the down trodden and the outcast. Armstrong told the jury Harrison has value, and people should not play God.

Davis then reminded the jury that Fred Day Jr. had nothing to do with causing his death. Davis explained Harrison is charged with capital murder for something he deliberately did, and the death penalty would help bring justice for Day and his family.

The jury could not decide on Harrison's sentence on Wednesday evening, and requested to be back in session Thursday morning, Aug. 7, to decide on Harrison's appropriate punishment.

(source: WTVM news)


In rush to find lethal injection drug, prison officials turned to a hospital

In January, as the date of Christopher Sepulvado's execution approached, the Louisiana Department of Corrections did not have the drugs it needed to carry out his death sentence.

So the state turned to a supplier that uses hydromorphone to relieve patients' suffering, not to kill them: Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

"We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was," said Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a board member for the private, nonprofit hospital and chief judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal.

"Had we known of the real use," he said, "we never would have done it."

The Department of Corrections bought 20 vials of the drug on Jan. 28, a week before Sepulvado's scheduled execution, according to a document provided by the state in a lawsuit challenging its lethal-injection practice.

Until now, the source of those vials has not been publicly known.

Thibodeaux said it's routine for hospital pharmacies to supply drugs to other pharmacies, including those run by the state, for their patients.

"We never inquire into the purpose for it. We assume it's for legitimate and noble purposes," Thibodeaux said. "We have assurances from our CEO, who is a very forthright guy, that this will not happen again."

State officials with the Louisiana Department of Corrections did not respond to repeated requests to comment for this story. Sepulvado's lawyers declined to comment.

Sepulvado wasn't executed on Feb. 5. After a botched execution in Oklahoma, the state agreed to delay his execution for 6 months as it considered alternative methods. A status conference on his lawsuit has been set for November.

Drugs expired as execution was delayed

Sepulvado was convicted in 1993 for killing his 6-year-old stepson by beating him with a screwdriver and submerging his body in scalding water. Over the years, his attorneys have delayed his execution by arguing that the state's death penalty practices could violate his constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

After several delays, his execution was rescheduled for early February. 3 weeks before the state was supposed to carry out his death sentence, it didn't have the drug it needed. Its supply of pentobarbital had expired in September.

Throughout the fall, the state had scrambled to procure lethal injection drugs. Other states were having trouble finding them, too, after drug manufacturers refused to sell to prisons and current supplies started to expire.

At one point, the Louisiana Department of Corrections considered ordering pentobarbital from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy - which would have been illegal because the pharmacy wasn't licensed in Louisiana.

Then, 9 days before Sepulvado's Feb. 5 execution date, the state announced it had approved another method to put him to death. The new combination was hydromorphone and midazolam, the same drugs that had just been used in the prolonged execution of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire.

Drug obtained days before scheduled execution

There was one problem with the alternate method: The state Department of Corrections apparently didn't have hydromorphone, either. However, it did have midazolam, a sedative commonly in stock at pharmacies.

A few days later - 5 days before the execution - Department of Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde said the agency had the 2 drugs it needed to kill Sepulvado.

The department wouldn't say where they came from. A federal judge ordered it to reveal the supplier to Sepulvado's lawyers, but the department requested the information remain under seal.

Now, 2 people - Thibodeaux and a source that refused to be identified - say the state got its hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. The Lens also reviewed a document that confirmed the source of the drug.

According to documents shared with Sepulvado's lawyers, the drugs were sent to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center's Medical Unit, which the state describes the site as a "medical facility for seriously or chronically ill offenders."

Properly permitted hospital pharmacies like the one at Lake Charles Memorial can legally supply medications to other pharmacies, as long as the drugs are for a hospital patient, according to Malcolm Broussard, executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.

The supplying pharmacy wouldn't need a prescription for that particular patient. Those rules apply even to highly regulated drugs such as hydromorphone, he said.

Broussard said he didn't know enough about this particular transaction to comment on it.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said he wasn't aware of a hospital supplying a lethal-injection drug. But it isn't surprising, he said, because hydromorphone is "more commonly used and would be available ... unlike some lethal injection drugs."

Nationwide, drug suppliers concealed as drugs become hard to find

Around the country, states have moved to conceal the sources of their execution drugs.

Deborah Denno, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law and an expert on the death penalty, said states are becoming more secretive because the death penalty is becoming more controversial.

"The stakes are higher because the drug supplier is ... more vulnerable," Denno said, pointing to several lengthy executions this year in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona.

"They're being secretive because they know they couldn't carry out executions otherwise," she said. "Look at the botches in 2014 alone."

Louisiana's tactics have changed in the past year and a half.

In 2013, the state identified the source of its execution drug, but refused to say when it expired.

State officials told The Lens repeatedly that there were no records showing the expiration date of its pentobarbital. Documents later made public showed that wasn't true; the state apparently violated open records law by withholding the information.

Since then, the state has disclosed expiration dates but has argued that the source of the drugs is confidential. A state law says that the identities of people involved in executions cannot be publicized; the state Department of Corrections has argued that the law extends to drug manufacturers and suppliers.

That's why the state redacted the supplier of the hydromorphone in documents shared with Sepulvado's lawyers.

Oddly, however, the state didn't redact the name of the pharmacist at Lake Charles Memorial who handled the order.

Should the hospital have known what the drug was for?

Denno said some states have resorted to unorthodox tactics as lethal injection drugs become harder to obtain. But she's never heard of a state getting its drug from a hospital.

"There's so much secrecy involved in all of this that it's really hard to tell where the drugs are coming from," Denno said.

She said Lake Charles Memorial Hospital should have known the state prison was looking for hydromorphone to carry out an execution.

If suppliers like the hospital don't want to be involved in executions, she said, they could require a contract when selling drugs that could be used in the death penalty. That contract would specifically prohibit the drug's use in executions.

That's what drug manufacturers such as Hospira and Lundbeck have done, which sparked the shortage of lethal-injection drugs.

"It's a slippery slope for a hospital to be the supplier," Denno said. "They are enabling execution, no matter which way you slice it."



Akron death penalty case to get a new jury as well as a new judge----Prosecutors accused the original judge of prejudice against the death penalty

A new jury is going to be seated in a capital murder case in Akron that already has a new judge. WKSU's M.L. Schultze has more in the latest twist in a case that began with the murders of 4 people.

Summit County prosecutors had said the original judge in the trial of Deshanon Haywood showed bias against using the death penalty in this case in part by seating a juror who indicated he opposed capital punishment.

Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands denied any prejudice but removed herself from the case. And that left her replacement, Paul Gallagher, to determine if a new jury should be seated altogether. In what Gallagher himself called an unprecedented move, he has now opted for a new jury.

Haywood and his co-defendant, Derrick Brantley, are accused of killing a rival drug dealer and three other people in a town house in North Akron. Brantley, who is believed to be the gunman, was tried separately and a jury recommended he get life in prison with no chance for parole.

(source: WKSU news)


Accused Strip shooter could await trial in Clark County

Ammar Harris, who faces the death penalty in connection with a Strip shooting that left 3 people dead, could be returned to the Clark County Detention Center while he awaits trial.

But District Judge Kathleen Delaney said Wednesday that she would not order Harris moved from the Ely State Prison, where he is serving prison time on a separate sexual assault conviction, until attorneys nail down a date for the trial.

Defense attorney Robert Langford said he wants a psychologist to examine Harris to determine whether he should testify during the trial.

Harris, who appeared in court Wednesday shackled and wearing jail fatigues and security mittens with 4 Metro jailers and 2 Nevada Department of Corrections officers, faces 3 counts of murder for a February 2013 shooting and ensuing car crash on the Strip that left 3 people dead.

He was recently moved to Ely State Prison, the state's highest security penitentiary after corrections officers reportedly found a phone in his cell at High Desert State Prison.

It's unclear how Harris obtained the phone or whether Harris could face further charges for the phone in his prison cell.

The Nevada attorney general's office, which would handle prosecution on a prisoner cellphone violation, has declined to comment on the allegation.

Prosecutors have said that Harris unsuccessfully tried to escape custody when he was extradited from Los Angeles after his arrest last year.

Asked Wednesday about the escape allegations, Langford said, "I keep hearing that. He did not try to escape."

Harris was accused of shooting another reputed pimp, Kenneth "Kenny Clutch" Cherry Jr., as both drove separate vehicles on the Strip after a nightclub confrontation.

Cherry crashed his car into a taxi, which exploded on impact and killed driver Michael Boldon and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Wash.

Boldon's brother, Tehran Boldon, attended Wednesday's hearing, and said outside of court that he believes Harris should face the death penalty.

"I won't see justice until he's taken his last breath," Boldon said.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)


A flawed punishment----By not abandoning the death penalty, California remains in the ranks of nations like China, Iran and North Korea

Recent reports that convicted double-murderer Joseph Wood of Arizona spent two hours gasping for breath before finally dying underscores the brutality of capital punishment. This followed yet another botched execution back in April of a convicted murderer in Oklahoma. In that case, an autopsy of Clayton Lockett revealed that the IV used to administer a lethal injection had been improperly placed.

These are not isolated incidents. There have been a number of problems with administering death by lethal injection in the United States in recent years, mostly because of difficulty obtaining the drugs necessary to perform executions.

We'd like to, once again, urge Californians to abandon the death penalty. It cannot be applied humanely. It cannot be applied in a timely fashion. Study after study has shown that it is never applied fairly: Some level of racial and economic bias is endemic to the practice. What's more, thanks to programs like the Innocence Project, we've seen many people freed from death row once evidence that they were not guilty surfaced. And it doesn't work. While some relatives of victims demand it, the death penalty will not provide closure.

The are practical reasons, as well, for abandoning it, including the fact that doing so would unclog a court system that is jammed to the point of dysfunction with death-penalty appeals.

Americans seem to be coming around to the fact that capital punishment is flawed. In 1996, 78 % favored the death penalty, while 18 % were opposed; that gap narrowed in 2013 to 55 % in favor and 37 % opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

There's simply no good reason for California to remain in the ranks of nations like Iran, North Korea and China. We need to abandon the death penalty altogether.

(source: Opinion, News Review)


Death penalty phase of murder trial gets underway----Angel Esparza could get death penalty for double murder

A prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that they would hear about the "cruelty and callousness" of a 30-year-old Coachella man who robbed, abducted and killed 2 farm workers in Thermal weeks after he gunned down a teenage boy.

Angel Anthony Esparza was convicted last Thursday in a retrial of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder for the Dec. 19, 2009, deaths of Gregorio Juarez and Pedro Garcia, and jurors found true special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder in the commission of robbery and kidnapping.

He was previously convicted of the Dec. 3, 2009, killing of 16-year-old Angel Luna and was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.

The jury that convicted him of the double murder must now decide whether to recommend that Esparza be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deputy District Attorney Jake Silva said in his opening statement in the penalty trial that jurors should put themselves in the farm workers' shoes as the 2 were bound and gagged in a Thermal trailer, put in their truck and driven to a vineyard, then put "on their knees and executed."

He said Esparza has committed other violent crimes - he shot at a vehicle in 2001, robbed a man the same month he killed Luna, Juarez and Garcia, and beat a fellow jail inmate in 2011.

"Angel Esparza is a man who takes - takes what he wants. He took the life of Gregorio Juarez after he took his property, he took the life of Pedro Garcia after he took his property, he took the life of Angel Luna, and took the property of (another man)," Silva said. "That is what he does; that is who he is."

After all the evidence is presented, "I will ask you to impose the most severe punishment - of death," the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney John Patrick Dolan reserved his opening statement for later in the penalty phase.

On Dec. 19, 2009, Esparza was staying at the Thermal residence of Christina Zapata and her daughter, Cecilia Morin, while on the run from law enforcement. Esparza entered Morin's bedroom with a revolver - where the 2 men planned to pay her for sex - and ordered Garcia and Juarez to the floor, took their wallets and bound them with cords and duct tape. He and Zapata drove them to a vineyard at Avenue 58 and Pierce Street, and Esparza dragged them into the vineyard, Silva said.

Later, Zapata's boyfriend, who had a can of gasoline with him, drove Zapata and Esparza back to the vineyard, and Esparza took the gas and a bag of the victims' belongings into the vineyard. The next morning, Juarez and Garcia were found shot in the head and burned, the prosecutor said.

Esparza was arrested in San Bernardino on Dec. 24, 2009, and authorities found a gun that matched a projectile in Garcia's head, Silva said.

Dolan told jurors during the guilt phase of the trial that Morin and Zapata "lied to you and said Mr. Esparza was involved in this and he wasn't."

"In the end you will find this is nothing more than a set-up so 2 women who are prostitutes, thieves and drug addicts can get a better sentence," Dolan said.

Morin and Zapata refused to testify in the trial - their previous testimony was read in court.

They each pleaded guilty in the case to 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder last year in exchange for sentences of 15 years to life in prison.

(source: KESQ)


Mom, boyfriend plead not guilty to boy's murder

A Palmdale woman and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to torturing and killing the woman's 8-year-old son, who was battered to death.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre entered pleas Wednesday to murder charges with special allegations of torture. Prosecutors haven't decided whether to seek the death penalty.

The boy, Gabriel Fernandez, died in May 2013 days after he was hospitalized with injuries including a cracked skull, broken ribs and burns.

Other relatives have sued the county for failing to remove the boy from the home. The suit says relatives, neighbors, teachers and others made more than 60 child abuse reports to authorities who either ignored them or botched the investigations.

4 child welfare officials were fired after the death.

(source: Associated Press)


Guantanamo argument: Does USS Cole defendant have brain damage?

Defense and prosecution lawyers sparred Wednesday over whether the accused USS Cole bomber should get an MRI of his brain before his death-penalty trial.

The request presented both a logistical and political challenge to the U.S. military. Congress forbids the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil even for medical emergency. Also, although the prison ordered a $1.65 million magnetic resonance imaging machine nearly 2 years ago, it never arrived.

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 49, is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida's Oct. 12, 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole warship off Yemen that killed 17 American sailors. U.S. agents waterboarded him and interrogated him with threats of a power drill and a handgun.

For the defense, Nashiri attorney Rick Kammen argued that his side needed the scan to investigate for "organic brain damage," as potential mitigation evidence at the war crimes tribunal of the man whom a U.S. military medical panel has diagnosed as suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In addition, a defense team torture expert, internist Dr. Sondra Crosby, testified in April that Nashiri was a victim of "physical, psychological and sexual torture." She recommended the military conduct the scan to evaluate PTSD-related memory loss and care for him properly.

To do otherwise, Kammen told the judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, would be willfully indifferent to his medical needs and would be providing ineffective assistance of counsel.

Interestingly, that very issue has cast a cloud over a death-penalty case the judge handled as an Air Force prosecutor. A military appeals court criticized attorneys for Senior Airman Andrew Witt for not exploring the possibility that Witt suffered traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle crash 4 months before he brutally murdered a couple at Robins Air Force base in Georgia in 2004. He's on military death row but Spath says he no longer follows the ongoing appeal of his most high profile victor as an Air Force prosecutor.

A case prosecutor, Army Col. Robert Moscati, disputed the need for the brain scan and defended the mental-health treatment Nashiri has receiving at Guantanamo since arriving from four years of CIA secret prison custody in September 2006.

Moscati argued that U.S. military prison doctors don't think an MRI is "medically indicated," would not confirm Crosby's diagnosis of memory loss and wouldn't put a time frame on any brain damage it may show.

"Mr. Nashiri could've fallen off his bike when he was 3," said Moscati, the deputy chief Pentagon war crimes prosecutor who in civilian life is a federal prosecutor in Buffalo, N.Y.

Unusually, Nashiri chose not to come to court Wednesday. He has sat through talk about torture and his health care before. But a day earlier, his lawyers asked the judge to order the Pentagon to declare how it would kill him, if he's convicted and sentenced to death - something that hadn't come up in court before.

Besides, prosecutors wrote in their brief, there is no MRI at Guantanamo - something Kammen said the Pentagon could solve by sending one on the supply barge or sailing a medical ship to this remote base in southeast Cuba.

The judge did not decide the MRI question. Instead, he told defense attorneys to first ask a senior Pentagon official responsible for war court resources. Meantime, Spath said he would be considering a different motion argued before he got to the case alleging Nashiri was a victim of medical malpractice.

There was no talk of taking Nashiri to an MRI rather than bringing one to him. In 2007, the Bush administration asked four Latin American allies - Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama - to take up the slack for Guantanamo's emergency health care deficiencies, and offered to pay for any detainee medical treatment, but none agreed.

In September 2012, Guantanamo prison's contracting authority placed a $1.65 million order for a magnetic resonance imaging machine and separate trailer with a Pennsylvania firm.

The prison spokesman, Navy Capt. Tom Gresback, said the military decided to send the MRI "elsewhere into the military medical system." After the bid was issued and awarded, Gresback said, "further analysis" concluded that "other modalities" could be used to diagnose and treat detainees' acute medical conditions - for example CT scans and ultrasounds.

Earlier in the day, defense lawyers screened a U.S. military promotional film of a World War II U.S. program that designed disguised, remote-control boats meant to blow up enemy ships - in an argument that said, if the precursor to the CIA, the OSS, didn't consider that a war crime at the time, the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole wasn't one, either.

Judge Spath interjected that al-Qaida didn't have the same status as U.S. forces under the Geneva Conventions. Defense attorney Air Force Capt. Daphne Jackson countered that the existence of the USS Cole case is leveraged on a claim that the U.S. was at war with al-Qaida, and the defense was arguing that using a ruse to attack in a time of war was not a war crime.

Case prosecutor Justin Sher said the issue was irrelevant because the OSS-Army Air Force program didn't blow up any enemy ships using remotely controlled boats as missiles, anyway.

(source: Miami Herald)


Motions Hearing #1: Death Penalty Procedures and Mitigation Experts

The military judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, begins the morning's hearing in United States v. Al-Nashiri - his 2nd on the case - by ruling on 2 pending motions.

First, Judge Spath grants defense motion AE 305, in which the detainee's lawyers had asked the new military judge to block his predecessor, Army Col. James L. Pohl from resolving certain outstanding motions after his replacement by Judge Spath. Here the court agreed with the defense that he should be the one to resolve legacy motions, with one caveat: Judge Spath plans to do so on the existing record, unless the record isn't sufficient; in the latter case, more litigation might be necessary. As far as yesterday's discussion about resourcing, the Judge observes that there was no formal motion before him. Thus the court simply reminds the defense that, if the Convening Authority denies any requests for assistance, the court will be amenable to hearing motions to compel.

Moving straight to AE278, Al-Nashiri's Learned Counsel Richard Kammen stands and says that the commission should order the Secretary of Defense to make public the method through which Al-Nashiri will be executed, should he ultimately be convicted and sentenced to death. His argument is 2-fold. First, the lawyer says it is important to give members the opportunity to decide whether they would be comfortable sentencing Al-Nashiri to death if the Department of Defense protocol was similar to that used in the botched executions in Arizona and Oklahoma. Second, Congress actually passed a law instructing the Secretary of Defense to publish those regulations. Anticipating a claim that the motion wasn't yet ripe, Kammen notes that Congress had spoken definitively on the matter: "It didn't say, you know, wait until the process is over. It said publish them." More broadly, Kammen claims that the intellectual construct of the sentencing question is different when the method of execution is an unknown variable. How can the defense argue that the method of execution is inhumane when the prosecution could simply assert otherwise?

The baton passes to prosecutor Justin Sher - who, as Kammen predicted, zooms in on the motion's prematurity: "it's not ripe until the point that the accused is unanimously convicted of a capital offense, and only after the members make the requisite findings, and only after they unanimously sentence the accused." And because the "mode or method is either lawful or not lawful," the whole question is legal in nature and thus entirely inappropriate for commission members to consider during sentencing. It might also not be fit solely for judicial consideration, either, suggests Sher. Unlike mitigation considerations, which must be unique to the accused and may be considered by the commission members, the manner and method of execution is a matter of clemency meant to be considered by the Convening Authority. A little bit more follows from Sher - and even less than that from Kammen - and AE278 is quickly submitted.

That brings us swiftly to AE279, in which the defense requested 175 additional hours of funding for Mr. Ahmad Assed to continue his work as a cultural consultant focused on mitigation investigation in Saudi Arabia. Maj. Alison Daniels takes up this item for the defense. Mr. Assed is critical for a number of reasons, she says, not least of which is that he is the only one on the defense team capable of speaking with Al-Nashiri's family, visiting his old neighborhood, and acquiring his school records, all located in Mecca. (Nobody else involved in the mitigation effort is Muslim, a pre-requisite for travel to Mecca; such people also do not speak Arabic.)

Speaking through Lt. Paul Morris, the government responds that the defense needs to show more specificity before its request can be properly granted. For his part, Judge Spath seems to disagree: not only is the request clear, he said, but "if the convening authority believes the best approach is to try this as a capital case, that's fine, but they should be prepared to spend the kind of money that a capital case requires, and when you have a capital case that involves somebody from an overseas country, it's going to cost more." The evident skepticism does not bring a bench ruling, though; we'll apparently await decision on the motion.



Can the Death Penalty Survive Lethal Injection?----Almost everyone acknowledges there's a problem, but there's little agreement on a solution.

Missouri's execution of Michael Worthington, who was convicted of raping and murdering his neighbor, went as planned early Wednesday morning. Appeals for clemency to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and for a stay to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied, despite recent concerns expressed about botched executions.

Worthington's punishment comes after the last U.S. inmate to be executed, Joseph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona, snored and by some accounts gasped loudly throughout the 2-hour procedure, which his lawyers had contested over the effectiveness and source of the drugs being used to kill him. After a similarly alarming April execution in Oklahoma, President Barack Obama - who supports capital punishment - instructed the Department of Justice to review death penalty protocols, meaning that despite the relative success of lethal injection in Worthington's execution, questions about its viability - particularly challenges in obtaining and administering the drugs involved - aren't likely to go away.

While people on both sides of the death penalty issue agree there are problems with lethal injection procedures that need to be addressed - including a pro-death penalty appellate judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit who said ahead of the Arizona execution it was time to go back to the firing squad - exactly what should be done is an open question. Death penalty opponents say lethal injection's problems are just another reason capital punishment should be abolished altogether. Proponents, meanwhile, accuse abolitionists of using issues with the specific method to undermine the entire enterprise, which, according to the Pew Research Center, most Americans still support.

Within this quagmire, death penalty experts fear there is a lack of political will to address the increasingly apparent trouble lethal injection is presenting state executioners.

"It's a mistake to conflate the criticisms with lethal injection with the death penalty itself," says Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law school professor who has been studying lethal injection protocols for more than 2 decades. "Conflating the 2 has always been a problem on both sides."

There have been issues with lethal injection since it first came into use in 1982. According to Amherst College's Austin Sarat - author of the book "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty," which surveyed every U.S. execution from 1890 to 2010 - about 3 % of all executions were botched in that period, while the error rate of lethal injections surveyed was about 7 %. His study did not include the most recent spate of troublesome procedures, which this year included another Oklahoma execution as well as one in Ohio.

Previously, "botched executions did not play a significant role in the overall question about whether we should retain capital punishment," Sarat says. "The context in which the botched executions are happening [now] is very different and has given them and will give them greater significance in the national debate about capital punishment."

The recent surge in botched executions is believed to be fueled by a shortage of the drugs traditionally used for lethal injection. The last U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental stopped making the drug after planning to resume doing so in Italy and facing pressure from government authorities there. The European Union has restricted companies from exporting death penalty drugs to the U.S., and execution labs have been forced to concoct their own mix of drugs in-house or turn to local apothecaries to compound pharmaceuticals. Facing scrutiny over these new protocols, some states have passed secrecy laws, which authorities argue protect the identities of local drugmakers from harassment by anti-death penalty activists.

Attorneys defending death row inmates have used the situation to appeal executions on a variety of constitutional grounds, including freedom of information, due process, and cruel and unusual punishment. So far, such arguments have gained only limited traction in the courts. A 3-judge panel's temporary stay of Wood's execution marked the 1st appellate-level decision to side with the First Amendment argument that the inmate deserved more information from the state about the drugs being used to kill him. The Supreme Court overturned the stay, and the high court overall has appeared to be extremely reluctant to weigh in on the practice, having heard a lethal injection case only once, in 2008, when it ruled Kentucky's 3-drug protocol was constitutional.

"It was clear the Supreme Court decision was a failed effort immediately," Denno says, calling the Kentucky ruling - which came with 7 separate opinions - "unclear, ambiguous," and 1 "that doesn't really stand for anything."

Even death penalty proponents recognize the arguments inmates' attorneys are making will only gain more teeth as botched executions continue.

"The more and more ugly cases, it becomes likely that courts are likely to intervene, but what that intervention looks like is a fascinating and uncertain question," says Douglas Berman, an Ohio State University law school professor.

The cost and length of time it takes to litigate death penalty appeals is one of the reasons many states have turned away from capital punishment altogether. While still legal in 32 states, only a handful conduct executions on a relatively regular basis. The delays and randomness of the California system - which has the largest death row in the country but hasn't executed anyone since 2006 - recently led a federal judge to overturn an execution sentence there, declaring it cruel and unusual punishment. In the last decade, 6 states have formally abolished the death penalty (bringing the total to 18, plus the District of Columbia), even though in some states - like Connecticut - capital punishment still had public support when lawmakers opted to end it.

The states that continue to execute people - including Texas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, all of which have executions scheduled in the coming months - appear unwilling to let go of the practice, even as further questions arise.

"Holding on to the death penalty and holding to the regularity of executions, having a source of drugs from your confidential source without asking many questions - or at least not having to answer many questions - that's what's keeping these experimental, unpredictable, sometimes botched executions going lately," says Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

In the aftermath of Wood's execution, conservative Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, said there would be an internal investigation of the execution’s length, but insisted the procedure was carried out "in a lawful manner" and that Wood "did not suffer." Documents released last week revealed that 15 doses of a drug cocktail were injected before Wood died, according to The New York Times, though authorities continue to deny Wood felt any pain.

"States don't want to admit their failures, so they keep plodding along," Dieter says. Meanwhile, a group of news organizations is suing the Missouri Department of Corrections to reveal the sources of its lethal injection drugs.

Bringing more transparency, some say, could help states improve their lethal injection methods. But even some death penalty proponents suggest it might be time to abandon lethal injection altogether.

"There is a way the states could avoid all of these problems with lethal injection - that would be to switch to some other method," says Michael Rushford, president of the pro-capital punishment Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

Historically, every time states have switched to a new method of execution - like the movement from electrocution to lethal injection in the 1970s and 1980s - it's been due to political and legal pressures resulting from botched executions carried out by another method.

"The hope [was] that lethal injection was the final frontier, the final solution to the desire of Americans to both having the death penalty and also finding a method of execution that was safe, reliable and humane. The problems with lethal injection go to the heart of this hope," Sarat says. "There is no new technology over the horizon. It's not like we can say, 'Botched executions: OK, we can't get the drugs, the people aren't well-trained, but we can do something new.'"

Not only did 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski suggest a return to the firing squad or one of the other more consistent - albeit messier - older methods, he argued, "If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn't be carrying out executions at all."

Kozinski has since denied that he was being hyperbolic, an assumption made by some that highlights how public perception is another obstacle to finding an alternative to lethal injection.

"It's the biggest irony that people's hypocrisy about lethal injection is one of the issues that is making these executions botched," Denno says. "They want to have the so-called medical procedure because they can't face the fact that they're killing people and the punishment that is most humane [firing squad] most resembles something that is real."

Another method also has been put forward: Rushford mentions nitrogen gas or carbon monoxide as "outside the box" options. But doubts remain whether such a change could truly quiet concerns people have about capital punishment.

"At the heart of all of this is the reality that the only faction that is passionate about reform has one particular reform in mind, and that would be abolition," Berman says.

PBS' Gwen Ifill raised just that line of thought in a recent interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, who in turn denied that the Justice Department's review of recent protocols and problems would undercut capital punishment as a whole.

"Even though I am personally opposed to the death penalty, as attorney general, I have to enforce federal law," he said.

(source: US News)


The Case Against the Death Penalty - From the Right

After 2 botched executions in the United States, the debate over capital punishment has been rekindled - but now with a focus on the cost and effectiveness of the method used to carry it out rather than on its moral legitimacy.

In April, Clayton Lockett was executed in Oklahoma by lethal injection. The process, which usually takes no longer than 10-12 minutes, took 43 minutes. Last week, an execution in Arizona took nearly 3 times longer: Joseph Wood, convicted for killing 2 people, was repeatedly gasping for air during the span of 117 minutes, according to witnesses.

States are scrambling to find an effective mix of lethal drugs because suppliers have started refusing to participate in the execution process, but Nick Gillespie, writing for The Daily Beast, says "there's no good way to kill a person," even if they are as "unsympathetic" as the killer Mr. Wood.

"As a libertarian, I'm not surprised that the state is so incompetent that it can't even kill people efficiently," Mr. Gillespie writes. He adds that the process is "deeply offensive to ideals of truly limited government," citing California's death penalty expenditure over the last 3 decades: Between 1980 and 2012, the state spent $4 billion on carrying out capital punishment, while executing only 13 convicts.

A modest but growing group of conservatives would agree with Mr. Gillespie. Conservative policies are supposed to be "pro-life, fiscally responsible and limited government," Marc Hyden, of the advocacy group Conservatives Concerned About Death Penalty, told USA Today. "We risk taking innocent life, it costs more than life without parole, and I can't think of a bigger government program than one where you can kill your citizens."

Mr. Gillespie also writes that death penalty is a highly immoral element of overreach on the part of the state, which should "use the least violence or coercion possible."

The seemingly less violent character of lethal injection was one reason the method was put in place, writes David R. Dow in Politico Magazine. Firing squads, hanging, the electric chair and the gas chamber are "not the least bit subtle," Mr. Dow says. "When you shoot somebody, or hang him, you know you are killing him." With lethal injection, the process is clinical, dissociated. Mr. Dow, who represents death-row inmates, argues that capital punishment is "the sausage factory of America's legal system: Nobody wants to know what is actually going on." The execution is uneventful, it looks like "something you might see on the medical channel."

With the recent faulty executions, this "image of routineness" of lethal injection will be broken, Mr. Dow says, and the country's instinct for retribution will be replaced by one of revulsion.

Proponents of death penalty, including the victims' families, evoke precisely that eye-for-eye motivation when speaking of the flubbed executions. After Mr. Wood's 3-hour-long execution, the victim's family had no issue with the process. "This man conducted a horrific murder, and you guys are going, 'Let's worry about the drugs,'" said Richard Brown, the victim's brother-in-law.

Josh Marquis, a district attorney in Oregon and death-penalty advocate, told The Oregonian that no execution is "blissful enough" to placate the opponents of death penalty. "We are, after all, killing the worst criminals in our society. Does this really mean they deserve an absolutely painless death?"

But another proponent agrees with anti-death-penalty advocates that lethal injection is not the appropriate method of carrying out executions. Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, says in his dissent in the Joseph Wood case that "a tremendous number of taxpayer dollars have gone into defending a procedure that is inherently flawed and ultimately doomed to failure." He echoes David R. Dow's sentiment, arguing that drugs, which are meant to heal, and not kill, "mask the brutality" of the execution. "They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality."

He suggests going back to more "primitive" and "foolproof" methods - such as the firing squad. Judge Kozinski told the Los Angeles Times that he didn't think death by being put to sleep "is such a great deterrent." He said that he is not opposed to the death penalty: "Some people simply deserve to die, with crimes that are so horrendous."

But he called for reform. "If we're not comfortable with what we're doing, we should not be doing it. But if we are comfortable with what we're doing, we should do it better."

(source: Hanna Kozlowska, New York Times blog)


'Dead Man Walking' nun: 'Botched' executions unmask a botched system----Roman Catholic nun Helen Prejean has been on a mission to end the death penalty for 3 decades.

Sister Helen Prejean blasts the air-conditioner in her champagne-colored Toyota Corolla, the back bumper held up with duct tape. It's clear why friends insist on driving when they are with her. She could rival NASCAR's Danica Patrick on the gas pedal. Age - she turned 75 this year - hasn't slowed her down.

She was weaving all over Interstate 10 when police stopped her one time. Turned out she was reading while driving. The officer let her go when he discovered who she was: "I'll go straight to hell if I ticket a nun," he said.

He made her promise she would never do that again. So now she depends on iPhone's Siri for driving directions and making phone calls. She also likes to play Plants vs. Zombies (not while in motion, of course) even though the violent nature of the game goes against her Christian principles.

"It's OK," she says. "The zombies are already dead."

On this day in late July, Prejean is nearing Louisiana State Penitentiary, otherwise known as Angola, for the post office that serves it. She's been here so many times the warden no longer subjects her to the protocol for visitors.

She drives down State Highway 66, through the guarded gates, past lush green Cypress trees and fields brimming with flowers, okra and collards to Camp F, where the prison constructed a $9 million brick building to lock up the condemned.

Built on a former slave plantation surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, Angola is the nation's largest maximum-security facility. It houses more than 6,000 inmates and encompasses a chunk of fertile Southern farmland almost the size of Manhattan.

Prejean is here to see Manuel Ortiz, convicted in 1992 of the murders of his wife, Tracie Williams, and her friend Cheryl Mallory. He's been on death row for more than 2 decades; Prejean began visiting him 13 years ago.

Ortiz maintains he was framed in a murder-for-hire scheme. Prejean believes his claim of innocence. But that is almost beside the point.

Prejean, who gained fame as a death penalty abolitionist after the movie "Dead Man Walking" hit theaters in 1995, is not always concerned with a convicted murderer's guilt or innocence. It's easy to forgive the innocent. It's the guilty, she says, who test our morality.

She ministers to the worst of humanity because she believes in the restoration of life and that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity.

That is what Jesus preached. She likes to say that Christ was more radical than Karl Marx in his embrace of the lowest rungs of society.

3 decades ago, Prejean embarked on a mission to end the death penalty based on her Catholic faith and belief in human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she says, forbids torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

Ministering to death row inmates and learning the intricacies of American criminal justice, Prejean arrived at another steadfast belief: the process is broken.

Outside the entrance to death row, there's a porch with three dark wooden rocking chairs. The warden, she thinks, could have had a career in decorating the way the place is all fixed up.

A prison staffer leads her into one of the booths reserved for lawyers who come to meet with their clients. She sits on one side of the thick glass with a phone in her hand.

Ortiz walks in on the other side with leg irons, handcuffs and a chain around his waist. He always feels cold when he comes out of his 6-foot by 10-foot cell on death row. It's not air-conditioned and has louvered windows. A federal lawsuit filed by three inmates claims the heat index has reached 172 degrees.

The 1st thing Prejean does is order food for Ortiz from prison concessions; otherwise he will have to eat the normal slop that is served in the cells and never contains anything fresh.

"It's part of the attitude here. You committed a crime so you must always suffer," Prejean says.

She knows Ortiz does not have the money to buy anything. And food is important to her. It is the most basic necessity of life; it should be celebrated when shared with family and friends, she says.

Ortiz wants a catfish Po' Boy, a roast beef Po' Boy, 5 bags of potato chips, 2 Cokes and 2 Sprites. He also orders 4 strawberry and 2 cinnamon Danishes for breakfast the next morning and 2 hamburgers for lunch because Prejean has some money left.

She orders a grilled cheese for herself. She and Ortiz pray together.

"You are a son of God," she tells death row inmates. "Christ is with you. What is being done to you is wrong. I will be there for you."

Prejean finds Ortiz in high spirits on this day. With her help, he recently changed lawyers because he felt he wasn't being heard. He is desperate to prove his innocence and filed for FBI documents pertaining to his case through the Freedom of Information Act.

Ortiz dreams about the day he might walk out of Angola. He dreams of taking Prejean to one of the volcanic lakes in his native El Salvador. He wants to teach her to scuba dive.

They talk about everything from Marco Polo to Julius Oppenheimer's invention of the atom bomb. The science was so sweet; the end result, ghastly.

In the last hour of their visit, Ortiz narrates the plot lines to movies he's seen recently: "Band of Angels" with Clark Gable and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

"I feel like I've seen the movies now," Prejean says.

It's as though they were sitting on a couch in someone's family room, sipping a cocktail - Prejean loves her single malt Scotch - and munching on popcorn.

She lets Ortiz carry on because it gives him dignity.

Equal justice under the law

2 troubled and recent executions in Arizona and Oklahoma, Prejean hopes, will trigger more opposition to carrying out the death penalty in the United States, the only country in the Western hemisphere that still puts the convicted to death.

A 2013 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans still support capital punishment, though that number is the lowest it has been since 1972, when the Supreme Court constitutionally banned it.

Executions are shrouded in secrecy, masked, sanitized, Prejean says. She remains convinced that if people could see the brutality of killing a human being, they might reconsider their support for the death penalty.

Execution is torture, she believes. And so is the time waiting for it. Death row inmates, she says, "die a thousand times before they physically die."

The July 23 execution by injection of Joseph Wood in Arizona took nearly two hours. Witnesses reported that Wood snorted and gasped for air throughout the process. The April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma turned into a grisly show as he convulsed and writhed on the gurney and finally died of a heart attack.

Both men committed chilling crimes. Wood shot his former partner, Debbie Dietz, and her father, Gene, at their body shop in Tucson. Lockett shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and then watched accomplices bury her alive.

Early Wednesday morning, Missouri became the first state to carry out an execution since the "botched" lethal injections. The state put to death Michael Worthington for the 1995 rape and murder of college student Melinda Griffin.

Death penalty supporters accuse Prejean of having empathy for undeserving, cold-blooded killers. The crimes justify the punishment, they say.

But even advocates of capital punishment, like R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have said it's one thing to support death as punishment and quite another to explain it, fix it and sustain it with justice.

Prejean wants Americans to understand that it's not just the act of killing that was botched in the cases of Wood and Lockett. She believes the entire death penalty system is botched - from the moment an arrest takes place to the trial, conviction, appeals and execution.

"It is random, arbitrary and capricious and disproportionately meted out to minorities and poor people," she says. "Race plays such a huge role."

If you kill a person of color, Prejean says, you are not likely to be condemned.

In 76% of cases in which death is the punishment, the victims were white, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Almost 42% of death row inmates are black even though African-Americans make up about 12% of the U.S. population.

She directs much of her wrath at the Supreme Court, which, she says, has given absolute power to the states without demanding transparency. Trying out new drug cocktails for lethal injections, she says, amounts to medical experimentation on human beings to see what it takes to kill a person.

The court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972 on some of the grounds Prejean talks about. But it was reinstated in 1976 with Gregg v. Georgia; The court held that a punishment of death was not "cruel and unusual punishment," violating the Eighth and 14th Amendments, under all circumstances.

The ruling found that in the most heinous crimes, the death penalty could be employed; it laid out certain procedures to prevent prejudice and arbitrariness in state trials.

But Prejean asks: How can 50 states, bound by the same Constitution and Supreme Court rulings, behave so differently? The high court's guidelines, she says, are unclear and not workable and so what happens is the culture of each state takes over.

There's a reason, she says, that a good number of death row inmates are in Southern states that supported slavery.

For a Catholic girl in the 1950s, reaching adulthood meant two things, Prejean jokes. It was either time to get married or enter the sisterhood. She chose the latter and joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, now known as the Congregation of St. Joseph.

She had been raised in a comfortable household in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, blind to the brutality of Jim Crow laws, oblivious to American poverty.

But in the early 1980s, she had an awakening of sorts and decided to dedicate her life to the poor. She went to live at the St. Thomas housing project in New Orleans, a white nun sharing space with very poor black people. That was the start of her real education.

Prejean began exchanging letters with death row inmate Patrick Sonnier in 1982. His execution was the 1st she witnessed.

It was while living there that she began communicating with Elmo Patrick Sonnier, prisoner number 95821 at Angola.

Sonnier and his brother Eddie were convicted in 1978 of abducting a young couple, Loretta Bourque, 18, and David LeBlanc, 16. They raped her and then forced both of them to lie face down on the ground and shot them.

Sonnier told Prejean that he was Catholic and asked her to become his spiritual adviser. It was one thing to write letters, she thought. It was another to visit death row.

She was scared to walk into the belly of the beast. She'd never faced a murderer before. The warden asked her what a nun was doing there. She told him she'd come to help Sonnier take responsibility for his terrible deeds.

She wondered if he would be a monster.

But everything changed when she saw Sonnier's face. She knew then that whatever unspeakable act he had committed, his life was worth more than what it was in that criminal moment.

She visited him at Angola until the day he was put to death, April 5, 1984. It was the 1st time in her life that she had stood up for something.

When he was strapped into the oak electric chair, nicknamed Gruesome Gertie, Sonnier looked at Leblanc's father and asked for forgiveness. And before almost 2,000 volts charged through his body, he found Prejean's face on the other side of the glass window.

"I want the last thing in this world you see to be the face of love," she'd told him. "You look at me."

Sonnier's eyes met Prejean's. "I love you," he told her.

She stretched her arm toward him. "I love you, too."

When it was over, Prejean felt a cold descend on her. On the trip back from Angola, she had to stop the car to get out and vomit. She would never be the same again. The state's execution of Sonnier set her soul on fire.

'Dead Man Walking'

Prejean has witnessed 5 other executions since that day. She's written 2 books: "Dead Man Walking" was turned into a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn; "The Death of Innocents" focuses on 2 men she believes were wrongly executed. She is working on a 3rd book now, a spiritual memoir called "River of Fire."

"Dead Man Walking" sparked a national debate on the death penalty at a time when executions were more common than they are now. Since 1976, America has put to death 1,385 people.

She travels around the world, lecturing on capital punishment - she savors airplanes as her cloister, where no one can get to her. She often attends performances of the play "Dead Man Walking," written by Tim Robbins for student actors and audiences. It is intended to make a new generation of Americans ponder the death penalty.

All of it has contributed to making Prejean one of America's best-known anti-death penalty activists. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 3 times.

In her hectic life, she still finds time to meditate every day and attend weekly mass at St. Gabriel the Archangel, a predominantly African-American Catholic church in New Orleans.

After all these years, her body tires more quickly but the fire inside still burns.

I'd read Prejean's books, seen "Dead Man Walking" several times. I had an image in my mind based on Sarandon's portrayal of her. Compassionate, committed, dedicated, serious about her work.

I wondered if I would find a woman who had grown weary from 30 years of death. I discover otherwise.

She repeats a joke she told recently at a California forum celebrating the life of Catholic priest and Earth scholar Thomas Berry.

"There's an old guy sitting on a bench with a young guy with a Mohawk hairdo and covered with tattoos and piercings," she begins in her deep Cajun voice.

"Whassa matter, pops? Didn't you ever do something wild in your life?" asks the young guy.

"Yeah. One time, I had sex with a parrot. I was checking you out and thought you might be my son."

Prejean looks at me with a mischievous smile, taking in my shock at a nun - a death penalty nun - making a rather juvenile joke.

But without humor, without relaxation and good friends, her work would be overwhelming.

She dispels every cliche about Catholic nuns. She's wearing a blue printed blouse, cotton pants and tan leather mules. She doesn't even have a cross around her neck.

I ask about her lack of gray hair, despite the stress in her life.

"I don't know how that happened. It's like the immaculate conception." Then she admits she likes to keep it that way so it matches her spirit. Sarandon was equally surprised by Prejean's demeanor when she first met her. "Dead Man Walking" had just been published. The Hollywood star was in New Orleans filming "The Client" and called up Prejean.

They met for a crawfish dinner at The Bon Ton Cafe on Magazine Street.

"I have to say I was predisposed against religion," Sarandon says of her Catholic school experiences. "I brought all that baggage to dinner. But she was very accessible. She has a bit of wonder."

Sarandon was taken with Prejean's personal involvement with death row inmates; that she never asked about their guilt. She had the unconditional love of a mother for her child.

"I became completely mesmerized," Sarandon says. "She was a big laugher, eater, drinker. We ate tons of crawfish that night.

"People have such a wrong idea of activists. They think of these people as scolding, guilt-making personalities when it has been my experience that they are the most celebratory - dancing, singing, partaking of food and wine in the biggest way possible. Craving for social justice is another craving they have and that doesn't mean they are closed off to other avenues."

Sarandon made no promises to Prejean that night but told her she was interested in making a movie. It took nine months before she could convince her then-partner, actor/director Tim Robbins, to read it and take on the project.

In 1995, the movie, co-produced and directed by Robbins, screened in American theaters. Sarandon won an Oscar for her portrayal of Prejean. Penn's character, Matthew Poncelet, was a composite of Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie, whose crime sounded like it was straight out of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."

A grave mistake

When a death penalty lawyer contacted Prejean and filled her in on Willie's crime, the first people she thought about were the victim's family.

Faith Hathaway's stepfather and mother, Vernon and Elizabeth Harvey, had both been very public with their support for the death penalty. They said they couldn't wait to see Willie fry.

Prejean had never visited the families of Sonnier's victims. The 1st time she saw them was at a clemency board hearing where she asked the state to spare the life of the man who killed their loved ones.

The family of Loretta Bourque, one of Sonnier's victims, later told reporters that they were deeply hurt that Loretta's death was used to sell an anti-death penalty book and movie without anyone ever speaking to them.

Prejean recognized she'd made a grave mistake - one she was determined not to repeat - even if the families rejected her. The church, she says, has to be on both sides.

She knew many victims' families despised her, as did advocates of the death penalty. They saw her as someone who showed sympathy for vile human beings who deserved to die for their sins. They blamed her for not siding with innocent victims. There were some crimes, they argued, that just could not be forgiven.

Willie's was one of them.

He and his accomplice, Joseph Vaccaro, blindfolded and raped 18-year-old Hathaway, then stabbed her in the neck and upper chest 17 times. They left her to die in the woods. Some fingers of her right hand were missing; she'd tried to shield herself from her attackers.

4 years after the murder, when Willie's execution seemed imminent, Prejean went to visit the Harveys at their home in Covington, a small town on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. She thought of a prayer to Mary, who watched her son dying on a cross. "Great as the sea is thy sorrow."

The Harveys talked about their daughter and the events of May 28, 1980, the day tragedy struck their family. They talked about what Willie and Vaccaro had done to their daughter in graphic detail.

They told Prejean that the only way to be certain an unrepentant madman like Willie would never kill again was to kill him. Prejean recounted her conversation with the Harveys in her book.

"The SOB, Vaccaro, got a life sentence," Vernon Harvey told Prejean. "And it's been 4 years and they haven't fried Willie's ass yet. We've been waiting and waiting for justice to be done. All you hear about these days is the rights of the criminal. What about our rights? Don't we have a right to see this chapter closed?"

The intensity of the Harveys' sorrow silenced Prejean in that moment.

But now, 30 years later in her modest New Orleans Mid-City apartment, she explains why she believes the death penalty re-victimizes people. If a killer is sentenced to life in prison, he or she is locked up and never heard from again. But a condemned man?

That killer makes news every time there is movement in the case: a hearing, an appeal, a court ruling. Death row inmates typically spend over a decade awaiting execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Sometimes, it can last over 2 decades, as was the case with Troy Davis, put to death in Georgia in September 2011 for the killing of a police officer in 1989.

Prejean says she has seen victims' families follow cases through the courts for years. They wait and wait, reliving the crime over and over again with the hope that they will find "closure" when the killer dies. The Harveys, Prejean says, could have watched Willie get electrocuted a thousand times and still it would never fill the void in their lives.

Vernon Harvey, she says, was a thirsty man drinking a tall glass of salty water.

"He went home after they killed Willie but (his daughter) Faith is never going to sit in her chair again," she says. "Victims' families buy into the notion that the death penalty is a way of honoring their loved ones."

A growing number of victims' families are speaking out against capital punishment, she says. In 2007, 62 families sent letters to New Jersey legislators urging passage of an abolition bill. They emphasized the painful toll the process had taken on them.

Prejean has a framed photo of a brightly lit Colosseum, home to gladiators and executions during the Roman Empire. But in the 1990s, Rome began lighting up the ancient arena every time the death penalty was abolished somewhere in the world. It did just that the day New Jersey's bill became law.

'Nunzilla,' and ardent foes

Prejean's apartment is filled with art, books and photographs. There's a depiction of Christ done in batik, which she acquired in Jaipur, India. She calls it her "yogi Jesus." And a Bible verse, John 10:10, written in Korean calligraphy.

I ask her what it says. "I ain't a Baptist so I don't know Bible quoting like a Baptist," she says, picking up her holy book to look up the verse.

"'I have come that they may have life to the full.'"

On her coffee table is a magazine with Sarandon on the cover. And a copy of J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey." She likes the image of the Fat Lady in that book. Jesus, she says, was the Fat Lady, representing people with faults whom no one loves.

Next to the table, on a buffet, is a photo of Prejean's mother, from whom she says she gets her spunk, and a toy that Sean Penn sent to her. It's a windup plastic nun that sparks fire from her mouth.

"I told him: 'Sean, Nunzilla's gonna get you.'"

Next door is the office for Prejean's Ministry Against the Death Penalty. Her longtime friend Sister Margaret Maggio runs the place and makes sure Prejean is on track with her hectic schedule.

"Helen thinks big. She has big dreams, big hopes," Maggio says. "I'm detail-centered. I'm the backbone."

Maggio keeps track of all the letters and e-mails Prejean receives. They are kept neatly in folders. One, colored purple, is called "Ardent Foes." In it are printed copies of e-mails lashing Prejean.

One man wrote: "There has not been one instance on the planet where an executed convict ever committed another homicide. The U.S. justice system is the fairest in the world. If you are judged guilty by a jury of your peers based on the evidence presented that is the way it works. If you do not like it then get out of the country."

Prejean marked it a "classic" and asked her staff to post it on her Web page.

In the days ahead, she will travel to a monastery in Wyoming to complete her memoir. Then she will return home to Louisiana to visit Manuel Ortiz on death row again.

She holds on to an idea that was cemented the moment she threw up after Patrick Sonnier's execution: that Americans are far removed from state-sanctioned death but when they get close to it, they will reject it.

"And I see that happening," she says, the smile wiped off her face.

Her wish is to see the death penalty abolished in her lifetime.

For a second, I think Prejean will break the seriousness of the moment with another one of her "bad Cajun jokes," as she calls them. Instead, she asks: "You hungry?"

It's time to go grab a Louisiana po' boy.

(source: Moni Basu, CNN)


Where Death Dies: The Curious Afterlife of Execution Chambers

In the past seven months, the prolonged executions of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma and Joseph Wood in Arizona have called into question the humaneness and effectiveness of lethal injection in the U.S. The three executions, in which the inmates either gasped or snored for extended periods as the execution drugs were administered, have been widely considered "botched," leading to post-mortem investigations and pledges by the White House to review how capital punishment is carried out in America.

While some states have actually accelerated their pace of executions recently, including Missouri, which has put to death more people this year than any since 2001, the number of states still practicing capital punishment has decreased as support for the death penalty has waned in the U.S. Since 2007, 6 states have repealed the practice, making 18 in total that have done away with it. But what happens to a state's execution site once it's no longer in use? Can a space like that be repurposed? And what would it be if it could?

For the last 3 years, photographer Emily Kinni has been chronicling these post-death-penalty spaces. What were once the grim sites of hangings, gassings and electrocutions are now cheery department stores, drab conference rooms and unassuming private residences. And each of them tell their own story about how states deal with their own pasts.

It's one thing to photograph functioning execution chambers; but for Kinni, that was too literal, too on the nose. Instead, she was interested in the afterlife of execution sites in states without capital punishment, many of which have taken on drastically new forms.

The most peculiar may be the original site of hangings in Rhode Island, which is now a Nordstrom department store. In New Jersey, the state's former lethal injection chamber is a conference room in the state prison that still includes the same black curtain used during executions. In Wisconsin, the former site of state hangings is a private residence. Some states, like Maine, literally bury their past. The state's prison, along with its former execution site, now lies underneath a park, which Kinni toured.

"A prison guard took me out on this grassy field and showed me the 2-by-2-foot square where the electric chair used to sit," she says. "And I was walking barefoot. Daisies were growing, butterflies were flying. It was a bizarre experience."

Some execution chambers were almost impossible to track down. Kinni only heard about Alaska's former site from a local resident who witnessed an execution when he was a kid. She discovered Rhode Island's death-room-turned-Nordstrom with the help of an archaeologist.

But others are proudly on display. In West Virginia, all of the execution tools have been moved into a special room that's become a tourist attraction, which includes the electric chair (known as "Old Sparky") and a leather mask originally placed on death row inmates. (The original site is a nearby prison basketball court.)

What's intriguing about Kinni's photos are the various ways states confront their own histories, and Kinni says she often noticed a certain detachment among prison officials who weren’t around when their state was still practicing capital punishment.

"When there is that disconnect, it's not shame about their state's history," Kinni says. "It's more like, This is the way it went down. It used to be considered an effective method. We no longer think so, and now we've moved on."

(source: Emily Kinni is a photographer based in New York. Josh Sanburn is a writer/reporter for TIME in New York----TIME magazine)


Charity group pays diya to victim's family

An Emirati sentenced to death in Ras Al Khaimah escaped execution after blood money for the victim's family was paid by a government charity organisation in response to an article in the Arabic language daily 'Al Bayan', the paper said on Tuesday.

The man and his accomplice had been convicted of murdering their 34-year-old friend during a fight in late 2013 and were sentenced to death, the Dubai-based daily said.

The court told them they could be saved if they pay diya (blood money) to the victim's relatives. One defendant managed to pay the sum while the other could not.

In response to a report published, the Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Scientific Establishment agreed to pay Dh500,000 million diya (blood money) to the victim's relatives.

"The payment followed an appeal by Al Bayan. The sum was deposited with the court which adjourned the case before the release of the 2," it said.

(source: emirates247)


Serbia abolished death penalty, explains minister

If found guilty, the suspect in the murder of a 15-year-old girl could be sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, as Serbia has abolished the death penalty.

This is what Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic told reporters on Thursday, after the police announced that they had a suspect in custody for the murder of Tijana Juric, who was abducted and murdered last month.

"In the past, death penalty was handed down for this kind of criminal offense, but like all other European countries, we had to erase it from our criminal code. We, as a member of the Council in Europe, have to respect the European Charter that prohibits the death penalty," he explained.

The further course of the proceedings in connection with case is now "in the hands of the prosecution and the court," he explained.

"I do not want to comment, but I am sure that anyone who will be deciding will be aware of the circumstances of this case and the distress it has caused to the public," said Selakovic.

Asked whether "the reintroduction of the death penalty was being considered," Selakovic said he was unaware that anyone had raised this issues so far, reiterating that the European Charter prohibits this form of punishment.

Selakovic said that recently the Venice Commission - a body of the Council of Europe - discussed the possibility of accepting the United States as a member, but that "a small European country reminded them that the United States still has the death penalty - and further consideration of the issue was dropped."

Selakovic's comments came on the same day that his cabinet colleague, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, revealed the details about the murder case, and referring to the suspect as "a monster," said he "sometimes regretted the fact Serbia had abolished the death penalty."

Director of the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights Milan Antonijevic spoke for the Beta news agency today to say the campaign to reintroduce the death penalty was impermissible.

Antonijevic said it was "entirely understandable that the public reacts strongly in such cases - but we should be very careful and not create a lynch mob atmosphere."

Groups calling for "the death penalty for the killer of Tijana Juric" cropped up on Facebook today, the largest having more than 50,000 members.

Antonijevic warned that "the time is not right for campaigns that will follow the line of a desire for revenge," and added this was "not politically opportune, either."

According to him, what is now most important is that the court proceedings are swift and the punishment appropriate.



Bangladesh ferry captain and crew charged with murder after sinking----Authorities say captain and crew, who have not been apprehended, overpacked the vessel and ignored safety rules

Authorities in Bangladesh investigating the sinking of a ferry with nearly 250 people on board have lodged murder charges against the owner and 5 others, including the captain, taking an unprecedented step in a country where such disasters are all too common.

Police were seeking the captain, who was among the survivors, the owner and four others to answer the case brought against them. This is the 1st time in Bangladesh that a murder case has been filed against any ferry owner or crew for violating safety rules.

The 6 people charged are accused of murder by the inspector of the state-run Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA). The agency has accused them of overloading passengers, operating the ferry with an expired license and disregarding instructions from the river authority not to sail due to bad weather conditions.

The ferry, the MV Pinak-6, went down on Monday in a river swollen by monsoon rains about 18 miles southwest of the capital, Dhaka. The ill-fated Pinak had a capacity to carry 85 passengers, according to the inland transport authority but was carrying almost three times that number.

Before he set sail, an official had told the captain that the ship was over capacity, according to The New York Times.

By early Wednesday, rescuers battling strong currents and choppy waves on the Padma River had given up hope of finding alive many of the 133 people still missing, officials in Munshiganj district said.

There were 110 survivors, and 7 bodies have been found. The people allegedly responsible, who could face life in prison or the death penalty, are still on the lam.

"Police are trying to arrest them, but they all went into hiding," said Mohammad Saiful Hasan Badal, deputy commissioner of the Munshiganj district, where the ferry went down.

"If charges are proved, then they might get capital punishment, since the case has been filed as a murder case."

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, has an appalling record of ferry accidents, with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds.

Committees of inquiry have been established after past sinkings, and they have made recommendations for changes in regulations, but overcrowding remains a common factor in such accidents.

(sources: Aljazeera America & Reuters)


Talhouni "not" mind "of the implementation of the death penalty in Jordan

The Minister of Justice Dr. Bassam Talhouni, told Ammon that the courts of the Kingdom is witnessing every day to issue the death penalty, rightly deserve, pointing out that "there is no legal impediment to implementation.

He commented in a statement to "Ammon", claims of people activating the implementation of the death penalty, that there is a committee in the Ministry of Justice consist of judges, lawyers, academics and owners of competence, revise its penal code, and will review the criminal acts in it, along with penalties that are located on the perpetrators.

Statements of minister comes in the midst of the high frequency of murders in the Kingdom.

(source: Ammon News)


Abolish death penalty-petitioner

A resident of Luangwa district has petitioned the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission to remove a clause in the constitution that provides for a death sentence on convicts of capital offences.

Chikota Milamba, a middle aged man of Feira told the commission that in order to uphold the preamble of the country's constitution which declares Zambia as a Christian nation, there was need to remove the death penalty in the constitution.

Mr. Milamba stated that the death penalty is against both the bible and the human rights conventions which Zambia has ratified.

He said Zambia should be governed on the biblical principles because it is a Christian nation saying the right to terminate life should be left to God and not a fellow human being.

He added that the laws of Zambia should be in conformity with the bible which is a guide for Christianity.

Mr. Milamba urged the commission to reject what he called unbiblical submissions by some people who he said are calling for the inclusion of unnatural practices such as homosexuality and lesbianism in the constitution. He stated that he has been following the commission's public sittings with keen interest and noticed that supporters of unnatural practices were allowed to submit which he said was bad for a Christian nation.

The preamble of the Constitution of Zambia declares the country as a Christian nation but upholds the rights of every person to enjoy that person's freedom of conscience or religion. The constitution also upholds the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person and recognizes the equal worth of communities in the country.

But in the bill of rights the same constitution provides that a person may be deprived of life if that person has been convicted of a capital offence and sentenced to death.It however justifies that a person shall not be deprived of life intentionally except to the extent authorized by the constitution or any other law.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia Executive Director Lee Habasonda wondered what would happen to some citizens of Zambia who belong to other religions other than Christianity if the constitution ceases to recognize them.

Mr. Habasonda stated that besides being a Christian nation, the constitution is also in order to recognize the rights of Zambians who belong to other religions.

The legal and Justice Sector Reform conducted a one day public sitting in Luangwa district where 17 petitioners made their submissions.

The Commission is expected to hold similar sittings in Chongwe district tomorrow and later next week in Chirundu and Kafue districts.

(source: Lusaka Times)


Kenyan authorities capture alleged Al Shabaab journalist

Authorities in the neighboring country of Kenya announced on Wednesday that they arrested alleged Al Shabaab journalist who involved in the killing of many Somali media workers, Garowe Online reports.

Spokesman for Kenya Police confirmed the capture of Hassan Hanafi Haji after intelligence briefings between Somalia Federal Government and Kenya.

The alleged Al Shabaab journalist Haji insisted he was mistaken for another man, denying links to Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group.

He was held by the police in Nairobi as he arrived in for medical purpose but no Somali officials commented on the arrest. Somali intelligence officers are likely to travel to Kenya to verify the details of the man captured by Kenyan authorities.

Al Shabaab claimed credit for wave of deadly attacks and dozens of journalist have been killed, mainly in Mogadishu by unknown assailants. If convicted of being alleged Al Shabaab journalist, Haji could face death penalty (source: Garowe Online)


Call to review death row conviction connected to Haverhill man’s murder----David Tebbutt the British executive murdered by pirates during a raid on a Kenyan beach resort

The only man convicted in connection with the murder of a Haverhill man in Kenya almost 3 years ago could walk free if a legal challenge by a human rights charity succeeds.

Reprieve, supported by law firm Leigh Day, are seeking a judicial review of British involvement in the trial and conviction of Ali Babitu Kololo for his part in the fatal shooting of 58-year-old David Tebbutt in September 2011.

Mr Tebbutt, who grew up in Haverhill but lived in Bishops Stortford at the time of this death, had been staying with his wife Judith in the luxury Kiwayu Safari Village in Kenya’s northern coast, close to its border with Somalia, when he died of a single shot to the chest.

A group of armed Somali pirates had broken into their lodge and shot Mr Tebbutt before taking Mrs Tebbutt hostage.

She was only freed 6 months later after a hefty ransom, believed to have been 800,000 pounds, was paid to the kidnappers.

She never even knew her husband was dead until 2 weeks into her captivity.

Mr Tebbutt had grown up in Wratting Road, Haverhill and attended Cangle School.

He left Haverhill to go to university and although he never returned to live in the town again he regularly visited his father Stan at the family home until his death in about 2006.

His younger brother Paul lives in Kedington, but declined to comment on Reprieve's decision to seek a judicial review.

Mr Kololo, former groundsman at the lodge, was convicted in August 2013 with the help of evidence gathered by Met Police detectives, with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), of assisting the pirates.

He was convicted of committing robbery with violence, a crime which carries the death penalty in Kenya - although the country has not executed anyone since 1987.

Reprieve argues that the Government offered its support in the case after mistakenly believing the offence of robbery with violence carried a discretionary death sentence in Kenya when in fact it is a mandatory sentence.

Reprieve also believes Mr Kololo, who has always claimed he was only involved because the pirates forced him at gunpoint to guide them to the Tebbutt's lodge, was tortured by local police into confessing to his crime.

The central point to Reprieve's request for a judicial review is that the Government's own guidelines prohibit support for public prosecutors in countries where there is a high risk of receiving a death sentence.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve's death penalty team, said: "Despite the government's protestations, the fact remains that UK officials willingly assisted the Kenyan prosecution in sending a man to his death, based on a confession extracted under torture.

"Ignorance is not a defence, and the government should have known better than to assist the prosecution in a country where the death penalty is a mandatory punishment for the alleged offence and police torture is common. "There are strong indications that Ali Kololo is innocent of this crime.

"If the UK government is serious about its commitment to promoting justice overseas, it must right the wrongs and ensure real justice is done."

The FCO failed to comment before the Echo went to print.

(source: Haverhill Echo)


Kin perform final rites for woman executed in Saudi

The news of death penalty for Shova Pariyar, a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia, has cast a pall of gloom over her family.

Pariyar, 32, from Tanahun, had gone to Saudi Arabia for foreign employment 3 years ago. She was accused and convicted of slitting the throat of a 2-year-old child. The sentence was announced on Monday.

"Her 64-year old father Bhim Bahadur and 50-plus year old mother became unconscious after they heard the news," informed Keshavraj Kandel, a neighbour of the family. He further added that her family as well as the entire village was shattered by the news.

Udayraj Pande, Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia confirmed the death sentence on Pariyar, yesterday.

Pariyar was sentenced to death after the family of the child refused to accept blood money. She was to be executed the very next day after Eid, but the sentence was postponed until Monday.

Earlier, the Pariyars had appealed for general amnesty, claiming that she was falsely charged. "I would never believe that my sister committed such a heinous act," said Shova's sister Rekha. Shova, the mother of a disabled child, had been living with her parents after her husband married another woman.

Following the incident, locals have urged the concerned authorities and the government to provide relief to the victim's family and/or assist with the upbringing of the handicapped child.

The villagers are preparing for Pariyar's final rites using Kush (a kind of grass used by Hindus as symbol of the deceased's body) as the body wasn't brought back to Nepal.

(source: The Himalayan Times)


China upholds death penalty for businessman linked to former security czar

A Chinese court on Thursday upheld the death sentence for a former mining tycoon connected to the eldest son of former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, the focus of a high-profile corruption investigation, state media reported.

The High People's Court in central Hubei province rejected the appeal by Liu Han, the former chairman of unlisted Hanlong Group, who received the death sentence in May, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The case against Liu is one of the most prominent featuring a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office last year and began a campaign against pervasive graft.

Liu, who once ranked as China's 230th richest person, went on trial in March, along with others in the 36-member group, for running what state media called a "mafia-style" gang and murder.

China last week announced a probe into Zhou Yongkang, one of its most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its roots in a power struggle in the ruling Communist Party.

Sources have told Reuters Liu was once a business associate of Zhou's eldest son, Zhou Bin. State media have not explicitly linked Liu's case to Zhou Yongkang, but have said his rise coincided with Zhou's time as Sichuan's party boss.

The party has already gone after several of Zhou's proteges, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises for just 5 months until last September, when state media said he was under investigation for graft.

The court also upheld the death penalty for Liu's younger brother, Liu Wei, according to Xinhua. The death sentences will be handed to the Supreme People's Court for approval.

(source: Reuters)


Iranian Authorities Execute 8 Prisoners in Public in Less than a Week

4 prisoners were hanged in public in Shiraz, Fars (southern Iran) today. According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Fars, 2 of the men, "Abdollah Gh. Ch" and "Soleiman Gh. Ch" were charged with sodomy. The NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR) has suggested that the 2 men may have been executed for sexual relationship with the same sex, because there was no mention of rape related to their charge in the Iranian Judiciary's reporting. According to the Iranian Judiciary's report, the 2 other prisoners were identified as "Ebadollah H" and "Hossein T", convicted of kidnapping and rape.

2 more prisoners were hanged in Karaj, Alborz (west of Tehran), reports Iran's state-run media. Iranian authorities carried out one of the executions in public and the other in prison. The man hanged in public was reportedly convicted of the kidnapping and rape of a woman, while the man executed in prison was reportedly charged with sexual abuse of minors.

IHR has strongly condemned the executions. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR's spokesperson, says: "We urge international condemnation of today's barbaric executions. There is a possibility that 2 of the men who were executed today were charged with and sentenced to death for sexual relationship with other men. Iranian authorities should be held accountable for these inhumane acts."

On Sunday, August 3rd, Iranian authorities executed three prisoners in public in an area in Shiraz called Guyom. According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Fars, the three prisoners (who were not identified by name) were charged with "Moharebeh" (waging war against God) through armed robbery and had also committed rape.

A large banner at the execution site listed the names of the prisoners as: Mohammad Ghareh Ghaani, Bahman Koochakpour, Peyman Rostami.

According to IHR's annual reports on the death penalty from 2012 and 2013, most public executions in Iran were carried out in the province of Fars.

(source: persian2English)


Human Rights: 22 executed, prisoner lashed in public before hanging

In the time span of just 3 days from August 3 to 6, 22 prisoners were hanged by the inhumane clerical regime in the cities of Karaj, Shiraz and Chahbahar. These atrocities are being committed on the 1st anniversary of Hassan Rouhani, the "moderate" president of the clerical regime.

12 of these prisoners were executed in the city of Karaj alone on Wednesday, August 6. 11 prisoners, including one identified as Abbas Khorshidie, were hanged in the central prison of this city.

Reza Fallah a 27-year-old prisoner was also hanged in public on the same day in this city. Before hanging the victim, the henchmen flogged him 100 times as the crowd watched in shock.

7 prisoners were hanged in 2 groups in public on August 3 and 6.

3 men, Abdoljabbar Riegie, Othman Hassan Zehie and Abdolkarim Zahoukie, were executed in the central prison of city of Chahbahar on August 4.

Fearing social uprisings, the criminal rulers in Iran conduct these atrocities under the pretext of "implementing God's decree." They widely publish shocking photos of the hangings in an attempt to intensify the climate of fear in the country.

(source: Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran)

AUGUST 6, 2014:


Judge: Death penalty not barred in Pa. retrial

A judge has declined to bar prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in a man's retrial in the murder of a woman whose body was found in a central Pennsylvania park a decade ago.

The (Altoona) Mirror ( ) reports that Blair County President Judge Jolene Kopriva ruled Tuesday that jurors in the first trial of 41-year-old Paul Aaron Ross deadlocked on whether Ross should be executed or spend life in prison.

Defense attorney Thomas Dickey argued that jurors essentially decided against a death sentence, so it should be barred in the retrial. He said he and his client will examine options.

Ross is charged in the June 2004 murder of 26-year-old Tina Miller, whose body was found partially submerged and bound with duct tape at Canoe Creek State Park.

(source: Associated Press)


Missouri executes Michael Worthington----State conducts 7th lethal injection for 2014 as debate continues over secret drugs used to kill prisoners

A Missouri inmate was put to death early on Wednesday for raping and killing a neighbor in 1995 - the 1st lethal injection in the US since an Arizona execution went wrong in July.

The Missouri corrections department said Michael Worthington was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. He was the 7th Missouri inmate executed in 2014 and had been sentenced to death for the 1995 attack on Melinda "Mindy" Griffin during a burglary of her home.

The US Supreme Court and Missouri's governor on Tuesday declined to block the execution. Worthington's attorneys had cited the Arizona execution and 2 others that were botched in Ohio and Oklahoma, along with the secrecy surrounding the lethal injection drugs used in Missouri.

Worthington, 43, said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that he had accepted his fate. "I figure I'll wake up in a better place tomorrow," Worthington said on Tuesday. "I'm just accepting of whatever's going to happen because I have no choice. The courts don't seem to care about what's right or wrong any more."

3 problematic executions in recent months have renewed the debate over lethal injection. In Arizona the inmate gasped more than 600 times and took nearly 2 hours to die. In April an Oklahoma inmate died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began. In January an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before being declared dead.

Most lethal injections take effect in a fraction of that time, often within 10 or 15 minutes.

Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio all use midazolam, a drug more commonly given to help patients relax before surgery. In executions it is 1 of 2 or 3 drugs used in combination.

Texas and Missouri instead administer a single large dose of pentobarbital, often used to treat convulsions and seizures and to euthanize animals.

States have found it harder to obtain lethal injection drugs after European drug companies objected to the use of their products in executions. Missouri and Texas have turned to compounding pharmacies to make versions of pentobarbital. Like most states they refuse to name their drug suppliers, creating a shroud of secrecy that has prompted lawsuits.

On Tuesday Griffin's 76-year-old parents anticipated witnessing Worthington die. "It's been 19 years and I feel like there's going to be a finality," Griffin's mother, Carol Angelbeck, told the Associated Press.

Worthington, when asked what he would say to Griffin's parents, directed his comments to her mother. "If my life would bring her peace and bring Mindy back, I'd be fine with that. But it won't," he said. "It doesn't bring peace or closure. She's still going to have her broken heart."

(source: The Guardian)


Ex-Marine Found Guilty of 2008 Slayings of Marine Sgt. and Wife----Former Lance Cpl. Kesaun Sykes, 27, is the 4th and final former Marine convicted of killing Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, at their home in October 2008

A former Marine known to his comrades by the nickname "Psycho" was found guilty Tuesday in the 2008 robbery, torture and execution-style slayings of a fellow Marine and his wife in Southern California.

A Riverside County Superior Court jury found Fallbrook resident Kesaun Sykes, 27, guilty of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the violent killings of U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26.

Sykes, an ex-lance corporal, is the 4th and final suspect to be found guilty in the case. The 3 others - also former Marines - were sentenced for the brutal murders in June 2013.

The jury also found Sykes guilty of special circumstances of murder during the commission of a robbery, burglary and rape by an instrument, the Riverside County District Attorney's office confirmed. The jury deliberated less than 2 hours before reaching the guilty verdict.

Sykes faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for his crimes. The penalty phase of his trial begins Aug. 11 in which jurors will hear testimony to decide Sykes' fate.



Livingston teen's alleged killer may be extradited, could face death penalty in Wash.

It was about midnight on June 25, prosecutors say, when Ali Muhammad Brown fired 10 shots at 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin - with 8 bullets striking and killing the college sophomore from Livingston - as he waited at a traffic light on Northfield Avenue in West Orange in the shadow of the Turtle Back Zoo.

But Brown, 29, is also accused of murdering 2 gay men in Seattle in what prosecutors have called a "violent, senseless, and seemingly unprovoked" execution, and for now it's unclear in what state Brown might face trial first.

Representatives for prosecutors in Essex County and Kings County, Wash., said they have held preliminary discussions on whether to extradite Brown in the near future, but that no decision had been made.

"We have not worked out how that's actually going to go, who would prosecute 1st and those kind of details," said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. "We're just beginning those conversations."

The charges against Brown in Washington are considered "malicious harassment" offenses - the state's version of a hate crime - which would make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. For now, it is not clear if Kings County authorities plan to pursue such measures. New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007.

George Thomas, a professor at Rutgers School of Law, said states normally work together in such cases, and may even decline to prosecute if they are satisfied with the 1st sentence to be handed down.

But in such an emotionally charged case as the slaying of Tevlin, Thomas said it was not likely New Jersey authorities would choose that route.

"There might be political reasons why the prosecutor in New Jersey would want to proceed," he said. "I assume it's at their discretion."

Brown repeatedly fired at Tevlin after he and another man surrounded the Jeep Liberty Tevlin was driving, according to Essex County prosecutors, and then hopped inside, moved the teenager's body to the passenger seat and drove to a nearby apartment complex, where Brown fled on foot.

Authorities say the motive for the killing appears to have been robbery. But just three weeks earlier, Brown is accused of methodically seeking out and murdering the two men in Seattle.

According to information charging him with 2 counts of aggravated 1st-degree murder, Brown became acquainted with Ahmed Said, 27, on a social media website for gay men, and arranged to meet at a popular nightclub.

Said brought a friend, 23-year-old Dwone Anderson-Young, when he made contact with Brown after the club closed, and the 3 got into Said's 2001 Mitsubishi Gallant.

About 20 minutes later, officers responded to a call of shots fired, and found Said and Anderson-Young dead in the street. Multiple 9mm shell casings were recovered at the scene.

Detectives spoke to the mother of Brown's children, who told them she owned a handgun similar to the one used in the 2 killings, and friends of Said and Anderson-Young who had left the nightclub with them linked Brown to the crime.

In court filings asking that Brown be denied bail, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip said the suspect had "displayed a propensity for violence that creates a substantial likelihood of danger to the community."

"There was no evidence that any struggle preceded these murders, no evidence that the victims were armed, and no evidence that these murders were motivated by robbery, drugs, or any other crime," Yip said.

Brown, described as a transient, has a long criminal history that appears to have culminated in a spree of alleged murders.

Detective Patrick Michaud, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, said that as a teenager in 2002 and 2003, Brown was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving and fourth-degree assault. In 2004, he was arrested with 13 other members of an alleged bank fraud ring.

According to court documents, Brown and the other men, all devout Muslims, often gathered to discuss religion and jihad, leading investigators to speculate they may have been sending the profits to terrorist groups.

But court papers say prosecutors were never able to compile any evidence the money was being shipped overseas. In 2005, Brown pleaded guilty to 1 count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and was released with credit for time served.

He was jailed again in 2010, when he was accused of raping a 6-year-old family member, according to case files. The charges were reduced to 3 counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes, for which he was sentenced to 4 years' probation and required to register as a sex offender.

Brown, who is also accused of trying to carjack a man at gunpoint in Point Pleasant 4 days after the Tevlin slaying, returned to West Orange and was taken into custody on July 18. He is being held at the Essex County Jail on $5 million bond, and is scheduled to be arraigned before Judge Ronald D. Wigler today.



Borneo stabbings: 4 men could face death penalty after UK students are murdered in Malaysia

2 British medical students were stabbed to death yesterday in the Malaysian part of Borneo after a disagreement with locals at a cafe.

Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were students at Newcastle University, which praised them as "excellent" and "committed".

The university said they were on a six-week work placement at a hospital in the city of Kuching, "doing what thousands of medical students do every year".

Police have launched a murder inquiry and have already detained 4 men.

Reports from Kuching, located in the west of the Malaysian part of Borneo, said that Mr Dalton, from Derbyshire, and Mr Brunger, believed to be from Gillingham, were attacked after getting into a disagreement with locals, who had been drinking.

The pair had gone into a cafe or bar in the Jalan Padungan area where they were approached by 1 of 4 young men who complained that they were being too loud, the reports said.

After an argument, the students left but the men followed them in a car. At some point 1 of the 4 locals got out of the vehicle, a Malaysian-made Perodua Viva, and attacked Mr Dalton and Mr Brunger. A restaurant worker who witnessed the attack apparently called the police at around 4am.

Reports said the bodies of the students, both aged 22, were found lying in the street in the early hours. One had been stabbed in the chest, the other in the chest and the back, according to a report by Malaysia's Bernama news agency.

"We were informed this morning of the very sad news that 2 of our 4th-year medical students working at a hospital in Kuching, Borneo, have been tragically killed," Professor Tony Stevenson, the university's acting vice-chancellor said in a statement.

He said 2 members of the university staff would be travelling to Kuching as soon as arrangements could be made. "This has come as a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time," he added.

The state's deputy police chief, Datuk Chai Khin Chung, said the knife allegedly used in the attack and the suspects' vehicle had also been seized. Forensic teams have examined the site of the attack.

"Technically, the case is solved with the recovery of the knife believed to have been used in the murder," Mr Chai was quoted as saying.

Professor Jane Calvert, Dean of Undergraduate Studies for Newcastle University Medical School said "they were excellent students" who were "doing really well with their studies, they were highly committed and coming back next year to work as doctors.

"Aidan was aspiring to do some medical research on his return, Neil was going straight into his final year and it's such a tragic thing to occur."

Michael Smile, the Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Sarawak General Hospital, posted a message on social media, offering his condolences and warning other students to be careful.

"May I caution other students who might be venturing out late at night, particularly to night spots to be very careful," he said. "I am not sure which area is unsafe; there will always be a few bad hats around."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was aware of the deaths of to British nations and was working to provide assistance to their families.

Malaysian police said the case was being investigated under Section 302 of the country's penal code which carries the mandatory death sentence for anyone convicted.

(source: The Independent)


5 Executions in Public And 1 in the Prison: 2 Men Executed for Sodomy

4 prisoners were hanged publicly in the city of Shiraz (Southern Iran) today. According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Fars province 2 of the prisoners were sentenced to death charged with sodomy. These prisoners were identified as "Abdollah Gh. Ch." and "Soleiman Gh. Ch." Since there was no mention of rape in the report there is possibility that these men were sentenced to death for sexual relationship with the same sex.

The 2 other prisoners were identified as "Ebadollah H." and "Hossein T." convicted of kidnapping and rape, said the report.

Iranian media also reported about execution of 2 prisoners in Karaj. 1 of the prisoners who was hanged publicly was convicted of kidnapping and rape of a woman and the other prisoner was charged with sexual abuse of minors. The latter prisoner was hanged in the prison, said the report.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns today's executions. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: "We urge international condemnation of today's barbaric executions. There is a possibility that 2 of the men executed today were charged with sentenced to death for sexual relationship with other men.